Bastard Backpacks

Dear the bastard backpack wearing fraternity of the world.

I’m sure some of you are very nice people who enjoy tickling kittens under their chin, love unicorns, and liking everyone of your Facebook friend’s posts, but some of you are absolute bastards. Seriously.

Seat 12A on your next flight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I refer to “bastard backpacks”, I’m not talking about the noble types who trudge around Kathmandu et al taking-an-undisclosed-period-of-time-off-to-travel-the-world type of backpacker, or kid-wrangling parents on a trip to the zoo lugging little Trevor’s favourite toys and his organic quinoa treats, or school kids struggling with their textbooks. That is if kids still have textbooks.
I remember having to wield the “Web of Life” biology textbook in my schoolbag – heavy as an absolute mofo.

But I digress, I’m taking aim at the commuting corporate warriors — I’m sure you know the type — the women, but mainly men (who most likely work in the financial industry) who infect trains, buses, ferries and planes with their massive cancerous growths on their backs, not giving
a tinker’s cuss for you and me, as they take out innocent and unsuspecting citizens with every entitled swivel of their shoulders.

Credit: the very amusing @WeFixYourAdvert

A question for you bastard backpack expletives, so when you put your backpacks on, does your spatial awareness suddenly evaporate along with what was remaining of your fashion sense?

Don’t you realise that when you have your laptop and other geeky apparatus strapped to your back like a dork baby koala, you may, just may, be slightly inconveniencing the rest of the world? No? Didn’t think so.

A friend of mine was catching a bus the other day and had a bloke resting his backpack on his head. As one does. As my friend said, “Words were exchanged”.

A friendly suggestion – take the f*cking thing off before you get on the train / bus / ferries / plane. There. That wasn’t hard was it? It’s called “consideration”.

The next one of your kind who almost dislocates my shoulder as you bump your way down the aisle of a plane with your backpack because you’re too much of a tightarse to check in your luggage… (but that’s for another serve of randomswill).

Words ©Steve Williams 2018

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A bathroom sponge, a Rubik’s Cube and Dolly

Restaurant review: An unnamed establishment, Berlin, Germany.

We should have listened to Public Enemy and not believed it.

Dolly offered more flavour in the taxi on our way back to the hotel

This place was not only talked up bigtime by all the usual travel-advice-dispensing suspects,
but also the normally fairly trustworthy New York Times 36 Hours.

The decor is a Trump-esque orange. It was packed.
A short wait, then seated next to a Scandinavian family featuring an emo teenager…
picture a pissed-off, possibly self-harming version of the lead singer of A-ha, annoyingly clicking a Rubik’s Cube.

The menu consisted of about three offerings, the daily specials board about two.
Alarm bells should have sounded when the menu didn’t appear on the website.

Only fried spring rolls? Fried? In a much-trumpeted about Asian restaurant?
What. The. Serious. Fuck.

My wife ordered a chicken Phở featuring dejected, arid pieces of chicken and a distinct lack of herbs, and taste, but an over compensation of a collective noun of shallots.

As a non-meat-but-seafood-eating type, I had roughly one choice, a tofu vegetable rice thing,
that when doused in chili to give it some semblance of flavour, morphed into the consistency of Perkin’s Paste that I used to glue things together in primary school. The Rubik’s Cube sized pieces of tofu were being eyed rather amorously by neighbouring Take On Me emo boy. Though with the consistency of an overworked bathroom sponge, even he would have had trouble clicking them.

The only saving grace was Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” in the taxi on the way back to the hotel.
The lyrics “Your smile is like a breath of spring / Your voice is soft like summer rain” infinitely more flavoursome than the meal.

Don’t.

©Steve Williams 2017

*This review also appears in the highly entertaining Brothtaking.

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Sydney The High Vis City

So I was back in Sydney recently. I live in Europe, and it was the first time I had been back
in Sydney in almost four years.

Being a fairly observant type, I noticed quite a few changes. In no particular order…

*Why is every pub meal now $30? A few years ago if you paid 15 bucks you were ripped off.

*Why does every pub have those same funky hipster light globes? Maybe that explains the above.

*Why do restaurants have those BS time-limited seatings? “We’ve managed to fit you in at 3.27am but we will need your table at 3.29am.”

*Why are those towers at Barangaroo designed so they will look dated in about half an hour?

*Why is there an M4 freeway… M5 and M7 but no M6? Also what the hell is the A4?
My hire car’s satellite navigation thingo had NFI.

*Speaking of the M4, why didn’t they future-proof it when they first built it, instead of digging it up every five minutes and turning it into a seething, angry carpark?

*Why does every beverage you order anywhere arrive in a mason jar? Have glasses been banned
as part of the lockout laws? I want a drink, not a pickle or a secret handshake.

*Why does the entire population of Sydney now sport a High Vis vest? When did that become a thing? I saw a photo of HSC markers wearing them. The most dangerous thing that could possibly ever happen to them is a rather nasty paper cut.

*When did Australian TV become so, well, crap? I watched Goggle Box for the first time
and I thought the TV shows they were discussing were parodies. Apparently they’re not.

*Can someone, anyone, please do something about Sydney Airport? It really is a shocker.

*Without sounding like a squawking breakfast radio announcer, why are there posters around the city saying “Happy Christmas” instead of “Merry”? Is the word “Merry” offensive now?
I didn’t get the email.

Having said all that, it was wonderful to be back.
Sydney really is one of the greatest cities in the world.

Words and image ©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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Marriage Equality? More Questions Than Answers

For those who came in late, the Australian government is currently conducting
a “postal survey” on same sex marriage. I prefer to use the term “marriage equality”.

Which is what we are talking about.

The question, “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?

Yes, of course you are entitled to your opinion, and how you are going to vote, sorry, respond to the postal survey. That’s one of the great things about Australia in 2017, freedom to express your views.
This leads me into the next sentence.

I have a few simple rhetorical questions to opponents of marriage equality.

*If a couple love each other and want to marry, how does it affect you?

*Why does their gender make the slightest difference? To you?

*Cut through the hysteria of the rabid nutjobs on both sides of the argument who have been polluting the issue… what difference will marriage equality make to your daily life?
Seriously, how will it impact you at all?

*What difference will marriage equality make to YOUR marriage? Is that what you’re worried about? That YOUR marriage will be cheapened in some way? Really?

*If you are voting no on the basis of religious beliefs, isn’t your god a god of love who preaches compassion for all humanity? So how do you justify that? That’s the “mysterious ways” bit again?

*Do you seriously believe that a man and woman are better parents than a couple of the same gender? What do you base that assumption on?

*If you are one of the many who say “I’m not homophobic, I have lots of gay friends”,
would you look them in the eye and say “You are not equal, you do not deserve the same rights
as I do.” Would you? Would you really?

Yes. It is that simple.

©Steve Williams 2017

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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 Australia:
Electric Dreams: The Rise Of Sex Robots

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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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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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