Category Archives: Observationalist

…This is why mountain biking is not for you, kid. (Letters to an Idiot from a Lesser Idiot)

Dear Sean of 2008,

Don’t buy that mountain bike – you’re literally going to ride it 4 times. When you eventually get around to selling it, you’ll lose approximately $600 on the whole thing, and that doesn’t even include the $50 cut you give you brother for helping you sell it. Mind you, he doesn’t end up doing much other than wait for the buyer to collect the bike and trade for the cash. Still, $50 for his efforts and so, all up, it’s fair to say that it it’s a failed experiment that ends up costing you $650. Oh, another word of advice: car registration is an expensive nuisance that costs at least $650. So maybe you can apply it to that. You’ll actually use the car.

So, why do you stop riding the mountain bike? Well, you’re a wuss. Specifically, you don’t like the idea of riding with other people on the road – especially when they’re dumbasses inexplicably in charge of high-powered vehicles. Just so you know, your inability to trust people never gets any better. In fact, there are stretches spanning months (years?) where you walk around with squinty eyes; questioning everything around you. You might want to work on that a little earlier. Actually, it probably saves your life on at least one occasion. Maybe hang onto it, then. Your call…

Oh, you also stop riding the damn bike because you’re lazy and you hate gearing up. 2014 Sean still hates gearing up, which probably explains why you never play any team sports. Well, that and your laziness. Don’t worry about fixing this; you never have time to play sport anyway. Life’s a sport, right? Oh yeah, you’re ‘witty’ in the future.

While I’m here, I would love to sell the helmet and pedals (and make a dent in that $650 loss), but I can’t find them. When you put them away, be smart about it and put them somewhere they can be found. You hate looking for shit, which means I hate looking for shit. Don’t be a dick about it.

Oh, and don’t think that you can reinvest ‘bike money’ elsewhere. You’re not musical, so don’t buy a musical instrument. Just steer clear of anything that requires skill, effort and practice and you should be fine.
Sean of 2014

Cheapskate Cowboy

While it’s true that first impressions count, I’ve seen firsthand that second impressions are just as important – if not more so.

The other day, I saw a man strutting down the street in some pretty wicked cowboy boots. This guy had a vibe and I’ll be damned if he didn’t completely own the footpath under his boots. His face was well-worn and kind of dusty. It fit the likely story: he’d been up for a few days attending to important cowboy business and was just searching for a shaded corner to rest his weary head. He’d seen things. You could just tell.

Oh, then he shoved his hand into a parking ticket machine in search of loose coins, and everything changed. When he realised that the machine was empty, he progressed to the next machine. Each time he grew more and more impatient and increased the rate of his strut, which made him look desperate. By the time he reached the end of the street, he was frantic and had started waving his hands in the air like he cared. In case you didn’t know, cowboys aren’t supposed to care.

So the man I first thought was a cowboy was in fact no cowboy at all. As it turns out, he was just some guy foraging for coins in his cowboy boots. I felt deceived and even a little violated by his silent assertion that he was bravado personified. I guess if he had just rifled through ONE machine, I could have given him a pass. Cowboys can be opportunists, too. BUT, he needed to do it in a ‘devil may care’ manner and look completely chill upon realising there were no coins. That would be totally cowboy. But he didn’t do that…

Hell, if he had found a coin he could still have maintained his cowboy image by giving it a flick to a passerby in exchange for a cigarette (it’s OK for cowboys to pay for goods and services), or by stomping on it with his boot – pulverising it into its liquid state and soldering it into his spurs with his bare hands. He wouldn’t even feel the pain of the molten metal because his hands would be calloused from the many years of such bravado. Not only would this be DIY cowboy, but it would also be totally badass and would have restored my faith in this cowboy who had lost his way.

But this isn’t what happened. My experience was with ‘cheapskate cowboy’ – skating along on his deceitful boots, hunting for free money. You know, the money probably wasn’t even for cigarettes; he probably just needed to pay an overdue library fee, do his dry-cleaning or something similarly sad.

Such was the disappointment of Cheapskate Cowboy.


Old people have a look.

