My descent/ How I found religion whilst caving.

Hip indie flick “The Descent” has a 700 word plot summary on Wikipedia which I can condense down to its component parts whilst still capturing the full flavor:

“They hike up to a cave entrance and descend”, “collapses”, “trapping them”, “breaks her leg”, “neck ripped out”, “Beth begs Sarah to euthanize her”, “psychotic breakdown”, “dragged back and eaten alive”, “Sarah has reached a dead end.” And that’s the whole movie. It was legitimately one of the best films of 2005.tumblr_m44g16pgyp1qb8k76o1_500

The American term for cave exploring for either “fun” or science is ‘spelunking’ which makes it sound like a delightful romp, like ‘wassailing’ which means to get really, noisily drunk, mostly at Christmas. The British have a more dour term for caving, calling it “potholing”. Pot being the Middle English word for pit, meaning the British essentially go ‘hole-holing’ which is nonsensical and doesn’t sound nearly as merry.

Whatever name it goes by, my feelings as I approached Jenolan Caves for what the brochure described as “adventure caving’ were ‘guarded’. My girlfriend and I arrived late on a Friday night, relieved to find the place unscathed having spent the last hour driving through the heaviest fog I’d ever seen. It was like piloting a plane through a cloud.

The parade of other cars on the lonely mountain road which we assumed could only possibly be heading where we were heading, mysteriously all turned off a valley side path leaving us to the hillbillies and monsters. Where the fuck were they going? Klan meeting?

Our hotel for the weekend, Jenolan Caves House built into the base of the Blue Mountains was a Victorian-era edifice, slightly coming apart at the edges and bearing a close resemblance to The Shining’s Overlook.

Whilst we encountered no evil twins or axes, our bed did come with a leech which I banished to the hell from which it came (flushed it down the toilet).

The following morning we found the leech still there, waving around as if to say “come me at, bro!” It was actually un-flushable, attaching itself to the inside of the bowl like a lamprey whenever I depressed the button.

Drawing on my boy-scout training and post graduate degree in marking, I elected to go chemical. A blast of deodorant was in-effective, but a big blurp of hotel-brand body wash had an immediate and disturbing effect, causing the poor leech to vomit up the previous night’s feast of blood, writhe around for a minute and then sink, perfectly still.

Joyously did we eat our breakfast.

Our caving adventure was booked in for the afternoon, so with a few hours to kill we went on a bush walk through the hills. The Blue Mountains under a light rain, mist obscuring the valley peaks is entrancing pretty. The so-called “blue lake” was perfectly blue, droplets beaded every fern, and the forest abounded in bubbling brooks into which I peered hard for platypus. It was like walking around inside my “rain sounds for relaxation” playlist.

Tiny, plump-looking finches bounced around the lower branches, we spied a lyerbird stalking out worms and two black cockatoos. A sign said peregrine falcons and wombats were present in the area. I ached to pat a wombat.

By a riverbank we instead came across a spine. Legit, a spine.wp-1488953565892.jpg

A plague of flies arose at our approach. It retrospect it may have been a kangaroo tail but in the moment I immediately wondered if The Descent’s cave cannibals were based on a true story. We then noticed various leeches cartwheeling towards our ankles, and so retreated back to the hotel.

At caving HQ we were instructed into rugged blue overalls. A surgical bandanna was deftly tied around our head, and onto which was plopped a miners helmet with a nifty headlamp attachment. Clearly we were in for some adventuring. Spying my girlfriend in her saggy spelunking attire, I remarked to her that I’d never been more attracted to her than I was at that moment.

Our two guides had the dimensions of stocky jockeys i.e. squat rectangles. I later noticed that all the guides around the caves had this body type. Apparently the better to squeeze and haul themselves through obscenely tight spaces unaided. This also happens to be my body type, which relaxed me slightly.

The rest of our tour group were an eclectic bunch. It consisted of:

  • The white people version of my girlfriend and I,
  • Two portly middle aged men and their soccer-playing teenage daughters,
  • A couple where the guy was clearly batting out of his league, and
  • A teenage boy with an astonishingly close resemblance to the Jew-fro kid from 40 Year Old Virgin.

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I’ll only refer to him here as “Will” because it’s his real name and I hope he reads this the little shit. The older man accompanying him we awkwardly learned was not his real father.

And so a spelunking we would go! giphyOver the course of two hours we scrabbled around in the near darkness. And it was awesome. It became immediately apparent why shortness was a virtue amongst adventure cavers, as just getting into the cave required proceeding in a low crouch, like soldiers through a trench. The bowels of the cave itself I’d describe as “dusty and sharp.” I banged my head non-stop.

On some of the walls were inscriptions from the early 1900’s written in candle smoke by adventurous aristocrats. Usually when I find graffiti which says something like “Dave woz here” I always write “no he wasn’t” underneath, but these were just people’s names, all long dead.

Our guide pointed out the word “Arnott’s” as in Halse Rogers Arnott, director of Arnott’s Biscuits and inventor of the Tim Tam cookie, which for Australians makes this particular hole-in-the-ground a religious shrine.ghmptn6

To get from the top of the cave and emerge weary at the bottom meant very slowly descending in single file through a procession of chambers, linked together by improbably small tunnels for which we’d have to variously lower ourselves feet first, head first, on our back, on our stomach and otherwise contort ourselves into V’s, S’s and L shapes and suck in our gut.

In every cavern I’d spy an obvious-looking person-sized exit against a far wall, and every time the guides would instead point at a divot on the floor with the dimensions of a basketball and fall through it, calling for us to follow.

Will did not enjoy any of this. At every tight squeeze he’d have the top half of his matchstick physique in one cave whilst his legs dangled and wiggled pathetically in another. To every piece of advice given on what to do next he’d neigh “I’m TRYyyyinggggg.” Shut up, Will. It became so irksome that we all agreed to eat Will first in the event of a cave in.

Later, for a laugh, the guides instructed us to turn off our head lamps and sit for a minute. It turns out that this deep in the cave system there is no light at all. If you wave your hand in front of your face you actually hallucinate the shadow of your hand passing by. Somewhere, Will whined “All I see is blackness”. Fuck off, Will.

Apparently, your brain puts the shadow there to try and adapt to your new unhappy situation. After a long enough time you’ll think you can see the cave, and so you’ll walk to what you think is the way out, but instead fall to your death.1036731At length we emerged sweaty and streaked in mud, but immensely pleased with ourselves to have survived. Sadly, Will was still amongst us.

What I will say though, is that the adventure caving tour isn’t particularly “visual”. Taking photos will just provide a lot of dankness. To make up for it, later that night we took in a walking (read: wuss) tour of a more accessible cave.

The guide remarked as we set out that this cave system (known as The Orient) contained 1,500 stairs to climb. “Only 750 if you take them two at a time” I remarked rather drolly to my girlfriend, who laughed and laughed and laughed. Up ahead, someone else remarked, louder, “Only 500 if you take them three at a timeAHAHAHAHAHA!.” Motherfucker. “Bigger” doesn’t mean “funnier” you stupid Will…

The Orient Caves are 340 million years old and beautiful.  Go there man. Don’t go with Will.

