Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The decline of children

When I was a kid there was a magical place you could go and get presents even when it wasn’t your birthday or Christmas. This magical place was called the tip.

I once got an awesome scooter from the tip. When I say awesome it was old, rusty and fairly beaten up but it had all its wheels and it went completely fine. Why would anyone throw away such as an amazing object?

While I dreamed of one day getting taken to Uncle Pete’s Toys, the tip had that added element of excitement and danger. There was the rank smell, the risk of tetanus and the very slight chance you might come across a severed body part like in the start of a Law & Order episode.

I did eventually get to go to Uncle Pete’s Toys one day, but as much as I nagged I don’t think I actually got anything. At the tip you could take home whatever you wanted (provided it wasn’t a manky severed arm or something).

The tip was a breeding ground for more than just germs. It also bred ingenuity and creativity. Old prams were in high demand because you could take off their wheels and make billy carts. You could then race these billy carts down very steep hills, dramatically crash and then spend weeks picking at all those lovely scabs.

At some point all the tips got closed down and from then on you never saw billy carts. Gradually kids become softer and more annoying and then Justin Bieber appeared and it all went to hell. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Why it is time to panic and lose your shit

At the beginning of 1637 Dutch investors were paying many times a typical annual salary for a single tulip bulb. In February of that year, the boom came to a sudden spectacular crash and tulip-mania became a famous cautionary tale about the perils of paying stupid amounts for things.

It’s now 2015 and someone who clearly never learnt about tulip-mania has just paid more than six million dollars for an ugly house in Chatswood. This big brick box of a house was built at the very dullest point of the 90’s and stands in a bog standard suburban street. The backyard has a large lawn and a Hills Hoist but appears not to include a pool, a tennis court or a magic tree which money grows on.

Clearly this price makes no sense and when prices start making no sense it is time to worry.

I have spent many years living in Chatswood and it never struck me as the kind of super special suburb where six million dollar homes would ever exist. Chatswood has gargantuan shopping malls, great yum cha and a Korean hairdresser who will give you a decent hairdo for just eighteen bucks. You will however struggle to get harbour views or a deep water frontage, which are usually part of the package for a six million dollar joint.

Logically this buyer would have been far better off purchasing their own tropical island. This secluded piece of paradise would not be as close to all the fancy clothes shops, but when you own your own tropical it’s fairly simple to adopt a nudist lifestyle. With the money left over it would also be easy to employ a Korean hairdresser, a personal chef and some surly Shirley to wheel trays of chicken feet and steamed buns around on a Sunday morning.

While I can’t fathom the buyer’s reasoning for spending such a stupendous amount of money for a big box in Chatswood I do hope they enjoy it. Perhaps they will decide to pretty up the garden by planting a few tulips.This house at 6 Chatswood Avenue sold for $6 million under the hammer on Saturday, smashing the previous suburb record.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Is a million dollar median really something to applaud?

In Sydney we cheer the property market on like it’s Black Caviar coming down the home straight at Flemington. It is easy to see why people get excited. A large proportion of us are punters and there’s a couple of trillion riding on it.

But not everyone has a bet on. Many of us simply can’t stump up the cash or find the odds far from favourable. Having seen that horse whipped so hard for so long, we’re waiting for it to finally fall over and die.

Paying a million bucks for a bog standard house in the burbs doesn’t seem like a winning bet. It doesn’t seem like the “great Australian dream” either. It seems more like a horrific, panic-inducing nightmare. Just imagine waking up in a fibro shack on a main road and realising you owe the bank a seven figure sum. You would be in a constant cold sweat.

Is this really the best Sydneysiders can dream of? Getting a good job, working ridiculously hard and coming home on a toll road just in time to flick on a home renovation show? Is this what we now call living?  

What have the next generation got to look forward to? I’m sure very few are excited about the prospect of bunking down with their parents until their mid 30’s, just so they can pay off their HECS debt and start scraping together a home deposit. Don’t expect them to reproduce either. Kids really get in the way of mortgage repayments.

