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By Frank Povah:
Hope y’all gits bit by a rabid ’coon
Johnny Depp has been generating a lot of free publicity back home in the US. Free for him that is – Australia is paying for it. You might remember that in April of this year Mr Depp and his wife, Amber Heard – or is it “then wife”, I don’t really follow what passes for the lives of film and TV stars – brought their two pampered mongs, Pistol and Boo, on a little jaunt to Australia where their daddy was filming yet another blockbuster aimed at children and adults under 15. Problem was…
act of cultural vandalism
An open letter to my elected, so-called representatives: This present Australian Government is trotting dog-like down the path to destruction behind its conservative counterparts in the US and elsewhere, bent on transforming us into a society where the environment, the economy and the national social conscience are left to the tender mercies of the free market and corporate “self-regulation”.
rights vs. wrongs
The thoughts so well expressed by Mike Cox in Freeing Free Speech once again set me thinking about my own attitudes to this thorny issue. It’s a difficult one for me; on the one hand I’m pretty much against censorship and all for free speech, on the other I despise those who sneer at ‘political correctness’ for no other reason than that it curtails their right to be offensive to people who are different from them.
a land down under
Jeffrey Lee is an elder of the Djok, the clan whose land, Koongarra, was given to them in the Dreaming and is therefore held by the people in sacred trust. Jeffrey is its senior custodian, keeping strong and alive the rituals and ceremony needed to ensure its well-being until the end of time beyond time as it turns within the great cycle of its Dreaming.
It seems donkey’s years since I’ve put finger to keyboard to contribute, and I don’t really know why. Like The Dew is always a great read and just as I’ve enjoyed contributing, I’ve enjoyed the many and varied passions of its contributors. But these past few months I seem to have been visited by that come-and-go ennui that seems from time to time to plague anyone involved in creative pursuits, but the packers have been and gone and with them the mood that has prevailed over the past few months.
Boy, will I be happy when this election is over at last – though I use “happy” with qualifications. If Romney manages to crack it, I’ll be decidedly unhappy, if Obama wins I’ll be relieved more than joyful. Unless of course he at long last begins to assert himself and force the neo-reicht into revealing what they actually are: fascists in Christian hedge fund manager’s clothing, though that’s possibly a tautology.
To touch briefly on Monday night’s debate, I have to admire Governor Romney. His ability to stand in front of a nation and keep a straight face while contradicting just about every statement he has ever made is just awesome –Mitt the Oxymormon.
Save The Burrup
I’m going to tell you a little bit more about Australia and its peoples – good and bad – but first, as promised earlier, I want to list a few of the things that have been accomplished under the leadership of the much-maligned Julia Gillard. As I wrote last time, Ms Gillard is ridiculed in many quarters and from what I can see it’s simply because she doesn’t fit the mould, but under her gritty leadership the Labor government is now forging ahead with projects that her predecessors lacked the guts or vision, or both, to push through; notably:
You can blame Tom Ferguson for this one – in a response to my take on the Democratic Convention, he asked if I might consider giving a run-down on events in Australia, the land that shaped and nurtured me from the time of my conception. It’s probably not a bad idea, Australia is a mystery to most Americans – it still mystifies me sometimes – so I’ll give it a burl and see if I can’t occasionally give you the oil on what goes on in the Old Brown Land, politically, socially and culturally.
In a comment on one of my pieces, a reader opined that he or she suspected I may not be a fan of American Football. That reader was right, and I suppose I could have just admitted the fact and left it at that. But I didn’t, it’s not in me, and I’ve had to get off my bike and say so even at the risk of tarring and feathering and possible loss of my Green Card the application for which asked me if I was intending to overthrow the Government of the United States. If Mitt the Oxymormon gets to see this, I’m buggered.
Made for TeeVee
Well, I’ve now seen my second US political convention, live on HD teevee, and I’m still a little shell-shocked.
Before I go any further, let me say that in Australia I have always voted on the so-called left side of the political fence. From voting age till the 1990s I was a supporter of the Australian Labor Party (note the US spelling, it has an interesting history), until its stand on environmental and immigration issues and its gradual caving in to the demands of giant corporations gave my vote to the Australian Greens.
