WOOF, Australia’s peak body for domesticated dogs, today demanded an apology from humans everywhere for decades of leaving half-empty water bottles on lawns.
Dubbing the move cruel and unusual, Doctor Canine Rex, spokesdog for WOOF, said it was about time humans apologised for their long-held practice of preventing dogs from relieving themselves on lawns.
Doctor Rex claimed many of its members remained traumatized over the sight of water bottles taunting them on their morning walks and forcing many to hold on in agony before they could relieve themselves on home soil.
“Humans have long policed dog’s bodies with leads, tags and Star Wars cosplay uniforms,” said Rex. “Attempting to police our very bowel movements with plastic instruments of terror is going too far.
“Seeing one’s reflection glinting back at oneself during mid-poo is enough to put anyone off their ablutions.
“Even those who overcome their terror end up leaving strange faeces. Where do you think all that weird white poo comes from?”
While many homeowners have long since given up the practice, there still remains a stubborn segment of the population that leaves half-empty 1.2 litre bottles of soft drink and mineral water on their lawns in what Rex calls a “retrograde act of anti-canine prejudice”.
“It’s 2018,” he barked. “Surely we’re past this by now.”
Critics claim that the practice is essentially an old wives’ tale and that only the meekest of dogs would be put off over such superstition.
However, Rex says such comments stigmatise dogs and play into notions of “bow-wow body shaming”.
“Now pat me and tell me what a good boy I am,” said Rex.
In related news, the nation’s peak feline body, CATS, also demanded an apology, claiming those same bottles had prevented many of its members from spraying foul-smelling piss everywhere.

Pictured above … a dog that still remembers the half-empty VB you left on your lawn.

My new military thriller Game Of Killers: The Spartan is out now as an ebook or paperback.

I feel like Megan Markle’s dad today.
He is apparently not going to be walking his daughter down the aisle.
Hearing the news, I had an epiphany.
In a way, aren’t we all like Markle’s allegedly “embarrassing” dad?
We, the non-rich, the non-royals, the non-Hollywood stars, are as unwelcome in St George’s Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle as Markle’s dad.
Sure, we’re invited to speculate who has designed Megan’s wedding dress.
We’re invited to watch the royal wedding itself, followed by hours of royal analysis from “palace insiders”.
We’re invited to buy When Harry Met Megan mugs, Prince Harry And Megan Markle Throw Pillows, Cupcake Toppers and even life-size cut-outs.
We’re invited to observe how dashing Prince Harry is and how dignified the Queen is and how it’s all like some modern fairytale.
Maybe some of us will compare Markle’s bum to Kate Middleton’s posterior, apparently the epitome of royal bums.
But one thing we’re not invited to do is to actually be there in person.
In reality, we’re not much better than those peasants you see in Olde Worlde movies lining the streets as the royal carriage passes, throwing flowers and shouting “God save the queen”. Only we get to do it in front of our TVs.
The rest of us poor non-royals know the score when it comes to weddings.
It’s an obligation and a duty – things the royals always go on about – to invite the all embarrassing wings of the family to our weddings.
We’re obliged to invite the family lush, the cousin with the dubious past, the aunt with the weird dye job, the pervy best man who will hit on the bridesmaids.
We take the risk of the whole event turning into a shambles because … well, that’s what you do with family.
The idea of a sanitised, censored royal wedding where even the father of the bride isn’t welcome strikes me as wrong.
Maybe because I can also see the royal cordon being closed on the rest of us.

My new thriller Game Of Killers: The Spartan is out now as an ebook and paperback.

