20 June 2009

A change in procedure...

The SLAP is now to be found at http://www.youtube.com/user/ComedianMattElsbury. I will still post here now and again, as my travels may lead me away from video access, but in the meantime, I can be found over at YouTube, or for more general work, www.mattelsbury.com.

5 June 2009

From Federal Minister to the SLAPbench

When I decide who to slap in a week, it's a combination of who I think is worthy, and who has pushed a particular button in the back of my head (I'm kind of like a G.I. Joe figure that way - Matt Elsbury, now with Kung-Fu Slap Action!). A couple of personal irritations come to the fore as I announce the latest member of the League of the Handprint...

former Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon.

The Member for Hunter resigned from his ministerial post yesterday, perhaps as a butterfly effect from the swathe being cut through British cabinet at the moment (Communities Secretary Hazel Blears is the most recent to vanish in a flurry of dodgy expense claims, which included one UK parliamentarian claiming taxpayer money for moat cleaning. Yes, moat cleaning). More likely, it's been due to the recent scandals attached to his office... in one case literally, as his ministry digs were apparently the venue for discussions between Defence officials, US health company Humana, and the head of health fund NIB, who happens to be Joel's brother Mark. Ah, the joy of nepotism. An undeclared gift here, a pay glitch for soldiers there, and Fitzgibbon's position became untenable. However, according to Joel, the resignation was triggered by having "two or three Judas' in my midst".

Here's where it becomes about my more personal itches. Firstly, if anyone who betrays Joel is a "Judas", that makes Joel Jesus, and even with my non-religious nature, that gets irritating. It reminded me of a story a few months ago, where a primary school was taking a bit of a full-contact approach to child obesity by searching through kids' lunches, and removing items such as chocolate. A bit harsh, and possibly heading into privacy invasion, but when one parent described it as being "like Nazi Germany", that's more than a tad ridiculous. The Nazis didn't become history's greatest villains through their annexation of lunchboxes. The other aspect is that Joel seems annoyed that he was dobbed on. The problem is not that he accepted certain travel gifts without telling anyone, or housed a bit of career networking by his brother in his parliamentary office, it's that people found out. If "how dare you tell people what I've been doing" is his idea of a defence, the Defence Ministry is not his place.

As has been mentioned in the media, the title "Minister for Defence" has been something of an expensive albatross around the neck of political careers for the last decade, so there may have been a touch of pressure release combined with annoyance in Mr Fitzgibbon's minor tanty. However, for hype, whining, and making me have a point of agreement with the Liberal Party, it's time to table a familiar motion. All in favour?


Link - Fitzgibbon defenceless against 'Judas' staff

29 May 2009

Chk-Chk Slap

This one caused me a bit of a quandary. As I've mentioned previously, I'm not a fan adding to unwarranted attention, but a recent public noise and its more irritating echoes have gotten under my skin. It would take an octopus on Red Bull to issue all of the slaps this situation deserves, so I will focus on the people that have made my blood boil the most. Let the opening credits play for this week's recipients;

The producers of A Current Affair

For those of you who have successfully avoided the story of Clare Werbeloff, here's the quickest of summaries - after a shooting in Kings Cross, Clare sprints to get her head in front of a TV camera and proceeds to invent an eyewitness account. The video becomes a talking point online, Clare hires an agent, and proceeds to hawk herself around media outlets after admitting she didn't actually see the shooting, saying that she didn't think it was wrong because she only lied to the media, not police. She appeared twice on A Current Affair this week, talking about how the public backlash had affected her. How the hell did someone who has interjected herself into a story about someone being shot purely to grab some attention turn into the victim of the piece? If you jump in front of a truck so you can bathe in the glow of the headlights, you have no room to whine about being run over.

But for mine, she is not the most deserving Slapcatcher here. If someone acts a fool in order to get airplay, that's their decision - it is an entirely separate decision for the media to give her that attention, and Tuesday night's edition of ACA showed an amazing commitment to bottom-of-the-barrel scraping. I'm going to give fill-in presenter Leila McKinnon the benefit of the doubt here - after "reporter" Ben Fordham's interview, McKinnon responded with a reference to this whole saga going a bit far. I choose to interpret that as a token protest to the producers about the odour this non-story was creating. Where things got embarrassing was that after McKinnon made her remark, another Ben Fordham piece was aired, namely an interview with Will Ferrell. Fordham then proceeded to ask Ferrell's thoughts on... Clare Werbeloff. He showed Ferrell the footage of the original lie, and - offering no context, no explanation, and not referring to the falsehood - asked for his reaction.


Imagine going to a job interview, and just after you list your qualifications, the interviewer asks for your thoughts on a picture that someone else's kid drew. The inventors of quizzes on Facebook can only look on in envy at just how massive a waste of time this is. And in the most recent chapter, apparently "Clare the Bogan", as she has been dubbed, is being sized up to possibly present "pop culture issue stories" for ACA. Apparently the biggest talent the producers are looking for is a mindless lust for fame (and if you've seen the original clip, you know I mean MINDLESS. If you haven't, DON'T).

