The Dissemination of Thought

Just because it's in print doesn't mean it's intelligent…

Posts Tagged ‘humour

Hallmark cards, shopping fear and a TDoT dose of Christmas cheer

with one comment

If the lovely people at Hallmark are to be believed, Christmas is a time for giving, indulging and sending out vibes of goodwill towards all men, women and house-trained animals.

The reality of the festive season could not be further from the clichés, corny poems and pictures of goofy-looking reindeer the marketing gurus expect us to embrace every December.

Cheesy cards are the reason disillusioned people are stressed and angry by December 25.  Source: hallmarkcards.com.au

Cheesy cards are the reason disillusioned people are stressed and angry by December 25. Source: hallmarkcards.com.au

While the David Jones catalogues and Coles billboards depict well-dressed shoppers with Joker-esque grins peacefully perusing the aisles, apocalyptic scenes are playing out on the ground.

Is there a get-your-fucking-hands-off-that-last-trampoline-before-I-lose-my-cool card?

It’s all well and good to espouse the spirit of season but the fact is all textbook theory about appropriate Christmas behaviour takes a back seat to retail guerrilla warfare in the lead-up to December 25.

Those who doubt me should have been in the Townsville bottle shop I happened to be in at midday.

As I was filling my trolley with enough vodka and cider to anaesthetise a three-year-old gelding, I witnessed two women swap the Christmas spirit for a verbal stoush over spirits.

Basically, the second woman – let’s call her Little Miss Swear Jar – objected to the first woman – who we’ll call Mrs Three Bottles – taking what appeared to be the last three bottles of an unidentified dark rum off the shelf, even though the former obviously wanted to buy one of them.

Unfortunately, it was at this stage Little Miss Swear Jar forgot all about those warm Christmas card messages and launched into a tirade that would have made both elves and seasoned sailors blush.

Bearing in mind that I made a beeline for the opposite side of the store when the argument started, I’m pretty confident it went something like this:

Little Miss Swear Jar: You’ve gotta be fuckin’ kiddin’ me.
Mrs Three Bottles: What?
Little Miss Swear Jar: Why the fuck are you takin’ all of them?
Mrs Three Bottles: We’re having a party and I need three bottles.
Little Miss Swear Jar: Fuck off. Everyone’s having a party tomorrow. Give me one of those fuckin’ bottles.
Mrs Three Bottles: Get fucked.
Little Miss Swear Jar: Fuck you, moll. You’re ruining my Christmas* and you can go and get fucked right up.

* Author’s note: Apparently, spirits really do maketh the occasion.

What were those morons at Hallmark saying about goodwill and compassion towards our fellow man?

After witnessing what should have been a pay-per-view event, I left the bottle shop thinking the advertising boffins should forgo the soft, heartfelt approach to Christmas marketing and focus instead on promoting a range of retail rage cards and light battle armour.

It could be worse. He could be snorting cocaine and texting strippers while having his photo taken with your child.  Source: news.com.au

It could be worse. He could be snorting cocaine and texting strippers while having his photo taken with your child. Source: news.com.au

In 2012, it seems the key to Christmas is just surviving the supermarket skirmish.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope you have a fantastic festive season and stay safe while enjoying the company of friends and loved ones.

I’ve got a strong feeling my name will turn up in Santa Claus’ naughty book this year but the fact you guys and girls –this blog’s raison d’être – keep coming back day after day negates the lump of coal that will be stuffed into my stocking* hours from now.

* Author’s note: This is not a euphemism.

Five things you always wanted to know about Twitter but were afraid to ask

with 5 comments

Twitter. It’s enough to reduce grown men and women to blithering messes, and send those with a passion for grammar and correct spelling to the back of a dark cupboard to cradle themselves in a foetal position.

Given there are now more than 500 million Twitter users globally, I thought it was an opportune time to answer five questions new Twits have about the micro-blogging phenomenon but are generally afraid to ask for fear of being laughed at or mockingly retweeted. 

I admit it. I’m a filthy Twitter whore. But I use my hashtags sparingly. Source: blog.socialmaximizer.com

1. What should I tweet about?

Ah, the timeless question. I’m reasonably confident there was once a time when people would only tweet news, information and the odd filthy limerick. In 2012, Twitter has unravelled to the point where, as long as it doesn’t take up more than 140 characters, people don’t give a fuck what they tweet about. Unfortunately, that includes random sentences about what they are doing and excessive use of the #catsofinstagram hashtag.

As somebody – possibly the old dying guy in Spider-Man – once said, “With 140 characters comes great responsibility.” That responsibility involves not subjecting the Twitterverse to your lunch options. Or what your favourite moggie is doing every 39 seconds of the day, even if Fluffy happens to be writing a haiku on the wall while smoking a pipe.

2. What the hell do RT and MT mean?

Strictly speaking, RT stands for retweet, where you do nothing more than share someone else’s tweet with your followers. MT refers to a modified tweet, which involves shortening a tweet and adding your own witty or earth-shattering commentary before sending it back out into the Twitterverse.

For me, constant retweeting is the calling card of the sheeple. Or the sign of a labrador who is chewing on their owner’s iPhone. Sure, every Twitter user – including yours truly – retweets from time to time but if you stumble across a user who is all about the retweet, block them and retreat to Facebook to regain your composure.

While a modified tweet has the potential to combine personal opinion, news and information, many Twits well and truly miss the mark. Witnessing somebody adding “LOL” or “that’s so true” to a tweet makes me weep for humanity.

3. Why does that boring person have so many more followers than I do?

The simple answer to this question is the Sheeple Principle. What the hell is that, you ask? I’m not going to explain it again, so clicking here will bring you up to speed.

After an in-depth study* of Twitter, I’ve determined you should tweet prolifically about the subjects below if you are aiming to gather as many followers as Kim Kardashian has unsubtle endorsement deals.

1. Any band, musician or celebrity that makes a sane person cringe at just the mere mention of their name. Examples? Think One Direction, Justin Bieber or any flavour-of-the-month reality television star.
2. LOLcats.
3. Political retweets. For some reason, there are several Twits – who aren’t actually political journalists or commentators of note – who have accumulated thousands of followers because they apparently have the unique ability to press the retweet button. Just like 377,503,201 other Twitter users. Want to boost your numbers overnight? Just retweet everything @JuliaGillard and @BarackObama release into the Twitterverse.

