Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oh yes, we've got a little list, but why bother ...

At this time of year, compilers of lists come into their own and inevitably the commentariat are rich pickings for the cataloguers.

It's a tedious business, and a task that needs reviewing moment by moment.

For example, the ten most memorable megaphone moments of 2011 predictably awards Andrew Bolt top perch in the horde of screechers for his guilty verdict in relation to his carry on about alleged white blacks passing off as blacks for advantage.

And the award notes the supporters who splashed $100k on a newspaper advertisement defending Bolt's right to offend, a right naturally defended by Tony Abbott, because the offensive must always stick together.

Oh yes, both valiant defenders of free speech, but the award makes no mention of the rich hypocrisy involved when the Bolter refused to publish his lesbian sister's remarks in defence of gay marriage in the comments section of his blog, ostensibly open to all but the defamatory and the legally challenged.

And what about Bolt's farewell note as he hared off into the sunset? It featured a YouTube clip of Giordano's Andrea Chénier, a sentimental piece sung by Pavarotti which concludes grandly Love is the life and spirit of the world! In a blog designed to fester and suppurate, and cultivate fear and loathing and hostility of the alternate, the different, the minority, perhaps even the halt and the lame ...

And what about the farewell note's header Thank you. Goodbye? And the wistful note below Some thinking will also need to be done about what I'll do next year? If he turns up again blogging, or scribbling for the HUN, can readers sue him for breach of promise, or at least breach of hope?

After all, when Robert Graves scribbled Good-Bye to All That, it really was a heartfelt goodbye to the trenches and the killing fields ... and the impaling of innocents.

What a drama queen the Bolter is. This is where hubris and vanity meld into a perfect storm, and Ecclesiastes begins to ring in the ear.

Instead of a huge list of ne'er do wells and drop kicks, the pond would like to celebrate by remembering the media wastrels who've dropped by the wayside this year.

1. The Australian. Thanks to the heart of the nation's paywall, the shrieking and lamentations of the richest panoply of commentariat loons assembled in the antipodes in several centuries now is but a faint echo of a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. No more Christopher Pearson, no more Greg Sheridan, no more Shanahans ...

No more a chance to catch up on number seven in the megaphone list, Janet Albrechtsen, doing her rough sex rant in relation to the matter of Dominque Strauss-Khan.

And anyway, why bother, when you can get Edward Jay Epstein's zinger account in the New York Review of Books - What Really Happened to Strauss-Kahn? - though the zinger began to sound like a sputtering jumping jack when Epstein mistook thirteen seconds for three minutes ...

2. The 7.30 Report. The pond simply can't bear to watch it. And doesn't. What was a habit for a decade is now a faint memory. Can't say anything about it really because the tedium of its content is also matched by its absence of genuine news-getting scoops that might draw attention to it ...

3. Phillip Adams. The pond would occasionally drop in on the insufferable Adams because of the quality of the guests. Between the moments where Adams talked over them, interrupted, and proposed his point of view as the topic of the day, some guests managed to deliver some insights.

But then the interminable wretch - who keeps boasting about the longevity of being on radio for twenty years, not realising he's also noting how far beyond his 'use by' date he's reached - started chatting with Christian Kerr, who has all the grace and nuance of Patrick Cook on Counterpoint, and sounds like a fop on steroids designed to promote sneering (these days poor embittered Cook is dubbed an Australian national living treasure when in reality he sounds like a national living tragedy given a fragile moment in the sun).

The breaking point came when Adams - always infatuated and ready to celebrate his man love for Kevin Rudd, not that there's usually anything wrong with man love - took to egging Kerr on in a frenzy of Gillard baiting, which culminated on October 17th with Kerr and Adams agreeing that we were in the final days of the Gillard government.

Well we might be in the final months, but months ain't days. Never mind, the pond was in its final minutes with Adams, and so ABC FM saw a return to the fold.

4. Shock jocks. As with the other megaphone moments, it's a reminder that the best strategy for sensible collectors is to let others listen, and then harvest the most piquant moments.

There's absolutely no need to listen to Alan Jones, Neil Mitchell, Michael Smith, Ray Hadley, Chris Smith, and the other shock jocks doing the rounds (or wretches like Kyle Sandilands), because some other loon collector will have done the hard yards and faithfully reported their latest offensive outburst or rank piece of complete silliness.

Have a glass of wine, take it easy, listen to some good music, and soon enough at end of day, you can contemplate the latest loon framed by the golden rays of the setting sun as their busy legs pump away beneath the surface of the water ...

5. The Drum: why has the ABC reduced its level of conversation to that of a Murdoch blog? Memo to self: must not get addicted, even though loon hunting is made incredibly easy, gathered as they are in one place for ritual honking, flapping and squawking.

And now to the future, and never mind that it's 2012, and the end of the world, let's be optimistic.