 

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This Christmas, I found out I was part black/ Santa brings the gift of racial ambiguity

The two laziest ethnic slurs are probably “Chinaman” and “Whiteboy.” Lazy, because they’re both just saying what someone is. Interestingly, I’ve been called both. Which should be technically impossible, but the problem  you see, is that I am beige. A daywalker. I am a bi-facial. I mean a bi-racial.

Or at least I thought I was until my dad told me this most recent Christmas Day that I was partly black, adding a third shade to my mix. The fact that it was Christmas was coincidental, but I, obviously can’t wait to have kids and tell them that this Christmas morn, Santa brought them the gift of “racial ambiguity!” I’m thinking when they’re seven. (Go on! Go show the neighbour kids! Your face).l0fb

My father, like many people who have recently acquired a seniors card, has developed an acute obsession with Ancestry.com and has been periodically sending long emails detailing everything he’s learned about the white side of my family:

Castles owned and tragically lost (Lennox castle of Scotland), colonies lorded over racistly (India, Réunion, Borneo, China), plantations owned (rubber) and foundations named after (John Bost Foundation, which helps the mentally “unpredictable” in France).

“Shits given” by myself were always close to zero, but as most people can attest, I am emotionally dead inside. I found it interesting only in a low-key way, knowing that every family that ever was or ever will be, will include rich people, poor people, geniuses, republicans, criminals, royalty, and dirty, dirty commoners such is the breadth of time and variability of circumstance.

I have never had a strong inclination to find out “who I am.” giphy

Besides, if the Scottish castle was still in the family name today, by now I’d likely own only about one two-hundred-and-fifty-sixth of its value anyway (You can have the groin protector of this armor suit, two hearth pokers and you can look out one of the windows in the North-East turret). Less if the wider family were more resolute in their Catholicism than I’ve been. Either way I’m still no more a Scottish Lord than I am a philanthropic Frenchman.

But when he tells me I’m part black then I’m interested? Apparently, back in the Pirates of the Caribbean days of periwigged British Redcoats and Napoleon stomping all over Europe in a funny hat,  there was a Bost serving as garrison commander of the French colony of Reunion island east of Madagascar, who fell in love with, and married a freed slave. It was very woke of him for the time. Way more woke than my current living grandmother.

Here’s how stupid I am though: my very first thoughts, were “COOL!”, “Oh, it all adds up –  I’ve always liked black culture” and “that must be why I’m a fast sprinter.” What am I even talking about??nick-young-confused-face-300x256_nqlyaa

Everyone likes (American) black culture, especially their music and especially Asians who seem to make up all the non-black people in any given break dancing crew, and of the Asians especially the Filipinos like myself who wear NBA jerseys the way Iranians wear logo polos. That is to say, all the damn time. Do you know any 90’s kids who don’t know the Fresh Prince song?giphy1

 And being (by my calculation) at most only 3% African, whatever potential genetic athletic advantages I might have inherited would have been diluted into insignificance by about the time of the Boer War.

Besides, back in school, for every black classmate breaking tackles and anchoring the relay team, there was another black classmate spastically tumbling into the long jump pit and emerging with a mouthful of sand.1336405435_fat_guy_trampoline_dunk_fail

Applying the race filter to the world doesn’t often  seem to build inclusivity… Take dating in predominately white countries. For instance, here are three things white women have said to me as I attempted to date them in university when they found out I was half Asian:

“Asian?” and “You’re Asian?” and “Oh, I just thought you were normal.” They didn’t mean it in any sort of bad way, but the surprise of it made them double take. As if the idea of dating an Asian boy had never occurred to them before. Same as the idea of dating a black girl had never occurred to me. I didn’t know any.

I’m particularly taken with a musical comedy at the moment called “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”, first because it’s hilarious and second because the object of said crazy ex-girlfriend’s affection is a character called Josh Chan, a for real American-Filipino, and the only instance I can think of in allllll of Netflix where an Asian dude has been cast as the romantic lead.26-crazy-ex-w529-h352

But I don’t like that my heart swells with pride just because an Asian man is desired by a non-Asian woman. I don’t like in retrospect that I got super excited by the idea of being black. Defining yourself by your race sounds laudable in theory but it also means you’re placing yourself in a ‘club’, and placing people who don’t kinda look like you do in some other ‘club’. Time spent talking up our differences takes time away from reveling in all our commonalities. Like fried foods and sleeping in.

Neal Brennan (co-creator of Chappelle’s Show) has an interesting/probably outrageous to many idea on how to end racism by “ending race.”

“From here on out, we just gotta have nothing but mixed babies…You can’t hate what you don’t know what they are.”

End racism with procreation?

Waaaay ahead of you Neal! By running my Filipino-European-AFRICAN heritage, and my girlfriend’s New Zealand-Malay-Chinese heritage through IBM’s Blue Gene/P supercomputer, I have been able to determine what our son, and by extension all future people, will eventually look like.

1.3 trillion computations and $800,000 later here is what it predicts:the-rockMagnificent. 

The collective face plant of 2016/ Hopeful predictions for 2017

“I was afraid I was going to die and then I was afraid I wasn’t” – Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian.

2016. Where were you, when you found out I wouldn’t be receiving my present of Christmas turkey from my work?

Up yours, 2016.

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In a nutshell

It’s all my fault of course, for having the audacity to be away on the only day they distribute the company gifts of holiday-themed former farm animal parts. Here is the email verbatim:

From: Office Manager

Attn:  Staff must present themselves in person at their allotted time to receive their gift. No pick-ups for other staff allowed.giphyregards,”

I went through all five stages while staring at my company phone in a different city.

Denial: What? That can’t be right! We’re a global ad company, not some sort of Soviet bread line!646278

Anger: Giving me a Christmas present at a time that works for me is too inconvenient?! I’ve put my blood into this company! I slipped and fell in the kitchen when someone spilt kombutcha!!

Fear: My. God… I’m destined to go through this holiday season with only ham! My dad’s visiting! What if there’s not enough leftovers for snacks?!

Bargaining: Maybe with less food in the house it’ll be easier to hit my weight goals for beach season…

Acceptance: LOL LOL nope. Though it may be petty to form a blood feud with an employer who’s promoted me twice in two years, the denial of free food is essentially unforgivable.

My grudges for such transgressions are numerous, deep running, and long lasting.

A former colleague of mine once took both the last two non-vegetarian options from a meeting platter as it was handed around the table, before handing the leftover offerings of wet tofu and limp bean sprouts to me, the last in line.

Without doubt, one day in the future I’ll encounter her in the street and reflexively smash her hotdog in her face (in my mind’s eye she’s always eating a hotdog). It will be without thought or genuine menace, as instictive as blinking. It’s been four years.

So it seems that this Christmas, just as there was no sausage for little Homer, there will be no turkey for little Jeremy. 2016, you have reached your nadir.

