MOA – the mag

MOA was a magazine that never existed named after an extinct flightless bird from New Zealand. If you were wondering why it went extinct, I believe it’s because the Maoris gobbled them up in the 16th century.

The magazine was going to be called The ~ but our market research indicated that people would think we were trying to copy Wallpaper* by placing a seemingly frivolous symbol at the end of a word. A dead flightless bird scored much better with our targeted demographic.

Here’s what was very nearly the cover…


Myself,  Elliott Samuels of Upstairsforthinking and Paul Davis a.k.a. Oslo Davis came up with the idea of creating MOA while living in Hanoi, Tokyo and Melbourne, respectively, which is perhaps why we never got around to actually publishing it. But that doesn’t matter because it still kind of existed, though not physically, a bit like Obi-Wan Kenobi after he was killed by Darth Vader.

The year this was all happening was 2006 and as you can see from the contents we were gripped by important global issues, such as manly whiskers, forgotten desserts, sandwich recipes and celebrity neighbours, amongst other matters of grave consequence. Terrifying times they were I’m sure you’ll all agree.

Anyway, rather then let the files sit on a desktop and wither away like an unloved pensioner in an old person’s home, I figured I’d slap up a few of the pieces I penned for MOA — the first few of a few more are down below.

But do please remember our motto — “We have ways of ostracising you from your peers.”


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Everyone arrived late to the party, one by one

The thumb arrived, dressed in a tuxedo, his chest puffed out, and he moved around approving of everyone and everything. Even the cheesy music, the talkative twat from the Isle of Man, and the nauseous dips.

The Californian jackass-wannabe climbed up the gutter-pipe and jumped in the window. After high-fiving himself, he polished off the tequila and collapsed in his own vomit, hissing out the words “Dude, whoa” ad infinitum.

Then the old high heel shoe, arrived – slightly drunk, unbuckled,  it moved around refusing to engage anyone in meaningful conversation. It merely stroked their ankles, tickled their toes and pinched their cigarettes. And when it went out on the balcony everyone agreed it had seen better days.

The naked pregnant woman waddled in, with her arms pushing into her own back, jutting her enormous stomach out even further, and made straight for the fridge in the kitchen.

The mime artist stood outside the front door, too polite to knock.

The cigarette lighter hoped to bring a spiritual and emotional air to the evening, and kept on trying to put on rock ballads, before getting into a fight with the 52 year-old punk-rocker.

When I arrived one and all were drunk, and loose. I shouted for attention, “Do you know who I am? It’s me. This is my brithday party.” But no one cared. Apart from the pregnant woman who came at me with a knife.


A piece of “serious” fiction written exclusively for MOA!

Note: I’m not joking about the seriousness…

I know you know

Just spit it out, I think, because I know you know, and if you don’t, you’re stupider than I thought. But everything you say has to be qualified, set within boundaries. You always did hate mum’s simplistic statements. “Nothing,” you’d tell her, “is that simple.” And when she asked you to explain you’d say – “well, let’s begin at the beginning…” but nobody wanted to know about anything from the beginning. They just wanted you to spit it out. Do you remember when I was eighteen and there was a questionnaire in one of the Sunday Magazines titled: How cool are you as a parent? And we all sat around and quizzed you and mum, and it was all a bit of a hoot, until the second from last question: would you be more surprised if your son was a) gay or b) joined the army? And you stalled, leaned back, raised your eyebrows, stroked your chin and the tangent began, encompassing everything: present trends, the role of the army, genetics, conscription, and all you had to say was ‘a’ or ‘b’, and I knew that you knew, and if you didn’t you were stupider than I thought. I wanted to jump up and scream – “Spit it out!” But I didn’t, I let you off the hook, like I always did. Even now, as we stare at each other over a restaurant table, which seems inappropriately small, now that mum’s gone, and I’m all grown up, all you have to say is, ‘Son, I love you for who you are’ but you can’t, or you won’t, instead you’re warbling on about the rise of tribalism in Europe, how to put a price on priceless art, baking the perfect profiterole, the history of gender, the beginnings of civilisation and how to cut onions without shedding a tear, and even though I don’t care for any of it, I smile and listen, nibbling on my veal escalope because I know that there was a whole eternity that stretched before us, and a whole eternity that will stretch away when we’re gone, and this little dinner is but a flicker that I must shield for all its worth, your pointlessness, which mother loved, your inability to listen to others, which she hated, I must accept it, because I’d be a hypocrite to judge you, and how weird it feels at this very moment, as if you’re the child and I the doting parent, because I know you won’t say it, you won’t spit it out, you never will, even though the whole world knows you know, so you will talk until the restaurant is empty, the dinner is digested and the dregs of our coffee have gone cold, and the waiter will look at us hopefully, prompting us to pick up our coats and leave, and you and I will walk out on to the street to say goodbye, you will stand there like an idiot not knowing whether to shake my hand, hug me or pat me on the back like an old friend, even though I know you know.

