Monday, April 30, 2012

quicko: what not to ask an american

The dreaded question every American gets asked:  "So, do you own a gun?"

Sunday, April 29, 2012

quicko: further thoughts on rugby league

I watched the Manly game on Friday night.  (It was a huge game!  This guy who had been Manly's winning coach the last couple years (they won the premiership, which is like winning the Super Bowl) abandoned the team and went to another team that paid him more money.  Friday's game was Manly against his new team.  Very dramatic!)  Now I know a few more things about rugby league, so I thought I'd update you:

--There are six tackles before the ball switches sides.  A tackle is literally a tackle.  This leads me to wonder if perhaps a "down" in American football is the same concept (someone literally being pushed down?  it would make sense ...), but as I know nothing about football (except precise field measurements also used by marching bands), I'm really not sure.
--Players are only allowed to pass the ball backwards.  This is interesting because if you want to throw the ball, it's a bit counterintuitive -- you've got to throw it the opposite way than you really want to go.
--They're very big on the offsides rule -- after each ... tackle, I think ... each team must be on its proper side of things.  This means it's nothing like, say, ice hockey or broomball where you always keep some players on defense close to the goal and others on offense farther out.  Rather, it's a whole lot more like Red Rover in terms of overall set-up.
--There's this thing called a scrum where all the guys stand in a circle and look entirely too close for comfort.
--The so-called "Gorgeous George" is really more of a "Big Lovely Teddy Bear George" than a precisely glamorous figure.
--Cherry-Evans is the new golden boy of the Manly Sea Eagles, though other players such as the brothers Brett and Glen and another guy named Jamie Lyon have been playing solidly with the team for much longer.  However, Cherry-Evans has been offered a better contract (4 years instead of 2ish), which is a cause for dissension among the players and fans.
--The Manly Sea Eagles are a widely disliked team, partially because they are beating everybody else and, in a more long-term, deep-seated sort of way, because there's a bit of an attitude of the silver spoon about them.  

However, Manly won the game Friday night by 12-10, and it was a very good game.  Tense, nerve-wrackingly nail-biting!  But they pulled through in the end and it was all very exciting!

Friday, April 27, 2012

quicko: scooting by

This seems really odd, but there are actually lots of adults (generally men) who ride scooters around on the sidewalks.  They look ridiculous, but don't seem to realize it!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

quicko: degree or not, here i come ...

I've been a bit shocked lately to re-discover just how common -- and acceptable -- it can be in Australia to not have a bachelor's degree.  Now, this is also really a strata of society sort of question and it varies greatly, but overall I think there is a lot less condescension if someone is a tradesman here.  I think it's much more respectable as an occupation -- and seen more as an occupation than a "just passing through" sort of job -- here than in America.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

quicko: ANZAC day

So ANZAC Day is a major holiday in Australia -- similar to the American Memorial Day, except with a more specific focus on a particular battle (Gallipoli, which I spelled correctly even before googling!, in Turkey in WWI), as well as all military personnel in general.

I spent the day in Manly and went to the 11 am service (there is a dawn service, but I have a rule about only doing dawn services for Jesus ... Easter and that's it!), which was lots longer and colder than I expected.  It lasted about an hour and twenty minutes and was complete with address by the mayor, singing of (actually very Christian) hymns, speeches by a student and a military bigwig of some sort, more singing, special music, a dedication ceremony of two new names of Manly residents who'd died in combat to the cenotaph, more special music, a wreath laying ceremony that consisted of 40 wreaths laid 2 by 2 (a solid 20 minutes in and of itself!) and reveille.  It was a nice service, but long and cold.

There was a "parade" leading up to it ... if you want to define the flag, a single marching band about three boy scout troops as a parade.  In the city there would have presumably been a much more extensive parade, and other services.

All in all, ANZAC Day is the sort of holiday upstanding citizens celebrate solemnly, and the rest of the lot party hardy as a day off work.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Monday, April 23, 2012

quicko: sports cities

Apparently it goes as follows:

Melbourne is crazy about AFL (Australian rules football, called football, or "the footy").

Sydney is crazy about rugby league (called football, or "the footy").

The whole country is crazy about rugby union (called rugby ... and possibly also football??).

Cricket is also a whole country sport, though the crowd I've been hanging with just isn't so crazy about it and has led me to believe no one else is either.  I have a suspicion they might be slightly biased though.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

quicko: read-y or not ...