669768It’s tempting to write off 2016 as the worst year ever. No doubt the world has experienced  repeated slaps to the face by way of plane crashes, bomb attacks, gun attacks, presidential election results, natural disasters, ongoing wars, and the passing of beloved celebrities, but 2015 had all of these things. 2014 too.

Indeed, Google searches for “Worst year ever” have spiked every December for as long as there’s been Google. Does that mean Google is in any way responsible for our shared sense of tired dismay?

I say “yes”, as before the internet – when I grew up – all sorts of horrible shit would be going down around the world, and we, with our three TV channels and single nightly news show whose reporters ranged as far as 30 mins from the studio for a story, had no clue it was happening.

For example: John Candy, of Uncle Buck and Cool Runnings! died in 1994 and I had no idea until I Asked Jeeves where he was in 1998. It was a sad, sad recess that day.

But it can only get better, right? Since the Chicxulub asteroid hit earth and wiped out the T-Rex and other awesome things, on the balance, every year since has arguably been marginally better.

So, here are my modest, modest hopes for 2017:

January – By the end of week one, several of the world’s collective new year resolutions are not yet fully abandoned. “I thought that the family bucket of KFC I had for lunch had ruined my weight loss goals for the year,” said Jackson Merle, 31. “But the resultant diarrhoea that afternoon put me AHEAD OF THE GAME, BABY!” (dabs.)

February – Facebook debuts its “Fake news” algorithm, which, rather than hide posts from both the Alt Right and your judgemental hippy friends, secretly sends them both into deep, separate Facebook echo chambers closed off from the real Facebook where rescued cage hens are trained to like their statuses. Grown ups are now free to make informed choices.

March – This time, a viral social media hashtag will raise awareness of, and fix, one. Just ONE! Please! Of the world’s problems forever. Surely. (dabs).

April – “Look!” says former President Obama, addressing the crowd at the Washington Wizards first NBA playoff game, pointing to his snowy white head. “Look what you did to my hair! I hope you’re proud of yourself…”. Lebron James starts a slow clap from the Cavalier’s bench, which cascades into Obama being ushered back into office.

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May – Trump flips off the assembled media with stubby middle fingers, and says that all the added attention of being president is really getting in the way of him being able to “crush puss so I’m quitting.”

June – Vice President Mike Pence finally finds the last Easter egg the secret service hid around the White House gardens in April. Smitten, he skips merrily to his office to find it occupied by Joe Biden in a Hawaiian shirt and a can of beer. Pence turns sadly and leaves.

July – The American summer movie season passes and, Michael Bay is amazingly not featured at all. Even as a producer. “Man, I found out people hate me…” he says astride a tiger atop a tank inside a battleship.

August – The death of Twitter results in Snapchat taking the mantel of ‘on the spot’ news sources. “So with the butterflies and flowers filter applied, Aleppo doesn’t look so bad! And now Greg with sports” – BBC.

September – The world’s most beloved celebrities, Beyoncé, The Rock, and Sir Patrick Stewart are still alive, lending hope that we’ll see out the year without receiving a huge nut kick. The private jet of Nicky Minaj meanwhile, crashes into Pitbull. 890872

October – Hugh Jackman promises to unretire The Wolverine for a five season Netflix original series, if Netflix agrees to remove its content geo-blocking. Forever. Both Netflix and all the world’s governments and content creators agree. Because he is The Wolverine. 890872November – Sir Ian Mclennan sadly does pass away. But as he is Gandalf, he simply arises again even more powerful than before, forming a stable, peaceful government in Syria using magic. (He smites Al-Assad upon the mountain’s peak and dabs).

December – This blogger, finally, FINALLY, after a whole year of waiting, gets his Christmas turkey.8908722017! Best! Year! Ever! C’mon!

Picking a bigger bully: Who reaaaaaly voted for Trump? Who indeed…

The four cornerstones of the American political psyche are 1) emotion substituted for thought, 2) fear, 3) ignorance and 4) propaganda

– Joe Bageant, “Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War”, 2008

To be fair to our American friends and cousins, the above quote can reasonably be attributed to every single nation on Earth; from fair, gentle Sweden through to the iron hammer style of politicking as practiced in both the current and former Soviet states (“In Soviet Russia, president assassinates you!”).

People are, to our eternal detriment, much more emotionally driven than we are logical; forever trapped in four key states of:

1) Hungry, 2)Horny, 3) Tired and 4) Emotionally needy.

We already know Trump is an on-fire-garbage-can of a human being. I’ve written about him before, and preaching to the choir and/or online echo chamber of identical viewpoints hasn’t helped us get along, has it?

Is everyone on my Facebook who agrees with me not representative of the thoughts and experiences of an entire nation? Let’s look at what else might have happened….

Who would have known a populist would be so darn popular? 

In the cold, cold wake of Trump’s unexpected election victory, much has been made of commentators who didn’t find it (or wouldn’t have found it) unexpected at all.

The most credible go to documentary maker, Michael Moore’s blog post from July, an October piece by Jason Pargin, editor of Cracked.com who writes under the screen name of David Wong, and the afore quoted Vietnam veteran and former columnist, Joe Bageant who passed away in 2011.

All three are left-leaning commentators who, unlike most other left-leaning commentators (or even left-leaning people) were born and raised in America’s “white poverty” “Rust Belt” counties, and so can claim to have actually seen “the other side.”

To them, Trump voters aren’t uneducated, red-necked bigots. They’re under-educated bigots that they’re related to, and even friends with, though they disagree on some “stuff”. They grew up in a middle America which, not unlike rural Australia and post-industrial Britain, arguably peaked in the 1950’s.

A time when the townspeople all worked at The Factory (there was only ever one) from teen to tombstone, attended the same place of worship, read the same newspaper, believed all the same things (Jesus is real but the Gays are not, God is watching and rock & roll music is a dirty, commie plot)805620

and held annual family reunions; as much to guard against incest as for want of anything better to do.

Cracked.com’s David Wong, formerly of Lawrenceville, Illinois, listed on Lawrenceville’s Wikipedia page as its most famous person, which tells you possibly everything about its current prospects, can’t be dismissive or ignorant of townships still climbing out of the bomb crater that was the local factory and sole reason for the towns’ existence as we all were. He has to visit it at Christmas and Skype it on weekends. I highly recommend you read his post.

I’ve checked the Politico map, and 75% of Lawrence County voters voted for Trump. If Wong hadn’t moved he’s certain he would have gone with Trump too. He knows the sense of helplessness these places have, the sky high suicide rates, the crushing depression that comes from not having anything to do and the sure knowledge that your children have no prospects.

He knows, that these people feel forgotten about, and spoken down to by everyone not from there: Liberal think tanks, metropolitan media, Hollywood, and politicians who for years have called them inbred/ backward/ stupid/ deplorable, tumblr_m13s3k5tpo1qdv2s8o1_500and dismissed their plight as unimportant.