* Author’s note: I looked at about seven random profiles. Hey, I was busy.

Yes, I’m kind of embarrassed about including a LOLcat animation. What the hell have I become? Source: lolcats.com

4. Is it okay to abbreviate words and essentially make up my own language in order to keep under the 140-character limit?

No, it is FKN not K 2 make wrds up & abbrv shit so U can make ur own version of War & Peace fit into 140 chrctrs. Poor form, a-hole.

Basically, if you can’t say it in 140 characters, find another way to say it. Better yet, if you are Alan Jones or Cory Barnardi, just don’t say it at all.

I lost followers for tweeting this, yet the Twit who shares a photo of their cat with its head in a jar will gain at least 407. Source: Twitter via @LyndonKeane.

5. How many hashtags I should use per tweet?

The only thing worse than being a Twitter whore is people calling you a hashtag whore. How you use hashtags speaks volumes about you as a Twit and you don’t want to get a reputation as someone who flashes their hashtags around for the world to see, especially after a few drinks.

Generally speaking, two hashtags per tweet is perfectly acceptable. 22 is neither acceptable nor healthy.

Now that your embarrassing questions have been answered, you have no legitimate excuse for making a fool of yourself on Twitter. That said, I have no doubt you will.

Ridic-tionary dilemmas: why laughter and vagina glitter prove society is screwed

with 5 comments

I’m sorry, but I’m not lolz-ing.

The Oxford University Press announced the latest inclusions to Oxford Dictionaries Online this week, some of which defy logic.

I used to enjoy perusing the quarterly updates of “current English” but now, the three-monthly read leaves me with a numbness in my special place and a strong desire to stick my head into an oven.

How the hell does formally acknowledging nonsensical words – or in the case of “mwahahaha”, a stupidity-inducing sound – as part of our lexicon make us a more evolved society?

If anything, recognising words like “douche” and “photobomb” demonstrates humanity is now officially catering to the lowest common denominator.

It’s almost as if we’ve waved the white flag and submitted to an army of faceless, iPod-toting, monosyllabic overlords who communicate with grunts , fist bumps and group hugs.

In a nutshell, it’s fucking ridic.

There was a time when people would consult a dictionary to become smarter. Source: flcenterlitarts.wordpress.com

If an alien race was to attack the earth tomorrow – which would be a pretty douchey thing to do – the first laser-wielding ET wannabes to hear us communicate could be forgiven for assuming the zombies had already eaten our brains.

When I discussed the list of latest inclusions with a friend, they played the “our language is dynamic and ever-evolving” card.

Until they reached the word on the list that pays homage to genitals that resemble rhinestone-emblazoned disco jackets.

Ladies and gentlemen, could you please stand and put your hands together for “vajazzle”.

Mankind has not only conquered space, it has also made room in Oxford Dictionaries Online for a verb that means to “adorn the pubic area (of a woman) with crystals, glitter, or other decoration”.

I feel like I’ve woken up after sleeping for 20 years to find out Kim Kardashian is the president of the world.

Despite my friend being more than 1000 kilometres away and on the end of a scratchy mobile phone connection, I could pinpoint the exact moment when their eyes locked onto the word that describes genital crystals.

If you ever want to pull out a lay-down misere on somebody’s argument about how the current evolution of our language is a good thing, show them an Oxford University Press reference to pussy glitter.

While the vodka-loving boozehound in me approves of “dirty martini” getting recognition, the inclusion of “vote” – as in a specific reference to reality television – saddens me and reinforces my belief that humanity has pushed boldly past the point of being astronomically fucked.

It can’t be long now until Skynet becomes self-aware and the living dead commence their attack.

The moment you see “ROFLMAO” in a dictionary is the very instant you should descend into your Judgement Day bunker and wait for the language-destroying hoi polloi to succumb to our zombie masters.

For all those Twitter users who have a yearning to become one of my tweeps, clicking the button below will unleash the 140-character lunacy.

If they walk up the wall, we’ll place bets on them all

with 5 comments

It’s funny how the something we take for granted as an everyday part of Australian life is viewed by those unfamiliar with our lifestyle, but a friend’s reaction to the concept of camel racing – and betting on it – drove the reminder home last week.

“You’re going to race what?” she said with stunned confusion via Skype after I’d explained the concept of the Boulia Camel Races.

“So they’re like those feral camels you see in the desert and people actually ride them like horses?”

After I reiterated what the iconic event was all about and that there were also on-track bookmakers, she started laughing, shaking her head at the idea of wagering hard-earned money on the ships of the desert.

“Man, you Aussies will literally bet on anything,” she said with her thick New York accent.

Camels fly down the straight at Boulia Turf Club. Well, they’re going as fast as camels can. Source: travel.ninemsn.com.au

Her comments about Australians having a penchant for betting on anything that moved made me think, and after our conversation ended, I sat back and contemplated the gambling eccentricities of punters in this country.

That’s when it hit me.

We actually will bet on anything we can get odds on, including what are essentially feral pests.

It’s part of what makes Australia the unique country it is but when you consider what else we place wagers on, an annual punt on camel racing doesn’t even make the top three weirdest things to race and bet on.

I don’t know why, but Australians love to bet on pests.

In addition to camels, cane toad and cockroach racing round out the trifecta of animals-we-could-do-without that we’re happy to support with our wallets, as long as they’re racing and not invading our houses.

A cockroach gets its racing number before going head-to-head with a dozen other insects. Source: news.com.au

While the noxious cane toads are raced weekly in pubs from Cairns to Coolangatta, it’s the cockroaches that raise the eyebrows of most tourists when they witness them racing for the first time.

Perhaps the most iconic of all cockroach races in Australia is held every Australia Day in my old stomping ground of Brisbane, at the Story Bridge Hotel in Kangaroo Point.

According to a spokesman for the annual spectacle, the event “has had a long and distinguished history” that set the foundation for cockroach racing in Australia.

No, I’m not kidding.

I couldn’t make this up if I tried but it gets better: organisers fly in cockroaches for racing.

Yes, racing cockroaches apparently travel to compete, just like Black Caviar.

