Top 20 Top 20s for 2020

Blatant self-promotion disguised as ‘meta-ironic’ list fetish

Words & images  Paul Ransom

UPDATE: April 2020. Since writing this piece in late December, events have moved on significantly. Firstly, we now find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic, the response to which has curtailed, postponed and cancelled much what was planned or looked forward to this year. Secondly, my marketing friend turned out to be wrong. Not just a bit wrong, but spectacularly wrong. Partly, this pleases me – because I am deeply cynical of the marketing mindset and its corrosive effects on art and its distorting, reductionist and crassly commercialising influence on our culture more broadly – but, from a more personal perspective, it is obviously disappointing (as you shall discover). That said, the first quarter of 2020 has made the list-a-thon below even more interesting than it was on New Year’s Day.   


He was quite clear about it. “Audiences really respond to the personal stuff,” he argued. “Otherwise you’re just a byline; and who cares about that?”

My instinct was to cringe. (Anything that smacks of marketing orthodoxy or calls to mind the ‘self as brand’ cult tends to churn the stomach.) However, when I took a moment to look up from my bubble of righteous refusal, I thought, well, why not. Not only do I have virtually nothing to lose but, if the recommended ‘personalisation exercise’ does indeed serve to flesh my author credit out into a more human form, then some good will have come. After all, I have written on this site and elsewhere about the pitfalls of dehumanising ideology, so what better response than to humanise myself; to illustrate that beneath the fancy vocab is an ordinary man. A guy who eats, reads, has favourite bands and sometimes lets himself get irritated by inconsequential shit.

To that end – and in the easy to swallow manner of the age – I present my Top 20 list of Top 20 lists for 2020.

(Insert your best vision related and/or numeral based puns here.)

Moreover, as my adviser duly counselled, I shall present the following super-listicle as a series of twenty daily updates, counting down to New Year’s Day 2020. “You’ll engage people more fully that way,” he insisted, his voice dripping with social media savvy.

Whether or not this listing frenzy drives my book* sales north or sends the stat bots into a lather of excitement remains to be seen. Likewise, for the reputed humanisation effect. After all, a list of lists, however revealing, is not a life. Nor a real person. Rather, it’s a performative version of self. In this instance, self as letters and numbers. Self as ones and zeroes.

But hey, we’re not here to quibble…we’re here to indulge a penchant for lists and, along the way, engage. So, let’s list. Oh, and touch points and so on. 

* The Pointless Revolution! (The Economics Of Doing Whatever You Want) is out now, published by Everytime Press. Buy a copy in print or electronic form right here.

List # 1/20: December 13, 2019

20 banal identity markers you can use to stereotype me

(in crudely essentialised order)

We begin our Xmas/NY list-a-thon with brows suitably raised and tongue firmly in cheek. Given the present state of the public discourse, it seems entirely appropriate to delve into the fizzing quagmire of identity politics. Thus, to give you all something to hang your respective hats on, (and to make the like/dislike choice that much easier), here’s 20 identity flags for you to reduce me to. So much for humanisation. ^^    

  • 1: Mammal
  • 2: Primate
  • 3: Balding, middle aged, single guy
  • 4: Short sighted contact lens wearer
  • 5: Left-handed English person
  • 6: Brightonian (from the town where I was born)
  • 7: Melburnian (from the city where I live)
  • 8: Inner urban, red wine drinking, book reader
  • 9: Black coffee drinking cinephile
  • 10: Childless divorcee
  • 11: Critic
  • 12: Gig economy worker
  • 13: Tertiary graduate
  • 14: PC user
  • 15: Mac user (which means I’m bi-tecxual)
  • 16: Existentialist
  • 17: Bird feeder
  • 18: Football fan
  • 19: Renter
  • 20: Immigrant

List # 2/20: December 14, 2019

20 miscellaneous items of over-share, carelessly surrendered to ad bots, NSA types and sundry trolls

Despite widespread concerns about faceless, data mining corporate juggernauts and surveillance addicted state actors, I hereby flout the rules of digital paranoia with a slew of flagrant disclosure. Let’s see if the ads get any ‘better’ or if a covertly funded NSA death squad comes a knockin’. (NB: If you’re reading this post, I’m probably rotting to death in a gulag somewhere.)    

