In what can only be considered the perfect example of a double standard, women are practically wetting themselves at the sight of Channing Tatum and his spunky co-stars dropping trou in the movie Magic Mike. And yet, should a man cock an appreciative eyebrow at a comely lass, he is instantly labelled a boorish pervert.

When I confronted my female Facebook friends about their disgusting behaviour, the answers ran along the lines of “It’s our turn to leer.”

That’s all fine and dandy, but if women are suddenly so desperate to treat men as little more than meat puppets, so eager to demean us for the sake of their depraved fantasies, then the least I can do is give them something to stare at. Which is why I’ve decided to become a male stripper, um, exotic dancer.

I mean, seriously, how hard can it be? I’ve done my research — and by research I mean I’ve watched the trailer for Magic Mike — and have narrowed down the attributes a successful exotic dancer needs to a mere three.

One: The ability to dance. No problem: I’ve been wriggling my booty ever since the Frug was invented. Why, just the other day I was gyrating around the bedroom with a look of pure intensity on my face. The routine featured me hopping on one leg while clutching my other foot with both hands. That particular shimmy may have been the result of a close encounter between a baby toe and a bed post but picture that performed in a thong and suddenly it takes on a whole new context.

Two: Muscular build. According to Gray’s Anatomy (the medical research text, not the TV series), all men possess the same muscles. Some of us just prefer to keep our six-packs wrapped in several layers of protective insulation.

Three: Hairless body. OK, this one could be a bit trickier, especially for those whose body hair most closely resembles a pelt. Once considered a desirable indication of virility, back hair is now somehow considered, well, gross. Apparently 21st century women prefer their men as sleek as an otter. Or as a 10-year-old boy.

But how does one achieve a fur-less body? Lawnmower? Line trimmer? Secateurs? A female acquaintance recommended laser hair removal. A full-body Brazilian, as it were. Maybe I’ve seen Goldfinger one too many times, but just the mental image of a red-hot laser scorching one’s nether lands is enough to cause me to shrink in fear. However, if that’s what it takes to make women salivate, then let the zap-zap-zapping begin.

So there you have it: I’m turning in my journalist’s notebook for a spangled g-string and taking to the stage. Prepare to be astounded.

There is only one small detail I have yet to work out. Magic Mike is set in America, a country which still uses $1 bills, perfect for stuffing into skimpy outfits. But no matter how skilled I am as a dancer, I still may find it tricky to shake my money maker with my stubbies full of gold coins. And then there’s that whole chafing thing to consider.

It will all be worth it, of course, when the women start screaming. Too bad the music will be so loud I won’t be able to hear what they’re yelling.

This column originally appeared in the August 8 edition of the Napier (NZ) Courier.

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Wham, bam, scam you, ma’am

December 21, 2011

PHOTO CREDIT: DUNCAN BROWN, NAPIER COURIER

Carissa Lewis leaves little doubt about how she felt after being scammed by a smooth operator.

“My exact words afterwards were, ‘I have been raped through my laptop’,” says the Taradale resident. “That’s what it felt like.’”

Carissa was at home earlier this month when she answered her landline. She’d barely said hello before a man speaking in a thick Indian accent told her he worked for Microsoft Windows and began berating her in a loud voice.

“He was like, ‘We’ve got these alerts coming up showing that you’ve got a virus on your laptop’,” she says. “It was like it was a serious situation that needed to be fixed immediately and I need to listen to this guy because he’s going to fix it.”

Caught off-guard, Carissa was unwittingly about to fall victim to what’s known as the AMMYY.com scam, where operators bully unwary computer owners to log onto a website and activate a programme. Rather than the promised virus purge, the computer is, instead, commandeered via remote access and such sensitive information as banking details and passwords are quickly harvested.

“I was watching the screen and everything that we had ever typed into the internet was coming up,” says Carissa. “I saw one of my passwords and I just knew then that they had everything off my laptop.”

Carissa’s partner arrived home at that moment to take over the phone and disconnect the computer, but the damage had been done.

While she later felt embarrassed and “really silly,” Carissa says in the heat of the moment, it was difficult to spot the warning signs of the carnage about to be wreaked. “They were yelling at me over the phone – they were very insistent,” she says. “The sense of panic distracts you from what they’re actually doing. That was the scary part. They could have pretty much got me to do anything over the phone by talking to me in that tone.”

Napier Police crime prevention adviser Paul Miller says the country has been inundated with such scam calls, including several to his own residence.

“If someone with an Indian accent calls to say you have a virus, it’s a scam in big letters,” he says. “It’s potentially very dangerous.”

He advises anyone who receives such a call to contact the police so they can keep tabs on what scams are currently active.

“But we won’t investigate because it’s impractical to do so,” he says. “We don’t have the resources to put into it.”

