Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Benefits of Cowardice

The other day I wanted to die.

I didn't try to die, mind you, for two reasons: firstly because I am a coward; and secondly because I retained the ability to recognise that my death would affect people other than myself adversely.

But goodness I wanted to. To the point where I felt quite resentful of those people, whose wellbeing I felt responsible for - if it weren't for them my conscience would be much clearer if I could work up the courage to hasten my own demise. Which I probably couldn't, being a coward.

Killing yourself is, of course, illegal: one of those rare crimes that you only get punished for if you fail to commit it. The police can even arrest you if they think you might kill yourself. I found that out when it happened to me, the night they came to my house, threatened to pepper spray me, and took me to hospital in handcuffs.

I think about that night once or twice every day - it's a good way to bring myself back down to earth whenever I start to feel like I might not be a failure. I'm not sure there's any success I could achieve in life that would overwhelm the self-annihilation of that experience. It was a powerful sign of how badly I'd fucked up at life, and my capability for such monumental fuck-ups is something I carry with me, as a caution to not get too cocky.

Now there are people who will say to me, "You're not a failure, you're not a fuck-up, you're not a terrible person". But then they don't know me like I do, do they? It's my fundamental problem with taking advice on mental health from anyone - I know me better than you do, and if I tell you that my depression is, essentially, no more than I deserve, shouldn't I be trusted? You can tell me that my depression is an illness, but I might tell you that it's a perfectly reasonable response to the fact of my own existence, and I've got a lot of fieldwork on my side. And I know this, and I know that no matter how many times someone tells me otherwise, I'll have that knowledge in the back of my mind, and nobody can help me with that; nobody can take that away; and nobody can fully understand it, because nobody can ever fully understand what's going on inside another person. I, like everyone else, am alone.

This is what I have been trying to express: depression is loneliness. Utter, utter loneliness. And if I tweet about it, Facebook post about it, or blog about it, it's all an attempt to find some relief from that loneliness. Which can be found - comfort from other people, affirmations and sympathies help. But not for long. That stuff fades, because you know the only person who knows the whole truth about yourself is you. And you know that when words of comfort have been forgotten, you'll be left to keep company with yourself, and the words of hatred that you keep inside you and that are the only permanent thing you've got.

It's the loneliness that eats you away: not lonely because nobody cares, but lonely because nobody can help, and lonely because you know, deep down, that you don't deserve any help anyway. And lonely because you know that those times you don't feel lonely are just preludes to more loneliness.

And most of all lonely because this flaw, this production error, this mistake in manufacture that crept in when you were made, has done nothing but cause trouble and sadness to the people you care about, and because they'd be better off without you, but if you left you'd just be causing more trouble and sadness. And you can't be fixed, so you can look forward to spreading more trouble and sadness around for many years, until finally, you slink off and die. And as you lived alone, alone you will die.

I am not the only person to think the world would be better off without me in it. There are many of us. And though our friends will deny it, some of us right. And some of us are wrong. Some of us live in unremitting agony, unable to ever shake the obsessive conviction. And some of us swing back and forth, believing in a lighter world with a rightful place for us in it, until inevitably remembering the handcuffs and the slow shuffle out the door as the children watched. Some us are trapped, and after searching their prison desperately for false walls and hidden doors, take the only reasonable way out.

And some of us find ourselves thankful that we are cowards.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Remember this? It was very popular, and had a very positive effect on society: in fact more than one man has approached me in public to thank me for my advice and tell me that it was my blog that was helping him to not rape people in almost all normal social situations.

But look: recent developments have shown me that rape isn't the only problem plaguing today's safety-conscious young gentleman: the sad lack of impulse-control that we boys carry as the curse of our birth causes all kinds of problems, many of them not even tangentially rape-related. And so it is that I think now is a good time to offer an extension to my earlier lesson, and hereby present:


1. If you see a person, don't set them on fire.

2. If you have a lighter or a box of matches, or find one on the floor or stuck between your couch cushions, don't use it to set a person on fire.

3. If you have hired a person to provide entertainment for you and/or your friends, don't set them on fire.

4. If you are sitting around at a loose end and you think, "I reckon a good idea would be to set someone on fire", don't.

5. If you are a professional footballer looking to relax after a long hard season, and go out for a few drinks and some fun with your teammates, try to remember the golden rule of fun: setting fire to people is not an example of it. If you need to, make a note of it in the "notes" application on your smartphone, or write it in texta on your arm. Some people like to get tattoos on their hands or stomach reading, "IT IS NOT FUN TO SET FIRE TO PEOPLE", but it doesn't always require such extreme measures - whatever works for you is the method you should go with. The main thing is that, at any given time, if someone asks you, "Do you think you would enjoy setting fire to a person?" you are able to clearly and confidently say, "No I do not. That would be stupid."

6. If a person asks you to please set them on fire, even if they ask very politely, say, "No thank you".

7. If you see a person, still don't set them on fire.

There you go! Easy, isn't it? I'm sure you'll be not setting people on fire in no time, with a bit of determination and study. Happy not-fire-setting everyone!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Stop Crying, Stupid

Sometimes my children cry, because that is what children do, right? They're little, they get over-wrought, and they react to stressful situations to bursting into tears.

A lot of the time, we as parents are fine with that, because a lot of the time a kid has good reason to cry. If they've fallen down and skinned their knee; if another kid's been teasing them; hell, even if they just dropped their ice cream over the fence of the giraffe enclosure; we get it, and it's natural for a child to cry in those situations. These are upsetting and painful occurrences and tears should feel entitled to flow.

But look. There are times when a kid's reason to cry is, frankly, fucking idiotic. Like crying because you want to hold Mum's left hand, not her right hand. Crying because your sister got to flick the light switch and you didn't. Crying because your juice is in the wrong one out of two identical Dora the Explorer cups.

And at these times, we as parents do not offer comfort and solace. What we offer is, "Stop crying. That is a stupid thing to cry about."

And we do this because we do not want our children to grow up thinking it's OK to fly into hysterics over things that just do not fucking matter.

I feel quite comfortable with this approach to parenting - not surprising, given I have long been aware that I am a flawless parent. So it's always distressing to see someone who grew up without anyone to step in at the appropriate moment and say, "Look, shut up. You are making a big fuss about NOTHING and you sound like a moron."

And so we get people who go out into the world and flounce about performing the grown-up equivalent of crying because you're holding Mum's left hand. Like, for example, writing an article about how hard it is looking younger than you really are.

Hey, I'm sure it's annoying looking really young, but then I'm sure it's annoying when your twin gets to hold Mum's right hand. But there's such a thing as a proportional response. In this case the proportional response would be to maybe say, in a soft, almost inaudible voice, "I wish I didn't look so young", maybe once every five years or so. The UN-proportional response, the response that is roughly parallel to cluster-bombing illegally parked motor scooters, is to write an angst-ridden op-ed about the subject, featuring actual quotes from an actual psychologist: a psychologist, by the way, who I'm fairly sure has violated several major professional codes of conduct by responding to the author's inquiries without ever using the phrase, "Pull your head out of your arse, princess".

