By the Numbers


I used to like a tv crime drama show called NUMBERS.

Don’t expect many others will remember it.

Produced by Tony and Ridley Scott, the series ran for 118 episodes and six seasons between 2005-2010.

It had a great opening credits sequence which contained the following voiceover –

“We all use math every day. To predict weather…to tell time…to handle money. Math is more than formulas and equations. It’s logic; it’s rationality. It’s using your mind to solve the biggest mysteries we know”.

See it here

This is my lead-in to posing the real prime of this post, which is the question –

Do you know what number follows on after a million, billion and trillion?

Before you attempt an answer, check out this scene from NUMBERS, talking about internet security –

Press Play

Allright, ready?

Answer, as you just saw, is a quadrillion.


Ps. If I had to nominate my favourite number it would be the number ’19’19 is a prime number made up of the first and last single digit numbers; 1 and 9. Number 19 is the number of beginning and end and therefore can be seen as a milestone of completion. 19 was the average age of the U.S combat soldier during the Vietnam War. The 19th Prime Minister (of Australia) was John Gorton, one of my faves (don’t ask me why!). On a personal note I’ll admit to having  fond memories of back when I was this age (though 19 is a true idiot’s age). My street address for the last decade has been 19 and a song I have loved for a great many years is Paul Hardcastle’s 19.        LISTEN TO IT HERE

What’s your favourite number.. and why?



Ps. Ever found yourself in a jam and asked, “What would my favourite philospher do?” Some of you are looking at me strange right now I know, but for anyone who knows their Aristotle from their Plato or their Buddha from their Socrates, this may be the book for you. Written by English author Marcus Weeks, WHAT WOULD NIETZSCHE DO? considers a variety of everyday problems from the viewpoint of some very renown deep minds. We all seek advice from time to time so where better to go than 80 of the greatest thinkers, past and present, the world has even known. Topics include –

  • How to mend a broken heart.
  • Toilet seat: Up or down?
  • What to do if you’ve lost your phone.
  • Is Shakespeare better than the Simpsons?
  • Should I get takeaway tonight?
  • Why do I feel guilty walking past a beggar?
  • How do I get to be one of the good guys?







The Art of High-Rise Laundering

Hong Kong

Never trust a person who hangs their laundry over the balcony of a multi-storey apartment block.

Unless of course they happened to be living in Hong Kong back in 1974.

In which case as this photo proves, it was perfectly acceptable.


Back during this time, the island of Hong Kong, located off the southern coast of China, was still a colony of Britain. It wasn’t until 1997 that Hong Kong was handed over to the People’s Republic of China by the United Kingdom.

In the year of 1974, Murray McLehose founded the Independent Commission Against Corruption, in order to combat corruption within the police force. The extent of corruption was so widespread that a mass police petition took place resisting prosecutions. Despite early opposition to the Commission by members of the police force, Hong Kong was successful in its anti-corruption efforts, eventually becoming what today is regarded as one of the least corrupt societies of the world.



Wanna see how to hang out washing the cool way? Then  CLICK HERE

Ps. A previous generation of word ‘enthusiasts’ (I could have said ‘nerds’ but I prefer not to) had the seminal Strunk ‘N White’s THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE as their go-to reference for all things language-convention related. Now comes a new word style bible for the internet age called A WORLD WITHOUT WHOM. Written by author Emmy J. Favilla who is credited as head writer for the New York based internet media company Buzzfeed (which has inexcess of 700 employees) who specialize in social and entertainment news with a focus on digital media, this book has been described as a witty take on communicating in the era of Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, email, texts and blogs.


Pss. Your bonus read this week is a guest post I’ve written on the subject of writer’s notebooks for U.S based blogger Matt Pavlak’s site ACCIDENTALLY INSPIRED.


How Music Got Free (Part 3)


Piracy has plagued the music industry since its inception. In the context of copyright infringement, the term ‘pirate’ is more than 300 years old.

Yet as U.S author Stephen Witt makes clear in his book HOW MUSIC GOT FREE, the perfect storm of technological innovation that took place beginning in the mid nineties with the birth of the internet and later the mind-boggling advances in digital music compression methods along with the enabling of file-sharing and streaming, allowed for the plundering of an entire industry on an industrial scale never imagined as being possible before, by a generation of entitled teenagers and twenty-somethings that truly believed the idea of compensating artists for the music they created was unnecessary and the whole notion of copyright was an outdated legal concept from the 18th century.