Our nation reels under our greatest cricketing controversy since Trevor Chappell’s infamous underarm bowling incident.
And yet, amid the howls of outrage from the public, I am reminded of another cricket controversy – the day my own team was accused of ball tampering.
I was the star batsman of the mighty Pryde Under Nines. Our captain was “Booger” Jones. He got his name after someone allegedly saw him picking a winner during the interschool carnival.
Of course, in the heady days before Facebook and smartphones, there was no actual evidence that he had picked his nose. It was his word against his accuser’s … and, naturally, according to the laws of the playground, everyone sided against “Booger”.
I mention this only to emphasis that “Booger” already had form as a controversial, possibly Shakespearean figure.
The arch enemies of the Pryde Under Nines were the South Pryde Under Nines. The enmity between us was mutual. Their cheersquad – consisting of their diehard dads, bored mums and the morbidly obese – would shout “cheater, cheater, mango eater” whenever we went on the field.
For our part, we swore we’d never seen so many “eight-year-olds” with moustaches before.
Even today, Southie adults will shout out  “cheater, cheater, mango eater” to anyone they see on the street from Pryde.
And we have to swallow the insult … because of our great shame.
We had just batted an abysmal 55 against South Pryde in the last match of the season. Hackles were up because just last week one of the South Pryde dads had “accidentally” run over Booger’s BMX with his Land Rover.
Booger pulled us into a huddle. “We’re getting thrashed here. I’m captain, and I say we … tamper the ball.”
Tamper the ball? We would be a disgrace to the “baggy mauve” … our uniforms being mauve because Booger’s mum had left our uniforms in the washing machine too long with pink socks.
“Our dads would kill us!” I said.
“What are you kids talking about there?” asked a “Southie” dad.
“I’ll buy you a pack of musk sticks,” said Booger.
“Damn you!” I cursed. He knew my price. No child under 10 could resist the lure of musk sticks. He had corrupted me. “OK, so how are we going to do it?”
“With this,” said Booger, holding up a One-Metre-Long Licorice Roll, saved from an Easter Show bag by “Typhoid” Timmy. “We’ll wrap this around the ball.”
“You can’t put one metre of prime licorice around a cricket ball!” I shouted.
Booger considered this. “You’re right. Make it 50cm.” He turned to me. “You do it. You’re our worst bowler. They won’t suspect you.” Booger’s eyes lit up like a demon’s. He wanted to win at all costs. His ambition scared me.
I picked up the 50cm of licorice … then stuffed it down my pants.
“Alea iacta east,” said that weird kid who previously went to a private school.
We could tell right away that the plan was working.
Thanks to the licorice, the ball had no “roll”. What would have been easy fours turned out to be singles. The Southie batting attack was blunted. Southie dads yelled in anger.
We could win this thing after all.
Disaster struck in the 10th over. “Bomber” Brown blocked a ball rather than swinging for the fence. The ball stopped in front of him. And the licorice peeled off.
“Perfidy!” he shouted.
We were busted. It was on for young and old. Fistfights between dads in the car park. Social snubbings between mums in the supermarket. BMX tyres were slashed.
“Will we ever learn to trust again?” proclaimed the school newspaper, printed off the MicroBee computers.
Our principal immediately called for “Booger” to stand down as captain.
“It is unbelievable that our cricket team would be involved in ball tampering,” he thundered. “Don’t you know that you are role models for the under eights?”
As we hung our heads in shame, he continued. “The entire team will be on schoolyard clean-up duties for the next month. Now go and take a long, hard look at yourselves.” “Booger” was never the same afterwards. He gave away all of his Star Wars toys – including the extremely rare Boba Fett with accessory rocket launcher, a sign of his mental torment – before his family moved out of the district.
We had tarnished Under Nines cricket forever.
One could say the shame of the “Licorice 11” lives on to this day.

My thriller Game Of Thrones: The Spartan is out now as an ebook and paperback.

In the event China went to war with the United States, the Chinese military had prepared a list of American targets it called “the irreplaceables”. These “irreplaceables” were the best of the best of their enemy: brilliant men and women whose genius-level talent and brainpower could potentially sway any conflict.

Sourced from all races, colors and creeds, “the irreplaceables” had the ability to win battles, create entire industries from scratch, plan trillion-dollar economies, out-think the world’s smartest people, imagine the future and forge the technology and circumstances to bring a country there.

They were once-in-a-generation types, the flukes of nature that sprang up at random, the prodigies that even China – with its own gene pool of 1 billion-plus very smart, very hard-working people – feared. They were the Isaac Newtons of their eras, the Einsteins, the Marie Curies. They were threats to China’s future hegemony.