“We actually buy them [the cockroaches] and fly them up from Melbourne,” the spokesman said when I posed the question last week.

“It’s a huge event.”

If insects and feral animals aren’t your style, you can always bet on the lizard races in Eulo.

Feel like a seafood fix?

If so, crayfish racing may be your forte.

The first time I saw a crayfish race was on Magnetic Island in about 2004 and while the crustaceans are hardly the most enthralling

racers, they are certainly supported by spectators like they’re running in the Melbourne Cup.

Worse still, punters who decide to bet as well as splash out the $10 or $20 needed to purchase one of the ‘thoroughbreds’ act like they have just purchased Makybe Diva for $15,000.

The only difference is that, if your crayfish doesn’t perform well during the race, you can always commiserate eating with a little bit of garlic butter and a cold beer.

I spoke to my friend in New York again last night and after I rattled off the list of amphibians, insects and crustaceans Australians regularly bet on, she burst out laughing and said it proved her point.

“Do you guys just look at random animals and decide to catch them, race them and bet on them?” she queried.

Who said horses and greyhounds were the only animals you could bet on?

Australia’s love of a punt is evident in the crazy things we race and wager on but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

So, if you are betting on something ridiculous – including the proverbial flies on the wall – in Australia this weekend, take a moment to reflect on how unique what you are doing is as you put your betting slip into your wallet.

Caffeine, fast food and a lackadaisical mood: a blow-by-blow of a boring day

with 9 comments

Today’s The Dissemination of Thought piece is the result of an unusual combination of writer’s block, laziness and a simple yet incredibly amusing blog post I read last week. More specifically, it was this piece from Miranda Ryan of The Naked Envelope fame.

The concept is simple. It’s a blow-by-blow account of how she spent a day in her life. Nothing overly exciting happened to her on during the 24-hour period but it was fascinating to see how someone can make the seemingly mundane entertaining by just looking closely and taking notice of what goes on around them.

This is what happens when you mix three espressos and an energy drink before 9:00am…

I’ve decided to follow suit. I want to be able to sit back and reflect on how much time I actually waste in a normal day. Hopefully, you’ll find my minute-by-minute account of June 25, 2012 at least slightly engrossing.

Yes, I draw in my diary at news meetings when I should be paying attention.

6:21am – Open my eyes and try to figure out what day it is. When I determine it’s Monday, I contemplate staying in bed all day and wonder whether I’ll be missed in the newsroom.

6:22am – Ask myself why it’s so dark. Fumble aimlessly for my BlackBerry, check the time and realise it’s stupidly early. Throw aforementioned device back on the bedside table and curse my stupid body clock.

6:23am to 7:18am – I have no idea. I can only assume I drifted back to sleep or was abducted by aliens.

7:19am – Check BlackBerry again and die a little bit inside when it dawns on me that I’ve got less than 60 seconds before my alarm goes off.

7:34am to 7:45am – Mentally check off possible jobs I’d enjoy in lieu of being a journalist while having a shower. Hot shower tester is high on the list, as are professional bed warmer and drunken, disgruntled novelist. Notice I need to buy more body wash.

7:51am – Realise I had an 11-minute shower and consider the negative impact on the environment.

8:03am – Walk into the newsroom with my first latte of the day and loudly sing the first lines of ‘Peace Train’ after confirming I am alone.

8:06am – Stare at a blank page in my diary. Consider the benefits of being more organised. Reassure myself that organised people aren’t any happier than me and continue to drink my latte.

8:21am – Start writing a story about golf and stop to check Twitter.

8:28am – Close the internet browser and tell myself I have to avoid social media and get my work done. Pat myself on the back for being so assertive.

8:30am – Check Twitter on my BlackBerry. Quietly swear to myself about social networking and its addictive qualities.

8:31am – Notice my latte is gone. Think about writing a piece investigating the electronic heroin that is Twitter as I wait patiently for the espresso machine to provide me with another caffeine hit.

8:32am to 10:02am – This period of time is a little bit hazy because I forgot I was compiling a blow-by-blow account of my day. Judging by the number of empty cups in my bin, I had another latte. Judging by the random doodling in my diary, I wasn’t paying attention in the news meeting. Again.

10:31am to 11:06am – Interview a 12-year-old tennis player who is the number one seed in his club’s A grade competition. Watch him serve and feel ridiculously inadequate about my ability with a racquet.

11:19am to 12:48pm – Do boring journalist stuff. This includes checking emails, adding finishing touches to the doodle from the news meeting and contemplating what to have for lunch.

1:37pm – Send my final story for Tuesday’s paper to the sub-editor. Mentally fist pump the sky and refocus on what’s on the lunch menu.

1:39pm – Decide on something healthy for lunch.

1:44pm – Find myself placing my lunch order at Red Rooster.

2:03pm – Finish off the last of the chips and congratulate myself on a fantastic choice. Almost burst out laughing when reflecting on the fact I was contemplating a healthy option.

2:11pm to 2:28pm – Have a hot chocolate while sending witty text messages and wonder why there are so many boring people on Twitter.

2:31pm – Check my latest mobile phone bill.

2:34pm – Try to figure out how the hell it’s physically possible to send more than 5200 text messages during a one-month billing period. Send a text message to a friend asking them how many they send. Quietly thank the mobile phone gods that my plan includes unlimited SMS.

2:47pm to 5:03pm – Do a few interviews and complete the sports stories for Wednesday’s paper while scoffing Turkish delight and drinking another latte. Wish I bought more than one Turkish delight as I stare sadly at the empty wrapper on my desk.

5:04pm to 6:10pm – Forget once again that I am meant to be documenting every minute of my day.

6:16pm – Excitedly throw my leave application at the editor as I scurry from the building.

6:41pm to 7:03pm – Eat dinner and drink the best part of a bottle of red wine while contemplating the universe.

7:06pm – Decide opening another bottle of wine would be a poor option.

7:07pm – See no issue with having a beer in lieu of wine.

7:49pm – Put the three empty beer bottles on the coffee table beside me into the bin.

8:01pm to 8:39pm – Type up my hastily-scribbled notes and wonder who the hell will make it to 12:00pm without wanting to bang their head against a wall.