Written circa 2005 or so for MOA


The slow, calculated, demise of manly whiskers from society

By Yorkie Pittstop Jnr. with no less than three illustrations by Oslo Davis

Faomous Beards Preserved

Question – what keeps you warm at night, adds distinction to your character, keeps your partner tickled pink and serves as a safe place to hide small objects, such as after-dinner mints, harmonicas or cocktail sausages?

Can’t guess? Well, what do the following professions have in common – explorers, pirates, revolutionaries, druids, wizards, deities, Islamic fundamentalists and great inventors?

Why beards, of course, and mighty beards at that. Once the stuff of immortals – think Zeus, Poseidon, the Holy Trinity, Santa Claus, Animal from the Muppet Show – now beards are the source of ridicule and discrimination.

On the streets bearded men are pointed at by children and mocked. At work bearded men are pushed behind closed doors. In the bedroom women are demanding men to whisk off their whiskers, even mere stubble. In the media bearded men are portrayed as bedraggled hobos, eccentrics, fishermen (all drunk). Castaways within the framework of urban society. Ghosts among their fellow men.

One wonders such the prominence of the clean shaven oh-so-kissable- look in this age of the metrosexual is there any way for beards to claw their way back to the fore and represent common masculinity?

It’s not the first time in history man’s natural growth has been challenged. As early as the 4th Century BC, Alexander the Great – as portrayed cleverly by clean shaven Colin Farrell in the film adaptation – ordered his soldiers to shave their whiskers, so as to avoid having their beards seized during combat. A practical notion at first, says you, but historians beg to differ accusing the great Macedonian as the archetypal metrosexual pretty boy who just liked the cut of his own jib when shaven, and so commanded others to follow suit (All the better to rub off each other in the post-battle sauna no doubt).

In Russia, Peter the Great detested beards so much that he even taxed those who wore them. There are even darker tales of those who were cursed with whiskers from birth. In the mid-1600s, a secret orphanage was established in the foothills of the Swiss Alps to serve as a safe-haven for ‘bearded’ babies. Scores of discarded children from across Europe lived there, and it became the inspiration for the classic bothers Grimm tale “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.


But once a man could be, and was, judged by his beard – a beard was de rigueur for legends such as Socrates, Shakleton, Lincoln and God after all made man in his own image, so they say, and he sported a hefty one according to your average artist’s interpretation.

“There are two kinds of people in this world that go around beardless,” said the ancient Greeks, who saw the beard as a symbol of male virility. “Boys and women.”

“The hair of the chin showed him to be a man,” said St Clement of Alexandria circa 195 AD.

Name a common virtue and I’ll name you a bearded man: Patience – Father Time, generosity – Father Christmas, wisdom – Getafix the druid, benign sorcery – Gandalf the grey, knocking the ball for six – W.G. Grace.

But now the average man on the street couldn’t name a famous person with a beard, despite the obvious Islamic indoctrinated activist, monsieur Bin Laden.

So what went wrong? As now 21st century man is vainer than ever. We are living in the greatest sustained era of anti-beard growing in the history of civilisation.

In the 1960s the CIA were said to have considered using depilatory on Castro to rob “El Barbudo” of his famous beard, such their fear of the great man’s whiskers. A certain William Gillette – the scourge of all bodily fuzz – certainly played his part as the pesky upstart who revolutionised the shaving process. Now the situation seems bleak –– a survey in the image-conscious United States suggested bearded politicians polled 5 per cent fewer votes than clean-shaven opponents. A beard can also be a bar to holding even humble posts, like manning the supermarket deli counter.

