Bullfighting and the running of the morons

“Good.” That is my first reaction when I hear of the latest horrific injuries suffered during the “Running of the Bulls” in Spain.

Numerous deaths, a crushed thorax, gored armpits, heart, groins, knees and thighs, even rectal and scrotum perforations.
Just part of the injury roll call from previous versions held in Pamplona.

However, that is small change compared to the 250,000 bulls maimed and killed each year in bullfights across the planet.

Seriously, how much of a moron would you need to be, what copious amount of sangria or drugs would you need to have consumed to think that running 850 metres through narrow, cobbled streets in front of very big, very pissed off (and very terrified) bulls, before they are corralled into the bullfighting arena is even remotely a good idea?

Bullfighting is cruel and barbaric and needs to be stopped, as does the running of the bulls. Thankfully there is an ever-increasing groundswell of support to do just that. ¡Felicitaciones!

If you want to get badly injured without inflicting cruelty on an animal who has no choice in the matter, may I suggest the time-honoured “sticking your hand in a blender”.

You can hear the purists cry “the running of the bulls is an intrinsic part of Pamplona’s San Fermín festival dating back to medieval times.” Bullshit. Don’t care.

Hopefully the running of the bulls and bullfighting will one day die a death — and you can add other barbaric practices to that list — such as fox hunting by people with double-barrelled surnames wearing stupid hats, animals in circuses, restaurants serving sharkfin soup and exponents of Traditional Chinese Medicine using basically every body part of endangered tigers in the vein attempt of getting a bigger dick.

One can only hope.

For more information on the (blood) sport of bullfighting, visit the World Society for the Protection of Animals, www.stopbullfighting.org.uk and PETA, (warning: the websites contain disturbing, but necessary facts and images).

©Steve Williams 2017

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I wish I had done something, now I feel like a bastard.

I dropped my wife off at the airport today, then had some lunch at an airport café. As I was leaving the café, I noticed a 30-ish woman sitting in a booth by herself crying quietly, but noticeably.
Head in hands.

I kept walking. I should have gone over to her and asked if she was ok, but I didn’t.
Now I feel like a bastard. Why didn’t I stop? That’s a rhetorical question.

I felt bad for her, but didn’t want to disturb or embarrass her.
It was none of my business. I didn’t want her to think I was some interfering nutjob. I didn’t want to intrude. They are bullshit excuses. I should have done something.

I’ve been replaying it constantly. My imagination kicking in like it does. I wonder why she was crying? What was her story? Was she leaving the country and sad about it? Had she just said goodbye to a loved one? Was it a fight with her partner / friend / colleague who had left her sitting there? Was it…

What was her story? What made her so upset that she was crying at an airport café?
I’ll never know, because I walked away.

Fast-forward a couple of hours.

I am writing this on my iPhone while stuck in the lift at our apartment building, after returning from the airport. I have been stuck here for an hour. I call it karma, I should have asked that woman
“Are you ok? Can I do anything to help?” It wouldn’t have taken much. No doubt she would have said, “No, thanks, I’m fine, but thanks for asking me.”

I’m usually a fairly caring, sensitive, helpful guy. I often go out of my way to help people.
But apparently not today, and I’m really angry at myself about it.

What would you have done? Would you have gone over to her? Or like me, just kept walking?

I really hope she’s ok.

©Steve Williams 2017

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Breast In Show – a style Guide for Daily Mail journos

I am devastated. I just came to the realisation that I will never write for the venerable Daily Mail.

I admit it. I am simply not good enough. I don’t have the necessary journalistic talent to appear
in those hallowed pages. I am not worthy. I will never be breast in show.

“A jumbo-sized wardrobe malfunction” how to write captions Daily Mail style

After exhaustive research of the Daily Mail’s website and its antipodean offshoot, there is obviously a comprehensive list of words and phrases that I, sadly, never use in a story.

As a community service for aspiring Daily Mail journalists from someone who has done a few laps of the media block, I offer an informal style guide.

I would strongly suggest you casually drop any or all of the following into your interview. You will either be instantly hired, slapped in the face, or both.