8:41pm to 8:43pm – Try to figure out why <i>The Dissemination of Thought</i> hasn’t had a new subscriber in more than a fortnight. Was about to blame WordPress for a technical glitch but then remember what I am actually blogging about.

8:44pm – Feel genuinely sorry for my subscribers.

8:49pm – Realise the intricate filing system on my laptop is nothing of the sort. Contemplate doing something about it but dismiss the notion as requiring too much effort.

9:16pm to 10:34pm – Listen to Blunderbuss for what feels like the sixth thousandth time. Wish I was Jack White.

10.37pm – Check my bank balance and wonder why they don’t advertise for ‘people who like being poor’ when seeking journalists. Make the executive decision not to go near eBay and bid on things I don’t need until I get paid.

10:45pm to 11:03pm – Have a shower while thinking about the awesome left-handed bass I want to buy on eBay.

11:05pm – Realise my excess water usage is probably destroying the planet.

11:09pm to 11:32pm – Bid on stuff I don’t need with money I don’t have on eBay. Judge an original Rubik’s Cube from the 80s – still in the original packaging – to be worth $40.

11:33pm – Decide $40 probably isn’t enough to win me the colourful little piece of nostalgia.

11:35pm – Grab another beer and ask myself why I’m bidding on a Rubik’s Cube. Secretly hope I get outbid in the closing stages of the auction.

11:41pm – Increase my maximum bid to $45.

11:44pm – Go to Google to try and figure out what a mint condition Rubik’s Cube from the 1980s is worth.

11:59pm – Post this piece and realise I’ve wasted a day. Look at the time and realise I’m tired beyond belief. Laugh manically when I remember I have Tuesday off, unlike many of my reader who will waste 10 minutes reading this post in its entirety.

So there you have it. A day – or what I can remember of it – in the life of me. If you haven’t abandoned reading mid-sentence or thrown your iPad against the wall in a fit of enraged boredom, follow me on Twitter or like the Facebook page. Hell, if you really liked the nonsensical gibberish that is The Dissemination of Thought, you can do both. Or send cash.

Five things I’ve learnt about Twitter: Observations of a fully-functional Twit

with 7 comments

I’ll admit it. I’m addicted to Twitter.

Since begrudgingly signing up six months ago with the intention of only using it for intelligent, professional purposes, my tweets have descended into random thoughts and occasional nonsensical ramblings.  Damn it. I’ve become one of them.

At any rate, let me share with you five things I’ve learnt about the 140-character marvel of social networking.

Source: socialmediatoday.com

1. A hashtag can never be too long  

Let’s face it. Hashtags are cool. They are the 21st century equivalent of a one-liner and there’s no message or thought they can’t convey effectively. However, unlike the one-liner, which is renowned for being easy to comprehend, the hashtag has developed into a beast of unfathomable proportions. Apparently, it’s okay to use a 122-character hashtag that takes people 17 minutes to decipher.

Got a question about accommodation at a New York hotel? Use a #howmuchisyourdeluxesuitefortwonightsincludingbreakfast hashtag.

Planning a big night out and want your followers to know about it? Whip out #iamgoingtogethammeredtonightanditsgoingtobefreakinepic and set the tone for 13 hours of drunken tweeting from the depths of clubbing hell.

Would it be inappropriate to create a #fivethingsivelearntabouttwitterthatidliketosharewithyoutoday hashtag when I post the link to this article on Twitter?

2. Sometimes 140 characters just isn’t enough

Okay, I’m going to say this slowly. The whole purpose of Twitter is to send short, succinct messages no longer than 140 characters in length.

If you need to include any reference that your tweet is the first in a series that make up a full message you are doing it wrong.

140 characters maximum. Got it? Source: Twitter via @LyndonKeane.

3. Twitter can make you feel like one of the popular people 

One of the big attractions of Twitter is that you can follow celebrities, sporting stars and people a hell of a lot more interesting than you are.

Unfortunately, one of the downsides of Twitter is that you can follow celebrities, sporting stars and people a hell of a lot more interesting that you are, and users go nuts replying to these people in the hope that Johnny Depp will respond to their message or Lady Gaga will give them a retweet to her 25 million followers.

I know it happens because I’ve been guilty of doing it myself. Ricky Gervais didn’t retweet something I found witty and Seth MacFarlane broke my heart when he didn’t find my concept for a new animated series amusing.

I thought this was amusing. Seth MacFarlane didn’t. That bastard better not steal my idea. Source: Twitter via @LyndonKeane.

4. People will tweet about anything

People, Twitter isn’t Facebook. Tweets are meant to be – as far as I’m concerned, at least – informative or entertaining. Telling the social networking universe you are late for your bus or eating an apple is neither informative nor entertaining.

Contemplating unleashing a tweet about how blue the sky is today? Please cancel your Twitter account. Right now.

Not happy with your latte? Go and get another one instead of tweeting about it. Source: globalberdy.com

5. Inane sentences to no one in particular are the norm

Twitter had provided a virtual worldwide audience to users. Unfortunately, a disproportionate number of the aforementioned users have decided that means they can tweet boring, obvious sentences to no one in particular.

The referees don’t agree with you. Source: Twitter via @BuzzRothfield.

If these people’s 140-character revelations were amusing it would be a different story, but they aren’t. They’re dull and generic. Actually, they kind of make me wish I’d never started using Twitter in the first place.

To the person who tweeted Did you see that? #wow: Who the hell were to talking to and what was the Twitterverse meant to notice? If you were referring to your nonsensical tweet, I saw it. We all did and are now stupider because of it.

The odds of the person who this is directed at actually reading it are $1081. Source: Twitter via @bazarazzi.

Now that I’ve enlightened you about my Twitducation and bagged the hell out of Twitter, I’m going to whore myself out to the masses and suggest you all follow me at @LyndonKeane. If you prefer the Facebook touch, The Dissemination of Thought Facebook page can be found here.

Five passengers to avoid in the sky: The idiot’s guide to in-flight sanity

with 23 comments

As I was booking a flight to Brisbane a few weeks ago, I started reminiscing about the hundreds of interesting unique batshit crazy individuals I’ve met during my travels over the years. Some of them have been disturbing, while others were intriguing and almost amusing in depraved way. Lamentably, the majority made life at 35,000 feet unbearable for everyone within nine rows.