The average man on the street speaks of “feeling fresher”, “more aerodynamic”, “Clooney-esque”. Thus, the beard, no matter what your style – full, Garibaldi, goatee, the Lemmy, the Verdi, the Osama – has been marginalised.

The only refuge is cultish underground movements where beard competitions are organised by beardist-awareness groups that gather in hairy solidarity. But this smacks of desperation.

We – society at large – must hold our hands up and admit that we have ostracised them, and in the process turned them into freaks. For confirmation just check out these photos or these.

So do us all a favour – you don’t have to grow one -–just accept them.

Today’s homework: Hug a man with a beard and talk about the experience with friends over coffee and cookies.



Moustaches have never enjoyed the historical might of their follicular cousin. Women interpret them as warnings – fetishist in neon lights – and parents a way of knowing to keep their children at a distance.

(Admittedly it has a poor track record: Hitler, Captain Hook, Poirot, Tom Selleck, Burt Reynolds and the average artist’s interpretation of that hooved infernal rotter Lucifer himself. There are some esteemed exceptions such as Asterix, David Niven, Chaplin and Charlie Chang.)


[From a series titled Teddy de Burca Senior writes posthumously from the grave]

The death of old fashioned desserts was the death of me

I recall clearly the day when my body gave up on life, and said to itself “no more”.

I knew I had turned the last page in the penultimate chapter to the story of my life a minute after arriving in Crumlin. This was a weekly promenade I had made for over two decades, as a certain supermarket in that part of Dublin was the last bastion of old fashioned desserts I associated with my youth.

What desserts, says you? I am speaking of trifles, upside down cakes, gingerbread men, marzipan, pink and chocolate-brown fancies, rice puddings and my personal favourite, my raison d’être, the one, the only, the sumptuous Black Forest Gateaux.

But that day, oh woe is me, when I strolled into the cake and pastries section I was instantly ill at ease. They had revamped the section. And in front of me I could see nothing I recognised. Smelt nothing familiar. All sorts of ghastly modern concoctions sat smugly before me. The Praline Pecan Pie, the Pumpkin-Mango Cheesecake, Turkish baklava, antsy-pansy mille feuille. Where-oh-where was my black forest gateaux?

“Oh, we don’t bake that anymore.”


“Try the dark White Chocolate Brie Cheesecake!”

“Young man. I have eaten Black Forest Gateaux every week for 30 years…”

“Souffléd Chocolate Mocha Roll?”

“You don’t even have lemon meringue pie anymore…”

“Milk Chocolate Crème Fraîche Tart?”


“Sir, perhaps its time for a change… how about York peppermint patties? Zucchini Zinfandel Chocolate Loaf?”

“Young man, at the age of 82 a change could be the death of me.”

So I told the younker behind the counter of my youth; I, shall we say,strolled down the boulevards of memory dragging him by the figurative lapels. I spoke of my impecunious youth. How all I had to look forward to were my mother’s desserts: jelly and ice cream, rhubarb and custard cake, apple tart or crumble, rice crispie cakes, gooseberry fool and pink and yellow fancies. The rest of my life was bleak. All I had to hope for was a meagre income, try to avoid consumption or tuberculosis and immigration. Through all this hardship these desserts were the light at the end of the tunnel. My hope. My redemption. My icing on the cake of life.

Tears welled in my eyes as I confided with the young salesperson but it was all lost on him.

“Italian Tiramisu made with avocado and crab?”

Enough. I wheeled away before the tears burst and flowed down my aged-cheeks. I staggered the whole way home; there was scarcely any life left in my feckless legs. I knew that my spell here on earth was over. I had thrashed out my piece betwixt the eternities of darkness.

Yes, the day the sweet flavours of my youth had become archaic little recipes in yellowed-paged books on dusty shelves was the day I gave up on life. I would die that winter with a taste of bitterness on my palate and sadness upon my beatless heart.

Teddy de Burca Senior is a dead writer but can be contacted via a mediator near you

Getting Jokes

Paul Davis illustrates his point

This article is about ‘getting jokes’ or, to put it more convolutedly, the act of understanding the humorous nature of pieces of writing, images, stories and/or cartoons (amongst other things) that are specifically designed to be funny. It is not about laminating your grandmother’s Reader Digests (sorry).