Good luck America
Most Dewbies probably know that I’m an Australian, so they may understand my bogglement upon viewing for the first time a teevee broadcast of a US political party’s convention. Well that’s not exactly the truth; back in Australia news broadcasts will be showing clips of the proceedings as part of the coverage of the US elections and no doubt Australians will be shaking their heads and muttering “Bloody hell – only in America.”
Off My Chest
We’d lost Dan by the time he was six; even at that age I reckon he’d already decided society really didn’t have much to offer a kid who had to wear an iron and leather calliper on one leg, and if he couldn’t keep up, then no-one was going to wait for him. Problem was, by the time he was three or four years old, Dan, like so many kids in his position, had already experienced enough pain and mental anguish to last a lifetime, though no one seemed to notice. Problem was, Dan’s Old Man, like so many others, had not long been back from five years in the “Big Stoush” – World War II – and had his own demons to fight.
Things get in the way. This morning I was going to write the second installment of a story begun last week but it wasn’t to be. On Friday last, the postie – that’s Australian for mailman or, in my case, mailwoman – delivered a piece of junk mail that saw Rabbie Burns’ Law kick in. The Great Scot’s ghost was still hovering about the house when I read a Dana Milbank (Washington Post) piece in the Opinion pages of Sunday’s Lexington Herald-Leader, and is looking over my shoulder today as I listen to UK’s public radio station WUKY. I was going to ignore it, but it’s just no good to try…
A Kit of Soaring Pigeons
Butler’s Swamp has gone. Confined, sanitized and renamed Lake Claremont, it has been incorporated into a ritzy housing subdivision with its own golf course.
I once covered every square foot of that old swamp in a tin canoe, exploring its reed beds and mud-bars, looking for water rats and reed-warblers’ nests and hoping against hope to encounter a norn – a black tiger snake – lying in wait for some unsuspecting frog. At dusk, squadron upon squadron of little black and little pied cormorants flew in from the Swan River to roost in the paperbarks and drowned gums.
Last Saturday night I found myself watching the farcical teevee extravaganza euphemistically titled the GOP Nominees’ Debate – or something like that anyway; it’s difficult to remember the title thanks to the breathtakingly inept performances by everyone concerned, not least the producer, who obviously has no idea of what a debate actually is.
As an aside, I viewed this revelation of political thought and process at the home of some good friends. Australian Americans and fellow devotees of Spike Milligan and the Goon Show, they saw this presentation in the same light as I did – lacking the pathos-tinged humor and intelligence of Milligan but equally close to sliding over the edge into lunacy. Am I alone in thinking that no one in their right mind could possibly take any of them as suitable candidates to lead the nation at a time when humanity is facing possibly its greatest challenges ever?
Lived to Write About It
It’s becoming clearer, so I can probably write about it now. Not for any particular reason, other perhaps than to get it straight in my own mind and to bring some sort of mental order to what is still a confusing nine days.
It all began with what was to have been routine laparoscopic surgery. After months of going round the houses, a specialist had diagnosed a bad case of gallstones – a diagnosis confirmed by an ultrasound examination – and I was booked into our local hospital to have my gall bladder removed. … Then it got weird – weird and terrifying.
Today, Wednesday September 14, is the fourth day I have been without a telephone service of any description. It appears that the service began to fail intermittently from about Friday 9th until the morning of Monday 12th, when it became permanently inoperable.
Have any of your organization’s administrators attempted to navigate the AT&T website to lodge a repair request for a land-line telephone service? I suspect not. Neatly laid out it may be, but the typeface chosen for the introductory page is an obscure one and on my computer … is rendered so small and so pixelated as to be unreadable …
Once again a not-uncommon natural phenomenon has demonstrated that the only sensible place for electricity transmission lines is underground. Perhaps not the giant feeder lines rated in thousands of kiloVolts (why not Megavolts I wonder), but certainly those ubiquitous pole hangers that for a hundred years and more have teeter-tottered for mile after mile through suburb and farmland alike.
The utility companies argue that to bury the lines would be prohibitively expensive and the knock-on cost crippling to the customer, and put that way, it’s a pretty scary argument – the hip-pocket nerve is very sensitive after all – but how much does this antiquated delivery system, virtually unchanged since Edison’s day, cost the consumer now?
