By David Stewart
The problem was she really liked lions. She’d always loved lions. It was partly their majestic nature, partly their noble bearing but the real reason for her affection was because she imagined they spent a lot of time eating monkeys. She was fairly sure that if a lion got it’s paws on a monkey it would tear it to shreds, which as far as she was concerned was exactly what all non-human primates deserved. One afternoon, in order to find fellow sufferers who might understand her, she had typed “fear of monkeys” into Google and discovered not one name but two. Apparently she suffered from Maimouphobia or Pithikosophobia, neither of which she could pronounce. She also discovered a Canadian rock back called “Fear of Monkeys” and decided to buy their album.
She normally didn’t watch nature documentaries in case they showed a shot of some gibbons or even worse a marmoset. But she forced herself to watch this one because she’d read a review in the paper that talked about graphic footage of a lion devouring it’s prey. She prayed the prey in question was a monkey. She longed to see a whole pride of lions devouring a baboon or even a gorilla. At exactly 17 minutes into the documentary, after a long section about a species of bird that hid from each other as a mating ritual and were consequently nearing extinction, she saw footage that made her world collapse. It was all about new discoveries amongst the primate world. Apparently a species of chimpanzee had been found which manufactured basic tools. They kept special rocks for breaking nuts and were even starting to establish primitive weaponry.
It was her worst nightmare realised. Every night she carefully checked her house for primates and then locked the doors, secure in the knowledge that all the monkeys were locked out. She normally slept soundly but that night she didn’t sleep at all, haunted by visions of an orangutan with a rudimentary lockpick.
By David Stewart
-Passionate? I don’t think I’m an especially passionate person. Although I do get angry when I see people using Internet Explorer. I mean you should be on firefox at the very least but you’re not surfing the net unless your surfing in chrome.
-What do I get passionate about? I have a petition here that I’m writing to demand Stephen Moffat, the new headwriter for Doctor Who, limit the Doctor’s use of the sonic screwdriver to the purpose it was originally intended which is turning screws and at most manipulating locks. Russell T Davis turned the Sonic Screwdriver, or the Sonic screwup as I call it, into a magical device capable of doing anything which completely ruined the original premise which was…
-I tell you what I get passionate about and in fact this Saturday afternoon I can show you. I’m part of an atheist group that pickets church fetes. We turn up with signs saying “There is no God” and make sure those Christian bastards get a taste of some rational thinking. I have no objection to them selling home-made cakes and old books but when they do it in the name of their imaginary friend it’s an affront to reason.
-I’m passionate about Billy Joel. Really. I hate him.
-I’m passionate about the use of appropriate grammar on the internet. I’m trying to petition the government to utilise a program which will disconnect anyone from the internet who misuses the possessive apostrophe. My wife believes it should operate on a “three strikes and you’re out” policy but I think a zero tolerance approach is the only way.
-I’m passionate about how bad the Australian Olympic uniforms are for the next Olympics. I haven’t seen them yet but I know they’ll be appalling and a national embarrassment and I want to get my outrage in early before it’s drowned out in the general flood of indignation.
-I’m passionate about bottoms. God I love bottoms. Seriously I can get really excited by a good bum.
-I’m passionate about everything- masterchef, survivor, talent. I’m just a really passionate person.
-I’m quite passionate about the fact that the village in my homeland has been poisoned by wealthy developers who have illegally dumped chemicals into our water supply but the government refuses to do anything about the situation. Few people in this country seems to share my passion. Thankyou for asking.
By David Stewart
The legendary Nude Ghost of Merlynston appeared at my door last week. He was wearing clothes at the time but I knew he was the nude ghost because he told me he was and I believed him. Apparently he wasn’t really a ghost he was the inventor of the world’s first time machine, or at least he will be – or he was and he will be because he invents it in our future and his past. He came up with the idea in 2067 and decided to travel back in time to 2010. He took a copy of a sports journal with him and planned to get rich (he got the idea from a movie, they must have crazy movies in the future).