In no particular order:

  • “Ample assets” – this is used to describe the, er, chest region of women.
    Usually preceded by the words “displaying” or “showcasing”.
  • “Ample cleavage” – see above. The good people at the Daily Mail appear to have somewhat of a fascination with breasts. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, though this obviously disregards the achievements of the owners of said breasts. In most Daily Mail stories, these achievements consist of being an ex-cast member of Geordie Shore or a Kardashian.
  • “Trim pins” – what, is this 1953? Who the hell describes “legs” as “pins”?
    I digress, this is usually preceded by “flaunts”.
  • “Pert derrière” – note: “pert” is the only adjective to be used. Even if it is not.
  • “Braless” – this is the Holy Grail for any Daily Mail journo or picture editor.
    High fives all around if it is a Kardashian “drawing attention to her (or his) cleavage”.
    Usually preceded by “Peek-a-boob!” Even elephants aren’t safe.
  • “Sheer” – always preceded by “daring”.

Other phrases that should be worked into a story include “underwear free”, “nude selfie”,
“wardrobe malfunction” (always “awkward”), “plunging gown” (extra brownie points if it has
a “soaring split”), “blatantly exhibited her choice to forego underwear” and who could forget
the rather painful adjectives “eye-popping” and “thigh-scraping”.

“Skimpy sports bra and hot pants” is compulsory for that fortuitous moment when a Z grade celeb just happens to be working out her ample cleavage and pert derrière in a park, and there just happens to be a photographer present.

©Steve Williams 2017

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Space – The Final Frontier For Annoying Tourists

I noticed that Mr Tesla Elon Musk’s spacecraft company SpaceX is planning to launch two tourists on a private “mission” around the moon in 2018. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is also close-ish to launching tourist-laden flights. Exciting times.

In space no one can hear your pathetic life jacket whistle

Space tourism is an amazing concept, but think of the downsides. We’ll be potentially rocketing our planet’s rude tourists into outer space. Which could actually be a good thing, if it weren’t for those pesky return tickets.

At this stage, intrepid space tourists obviously won’t leave the spacecraft; they’ll be only peering out the window (this is when you WILL want a window seat). Eventually we’ll be doing day trips to other planets, solar systems, galaxies, even universes (universi?)

Here is my advice for would be space travellers:

*As you board the spacecraft, don’t hog the overhead locker. You’ll only be wearing the one spacesuit, you won’t need 437 suitcases.

*Don’t disturb the person next to you when continually floating to the bathroom, or joining your friends a few rows back for a space food stick.

*Please pay close attention to the inflight safety demonstration, especially the bit about the whistle and light on your life jacket. Actually don’t bother, in space no one can hear you whistle.

*While strapped into the spacecraft, please don’t let little Trevor kick the back of the seat in front of him. It’s a long flight.

*Trevor continually whining “Are we there yet?” is rather pointless, you’re in space, and the distances are quite long.

*If you book a trip to a resort on Mercury which is the closest planet to the sun, don’t forget your 2,000,000 Plus sunscreen, it’s a tad warm.

*Avoid saying things like “Really? That’s Jupiter?! Is that it? I thought it would be so much bigger.”

*When you’re on Neptune, don’t take out someone’s eye with your humongous selfie stick while getting the perfect shot of Uranus.

*Don’t be the annoying person who continually whinges, “Everything is so much better / cheaper / cleaner etc back on Earth.”

*When you’re buying a souvenir on Venus, please don’t ask, “But how much is that in dollars?” Also, don’t haggle. The concept is foreign to anyone but irritating earthlings.

*Surprisingly, not everyone on Jupiter speaks English.

*American tourists, please don’t be obnoxious. You’re not on Earth anymore.
Please STFU, show some respect for a change. At least the space suit will cover up your fugly bumbags (“fanny packs” to you) and the compulsory sandal and socks combo for Germans.

*Speaking of German tourists, you won’t have to run out at 3am to reserve a sun lounge on Mercury. It takes just over 58 Earth days for the sun-worshippers of Mercury to experience a single day. Also, I wouldn’t do the nudist thing on Mercury.

*Chinese tourists, I know some of you like to defecate on public transport, shopping malls and just about anywhere. In space, that shit will just stay in your suit, sorry.

*Australian tourists, please don’t be a bogan. The good people of Saturn haven’t had a close encounter of the bogan kind. Don’t be the first.

©Steve Williams 2017

*This piece also appeared in The Huffington Post Australia: 14 Tips For Potential Space Travellers

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Finally, A Trump Whisperer

It’s getting very noisy in the whispering department. There are a lot of them about.

