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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.Read More »16 predictions for 2016

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

  • Blog, SMH

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.

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

Forget Chris Gayle – let’s talk about Meg Lanning

  • Blog, SMH

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”.Read More »Forget Chris Gayle – let’s talk about Meg Lanning

This year of sequels does not bear repeating

  • Blog, SMH

The 2015 that Marty McFly visited in Back to the Future II was only partly like the year we’ve just lived through. We haven’t got flying cars or self-drying jackets, and let’s not say a word about hoverboards, especially to Russell Crowe.

That holographic shark that loomed at our hero to promote Jaws 19, however, was spot on. Because 2015 was truly the Year of the Sequel.

This year, it felt like most movie franchises with an admirable legacy jeopardised them with another instalment. The machine was as unrelenting as anything in Terminator Genisys, and also gave us a new Avengers, Fast and the Furious, Jurassic Park, Hunger Games, Mission Impossible, Bond and even Mad Max.Read More »This year of sequels does not bear repeating

Ten things that happened at my wedding in India

Last month, I got married.

Regular readers might wonder how on earth I went from every second column whinging about my dire personal life to blissful matrimony – the answer is 2.5 excellent years with a woman named Divya, whose family hails from Chennai, formerly known as Madras, which is the capital of Tamil Nadu state and the sixth-largest city in India.

One day late last year, we decided to get married. And given the choice between a three-day traditional ceremony in India and a relatively brief event with a celebrant here, the choice was obvious.Read More »Ten things that happened at my wedding in India

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.Read More »I want a nightclub for old people

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.Read More »Nine brilliant new ideas for cooking shows (if I say so myself)

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.Read More »What I learned hanging out with a 5-year-old boy

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.Read More »An Undo button for all seasons