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Seeya mX, and bye to all newspapers?

MX - image1 GdjZQvl

Newspapers need saving. The internet is coming, and newspaper readership is plummeting. mX was meant to be that saviour.

The grand plan was that a whole hoard of young, internet savvy, newspaper allergic under thirties would get hooked on a free paper then be all like, “They’re like pixels you can touch. The screen is bigger and it’s better resolution. WOW.”

Instead, mX readership has slowly dropped away and the largest media company in the world has decided that the experiment is over. The bridge between paid for newspapers and the internet isn’t being using enough so it’s being demolished, and this is no fault of the mX team.

It was a tricky line to tread. Be irreverent but still informative, keep it short, snappy and engaging while trying to drop in the odd something important.


On and off I wrote the ‘For What It’s Worth’ column for around three years. Nobody told me what to write, and I was able to sneak in some rather subversive ideas covering topics like climate change, protests, football and football. You know, the important stuff.

Through that column I was able to reach an estimated audience of over 500,000, and nothing I’ve written since has garnered the same amount of positive feedback. As a writer and comedian I try and reach as many as possible with what I hope is a meaningful message, and mX was an amazing avenue for me to reach out to an audience who were still forming their ideas and struggling with issues – that holy grail of demographics: 16 to 34.

Artists in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane will be particularly upset, as few other media outlets offered such direct and numerous opportunities to reach out of potential audiences. Some upstart free publication may try to be the bridge, but now that mX has been shut down, it is doubtful that any will succeed. All that’s left is to watch and wait, as other free papers around the world also fail.

The internet is taking over. In ten years, or maybe only five, we will no longer be asking what’s in the newspaper that day. Children instead will be asking, ‘What’s a newspaper?’


I’m still in touch with outgoing mX Editor-in-Chief Craig Herbert, who offered up these words: “It’s been an amazing ride home every night with our hundreds of thousands of readers over many years, but we pull into our last station on Friday, June 12.

“Since the announcement two weeks ago of our closure, we have been overwhelmed by the many, many messages of support, sadness and sincerity from our loyal and amazing readers of the paper and the app in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

“It’s extremely difficult to come to terms with saying goodbye, but all staff of mX – both present and past – have enjoyed every day of working on mX since it first began in Melbourne in 2001. Like our readers, we will sorely miss the fun and creativity of a truly unique piece of the Australia media landscape.

“Here’s looking at all of you.”


Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.

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This article recently appeared on Mumbrella:




Smartphone ban at public events has nice ring to it

IF YOU’RE at the movies and you’re on the phone, I can see you. Same goes for a comedy show, the theatre and if you hold it up at a concert or music gig or any live performance to capture a bit of anything, then I can see that too. Along with plenty of other people. And we’re all annoyed.

Smartphones should be banned from all those events. You don’t need them. They wreck the experience for yourself and others but, most importantly, you don’t need them. You think you do, but you don’t.


If you’re worried that your wife might go into labour, then you shouldn’t be at the movies. If you’re waiting to hear from someone about a job, or an appointment, or a date, then don’t go to the movies.

What if there’s an emergency? Well, are you a doctor? Do you drive an ambulance? Are you in a position to do anything about it?

No, you’re not. However, there are plenty of people who are – ushers, attendants and so on – and they all have mobile phones too.

There was a time before everyone had a mobile phone. People coped. Give it a try.

People should be made to hand them over at the entrance and then walk through a smartphone detector. If you’re caught still with it, then it gets smashed.

If you’ve got a cover featuring anything shiny or that looks like a cassette, then it also gets smashed. My mobile phone cover features a three-dimensional hologram of sharks. It’s amazing.

Ban Smartphones meme_1

Using your smartphone while you’re at any event, you’re not only ruining it for others, you’re ruining it for yourself. That moment where you check your email, send a text, take a photo, make a call, you’re giving in to your inability to concentrate for more than a moment.

By removing the phone and the temptation, I’m doing you a big favour. You’re forced to concentrate on whatever it is you’ve paid to witness. You’ll have a better time, I guarantee it and, sometime in the future, you might even have developed the concentration span to read a whole book. Wow. Seriously, books are amazing. Get into it.

“But Xavier, if I can’t use my smartphone, how am I going to tell everyone what a great time I’m having?” you ask.

Tell them later, face to face. Some people still communicate like that.


On a side note, a lot of things are more satisfying in person. Such as talking instead of calling or texting, a real tour instead of a virtual one and being at a sporting or music event instead of watching it on a tiny screen.

Maybe we should start a movement. Where people choose to go out, but leave their phones at home. Let’s call it “No Phones, More Fun”.

I really like that idea. I’m going to set up a Facebook Event then tweet and text everyone I know about it right now.


Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian. Good for him.

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This article recently appeared in:

The Brisbane Courier Mail


The Daily Telegraph



What it’s like to be a fly on the wall at a FIFO mining operation

This article recently appeared in:

The Brisbane Courier Mail


The NT News


FIFO photo

THE Queensland parliamentary inquiry into FIFO (fly in fly out) work has begun and already submissions are being made on the impact of and issues facing FIFO workforces.

If you’ve ever wondered what type of person becomes a FIFO worker, well for six months last year, I was out there.

From the conversations overheard, observations made and investigations performed, I discovered that there are basically 11 types of FIFO workers and with some of them it wouldn’t surprise me if mental health becomes a major focus of the inquiry.

Firstly, there are those without families who party away their week off and save nothing, and their exact opposite, those with families, whose money goes straight to the mortgage or education for the kids.

Then there are also those paying off vast debts after their own businesses have failed, so that’s three types.

Type four are the guys saving everything to buy a house outright. They look at this job like a short jail term for a long-term gain. Similar to most, I suppose.

