Airline Seating and farting – creating a stink

The world of aviation has come a long way since Orville and Wilbur Wright burst out of the hangar on that December morning in 1903.

Rectal turbulence is no laughing matter

Or has it?

Today, airlines have a mission to cram as many passengers sorry, make optimum use of available cabin space for the ultimate comfort of their stakeholders.

We all know seats are shrinking, the already virtually non-existent legroom is decreasing before our sleep-deprived eyes, while in airline company evil laboratories, sadistic boffins are conjuring up and registering patents for truly cruel and inhumane seating configurations.

Some of these designs forged among the searing flames of hell include two rows of seats sandwiched on top of each other and “saddle seats” where passengers apparently squat,
which would require hamstrings of steel for a nice 16-hour jaunt.

Other patents include a seating configuration with passengers facing each other, standing seats, double-arse bench seats for the big-boned flyer, to the option of seating passengers inside a bubble on top of the aircraft.

They have to be taking the piss, which would not be difficult when you are sitting in that squat seat.

One aviation story caught my eye, “America’s airlines are introducing a class below economy.” Below economy? What? In the luggage hold?

The next step I assume will be a seat bolted to the wing. Imagine the breathless (literally) marketing spin, “Experience unforgettable 360 degree panoramic vistas from the comfort of your seat.”

Though I can see some benefits in this wing seat. At least it would be a fart-free zone.

I don’t have any conclusive medical evidence on the subject, and it would make
a fascinating thesis, but what is it with flying and farting?

Why is it that people become frequent flatulators at 43,000 feet?

Do they normally practice these disgusting anal acoustics in the comfort of their home, or do they kindly wait until they are in close, inescapable proximity with 400 poor unsuspecting souls before cutting the cheese – and I don’t mean the platter on the tray table. The culprits are always fat, bloated business men. You know who you are.

These are serious questions. I am not being classist about these arse-blasts.

Indeed, the wafting cloud of rectal turbulence can be experienced equally in economy and business class.

From personal experience, the methane menace is worse at the pointy end, and has woken me up like some cheek-squeak alarm clock. Makes you want to reach for the oxygen mask.

I implore airlines to implement a zero tolerance policy on backdoor belches, with ejector seats activated for passengers who play the trouser tuba, not to mention use corny fart euphemisms.

©Steve Williams 2016

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Homeless and Faceless – Mr Cellophane

Long hair, hipster beard, heavy black coat and scuffed work boots.

In another life he could be making craft beer or working in an ad agency.

This life only occupies about 200 metres.

He spends his nights in the doorway of a mobile phone shop, the garish lights of the looping commercials flogging the latest and greatest smart phones providing an interesting nightlight.

Morning. He rolls up his bedding, carefully and methodically arranges that and his life in a shopping trolley and slowly and rather purposely wheels it just up the road to his bus stop.
To the edge of his world. The buggered wheel of the trolley a metaphor.

He parks at his bus stop all day, no need / want to catch one, staring into space, occasionally wandering off somewhere – not too far in case somebody knocks his stuff off, then back to his
bus stop then the mobile phone shop. Repeat.

I don’t know his name, I see him out of my office window as he carries out his daily ritual.
And I carry out mine.

He looks about mid-forties, but who knows? It’s hard to tell. He’s probably lived a few lifetimes.

He’s homeless and harmless.

He doesn’t hassle anyone for money, doesn’t randomly yell out expletives or even quote Shakespeare like a character I encountered in the Sydney CBD years ago. He just quietly goes about his business as everyone goes about theirs, pretending he doesn’t exist.

He’s homeless and faceless.

What was that song? Mr Cellophane.

He could be you, he could be me. Depends how the cards fall.

I saw him at his bus stop the other day, I nodded and sort-of-smiled, didn’t want to freak him out. He nodded and sort-of-smiled back, didn’t want to freak me out.

Everyone avoids him, nobody sits at the bus stop — they stand — willing the bus to arrive
to take them away from him. Who knows? Maybe he prefers it that way.

