And he’s back!
And its like he never went away!
Please, though, no sporting comments. Hawthorn have lost their last two matches by a combined total of 170+ points, and currently sit 18th on the ladder.
Yes, there are 18 teams.
More seriously, and before I get into the interesting questions left for me during my absence, I want to mention the passing of two people greatly admired by me, but with whom the vast majority of my readers may not be familiar.
Firstly, I want to acknowledge the passing of satirist supreme John Clarke.
Mr Clarke, together with his partner, Brian Dawe, used a mock ‘interview’ format, every week, to lampoon the political and social issues of the day. Without using trivialities such as make-up or costumes, they would seamlessly ‘adopt’ the personas of a hapless interviewer and a suitably pompous buffoon.
Here’s an example of a banker trying to confidently explain both the banking system and the 2008 financial crisis :
And here is a ‘consultant’ answering quiz questions on the government’s policy on refugees :
Satire that is consistently funny, perceptive and intelligent is exceedingly rare. For a few minutes every Thursday, Clarke and Dawe was appointment television for, literally, TWO DECADES.
I salute you, Mr Clarke.
With regard to the other recent sad news, I will start by mentioning some personal background.
In 1991, my friend Dave suggested I listen to a new cassette tape (!) of his while we were shooting pool. He mentioned that it was by a band called Savatage, which merged traditional hard rock with complex instrumentation and orchestral arrangements. Two of the first four songs were this :
and this :
The videos may be still slightly 80s cheesy, but the heartfelt piano, searing guitar and thought-provoking lyrics stopped me dead in my tracks.
I later discovered that this band had started as a conventional (though extremely skilled) metal band. However, once Paul O’Neill, producer and songwriter, came on board, their entire approach changed, and (comparative) success followed.
Their albums started have a strong sto toryline thread, with various albums telling stories about sin, redemption, substance abuse, despair and others.
After Criss Oliva, lead guitarist, died at the hands of a drunk driver in 1993, his brother Jon and Paul O’Neill recorded the heartbreaking album Handful of Rain, with this tribute to Criss (‘Alone You Breathe’) being the heartstopping finale.
Over time, a further feature became detailed vocal arrangements, with up to six vocal tracks singing different verses simultaneously, resulting in great stuff like this :
On the concept album Dead Winter Dead, an instrumental piece, that represented the playing of Christmas carols during wartime became a massive radio hit in the USA, and the side-project of Trans-Siberian Orchestra was born.
TSO (as it became known) overtook Savatage in both the public perception and record sales. Those of you in the USA will no doubt have heard of their massively successful tours and albums.
All this is building up to the news that Paul O’Neil, producer, song-writer and artist, has died aged 61.
To quote the first words of ‘Alone You Breathe’ :
“You were never one for waiting / Still I always thought you’d wait for me.”
I leave you with this tale of redemption and forgiveness :