Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Hipsters are to blame

First the Hipsters ruined the simple pleasure of a take away coffee by removing the simplicity. Now the beans have to be organic, fare-trade, hand reared, grain fed, certified vegan, biodegradable packaged, no carbon footprint, super beans. The coffee itself is not complete without a renaissance art replica being created in the milk.  We also cannot even order a coffee without first becoming personally acquainted with the skinny jeaned, paisley shirted barista, who will not pull up the next recycled, bamboo fibre, disposable cup without knowing our name.  All of which takes time. Grabbing a coffee used to be something you could do quickly, on a whim. Now it is such a length process it needs to be diarised, the day needs to be planned to accommodate the event that is “getting a coffee to go”.

The skinny jeans, paisley shirts and shoes like grandpa used to wear were soon not enough. Now they needed beards. Full, thick beards. Beards that could be stroked to purvey a sense of wisdom and understanding. Beards that could be braided, or put into a pony tail to purvey a sense of wanker. Beards that make you look like a bushranger or a member of a ZZ Top cover band. This desire for facial hair cutting deep into the profits of razor and shaving manufacturers. Sure electric clipper sales were increasing as facial hair, in fact all body hair, now had to be sculptured. Manscaped. But clippers are a once off purchase. Shaving blades were monthly.

Following the growth of facial hair came the growth of head hair. Long flowing locks like the 70s. A look that looked ridiculous then and no better now. Sure the 70s blow waved and now it is in top knots but it still looks ridiculous. The topknot is sure to be one of the first fashion pieces to be heartedly laughed at when the obsession with wearing their grandparents clothes without the slightest hint of irony, accessorised with glasses with no prescription, pre-tied bow ties and bob socks comes to an end. The growth of head hair has done to the hairdressing/barber trade what the facial follicles have done to shaving.  It has also ostracised men who have genetic pattern baldness. Which may explain the increased popularity of the fedora. Hair like the BeeGees, beards like Ned Kelly and hats like Dick Tracey.

If ruining coffee, the shaver trade and the hairdressing profession was not enough, the hipster has now all but ruined one of the great charities. Starting in 2003 in Melbourne Australia to become one of the great initiative raising awareness and much needed funds for men’s health Movember success came from men being sponsored through donations to grow their facial hair throughout the month of November. One month of looking scruffy then a like a bit of a dick. The more outlandish the facial hair the better. Waxing moustaches like a 50’s dandy, handle bars like bikers, goatees like Colonel Sanders, and full beards like bushrangers. Now because of the self-centred, ego centric, look at me attitude of the hipster Movember is now unrecognisable. Is that person participating in Movember or just a Hipster? Who knows, and more importantly who cares. No one is talking Movember this year. Who is sponsoring a mate to keep the facial hair that they already had.

The Australian cricket team used to be big supporters and participants in Movember, and they might be again this year, but who can tell. Mitchell Johnson has kept his Chopper Read handlebar moustache for a couple of seasons. He had it when his success rate improved phenomenally, and like Sampson hair, he kept it believing it gave him strength. Warner has sported a moustache reminiscent of cricketers in the 80’s for a long time. During five day test matches, historically players do not shave so who can tell what they are doing.

I am not sponsoring anyone this year because I do not want to inadvertently be supporting the creation of a new Hipster or be enabling an existing Hipster to continue their lifestyle. The price of their artisan coffees is so high nowdays, I figure a donation has already been added.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Bottom of the Internet

Computer technology, and in particular the internet have highlighted the generation gap like nothing before. Older generations fear and avoid it, younger generations love it and are eternally online.

One thing that has galvanised this divide, with each group using it as evidence to justify their position, is Kim Kardashian’s bottom.

Actually, when it comes down to it, everything about the Kardashians could be tabled as evidence.

A woman who is famous for have a sex taped leaked used the power of the internet to create a multimillion dollar income by doing not much of anything. It could be argued that at the beginning she was attractive. This argument is increasingly difficult to maintain as the cosmetic surgeries and airbrushing of photos  - a result of the Kardashian’s tight control of their “image” - she now resembles a caricature of herself.

The recent image of her derrière is bizarre at best. Is she competing with Niki Minaj to see who can have the most ludicrously large, artificially enhanced bott-bott?

For older generations the fact that Miss Kardashian is famous in the first place is proof of how dangerous the internet can be and why one should be cautious in its use.

Your younger generations the Kardashian Klan are aspirational. They can become rich and famous without having any discernable skills or talents.

Google is so big that it is now a verb. People google everything, and Google always knows the answer. The most powerful processor in the world will never be able to answer is why did her bum make news?

Friday, November 14, 2014

G20: The Good & Bad

The G20 is in Brisbane this weekend.

That’s good.

No, that’s bad. It means big sections of Brisbane are now closed for security reasons

That’s bad.