  • 1: I have a ‘thing’ for shop girls (as opposed to a real girlfriend)
  • 2: Despite decades of evidence, and countless photos, I am still alarmed by what I see in the mirror
  • 3: If there’s one cohort I’m tempted to unfairly essentialise it’s bourgeois hippies
  • 4: If you’re racist, sexist or homophobic, vote hard right or spout conspiracy, we’re probably not gonna get along
  • 5: I am yet to watch an episode of Game Of Thrones
  • 6: In the right context, I may be considered an ambidextrous onanist
  • 7: I have, in moments of ridiculous fancy, entertained the notion T.E. Lawrence is my spiritual twin
  • 8: Drug of choice: caffeine (as delivered by coffee)
  • 9: Guitar hero: Kevin Shields from My Bloody Valentine
  • 10: I consciously avoid certain brands: McDonalds, Bayer/Monsanto, Nestle, Starbucks, etc.  
  • 11: I have an ‘issue’ with door handles (no, really)
  • 12: I often swear in frustration at computers and phones (especially after they update)
  • 13: I’m quite fond of afternoon siestas
  • 14: I still buy physical product (books, CDs, DVDs), as opposed to doing everything digitally
  • 15: Breakfast of choice: a small bowl of roasted almonds with goji berries
  • 16: Rice of choice: special fried
  • 17: Favourite radio station: BBC World Service
  • 18: Favourite app: Shazam
  • 19: I still enjoy studying maps & atlases
  • 20: I may well have a fetish for lists

List # 3/20: December 15, 2019

20 memorable food & drink experiences since 2000

Just to prove how human I am – is that a touch point? – I can now make the astonishing confession that I eat and drink on a regular basis. Mostly, it’s an unremarkable act; often mildly pleasant, rarely memorable. The twenty menu items below are the clearest post-millennium exceptions I can think of. 

  • 1: Being introduced to Cold Drip one hot summer day in St Kilda
  • 2: Eating a Donkey Burger in Dunhuang, China
  • 3: Chef friend Josephine’s lasagne
  • 4: Dining at Nautilus, Port Douglas
  • 5: First Espresso Martini experience, North Adelaide
  • 6: Being introduced to Kewpie (Japanese mayo) by my friend Guy
  • 7: Dining (and filming) at Stefano’s, Mildura
  • 8: Eating duck at Longrain, Melbourne
  • 9: Eating, dancing tango & ‘DJing’ at Russell’s, Willunga
  • 10: Disastrous & absurdly overpriced Sunday BBQ thing, Neutral Bay in Sydney (fucking shit)
  • 11: Dining at Ciccolina’s in St Kilda on Guy’s 50th
  • 12: Chef friend Lou’s fetta & caramelised onion tarts (at several house parties in Glenelg)
  • 13: My first visit to the night markets in Lanzhou, China (and those flame grilled lamb skewer things)
  • 14: Making (and then eating) fresh pasta with Josephine
  • 15: The ‘boursin pizza’ at Nico’s, Glenelg
  • 16: My ex-wife punching me in the kitchen at a Festive Season dinner party we were hosting (before storming off in a huff and returning, becalmed, 15 mins later to act as if nothing had happened)
  • 17: Shopping at the Gaganis Brothers warehouse, Adelaide (for dinner parties like the one above)
  • 18: My mother inadvertently giving away a very expensive D’Arenberg red I was cellaring in her cupboard (I’m told the lucky recipients were rather pleased)
  • 19: Being mistaken for Gordon Ramsey on a boozy all-nighter on Chapel Street, Melbourne (and showered with free drinks on that basis)
  • 20: Breakfast at the Arid Land’s Botanic Gardens, Port Augusta (ordinary food, lousy coffee; but the view of the blue Flinders Ranges that morning was sublime)  

List # 4/20: December 16, 2019

20 albums discovered serendipitously since 2000

(roughly in order of chance discovery)

Yes, I am indeed one of those people who, when they hear a cool record playing in a shop or café will either Shazam it or buy it on the spot. As a lifelong music lover, I habitually filter the airwaves for great new tunes and, every now and then, I stumble upon them accidentally. Since the turn of century this has happened numerous times. The list below represents this sonic serendipity as best I can recall (or am prepared to admit).  

  • 1: New Order: Get Ready
  • 2: Coldplay: Parachutes
  • 3: Boozoo Bajou: Satta
  • 4: M83: Before The Dawn Heals Us
  • 5: Nouvelle Vague: self titled
  • 6: Hird: Moving On
  • 7: The Magic Numbers: self titled
  • 8: The xx: xx
  • 9: The Drums: Portamento
  • 10: Sharon van Etten: Tramp
  • 11: Emma Ruth Rundle: Some Heavy Ocean
  • 12: The National: Alligator
  • 13: The Besnard Lakes: Until In Excess, Imperceptible UFO
  • 14: Ben Howard: Every Kingdom
  • 15: Pearls: Pretend You’re Mine
  • 16: Angel Olsen: My Woman
  • 17: Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions: Until The Hunter
  • 18: Yo La Tengo: There’s A Riot Going On
  • 19: Nadia Reid: Preservation
  • 20: Beach House: Bloom

List # 5/20: December 17, 2019

20 acts of shameless name dropping (or, celebs I’ve interviewed)

(in order of how interesting I recall them being)

Since 1992 I have had the great fortune of working in the arts media. This has meant plentiful opportunities to interview fascinating folk from around the world. I have lost count of the numbers and forgotten many of the names; but some stick out. The following list does not necessarily infer fandom but, rather, that there was something especially fascinating about the interview(s). Either the content was great or the brief connection we were able to make (mostly over the phone) went beyond the merely professional.