Witt recounts how when Sony had its Walkman craze back in the 1980’s, the music industry sold tens of millions of tapes. Alongside the Discman craze that followed, the music industry also sold ten’s of millions of CD’s. So, doing the maths, the success of the MP3 player beginning from the late nineties should have also meant tens – no hundreds – of millions in sales of legally purchased MP3 songs and albums. The great problem was  it never did, principally because there existed (and still exist) multitudinous ways to illegally download the same items at no cost. Ten million iPods sold in stores should have meant ten billion songs sold through iTunes. Again, never happened. Legal digital downloads have grown since those first ‘free-for-all’ days of the late 90’s all-out attack on intellectual property rights and copyright, but nothing like what was needed to compensate the record companies amidst the death rattle of the compact disc which we have all been witnessing for the last few years.


At the heart of HOW MUSIC GOT FREE lies a bigger issue that reaches far beyond the boundaries of the music industry. It is the idea that the internet can and perhaps should function as a store of all human knowledge and experience that can be accessed by anyone for free, leading to a thriving public domain and rapidly increased rates of innovation for which all humankind is the beneficiary.

Seen this ‘bigger picture’ way, one can more readily accept the notion that in the quest for the development of knowledge and ideas for the greater good of society in general, individual industries may need to be sacrificed in order that others thrive. To this end, whether one sees the forced ‘liberation’ of the recording industry as the work of idealistic revolutionaries or racketeering criminals is entirely a matter of point of view.

In the meantime, Stephen Witt has written a forensically researched book that lays bare in compelling year by year detail what may be regarded as one of the greatest criminal conspiracies in the history of forever to subvert copyright and in the process bring down an industry.


Want more? I give you more.

Click here to view retro 2006 anti-piracy ad

Click here to view Bryan Brown 2017 anti-piracy ad

Click here to see how Stars are fighting back against music piracy

Click here to view a great debate on music piracy

Ps. Your first bonus read this week is a short story called COLD CALLING. Word of advice – you might want to have a stiff lemonade on hand for afterwards.



Pss. Your bonus bonus read this week is an article from THE GUARDIAN about the theft of 160 very rare and old books from an East London warehouse earlier this year. The crime to date remains unsolved. Thieves broke in through a roof skylight and avoided a security alarm system to make off with books dating back to the 15th century. Books stolen include original works from Leonardo DaVinci, Galileo and Isaac Newton.






How Music got Free (Part 2)

Capture 4

“HOW MUSIC GOT FREE” written by U.S. author Stephen Witt documents in brilliantly researched detail the roughly decade-long-period from the mid 1990’s through to the mid 2000’s that witnessed the explosive growth of the on-line ecosystem dubbed the ‘World Wide Web’ and the resulting never-to-be-fully-recovered-from crippling of the global commercial music industry. 

In terms of revenue earned, the music industry that exists today in 2017 more resembles the ‘after’ picture of an obese person who’s undergone drastic weight loss surgery.

HOW MUSIC GOT FREE begins  with an account of a group of German inventors who specialised in running experiments into the way humans perceive sound and, after years of being cloistered away in secret listening labs, emerged with a technology they named MP3 that would not only conquer the world but in doing so also unleash pure chaos on a worldwide industry.

The true-life cast of characters in Stephen Witt’s book are in the main a hobbit-sized collection of super crafty, ‘Beautiful Mind’ type nerd-geniuses attired in sandals, socks and Hawaiian shirts who, after undertaking literally tens of thousands of hours of trial and error investigation, discover a method to drastically compress sound using a super-computed-devised splicing device.


It helps the reader to know that information in the digital age is stored in binary units of zero and one termed ‘bits’ and that the goal of any music compression technology is to use as few bits as possible. In its day, compact disc audio used to use 1.4 million bits to store a single second of sound. Using microscopic snippets of sound sorted into narrow bands of pitch – the audio version of pixels – MP3 technology could do the same using just 128 000 bits.

Coupled with encoded algorithms, flawless, elegant computer code and a veritable thicket of filed patents, what soon followed was the ability to ‘stream’ and ‘digitally store’ music, sending it directly to the user from a central computer server.

A generation of adult adolescents now had the limitless capacity to reproduce and share music files, and neither the income nor the inclination to pay.