For the sake of not spending the entirety of this piece referring to old people as ‘old people’, I’m going to call them agesters because it sounds at least marginally better, and perhaps a little cute.

I’m not having a go at the agesters, but they do, in fact, have a ‘look’. It’s like at some point in their lives they decide they’re not going to change their look anymore. I believe this commences the transition from hipster to midster – which ultimately leads to agester. For completeness, midster is the point at which they don’t actively change their look, but such a change is occasionally forced upon them by their children/partners with gifts of clothes etc (i.e. subtle reminders to look fresh/better). So these agesters stop changing their look and their last look becomes their uniform, of sorts. You could even call it a brand. Agesters know that Bob wears the purple knit and Mavis wears the large pink sun hat – every day. Maybe it’s a memory thing. It becomes harder to remember everyone if they keep looking different, so better to keep the same look? Imagine if agesters changed their look as much as hipsters. They’d never recognise each other.

I think a little more planning should go into this transition; otherwise you leave it to fate. It’s like image roulette – where you spin that one last time, you go bust and you’re left with what you’ve got. As I approach agester status , I’m going to be more thoughtful with the looks I adopt. I might even plan it. I mean, if I know I want to be an old guy who wears cowboy boots (with spurs), then I’ll save that look for a little later and hope that’s what I land on. People who fail to plan are going to be left with mohawks etc. That’s how some agesters today were left with mullets – poor planning. They either played their hand at the mullet look too late or held on to it too long.

Agesters even have a ‘face’ they pull when they walk around. Some have a 24-7 sour puss face and others look like they’re in the clouds (although, admittedly this could be the medication). The thought process above applies equally to this situation. As I approach agester status (many years from now!), I’m going to practice pulling the face I want to be my default agester face. Otherwise, it’s just too risky.

Bad face roulette – when the wind changes, you’d better be prepared.

I wish I was better at Basketball…or Dreams

It looks like I’m pretty shit. Even in my dreams.

A few nights ago I dreamed I was playing basketball, which is odd because I have no real desire to play. I guess the fact that I’m only 172 cm has SOMETHING to do with it. As a (younger) youngster, I played the occasional game, but the script was always the same – I lunged from one pass to the next without getting anywhere near the ball. I dunked nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Anyhoo, I was SHIT in my basketball dream. To make things even worse, I wasn’t even your typical vanilla variety bad (you know, the plain and inoffensive sort). Nope, I was comically bad (essentially I was the rocky road of the ice cream world). This sucks because I’M in charge of my dreams so, really, I should be able to dictate how good I am. I should be dunking all over the place. Backwards, forwards, blindfolded, whatever. Hell, I should be able to become invisible, then reappear as a 7 foot smurf and dunk so hard I break the net+court+dream. But sadly I’m so shit that my dreams won’t even humour me. It’s not fair. The funny thing is I can only blame myself. In addition to being shit at basketball in real life, I’m also shit at basketball in my dreams.  Now it turns out that I’m shit at dreaming, too. Thanks, life.

Update: I think my general ‘shit-ness’ went to a whole new level. I was out on the town last night with my very un-shit wife (read: stunning) and we passed a busker whose specialty is picking on people as they walk by, and incorporating the hilarity of their face / walk / accessories into his song. I saw this busker look at me and his eyes lit up. He could see that I’m shit at dreaming and probably thought all his Christmases had come at once. So many ideas must have been running through his head. I encounter the same problem at empty car parks. I end up struggling to make a decision because there are too many options . So I walked right past this guy and he said nothing.  He had that look on his face – the one that says what could have been. The endless opportunities he missed…

I would feel sorry for him, but I have a feeling I’ll be seeing him again soon in my next basketball dream. He’ll be the 7 foot smurf dunking all over the place. Sigh.

When a First Impression Fail Smells Like Urine

First impressions count, but they’re strange creatures. Sometimes they lead straight into more of the same (helpful, but boring – no?), but there are times when they take a left turn and lead you down a strange and dimly lit alley. That smell? It’s probably urine.

