Making Headlines: How Chris runs the country after gulping a ‘large Shiraz’

October 20, 2016

Reading the first few chapters of Chris Mitchell’s hastily written memoir Making Headlines, it’s easy to get the impression that the editor-in-chief of The Australian was not only editing what he unselfconsciously describes as the ‘best political paper’ in the country, he was also running the country from NewsCorpse’ Holt Street bunkers in Sydney’s Surry Hills.

It seems that Prime Ministers, Treasurers and leading politicians from both major parties were super keen to get Mitchell’s advice about policy pronouncements, Cabinet appointments and which hand they should use to wipe their arses.

Five of the 12 chapters are devoted to Mitchell’s recollections of his, and The Australian’s, relationships with Prime Ministers. Alongside his character assessments of them, Mitchell recounts numerous instances of invitations to Prime Ministerial digs – the Lodge in Canberra and Kirribilli House in Sydney – and secret and not-so-secret rendezvous with the PM to discuss government policy, Ministerial appointments and political tactics.

Read the rest of this entry »


So fuckin’ angry..She really should have gone to rehab

July 25, 2011

Amy, Amy, Amy. Addiction, talent, sex, drugs, rock-n-jazz.
Fuck it. You’re dead.

“You know that I was trouble”

A dark ‘martini’ in your honour.

When I say “dark” and “martini” in the same sentence I am reminded of Frank Moorhouse and Monsieur Voltz’ “crazy drinks“.

This is the “espresso martini”, if you must here’s the so-called “recipe”. Just one, but wash it down with something citrus.

Ingredients:-

coarse brown sugar (also called raw sugar or turbinado sugar)


1 shot freshly brewed espresso
1/2 ounce Kahlua
11/2 ounces Stolichnaya Vanilla vodka
3 espresso beans for garnish

How to make:-

Dip the rim of a chilled martini glass in cold water, then in the sugar.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
Make a fresh shot of espresso and pour it into the shaker, over ice.
Pour in Kahlua and vanilla vodka.
Shake well for 45 seconds and pour into glass. Float 3 espresso beans on top for garnish.
Makes 1. [CookingAge]

Voltz is right, this is a sweet abortion of a classic and does not deserve to be called “Martini”, but tonight, there’s no way you won’t want one of these.

Tonight I make an exception. Drown your sorrows and wake up with a fucking monster headache, at least you get to wake up.

A cribbed toast:

“You’re so beautiful, before today,
put it in the box.
Frank’s in there, and I don’t care.
Take the box

I really love you”

But at the end of our binge mourning, we know who’s no good and it’s not Amy Winehouse

And from MOAC and the Kiwi Amy…but not.

Gin Wigmore who didn’t know this would be a tribute.


All a twitter over #superinjunction tweets. Advice to celebs “STFU”

May 21, 2011

So, the gloss is wearing off social media; the excitement is waning and the holy-roller experts are starting to sound like hollowed-out snakeoil sellers after a beating in the Dry Gulch town square.

We have been taken for a ride once too often. The world of celebrity tweets as a viral marketing tool may (hopefully) be over now that the super injunction scandal is hitting harder at so many British Nobs and Toffs.

But this stupid, Luddite old judge in the UK has got his judicial robes in a twist over the very obvious techno-legal time gap that has the Twitterverse all a-gush over trying to guess who’s got a super injunction in place preventing publication of details about their personal lives.

Attempts to identify a famous footballer hiding behind a privacy injunction have spiralled into an online battle over freedom of speech, as internet users responded to high court action by repeatedly naming him on Twitter.

The high court granted a search order against the US-based microblogging site on Friday as the lord chief justice, Lord Judge, warned that “modern technology was totally out of control” and called for those who “peddle lies” on the internet to be fined. (Guardian.co.uk)

It highlights once again the ever-widening void between rich and poor that super injunctions (whose very presence was itself suppressed until a few weeks ago) are available to those who can pay a high-priced whore-of-QC to front the Lords of the Court behind closed doors and tightly-drawn velvet curtains and get unsavoury details and incidents suppressed.