From humble beginnings – the first consumer grade MP3 player was a box-sized contraption with a tiny monochrome screen that cost $600 and held five songs – this lab-conceived revolution heralding the new digital age of music very quickly launched nothing less than a tsunami of copyright infringement.


Together with the rise and rise during these years of the deluge, the idea of compensating artists for the music they created rapidly came to be seen as some kind of quaint, antiquated belief held by an enslaved music-buying public of a previous era which no longer applied to generation Eminem.

Anyone who had ever paid full price for a forcibly bundled collection of songs called an ‘album’ only to find one good track on the entire record, cassette or CD could suddenly feel rightly justified in ‘ripping’ free music from the once powerful and all-conquering record companies.

With the birth of ‘shareware’ and ‘burning’ of files, stealing music had been taken to a whole ‘nother level and the file-sharing revolution was in full swing. Then when Apple launched its first iPod in October of 2001 (which saw its share-price septuple before the year was out) they succeeded in not only creating the most popular gadget in the history of stuff but also elevating musical piracy from an underground subculture to the mainstream.


As HOW MUSIC GOT FREE ably shows, these elements as well as the paradigmal shift in slimmer ‘n trimmer economics that was taking place in western societies of the day spelled disaster for record companies and an entire industry sent into profit freefall was the result. In a world of largely unregulated digital abundance, it suddenly became much harder to make money.

By 2010, the global commercial music industry was less than half its 2000 size. From the smoking wreckage emerged ridiculous discounting from artists like Lady Gaga who sold her album BORN THIS WAY for 99 cents via legal download. Going one better were artists such as Prince and U2 who famously each gave away newly released albums for nothing.

Legal download sites like iTunes came into existence and sought to restore revenues to the music industry via alternate pay models but have so far managed only to generate drop in the bucket revenue streams for the major labels compared to the golden years that belonged to the previous four decades.

This Friday I conclude my three-part look at the file-sharing revolution of the late nineties and early 2000’s and its devastating impact on the once mighty record companies of the day as revealed in Stephen Witt’s book HOW MUSIC GOT FREE.


Ps. Looking for that special gift for the wordophile in your life? You could do worse than buy them one of these spanking-good story telling type games –







How Music Got Free


What better way to kick off discussion of a book documenting the rise and rise of illegal music downloading than with a confession.

From the age of eleven, I openly flirted with what might reasonably be termed, at least in the context of what’s about to be talked about here, low-grade criminality.

See, for at least a good decade, I was pretty handy at and was quite frankly an open practitioner of, the home music-taping craze that began sometime around the late seventies and continued on right throughout the 1980’s.

I remember it well.

Every night after dinner I’d be ensconced in my bedroom, seated at my flourescent lamp-lit wooden study desk with one eye on my ‘social studies’ homework while two lightning fast trigger fingers were poised at the ready hovering like the tallons of a ravenous eagle over the plastic ‘Play‘ and ‘Record’ buttons of a cutting edge piece of tech known back then as a radio cassette recorder (with a duel-head tape deck – I can still talk 80’s when I need to!).

Junior criminal mastermind that I was, I’d have my ear cocked like a soldier on midnight sentry duty listening for the opening notes of any of my favourite songs. When one started playing, I’d spring into action literally at the speed of sound and slam down those two next-to-each-other plastic buttons on the cassette recorder faster than you could say “Video Killed the Radio Star” and whamo, the net was dropped on another Top 40 piece of free ‘tune loot’ I’d most likely had in my aural crosshairs for days, maybe weeks.

mix tape

I made countless mix tapes by this means and in doing so denied the recording industry of the time, of what, over the years, would have amounted to thousands of dollars of income had I chosen to buy this music on cassette, vinyl record or later CD at the bricks ‘n mortar music stores you don’t see around anymore.

And like flared jeans, Kodak ‘Brownie’ cameras and Radio Station 4IP (later briefly Radio 10) that all seems so long ago, some days I wonder if maybe I imagined the whole thing.

Fast forward twenty-five years to the early 2000’s and courtesy of the advent of the internet coupled with file-sharing and streaming technologies not to mention the birth of the MP3, and the plundering of an entire multi-billion dollar industry was now happening on an unprecedented industrial scale.