Come the new year, the pond fervently hopes that the Daily Terror and the HUN sink behind paywalls, blogs included, and so the likes of Piers Akerman (number nine on the megaphone list for bagging Rupe's mum) and Miranda the Devine (lesbians produced the fatherless society that produced the London riots) will drop out of view like lead sinkers snagged on a rather large red gum at the bottom of a very deep pool.

Meanwhile, we've almost forgotten our daily loon duty, but hey as long as The Punch stays in business, there's a solid guarantee of a rich daily diet.

Today for example, Sophie Mirabella is scribbling away in Rubbery figures and the Ghosts of Budgets Past, and her topic is metaphors.

She's determined to present Labor in the light of Charles Dickens' "classic cautionary tale" about a miser, but it turns out that it was the savings of the Liberal party that was classic Grinchitude, and the Labor party is indulging in a life of Pickwickian and Wilkins Micawber splendour. Which leads Mirabella to this completely fatuous comparison:

Make no mistake about it – just as surely as Scrooge’s miserly ways threatened the health of Tiny Tim, Labor’s wild spending impacts on the quality of life we’ll pass on to our kids.

It's so utterly, comprehensively silly and stupid - miserliness being the same as wild spendthrift ways - as to make the reader marvel at why she embarked on such a silly, stupid, and inappropriate metaphor in the first place.

And by the end of the piece, she's urging the Labor party to turn into Scrooges:

So at this time of reflection, perhaps Julia and Wayne could take a look back at their Budgets and through the revelation of their rubbery figures and unmet targets, see fit to change their reckless ways. Now that would truly be a Christmas miracle.

The true Xmas miracle would be if Mirabella found her brains beneath the Xmas tree, and started using metaphors and parables in a remotely intelligible way.

But wait, there's more. There's the crazed Melinda Tankard Reist doing the hard yards by promoting an energy drink called Pussy in The marketing campaign that's totally below the belt. In her usual way, Reist draws attention to a drink that might have lived or died in the market place, and all because she objects to cats or double entendre.

We look forward to her vigorous campaign to ban Pussy Galore and Octopussy, and adolescent stupidity in general ...

It's hard to know what's sillier, the product, the campaign, or Reist's hysterical puritanical response ...

But wait, there's more, as Derryn Hinch assures us in The Human Headline: Ungagged and unbowed, that he did it tough with five months of home arrest:

I said: “I feel great. Only 12 more days and I’m out of jail.” His mocking, condescending reply: “You weren’t in jail.” I felt like saying: “You try it, sunshine.”

Uh huh. It seems Hinch felt like Rudolf Hess, locked up alone in Spandau Prison. Because you know, he couldn't twitter or use Facebook or promote his latest book. Oh the humanity, oh the suffering ...

But wait, there's more, because Paul Sheehan has lost weight. Yes that's a matter of crucial importance to the world - and in complete contrast to lazy Celts and cheating lazy Greeks - as he explains at tedious length how to do it in Fit to burst, but weighting game is no walk in the park.

It seems he did it with the help of a friend and a Russian instructor. That's either too much information, or it will be be a tremendous inspiration to fat people doing it tough. You too can be like Sheehan, just take yourself off to the eastern suburbs, cut back on going to jones the grocer, and hire a Russian instructor for a few shekels ...

So there you have it.

Sadly, the truth of it is that even if Bolt were to ride off into the sunset, there would be hordes hanging around to carry on the tradition.

There always has been, from the days of Charles Coughlin blaming the Jews for Communism, to the days of William Randolph Hearst making mischief. He might not have started the Spanish American war in the strict sense of the word, but he did for Spain what the Murdoch press is currently doing for boat people. (How do you like the Journal's war?)

Yep, there will always be loons, and chivs, chavs, spivs and pimps always ready to make a buck out of offering the loons a home. You can write about Ian Plimer (Plimer suffers from crank magnetism) or the Monckton manoeuvre until the cows come home, but sometimes the cows just never come home ...

The pond can never go out of business, unless of course blissful insanity or death or perhaps Xmas intervenes ...

(Below: here's a more appropriate operatic model for Andrew Bolt and his chief consoler, Tony Abbott. While there might be better Scarpias than Ruggero Raimondi - why Bolt in a metaphysical sense is already bidding to outdo him - the staging is most apt).


  1. "The true Xmas miracle would be if Mirabella found her brains beneath the Xmas tree" made me have visions of her on her hands and knees amongst the torn wrapping paper frantically searching for her grey matter. Hilarious!

    I couldn't do a top 10 posts for Loon Pond...being as 50 (at least, maybe a 100) doesn't go in to 10. Thanks for a great year of reading. Happy Holidays!

  2. And happy holydays gentlemen, because while the ship might be sinking, there's no reason not to have a last drink, and a laugh, or for the band to stop playing ...


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