The problem was the Time Machine had issues and separated him from his clothes and possessions and spread them through time. So he arrived in 1953, stark naked and confused, although not as baffled as the woman who lived in the house at the time who screamed when a naked man appeared in her front room. The legend of the naked ghost was born as he ran off into the night. Marvin explained to me that his time machine only traveled in time and not space so he could only appear in our house which he owned in 2067. He dropped in today because according to his calculations this was the exact moment when his Time Machine was due to appear after they were separated on their maiden voyage. Not long after he arrived there was a strange sound like a choir impersonating machinery and then an audible pop. There in the middle of my living room was a single sock and a pair of underpants.
“Bugger” said Marvin with considerable feeling. “I got the time right but it’s not the machine it’s just more clothes.” He held up the underpants “I could really have done with these back in 1953.”
He left with his head hung low. I promised to mail the other sock to him if showed up but it was a minor consolation.
The next day I remembered a book I’d found in the house a month ago. It was some sports journal from 2067 but I thought it was a weird prank and threw it out.
Megan stared in stunned disbelief at the acne ridden face before her. Her mind went in several directions at once. “Did she just say what I thought she said?”, “Was she talking to me?”. Through the grey static that engulfed her usual coherence, her mind settled on “I wonder how old she is?”. She decided on 16… 17 at the outside.
She sensed that the people around her were obviously discomforted by the exchange. They were looking toward the ground, out the door, at nothing out windows. Or were they just getting annoyed that she was taking so long? She had lost the ability to tell.
Clarity began to return in the form of embarrassment, then anger. Since when did 17 year olds start to talk to their elders like that? What happened to the concept of respect? Or empathy? When did we become an inverted nanny state – where the youth dictate what’s good for the middle-aged? And when did that stupid law that forced bar staff to decide when patrons had had too much, suddenly become applicable in fast food restaurants?
By David Stewart
I’ve been cleaning the outside windows in high-rise buildings for years. You name it and I’ve seen it as my cart gets lowered past the window. But I’d never seen anything like this before.
It was a boardroom with one of those huge tables that powerful people sit around. And believe me these people were powerful. Both the Bushs were there: George and George his Dad. Bill Gates was chatting with that weird bald bloke who runs Apple. Oprah Winfrey was on one side of the Pope and Jamie Oliver sat on the other. The Queen of England was smoking a cigar with Rush Limbaugh at one end of the table. Stephen Spielberg was chatting with someone who I assumed was a Sultan of some kind and they were both sharing a joke with Ringo Starr, which surprised me. It took a while to place the person in between Rupert Murdoch and Stephen Fry but eventually I realised it was Elvis who was clearly alive and had grown a beard.
At the head of the table was a large flip chart that Hugh Hefner was writing on with a permanent marker. At the top of the chart were written the words: “Priorities” and underneath with a series of items with levels written next to them. “Choose new leader of United Nations” had “high” written next to it as did: “Determine Oscar winners,” ”Start new war in Africa,” “Come up with new global pandemic scare” and “Conceal evidence of latest alien contact.” The word “low” was written next to “Solve world hunger” and “find sustainable energy source.”
I was trying to read another item on the board when I noticed Hugh was staring straight at me. I gave a small apologetic wave as he raised a finger to point in my direction. One by one every head in the room turned to look my way until all the most important people on the planet were facing me and not looking impressed. I started cleaning the window as if I hadn’t seen a thing.
Hugh turned back to the flip-chart and wrote “Kill Window cleaner” and next to it wrote “V High Priority”.
Madonna stood up, produced a large knife from the folds of her leather pants and walked towards the window.
