The Rise of The Sex Androids

Germany and Japan were once famous for making war machinery.

When they weren’t allowed to do that anymore they became even more famous for manufacturing cars and stereo equipment. But now, bless them, it’s … sex androids.

The Japanese have always had a finger in the pie of the sex doll industry. As far back as the seventeenth century they were pumping out intercourse cushions with satin-lined entry points. In the 1930’s and ’40’s while designing the Zero fighter plane they had someone out the back producing sex mannequins for lonely submariners.

Accused of perversion, the Japanese raised the valid point that they were only following in the footsteps of the Dutch who crafted leather puppets, or ‘dutch wives’,  for use by their sex starved seafaring traders.

Navigator Willem Jansz (c. 1570–1630), the first known European to land in Australia, left his ‘spouse’ behind where it was found floating in Cape York’s Pennefather River by the local Yupungathi people who mistook it for a wallaby carcass and while eating it remarked: “uula uula bunana limi tata” (“Christ, it’s tough!”).

Due to their seriously ageing population, the Japanese have been busy designing robots to look after their old folk. Initially they looked like Meccano toys and Daleks but as the technology has evolved they have become increasingly life-like.

The new generation have soft latex skin, dexterous movement, and are interactive. They can perform household and caring tasks like preparing red jelly dumplings and taking a look at your varicose veins. They can also answer your questions  (“Sorry, Mrs Ichikawa, haemorrhoids aren’t my specialty”).

But it was the Germans who were the most eager to embrace android technology for the production of bedside (or bent-over-the-kitchen-table) companions. One of their companies, First Androids, strangely chose to produce one with a man’s name. Andy (40″ 22″ 34″) comes with a  “blowjob system”,  a “tangible pulse,” and “rotating hip motion”. Why does it have a man’s name though?!

The latest and most advanced sex android, though,  has been developed by an American –  Douglas Hines , founder and president of the company TrueCompanion.

His Roxxxy TrueCompanion is endowed with a G-spot and is capable of powerful orgasms.  She also has programmable personalities ranging from deferential and helpful (“Sir, may I help you unburden yourself?”) to fiery and independent like the Jill McBain character  in Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West (“If you want to you can lay me over the table and amuse yourself, and even call in your men! No woman ever died from that. When you’re finished all I’ll need is a cup of boiling water and I’ll be exactly what I was before – with just another filthy memory!”)

Emily, a  feminist blogger, has expressed outrage over the development of such beings:-

“She can also talk about sports! It’s a guy’s dream, right? A woman who is there for sex and to talk sports, but who isn’t actually a real woman.  This continues to make me sick, and I’d really like to meet one of the men who are actually purchasing these robots…..now there are actually robot dolls that men can choose instead of real women. Honestly, it makes me sick”.

Hold on there a minute Emily. 

There is a rather large elephant in the room: that 18 inch  dildo in your bedside drawer. Dildos are the pinnacle of sexual objectification. At least sex androids can talk! You don’t hear a peep from a dildo –  nothing – not even a whispered sweet-nothing. There is no attempt to humanise them and they don’t give flowers.

Mechanisms for the sexual gratification of women have a long history with vibrators powered by steam engines and a 1926 German designed pedal-driven masturbation machine.

There is a book that has been on the local bookshop bargain table for some time about home-made sex machines with names like the Thrill Hammer and the Thumpstir made by men in suburban garages  for their partners (whether their partners actually want them is another matter). The front cover shows what appears to be a dildo attached to an outboard motor – or is it a Whipper Snipper?

And TrueCompanion now has  Rocky; a male with the head of George Clooney, the physique of Sonny Bill Williams, the stamina of Steve Moneghetti, and the wit of Woody Allen.  He can also prepare a divine mushroom risotto:-

” This is the male sex robot you have been waiting for! Being well equipped along with two inputs allow him to please all takers! Preorder now for a base price of $1,495.00 upfront and the balance of the $6,495.00 plus shipping and handling is due before we ship him to you. He is ready for action to please you – Talk or Play – It is up to you!”, says TrueCompanion.com.

