Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dick Dastardly: great human

Is it possible for a bad human to be great? Historians certainly seem to think so given the amount of attention they pay the likes of Genghis Khan and Ivan the Terrible. The path to greatness involves influencing large numbers of people, which can be achieved in many different ways – killing them is one method, terrorising them is another, and getting them to follow your example is a third.

Dick Dastardly was that rare example of a bad man who influenced people through the force of his example. Let’s start with that faux English accent of his. It’s clearly the voice of a weedy boy who got bullied at school and is now looking for revenge on a world that betrayed him. His manner of speaking was so evocative that it’s been copied by villain after villain in subsequent Hollywood movies. To this day, if you want to know who the baddie is in an American film or TV show, just look for the man whose speech patterns most closely resemble Dick Dastardly.

Dastardly’s accomplices also set the standard for what the villain’s henchmen are supposed to be like – the guiding principle is that they should be even more weird than the villain himself. His main side-kick is the impertinent dog Muttley, who evidently has nothing but contempt for his master, forever sniggering at his misfortunes and sometimes cursing him under his doggy breath. He’s clearly much smarter than the pea-brained Dastardly, so why does he stay with him? The answer, bizarrely, is that the dog has a peculiar fetish about getting medals pinned to his hairy chest. Dastardly’s other henchmen in his doomed flying escapades are simply too weird to be described adequately with words.

Dastardly has one lone virtue that’s essential for the bad guy in any TV show which runs over multiple episodes – he never gives up. He wakes up every morning believing that today is the day that the annoying pigeon will be plucked and served in a tasty pie. Wile E Coyote was doubtless inspired by Dastardly’s optimism in his own quest for the Roadrunner’s gizzard. This is an important lesson for the youth of today – however dumb and ineffective the bad guys appear to be, they may one day achieve their nefarious aims through sheer persistence. Thus, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance and an unconquerable will to outlast the bastards until they give up.

Here’s the
song from Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Mary Poppins: great human

An ape can pick up a lot of bad habits during infancy. That’s why we hairy apes have a minimalist approach to nurturing our young. We cuddle them, protect them and feed them, in the hope that they will grow up to become cuddlers, protectors and feeders. Human parents, of course, have far greater ambitions for their offspring. But in striving to mould their young they tend to make the most frightful blunders, causing the little scamps to grow up with a variety of vexatious foibles. So the job is often contracted out to a qualified nanny, who supposedly knows the ropes in the child-rearing field.

Now employing a nanny is no guarantee that your children will turn out alright. If she spoils them, they’ll grow up believing the sun shines out of their smooth little bottoms. And if she’s too stern with the boys, they’ll turn into the sort of men who make up the clientele of Zelda the Warrior Queen or Miss Whiplash. Rearing human infants is a highly subtle art, which is why the first-rate nanny is as rare as an anorexic hippo. And the one nanny who stands out as a giant in the field – practically perfect in every way, one might say – is Miss Mary Poppins.

The essence of the Poppins genius is the manner in which she exercises authority. Needless to say, she knows what’s best for the children entrusted to her care. But in getting them to do what they must, she never scolds them or gets into a battle of wills. Instead, she is a master of what Bruce Lee, the karate-chopping Chinaman, called “the art of fighting without fighting”. When the kiddies make a fuss, she will perplex them with a clever rhyme, possibly followed by a little song, which invariably beguiles the little imps into obedience. On rare occasions magic is employed as a shock and awe tactic. The result is that her charges are contented and well-behaved without recourse to the hairbrush on the backside or the pinch on the ear lobe.

The other key ingredient of the Poppins phenomenon is a quality noted by Moshe Dayan, the great Hebrew warrior – she never orders her troops into battle, she always leads them into battle. When the children take their medicine, she takes it too. She doesn’t have to tell them to be polite to Bert, the bizarre mock-cockney chimneysweep, because they follow her example. And when the children jump magically into cartoon-land, she leads the way, playing a full role in the subsequent merry-making rather than hanging back and chatting with the other nannies.

Being a woman of excellence, Mary Poppins is bound to have a few resentful detractors. They might ask, rhetorically, why a woman who loves children so much doesn’t have her own, hinting crudely at a same-sex preference. The answer, of course, is that she probably did have plans to raise her own family. She was certainly young enough to bear children and charming enough to attract many suitors. The main problem, I fear, would be finding a man worthy of her – one who could adore her body without fearing the power of her mind. Is there such a man?

To my male human readers I issue the following challenge: Would you be man enough to woo a Mary Poppins, to wine her, and dine her, and pleasure her where it pleases her?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Tom Jones: great human

If there is one human who deserves the title of honorary gorilla it has to be Mr Tom Jones, the singing, swinging, warbling Welshman. From the very start, his songs were smash hits with apes and simians of all persuasions. Cheeky monkeys in the tree tops would scream “What’s new pussycat?” at any lions that passed below. The lions tended to ignore them, but it was good for morale to have a laugh at their expense. We knew in our hearts that Tom could out-roar any lion with that booming baritone of his – and rotate his rear-end in a fashion that few female apes could fail to admire.

Talent is a funny thing. Everyone can see it in a performer who is already famous, but few have the judgement to spot it in an unknown. It took a degree of persistence and self-belief for young Tom, the bricklayer from Pontypridd, to become Tom the hit-making sex-bomb, the only singer in the world capable of inducing female fans to hurl their moist panties at him when he was on stage. Perhaps Tom’s early confidence came from the fact that girls found him irresistible long before he hit the big time. And although he married very young, after impregnating a local lass, he always felt honour bound to indulge his female admirers to the fullest extent of their lustful fantasies.

After being discovered in one of his early infidelities, Tom was reputed to have answered his wife’s recriminations by saying:

“It’s not my fault, you know, they keep on asking for it.”

“So why don’t you say ‘No’ then?” thundered his wife.

“I can’t do that!” replied a visibly shocked Tom, “they’d think I was a poof!”

One has to acknowledge a certain genius in this line of argument, which was apparently put forward which such sincerity that his betrothed resigned herself to a marriage not bound by the normal human conventions. Mrs Tom Jones, first laid by the bricklayer some fifty years ago, remains devoted to a husband who has bedded more women than most other men stare at frustratedly during their entire lives.

Some might say that the ideal of manhood personified by Mr Tom Jones is a throwback to a bygone era, when men opened doors, paid dinner bills and wore the trousers until they wanted to take them off. My reply would be: “What of it?”. The “new man” may be fashionable in certain circles, but he doesn’t look like the kind of fellow who will hand-glide onto a craggy cliff-top to provide his woman with a box of extra dark chocolates with soft creamy centres. And if he can’t do that, he’s about as useful as a three-legged camel without a hump.

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