Problem is, though these towns are dying the people are still there, increasing in population whilst becoming more and more pissed off every day. Most don’t share Trump’s stupefying level of bigotry, but they voted for him in spite of it just because he said he’d take them seriously. It was a backlash against perceived city snobbery, or as some have called it, a “white lash”. ezgif-1892612937

“White people” seems a bit broad and not actually an “identity”, so I see it more as a mass Eric Cartman moment of “Respect my authori-tah!” image

They felt bullied, so they picked a bigger bully to do their fighting for them.

It doesn’t make it right. It’s a childish response, but probably born out of being spoken to like a child. Of course you can tell them that all sorts of minority groups have it really tough. But knowing that other people have shitty lives doesn’t make your shitty life any less shitty.

How dare you be a white male in this day and age! Aren’t we past that?

The problem with saying anything bad about political correctness is that it’s politically incorrect to say so, and already I know that there are people on my Facebook declaring me as some sort of deplorable for only being 95% as socially progressive as they are. People who call “racist” even though they are white and I am not. I’m mixed race. Do you see how your argument is full of holes? I know your intentions are good, but you have got to tone down the race stuff. It’s not helping.

Labeling someone as a “racist” is a heavy charge to level, and the term is thrown around more than it deserves. If someone is heling Hitler or telling a brown person to “go back where they came from” then the charge is fair.

But a white person in dreadlocks is probably not racist. All the ones I’ve know were just campus hippies. They weren’t racists, they were vegan. Can you even say the n-word and then immediately bite into a tofu dog or would the earth’s polarity suddenly reverse itself? Surely that’s not a thing.

Believing Asians are good at maths? We are good at maths! I’m not going to be offended by that. Not good at sports? Maybe relative to black people… Small pe… HEY! That’s racist. For more information and evidence to the contrary please subscribe to my Snapchat.

Before calling ‘racism’ leave some fucking wiggle room, because shutting down a debate is not the same as winning it.

It’s like saying that you love lamp. zjtp4Do you really “love” lamp or are you overusing a highly emotive word to the point that it’s lost its original meaning?

I think – I think – that it’s this sort of incessant nannying that motivated the more short-sited of the rural white to say “Wouldn’t it be fun to make these precious, privileged, Starbucks sipping, judgmental, college kids cry?” If they didn’t want it they certainly got it.

But, they’ve made their bed and now they have to lie in it. They successfully elected a gassy, bigoted, narcissistic troll to be in charge of everything and he’s going to let them down.

It’ll be OK though, right? Guys?

The age of the one factory town is gone because that’s not up to Trump. He can’t stop globalization any more than he can limit automation. As a classic capitalist, he’s actually complicit. He lied to them. His wall is already being downgraded to a ‘fence.’ In four years it may be less a wall and a more a “state of mind.”

Closing borders doesn’t save Americans from American crime, or the 30,000 gun deaths a year of which he’s apathetic. His proposed tax cuts put a $6 trillion hole in projects that could potentially help the poorest. It benefits rich people though. Rich people like Trump who stands to gain back $1m every year.

Much of what Joe Bageant wrote was centered around why the poor, rural white, his kin, have a habit of electing the person or party most likely to do them harm, instead of a progressive socialist like Bernie Sanders who could actually help set them on their feet. They continue that tradition in Trump:

“Nearly all of these successful folks have made it in the business world by sticking with the free market ideal of survival of the fittest over everything else. They believe in giving no quarter, and consequently they are anti-union, pro-death penalty, and pro-war- … This is America, where greed is christened “drive” and is deemed a virtue. ” – Joe Bageant.

Only four years to go…

 

 

 

 

“I own a house but not an avocado” – How one heroic millennial flipped the script and got rich slow.

Hello friend, do you wish to be as wealthy as me? Do you wish to feel the loving embrace of financial security? Of knowing you’ll always have a roof over your head, warm meals, and a comfortable retirement?

Do you hesitate when the server at your local Boost Juice asks if you’d like to up-size for 50 cents, and you tearfully decline because you know you can’t ball out on large smoothies? Do you lament the absence in your life of a private jet with wings of solid gold, so it can’t fly, but that’s not the point?

If you’re reading this blog, it’s beyond all reasonable doubt that you do want “up-size” money for the designer smoothie shop, and a private jet because you’re too embarrassed to poop on a commercial plan. It’s quite probable you also want your own reality TV show that chronicles the shops you visit because you really, really are that interesting.

Because if you’re reading this blog, you’re most likely a resident of a relatively wealthy nation and so have time to waste on blog reading (and writing).

Residents of other countries sadly just don’t have the time, concerned as they are of the state of the family water buffalo who’s been looking unwell, meaning little Chantou might need to hand-plow the rice field, which is going to be hard because of the landmine she found…  No I never insulted the Great Leader, my brother did, shoot him instead, he’s over there. Oh, the volcano’s acting up again… That lava stream doesn’t look like it’s slowing down, does it? OHNOATIGER! etc.

Yes. Yes I did combine the rural hardships of three completely different nations into one compounded series of problems for the sake of hyperbole.

Point is your life is at least good, bordering on great, except your thighs touch.

It was brought to my attention recently that I might actually be a ‘wealthy’ person, following a recent media pillow fight between millennials and a baby boomer columnist who sardonically blamed young people’s inability to purchase a house entirely on their wasteful brunching habit.

Principally: “Smashed avocados on toast” for the mortgage-crippling price of just $22. Now, obviously it’s not that simple: It’s not “toast.” It’s actually a sourdough rye.

Whilst all my Facebook friends were getting all mad, three things occurred to me:

  1. I am a millennial. Albeit a very, very old millennial. I may be the oldest millennial.
  2. I have never ordered smashed avocado on toast.
  3. I own a house.

    slide-09
    Central stairs and mezzanine. Not pictured: My real house.

Clearly this guy was on to something, since I come away looking like a financial savant. And as a financial Jesus, I thought it only wise that I help guide my fellow millennials down to mortgage town with my patented tip to get rich slow.

I call it “Don’t Go Outside.”

The Don’t Go Outside method of wealth accumulation is made up of two principals:

  1. Don’t do stuff

Doing stuff costs money. Movie tickets, park entry, bottled water to keep you hydrated throughout your expedition to the mall, plus bus/Uber fare to get there. Perhaps you drive instead which necessitates parking fees, and, unless you’re able to drive mostly downhill, you’re spending a lot on petrol.

Fancy brunch places charge a premium to keep their baristas in mustache wax, and the simple act of leaving the apartment brings about wear and tear on your sneakers and incurs laundry costs for armpit stains in your $80 shirt, which you wouldn’t have if you’d simply stayed on your couch, naked.

Hey, friend. Do you like to get fucked up? Do you like to get wasted!? You idiot. Clubbing and/or bar hopping is an enormous waste for a young professional likely earning between $20 and $40 an hour at their office job. Going out hard, costs at least $50 an hour on entry, shots, replacement drinks for the ones your friends double-dared you to chug, which you did because you want to fit in, and the taxi home.

Not to mention running costs for going-out clothes and assorted scents and face-enhancing unguents.35500e79175a46face3c8032ebe5d88d

Did you have such a legendary night that you imbibed so much craft beer you threw up on your shoes? Congratulations dickhead, you threw up your own money on your other money. To paraphrase Hannibal Buress.