By Tim Redmond
By David Stewart
I must ask you kindly not to give me any more pets in future. I understand you’re a big-hearted person and while it is thoughtful to give pets with disabilities to a sight-impaired person such as myself my own daily care is quite an effort without having to look after a blind dog as well. Not that I don’t love Pickles. He’s very affectionate. When he hears me sit in the recliner he makes his way over to my side and jumps straight into my lap. Although being blind he can’t check to see whether my lap is actually empty at the time. This week alone he’s jumped straight into my knitting, a tape recorder and a bowl of soup. Whiskers the cat is also a delight although his blindness does add an element of adventure to our lives. I often hear him and Pickles fighting. At first I assumed they didn’t get on but now I realise they just bump into each other a lot. Sadly my own vision impairment prevents me from keeping an accurate tally of the number of cats in the house at any given time. Four times yesterday I let Whiskers inside when he was mewing at the door and each time wondered how he’d got out again. It was only when I felt him brush against both my calves at once that I realised I’ve been providing a haven for a number of neighbourhood felines. One of them has taken to biting the pages of my braille novel which serves to amend the text substantially. I assume Arthur the deaf and dumb budgie is a continual delight but since I can’t hear him and he can’t hear me I’ve got no way of telling. The latest addition to my menagerie will fit in nicely although I’m confused as to the difference between a dyslexic fish and a normal one. Do fish normally read quite well? Either way I thank you for the thought but must ask again that you desist from further animal presents in future. Now if you’ll excuse me I must go because it sounds like the agoraphobic cow is having a freak out in the back yard again and I need to put a bucket on his head, a challenging task even for the fully-sighted.
Yours faithfully, Enid.
By Rik Brown
15 feet. Maybe more. There were at least 8 of ‘them’ surrounding the ship, their slimy claws dripping with blood. She could see the bodies of Stewart and Hoops. Another half-eaten carcass may have been Ego but she couldn’t tell. They were maintaining a perimeter around the ship so the Shield was still functioning. She tried her comm, hoping that Reggie was still on-board.
“This is Proctor, anyone copy?”
Then a voice came through.
“Proctor, this is Reggie….Shit, i thought you were dead”
“I will be if I don’t get back on the ship, its only a matter of time before they pick up my scent”
She knew he wouldn’t be able to Beam her on board while the Shield was up. Even if he dropped the Shield, the energy levels on the ship must be dangerously low. 15 feet was too far.
“Reggie…here’s the plan… I run at them..”
“LISTEN!… I run at them. When they come at me, drop the Shield and Beam me in”
“I don’t have much juice so you’ll need to get close”
“As close as you can”
She figured she could get 6 feet before they noticed her, maybe another 2 feet before they attacked. Any more than that was gravy.
She waited until most of them seemed to be feeding and launched herself into the open. Eyes focused, arms pumping. Made good time across the open ground. Possibly 7 feet before, en mass, their heads jolted in her direction. Their powerful legs propelled them towards her.
She wasn’t close enough.
She jagged to the right and headed towards the slower members of the pack. Bought herself half a foot.
Then she jumped.
Straight at one.
Caught it by surprise and hit it full in the chest. But it recovered lightning quick, drew back its gruesome claws and plunged it deep into her chest…
Only to find she was no longer there.
“Jesus Christ!” she gasped, staring at Reggie.
“Welcome aboard Proctor” he said with a smile.
“See, it was a good plan”
“Now we just need another one to get us off this rock.”
And as he spoke, they could see that the creatures had turned their attention back to the ship. And it would be 3 more minutes before the Shield could power up.
She searched in her pocket and found what she was looking for. Her last mint.
She popped it in her mouth and chewed.
“Shut up and let me think”
By David Stewart
I thought we’d managed to pull off the perfect April Fools prank. We stole Danny’s prized VW Beetle, drove to his workplace, broke in and then dismantled the car and got it in the back door. It took a while but we got all the parts into his office and pushed all the furniture back to make a beetle-sized space. Three hours later we’d reassembled the car and were cleaning up when Carol rang.
“Hey Carol, we’re just finishing up now. Tomorrow he’s going to find his car gone and when he gets into work it’s going to be parked right here in his office! Where are you?”
“Danny’s office. Where the hell are you?”
“We’re in Danny’s office.”
“No you’re not. Trust me I’ve visited Danny in his office loads of times. I’m looking in the window and it’s empty.”
“Then where the hell are we?”
“I’ve got no idea.”
“We’re in Clarkson Accounting.”
“It’s Clarkdale Accounting. He works for Clarkdale accounting.”
“Are you telling me you dismantled the Yellow Peril and put it back together in the wrong place?”
“Umm… yeah I think so.”
“You’ve just brought a stolen car into a complete stranger’s office!”