When first we arrived in the US, we stayed with family in the Northern Wastes where we had to a fair bit of driving around so that the other half could catch up with friends and sort out the 1001 little things that had cropped up during her time in the Old Brown Land.
It was during these excursions that I came across the billboard that led to this story. I don’t know the name of the company it advertised because it was always the catchline that grabbed my attention: “90,000 Brides Serviced”…
Since calling to cancel my satellite teevee/internet connection I’ve been contacted by the company’s “customer satisfaction” person who has offered to lower the cost of my plans and give me a free service call to see if there’s a problem with my dish (I’ve been complaining for 18 months to no avail).
Several minutes later a “rival” ISP called to tell me that a government subsidy, aimed at people like me, allows his company to offer free installation and no rental fee for its equipment. He told me, when asked, that this plan has been in effect since October. “Why didn’t they tell me this last week when I enquired about the plans on offer?” I wanted to know.
It’s a wonder anyone in Kentucky, or the US for that matter, bothers with a satellite internet connection – anyone living more than 10 minutes from a town of any reasonable size, that is. Not only are the available options painfully slow – though the satellite ISPs tout their wares with superlatives such as “blisteringly fast” – they are expensive and many of the “service providers” (their words, not mine) employ somewhat suspect tactics to keep you in their talons once they have you signed up.
I’m in awe of Rand Paul; the man must have the hide of a rhinoceros. He was sent to Washington after convincing the voters of Kentucky that he believed in the same god that they did – though he seems less fearful of divine retribution – and was going to spend his time there to force the Career Politicians to Cut Spending, Balance The Budget and return the country to the Golden Days, those presumably being whenever it was that the Clan Paul consolidated its position. He also railed against Vested Interests and Taxation and politicians who Weren’t Doing what they were Elected To Do.
So what’s the lad doing now? Well for one, he’s touring the country to promote his new book, The Tea Party Goes To Washington. Apparently he’s already got things in the capital so well organized that he doesn’t need to be there all the time …
Writing about my last Povah, I explained my reasons for keeping my award recipients to myself and I see no reason to change that policy. However, as happened on that occasion, sometimes something comes along that’s just too good to be left alone.
This week’s award deservedly belongs to one of NBC’s seemingly inexhaustable supply of “news analysts”, one-time FBI profiler and now security savant, Dr Clint Van Zandt. Dr Van Zandt was allegedly explaining for our benefit the mental processes of a man arrested and charged in England for the abduction, murder by crossbow and possible cannibalising of several women.
Please forgive me if I come across as a little smug, but I’m a proud Australian today – to the point of being insufferable – and, with all due humility, I contend that the USA could do much worse than be guided by what is now afoot in the land of my birth.
Australian telecommunications services were once wholly owned by the taxpayers of that country. In 1995 the company providing them – known as Telstra – employed almost 87,000 people and provided telephone services over the entire continent. Even the most remote of Aboriginal communities could boast a public telephone connecting it to the outside world.
I’m experiencing another bout of cultural malaria, that recurring melancholia that can be triggered by sights, sounds or even things that don’t register on our conscious mind. For the second – no, the third – time since arriving in the USA, I feel like a stranger in an unfamiliar land, and it’s Christmas that’s to blame or, strictly speaking, the season in which it has arrived.
Perhaps it’s a tinge of homesickness or maybe because I haven’t had a sight of real sunshine for weeks now, for whatever the reason I looked at the weather data for south-western Australia this morning. In Gingin, the town we left to come to the USA, it’s around 11:00 pm as I write this and the [farenheit] temperature is just breathing down the neck of 70°, falling from a high of 100. Pretty well normal for this time of year.
As I said up there, I’ve got nothing against Mickey Mouse. Well, that’s not quite true, I can’t stand his voice; but that’s uncharitable, one shouldn’t judge others by their physical or mental shortcomings and in any case, it’s not his fault, Walt Disney gave it to him. Neither do I bear any ill will towards Walt Disney himself, not personally anyway. Even though my mother enjoyed telling all who would listen that for six weeks I had nightmares over the bushfire sequences in Bambi after Bernie Jamieson took me to see it back in the ’40s, I bear him no grudge. None whatsoever.