  • 1: Malcolm McClaren: punk rock provocateur
  • 2: David Suzuki: environmentalist
  • 3: Fiona Horne: Def FX frontwoman, celebrity Wiccan
  • 4: William Forsythe: choreographer
  • 5: Don Dunstan: former Premier of South Australia
  • 6: Annie Sprinkle: sex activist, performer
  • 7: Courtney Taylor Taylor: Dandy Warhols frontman
  • 8: Anouk van Dijk: choreographer
  • 9: Kathy Lette: author
  • 10: Jello Biafra: Dead Kennedy’s frontman
  • 11: Nicola Gunn: writer, solo performance artist
  • 12: Johnny Marr: The Smiths guitarist
  • 13: Anne Summers: feminist author
  • 14: Michael Franti: Spearhead & Disposable Heroes frontman
  • 16: Blixa Bargeld: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Einsturzende Neubauten
  • 17: Tim Winton: author
  • 18: Isabel Allende: author
  • 19: Adalita: singer-songwriter, Magic Dirt frontwoman
  • 20: Bobby Gillespie: Primal Scream frontman

List # 6/20: December 18, 2019

20 individuals (historic or otherwise) who have inspired, encouraged, educated and enthralled me

(in roughly temporal order)

Human history is suffused with great figures; and indeed, rather than fixating with modern celebrity I have tended to find inspiration in the roll call of history. Of those listed, I would have serious philosophical and ethical differences with some – and indeed a bunch of them acted in violent and tyrannical ways that don’t sit well with me. Yet, each of these twenty remarkable people have lit a spark in me. I confess that the so-called ‘connection’ is often spurious and rooted in a combination of curiosity, vanity and incomplete information. Thus, in a way, this is a misleading catalogue. (Okay, so I’m contradictory. What of it?)

  • 1: Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV)
  • 2: Siddhartha
  • 3: Socrates
  • 4: Julius Caesar
  • 5: Augustus Caesar
  • 6: Marcus Aurelius
  • 7: Bodhidharma
  • 8: Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī
  • 9: Joan of Arc
  • 10: Leonardo da Vinci
  • 11: Teresa of Avila
  • 12: Friedrich Nietzsche
  • 13: Oscar Wilde
  • 14: T.E. Lawrence
  • 15: Maria Montessori
  • 16: Gandhi
  • 17: Eleanor Roosevelt
  • 18: Don Dunstan
  • 19: Phoolan Devi
  • 20: Greta Thunberg

List # 7/20: December 19, 2019

20 books most recently read

(in reverse order, as best I recall them)

It’s true – I still buy books. From actual shops. I love the smell of paper and ink. I love to read in bed. I enjoy the sight of a well-stocked bookshelf. No surprise that I almost always have a book on the go. To illustrate, the list below captures my recent reading habits. You may draw what conclusions or cast what aspersions you may.      

  • 1: Jesse Norman: Adam Smith (What He Thought & Why It Matters)
  • 2: Marina Abramovic: Walk Through Walls
  • 3: George Orwell: Keep The Aspidistra Flying*
  • 4: Carson McCullers: The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter
  • 5: Steven Pinker: Enlightenment Now
  • 6: Anaïs Nin: A Spy In The House Of Love
  • 7: Nikki Gemmell: The Bride Stripped Bare*
  • 8: Susan Cain: Quiet*
  • 9: Graham Green: Brighton Rock
  • 10: Yukio Mishima: The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea
  • 11: T.E. Lawrence: The Mint*
  • 12: Joseph E. Stiglitz: The Price Of Inequality
  • 13: Bobby Duffy: The Perils Of Perception
  • 14: Christopher Isherwood: A Single Man
  • 15: Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid’s Tale*
  • 16: John Williams: Stoner
  • 17: Amir D. Aczel: Finding Zero
  • 18: Albert Camus: The Plague*
  • 19: Mary Shelley: Frankenstein
  • 20: Karen Blixen: Out Of Africa

* Re-read

List # 8/20: December 20, 2019

20 favourite gigs since 2000

(in roughly ranking order)

Inveterate music fan that I am, I have something of a passion for live music, especially when it’s loud and backed with a mesmeric, retina frying light show. However, the makings of a memorable gig don’t always centre around musicianship, speaker stacks or smart lighting grids. Some of the gigs on the list happened in cramped, acoustically awful spaces. Others in crusty warehouses, on moonlit ovals, or atop kitschy bars in garish seaside theme parks. Some had big money production, others were content to collect gold coin donations at the door. All, in their own way, were superb.  