Read that article. Feel the waves of pain radiating off your screen as you hear of how a colleague thought she was too young to get married! Wipe away a tear at the heart-rending story of the beautician who thought she was 18! But before you do, let me put in a quick trigger warning: this article contains graphic descriptions of a young woman being asked for ID, and frank discussions of being called "kiddo".

The similarities between this and the film Precious, based on the novel Push by Sapphire, are uncanny: it's so true that cruelty and disadvantage have many faces.

It's when the aforementioned psychologist, Meredith Fuller, gets involved that the piece really fires its afterburners and turbo-boosts itself straight through the tunnel of self-indulgence and out into the wide, dusty plains of West Stop It You'll Go Blindville.

"This is a serious issue, it’s not silly at all," Fuller lies. The distance between "People think I'm young" and anything that could be realistically called "a serious issue" is the distance between Pol Pot and Mr Squiggle. Meredith you are not doing her any favours by telling her it's a serious issue: sometimes people NEED to be told to shut up.

"Everyone has the right to project the true sense of who they are," Fuller continues, as if this article is about a gay man forced into an unhappy marriage to avoid being beaten to death by local hillbillies, rather than a young woman forced to endure the agony of people saying, "Wow I thought you were younger". It's also terrible advice: no way does this author want to project the true sense of who she is: projecting :"crybaby" so publicly can only hinder her career.
‘‘The most important thing is that you are being heard,’’ Fuller says. ‘‘People should know that by saying, ‘Oh, you lucky thing,’ they’re not listening to you, they aren’t being respectful, they’re actually only trivialising your real concerns.’’ 
Oh God. Meredith. Nobody is trivialising her real concerns: she doesn't have any real concerns. She might as well be complaining that the homeless people keep making her feel guilty about her chauffeur. She's concocted these "concerns" exactly the same way my kids invent stupid reasons to bawl their eyes out. Her only real concern is that one day she might meet someone who tells her the truth about herself. Shame it couldn't be you, Meredith.

Of course the story has a happy ending as our heroine resolves to "walk taller, conduct myself with professionalism and be confident in my aptitude". Whew! It was touch and go, but looks like she's managed to overcome her adversity. It's inspirational to be sure, and we can all learn a lot from this latter-day Helen Keller, who didn't let the devastating handicap of youthful looks stand in the way of her dream of bitching about it.

I don't just want you to shut up: I want you to grow up. You and everyone else who thinks that every minor inconvenience that crosses their path is a licence to scream oppression to the whole world. You and everyone else who thinks that having a feeling is the same as having a point. Not all feelings are equal. Sometimes your feelings are ridiculous, and sometimes your opinions are stupid, and whining "But I reeeeally feeeeeeeeeel" doesn't make you sound any less of a git.

There are people with real problems in the world. There are people with moderate troubles in the world. There are even people with fairly insignificant but still momentarily distressing issues to deal with. But if you're a person who can't even find anything that difficult in your life to complain about, please, just thank your lucky stars that your life is so serenely charmed, and resist the temptation to email the editor of your favourite lifestyle website with a fantastic pitch for a personal story of woe and heartache.

What I'm saying is, you're a fully-grown human being with a functioning brain. Just take the left hand and dry your goddamn eyes, petal.

Monday, July 29, 2013

An Evening Of Unfettered Ben

Before shit gets real with the Melbourne Fringe Festival, hang out with me for an hour of frivolity and obscenity at the legendary Butterfly Club!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

It's On You Now

All right. The government has decided that if you try to claim asylum via a boat journey, you're not getting in. You'll end up living in Papua New Guinea, at best. The government has decided that this will stop the boats, and the government is telling us that this is necessary to save lives, because the most pressing need is to stop people drowning at sea. The government is clear that this has nothing to do with pandering to xenophobia, nothing to do with a lowest common denominator grab for votes, nothing to do with embracing the politics of fear. It is about saving lives. The government has a responsibility to stop people taking risky sea voyages, and so they've put in place a plan to stop them.

Very well. They can own that then.

Personally I never thought drownings at sea were the fault of the government. I never thought that any government in Australia had ever "lured" people onto leaky boats. I thought it was ridiculous to suppose that simply by maintaining the possibility that people with a legitimate claim to asylum could find assistance and refuge and a better life in Australia, our leaders were somehow tricking those silly foreigners into believing their journey across the sea would be safe. I thought that I was in no position to judge whether refugees from war-torn lands were right to risk their lives to improve their circumstances. I thought that asylum seekers were neither halfwitted morons unable to figure out the dangers of a sea journey in a rickety boat, nor mindless puppets reacting only to the string-pulling of Australia's government - pull this string, they come, pull that string, they stay. I thought that in a world of refugees, we cannot prevent people taking terrible risks to escape terrible situations: all we can do is our little bit to assist those who come to us seeking assistance. I thought it is not our place to lecture those who've seen terrors we can't fathom on whether the chance of death at sea is worth taking if it means getting away from those terrors, or if it means avoiding decades eking out a fearful, hopeless existence in a refugee camp, or if it means giving their children the chance of a future containing possibilities. I thought the government does not bear responsibilities for the tragedies caused by the sick and sorry state of the world - only the tragedies resulting from the treatment it metes out to those who beg it for help. I thought that accepting desperate people into our country and allowing them to become Australians was the noblest thing that our government does, and that the ones who came by boat were no more or less deserving than those arriving by other means.

I thought all these things.

The government thinks differently.

Well, fine.

But they should know, they can own that now.

I never believed the government bore responsibility for deaths at sea, but that's a responsibility they've taken on. Both major parties have stood up to willingly declare that the blood of asylum seekers who drown is on the hands of the Australian government.

Let them own it.

The PNG plan is said to be the way to prevent these drownings. The Opposition has their own tow-back, TPV plan, that they say will prevent these drownings. If this is the way they wish it to be, if this is the priority they wish to adopt, if this is the function they see as proper for the Australian government, then this is the standard by which they will be judged.

Because if Labor puts the PNG plan in place, or if the Coalition implements their own Howard redux policy, they'll have achieved their goal. They'll have done what they claim is necessary to stop deaths at sea.

And that means every death at sea from that point on is on them.

And we've got to hold them to this. If asylum seekers drown on their way to Australia, after the government declares that drownings are its responsibility and its policy the proper reaction to them, then with each death our politicians will stand judged as murderers - not by our judgment, but by their own. And it'll be up to us to remind them of that.

It's on you now, noble leaders. You want responsibility for their deaths, you got it. We'll hold you responsible, and see if you are so eager to hang yourselves when you've got no excuses.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Tarsiers on Crack

This is a blog post about tarsiers on crack, because I asked Twitter what my next blog post should be about, and one of my Twitter followers is really quick to respond and also doesn't like me very much, so now I'm writing about tarsiers on crack.

Here is a tarsier:

Is this tarsier on crack? I say yes, but then that may be because I believe in racial profiling. The real question is, is THIS tarsier on crack?