While walking home the other night, a man approached me with (what looked to be) a boombox on his shoulder. I was stunned. A boombox, in 2013? I thought that was solely reserved for the Beastie Boys (RIP MCA) or the dog from Daft Punk’s ‘Da Funk’ video. Or even John Cusack (from that movie where he raises a boombox above his head to woo some girl?*). I can now inform you that he was no Beastie Boy, French electro superstar, or even John Cusack. In fact, he didn’t even have a boombox. He was just  lugging home a 24-pack of toilet paper – proudly hoisted upon his shoulder. On that note, I note that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to look gangster while carrying toilet paper. But yeah, first impression fail (FIF).

Then, on the train yesterday – a happy (but dopey) looking old man got on and peered around looking for a seat. No dice, old man – no seats (I was standing, too). Or were there? After scanning the train, his eyes lit up and he pulled out a small fold-out chair from his trolley. He sat down, folded his arms and smiled. Conclusion? He was sitting down (kingly, triumphant and comfortable), and I was the dope standing up. FIF.

Here’s an example of a 10 year-old FIF. I used to work at a supermarket  where I saw a certain woman  on a daily basis. I tried to be nice and strike up casual conversation, but she wouldn’t have it. She was friendly, but apparently not big on words. OR WAS SHE?? You see, the other day I saw her photo in the newspaper – for winning an Australian literary prize.  I was wrong in thinking that this woman had no words. Oh, she had words. Lots of them. Apparently enough for a book. BOOKS, even. It turns out she’s an author, who writes books (i.e. word smorgasbords) for a living. Sigh, 10-year FIF.

Oh, the urine smell? I saw a well-dressed corporate guy walking in front of me last night. He looked like he was Mr Hugo Boss. But just before that first impression had time to fully develop (premature impressionation?**), he turned into an alley and urinated against a wall. FIF.

Life sure does keep you on your toes (especially if you’re Mr Boss and you’re trying not to stand in your own urine).


Oh, here’s that fake dog with a real boombox for your viewing pleasure.

*Google informs me this movie is ‘Say Anything’.

**Where you form a premature first impression. Typically embarrassing.

Greeting Cards – Stunting my Imagination at $6 a Pop

I hate it when I am denied the opportunity to use my (well-meaning, but occasionally irresponsible) imagination to tell stories that I couldn’t possibly support with facts. It’s the thrill of telling a story that could go off the rails if I encounter someone who’ll ask the right questions. But sometimes you don’t even get the chance to tell your story…

Generally, when I buy a pair of shoes, jacket or CD, I’m able to remove the sticker / tag. In doing so, I get to erase all traces of the price. I’m then bestowed with a precious asset – the ability to tell whatever story I want to tell about my purchased goods. I could say anything. My $200 pair of shoes could all of  a sudden become $100, due to my uncanny bargain-hunting abilities. On the flipside, my no-name $50 jacket could very easily become a $1,700 one-of-a-kind piece from Finland. Hell, I can tell people I was given my watch as a gift from a Sherpa. A token of appreciation for saving his life up at the top of  the Himalayas.

But those dammed greeting cards – they refuse to conform. The price is printed ON THE CARD. It’s the ultimate dick move, and a forever reminder to the recipient of how highly you think of them. Don’t get me wrong, spending $6 on a card is ridiculous, and a colossal waste of money. But it’s one of those dammed if you do, dammed if you don’t things. If you get it, you’ve wasted money on a piece of cardboard. If you don’t, the recipient sees that you couldn’t be bothered spending more than $1. You can’t even scrub out the price, because by ruling a black marker across the price, you’re only just drawing attention to your cheap purchase. You may as well rule a black marker across your name in their phone book (yes, I realise the notion of a physical phone book is ridiculously outdated).

Not only do greeting cards deny us creative licence to tell our story, but they also call us out as cheapskates when we don’t comply. I actually think it’s a form of subtle blackmail. Think about it – if we pay their exorbitant price, they’ll leave us be. If we don’t, they’ll make sure everyone knows all about it.

From now on, I think I’ll skip on the card and instead tell you a grand story about how I found the most amazing card in this quaint store on the other side of the world. Hell, it was intricately crafted by fairies and plated in gold.