Pirate 2

While four decades ago, I and armies of adolescents like me, armed with $50 radio cassette recorders and enough patience and spare time, could eventually gather together a handpicked collection of songs without paying for them simply by waiting around for hours on end for the right Top 40 hit to come on the radio at a randomly selected moment chosen by the radio station, by the early years of the 21st century with the digitized assistance of such major league behemoths of the ‘ripping’ scene as Napstar and BitTorrent, stealing music had become an infinitely easier and far more abundantly rewarding past time than previous generations could ever have imagined possible.

Millions of songs along with the entire albums from which these tunes were birthed were now available for free 24 hours a day at the click of a mouse.

How exactly the music industry of this time was brought to its knees quite to this extent is the subject of the book HOW MUSIC GOT FREE, written by U.S author Stephen Witt. Stated simply, this is one of the most unputdownable books I’ve read in recent years, which, in a great many of its chapters, is written more in the style of a Tom Clancy hi-tech espionage thriller than a modern history account.

In my next post I’ll attempt to lay bare some of the advances in music compression technology that gave birth to the MP3 revolution and unleashed pure chaos on an industry that was transformed forever, and today, in terms of earned revenue, resembles nothing but an emaciated shadow of its former self.


Ps. Recently I mentioned a newly released short story collection by Hollywood A-lister Tom Hanks called UNCOMMON TYPE. The book features 17 stories that all revolve around, to varing degrees, typewriters. Apparently Hanks is a vintage typewriter collector. With that in mind it’s understandable he (and a company called have released a free app for iPhones and iPads that reproduces the sound and feel of typing on an old manual typewriter (including the ‘bing’ sound when you reach the end of a line plus the manual carriage return audio fx). If you have a nostalgic hankering to return to a part of your pre-digital life, check out the app HANX WRITER. 

View a product review HERE (forward to the two and a half minute mark for a demo of HANX WRITER

Pss. It may have taken 174 years but someone’s finally written a sequel to Charles Dickens‘ novella A CHRISTMAS CAROL (published in 1843). It’s called TINY TIM AND THE GHOST OF EBENEZER SCROOGE.


Psss. Speaking of Charles Dickens, there’s a new movie out based on “the inspiring true story” of how he wrote A Christmas Carol. It’s called THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS and stars Christopher Plummer.


Pssss. Sporting bio time again! Everyone’s favourite Melbourne Storm fullback Billy Slater has just released his autobiography and will be signing copies this Sunday morning at Garden City Shopping Centre Mt Gravatt.






Book clubs? They need their head read!



I’ve never been in a book club.

Nor have I known any other male who has.

The reasons for the first statement are two-fold:

  • For the majority of my life I’ve not been what you might reasonably term ‘a joiner’.
  • The idea of meeting once a month in a public place such as a library or coffee shop or alternatively someone’s house to come together with a bunch of people I may have nothing else in common with besides a love of (some) books, to give a chillingly lifelike impersonation of a 1st Year English Lit Uni student dissecting and pontificating on a book I probably wasn’t overly keen on reading in the first place – selected by another person – never struck me as my idea of a kick-up-your-heels, slap-dash good time.

I envisage your average bookclub to be a turn-taking exercise in slightly competitive  literary opinion-giving that, in the wrong hands, has the definite capacity to turn some people attending into pretentious bores. Not sure what I mean? Try this on for size –

‘’The characterisation was excellent, though I felt the protagonist had been blurrily drawn. While the descriptive passages were rather too meditative, I enjoyed the nods to Dickens and, if I may, even Woolf, that pervaded the homage to Gide in the middle passages.’

Throw in an extended meditation on the ethics of pronoun preference and I’d be snoring like an outboard motor while dreaming of bathroom and plumbing displays at Bunnings before you could say “Existential counter-argument”.


While book clubs abound (via local libraries and MEETUP) and I have been known to tune into ABC TV’s FIRST TUESDAY BOOK CLUB (hosted by Jennifer Byrne and now in it’s 8th season), it seems I am not alone in my distaste for this form of organised literary intellectualism.

Writing last year in her weekly column in STELLAR magazine, author Frances Whiting (WALKING ON TRAMPOLINS) expressed the following thoughts –

“I know people are mad for book clubs but I’m not one of them.

I find them very stressful, from the selection of the book part where you have to pretend you don’t mind other people’s choices (“Science Fiction? Great! About a giant worm you say? Can’t wait!), right through to the bit where you have to pretend a few weeks later that you actually read it. (“Well, I thought it was, um, interesting, and I really liked the bit  with the, um, giant worm.”)

