My ten favourite thing about the 2016 Oscars

This was surely the first Oscars where more attention was paid to the people who hadn’t been nominated than the people who had. Sitting through the 3.5 hour ceremony, it was hard not to notice every set of five nominees was uniformly white – and there were a lot of them.

But in terms of what happened, as opposed to what should have and didn’t, here are the things worth talking about. Continue Reading →

If only tonight we could sleep…

We don’t sleep enough. Our doctors tell us this, assorted lifestyle gurus tell us this, and our bodies tell us this every time we wake up feeling like our heads have been gently bludgeoned with a fence paling.

Modern life stretches us until we’re worn out like cheap rubber bands that have grown weak and flabby, no longer fit for purpose because they’ve become as horribly overextended as this metaphor.

But instead of heeding the message and retreating to slumberland, with earplugs, eye masks and a soothing recording of Dr Ben Carson’s stump speech, we struggle on. Continue Reading →

Dear Chris Martin, here’s why Coldplay are funny

In an interview coinciding with his Super Bowl performance, where his band unwisely invited a contrast with the twin musical forces that are Beyoncé and Bruno Mars, lead singer Chris Martin confesses to not understanding why Coldplay are funny:

“I had a couple of years in the mid-2000s where it was really confusing to me,” he said. “I was like, ‘Why is our band sometimes a punch line?'”

A member of Coldplay not understanding why Coldplay are funny is, itself, fairly funny. Continue Reading →

Why hasn’t my band made the Hottest 100 yet?

Every year, the arrival of triple j’s Hottest 100 fills me with sorrow. Not because my near-total ignorance of the songs in the countdown is a sign of my ever-increasing age, although it is. Nor because for the past few years, nobody has invited me to a bangin’ Hottest 100 party, although they haven’t.

No – I mourn because every year, the Hottest 100 features a grand total of no songs by my band. Zip, zero, zilch.

It’s been that way for ever since the countdown started. A whopping 2300 songs in all, and my band has none of them. How is that fair, when Powderfinger have something like six hundred? Continue Reading →

10 things to talk about at a Hottest 100 party

It’s January 26, and while the debate over the moral complexity of Australia Day continues, there’s one thing today on which we can agree – the Hottest 100 is a musical feast for all!

Well, OK, not all, exactly – it’s the youth station. But anyone who knows their triple j playlist as backwards as an Aussie rapper’s cap – or anyone like me who will be listening in shamefacedly to catch up on a year’s worth of music – is in for a treat.

The Hottest 100 has been part of our summers since I was young enough to sing along with all the songs on the countdown, and the tradition of Hottest 100 parties stretches back just as far.

The songs may have changed, but the conversations in our backyards and pubs on countdown day have stayed the same over the decades. Continue Reading →

The shocking shock of tennis match fixing

I am shocked by the revelations that have rocked the tennis world on the first day of the Australian Open. I am shocked that highly paid tennis players should be accused of taking extra payments to throw matches, and shocked by the sheer extent of the corruption that has been alleged.

And most of all, I’m shocked that such a dramatic exposé, reflecting months of intensive, data-driven, investigative journalism, has been broken by Buzzfeed. Continue Reading →

16 predictions for 2016

2016 is here, and promises to be a year of intense competition. We’ve got national elections both at home and in the USA, the two-week carnivale of the Rio Olympics, and all those pending legal contests between hoverboard manufacturers and their unhappy purchasers.

It’s a year of big prizes, like the $2 billion American Powerball draw, and big disappointments, like that of just about everyone who entered it.

While nobody can truly predict the future, especially those unscrupulous people who’ll try to charge you for doing so, I’ve donned my Nostradomus hat and peered into my tisane leaves to try and forecast what’s likely to happen in the year that, whatever happens from here, can definitely be said to have followed on from 2015. Continue Reading →

You can’t have edgy comedy without occasionally going over the edge

Ricky Gervais returned as host of the Golden Globes this week, and as sure as night follows day and regret follows the purchase of a hoverboard, his routine sparked off yet another chorus of controversy.

The comic himself predicted it, tweeting “Better get dressed and offend some humourless c—s, I suppose” before the ceremony even began. Whether or not you agree with his characterisation of the many people who took exception, Gervais certainly achieved his objective from the first moment he took to the stage, nursing a beer as a palpable symbol of his disdain for the audience and the gig.

The indifference was an affectation, of course, because if there’s one thing that matters to Gervais even more than his forthcoming David Brent movie, it’s his reputation as a stand-up comic.

Continue Reading →

Desperately seeking El Chapo

The actor Sean Penn and the narcotraficante Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán, who recently traded tequila shots in the Mexican jungle, have more in common than might be immediately apparent. They’ve both had a long association with products that have been blamed for the moral decline of Western civilisation – in Chapo’s case, illegal drugs; in Penn’s, Hollywood movies and Madonna.

I’m not sure which was the greater challenge, tracking down the Mexican drug kingpin or reading Sean Penn’s 10,000 word article about him. The former took six long months, while the latter certainly felt like it did.

But if you wade through the endless paragraphs which betray the author’s greater fascination with himself than with his subject, there is an extraordinary story to discover. Penn’s tale of burner phones and planes fitted with scramblers feels like a thriller, and his success in reaching Chapo seems so implausible that it’s lucky that the two of them took a photo together to prove it really happened. Continue Reading →

Forget Chris Gayle – let’s talk about Meg Lanning

Like Chris Gayle, Meg Lanning is a cricket superstar who can win a game single-handedly. Like Gayle, she averages more than a run a ball in Twenty20 internationals, and regularly smashes bowlers all over the ground with the carefree panache of Shane Warne on Tinder.

Unlike Gayle, though, Lanning is not serially sleazy towards female journalists. And if her bedroom has a mirrored ceiling, she’s not known for posting boastful photos of it on Instagram, a site upon which she has not chosen to nickname herself “UNIVERSE-BOSS”. Continue Reading →