Friday, October 29, 2010

Bye Bye Sort Of

A somewhat sad blog post today, just a kind of public service announcement.

I urge you to go and read my latest weekly wrap for ABC's The Drum. Of course, I always like you to read my pieces, but this one is particularly special because it's my last weekly wrap; the Drum and I are parting ways.

No, this is not of my choosing. I loved writing for The Drum, and I will be forever grateful to my editor Jonathan Green for letting me ramble on the site, and likewise grateful to everyone who read my little jokings. I've enjoyed doing it for the past almost-a-year.

Sadly, though, the realities of tight budgets, tough decisions and the glorious uncertainty of being a freelance writer means I've been let go. That's life.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you'll still frequent The Drum, as it's a high-class site that deserves your eyeballs.

Of course I am not disappearing by any means. I'm still in the Age's A2 section writing about TV every Saturday, and of course the return of has seen me stomp that old ground again. Check out my first for the new newmatilda.

And if you want to see newmatilda survive past the end of 2010, do throw some money their way - you'll be rewarded by continuing fine articles, including mine! Go here to find out how.

And I'm sure I'll be popping up elsewhere too - it's in my nature!

The weekly wrap's gone, but the caravan moves on.

Monday, October 25, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: Red-hot Excerpt from John Howard's memoir, "Lazarus Rising"

I sat in my armchair long into the night, knocking back brandy after brandy, smoking endless cigarettes, wondering just how I got into this mess. Back when I first decided to try the Prime Minister game, it had all seemed so simple: the money, the power, the dames. It was only lately that I'd realised what a dirty game this "politics" was. It was full of lies and cheating and double-crosses, and it seemed damn unfair that someone was pointing that out at this late stage.

Maybe...I sighed, brushing ash from my Wallabies dressing gown. Maybe it was time to be a man. To stick to my principles, or at least to remember what they were. Peter had been good to me all these years, what with the budgets and the Guylians every Christmas...maybe it WAS time to give him a go, and devote more time to my true love: walking.

And that's when I saw her. Silhouetted in the doorway like some irresistible plum pudding. "Up late?" she purred, and I suddenly all the reason in me drained away like left-over pasta down a plughole.

She sashayed over to the armchair, her body swaying and slinking like a hydraulic cauliflower. That vegetable shimmy that had always gone to my head faster than a tabasco screwdriver and made me giddier than a cockchafer in an opium den. Whatever that means.

"Can I help you, Janette?" I asked, fighting to keep my voice steady and deep, as I had the first time I met George. He'd sure seen through me; I knew she would too. I knew that she knew that deep down inside, I was nothing but a scared little boy, playing at immigration policy to disguise the inadequacies that would see me laughed out of caucus the minute I let my guard down enough to allow Helen Coonan to pants me. The day was coming, I knew it, and I felt that certainty like an icy set of eyelashes butterfly kissing my heart.

"I don't know, John," she smiled sardonically. "Can you?"

I cleared my throat, trying to get rid of that damn greasy toad that squatted in my trachea every time this broad walked into the room. She put her hands on my shoulders, and my dog whistle went right off. "I've been thinking," I croaked. "I think I might hand over the leadership. To Peter."

Just for a second I felt her hands tighten on my shoulders, like a vulture with an ice-cream headache. Then she relaxed, and I felt her hot, spicy, parmigiana-tinged breath tickling my earhole.

"Peter?" she purred. "He hasn't got what it takes to be prime minister. He's not a," she drew in her breath with a shudder, "real man..."

She had me. I knew she had me. I had never been able to resist her incendiary rhetoric, since that first day when a young, dumpling-shaped ne'er-do-well had sidled up to my petrol pump, lollipop hanging from her lips, and fluttered her eyelids at me while she asked whether I knew anyone who could help her with a proposal for fundamental tax reform. That day my knees had gone from under me and I'd collapsed in a pool of lust and petrol, and I'd never really recovered. I'd always done her will, and always would.

She walked round in front of and, leaned over me, so close I could smell the Pantene in her irresistibly sensible hair. I could see the blazing, maternal fire in her eyes, and my fingers twitched with longing to reach out for the intoxicating flesh I knew was lurking just beneath that sturdy beige twin-set. She had curves in all the right places, and also quite a few extra ones, and all of my political career had been blessed and cursed in equal measure by my all-encompassing need to access that mesmeric acreage of womanhood and dance hungrily among those dimpled hillocks.