Instead of treating housing as a basic need, we have transformed it in to a wildly speculative investment. Each massive price rise gets cheered on with glee. But would we all be this happy if a loaf of bread cost $25?

While successive governments have feigned tremendous concern about the cost of living, all have done diddly squat about the cost of housing. Rather than being brave enough to put a pin to the bubble, they have concocted ways to make the problem worse.

We now have a city which a generation of people can’t afford to live in. Who’s grand vision was this? Who wanted to see a bunch of stressed out wage slaves, commuting from dull, distant suburbs, just so they could fling half their earnings back to a bank?

Perhaps it’s time the pollies stop putting the punters first and give the rest of us something to cheer about. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Am I sleep-eating cork?

Even though this blog is called alphabet soup vomit, I'm not one to normally write about bodily functions. Today however I'm talking about poo.

I did a poo the other day that just wouldn't flush. It was incredible. It was like I had been sleepwalking, eaten a whole bunch of corks and had them pass through my digestive system, forming the shape of a poo but retaining all of their original buoyancy.

After the third full flush I was getting resigned to the fact that this poo might never leave. I thought about naming it. Initially I decided on Bob, due to the fact that it just kept bobbing up.

I then decided on a different, more poignant name. I called my poo John Howard. After all, he was an annoying little shit that wouldn't go away no matter how much I wanted him to.

Eventually, on the fifth flush he did go down. I celebrated like it was the 2007 election.  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Planes and windmills

Wind farms tend to be located in paddocks where pretty much no one lives aside from a few cows. They are less noisy than a lawnmower.

Jet aircraft are a shitload noisier than lawnmowers. Sydney's second airport will be located in the middle of a city where millions of people live and is planned to operate 24 hours.

Why the fuck is Tony Abbott so worried about cows and so unconcerned about people?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

I can't agree with all this nodding

When a politician addresses the media why are they now invariably flanked by two people whose sole purpose is to nod? It all seems a little creepy and weird. These background nodders look like they have been lobotomised or given some heavy duty mind altering medication which helps them to agree with every imbecilic utterance that exits the politician’s mouth.

The nodders were most likely the invention of genius media advisors – probably the same ones who discovered the magical powers of repeating three word slogans and assiduously avoiding answering any direct questions. Somewhere along the way, they decided to unleash the amazing power of the nod.

With two people visibly agreeing with the politician in the form of a nod, they reasoned that the gormless public would never again question whether their message was just a steaming pile of horse manure. If the serious-looking nodders in the grey suits agreed so wholeheartedly, we would surely believe every word is true.  

Unfortunately those clever media advisors forgot the public also value authenticity and that relentless sycophantic nodding never quiet seems real. Most of us suspect the nodders are bored senseless of hearing the same tired lines and just want the press conference to end quickly so they can finally go to the toilet. Their nodding performances look tortured and are sharply lacking the authenticity we crave.

Strategically placing two nodders behind the leader is no doubt supposed to engender an image of party unity. We are supposed to believe political parties are big happy families where everyone is always in complete agreement. Given recent political history this does not exactly ring true. It seems more likely our leaders are just paranoid about back-stabbing and want two people forming a protective wall behind them at all times.

The main impression given by all this nodding is that political parties are weird cults. Leaders can say anything and their followers must only gaze upon them in awe and nod along in complete devotion. It’s not the kind of role which would make a free thinking person seek a place in parliament. Who wants a job where the two main responsibilities are nodding and remembering not to pick your nose?

Being a nodder is a job which could be easily replaced. They would just have to buy a few dashboard toys from the two dollar shop and make sure to jiggle them every now and then so their heads keep bobbing up and down. Instead we are still paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for the salaries of all these professional nodders. It is bound to get even worse. Pretty soon half of Canberra will be putting in compo claims for nodding induced RSI.  

Monday, June 15, 2015

Why don't we pay terrorists?

We've seen paying people smugglers is a cheap, effective way of getting shit done. I think we should extend the program to terrorists.

