Christmas gifts that keep on giving (and other clichés*)

Left your Christmas shopping until the last minute? You slack bastard. Can’t think of what to get your annoying little nephew Trevor? (No, forget him, he’s a little shit.) Thank your invisible sky dweller of choice I’m here.

You won’t have to endure that stopping-at-the-bottom-of-shopping mall-escalators mass of humanity, and endless Christmas carols so bad you want to perforate your eardrum with a chicken skewer.

You’ll think all your Christmases have come at once with www.skymall.com – a vertiable one stop shop for all your Christmas needs.*

Always wanted a t-shirt that smells like bacon? Of course you have. Just stay away from rabid dogs.

Dress like a pig

Dress like a pig

Can’t say I’ve ever been tempted by time, whether Gothic, sexy, and / or crouching.
That definitely won’t change with The Gothic Temptress Calendar. Note the leather and S&M chains. Classy. Imagine having a meeting with some bloke with this on his desk. You would be tempted to ask if his views on women are still stuck in 1427.

Tempted? Er, no

Tempted? Er, no

I know what you’re thinking: “I wish some artisan would craft a bespoke Bigfoot Tree Yeti Sculpture.” All that kneeling at the foot of your bed worked…

Chewbacca and Abe Lincoln's lovechild

Chewbacca and Abe Lincoln’s lovechild

Now, the piece of resistance. I give you The Zombie of Montclaire Moors as discussed on various late night TV shows. I assume the plan is you stick old mate in the ground next to your magnificent Double Delight roses and scare the bejesus out of young kiddies and get blank looks and eye rolls from adults. Go on, you know you want to, you always were the “wacky and zany” one.

Zombie Holocompost meets Lawn of the Dead

Zombie Holocompost meets Lawn of the Dead

Go and sleigh him, Santa.

©Steve Williams 2014

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Phil Hughes – Forever 63 n.o.

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

Gough Whitlam, Pauline Hanson and Me

I was only ten years old when former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was unceremoniously dismissed from office in 1975, but his death last week had a profound impact
on me, as it did on so many other Australians.

Prime Ministerial amusement

I am not only sorry at his passing, he was such a towering presence — physically and politically.

Many in Australia mourn that Gough’s political legacy has been tragically trashed over the subsequent decades, by both sides of politics. I doubt we will see a return to those heady days.

I had the pleasure of meeting “The Great Man” years ago when writing radio commercials
at Sydney radio station 2KY, which at that time was owned by the Labor Council of New South Wales.

Former NSW premier Barrie Unsworth was the General Manager and was showing Gough around the palatial corporate edifice.

I was rather a fan of the Mambo clothing company. On the day in question, I was suitably attired in the standard creative uniform of a Mambo t-shirt, my wardrobe resembled a Mambo shop.

My selection that day was a satirical parody of the famous Australian match brand Redheads (apologies to Australian readers for getting the glove puppets of explanation out). In place of the flaming caricature redhead, my t-shirt depicted controversial (for want of an expletive) “politician” and all round embarrassment to Australia Pauline Hanson. The word “Redheads” had been brilliantly replaced by “Rednecks” with assorted contents and warnings as you can see.

After exchanging pleasantries with Gough, he looked down (quite literally) at my t-shirt,
smiled and said “Well done, Comrade.”

A memorable moment from an unforgettable man.

Vale, Gough.

©Steve Williams 2014

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Plane Genius – must have travel gadgets

Forget the Knee Defender – the boffins at Randomswill Laboratories have burst out of the shed brandishing these must-have airline travel gadgets. You’re welcome.

Armrest Arrester™ A small, surreptitious, skin-coloured taser that adheres to your elbow.
Bastard next to you tries to occupy your armrest? Hello 50,000 volts.
Ask our operator about the optional Fart Away™ attachment.

BO Blocker™ Say goodbye to gagging when Mr Businessman who reeks like he ate curry in a sewer sits next to you. BO Blocker™ is industrial strength deodorant you engage like capsicum spray on passengers who pong.
With BO Blocker™ their eyes may water for a bit, but they won’t stink.™

Sit The F*ck Down™ Cabin crew will love this. A magic lasso Wonder Woman style to rein in passengers who like to stand up and get their bags as the plane is landing.
“Hey! You in 24G! Sit The F*ck Down™.”

Luggage Lucifer™ A convenient, pocket-sized flamethrower that gives you the pleasure of setting on fire the luggage of the selfish a-hole in 14C who has crammed his extra luggage
in your overhead locker. Luggage Lucifer™ “Burn baggage, burn.”

Headrest Hero™  Don’t you hate those passengers who pull the back of your headrest every single time they get up? Hate no more. Headrest Hero™ is an adhesive velcro strip covered in thousands of tiny, barely-perceptible-to-the-eye razor-sharp needles. Headrest Hero™ “They’ll only do it once.”

Bogan Begone™ An ingenious ultrasonic Bluetooth device that repels singlet, shorts and thong (Australian footwear usage) wearing passengers who sport “mystical” Asian tattoos.
Narelle and Gavin will be instantly repelled, as will their bogan progeny Brihannna and Montannah.