BTW: the footballer is apparently Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs, but that’s just a rumour I picked up on Twitter. I’m willing to repeat it because I don’t really care. I think Ryan Giggs is a great player, but the whole idea of banning coverage in the media via an all-inclusive and secret gagging order is disgusting. On balance, naming the celebrities and public figures caught up in this is the least of sins.

Giggs apparently spent 50,000 pounds on the injunction reportedly to keep his name out of a sex scandal involving a woman called Imogen Thomas who seems to be famous for taking her clothes off in lad mags like Zoo and Loaded.

Ms Thomas working hard for the money

Giggs probably didn’t want his family to know about his affair with her.

Now Giggs has outed himself by suing Twitter, Ms Thomas and several Twitter users who named him in tweets. According to the Guardian, it is possible a tabloid news organisation first leaked his link with Thomas and the superinjunctions.

A PREMIERSHIP footballer is suing Twitter and several of its users after information that was supposed to be covered by a super-injunction was published on the micro-blogging site. (The Scotsman)

Giggs was named by Spanish media ahead of the Man U v Barca UEFA Champions’ League final next weekend. Perhaps a little pride and niggle in that?

All I can say to that is “Idiot”. Did Giggs really think that suing Twitter was going to shut this matter down.

It seems that Ms Thomas was a former Big Brother contestant and she is upset that Giggs was able to keep his name out of the papers while she is the centre of allegations she tried to blackmail the Premier League player.

‘Yet again my name and my reputation are being trashed while the man I had a relationship with is able to hide.

‘What’s more, I can’t even defend myself because I have been gagged. Where’s the fairness in that? What about my reputation?

‘If this is the way privacy injunctions are supposed to work then there’s something seriously wrong with the law.’ (Daily Mail)

But, wait it gets worse. Now grubby politicians are getting into the act of breaking suppression orders and super injunctions. A Liberal Democrat in the UK has used parliamentary privilege to attack a merchant bwanker for an alleged sexual dalliance.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge criticised MPs and peers for “flouting a court order just because they disagree with a court order or for that matter because they disagree with the law of privacy which Parliament has created”.

Yesterday Lib Dem peer Lord Stoneham used the protection of parliamentary privilege to reveal allegations that former RBS boss Sir Fred Goodwin had taken out a super injunction to conceal an affair with a colleague at the bank. (epolitix)

Why are these people so ashamed of what they’re doing? The fuckers (and they are at it like rabbits) should either stop shagging with people they’re not supposed to or learn to live with the consequences of their actions.

Are we over it yet?

The most sensible #superinjunction tweet

Some numbers that don’t add up

My colleague Joseph Peart put together some numbers for me regarding the use of Twitter and they are interesting.

Stats from Fortune magazine, May 2, 2011 (pp42 – 45). “Trouble @ Twitter” by Daniel Roberts

• 47% of those who have Twitter accounts are no longer active on the service.

• The time spent per month has dropped from 14min 6sec in 2010 to 12min 37sec in 2011. (Joseph Peart estimates that if usage continues to drop at 1 ½ minutes a year; by 2020, there will be no Twitter users.)

• 40% of Tweets come from a mobile device.

• 70% of Twitter accounts are based outside the U.S.

• 50% of active users access Twitter on more than one platform.

• Not all Twitter users are tweeters: less than 25% of users generate more than 90% of worldwide tweets.

• Ashton Kutcher and Britney Spears have more Twitter followers that the entire populations of Sweden or Israel.

Then, from the book “Socialnomics” by Erik Qualman.

• We no longer search for the news the news finds us via social media.

• 96% of Millenials have joined a social network.

• Facebook tops Google for weekly traffic in the U.S.

• If Facebook were a country it would be the World’s 3rd largest.

• 60 million status updates happen on Facebook daily.

• 50% of mobile internet traffic in the UK is for Facebook

• It seems that Gen Y considers email passé, so some Unis have stopped distributing email addresses and are distributing eReaders, iPads and/or Tablets

• YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world

• There are more than 200 million Blogs worldwide.


