Monday, March 30, 2020

Quote for the Day

Musings and Miscellany


Byter Graham E, aka Mr Trivia, Mr T and lately Mr No-Trivia, sent me an email in response to yesterday’s musing where I queried the media not having given the COVID-19 pandemic a catchy name. I used as an example Captain Trips, the superflu that kills nearly everyone in the world in Stephen King’s novel The Stand. I also said that the reason why it is called Captain Trips is never disclosed. 

Graham’s email: 
Hi Mr O, 

Further to you bytes today re Captain Trips……. 

The name Captain Trips was used as a nickname for a hippie character in Stephen King's miniseries Golden Years, also it was a nickname for American musician Jerry Garcia (1942–1995) and Alfred Matthew Hubbard (1901–1982), a proponent for the drug LSD, who worked at various times for the Canadian Special Services, the United States Justice Department, the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Office of Strategic Services. 

The Stand: Captain Trips is a five-issue comic book miniseries, the first of a six part Marvel Comics series called The Stan, adapted from Stephen King's novel of the same name. 

Stephen King wrote about the origins of The Stand in his 1981 book Danse Macabre, citing one source as the Patty Hearst case. His original idea was to create a novel about the episode because "it seemed that only a novel might really succeed in explaining all the contradictions". While struggling with the plot lines he read a news story about the Dugway sheep incident, (aka the Skull Valley sheep kill) in 1968 when 6,400 sheep were killed by a US Army chemical and biological warfare program test at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. This reminded him of the plot in George R Stewart's novel Earth Abides, which describes the odyssey of one of the last human survivors after the population is nearly annihilated by a plague. King also states that The Stand was planned as an epic The Lord of the Rings–type story in a contemporary American setting. 


Mr G 
Thanks, Graham 

Spoilers ahead 

I used to be a Stephen King fan.  

At the end of The Stand, the book’s villain Randall Flagg reappears at another location and presumably the entire battle begins anew. The same happened at the end of his book Needful Things. It pissed me off enough to cause me to write to him to tell him that both endings sucked, that having stayed with him through 800-odd pages of good v evil etc in The Stand, the whole thing simply starts again in a new location and that he now he did iut again in Needful Things. I to;ld him that it was asclumsy and amateurish a literary device as a school child writing “It was only a dream.

He never wrote back to me. 

Films about pandemics that you might want to watch wild self-isolating ; 


The Seventh Seal (1957) 

Set during the Black Death plague of the 1300s, the film centres on a knight who encounters the Angel of Death, and the game of chess they play for his soul. Stars Max von Sydow, who died only a short time ago. The scene in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey where they are playing against the Angel of Death is a reference to this film, only they are playing Battleships. BTW, Bill and Ted 3 is being made. 


The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey (1988) 

Men seeking relief from the Black Death, guided by a boy's vision, dig a tunnel from 14th century England to emerge in 20th century New Zealand. A quirky movie that is well worth watching. 


The Omega Man (1971) 

Lone survivor, doctor Robert Neville, struggles to create a cure for the plague that wiped out most of the human race while fighting The Family, a savage luddite death cult formed by the zombie-like infected to erase the past. Stars Charlton Heston, prompting the female love interest, Rosalind Cash, to state that she was uneasy before her love scene with Charlton Heston, saying "It feels strange to screw Moses." 


I Am Legend (2007) 

A remake of The Omega Man, starring Will Smith. Years after a plague kills most of humanity and transforms the rest into monsters, the sole survivor in New York City struggles to find a cure. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Cruise, Nicolas Cage, Michael Douglas, Mel Gibson, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Ted Levine were all considered to star over the years this movie was in development.  Can you imagine it . . . the last man on Earth says "I'll be back."


The Andromeda Strain (1971) 

A team of top scientists desperately work in a secret, state-of-the-art laboratory to discover what has killed the citizens of a small town and learn how this deadly contagion can be stopped, after the return to Earth of a satellite. The scientists methodically study the alien life form unaware that it has already mutated and presents a far greater danger in the lab, which is equipped with a nuclear self-destruct device should it manage to escape. 


Outbreak (1995) 

Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo and Morgan Freeman star in this tale of Army doctors struggling to find a cure for a deadly virus spreading throughout a California town that was brought to America by an African monkey. 4/10 entertainment value 


12 Monkeys (1995) 

A sci-fi classic starring Bruce Willis as a time traveler sent back to the 1990s to identify the origin of a global pandemic that nearly wiped out humanity. Also has Brad Pitt. Not exactly a feel good movie, but there is a lesson in DIY dentistry shown. 


