The Lung Brothers

Hanging out at the extreme end of the long tail ...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Every Once in a While You Read Something Serious …

…that makes you laugh at loud at work and almost gets you fired.

During the naughty half hour after lunch before the boss arrives when everyone else is at the coffee machine gossiping, I usually employ the time to catch up on my favourite internet flotsam. This time I was reading a fascinating article about the life of that famous Irish/Australian bush bandit Ned Kelly.

It had to happen. One of those events with near perfect timing. Just as the boss was entering the premises, I read the following paragraph and guffawed so hard that coffee came out of my nose. I tried to pass it off as a gargantuan hiccup but it was obvious he wasn’t having any of it and thought I was laughing at him.

Aw well, just have to be on my best behaviour over the next week or so.

Anyway, here is the offending text. What makes it funny is that it was written as a completely serious piece of biographic journalism. See if you can spot why I laughed:

“It was just two years after John Kelly's death that Ned had his first significant scrapes with the law. His first encounter with the local authorities was not particularly distinguished. At the tender age of 14, he was accused of attacking an itinerant Chinese merchant named Ah Fook. He was charged with assault and was held in jail for ten days, according to documents from the time.”

Now putting yourself in the arresting constable’s shoes and using your keenest powers of deduction, how would you imagine the conversation went between an Irish brigand and a guy named 'Ah Fook' that lead to a fight between them?


Monday, November 05, 2007

The Hollywood Screenwriter's Strike.


An epic screenplay about the Hollywood screenwriter’s heroic struggle against the big studio bosses.

Act I, Scene I

A hazy drinking tavern in some seedy backstreet of Burbank. It is full of murmuring, smoking writer types wearing tweed caps and jackets. The younger ones are sporting knickerbockers and have their white shirts rolled up to the elbows. The there is a palpable tension in the air caused by the heady mix of anger and desperation. Spike O’ Donnell is standing on a chair addressing the discontented rabble.

S.O’D: I am telling you my dear friends, the studio is being on its knees and will break at any moment. We must hold firm and maintain a most dignified unity or we will loose this strike and dishonour our families.

An unruly voice pipes up from the back of the bar. The men turn to see Bugsy Hughes, one foot on a chair, his tweed cap cheekily cocked to one side.

BH: I say, you are being a most silly fellow, Spike O’ Donnell. How am I supposed to honour my family when I cannot even put food in their bellies? This strike is a mug’s game, I am telling you all with sincerity. We should accept the studio’s offer. It is the only way to end this unpleasantness and achieve inner serenity.

A slight murmur of approval issues from the restless mob.

S.O’D: You are a most insolent scoundrel Bugsy Hughes! I know that you are being paid by the studios to come to these meetings and cause trouble. But I have yet to be obtaining the proof. But be assured you naughty rogue, when we do find it, you will be receiving a very sound thrashing indeed.

BH: Ha. The only thrashing we will be seeing in the future is the same thrashing that we are getting every day from the constabulary’s billyclubs at the studio gates. It is no use I am telling you. The studios are owning the mayor and have the chief of police in their pockets. We cannot be winning this battle. We should settle with the bosses!

The crowd, torn by the two sides of the argument, begin yelling amongst themselves and it looks like fisticuffs could start at any minute when a coloured man stands on a table and blows a whistle. The rabble falls into silence and all eyes are on Lance Henderson.

LH: Now you all know me, old Lance. I have been working as a writer in these studios since I was nine years old and you fellows are being like a family to me. I thought I ought to say something now, because seeing as I am a negro chap and the protagonist’s best friend, I will probably have to be tragically dying in his arms within the next couple of scenes. Although my father was a lower caste studio sweeper, he wanted something better for me, his honourable son. So he used his life savings to send me to dignified schools where I received a most illuminating education.
Now when I am looking back at some of the scripts that Spike and I worked on together, I see that we created the most moving dreams for all the wonderful people of the honourable United States of America. We are being more than cogs in the Hollywood machine, we are the very heart and soul of Hollywood. We must honour ourselves and I must honour my noble father. So what do you say dearest colleagues, are we surrendering to the wanton bosses or are we giving Spike one more chance?

All the men in the bar, teary eyed with emotion, cheer Lance’s speech. Bugsy Hughes scowls and sneaks out the back door.

The cheers are cut short buy a young urchin who bursts through the bar doors out of breath.

S.O’D: Why if it isn’t little Billy, Eddy Schwartz’s kid. What is wrong Billy? Tell us please the cause of this most troubling anxiety.

B.S: Ain’t you all heard? The most sinister studio is endeavouring to hire scab labour.

LH: Scab labour? They would not dare to do such a thing. Surely they must know that we would never be letting such mischief-makers past the studio gates.

B.S: But that’s just it. They will not be coming through the gates. The bosses are outsourcing the scriptwriting to some far away land called In-dee-ya.

L.H: Goodness gracious me. That is a most preposterous notion, young fellow. If the screenplays were being written by overseas sub-contactors every jack man would notice immediately.

S.O’.D: Perhaps you are being right Lance, but I still feel that the studios have gone too far this time. Boys, this is it! If the studios are wanting a war, they will jolly well be getting a war! Time to teach them a most severe lesson.

ALL: Hurrah!

The strikers all grab their baseball bats and their crowbars, march out of the bar and towards the line of police guards who are blocking the studio gates.

They eventually line up nose to nose with the brutish cops ………

…. and brake into a charming and ordered dance routine accompanied by an overloud Asian-sounding pop song.