For a company that uses “electrical engineers, computer science experts, artists, beauty and makeup professionals as well as robotic engineers all working together” it’s strange they didn’t think a sound technician was required for their video demonstrations.

Hines, who looks -not surprisingly- like Family Guy’s Peter Griffin, is talking in an echo chamber, with Roxxxy (who looks like a rugby front rower in a negligee)  sitting splayed on the floral settee next to him:-

“I could also ask her questions about … err…like for instance  …about the weather … about how she’s feeling and … just …err … general chit-chat … (turning to Roxxy) Do you like it in the ass?”

We’ll leave Douglas there.

Looks Like We’re In For A Collingwood Empire

When Geelong lost to Collingwood in Round 19 last year its skipper Matthew Scarlett thought it was something the Cats had done: “We were despicable”, he exclaimed.

Immediately after the Preliminary Final, however, he realised it wasn’t his team’s fault. Its time was up.

Collingwood descended on the MCG like a plague of locusts upon a cornfield, stripping the Cats’ carcass in 120 minutes, as if four seasons of greatness had never existed. “It felt like they had three or four extra players out there …they just swarm you. I’ve never seen anything like that”,  said a shellshocked Scarlett.

Any player thrashed in a final knows that awful feeling. Scarlett felt like Martin Amis’s world weary-author: “It was like a game when you lost the rhythm of dominance and you never moved freely but always in reply”.

Mark Thompson watched helplessly as his champion side had the life compressed out of it and later announced, dark eyed-exhausted and ready to retire as a head coach, that Collingwood was the new “superteam”.

Thompson had no energy left to confront the rise of this new superpower and his job was done.

Malthouse, who appears to view coaching as a true calling, had gone back to the Roman Empire for inspiration. Ancient methods of warfare are obselete in an age when you kill and die without ever seeing your victim or killer.

But the spectacle of old war remains on the sporting field.

During their time the Geelong players resembled majestic knights. They were unbeatable one-on-one, opponents’ hands sliding off their sleek armour and their steeds’ muscular flanks, high impact collisions causing a little wobble from which they quickly regained their composure to complete the brutal but mesmerising task of empire building.

Inevitably an opponent arrived capable of ending its reign: the men-boys of Malthouse. A machine ten years in the making. Its gallant prototypes were seen in 2002 and 2003, and in 2007 and 2009, finding significant weaknesses in classier opposition but eventually, like their ’70’s and ’80’s forebears, found wanting.

The modern incarnation however couldn’t be turned away – it attacked with the ferocity of a barbarian horde and the organisation of a Roman legion. The Geelong players soon found themselves dismounted, confused and clanking about on the sinking turf at the mercy of these boy scout assassins.

In its bleak eras Collingwood lacked quality on-ballers and small forwards. In his first full year as coach Leigh Matthews commented to me, a dimunitive first year player, in what I thought was a promising aside, that it was no secret the club needed a fast rover.

Collingwood now have players like Brad Dick coming out of their ears; more little men than they know what to do with. And then they go and add a prison-hardened talent hell-bent on AFL redemption like Andrew Krakouer. Apparently there are more to come.

Leon Davis, Shane O’Bree, Tarkyn Lockyer, Paul Medhurst and others all played their roles but were not required on the ultimate day. Their existence isn’t noted on that vast framed Premiership board adorned with photos of the 22 Smiling Ones (rookie Jarryd Blair looking like his eighteen birthdays have all come at once.) that sits in the windows of the AFL Shop franchises.

Collingwood have perfected the art of the non specialist. Backs are playing up forward, forwards down back, and everyone’s taking shots at goal (amazingly, most miss – the Premiers had the the worst goal conversion rate with 49%). “Professional bench warmer”, once an insult, now applies to some of their match winners, who engage in short intense efforts at varied tasks.

And it’s not pretty. Their forward line against Carlton resembled an Auskick session with the entire squad of both teams camped around the ball. Inevitably, out of the seething mass a little Collingwood leg would poke its way out to kick at goal.