I’ve been in quite a few book clubs over the years and while everyone in them has been really lovely, I can’t say I’ve enjoyed them.

For me, reading a book is a very solitary, personal experience, a joy I hug to my breast, almost like a secret I have, so sharing my thoughts about it somehow spoils it for me.”

Book clubs are for those who like that kind of thing. Me? I’d rather sit on a cushion of rusty nails than debate what I think vs what others think in an atmosphere that, from what I’ve heard and read from others, can tend at times towards a sort of aggressive intellectualism and intelligence one-upmanship.

Rest assured, I get my fill of both those things in work staff meetings! (Oooops! Where did that shard of qualm come from?)


Ps. Last week I mentioned the release of boxer Jeff Horn‘s autobiography THE HORNET. Another published-this-fortnight sporting story worth reading is former tennis player Jelena Dokic‘s authobiography UNBREAKEABLE. Even though Dokic rose to the rank of World # 4 back in 2002, in some ways her personal narrative is a story of unrealized potential and what might have been, given the off-court dramas that dominated her tennis life (she ceased playing professionally in 2014) including her well-documented turbulant relationship with her father-coach Damir.


Pss. There’s a new movie just started playing in Brisbane theatres called THE TEACHER. It comes highly recommended by a couple of people I know who’ve already seen it. The plot is intriguing to say the least. 

At the start of a new term at a suburban high school, a seemingly empathetic and kind new teacher, the middle-aged Maria Drazděchová greets her class. She asks them to introduce themselves and share what their parents do for a living, explaining that it’s important to know how their parents might collectively help the group. Soon after, she gradually begins to pressure both students and parents by seeking favours – grocery collection, handyman assistance, lifts and haircuts – and connecting them with special treatment in class and, most significantly, good grades. As the story progresses, Maria’s demands grow more complex and dangerous.


Psss. A big thankyou to all the loyal readers last week who helped me set the comments record for an individual post on SCENIC WRITER’S SHACK.

Pssss. Your bonus read this week is a short story about two remote lighthouse keepers who sincerely wish they didn’t have to live together.    VIEW IT HERE







What’s your Band Name?

The Doors

Back in my overconfident university days I played drums in two different bands.

What I remember most from that period, apart from the jokes about drummers being people who hang around real musicians, was all the lugging and setting up of equipement I had to do. Much, much more than my fellow band members. ‘That’s the lot of the drummer’ I told myself, ‘especially one who plays a double-bass drum’. It still didn’t stop me wishing some days I was the group’s harmonicist.

One of those early wide-eyed, group attempts at fame was called THE GROOVEDIGGERS (later renamed DEMENTIA 13 after the 1963 horror movie of the same name, a remake landing in cinemas in 2017) and the other, THE JIVING GARGOYLES. I know what you’re maybe thinking. With names like those, the odds were against us from the beginning, right? Wrong! A quick glance at names of mega-conquering musical acts down through the years can show only one thing: names given to bands are the absolute last predictor of future success.

I got thinking on this topic after a recent visit to my local library. (One day I’d like to be able to write how I got thinking on a topic after a recent trip to the ski fields of St. Moritz or the sandy beaches of Belize, but for now, it’s my local library). I spotted a book about the etymologies (that’s right, etymologies!) of band names. Forty-five minutes later and now seated in a council provided leather armchair next to a sign that read “Reading seriously harms idiocy”, I was still leafing through its pages, proving those rumours of me having a short attention span are completely, OK mostly, unfounded.

Rock band names

There’s been some well documented stories over the years of how certain bands got their names. ABBA was an acronym of the band member’s first names: Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn and Anni-Frid. AC/DC came about after Angus and Malcolm Young’s sister saw the letters on the back of a sewing machine. KISS was thought up by Paul Stanley one day while driving around with fellow band mates in a car. Drummer Peter Criss had previously been in a band called LIPS. DURAN DURAN used to play at a club in Birmingham called Barbarella’s. They took their title from the name of a character in the 1968 movie Barbarella.     Don’t believe me? Click here..

And as for music’s most famous ever band, THE BEATLES, theirs was originally conceived as a homage of sorts to one of their favourite musicians of the time Buddy Holly and his band THE CRICKETS.

band names

Of course there’s never been any shortage of musical groups not afraid to embrace the ridiculous in what they called themselves. Think actor Russell Crow’s old outfit THIRTY ODD FOOT OF GRUNTS or even the ultimate exercise in ironic-naming, the recently reformed British alternative rock group THE THE. With their oddly placed question mark, PANIC! AT THE DISCO (2004 – Present) also deserve mention in this category.
Apparently the lads decided to drop the exclamation mark in 2008 when they released their Beatles-inspired Pretty. Odd. (Punctuation written here as it appeared on the album cover). The fans revolted and the exclamation was reinstalled.

