Archive | Daily Life

Articles from my column on Fairfax’s Daily Life website, which has appeared since the website began in 2012.

I want a nightclub for old people

Once upon a time, I used to go to nightclubs. By which I mean establishments with a ‘disc jockey’, as I believe they’re known, who mixes different musical items together in a seamless progression of beats, soaring vocals and, because a lot of this happened in the 1990s, incredibly crappy synths.

Once upon a time, I could wear a t-shirt, cargo pants with an abundance of convenient pockets, and suede sneakers, and be considered adequately dressed to enter a licensed premises. And once upon a time, despite the licensed nature of said premises, it was clear that the vast majority of other patrons were instead choosing to obtain their intoxicants from helpful private contractors.

Nowadays, largely empty weekends spread out before me, and I wonder whether I might be able to go out somewhere to listen to a bit of music and have what used to be called a ‘boogie’. Sure, in my case, that means my body jerking spasmodically at intervals which bear only the faintest resemblance to the beat. Still, I’m having fun, even if my flailing limbs pose an injury risk to others. Continue Reading →

Nine brilliant new ideas for cooking shows (if I say so myself)

No doubt about it, we love cooking shows. MasterChef is still a juggernaut, netting more than two million viewers for its finale earlier this week, and then there’s My Kitchen/Restaurant/Cafe/Sandwich Maker Rules. They’ve been followed immediately by a whole new bunch of food shows, because as any TV programmer will tell you, the best way to make programmes is to simply ape what’s been done before.

That said, Seven and Nine’s new entries – Restaurant Revolution and The Hotplate – have been criticised by some as derivative of MasterChef and MKR, which means we need a few cooking-based reality shows with some slightly more original ideas. I humbly present the following for consideration. Continue Reading →

What I learned hanging out with a 5-year-old boy

This week, I spent a day escorting a five-year-old boy around Sydney. Courtesy of school holidays and a last-minute change in plans, I was called up from the childcare reserve bench. My challenge: to ensure not only that my nephew was kept safe and sound (basic childcare), but that he had a reasonably good time (advanced childcare).

Safe and sound wasn’t too hard – it meant that we had to hold hands crossing the road and on the escalators, and he promised not to run off in exchange for my promise to follow wherever he wanted to go in return. A solid negotiation, I thought.

But the challenge of killing most of a day in the city was a daunting one, especially since rain was forecast. Continue Reading →

An Undo button for all seasons

This week, Google introduced ‘Undo Send‘ as a standard feature in Gmail. It’s more like an Undo Godsend for those times you accidentally email the wrong person, or notice a shocking typo just as you’ve sent the message, or suddenly realise your message was way too harsh and you should sleep on it and redraft it in the morning – or is that just me?

In such situations, ‘Undo Send’ gives you a few precious seconds to reconsider. Having used it in the development phase, it’s surprising how often it comes in handy – in fact, I sincerely hope that other companies will follow Google’s lead. ‘Undo’ should be part of every email application, especially at my work where every month or two someone accidentally sends a message to several thousands of users, before presumably being taken into an IT dungeon somewhere and flogged with a mouse cord.

But it’s not just in the realm of email where the ability to reverse things would be invaluable. Here are a few other social situations where Google, with their omnipotence, should be finding a way to allow us to take it back. Continue Reading →

The Simpsons did it, and now they’re done

As the longest-running sitcom in the history of television lurches towards another season, one thing is increasingly clear: friends don’t let friends make 27 seasons of The Simpsons. In recent years, the show’s become like that favourite ’90s band that insists on releasing inferior new albums years after its heyday. In short, The Simpsons are the Smashing Pumpkins.