No, none of that matters. It’s what he – or his studio, and I’ll get the two confused here, I know – has done to children’s literature that gets up my nose.
I don’t make a habit of making my award public because I make a lot of mistakes myself and in any case I only hand it out privately so I can feel smug, but I just couldn’t let this go.
Writing in Kentucky News Review, Lu-Ann Farrar tells us that Peter Kraska, a professor at Eastern Kentucky University…now let’s just hold it there for a second while I try to work out where to start. To make things a bit clearer, I’ll italicise Lu-Ann’s words, at least the ones I think are hers.
Got that? Now, Ms Farrar writes that the professor told the Detroit Free Press that paramilitary troups [sic.] are being used more often in police situations. Now right there I’m puzzled.
I watched a so-called teevee debate between a couple of aspirants to political office a couple of nights ago, and my reaction was akin to nothing so much as that of your archetypal stunned mullet. So you can blame the teevee, the candidates, the university and the panel for what you are about to receive – or not, depending on your attention span.
First up, I’d like to lay my cards on the table. My opinions are born of life experiences outside the ken of many Australians – especially those born in the boom years, and later in those gray decades of gray conservatism where nostalgia for an imaginary past and place colors political thought at the expense of progress – so it follows they are also outside the ken of many Americans.
It’s an ugly fall this year at Butterfly Bottom, the aftermath of months of hot, dry weather and very little rain. Not only can I feel and see its presence along the creek and just over the brow of the hill, but I can hear it in the trees, in the leaves that died suddenly with no farewell wave of color and now rattle harshly on sycamore and locust, on walnut and sassafras and hedge apple.
Kevin and Honey’s lesson in fuel filter maintenance took me back to Wollar (pop. ±90), New South Wales, where I lived in the 80s. A popular loafing spot for the male population was the mechanic’s workshop at the general store – the village’s only commercial establishment – and any passing motorist who pulled in there for fuel or, even more entertaining, in need of assistance from Terry, the resident mechanical genius, was always assured of an audience.
… and of the contemporary attitude toward manual labor
At around 15 years of age, as I’m sure I’ve said before, I was bound apprentice as a hand compositor; that is a tradesman who assembled in a composing stick individually cast letters, making of them readable lines of text. Each line of type had to be justified – whether it was centered, set flush left, flush right or full out – so that the stick could be turned upside down without the type spilling from it.
Once the stick was full, the lines were transferred to a galley then assembled with rules, quads, reglets and leads into pages of whatever format the job required. A proof was pulled – and before I could use the proof press I had to learn …
I’m hopping bloody mad – well more frustrated, really – and given my mood I probably shouldn’t be putting fingers to keyboard, especially today of all days, but I just can’t let it go.
Oh, and before I do begin, let me say that nine years ago today I, along with 99.99 per cent of my fellow Australians, was absolutely horrified at what I was seeing on my teevee screen. Our great ally and friend in time of need was in pain and we could only listen and watch, numb with shock. The anger came later. So, my dear American friends, be assured that my heart is with you, today and always.