  • 1: New Order
  • 2: Godspeed You! Black Emperor
  • 3: Go Betweens
  • 4: Pixies
  • 5: Elbow
  • 6: Placebo
  • 7: Senyawa
  • 8: Silver Ray
  • 9: Manuel Göttsching
  • 10: Kosheen
  • 11: Die Die Die
  • 12: Lloyd Cole
  • 13: Glen Hansard
  • 14: Sonic Youth
  • 15: Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • 16: Evoletah
  • 17: Jezabels
  • 18: My Bloody Valentine
  • 19: Destrends
  • 20: Mindy Meng Wang

List # 9/20: December 21, 2019

20 character shaping events & choices since 2000

(in roughly chronological order)

The ‘me’ of late 1999 would be nigh unrecognisable. Sure, through-lines remain intact and ancient proclivities continue to express themselves, but the diatance between 34 and 54 is almost interstellar. Indeed, it is reasonable to suggest that I would not be authoring this article, building this website or publishing a book on happiness (Pointless Revolution!) were it not for the events and choices that have shaped my life across the last two decades. Some of the things listed were bloody awful at the time; and it is for these I am most grateful. 

  • 1: Spectacular last minute novel publishing non-event (publisher bust, books impounded)
  • 2: Marriage break-up
  • 3: Letting most of what I owned…go
  • 4: Quitting steady job to go live in the tropics
  • 5: Qutting tropics to go live in a new city (Melbourne)
  • 6: Deciding to go fully freelance (writing, filmmaking, etc) and dedicate myself to ‘art’
  • 7: A sequence of ruinous, humiliating sexual/romantic affairs & crushes that amplified my self-doubt & self-loathing to dangerous levels
  • 8: The conscious decision to ‘surrender’
  • 9: Deciding to take up guitar (and sticking with it thus far)
  • 10: Confronting lifelong sugar addiction (and actually doing something about it)
  • 11: Being involved in a spectacular (but luckily benign) outback car crash
  • 12: Ceasing all activities (preening, acting cool, etc) designed to make me appealing to women
  • 13: Not quite succeeding at #12 (followed by a further sequence of hurtful rejections)
  • 14: Recognising that time is my most valuable asset (and adopting a risk/reward strategy around its investment in people, projects & personal narratives)
  • 15: Intervening to help save a young man’s life during a filming trip in China
  • 16: The ‘ecstasy of nothingness’ moment (coming just days after the previous event)
  • 17: Finally, and (almost) fully accepting myself
  • 18: Re-committing to #12 (and sticking to it thus far)
  • 19: Finally finding the right mechanisms for dealing with predators, vampires, drama queens & other liars & abusers in both personal & professional fields (and, by extension, confirming trust in my instincts on these matters)
  • 20: The serious & sudden decline in eyesight currently challenging me to re-evaluate lifelong habits & complacencies (and asking deep existential questions of me)

List # 10/20: December 22, 2019

20 petty ‘first world’ gripes I don’t often voice in public

(in trivially annoying sequence)

Here in the historically privileged First World we love a good whinge. Cue the miserabilist moan of ideologues, the permanent and confected outrage of tabloid media, and the numerous self-enslaving narratives of conspiracy. However, sometimes we enjoy ‘sweating the small shit’ even more. You know, those minor irritations you just wish would go away. Well, I ain’t no saint; so here’s my basket of digital bitching. 

  • 1: MAMILs (middle aged peloton wannabes who race through ambling crowds with their expensive bikes and copycat lycra gear)
  • 2: The constant, apparently compulsory updating that fucks with my computer & phone
  • 3: Leaf blowers (and the spectacle of middle age men noisily blowing leaves around)
  • 4: Low slung pants and subsequent underwear display
  • 5: Obese adults waddling abreast, blocking footpaths, whilst guzzling junk & cola (and feeding it to their prematurely fattened offspring)
  • 6: Ugg boots
  • 7: The manifest incompetence, seeming inability to follow simple direction, and chronic late-running of most courier companies I have ever had the displeasure of dealing with
  • 8: The positioning of the CAPS LOCK key on my last three laptops (grrrr)
  • 9: Like, OMG, like, the overuse of like in, like, speech.
  • 10: ‘Touch point’ and ‘on point’ and other such marketing inspired drivel
  • 11: The miniscule font on bottles of contact lens cleaner (I mean, I wear contacts for a reason, right?)
  • 12: When media outlets say shit like “they campaign, we explain” (because I’m obviously too stupid)
  • 13: When media outlets pretend they care about me (because I’m really fucking stupid)
  • 14: When bikies rev loudly, forcing the rest of the street to endure the high pitched squeal of their puerile (possibly penile) inadequacies
  • 15: ‘Nom nom’
  • 16: Those goddam Grammarly ads
  • 17: American spelling and pronunciation (they butcher our language daily)
  • 18: My consistently atrocious typing
  • 19: Rich people pretending to be poor
  • 20: The Gold FM phenomenon (legislated nostalgia)