In hindsight, these ‘travel terrors’ should have been easy to spot. They fell into five very distinct categories that anyone who has ever spent more than 17 minutes on an airplane could easily identify. Actually, life would be a lot simpler for travellers across the globe if airport security slapped bright identification stickers on the heads of these dipshits before they headed towards the boarding gate.

I sincerely hope this piece helps you pinpoint the people you should avoid at all costs in your travels.

Especially before you sit down beside them in seat 26B for a nine-hour flight.

Just because you’re about to be twelve kilometres above the ground doesn’t mean you won’t be surrounded by painful idiots. Source: biztravelguru.com

1. The Talker

This motor-mouthed traveller won’t shut up. Ever.

From the moment they stand behind you in the queue to board and comment about how slow the process is, to the heartbreaking instant you realise they’ve been allocated the seat beside you for the flight to Perth, this painful flyer won’t stop once to draw breath.

Even when it’s 10:48pm and you are pretending to sleep with the erroneous hope they’ll shut the hell up.

If you encounter a seasoned talker, they will monitor everything to look at in order to start pointless conversations. A glance at the in-flight entertainment guide will undoubtedly start a conversation about “young musicians these days” or why they believe a particular unknown movie didn’t deserve the four stars an unknown critic gave it.

I remember sitting beside a talker we’ll call Barry on a Qantas flight to Sydney about two years ago. Barry watched me flip through the complimentary magazine as the aircraft taxied to the runway. The moment I felt the front wheel lift off the tarmac, Barry launched into a spiel about how he flew every week and had read the magazine I had in my hand “at least a dozen times” that month. After he’d ensured I was painfully aware he was a flying veteran, he offered suggestions about which articles he thought I’d like.  That was the point I handed him the magazine and asked if he’d like to read it – in silence – for the remainder of the flight.

Ah, fun and games before reaching cruising altitude.

Tip to avoid them: Pretend to be asleep. If that doesn’t work, swallow a handful of Valium before take-off and enjoy a peaceful coma nap free from constant interruption.

2. The Screaming Child

This pint-sized traveller is more often than not accompanied by the Oblivious Parent or Ignorant Guardian and are angelic until they don’t get their own way. As soon as they hear the word no, they become possessed, shrieking miniature banshees.

The Screaming Child is easy to spot: they are small, loud and annoying.

Tip to avoid them: I’m told business class is generally free of manic munchkins, but upgrading on every flight you take is a costly solution. While frowned upon by society, the cheapest answer is to coat any Valium you have left over after going head-to-head with the Talker in sugar and tell the bellowing little one it’s a lolly. 

Author’s note: Yes, I’m probably going to hell for this tip, but at least I’ll be making the trip in blissful silence.

3. The Aviation Expert 

There is nothing this flyer doesn’t know about aircraft and avionics. While they have a basic grasp of advanced meteorology, their apparent speciality is what makes the big metal bird itself tick.

Want to know how the landing gears work? They will have the answer. Are you curious about the average cruising speed of a Boeing 737-800? The Aviation Expert has the facts and figures, and will take into account the headwind your aircraft is currently flying into when answering.

No one is certain whether this unique individual actually knows what they are talking about: they just use a hell of a lot of long, technical-sounding words and phrases. The fact the Aviation Expert answers an eleven-word question about flaps with an eight-minute diatribe puts most people off testing how knowledgeable this painful passenger actually is. One thing’s for sure: having one or two Aviation Experts on a flight does wonders for alcohol sales. 

Tip to avoid them: Tell this know-it-all you heard something making a disturbing rattling noise in the toilet. Once they go in to investigate, lock them in there for the duration of the flight with assistance from the relieved cabin crew.

Do you know what every button and switch in this cockpit does? If you ask the Aviation Expert, they do. Source: airbus.com

4. The Over-Packer

The fourth type of traveller to avoid has no concept of baggage limits. If an airlines allows passengers to have cabin bag that weighs no more than seven kilograms, you can bet your last dollar the Over-Packer will have one that tips the scales at ten or eleven kilos.

Dimensions are also not the forte of this notorious flyer. Allowed hand luggage no bigger than 48 centimetres x 34 centimetres x 23 centimetres on your flight? The Over-Packer will try to convince cabin crew their bag – which is the same size as a bar fridge – is “much smaller than it looks”.

If you board after this moron, expect to spend five minutes in the aisle with 73 other fuming passengers while the arrogant one with the capacity issues attempts to wedge their cabin bag, two laptop bags and handbag into the overhead locker.

“Yes, sir, I’m pretty sure they won’t all fit in the overhead locker.” Source: zaysmallman.blogspot.com

My most memorable encounter with an Over-Packer was on a Virgin Australia flight from Sydney to Townsville.

After taking my seat in 13A nice and early, I watched my fellow passengers move awkwardly down the aisle until a woman juggling what seemed like a hundred bags stopped at my row. Putting several of the bags on the vacant seats beside me so she could stuff them one by one into the overhead bin, I watched in amazement as she packed the biggest cabin bag I’ve ever seen, an oversized handbag, what I assume was a camera bag and enough shopping bags to start her own boutique into the previously vacant space above my head. Not surprisingly, the 18 or 19 passengers waiting behind her were less amazed than I was.

Tip to avoid them: Unfortunately, avoiding this person is nigh on impossible. The best you can hope for is that their taxi gets stuck in traffic and they don’t get to the airport until you are twelve kilometres above the ground and eating your in-flight meal. If they do manage to get on the airplane, there’s always the chance they will drop one of their five bags on their head as they try to stuff them into the overhead bins

5. The Drinker

For our last pest, the airplane is nothing more than an oddly-shaped bar that operates across time zones at 35,000 feet.

There’s a fair chance they will have spent two hours before the flight at the bar getting a buzz on, and their hand will whip upwards to summon a cabin crew member as soon as the fasten seatbelt sign goes off.

The airline drinks trolley: enough to make the Drinker put their tray table up and their seat in the upright position. Source: airliners.net

On a flight from Brisbane to Hobart in 2006, I encountered the Queen of the Drinkers. About an hour into the flight, I watched as a cabin crew member confiscated an empty bottle of Scotch from the paralytic passenger. A 700mL bottle. It’s amazing what a big handbag can hide. 20 minutes later, the same – although now furious – Virgin Australia employee grabbed another, albeit full, bottle of single malt out of the passenger’s drunken mitts while loudly advising that she wouldn’t be getting it back when we landed.

