Page 2 of 11

No one throws a sub-editor through a window, either … even when they take a red pencil to the very first line of an earth-shattering exposé”

There is no real estate lift-out featured with the headline “why it’s never been a better time to buy”

No one is asked to file 1000 words for page one and 500 “for the website”

No one is stabbed with a newspaper spike

It is journalistic tradition to ring a giant bell when you finish a story

There is no furious debate over whether to drop the cartoons to make more room for bigger stories

Hot type and Xerox machines became obsolete in journalism at least a year ago

There is way too little smoking in the office

No one is pictured wearing a hat with a “press” card stuck in the brim

No intern is forced to do a Starbucks run for pumpkin lattes

Journalists never succumb to random monologuing

There are no car chases or action montages

Tom Hanks makes editors seem “dangerously likeable”

Bob Odenkirk is pictured using something called a “pay phone”

No one rolls up their sleeves to reveal a tattoo in an edgy German newspaper font

No one sits around trying to make puns out of the names of Thai restaurants

In one scene, you can clearly see that someone has managed to solve the daily Sudoku

The Pentagon Papers are unveiled through cloak-and-dagger journalism rather than being discovered in a cabinet in a second-hand shop

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

Think you’ve got what it takes to be a spy?
The Australian Secret Intelligence Service is looking for a few good men and women.
Confidently dubbed “The Most Interesting Job Interview”, its online quiz will ask you a series of questions about the qualities needed to become an ASIS operative.
We reckon the interview needs a few tweaks. Here’s the questions they should be asking.

Being an intelligence officer is an exciting profession that requires a very specific skill set. What do you think the phrase “very specific skill set” means?

a) I’m good at recognising faces in a crowd
b) I can repeat overheard conversations verbatim
c) I’m a good communicator
d) I’m like Liam Neeson’s character from Taken

Did you really think we were referring to Liam Neeson’s character from Taken?

a) Yes
b) No
c) “If you let my daughter go now that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you, but if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill you.”

There was a clock on the wall when you came in. Did you see what time it was?

a) Noon
b) Zero Dark Thirty
c) Quitting Time
d) That was a trick question. In the age of the iPhone, no one uses clocks any more

As an intelligence officer most of your assignments will take place in the airport. Do you find that knowledge depressing?

a) Yes
b) No
c) Yes

We need you to persuade this flight attendant to give you an aisle seat. How will you do it?

a) Tell her you work for ASIS
b) Talk to her and read her facial reactions until she smiles at you, suggesting sympathy to your plight. Then ask her
c) Beg
d) Throw a hissy fit and threaten to put your tantrum online so it will go viral and shame the company

Now we’re on the plane. Please try to spot the terrorist on the plane. Is it?

a) Tom
b) Dick
c) Harry
d) The only person on the plane not hunched down over a smartphone. Clearly they’re an oddball

ISIS officers are good at noticing small details. Did you recognise which flight was cancelled back at the airport?

a) New York
b) London
c) Canberra
d) Bali. Totally gutted

In intelligence, it’s important to have sharp ears as well as sharp eyes. Listen to this crowded conversation and tell us what the woman on the left ordered.

a) It was too difficult to follow
b) She had linguine on Bourke Street
c) She had penne arrabiata on the Death Star
d) No need. I’ll just read her Yelp review

Can you do us a quick impression of Sean Connery as James Bond?

a) No
b) No
c) “Morning, Mish Moneypenny.”
We can’t actually tell you which answers you got right or wrong (except for when you answered D – that was always right). But our overall results suggest that being a spy might be right for you. Now if you can just figure out where to send your application …

