Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rolling Over

I have never liked New Year's Eve much. This is mostly because I find it fairly meaningless. I've struggled to see a point to it ever since it dawned on me that the time at which we decide a new year has started is completely arbitrary, and we are therefore celebrating nothing. Also since it dawned on me that I don't get invited to parties and everyone on earth is having more fun than me even when it's NOT New Year's Eve, let alone when it is.

So my dislike of the occasion really comes down to irritation at others making a big deal over something I'm basically indifferent to.

Or to boil it down: in this, as in all other things, people give me the pip.

But no matter how rationally you assess the emptiness of New Year's, you are human and the mindset seeps in: this is the end of something, and the beginning of something else. Draw a line under the last 365 days, we have a new batch for you.

But...that's worse.

Because I'm someone who has always found himself being borne ceaselessly into the past. I obsess over past disappointments, fret over past mistakes, analyse past events, and wish myself back in time, either to right wrongs, or to enjoy better times. I can't escape the past: a memory with a peculiar gift for keeping the most minor events and throwaway comments accessible in my brain has caused me to be constantly poring over what has been even as I look forward to what will be.

It's not all bad - a keen awareness of where you've been gives a good sense of perspective, provides a foundation for your life.

But it also tugs at you, bites and tears with regret.

And at New Year, the celebration of the ticking over of the calendar just makes me look back at the year about to end, and suddenly I am crushed beneath the weight of the disasters, and the failings, and the regrets. The end of the year does nothing for me so much as make me hang my head in shame for the hash I've made of it.

So I just can't get myself in that celebratory mode. Festivities are not for me at the end of 2011. It's too awful what we've been through to get here.

But what's done is done. I can't change the past, as much as I'd like to. I can't make amends. I can't balance out the world. All I can do is apologise, and apologies seem all that's appropriate for me as we stare out into the seas of 2012.

So I'm sorry. I'm sorry I haven't been as good to you all as I could have been. I'm sorry to those who I've let down, my family, my friends, my readers. I'm sorry for the mistakes I've made, I'm sorry for the jobs I've stuffed up. I'm sorry for being a bad friend, a bad husband, a bad father, a bad brother, a bad son. I know I'm not always bad - I'm sorry for letting myself be bad when I know full well how not to be.

I'm sorry for being surly, and moody, and irritable, for not being as kind, or as companionable, or as amusing, as the man inside me screams at me to be. I'm sorry for letting down everyone who knows me, and for letting down everyone who might know me better if I hadn't failed.

I'm sorry for those I've upset: who I've saddened and angered with my thoughtlessness and stupidity. And I'm sorry that I have driven some away so completely they probably won't even read this. I hope they do - I want more than anything for them to know how sorry I am.

I'm sorry to you all for the ways I've wronged you, and with the deepest shame I admit I am sorry for the ways I'll wrong you in the future.

And maybe more than anything, I'm sorry to myself, for not living up to my own standards, for being too lazy, or too irritable, or too selfish, to be who I want to be. I'll try harder and harder, and I'll be sorry again for falling short I'm sure.

The world is a beautiful place, full of beautiful people, and I'd like for as many of those beautiful people as possible to feel that my existence in the world makes it just slightly better. But for all those moments when I fail in that, for all the times I've made someone's world a darker place, for all the times I've stumbled and forgotten my lines in this show...I'm so sorry.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

No, Virginia

We take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of BPWWOO:

Dear Editor,

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, if you see it on Ben Pobjie's blog, it's so. Please tell me the truth: is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O'Hanlon (deceased)


Your little friends are right (and what's the deal with you calling them "my little friends"? What are they, mice?). They have been affacted by the scepticism of a sceptical age, which is a good thing, because by being sceptical we learn to get a grip on reality and stop believing ludicrous bullshit like Santa Claus. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little - but yours is littler than most, judging by the fact you're eight years old and still haven't figured this out. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world around him. This is why he makes up idiotic fairytales to keep himself amused, like the one you continue to fall for.

No, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus. How dreary would the world be if there were no Santa Claus? Not very dreary at all. There is love and generosity and devotion: aren't these enough without conjuring up fat elves to convince ourselves that the world is more exciting than it really is? Seriously, if you need Santa Claus to make the world interesting, you are a very dull-minded and ungrateful child and you ought to be ashamed of yourself.

Not believe in Santa Claus! Yes, indeed you should not believe in Santa Claus. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, because fairies don't exist, moron. Neither does Santa - that's why you never see him. Duh!

Really, Virginia, you need to take a good hard look at yourself. Think about it for a second. Santa delivers presents to all the children of the world in a single night? You thought that was possible? Do you have even the slightest knowledge of basic physics? You realise the speeds Santa would have to travel at to do this? He would burst into flames! And with flying reindeer? Come on, Virginia, try to engage your brain here.