We all have a story. What’s his? Why is his life just 200 metres?

He could be you, he could be me.

I made a call, not to complain, just to check if he’s doing ok. They know him, they’ve had him
in hostels, but he lives by his own rules. They keep an eye on him. That’s the main thing.

I met a man who wasn’t there,
He wasn’t there again today…

©Steve Williams 2016

To read this on a shiny Huffington Post page: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/steve-williams/homeless-and-faceless-mr-cellophane_b_9255684.html?utm_hp_ref=australia

 

You’re un-Australian if…

To celebrate Australia Day, one gazillion rainforests have been slaughtered creating weighty tomes of “what it means to be Australian”. Bugger that.

As a Wattle-waving Aussie, I reckon you’re un-Australian if…

If you don’t know who this bloke is, you’re un-Australian

*You don’t use “yeah, nah” regularly in a sentence.

*You know the mysterious second verse of the Australian national anthem.

*You don’t return from a Bali holiday wearing a Bintang beer singlet and / or braided hair.

*You use the word “sheila”.

*You don’t know what Wattle is.

*You don’t know what “wanker” means.

*You don’t drown your meat pie in tomato sauce.

*You don’t eat meat pies.

*You prefer a Sauvignon Blanc with a melon and ripe gooseberry nose to a stubbie you’ve opened with your eye socket.

*You don’t know what a stubbie is.

*You don’t think Kylie is bunging on that pommie accent.

*You don’t know what “bunging on” means.

*You drink Foster’s beer.

*You call a “prawn” anything other than a “prawn”.

*You’ve never had a bindi stuck in your foot (not the Indian forehead decoration or Steve Irwin’s daughter).

*You like the song I Still Call Australia Home even with Peter Allen bunging on that crap American accent.

*You prefer to sit on the grass at the beach rather than the sand.

*You take a soccer ball to the beach.

*You call a soccer ball a “football”.

*You don’t think the lead singer of AC/DC is still “the new bloke”.

*You don’t return from overseas bitching about how everything is better / cheaper / tastier / bigger / less crowded / less smelly / less foreign than here at home.

*You don’t think Cold Chisel’s Khe Sanh should be the national anthem.

*You respond when some bogan chants “Aussie!, Aussie!, Aussie!…”.

*You don’t know what a “bogan” is.

*You think it’s ok that our head of state is a member of an English family.

Words and image ©Steve Williams 2016

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“The Force Awakenzzzzzzzzzzzzz” Mania Is Sending Me To Sleep

So Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be released in the coming days and the world
has lost its collective mind.

Darth Vader demonstrates how to kill people with a thought.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The insanity surrounding The Force Awakens started back in October when the trailer was released, and then reached tsunami proportions when Harrison Ford appeared on every possible Australian TV program and in the flesh at the Sydney Opera House. “I’m sure Harrison will notice me if I wear my Han Solo costume.” There were a couple of blokes dressed as Indiana Jones, who would have drawn death stares from the Jar Jar Binks types. That’s the insidious power of ‘Star Wars’ — I’ve never seen a film, but I know the bloody characters.

Ford always seems to be fairly bemused by the whole Star Wars thing and the legions of fans, which was evident during his interview with (self-confessed fan) Leigh Sales. Sure, Star Wars was his meal ticket and propelled his career at warp-factor speed (I know, wrong sci-fi term), but Ford often uses the words “work” and “a job” to describe his time seated next to his hirsute co-pilot.

The first Star Wars film was released a long time ago in a year far, far away: 1977. The same year as Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee, and the Bee Gees released the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. No doubt hardcore Star Wars types have drawn some form of nerdish, non-existent, vortex-time-space-continuum-parallels between all three.

I was a young kid in 1977 and didn’t buckle to peer and advertising pressure to get on board the (Harrison Ford leg-fracturing) Millennium Falcon (see, I know that much). I was more interested in chasing girls, kicking a footy and playing cricket in the backyard than playing with Luke Skywalker figurines. Back then, being a smart arse, too-cool-for-school type of kid, I refused to see the film everyone was talking about. Thirty eight years later, nothing has changed. Each to their own.

