"Humor is a funny way of being serious"
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Copyright© 2001-2010, Renato Obeid
"Top blog/Renato Obeid's World/Today's pick: This rambling weblog is worth reading not so much for its satirical posts but more for its insight into the minutiae of life in Lebanon, including the etiquette of road accidents and how to hire a taxi.”
-Jane Perrone, The Guardian
Saturday, July 31, 2004
DILETTANTE WRITER'S DILEMMA
You get your ideas and inspiration at night.
Whoever heard of an eclaircissement at 11.37 am? – That kind of lightning only strikes at 3.00am (notice how the diurnal time unit is the minute whereas the nocturnal time unit is the hour – there are no minutes after midnight).
But you're too tired then to actually type them – nighttime is dictaphone time and daytime is the only time for the drudgery of editing and typing all that.
But, if you're up all night in a lightning storm and repair to bed at dawn when the weather breaks you're hardly fit for or able to do the dayshift at the typing factory.
So you end up infrequently chipping away at an ever growing mountain of microcassettes - the night's illicit moonshine harvest.
Still, I try not to be intimidated by them and progress through them gradually because panic and creative pursuits are incompatible.
Friday, July 30, 2004
YOU CAN FEEL IT'S ALL OVER
The Democratic National Convention wrapped up yesterday.
As the smoke clears, the mirrors are packed, the sawdust swept up,the rabbits put back in to their cages and the minstrels rub the shoe polish off their faces, my feeling is that Boston 2004 merely confirmed that it's all over for the Democrats this time (as if an unconvincing ticket wasn't enough).
The only thing that sticks in my head from the entire musical is the song that I still cant get out of my head - Stevie Wonders "Sir Duke" (of the "you can feel it all over" chorus) which was played incessantly.
LETTER OF THE DAY/CELEBRITY ENDORSMENT
Ladies and gentleman, Hotline's Anthony Mir
Thanks Anth, knowing that I have readers of your caliber compels me to improve the quality of my writing (starting tomorrow though – inshallah).
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
BROTHER LOVE'S TRAVELING SALVATION SHOW*
- pack up the babies, grab the old ladies
The Democratic National Convention/Southern Baptist (Harlem Chapter) Revival Meeting/Hip Hop Summit is underway in Boston Massachusetts (or however it's bloody pronounced).
Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee John Ritter is today's star attraction (my sources tell me that he will be spruiking a miraculous snake oil tonic!).
The circus will be in Boston until tomorrow night.
The Republican Convention/ Military Trade Fair/Haliburton Annual General Meeting will commence in New York on 30th August - clearing the way for the US Supreme Court to vote for a president in November(ish).
*Television coverage of the convention and campaigning in general is best viewed with the TV volume muted and Neil Diamond's best song playing on the stereo as an accompanying soundtrack (as I do).
Monday, July 26, 2004
GHOST GROUNDS PLANE
- Yesiree BOB, we're serious about security
A United Airlines flight en route to Los Angeles returned to Sydney ninety minutes after departure after a refuse bag with BOB written on it was discovered in the lavatory.
The pilot (obviously a fan of word games) interpreted that as meaning "bomb on board", whereas it is now thought to of meant "best on board" – crew "code" for a particularly attractive passenger.
Is this what the world's coming to – somebody writes BOB on an airline refuse bag and, Bob's your uncle, a major security incident ensues.
Ironically, the phrase "Bob's your uncle" has its roots in Lord (Robert) Sainsbury's preferment of his nephew Arthur Balfour.
Who was Arthur Balfour?
The man who got us into this mess in the first place!
As British Foreign Secretary, Balfour wrote what is now known as the Balfour Declaration in 1917 – a letter to the Zionist Federation stating the decision, agreed at a cabinet meeting, that the United Kingdom supported Zionist plans for a Jewish national home in Palestine.
There was indeed a Bob on that plane, and on every plane, but it wasn't a bomb but the ghost of Lord Bob and his nephew.
That ghost will continue to haunt us until one of the main root causes of terrorism today, the Palestinian issue, is resolved.