Nor are its champions typical: Scott Pendlebury looks like a porn star and plays with a sublime minimalism, and the oustanding player of the competition, Dane Swan, moves as if metal buckets are tied to his feet. The flashy stylists Dale Thomas, Alan Didak and Steele Sidebottom are also capable of brutal defence.

Malthouse’s penchant for military strategy is matched by a strong paternal instinct that characterised his distant predeccessor Tom Hafey whose Hard Yakka sponsored teams were hard yakka’ed to numerous Grand Finals (but also to exhaustion).

Of course if Lenny Hayes’ kick in that first Grand Final had veered to the left instead of the right St kilda would be Premiers. Who knows what would have happened then at Magpieland – a bloodletting on the order of Emperor Eddie, the destruction of the players’ self belief?

Those things didn’t happen and after winning their second Grand Final in five months, the Collingwood kids are sitting pretty; still smiling. And the frightening thing for the other clubs is they don’t look at all battle weary. They seem completely unaffected by the drama of it all. During their annual pilgrimage to the Grand Canyon they resembled a Christian youth group, not the champion team of an elite contact sport.

Impressive novice James Hird recently proclaimed that coaching is not rocket science. Perhaps not, but it has taken a grand master like Malthouse an entire decade to brew something special.

What to do now?, the other clubs’ coaches must be asking themselves.

How to wipe the smiles off those precocious faces? How to prevent a Collingwood empire?

The only hope for the rest of the competition is if Nathan Buckley next year replicates the performance of the last Magpie champion to coach the team, Tony Shaw.

Melbourne Storm Starts Again

On April 22nd last year David Gallop’s tanned and haggard face made an announcement that wiped from the history books the achievements of one of the great rugby league teams of the modern era: the Melbourne Storm.

Storm supporters – outsiders who had been following the Sydney-centric game with an insistent slightly paranoid dread that somehow (through biased refereeing, suspect tribunal decisions, or rule manipulation) their team would be deprived of its deserved glory – had their worst fears realised that day.

Who would have predicted that the man responsible would be the club’s own CEO Brian Waldron?

Gallop had no option, I suppose. And to reinforce the punishment he made the Storm pay for the sins of previous rorters by disallowing retention of its champion team through pay cuts.

Waldron thought he had to retain the champion side through illicit means. He thought wrong. The “big four” – Cameron Smith, Billy Slater , Greg Inglis, and Cooper Cronk – have since said that they were going nowhere and would happily have renegotiated their contracts if they’d known. The role of player agents in fermenting fear among clubs of player departures is a significant one.

Anyone who thinks the Storm’s success was a direct consequence of the rorting is fooling themselves. After Gallop described the details of the rorting he commented: “the team’s results speak for themselves”. The dominant opening performances in 2011 by a salary cap compliant Storm also speak for themselves.

The saddest thing about the whole affair is that Waldron, while tainting the reputation of one of the great sides, has also threatened the grand legacy of one of the great coaches in Craig Bellamy.

Bellamy was the reason for the team’s success. His squads, unlike some today which are a result of desperate attempts to fast track success by purchasing star halves and entire forward packs,  were not bought. The only star signing of the Bellamy era has been that of Michael Crocker who was unwanted elsewhere.

Lumbered with a bunch of rejects, youngsters and rouseabouts (like trackwork jockey Billy Slater who drove twenty hours in a bombed out Holden to make a one-off Storm trial; Matt King, the garbo who had previously sat on the interchange bench for the Cronulla reserves; and Jeff Lima, the journeyman plucked from a second tier French competition) he moulded them into a formidable outfit.

Along the way he also lost more quality players than any other team: players like Scott Hill, Matt Orford, Stephen Bell, Matt King, Israel Folau, Jake Webster, David Kidwell, Nathan Friend, James Maloney, Jeremy Smith, Clint Newton, Ben Cross, Antonio Kafusi, Steve Turner, Michael Crocker, Will Chambers, Joseph Tomane,  and Dallas Johnson.

Transplanted from country New South Wales and Queensland into the cool climate metropolis of Melbourne, the players have become close-knit and loyal.