…But you’ll never believe what happened to me on the way here.

Perhaps crazy dictators just need more hugs. Or ice cream.

Oh, it looks like Kim Jong-Un (KJU) is at it again. According to an article I read in ‘The Age‘ this afternoon, North Korea looks set to carry out a ‘major military exercise’ shortly. I’m guessing this is the next step in KJU’s diabolical plot to take over the world. I don’t know, this whole ‘fear me, I’m a really scary guy’ routine is just too funny. Yes, I know that he’s cray and could literally do anything – and that’s why the North Americans have, like, 3.2 gazillion rockets, annoying politicians, and laser beams pointed at him and his toys as we speak. I, on the other hand, have a blog – and I’ma use it to comment on Mr. Cranky Pants from the comfort of my rocket-free home.

KJU sure does like to threaten a lot – and without preempting / jinxing a damn thing, he hasn’t delivered on shit. He must be feeling some serious pressure, though. I mean, he is following in some serious footsteps. His dad was so popular he managed to wear the same sunglasses FOREVER and not be judged for it. He was so cool, he TRANSCENDED fashion. Even Johnny Depp changes his shades occasionally. KJU’s dad even had a leading role in Team America! In that movie, Kim Jong Il was portrayed as a lonely leader. I think KJU is suffering from the same thing, but now he doesn’t have his dad around to tell him what a sweet job he’s doing, or how super evil his hairdo is. KJU is basically a kid who needs some friends. It can’t just be Dennis Rodman, guys. Dennis Rodman is busy…umm…being Dennis Rodman, and that means we have got to share the workload if we’re gonna get KJU out of this phase of his childhood (that awkward stage where he says things he doesn’t mean and parades his new toys to get attention).

Solution? I propose a FFKJU (Friends For KJU) program. It’s easy, you can register at (not yet active – I would expect North Korea to foot the bill for that one, and as of the time of writing, my payment request is still pending), nominate your availability (i.e. Wednesday afternoons) and detail what you’d like to do with (read: WITH, not ‘to’) KJU. This could be anything from a walk along the beach to a trip to North Korea’s most happening  ice cream spot! His favourite flavour is Boysenberry.

With a bit of collaboration, I reckon we can get KJU smiling again, hanging out with kids his own age, and perhaps playing a little less with his toys. At the very least, we can get him eating more ice cream – and that’s dairy, which will do his bones a world of good.

Presumably, I’m no gangsta, dawg

Hi, my name is Sean and I have a confession – I’m no gangsta :(

I’ve always  had (somewhat humorous?) misguided ambitions of being some sort of low level gangsta. It’s taken some years, but I think I have finally come to the realisation that I never quite got there (‘quite’ is generous – I’m probably light years away). There are a significant number of factors playing against me, and upon which I base my sad epiphany:

  1. Firstly, my name. It’s just not gangsta enough. Sean? It just doesn’t strike the fear in the hearts of others like Bruno, Tyrone or Antwon. Then again, Diddy (I think that’s what he’s called right now) was called Sean before he was Puff Daddy (P Diddy / the diddler etc.) – but he’s probably not a real gangsta anyways.
  2. Then there’s the ‘food court’ issue. I’ve been to way too many. I don’t think I’ve seen any gangstas in food courts. In fact, I don’t even think I’ve seen gangstas eat. Do they? Is that a joining criterion? The ability to rebel against one of life’s unavoidables?
  3. I think I have a fairly dweeby voice. So no matter what I say, it just doesn’t ‘sound’ gangsta. Take yesterday, for example. I’ve been streaming the new ‘Ghostface Killah’ album (really good BTW), and as I was telling friends about it, I could hear myself talk. The way I was saying Ghostface Killah, it just didn’t sound ‘hard’ enough – and those are two pretty ‘hard’ words. It’s the equivalent of failing to dunk when the net is only 3 feet tall (oh, movies inform me that gangstas play basketball – and I’m just plain hopeless).
  4. While I’m talking words, I think my passion for grammar and spelling also rules me out. I’d be all like, no Antwon, you’re being lazy with the English language. It’s not ‘we tight, dawg’, it’s ‘we ARE tight, and maybe leave out the ‘dawg’. Also, perhaps disregard ‘tight’, and replace it with ‘unified’. I’d be forever correcting them. I’d say things like ‘presumably’ and ‘on the basis that’. They’d never say things like that.
  5. I don’t like baggy clothes, I can’t remember any gangsta greetings. I don’t even know if they’re called greetings. I think that has contributed to my current state, too.

