Craccum ’11: Spencer Dowson and Rhys Mathewson

Congratulations, Spencer and Rhys, who I’m told won by a margin of more than 300 votes.

Commiserations to Briony and Greg, who came in second – admirable achievement given the obstacles facing them as relative newcomers.

And to Charlotte and Freddy, and Fernando and Nighthawk, who came third and fourth respectively.

All runners-up are invited to write here on SH1. The pay isn’t good, but at least the readership is almost non-existent.

Here is a song that captures the moment.

Must have an irony deficiency

(Guest post by an anonymous contributor.)

In an old Looney Tunes cartoon, Daffy Duck, playing a sheriff, holds a gun to a crim’s face who proceeds to bite the gun in half.

“Must not have had his iron today,” Daffy says.

He pronounced iron EYE-run.

That always made me laugh.

So I would like to talk briefly about our country’s irony deficiency.

I fear it may be getting critical or pathological.

In his book “Letters to a Young Contrarian”, Christopher Hitchens says something about irony.

Had I more time and not lended the book to my sister-in-law I would reproduce exactly what he said.

Suffice to say that Mr Hitchens — and I with him — believes that irony is important.

Irony simply means to say one thing whilst actually meaning something else.

(Dramatic irony is when the audience knows something that the main character does not.  At least I think it does. You, perhaps, know better.)

In my experience, irony doesn’t wash in New Zealand.

In this country, one says what one means and one means what one says.

When I first moved here, people would often ask what I was doing in New Zealand.

“Easy,” I would say, “I’m actually on a rodeo scholarship.”

“No, no, no, mate. Not much rodeo around here,” many would reply.

Well, no. There isn’t. I was joking and I thought I was doing so in an obvious manner. More fool me.

So why is irony important?

Irony is often funny. I thought my rodeo joke was funny. It shows a critical mind.

Irony also shows confidence, just like the use of humour. To use irony is to say, “Lo, I am confident and I will take a risk. And if you don’t get it is you, not I, who are the thicky, Blackadder.”

Finally, irony makes sure things can’t be taken too seriously. This is imperative. Nothing we do is really that important. We’re alive for about a nanosecond on the great cosmic spectrum and eventually absolutely nobody will ever remember a single thing we did let alone that we were ever alive.

We are born astride the grave blah blah blah.

So why don’t we have time for irony in New Zealand? Why do we have no political satire of value? Why don’t we like to laugh?

In my next post, I will discuss these questions through a review of what was, without doubt, the worst production in theatrical history.

I speak, of course, of “Le Sud”.

We don’t really know

(Guest post by an anonymous contributor.)

Last Sunday at around 6pm I was sitting in a fish and chip shop in Tairua waiting for my order.

It was humid and everyone in the place was wilting.  A few flies buzzed around.  The late day sun was pouring in through the front window making me sweat.

A group of people entered the shop.

The first guy I saw was wearing a yellow T-shirt with white gym socks pulled up just under his board shorts.  Then there was a guy in the baseball cap and wrap around sunglasses.  He was standing next to the balding guy with huge eyebrows.

Each of them was standing with a woman, all of them pretty in a safe, kind of American sitcom way.

Who are these people, I thought?

Eavesdropping is not a gentleman’s pastime, but they were sitting close to me on the bench against the wall of the fish and chippie.

They started talking about how old they were.

Yellow T-Shirt admitted to being 30. Hat Guy admitted he was 29, but said he wouldn’t tell them his wife’s age unless she let him. She let him: 25. Eyebrows was 26. The other two women were around the same age.

Then they got on to where and when they got married.

Seriously, who are these people?

Hat Guy said, “Yeah, I’m only 29 and I’ve got a lot of things I want to do before I die.”

“Oh babe,” said his wife, “you’ll also have lots of time to do all those things in heaven!”

Suddenly I became a beast in a nature documentary.

My back stiffened. My ears ached as they involuntarily pointed toward the conversation. My pulse quickened.

“I know, but I just can’t get over the idea of heaven being kind of boring,” Hat Guy said.

He took off his wrap-arounds, gave them a polish.

“I mean what are we supposed to do up there? The problem is that we don’t really know.”

Silence ensued, but Yellow T-Shirt guy saw his opening.

“I’m just going to mountain-bike all day, I reckon. But like, if I fall off my mountain bike in heaven, like really bad, would I still break my leg?”

The tension left as the group broke into smiles and a few mumbled “no way” or “not in heaven, mate”.

By this point, I was getting anxious that my order might be ready just as things were getting interesting.

Then Huge Eyebrows’ wife said, “I think heaven will be really choice.”

Huge Eyebrows shot his wife a glance, put his hand on her arm and cleared his throat.

The group looked at him.

“The thing about heaven,” said Huge Eyebrows, “is that it could be that we take on an entirely different existence. Our understanding of matter could totally change. It could all just be, like, spiritual.”

There was a group nod.

“Yeah, but we do get new bodies in heaven,” said Yellow T-Shirt, perhaps smarting from his broken-bone question.

“Yeah, that’s true — we do get new bodies,” said Huge Eyebrows.

The group looked at the ground.

“Well, heaven does have eleven stages,” Hat Guy said, “so like maybe we pass back and forth between the different ones. Sometimes it’s spiritual. Sometimes its physical. I mean, the truth is that we won’t really know until we all get there.”

More nods and mumbles of approval followed.

“Order number 69?” the girl said from behind the till.

Before getting up, I looked down at my lap and realised I had left my iPhone on.

Cognitive dissonance consumed me.

I’d been reading Candide.