Again, MY answer is yes, but what is YOUR answer?
Here is a tarsier who is probably not on crack:

And here is her brother, who is:

So what have we learnt today? We have learnt that tarsiers are drug users and will probably steal from you, so don't make eye contact with them. We have also learnt that it is very hard to not make eye contact with a tarsier because their eyes are just everywhere. We have learnt that people who suggest blog topics on Twitter generally do so out of nothing else but a basic desire to make the blogger's life more difficult, and we have learnt that I won't ever do this again. Now take our quiz:


1. Are you a tarsier?

a) yes
b) YES
c) What?
d) yes

2. Have you ever been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints?

a) Suck it, beeyotch.
b) Somewhere in the middle.
c) Omaha
d) I was born this way

3. How long is your tail?

a) Eighteen miles
b) Eighteen kilometres
c) Eighteen feet
d) Six hours

4. What is "crack"?

a) I'm not talking, piggy.
b) One of the drugs that the people put in their holes
c) Amanda Peet
d) Omaha

5. How many fingers am I holding up?

a) Yours or someone else's?
b) Mandarin
c) Embolism
d) three-quarters

If you answered mostly As you are a tarsier on crack. If you didn't, you are a liar.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Seize The Defeat

So, an offensive menu was printed up for a Mal Brough fundraiser. And we are, naturally, in quite a flap about it.

And yes, fair enough. It was gross. It was sexist. It was nasty. It was a shitty joke, and it wasn't even original.

And look, I have no problem with anyone asserting that Mal Brough is a sleazebag. There's the whole James Ashby affair, and oh yeah, that little thing called the NT Intervention. Believe me, I need no convincing that Mal Brough is a first-class dickferret of the very highest purity.

But here's the thing about menugate, or quailgate, or big red boxgate or whatever bullshit it's being called:

Tony Abbott will still win.

It has been blindingly obvious for some time now that the Labor Party is going to go down in flames in September. And yet somehow, the True Believers keep seizing on moments like Brough's menu, claiming that this time,. THIS time, the Coalition's goose is truly cooked. The voters simply won't stand for such appalling misogyny, the True Believers squawk. Women won't be treated like this anymore, they scream. Now that the Liberals have shown their TRUE colours, Julia Gillard's dignity and toughness and determination will win the day and all will be well.

I am sorry, True Believers: all will not be well. And every time you say that THIS will be the straw that breaks the camel's back, a new batch of polls come out and show that the camel is doing a buck-and-wing all over Labor's expiring corpse.

The reason we keep going through this is that the True Believers, justifiably appalled as they are by Tony Abbott's appalling character, cannot conceive of any other explanation for Labor's subterranean popularity than that the electorate simply doesn't UNDERSTAND how bad the Opposition is. Once they do, the story goes, everything will turn around.

Once again, I am sorry to be the one to break it to you: they know. Everyone knows. They've all seen him, they've all heard him, they've all read about him. And they either don't care, or see what you think are character flaws as virtues.

When someone you hate does something you disapprove of, it's seductively easy to assume that this will cause everyone else to hate them too, because you've been hating them all along. It's seductively easy to assume that everyone else thinks the way you do, and the only reason they disagree with you is they don't have all the facts.

Sadly, sometimes people have all the facts and still think you're wrong.

Sadly, sometimes people are bastards, and they like it when other bastards are in charge.

Sadly, Tony Abbott is going to be prime minister, and whatever miracle it might take to prevent that is going to have to be a hell of a lot more volcanic than a shitty sexist joke on a menu of murky antecedents.

And given that fact, why should we keep on making excuses for Julia Gillard's hapless Washington Generals of a government?

The fact is, Gillard ain't all that. Her asylum seeker policy is brutality embraced in the name of expediency. She made a mess of the mining tax in her haste to cave to big business and get the issue off her desk. She is continuing our pal Brough's racist intervention. She gave a nice big smack to single parents the same day she electrified the world by bawling out Abbott in parliament. Her stance on marriage equality enrages pretty much all her staunchest supporters. And her government has done many good and admirable things, she is singularly bad at turning them to her advantage, which, whether it be the media's fault, or Kevin Rudd's, or Abbott's, is nonetheless a fact.

So why should we on the nominally "left" side of politics be as eager as we have been to gloss over all that?

Well obviously it's because, for all her faults, Gillard is better than Abbott. No doubt about that. Though Labor has done some stuff badly, the Coalition will be ten times worse, and we have to fall in behind Gillard to stop Abbott getting in at any cost. Wise words.

But the fact is, Abbott IS going to get in. So what's the point of being "better than Abbott" when you're not going to win anyway?

While Labor had a chance, it made sense to bend our energies to supporting them, to keep the Liberals at bay. But that's failed. The Liberals have stormed the parapet. The shields are down. Labor is dead in the water.

So trying to keep Abbott out is now a lost cause. And any attempt to downplay the failings of Labor in the interests of realpolitik is no longer a brave stab at bringing about the lesser of two evils, but rather an exercise in futility that simply continues the relentless lowering of standards in political discourse.

Consider: if you are backing "crappy" because it's better than "crappier", when "crappy" has no chance of winning, you're not staving off "crappier", you're just ensuring that "crappy" becomes the best we can ever hope for.

So why not stop standing up for "crappy"? Why not starting calling out bad behaviour, bad policy, bad government, no matter which party is engaging in it? The partisan battle is over, let's redirect our energies into demanding better from ALL sides of politics. Let's make it clear that we want to raise standards.

Most of all, let's rediscover our integrity and commit to standing up, in all circumstances, for what we really believe, for what we think is RIGHT, rather than desperately trying to rationalise support for better-than-Abbott.

And hey, we've got preferential voting. We'll be putting better-than-Abbott ahead of Abbott anyway. Don't worry, as long as better-than-Abbott has a lower number next to it on your ballot paper, you've discharged your responsibilities to the temple of low expectations.

But when we're out in the world, fighting and arguing and debating and lobbying and tweeting and blogging and emailing ministers, let's stop shouting our disapproval of "them" while we whisper our disapproval of "us". Let's make clear that right is right, and wrong is wrong, and while political realities obviously have always to be recognised, we're not going to support any politician who flat-out reverses the two.

Right now, my fellow travellers on the Lost Bus Of The Left, we are down. We're outnumbered and outgunned. But even at this moment we can be heard, and we can make clear what we want. Even with our worst enemy in the Lodge, we can articulate how we want this country to be better.

And when the worm turns and we find ourselves up and about again, we can make sure that those who would represent us know that we want them to fight for what's right, not just for what's slightly less wrong.

We're about to get beaten. But if we can stand up, we don't have to be broken as well.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The last seven days

This is just a quick update for you all on what I've been doing in the last week, so you can really sink your teeth into a whole bunch of me at once.

For example, if you want to read me in The Age on the subject of television, you can.

And if you want to read me in The Guardian on the subject of the Labor Party, you can. 

Or perhaps you'd like to check out my exclusive interview with Australia's Federal Racism Commissioner in the King's Tribune?  (and while you're there, subscribe FFS)

But maybe you'd rather read me on rugby union?

Or rugby league?

Probably you'll get the most satisfaction out of my piece on asbestos and how the government is using it to kill us, on New Matilda. (subscribe there too. Jesus)

Or you could just kick back and relax with my recap of the first episode of the new series of Masterchef.

Not that you need to, because my friend Dan Hall and I have covered all bases re: Masterchef's return in episode one of a brand new web series by GAMers Cam Smith and myself, MASTERCHAT. Check it out below, and stay tuned for next week's ep.