28 Days Later (2002) 

Good Brit film about the breakdown of society following the accidental release of a highly contagious virus. Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary. Followed in 2007 by a sequel, 28 Weeks Later, with talk of a further sequel 28 Months Later. 


World War Z (2013) 

Post apocalypse zombie film with incredible special effects. The US pronounces it “Zee”, hence “World War Z” as an allusion to World War Three. We here in Oz pronounce it as “Zed. It doesn’t have the same ring to it . . . World War Zed. 


Not a pandemic movie but a good one to watch whilst the world goes to hell . .

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012) 

An asteroid named "Matilda" is on a collision course towards Earth and in three weeks the world will come to an absolute end. One man decides to spend his time searching for his long lost love from high school during the coming catastrophe. 


Sunday, March 29, 2020

Quote for the Day



One thing that intrigues me about the coronavirus pandemic is how the media hasn’t come up with a catchy name for it. Say 9/11 and everyone knows what you’re talking about. 

In Stephen King’s book The Stand, the developed strain of influenza that escapes the military facility and kills 99.4% of the world’s population is known as Captain Trips, although it is never explained why it is called that. 


I read a reference recently to the current world situation as “the newfound Mad Max-ness of everyday life”. 



Have you wondered why it is sometimes called COVID-19 and sometimes coronavirus? 

Some facts about the terminology . . . 

There is not only one coronavirus. 

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). 

When you look at coronaviruses through a microscope, they look, sorta, like a crown. Corona means crown in Latin, which is how coronaviruses got their name. 

The virus and the diseases they cause do not have the same names, just as above SARS can cause upper respiratory tract disease. Nonetheless, in public usage the name of the virus and the illness caused thereby are often referred to by the same name. 

The new strain of coronavirus was initially referred to as “novel coronavirus”. Once scientists figured out exactly what this strain of coronavirus was and how to identify it in tests, they gave it a name: SARS-CoV-2. The illness resulting from it is called COVID-19. 

For simplicity, most people are calling the virus and the disease it causes the same name, COVID-19. 


I like this explanation on the Queensland Government Health website: 
Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was discovered in 2019 when a higher than normal number of people in Wuhan, China, started to get pneumonia after having an illness similar to the flu. When doctors tested them, they found these people had a type of coronavirus they hadn’t seen before. There were already lots of types of coronavirus in the world, but this one was new. 
How is it possible to have a new virus that no one has had before? 
Viruses are microscopic organisms that can enter a living host (like you) to live and multiply. Think of them like an unwanted guest that shows up unannounced, moves into your house, eats out of your fridge and begins to reproduce. 
When a new virus makes its way into your body, your immune system realises that it’s not part of your normal bodily system, attacks it and tries to kill it. After that, it remembers the virus, so it can get rid of it straight away if it ever comes knocking again. 
Just like any living creature, viruses change themselves to survive in their environment. Over time, they change in ways that makes it hard for our immune systems to recognise them. That’s how we end up with new versions of viruses, like this new version of coronavirus. Imagine your unwanted houseguest has come back, but with a wig and new glasses. Your immune system doesn’t recognise it, so it gets in the front door before your immune system realises it should fight it off. 


Apparently the movie theatres are especially concerned at the big movies going straight to online rental. The film companies have been wanting shorter theatre release times to increase profits from online release, the current events working in their favour. The US box office has recorded zero revenue for the first time in history after the country’s near total cinema shutdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

With ticket prices, car parking fees and food costs (whether dinner or theatre refreshments) making a family trip to the flicks a very expensive exercise in the past, it is no wonder that renting a film and ordering in some pizza was a cheaper and more comfortable option. 

It remains to be seen whether theatres go the way of drive-ins and 3D films. 


One final musing . . . 

Did you know that there is a Saint Corona? 