©Steve Williams 2014

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A Fucking road trip (Fucking, Austria)

“Didn’t we have a lovely time the day we went to Fucking?”
(with apologies to that Bangor-loving band Fiddler’s Dram).

The very quaint Fucking village

Indeed we did. It is the first time I have typed the word “Fucking” into the car’s GPS system. Though I have directed that word towards it many times.

Setting out from Munich, myself and two esteemed media colleagues (let’s call them Jane and Phil) embarked on a day trip to Fucking, a village just four kilometres east of the German border.
Why? To quote Sir Edmund Hillary, (who possibly never went to Fucking), “because it is there.”
Also for the giggling, childish entertainment value. And the selfies.

Fucking is quiet, very quiet — it is a tiny, picturesque rural village, with only one hundred
Fucking residents.

I was expecting to see tourist coaches spewing out pissed Aussie bogans and English chavs,
intent on stealing the Fucking signs. Thankfully no.

There is not much in Fucking at all. There are no Fucking shops, no Fucking restaurants, not even
a Fucking hotel. The only Fucking living things we encountered were some Fucking cows,
one Fucking person and a Fucking dog, who was quite protective of the Fucking sign I was being photographed next to.

We enjoyed an excellent lunch at the Gasthof Lindlbauer in the next village of Haid, with an interesting decor of former Fucking animals, though we still had a lovely Fucking view.
The very hospitable waitress asked if we’d come for the Fucking experience, and duly presented us with bottles of Fucking Hell beer. Prost!

On reflection, it was a truly Fucking memorable day.

The Fucking directions

This Fucking way

A former Fucking resident

Another Fucking sign

The Fucking end

Words and images ©Steve Williams 2014

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MH17 — Collateral Damage?

I’m lucky enough to travel quite a lot.
As a matter of fact, I’m writing this on an overnight international flight.

As I clicked my seatbelt in, my thoughts turned to the passengers and crew of MH17.

Like me, they would have settled in to their seats, had a drink or a coffee, watched a movie,
or caught up on some sleep. The crew going about their well-practiced routine of feeding and watering.

Some passengers would have been reliving memories of their holiday or business trip, thinking about what needed to be done once they got home. Those mundane things like the washing,
or back-to-back meetings. The kids looking forward to telling their friends all about their adventures, showing them the selfies they hadn’t posted on Facebook.

Then they were blown out of the sky by some lunatic bastards.

There but the grace of whichever mystical sky person of choice go I.

Was it the sick work of some random rebel nutjobs playing with a deadly new toy (“what does this button do?”) Hardly. The lives of 293 people obliterated in a war that had nothing to do with them and in a split second ripping apart those of friends and families on the ground, scattered around the globe.

The stories emerged of MH17, as they do, of the passengers, the chaos of the scene and reports of looting and bodies shown no respect, left for days in the sun.

Will the murder of all those on board make one iota of difference in Ukraine? Of course not.
It will be murder as usual. The victims of MH17 will merely be collateral damage.

To the passengers and crew of MH17, a Monty Python quote:
“What a senseless waste of human life.”

©Steve Williams 2014

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Rolf Harris: guilty of cultural cringe

I never liked Rolf Harris.

“When was the last time Rolf Harris actually went out here?”

Not quite true — as a young kid I liked his song The Court of King Caractacus. I’d enjoy the silly word play, giggling as the song sped up to its climax until I got the hiccups.

Now using the words “climax” and “Rolf Harris” in the same sentence conjures up disgust.

Many words have been written about his trial and conviction on indecent assault charges.
I’m not going to add to them, other than I hope his pathetically weak sentence is increased and the man rots in jail.

My dislike of Harris started long before his name was even linked to any wrongdoing.

Rolf Harris was too Australian, while simultaneously not Australian enough.
By that I mean he cashed in on and exploited his “Australian-ness”, though was too serious about it. He didn’t “take the piss out of himself” which would have endeared himself to the country he left, rarely returned to, yet made millions of pounds out of.

He was jingoistic at its worst — which didn’t go down too well with my fellow Australians.

It was so fake and as we say in Australia, “bunged on”. He was guilty of cultural cringe. I used to watch Harris painting his bog-standard landscape scenes of the Australian outback and the bush and wonder, “when was the last time you actually went out there?”

The Poms (and many Australians) lapped it up — this simple act of the misplaced Aussie overseas. Harris stuck to that act for over sixty years.

It turned out we couldn’t trust Harris, unlike British Paints that he flogged for years.

The sense of betrayal felt by English and Australian fans of Harris is quite palpable. Though this betrayal is obviously nothing compared to what his victims have and continue to endure.

©Steve Williams 2014

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Rugby League — Greatest Memories of All

So the debate has raised its ugly head once again. Should Australia’s National Rugby League clubs leave their suburban home grounds and force fans to support them at soul-less stadiums where you could fire a gun and not hit anyone?

Rugby league fans have a passion that can’t be dismissed. Here are a few random memories from when I was a kid growing up in Sydney.

