I’ve seen the Penrith Panther

IF you grew up in the outer fringes of Sydney or in the Blue Mountains, at some point you’ve likely heard the story of the Western Sydney Panther, or ‘the Lithgow Panther’, ‘the Richmond Panther’ or, well, you get the gist.

Like Bigfoot or the Abominable Snowman, the creature is largely viewed as legend, mainly because, well, what would a big cat be doing completely removed from its native habitat, stalking around the Australian bush and remaining pretty much unseen?

There are a number of possible explanations;

Some suggest the fact that a big cat has been seen infrequently and over such a large area is indicative of aliens. It’s not hard to understand why people scoff and mock alleged witnesses when a theory like that comes to head.

Some suggest the Panther (or its predecessor) was released by visiting military, who had brought the animal to the country as their mascot and then couldn’t be bothered taking it home.

One of the more popular theories is that it was an escapee from the now defunct ‘Bullen’s Animal World’ and ‘African Lions Safari’ that used to exist in Wallacia – right in the heart of the area in which the animal has most commonly been seen. The parks closed in 1986 and 1991 respectively but still housed the large animals afterwards, and a herd of lionesses even escaped in 1995.

Then there’s the belief that the alleged ‘Panther’ is just a HUGE feral cat – the byproduct of decades of breeding and aggression, perfectly evolved to live in such a vast and densely overgrown setting.

Last but not least are the large majority of people who simply think the whole thing is bullshit. All the theories are out there and easily finable on Google, but ultimately, despite dismissal and speculation, there have been over 600 sightings of the cat over the past two decades.

Actually, make that 601 – because it might surprise you to know that I HAVE SEEN THE PANTHER. Continue reading

You’re staring at my neck again

stare

Few people know Trudeau also has an eye-catching birthmark on his neck

We all have physical features, good or bad, that are unique and we subconsciously forget about from time to time. Some of them are visible, some of them are not.

I have a massive head, but most people don’t seem to notice until I try to wear a hat. Hats don’t fit me, despite their misleading ‘one size fits all’ claim. In high school my old man custom-made extra clips at the back of my school-issued cap because we were forced to wear them – much to the amusement of my friends. Even then it still left a big red ring around my head. That was back in 1997 so god knows how much bigger it is now.

I also have a dimple when I smile that is allegedly adorable, but being a heavily bearded man I haven’t seen it in years.

There’s one thing, though, that I often do forget about. It’s a birthmark on the right side of my neck, and it’s quite large. I’m not complaining, I’m aware of – and have also seen – people with far larger and more dominant birthmarks. Continue reading

Lessons from losing my wallet… again

Lost wallet

Stock image. Filled with far more valuable things than my own wallet, no doubt. 

AS anyone close to me will know, I’m no stranger to losing my personal effects. I’m not talking about random bits either. I’ve lost my phone at music festivals and other events and I’ve lost my wallet more times than I care to recall. That includes the time I lost it on the bus and chased said bus all the way to the other end of the main street, only to find my wallet had vanished in the space of 20 minutes.

Upon checking into my Melbourne hotel room on the weekend, I realised that I had lost it once again. It could have been in any number of places, too. It could have been at the airport in Sydney, it could have been on the plane, it could have been at Melbourne airport, it could have been on the bus we took from the airport to the city, it could even have been sitting somewhere randomly on the side of a Melbourne road, catching the eye of a human statue who could do little but stare.

Despite having not even a faint idea of it’s whereabouts, instead of getting frustrated and admonishing myself I remained oddly hopeful and unworried. Sure, it had all my bank cards, my drivers license, even my EB Games Membership Card (Level 2 and all!) and my membership card to the local leagues club, but all of those things can be replaced, right?

I called the airport, I called the airline, I lodged a lost property claim with the bus company, and I waited. No one had seen it. Still I wouldn’t let it bother me. I called the bank and had my cards temporarily suspended instead of cancelled and I went about having a great weekend. The only time I thought of my wallet was when I would do my pre-leaving check for personal effects.

On the morning of our return I thought I’d try one more time. I called the airline in Melbourne and they told me that in fact my wallet HAD been found, and turned in, BACK IN SYDNEY. My relief was palpable, despite being pretty sure it was all going to end for the best anyway. Somehow the wallet had made it back to Sydney on board the plane and been recovered by staff. Happy ending. My thanks to the people at Virgin.