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

Ever since the publication of Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends And Influence People in 1936, the business community has been obsessed with books whose olde-worlde wisdom could allegedly be used in real-life situations.
Everything from Machiavelli’s The Prince to Sun Tzu’s Art Of War, the Tao Te Ching and even the Bible have been examined ad nauseum in the belief that it would give today’s business leaders some vague edge over the competition.
And yet, perhaps for a few faint gems of wisdom (“all warfare is based on deception”) these books have had little practical wisdom to offer  a 21st-century full of office workers rather than, say, rival Chinese warlords.
With this in mind, Mark Corrigan’s first book, Business Secrets Of The Pharaohs, can best be described as “brave”.
The first warning that Corrigan’s tome might be problematic was the fact that the publisher – who we had never heard of, and whom none of our colleagues in the publishing industry had heard of, either – spelt Mark’s surname wrong on the cover (along with the word “Pharaohs”).
Nor was it a good sign that this review copy was left in the private bathroom of our main reviewer, with a note asking if we would kindly look at this “promising author’s new wrok”.
After such an inauspicious beginning, it is perhaps not surprising that Corrigan himself doubts the power of his own words, seemingly naysaying the whole enterprise with a self-negating quote on the inside front cover.
“The first thing is to acknowledge that the ancient Egyptian era is so completely different from our own that any cultural, political and business parallels that we draw between the two eras are, by their nature, almost bound to be wrong,” he writes.
Full marks, at least, for Mark’s honesty.
Sadly, Mark lacks the confidence of other blaggers in the business self-help industry, continuing to shoot down each argument with some self-effacing, hopelessly middle-class British remark.
It’s almost as if he doesn’t believe in his heart that there really are any cultural, political and business parallels to be drawn between an agrarian civilisation ruled by godkings and a modern Britain governed by EU rules.
How else to explain his assertion that Egyptian hieroglyphics are an “ancient form of emoji?” Or that business managers should be worshipped as a type of living god?
The comparison between the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Millennium Dome in the chapter entitled “Build Something Really Big To Awe The Proletariat” can only be regarded as tongue firmly in cheek.
We sense a kind of envy in Mark at the autocratic power of the pharaohs. They knew how to “get things done”, unshackled by “Brussels bureaucracy”. Certainly, there would have been no Brexit under Ramesses I. Or unions. (He also makes unflattering comparisons with the British Government and Rommel.)
The fact that the last third of the book is written in all caps – and by all indications, in some sort of frenzied state, as if chasing some self-imposed deadline – further removes any enjoyment for the reader. (One sentence is interrupted by the comment “get out of the room and leave me alone, Jez”. Was that some flawed reference to Sedge and Bee, the symbols of Upper and Lower Egypt?).
We can’t also escape the impression that the book consists entirely of cheap-quality printouts.
Business Secrets Of The Pharaohs would have benefitted from a better editor – or, indeed, sign of any type of editor.
Still, despite everything, we detect a sliver of potential in Mark Corrigan’s work.

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

Set the wayback machine, Sherman, to 2006, when rising director and now Star Wars imagineer Rian Johnson dropped the compelling high school noir drama known as Brick.

I recommend you check it out. Oh, and also check out my interview with him in those heady pre-Star Wars days here.

Would be awesome too if you checked out my new thriller Game Of Killers, now available as an ebook and paperback.



“This is a great freaking book. The style matches the tempo, matches the storyline, and flows wonderfully. I enjoyed reading this, even though I am not a big fan of plot heavy books, or thrillers. But if you are, you’re so going to love this book.”

You can find Cristian Mihai’s five-star review here.