“Carol… why is it called the Yellow Peril?”
“Because it’s yellow and breaks down a lot.”
“This car is blue.”
There was a long pause. Rob was trying to get my attention.
“Danny’s car is definitely yellow.” Carol sounded very sure.
“This car is definitely blue.”
“So you’ve dismantled a stranger’s car and assembled it in another stranger’s office?”
Rob was really eager to get my attention now.
“What is it?” I asked.
“Well you know how we assembled the back first and then rolled it back so we had room to put the front on?”
“We’ve rolled it against the door which opens inwards. We’re kind of trapped.”
“Can’t we dismantle it again?”
“We need to get to the back and we can’t because it’s up against the door and there’s no room to roll it forward. And there’s no other way out.”
“Carol…slight problem. We seem to have broken into a stranger’s office and trapped ourselves inside with a car we stole.”
“You’re an idiot.”
“This is a disaster. There is no way this could possibly get any worse. Hey careful with that pole, if you hit one of those sprinklers and it goes off we’re- ….fuck.”
By David Stewart
Hello my name’s Darren James and I wrote and directed this movie.
Hi. I’m Rob Hendricks and I play the part of Jim …and this is the first one of these I’ve ever done.
Really? This is your first DVD commentary?
Yeah. I was a bit surprised to be asked actually.
You didn’t think you were the commentary type?
No I just didn’t think they did commentaries for OH&S Videos.
A lot of people don’t but I always do. So Rob tell me what’s going through your mind right now?
Well I’m wondering what sort of person would watch an audio commentary for a video called “Ergonomics at your workstation.”
No in this scene, as an actor. What was going through your head when we were filming this?
Oh sorry. Um… I was thinking: I’m walking to the desk… hope I don’t trip over.
It’s a shame you didn’t, we could have used that for the outtakes featurette which is mainly shots of you doing the stretches slightly wrong.
I’m surprised you didn’t put in those establishing shots of me entering the office.
They’re in the deleted scenes. And there’s the option to watch the 22 minute Director’s cut with the extra footage back in. I think it helps establish your character. So tell us, as an actor how do you prepare for a role like this?
Well I… turn up and listen to the director and try to be a guy sitting at a computer.
But there’s a deeper layer than that isn’t there? I don’t want to cover this in too much detail because I’m sure you’ll discuss it in the Making-of featurette which we’re shooting this afternoon.
So this commentary is more about the technical stuff?
No that’s the commentary I do with the editor.
Right. That chair was comfy.
It looks good too. It looks like an office chair.
Well it is.
The whole set looks like a real office. It’s very authentic.
It is a real office.
I spent hours making sure it looked perfect.
So you took a real office and worked on it to make it look like a real office?
I spent a full hour just working out the best place to put that cup full of pencils.
The one I knocked over?
And put back on the other side so I wouldn’t knock it again?
Yes. That’s the one…
By David Stewart
By David Stewart
Good news! Excellent news! Julius Caesar has just been murdered in the senate!
That’s not good news, that’s a terrible. That’s the single biggest disaster to face the Roman republic in years.
Yes but you’re missing the point woman- the point is I predicted it! One of my predictions has come true!
You didn’t predict that.
Yes I did. Remember we were out buying a hat and you said “Ooh look it’s Caesar” and I said “Beware the Ides of March!” I saw this coming.
If you saw it coming why didn’t you give him a more useful prediction? Why not: “beware senators with knives” or even better: “The following are a list of your colleagues you might think of giving a wide berth for a bit.”
Ooh you know nothing about the way’s of soothsaying.
I tell you what I do know. I know you said beware the Ides of March but as far as I could tell you didn’t say it to Caesar you said it to Mr Marius the fishmonger.
I didn’t! I clearly said it in a deep and booming voice to the Consul himself. Why would I make predictions about fish sellers when I’ve got the greatest man in Rome to predict at?
Then why did you say “Beware the Ides of March and how much is that Mackerel?”
I don’t have to explain the sayings of my sooths to the likes of you woman. I’m the man who predicted the death of Caesar himself. After this people will come flocking to my door to have their fortunes told.