No, that’s good. It means a lot of people don’t have to work this weekend.

That’s good.

No, that’s bad. It means a lot of people are able to protest all of their different causes in front of the world media.

That’s bad.

No, that’s good. It will give all of the hundreds of security personnel at the event something to do.

That’s good.

No, that’s bad. It might make it easier for a terrorist attack to occur.

That’s bad.

No, that’s good because the Russians have sent their battle ships for just such an event.

That’s good.

No, that’s bad. Australia does not like people arriving uninvited by boat.

That’s bad.

No, that’s good. It will be funny to watch the Australian navy try to tow the Russian flotilla into Indonesian waters.

That’s good.

No, that’s bad. It would be another incident in Tony Abbott’s long list of embarrassing international blunders and gaffs.

That’s bad.

No, that’s good. His blunders mean no one is expecting Abbott to actually “shirtfront” Mr Putin, over the Malaysian Airline incident.

That’s good.

No, that’s bad. It could be the biggest news to come out of the G20 summit watching Putin bare-chested (after wrestling a crocodile or similar) Abbott in just is red Speedos charging at each other like two bull seals on heat.

That’s bad.

No, that’s good. Putin is a 9th degree black belt Master on Taekwondo.

That’s good.

No, that’s bad. Abbott just likes to ride bicycles and swim.

That’s bad.

No, that’s good. Instead of shirt-fronting or “frank and honest political dialogue” they could compete in feats of strength.

That’s good.

No, that’s bad. Not only is that plagiarising Seinfeld (Festivus) the ridiculous outfits the world leaders will be forced to wear will make it difficult to compete.

That’s bad.

No. that’s good. The media, bloggers and comedians will be able to ridicule them for their appearance.

That’s good.

No, that’s bad. Putin is not known for his sense of humour.

That’s bad.

No, that’s good. He might Crimean river.

That’s bad – a bad pun

No, that’s ugly

Monday, November 10, 2014

It's Just Not Cricket

I enjoy cricket in any form; tests, one-dayers, French, backyard and even 20Twenty or T20 as it is now called (because everything about this game must be as short as possible). What I don’t enjoy in T20 is all of the entertainment add-ons. They have made the game itself so small that the promoters have had to upsize it.

If anything these extras detract from the game or only go to accentuate how lacklustre a game is when the players do not live up to their collective reputations.

I attended the T20 match between South Africa and Australia at the MCG on Friday night. In their innings South Africa meandered to a total of 101 runs. This is not the foundation of an exciting match.

The fireworks were used sparingly following Wednesday’s match in Adelaide where the pyrotechnics nearly set fire to Aaron Finch’s face as he fielded a ball from the boundary. They are used at the beginning of each innings as players enter the field but they are no longer used when a batsman scores a 4 or a 6. This was not a big issue Friday night as there were few boundaries scored.

Then there are the performers on 3 stages set up in the grandstands around the ground. The three acts were A dancing group, BMZ riders and a fire twirler. If any of these acts turned up for an audition for Australia’s Got Talent they would not be “going to Sydney!”

The dancers were performing loosely choreographed routines to a set catalogue of music. This might be unfair they might have been tightly choreographed and just not rehearsed or poorly performed. They were almost in synch with each other, performing night club style dancing. Not at a quality you would see on a stage or in a cage at a night club, more a drunken jammed into an overcrowded dance floor type style.

The dancers were better than the BMX riders. The dancers knew more than one dance step. The BMX guys performed one trick repeatedly ALL night. Standing with one foot on the hub of the rear wheel, front wheel in the air, they then pushed the rear tyre with their other foot causing the bike to do upright pirouettes. That’s it. ALL night. And they weren’t particularly brilliant at it.

Regardless of the rider that was the only trick performed. ALL night. No jumps, no bouncing, no tricks with the front wheel, no headstands. Just pirouettes. ALL night. I was thinking that perhaps I was not the target audience for this entertainment when I realised that all of the crowd around me were ridiculing them. Regardless of age or gender the crowd was openly laughing at them, begging for more tricks and stunts, but to no avail.

The fire twirler did just that, twirled fire. Of the three stages this was the most entertaining. His twirling may have been limited by safety concerns with risks of setting fire to the stadium or other spectators. His act could have definitely been improved by some fire swallowing and spitting, it would have broken the monotony of the 3 hours of twirling.
These acts are being paid for their performance, making them professional. 

If the game had been more exciting then these performances would have gone largely un-noticed but in a quiet game they became quite obvious as did their limited talent. If the players have to prove their ability to be selected in the team on the field then the off-field entertainers should have to do the same

The ground announcements did not help the situation either. “Make some noise” and “Get excited” appeared on the electronic scoreboard periodically throughout the game. The crowd obediently did cheer and make some noise but with as much enthusiasm as a parent watching a 7 year old’s first violin recital. If the game was delivering on its promise the crowd would be making a noise out of genuine excitement. The crowd might have also turned up.

