Why I’ll never be a backpacker

I visited Australia’s most famous beach the other day, and felt like I was overseas, albeit in an odd country where diamond-shaped kangaroo warning signs and keyrings of little thongs with “Bondi” painted on them seemed to be the major currency.

While maps show it as part of Sydney, the reality is that Bondi belongs to the international community. Like Khao San Rd in Bangkok and Arambol in Goa, it’s been utterly colonised by backpackers and the businesses that sell them cheap phonecards and crappy souvenirs.

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Everybody must watch ‘Justified’. Here’s why.

Television now has an icily contemptuous greeting to match Jerry Seinfeld’s famous “Hello, Newman”, which was always delivered with more malevolence than you’d expect from a mild-mannered, sneaker-clad comedian.

The difference is that when the words “Hello Raylan” are uttered by Boyd Crowder (they all have names like that in rural Kentucky, apparently) to the man with whom he used to mine coal back in the day, there’s every chance they’ll both draw pistols – and quite possibly use them. Continue Reading →

Why I phear phablets

Samsung has copped a lot of criticism, and lawsuits, for the close resemblance that many of its phones and tablets bear to Apple designs.

And I’m not going to call them (or the Android operating system) blatant copies, because I’ve no interest in defending a lawsuit of my own. Besides, I generally enjoy the work of tribute bands.

But there is one innovation that Samsung can rightfully claim for its own: the phone so absurdly large that it makes you look almost as ridiculous holding it up to your ear as Maxwell Smart did with that shoe of his.
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Hopelessly intimidated by Bunnings

If we all have our own personal hell, uniquely and fiendishly customised to our own preferences, mine will be a Bunnings. An endless Bunnings, with aisle after perplexing aisle, stretching out beyond the horizon on either side with cute little handwritten signs that try and pretend that the company isn’t an enormous corporate monolith, and yet no handy sign pointing me to the one thing I’m looking for, or anybody to help me find it.

In other words, it’ll be exactly like an ordinary Bunnings. Except instead of a few snags on the barbie for a community fundraiser, the demons will be holding a sizzle of sinners’ souls.
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How to decorate so people think you’re amazing

A recent survey of the sort that retailers conduct to make us think about the products they sell found that 48% of Australian men have placed items in their bedroom with the explicit intention to impress prospective sexual partners.

This number almost surprised me, because it would suggest that as few as 52% of Australian men are thoughtless boors. Except that this figure is challenged by the additional information that the items left out to try and impress prospective partners included surfboards and medals, both of which are entirely wrong unless your surfboard has been sprayed by Banksy or your medal is displayed for reasons of irony, because you won the medal for Being A Li’l Aussie Trier (Despite No Conspicuous Merit At Anything) in Year Two. It’s probably also okay if you’re a war hero or Olympian. Continue Reading →

Why on earth do people take camping holidays?

There are some people whose idea of a holiday is having to do everything for yourself. These people find it relaxing to go to a place where you have to perform an even more time-consuming version of your everyday domestic chores, with vastly inferior equipment and no dishwasher. And these same people, rather than sinking their tired bodies into a comfy bed or sofa at the end of an arduous bit of travelling, would rather build an annoyingly elaborate shelter for themselves before they can so much as close their eyes for a few moments.

These people are called campers, and they are wrong. Continue Reading →

In defence of the Daggy Friend

Keira+Knightley+Stars+Film+Can+Song+Save+Life+5Q0zf_Oswo7lKeira Knightley sings in her new movie, and is really quite good. No, honestly. And even if they did AutoTune her vocals to bits, I’d have to say that they did a great job. She sounds a lot better than Scarlett Johannsson covering Tom Waits, at least.

The film’s called Begin Again, and it’s deliberately adorable. Keira plays Greta, a shy singer-songwriter who, at the start of the film, is dating her college sweetheart and fellow singer Adam Levine, who’s headed to New York to make it big.

Well, he’s called Dave in the movie, but he’s a twit with an implausibly high voice, so it’s just Adam Levine beneath the tiniest of cinematic fig leafs, really.

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State of Origin is not a beauty contest. Fortunately

It’s usual for a famous Origin victory to be sealed by crashing across an opponent’s try line, not scurrying behind your own so the mean men in maroon can’t have the ball. The Blues’ fullback proved last night that while regular aeroplanes might not work in reverse, Hayne Planes certainly do.

But we NSW supporters will take the win that Jarryd Hayne’s strategic retreat – and of course his try saving tackle on Sam Thaiday – secured.

In fact, the Blues would have taken pretty much anything that sealed Origin 2014 on home soil, and not required us to travel north for a decider at that cauldron of northern – well, I’m not going to say “hate”, but only because it doesn’t seem strong enough a word for tens of thousands of seething Queenslanders. Continue Reading →

Did I waste my youth by not being wasted?

640px-Sensation_White_08.03.2008_015In my early twenties, there was a brief, glorious period when I went to dance parties. Raves, they used to be called, if my fading memory serves. They were so cool, I thought; and so, briefly, I was so cool – even though, in hindsight, tickets were on sale to the general public.

My approach was to have a drink or two along with copious, overpriced bottles of water, and dance until dawn while hoping the lighting was dim enough to hide the mediocrity of your dancing. In fact, I think that’s why the strobe light was invented, to make it impossible to see dancers in motion. I’ve always been very grateful. Continue Reading →

Ten things I learned travelling with kids

jarjarOver the Easter break, I went travelling with my four-year-old nephew and one-year-old niece. (And their parents, obviously.) I thought it’d be a wonderful chance for some family time, and it was, but in many respects it was a handy reminder that there’s plenty of upside in the fact that I can still travel solo. Because parenting is always harder than I realise, and parenting while travelling is harder still.

And yes, I know that I’ve written before about how much I’d like to be a father. Yeah, um, about that. Let’s just say that while I’m sure that dandling my own child on my knee would be brilliant in lots of ways, I now realise that having young children would make one of my favourite activities a far trickier proposition.
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