Articles

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

Say hello to election mania – and I do mean mania

Guessing what’s in Malcolm Turnbull’s head. That’s what anyone with a passing interest in Australian politics will be doing for the next three months or so. In fact, it’s recently overtaken Pin The Appropriation On The Responsible Subcommittee as Canberra’s favourite parlour game.

No doubt the PM’s head contains many things – public transport maps of our major cities, including photogenic selfie locations, and more Thucydides than anybody outside of a university classics department could possibly need. I suspect there are more tasty stories about Kerry Packer in there somewhere, too.

But if you searched long and hard enough, peeling back the layers of legal arcana and shimmying around the complex corporate structures contained therein, you would find an election date.Read More »Say hello to election mania – and I do mean mania

If crooks can communicate securely, why can’t we?

If we learned one thing from the drama surrounding Edward Snowden and his revelations about the National Security Agency, it’s that Russia is still the best place to go if you have US secrets to peddle.

But if we learned another, it’s that governments are able to access far more of our personal information than we previously thought.

Even before we heard about PRISM and the rest, we were on notice that what we keep on our phones can be vulnerable. Way back in 2005, Paris Hilton (remember her?) had the contents of her T-Mobile Sidekick (bet you don’t remember them) uploaded all over the internet.

It’s happened to a litany of celebrities in the years since – Paris always was at the cutting edge of fashion.Read More »If crooks can communicate securely, why can’t we?

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.Read More »My ten favourite thing about the 2016 Oscars

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.Read More »If only tonight we could sleep…

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.Read More »Dear Chris Martin, here’s why Coldplay are funny

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

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.Read More »10 things to talk about at a Hottest 100 party

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.Read More »The shocking shock of tennis match fixing

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

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