I’m going to be LATE for the museum

May 23, 2010

LATE 04
Innovate: Media
Thursday, 3 June 2010

This month LATE at the Museum asks what a rapidly-changing digital landscape means for broadcasters, policy makers and of course us as audiences?

The evening will ask what is happening, and what needs to happen, to ensure the independence and profitably of content creators in the age of ‘open source’ media.

Is the Internet the friend or enemy of today’s broadcasters and journalists, and how can we sustain quality programming and reporting at a time when newsrooms are shrinking and people expect to read, hear and watch content for free?

Smart Talk

The evening features a panel discussion with Associate Professor of Journalism at AUT University, Dr Martin Hirst and Brent Impey, ex CEO, Mediaworks NZ (TV3, TV4). The discussion will be moderated by former editor of the New Zealand Listener and award-winning columnist Finlay Macdonald.

Great Music

Entertainment on the evening includes Little Bushman who return to the Museum for an encore following their spellbinding performance at our inaugural LATE, plus Jeremy Toy (Opensouls) with special guests.


A singer must die – sometimes; or at least leave the band

May 12, 2010

We have a Canadian colleague (and now friend) staying at Chez WhiteHirst this week and she brought with her the sad news that Steven Page has left the Bare Naked Ladies.

I know sometimes news travels slowly and I seriously thought this was something that just happened, but no; Google tells me it occurred in February 2009.

That says more about my interest in fandom than I’d like.

However, MC also went to JB and bought Moac and me a copy of the “new” Bare Naked Ladies CD, All in good time, which features a track (You run away) in which Ed laments the betrayal of a friend. It seems to refer to Page.

Where's Mr Page? Exit stage right.

The speculation when Page left BNL was that it had something to do with his cocaine bust in 2008.

Whatever the cause it seems that both Page and the band have moved on. All in good time is a pretty good BNL CD, the vocals and arrangements are similar, but perhaps without the band’s famous sense of fun, except on one or two tracks.

Page has an album out too; a collaboration with a funky and contemporary group of classical musicians called Art of Time Ensemble.

Page’s record with the ensemble is a series of covers, including this classic, ‘A singer must die’, from Leonard Cohen.

I really like ‘You run away’ and the first time I heard it – in the car on the way to work – I had to wipe away a nostalgic tear. I love BNL and I like Steve Page too, I will be going out to get A singer must die later today.

And, I would argue that this is still martini music. Rock for grown-ups to be enjoyed in a cool bar, or even at home. But remember, it’s not the drinking, it’s how we drink and I would be careful with the martinis here. Too many and you could get all maudlin and pine for the past. Tears before bedtime, not good.


Martini Music: A funky jazz comparison

May 2, 2010

My dream gig this week would be Sharon Jones with Hollie Smith. The big question: Who would headline?

If you’re reading this outside New Zealand you might not know Hollie Smith, but if you’re a fan of Jones and the Dap-Kings you will like the Kiwi singer too.

Smith’s voice has a deeper bass note and her music is not quite in the same danceable be-bop/funky groove as Sharon Jones, but the jazz-blues roots are there and so is the lyrical and musical weight.

They are modern divas of soul and both have new-ish albums out (as of Feb/March 2010).

Smith’s Humour and the misfortune of others is a hard-hitting mix of ballads and jazz-influenced rock-blues  that move the soul and lift the spirits, despite being written to express Smith’s emotional roller-coaster existence through 2008-2009. The lead track and first single is “Mamma”.

The stand-out track for me is “Let me go”, it has a soul choir that wouldn’t be out of place in a Memphis tabernacle.

Jones and the Dap-Kings are based in Brooklyn, but they too have some bluesy roots and have got the funk-soul thing down to a fine art on I learned the hard way, their fourth studio album.

And they’d bring the house down live.

Jones is super cool, check out this interview from South by South West earlier this year.

There’s a 30 year age gap between Jones and Smith (alias Smith & Jones), but I’m sure they would get on and certainly they’d fill the stage and the auditorium if they were to gig together in New Zealand.

If you’re a promoter, get this double bill together and give Kiwi audiences a real musical treat.