If someone writes "terrorist" as occupation and "jihad" as reason for visit on their immigration card, we should just give them a fat wad of cash and turn them around. It would be far cheaper and less convoluted than all this spying nonsense.

Data retention is really expensive, and it takes ages wading through all the spam ads for Viagra and penis enlargement before you get to the bit were the evil genius lays out their master plan in an unencrypted email.

We should probably pay people to stop importing drugs too.

Dear Senor Estobar,

We ask that you kindly stop sending drugs to Straya. Enclosed is a fat stack of taxpayers' money. If you continue to import drugs we will be forced to give you more money.




Sunday, June 7, 2015


I have a mate who needs a large quantity of earth dug out from his backyard. I suggested he advertise a program called Digfit, where people pay money to get fit by digging. If people are dumb enough to sign up for horrible boot camp programs surely they would be dumb enough to sign up for this. He would get his hole and have money left over for some pavers.

While this idea has great merit, I think there could be an even better solution. I think he should advertise casting for a new reality TV program, which pairs weight loss with home renovation. He could just stand about with a camera as people literally work their arses off doing painstaking manual labour to fix up his home. I'd even call the show Work Your Arse Off.

If there were such a show people would probably watch it in Australia. It would probably rate its big wobbly man tits off. I would however prefer the whole thing just be a big scam, with the video taken being used to make a documentary about the scam. The contract would be written in such away to make sure no one ever gets any prize money. It would however be a thought-provoking exploration in to how the promise of fame, fortune and a slender waistline can make people do pretty much anything you want them to.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The way to actually win against terrorism

Our country is obsessed with buying multi-billion submarines and fighter planes to stop terrorism. It's like buying a rocket launcher to stop flies.

What you really need to stop terrorism are accountants, computer nerds and advertising people.

A team of forensic accountants could work out were terrorist groups were getting their funding and cut it off. Computer nerds could break into their social media, take down all their propaganda and disrupt their communication. Advertising people could create alternate propaganda.

I like the idea of creating fake profiles of IS fighters in which they are all just a bit daggy and annoying. People can be okay with the whole decapitation thing but if someone is wearing socks and sandals they are far more likely to be put off. I'd have some Cliff Richard music playing in the background of the videos and show them eating home brand tinned fish. No one would want to go and fight for them then.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Who needs income management?

It seems we are very worried that aboriginals in remote communities will do stupid things with their welfare cheque. Without income management they might fritter it all away on booze, smokes and gambling.

But what about the people who do really stupid things with their money? Should we have income management for the super-rich? It seems to me that if someone is willing to piss away $160 million on a painting they should be judged not competent and have the government control their spending. We could stop people buying polluting private jets, caviar from critically endangered sturgeon and all those ivory back scratchers.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Microphones are the wrong shape

When we wanted to fly we looked at birds and came up with aeroplanes. When we wanted things to stick together we looked at burrs and came up with Velcro. When we wanted to capture sound I imagine the scientists looked at ears. So when they invented the microphone how come they came up with something which looked like a dick?

I'm guessing they were just having a big laugh.

As scientists I imagine they weren't fond of politicians, singers and other celebrity wankers who were likely to be using microphones. They spent the rest of their lives rolling around laughing at all these people with their mouths millimetres away from big metal cocks.

Microphones should really be in the shape of an ear and probably not a human ear because our hearing is pretty crap. I reckon something in the shape of a fox ear is bound to work pretty well. It would take a while before people got used to fox ear shaped microphones, but it would make way more sense.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Would you be happier in North Korea?

In Australia we live a life of ridiculous opulence. We have fancy houses, fancy cars and so much food that our greatest worry is getting fat. We should all be so stupidly happy that we walk around with permanent idiotic grins affixed to our faces.

Unfortunately we are constantly plugged into the media. The news gives us a whole lot of things to worry over and get angry about. We are constantly reminded that our leader is a heartless imbecile. Then we have the cooking shows, which suddenly make you feel disappointed about the tasty bowl of two minute noodles you are eating. Then you have the car ads which makes you feel inferior because you are not driving something with rain sensing windscreen wipers and loads of built-in TVs.