List # 11/20: December 23, 2019

20 favourite dance performances since 2000

(in an appropriately non-literal order)

Ever since my ex-wife elbowed me into attending a Frankfurt Ballet performance back in 1994 (William Forsythe’s Limb’s Theorem + In The Middle, Somewhat Elevated) I have been a gushing fan of contemporary dance. That I now write for an international dance publication – Dance Informa – is, therefore, no surprise. In this light, a list of fave dance shows is not as crazy as it seems. (I know I’m a dumb, white, middle aged, single, hetero man who isn’t supposed to have enough taste or sensitivity to enjoy the subtleties of modern dance; but no one told me that before William.)  

  • 1: We Unfold: Rafael Bonachela, Sydney Dance Co
  • 2: Sun: Hofesh Schechter
  • 3: An Act Of Now: Anouk van Dijk, Chunky Move
  • 4: Desh: Akram Khan
  • 5: Vertical Influences: Le Patin Libre
  • 6: Common Ground: Anouk van Dijk, Chunky Move
  • 7: Body Of Work: Atlanta Eke
  • 8: Motion Picture: Lucy Guerin Inc
  • 9: 4 & 5: Tao Ye, Tao Dance Theater
  • 10: Utterance: Siobhan McKenna
  • 11: Skeleton: Larissa McGowan
  • 12: Connect: Austinmer Dance Co
  • 13: Never Did Me Any Harm: Kate Champion, Force Majeure/Sydney Theatre Co
  • 14: Piece For Person & Ghetto Blaster: Nicola Gunn
  • 15: Emptying The Bucket: Nebahat Erpolat
  • 16: Axeman Lullaby: Phillips Adams, BalletLab
  • 17: Down The Rabbit Hole: Paul Malek, Collaboration-The Project/Project Y
  • 18: Out Of Earshot: Kate Denborough, KAGE Physical Theatre
  • 19: The Yard: Shaun Parker
  • 20: On View (Quintet): Sue Healey

List # 12/20: December 24, 2019

20 relatively obscure and possibly archaic words I would love to hear more often in conversation

(in alphabetical order)

How frequently one is accused of elitism because of one’s penchant for uncommon words. Indeed, to use language in anything but the most lumpen fashion seems to engender all manner of apparent slur: snob, faggot, poser, wanker, etcetera. We are blessed by the beauty of our respective languages and, anachronistic though it seems, I hold onto the belief that we are best served by taking delight in its use, and in its oft hidden treasures.   

  • 1: Apoplexy: extreme anger, hemorrhage
  • 2: Beatitude: great blessedness
  • 3: Chiaroscuro: light & shade in a picture
  • 4: Circumambient: encompassing
  • 5: Effulgence: brilliant radiance
  • 6: Fecund: fertile
  • 7: Genuflection: kneeling, paying deep respect, grovelling
  • 8: Irredentist: a kind of nationalism, wanting the return of former territories  
  • 9: Lambent: soft, bright, radiant
  • 9: Métier: area of special ability, forte
  • 10: Numina: deity, or magical entity – plural form of numen
  • 11: Occidental: Western, Western countries, culture, etc
  • 12: Perambulate: to walk, travel through, traverse
  • 13: Pulchritude: physical beauty
  • 14: Quisling: traitor, collaborator
  • 15: Rutilant: glowing red or golden
  • 16: Threnody: a lament or requiem
  • 17: Tramontane: beyond the mountains, barbarous
  • 18: Vespertine: relating to or occurring in the evening
  • 19: Vituperative: abusive, highly insulting
  • 20: Yammer: to complain, whine, consistently moan

List # 13/20: December 25, 2019

20 Yuletide episodes that really stand out

(in the order I remembered them for the purpose of making this list)

Okay, I admit it. I am not a Christmas person. Indeed, this year I have elected, again, to largely ignore the process. No presents or cards sent (although one was unexpectedly received). No tick box family functions or dry turkey breast to endure. That said, I will drink a little Italian aperitif, maybe get high and listen to loud tunes. Oh, and I shall certainly luxuriate in the bath awhile. So, Grinchy though it seems, here is my best attempt to engage festively with you. Ah Xmas…so gaudily forgettable. 