We’ll see, most people around here still haven’t forgiven you for ruining that orgy last year.
The end of the world is a very difficult thing to predict! It’s not my fault people got all panicky about it.
So who did kill him anyway?
Oh him… Cassius, Cascar, Cimber… and that Brutus chap, the one with the nice cheekbones. I predict big things for that boy.
By David Stewart
Son, can you come into the study for a moment, I’ve got something to tell you.
Something wrong father? Nothing serious I hope.
Well it’s some news I’ve had recently that I feel it’s my duty to pass on to you.
I’m all ears.
You recall the tale of how I met your mother in an orphanage?
I certainly do. It’s a sterling tale of how two orphans went on to marry and establish a world-wide business empire.
Your mother and I have reached an age where we felt curious about our past. We took it upon ourselves to research our roots.
Genealogy. An excellent past time.
I’m glad you concur. The thing is I’ve tracked down my real parents.
And were they of Royal stock as you’ve always suspected?
They were tailors. The Cohens.
Do you mean you’re Jewish?
Very much so.
Well I must say this is a blow. You do realise I’m part of a group at my university that believes the evils of the world can be blamed on zionists and the worldwide Jewish conspiracy?
Yes, I’m only too aware.
And now I find out my own Father is an evil, subhuman, userer who is genetically predisposed to hate the superior aryan race. What does mother think of this?
Well she was shocked I won’t deny. But more startled by her own line of research which revealed her birth-name to be Goldberg.
Mother’s Jewish as well? Goodness this is a blow. How am I going to break this news to my chums at the Fellowship of Ayran Might? My parents are the filthy Jew.
I think you’ll find it’s not just your parents…
What are you saying?
Well if I’m Jewish, and your mother is Jewish then…
Yes I’m sorry about this.
But that means I have a sub-human intellect. And yet I’m Dux of my school. This is a conundrum.
Yes, I can see the dilemma.
I don’t feel especially depraved.
And yet being Jewish you must be.
Yes. Look there’s no chance this is a mistake?
The man at the records office was very thorough.
Good Aryan stock was he?
As Aryan as you or I.
Right. It’s quite the blow to think you’re part of the solution only to find your part of the problem.
Yes I can imagine that would be rather a shock.
By Jason Geary
It has to be something in the software, a faulty program. I’ve owned a TX-180 robot in the past and it didn’t demonstrate such fascinating behaviour. Upon initiating the shutdown protocol on my old TX-180 it went limp. This TX-180 slumped in the same way though it’s fingertips clattered. Odd. I ran the protocol again with the same result – Complete shut down except for the fingers. The fingers are twitching, delicately pressing together; it is like watching a child dreaming. Maybe it is a cool down mechanism. I smile, this quirk only adds to the robot’s personality. I like it. I walk to the workshop exit, turn and take stock.
The robot is something to behold, far superior to the battered model it had replaced. This one is fire engine red with a domed head, front glassed, so you can see the actuators inside. The actuators are cleverly designed so they look like eyes beneath a visor. It gives me something to focus on when talking to it, making it seem more human. I must say it does work. The robot’s body is bulbous and round with an array of buttons on its chest; it is a retro design masterpiece. That is the appeal. The notable exceptions to the classic design are the modern arms and hands. They are shaped like those of a human skeleton made from carbon fibre and pistons. The robot’s fingertips are a rubber latex replica of mine, thus ensuring that the only fingerprints on any product I ship out of this workshop are my own. I switch off the lights and leave for the night.
Upon returning to the workshop this morning I find the reams of paper near my computer depleted and paper cranes of all sizes all over my equipment. Set like an elaborate diorama. The TX-180 is sitting in the exact spot I left it; its fingers are now still, a small but stark contrast to the night before.
I engage the boot protocol and am welcomed to the workshop by the TX-108 in a kind tone.
“Who made these paper cranes?” I ask.
“I did.” said the TX-180 plainly.
“How? Did you self activate.”
“Negative. I have not become sentient since you shut me down.”
“Has someone else been here?”
“Do you have a hypothesis on how these paper cranes appeared?”