OK that's all for this week. There'll be some more stuff next week. Don't say that I never do anything for you people.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Kids today, am I right? You know what I’m talking about. If they’re not getting obese because of advertising, they’re becoming murderers because of video games. Youth is everywhere in crisis, but perhaps nowhere is this truer than in the realm of political activism.

Was there a time – perhaps back in the 1970s when hope for humanity still existed and people were actually engaged with the political realities that ruled their lives – when children knew how to protest properly? When they actually got organised with their strategy, rather than simply “winging it” whenever the prime minister hove into view?

I guess what I’m saying is that when the primary form of political engagement evident in our children is throwing sandwiches at Julia Gillard, it is an indictment on us all and our failure to educate them properly. Not least about the pressing issue of food waste: I mean, who throws away a perfectly good salami sandwich? There are children in the third world who would be grateful for that salami sandwich. You won’t see kids in Somalia throwing sandwiches at their political leaders, for two very good reasons: a) they know the value of a good piece of salami; and b) they know the value of a good rock.

There’s the key, kids: rocks. What’s wrong with throwing a rock? That’s how we used to do it in the old days. When I was a lad my friends and I thought nothing of heading down to Macquarie Street to sling a few hefty pebbles at Nick Greiner, and it was the best fun you could imagine having. And Nick took it in a good spirit too: he understood we were passionate young citizens expressing our democratic right to hurl projectiles at others, and he respected that.

How will Julia Gillard ever respect a kid who throws a sandwich at her? Let’s face it, she now knows that salami kid is no threat. She probably went home and laughed her head off with Tim about it. “Fools!” she cried. “Is this all they send against me? Sandwiches? Our victory is assured!” To a very real extent, that salami-tosser has entrenched even further the oppression of the Gillard junta. Thanks a lot, kid.

I mean, look, I get it. I get why maybe rocks seem a bit “old school”, a bit “square”, a bit “up your nose with a rubber hose”. I understand how the youthful mind ticks. And I also understand that schoolchildren can’t always get access to the sort of weapons that adults might substitute for rocks.

But surely there are ways, within the field of food-throwing, to make a bit more of a statement than just flipping a sandwich. Aren’t we supposed to be living in a multicultural society? Aren’t kids these days supposed to love watching Masterchef and My Kitchen Rules and Man Vs Food and all those exciting culinary programs? Then why would a young lad with a thirst for throwing go with something as dull and mundane as a sandwich, even if it was one made with salami, the prince of meats?

Think how much more impressive the stunt would have been if he had thrown a vegetarian casserole at Gillard: not to mention the potential for burns. Or consider how a well-constructed croquembouche would not only have done serious damage to the prime minister’s self esteem, but would have made the point about the limits of parliamentary democracy in a much subtler and more ultimately effective way. Or imagine someone throwing a suckling pig at Gillard. Just imagine it. Wouldn’t it be hilarious?

Perhaps blame needs to be directed at the parents. What sort of mother or father, upon learning that their child will be in the presence of the prime minister, sends them off with a mere sandwich in the lunch box, instead of some kind of terrine or self-saucing pudding? Parental dereliction, is what it is. No wonder when the prime minister herself is…you know.

Maybe I’m being harsh here: after all the kids have been throwing stuff, and that’s a definite positive. Whether we think a sandwich is the ideal missile or not, we can at least all agree that a prime minister having things thrown at her is better than a prime minister smugly going about her business with no fear whatsoever of catching a splat in the chops. So yeah, let’s applaud these kids for having a go in the old Aussie way, and encourage them to pursue their dreams, while steering them in the right direction. Suggest they head to a Q&A taping and throw a shoe. Go to a football game and throw a frozen chicken. Go to the movies and pelt the screen with Fantales. Then as they grow older, our children will learn to branch out into more innovative and dangerous ways to assault public figures.

It’s so true, as the ancient Athenians knew only too well, that a functioning democracy requires a robust opposition, an independent public service, and a large number of children throwing stuff. If we lose that, we lose a most important check on the unfettered growth of executive power. So it’s time for all of us to do our bit to safeguard our institutions. Next time you see your son or daughter heading out the door with a sandwich, stop them, smile and say, “Wouldn’t you rather take this?”

Whether, in that moment, you choose to offer them a ripe tomato, or a live grenade, or an ill-tempered puppy, is up to you. The important thing is they’ll be on their way to the development of all-new ways to attack prime ministers, and when you do that, you’ll have helped maintain our democratic traditions as much as anyone.

Just remember, throwing a thing at Julia Gillard doesn’t start with the arm: it starts with the mind. Now get out there and chuck, kids!

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Is there anything more unattractive than a sad person?

Probably. When I was in high school I thought I might be more attractive if I was sad. It turns out I wasn't. But then I saw another guy who was really sad, and the girls seemed to eat that up. So the lesson learned was that sad people are really unattractive, when they were unattractive to start with, and sad people are pretty hot, when they're good-looking.

So I guess the real lesson learned was that there was no lesson learned.

I'm feeling pretty sad right now. "Why are you sad, Ben?" I hear you not ask, because seriously, you have your own lives to live. I often find myself thinking "nobody cares" but I think it with a sort of philosophical acceptance, because the fact that nobody cares is no reason to assume that anyone should. Sadness is a pretty first-world problem, I think. I'm writing a blog about it presumably because I crave attention and sympathy, but let us frankly admit that I don't deserve attention and sympathy. If you're giving me any, I've sort of conned you a little bit.

It's hard to say, when you're sad, whether it's sadness or depression. Saying you've got depression is dangerous, because it is a declaration that there is no good reason to be depressed. But there are lots of good reasons to be depressed. Read a newspaper. Or read a blog post about how soon you won't be able to read a newspaper. Or just think about your own life. See? Reasons galore.

I have plenty of reasons to be sad, ranging from the fact that the world is a huge horrible place full of death and injustice and misery, to the fact that I got unfriended on Facebook by someone I really like. So I'm running the gamut here, is what I'm saying.

But if I'm sad for genuine, real-world, external stimuli, then the obvious response is hey, count my blessins, cheer up, look on the bright side, come on, if you will, get happy. Sadness is not really a problem, per se, it's just an inconvenience, and half the time - or more - it's just me being melodramatic. Or, since you're probably just the same, it's YOU being melodramatic. So you know, snap out of it guys, stop being so much like me.

But if I'm sad because of the freaky chemicals in my head going weird for no reason, then that is depression, and it is an illness. Which means the solution is to go see a therapist and/or take my pills. So there's no call for me to go looking for that human touch, because I'm depressed, you see, and depression is a medical problem, so it needs to be treated, and it's really nobody's problem.

So if I'm sad, it's not really serious. And if I'm depressed, it's too serious for anyone to reasonably engage with.

So what I'm looking for is some kind of middle-ground between "count your blessings" and "take your pills", where the reaction is "let me tell you how much I love you, give you a hug, and come watch DVDs and eat cake with you".

Yeah, wanting people to hug you is a pretty first-world problem, but knowing that doesn't make hugs any less nice.

I guess what I'm saying is: being sad sucks and I don't know what to do about it besides write rubbish on the internet, but if you want to give someone a hug and buy some cake today, I say go for it.