In North Korea, you know your leader is a kind, god-like being who wins Olympic gold medals in ice skating. Constantly you are reminded that everything is awesome and when you are lucky enough to eat noodles you are extremely happy. You don't have to keep up with the Joneses because everyone is called Lee and all the Lees have just as little as you. People don't have Audis, they have malnourished donkeys and no one is trying to stick a load of TVs on the back of these donkeys.

If it wasn't for the death camps, extreme poverty, lack of food and a few other assorted problems North Korea might just be a really happy place to live.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A history of dance

It was the winter of 1984 and Ryde East Public School was in the grip of a severe outbreak of girls’ germs. Despite this, all of us boys were gathered in the hall and forced to make physical contact with the infected. We loudly protested that dancing with girls was gay, but were still made to learn something they called a barn dance. It was painful. Some overenthusiastic teacher called out “Heal and toe, heal and toe” and then something about a “dosey-doe” (which seemed like gibberish), while some awful country music crept its way out of the cassette deck.

We hated it. Dancing was for girls. They did ballet and spent playlunch composing intricate synchronised dance routines to Madonna, blissfully unaware of what the lyrics to Like a Virgin meant. We just invented various games which involved tackling, throwing balls at each other’s heads and anything else which would establish where we were on the physical pecking order.

I was pretty much able to avoid dancing until year 5 when a school dance was organised and an old weird looking man called Disco Joe was brought in to DJ. I am not saying Disco Joe was a paedophile; he was probably just a lovely kind old man; but it didn’t all feel quite right. Repeatedly doing the chicken dance at the urging of Disco Joe was certainly not as fun as playing bull rush with my mates.

In 1990 I made the mistake of going to a boys’ school, which meant the only real opportunity for contact with girls came at the school dance. The whole setup of the school dance immediately seemed weird to me. As a spotty, gangly, super-awkward 13 year old I was supposed to single out one pretty girl from a large group of girls. Despite the fact that this girl was already dancing I was then expected to ask “you wanna dance?” A far more apt question may have been “do you want me to invade your personal space, while I do the running man to MC Hammer, while your ten friends closely watch on and judge?”

Pretty much all the music at the school dance was house music and the video clips just involved a whole lot of busty black women shaking their body parts in a way which was completely foreign to a growing white lad with as much co-ordination as a two hour old giraffe. I tried to emulate what was up there on the screen but it all just seemed wrong. I wasn’t feeling the music.

My whole outlook on dancing was however about to change. One magic day I watched a Midnight Oil video and I saw a man dance like no other man had danced before. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t smooth. It wasn’t at all girly. It was actually more like he was convulsing following a severe electrical shock. As Peter Garrett twitched about singing the power and the passion, his dancing actually showed great power and passion. It was also extremely original.

I came to love dancing about like Peter Garrett. I felt the music surging through me and I let it be expressed in a series of movements which combined great fluidity with an epileptic seizure. Men understood my Peter Garrett dance and they loved it. Women were however universally unimpressed. No one likes to hear the words “get away from me you freak” but teenage girls are actually surprisingly cruel creatures and would use those words commonly.

Thankfully two things came along which made school dances more bearable – alcohol and grunge music. Grunge music was pretty much designed for awkward white boys so they wouldn’t really have to dance. You just had to behave like a football hooligan during the intense parts and then slowly nod your head with your eyes closed during the slow bits. It was perfect.

In year 9 I also discovered the benefits of alcohol. I swiftly chugged half a bottle of vodka before a school dance and had the best time ever. It suddenly didn’t matter that I hated all this dancing malarkey. I could flail about however I pleased. I could ask anyone to dance, including my science teacher. It didn’t even bother me when she said no. I had found a wonderful ally to help me conquer the evil of dance.