Although, I’d much rather read about these hardcore Star Wars fans (have I used the word ‘geeks’ yet?) shooting each other in imaginary interplanetary battles at Star Wars conventions than psycho-terrorists on the streets of Paris doing the real thing, or a would be American President shooting his mouth off. Again.

Another issue I have with the whole Star Wars palaver is the concept of the money-grubbing prequel. Not a fan. They squeeze all the narrative and cash out of the several thousand sequels, and then Trevor pipes up with “I know! How about a prequel or twelve?” Sequels and prequels should be banned by the UN.

Let’s just hope reality TV shows don’t catch on. Imagine a Kardashian prequel — the pre-school years. It probably wouldn’t work because it would be before the days of selfies, belfies and lip fillers, but if you steal my idea Momager Kris Jenner, I want a cut.

I have to say my all-time favourite Star Wars scene is a stand up comedy bit by Eddie Izzard which some genius set to stop-motion Lego. The scene is set in the Death Star canteen and features the immortal line from that asthmatic bloke in black: “It’s not a game of who the f*ck are you.” The wickedly ingenious concept of killing people with trays and/or thoughts and a penne arrabiata shout out is brilliant.

If all the dialogue in the Star Wars films was as good, Eddie Izzard played every character and they were created in Lego, I’d be a lightsaber-wielding fan-boi.

As is, I’d rather be sleeping.

©Steve Williams 2016

To read this on a shiny Huffington Post page: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/steve-williams/star-wars-the-force-awake_b_8780898.html?utm_hp_ref=australia

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Phil Hughes – Forever 63 n.o.

It has been twelve months since the cricketing world tragically lost Phil Hughes.
Here is my story from last year:

Phil Hughes. What a wonderful story, other than the part after Tuesday afternoon.

image

The young cricket obsessed kid from northern New South Wales, moving down to the big smoke of Sydney to further his dream. And he did just that.

Phil crammed a hell of lot into his almost 26 years, living the dream of Australian kids to one day wear that baggy green cap.

I had that same dream, racing home from school, racing even faster through homework to get out to the backyard for imaginary test matches. “I’ll be Dennis Lillee!” The kids next door alternated between the Chappells. We’d play for a few hours then our mums would call us in for dinner. Stumps.

Great times. Then playing in a junior club team, getting a Stuart Surridge bat from Santa and a Kookaburra ball I would carry everywhere, polishing it to a mirror finish.

I spent many a summer as a kid watching my heroes at the SCG. I imagined walking off the ground, acknowledging the standing ovation from the crowd after a blazing century as the shadows lengthened from the Member’s Stand. Phil Hughes did that for real, five times.

Then life got in the way, for me, but not for Phil Hughes.

I obviously never had the relentless hunger, the burning desire and freakish talent that inhabited Phil Hughes. He made it.

All that work, those endless hours in the nets and countless pitches paid off. He earned the right to wear the baggy green and did it proud. The perfect fit.

This summer of cricket will sadly have a dark shadow, though Phil Hughes will forever be 63 n.o.

Vale.

©Steve Williams 2014

FFS World, It’s Zoolander, Lighten Up

Sadly, I have suspected for quite a few years that the world has entirely lost its sense of humour, and it was confirmed this week.

An apparent non-non-binary Benedict Cumberbatch

I was reading one of the furious flood of online news articles screaming in outrage about a scene in the new Zoolander 2 movie.

No, correct that, a scene in the trailer of the new Zoolander 2 movie. So people are taking umbrage at a movie that hasn’t even been released yet.

FFS world, lighten up.

Apparently some (and our emphasise some) of our LGBT friends and outraged kindred spirits supposedly acting on their behalf are frothing at the mouth that the new film is sexist and transphobic. Really? The pitchforks and flaming torches are being aimed at a ten second scene involving Benedict Cumberbatch playing an apparent androgynous-looking model being asked if he has a hot dog or a bun.