Now here's a picture of baby tigers.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Time to get real

Yeah I'm talking to you, Mark Scott, managing director of the ABC. Because the news tells me that you're looking to the models of the Daily Show and Colbert Report to create news and current affairs shows for a younger audience on the ABC.

And this means, Mr Scott, it is time to cease this assiduous avoidance of the area below your nostrils.

It is time to stop pretending you don't know what you need.

It is time to be a man and admit that you were wrong in the past to not give me my own TV show, and proclaim to the world, this is what the ABC needs.

Because Mr Scott, I'm your man.

Just check this out:

Focusing on the young: ABC will explore a <EM>The Daily Style</em> type show for local TV audiences.

Uh, hello? Can you say "peas in a pod"?

And if that's not enough:

To cut a long story short, Mr Scott, come ON. You know you want me. Put me on TV now, or wear the consequences.

If YOU support this worthy cause, why not contact Mark Scott, care of the ABC, at:

ABC Ultimo Centre;
700 Harris Street;


Ultimo NSW 2007;
GPO Box 9994;
Sydney NSW 2001;

OR just give him a friendly ring:

Phone (02) 8333 1500

Or tweet him @ABCMarkScott. He values your feedback! Probably!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Business Of Cruelty

"Since off shore processing began in August last year, 15,543 people have arrived in 259 boats. Seven hundred are on Manus or Nauru and the cost is heading into the billions."

"I want to die. I don't want to live more, because we don't have anything to do here. Your questions doesn't have answer, your fate is not clear, what will happen to you?"

"You see many guys here do suicide or hurt themselves, just because they don't want to harm the others. They just harm themselves because of bad situation, or because they show - they want to show their feelings"

"By last November there'd been reports of mass hunger strikes and at least eight attempted suicides. And a 35 year old Iranian man, near death after a 50 day hunger strike, had to be evacuated to Australia"

"There are temperatures in the 40s and humidity around 100 per cent. Heavy rain, no air conditioning and ah, insufferably hot. Um muddy tracks, um and when it rained a faecal smell of inadequately you know drained sewage effluent."

"There are now thirty children in the Manus camp. Most have been there more than four months"

"Journalists, cameras, and even photos are banned from the Manus camp"

"the minister's refusal to front up for an interview for this story with no reason given, other than we could turn up for one of his doorstops if we liked"

None of this is news, not really. Four Corners this week was really letting us in on the secret we all knew - that Australia's government is now in the business of cruelty. And this isn't a partisan thing. It's not Labor versus Liberal. The business of cruelty is a thriving joint venture in which both major parties are enthusiastically involved.

This business is allowed because these brave servants of the public interest which we elect have successfully entrenched the Big Lie that the government's responsibility lies with preventing desperate people in other countries from deciding how best to improve their lives, rather than with taking care of the desperate people that find themselves in this country. The government has decided its jurisdiction extends all around the world when it comes to deterrence, but doesn't even include its own territory when it comes to caring.

We've accepted that and other Big Lies, such as the one that tells us that our leaders are striving to represent the acme of compassion, with these policies designed to ensure that when refugees die, they have the decency to do it far away from us, in foreign camps, or on boats heading anywhere but here. Designed to ensure that the world is in no doubt that if, when you've got nowhere else to turn, you turn to Australia, you will be imprisoned, and isolated, and brutalised, and driven right over the brink of madness by a government determined, at any cost, to make itself monstrous enough that people stuck in the worst places on earth would rather stay put than risk coming here.

The hellholes created by our fearless leaders are not unfortunate unintended consequences of sensible policy: they are the entire point of the policy. They are not locking up children by accident. They are not causing people to hurt themselves, starve themselves, and kill themselves in spite of their best intentions. This is exactly what the policy is supposed to achieve. The government is deliberately causing suffering, because they have decided that causing suffering is the best way to achieve their aims.

Because their aims are to avoid criticism, to avoid protest, to avoid electoral punishment, from that great mass of Australians who become outraged whenever they sense that the government is being too kind to people who didn't have the good sense to be born into first-world privilege. Their aims are to neutralise "excessive humanity" as an electoral negative.

So please, when we discuss politics; when we thrash out the respective merits of the different parties; when we laud the prime minister's unwillingness to be lectured on misogyny by that man; when we proclaim one side's virtue over the other's:

Never forget that no matter how much better one side is than the other, both sides are in the business of cruelty. The lesser of two evils remains evil, and its evil is deliberate, ongoing, and vicious.

This government, this prime minister, this Labor Party is engaged in wilful and knowing savagery against its fellow human beings. This Opposition protests this savagery only inasmuch as it is insufficiently savage.

In the unlikely event that any members of either government or opposition end up reading this, please know, you are reprehensible. If you sleep at night, it speaks only to the humanity that you jettisoned long ago. If you can look at your own deeds without being blinded by burning tears of shame, you are lost, and so are we who have somehow allowed you putrid beasts to rule over us.

May you all go to Hell.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

What's YOUR Political Personality?

Take this easy quiz to find out!

1. I vote:

a) Labor
b) Liberal
c) Green
d) With difficulty

2. A strong economy is:

a) The most important part of the government's job
b) Much less important that saving trees and greenie bullshit like that
c) A myth perpetuated by Big Pharma
d) A kind of fish

3. The perfect Prime Minister:

a) Has a high sperm count
b) Was elected by the members of parliament belonging to the majority party in the House of Representatives according to Westminster procedure
c) Is a roguish outlaw with a heart of gold
d) Cannot be killed

4. Carbon tax is:

a) Terrible
b) Awful
c) Dreadful
d) Abhorrent

5. Billionaire mining magnates should:

a) Pay their fair share
b) Pay someone else's fair share
c) Build enormous statues of cats out of solid gold
d) Take off all their clothes and dance for our amusement

6. A two-party system:

a) Impoverishes democracy
b) Makes everything easier
c) Killed my father
d) Causes AIDS

7. Refugees:

a) Deserve our sympathy and assistance
b) Are terrorists
c) Are terrorists who deserve our sympathy and assistance
d) Smell funny

8. Julia Gillard:

a) Has ruined this country
b) Gives me a raging case of the perpendicular trouser-dachsund
c) Killed my father
d) Once ate an entire bus

9. Tony Abbott

a) Probably masturbates over seven times a day on average
b) Is just what this country needs for some reason or other
c) Sometimes talks to trees
d) Can remove his bra without taking off his shirt

10. Superannuation reform:

a) Bores the tits off me
b) Is very very dull
c) Isn't even a thing
d) Should not be held near a naked flame

11. Same-sex marriage:

a) Would bring a massive boost to the economy via the powerful "pink dollar"
b) Causes earthquakes
c) Is fine, if the gays really want to make themselves miserable, ha ha ha
d) Brings with a very real danger that people might wish to marry more than one koala at once

12. The Gonski education reforms:

a) Will never happen
b) Will always happen
c) Are part of a conspiracy to turn all our children into blacks
d) Are none of your fucking business

13. Religion and politics should:

a) Be kept strictly separate
b) Just marry each other if they think they're so great
c) Be banned
d) Be compulsory

14. The Canberra Press Gallery needs to:

a) Hold our elected representatives to account more effectively
b) Stop putting its rubbish in next-door's bins
c) Write more stories about whether frontbenchers are cat people or dog people
d) Take off all its clothes and dance for our amusement

15. Politics is:

a) The art of the possible
b) A sick experiment devised by a diseased mind
c) Where hope goes to die
d) A good front for a drug-manufacturing operation


Mostly As: You are a dangerous sociopath who should not even be allowed to vote. Your professed concern for the direction of the nation is a sham and your friends and family will one day regret letting their guard down.