  • 1: The year I gave my mother a dope cookie and she scoffed it before I had the chance to…
  • 2: The year our then cat (Zep) caught a rabbit and brought it back for our Xmas night party guests to enjoy
  • 3: The year my flatmate and I woke up in darkness on the floor of our apartment, our guests having left at some previous point (yes, alcohol and other drugs were involved)
  • 4: The years I spent Xmas solo, (music up loud, bottle of Cinzano Rosso) and gave the apartment a top-to-tail clean
  • 5: The year my father and I got into a blazing row and I stormed off to a friend’s house, promising never to return
  • 6: The final Xmas of the marriage (2003); an exquisitely awkward and painful time for both of us (as we had, just days previous, ‘secretly’ decided to break up)
  • 7: The year said wife and I tried to give away our then cat (Cornesy) as gift to a family with triplets, only to discover that the cat was horrified, the kids were revolting little shits, and that we really loved the cat after all (and so took him back)
  • 8: My first Xmas in Port Douglas, and the monsoonal deluge that transformed the night into liquid magic (not to mention the amazing red the host opened as we enjoyed the downpour)
  • 9: The year I worked a 16 hour shift as a carer at a nursing home near the village of Petworth in Sussex, England
  • 10: My first Xmas in St Kilda; housesitting for a friend and getting high in his courtyard whilst listening to Hotel Costes compilations
  • 11: The three consecutive years I spent enduring grisly, teeth-grindingly dull ‘Xmas lunches’ with my brother and his resolutely taciturn partner (and their doubtless bored daughter)
  • 12: The year I had a short but lovely WeChat exchange with a beautiful Chinese musician (with whom I very nearly, and foolishly, fell in love)
  • 13: My second Xmas in Port Douglas, during which my then lover and I had sex in the backyard swimming pool.
  • 14: The year my ex-wife’s gran (good Catholic that she was) served soup in bowls emblazoned with swastikas (and then proceeded to criticise Hitler for not killing enough Jews, blacks and homosexuals)     
  • 15: …
  • 16: …
  • 17: …
  • 18: …
  • 19: …
  • 20: The Xmas I spent trying (and failing) to think of twenty memorable Xmases.

List # 14/20: December 26, 2019

20 excellent things about living in Melbourne, Australia

(in the order I thought of them)

Boxing Day is iconic in my current hometown – it’s the Test Match, darling. Thus, it is appropriate that today’s Top 20 celebrate the things I love most about Melbourne. Since moving here in 2006, I have often wondered why I didn’t do so sooner; and although my first few years here were marked by the destructive dramas of mid-life crisis and romantic disaster, my sojourn in Australia’s coolest city has been personally, gastronomically and creatively rewarding. 

  • 1: Trams
  • 2: Coffee culture
  • 3: The broad minded, generally accepting and occasionally eccentric vibe in St Kilda (where I live)
  • 4: The contemporary dance scene
  • 5: South Melbourne markets
  • 6: The fact that people wear football scarves to orchestral concerts (and talk footy in the interval)
  • 7: Street art
  • 8: Tiny venues (cafes, theatres, pop-ups, etc)
  • 9: Art Deco architecture
  • 10: The multicultural crowds in the CBD (and in the community generally)
  • 11: Having a number of ‘non-megaplex’ cinemas to choose from
  • 12: Proximity to the Mornington Peninsula (and the lovely town of Sorrento)
  • 13: A vibrant arts scene (performing & visual)
  • 14: The relatively mild summer (as compared to Adelaide or Port Douglas, where I once lived)
  • 15: The persistence of local street strips (and the relative lack of malls)
  • 16: The fact that, as a man, you can dress well (stylishly, eccentrically, etc) without automatically becoming a target of sexist abuse & violence (unlike when I lived in Adelaide)
  • 17: The city’s rich musical heritage and culture
  • 18: A wide range of bespoke bakeries
  • 19: The bayside light in the second half of November
  • 20: The continued existence of independent booksellers (especially here in St Kilda)

List # 15/20: December 27, 2019

The 20 most played artists in my collection since November 2017

(according the play count monitor on my 26 month old laptop)

Whatever I tell myself about having apparently cool taste – yeah, that old lie – the stats don’t pose*. The other point of note is that, despite still loving the idea of the album, I am thoroughly adapted to the playlist. Whereas audiophiles will shudder at my consumption of mp3, wma and wav files through conspicuously average speakers, others will bemoan the notable lack of classic rock staples. However, in the interests of audience engagement, I present the most played twenty of the previous two and a bit years.