It's a general cliche not (NOT!) particularly shared by the Australian readers of this blog, but it seems that the average Australian you grab off the street is significantly less likely to have read a book from cover to cover in the last year than the average American you grab off the street.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

quicko: in my head

Buzzphrase of the year so far.  Or maybe not the year.  I just feel like I'm hearing it a lot these days.

Friday, April 20, 2012

quicko: diggers

Australian term for soldiers, particularly those in World War I who were digging in the trenches.  Hence, the Harbord Diggers RSL overlooking Curl Curl isn't just an oddly named building as I'd assumed, but actually named in honor of soldiers (funny how that goes along with an RSL -- returned serviceman's league? (similar to a VFW)).

Thursday, April 19, 2012

quicko: randling

Tonight I went to the taping of a new ABC (Australian etc etc etc) show tonight -- Randling.  I'm not allowed to tell you who won (the drama!), but I can give you general thoughts on the show.

The first one was jealousy.  It's all well and good to watch other people playing silly games having fun, but I wanted to play too.  They didn't invite me, though.

It's a show about words -- word origins, synonyms, banter, etc.  It's great, if a bit obscure at times.

I'd never been to the taping of a TV show before so I can't really compare it to the taping of an American one.  Off the top of my head it seemed probably way more low key.  Less security than I'd expect ... a building literally blocks away from where I work ... generally a very playful attitude toward TV and life in general.  It was cool.

And if you see the episode -- number 24? -- just listen for the word TEEN.  I'm not giving anything away to say they had to record more or less dozens of time to get it right ...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

quicko: to make out

Evidently a more American turn of phrase.  Australians say ... oh, drat ... going plus some preposition, but I'm afraid the wrong one could have dire consequences.  Going on?  Not out ... definitely not down ... over?  Or something like that ...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

photos: pinata party, take 2!

Isn't my fiesta fishy just adorable?  And how cool is Martin's guitar!?

Monday, April 16, 2012

public service announcement: april amnesty

This month the Sydney public libraries are offering amnesty:  contact them and they'll cancel all your fines!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Saturday, April 14, 2012

the squirrel visits the dollar store

Dear Blog,

I really wanted to write you a nice post like I used to tell you all sorts of fun and interesting cultural notes.  And I thought and I thought but I couldn't come up with anything.

I thought about writing about The Trouble with Trains, but I've kind of already done that.  I thought about writing about The Bother with Buses, but I've definitely already done that.  I thought about writing about The Problems with People, but that's really none of your business.

So I thought and I thought and I thought some more (it's funny how that happens when you've been reading Dr. Suess) and I thought that maybe, just maybe what you'd like would be a story told like Dr. Suess might tell it in Australia.

The problem with that is that I'm terrible at plot, which is why I usually just write about my own life, because at least I know what happens in it.  That and I'm exceptionally good at making mountains out of molehills.  Plot out of thin air is simply not my forte, alas.

But seeing as I've hardly given you anything remotely interesting in quite some time, at least it should be a happy change of pace, tra la?

Happy weekend to you!
Kim :)

The Squirrel Visits the Dollar Store, and Other Tales of American Beasts Down Under

There once was a squirrel from Ohio
Who went on the Cinco de Mayo
Down under to stay
For a year and a day
And after that came home to retire.

Sorry.  That turned out to be a limerick.  And slightly off topic.  Let me try again.

There once was a Squirrel who liked to play
and gambol in trees and stash nuts away
which he did every day, every day, every day.
And I daresay you would too if you happened to be
a Squirrel in a tree in a tree in a tree.

But one year the crop of nuts was not good
(it rained a bit more than it really have should)
and the Squirrel got a bit antsy and thought he had better
do like the birdies and seek better weather.

So he consulted his map
and pulled out his globe,
he looked in an atlas and
tugged his earlobe
and he thought and he thought and he thought and he thought
and he finally decided exactly what
he would do he would go he would buy himself wings
and assemble them promptly with assembly-wings-things.

And soon he was off, he was up, up, up at 'em
flying and soaring and gliding and --

He landed quite quickly
as Squirrels sometimes do
when it seems they've o'erlooked a slight detail or two
of precisely how to assemble wings right
(or at least, in the way to produce proper flight).

But he was okay, oh so very okay
for it seemed that he'd landed upon some soft hay
and moreover the way
where he'd happened to stray
was the way,
to Sydney, Australia, hooray!