  1. Don’t die

The biggest obstacle to slow wealth accumulation is dying before you can accumulate it. This is also why you shouldn’t do stuff. Doing stuff kills. Romantic hot air balloon ride? Riding something extremely flammable that’s powered by flames? Sometimes they mysteriously catch fire, leaving the occupants the options of burning alive or leaping to their deaths. It’s happened several times. No thank you.tumblr_m8us8loq2w1qlhokco1_500

Skydiving equals high velocity death. Wingsuit diving guarantees death. Remember the London Olympics opening ceremony where a base jumper landed in the stadium with the torch like a boss? He’s dead now. Outside is where lightning, skin cancer and car accidents are. Other countries have diseases you’re not immune to. The beach is where 300,000 people drown every year.

And sharks. Oh, yes. Some people, millennials mostly, often quote the statistic that more people are killed each year by vending machines toppling on them than sharks, and so you shouldn’t fear sharks. This is a stupid way to think about it. This statistic includes all people on earth, including people actively approaching the summit of Mt. Everest. There are no sharks on Everest, but there is a vending machine at Everest Base Camp.

Simply put, people are around vending machines more than sharks because people are land mammals and not really in the ocean that much. My office has a vending machine 20 meters from my desk. I like my odds. But if I surfed 8 hours a day off the west coast of Australia, five days a week, 20 meters from a Great White you see my damn point.tumblr_lx7i38nzun1qhefq2

And there you have it! If your stay inside, away from the windows, and ignore your friends you can be just like me: A mortgage owner. 127159

You can also ask your parents. Mostly, I asked my parents.

Next time: “The Dine & Dash:  How a life of low-key crime can be your ticket to $aving$!!”

I watched “The Bachelor”: A courageous man’s perspective.

Very important TV update. I, a man – as evidenced by the baggie of beef jerky I keep in my office desk drawer – recently watched the final of The Bachelor Australia, mate.

There are traditionally two ways to discuss The Bachelor: there’s the high-brow way, the “what does this show say about the modern state of feminism? Of romance in the disposable age of Tinder? What does it say about us, the baying public, watching the crash and burn of relationships with real stakes for our leering weeknight entertainment? ‘Zeitgeist’” etc.

And then there’s the other way, the “She a ho” way.811979

And then there’s my third way: the “I don’t know… what… is this… thing? But… why?” etc. This is a typical guy reaction to The Bachelor. Or, in today’s pre-approved, gender neutral internet, a typical “cis” “male” reaction I think, perhaps, if that’s OK with you, please? To illustrate, let me point out my meticulous research notes based around Google searches and childhood memories, before returning to The Bachelor Australia, mate.

Boys and girls, are “different.”gump

It’s true. Reformed hippie and iconic humourist, Dave Barry, came to this conclusion with his own children. Back in the 60’s & 70’s, there was a movement among young university students such as Mr. Barry, with no real world child rearing experience, purporting the theory that gender norms were created by societal pressures only, and if we treated boys and girls identically from infant-hood by such methods as gender-neutral toys like wood blocks, these norms would dissolve like so much patriarchal salt in a saucepan of equal opportunity water. Oh, yes.

This theory was – like a “Biggest Loser” sex tape – very wrong. The science has found that infants are well on their way to becoming stereotypes – “nurturing” girls and “violent” boys – whilst still in the womb due to “hormonal secretions”, i.e. before they’ve even had a chance to be exposed to TV advertising.

Mr. Barry found that his young son – like nearly every young son – could make believe that any inanimate object, gender neutral or otherwise, would be a good stand in for a gun. Including barbies. Later when he had a daughter, he found that she, like nearly every young daughter, could make believe that any inanimate object could be a good stand-in for a baby. She had a big toy truck too, but she used it as a ‘pram.’

The list of things my friends and I have used as guns include rulers, pens and pencils, pieces of paper folded just so, bits of wood, and full juice boxes pointed towards a school chum, and squeeeeeezed. To this day, every time I refill my stapler I pretend I’m slapping a new ammo clip into an M4.

Anything too round would become a ‘grenade”. “Grenades” included pine cones, balls, and our collective lunch box fruit. During recesses, we played a high-stakes game of tag called “Brandings” which substituted hand tagging with a thrown tennis ball, ideally up close, as hard as possible after chasing your quarry up against a wall.

The girls meanwhile, would be arm-in-arm, skipping around the playground like the fucking Von Trapps.giphy

So in summary, boys and girls will be different because ‘hormonal secretions’. Click here for science!

And now back to the polar opposites of our respective gender’s TV viewing habits:

The girls with their emotion-driven dramas, and the action-oriented boys with their sports. You might say I’m stereotyping, but as I always do when stereotyping,  I don’t care what you think about anything ever.

For example, why, pray, do almost all men angrily shriek at pro athletes for having the audacity to snap their Achilles and writhe around on the court instead of hitting the go-ahead 3, whilst girls are so much more likely to have a very strong opinion of what appears to be a botoxed house wife going shopping?

So the girlfriend and I joined over 1 million Australians to watch the Bachelor Australia, mate finale on a Wednesday night. The girlfriend watched the ‘proper way’, seated on the couch in front of the TV supplying color commentary to onscreen events.

I meanwhile, sat nearby, facing the opposite direction, playing GTA V on my PC with head phones on. Like a man. In between bouts of gunfire I kept hearing the Bachelor himself, saying “emotional roller coaster” a lot, which was all the information I needed to follow along.

So I didn’t really watch it the way it was intended, but I did hit pause to watch the runner-up get turned down and tearfully bundled off into the “Reject Car,” thoughtfully supplied by a sponsor.

It was pretty rough to watch. The depth of feeling written all over poor Nikki’s face was deeply relatable to anyone who’s felt that deep, crushing, pressure pain of rejection through the chest, which I presume is all people.

And that’s what I figure shows like The Bachelor are: spectator ‘sports’ for girls based not on action, but on a deep emotional investment far beyond the grasp of the male automaton.  5g4babn

I didn’t watch the happy ending for the winner, single mother, Alex. It would have been entirely too much of an emotional roller coaster for me. I went to bed in a mellow frame of mind, dreaming about committing a heist.

But the next day. Oh, shit. Australian women were mad. I didn’t know why they hated Alex, but the depth of their fury were evident based on office chatter, all 30 people on Twitter, and the girl version of Imgur, called “Buzzfeed” which were just bunched panties. Bunched panties everywhere. Ladies, if you are unaware of the boy-version of Buzzfeed, it looks like thiscat face.PNG

Similar, but different.

To get a sense of what had happened, what it meant to Australia, as a community, I put it out to my Facebook to ask if this was the girl version of Lebron James picking Miami over his hometown Cleveland. A sporty girl I’m friends with allowed that that it is was so.

And so now I understand. Alex, you a hoe!

Coming up next week: “Lose half a pound and freshen up your look with a cool new doo. Shave your head!”