  • 1: Angel Olsen
  • 2: Blossom Dearie
  • 3: David Sylvian
  • 4: Beach House
  • 5: The xx
  • 6: Lana Del Ray
  • 7: Nadia Reid
  • 8: Cigarettes After Sex
  • 9: Ex:Re
  • 10: Miles Davis
  • 11: Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • 12: Sufjan Stevens
  • 13: Yo La Tengo
  • 14: The Quiet Room
  • 15: Kelly Moran
  • 16: David Shea
  • 17: David Axelrod
  • 18: FKA twigs
  • 19: Suzanne Vega
  • 20: The Jesus & Mary Chain

* True, the play count stat generator is not entirely accurate, but then accuracy isn’t really the point of this whole listing exercise.

List # 16/20: December 28, 2019

20 so-called ‘classic’ songs I would gladly never hear again

(In order of how much they irritate the bejesus out of me)

Unlike yesterday’s list (20 most played) today’s collection is a motley compilation of clapped out classic rock stodge that I am absolutely fucking sick to death of. This rogue’s gallery is a testament to the hold that mawkish generational nostalgia has over the airwaves. To be fair though, these songs have all been trashed by over-exposure and sullied by the tiresome and compulsory ‘don’t you just love it’ bullshit that seems to accompany every gruesome repeat play. Please God, let these songs be magically erased from history. 

  • 1: Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody
  • 2: The Eagles: Hotel California
  • 3: The Beatles: Hey Jude
  • 4: Billy Joel: Piano Man
  • 5: Don McLean: American Pie
  • 6: Led Zeppelin: Stairway To Heaven
  • 7: Van Morrison: Brown Eyed Girl
  • 8: Whitney Houston: The Greatest Love Of All
  • 9: Pink Floyd: Another Brick In The Wall
  • 10: The Knack: My Sharona
  • 11: Pat Benatar: Love Is A Battlefield
  • 12: Cyndi Lauper: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
  • 13: Phil Collins: In The Air Tonight
  • 14: Daddy Cool: Eagle Rock*
  • 15: Bon Jovi: Living On A Prayer
  • 16: Beach Boys: Kokomo
  • 17: Stevie Wonder/Paul McCartney: Ebony & Ivory
  • 18: The Pointer Sisters: I’m So Excited
  • 19: Moving Pictures: What About Me?*
  • 20: The Proclaimers: 500 Miles

* Australian only ‘classic’ (but just as irksome)

List # 17/20: December 29, 2019

20 favourite movies since 2000

(in roughly ranking order)

As a one-time screen studies lecturer and film critic – oh, and award winning indie filmmaker* – I retain a deep love of cinema. The power of the medium is possibly unique in the history of human storytelling. As such, I go to the movies most Sunday afternoons and still buy my favourites on DVD. The list below doesn’t necessarily represent what I would (critically) call the best, but rather the films I have honestly enjoyed the most over the last twenty years.      

  • 1: In The Mood For Love (Wong Kar Wai)
  • 2: 2046 (Wong Kar Wai)
  • 3: Her (Spike Jonze)
  • 4: Never Look Away (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck)
  • 5: Lost In Translation (Sofia Coppolla)
  • 6: Youth (Paolo Sorrentino)
  • 7: Travelling Birds: (Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzard, Michel Debats)
  • 8: Capharnaum (Nadine Labaki)
  • 9: Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino)
  • 10: A History Of Violence (David Cronenberg)
  • 11: Loveless (Andrey Zvyagintsev)
  • 12: Control (Anton Corbijn)
  • 13: Swimming Pool (François Ozon)
  • 14: Before Sunset (Richard Linklater)
  • 15: A Single Man (Tom Ford)
  • 16: The Great Beauty (Paolo Sorrentino)
  • 17: Bad Education (Pedro Almodovar)
  • 18: Caramel (Nadine Labaki)
  • 19: Phone Booth (Joel Schumacher)
  • 20: Amelie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet)

* To watch my award winning art movie, click here.

List # 18/20: December 30, 2019

20 lists I couldn’t be bothered with, or otherwise gave up on.

(in non-numeric order)

Though it is possible to list endlessly, I have endeavoured in this series to be both relevant, truthful and – as my marketing buddy advised – to engage you. This process has involved a few false starts and incomplete missions. Here below, the top twenty abortions.