Caution: Children and some other readers may be grossed out on reading this. If this is the case, spare a thought for those of us who have always known that the animals that sustain us are a composite of the same sorts of bits and pieces as we are and so deserve to be treated with respect. I’ve been feeling a bit of nostalgia for Australia these past couple of weeks – I think a looming birthday has got a lot to do with it – but it’s the way in which it has manifested itself that has me intrigued. It has surfaced as a longing for the sort of food that it’s impossible to get here; things like meat pies, fish and chips, sausage rolls, Sao crackers and edible bananas. Never mind the punishing Kentucky humidity, no smell of eucalypts and the lack of parrots in the trees, it’s […]
I hated school – absolutely hated it – and almost from my very first day there couldn’t wait to get out. There were lots of reasons for my loathing and I’ll be first to admit that as my school years crawled by a lot of the things I hated were magnified by my own pig-headedness, but a lot weren’t; they were irritants engendered by a system still operating in the past and geared to deal only with privilege, the status quo and blind acceptance. I’ll also concede that I started my academic non-career at a bad time. Early on many of the teachers were probably dragged out of retirement to fill gaps left by those who were away fighting the war. These servicemen and women then returned to teaching no doubt finding it difficult to cope with a world far removed from the one they had known since 1939 – […]
My relatives have always been a source of inspiration and wonder to me and as a child I was in awe of the exploits of uncles, aunts, grands and those great-grands who were still living. Old age visited on a few of of them behaviour that these days would see them at best drugged and at worst institutionalized, but was back then considered among the side effects of ageing requiring very little intervention, if also a little tolerance. If I slip into that sort of senility, I want my family to tell the authorities about these among my antecedents, pointing out that they lived among children and adults without causing mental or physical harm – indeed they were an inspiration to many of the youngsters about them, inspiring in us a love of music, recitation, storytelling and literature. Great-Grandma Ada, she of the brown, brown skin, the dropped h and […]
Whether or not this is an appropriate venue to air this memory – whether, indeed, the USA is an appropriate venue – I’ll leave you to judge. If it’s not, then my defence might be that I still haven’t entirely come to grips with differences in national senses of humor. Be that as it may, it was Tom Poland’s Riding The Chitlin’ Circuit that brought the memory so vividly back. It was the early 1960s and I’d not long been in the Eastern States trying my music out in a larger, more sophisticated market than in my native, allegedly backward Western Australia. In those days, and still, though to a slightly lesser degree, the relationship between The West and Tassie on the one hand and the more populous Eastern States on the other puts me in mind of the North–South thing here. One side uses the other as a convenient conscience […]
Some day, somewhere, there’ll be another Deepwater Horizon, another Ixtoc 1, another Exxon Valdez, another Torrey Canyon. There’ll be another Ok Tedi, another Montara…
I don’t like whingers nearly as much as I don’t like wowsers, especially when it’s me doing the whinging, but it’s been a rough few months. I’ve had a spell of weird episodes that for a while made me think I was going to kark it but a battery of tests – CAT scan, MRIs an EEG and an angiogram – all came back saying nothing. In fact the angiogram insisted that my arteries are 30 years younger than I am. This, as I told the cardio-vascular youngster in charge, came as something of a shock, defying all logic and reason – I gave myself a fair pizzling as a young bloke. Granted, it was a relief to know that I wasn’t about to have a heart attack or stroke, but still and all, no-one’s any the wiser as to the cause. These turns still come and go, varying in […]
They’re funny things, chooks – or chickens as we say here in the USA – the sort of thing that you never miss until you don’t have any, and when you’ve got them you curse every time you have to hunt them out of the garden or stumble like Captain Oates into the frosty night because you’ve forgotten to lock them up safe from cats, foxes, chuditches (in Australia) or raccoons, opossums, coyotes, et. al. (here in the US).
Chooks have long been part of the background to my lifescape (and pigeons, too, another of my lifelong infatuations but more of them in another post perhaps). When I was growing up, almost everyone I knew kept chooks in the back yard, even in the big cities.
It’s not easy, is it, to give someone a definition of your birth country straight off the bat. There’s no catch-all phrase or description, especially if you agree with me that part of what defines your country is in your own being, the way you see yourself, and another part is in a nationally shared state of mind. I’m going to try anyway, but I’m going to go at it widdershins – which will come as no surprise to anyone who’s read anything of what I’ve previously written. Frustrating to some I know, but it’s the way I do things. Blame my forebears if you like, but bear with me while I introduce two of my fabulous cousins.
I’ve been watching the antics surrounding the healthcare debate with what I can only describe as wide-eyed amazement and awe, tinged slightly with fear.
Does any in the congregation of this Church of Rip Van Winkle honestly believe that other people might see them as offering some viable alternative; that a government led by some latter day reincarnation of Tom o’ Bedlam might lead them out of the sea of bewildered confusion in which they find themselves?
I know that elections in Tasmania are of limited interest to Dewbies, and will affect their lives very little, but what I am about to write is in no small part encouraged by my concern at the increasingly loose interpretation of democracy by governments everywhere. Tasmania is a microcosm and may soon serve as yet another example of political folly.