Mostly Bs: You are a gibbering lunatic malcontent who will soon carry out a catastrophic assassination attempt on a leading member of government. The politician in question will escape with minor injuries but you will murder several dozen innocent bystanders.

Mostly Cs: Your smug self-righteousness makes me sick. You will not feel so cocky after the photos of you and you-know-who putting the thing in the you-know-where are released to the media.

Mostly Ds: You are a member of Peter Garrett's immediate family, and suffer from shingles.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Platonic Break-Up

If you are to undergo a painful separation from a romantic or sexual partner, you will find yourself in no shortage of advice on how to deal with it. Much of this advice will be completely useless to you, but you'll certainly be able to find it. Friends will offer it, TV and movies will offer it, songs will offer it, lifestyle magazines will offer it by the ton. Getting over a break-up is hell, but you've always got options available as to how you go about it.

More importantly, it's accepted that you will go about it. When you break up, it's expected you'll undergo a period of sadness and misery and mood swings and over-eating. A mourning period is exactly what you're supposed to go through, and society will smile upon your emotional turmoil.

But there is no such formula when it comes to the platonic break-up: the break-up of a platonic relationship. What do you do to get over it when your friends dump you?

I seem to have become quite adept at shedding friends, much the same way as a snake sheds its skin, except snakes don't cry. Like, ever. They're really repressed.

Anyway, the point is in the past year or so I have lost a few friends. Not in the genuinely sad way, in the lame petty sense that they're not my friends anymore. I don't really know why they're not my friends anymore, because they didn't tell me.

And that's one of the issues. When you're sleeping with someone and they tell you that you can't sleep with them anymore, it's perfectly acceptable to demand an explanation. And they'll say "It's not you, it's me", or "We're just two very different people", or "Sex with my sister is one thing, but with my budgie?" You'll probably end up feeling like a total prick, but at least you'll know what it was that's driven them away.

Whereas in this case I feel like a total prick but remain unaware of just what variety of total prick I am. Look, I'm sure it was my fault. Believe me, I have no trouble imagining why someone might not want to be my friend - it's people who still do want to be my friend who persistently baffle me. But it's just that I wished I knew what it was that had caused the state of friendship to morph into the state of non-friendship. I might have suspicions, but it's impossible to know - I'm so obnoxious in so many different ways that it's difficult to determine which one they picked.

And the problem with being dumped by a friend is that you can't just ask them what went wrong. I mean, you can, but then you're kind of being a dick, right? I firmly believe nobody has an inherent right to friendship from anybody else, and if someone decides they'd rather not associate with someone, they're perfectly entitled to stop associating with that person, and they don't owe anyone any explanation.

So yeah, these friends of mine who aren't friends of mine anymore, they're well within their rights. There's no reason for them to tell me why, or let me beg them to take me back. Which I would never do, even though I want to.

All this is because breaking up with a friend isn't really "breaking up", is it? It's not really a thing. It's not a phenomenon that merits cultural recognition and respect. It's childish to even speak about it, really. When a friend stops being your friend, you're supposed to just dismiss it with a wave and cry, "Good riddance!" If you've lost a friend, they were never really your friend. You're better off without them. You'll be happier this way. And certainly, it's nothing at all like the agony of breaking up an actual relationship.

But oh lord.

It still hurts.

It shouldn't hurt, it's pathetic for it to hurt. But it does. Friendships are precious to me. I treasure them, even if by doing so I am deluding myself into believing the friendship is as important to the other party as it is to me. Friendships boost me, and sustain my self-esteem. Every friend I have I count myself fortunate for, and flatter myself over - if another human being likes me, I might be sort-of OK? This is what I tell myself.

And so, eventually they become fed up or bored or annoyed or whatever, and they ditch me, and fair enough. But that really bites deep - that flattering I mentioned gets turned on its head: if having someone desire friendship from me is evidence of my excellence, having someone cease their desire for that friendship is evidence of my failure as a human being. And obsessing over just what I did to put myself beyond the pale does not improve this state of mind.

So, I hurt, and I mourn, and I turn into a big fat sook. Well I turn into a sook, anyway: the big fat bit was already there am I right? High five!

But there's no routine, there's no procedure. There's no correct way to mourn over a broken friendship. You're not really supposed to mourn at all. It's a secret activity. I don't even know whether other people do it. But I do.

Every friendship I've screwed up, in whatever way, I mourn, Every friend I no longer have, I miss. And I apologise to the thin air they've left behind for the ways I wronged them.

And I just wish there was a way to do this properly. But then that's what blogs are for, right?

All Yay

Apparently I am a finalist in the Australian Writers' Centre Best Blogs 2013 Competition.

I know, right? How do these things happen?

Anyway this means I get a thing for my blog that looks like this:

Which is nice, yeah?

I think this means that some people think my blog is quite good. Good on you, some people, you are good eggs.

Also there's a People's Choice category in this competition, so you could go there and vote for me, if you really really wanted to.

Yay me! And yay you! We are all yay!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

It's Over!

Yes, today is the last day of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. My own show, Let's Put On A Show, finished last weekend and won several major awards only for these results to be suppressed and hidden from the public due to certain dark government conspiracies. However, a good time was had by all, and some of the action from the run will be up on YouTube for you to watch soon, if you missed it live. The six shows which my audiences and I managed to put on were :

Vegemite in Your Ladyparts
How Seal Ate His Own Children (Featuring Colleen)
The Drunken Elephant's Triple Word Score
Captain Roderick van der Camp and the Domestic Violence Cat
The Despair of the Onion and the Happy Terrorist
Zombie Greg Ritchie Learns The Essential Futility Of The Modern Romantic Construct And Gets Shot

It was lots of fun and laughter was heard in Fitzroy. Read some reviews of the show if you'd like to know how it went:

What's On Comedy

Australian Stage

Five Frogs Blog

Herald Sun

That's done and dusted, then. Eyes peeled for my next show yeah?

Monday, April 8, 2013

C' guys.


Look, tonight my show, Let's Put On A Show, begins at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, first night of a six-night run at Gertrude's Brown Couch in Fitzroy. You should come along, honestly. Tickets are here, but you can also just rock up and buy them at the door. And tonight is half-price! Only ten bucks! But even on the other nights it's pretty cheap, considering that going to see Stephen K. Amos will set you back over a thousand dollars, I'm pretty sure I heard somewhere.

And this is a show tried and tested at the 2012 Melbourne Fringe Festival, where with the help of my audience, I crafted seven different shows on seven different nights, those shows being:

Alan Jones Presents Comedy Dinosaur Gladiators
Sushi Lemonade Solar System Warriors
Mermaid To Order (a tail of the sea and collective bargaining)
Baby's Shitty Christmas Dinner
Moose Politics
So Much Penis In My Face
Barbarella and the Slit-Faced Woman Go Camping

Yes, every night of LPOAS is a DIFFERENT show! So you could come EVERY night and not get bored due to my clever improvisations and unpredictable temper.