  • Top 20 reasons to avoid chronological ordering
  • Top 20 reasons not to prep for doomsday
  • The 20 main reasons why marketing is evil
  • The 20 most ubiquitous, socially mandated pursuits that are essentially futile
  • The best 20 psychotropic drug experiences you must have before you die
  • The 20 most fascinating numbers
  • Another 20 bizarre sex acts your family pet will almost certainly not enjoy
  • 20 amazing things you can do with root vegetables
  • My 20 favourite fictional characters (and why I’d like to share a tapas plate with them)
  • The 20 most obvious reasons why the listicle is a lazy and insulting journalistic form
  • The 20 most hilariously dumb conspiracy theories
  • 20 hard right media ‘personalities’ I would love to tackle on air
  • 20 t-shirt slogans designed to irritate the silent majority
  • Top 20 reasons to avoid malls, supermarkets and chain stores
  • Top 20 reasons why the silent majority should remain unheard
  • A list of 20 words I’ve never said
  • 20 musical sub-genres I wish existed
  • 20 fun things to do with electrons
  • The top 20 things that will shortly become the new bottom 20 things
  • Here’s 20 solid reasons to avoid list making

List # 19/20: December 31, 2019

20 New Year resolutions I am highly unlikely to make

(in rough order of unlikeliness)

Like many of you, I too have given up on serious NY resolutions. Sure, the day is a memorable milestone, and a good a time as any for well-intentioned reform, but my track record of sticking to the promise is, well, patchy at best. Thus, in the spirit of NY bonhomie, a bunch of things I will almost certainly never consider. (Btw – you can be sure that I will stick to these.) 

  • 1: Start a family
  • 2: Join a church
  • 3: Buy a gun
  • 4: Give up coffee
  • 5: Give up cheese
  • 6: Give up bread
  • 7: Settle down in the ‘burbs
  • 8: Entirely give up ‘naughty’ pursuits
  • 9: Get a tattoo
  • 10: Join a men’s group
  • 11: Do the online dating & ‘fuck-finder’ thing
  • 12: Explore babysitting & child minding opportunities
  • 13: Take up gym membership
  • 14: Study marketing
  • 15: Keep my genitals shiny & waxed
  • 16: Get back into teaching
  • 17: Employ a business mentor or life coach
  • 18: Assiduously update phone & other gizmos
  • 19: Commit to doing the lottery every week
  • 20: Start shaving every day

List # 20/20: January 1, 2020

20 splendid (though perhaps unlikely) things I would quite enjoy in 2020

(in no particular order)

Welcome to the ‘20s. Will they be roaring? Who will be the new Fitzgerald? Who the next Trotsky, Gandhi, Benito? Who to emulate Edwin Hubble? Who the 2020s version of Nancy Astor or Josephine Baker? Idle speculation aside, there are of course things I could ‘wish’ for this year; and although wishing is next to useless, I nonetheless dream. (Happy new era, folks.)      

  • 1: My Bloody Valentine finally releasing those two new records they keep promising us
  • 2: Learning to master the Kevin Shields style ‘strumming with the whammy bar’ thing
  • 3: The Three Lions winning Euro 2020
  • 4: Trump deciding he can’t be bothered running for a second term
  • 5: Someone inventing a genuinely healthy chocolate biscuit that retails at a reasonable price
  • 6: My friend Matt’s band (Evoletah) selling bucket loads of their new record
  • 7: New Zealand invading Australia and Jacinda Ardern becoming our new PM
  • 8: Rupert Murdoch becoming a climate activist
  • 9: Getting to meet and work with Wong Kar Wai
  • 10: Uncovering an affordable, beautiful and solitary living arrangement in Sorrento
  • 11: Test Cricket enjoying a huge resurgence in popularity
  • 12: My eyesight dramatically improving (meaning that I too can play cricket)
  • 13: My writer/producer friend Alida getting her TV shows green lit
  • 14: Marina Abramovic moving in next door
  • 15: Finding incredibly powerful and effective ways of communicating the ecstasy of nothingness
  • 16: My parents’ health & mobility palpably improving 
  • 17: A cheap and effective way of shedding all this body hair I seem to be accumulating
  • 18: Finding & partnering with a quality, affordable printer to finally turn my photos into art prints
  • 19: My oldest friend recovering from his recently adopted ‘poor White man’ paranoia (and the weaponised bitterness that goes with it)
  • 20: My recently published book providing the spark for you to quiet self-punishing narratives, reject pass/fail, command/control meaning tropes, find real joy in process, overcome addiction to herd approval and socially visible status trophies, and in turn, begin to live an authentically self-authored life of sustainable, present-day happiness.

NOTE: As I write (January 2020) it is hard to tell if my marketing guru’s advice paid off. News of a spike in book sales will not reach me until March; but what I can say is that my Facebook pages have not exactly exploded with activity, let alone the much vaunted Likes and Shares. Perhaps I wasn’t human enough or failed to engage in a truly, erm, engaging way. Or – shock horror – the marketing mantra is somehow flawed.

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