I am not in anyway condoning terrorism nor am I taking sides in the Arab-Israeli conflict, in fact I think that the wall that the Israeli's are building should be pulled back a bit until it encompasses the whole of Israel and the Palestinian Territories – whereby the two sides should be left to sort it out amongst themselves, sparing the rest of the world.
Speaking of ghosts, have you seen the Scooby Doo episode where, in the pro forma dénouement at the end, the gang have caught the ghost of Arthur Balfour and take off his mask to reveal Theodor Herzel (the founder of the Zionist movement)?
Fred explains, "It was Mr. Herzel all along – he dressed up as Mr. Balfour and tried to scare the Palestinians away so that Mr. Herzel and his friends could have the whole of the Holy Land".
Herzel replies "despite you meddling kids, United Nations Resolutions and world opinion I did get away with it".
Scooby says something funny, everybody laughs and it's all over.
What, you haven’t seen it?
Know why you haven’t seen it?
You haven’t seen it because Scooby Doo is obviously fictional whereas the above scenario is allegoric fact.
Does anybody remember what the start of this piece was about (we've come a long way) and what my initial point was (if I indeed had one)?
If you do, please email me and enlighten me.
"Monoliterate" is my term for people who are technically literate but effectively illiterate because they only read the one book, their holy book (we've got a lot of that type of person in the Middle East).
I don’t claim to speak for God, but I just think that God would want us to read other people too (to learn about His world)
Ignorance is the real sin.After all, every worthy artistic creation, regardless of its subject, is only but a testimony to the glory of the ultimate Creator and can thus only bring us closer to Him.
Sunday, July 25, 2004
FORGIVE AND FORGET
What a forgetful lot radio listeners are ,it seems as if there's always someone on the radio reminding us not to forget this, not to forget that etc - e.g. (said in a silly radio voice) "coming up after the break, the time*...don’t forget to log on to our website @...in the meantime keep your dial locked on to Time FM - the Time of Your Life, All Time All the Time…"
(Play jingle of announcer asking listener "What's your favorite radio station?" and listener answering that it is indeed this very radio station!**)
This is mainly a phenomenon on Western and or Western-style radio stations – ironically and paradoxically, one's always being told what to do in those freer societies.
Apart from those aforementioned radio stations desperately trying to improve our memories, there are signs all over the place telling you to do and, more commonly, not to do various things – don’t speed, don’t spit, don't walk, don't litter, don’t kill people etc.
Only in Australia do you get a government advertising campaign telling you "Drink.Drive.Bloody Idiot".
Note: not just any old idiot but a bloody idiot at that!
The decline of Western civilization has begun when the government resorts to calling its citizens names***.
*Commercial radio stations these days are little more than talking clocks - surely that wasn't Marconi's intention.
**In my former life as a radio presenter, I soon got out of the habit of asking that old chestnut when I asked a listener, live on-air on a Lebanese radio station, what his favorite radio station was and he answered (quite innocently) with the name of a competitor.
***It's a good way of getting a title from the government though – if you can't get a Knighthood or an OBE, just drink drive and you'll be certified a Bloody Idiot.
John Smith BI (Bloody Idiot).
The "Drink Drive Bloody Idiot" campaign could be misleading perhaps – does it mean that if you drink drive you'll get off with just being called a bloody idiot and you won't be fined or prosecuted?
How about extending that mandatory sentencing to other traffic offences? – If you speed, you're a fuckwit. If you don't wear a seatbelt, you're a dickhead, etc.
Saturday, July 24, 2004
HAMAS NOMINATES MUNICH FOR 2012 OLYMPICS
- declares Munich 1972 "best games ever"
The looming Australian federal election will be the end of the Howard government
Howard's end will not be due as much as to something he has done or not done but because Australia is essentially a one-party state (voluntarily and willingly so) – in love with and married to the Liberal Party.
Every now and then, when the Liberals get too complacent and take the electorate too much for granted, they will be made to sleep on the couch for a while and the Labor Party mistress will be brought up to the master bedroom for a fling.