I hope to see you there, we'll have a lot of fun. Don't believe me? Ask Mr WIL ANDERSON:

Don't believe HIM? Ask ME...and my KIDS!

Or perhaps STUTTER RAP can convince you!

I know right? Come to my show!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Bit of a Chat

One of the best things about this business is the people you meet. I recently got to have a nice friendly relaxed totally natural conversation with famous comedian Wil Anderson, just two guys chatting as equals about our art. And Wil was even nice enough to say some complimentary things about my upcoming Comedy Festival show, even though he was under no coercion or threats of physical violence or harassment whatsoever!

Monday, March 18, 2013

ABORTION! Now that I've got your attention: abortion

OK. Fine. Right. Abortion, yeah?

I don't really like writing or talking about abortion, because...well, who does? Anytime you express an opinion on abortion you're likely to get someone calling you a monster or a Nazi or demanding to know how YOU would feel if you'd been aborted, and then you have to give them a lesson about logic and it goes on and on forever.

But look I've been thinking about abortion, and much like a mushroom sprouting from soil, an opinion has burst out on top of my head, so feel free to pick it.

The reason I'm thinking about it is because it's in the news a bit lately. Tasmania has introduced a bill to finally decriminalise abortion, and there is a bit of speculation swirling regarding the fact that in Victoria, the Liberals rely on the vote of rabid pro-lifer and perks-enjoyer Geoff Shaw, and that if Tony Abbott becomes prime minister he may have to rely in the Senate on the DLP's pro-life, pro-insanity Senator John Madigan.

So it's a bit topical. And really, it's always topical, because there are always people who won't let go, and keep trying to wind the clock back.

But here is the thing: I feel like a lot of the arguments go in the wrong direction, and they tend to go in the wrong direction because the anti-abortion lobby knows just which buttons to push. I think there is a line of thought which is not used often enough, and this is important because to me the real battle to defend abortion rights isn't in trying to convince pro-lifers to change their stance, but in the big middle ground of "don't-knows", the people who maybe haven't put much thought into it, but are ripe for the convincing by a pious-looking politician with a sincere-sounding speech.

First, we have to recognise that "pro-lifers" fall into two broad categories: real pro-lifers and fake pro-lifers.

The real pro-lifers are a minority - most "pro-lifers" are faking it. Real pro-lifers are the people who genuinely believe conception is the beginning of, not just life, but personhood. They sincerely believe that a foetus is a person with all the concomitant human rights that you or I have, and that aborting a foetus is the same as killing an actual child. They really believe the rubbish they spout about "the rights of the unborn child", and they won't listen at all when you point out that this is an oxymoron and there is actually no such thing as an "unborn child", given a "child" is someone who has been born. They also won't listen if you tell them that abortion can't be "murder" because murder is by definition illegal. Basically they won't listen to anything, so it's pointless to even try with these people.

And that pointlessness is, in fact, the point. The REAL pro-lifers are batshit insane. These are the ones who end up bombing abortion clinics and shooting doctors, and why wouldn't they? If you heard that down the road there was a government-sanctioned facility where doctors were shooting five-year-olds in the head, wouldn't you say some pretty extreme measures were needed to stop this? Wouldn't you, even if you lacked the courage to directly attack the child-killers yourself, heartily applaud those who did? How could you look negatively upon someone who stepped in to prevent children being slaughtered?

Well, that's how real pro-lifers see it. They are insane, and therefore their insane actions seem perfectly reasonable. And so naturally, there's no point trying to reason with them. They're fringe lunatics: we don't need to argue with them, we need to ignore them.

But then there are the fake pro-lifers. These are the ones who claim to be concerned about "the rights of the unborn child", but when faced with what is purportedly a nightmarish holocaust of kid-slaughter, say things like "safe, legal and rare", or demand that Medicare funding be removed.

I mean, imagine! Imagine believing that children are being murdered, but wanting it to be "safe, legal and rare"! Imagine saying, "Child murder is OK, but don't use taxpayer's money on it"! Come on.

Look at the debate that flares sometimes over instances of rape or incest. If you genuinely believed that foetuses were people, how could you make exceptions for rape or incest victims? "I don't think we should kill children except when their father's a rapist - babies need to be punished for that!" Please.

But a rape-incest exception, in fact, betrays a fake pro-lifer for what they are: a woman-punisher. The reason many "pro-lifers" are willing to entertain exceptions is because those exceptions deal with women whose pregnancy is not their fault.

And there is the key. The vast majority of "pro-lifers" are frauds who are simply out to punish women for having sex. They don't care about the "unborn children", or else they'd be marching with burning torches in the streets, storming abortion clinics daily. They will say their concern is for the poor dead babies, but then they'll go ahead and push for measures that allow abortion, but make it more expensive and difficult for a woman to access. Or they'll push to make it illegal, but exempt those women who came by their condition through "no fault of their own".

It is quite clear what these people are about. They are about ensuring that women don't "get away with it". They are about ensuring that if a woman DOES have the irrepressible audacity to have sex, she damn well better suffer for it. Either through a pregnancy or making abortions so difficult, expensive or dangerous that it turns her life upside down. The important thing is that women are made aware that their sin will not go unpunished. The important thing is that women NEVER feel free to enjoy sex without the threat of dire consequences.

And so what I say is, let's call these fake pro-lifers out. Every time a politician or a commentator or an activist claims they want to stop the killing of unborn babies, let's point out just how hypocritical they're being. Let's point out that if all they're willing to do is talk about it, call for cuts to funding or reductions in the numbers, they surely cannot be serious about considering these to be actual children.

And let's make sure those in-betweeners who haven't made their minds up and are just now looking curiously at the issue realise that the "pro-lifers" they see in the papers and on TV are full of disingenuous and malicious cant, and that if you want to be a pro-lifer, you can either join the lunatics or the liars.

Call 'em out, guys. The only way to make sure women retain control over their own bodies, is to make sure the other side doesn't get away with pretending that's not the field we're fighting on.

Monday, March 11, 2013

It's Time To Put On A Show!

And to tantalise your comedy-buds, check out this exclusive PROMO VIDEO, starring me and SPECIAL GUEST STARS Jonah, Kaia and Layla Pobjie! It demonstrates just how many hats I wear as a comedian.

Now go and buy some goddamn tickets!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

This Is Me

I like to count my blessings. I don't do it often enough, but I've been doing it more lately because I know what a good thing it is to do, to remind myself of what's fantastic about life.

And I have many blessings. My marvellous wife, my spectacular children, my adorable friends, the opportunity to get paid to write, and to have large numbers of people see my work. An absence of famine, war or violence from my life. The privilege of living as a thirtyish white man in a first world country. I am safe, well, and loved. Hell, my cup overfloweth.

I have a good life. I have a great life.

In fact, the only parts of my life that aren't good are the parts that are absolutely awful.

But those parts don't really count because they're not real. They're all in my head. They're my own weakness and stupidity overwhelming the logic centres of my brain. They're bullshit.