What’s wrong with this year’s season of Rick And Morty?
It can be summed up in six words.
Never mess with the dramaturgical dyad.
Or, to put it another way: the “Poochie Syndrome” strikes again.
Set the wayback machine, Sherman, to that classic episode of The Simpsons where the creators of subversive cartoon-within-a-cartoon Itchy And Scratchy are grappling with the malaise affecting the show. Lisa Simpson gives the best insight where she says that after so many episodes, it’s hard to have the same effect on viewers. The show has simply lost its novelty value.
But the creators decide to tweak with the formula – to tweak, as it were, the “dramaturgical dyad” behind Itchy And Scratchy.
Enter Poochie: the skateboarding dog with attitude. He’s extreme. He’s edgy. He’s whatever buzzwords the focus groups behind capturing the younger demographic want him to be.
Poochie proves to be a disaster and is soon written out of the show (much to Homer’s chagrin).
Yet I can’t help but think that some of the problems of Poochie’s brief stardom also plague the story of Rick And Morty.
Was season three a good season? Yes.
Is R&M still one of the best shows on TV and the best animated comedy, exceeding even Archer and Bojack Horseman in their prime? Yes.
Was S3 as good as the past two seasons? No.
Are we as disappointed as those loyal fans who flocked to McDonald’s outlets to sample the legendary Mulan Szechuan sauce, only to discover that outlets had only stocked a few dozen samples rather than enough rations to feed a Roman legion? Yes.
Why? For a start, the dramaturgical dyad at the heart of the show has been messed with. There are fewer typical adventures with Rick and Morty alone and more ensemble pieces. Some are excellent (Pickle Rick!!!). Some are simply great. And some make us yearn for the good old days when it was just Rick and Morty taking on the universe’s infinite dimensions.
It is here that I must quote writer and comedy expert Steve Kaplan’s straight line/wavy line theory of comedy: “It arises from one person being blind in regard to their own actions, and the other seeing, but having no idea what to do with that knowledge. One is struggling to understand, while the other is blithely ignorant.”
Rick is the one blind or oblivious (or, more likely, just doesn’t care) about the results of his actions.
Morty can see that what Rick is doing is morally wrong but lacks the knowledge (in this instance, the genius-level scientific IQ) to fix the problem. Plus he’s the kid in the relationship. He can’t tell the adult what to do.
Together they form the straight line-wavy line dynamic.
I remember Kaplan quoting during his excellent class in Sydney a particular adventure comedy where both characters were essentially the same person: devil-may-care heroes who were too similar to bounce off of each other. You can’t have two straight lines or two wavy lines for comedy to work.
Rick and Morty, the scientific sociopath and his anxious teen grandson, are the most dissimilar people on the show, the real Abbott and Costello act.
Beth has inherited her father’s brains (and, as one episode suggests, some of his ruthless amorality): Summer, though a worthy sidekick, is too knowing and less willing to put up with grandpop’s shit: while Jerry is just everyone’s punching bag, more beta than even Morty.
The other thing I want to add is that Rick shows disturbing signs of having learnt valuable moral lessons this season – in particular, during the oddly unsatisfying finale.
That doesn’t gel with the Rick we’ve grown to love over the past two seasons. He’s a world wrecker who doesn’t care about the consequences of his actions. He’ll build a world just to power his spaceship battery. He’ll kill versions of himself from other galaxies. He even exiled his own son-in-law because he crossed him.
At heart, we want Rick to remain the magnificent amoral bastard he has always been. We want him always on the verge of being thrown out of the family home due to his asshole actions. We want the smartest mammal in the universe to remain unwilling or unable to figure out how his actions threaten his family and even Earth itself.
Rick’s world is a world where “nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere and everybody’s gonna die”.
We want the Seinfeld rule to remain in effect. No one every learns anything. No one becomes a better person.
The genius of Seinfeld is that it clove true to its own dramaturgical quartet. At any given time and in any given situation, we knew how Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer would react. By the end of the show, none of them had learned enough to know that it was wrong to laugh at a portly man being mugged, let alone not intervene. (In today’s world, they would have filmed it on their iPhones and uploaded it onto YouTube).
So yes, give us more of our classic dramaturgical dyad, please.
And more Szechuan sauce.

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

“What was Harry Dean Stanton’s best movie: Repo Man or Paris, Texas?”
That was the question that sadly popped up on my Facebook feed with the overnight news that Harry Dean Stanton had passed away, aged 91.
Not to take anything away from Stanton’s other fantastic, memorable work (Twin Peaks et al), delivered by a character actor with his heart on his wrinkled sleeve and his soul on his weathered face, but for my greenbacks his greatest movie was Repo Man.
It never won the Palme d’Or like Paris, Texas. In fact, Alex Cox’s, low-budget cult comedy was underappreciated upon its release in 1984. But it won my heart. I’ve probably watched it more than any other comedy and I enjoy it every time.
“A volatile, toxic potion of satire and nihilism, road movie and science fiction, violence and comedy, the unclassifiable sensibility of Alex Cox’s Repo Man is the model and inspiration for a potent strain of post-punk American comedy that includes not only Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction), but also early Coen brothers (Raising Arizona, in particular), Men In Black, and even (in a weird way) The X-Files,” wrote film critic Jim Emerson.
Stanton’s Bud, a veteran repo man with a hatred of hippies, Christians, rival repo men and those with poor credit history, is a masterclass in character acting. The dry bon mots drop from Stanton’s lips like blessed ash from a cigarette.
“See, an ordinary person spends his life avoiding tense situations … a repo man spends his life getting into tense situations,” Bud tells his young repo man apprentice Otto (Emilio Estevez in what I regard as his best role as well).
Those words stack up as one of the best raison d’etres I’ve ever heard from Hollywood.
And the lives of repo men Bud and Otto ARE hilariously intense, taking in everything from car chases, a lobotomised nuclear scientist with the corpse of an alien in the boot of his Chevy Malibu, the CIA, John Wayne in a dress, sex, drugs, violence and religion.
Stanton is the no-shit nihilistic centre of Cox’s satire on American society: the real deal in a world full of phoniness, his adventures set to a killer soundtrack featuring Iggy Pop, The Circle Jerks and Black Flag.
There is no redemption for anyone in Repo Man. Everyone is out to make a buck; aliens exist; the rules are for suckers; revenge is taken; the government is intrusive and brutal, shitting on the little man and the small businessmen.
Even our hero, Otto, a white suburbanite punk turned repo hustler, remains a reprobate to the end. He is never more hilarious than when he finds his old friend and workmate Kevin, brutally beaten, under a sheet in hospital, then briskly walks away with perfect comic timing.
Yet still we cheer on our repo men. They have a code: something that separates them from the cowardly average consumer, dulled as they are by society, seduced by organised religion, too afraid to break the rules.
“Look at those assholes, ordinary fucking people. I hate ‘em,” says Bud.
We are invited to hate ordinary people, too. And we do.
For all their faults, our repo men were alive. They lived.
So did Stanton.
And he brought it to the screen every time.