Just such a lover's tiff is brewing at the moment.
But this It's Time, the mistress has turned in to a prostitute garishly aping the Australian electorate's lawfully elected spouse.
Disclaimer: If my prediction that Labor will win doesn’t happen, then my prediction is that the Liberals will be reelected.
Monday, July 12, 2004
AUTOSTRADE EN FÈTE
On the way to the pub yesterday I got caught in the summer Sunday early evening traffic jam.
I had to wait a while for a service on the Jounieh autostrade as most of the public transport around was buses which I never catch – too crowded, too many stops (anywhere anyone wants it to stop) and too dangerous (the smaller minivans may as well be registered as suicide bombs).
It seemed as if every Southerner was coming back from the Northern beaches - ending their weekly pleasure exodus to the Promised Land and squeezing out the last remaining pleasures of the day on the autostrade.
Kids carrying-on, adults singing and gawping – there was even, I kid you not, a vanload of derbaki* drummers, dressed in the traditional Ottoman era garb, banging away on their drums.
This screaming, singing and staring motley crew spilling out of their garish and overloaded vehicles looked to me like participants in an inverted modern day equivalent of the exodus described in Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath".
*Arabic bongo drum – a small but LOUD long-bodied drum usually held between the knees and played with the hands.
The Philippine government has folded to the demands of fundamentalists holding a Phillipino hostage and begun an early withdrawal of their some fifty strong contingent from Iraq.
IT'S THE ELEPHANT STUPID!
An elephant working as a tourist attraction at the AIDS conference in Bangkok has trampled to death a fifty-five year-old man.
Typical of these left-wing do-gooders, peddling their abstract trendy disease celebre whilst, outside and under their noses, there's a very real elephant raging around f---ing people!
I'm not minimizing the horrible threat of AIDS but I just believe that all the fancy conferences, designed to assuage the consciences of rich white people, aren’t going to help unless and until the First World put their money where their mouth is and really help the Third World* that's bearing the full brunt of AIDS and a million other diseases that are more prevalent and more of a threat but not as trendy or as Hollywood patronized as AIDS.
In the meantime, practice safe sex, don’t share needles and don’t' f—k with elephants!
*The Third World should also learn some common sense and shed off the ignorance and superstion that is more of a barrier to them then anything else - no amount of aid money is going to buy common sense, it's free!
Coming home from the pub last night, I caught a service from Dora to Jounieh at about midnight.
The driver, who I presumed to be in his late twenties, was typical of a type of plebe common in his profession – someone so wild and uncouth that everything he said came out as a sort of shouted garbled bark.
I was going to suggest to him that he A R T I C U L A T E but it soon transpired that his diction was the least of my problems.
He was speeding (the speedometer wasn’t working so I can't report it to the Guinness Book of Records people) and shortly before the Zouk tunnel, we came across a stopped car.
He slammed on the brakes, they locked (the road was wet – possibly with diesel oil) so we fishtailed freely – managing to avert that car but to end up blocking the path of oncoming cars as we came to a rest sideways (he'd managed to finally stop the car by employing the gears), the road was busy but those cars swerved away from us.
We were spared by the grace of God and the fact that this was obviously a good driver (bad enough to get us in this situation but good enough to get us out of it).
So, what does Einstein do?
He SPEEDS away as if nothing had happened!
Clear of one accident, we were almost involved in another one when we swerved in front of a jeep - "why don’t you just ride on my back!" he screamed out to the jeep driver.
All the while he was telling me "God saved us!"!
I told him that God had saved us and that God saves but that we had to help him out a bit and this was not the way of doing it.
"Haven't you learnt anything from this?"
He agreed that I was right but insisted that this is the first time it had ever happened to him.
We hurtled into Jounieh and stopped at a petrol station - the front-end of the car was fuming and it took at least five buckets of water to pacify the radiator (I think it was actually broken though - possibly when we'd snicked a car in the accident - as the water went straight out).