However, they do provide a fascinating (not really) insight into how a person can know their life is brilliant at the same time as they feel their life is unbearable.

But it's not real. Let me stress that. Let me stress in particular that I know it's not real. I already know.

Let me stress also that, as I mentioned above, I know how good my life is. I count my blessings.

This is relevant because when you talk about what's awful in your life, people tend to try to remind you of all the good things and try to scold you for not appreciating them, so it's useful to make it absolutely clear: yeah, I got that.

I got it. I got the good stuff. I got the blessings. I got what I need to be grateful for.

But there'll always be times when life remains awful, for one simple reason: I hate myself.

I've often heard it said that you can't love others until you love yourself. That sounds to me like crap, and I hope I'm right, because I like to think I love a great many people, but I could hardly hate myself more.

It may be that my overwhelming self-loathing is part of the bullshit I mentioned earlier. It may be it's all in my head. But I nevertheless know it to be true.

I know that I'm a failure. I know that I let my friends and family down every day. I know that I have wasted my time and my talent all my life. I know I'm ignorant, and lazy. I don't do enough, and I couldn't do enough if I wanted to because I lack the ability. I know I'll always have delusions that I can achieve beyond my grasp, and I know I'll be constantly disappointed when they're smashed time and again, and I know it won't stop me forming new ones and chasing after success like a pathetic dog running after a car.

I know I'm neglectful and callous. I know I treat people badly and that they deserve more from me, and I deserve less than I get from them. I know I disappoint people I love like it's going out of style and I know I have no idea how to maintain decent human relationships. I'm terrible in company and I'm useless alone. I unsettle people with my obnoxiousness and I disgust people with my desperation to be loved. I'll never have the love I want and I'll always have more than I deserve, if only out of pity, because if there's one thing I am worthy of, it's pity. No more so than the poor bastards caught up in my orbit though. Because I know I'm annoying, and insufferable, and destructive.

And I know I'm fat and I'm ugly and I'm flat-out disgusting. I feel sick every time I look in the mirror, and I know that's only fair because I'm repellent. And I know that this is mainly my own fault and I have brought my own revulsion upon myself through greed and laziness and lack of self-respect. And I know I won't change because I know I haven't got it in me. I know no matter how much I swear to improve myself, I'll fail. It's in my blood. I know I'll keep looking at the mirror, at that fat repulsive utterly unloveable creature, and feeling my stomach turn, till I go to the grave. I know every time I venture out I'm inflicting myself on the world, taking up too much room, getting in the way, turning off all I meet with my hideous size and unspeakable visage.

And I know most of all I deserve everything I get and more. I know when I look at myself I want to punch my face, hard and repeatedly, until I bleed, until I fall. I know when I think about myself I want to smash my head into a wall. I know every time I make a mistake, every time I let someone down, every time I make an unsuccessful pitch, every time I make a joke that doesn't get a laugh, every time I make a mess, every time I miss a day of work, every time I spill a drink, every time I forget to buy milk, every time I don't reply to an email...every single time I want to beat myself into unconsciousness.

And that's just what I want to do now, for my unmitigated narcissism in writing this. Because if there's anything worse than how much I hate myself, it's the burden I place on the world by insisting on sharing it with others. I'm very sorry.

I am, as Whitman said, large. I contain multitudes. I am smart and funny and dull and wise and foolish and arrogant and shy and loud and quiet and loving and kind and vicious and cold and sad and happy. But of all my shining facets, the biggest, the one that outshines all others, is self-loathing.

This is what it's like. Knowing you have a great life, and knowing it feels terrible. This is what it's like. Knowing you're a good person, and knowing you're a dreadful person.

This is what it's like.

When you say these things people tell you you're wrong, or that you need to snap out of it, or that you should adopt a more positive attitude. They tell you to count your blessings.

All of it's useless. I know I'm wrong, but I know I'm right. I don't want to be told anything. I just want to tell you - whoever "you" might be - that this is what it's like. Hating yourself.

Depression claimed me years ago, and it's made sure that my worst enemy is myself.

And I just want him gone.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Giggle of Googs

"What are you doing, Ben?" I hear you whine nasally.


For TWO NIGHTS at the Adelaide Fringe this weekend, I'll be hosting Our Little Stories, a collection of masterful comics telling tales of various heights. Friday and Saturday, 10.45pm at Gluttony. That's right! I'm taking it ON THE ROAD. Interstate. Get into it, South Australian people, with all your eccentric half-hour time differencey ways. Tickets here.

THEN...Tuesday, February 26, I'm popping up at PUGGS IN SPACE, at Pugg Mahones, 106 Hardware St, Melbourne. The estimable Anne Edmonds is MCing, and besides me you'll see the legendary Geraldine Hickey, the radiant Adam Knox, and MORE. Kicks off at 8.30pm

And guys it's FREE! Say hello!

And oh my God it KEEPS ON COMING! March 5 I'll be getting distinctly wordy at BAR STANZA, at the Owl and the Pussycat, 34 Swan St, Richmond. I'll be getting back to my spoken-word roots as part of a killer line-up including Sean M. Whelan, Steve Smart, and host divine Anthony WP O' Sullivan! Can you even believe that? Doors open at 7.30pm, it's only $5, how can you lose?

You won't believe this, but there's STILL MORE. March 13! Comedy at 59! Station 59, at 59 Church St, Richmond! That's a lot of 59s! Stone-cold stand-up guys! It starts at 8! It's free! That means NO MONEY. Look it up, that's what it means!

And oh wow, the VERY NEXT NIGHT I am becoming extremely LITERARY and also CONVERSATIONAL, talking to the genius philosopher and author Damon Young about his book Philosophy in the Garden. This is ESSENTIAL for fans of THINKING and READING. It's at Readings Hawthorn - book here!

Oh no, we're not stopping yet you guys. Gonna be throwing some MORE POETRY at you, on April 6. Come down to the Dan O'Connell in Carlton at 2pm for an afternoon of words and raucous guffaws. Poetry at the Dan is a Melbourne institution, and I'll be your featured poet, leading you through the windmills of my mind. Get in there, sons and daughters!

But of course ALL of the above is a mere aperitif, for some VERY serious business - the business of the MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL COMEDY FESTIVAL. It's a festival full of brilliant people doing brilliant stuff, and I promise you some of that brilliant stuff will be happening in darkest Fitzroy, in the sweet, warm surrounds of Gertrude's Brown Couch, where I shall be reprising my splendid little Fringe show, Let's Put On A Show. FOR SIX NIGHTS ONLY, it's bigger, it's better, it changes EVERY SINGLE NIGHT as I take my cue from what YOU want me to talk about, and we create an award-winning show together! If you missed it at the Fringe, don't miss it again! If you saw it at the Fringe, no two nights are the same, so come see it once more! In fact, why not see it SIX times more? That's right - come along to every show and win a fabulous prize probably! Information and tickets HERE, I would sincerely love to see you all there. Even you, Anonymous.

That's a LOT of gigs, guys, and a LOT of chance to see me, hear my mellifluous tones, and pry into the deeper recesses of my psyche. It's gonna be fun, my friends, I will see you there. And there. And there. And...