For centuries people have gotten jokes. Laughter, unless you are a complete nutcase, does not usually come from inside you but comes from somewhere else. That somewhere else is a comic premise strategically wrapped inside a parcel of writing or an image, for example.

Getting jokes involves a two-step process. First, someone (or perhaps, in the future, a high powered super-computer) writes/says/draws, etc, something that he/she (or it) imbues with an element that, when read/heard/seen, etc, by someone else, generates that familiar but unexplainable sensation of mirth in the mind of the reader/hearer/seer, etc. Secondly a reader/hearer/seer, etc, (or high powered super-computer) reads/hears/sees, etc, the created piece of art and identifies the same familiar but unexplainable sensation of mirth and/or comedy that its creator intended. This identification of the aforementioned same element is the ‘getting’ part of getting jokes. To put it another way, the reader/hearer/seer, etc, (or a high powered super-computer, maybe named Flok87) ‘gets’, or ‘receives’, the gift of the joke from someone else. In many ways it is a lot like getting a deadly disease from an animal, except jokes, as far as we know (and not counting the sinister ones used by Hitler in WWII) are usually not life-debilitating.

Not every one gets jokes. We all know someone who, when presented with something that’s clearly hilarious, fails to see the funny side of it. (That person is of course George Upanishad, but there are also others that are known only to smaller groups of people – maybe you know some more?) These people take the statement/image/drawing on its ‘face’, or ‘literal’, value (in much the same way, incidentally, as those just-used inverted commas do to the words they surround). For example on the cover of a recent New Yorker magazine there was a single image cartoon of a fat elderly woman walking with a four-legged walking-frame along a footpath. She had a disgruntled look on her face because ahead of her, placed in equal proportion to the four legs of her walking-frame, were four banana peels. The inference is made that, in keeping with the comic history of fat people (especially, alas, women) regularly slipping on banana peels, the old woman with the walking-frame would, with perhaps the next step of her frame, put the four legs of her frame exactly on top of the four discarded yellow peels and slip arse over tit. Her disgruntled facial expression in some way suggests that she cannot avoid this fate and that she will ‘fall’ victim of the same comic premise that she knows all too well. (One may even suggest that she, as a younger yet equally filled-out woman, once slipped arse over tit on a peel, and that the peels have returned to ruin her old age – an age of seemingly stable walking-frames where one is, supposedly, impervious to banana peels.) While this cartoon is pretty funny some people may not get the joke and, thus, see it as a simple drawing of an elderly fat woman walking with a four-legged walking-frame with four banana peels ahead of her. They would, in effect, not ‘get’ the joke, and would, consequentially, begin to look around for something that may amuse them (such as ridiculous picture a monkey dressed as a policeman).

Fortunately, for comedians, who have financial obligations that depend on being them being consistently funny, lots of people do get jokes. All around the world, at any given moment in time, people are quietly understanding the comic nature of things.

So the question that now falls into our laps like a rusty shoe cast wantonly amongst the mangroves is this: why do some people get jokes and others don’t? And the answer to this question is: the people who don’t are complete morons. While this seems an overly simple explanation it is absolutely correct. In fact it is so correct that there is no need to go into detail explaining it.

So there you have it: an article about getting jokes. As a parting shot here is a cartoon I did. (I’m not sure if I get it though.)

(Paul Davis is an illustrator )


5 Responses to “MOA – the mag”

  1. Oh man, the near memories. I remember when the first issue of MOA didn’t come out. I lined up for hours with hundreds of other media junkies, the line going ’round the block, some brought sleeping bags and thermoses full of chicken soup, sandwiches of hopes and dreams. It was like waiting for the premiere of the 1st (4th) Star Wars movie, and with the same sort of let-down!

    To this day, I tell strangers at cocktail parties and on public transit that MOA remains the elusive magazine that got away. Like that chick in the Great Gatsby. Thanks for all those great almost-issues MOA, I loved every single one.

  2. As a sometime-almost-loyal fan, MOA has certainly never forgotten you Mr Wainwright, and the other hordes of would-have-been subscribers that didn’t get a chance to exist. As wise old chauvinistic Australians say at barbecues, “the best root you ever had, was the root you never had.” Likewise, MOA is now surely immortalised as the best readable item ever as you never actually had a chance to get a copy.

  1. 1 The Moa page « The Comical Hat
  2. 2 Best beards ever « The Comical Hat

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