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 Australiahttp://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/steve-williams/lying-to-kids-about-santa-is-a-gift/?utm_hp_ref=au-homepage

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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.

“Put those mammoth breasts away” 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 2016

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No Thanks Donald Trump, Keep Your Snake Oil

Over the years I’ve worked with a hell of a lot of sales people.

I don’t want one of your f*****g steaks, either

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some good, some psychotic, which of course you could say for any “profession”,
but a psychotic salesperson is something to behold, and not in a good way.

Sales people are a certain breed.

President-elect Donald Trump… I can’t believe I just wrote that… this is a very f****d up Twilight Zone / Black Mirror episode… but I digress. Donald J. Trump is a sales person. The ultimate.
Reported guestimates of his bank balance range between $150, $3 billion or $10 billion, give or take.

With Trump, it’s all about closing the deal, he wrote THAT book which thankfully I have avoided. Trump closed the deal early Wednesday morning – the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC.

So where to now? During the campaign Trump made a litany of very well documented promises to his faithful (we all saw them as outrageous threats), but will he follow through? Or in true snake oil salesman mode, was all that ranting simply BS, means to an end of winning the Presidency?
Who knows? With Trump, you get the impression that he is constantly making it up as he goes along, to borrow that line from Monty Python. We’re all in very murky unchartered waters,
heading straight for the Bermuda Triangle.

No doubt many of his hard core supporters would have been simultaneously disappointed and disillusioned with his victory speech. It was extremely un-Trumplike, none of the vitriol, no locking up of “Crooked Hillary”, no wall-building threats, no pussies were grabbed, nobody was threatened with deportation. I laughed when it was reported as “being Presidential”, I put it down to the fact he’s an old man and it was waaaay past his bedtime.

Is Trump serious about making America great again? What does that very shallow four-word slogan even mean? Define “great”. Trump was following the old adage of tell ‘em what they want to hear and closed the deal.

Let’s pick one of his campaign “policies”. Did he / does he have any intention of building that wall? Again, who knows how any of this will play out. He’ll no doubt wheel out that hoary old chestnut (which is itself a hoary old chestnut),“Well you know I wanted to <insert bizarre promise> I really did. I promised you I would. But I was blocked. They’re weak. Cowards… etc etc”. The faithful will chug down some more Kool-Aid.

Trump’s meeting with President Obama in the White House on Thursday was surreal to say the least. Trump used the words “great respect” which is laughable, considering the whole birther thing, and the blowtorch he continually took to Obama during the election campaign. But did he really mean any of that? Neither of them looked like they wanted to be there. The body language experts had a field day.

So I suppose it is a matter of watching this space, to see what President steak salesman and beauty pageant owner does. I find it highly amusing / terrifying that his campaign team barred him from Twitter during the final days of the campaign, and now he has the nuclear codes. You seriously couldn’t make this stuff up.

Millions across the planet are proclaiming that the Trump presidency will be the end of the world… and to quote the classic R.E.M. song, Trump will respond with “and I feel fine.”

©Steve Williams 2016

*This piece also appeared in The Huffington Post Australiahttp://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/steve-williams/steve-williams/no-thanks-donald-trump-keep-your-snake-oil/?utm_hp_ref=au-

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A New Kitten = Trumps Everything

I would like to discuss Donald Trump.

Actually no, I’d much rather talk about our new kitten.

We didn’t think we would get another one.

The wonderful Oscar was with us for nearly 15 years, travelling around the world with us.
Part of the family. Until last October. You can read about that very ordinary Thursday here.
Oscar was always going to be a very hard act to follow. My wife and I resisted for a year.
We just couldn’t do it, but we have.

Lilli the kitten arrived a few weeks ago, very coincidentally on the same date Oscar died.
She has rather large paws to fill, though she is not a replacement and of course she is her own cat. She is quickly proving that. Apparently she was the “shy, reserved one”. Hardly.

It’s a long time since we had a kitten in the house, you forget what it’s like…

*Having to look down when you carry a cup of coffee as she likes to wrap herself around / sprint between your feet like a little silent furry ninja.

*The intense interest in anything happening in the kitchen. The reaching up, pawing at legs in an attempt to get some of whatever is on offer. “It’s yoghurt. You’re a cat, you don’t eat yoghurt.”

*Seemingly dematerialising then rematerialising in another room like a Star Trek episode. Sometimes it’s like there are three of them.

*The rescuing of cat toys from under lounges. I keep being “dragged” away from working to extricate a trapped cat toy from the very middle of under the lounge. A pitiful squeak – Lilli appears to squeak rather than miaow, sounding in desperate need of WD40. The squeak leads me to a rather forlorn little thing peering anxiously at the dark abyss under the lounge / chair / bed, basically anything that is the perfect size for a cat toy. The foil crunchy shiny mice / ball things being the toy du jour.

*The amusement of looking at her discovering herself in the mirror.

*The psychotic sprinting after she uses her kitty litter tray. I’ve always thought it would be amusing if humans did that.

*The pushing the boundaries – using the dining table as a shortcut, delicately pirouetting around photos on the sideboard. That is being strongly discouraged as we speak. A stern “No”, distracting her with said crunchy shiny mice / ball things. Then she turns THAT face on, and is back on the dining table. Repeat.

*The overall outrageous cuteness of a young kitten, the tractor-esque purring, the random sleeping in what are extremely uncomfortable locations, when there are at least 47 far more comfortable spots.

*The general craziness of rampaging through the house for no apparent reason. Seeing an imaginary something on the ground, then taking off with a very strange un-kitten like sound.

*The ignoring of expensive cat toys, happy to spend half an hour in an empty carboard box.