You think it's just a coincidence you always get much better presents than your poor friend with the unemployed dad? You think the poor kids must have been "naughty" every year? And how did you think Santa knew who was naughty or nice anyway? He's been spying on every kid in the world? That didn't creep you out even a little bit, this old man peering at you all the time? I bet your Papa wouldn't be too happy to see "Santa" looking through your bedroom window of a night, or asking you if you'd been naughty. I don't think Papa would like that at ALL. Luckily, Papa knows there's no Santa Claus, because he's not a cretin.

So in summary, Virginia, you believed that an old man lives at the North Pole (!) with a bunch of elves - a species that has not been observed ANYwhere on the planet throughout recorded history - and some magic reindeer, and that this old man is capable of making all the toys and synthesising all the commercially-packaged consumer goods that the children of the western world receive each Christmas, and delivering them to EVERY SINGLE ONE in a single night, once a year. Except for the naughty ones, because he's able to determine their behaviour by keeping tabs on all of them 24/7 throughout the previous 12 months. This is what you believed.

Are you fucking retarded, Virginia?

Wake up to yourself, Virginia. And while you're at it, wake up to your parents, who have been shamelessly lying to you your entire life. Lying and deceiving and laughing about it behind your back, mocking your ignorance and lack of critical thinking skills. The world is full of monsters, Virginia, but are not your parents perhaps the worst of these?

A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, Santa Claus will continue to make glad the heart of childhood. Because parents are lying scum and kids like you are irretrievably stupid.

Grow up, Virginia. Stop being such a halfwit, and maybe your "little friends" will stop beating you up. There is no Santa Claus, Virginia, and it's obvious to anyone with half a goddamn brain. Jesus Christ.

Never write to me again.

Friday, December 9, 2011


ARIES: There's someone behind you. He has a kind face, but he also has a shotgun. So your call, really.

TAURUS: A financial transaction brings you great joy. Like mayb you buy some donuts or something. The joy won't last very long because later in the day you'll find out you have crabs.

GEMINI: You will watch Little Shop of Horrors five times today, and you STILL won't know all the words to "Skid Row". Idiot.

CANCER: The crabs thing would have been funnier if it had been you, but that's astrology for you. All that will happen to you is you'll buy a fauly exercise bike but deep down you'll be glad because you didn't want to have to exercise.

LEO: It is time to sort some things out in your life. Return those damn pants for god's sake.

VIRGO: Sadness is a big part of your life this week, but so is happiness. Also anger, regret, fear and hunger. All the emotions really. And probably you'll go somewhere, have lunch etc. Nothing is going to happen is what I'm trying to say.

LIBRA: Family issues come to the fore this week when your grandmother attacks you with a drill. Time for some tough decisions?

SCORPIO: Someone stole your mirco machine men. Don't know who it was, he had a hood on. He was wearing brown sneakers.

SAGITTARIUS: It seems everywhere you go you are surrounded by betrayal and suspicion. What do the voices in your head tell you to do? If I were you, I'd do it. Go on. I totes dare you.

CAPRICORN: Your faith in God will be severely tested this week when Jesus returns to walk the earth and he backs his car into your shopping trolley. A long and expensive court battle later, and you will be down a hundred thousand dollars and carrying on a secret sexual affair with Jesus. How did things get so messed up? It all started when you were five and you lied about pushing the babysitter down the stairs. Food for thought I'd say.

AQUARIUS: You will be devoured by ants. There's no easy way to say it. Sorry.

PISCES: Go to Bunnings and ask for "Reg". He'll show you where the bags of sand are. Choose the middle bag in the second row. Take it home. Fill your sandpit. Dig through the sand until you find the amulet. Swallow the amulet. Tell nobody. If you do, your whole family dies. Later that night you should kill your family. Wait for my instructions.

Friday, December 2, 2011

This Is Extremely Heartfelt

My dear fellow Australians, I have something I would like to say to you all.

It has come to my attention during the course of the same-sex marriage debate at the Labor National Conference that there are people out there, real people, with real feelings, who are being terribly distressed by some of the things being said in this debate.

And so, as someone who has in the past spoken up to voice my own opinions on the subject, I would like to apologise.

I am sorry that, through my support for same-sex marriage, I have, however inadvertently, hurt the feelings of those who think it is a bad idea. I apologise for the pain and suffering felt by anyone who found themselves upset or saddened by my disagreement with their own views. I particularly apologise to anyone who has found my - in retrospect, somewhat excessive - focus on concepts of fairness and equality to be at odds with their own principles to an offensive degree. I fully recognise and respect their opposition to fairness and equality, and accept that it was insensitive and wrong of me to vilify them for it.

I apologise for my persistent homophobia-phobia, and I assure those who are concerned about my relentless attacks on homophobes that I have turned a corner in my life, and with the help of my family, my faith, and my sponsor, I believe I can leave that aspect of my personality behind me. I am deeply and sincerely sorry if anything I have said and done in the past has offended any homophobe, and I regret enormously any disrespect I may have shown for their chosen lifestyle.