The college years/ I am so smrt! I am so smrt!

“Youths” what a bunch of jerks. Amirite my fellow office professionals? Amirite my Powerpoint Party People!!? No, you’re right. Stigmatizing groups based on their age is both ‘profiling’ and a micro-aggression and I apologize for my Tweet. I was hacked.

But they are. University kids specifically. After not thinking about my  college (which in the Australian sense, refers to a dorm-type community on a larger university campus) years for, well, years, I heard that a small group of its residents had just being expelled for doing something so fuckin offensive that it made national news.

My first thought was “Seriously?! Gross, man! Young people! Idiots!” But then, as a flood of early 2000’s rum and coke and emo-infused memories suddenly came roaring back at me so hard I had to sit in the dark and listen to Fall Out Boy, it occurred to me that I knew plenty of people back then who were exactly that moronic/creepy. The difference being that there was no social media at the time to get amplified out to the world.

I’m not in any way defending these dummies. I’m just saying that if we all think back to the college years, that we boys and girls, were capable of being enormously stupid, whilst studying for degrees – Engineering, Law, Physics, Economics, Medicine etc – that would otherwise indicate we’re capable of being incredibly smart.509608

My college was on the ANU, Australia’s only school ranked top twenty world wide – tied for 19th with London’s Kings College – and everyone in my college would have likely been no lower than a top 5 student in their graduating high school year. Many were Dux. But at the time, we were often idiots. Oh, my God.mustard2bscene

Example No. Dumb – Kill-a-keg

Five teams of four boys. One keg each. You drink the keg. The first team to finish “wins”. Drinking a keg works out to around 12 pints per man-baby. The one year I did it I was on the winning team (my three team mates I believe are all now practicing attorneys) with a time of just over 20 mins.

Impressive, since I spent ten minutes of the time throwing up in the long grass like a fire hose that got away.spewpull7cw3kg

Meanwhile, the girls had their own version of it off in different field, but in place of a keg they had boxed wine. Which is much, much worse. It meant the ones still standing would go on to commit crimes later that evening. Violent crimes.

Idiots!

Example No. toolander? – The Sleaze Tree

Yep. Creepy AF. At the end of every year, the graduating residents are given a set of tasks to complete on the night of the end of year formal. These could be drinking related, streaking related, cross-dressing related i.e. anything that would lower our chances of gaining future employment.353619

My task was to “win” the Sleaze Tree. I was selected because over the course of my four years in residence, I’d only be spotted in PDA once, rolling around in an unseemly fashion of the basement level of a bar called Mooseheads, in between sips from a $3 jug of beer to the sounds of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Long story short: I was forced, FORCED I tell you! To make out with 24 girls in one night.

I had strep throat for about a year, but it did teach me that at college level, the best pick up line is “Excuse me, I’m on a dare…”  433298

Though, all the young ladies were people I knew and were in on the joke. The record last I heard, is held by a gay resident (also now a lawyer I think) who tapped out at forty something.

Example No. Ice cream! – The lecture theater fart of ’03

The ANU is known for its political science and international studies departments, who pump out what is essentially the entire graduate intake for Australia’s intelligence agencies and the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade every year.

So you can imagine the somberness of the material we were going through (Myanmar), when someone, who is almost certainly now helping guide our foreign policy, farted so loudly I felt the vibration from 8 chairs down the row.

It wasn’t just that it was loud, – purposely so – it’s that it went on for so long that our lecturer – who was often on the TV news to talk about what N. Korea had just done – wasn’t so much shocked into silence as he was forced to trail off until he could be heard again.

With an expression more bewildered than angry, he looked up towards the culprit, who sat stone-faced in the middle of concentric circles of outward leaning foreign policy students having fits. I cried. For days! By the time I stopped laughing all my library books were overdue.399031405504412377

Low, low humor.

Inward Bound

My college was known as the sporty college on campus. I don’t know what it is about country kids, but they seem to breed ’em strong and fast out on the farms. The football teams were undefeated in college competition  going back, I believe, to when my dad was a resident.

Winning the inter-college sports shield (boys and girls footballs, basketball, swimming, cricket and Inward Bound) was a given every year. Yes, I “played college ball.”

Conversely, we were also winning the inter-college academics shield, which consisted of debate, public speaking, art, music and – once – creative writing, for which I was awarded Best & Fairest. The MVP. Of creative writing. My writer team mates lifted me up on their shoulders then immediately put me down when we all got nose bleeds.1004302

But it was Inward Bound that was the highlight of all inter-college events and worth the most shield points. It involved being blindfolded as a four-person team, dumped deep in the New South Wales backwoods around midnight and told to find our way to a finish line some 40 to 80 kilometers (200 dickety miles) away.1387541

Before you can make your way to the finish, you first have to figure out where on the map you are. Pray you figure right because it’s the difference between merely running a marathon with 10 kilos (one trillion fathoms) on your back, or 2 or 3 marathons. You could totally die. You specifically, would. 

Training for Inward Bound of course took up the entirety of first term. I failed stuff.

University! Idiots!

But, we grow up and buy button-up shirts and pantsuits, and go about filling out our Facebook with pictures of babies and hair loss.584933

I’ve fallen out of touch with the great, great majority of people I went to college with, but based on my Facebook and LinkedIn feeds, all are now gainfully employed in foreign affairs, law, medicine, publishing (I’m client to two), high finance, and being a contestant on the Bachelorette. 

Ahh, adulthood.. It’s fun too, right?

 

How to write more good/ I’m a fairy. I’m a fairy.

I don’t like reading fiction, and yet “My dad was probably a spy” was the opening sentence I used for the self-written email introduction I was required to write when I joined my place of employment.

Everyone at my office, when they join, is required to write a few illuminating paragraphs about themselves. And be funny or die.

The idea being that everyone else can learn a little something about the newbie – feel like they know them a little bit and have something to say before they run into their panicked, unfamiliar face in the kitchen – their interests, pet peeves, sexual preference(s), BMI, relationship status and home address. You know, the usual.

I think it’s an excellent way to introduce yourself. Firstly, it means you don’t have to individually give an introductory spiel to every individual person you come across at the urinal (“So… Berocca huh?”). Secondly, it gives you plenty of time to think on and edit how the office sees you before it goes out. In other words it gives you the chance, to lie.

That’s not to say I was lying about my dad. He denies he was a spy but that’s exactly the sort of thing a spy would say. I myself went through three rounds of interviews with the Australian spy agency, ASIO when I graduated from university, and “denying that you are a spy” is one of the first things they talked about. They really hated that I checked in on Facebook.i-feel-like-a-spy-right-now

But anyway, my dad worked in various Australian embassies around the world so it’s entirely plausible and I thought it would be intriguing enough  to get people to read past the first sentence.

If you write something, be it a blog post, letter to the editor, or opinion piece here are some sure-fire opening sentences that are guaranteed to make readers happily continue on with their lives:

“I was a born and bred in…” – Unless the end of this sentence is somewhere improbable like “a volcano”, say or “from the future, and I come with troubling news!”, ‘where someone is from’ isn’t particularly illuminating. Both Donald Trump and 2Pac are from New York. One of these things is not like the other.