*You forget how small and low to the ground kittens are compared to adult cats. There are numerous unsuccessful attempts daily of Donald Trump style pussy-grabbing.

I wrote about Oscar sitting in my wife’s his chair while I working, Lilli has now discovered the same chair, she looks quite at home. It’s nice having that chair occupied. That Coldplay song isn’t quite as sad.

Welcome Lilli, it’s wonderful to hear the crazed scampering of paws in our home.
Oscar was quite the furry ratbag, and you’re shaping up extremely well in that department…

©Steve Williams 2016

*This piece also appeared in The Huffington Post Australiahttp://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/steve-williams/steve-williams/this-new-arrival-trumps-everything/

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Electric Dreams – Turning On & Off Sex Robots

There’s been a lot of talk about sex robots lately. Not sure why.
I suppose it’s better than talking about Donald Trump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You may have possibly read about Roxxxy “the world’s first robotic girlfriend”. Apart from the screamingly obvious objectification (literally) issues, the repetition of the letter “x” and total
WTF?-ness of it all, my first thoughts were of the late great actor Yul Brynner. No, not in a weird “King and I” dancing fantasy (not that there’s absolutely anything wrong with that). I was thinking of Yul’s work in that classic sci-fi / thriller “Westworld” (now an HBO remake) when he plays the robot who loses the plot slightly and goes around slightly shooting people.

What happens if Roxxxy or any of her robotic horizontal folk dancing sisters loses the plot?
Blows a head gasket, O-ring, hard drive or any remotely sexually sounding innards? Who do you ring? Some call centre in Mumbai where “Bazza” will talk you through the issues? Is there bedside assistance? Or do you have to wander down to a service centre with her under your arm, surfboard style and say, “She’s buggered mate”.

Roxxxy was born? Unveiled? Frankensteined? at an Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas,
where else – and apparently her creator’s inspiration for her / it rose from the death of a friend in the September 11 attacks. “I promised myself I would create a program to store his personality, and that became the foundation for Roxxxy.” I’m wondering which of the fembot’s various programmable personalities that was. “Wild Wendy”, “Frigid Farrah” or “Mature Martha”?
Even so, a nice way to be immortalised. I’m sure the mate would be very proud. He went on,
“She can’t vacuum, she can’t cook but she can do almost anything else, if you know what I mean.”

Maybe it’s just me, but I thought “vacuum” might fall into the “if you know what I mean” category. Told you it was weird.

Roxxxy’s not cheap, at up to nine thousand bucks, but if you’re into that sort of thing, she sounds
a tad safer than that bloke in Brazil a while back who became rather excited about a car’s exhaust pipe and needed some angle-grinder action to extricate himself.

As they say, whatever turns you on – as long as you can turn her off. Just remember Yul Brynner.

©Steve Williams 2016

*This piece also appeared in The Huffington Post Australiahttp://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/steve-williams/electric-dreams-the-rise-of-sex-robots/?utm_hp_ref=au-homepage

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Emoji all the people*

It seems like we have gone full circle.

 

Man (and woman) first started communicating in a written form over 30,000 ago with cave paintings, depicting animals and rudimentary images of humans. Graffiti was born.

Fast-forward to around 5000 BC and Egyptian and Chinese cultures communicated (amongst themselves) with pictograms and ideograms that represented an object, activity or concept.
These led to Egyptian hieroglyphics and Chinese characters. So far, so good. Then around 3200 BC, the good burghers of Mesopotamia thought it wouldn’t be a stupid idea to start writing words, and the rest as they say, is history.

So how do we communicate in 2016? Emojis, that’s how. I read an article the other day that “emoji” is the world’s fastest growing language. <face screaming in fear emoji>

Blame one Shigetaka Kurita. The unassuming Japanese chap produced 176 designs for Japanese mobile phones in 1999. There are now over 1,800 emojis. Possibly 1,790 too many.

From cave paintings to hieroglyphics to emoji — maybe we should have just left out the middle bit, making the world’s greatest writers redundant. In the annals of literary history, we could have just leafed past the work of Homer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Tolstoy, Wilde, Austen, Orwell, Hemmingway, Jackie Collins… ok, maybe not her.

Speaking of classic novels, The United States Library of Congress has accepted its first emoji novel — a reworking of Herman Melville’s classic Moby-Dick. It has been 2016-ised into Emoji Dick with the 212,000+ words converted to emoji. I don’t know whether to be horrified or impressed.

The recent breathless launch of the iPhone 7 included new emojis, “women playing sport”, “woman in a turban”, the gun emoji has apparently become a water pistol, there’s now a “man getting a haircut”, and a “man wearing bunny ears”. As one does, though not simultaneously. There is now basically every type of parent / child / gender / family emoji you can poke a stick at. I assume there is still a stick emoji for the iPhone 7. I’d personally prefer a headphone jack emoji.

Being an iPhone person, I assume other smartphones have their own emoji, including an explosion emoji for a certain Samsung smartphone. <smiley, winking face, poking out tongue emoji>

We survived the rise of mobile phone text-speak, which wasn’t all that GR8, you often had no idea what the hell other person meant. I’d normally just ring them up and get them to explain it. Which kind of defeated the purpose.

It will be interesting to see where all this emoji business ends up. I suppose one day we will be reading online newspapers and magazines written in emoji form, though I suggest that will be when we are in our autonomous flying cars eating our food tablets.

*Apologies to John Lennon for that atrocious headline.

©Steve Williams 2016

*This piece also appeared in The Huffington Post Australiahttp://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/steve-williams/emoji-all-the-people/?utm_hp_ref=au-homepage

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