This book had me recalling bands I’d long forgotton, one example being the 80’s British synth-pop new wavers THE THOMPSON TWINS. If you were around back then you probably realise none of the group members were twins or named Thompson. Or related. Instead they derived their name from a character in the original comic strip The Adventures of Tin Tin.

My prize though for the weirdest band name with the most interesting origin story goes to the American alternate rock band TOAD THE WET SPROCKET (1986 – Present). Back when I was teenager there was a Monty Python sketch called “Rock Notes” that hilariously parodied the idea of ridiculous band names. TOAD THE WET SPROCKET took their name from one of the made-up bands named in this sketch.    Listen to it here

the the

So now I’m asking – what would be your band name?

Peak out from behind the tree you’ve been standing behind these last few minutes and drop your idea into the comments box at the bottom – wacky, freak-show worthy, wantonly pretentious or Wembley Stadium headline act sounding – I’m not fussed.

If you get stuck for inspiration you can always resort to the ‘ol DAVE MATTHEWS BAND (1991- Present) formula for group naming. Or… you can use an automatic band name generator like the one found     here     or    here     or       here .


Ps. In a week that also saw the passing away of 1960’s hippie cult leader Charles Manson and hopefully also the pop-culture phenomena that surrounded him while he was alive, came the sad news for tennis fans of the death of former 1998 Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna at the age of just 49. During her 14 year career she won 100 titles (24 in singles and 76 in doubles) and reached a career high ranking of #2 in the world (#1 ranking for doubles). She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005.

CapturePss. Speaking of sports people, local boxer Jeff Horn now has a biography on the bookshelves. The front cover banner-line says it all – My journey from bullied schoolboy to World Champion.” 

Jeff Horn

Psss. Your bonus read this week is a little story for anyone who enjoys cupcakes.

Taste it HERE



They’ve got me this time!


Not to put too dramatic a spin on it, but there’s a warrant been issued for my arrest.

And though the grammar used to communicate the message couldn’t exactly be labelled Oxford standard, I understood enough to at least begin entertaining the notion, within the deepest,wildest recesses of my imagination, that maybe, just maybe, the jig, as  Humphrey Bogart or someone of his ilk might have said seven decades ago, was finally up.

This is the word for word transcript (grammar errors included) of a telephone message left on our answering machine (yes they’re still around and some folk like me still use them) earlier this week –


We have received a complaint of you from Australian Taxation office. 

We have your reference number as WX 2754.

As there is legal case going to be filed against your name including warrant for your arrest.

Now before the case is sent for execution and you receive a legal course of notification, you can call the Taxation Office on 02 8006 7069.

That number again – 02 8006 7069

Don’t ignore!


Do these people have any idea who they’re messing with sending an only 98% grammatically correct piece of hokum like this to the likes of me?

I’m not ashamed to admit my inner ‘Cambridge University English Professor’ enjoys nothing more than the challenge of uncovering the weird syntax clues that expose this message to be the bogus imposter of authority it really is.

Pull up a seat (ok, you’re already on one) while this shameless shyster gets dismantled slightly-off sentence by sentence:

  • An opening sentence of just one word? Attention-getting I’ll give them that but in a phone message?  First red flag.
  • “A complaint of you”? No fellas. It’s gonna be either ‘complaint against you’ or ‘complaint about you’. Second strike.
  • Think you forget the ‘the‘ before ‘Australian Taxation Office’. It’s the little things that count.
  • You left out the ‘a’ before ‘legal case’. Whoever composed this piece of comedy has no regard at all for articles. No regard at all I say.
  • Sorry if I’m coming across as a stickler for correctness but that whole line that begins – “As there is legal case…” is not even a sentence goddamit! Sentence fragments just don’t cut it gentlemen!
  • As for the dramatic signoff ‘Don’t Ignore’, I can’t quite put my finger on exactly why this screams ‘non-native speaker riddled fraud‘ so let’s just say while I can maybe picture a finger-waving parent talking to their own flesh and blood in this manner or a born-to-be-stern schoolteacher laying down the law to their class, I’m not entirely convinced the Australian Taxation Department would choose words so dripping in ‘over the back fence’ speak.

