ONE 1 • Punchlines 1

Hot and cold running sonar


Not everything in the media is altered these days. Take a look at the photograph running above. Trust me, no pixels were harmed, or otherwise digitally manipulated, in the making of this picture.

Some of you heading west out of Edinburgh, or coming into the Capital from the other direction, may have seen this intriguing sign on St John’s Road. Yes, as our unaltered image shows, a showroom in Corstorphine is selling a LUXURY FITTED BAT.

Hallelujah! Just when you thought that high-street retailers were being swallowed up, homogenized or closed down forever, someone takes a brave leap into the unknown, if not right over to the far side of crazy. I’m behind them 100%. Surely everyone wants a luxury fitted bat in their houses
right now?

I’m assuming that this shop is selling some kind of bespoke flying mammal, of course. There are so many places where a pipistrelle, horseshoe or whiskered bat would sort out my feng shui nicely.

But what if they’re marketing some other kind of bat? The possibilities hardly bear thinking about. A quick look at Wikipedia’s disambiguation page reveals that the shop could be selling sports equipment, brown adipose tissue or “a radar-guided glide bomb developed by the United States Navy during World War II”.

I’ll go into the shop and ask them next time I’m passing. Watch this space.

Trailer trash

It’s said that trailers are often better than the movies they’re promoting. Well, believe it or not, sometimes they include things that aren’t even in the film itself.

Gremlins director Joe Dante began his career putting promos together for Roger Corman’s New World Pictures: “We did all kinds of things in trailers to help sell films. We had a famous exploding helicopter shot from one of those Filipino productions that we’d cut in every time a trailer was too dull—because that was always exciting.”

But now YouTube is hosting re-cuts and mash-ups of old movies that stick to the actual footage while twisting their meanings with cunning editing
and overdubs.

Stanley Kubrick’s terrifying version of The Shining has been turned into a feel-good romantic comedy: “Meet Jack Torrance—he’s a writer looking for inspiration. Meet Danny—he’s a kid looking for a dad. Jack just can’t finish his book… But now—sometimes what we need the most is just around the corner. Shining.” The use of Peter Gabriel’s “Salisbury Hill” to score the clip is just the sickly icing on this hilariously sentimental cake.
On the other hand, Mary Poppins gets the full-blown horror treatment as Scary Mary. Julie Andrews’ mellifluous voice sings “Stay Awake” over a tolling bell while captions warn: “When the East wind blows … and the fog rolls in … she appears.” After that, all hell breaks loose in a montage of scenes worthy of The Exorcist. “Hide your children,” implores the tagline. Don’t worry, I will.

Finally, prepare for your jaw to drop like a metric tonne of bricks when you catch 10 Things I Hate About Commandments. Yes, it’s Cecil B. DeMille’s po-faced epic The Ten Commandments given a high school comedy make-over: “Now the battle is on to see can get the girl, who will rule the school … and if a zero can become a hero.” Samuel L. Jackson as “Principal Firebush” heckling Charlton Heston’s Moses with lines from Pulp Fiction is priceless.

It really is amazing what clever people can do to change the entire meaning of things when they have a cruel way of thinking, editing software and little time on their hands. Thank goodness they just cut up old movies and upload them onto YouTube…

Limerick trick

To be honest, I can’t stand texting. Your editor didn’t force himself to learn to touch type just so that he could fumble around with the tiny keyboard on a mobile phone. If I wanted to write illiterate text littered with incomprehensible acronyms, I’d be working for the Civil Service.
Still, my aversion to tapping out SMS messages hasn’t meant that I ever worried about receiving them before. After all, it only takes a couple of keystrokes to delete the things.
Then, out of the blue, the following unsigned limerick appeared in my inbox:

The Bishop-Elect of Karachi
Cooked “Indian” in his hibachi;
Neither dhansak nor phal,
Mutter paneer nor dhal,
But Cherokee, Sioux and Apache.

Further investigation reveals that this is the work of my old crony Steve Glover. I have to hand it to the man, he’s probably eligible for some sort of award for offending so many different groups in so short a space—not least Episcopalian cannibals.

Now I’ll not only be eyeing any new text messages nervously, I’ll be worrying about my Saturday-night curry too… Thanks, Steve!

Poker face

Here’s a hand from an online tournament that I played in recently. It illustrates making a raise before the flop, the moment when the first three face-up cards are dealt to the table.
Fifty other players were in the game, which was a no-limit Texas hold ‘em poker tournament with a $6.00 buy-in. The blinds, or forced bets, were 50/100, and my stack was 1120 chips, the lowest on the table. I was dealt 9♠ 9♣. The player under the gun—that’s the one who speaks first—folded.
With pocket nines, I decided that a big raise would stop most players from playing the hand. What’s more, the odds would be in my favour against anyone who did go in, unless they had higher pocket pairs, so I bet 400.
Everyone else folded, except the small blind, who raised to 1350 chips. Now I had a choice to make: I could fold and throw away my 400-chip investment, or go all in and risk putting myself out of the tournament if I lost.
I went all in and we both showed our cards: because no one could bet anymore, there was no point in keeping them hidden. He had A♣ K♣ so the odds were slightly in my favour.

The flop came down as 4♠ 2♥ 5♣. I was still ahead, with a pair of nines versus ace high. The turn was 8♣; I was still winning, but he now had a draw to a flush. The river was J♥.
I won—and my stack was now
2460 chips.

Philip Hunt

Cliché touché
Writing the above item reminded me of that old warhorse of truisms: a picture’s worth a thousand words. Is it really, I wondered, and if so, why on Earth would it be? I decided to delve more deeply into the cliché. Of course, you know what they say, “If you’re in a hole, stop digging…”
Actually, the line isn’t “a picture’s worth a thousand words”. The literal translation from the Chinese reads, “A picture’s meaning can express ten thousand words.” The problem is, this Chinese proverb was coined to advertise a brand of baking powder in 1927.
Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that the quote appeared as “one look is worth a thousand words” as long ago as 1921 and was credited to “a famous Japanese philosopher” at the time.
It’s all nonsense. Both versions of the invented saying were used in the same American trade journal to promote the benefits of advertising on street cars. A picture’s worth what it can generate in sales.
Go on, do a Google search if you don’t believe me. You’ll find the details. Mind you, the internet is one of the least reliable sources of information the world has ever known…