In my article about the forthcoming Tasmanian election I made reference to the role played by the Exclusive Brethren (EB) in past campaigns and to its hypocritical stance on politics. At the time I left Australia, its world head, Bruce D Hales, the “Elect Vessel,” was a fellow citizen – though I use the term loosely and with regret – and this is one reason I follow the activities of this cultist sect. A worldwide organization, there are claims that the Exclusive Brethren also interfered in elections in New Zealand, where they have been accused of “threatening the government”, and that they donated something like $500,000 to a George W Bush campaign, though in the US context this may be meaningless apart from the sheer hypocrisy of the EB, but it’s in Australia that this mob
For those Dewers who’d like a change from US politics, may I offer up an alternative entertainment? The people of far-away Tasmania go to the polls next weekend when the fate of the incumbent Labor government will be decided. Australia’s island State is among the most beautiful places on earth but if you ever wish to see the consequences of unfettered corporate power, political hypocrisy and politico/religious bastardry, then Tasmania is the place to look at – though Western Australia looks set to soon be its equal in these attributes.
I hate supermarkets with a passion. I’m getting on a bit – not ancient, mind, but getting on – and I’m old enough to remember when the first of these horrors opened their doors in Australia. The Aussie equivalent of the five and dime – based on the US model – had been around since 1914, but the supermarket idea didn’t reach the Wide Brown Land until the 50s.
Before the first of these wonderful institutions opened its doors, its representatives flooded the airwaves with radio commercials and speeches … “There’ll be no more waiting to be served,” the spruiker said. Fair dinkum. No more waiting to be served; among the first shots in an ongoing campaign of lies, half-truths and Pavlovian advertising.
I suppose I should let this go because in the great horror of what has just happened it’s a mote – annoying yes, but a mote nevertheless – but I can’t; I’m sorry, I just can’t. The shock of the events in Chile snapping so close at the heels of the tragedy on the other side of the Americas was bad enough, but teevee’s ‘coverage’ of the tsunami in the quake’s aftermath was nothing short of abysmal – well, it would have been abysmal if it hadn’t been so blatantly shallow.
It pains me to say it, but please don’t experiment at home with anything mentioned here. Not only is there a risk of injury to yourself and others – indeed, in some parts of the country you may get eaten by an alligator – but, and perhaps this is worse, your parents may be thought too poor to buy you an X-box. There’s an old Australian poem with a chorus that goes something like: Stringybark and greenhide, it’ll never fail ya! Stringybark and greenhide, it’s the mainstay of Australia. By the time I was old enough to be aware of such things, greenhide was still in common use on the big cattle stations – probably still is in some places – but farmhouse roofs of stringybark had long been replaced by that enduring symbol of Australia, corrugated iron. Relatively cheap, easily transported, white-ant proof and to a large extent fire […]
Once upon a time, all public buses in Western Australia carried a prominent sign above the driver’s seat: “PASSENGERS MUST NOT TALK TO DRIVER”. One day on my way to trade-theory classes in Perth, I stepped on a bus in Fremantle. Its sign had been altered using paper patches and red ink. “PASSENGERS MUST NOT TALK DRIVEL”, it commanded. Widdershins again, but it will become relevant.
In Australia on a quiet news day, the teevee networks are fond of slipping in the occasional “Only in America” story, often one of the urban myths you find circulating on the Internet, the more bizarre and outrageous the better…
Steve Krodman’s Cheerio stirred up a lot of memories and set me to thinking about life, and New Zealand, and oatmeal, and the springtime of my life. If you’re not sure about any of the lingo contained herein, just ask.
Back in the ’60s and ’70s I spent a few years in the Shaky Isles, living mostly off the music. If money got really tight I’d work at anything I could get, and back in those opulent days there was plenty to be got.
Mark Johnson covered it brilliantly in his most recent post and I touched on it a while back, and this recent spell of really cold weather has led me once more to that putrescent fount from whence I draw much bile-arousing material: the commercial teevee networks and *The News*.