Wikileaks – an enemy of the State, just like Little Brother

April 7, 2010

The semi-underground Wikileaks site has become a news story in the last 48 hours thanks to the disturbing video of two Reuters staffers being gunned down in Baghdad in 2007.

Last year the site was named as the Amnesty International new media site of the year.

The April 2010 video released by Wikileaks [available at EM here] shows a group of Iraqis walking in a neighbourhood where the American military was staging a large “counter-insurgency” operation.

The Reuters men were there to cover the story on the ground. Unfortunately two trigger-happy Apache pilots mistook a telephoto lens for an AK47 and opened fire. Twelve people were killed, two children were wounded.

Wikileaks used a crowd source of hackers to decode the encryption on the Apache “gun camera” footage that was leaked to them by whistleblowers.

Now the US military and its Washington think-tank apologists are trying to hose down the story and imply that the Apache pilots were only doing their jobs.

No surprises there; but I didn’t know that in 2008 the American military machine has also listed Wikileaks as an enemy of the State.

This document is a classified (SECRET/NOFORN) 32 page U.S. counterintelligence investigation into WikiLeaks. “The possibility that current employees or moles within DoD or elsewhere in the U.S. government are providing sensitive or classified information to WikiLeaks.org cannot be ruled out”. It concocts a plan to fatally marginalize the organization. Since WikiLeaks uses “trust as a center of gravity by protecting the anonymity and identity of the insiders, leakers or whistleblowers”, the report recommends “The identification, exposure, termination of employment, criminal prosecution, legal action against current or former insiders, leakers, or whistleblowers could potentially damage or destroy this center of gravity and deter others considering similar actions from using the WikiLeaks.org Web site”. [the document is no longer available at Wikileaks]

This is bizarre and shows just how twisted the whole concept of “homeland security” is. It reminds me of the plot in a great Cory Doctorow novel I’m reading at the moment: Little Brother.

In this book, the hero Marcus Yarrow faces down the Department of Homeland Security after a terrorist bomb destroys the Oakland Bay bridge in San Francisco. The DHS locks down the city and ups the surveillance in school classrooms, on the street and via electronic devices so that everyone is under their gaze 24/7 (almost).

Yarrow is a 17 year-old school kid who’s into online gaming and computer coding. After his illegal detention by DHS agents, Marcus and his friends organise a jamming campaign using darknet software that plays on the Xbox.

In an interesting twist, Marcus and his family seek the help of a dead trees “investigative journalist” to expose the DHS clampdown on civil liberties.

I find this interesting because it possibly shows the limits of social media in terms of making a really big story public and driving public opinion.

It’s probably also a comment on the age gap. Yarrow’s father is old school so doesn’t understand the jamming culture of his kid.

I haven’t quite finished Little Brother yet; but I can’t wait to get home and read the last 80 pages.

You should get hold of a copy; it’s an interesting book and an important statement about how Homeland Security has become a war against the American people. You can also check out a fan page for the book on Facebook.

Writer, blogger and cool geek Cory Doctorow

Doctorow is behind the technology and culture blog Boing Boing and I like him even more now that he’s just published an anti iPad manifesto.

In particular there’s this biting swipe at the dead tree media:

I think that the press has been all over the iPad because Apple puts on a good show, and because everyone in journalism-land is looking for a daddy figure who’ll promise them that their audience will go back to paying for their stuff.

The parallels between the military’s attitude to Wikileaks and the DHS crackdown on civil liberties is eirie.


An aetheist and his Bible

March 26, 2010

It’s not very often I go searching for my copy of the Holy Bible. But whenever I find it in my brief moment of need I always say a heart-felt “Thankriste”.

Last night was one of those rare moments: it took me a while too, I had to search through acres of groaning shelves to find my barely touched King James authorised version. In this edition the actual words of Jesus himself are helpfully colour-coded.

But it wasn’t Jesus I was after last night, rather the bloody and mercenary Moses. In particular the various points in the Old Testament where he receives the absolutely must obey rules from a vengeful and jealous God.