And as he sat there near Milit'ry Lane
his eyes got so sleepy and started to wane.
(He had jet lag, you see,
which is especially hard
for dear little Squirrels to cope with unmarred.)
So he curled up right there for a quick little rest,
after which time I can duly attest
he stood right on up and went on his way,
looking for nuts and fun games to play.

He met a few friends and they asked him to party
along with them at the pub at eight-thirty.
But it was a "dress up" affair as they called it
and he should come up with
a mitt
or a wig
or a bonnet
or a scarf
or a hat
or a pig
or a sword
or a cape
or some stilts
or a mask
or some wings
or jewelry
or clogs
or a flask
or whatever things
would deck him all out as
Zorro the Squirrel,
and so off, off, off, off, off he went in a whirl!
Straight to World Square where he found
to his horror:
a "dollar" store that sold wares at such
inflated prices
he fainted away
(they revived him with spices, much later that day).

But the shock was too much, oh so very too much
and as much as he wanted to stay until brunch,
he really just couldn't handle the scene;
it all made him feel incredibly green
'bout the gills and so he declared
he'd be back off and flying
despite the repairs
that his flying wing-thingies
needed (of these he claimed unawares).

And off in the sky he waved a goodbye
to his friends down below -- down under the sky --
and off he went, up, up, up, up, up!
And flew through the air for weeks far away
till he finally landed back home in his tree
where it was now summer and,
I'm happy to say,
there were plenty of nuts all around there
to gather
(and, what's more, he didn't have to put up with the blather
he'd heard down below where his friends tried their best
but simply couldn't -- even when put to the test --
say his name right at all, poor Squirrely-kins sighed,
at least you could say, though, that they had indeed tried.)

And he curled up that night all snug in his tree
where he was quite warm and happy to be
and wrote a postcard that went round the world
and his friends all got it, from what I have heard,
and they wrote back again, quite quickly, it's true
to tell him that -- would you believe this -- they do
still party a bit beneath the hot sun
but it's never exactly at all so much fun
as the day the Squirrel came
(ever since then, they say, it's been rather tame
with never so much as a hint of a maim
or even a limp or a slight bit of lame),
at least so they claim,
and they've never yet managed to pronounce his name!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

quicko: crafty americans

While I know there are a lot of artistic Australians, overall I think the average American is craftier than the average Australian, in the "arts and craft" sense of crafty.  Give an American a pipe cleaner, some rubber bands and an egg carton, and he'll know what to do with them.  Give them to a group of Americans and you've got both a masterpiece and a serious mess on your hands.

Americans like to be creative -- even the "scientific" ones -- in terms of holidays, costumes, parties and general coolness.  Halloween is the obvious example, but it extends far beyond that.  Take the pinata making party I went to last night.

It was an American group meet-up thing and there were roughly a dozen of us gathered in an apartment, all ridiculously hard at work in flour up to our elbows making any number of paper mache objects.  Off the top of my head, we had a piggy, a guitar, a cactus, a Corona bottle (obviously there was a bit of a Mexican theme -- when isn't there for overseas Americans?!), an ant, a fish, a dragon, an eighth note and an unprintable piece of anatomy.

Isn't that cool?  Isn't that creative?  (And I don't mean the unprintable piece of anatomy, by the way.)  Americans just love things like this -- and I have to say we're not too shabby on enthusiasm side of things either.

Anyway, here's some of the fun:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

quicko: hot cross buns

I meant to take a picture of some hot cross buns so you could see what they look like, but it seems that someone has eaten the last one.  Nevermind.  You didn't even know you wanted a picture of hot cross  buns until about three seconds ago when you learned you couldn't have it anyway.  And besides.  Google images totally can help you.  It could help me too, but it's late and I have to publish this post before midnight unless I want to go in and mess with the time like I usually do, but I don't feel like it tonight.  It's late and I'm tired and I've got less than sixty seconds now, so I hope you enjoyed your post.

Ah yes.  Ps.  Hot cross buns are an Easter delicacy here.  You should totally try some.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

quicko: rugby league

So I'm going to tell you everything I know about rugby league:

--It is not rugby union.
--It is not AFL.
--It is not rugby.
--It is played with a ball.
--Two teams oppose each other and try to get the ball past their endline.  I'm sure it has a technical name, but I'm missing it.  Once they do, they must "ground" the ball, which means they must hold the ball and have it touch the ground.
--This is excellent, and is called a "try."
--This is exceptionally misleading, because it's really more of a "success," but it is not called that.
--A try is 4 points.
--If you score a try, you get a shot at a goal.
--A goal is a like a freebie kick, and it has to come from a particular angle/place related to where the try happened.
--A successful goal is 2 points.
--The opportunity to score a goal also can follow on from a foul.
--A field goal happens when, in regular play, the ball gets kicked over the goal posts.  It is not particularly common.
--A field goal is 1 point.
--Biting is frowned upon, but otherwise pretty much anything goes in terms of tackling.
--Sometimes the crowd suspects the players of faking injuries to get a foul shot.  When this is a member of the opposing team, the crowd does not take kindly to this.
--When their own player is down, they are more concerned that the foul point is properly awarded than in being joyful when he stands up again to reveal he has not lost the use of his limbs.
--The referees wear pink shirts, and often refer to the video refs in case of ... anything.
--The players were entirely too short of shorts, often coupled with knee socks.  I presume it is only because they are so big and athletic that they don't get beat up over this.
--One of the star players of the Manly Sea Eagles is Cherry-Evans ... or definitely Cherry-Something ...  Not Bing.
--The Manly Sea Eagles' colors are maroon and white.  They are the best team.
--Their home "ground" is the Brookvale Oval.
--After home games, they play their theme song of the Eagle Rock.  Also, fans are permitted on the field to run around and take pictures.
--They have cheerleaders called Angels who, this season, are sporting white feathery wings and long, curled tresses.
--They won last night, 30-0.

Monday, April 9, 2012

photos: manly sea eagles win!!!

quicko: can i get a lift?

"Lift" for "ride" in Australian English ... surely I've mentioned this before?  But in case I haven't, now you know for sure.  As in, "I'm cold and it's raining.  Could I please let get a lift?"

Author's note:  This is more effective in winter.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

happy easter!!

Hallelujah!  He is risen!

For once, there is absolutely no difference between Americans and Australians -- those bought by His blood are one and the same, for our citizenship is in Heaven.

Praise be to God!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

quicko: chocolate bilbunny!

It's a bunny!  It's a platypus!  It's a bilby!

They make chocolate bilbies (bilbys?  bilbii?) here -- evidently because rabbits are considered such pests (not to mention not Australian) that they were more appropriate choices than rabbits.  They still do bunnies, too, though.

Friday, April 6, 2012

quicko: as all get out

An Americanism.  As in, "that puppy is cute as all get out!"

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

quicko: navigation by pubs

In a day where GPSs take us everywhere we want to go, and, failing them, there's Mapquest and Google Earth and, my Sydney favorite, 131500, there is one remarkably, shall we call it quaint?, aspect of navigation that still holds a very niche and irreplaceable spot in Australia:  the pub.

Take The Oaks for instance.  The Oaks is a big pub in Neutral Bay and is one of the landmarks of the city.  Not quite in the way the Opera House or even Town Hall is, but native Sydneysiders the city over -- from Palm Beach to the Shire -- know The Oaks.  If you're heading toward anywhere in its vicinity, it's an excellent place to begin, direction-wise.

Similarly, if you're out and about in the city and you know where you are, but you can't for the life of you work out where the bus you want will leave from, all you have to do is call a local friend.  Tell your friend which pub you can see and she'll quickly play pub bingo to get you across, down, over and there! using only pubs (and possibly their corollary, ATMs) as reference points.  Voila.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

quicko: shame

Common Australian response (verbal:  "Shame," not the feeling thereof) to any sort of bad/less-than-stellar news or event.

Monday, April 2, 2012

quicko: WHAT is starbucks doing?!

This is a real live bus I captured outside Wynyard.  What in the world does Starbucks think it's doing?!  Doesn't "coffee jelly" sound like one of the most disgusting substances available?  I can only assume in Australian it doesn't have the sort of oozy, blechy, monthly sort of undertones it does in American ...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

quicko: go left

After years of sidestepping recklessly back and forth between sides of the sidewalk when you're walking down the street, the Australian government has finally decided to do what Americans would have assumed people would have done naturally -- stay on the left!

In America, pedestrians just naturally veer right (since that's the side we drive on) when meeting another oncoming pedestrian.  In Australia, as much as you'd think everyone would just go left, in reality everyone usually just ends up in a bit of an awkward jumble.

But now the Labor (more left-wing) party in New South Wales has actually managed to push an official policy through that requires everyone to "go left."

It's basically going to be one of those laws along the lines of jaywalking -- on the books, but presumably rarely actually enforced.  I find it bizarre they've actually gone and made it official (crazy Australians!), but just in case you need to know, be sure to stay on the left when you're walking in NSW!