We sputtered out of the petrol station, the car wouldn’t start, he tried to hotwire it in a flash of sparks (further fuelling my suspicions that it was stolen although there was a key in the ignition he'd tried to use without any result and he'd told me that he bought it two days ago) but it still wouldn’t go.
Whereby he declared "they ripped me off!"
I got out of the car, paid him (who really got ripped off?) and walked the rest of the way to the Jounieh square where I caught the slow taxi home - Miled, the slowest gun alive (he says he's being careful but his colleagues say he's stingy and is trying to minimize fuel comsumption) was on duty and Id never been happier to see him.
I'd memorized Einsteins's number when I'd first got in and am going to get it checked out and get him cautioned
I escaped with my life but maybe somebody else won't, unless people like you and me do our civic duty and keep this type of person in check.
I don’t care how good a driver you are – there are always so many random variables beyond your control that could undo you and there's always somebody like me who will dob you in! (For all our sakes).
Saturday, July 10, 2004
LETTER OF THE DAY
No new correspondence in the mailbag today (see "comments" lower left)so there's no actual Letter of the Day per se.
Consequently, today's "letter' of the day is the letter A.
A is for apple.
Friday, July 09, 2004
LETTER OF THE DAY
FROM : Nathaniel Harb (see "comments").
No indication of where Nathaniel's' writing from but his first name sounds to me like that of some African-American on death row.
Seriously though, thanks for making the effort to write in and thanks for your appreciation and support Nathaniel.
Knowing that I have discerning readers like yourself compels me to improve the quality of my writing (starting tomorrow though – inshallah).
As for quantity (Nathaniel mentions that he'd like to see more of my writing), what you see at the top here is only the tip of the iceberg.
Whilst that tip might appear frozen at times, there's a lot happening beneath the surface – working to edit and transcribe ten torturous hours of dictaphone tapes (the tapes of wrath), I'm constantly adding to the archives (these "new" entries go straight to the archives as chronology dictates).
It's a titanic task not made any easier by the latest Windows 98.2 program I've just installed which now enables me to write* in bold, italics and even bold italics.
What will they think of next?
So I know have to go thru my entire "oeuvre" and insert bold, italics and even bold italics where appropriate.
But, the iceberg always wins in the end!
I hope you enjoy the new two-tone two-typeface renatoobeidsworld as much as I enjoyed two-toning and two-typefacing it (it looks 3D doesn’t it?).
It really is fun and, besides, it distracts me (albeit temporarily) from actually writing – avoiding writing is every dilettante writers preoccupation.
Want to write tomorrow's Letter of the Day?
It's as easy as clicking on the "comments" link (below left) and adding your comment!
*I'd previously been able to write these on the computer but not able to transfer them to my fancy-shmancy site which wasn’t compatible with the Windows 98.1 I was using.
Renatoobeidsworld – now in bold, italics and even bold italics!
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS
My twelve-year-old cousin is going out with a girl who “wears a bra!”
Tuesday, July 06, 2004
RENATOOBEIDSWORLD - INTERNATIONAL EDITION
KERRY PICKS VICE-PRESIDENTIAL RUNNING MATE
- Kerry/Edwards to take on Bush/Anan in November
RENATOOBEIDSWORLD - AUSTRALIAN EDITION
KERRY PICKS VICE-PRESIDENTIAL RUNNING MATE MATE
- Kerry/Edwards to take on Bush/Anan in November
Friday, July 02, 2004
"Public Works and Transport Minister Najib Mikati met Friday with…and a delegation of men born in 1973."
- Daily Star, Lebanon.
Doesn’t that sound like a Monty Python or "Not the Nine O'clock News" sketch?
Are there actually associations of people born in particular years?
Do they wear t-shirts that say “People Born in 1973 Rule!”?
(If so then why aren’t there associations of people with particular names – e.g. The Association of Men Called George" - or for men with moustaches, etc?).
Why would such a group meet with the Public Works and Transport Minister? – "we just don't feel that the country's public works and transport accommodate people who were born in 1973; they're perfect for 72ers and 74ers but no, not for us 73ers!"