While Clare puts the mole in molehill, ACA's attempts to help turn her into a mountain should be met with nothing but derision. If they are so determined to give her her full fifteen minutes, make her the public face of a new create-a-celebrity show... Dancing with the Stupid, perhaps? Or maybe Australia's Got Brain Damage. Either way, the coffin of A Current Affair's image as having anything to do with news just received another nail, and those in charge received a massively deserved SLAP.

Link: Chk-Chk Boom girl Clare Werbeloff may get ACA TV job

22 May 2009

Up there, Slappy

It's amazing how two months can pass in the blink of an eye, when one is up to one's jeans pockets in busy (Melbourne International Comedy Festival, then a month of away games in my case). However, it is time to give qualified Slapcatchers the reward they have earned, starting with a trip into Melbourne's sporting heart - clearly bypassing the brain entirely. Join me as we distribute the digits to...

James Brayshaw.

The AFL held its annual Hall Of Fame ceremony this week, and Brayshaw - co-host of the Footy Show, and chairman of the North Melbourne Football Club - has had strong words about the fact that Wayne Carey, for the second year since becoming eligible, was overlooked. One slight look at broader context, however, would probably deliver a much-needed clue.

Wayne Carey was a brilliant and talented footballer, whose attitude and behaviour towards women has been as appropriate as a rifle range in a primary school. From random boob-grabs all the way to more recent glass swinging, memories of Carey's undeniable skill on field have been permanently handcuffed to stupidity and lack of impulse control off iCheck Spellingt. Apart from the fact that behaviour has always been a factor in deciding who gets the Hall of Fame nod, hasn't Brayshaw read a newspaper lately?

The highest-profile sports story for the last fortnight has been sexual scandal attached to rugby league, and has been just the most recent in a sequence as long and ugly as a parade of hairless cats. The NRL is trying to change its culture, or at least the perception of its culture, to have women feel a little more secure than a carcass at a vulture convention, and it's requiring some work at the fundamentals - rugby players have it ingrained that they are indestructible, and that "can't" isn't part of their equation; getting them familiar with the idea of "shouldn't" is an idea that has only recently arrived, and is proving tricky to enact. The AFL have had their own fun with players sliding the brain in neutral and the ego into overdrive, while not as constant or as dramatic as in League, and so as we try to change the attitudes of the young men who get buckets of money to play these sports, and the younger people who look up to them, Brayshaw should see beyond the Kangaroos' collective navel, and figure out without so much noise that now is not the time for Wayne's ascension.

Wayne Carey will be a member of the AFL Hall of Fame. If he has gone through the personal transformation that he has claimed in recent times, he could well be the poster boy for reforming the attitudes and images that are plaguing our most public winter sportsmen. But as one of the game's most influential figures, by his television job and club presidency, James Brayshaw should have looked around a bit before getting all foot-stampy. So, for not leaving the mouth-before-mind approach to Sam Newman (it's what he's there for, after all)...


Link: North incensed as Carey misses out again

20 March 2009

SLAP the presses!

March 2009, and it's time for the first Slap for the Fourth Estate. Former judge Marcus Einfeld gets a Flick to help send him on his way to jail, after trying to perjure his way out of a $77 speeding ticket, as does Robert Mugabe for asking for the end to "cruel" sanctions against Zimbabwe, when he is doing more damage than an angry wrecking ball himself. Coming up just short of being the third religious Slap this year is Pope Benedict the Unhelpful, for suggesting that condoms would "aggravate" the spread of AIDS in Africa. If that's his view of preventative measures, I'm going to burglarise his house, as I can only assume he believes that security systems aggravate theft. However, we head to the offices of Sydney's Sunday Telegraph, and render a handprint on its editor...

Neil Breen.

Neil's decision to publish photos that were allegedly of a naked Pauline Hanson taken in the 80's has had a cascading effect throughout the news. Apparently he now admits that he "went too quickly on the story", after paying the alleged human who provided the photos $15 000. After splashing the headline around proclaiming Pauline's nudity, the rise in sales will most likely have covered this particular cost, so he doesn't take a hit. What takes the hit is the credibility of news in Australia. Most people still take what they read in the papers at face value, and so before running such a salacious story, the editor has a duty to check sources, confirm origins... and to open his damn eyes. The photos do not look like Pauline. There is a passing similarity in eye makeup and hair, but both are clearly on a non-Pauline Hanson head. But, as he can pass himself off as a victim in this process, being duped by brilliant, dazzling con artistry, he can simply take the circulation bump and move on.

For the same reason that a former judge gets an extra kicking for breaking the rules, so should a newspaper editor. Not only is such a person expected to know better, they need to behave better. The knock-on effect of this cerebral power shortage is that, just before an election that she is running in, Pauline Hanson gets to portray herself as a victim of the big bad media, and garner more votes that she doesn't deserve because of it (for an elaboration on this, scroll down to Vote 1: Slap).