“A scent of industry/optimism/’noun’  fills the air…” – A cub journalist/ creative writing uni assignment staple. I know because I’ve been both. A cliché typically leaned on to set a scene, usually something banal like a Starbucks or local council meeting. A better variation would be a scent of “chloroform” (and that’s how I became the middle of a human centipede last summer!)al4d8 or “smoke” (and that’s how I scammed my insurance, but lost my grandma.)

A more irritating opening common to opinion pieces is “You’d have to be living under a rock to not know about…”. This is common in a lot of business trade press by non-writers (i.e. people who “do” stuff), and are often followed by a new “zeitgeist” entry like Pokémon Go, Snapchat, the Macarena  etc., or an unnecessary new wank word like “disruption.” Or “zeitgeist.”so-long-gay-boys

Before the audience knows anything about the writer, the writer has already implied the audience is a bit “Homer”, a bit “dumb.” Oh, please talk down to us, oh great middle manager!

But the best thing to do as a writer, is to get to the point. My point, about 400 words ago, I think was: I don’t like reading fiction.

I like memoirs by funny people such as Clive James and Bill Bryson, sociology by clever people such as Malcolm Gladwell, and investigative journaling of the type written by Michael Lewis (who wrote Moneyball and the Big Short), or Mark Bowden, who wrote Killing Pablo and Black Hawk Down, the latter of which was turned into a harrowing Josh Hartnett movie: 40 Days and 40 Nights.

40_days_and_40_nights
War is hell

I have tried, several times since high school to complete a work of popular fiction but always fail, usually because of  one, probably irrational pet peeve:

I hate made-up stories told in the 1st person

If the author of my book was female, the main character was always, always, always written as a self-actualized version of how the author imagined themselves. “I’m clumsy/emotionally fragile to be relatable, but all the boys want to do-do-do me!” See Bridget Jones/Twilight girl/50 Shades girl/Hunger Games girl/Prada-wearing devil girl.

If the author is male – and this is particular to the Fantasy genre – I can’t not picture a chubby, bearded “Silent Bob” looking guy at a computer saying “I’m a wizard! I’m wizard! And now I’m a fairy! I’m a fairy!”internet-typing

But my girlfriend loves fiction, and especially fantasy fiction. And so to make our lives much more like a romantic comedy, we have agreed to read each other’s favorite books. Presumably we’ll meet at the top of the Empire State Building later to discuss plot points.

I gave her my favourite book: A Short History of Nearly Everything. The most exhilarating science book ever written.5337991

Hey shut up! She gave me an enormously popular fantasy book called “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothuss, who so happens, to look exactly like a wizard.

It’s written in the first person and includes the line “I’ve written songs that make the minstrels weep” ,433725but after 80 pages it’s actually OK. Prose is strong, and the writer conveys a sense of intelligence rather than cheese. There’s still 500 pages of micro font to go, but I think I can make it. The girlfriend has given me no such guarantee she’ll finish mine.

In the film version I’d like to be played by Matthew McConaughey.

Sports!: Australia losing to England/ England then loses to England

The English are a silly people. Not necessarily in a bad way, just in how they never ever, ever, ever seem to conform to expectations. There’s an image the wider world has of the British, of tea-sipping tweeness. Croquet and cricket. Beatrix Potter-themed crockery. “His Lord and Ladyship politely request your attendance to the philharmonic box social for corgis. A carriage has been arranged to escort you to Covent Garden oh, capital!” Shakespeare! Top-notch! Marvelous! Et cetera! etc.

But of course, those who actively pay attention to Britain or have lived there know there’s much, much more to British people than the above polite and quiet crumpet eating we tease them for.415247“Football hooliganism” for one. Geordie Shore for another. “Gaz an’ ‘iz mates are go-ink fowa cheeky nandos and bantz.” Well wikid! Oh, my DAAAzzze! Etc. And based on this “Brexit” thingy: xenophobia. And dumb-dumbness.

Of course, cliche is obviously never a good look to apply to an entire nation of diverse people. Not all Americans for example, wear cowboy hats and discharge pistols into the ceiling whilst eating a hamburger. Sometimes they’re eating a hotdog.932723Obviously, Britain is made up every kind of person from rich to poor, from Oxford-educated to barely at all, from James Bond to Austin Powers. Scary Spice to the Queen Mother, both now deceased.

I moved to England in my early teens from Australia, riding a kangaroo from Sydney to Perth, then surfing the rest of the way to the Thames and fetching up in as near the exact middle of these two types of Britain as possible: Clapham.

Clapham was just up the road from Brixton, which when I lived there was not that long removed from some socio-economic based rioting. Clapham itself was just on the cusp of acquiring its current gentrified status. Apparently it’s now full of Australians. Fancy that.

My school – also in Clapham – was a private institution of some historical significance, having incredibly just celebrated its 400th birthday. That’s medieval old, when booty-call texts were sent by raven: “You up? *lute emoji* An age so astonishing that the Queen herself personally commemorated the occasion by visiting the grounds and planting a tree. By which I mean she stood next to a tree someone planted.735276

The school was a remarkable mix of socio-economics; at the top of the rich list was a minor Prince of Brunei. He was only at my school I understand, because the top hat-wearing Lords of Eaton deemed him to stupid to be admitted there. He had his lunch delivered daily from Harrods, the sort of department store I imagined had its croissants flown in each morning by concord.

At the other end were students there on “assisted place”; a Thatcher scheme lasting until 1997 that placed children from the surrounding soviet-looking council estates into elite schools at a heavy subsidy or for free, which coloured things in the best possible way. The majority of students were still pudgy white toffs, but it was the minority of assisted place kids who dictated the culture of the student body.

Their way of speaking was a mix of cockney – On my first day a classmate denounced a student for being a “Millwool suppoawta” which I learned meant someone who “supports Millwall Football Club”, which apparently was tantamount to public leprosy – and Ali G-type, faux Afro-Caribbean “Big it UP!”  if that makes sense. All the kids, even the toffs, talked like this. Even I alternated between my native Australian twang and this Caribbean afflicted cockney to generate an accent so discombobulating it caused my Nanna a panic attack over the phone.

The late 90’s was a great time to be a young Australian in England. The reason of course, was sport. And sex. First on sex:

One of the things most at odds with the quintessential, English wealthy dowager shocked into dropping her monocle into her champagne860760
was that the UK has the highest rates of teen pregnancy in Western Europe. Their approach to sex on TV made Australia looks relatively Catholic by comparison. A weekly “current affairs” show specializing entirely of Europeans being naked for extremely vague reasons called “Euro Trash”  was a school favourite. Even the celebrity chefs were vaguely porno: “Split the chicken” Nigella Lawson would slither.  “And massaaaage the cream marinade into the breastsss” She never even cooked anything.