She was still talking, still murmuring into my quivering shell-likes. "I don't know if I could be with a man who...just gave up the prime ministership, John. I don't know if I could respect a man who did that. I don't know if I could...give myself...fully to him." I was beginning to shake, as she circled the armchair, one finger twirling playfully on top of my recently-varnished head.

"You see, John," she whispered hoarsely, "I'm a woman with particular tastes. I like a man who takes control, who seizes power...and KEEPS it. Like Menzies...he used to get me so hot..." It was true. In the early years of our marriage she wouldn't make love at all unless I pretended to check the bedroom for communists first.

"I need a prime minister, John. Nothing else will do for me. I need a man like Menzies. A man who can last. Can you last, John? Can you last longer than Menzies? I could really go for that..."

I was almost done. My resolve was jellied and in a jar on the shelf. "I just thought...Peter had done such a good job," I faltered.

She laughed, a hard, sharp laugh, like the laugh of an economically rationalist hawk. "Too bad, John," she hissed. "That's a real shame. But maybe I'll go round to Peter's place, see what he's got to offer. Or if not him..." she paused dramatically, "maybe...Tony."

That was it. I couldn't take any more. "No!" I cried, leaping from my seat. "I'll stay! I'll be prime minister as long as you want. I promise!"

She smiled, cruelly, triumphantly. She had won, and was revelling in victory like an alligator gloating over a pot-bellied pig. "Good," she purred, and stroked my cheek. "Then maybe we can get down to discussing...workplace reform?"

I gasped. As those words puffed from those perfect, fig-shaped lips, and we melted into each other's arms, I felt the margins suddenly tighten in my southern electorates.

Lazarus was rising. In fact, Lazarus was positively throbbing. And there was only one woman who could truly satisfy him.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Read This. Now

You know the government's insulation scheme? How it was an absolute disaster and caused all those terrible fires and killed literally millions of people and there was blood on Peter Garrett's hands?

Yeah, remember that?

There is, unbelievably, somebody alive in this world still willing to look at facts. This somebody is Possum from Crikey. Read what he writes here. NOW.

Pay particular attention to this bit:

That makes the insulation program around 8 times safer in terms of fire incidents compared to the state of the industry before the program. Even if we take the best absolute possible estimates of what went on before the program – say, 80 fires per year off 75 thousand installs – the program is still 7 times safer in terms of fire incidents than what occurred before the program.

Got that? Good.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In the Name of Balance

It has come to my attention that my latest piece on The Drum has attracted some criticism, along the lines of the assertion that while happy to bash innocent Catholics, I would never have the intestinal fortitude to bash people of alternative faiths.

Or as my most eloquent critic, "maz", writes, "It is not my opion but a fact that you have absolutely no legs to stand on"

To sum up, "You'd never have the guts to make fun of Muslims" is the prevailing attitude.

Now, I realise that the response of some of you readers will be, "What? Are they serious? What kind of fat-brained, worm-faced imbecile would actually possess the dunder-witted gall to voice this argument, given that it's not only factually inaccurate, but an intellectually bankrupt slab of nonsense that rests upon the premise that criticism of the flaws of an ideology or institution is invalid unless accompanied by criticism of the flaws of all other possible ideologies and institutions, as well as the assumption that a commentator or satirist should spend equal time on every potential target for insults or mockery no matter how obscure, inconsequential, anonymous, or devoid of impact upon broader society they are compared to others which exert massive influence over life in this country, are constantly in the public eye, and have recently received blanket coverage in print and electronic media across the country - in other words, commenting on things that matter to one's audience is invalid unless it comes with comment on things that don't? I mean, who are the morons trying to make this thrice-cursed abortion of an argument?"

Pretty harsh there, readers. Rude, almost. You should probably exercise a bit more tolerance before opening your mouth, if the above is all you can say.

Because for my part, I accept my critics' point, apologise for the hurt caused, and have decided to mend my ways. I therefore include below a quick compendium of religious attacks, which can be assumed to be appended to every future article I write on the subject of faith or gods. Ahem:

MUSLIMS! Geez, aren't Muslims crap? Praying five times a day? Geez, get off your knees and do some work. And covering up your women? What are you, gay?

JEWS! Man, do they ever shut up? Seriously, we GET it, Jews; life is hard. Change the record. And stop thinking you're so funny; nobody likes a smart-arse.

PROTESTANTS! Wow, don't get me started on protestants! What's wrong, too gutless to go full-Catholic? Pussies. You're just Catholics with bad taste in music, wankers.

