Archive | The Drum

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 →

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 →

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 →

We should look gift cards in the mouth

Dick Smith Electronics, that venerable merchant of gadgetry and geekery, entered receivership this week. It’s terrible news for the staff and shareholders, but will presumably make no difference whatsoever to the private equity firm that made a motza out of flipping the business.

That’s 21st century capitalism, folks!

The biggest impact for most Australians, though, will be for anyone who scored a DSE gift card for Christmas, or has put down some cash against a lay-by. Whether or not they’ll be honoured is unclear –the administrator Ferrier Hodgson says not, but they may not have the last word on it, given various consumer-protection regimes. (Watch this space was the advice when I spoke to NSW Fair Trading about this on the radio this morning.) Continue Reading →

Strong with the force this sequel is, or something like that

Star Wars fans, fear not. Firstly because fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate and hate leads to suffering, etc. And more importantly because JJ Abrams and his team have succeeded in augmenting the original trilogy where even George Lucas could not.

The Force Awakens offers more of the same to a degree that I found surprising. It takes many of the familiar elements of the original trilogy and mashes them up into a new narrative. There are desert and forest worlds, dodgy spaceports and gleaming starships, scary tentacled aliens and tense lightsabre duels, all fuelled by the interpersonal drama that’s always been at the heart of the series.

Best of all, there are no convoluted plots about trade negotiations, and nary a Gungan in sight. Continue Reading →

Lateral ways to convince punters to quit smoking

cigarette-ashtrayForty bucks for a pack of ciggies? That will happen by 2020 if Bill Shorten gets his way and Labor’s proposed increase to cigarette taxes is introduced.

Not everyone agrees with tobacco excise, with NSW’s Senator David Leyonhjelm a prominent recent dissenter, but at both state and federal levels, governments of both persuasions have made cigarettes more expensive, covered the packets with horrifying images, and restricted the places where they could be smoked.

Nowadays, smokers huddle outdoors, away from doors and outdoor eating areas, and the long Aussie tradition of bumming cigarettes has become tantamount to asking for a gold coin donation.

But is this the only way of convincing punters to give up their precious ciggies? I’ve come up with a few more lateral options. Continue Reading →