To those who are opposed to gay rights due to their extreme and/or insane religious beliefs, I apologise for my previous campaign of religious harassment and vilification. It was by no means my intention to suggest that your idiotic dogma was in any way inferior to anyone else's beliefs or philosophy, and I apologise if that impression was conveyed. I deeply regret any hurt or inconvenience caused to members of the religious lunatic community by my suggestion that their beliefs are not the only valid beliefs in existence, or any inference drawn that the government should not be run solely for the satisfaction of religious minorities. I cannot fully express in words how sorry I am that I may have hurt the feelings of anyone through my pig-headed insistence on not agreeing with them.

I am truly sincere in all this, but I feel I need to go further. The time is now for making amends for the unfortunate past.

And with this in mind I would like to apologise for the time in my teenage years when I engaged in a certain amount of physical contact and mouth-to-mouth affectionising with a young lady of Asian extraction. It was an action undertaken in the recklessness of youth, but I realise now that there may have been racists in the vicinity who may have been made to feel uncomfortable by the sight of my lip-locking with exotic females. With the wisdom of years I see now just how nauseated members of the bigot community are by the idea of the co-mingling of different races, and I am regretful that my impulsive actions may have contributed to any feelings of unease or offence that they might have felt.

I also apologise for calling these bigots bigots in the previous paragraph.

Furthermore, I have become aware that in the past on matters of race, I may have come down with a certain heavy-handedness on the side of equality and anti-discrimination. I recognise now that there are good, decent, honest Australians who wish only to live their lives free to detest and discriminate against those of other races without fear of harassment, and I apologise for making their lives just that little bit harder with my petty and ill-thought-out anti-racist attitudes.

I would also like to apologise to anyone who feels distressed or offended by my own marriage, and in particular my past insistence on allowing my wife to choose her own outfits, drive a car, and speak to adult males outside her own family. It is only recently I realised how my lenient and tolerant attitude towards my wife must have upset and wounded those who would prefer that women be treated as the possessions of their husbands, and I feel great sorrow that I have been the cause of such upset.

Furthermore I would like to apologise to the wider misogynist community for any psychological or emotional harm that has come to them as a result of any previous statements on my part to the effect that women might be human beings. It was not my intent to in any way smear or slur misogynists, many of whom are proud Australians worthy of respect, and I abhor the thought that my respect for women may have the cause of anyone else's angst or personal growth - it was not my intention to disrespect the beliefs of anyone else, or to make anyone a better person: if I have done so I apologise.

In summary I would like offer a sincere and heartfelt apology to anyone who at any time has felt insulted by, attacked by, or in vague disagreement with anything I have ever said in the past. I am truly sorry for all of my statements throughout my life to the effect that anybody anywhere was wrong about anything, or that there are people who might on the balance of probabilities be stupid, insane, or nasty. It was not my intention, by saying what I think, to suggest or imply that what I think might in any way be correct, or that what anyone else thinks might in any way be incorrect, or to create the impression that any human being should at any time ever have to hear or read something they might not like very much. I can see now that my past actions have been in every respect an affront to basic human dignity, and I regret ever promulgating the idea that it is acceptable to label or describe fellow citizens in offensive ways based only on an accurate perception of reality.

For these and any other opinions I may have held that perpetuated the unacceptable oppression of my fellow human beings, I apologise without reservation. Thank you

(those of you who likewise wish to redress the injustices referred to in this statement can make a donation to the Association For the Assuaging of the Hurt Feelings of Bastards, or AFAHFB, c/o the Australian Christian Lobby)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas is Coming!

Given that Christmas is coming, as evidenced by the title of this blog post, it's time to think about where you want to direct your hard-earned money in order to best approximate your feelings of vague affection towards friends and family.

This Christmas, it might be a good idea to give your gift-giving a theme. A good theme is "Ben Pobjie". Why not give everyone you know a Pobjie-themed present?

For example, for your dad, who likes a laugh, get him Funny Buggers, a book of lines from great Australian stand-ups which includes me for some reason.

Of course, the problem is I don't get any money from you buying Funny Buggers, so for your mum, who likes a laugh but is also furiously political, buy Surveying the Wreckage, which is all by me and contains many hilarious political jokes to make you laugh, but also make you think and possibly make you cry if you're a bit weird.

And then there is your grandma, who likes a laugh but only if it's related to food in some way and has cartoons as well. You should buy her Superchef, which as far as I know Maggie Beer calls "the greatest thing ever I have seen ever in my whole life since I was born".

And what about little Jimmy, the boy who sleeps in your backyard? Would he enjoy Handy Latin Phrases or The Adventures of Guanacoman? Who cares - he can't read! Buy them for him and see him weep in gratitude!

So there you go - interesting and affordable ways to manage Christmas, spread some joy, and assist me in my own selfish goals - what more could you ask? An ideal work-life balance and some emotional stability? Can't help you there - I just write books!

Oh we do have fun.

So quick! To the bookstores! Let hilarity be your co-pilot!

Like this guy.