What I realised during this time is that I DIDN’T NEED MY WALLET (or its contents) ONCE! Thanks to being able to check in digitally on flights with no ID, I got on the planes easily (what terrorism threat?). Thanks to cardless cash and being able to pay for things with your phone I didn’t need any of my cards either. Thanks to having a beard and looking older than already I am I wasn’t carded once. Not one time during the weekend was I left frustrated by not having my wallet.

I guess that just proves that there’s always something to learned, even if its relatively useless information and even a slightly sad indictment on modern times. I know we’re moving towards a cashless society and all our personal info is on a huge mass of various databases. I’m not naive.

Call me old fashioned, but I still like the feel of a fat leather object stuffed in my pants, so heavy with useless receipts, old cards, a guitar pick and other random shit that I have to make sure I’m wearing a belt just to stop it pulling my pants off. The days of the wallet might be slowly fading, but I’ll do my best to ensure it goes out in a blaze of slightly-warped-by-my-asscheeks glory. Vive le Wallet.

Solving the homeless problem

homelessTHE differences between Sydney and Melbourne are many, but one of the most prominent features I noticed on my recent trip south was the sheer abundance of charity cases trying to stop people on street corners, buskers (both good and truly appalling) everywhere and homeless people.

The first two didn’t really surprise me – in many ways Melbourne is what I imagine Sydney would be like if  people from Newtown were in charge. Cultural? Maybe – but at what cost? How many dreadlocks does a city really need?

What I didn’t expect, though, were the homeless people. Maybe up here they’re all residing in their tented communities in the middle of parks, but the number in Melbourne at any given time were astounding. They sit there, inert, often asleep, with those poorly written signs on damp cardboard that they know we’re not reading beyond the first line.

Continue reading

Metallica – Hardwired… To Self-Destruct Review

hardwired

SINCE THE RELEASE of Metallica’s new album I’ve come across a few reviews that start by sharing their personal stories with the band, primarily from people who were ‘into them’ even before Kill Em All came out or at least prior to the death of Cliff Burton.

Sadly my parents didn’t have the fortitude to conceive me before 1985 and I didn’t have the musical nous to purchase those early albums and subsequent street cred during my infancy. The fact that my Dad listened to Roy Orbison and my Mum is a Monkees fan also had some bearing. Continue reading

Pokemon Go and get stuffed

3dp_pokemongo_gameplay

‘That’s the last time I take acid before using Google maps’

On my walk home from the train station the other day I passed through a nearby park, as I do every evening. It’s normally dark at the time I’m making this journey, and the park is so poorly lit that it’s practically pitch black, even just after 6pm.

Previously, I’ve seen a person urinating, I’ve seen a guy presumably passed out (but possibly dead) against a fence, and I’ve also seen teens making out on the play equipment. What these people have in common is the preference for darkness and the anonymity it creates, and I’m always fine to leave them to their activities, marching on and listening to music as I think about what’s for dinner, and why it’s not always tacos.

So you can imagine my surprise when I happened across what looked like the disembodied head of an Asian girl about 14 years old standing in the middle of the darkness. What the fuck was she doing other than being terrifying? Why was she unsupervised in an unlit park at night? Was she a ghost? Was she doing a Peter Dutton impersonation?

No. It turns out her face was lit up by her phone screen, as nearly all kids faces are these days, and she was wandering around, completely oblivious to me, looking for something. I let her be. Continue reading

At The Movies With Javid #33

You’ve probably guessed from the complete lack of movie reviews in recent times that I haven’t been to the cinema in ages. Let’s face it – with Netflix, Stan (and yes, even sooky Presto) and the wonderful world of torrents – who the hell needs to?

For some reason, I did.

The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist

"Sorry Padre, take off my what?"

“Sorry father, take off my what?”

Some pretext: I dismissed this franchise as the usual popular horror jump-scare-and-not-much-else fest that most successful horror movies seem to be, without even viewing it. Then I watched the first one – on my couch, alone, in the dark, with headphones on and slightly drunk (the way I view most scary movies these days). It was an immersive experience that brought feelings of excitement, dread, fear and joy all in one. It was great. I changed my mind about the franchise that instant. The first Conjuring film is good.

Before attending this movie, at the cinema, on opening weekend (a STUPID idea in hindsight), I spent time trying to remember the last time I witnessed a ‘horror’ film in a movie theatre. Continue reading