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PUZZLE ZONE

ACROSS 1. Posts 7. At heart 8. Inhabitant 10. Nailcare specialist 12. Flat buns 14. Soviet region (1,1,1,1) 16. Animal flesh 17. Skin tumour

20. Mistake 23. Scent, ... Cologne (3,2) 24. Children’s jumping game 25. Join up

DOWN 1. Wooden hammer 2. Irish actor, ... Neeson 3. Against 4. Unclear 5. Guilty plea 6. Pearl-bearer 9. Tibetan monks 11. Indian prince

13. Make last, ... out 15. Cavalry weapon 16. Usually 18. Climb down rope 19. Space film genre (3-2) 21. Chessman 22. Tired sigh

Puzzles supplied by Lovatts Publications Pty Ltd www.lovattspuzzles.com See page 49 for solutions.

THE MEANING OF EXISTENCE... AND OTHER SHORT STORIES

How Much Ken One Person Take? By Stuart McCullough THEY’VE finally gone too far. For reasons known only to themselves, they’ve made an extra-special effort just to humiliate him. Goodness knows how they broke the news. Whether the boss scheduled a special meeting with HR or, perhaps, he simply turned up to work one day to find that all his co-workers were avoiding eye contact with him. But however it was done, there is no doubt that Ken Carson has had to bid a sweet farewell to his dignity. That’s because Ken – long-term boyfriend of Mattel’s Barbie – now has a man-bun. I’m not sure how best to react. Whether I should offer him my sympathies or simply tell him how I like my coffee, it’s hard to know. Granted, it’s possible that Ken may welcome the opportunity to work in the service industry in between making short films that will never be seen by anyone other than his flat-mates for the rest of his life, but I secretly suspect he resents being pigeonholed. Stuck in a pair of pants with the legs rolled up and constantly on the lookout for almond milk, hipster Ken is a most unwelcome development. I’m concerned that this one choice will forever mark Ken’s cards. There’s no way that Man-bun Ken has a mancave. Instead, he has a blog. Naturally enough, he blogs about his two primary interests in life: fashion and food, and his every syllable is devoured with great enthusiasm by the dozen or so people that read it. But while he has his own blog, he definitely doesn’t

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Mornington News

4 July 2017

own a car. Objecting to them on environmental grounds, Man-bun Ken is nevertheless happy to sponge a lift from anyone. Frankly, I suspect Barbie is getting sick of it. It’s inevitable that Man-bun Ken will have lousy taste in music. Maybe he has a few vinyl records, but they’ll be the wrong records like ‘Ropin’ the Wind’ by Garth Brooks or something by the Corrs (both perfectly valid mu-

sical choices if that’s your thing, but neither belong on vinyl. They just don’t.) Man-bun Ken won’t play team sports but will be sporting plenty of ink on his arms and is seriously considering a facial piercing. He’ll also be totally into anything that’s organic while simultaneously being oblivious to the fact that kale was invented in 2014 when two scientists accidentally rinsed spinach in a tub of acid rain. For

Man-bun Ken, the line between irony and reality is severely blurred. He has a ‘Ramones’ t-shirt, but has never heard any of their songs. If all this seems like an over-reaction, you must remember one thing: Ken is fifty-six years old. The appearance of a man-bun is not an act of youthful ignorance. It’s a cry for help. There seems little doubt that Barbie’s onagain, off-again life-partner is in the midst of a full-blown mid-life crisis. The man-bun is simply the hairy thinend of a terrifying tonsorial wedge. It can’t be long before Ken hightails it up to Nimbin and descends into total hippiedom. That’s right: Ken – who’s always been something of a clotheshorse – will soon be wearing hemp trousers. Looking back, the warning signs were there. Since appearing in 1961, Ken has had more than forty different jobs. That’s the kind of record that demands case-management of the most severe kind. And, of course, there’s the fact that he and Barbie never really settled down. Maybe the timing’s never been right. Or perhaps Barbie finds it off-putting that there’s no evidence to suggest Ken possesses genitalia of any kind. Granted, she’s got her career, but the two of them have never managed to make enough time to be happy. It’s sad. It’s not the first time that Ken has gone out of his way to draw attention to himself. In 1993 there was ‘Earring Magic Ken’, where he got his ears pierced. Personally, I’d have preferred ‘Grunge Ken’ in which he’d have

been dressed in flannel with a pair of Blundstone boots, singing morosely. In 2009, there was ‘Sugar Daddy Ken’ which came with a West Highland Terrier puppy. This, it should be noted, occurred while Barbie and Ken were officially estranged. Although they rekindled their relationship in 2011, there’s no word as to what became of the puppy. I’m worried for Mid-life Crisis Ken. Worried that he’s wasting his life by refusing to admit that times have changed and he’s no longer as young as he used to be. Frankly, I suspect he’s on the verge of snapping. Out of the blue, Man-bun Ken will quit his job as a part time barista and head up to the mountains where he will live under a piece of plastic for months on end, while foraging for sustenance. From time to time, Hobo Ken will wander into town, frightening the locals as he rummages through the bins behind the supermarket. Ken should give up trying to stay young. It is, quite frankly, the only way he can truly save himself. Manbun Ken is a symptom of an even deeper malaise that can only be cured by accepting himself for who and what he is – a perpetually single middleaged man whose West Highland Terrier is missing. Ken, buddy, if you’re reading this and you want to talk, don’t be afraid to reach out. I’m here for you. Remember, I’m only a phone call away. stuart@stuartmccullough.com

4 July 2017  

Mornington News 4 July 2017

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