Also out there are those that don’t even save enough to have a good time during their week off, as they spend every night off-site in the nearest pub downing spirits and gambling online or otherwise. Which is type five.

Type six talk about camping trips but never make it, because when not at work they’re always at the pub talking about camping trips.

Type seven talk about their camping trips but actually do make it, so also have photos – which they’re happy to show you, even if you don’t ask.

FIFO wife meme

With all the drug testing and breathalysers, there are also those out there to escape addiction. Using it as rehab, until they go home and get back on it again because they’ve got so much cash and stuff-all to do. Type eight.

Type nine are those who get hooked on something while out there, to cope with the loneliness and long hours and lack of entertainment options apart from the booze, gambling, smokes, sex and drugs.

Type 10 are the lifers who move from site to site, because they love the work. They look forward to their week off, because that’s what you’re meant to do. However, they’re always jumpy and jittery for that entire week as, the truth is, they can’t stand home and would rather be out at the mine with their mates.

It does take a particular sort of person to spend 75 per cent of their time away from their loved ones and added to these 10 types, I’m sure there are others. Probably as many as there are people out there. I just haven’t managed to identify them.

Except, don’t forget type 11. Those who become FIFO workers in order to pay off a stalled comedy and writing career. Which, as far as I know, is a group of just me.

Honestly, I like to think that money isn’t something that drives me. I like to think that I’m driven by a need to be creative and hopefully share something worth hearing that makes people laugh, gives them something to think about and might even improve things.

Unfortunately though, good intentions pay for stuff-all.

So, while I’d never work out at the mines for a lifetime, after I lost thousands performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, FIFO work did pay off enough of my debts that I was able to get back to comedy and writing full-time.

Like most, I had a plan and an exit strategy. Like far too few, I managed to stick to it.

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Shopping for the sake of it is like following football without having a favourite team

shopping meme 1

SHOPPING. I just don’t get it. Honestly, I cannot think of a bigger waste of time.

Watching the grass grow or the paint dry, at least you’re outside and contemplating things.

Why does anyone ever “go shopping” just for the sake of it? Why? Whenever I shop it’s with a purpose. I identify a need, then go out and search until I fulfil that need.

The longer it takes, the more frustrated I become.

If the first shop I walk into has what I want, I buy it. I might take a bit of time to do a price comparison. Three stores within easy walking distance at a maximum and then pick the cheapest. Or I might just check on the internet, like a clever person.

Shopping Meme 3

What I will never do is go shopping without a need to fulfil and an end product in mind.

That’s like following the football and not supporting a particular team. Pick a team. Nobody trusts a person who follows football and doesn’t have a team. It’s like hanging out in bars but never having a drink. It’s like going to a shop with more than 200 flavours of ice cream, just because you like the idea of all that choice, but have no actual desire for ice cream. You go into an ice-cream shop because you want ice cream. Not because you like the idea of ice cream. If you’re lactose intolerant, eat gelato.

The point of going shopping is to buy something. If you don’t buy anything, then you’re just browsing.

It’s like going to a nightclub if you don’t want to meet anyone. Which is apparently a viable and respectable option. But have you been to a nightclub lately? They’re rubbish, so why bother unless you’re trying to fill that massive void inside yourself with another person?

Maybe the people at nightclubs who aren’t looking to meet anyone, are the same people who go shopping not to buy anything. Just standing there, staring and sometimes drooling. Both are just a different type of pervert.

What we need are nightclubs and shops that cater to these sorts of people. A corridor that’s all just windows and mannequins, with a suitably boring soundtrack.

Which would then keep these people out of my way, so I can find a park and get in and out as quickly as possible.

A strategy that applies equally to both shopping centres and nightclubs.

Shopping Meme 2

Maybe I just don’t get it. Possibly shopping for stuff you don’t know you want yet is the most rewarding experience of all time. However, I very strongly doubt it.

For Christmas, everyone who gets a present from me gets a book for two reasons. One because people should read more. And, two, I only have to go into one shop.

Notice how I haven’t made this into a men versus women argument? Because it’s not. I know plenty of men that adore shopping. The weirdos. Also, I know plenty of women who can’t stand shopping without a purpose. The champions.

Really, it’s not a battle between the sexes at all. It’s a battle between people who have better things to do and those who have nothing better to do.


This article first appeared in the Brisbane Courier Mail:



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It’s not my damn baby

staples image

Staples, you big out of control American office superstore chain you.

Before arriving in the USA, I didn’t know it was possible to combine awful customer service with outrageous platitudes, then deliver the lot without irony.

I wanted to print out my second book for proofing.

At 10am I was told it’d be ready by 2pm. At 3.30pm this became 4pm. At 5pm there was a problem, so at 6pm I visited the store. Stood at a counter for seven minutes, and then the combination of his accent and my accent made the middle ground a battlefield of misunderstanding.

Turned out I was in the wrong store.

“Thank you for shopping at Staples. Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

Okay, so you haven’t helped me and I didn’t buy anything, but thanks anyway.

So I called the correct store, was put on hold, transferred to nobody, disconnected and put on hold again for fifteen minutes, all the time being told all the different ways that Staples provides a premium customer experience.

So I visited the correct store and the woman behind the counter ignored me while loudly announcing passive aggressive statements to nobody.

“Fine, I’ll do it myself. Even though it’s not my job.”

“So then, where does he think it comes from?”

“It’s not my damn baby.”

Another lady appeared, asked a wall what it needed, and I realized she was talking to me.

Twenty minutes later it was done.

“Thank you for shopping at Staples. Is there anything else I can help you with today?”


This article first appeared on the brilliant Bytestories:



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