Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How Long?

Each year there is commentary on social mores in regards to how early and late certain activities can be undertaken
• How early is too early for stores to be promoting Christmas (David Jones won the race this year with their decorations available for sale from the beginning of September
• How long after Christmas is it ok for a household to leave their decorations up (I think they should come down the same calendar year they go up)
• How long after New year is it still appropriate to wish someone “Happy New Year”. (the first time you see someone in the year – throughout the month of January)
• How many weeks before Easter hot cross buns be on sale, and when should they be eaten (religious zealots will say hot cross buns should only be eaten on Easter Sunday, but they are delicious and should be on sale all year round and consumer as frequently as toast!)
• How long after someone’s birthday is it still appropriate to wish someone a belated “Happy Birthday” (it depends on who is doing the wishing and how good their gift is)

I received a belated “Happy Birthday”, 101 days after my birthday! It was from one of my nearest and dearest friends who shower me with many birthday greetings on the actual day – sans gift.

The person in question has told me numerous times that the delay was due to the ongoing search for the perfect gift. Am I that hard to buy for? My family have been purchasing gifts for me for nearly four decades. Admittedly my parents are notoriously bad gift givers. Their focus is on spending the same amount – to the cent – on each of their children rather than the quality or suitability of a gift for the intended recipient.

For years after moving out of home I would still search for gifts prior to the intended day for unwrapping. My parents are equally bad at hiding gifts as they are buying them so the search never took long. My favourite was the year they hid our Easter eggs in the fridge! The searching, and discover gave me the opportunity to practice and perfect my pleasantly surprised expressions.

My parents know they are bad gift givers. Last Christmas as I was given a gift to unwrap, Mum turned to Dad and said “this will be interesting.” This was an admission, a declaration that the gift was unsuitable. The gift was in the bin before their car had left the carport at the end of their visit.

It turns out that the delayed gift was well worth waiting for. I have been renovating my apartments for even longer than the belated birthday wishes and the gift was a decorative piece that matches perfectly both the colourings and style of what I am creating.

It did also provide an excuse for a good dinner. Before I get beaten to death by rolling pin-wielding celebrity chef I know that we should not need an excuse for a good meal. It should be the expectation.

The question is, is this still a birthday gift and if so, for which birthday is it connected? The one past making it a “birthday reprise” or is it a rehearsal for my pending celebrations. The Price Is Right always went with the rule the closest without going over. Or is it just a gift, mid year, from a friend?

Never look a gift friend in the mouth. Never did understand this saying, even when it was about horses. Why would anyone want to look inside a horse’s mouth? If someone is giving you a gift, pay attention to the gift, remember to read the card, and tell them how much you appreciate the thought – regardless of whether it is the perfect gift from a friend or one that will be interesting from my parents.

If it is past your birthday, even 101 days, the perfect gift is always on time.

Monday, September 19, 2011

International Talk Like A Pirate Day

International Talk Like A Pirate Day

So many clich├ęs and not enough conversations. According to the website International Talk Like A Pirate Day is all about the G-rated Walt Disney style pirate; eye patches, wooden legs and a whole lot of “Arrrrr me matey!” The more cavalier may even go as far as a Pirates of the Caribbean adding a slightly drunk slightly camp bawdiness to it all.

No mention of Sudanese pirates which are currently terrorising certain international water ways; no hostages, no ransom demands no torture. They take all of the fun out of modern piracy.

If a man wearing torn off pants, a striped shirt, a bandana and a parrot on his shoulder boarded your chosen mode of transport demanding all of your bounty you are more likely to have bit of a laugh, think it odd that he was in costume when it was clearly not Halloween and then go about your business. A much different response when someone who is clearly angry wielding a semi automatic weapon boards your craft destroys all communication devices and holds you hostage for weeks or months whilst demanding political and financial support from your government.

I am sure to do more than just shiver me timbers if I was ever faced with this situation.