While I love a good single malt, it never struck me to carry two bottles of it on a relatively short flight in case I got thirsty.

Tip to avoid them: Like the Over-Packer, the Drinker is difficult to avoid once you are in the air. If they have been drinking for long enough, there’s a good chance they’ll pass out fall asleep after they scoll their second miniature bottle of red wine. If that doesn’t happen, my best advice is to concede defeat and drink with them until their drunken antics become tolerable.

Apologies, excuses and the verbal finger

with 8 comments

It’s funny how a seemingly innocuous action – or in some cases, actions – can compel one to do something they hadn’t planned on doing.

For me, the aforementioned actions were those of the rude, irritating woman who tried to cut in front of about seven people at the supermarket this afternoon.

I hadn’t planned on writing anything on my day off, but the behaviour of the woman – let’s call her the Bitch with the Handbasket – made me question at what stage people stopped apologising altogether.

When did ludicrous excuses replace sincere apologies as a response to fucking up?

I watched the Bitch with the Handbasket creep into my peripheral vision while I was waiting to be served in the express lane. I saw her eyeball the queue and stood stunned as she nonchalantly pushed in front of me and acted as though she’d been there the entire time.

After subtlety suggesting to her that she needed to move to the back of the line, I couldn’t believe her retort: “Huh? Oh, I didn’t see you there. Is there a line?”

What the hell? What part of my handbasket-carrying, six-foot-five frame didn’t you see? Did you fail to notice the half a dozen shoppers behind me who are now scowling at you?

As I asked myself what her problem was, it dawned on me that her excuses and ignorance were representative of the attitudes of many: we’ve become a society that accepts reasons why in lieu of apologies.

People seem to have forgotten how to apologise. In the rare instances where an apology is offered, it’s seldom genuine. Somehow, offering a feeble, disingenuous explanation has been deemed socially acceptable.

It’s got to stop.

In addition to the Bitch with the Handbasket, I’ve recently witnessed first-hand another example of society’s proclivity to throw out a thinly-veiled vindication instead of an apology.

Without going into specifics, the players in question were out of line and exercised poor judgement. Whether or not a private apology has been offered to the women involved is a matter for them. All I can comment on intelligently is that publicly, the only responses from the individuals at the centre of the allegations have been excuses. Lots of excuses. A few of them have even suggested that it’s me who needs to apologise for writing the story.

How hard is it to admit that you have erred?

I’ll admit it when I screw up. When I do make a mistake, it’s usually a big one. Like when I referred to the wrong team as last season’s premiers in a recent grand final preview. Oops. I could have made excuses, but what would have been the point? I made a mistake; it was as simple as that. The newspaper ran a correction and the earth continued to turn on its axis.

An excuse is not an apology. An apology conveys regret, remorse or sorrow, while an excuse tends to indicate the person blabbering it isn’t genuinely contrite. To me, an excuse is the verbal equivalent of giving someone the finger after you’ve wronged them.

If you’ve done something you regret, show some intestinal fortitude and admit you were wrong. If you aren’t remorseful for your actions you shouldn’t feel compelled to apologise, but please don’t offer up some idiotic excuse for doing whatever it was that you did. The best excuse in the world will never trump a simple, sincere acknowledgement that you screwed up.

Source: wba.theoffside.com

I’m not going to apologise for this post because even though you’re sorry for reading it, I don’t regret writing it. As for excuses, where would you like me to start?

————————————————–

If you spend way too much time supporting Mark Zuckerberg’s lifestyle, check out and like The Dissemination of Thought Facebook page.

In other relevant blogging news, I’ve entered The Dissemination of Thought in the Best Australian Blogs 2012 Competition which is run by Sydney Writers’ Centre.

I will provide more information about the competition over the next few days, but voting for the People’s Choice Award opens this Friday at 5:00pm. If you like this blog as much as I think hope pray you do, please visit the competition website and cast a vote for The Dissemination of Thought.

If you’re a Twit, you can track the progress of the Best Australian Blogs 2012 Competition by searching with the #bestblogs2012 hashtag, or you can follow Sydney Writers’ Centre (@SydneyWriters) for updates.  To follow yours truly on Twitter, click the button below.

The Dissemination (of Thought) Files: Mummy blog truths and Wonder Woman boots

with 2 comments

Today in The Dissemination (of Thought) Files, I interview Chrystalyn Hope, author of The Future of Hope.  We’re going to discuss Scorsese, her Lasso of Truth, and why she thinks her favourite mummy blog will convince me to have children.

————————————————–

Lyndon Keane (TDoT): Before we get stuck into the juicy questions, can you clarify something for me? What the hell’s a “Scor-Sagian”? I can’t figure out if it means you’re some freaky hybrid with the head of a scorpion and a horse-like body, or whether you just really like Scorsese films.

Chrystalyn Hope (TFoH): Man, that would be awesome.  I would shove Napoleon Dynamite’s liger on a blacklist if it were true.  Unfortunately, it is not.  I was actually born on the cusp between horoscope signs.  Most people don’t realise there is a transition period where both signs are present.  I only mention it because those people who are really into that stuff will be like, “Oh, damn, this blog has got to be interesting because she is straight fucked up!”

Maybe that is why I do love Scorsese.  Plus, he has awesome glasses.  So classy!

For those who have no idea what Chrystalyn is talking about, this is a liger. Source: bigdaikon.com

TDoT: On the subject of Scorsese, what’s your favourite of all his films and why? Have you ever stood in front of a mirror and asked who someone was talking to, a la Travis in Taxi Driver?

TFoH: You must like his glasses, too. Choosing a favourite is hard. I actually had to look him up on IMDb to make sure I had my shit straight. Obviously I don’t, seeing as you asked me about the one Scorsese movie I haven’t seen. I had to research the shit out of it, and you know I don’t have time to watch it now and give it a fair review.

The mirror scene reminds me of when I was little. I used to sit in front of the mirror and play out scenes from movies, books, fantasies, or whatever was in my pretty little head. Don’t be jealous! I can’t just go around sharing my awesomeness with anyone.