At around this time in history the era of the rave emerged. With it came techno. This was a style of music so hideously repetitive and awful that mere alcohol was no match for it. If you were to endure a rave you needed to take ecstasy. Ingesting pills of dubious origin, to participate in an activity I disliked, to music which I hated, all seemed like rather a lot of bother. I decided to give up on dancing, except when forced to at weddings.

The unfortunate thing about weddings is they play a standard bunch of songs which I find quite annoying. It is extremely difficult to get moving based on pure nostalgia for something I never cared about the first time around. Songs with prescribed moves are also baffling to me. When Blame it on the Boogie inevitably comes on I’m still doing the sunlight motion, while others are already up to the boogie bit. When Nutbush City Limits comes on I am stuck somewhere at a train station while everyone else is doing the bus stop.   

I understand why my wife likes dancing. She is a woman, which is a major advantage because women still look sexy no matter how freakily bad their dance moves actually are.  She hasn’t been traumatised by dancing, which makes repeating the whole experience far less traumatic. She also doesn’t weigh 100 kilos and have massive feet which can crush other people who dance near her, which is a definite plus.

Because I love my wife I will attempt to learn to wiggle my bits in a manner which is pleasing. If I am to enjoy it I may however need some therapy to go along with dance instruction. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Humpty Dumpty makes sense

Why did an egg choose to sit on a wall? Surely eggs should sit in egg cups or in egg trays or nests where they have adequate measures to prevent them from rolling. Humpty's decision is ridiculous and caused an unnecessary waste of taxpayer funds. His decision was almost as dumb as the decision to use all the king's horses and all the king' men to try and reconstruct Humpty.

As a kid this nursery rhyme seemed utterly stupid but now I realise it makes perfect sense. I think it was a comment of the propensity of people to do all sorts of stupid irrational things and the propensity of government to do even dumber things.

Our government is basically a bunch of big Clydesdales with superglue, eggshells and bits of yolk stuck to their hooves. If we used all the horses and men more smartly we might get somewhere.

Thursday, February 12, 2015


in 1975 advertising executive Gary Dahl came up with the idea of the pet rock. He took a bunch of rocks from a building supply store costing 1 penny each, packaged them up and sold them for a huge profit. He was soon a millionaire.
40 years on Bunnings seems to think they can sell an ordinary rock for $5 without even bothering with the  packaging or clever re-purposing.

Seeing a $5 rock for sale I really wished Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction was at Bunnings to do a tweaked version of the whole $5 shake conversation. 

I also wished that this was one of the things they put on their ads with the happy jingle in the background. The ad could go something like this: Ordinary fucking rock $4.96.... Bag of horse shit $12.38..... Half dead pot of basil $7.99.... Bunnings Warehouse - we're lowest prices are just an illusion, because we know there are idiots out there who will cough up $5 for an ordinary fucking rock. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

blue and white dry cleaners

I don't do much dry cleaning. I prefer wearing singlets and shorts and occasionally some less than flattering lycra. That's why I was gobsmacked by the price when I dropped off my wife's jacket to the local dry cleaner. I was in fact so gobsmacked that I used the word "gobsmacked", which I haven't used in a very, very long time.

Looking around the front of the place I couldn't see any signage telling me their pricing structure. This was not a good sign. In my experience places which avoid telling you their prices are going to charge you a stupidly large amount and leave you feeling quite violated.

My other clue that told me this place was going to be frightfully expensive was that the people behind the counter were not Asian. Asian stores are always the best. From fixing your computer, to cooking really tasty food or cleaning your clothes, Asians generally do it way better and for half the price. The last time I went to a dry cleaner it was an Asian one and he charged $6 or something which seemed pretty reasonable for exposing himself to all those mysterious, strange smelling dry cleaning chemicals. Even the Asian dry cleaner in fancy-pants Mosman advertises three items for $18.

So how much did it cost for one little jacket at blue and white dry cleaners?


When I got the ticket it seemed more like a ransom note. I'm surprised it wasn't written with little letters cut out from a magazine. If I don't pay up immediately suspect I might get another note with a severed button.