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

  1. In the beginning no one believes the internet is coming
  2. Old dudes like the maesters dismiss that the internet is coming because they’re too stuck in their ways (work in legacy media)
  3. Tiny, potentially disruptive start-ups (or “dragons”) aren’t regarded as a threat because they’re too small and no one believes they exist (can make money online)
  4. The people warning that the internet is coming are all millennials
  5. So naturally they’re the disruptive heroes of GOT
  6. The Night King – leader of the white walkers and its key social media influencer – is created by forest millennials
  7. Signs that the internet is still coming are dismissed as Gen X/boomer kings and queens squabble among each other, unable to present a united defence (find a way to “monetise” the net)
  8. The army of the internet grows exponentially, its users becoming mindless zombies
  9. By the time the “dragons” have grown up and ravaged the music, newspaper, entertainment and consumer industries, it’s too late to stop them
  10. The internet arrives and everyone loses their mindsMy new thriller Game Of Killers: The Spartan is out now as an ebook and paperback.

For my money, Littlefinger is the smartest man in Game of Thrones: the Sun Tzu of Westeros. I find his quotes full of applicable life wisdom.

Here are my favourite 10 (don’t forget to read them in his voice).

“Fight every battle, everywhere, always in your mind. Everyone is your enemy, everyone is your friend. Every possible series of events is happening all at once. Live that way and nothing will surprise you.”
Critics of the latest episode found this to be nonsense, but I found it profound. Figuring out all the angles ahead of time is why Littlefinger is still alive when so many others are now lying in the dust.

“Always keep your foes confused. If they are never certain of who you are or what you want, they cannot know what you are likely to do next.”
Deception is vital in war.

“You know what I learnt losing that duel? I learnt that I’ll never win. Not that way. That’s their game, their rules.
Don’t fight on your opponent’s terms and rules. Sun Tzu via Littlefinger.

“Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder.”
Perhaps his most famous quote and very true. Crisis equals opportunity.

“When the queen proclaims one king and the king’s Hand proclaims another, whose peace do the Gold Cloaks protect? Who do they follow? The man who pays them.”
Call it the Golden Rule … whoever has the gold makes the rules.

“So many men, they risk so little. They spend their whole lives avoiding danger, and then they die. I’d risk everything to get what I want.”
YOLO meets fortune favours the brave.

“There’s no justice in this world, not unless we make it.”
Evil triumphs when good men and women do nothing.

“It doesn’t matter what we want, once we get it we want something else.”
Littlefinger knows all about the headonic treadmill and the endless nature of desire.

“We only make peace with our enemies. That’s why it’s called ‘making peace’.” Littlefinger channelling Don Corleone: keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

“Which is more dangerous, the dagger brandished by an enemy, or the hidden one pressed to your back by someone you never even see?”
Fear the enemy who isn’t in front of you.
Littlefinger’s talent is to defeat his enemies – Ned Stark, Joffrey – without open warfare ever being declared.
To quote Sun Tzu: “To win 100 victories in 100 battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”

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