Hell, I don’t even know whether I’d spell out my official title as ‘gangster’ or ‘gangsta’ – and that right there is the essence of why I’m no gansgta / gangster.

Not my 9 to 5 – Not written by ants

Aside from carry crumbs around, I’m not particularly sure what ants do. They’re like nature’s dustpans, but they work far too slow to be of any use to us. If they were, oh – I dunno, 2 feet tall with dustpans instead of legs, then I might feel differently about them. They’d also need to operate between 12am and 6am (when I’m sleeping) because the thought of a two-foot-tall dustpan ant (2fDA) roaming around the joint creeps me out. They’d also need to be super quiet, because I’m not a big fan of being woken up unnecessarily – especially by disorderly / rambunctious 2fDAs.

However, one ant changed my perspective a little. A few days ago, some ants visited the apartment and did what ants do best – mess up a perfectly good ant-free zone. So, I moved the ants along with some diabolically clever ant food (they like it so much that they carry the leftovers back to their HQ where it kills their whole crew). I suppose it acts much like dinner at one of those all-you-can-eat joints that constantly appear on current affairs programs. But this ant returned this morning in what I can only interpret as an act of defiance and rebellion. I presume the ant survived the disaster of 11 April 2013; then decided to fuck with the system and return to the windowsill, where his brethren once ate heartily – the last supper, so to speak.

I respect the bravado and all, but yeah I ‘removed’ it anyway. The moment did, however, inspire me to carry out my own act of subtle rebellion. So I went for a walk with M – and I did so – WITHOUT my mobile phone. Geez that was hard. In 45 minutes, I reckon I reached for my phone about 6 times, and thought about it at least another 10. Walking around with no phone should be an extreme sport (EXTREME WALKING©).

So, I guess the ant and I are not too dissimilar. Except that I didn’t eat any free food during my walk. And I guess that’s why this blog isn’t currently being written by ants.


So – last nite I was at family dinner. Just as I was about to leave, V (my brother) chimed in that he is really (REALLY) hanging out for the new GTA V in September (a PlayStation game for those who don’t know / care).  He then proceeded to demonstrate what he would look like playing the game – in what was a suspiciously spot-on portrayal of a modern day crab. Or a vintage crab, even. I’ll be honest, I haven’t had the pleasure of mingling with too many live crabs. My limited experience has been with the culinary variety. Then M got involved. She, too, was ‘playing the PlayStation  (imitating a crab?). They asked me to join in with my own impression. “Umm, no”, I responded (guys, I have to maintain SOME credibility when I have so little to spare these days). I then explained that I wouldn’t be peer pressured into looking like a crab, to which they added “oh, come on, you have to – we’re doing it”. That was funny, because they pretty much used the exact definition of peer pressure to peer pressure me into doing something. Well, you’ll be glad to know I resisted (dude’s gotta have principles, right? Regardless of how baseless they are).

This experience made me think. I knew I would encounter temptation in life, and that I would need to resist many things in the face of peer pressure (drugs, smoking, drinking, bungee jumping, etc.), but I never expected to use my unwavering resolve (dramatic language, I know) to knock back a crab imitation. Just for the record, here is a list of some of the other things I won’t do or have successfully avoided:

  • I will never karaoke in Australia (although I have in Japan, which I think makes perfect sense).
  • I will never Zumba. Ever.
  • I have never seen Titanic (I figured this was a small claim to fame when I was a lot younger, given that everyone else had seen it anywhere between 300 and 40 million times, each). I’ve also refused to see Twister, but I figure this is less notable (assuming the former point is even notable).

So, that’s the story of how I laughed in the face of peer pressure – and I remain crab-free (no jokes, please) since 19xx.

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