Their skills and abilities were so impressive that they would be impossible to replace: hence the name.

America would bleed if the irreplaceables bled.

The leader had seen some of the names of the irreplaceables.

Now he decided to act against them.

Game Of Killers: The Spartan is out now as an ebook and paperback.

He’s the special forces soldier taking down his country’s enemies around the world.
He’s an irresistible force of patriotism and violence that leaves a trail of bodies in his wake.
He’s a loose cannon who plays by his own rules.
But he’s not Rambo. He’s Len Feng.
And his latest story – Wolf Warrior 2 – has earned more than $US800 million in China, making it the biggest-grossing Chinese film in history.
It is also the second-biggest movie of all time in a single market after Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
With the Chinese box office rivalling Hollywood’s for the first time ever, Tinseltown is sitting up and paying attention.
Which leads us to ask: is the world ready for a Chinese Rambo?
If you ask the box office, then the answer is emphatically yes. Chinese audiences have enjoyed seeing arrogant Western mercenaries being taken down a peg, particularly chief baddie Big Daddy (Frank Grillo from the Captain America movies).
“Like Sylvester Stallone before him, and John Wayne before Stallone, star Wu Jing (who also directs) has successfully exploited the crowd-pleasing potential of enhancing militaristic action-adventure heroics with a heavy dose of flag-waving patriotism,” says Variety’s Joe Leydon.
On the surface it’s Rambo with a Chinese twist: Hollywood action meets Eastern patriotism in a violent ballet of gunfights, fistfights and tank battles.
Yet Wolf Warrior 2 also tells the story of a rising China, ready to defend its various interests and national pride around the world. The tagline for the poster reads: “Whoever attacks China will be killed no matter how far the target is.”
Not only is Wolf Warrior 2 a sign of the new power of the Chinese movie market, it’s a sign of an increasingly muscular Chinese cinema, eager to project its soft power. In a world where Australia’s Foreign Police White Paper expresses concern with Chinese island building in the South China Sea, China needs a propaganda win.
Looking ahead, one could imagine future movies where China must its send heroes to defend its One Belt One Road investments from possibly Western-themed threats.
But back to Feng.
He has taken the metaphorical baton – or machine gun – from that disillusioned agent of empire, Rambo.
Once Rambo was a symbol of American military assertiveness writ large, fighting its battles by proxy on the big screen.
Rambo transcended his sympathetic origins as a troubled war veteran in First Blood to become an agent of propaganda in Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rambo III, rather shamelessly rewriting history so that America “won” in Vietnam in Part II.
The last time we saw him in 2008’s Rambo he was as tired as the American Empire itself, a victim of age and imperial overreach.
If Western heroes have become less confident and less jingoistic – take a look at Hugh Jackman’s magnificent swansong for Wolverine in Logan – Len Feng has no such problems. Nor does the actor who plays him, Wu Jing: “Why do only foreign nations get to have superheroes?” he told press. “In Hollywood, the hero can take on a whole army. Why can’t my character take on a dozen mercenaries?”
Wolf Warrior 2 also has another message: that we no longer exclusively need white, male Western heroes to save the world.
The trope of the great white saviour is in retreat in popular culture everywhere. Television shows such as The Defenders represent the idea that diversity is strength: that a blind man, a bulletproof African-American and a superpowered female detective can team together to save New York. (We’ll leave out mentioning Iron Fist, Exhibit A in the Western White Saviour/Cultural Appropriation wars).
Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is more than just a role model: she’s a bona fide box-office smash, topping the $800 million mark worldwide.
We finally have, after much fanboy wailing, a female Doctor Who.
Then there’s the rise and rise of multicultural films such as Lion, aka the fifth-biggest Australian film of all time at the local box office.
In such a diverse world, perhaps there is room for a Chinese Rambo.

My military thriller Game Of Killers: The Spartan is out now as an ebook and paperback.