The MCG was only 20% full with 21,538 people attending Friday’s match. Compare this to the 91,112 or 91% capacity who attended the first day of the 2013 Ashes test match.

Ironically T20 was designed to attract bigger crowds because it was believed that 5 day test matches were too slow and boring to attract big crowds.

Quality matches between quality teams will sell tickets. Did any parent say to their family “let’s go to the T20 game on Friday” only to have the kids grizzle about it but convince them to attend because there would be “average at best performers on stages around the ground that will be too far away to see properly”. Oh thanks Dad, you’re the best!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Melbourne Cup (Media) Tips

It is Spring Racing Carnival time again, and Australian television news lifestyle editors could not be happier. There job could not be easier. Melbourne Cup coverage on evening news, the night of the “race that stops the nation”, will be the same as every other year.

The newsreaders are most likely to located trackside, and will definitely be dressed in race going finery with the distinct possibility of top hat and tails for the men and some ridiculous head piece for the women.

The broadcast will commence with commentary and footage of the winning horse crossing the finish line and then in the mounting yard wearing its ribbon whilst trainer and jockey hold up the cup, owners standing awkwardly in the background.

To complete your Melbourne Cup news bingo card select from the following “news” stories, which will appear somewhere throughout the news broadcast. Will yours be aired first?

a.     A piece about the amount of food and alcohol consumed on the day at the track. The food will be compared to either the weight or volume of bases or the volume of the MCG (in Melbourne everything of large quantities is compared to the MCG). The alcohol volume will be measured in Olympic swimming pools.
b.     Total number of people through the gate
c.     The amount racegoers and the country in general gambled away. To encourage everyone to gamble again next year there will also be mention of the total winnings and some ridiculous one off bet that paid off.
d.     Celebrities, who attended Flemington and at which marquee were they a guest. If previous years are any guide the international celebrities will be C if not D grade celebrities if they are known at all in Australia.
e.     Fashion on the field. This will have many sub sections
i.      The catwalk competition of ordinary race goers vying to win a sash.
ii.     Fascinators (which ironically are not that fascinating) and hats
iii.   Token men who actually look good.
iv.   Fashion editors will also find some woman’s outfit they deem to be inappropriate and portray it as a scandalous controversy even though no one had even noticed the outfit until they splashed it across the screens in primetime.
v.     The same fashion editors will also create a montage of people wearing something similar to demonstrate this years’ trend. Spots, stripes, pastels, bold prints, black, pink etc. Of course with so many people at the track the chances are that there was equal number s of punters wearing each of these styles.
vi.   Token men wearing bright coloured suits, this is always a group of men.
vii.  Costumes; Smurfs, Where’s Wally, Ritchie Benaud (yes he is a cricketing legend but how many costumes do people own?)  and Mario are always popular
f.      General punters, like fashion there will be many sub sections
i.      Crowd shot of people cheering without abandon towards the end of the race as they realise they are backing the winner.
ii.     Crowd shot of people realising they have not backed the winner and pretending not to care
iii.   A group on 6-10 people sitting on the ground sharing a picnic oblivious to the amount of room they are taking up or that there is a race on
iv.   A couple having a good snog
v.     Drunk people bonus points, if it is someone unconscious on the grass at the end of the day
vi.   Women carrying their uncomfortably high shoes in their hand walking barefoot or in their boyfriends shoes
vii.  Drunk 20 somethings yelling incoherently as they pass the camera
g.     The reporter
i.      Pretending he is drunk (it is always the male reporter) or at least claiming he is pretending to cover up the fact that he is actually drunk.
ii.     The same reporter being a bit leery with some of the female punters
iii.   The same reported walking slightly dishevelled from the track towards the tram stop at the end of the day
iv.   A reporter “bonding with the crowd” sitting with them, toasting nothing in particular (usually with champagne the reporter has taken from the punters)
v.     Reporter standing in the loudest most intoxicated section of the crowd to show how “fun” the “atmosphere” is. Said crowd will yell and scream on queue and someone will do something obscene in the background.
h.     Random historic fact or record. A researcher has quickly looked on Google or Wikipedia to discover that this is the first time the winner has been trained by a left-handed ginger hermaphrodite or the stableboy’s best friend is the great great grandson of the person who stitched the saddle blanket worn by the winner on the 1907 race. The more detailed the fact the less impressive it is.
i.      Public transport, because apparently it is news that the trams are a bit packed when 100,000+ people all try to get on them at the same time.
j.      Coverage of the actual race will not occur in its entirety until the sports section of the broadcast
k.     The broadcast will end with the same footage with which it started. The same footage will have been repeated at least 3 other time throughout the news.

My bet is that all of these will be included. On every channel.