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 →

8 things we learned from @RealMarkLatham

1) If there’s an internet mystery, who ya gonna call?

Mark Di Stefano from Buzzfeed is the answer. The former ABC journo is fast becoming the nation’s leading internet detective, whether he’s trying to ascertain the veracity of an abusive Twitter account or identify the genius who drew those legendary DJ headphones on John Howard (caution – this link features language that is NSFW, but that is very amusing when not at work).

Connecting @RealMarkLatham’s tweets to material appearing in subsequent AFR columns was revealing, but finding a link between the account and Latham’s public email address was a masterstroke of internet-era sleuthing.

His work has been called a “social media campaign” by The Australian’s Sharri Markson, but it could be more accurately described as investigative journalism. 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 →

A farewell to ABC Shops

It used to be all about the bananas. The ones in pyjamas, of course – B1, B2 and their other pals from Cuddles Avenue. An endearing song from Play School spun off into its own series with all the merchandise imaginable.

In their prime, the Bananas in Pyjamas had a network of embassies across the country, with ABC Shops in most major malls and city centres that sold their replica toys, books, DVDs. The perfect gift for Christmas, if you like anthropomorphic, sleepwear-clad fruit.

There were the Wiggles too, of course, bringing skivvies back into the mainstream where they have always belonged, and let’s not forget Doctor Who. Even before the series returned, it was one of the most highly-trafficked areas in ABC Shops, and the reboot has unleashed a huge range of DVDs, novels, toy Daleks and TARDISes, and even funky Doctor Who cushions.

Sometimes past incarnations of the Doctor would even materialise for an in-store signing, leading to enormous queues and keeping the cash registers beeping more rapidly than the console on a Gallifreyan time machine. Continue Reading →

An end to Watto Lotto?

Shane Watson, out leg before wicket. It’s a refrain that has been heard 29 times in his 59 Tests, frequently after a slight break to allow the decision review system to confirm the obvious.

Watto is out. We’ve said it so many times over the years, often as he failed yet again to convert a half-century into a big score. He’s accumulated 24 half-centuries and a mere four tons. Sadly for Watson, four Test centuries is too few for Cricinfo even to bother counting the accomplishment in its league table of Australian century-makers. It’s less than 10 per cent of Ricky Ponting’s record 41. Continue Reading →

Texting while driving, and other smart tech to help morons

Do you text while driving? One in three do, apparently. Which means that even though it’s a leading cause of accidents, a lot of us are such utter idiots that it’s a miracle any car gets to its destination intact.

Our capacity to act against our obvious self-interest has inspired inventor Scott Tibbetts to create a device to solve a problem that really shouldn’t be one. It’s a little box that stores the text messages up, only delivering them to our phone when we’ve arrived at our destination. The theory is that we’re all so thoroughly programmed to be distracted by a “little bing”, as he puts it, that we need to ensure that these messages don’t arrive in the first place. 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 →