A Roman soldier by the name of Victor, serving in Damascus, was arrested in 160AD and tortured for being a Christian. Corona, aka Stephanie, the sixteen-year-old wife of another soldier, comforted and encouraged him. For this, she was arrested and interrogated. Victor was beheaded, Corona was tied between two bent palm trees which were then released, tearing her apart. Other sources state that they were husband and wife. Or so the story goes. They’re both now saints 

But its no good praying to her for help in respect of COVID-19, that task belongs to St Edmund, the patron saint of pandemics and kings.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Reader Comment for the Day

From Tim B, in response to some of the Jehova's Witness jokes yeterday:
Hello Otto,  
Two Jehovah witnesses knocked on the door and to their surprise were invited in. As they sat on the couch no one spoke for several minutes. Finally the owner of the house asked them what they had to offer. They said “ we don’t know, we’ve never gotten this far.”  
Hope you’re fairing well and remember, wash your hands, keep social distancing, and every putt within 6 feet is a gimme.  
Tim B
Thanks, Tim, and to you.

We Didn’t Start the Fire. Part 1

Last week I posted the following item: 

The comment by The Simpsons writer, Matt Warburton, that "Today was like if 'We Didn't Start the Fire' was a day" elicited the above response.

One big difference, though . . .  with COVID-19 we did start the fire.

Thinking about the above, and words and lyrics buzzing around in my head,  inspired me to look up an old Bytes post about the events mentioned in the original Billy Joel song. I found it interesting all over again so am reposting it, believing that you, dear readers, may also enjoy the revisit.  The original article is updated and amplified.


Some comments about the song:


Billy Joel wrote the song after a discussion with John Lennon’s son Sean, who was complaining that he was growing up in troubled times. He said that Joel had grown up in the 50’s when nothing had happened. Joel asked him whether he had heard of Korea. He then wrote the song.


The song starts in 1949, the year of Billy Joel’s birth, and finishes in 1989 when the song was released.


Until the final stanza, each 2 lines represents one year.


Joel has said that he doesn’t like the song and has no plans to write a sequel with updated lyrics. 

The lyrics “we didn’t start the fire, it was always burning since the world’s been turning” mean that the troubled state of the world has existed from a long before the present generation and that the criticism of the generations seems to ignore this. Joel has stated that his aim was to give a historical perspective on the news headlines and to show that generations are not to blame for what precedes or succeeds.


Joel wrote the lyrics first, which he rarely does. He says that is why the song has no melody. Joel told Billboard magazine: "It's terrible musically. It's like a mosquito buzzing around your head."


Blender magazine rated this the 41st worst song ever in its 2004 article "Run for Your Life! It's the 50 Worst Songs Ever!" Comparing it to "a term paper scribbled the night before it's due," Blender criticized Joel's attempt to "Fit a cultural history of the twentieth century into 4 minutes" (even though the song is closer to 5 minutes, clocking in at 4:47), as well as accusing him of trivialising the Tiananmen Square massacre by mentioning it in the same line as "Rock and roller cola wars." Joel is accustomed to being panned by critics, who were often very harsh on his hit songs.


Joel has said that if he hadn’t become a musician, he would have taught history.


Film clip: 

The song with images of the events, persons and things in the lyrics can be seen at: 

The clip which accompanied the release of the song is at: 


Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray 
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio. 
Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television 
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe 
Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom 
Brando, "The King and I" and "The Catcher in the Rye" 
Eisenhower, vaccine, England's got a new queen 
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye 

We didn't start the fire 
It was always burning 
Since the world's been turning 
We didn't start the fire 
No we didn't light it 
But we tried to fight it 

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev 
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc 
Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, dacron 
Dien Bien Phu falls, "Rock Around the Clock" 
Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn's got a winning team 
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland 
Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Krushchev 
Princess Grace, "Peyton Place", trouble in the Suez 

We didn't start the fire 
It was always burning 
Since the world's been turning 
We didn't start the fire 
No we didn't light it 
But we tried to fight it 

Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac 
Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, "Bridge on the River Kwai" 
Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball 
Starkweather, homicide, children of thalidomide 
Buddy Holly, "Ben Hur", space monkey, Mafia 
Hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go 
U-2, Syngman Rhee, payola and Kennedy 
Chubby Checker, "Psycho", Belgians in the Congo 

We didn't start the fire 
It was always burning 
Since the world's been turning 
We didn't start the fire 
No we didn't light it 
But we tried to fight it 

Hemingway, Eichmann, "Stranger in a Strange Land" 
Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion 
"Lawrence of Arabia", British Beatlemania 
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson 
Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex 
JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say 

We didn't start the fire 
It was always burning 
Since the world's been turning 
We didn't start the fire 
No we didn't light it 
But we tried to fight it 

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again 
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock 
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline 
Ayatollah's in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan 
"Wheel of Fortune", Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide 
Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, crack, Bernie Goetz 
Hypodermics on the shores, China's under martial law 
Rock and roller cola wars, I can't take it anymore 

We didn't start the fire 
But when we are gone 
Will it still burn on, and on, and on, and on... 