I was seeking out the various passages in Exodus – the bit that explains Bob Marley’s drug habit –  and Dudedontneuterme – the bit where the Levi-wearing Midianites beg Moses not to cut their bits off (in vain it turns out) – where the Ten Commandments are explained.

“And, as a level 7 aetheist, you are doing this why?” At least that was the reaction from a disbelieving Mrs Martini. She didn’t even know we had a Holy Bible in the house and she was most amused that I would choose it as my bedtime reading.

“Well actually, Moac,” I carefully explained, “I’m reading Vanity Fair and the Bible’s only here as a reference guide.”

Moac gets this; while doing her BA she was told to read the Holy Bible (I always feel there should be an exclamation mark here, like this: “Holy Bible! Batman.”) as it was the foundation for a lot of literary references. I pointed out to her that the late, great HST swore by the Bible. He swore at pretty much everything, but that’s another story.

Mr Hitchens carving himself a new one

This story is about the essay in VF by Christopher Hitchens in which he argues that the Ten Commandments should be revised and redacted. The points he makes – which is why I needed the Holy Bible! – are that at the various times in Exodus and Dudedontneuterme where the tablets of stone are mentioned, the wording does indeed change and that the surly and obviously mad-as-a-hatter Moses even smashes the original set in anger. An even angrier God has him go back up the fuckenmountain for another 40 days and 40 nights** to hew some more freakentablets.

I didn’t know, until I read in Hitchen’s piece that the Ten Commandments had changed from one passage to another. The Vanity Fair piece is worth a read; Exodus was a classic piece of reggae-rock;  the book of Dudedontneuterme is worth a laugh, but it’s far too frightening for children.

The New Commandments: Christopher Hitchens, Vanity Fair, April 2010

** I checked: this is not the same 40 days and 40 nights during which the earth flooded and Noah’s ark ended up on another fuckenmountain.


The confusing world of gin – exploring, one Martini at a time

March 6, 2010

When you start to investigate the gins of the world it can get very confusing.

I’m planning a blind taste party and so I thought to get ready it would be a good idea to see what others think are the finest gin brands in the world.

Armed with that easy knowledge I should be able to track down half-a-dozen or so bottles of your non-standard gins and entertain my pals; or so I thought.

For a start, the bottles are as varied as the contents.

The range of  what we might call “quality” gins — real gin, not chemically flavoured alcohol — is huge and the variety of botanicals and distilling processes overwhelming for a neophyte.

So I’m on the case.

A good place to start is a website called Gintime, it’s commercially sponsored, but sets out a history of gin, an explanation of the ingredients and plenty of gin-based cocktail recipes.

Eight English gins - that's a start

I’m looking for suggestions. If you are an aficionado of the humble spirit and have a favourite, drop a note.


Is this the perfect Martini? Which one?

March 5, 2010

Stirred, poured or shaken?

Plymouth, London or some other gin?

And then there’s the whole question of which botanicals make the best gin and should the distillers be allowed to keep them so secret.

What about the vodka option?

And the all important garnish. A twist or an olive?

Perhaps there’s no such thing as the perfect Martini, only personal preferences.

We can all agree it needs to be ice cold, but should it be wet or dry?

Wet would be about 2 gin to 1 of vermouth, dry and drier are easy to work out.

Look at the Lillet in this clip, I buy it in Auckland, but it doesn’t have those lovely wooden bits in it. Perhaps you have to add the shavings at home. I will investigate further.

There’s lots to like in this little video; the settings, the drinks trolley, the fabulous glasses. It’s all very proper and British, but it does emphasise the importance of ritual.

A good Martini takes effort. Note the size of the ice chunks to stop dilution of the gin and if you’re going for the shake, then the tip here is vigour and rhythm. Freeze the glasses and the gin – essential; gently grate the zest and every-so-softly, twist the citrus oil on to the surface of the drink after pouring.

I don’t use words like “mouthfeel”, but I know what they mean.

Mark’s Bar at Hix in Soho

Dukes Hotel, London

The Connaught Hotel, Mayfair

[Tx Krista]