MORMONS! Just piss off, Mormons. Get away from my house, get some better haircuts, and stop believing in idiotic stories about magic glasses. Everyone's laughing at you, dickheads.

HINDUS! What the hell is wrong with you, Hindus? At least Christians have the decency to only have ONE god to act stupid over. You've got like eighty thousand. Pick one, you indecisive sods! Stop trying to confuse us.

BUDDHISTS! What are they up to? Smiling and meditating all the time. They're planning something, crafty little bastards. And what's with the Dalai Lama? Get a new outfit!

SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS! What the hell are you TALKING about? Crap!


BA'HAI! Oh like you're even a real religion. Look at that stupid apostrophe. You're stupid.

SIKHS! Get a haircut.

SCIENTOLOGISTS! Seriously? I mean, really? You're sticking with that? Really? Jesus Christ.

RAELIANS! Aliens? What sort of moron goes around babbling about aliens? People like you need to be restrained with leather straps. PSYCHOS! Don't come near my kids!

KABBALISTS! Look, we know why you picked Kabbalah, and we think it's PATHETIC.

ATHEISTS! Oh, you think you're so frigging clever, don't you? Well, know what? You're BORING. You just BORE us all, all the time. We LIKE church - if you don't like it, stick it up your arse. Go read one of your precious "books" and leave the decent people alone.

AGNOSTICS! Stop being such a bunch of old women. "Ooh, I don't really think we can tell either way, because we -" Oh just PICK ONE! Jesus you people get on my goddamn wick.

SHINTO! I don't even know what shinto is! It sounds bloody stupid though! I bet you're really stupid!

PAGANS! Oh come ON! We all liked fairytales when we were little - why don't you grow up, losers? Liking ugly clothes is not a religion!

WICCANS! Stop calling yourself Wiccans! We all know what you are, and we have the matches ready, Devil-whores!

ANIMISTS! You disgust me.

OK, I think we've covered most of the bases there. Please copy and paste this at the end of all my articles, and we should all be sweet.

And once again, I do apologise for any offence I may have given previously. Thank God the days of bias are over.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Think Piece

In today's Herald Sun, star columnist/pensioner Alan Howe, having just been informed that World War One is over, turns his attention to Australia's most recent military engagement, declaring that the Director of Military Prosecutions, Lyn McDade, who has charegd three soldiers in Afghanistan with manslaughter, "may well be the most dangerous woman in Australia."

Howe does note that the campaign against Brigadier McDade "is driven mostly by the puerile, angry and uneducated"; but on the other hand, much of the abuse "comes from big hearts". So that's all right then. When it comes to abuse and threats, it's the thought that counts. You see:

Brigadier McDade, 52, has spent her life in the law, which she knows very well. She has been a police prosecutor, deputy Northern Territory coroner and served as an army lawyer for many years.

But she has never been in a firefight with enemy determined to kill her, has never dragged back to camp a zipped-up body bag with a mate's limp, lifeless but still warm remains - and has never knocked on a suburban door to tell the occupants their son has been killed serving their country in some overseas hellhole. Like Afghanistan.

So we can all agree that her legal opinions are, essentially, worthless.

So anyway Howe goes on a bit about how disgraceful it is for Australian soldiers to be charged with anything and about how the Taliban are really, really bad people, so there's no way anyone fighting against them could ever do anything wrong, etc etc.

And then he identifies the crucial point:

So what is manslaughter? Well, the most recent convictions - for which you can be jailed 20 years - involved lowlife dog-catcher Mario Schembri and his slutty accomplice, Bernadette Denny, who killed businessman Herman Rockefeller in January.

They bashed Rockefeller to death. Schembri said he fought "like Muhammad Ali" as his uncountable blows hit Rockefeller "harder than he had hit anyone before".

Then they went to Bunnings and bought a chainsaw, disposable overalls, facemasks and a shovel, dismembered Rockefeller's body, cutting off the arms and legs and burning it all in a 44-gallon drum in a mate's backyard.

That's manslaughter.

Are any of our soldiers in Afghanistan guilty of that?

Well, Not really. So Howe makes a very good point. NONE of our soldiers in Afghanistan are guilty of that, so Brigadier McDade's logic starts to look a bit ropey, doesn't it now?

On the other hand, should the military justice system be amended so that soldiers cannnot be prosecuted unless they beat to death a millionaire who has disappointed them by failing to bring his wife on an unannounced wife-swapping visit before dismembering him with a new chainsaw from Bunnings, it may just narrow the terms of reference for military courts to a rather extreme extent.