As far as my favourite movie of his goes, it would definitely be Gangs of New York. As a friend of mine once said, “History is written by the winners.” I love the nitty gritty and shitty of history. It is absolutely fascinating what people forget to teach you, don’t want to teach you and don’t want you to know. I love that Gangs of New York takes the history into those deep, dark corners. You are involved, not so much with the characters, but with the period and setting. Most people aren’t as enamoured with history as I am. Yes, I’m nerdy. Very nerdy in fact, if you are just catching on.

TDoT: In ” Glitter, Anuses, TMI, Versatile, Ninjas, Phenomenas, And Angelia Jolie’s Leg! AKA The Epic Awards”, you tell a story about trying to impress a guy by jumping onto a bed, only to ricochet off it and then off the wall; at what point did you realise there’s nothing sexy about someone wedged between a bed and the wall like a stranded, upturned turtle?

TFoH: Damn you, Lyndon!  I am a hard-headed and stubborn woman.  I was sure I could salvage the miss.  That is until, I went splat against the wall like a bug on the windscreen.  Unfortunately, an absence of inertia meant I slid down between the wall and the bed, thus becoming stuck.  And you are wrong.  The fact I was pulled out without any aches or major injuries was sexy enough.  Why, you ask?  Because that guy realised he was sleeping with the human version of Gumby.  Yes, that’s right.  Sexy little Gumby girl.

TDoT: You are a mother to four boys, which basically makes you Wonder Woman, sans the Lasso of Truth and the kick-ass red boots. What’s your take on the explosion in so-called “mummy blogs”? Am I correct in assuming that, as long as I’m a single guy with no children, I’ll never understand them?

TFoH: Hey now, don’t sell me short! I still have the Lasso of Truth, and it’s used constantly on the boys. I had it upgraded from gold to invisible, however. It helps me maintain the advantage since, at 5’4”, my children are rapidly outgrowing me.

Why would I get rid of the boots? They keep hubsy very satisfied. No, do not ask to see them; that’s what Google is for, you dirty perv.

Honestly, I do follow a few of the “mummy blogs”. Many of them are weekly disappointments that make me feel just as superhero as I did sans kids. They are the ones you’d never choose to read, let alone understand. With that said, in my book of great taste, there is only one shining star; I actually think you’d love it for being a mummy blog and somewhat understand it in all its glory. Rants from Mommyland is truly the epitome of greatness in the aforementioned genre. What other mummy blog could have a Christmas program called “Helping Hookers”? Between their language, sarcasm, child art fails and plain awesomeness, anyone would fall in love with them. Seriously, they’d almost make you want to have kids, Lyndon.

I have to assume Her Majesty's boots look like this. Source: superherosource.com

TDoT: You don’t know me at all, do you?  Did you say something about hookers?  As a tribute to the commercialised absurdity that is now Valentine’s Day, you dared me to write a piece about the worst dates I’ve ever been on. Now, it’s your turn. If you were to list your top ten, who would take the coveted number one spot?

TFoH: I’ll try to keep this answer from becoming its own post.  There was a guy who thought women’s suffrage was just a fantasy in my mind.  Now, I’m not a Feminazi, but I do believe it equality.  Plus, I’m very opinionated, strong-willed woman—

TDoT: You don’t say.

TFoH: Shut the hell up, Lyndon.  I have had numerous guys tell me I belonged “pregnant, barefoot and in the kitchen”.  I have also had guys think it was a great idea for me to be pregnant for the next umpteen years so they could have a “clan”, “basketball team” or “militia”.  Some thought I should wear dresses that covered me up and that I shouldn’t speak unless spoken to.  I felt kind of sorry for them when they met “Women’s Suffrage” face-to-face.  Well, face-to-fist.  Yes, my right hook has a name.

Luckily, I don’t have to worry about that shit anymore.  I’m glad I did wait it out and didn’t settle for less.  My right hook has been retired for a good minute, as have the backhanded slaps.  Now if I want to get a point across I just have to speak.  Or throw a loaf of bread.  But that’s only if he sings Tim McGraw, and it’s done playfully.

Author’s note: Chrystalyn didn’t read my question properly and actually gave me the full top 10, but to save you from reading until 2019, I’ve only included the biggest dumbass she’s dated in this post.  If you want to read about the other nine, ask her.

TDoT: If you could be a character from any piece of literature, who would you be?

TFoH: Oh, Jesus! Fuck! I didn’t actually mean I’d want to be Jesus. I’d fuck that one up. Badly. I’d be all, “Fuck you. Fuck you. Oh, and Judas, fuck you!”

Another author’s note: I dared her to use “fuck” four times in a sentence. In hindsight, it wasn’t my best work.

I apologise now, but I’m only human. Do you know how much I read? We have a mini library for us and the children, for heaven’s sake! We buy more books than we do clothes or toys. Some people have cats. Some people have trash. We hoard books—

TDoT: What’s the answer to the question?

TFoH: Well, what do you mean? I’m always a character while reading a book. I have been Alya from The Clan of the Cave Bear. I’ve been Ethan Frome. I have been both Narcissus and Goldmund in the book by Herman Hesse. I often reread books just so I can experience it from a new perspective. It’s a lot of fun to do every other chapter in character-rich tales. I suppose it could make me crazy, but loveable, right? I have also been you, Lyndon. Standing in your Underoos with the fridge door wide open, trying my hardest to figure out where that damned empty Coke can came from. How scary is that?

TDoT: What the fuck is an Underoo?  You openly admit to being, in your words, “a conspiracy theory nut”. Does that mean you wouldn’t be willing to remove the coat hanger-adorned tin foil hat for the rest of the interview? What’s your favourite conspiracy theory?

Some of our guests on The Dissemination (of Thought) Files are very special people... Source: digitalfox.com

TFoH: I think you’ve been staring into the mirror and talking to yourself for too long, Lyndon.  I haven’t been wearing my tin foil hat.  It interferes with my Wi-Fi signal.

I’m not good with all these very general “favourite” questions; you do love torturing me.  Conspiracy theory is like a science to me.  There is an art to finding the facts within the fiction, which is very much like how I find fiction in the stories the media assert as fact.  The difference between fact and fiction is perception.  One of my favourite conspiracy theory learning moments was when hubsy and I were talking about 9/11 and he asked me if I would rather blow up my own country’s buildings and people, causing thousands of casualties, or take no initiative and let the damage fall or blow naturally, causing the majority of a city to take a hit and potentially putting millions of lives at risk.