“After a thorough process of elimination I can offer one illogical possibility.”
“I believe… I had a dream in which I was making paper cranes.”
By Naomi Byrne-Soper
‘I’m afraid our situation has deteriorated.’
‘Mind your step, Guv.’
‘Thank you, Thomas. Now ladies and gentlemen, it’s nothing to be alarmed about but… Mrs Winchester, if you could kindly take a step back behind the rope. Mrs Winchester? Mrs Winchester, really, this is not to be trifled with. Mrs Winchester!’
<Pantomime gasp from the crowd>
‘Bollocks. Lost another one, Guv.’
‘Thank you, Thomas. Now ladies and gentlemen, I really must emphasise the seriousness of our situation and how vitally important it is that you attend to ship’s orders at this time.’
‘Captain, the prow…’
‘What’s happened?’ ‘I can’t see!’
‘Where’s Mrs Winchester’?
‘Ladies and gentlemen, please remain calm, allow me to…’
‘Our Calliope en’t got a prow no more!’
‘I’m afraid it’s true ladies and gentlemen. It seems the edge of the world is not the horizon after all, but a point in the Pacific Ocean – here – where our world simply ceases to exist. As did Calliope’s prow…So too Mrs Winchester…And the three other men we lost last night.’
<Pauses for dramatic effect>
<Suitably shocked collective gasp>
<The Lady Olivia raises an eyebrow>
<The captain is all (mock) innocence>
<Olivia rolls her eyes and shakes her head>
<The captain gets a hot rush to the belly>
Until further notice, all outdoor activity will be confined to the starboard promenade. Meals will be taken in the salon and all nighttime constitutionals will be suspended. You will stay in your cabins if not otherwise engaged, and above all else, you will stay. Behind. The rope. That is all.’
‘But Captain!’ ‘How shocking!’
‘This never would have happened with a strong leader.’
‘Yes! Someone illustrious!’
‘With medals!’ ‘And fob watch!’
‘Yes. It’s the Captain’s fault all right.’
‘Yes, that’s right, blame the Captain. Nothing so productive as a good scapegoating…’
<The lady takes pity> ‘OH MY!’ <Swoons loudly and publicly>
‘Good heavens!’ ‘She’s fainted clean away!’
‘What to do?’
‘A chair! A chair for the lady!’
<The Captain is by her side>
‘My lady, are you well? Are you hurt?’
<Ghosting smile> ‘Well, well, my Captain. You and I. At the ends of the Earth. Who would have thought it?’<Her eyes snap open> ‘Walk with me.’
‘I beg your pardon, my Lady?’
<Picks herself up, dusts herself down> ‘I rather fancy taking a turn about the deck. Will you join me?’
‘My Lady, I’m not sure I…’
‘Oh, do give it up, Gerald, and take my hand.’
‘We both know there’s something better out there for us.’
‘Then let’s find it.’
<Kisses him on the cheek>
<Gives a nervous smile>
<Is a little bit sultry>
<Feels a little bit alive>
<Both step off the edge of the world>
By Tim Redmond
Norman Mailer described Mohammad Ali’s right as “a meteor, exactly the size of a fist,” in his 1975 book on the Foreman/Ali heavyweight fight. The same author, upon writing on the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, called them, “The Towers of Babylon,” but in the still settling dust, steel and bone, such jabs at cultural hegemony were far from welcome. It smacked of a man who had concocted a zinger and sat on it till an appropriate catastrophe set it free.
There’s too much sky, that’s the startling thing. From the water, approaching on a ferry, Manhattan is so low and compressed it looks a dozen skyscrapers would tumble into the Easts River if someone even sneezed in mid-town. But here on the ground, it is difficult not to look up and imagine that they are still here and be confused by this sudden expanse of sky.
Even on replay, you cannot see the cross that knocks Foreman out. He just seems to decide to suddenly stagger, and then, like a child spinning at the sky, turns that into an elongated sideways tumble to the floor. All the while, Ali circles him, his right hand re-cocked but held, not wanting to spoil his dark artistry.
Not wanting to ruin the image of this man, this enormous man, crumbling like a tower to the floor.