That’s it. You’re losing your mind and clambering to the moral high ground over that? Seriously?

In another article, some earnest and no doubt well-meaning type was rabbiting on that a non-binary model should have been cast to play the Cumberbatch role. I have no idea what “non-binary” means. Is it algebra? (I was probably in the sick bay feigning death when they taught that bit at school)

As I said, all this is over a ten second scene in a movie nobody has seen. The Champagne corks would be popping in the Paramount Pictures marketing towers thanks to the gazillion dollars in free publicity. There are even petitions to ban the film. Now that’s hilarious.

It’s been a fairly shit year. The heartbreaking plight of refugees fleeing the Middle East and Africa resulting in dead children washing up on beaches, commercial planes being blown out of the sky, ISIS goons throwing people off buildings because of their sexual preference, a Sydney police accountant being shot in the back of the head by a fifteen year old as he left work, not to mention the recent events in Paris that killed 130 people whose only crime was going out on a Friday night.

We could do with a laugh. If Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Benedict Cumberbatch can provide a few in a light comedy, offending a few easily-offended in the process, then so be it.

As a kid, I was brought up on a healthy diet of comedy — English imports like Monty Python, Dave Allen, The Goon Show, Fawlty Towers, Derek and Clive, and brilliant Australian productions including The Naked Vicar Show, Paul Hogan, Blankety Blanks, The D-Generation, Doug Mulray, Andrew Denton etc, etc. Yes a lot of it was crass, immature, challenging, totally politically incorrect and simultaneously f*cking hilarious. Maybe they have all affected my moral compass Bermuda Triangle style, but I doubt it.

What happened? When did we lose our sense of humour? When was a jihad waged on satire and comedy?

Today people want to be outraged. They want to be angry and vent on Twitter and Facebook and violently hammer the keyboard creating cranky online petitions.

All of this is totally fine. You just need to make sure you’re angry and outraged over the important stuff, not a ten second bit in a movie trailer.

©Steve Williams 2015

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Random Swill Paris images

To slightly misquote the song, I love Paris anytime. Even more so following the events of last week.

If we stop travelling, those terrorist bastards win. And that can’t happen.

To celebrate one of the world’s greatest cities, time to relive a few of my Paris random images….

©Steve Williams 2015

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Howzat?! Beach Cricket for the Olympics

It has taken me a few overs to process the fact those great Australians at Cricket Australia are calling for beach cricket to be included as an official sport in the 2024 Olympics.

There have been howls of laughter and protest at this visionary proposal, but I humbly suggest
if golf, rugby, and that bit where leotard-clad gymnasts prance around lobbing a ball and twirling a ribbon on a stick are Olympic sports, then why the hell not?

The Sri Lankan Olympic team is the gold medal favourite

Before the first Olympic beach cricketers proudly stride out onto the sand, there will need to be a lot of meetings in the hallowed chesterfield-stuffed rooms of Lord’s to nut out the details, though a few of the rules of Olympic beach cricket have leaked under the door.

*Holding an alcoholic beverage while batting, bowling or fielding is compulsory.
(Imagine seeing Mitchell Johnson thundering in from the Carpark End nursing a stubbie-holder.)

*Olympic beach cricket must be played with a mangy tennis ball (one that has been half-chewed / slobbered on by a Labrador).

*The stumps will be fashioned from bits of driftwood or random stuff scrounged from the beach
or garbage bins (“garbos” to use the correct beach cricket vernacular).

*In case of bad light and for day / night matches, headlights from player’s cars can be used.

*Tip-and-run is compulsory (this is apparently also known by some ignorant cricket heathens
as “tippety-run”).

*The “You Can’t Get Out First Ball” rule will be in play at all times.

*If any obstacles are blown / deposited on the pitch, i.e. runaway beach umbrellas
or nude sunbathers, they must not be removed. They will add a bit of turn.