Justin Andrews, the director of Laptops R Us, says his household used to receive computer scam calls on a nightly basis. The best thing to do, he says, is inform the caller that you don’t have an internet connection.

“Once we said that, the calls stopped,” he says.

Whatever you do, Justin says, “don’t go to the website and don’t follow the instructions.”

Laptops R Us sees one or two computers a week brought in after being infected by AMMYY. In response, the company has a special price of $199 to back up data, wipe the hard drive and do a clean install.

“The computer has to be restored to its original state as if it’s brand new again,” says Justin. “That’s the only way to guarantee nothing is in your computer’s system.”

Carissa has yet to do that. In fact, she feels nervous at the mere thought of even turning the machine on. In the meantime, having reported the scam to the police, she and her partner have changed passwords and credit cards, and informed friends, their internet provider and their cell phone provider that sensitive information may have been compromised.

Now she wants to warn others so no one else ends up feeling violated the way she did.

“I was so gutted – I still am,” she says. “I thought I was computer-savvy. Apparently not.”

Dear Faithful Readers:

Well, that was fun. And by that I mean this whole bitemymoko blogging venture.

I leave tonight for the Cook Islands, where I will resume my too-long-dormant journalism career. To mark the occasion, I’ve decided to put this blog site on hibernation mode — meaning my Daily Photo Project 2010 ends after a mere 41 entries — in order to start a brand new one dedicated to my adventures on Rarotonga.

My new blog site is called Back to the Beach and is located at backtothebeach.wordpress.com. I’m not sure when I’ll actually make a start on it, but I promise it will be cheeky and informative and immature and frivolous — pretty much Bite My Moko with a beach. C’mon over and have some fun. The umbrella drinks are on me.

As for Bite My Moko — and the adventures of Viking Woman and Planet Man — it will return later this year. In the meantime, thanks so much for your visits and comments. They made the blogosphere a happier, warmer place to live.

Take care

John

My entire existence has been reduced to 20 kilograms. Forty-four pounds. That’s it. That’s me.

A return to journalism means yet another move. The good news is I’ll be out of the seniors’ care home laundry and, fingers crossed, will no longer have to worry about shaking hands with a fresh turd.

The bad news is, well, 44 pounds.

That’s my baggage limit for the flight — everything I value needs to be crammed into one lousy suitcase. Where do I even start?

My first choice would be to take 44 pounds of coffee but that doesn’t leave any room for clothes. Of course, after consuming that much caffeine, I’d be moving so fast, no one would notice I was naked.

I don’t have to worry about electronics because those toys for boys will be safely stored in my carry-on. This whole not being permitted to lock your suitcase thing is a bit of a joke, really, because it’s less about security and more about making it easier for baggage handlers to go all garage sale on your stuff.

“Hey, does this digital camera look like a bomb to you? Yeah, me too. Think I’ll save lives by taking it home.”

My theory for packing is this: do not put anything in a suitcase you’re not willing to never see again.

If I was simply off to play tourist, the decisions would be much easier: clothes and toiletries. But I’m moving. I’ll need pens and notebooks and my scissors and my spare glasses and my favourite deodorant and a whole bunch of AA batteries. Because things will be expensive at my destination and I won’t be making a lot of money.

And then there’s the whole weight-to-bulk ratio. I look at my list of preferred items and realize the lighter objects take up a lot of room and the smaller ones are heavy. I’m not sure this is going to work. Even with my one allowed piece of carry-on and my man purse and every pocket crammed full, I have this sinking feeling I will have to jettison something I dearly want to take.

At that point, I will hand the entire operation over to Viking Woman, who is slated to follow me at a later date.

She is an expert at spatial relations. You know those tests where they show you different objects and ask which one matches the other except it’s turned inside out and backwards? And sideways. Underwater.

Viking Woman can answer those. She has filled the back of our hatchback so efficiently with a million things that you’d swear the car came that way straight from the factory’s assembly line.

I, on the other hand, am hopeless. I’m lucky if I can fit my foot into my shoe, never mind 44 pounds of my life into a suitcase.

The main difference between us is that I’m sentimental, which is why Orange Monkey, who has guarded my pillow for years, is on my list. I also tend to take three of everything, even though I know perfectly well I will only need one.

Viking Woman is — how shall I put this — pretty much ruthless. Which means Orange Monkey will not be leaving the house at this time. Which means the culling of precious objects will be methodical and logical and oh so cruel.

I will rant. I will stomp my tiny feet in rage and frustration. I will throw up my hands and flee the room, screaming. But, in the end, everything essential to my new life will fit in that suitcase and it will weigh exactly 44 pounds.

And it will have been packed with love.

The most important thing I could ever take with me, and it doesn’t weigh a single ounce.

Told you she was good.