Why I’m a fan of Game of Thrones, and not fantasy

I always hated He-Man. An action figure that time has largely forgotten, he – sorry – ‘He’ was the lord of Castle Grayskull, and spent the 1980s battling Skeletor, whom he always defeated, and irrelevancy, which ultimately vanquished him.

The other boys in my primary school collected He-Man much as they collected head-lice, but I always despised his page-boy blonde haircut and bulging muscles. His appearance would have reminded me of Clive James’ famous description of Arnold Schwarzenegger as a ‘condom full of walnuts’ if I’d known what a condom was at the age of eight.

I mention He-Man not just to pat myself on the back for rejecting plasticised machismo early in life, but because that’s where my lifelong antipathy towards fantasy literature began. While many of my sweaty teenage boy classmates spent their lunch hours swapping Magic: The Gathering cards and rolling AD&D dice with an unfeasibly large number of sides, I was never interested. Continue Reading →

We should care more about state politics

Wait, don’t stop reading! Let’s forget I said “state politics”, and instead said “delicious snacks”

We treat state politicians vendors of delicious snacks as though they were mediocre players in an amateur theatre production – the Woop Woop Players doing A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Legislative Assembly, or, given the penchant for bloodshed in politics today, perhaps Hackbeth.

And fair enough, too – in recent years, when they’ve made the news, it’s usually because of some scandal that made state pollies seem dodgy, or hopeless, or in many cases, hopeless at being dodgy. Continue Reading →

The mere competence of Guy Sebastian

When the decision was announced this morning, it had the daggy inevitability of a zinger at a Bill Shorten press conference. Inexplicably ignoring my helpful list of suggestions for an interesting, unexpected option like Prince Philip, SBS has opted for Guy Sebastian as our Eurovision representative.

Well, of course they did. They had only a few weeks to decide, which didn’t allow them enough time to conduct the traditional selection process, so instead they chose somebody who had already been anointed by an excruciatingly drawn-out reality TV talent contest, as they did last year when Jessica Mauboy performed at the semi-final. Jess’n’Guy are both pleasant people who are household names, which means that everyone’s mum knows who they are, even if they couldn’t name a song.

Guy Sebastian ticks all the boxes, if you’re the kind of person who likes making decisions by ticking boxes instead of coming up with an idea that gets everyone excited. I presume that the decision was made by a large committee piling into the SBS boardroom and throwing around ideas, until all the interesting suggestions got vetoed and they arrived on a consensus that the management team would sign off on.

I can’t imagine that anyone in the room had a burning desire to showcase the music of Guy Sebastian to the world, but nor can I imagine that anybody objected to him. Because you really can’t. Objecting to Guy Sebastian is like objecting to the offer of a nice cup of tea. Continue Reading →

Of strangers and dogs

Nowadays, people often smile at me when I’m walking down the street. I make an effort to smile back, naturally, because I assume they’re readers, awestruck by the shock of seeing someone they admire so much on the street right in front of them. Or maybe they’re trying to play it cool, and subtly acknowledge that they definitely know who I am even though they don’t want to make a fuss. That’s fine. They know, and I know, and a smile is enough.

Occasionally they’ll say something like “So cute”, which is totally unnecessary, but, hey, that’s their opinion, and of course I’m flattered.

Recently, though, I’ve started to realise that these random expressions of admiration tend to happen only at certain times, and are immediately followed by an admiring look downwards. And while I have excellent taste in footwear, I have to acknowledge that it’s not me. It’s the dog. Continue Reading →

Some real vision for Australia’s Eurovision

As of today, Tony Abbott has a fresh global accomplishment to chalk up alongside his three free trade agreements and whatever is happening with those submarines.

This year, Australia will be allowed to compete in Eurovision in honour of the song contest’s 60th anniversary – despite the country being thousands of kilometres away from Europe, and further away still in terms of musical taste.

We are the only ones being so honoured, presumably in reflection of the great loyalty we have displayed by watching in large numbers each year. I can only imagine the Eurovision organisers don’t realise that 97 per cent of viewers watch for the purpose of sniggering at the many inadvertently hilarious entries. After all, Europe may be the cradle of Western civilisation, but it is also the cradle of pop music so heinous that it only gets played in gyms in order to encourage people on treadmills to run away as quickly as possible. Continue Reading →

Spill averted, but for how long?

Tony Abbott is holding on, but only by his powerful fingers. 61-39 is hardly a hearty affirmation of a prime minister’s leadership less than halfway through his first term. As an endorsement, it’s about as enthusiastic as Kevin Rudd looked in that notorious 2010 photo shoot with Julia Gillard.

It’s important to note that this morning’s vote should be adjusted for cabinet solidarity – even Malcolm Turnbull promised that he would vote to oppose the spill. Consequently, the real margin of dissent is likely closer. The PM still has a sword in close proximity to his neck, and it’s not about to tap each shoulder and award him a knighthood. Continue Reading →

How I failed to celebrate my 38th birthday

smashedcakeThis year, on Australia Day, I celebrated my 38th birthday. Well, I say “celebrated”, but it was a miserable effort. I emailed a few friends two days before to see if they wanted to do anything, only to discover that 90% of them were out of town, either because of the long weekend, or because they wanted to get out of hanging out with me.

In the end, I went to the beach with a few friends, most of whom were planning to be there anyway, and some other friends dropped by my place because they were in the area. I went out to dinner with my family, too, because they’re easier to pin down.

It was a perfectly lovely series of occasions, and if I hadn’t set my expectations absurdly high because it happened to be the day upon which I entered the world back in 1977, I would have viewed the entire proceedings as entirely satisfactory. Continue Reading →

A good knight?

Yesterday, our Prime Minister pondered the relative merits of 22 million Australians, and decided that two men were worthy of our nation’s top honour – a widely respected military leader, and that Greek-Danish fellow who is married to the Queen.

In so doing, Tony Abbott ensured that the nation spent this year’s Australia Day discussing the merits of a nonagenarian who lives on the other side of the planet, instead of the person we would all have been discussing otherwise, Taylor Swift. Still, at least Rosie Batty got one evening atop our news headlines.

The decision has been met with a little criticism from the graffitists on social media, but in some respects, Prince Philip is a perfect choice. All of the other recipients since knighthoods and damehoods were reinstated have been vice-regal and/or members of the military. Philip is not only ex-military, but he’s so downright regal that he lives in Buckingham Palace. Continue Reading →

Some great news about dealing with hair loss

Good news, fellas! (And also for the ladies that love us, amirite?!) Those unsightly chrome domes are a thing of the past! And it’s not just a sportsman paid by a laser-peddling company that’s saying so, but a dermatology professor at a proper hospital.

An even more credible source than Warnie has emerged to help blokes who notice that their hair is receding. Or that their bare scalp is expanding, if they want to be glass-half-full about it.

Continue Reading →

Are we all Charlie, really?

The team that produced Charlie Hebdo were exceptionally irreverent, frequently hilarious, and relentless in their attacks on France’s most powerful institutions. But most of all, they were brave.

When Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten published cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad which were met with a wave of violence, Charlie not only republished them, but added its own. And when their Paris office was firebombed in 2011, presumably in response to their special “Charia Hebdo” edition, their response was to depict a Muslim man kissing a male cartoonist with the caption “Love is stronger than hate”. They employed bodyguards, but their humour remained as unguarded as ever. Continue Reading →

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