And bumping up the weird factor even higher was the fact the ever-so-subtley mangled English was delivered in what might best be described as a robotic, computerized version of a (Sir) Derek Jacobi accent. If you’re not familiar with the English actor, hear him here (he’s the one wearing a tie and black vest in the clip)

To be clear, these shysters will have to get up a lot earlier in the morning if they’re to have any chance of fooling leather-elbow-patch-brown-cardigan-wearing English Professor Donaldson.

Anyone up for a taste of comedy gold should click here for a look at someone hilariously turning the tables on an over-the-phone scammer.

And if that in any way tickled your funny bone, go straight to the three and a half-minute mark of this video and watch a guy call two different random-dial scammers at the same time and then place the mobile phone’s up against each other so each scammer can hear the other one and they think they’re talking to each other. Good humored revenge at its finest!


Ps. ‘Pun of the Week’ award goes to the 4BC radio commentator I overheard while on one of my marathon (2.5km) morning drives to work, who, when speaking about the news that Canada is in danger of running out of maple syrup, wondered what the local politicians might use instead to go with all their waffling.

Pss. A short while back I mentioned about the release of the 35-years-awaited sequel to the movie BLADE RUNNERThis article shines a revealing light on precisely why the movie failed to ignite the box office.

Psss. Coming soon to movie theatres is a sports film set in an era back when I was totally in love with the game of tennis. See the trailer here for BORG VS McENROE.


Pssss. This bonus read is a story for anyone who’s ever found a book they’ve tried reading totally or even partially indigestible, for any reason including – an overly complex plot, too many characters to keep track of or highfalutin or period-specific language.


Reliving Old Magic


It was funny back in the day but way less funny now.

Recently I unearthed an old notebook, its pages now yellowing with age.  I once owned and used this paper jotter back in my late twenties. Back then this was my little reservoir for storing quotes, witty remarks, memorable lines of movie dialogue and other wordery bits of flotsam and jetsam I thought worthy of preserving.

As observed before on these pages, some things hold up over the passage of time better than others. Written just below an old flames’ phone number, still preserved for memories sake, was this bit of, what evidently my twenty-something self considered comedy gold –

Five things You Don’t Want When You Are A Magician

  1.   When you’ve got a cold and you pull a handkerchief from your pocket but it turns        into a dove before you can use it.
  2.    When the plumber says “You’re the magician.. you unclog it!”
  3.    Caperash
  4.    Stores that don’t accept coins taken from people’s ears.
  5.    When you mistakenly murmur  ‘Abracadabra’ in your sleep and then wake up          to find half your furniture is missing.

Like I say, certain things hold up over the passage of time better than others.

In some quarters I think they call this short-term memory nostalgia.


Ps. Last week I looked at a book which uncovered the life of bestselling British author Ann Perry and the murder she was involved in as a teenage girl long before she became famous. Another well-known author Sue Townsend (1946-2014), writer of the children’s series THE DIARY OF ADRIAN MOLE, was also caught up in unfortunate events early in life. 

Back in 1953, at the age of just eight years old, Sue Townsend witnessed a child being strangled. The then Susan Johnstone had been hiding up in a tree with two other friends in a forest near her Leicester home when a scene of unbelievable horror unfolded incredibly right in front of her innocent eyes.

She and her friends watched helplessly as 12 year old Janet Warner was murdered by 31 year old Dublin born labourer Joseph Reynolds. The young girl was asphxiated with her own school tie. Afterwards, the children climbed down silently from the tree, stepping over the body, and ran to a nearby sweets shop to report the crime. The shopkeeper didn’t believe them and ordered the three out of his shop. The next day the children’s story was vindicated when police arrested Reynolds for the crime.


PPS. Hot on the heels of actor Tom Hank‘s newly penned collection of short stories titled UNCOMMON TYPE, comes a new short story collection from British author Jeffrey Archer (who famously went to prison for two years in the early 2000’s for perjury) called TELL TALE.

Archer, whose books have sold around 330 million copies worldwide, has now released a total of seven short story collections over the course of his writing career, interspersed with his more popular novels, but TELL TALE is the first in seven years.





Naming Rights (and wrongs)


Horses for courses, of course, but really – what’s in a name?