This one goes in the file of "disappointed, but not surprised". Far too many "news stories" are the direct result of press releases, those press releases should have to, at the very least, make their flaws and bullshit less obvious than this particularly pale attempt at lookalikes.

And in other news, the editor of a Sydney-based bin liner took five fingers and a palm to the side of the head. Nearby witnesses heard a noise which they described as a SLAP.

Links: Jail term completes Einfeld's disgrace
Mugabe calls for end to "cruel" sanctions
Pope Benedict XVI says condoms can aggravate AIDS in Africa
Hanson photo row: editor admits not checking facts

13 March 2009

The $177 Billion Dollar Slap

After a week hiatus, or perhaps you could consider it "taking a run-up", hostilities resume. And while an incoming Slap might be the least of this gentleman's problems, he is still in desperate need of a handprint. So, courtesy of the New York Judicial System, please welcome Slapcatcher #9 of 2009 -

Bernard Madoff.

This week, Madoff pleaded guilty to eleven counts relating to the world's biggest game of Three Card Monty. The figures are staggering - according to prosecutors, $177 billion dollars went through Madoff's hands. I have to plan and organise and manoevre the paying of a phone bill... trying to imagine $177 buh-ILLION dollars is like a grain of sand trying to picture the beach. And yet, the apparently "deeply sorry" Bernard Madoff managed to make this evaporate. A lot of people's lives went sideways in the process.

Also Slapped this week are every person who assisted Madoff, either wittingly, or by giving his books a clean bill of health. The Ponzi scheme is an old, well-established rip off procedure, and for it to have worked that large for that long it astounding; it means that so many people were asleep at so many switches that being part of a US financial regulatory body apparently causes narcolepsy. Nice to know that Enron taught some people absolutely nothing. And more of this snooze-based vigilance will become apparent over the course of this year - much white-collar crime stays hidden while things are ticking along nicely, but when the wheels come off... it's only when there's a fire that you notice the fire extinguisher has been sold.

Madoff himself, having carried this on for decades, has been very noisy in his regrets now that he's been caught. Considering the amazingly large figures involved, the only other possible outcomes are that a) he died before he got caught, or b) he successfully put about $6 billion on 27 at Vegas. When you screw up once, you say sorry. Make the same bad move twice, and you might get away with "really sorry". Rinse and repeat over twenty years, and you can season your "sorry" with your crocodile tears, and take rectally. Which briefly makes me ponder the fact that it's a shame he won't be serving his time in maximum security.

Bernie, you deserve more punishment than you'll get. All I can do is add ever so slightly to your sentence.


Link - Bernard Madoff pleads guilty in $100bn fraud

27 February 2009

Vote 1: Slap

Time for another Weekly Slap that doubles as a long service smacking. Without any further ado, strike up the banjo for this week's recipient...

Pauline Hanson.

International readers will probably, blessedly, be unaware of Ms Hanson's place in the Australian political landscape - down the back, under the septic tank. First coming to national attention in 1996, after a procedural glitch saw her elected to Federal parliament, Hanson was spun as a champion of the ordinary person. The fact that she didn't talk like a career politician, and spoke her mind, attracted a degree of following, and the existence of the One Nation party. Over time, it became apparent that speaking her mind was a quick process, for the same reason that it doesn't take two hours to recite a limerick. Simplicity was revealed to be ignorance, and while people started to get an idea of what she and hers stood against, such as immigration, standing for something didn't seem to be part of the equation. The same way a renter will put furniture over a stain in the carpet, Hanson and her handlers would cover lack of ideas and knowledge with an Australian flag.

Before Pauline settled into her rightful position as punchline, she provided camouflage for then-Prime Minister John Howard. As the Liberals seemed determined to divide the country on racial lines, they could always point at the Ugly Stepsister and say "well at least we're not that!". The house of straw eventually blew away, but not before cementing Hanson in the public consciousness. She has made several tilts at regaining a place in Federal, NSW and Queensland parliaments, all without success. Or, at least, without actually gaining a seat...

In the past week, Pauline announced that on Monday, she'll announce her return to the political arena, running in the Queensland state election for the seat of Beaudesert. She can't win, but such are the Australian electoral laws that any candidate who achieves over four percent of the vote gets paid. In her last run for the Federal senate, she pocketed up to $170 000 (the gap between her expenditure and the funding from the Electoral Commission for getting above the magic 4%). She's not running to bring exposure to a particular issue; she has nothing to say. It's not about representing the electorate, as she keeps trying to find different people in different areas to represent, showing a Shane Warne-esque degree of commitment. She's simply hoping enough MENSA candidates vote for her because they remember seeing her off of the talking picture box for another payday.

And so, Mr Speaker, I move that for being a drain on the public purse and the national IQ, that the candidate for Beaudesert hereby be Slapped.

Motion carried.

Link - Pauline Hanson to stand in Beaudesert against Big Brother gatecrasher Aidan McLindon