Harry Truman: 

1884-1972, 33rd President of the US, for the years 1945-1953. Became President on the death of Franklin D Roosevelt, authorised the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan. 


Doris Day: 

Popular US actress and singer Doris Day, who died in 2019 aged 97, was known for wholesome and schmaltzy films, prompting Oscar Levant to say that he knew her before she was a virgin. Born Doris Mary Ann von Kappelhoff, she adopted the name “Day” at the suggestion of Barney Rapp, with whose orchestra she was singing, because he felt that "Kappelhoff" was too long for marquees, and because he admired her rendition of the song "Day After Day". 


Red China: 

The People’s Republic of China was formally established on 1 October 1949 when proclaimed by Mao Zedong. In 1949 major fighting in the Chinese Civil War was over and the Kuomintang (former government) fled to Taiwan. 


Johnnie Ray: 

US singer 1927-1990, known as “Cry Baby Ray” for his emotional singing style. Precursor of rock ‘n roll, first record contract in 1950 although he didn’t become popular until 1952. Openly bisexual, worked with a hearing aid. 


South Pacific: 

The Rodgers and Hammerstein musical opened on Broadway in April, 1949. The musical concerns the relationships of male and female military personnel on a South Pacific island during World War 2. 


Walter Winchell: 

US newspaper and radio columnist 1897-1972. Credited with starting the gossip column by breaking the journalistic taboo of reporting on private lives. In 1949 Winchell had the top rated radio show. His reports could ruin careers. He was also the narrator for the original TV series The Untouchables. Hear him doing a commentary for that show by clicking on:


Joe Di Maggio: 

US baseballer 1914-1999. In 1949 he signed baseball’s first $100,000 contract but was off part of that year through injury. Married Marilyn Monroe in 1954 but the marriage lasted only 9 months.  Di Maggio was controlling, jealous and abusive during the relationship, with Monroe being fragile at the end of it.  


More to follow.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Thought for the Day

Funny Friday


As a lawyer, I have been increasingly asked to advise both tenants and landlords about rights and liabilities under commercial leases – Am I still obliged to pay rent when the government won’t allow my shop to be open? Can I end the lease?  Can I walk away? Do I have to reduce the rent? There are no simple answers, relevant factors being: 
-  the terms of the lease (whether express or implied); 
- force majeure clauses (an unforeseeable circumstance that prevents a contract, in this case the lease, from being fulfilled); 
- frustration (a doctrine that applies whether there is a clause or not, whereby an unforeseen event either renders contractual obligations impossible, or radically changes a party's principal purpose for entering into the contract); 
- abatement of rent (rent reduction until a damaged property is repaired). 

Okay, it seems pretty dry but to the people affected it can mean the loss of business and worse. 

But that also sets the theme for today’s FF: landlords, tenants and leases. 

Take a moment though to send some positive energy to those doing it tough.

Also, a call out to Robert B, who isn’t travelling an easy road at the moment,.  Thinking of you amigo 




My landlord asked me out on a date. 

He said I should be out of the house by the 17th.


A lawyer wanted to rent an apartment for his family, but kept being denied by landlords because he had 8 kids. 

People keep telling him to lie about how many kids he has, but being a lawyer, he feels too guilty to lie. One day, however, he decides that enough is enough. He tells his wife to take the 7 younger kids with her and go to the cemetery. He then takes the oldest kid and brings him to visit a new apartment. They go over the details of the lease and, right before the man signed the papers, the landlord asked him a last question: 

“Do you have any other kids?: 

“I have seven others, but they're at the cemetery with their mother.” 


After testing positive for coronavirus, Prince Charles is working from home. 

So far he's opened the new garden shed 16 times and shaken the dogs’ paws three dozen. 


“Sir, you have got to help!” said the tearful man at the door. “There is a family that I know very well that is in desperate need of money. The father has been out of a job for over a year, they have five kids at home with barely a bit of food to eat. The worst part is, that they are about to kicked out of the house and they will be left on the streets without a roof over their heads!” the man concluded with one last heart wrenching sob. 

“Well,” said the man at the door, “that really is a sad story. Why don’t you come inside and we’ll talk about it a little more.” 

“So how much money is needed exactly?” asked the man when they were both seated. 