Taking the cue from their second cousins in the US, Australians have pretty much got used to news anchors whose expertise seems to lie more in the choice of the smart frock or the nifty tie than in an understanding of the world beyond the studio…
There are many similarities between my birth country, Australia, and the USA but there are also many differences, and they’re not always noticed at first glance. One that took a while to become obvious lies in the attitudes of politicians towards their constituents – and I’m talking about “us mortal critters here at the headwaters,” to borrow from Pogo.
Our family was pretty nomadic. Dad always thought that if he upped stumps and moved somewhere else, life would improve for him. Maybe he never discovered that we take our demons with us until we manage to shake them off, or perhaps he preferred to live with those he knew rather than risk being overtaken by the unknown. Whatever, between moves we’d often stay with Nana, my maternal grandmother Maude Louise, a remarkable woman to whom I owe my stubbornness and much else besides.
At the time I want to tell you of, Maude was living in a ramshackle house
If you do intend to read this, I reckon you might first want to have a shoofti at Juli Ward’s recent post. It’s what set me off on this one; and before I start, let me say that the Australian experience was, I think, in a lot of ways different from the US one and that my childhood shouldn’t be taken as typical for every Australian kid of my generation. I’ll also admit that times have changed since I was fighting against becoming a grown-up, but there are enough similarities to work with.
About now I suppose I’d better whack in a disclaimer:
A while back I promised – or threatened – to share some of my favorite similes, the creation of which is something of an art form in my birth country, Australia.
Be warned, however. We Australians have a different view of language than our American cousins and some of what follows may confuse or offend. If you are easily either or both, look away now. Australians’ attitudes to their country’s institutions are also very different from yours and our sense of humor can seem pretty dark to an outsider. Australia’s bleak past still has a pervasive influence. It’s not so long ago that convicts drew for the “gallows straw” and he who drew it would murder the other members of his work party, knowing that he’d hang for it.
Commenting on a previous post of mine, Meg Gerrish referred to misunderstandings that can arise because of differences in English as it’s spoken in the USA and the way we Australians use the language. And she’s right, those differences can cause problems. So this one’s for Meg.
Australians have been described as a people who call
I don’t like TV much – or movies if it comes to that – but I do watch both, despite the self-loathing sometimes generated by doing so. TV news is for the most part appalling and the major networks’ attempts at it would be funny if they weren’t so bloody awful. “We ask the hard questions” I think means, “Our reporters pull the best faces during noddies.”
Even the weather reports have degenerated into sensationalized nothingnesses that alarm charming
I’d only been at Butterfly Bottom a couple of weeks when a chance meeting and an afternoon spent with the members of the Buffalo Springs Strings at their regular dulcimer afternoon in the old Minorsville Baptist Church turned on another light and I just had to get a dulcimer. The five-string banjo aside, there’s no instrument more Southern than the Appalachian dulcimer, only they show the Celtic heritage of their servants by imitating the drone of the pipes. I contacted a man adept in the magical lore of such things and he put one together for me.
I decided on just the basic model, in case I’m unable to do the instrument justice.
I fell in love with Kentucky from my first visit here, more than 10 years ago, yet I still can’t put my finger on any one defining reason why .
The vegetation couldn’t be any more different from that I grew up with in Western Australia – we West Australians were once known as ‘Sandgropers’ – and the abundance of greenery, surface water and rainfall struck me as bordering on the pornographic; an overabundance of an already voluptuous good thi
That may be it. Perhaps my Celtic genes
I am toying with the idea – not very practical I’ll admit – of putting together an Australia–US phrase book, available for download at a nominal fee to anyone reading what I write and having difficulty understanding the Australian turn of phrase.
When one ignores the obvious, such as dinky di and bloody mug lair, there are subtle differences in word meanings that often slip under the radar. I remember well the shocked look on my (then) new bride’s face when I asked a friend if I could nurse her newborn babe – nurse in Australia meaning simply to “hold”.
Last night during NBC’s continuing coverage of events in Haiti, there was captured on the record an all-too-brief moment that needs to be shown over and over and over again; one of those heart-wrenching incidents that if we are extremely lucky we may see at first-hand but once in a lifetime.
A numbed Haitian man is sitting outside the ruins of his home. Apparently his wife’s voice was heard a few hours before but all is now silent.