"And when the private threw the grenade into the maternity ward, did he at any time claim to have 'fought like Muhammad Ali' before burning the evidence in a 44-gallon drum?"

"No, your honour"

"Case dismissed!"

So as much as we don't want to see these three soldiers convicted, perhaps we should at least allow for the possibility of prosecuting soldiers for crimes committed in battle, as opposed to prosecuting them only for crimes committed in working-class suburban homes and backyards against millionaires with secret lives?



Incidentally, and so it is clear, these guys might NOT have done anything wrong, and hopefully when they're tried it turns out that they didn't - it sounds as if they may have a pretty good defence. I guess we'll see. But if they were just doing their jobs, so is Brigadier McDade, and despite her lack of combat experience, when it comes to decisions to prosecute I'll take the opinion of a military legal expert over that of an opinion columnist. Although perhaps Alan Howe can sway me by telling me how many firefights he's been in and how many doors he's knocked on, since that seems to be the way we determine whether someone's legal opinions are valid or not.

Alan Howe: Strongman of the Editorial Page


Big news, friends and lovers!

Newmatilda is coming back!


For those of you who came in late, having been attracted to this blog by my work at The Age, the Drum, or that post below on a delicate subject which seems to have attracted a certain amount of attention, Newmatilda was the birthplace of my career in professional sarcasm, as illustrated here or here or even here.

What's more, it featured lots of brilliant stuff written by people who aren't even me! And then it passed away. But thanks to the tireless efforts of those magnificent newmatilda-ites, it's back! And as you'll see in the first link, it needs support. So if the site tickles your fancy, do sign up to the email list and, should it be within your power, subscribe. Your life will be richer and better-informed for it.

Of course I am newmatilda for life, and I'll be contributing in some capacity to the new Newmatilda. So there's that to look forward to - as "ravenm" says:

"We want Ben!"

On the other hand, as "Self-righteous git" says:

"Pobje and Eltham were boring, don’t bring them back."

So, opinions on both sides there.

Welcome back NM!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How Not To Rape People: A Handy Guide For Modern Men And Footballers

In my perusings of the modern media landscape, a worrying trend has come to my attention: young men who apparently just can't stop having non-consensual sex with others. It's a tricky problem, and one to which there are, clearly, no easy solutions. I mean, it's all very well to say "No means no", but as popular ex-footballer/arachnid Peter "Spida" Everitt says, when a girl goes home with a guy at 3am, it's not for a cup of Milo. So we can see there are two sides to every story: on the one hand, a young lady might feel violated, but on the other hand, why do these women keep going round to strangers' houses in the hopes of having some Milo? Why don't they buy their OWN Milo? Young people today, I ask you.

The point is, as a man myself, I know how hard it can sometimes be to not be a rapist. Masculine identity is so ill-defined these days, what with the sexual revolution, feminism, meggings and so on: it's so difficult to know what women want: do they want us to hold the door open and pay for dinner, or do they want us to wait until they're blind drunk and have sex with them against their will? How can we tell? After all, as ABC The Drum commenter "James" says in response to an article by Lauren Rosewarne, "Why are young women so strange?"

Indeed, why? When young women are free to go around being strange all over the place, how can men be expected to know how to behave? This is why we see so many comments around the internet along the lines of "Why do these women put themselves in this situation what do they expect they are just after bragging rights they can't change their minds after the fact I agree with Kerri-Anne Kennerly"?

When people start agreeing with Kerri-Anne Kennerly, society has gone too far, and this is why I have prepared, for the benefit of my fellow man and also people who play football, a Handy Guide To Not Raping People. Feel free to print it out and keep it in your shirt pocket, men, so next time you find yourself in an awkward situation where it seems you have no choice but to rape someone, you can check the guide and gracefully extricate yourself from the sticky predicament.


1. When you meet a girl who doesn't want to have sex with you, don't have sex with her.

2. When you meet a girl who wants to have sex with one of your friends, remember the golden rule: You Are A Different Person To Your Friends. Maybe this handy mnemonic can help: Yentl Acted As Ducks Probed Three Yucky Frenchmen. This will help you remember that a girl who wants to have sex with one person does not necessarily want to have sex with every person she meets. Confusing, I know; what can I say - political correctness, etc.

3. If you meet a girl who DOES want to have sex with you, but then a bit later she says she'd rather not, don't have sex with her. Again, pretty confusing, I know, but it's due to a special Scientific Fact: sometimes girls change their minds. Like, remember the time you wanted a kebab, but then you thought no, I'll have a hamburger instead? It's a bit like that, only with sex.