Don Corleone
Job for life (literally)
Silicon Valley
Job until you’re 30 (so old)

Don Corleone

Must kill
Silicon Valley
Must code

Don Corleone
Job for life (literally)
Silicon Valley
Job until you’re 30 (so old)

Don Corleone
Workplace full of aggression
Silicon Valley
Workplace full of microaggression

Don Corleone
Must pay obeisance to all-powerful father figure
Silicon Valley
Must pay obeisance to all-powerful tech guru

Don Corleone
Co-workers mostly dudes
Silicon Valley
Co-workers mostly dudes

Don Corleone
“I loved that movie”
Silicon Valley
“I loved that TV show”

Don Corleone
Boss has a place at Lake Tahoe
Silicon Valley
Boss has a place at Lake Tahoe

Don Corleone
Johnny Fontaine sings at your office party
Silicon Valley
Demi Lovato sings at your office party

Don Corleone
“Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes”
Silicon Valley
“Luca Brasi sleeps in the office nap pod”

Don Corleone
Make people offers they can’t refuse
Silicon Valley
Make companies offers they can’t refuse

My military thriller Game Of Killers: The Spartan is out now as an ebook and paperback.

Belief.

It’s something in short supply these days.

I’m not talking about casual, commonplace, ersatz belief – like the belief that your pizza will arrive in 30 minutes or it’s free. Or that your favourite toothpaste will give your mouth a minty-fresh glow. Or the self-belief that motivational speakers spruik, quick fixes that last mere days because their foundations are weak and spurious.

There is no danger – or risk – in holding such beliefs.

No, I’m talking about the type of belief that our ancestors once had. The wild, fundamental belief that something is an absolute certainty despite a complete lack of proof. The belief that hundreds of years of science and technology has virtually wiped out in the modern world.

The belief that if you don’t pray to the gods, make the right sacrifice or live by the right moral code that you and your family will starve, that a rival tribe will destroy you or that your very existence will be shattered into a million pieces.

I’m talking about adamantine, rock-solid, bullet-proof belief.

As an entertainment journalist I’ve met a few A-list Hollywood stars who possessed such a bullet-proof belief. Such belief was mesmerising to observe close-up. Considering that Hollywood is one of the most competitive industries in the world, a powerful belief in one’s own star power is almost a pre-requisite.

But such belief isn’t something you see too often outside of Hollywood.

I realise now I first saw it in Billy Graham.

I was only eight when the late US evangelist visited Australia, preaching to thousands of the faithful at Randwick Racecourse.

As a mere youth I don’t remember much about that day. Certainly I stared up into the faces of all the adults and wondered why they were so mesmerised by Graham and his words. No … what I remember most is what happened when handfuls of people left the event prematurely, heading out across the track and into the distance.

Graham noticed.

I don’t remember what he said to them over the microphone, except that they should come back. And no, they didn’t suddenly turn around and return.

I found it funny at the time.

Now, as an adult, I have a different take.

No … what I now remember is the absolute certainty of Graham’s faith.

I believe he sincerely believed that the immortal souls of those stragglers were at risk if they didn’t return and embrace the Lord. He truly believed in the power and the words of his gospel. He truly believed he could make some type of difference in the world.

I’m not a religious person. The only time I attend church is Easter and Christmas, like the rest of lapsed Christendom.

As a cynical adult living in a world of technological marvels and scientific explanations, I don’t share in the belief of his gospel.

I studied postmodernism at university, which taught the belief that there is no such thing as absolute truth, religious or otherwise.

The only truth my First World generation believes in is that there are no real truths. We don’t believe in governments or corporations or even free will separated from the shackles of biological instinct. Our God is technology.

We barely believe in ourselves.

Perhaps that’s why as an adult I admire the adamantine faith of Graham because I know it’s something I could never have.

Perhaps I am like Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard, who wisftully longs to be a 19th-century man seething with anger, full of the type of questions the modern world has already solved.

In the First World, we may never see the likes of Graham’s adamantine belief again.

All we can do is mourn its passing, as if it were an endangered tiger.

Which, in a way, it is.

My new thriller Game Of Killers: The Spartan is out now as an ebook and paperback.