But sport. At the time of my arrival, English national teams had been on losing streak dating back to the founding of my school. In 1998 the English rugby team went to Australia and lost 76-0. The English cricket team hadn’t beaten Australia in a series since the Guards Vs Convicts  game of 1788. At the Barcelona Olympics, in a group match against Australia, the British water polo team, drowned. They sucked.

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And so it was I was suddenly thrust into ALL my English school’s sports teams. Having never played competitive cricket, I became first change bowler and returned a bowling average of “4”, which is like a soccer goalie conceding a goal every other season. Having never played competitive rugby, I was suddenly in the first 15 as forward, because the other forwards were too fat to keep up with the play.

But then something happened over the last ten years. The English have become much better than Australia at international sports. On the balance they’ve whipped us in the last Olympics, won more cricket games and just last week, won three straight  rugby games against Australia. In Australia! What the actual hell??!!

In the third game England somehow piled on 44 points. The last time an English team scored 40 points against Australia, it was a basketball game. Which Australia won. By like, a lot. Because Australia scored 106.

But. At the end of the day, there is still one thing you can count on with the English in sport. You can be assured, that when it really counts, really, really matters, they’ll somehow “English” it all up.

At the last cricket world cup, they somehow lost the final by conceding 24 runs in the last 4 balls of the match. It’s like leading the 200m hurdles by 100m, and then as at the last hurdle, going diarrhea all over it. It was an astonishing fall.

But, it pales next to their “always on the cusp of greatness” soccer team. They’ve just lost to Iceland. How tiny is Iceland compared to England? Put it this way, the population of Iceland, was on the actual pitch.The team manager, is the dentist. The person they left behind to look after Iceland, is the cat.

But look, I absolutely applaud and appreciate how good English have got at sports. It makes the great Australia Vs England match up a much more meaningful and emotional experience.

Get well soon,

Your little bro, Australia.

Nobody likes Milhouse/ Trump for Potato of The United States

“Milhouse” is the all-encompassing name I’ve recently taken to bestowing on people who have a habit of, shall we say, “Linking a series of unrelated viewpoints to form a  personality.” I settled on “Milhouse,” not because the Simpsons underdog character is in any way ideologically obscure, I chose it because of course, “Nobody likes Milhouse.”

tumblr_miynmilwdk1qh59n0o10_250

To help explain, consider your family.

Your family, no doubt, has a Milhouse in it somewhere. Your particular family’s Milhouse may not necessarily be a man, as to be a Milhouse he or she just needs to make some extraordinary leaps in reasoning, ignore all evidence to the contrary and dig their hills behind a stance so beyond common sense, that it befuddles as much as it enrages you. If you don’t know who the Milhouse is, consider the idea that you are the Milhouse of your house.

For example, “Uncle Milhouse doesn’t yet believe there’s enough scientific consensus to prove man-made global warming.” That’s OK, Uncle Milhouse, but what does that have to do with your “no” stance on gay marriage? Why, Uncle Milhouse, does subscribing to a major political ideology require that you hold a specific opinion on these specific array of unrelated issues?

Or conversely, “Uncle Milhouse believes a government more centered around socialist ideals is what we should be aiming for as we head into the next federal election.” That’s an understandable opinion to hold on its own merit, Uncle Milhouse, but what does that have to do with your militant veganism?

Do you see? Do you see how no one likes Milhouse?

Everyone had a Milhouse at school. People don’t like Milhouse because he’s a nerd, that’s beside the point and history and celebrity is full of endearing dorks:

Gates and Ballmer,1414374445374

Neil deGrasse Tyson,wegotabadass-01

Chandler etc – the reason nobody likes Milhouse is because he’s an asshole, because he lords over Bart’s paper soul, because he joined the St. Patrick’s Day pinching mob, because he creeps on Lisa (Lower those eyebrows!… And the other one…”), because he leaves the Simpsons kids on the wrong side of a canyon because “There’s no time!”

no time gif
“Now throw the vine back!” “There’s no time!”

You would have known at least one Milhouse in school; the Mr. No Friends with the habit of obliviously rubbing everyone the wrong way. The sort of person who, when suddenly granted an inkling of power, instantly and gleefully takes to abusing it.

Between kindergarten and 5th grade there was this kid called Bobby in my class, who, along with talking shit about literally everybody, loudly denounced me to the teacher (unprompted) for talking when the teacher had stepped out to take big swig of Jack, or whatever it was Sir did to turn the volume down on the tiny dumb-dumbs he had to spend his day with.  Sir did not remotely care.

One day, half the class banded together to pelt Bobby with water balloons. Watching from afar, it was awful to behold. Very Lord of the flies. But, had it been some other kid getting pelted, beyond all reasonable doubt Bobby would have shown up on the side of the mob, but with a  rock. He sucked, man.

Until two days ago I simply assigned Donald Trump to “Milhouse” status. An obviously dangerous idiot should he get ultimate power, but otherwise just another narcissistic gasbag. Another potato-looking approximation of a human being running for President throwing rocks.

But then, on the day of Orlando he humble-bragged as only someone with a monstrously inflated sense of self-worth can, that he “Called it and asked for the ban.”

And I thought Trump had called for an assault rifle ban? And then realized he meant “immigration”. Because, of course when an American-born, now reportedly confused man at war with his own sexual identity and feeling beyond anyone’s help, has a mental breakdown and purchases an AR-15 – as is his right. As an American – to go on a massacre, it’s because “immigration.” Da fuk?

“One plus one equals…”

Trump: “Banana?”

“When I say hey, you say…”

Trump: “Ice cream!”

I’m struggling to find the right tone to talk about this, but what? How? When? But how? As an outsider looking in, we’re almost beyond the point of being angry, to just being flabbergasted. We can’t for the life of us begin to understand the pro-gun point of view.

Somewhere, somehow we’re missing something important, but it’s so beyond our understanding that we don’t even know what the right question to ask is. Because when we ask a question, the answer that comes back is weird. Consider this bizarrely common internet comment that arises after every mass shooting:nazi guns

Really? That’s their “mic drop” moment? Never mind that it’s been super, super debunked at a policy level, how exactly, would an ethnic minority of a single European nation have defeated the German army circa 1939, the German army that rolled all of Western Europe, i.e. an entire continent, rolled all of north Africa, i.e. the top bit of another continent, whilst on the Eastern front leaving 7 million dead Soviet soldiers on the road to Moscow?

Forget “good guys with guns”, the Allies had good guys with tanks. And planes! But if “Seth the baker and his mates” had pistols then WW2 doesn’t happen. Oh sure! whatthe

This is supposed to be a comedy blog, but the only way I can think to express what I feel is a twisted sense of despair. And maybe that’s the only way to look at the American gun. I don’t even live in America, but it hurts.

Orlando was one of 43 American shootings on that Sunday. The evidence is anywhere they care to look, but people who make the decisions don’t care to look. The action taken after Sandy Hook was to do nothing. Should someone want to repeat Orlando, or Sandy Hook, or Auroa, or literally any other public massacre, America’s ability to stop it, is nothing. It will happen again. And again and again. What is there to say? Help me understand.