4. When you meet a girl who is unconscious, don't have sex with her. This is true even if she was drinking before. I may be delving into some fairly arcane theory here, but scientists have discovered there is actually technically a difference between "drinking a lot of alcohol" and "saying yes I want to have sex with you". I realise this difference is probably hard to spot for a lot of you guys; you might have to squint a bit.

5. When you go home with a girl, try not to have sex with her until after she says she'd like to.

6. Practise not having sex with people. I know it's hard - sometimes you just look down and it's like, whoops, I'm having sex with this girl, how did that happen? But I bet with a bit of concentration and discipline, you can actually manage to avoid having sex with someone, even when they're in the same room as you. It's true! Anyone can do it! Why, last week I met at least five women who I actually didn't have sex with, without causing myself any particularly severe internal injuries.

7. When you meet a girl who doesn't want to have sex with you, don't have sex with her. I realise I already said this one, but that was five steps ago, and I have a feeling some of you guys might have slightly short attention spans.

So there you go: seven easy steps to becoming a non-rapist. I bet you didn't think it was that simple, did you? You probably thought you'd need electrodes attached to something. But no, you can do it in your own living room! It's just a matter of staying "on the ball" and learning the difference between a girl who wants to have sex with you, and a girl who doesn't. One way is by listening to what she says: a girl who says "Let's have sex" probably wants to have sex; a girl who says "let's not have sex" probably doesn't. I realise listening to what women say will be a new experience for a lot of you, but I'm confident you can manage it. Practise at home first if you like, with a mirror and a wig.

Anyway, good luck with it all, guys! I know you probably think you could never not rape people, but I believe in you, guys! With a little bit of hard work and determination, anyone can not have sex, any time they want! Amazing but true!

Happy Not-raping!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Coming Soon

Hey read this! It's by me and stuff, from the weekend's Age.

But having thought so much about the shows we miss, I began thinking about the future of TV, and the part I have to play in it. I happen to know that most of this country's television executives read this blog religiously (on their knees, hands clasped, etc), and so I thought I would pitch:


1. Gene Pool - the zany shenanigans of three single men called Gene living in the same apartment, as they compete for the affections of the sexy female lion-tamer across the hall.

2. Easter - Over the course of one fateful Easter weekend, seventy-three very different people meet, fall in love, fight and kill each other a bit. Also it is set on a space station.

3. Hangdog - Can a dog in the big city make it as a professional hangman? Find out as we follow the wacky escapades of Lester the Executioner Dog, who's trying to juggle a demanding career, the strange ways of the city, and a turbulent romantic life. Lester is not a talking dog and possesses no particularly high level of intelligence. This only makes it harder.

4. Apples and Oranges - What happens when a racist greengrocer is ordered by a mentally-ill magistrate to share a mansion for a year with a Vietnamese confectioner? Well let's find out!

5. The Slippery Slope - This year's reality smash hit, in which fifteen hopeful contestants are placed on top of a mountain without food, clothing or shelter. Each week the contestants vote out their least favourite mountain-mate, who is then hurled down the mountain. It's a battle of wits/hypothermia!

6. Buried - The Series - If you enjoyed the new Ryan Reynolds film "Buried", you'll love this small-screen spin-off, starring Saved By The Bell heart-throb Mario Lopez in the role of Paul Conroy, a bumbling contractor who can't seem to stop getting buried alive every week! Also starring Dirk Benedict as the mysterious "Mr Elf".

7. Between a Rock and a Hard Place - Another reality crowd-pleaser, in which 12 teams of eight find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. The twist? The hard place is actually another rock!

8. Every Cloud - The hilarious adventures of a family of eight, indulging in wacky zaniness on an 1840s wagon train, where mom and dad find themselves completely out of touch with the younger generation and have to rely on Apax the robot butler to keep everything together!

9. Little Red Riding Hood - A cracking TV adaptation of the classic children's tale, with Red Riding Hood reimagined as a Mossad assassin, the wolf reimagined as a Somalian pirate lord, and Grandma reimagined as the United Nations Security Council. Throw in an alternative timeline in which the Boer War never happened and Nelson Mandela was born in Krakow, and you have a recipe for the wackiest five-minute stop-motion claymation show in years!

10. A Bird in the Hand - A harrowing in-depth look at the depraved world of professional ornithologists. Follow the lives, loves, lusts and hate-crimes of this twisted set of feather-fanciers as they wreak havoc on the mean streets of Hobart.