The greatest team in the history of sport (www.nma.gov.au and Melba Studios)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Getting splinters in your arse from those wooden seats at Cumberland Oval. The exuberant Eels fans that torched it after the 1981 premiership win did us all a favour.

*Running onto the ground as the fulltime siren sounded to try and grab the black and white striped cardboard corner post. I was successful a few times.

*The halftime entertainment malfunctions that have plagued Grand Finals — the busted TV allegedly to promote Optus Vision (which was actually quite prophetic), John Williamson serenading an inflatable rubber tree with “Rip Rip Woodchip” after loggers had threatened a blockade of the SCG, the cast of “42nd Street” standing forlornly in the centre of the ground waiting in vain for their music to start, and more recently, Billy Idol’s hovercraft cutting the power, which was a good thing.

*The sensational prizes bestowed on guests of TV’s “Controversy Corner” — including a Pelaco shirt, vouchers for a Viking Sauna and Kevin Junee’s Run For Your Life sports store and the piece of resistance — a bottle of Patra orange juice.

*“The Theme From Shaft” used over the closing credits of Channel Seven’s Sunday night footy coverage with Rex Mossop. Not sure what a “blaxploitation” film had to do with footy, but there’s probably a parallel. “Chips and eggs” was the standard Sunday night fare in the Williams household.

*The Chook Army (diehard supporters of Eastern Suburbs) singing “We hate Ray Price and we hate Ray Price / We hate Ray Price and we hate Ray Price / We hate Ray Price and we hate Ray Price / we are the Ray Price haters”. One actually threw a grapefruit at him while he was in his petrified praying mantis pose — he didn’t budge.

*The “sand boy” running on with a small bucket of sand to for the ball to sit on before conversions and penalty shots at goal.

*Scanlen’s footy cards — that sweet smell of the thin pink strip of bubble gum lingering on the cards… and still lingers with me. Some bastard kid knocking the cards out of another kids’ hands in the school playground yelling “Scramble!!!” which meant a mad free-for-all.

*Having a birthday party with a few mates when I was about ten at Lidcombe Oval, we were sitting behind the try line and were captured in mid-try celebration mode in a photo on the back page of the next day’s Daily Mirror.

*The arse falling out of your meat pie at a brass monkey-inducing Sydney Sports Ground.

*The trainer scurrying on to the field with his “magic sponge” dunked in a bucket of water, mopping up a horrific head gash, then redunking it in the same bucket, primed for the next injury.

*One of my most prized possessions — the autographs of the entire victorious Roosters 1975 side (on an Easts Leagues Club wine list — thanks Uncle Pete).

For all its faults — and there are a few, it’s a bloody good game. The clubs and the NSW government need to listen to their fans about where they want to watch their game.

©Steve Williams 2014

 

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Bullfighting and the running of the morons

“Good.” That was my first reaction when I heard of the latest horrific injuries suffered during the “running of the bulls” in Spain.

An alternative to the running of the bulls, “sticking your hand in a blender”

A crushed thorax, gored armpits, heart, groins, knees and thighs, even a rectal perforation. Just part of the injury roll call from previous versions held in Pamplona. Enjoy.

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

Harsh? Possibly. I hope these people recover, and then get some sense (try a 7-Eleven, it’s on special).

Seriously, how much of a moron would you need to be, what copious amount of alcohol 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 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 — Barcelona and thirty-eight Catalan municipalities in Spain have banned bullfighting. ¡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 2014

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World Cup miracles – Jesus saves but lets one in

Any heretic that scoffs at the premise that football (soccer to Australian and US readers) is a religious experience is a doubting Thomas… or Miguel or Gabriela to give it a slight Brazilian.

A World Cup relic – Maradona’s “Hand of God”

Only an association football apostate would dispute the fact that miracles are being performed
in the World Cup by the wine vat-load.

I’m not talking about how some of the players’ mohawks and afros stay up, or Tim Cahill’s goal — forget Betty tapping him on the shoulder with a sword — just give him that Sydney expressway,
but I digress.

Every single match a player is apparently tragically killed, or at the very least mortally wounded — rolling around on the sprayed-on grass, their face a twisted, grotesque mask of agony, as they desperately clutch a body part that is in danger of falling off at any second.

Then yea, once the ref bloweth thou whistle and thine penalty is awarded, the dead and wounded spring miraculously to their feet, the “injury” fully cured, without even a splash of the holy water from the magic sponge.

Hallelujah! Resurrection! It’s like Easter every ninety minutes, just without the cave and rock bit,
and chocolate bunnies.

Messianic miracles are not only happening ON the pitch.

Nay, a group of wheelchair-bound Brazil supporters were suddenly cured of their afflictions, jumping up in an exalted leap onto their not-so atrophied limbs. They then followed the word of the law-d, taking up their wheelchairs and walking out of the stadium escorted by security guards not swept up in the ecclesiastical euphoria.

Jesus! If I could see just one World Cup game without a player prostrate in penalty prayer,
THAT would be a miracle.

Here endeth the lesson.

©Steve Williams 2014

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