This is how we attempt to keep ourselves from being biased while researching all angles of a theory.

I’m not going to tell you what we think about the 9/11 theories, because it is a sensitive subject for everyone, even us.  As for a conspiracy theory I constantly find myself coming back to, it would be in regard to the Catholic Church and their libraries and archives.  What is in them?  What are they hiding?  If I ever had a chance to go and take a gander at what’s on those shelves, I’m sure I’d have a knowledgegasm*.  It would likely be my last day on Earth.  Not because of the Catholics themselves, but because I’d probably die from the intensity of the knowledgegasm.  Actually, just thinking about it gives me goosebumps and a schoolgirl grin.

* Author’s note: I’m pretty sure this isn’t a word.

————————————————–

If you’d like to take part in the experiment that is The Dissemination (of Thought) Files, send me an email regaling me with obscure – and amusing – facts about yourself. If you don’t, there’s a fair chance next week’s installment will see me interviewing either another voice in my head or a toaster.

The Dissemination (of Thought) Files: Did Thalia tap Toronto?

with 12 comments

Wow, the fourth installment of The Dissemination (of Thought) Files is already upon us. Today I’ll be speaking to Thalia, my Muse, about a missing sock, a sex tape that doesn’t exist and why she refuses to protect me from the questionable women I date.

————————————————–

Lyndon Keane (TDoT): Thanks for joining me on The Dissemination (of Thought) Files couch. I thought it would be great to get you out from behind the scenes and into the spotlight. You know, give my readers the opportunity to put a face to the Muse.

If I actually did have a couch to sit on for these interviews, it would look like this... Source: yours-truly-karolinka.blogspot.com

Thalia (funnily enough, she’ll just be referred to as Thalia): You forgot to interview someone, didn’t you.

TDoT: Forgot it probably the wrong word. I’d like to think I procrastinated past the point of no return.

Thalia: Yeah, you certainly procrastinated your way around that pool yesterday.

TDoT: Long time readers of The Dissemination of Thought will remember that you disappeared for an extended period last year without any explanation. You also took a bottle of 30-year-old single malt and a solitary sock. Now that you’ve decided to grace me with your presence once again, can you please tell me what the hell you wanted one sock for, and where is it now?

Thalia: Firstly, I didn’t steal your precious fucking Scotch. Don’t you remember that magical Saturday when you convinced yourself that you could scribe lyrics for Grammy-winning songs? I’m sure your neighbours vividly recall you standing in the shower with a glass of whisky, singing along to Oasis and The Smiths. You were having a drink every time you got stuck on a line, and you got stuck a lot.

As for the sock, I needed it for my trip. I had to hide something inside it.

TDoT: You had to what?

Thalia: What part didn’t you understand? I was carrying something I didn’t want airport security to find, so hiding it seemed like the best solution. As I was packing, I saw your sock on the floor. I decided to use it.

TDoT: Oh, great. My Muse is a mule.

Thalia: I’m not a mule, you feeble-minded twit. I was travelling alone, so I wanted to take something to ensure my creativity remained stimulated for the duration.

TDoT: Huh?

Thalia: A dildo, you imbecile. I hid my travel dildo in your sock.

TDoT: That’s just classy. You’d better keep the sock.

My poor, naive sock: it didn't stand a chance. Source: kateevangelistarandr.blogspot.com

Thalia: As if you can take the fucking moral high road.

TDoT: One of the phrases someone plugged into a search engine to find The Dissemination of Thought was “thalia sextaped”. Do you want to make any comment about that?

Thalia: Are you insinuating that I made a tawdry, D-grade porno? What would it be called, Mr I-Fucking-Think-I-Know-Everything? Thalia Taps Toronto?

TDoT: I’m not insinuating anything, but you were missing in action for a long time. By the way, that title of the movie you assure me doesn’t exist has an alliteratively salacious ring to it.

While we are on the subject of all things intimate, let’s discuss dating. I’ve been subjected to some appalling romantic dalliances, so many in fact, I was inspired to write a Valentine’s Day tribute to the 10 most intriguing psychopaths I’ve ever dated. Shouldn’t you have had a quiet word in my ear about these women before I agreed to go out with them? You could have at least warned me about The Super Cougar. As my Muse, don’t you have a duty of care to ensure my delicate, creative psyche isn’t exposed to anyone who wants to mount me within the first few hours of meeting?

Thalia: You do understand what a Muse is, don’t you? I’m here to inspire you and make sure your lazy ass puts pen to paper. I’m not some sort of mythical matchmaker sent to you to tap you on the shoulder every time you contemplate dating someone who’s emotionally unbalanced. That’s a freakin’ full-time job, and I’ve got commitments outside of musing hours.

TDoT: You are being incredibly difficult. I’m not sure where you think you need to be, but your attitude towards this interview sucks. How do you think the readers will feel when they realise you have no interest in providing witty, thought-provoking answers?

Thalia: How do you think your readers feel about you doing an interview with an entity that no one can see?

TDoT: Do you think they’ll notice?

Thalia: I imagine so. That family over there with the combined intellect of a box of crayons has been watching you for fifteen minutes, and they sure as hell know you’re talking to yourself. Your readers are way smarter than that, so I’d say the jig is up.

TDoT: We might leave it there then. Thalia, thanks for being here.

————————————————–

For week 5 of The Dissemination (of Thought) Files, I promise to interview someone interesting. And real.

If you aren’t already doing so, check out the TDoT Facebook page. I want to sincerely thank the 91 people who already like it, but let’s aim to hit 100 by the weekend.

While I’m thanking people, I’d like to express my gratitude to the lovely Erin and wonderful Korinda for putting up with my incessant nagging this afternoon. An edited version of “Espresso Etiquette 101: 6 Lessons in Coffee Shop Culture” featured as the “For what it’s worth” column in today’s Brisbane edition of mX, and the girls patiently sent me photographs of the paper without once telling me to go to hell. When I actually have a copy of the newspaper in my hands, I’ll scan the column and post it on the Facebook page.