The President after a good whispering

You know, whisperers… as my friends Merriam and /or Webster define, “a person who excels at calming or training hard-to-manage animals using non-coercive methods based especially on an understanding of the animals’ natural instincts.”

Extensive and exhaustive research (ok, five minutes on Google) revealed a rather eclectic selection of people and businesses all purporting to be “whisperers”, and we’re not just talking animals. I suppose there are no qualifications required, there’s no whisperer governing body to deem people worthy to describe themselves as a “whisperer”. Australian singer John Farnham had a gazillion-selling album called Whispering Jack, but I don’t think he would describe himself as a “whisperer”. Not with a voice like that anyway, but I digress.

My curiosity in these whispering types was aroused by recent media reports by a bloke who was described in the venerable Daily Mail (obviously) as the “Vagina Whisperer”. Apart from conjuring up interesting and hard-to-manage mental images, I was quite intrigued by the word – “whisperer”, not the other one.

My research uncovered a veritable collective noun of whisperers. There’s The Dog Whisperer, The Original Dog Whisperer, Bull Whisperer, Terrorist Whisperer, Lawyer Whisperer, Thesis Whisperer, Horse Whisperer, Teen Whisperer, Stock Whisperer, Chicken Whisperer, Bra Whisperer, Bro Whisperer, numerous Ghost Whisperers (which is probably quite appropriate as I can imagine ghosts being fairly hard to wrangle). I discovered a Ghost Whisperer jacket, which I’m not sure is mandatory while grappling with ghouls. The picture of the jacket is slightly spooky.

Other whisperers include the App Whisperer, various Child Whisperers, the Water Whisperer, Breast Whisperer, Jeans Whisperer, the Wood Whisperer (who may or may not be connected to the Vagina Whisperer) and a Flube Whisperer. I have absolutely no idea what a flube is and why it needs whispering.

The standout however is the Trump Whisperer. If he can calm or train that hard-to-manage tangerine White House resident using non-coercive methods (I’d be happy with coercive),
he will be doing us all a huge favour.

©Steve Williams 2017

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100 Words to Describe President Donald Trump

To quote that eerily prophetic song by The Doors, strange days have found us.

Following President Trump’s alleged appalling manners on the phone in a recent one-sided rant
cordial telephone conversation with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (that’s T.U.R.N.B.U.L.L. Sean Spicer), I decided to embark on some research.

President Trump lets his finger do the talking

From my trawling through the gazillabytes of stories, memes and general WTF-ness about the tangerine clown currently wreaking havoc behind the Resolute Desk in the White House,
in no particular order, here are 100 words used to describe President Donald J. Trump.

islamophobic myopic dictator cunning idiot courageous fascist sexist misogynist hero ignorant bully showoff blunt incompetent outspoken grandiloquent meglomaniac dumb comical bigot satan rude successful selfish disgusting pussygrabber douchebag arrogant fool unfit brilliant wanker ballsy asshat tangerine pompous brave straight-talking clown nuts blowhard plutocrat demagogue chauvinistic repugnant wazzock leader dangerous confident aggressive saviour orange racist brash bombastic egotistical rich inept genius unrepentant trustworthy buffoon truthful xenophobic moron transphobic thug fopdoodle honest bankrupt embarrassing different refreshing boisterous moron opinionated unqualified exciting dishonest loser despicable insane tough intelligent bullish competent appalling genius jerk narcissist warmonger entertaining obnoxious scary dickhead corrupt f*ckwit sociopath

President.

©Steve Williams 2017

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Munich’s English Garden – A Winter Wonderland

Munich’s magnificent English Garden is one of the world’s largest urban parks, and an absolute must when visiting the city.

Stretching around five kilometres from the heart of the city, the English Garden boasts lush fields, 78km of paths utilised by walkers, bikes and horses, two fabulous beer gardens, restaurants,
a Chinese tower, Japanese tea house, Greek temple, surfers and nudists.

Though wandering around with my camera in the last few days, I obviously didn’t encounter the latter. The Kleinhesseloher Lake was frozen over, adding to the whole spectacular winter wonderland atmosphere…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words and images ©Steve Williams 2017

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Ghosts of Christmases Future

As it is approaching Christmas, and with President-elect Donald Trump about to take office
(I still can’t quite comprehend that), I thought it would be timely to repost my words on the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting of 2012…

I was going to write about the unbridled joy of being a kid at Christmas, the simple pleasure of waking up on Christmas morning, running out in your pajamas — after being too excited to sleep the night before — to see that new pile of presents under the tree. Yes! Santa has been!