*Sledging is compulsory (especially among family members).

*Bonus runs will be awarded for catching a ball in your hat. Even more for catching the ball in your boardshorts. Even more for catching the ball in your budgie smugglers / bikini.

*The “You’re Out If You Slog The Ball Into The Water” rule will be enforced. (I can foresee some pushback on this. Personally I’m not a fan, if you have a player positioned at deep backward point waist deep in ocean, it can lead to Classic Catches that would give Shane Warne apoplexy.

*There will be no umpires. Every decision on the field, even if bleedingly obvious must be met with cries of “That’s bullshit!”, with bonus runs for a tearful tantrum and knocking over the “stumps”.

*When a ball is hit for six, the youngest person on the field must retrieve it, proceeded by “goandgetthatwouldyamateandgimmeanotherbeerfromtheesky.”

*Once a batsman / batswoman? reaches fifty runs, they must start hitting catches (preferably to the dehydrated, sunburnt kiddie who previously retrieved the ball and the drinks).

*The act of “taking your bat and ball and going home” must be met with the response of “Aw, ya wanker!”

I look forward to Cricket Australia vigorously lobbying those IOC types for the inclusion of beach cricket into the Olympics, and eagerly await the bowling of the first dog-slobbered ball in 2024.

©Words and image Steve Williams 2015

To read this on a shiny Huffington Post page: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/steve-williams/howzat-beach-cricket-for-_b_8519920.html?utm_hp_ref=australia

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When you lose something you can’t replace – Oscar the cat, Coldplay and James Blunt

F*** you Coldplay and James Blunt. You and your bloody emotional lyrics.

Last week we said goodbye to Oscar who was part of our family for just shy
of fifteen years. Three quarter Persian, one-quarter ratbag. Named after Wilde, O.

Oscar was a wonderful cat — suitably mischievous, perplexing and delightfully odd.
*non-cat people click away now.

All my wife wanted was a little bundle of fur that would sit on her lap. No chance.
Oscar would get tantalisingly close, but always ensured he was at least a cushion-length away.
That was possible revenge for us moving him around the world from Asia to Europe.

He was more dog than cat, he would follow you around, then steal my wife’s office chair next to me while I was writing. A pointy-eared, furry muse.

Oscar had already traded in about twelve of his nine lives, and then a few months ago
we discovered lumps on his front left leg. Vet. Tumours.
They were aggressive, with amputation the only option.

So Oscar became a “tri-pawed”, up and about two hours after surgery, home in a few days, hopping up and down the stairs with ridiculous ease a day or two later. Remarkable.

Tumours being the bastards they are, returned. X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, “successful” surgery, but temporary. Enough now. Sans one leg and pre-surgery full-body Brazilians,
Oscar was literally half the cat he used to be. We decided no more. We would let it play out.

The final act. Oscar hadn’t been eating properly, not himself, slight cough, but no pain,
so to the vet. The bastards had come back big time. X-rays gave him a maximum of two weeks.
He had been through enough, why put him through more?

So it was a heartbreaking, yet simple decision.
I was with him, then carried his empty cat box home.

Attempting to work that night, the stairs quiet, the office chair next to me strangely empty,
then hearing Coldplay: “And the tears come streaming down your face / when you lose something you can’t replace… and I will try to fix you.”

Thanks Chris Martin. If that wasn’t enough, then James bloody Blunt…
“As strong as you were / tender as you go, I’m watching you breathing for the last time…
l’ll carry you home…”

Visions of an exceedingly cute, tiny kitten in my hand all those years ago, carrying a very sick,
yet purring Oscar onto “that” table in the vet’s surgery, then walking home with his empty box.
I was a mess.

Oscar, thank you for almost fifteen years of unconditional* love, light and rampant ratbaggery. Vale. X

*conditions apply

©Steve Williams 2015

(The Huffington Post Australia asked to run this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/steve-williams/how-music-triggers-memori_b_8282558.html?utm_hp_ref=australia)