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Freelance writing for SMH.com.au, The Glebe, Cleo, SundayLife and elsewhere

If Trump can be president, why shouldn’t Tom Hanks be next?

Whether you consider yourself one of “Trump’s Aussie Mates” like Mark Latham, or view the President-elect as one of the Four Businessmen of the Apocalypse, one thing cannot be denied about Donald J. Trump. Of all the candidates who ran in the US election, he was undoubtedly the most entertaining.

Hillary Clinton was predictable, safe and samey, a policy wonk who probably spends her holidays devouring briefing papers by the pool. Whereas Donald Trump spent his career slapping his name on gaudy buildings, and firing people on television. If the voters had been looking for traditional qualifications like experience, it would have been as easy as choosing between Trump University and Harvard.

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2016 might be ending, but we can expect worse in 2017

David Bowie. Alan Rickman. Prince. Muhammad Ali. Leonard Cohen. Sharon Jones. George Michael. Carrie Fisher. The list of the icons that we’ve lost this year reads like a morbid update of We Didn’t Start the Fire.

At times, the deaths have come so rapidly that we haven’t had time to process one before being slugged by another. In January, David Bowie, Alan Rickman and Glenn Frey within eight days. And just since Christmas, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and then her mother Debbie Reynolds.

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Visiting the world’s oldest café

I love cafés. I love proper espresso coffee, idle chatting while I sip it, and those little cakes that are just small enough to let me pretend that they’re not unhealthy.

I like my water served sparkling, my toast with ‘smashed avo’, and I like using my local café as a ‘coffice’ even though that’s the worst portmanteau word besides ‘webinar’.

Yes, I’m an inner-city, lattè-sipping, walking stereotype, so when I recently visited Paris I made sure I visited as many of them as humanly possible. Continue Reading →

I’m over Pokémon Go… what’s next?

On Sunday night, I found the best Pokémon I’ve ever seen. Right in the middle of Hyde Park, inappropriately close to the Pool of Reflection, I discovered a Golduck worth a whopping 917 combat points – more than anything in my Pokédex.

If you’re one of the rapidly dwindling number who isn’t playing Pokémon Go, that’s like coming across a $100 note, if the $100 wasn’t worth anything except in some stupid game.

But I was excited. With this spiky-headed blue creature in my Pokéarsenal, I could win my first Pokégym battle and capture the nearby obelisk for Team Red. Continue Reading →

Who’s up for another election?

Hallelujah, the election is over! Well, overish. Well, a result seems likely, at some point in the not too distant future, definitely this year. Probably. Once the AEC, the planets and Antony Green are all in alignment. Subject to recount, rethink, relapse, the Court of Disputed Returns, and the mercurial whim of Bob Katter.

At the time of writing, Malcolm Turnbull was the more likely prime minister, not least because he’s currently the prime minister, and will remain so until anybody else is.

And while his plea of “stick to the plan” has been met by the electorate with “no thanks, we prefer knife-edge near-chaos, if it’s all the same to you”, the PM is likely to be able to make the stronger case to the crossbenchers. Perhaps not numerically, but as we saw on election night, certainly in terms of emphatic, fistpumping rhetoric. Continue Reading →

Sydney shouldn’t shut down just because it’s cold

Sydneysiders used to hibernate in cold weather. After months of beach dips, backyard barbecues and outdoor festivals, we’d shut ourselves away from May to August, only leaving the house if paid to do so.

In winter we shivered under our doonas and hugged hot water bottles because as a matter of pride, we refused to build our houses with central heating. I mean, we aren’t Melbourne.

It’s a vibrant time of the year for Sydneysiders, when the glow from the 23-day festival takes over the city.

Our winter social calendars were emptier than a screening of Zoolander 2. It was unthinkable to attend weddings, parties, or anything beyond a pub with a roaring fireplace and the footy on a big screen. Continue Reading →

Brexit or not, one place in the UK still welcomes foreigners

In 1985, we had a dream of a better world, a world that came together like Captain Planet’s Planeteers to solve problems. We, the human race, joined hands across the oceans and saved not just the lives of people in need, but “our own lives” at the same time. Because, as dozens of rock stars told us, “We are the world”.

In this more ironic age, the USA for Africa song seems more insipid than inspiring – but it was a time where people really did believe in common-sense international solutions. Sure, many of those people were rock stars, who tend to solve any problem by inserting themselves into it. And looking back, it was sometimes difficult to discern the line between selfless acts of charity and a career-enhancing stadium gig.

But Live Aid made a difference, both in terms of awareness and fundraising. And We Are The World’s writer Michael Jackson and his band of idealistic musos seem far removed from a Presidential nominee who’s more interested in building walls than solving hunger. Continue Reading →

LinkedIn is the worst

Even LinkedIn’s slogan, “Connect to opportunity”, is nauseating. But it’s now worth so much that if everybody in Australia tipped in $1000, we’d still be $10 billion short.

If you haven’t used LinkedIn, imagine Facebook if every user had their boss looking over their shoulder the entire time, so that instead of sharing amusing distractions, they instead raved about their passion for generating shareholder value.

LinkedIn is like a school reunion with only the people you didn’t want to keep in touch with, boasting about their career accomplishments to try and make you feel inferior. It reads like the fake employee testimonials in a recruiting brochure. Continue Reading →

Dare I say it… I don’t like beer

When you’re an Australian male, beer is the only socially acceptable drink. We talk about going for a beer, not a wine, and certainly not a soft drink. And we only admit any desire for an evening of fancy cocktails to close, trusted friends who won’t mock a beverage that arrives adorned by a maraschino cherry and a pink umbrella.

Aussie blokes are supposed to operate under the working assumption that any time we drink a beverage that isn’t beer, we wish it was, even if we’re sipping a coffee at work or downing an energy drink after pumping iron. (Come to think of it, anyone who can invent an electrolyte-restoring beer is going to make a fortune.) If Jesus had been Australian, we know very well what he would have turned that water into.

When blokes are out with mates, and go up to the bar to get a round, it’s beer unless specified otherwise. And if otherwise is specified, there’s often a need to justify it. So I’ll say something like “beer doesn’t always agree with me”, or “I’m a bit hung over so I’d better stick to the mineral water”, implying that beer was the culprit the night before. Continue Reading →

Rocking out in Thainatown

Once upon a time, the pubs of inner-city Australia were full of music. Or so we’re told by those lucky enough to have lived through those halcyon days. Global names like Midnight Oil, INXS and Cold Chisel blazed a trail for local heroes like Regurgitator, the Whitlams and, for all I know, Frenté (hey, they were big when I was in high school). And they packed out many a local from the Seventies through to the Nineties.

Then the pokies came. Publicans decided that live music and the beer its audiences consumed weren’t lucrative enough, and cordoned off part of their establishments to become windowless dens full of banknote-devouring ‘gaming’ machines.

In a pokie room, the only original compositions you’ll hear are the dinky electronic bleeps played on the rare occasions when players defy the heavily-stacked odds and win something. But nobody ever took home an ARIA Award for a pokie jingle. Continue Reading →