Seven tips for recreating a big NYE night out in the comfort of your own home

First published in Time Out Sydney, December 26, 2014

Dear the Internet,

New Years Eve is, let’s not beat around the bush, a nightmare. There’s nothing more grim than enforced fun and NYE is basically a giant public office party: everyone knows they’re meant to be enjoying themselves and dammit, they’re ready to drink until everything gets fun. Except it never gets fun enough.*

You can also have NYE in your cubicle at work, if you want.

And you can also have NYE in your cubicle at work, if you want – it’s just that simple!

Thus the temptation is to stay in and sidestep the whole sorry mess – but you don’t want to miss out on the NYE Experience, surely? So here are some handy tips on how to recreate the excitement of hitting the CBD on new years without leaving your postcode.

*Please note: this doesn’t apply if your office is Time Out, since we have awesome parties. We had our annual picnic at the beach last week and seriously, it was the best day. And don’t even ask about the Bar Awards, since your head will explode with jealousy.

1. Convince yourself that this has to be the most fun night you’ve ever had and that NYE is basically a portent for how the rest of the year is going to pan out. Continually monitor your own level of enjoyment: are you having enough fun? How about now? Or now?

2. Withdraw $380 from the nearest ATM. Throw it in the air. Walk away.

3. Go into your kitchen counter. Stand there for 40 minutes attempting to order a drink. Then get five beers out of the fridge, justifying it by saying you want to skip the ridiculous queue. Realise how inconvenient they are to carry. Drink them all in the space of ten minutes. Repeat until you’ve logged onto your ex’s Facebook.

4. Go to the smallest, hottest room of your house and play godawful music at ear-splitting volume. Periodically complain about how shit the music is.

5. Pretend you’re at the Sydney Harbour fireworks by driving about three kilometres from home, backing your car into the tightest space you can find and walking back home bitching about how there’s nowhere to park in this goddamn town. Then watch the TV simulcast with somebody sitting in front of the screen.

6. Stand outside your house and attempt to hail a cab. After two hours, give up and go back inside for 10 minutes. Repeat.

7. Before going to sleep on the lawn, throw your keys, wallet, phone and at least one of your shoes onto your neighbours’ roof.

And hey, just have fun!

Yours ever,


The Magical Xmas Gift of André Rieu

Is there a term for a balding mullet? A bullet? A ballet? I bet there's a German word for it.

Is there a term for a balding mullet? A bullet? A ballet? I bet the Germans have a word for it.

Because it’s Xmas there is one artist that people are going to hear more than anyone else as they go about their day-to-day lives: André Rieu, the multi-platinum-selling superstar Dutch violinist and morning suit enthusiast whose compact discs are available in many of Australia’s most exclusive post offices.

And it’s easy to make fun of his sterile take on classical and popular music, but it’s important to recognise that he’s provided a valuable service to the global community.

See, I came to music very early. I was raised on the British Invasion artists that my parents adored – the Beatles, the Kinks, the Who, the Stones – with a little bit of Motown and Hendrix thrown in. I joined my school orchestra in year three, playing viola, and was thus exposed to the power and the majesty of the great classical composers.

By the time I hit double digits I was spending my pocket money almost exclusively on records, beginning an obsession with bands like the Smiths, the Cure, Models, New Order and Pet Shop Boys that has endured, with some fluctuations, to this day.

All of the most important moments of my life have been coloured by the music I was listening to at the time. Music has been my constant companion, my inspiration, my crutch and my salvation.

So André Rieu’s great lesson to us is this: music can also be cheesy and awful.

It’s so easy to forget that music can be vapid bullshit when you’re surrounded by almost a century of recorded works which are now more accessible than ever before; where you can dive into the works of Os Mutantes one moment and Gram Parsons the next, explore Bollywood superstar Asha Bhosle and then rummage through Chuck Berry’s greatest hits, devour this year’s glorious New Pornographers album and follow it with some of Yma Sumac’s inexplicable vocalisations.

With every culture on Earth creating its own astonishing music, and then cross-pollinating one another to create everything from amazing Thai beat combos to stuttering German hip-hop, one could easily spend a life exploring these endlessly fertile rivers without ever realising that music can also be stale, passionless and insipid, poisoning the soul and crushing the human spirit.

Rieu takes some of the most beautiful pieces ever created by humankind, from the liquid melodies of Handel to the sophisticated harmonic pop of ABBA, and renders them lifeless and dry, as if to say “all art is a pointless distraction from the ultimate embrace of the grave, mortals. Ever been lifted by the jubilant power of the Hallelujah Chorus, or moved by the desperation at the heart of ‘The Winner Takes It All’? Well, allow me to fix that for you.”

Like Michael Bay with cinema, EL James with literature or everyone at Rockstar Games that worked on Grand Theft Auto V, Rieu is a reminder of the power of an artist to drain all the wit, joy, skill and beauty from an art form, challenging others to ignore the limitless possibilities of the human imagination and focus instead on making as leaden and inept a work as possible.

And that, friends, is an Xmas gift that keeps on giving.

A little Xmas song for the Australian front bench

…because something’s got to distract from our terrifying new immigration laws.

"You know what's great? Satire!"

“You know what’s great? Satire!”

The speculation about whether Hockey would be knifed in favour of Turnbull set my muse alight on wings of poetical gossamer, to the tune of ‘Let It Snow’. You know, because nothing – NOTHING – is a bigger agent of change than a parodic song with political intent!

Well, the media sharks are circling,
And the PR blitz ain’t workling,
And someone’s going to have to go –
Let it Joe! Let it Joe! Let it Joe!

The front bench is kerfuffled,
And it’s time that it got reshuffled
And we can’t dump the leader, so…
Let it Joe! Let it Joe! Let it Joe!

The economy’s in the can
And the budget is yet to pass
So maybe we should get a man
Who’s perhaps slightly less of an arse;

For the economy is a-tankin’,
And these mines need investment bankin’,
And the press prefer Turnbull, so:
Let it Joe! Let it Joe! Let it Joe!

And while we’re here, you may enjoy catching up with the last few weeks of my View from the Street columns at the Sydney Morning Herald. There’s one way to find out!

"And furthermore, Madam Speaker, if the Senate will not capitulate to my demands on immigration reform, I shall not hesitate to activate the Omega Device." View from the Street: Refugee children magically become bargaining chips