I remember as a child showing interest in the sometimes unusual-sounding names of horses competing in each year’s Melbourne Cup. For the benefit of people reading this who may reside outside Australia, the Melbourne Cup is this country’s number one blue ribbon event on the thoroughbred horse-racing calendar.

It may no longer be Australia’s richest horse race as far as prize money offered to the winner goes (that honour now belongs to The Everest’ event run at Royal Randwick racecourse in which even the horse that finishes 12th still collects $175 000!), but it is without doubt the one race that ‘stops a nation’ and in doing so captures the hearts and minds of the mug punters – if you’ll pardon the expression – who, at any other time of the year, wouldn’t know their way to a racetrack if you gave them a pre-plotted GPS smart- phone and the cab fare to get there.

Back in childhood, the name of the horse is about the only thing you have to go on when it comes to getting a feel for what’s doing on the track. There’s not many nine and ten-year olds that know their way around short course odds, track conditions, jockey weights and who the winning trainers are.

Sad to tell, but in my case not much has progressed since those very early days. The name (and a half glance at the betting odds) is still what persuades me to choose one horse over another.


And haven’t there been some great names for racehorses over the years! The ones on the list below belong to real horses that all ran on race courses for prizemoney.

Waikikamukau – Pronounced ‘why kick a moo cow’ was an evil trick played by New Zealanders on Aussie race callers.

Maythehorsebewithu takes out the prize for the corniest of Star Wars puns to ever grace the race track.

Sotally Tober – Is this a dyslexic drunk’s idea of a joak?

Muff Diver  What’s so funny? Despite what you may be thinking, this horse was named after a cocktail made from Baileys Irish Cream and Creme de Cacao. Then again, just because you can rationalize it, doesn’t make it right.

Ha Ha Ha – A nightmare for commentators to pronounce without looking stupid, it seems the last laugh was actually on those who named him. In a six-race career, he finished last twice and was pulled up on two other occasions.

Geespot – It might itself make you snigger like little school children on the playground, but the naming is sheer genius based on its pedigree. By the sire ‘Pursuit of Love’ and out of the mare ‘My Discovery’, one can only admire the creativity of the naming of this mare.

AARRRRRRR – Clearly named on ‘Speak Like A Pirate’ Day, this equine athlete was forever a pain for live commentators. On the upside, this hurdle-hopping horse was probably the only animal able to kind of say his own name – a real skill in itself.

I challenge you not to split your sides laughing at this audio of an American race caller commentating on a race which includes the horse ARRRRRRRRR.

Take the challenge here

If that one doesn’t grab you try this one instead.

Final copy

Here’s the list of horse names for this year’s Melbourne Cup –

  1. Bondi Beach 
  2. Max Dynamite 
  3. Johannes Vermeer 
  4. Rekindling 
  5. Big Duke 
  6. Ventura Storm (My pick)  (Jockey Glen Boss) 
  7. Libran 
  8. Wicklow Brave 
  9. Boom Time (My seven-year-old daughter’s pick)
  10. Amelie’s Star 
  11. Single Gaze 
  12. Hartnell 
  13. Humidor 
  14. Almandin (Last year’s winner)
  15. Wall of Fire 
  16. Marmelo (Race favourite)
  17. Cismontane 
  18. Gallante 
  19. Nakeeta 
  20. Who Shot Thebarman 
  21. Thomas Hobson 
  22. US Army Ranger 
  23. Tiberian 
  24. Red Cardinal 

Apart from Who Shot The Barman? (late news: this horse has now been scratched from the field) a little underwhelming in the names department I’d suggest.

Personally, I’d prefer to see a race which included the likes of the following –

  • Fidget Spinner 
  • The Donald
  • Fake News
  • Netflix And Chill
  • Duel Citizen
  • Pork Sausage and Wheat Beer
  • Scenic Writer’s Shack 
  • Accidentally Inspired
  • 2 and 2 Make 5
  • Hayne Plane Crash
  • Smart Phone Zombie
  • Annastacia
  • Palaszczuk For Premier
  • Side Hustle
  • Cocaine Cassie
  • Airbags On Lampposts
  • Rocket Man
  • Coal Fired Power
  • Goneski
  • The Kim Jong Haircut
  • Breakfast Beer
  • Footballers Behaving Badly
  • Vanilla Coke
  • A Man Named Horse
  • Chocolate After Glow
  • Jeff Horn Rematch

More interesting wouldn’t you say?