In 2015, more episodes of The Simpsons is probably the second-last thing our civilisation needs, just behind that book of 352 Kim Kardashian selfies. There are already 574 episodes in the can, so many that you could watch non-stop for eight days and still not get through them all. Surely our appetite for even this most brilliant of series has been satiated? Continue Reading →

The Simpsons did it, and now they’re done

grandpasimpsonAs the longest-running sitcom in the history of television lurches towards another season, one thing is increasingly clear: friends don’t let friends make 27 seasons of The Simpsons. In recent years, the show’s become like that favourite 90s band that insists on releasing inferior new albums years after its heyday. In short, The Simpsons are the Smashing Pumpkins.

In 2015, still more episodes of The Simpsons is probably the second-last thing our civilisation needs, just behind that book of 352 Kim Kardashian selfies. There are already 574 episodes in the can, so many that you could watch non-stop for eight days and still not get through them all. Surely our appetite for even this most brilliant of series has been satiated?

Once I used to read those news stories about the latest ingenious developments brewed up in the writers’ room with great delight. But the latest batch of announcements was dismal. “Homer and Marge are to separate!” said one batch of articles, with Lena Dunham appearing as the Other Woman. Goodness me – marital strife between Marge and Homer – is that for the 324th or 325th time?

And come on – it’s a sitcom. Hence the subsequent obvious, clarification that it was only going to be for an episode or two.

What I’d like to hear producer Al Jean clarifying is why the series is continuing at all when his only other ‘teaser’ announcements about Series 27 were that Spider Pig is coming back, as though there’s any more juice to be squeezed from that one brief joke, and that Bart will die. Continue Reading →

Ten Reality TV Ideas Even Better Than Married At First Sight

Many people wonder why television broadcasters keep producing terrible reality TV shows. The answer is simple – because they rate. And what’s more, the more terrible they are, the more they rate. This maxim has recently been proven by Married At First Sight, a show on Channel Nine with a premise so disturbing that it’s compelling. So much so that it was renewed after the first episode scored 1.5 million viewers.

So, how can the industry possibly top/sink beneath Married At First Sight? I’ve gazed into my television crystal ball and come up with a few suggestions. Continue Reading →

Ten reality ideas worse than ‘Married at First Sight’

Many people wonder why television broadcasters keep producing terrible reality TV shows. The answer is simple – because they rate. And what’s more, the more terrible they are, the more they rate. This maxim has recently been proven by Married At First Sight, a show on Channel Nine with a premise so disturbing that it’s compelling. So much so that it was renewed after the first episode scored 1.5 million viewers.

So, how can the industry possibly top/sink beneath Married At First Sight? I’ve gazed into my television crystal ball and come up with a few suggestions.

(Note: all concepts below © Dominic Knight 2015. Bigshot TV executives should speak to my agent* upon immediately realising that they want to buy them.) Continue Reading →

Sorry, Hillary – grandmas were always cool

Even if she never becomes President, Hillary Rodham Clinton has achieved many extraordinary things. She made history by winning a Senate seat after serving as First Lady. As Secretary of State, she became enormously popular with the American people. And she is now odds-on favourite to be the Democratic nominee, and the first woman from either major party to achieve that honour.

But there is one claim made of the woman who put “18 million cracks” in the glass ceiling the last time she ran for president which I simply cannot abide. And that is the claim that she’s making it ‘cool to be a grandmother’. Continue Reading →

I was a high school debating geek

debatingIn my youth, I was not the flabby, docile creature you see in the little photo atop this page. I was a warrior. I trained at least once a week, often more, and went into battle each weekend to defend what was right. I would dispatch my enemies with scornful panache, and sometimes facts gleaned from The Economist. For I was a high school debater.

A flabby, docile debater, admittedly.

Chairperson, ladies and gentlemen, here’s how it went down. On Fridays, I donned my foppish debating tie, which boasted purple and white stripes for reasons I’m still unable to comprehend, and hung around for hours after school, supposedly reading up on current affairs but in fact tackling the all-you-can-eat record at the local Pizza Hut.

Then, as night fell, we would either drive off to another fancy school or welcome them to our fancy school, so the Games, or at least the Talking, could Begin. Continue Reading →