“Yes! Santa has been!” (The writer, 1970)

The events of Friday morning at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut changed everything. The level of violence is difficult to comprehend, the fear those children would have experienced unthinkable, the stories of sacrifice by the staff unimaginable, the grief of the families immeasurable. It simply needs to stop. The system requires a reboot, this “right to bear arms” rethought. Who needs to have a military assault rifle in their home? Anyone?

Obviously, it will not be easy. As President Barack Obama said in an emotionally charged speech in Newtown, “No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this.”

“Better than this” will involve standing up to the lobbyists, the usual suspects who roll out the usual hoary old justifications, pathetic excuses and “helpful” suggestions including “what we need is more guns, not less guns.” I can’t even get my head around that statement. Then there’s the tip-toeing through the minefield of political machinations. Then there’s the NRA. Someone has to take that first step.

No doubt there are countless toy guns sitting under Christmas trees around the planet right now — the paper to be torn off them by excited little hands, so they can play cops and robbers or soldiers. One can only hope that in years to come, it will be much more difficult for these children to get their hands on the real thing and wreak the havoc we saw on Friday.

The time has come for the rhetoric to be followed through. We owe it to Friday’s children — Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeleine, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Avielle, Benjamin and Allison. As well as the adult victims, these names should have appeared on Christmas gift tags — not as statistics of another horrific mass shooting. They have now become ghosts of Christmases future.

©Steve Williams 2012

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Psychologists: Just Like Mariah, Santa Is Real

This article contains spoiler alerts and / or trigger warnings about Santa. I’m not sure what a trigger warning is, but there seems to be a lot of them about. So if you’re thinking of shooting Santa,
or anyone for that matter, please don’t.

It has taken me a few days to masticate and digest reports about an article published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal that parents who lie to their children about Santa Claus could wreak havoc with their offspring’s moral compass. This could apparently lead to a Bermuda Triangle of floundering lies, tinsel, and disgruntled kiddies.

With all due respect to the learned psychologists who penned the report, I call bullshit.

You’re secret is safe with me, Santa

The report suggested that by lying about the existence or otherwise of the big bloke in red, parents can irrevocably damage the trust their kids have in them, resulting in “abject disappointment” when said kids discover the “truth” about the Christmas Eve nocturnal visitor. “There is potential for children to be harmed in these lies,” said clinical psychologist Kathy McKay, one of the report’s authors. Calm down Kathy, I know you’re looking out for the kids, but it’s ok.

Christmas is a time of innocence, magic and wonder, and sure, a few creative porkies. Don’t overanalyse or destroy this charming story for kids. They’re fine. Parents lie to their kids all the time in varying degrees. We all survived the great reveal of Santa. I can’t recall a mass shooting occurring with young Trevor, tears streaming down his face, screaming “WHADDAYAMEANTHEREISNOSANTA!!??” while at the business end of an AK-47.

The Lancet report’s authors did raise an interesting point, “If adults have been lying about Santa, even though it has usually been well intentioned, what else is a lie? If Santa isn’t real, are fairies real? Is magic? Is God?” The God bit caught my eye, I know Christmas “should” be about a certain baby blowing out his birthday candles, but not being the most religious chap, I’ll stick with the Santa narrative, it’s more believable.

I love the whole Santa story, it’s wonderful. Suspending disbelief of the North Pole workshop, the elves, the reindeers, the transport logistical issues, the leaving out of Santa’s beverage and food of choice, so excited and not being able to sleep, but forcing yourself in case he didn’t come, then waking up on Christmas morning, racing out to the tree, and the unbridled joy of “SANTA’S BEEN!! SANTA’S BEEN!!”

Parents, let kids enjoy the Santa experience for as long as they can. Sure, if they’re 41 years old and still a believer, you may have a slight issue. Just chill out, have a quiet drink or a nice cup of tea, and depending on what hemisphere you’re in, spray some fake snow on the windows, and listen to Mariah Carey warbling about making her wish come true for the three millionth time.

PS Santa, I’ve been a good boy this year.

©Steve Williams 2016

*This piece also appeared in The Huffington Post AustraliaLying To Kids About Santa Is A Gift

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