“Oh, it’s really terrible,” said the man starting up again, “why just for the rent $3,000 is needed by tomorrow, otherwise they’ll be kicked out onto the streets.” 

“How do you know so much about this situation?” asked the man as he reached for his cheque book. 

“Well,” said the man breaking down once more “they’re my tenants.” 


A duck walks into a pub and orders a pint of lager and a ham sandwich. The landlord looks at him and says, "But you're a duck." 

"I see your eyes are working" replies the duck. 

"And you talk!" exclaims the landlord. 

"I see your ears are working" says the duck, "now can I have my beer and my sandwich please?" 

"Certainly," says the landlord, " sorry about that, it's just we don't get many talking ducks in this pub. What are you doing round this way?" 

"I'm working on the building site across the road," explains the duck. 

So the duck drinks his beer, eats his sandwich and leaves. This continues for about 2 weeks. 

Then one day the circus comes to town. 

The ringleader of the circus comes into the pub and the landlord says to him "You're with the circus, aren't you? I know this duck that would be just brilliant in your circus, he talks, drinks beer and everything!" 

"Sounds marvellous" says the ringleader, "get him to give me a call." 

So the next day, the duck comes into the pub. 

The landlord says, "Hey Mr Duck. I reckon I can line you up with a top job. Paying really good money!" 

"Yeah?" says the duck, "Sounds great, where is it?" 

"At the circus," says the landlord. 

"The circus?" the duck enquires. 

"That's right," replies the landlord. 

"The circus? That place with the big tent? With all the animals? With the big canvas roof with the hole in the middle?" 

"That's right!" says the landlord. 

The duck looks confused. "What the fuck do they want with a plasterer? 


'Corona' is Latin for crown. 

After years of waiting for the top job, this is probably the closest Charles is going to get. 


An 80 year old blind man walks into a pub and sits at the bar. 

He orders a pint and tells the landlord, "I've been blind for 50 years lad. My hearing's perfectly attuned. I bet can tell you what's happening in any room in this pub." 

"Oh really", says the landlord, "go ahead then". 

The old man cups a hand round his ear, tilts his head to the ceiling and listens. "In your bathroom, upstairs, the one at the end of the corridor... a tap's been left on." 

Skeptical, the landlord sends his nephew upstairs to check. His nephew returns and confirms the findings. "Could've been luck", says the landlord, "Go on, try again..." 

The old man cups his ear, tilts his head to the floor and listens. "In your cellar", he says, "I can hear scurrying. You have a rat infestation." 

"You're talking rubbish." says the landlord, and sends his nephew to check. He returns and the old man is right, again! 

Now intrigued, the landlord urges him to try again. 

He cups a hand round his ear and listens to somewhere behind the bar. "Ah, in the storeroom down that corridor", he says, "someone's having at it in there right now". 

The nephew goes and checks the store room, and what d'ya know, he finds two of the bar staff shagging away in there. 

"Bloody hell old man, you truly are incredible", says the landlord, "what else can you hear?" 

The old geezer hushes the landlord, places his head on the bar and listens for a while. 

He lifts his head off the bar and says, "Yep, your beer pump is definitely out of action". 

The landlord checks the pump... "Ha! You're wrong old man. It's working perfectly!" 

"Well then, where's my fucking pint?" 



A taxi driver in Manchester was sat in his cab, hands down his pants, doing a routine testicular cancer check, when a gorgeous girl with great big boobs climbed in. 

"How much to Oldham?" she enquired. 

He said; "You can hold 'em for nowt, love, if I can hold yours as well!" 



I know that the rhyming pattern for a limerick is A A B B A, but I was tempted to break that protocol and use a pattern of A A A A A. Here is the result . . . 

The pollies impose isolation, 
Duration, there's no explanation. 
Vexation, frustration,
And gone all elation, 
Gone too is my winter vacation. 


GALLERY . . . 



I was in my room and saw 10 ants running frantically. I felt bad for them, so I built a house for them. This kinda makes me their landlord and that kinda makes them my . . . 



The Kraken: Yes, I'd like to renew my lease . 

Landlord : Re-lease the Kraken! 


Did you hear of the landlord who played favourites? 

He only did maintenance for his main tenants. 


I ordered a Chinese meal and it was delivered by an Asian driver. As he came to the door. I walked out to meet him and he began shouting "Isolate. Isolate.” 

I said "Mate, your'e not that late, I only ordered 10 minutes ago.”