It trains harder than any other team as confirmed by every player who has come to it from another club. In 2007 Clint Newton, spurned by Newcastle mid season, couldn’t walk after his first session. Former Canberra veteran Troy Thompson said recently: “It’s probably the hardest pre-season I’ve done in my 14 year career”.

Most NRL players, if asked who they would most like to play under, would answer Craig Bellamy or Wayne Bennett. Interestingly, the esteemed Bennett, who is rated by most as the best coach, wants to coach like Bellamy. Wendell Sailor noted that the Dragons’ culture and style of play had been modelled on  the Storm.

It’s not really surprising when you consider Bennett’s awful record against his former assistant. Even in 2006 when the Broncos had the best personnel ( a roster incidentally that today would not be accepted as salary cap compliant) the Storm was the best team. And not just because of the Minor Premiership. Wayne Bennett knew his team couldn’t win the Grand Final playing their natural game. They had to stop the Storm playing theirs. Experience,  stolid defence, a tinkle of individual brilliance and inordinate luck won them that match. They were a great team led by a great coach but the spectre of poor  refereeing still hovers over the Premiership.

English Super League team Wigan knew they would never get Bellamy so did the next best thing and recruited his assistant Michael Maguire who immediately won them the title.

Then it was Parramatta, realising their culture stunk, who snapped up Bellamy’s main assistant Stephen Kearney. In a sad irony for his former club, Kearney is planning to shop in the Storm supermarket. You can’t blame him really, considering he helped develop products like Adam Blair and Matt Duffie.

The salary cap scandal reignited the contempt felt towards a club without a league culture, whose survival was guaranteed by News Ltd. and whose launch coincided with the death of traditional teams. Ridiculed in its inaugural year, a band of Super League leftovers, and fading, jaded superstars won the Premiership the following season. In its twelve years of existence, it has made the finals on ten occasions.

It appears the Storm has not been forgiven for its existence or its success. And the resentment has been simmering. As Humbert Humbert said: “The poison was in the wound you see. And the wound never healed”

Fans of the Raiders, the first team to be found guilty of salary cap rorting in 1991, abused  Storm players and then wrote on blogs and to newspapers describing the “arrogance” of Storm players for celebrating tries.

Some sections of the Sydney media showed a keeness for fomenting the hatred with some appallingly biased coverage. A sports editor of a Sydney daily, in a rant describing the pride shown by the Storm in the first game after the scandal broke as sickening, belittled Matt Duffie, the  teenage debutant, for running over to congratulate a teammate for a try-saving tackle.

Some commentators absurdly  likened the Storm (a team that won ten of the eighteen games in which it was ineligible for points, and whose players were not implicated) to baseball’s Chicago Black Sox, the infamous team who threw matches in the 1919 World Series.

Many opposition supporters also took the opportunity to advertise their contempt for Storm’s “plain mechanical and boring” playing style.

Boring? The Storm has invigorated the game, melding the wrestle and gang tackle of union, and the pinpoint kicking and overhead marking of AFL, with the exhilarating passing and running of league. The NRL highlights package of the past four years is dominated by it: Israel Folau’s grand ‘speccy’ in his first game, Greg Inglis fending off a Manly winger while tip toeing along the side line in the 2007 Grand Final, Cooper Cronk’s no-look pass to Billy Slater who waltzes around three Dragons’ defenders to score.

The most satisfying highlight for the many Storm players who have found themselves in Melbourne after being rejected by other clubs, was Brett Finch’s superbly weighted pass – right there for his ex coach Daniel Anderson to see – that put Ryan Hoffman through for the first try of the 2009 Grand Final.

It hasn’t all been vitriol emanating from Sydney though: “I’m a die hard Sharkies supporter but I’m heartbroken for every single Storm fan. I hope that they can find it in their heart to keep supporting their club and fight for the future of the Melbourne Storm. I know if it was my club, I would.”

The Daily Telegraph‘s “50 reasons to be excited about the 2011 NRL season” didn’t include Storm’s re-entry into the competition. It should have because Craig Bellamy, with his dimunitive “big three” and a new bunch of rejects and youngsters, has begun his second crusade.

He has nothing to prove, of course. Despite what the history books say.