Then there is music and video piracy. Though probably not as exciting to spend the day pretending to be someone sitting at their computer or HD recorder downloading files. The conversation is not as entertaining either “file...select....record....save...can you bring me some chips and my drink”

Avast, it is a lot more fun if you demand an ale from your buxom wench... especially if you are stuck at your computer all afternoon downloading the next season of your favourite show, the programming of which has been stuffed up by the commercial networks.

It could be worse, it could be sing like a pirate day when grown men and women the world over perform their impressions of minor Wiggles characters.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

American Winners

Charlie Sheen infamously proclaimed that he was the winner. America (and yes this is a generalisation) has a troubled history when it comes to winning. Its losing style was shown in all of its glory at the conclusion of the US Tennis Open when Serena Williams had yet another melt down on her way to losing a Grand Slam title. This time the umpire was ugly – on the inside – for making a correct call about William’s on-court conduct during the match. Obviously a beautiful umpire would have realised that because she is American, playing in America that she should be able to say whatever she wants whenever she wants regardless of the rules. She even brought into question the umpire’s geographical knowledge, reminding her “we are in America, last time we checked.” Surprising Williams did not draw a gun on the umpire declaring her second amendment rights to keep and bear arms - against ugly (on the inside) people.

In 2003 President Bush declared mission accomplished in reference to the war in Iraq, which only leaves the world wondering just what is happening there seven years later. If it is military exercises they are taking their practice VERY seriously. A pre-emptive declaration, or merely recognition that when it comes to wars the US is very good at starting wars but not so good at ending them. World War II was an exception where the US intervention proved to be quite a persuasive to end the conflict. Vietnam, Korea, Iraq (the original and sequel) Afghanistan.... Admittedly the US has declared that some of these were not in fact wars but rather police actions thus evading the question of victory, but you see my point.

Although the broadcasters enjoy international television they do not believe the general population will understand neither the dialogue nor the nuance unless it is performed by American actors with strong New York or Californian accents. In this case they take a ratings winner such as Kath & Kim from Australia or Coupling from America and turn it into a dog’s breakfast.

Excellent segue.

Wilfred is the exception that proves the rule. Interestingly the Australian actor, writer and co-creator Jason Gann remains in the title role and the US version is a hit.

Back to sport. To ensure the US comes out a winner it has limited its World Series Baseball competition to only teams that play originate in the US. Recently Canada was added, barely international. Perhaps Ms Williams could give them all a geography lesson. Unusually the website in proudly spruiking its international diversification declares “World Series travels north” and then discusses Atlanta.

For the record Atlanta is not a country it is the capital city of the state of Georgia (one of seven original Confederate states). Is it any wonder that during her failed attempt to run for Vice President, Sarah Palin declared she was prepared for international diplomacy because she can see Russia from where she lives.

America may well be the home of the brave and land of the free, but the jury is still out on their capacity as winners.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


…because Australians are patriotic – when a national sporting team or individual wins an international championship. Even if the population has never heard of the team/individual ad no nothing about the sport. If Australia wins then all Australians are instant experts in the rules, nuances and history of the sport. It does not even matter if the government has fast tracked the nationalisation of a person whose name the people can not pronounce from a country the population does not know its location. With a winning sporting achievement Australians will proudly fly he Australian flag, be seen in public wearing green and gold and at least for a for a few days be able to sing more than 50% of the lyrics for the Australian national anthem. The week following the sporting success Australians will then debate suitability of the national anthem because it contains the word “girt”. It must be said that the verses of the Australian national anthem describe the nature of the land and people whereas the American anthem talks about the appealing nature of their flag. So remind me whose anthem needs to be reconsidered.

….because the population, without any mass media campaigns in attempt to influence our collective vote, chose a winner for Australian Idol 2 (2004) that no-one really liked, Casey Donavon. Idol for other winners and many runners up has guaranteed number 1 on the singles chart. Even Donavon’s family felt embarrassed buying the single. Sales may not have been helped by confusion with her website. Casey Donovon was a male gay pornographic actor in the 1970s and ‘80s.

…because we eat our national symbols, the animals chosen for our country’s coat of arms. The kangaroo and emu are unique in that they can only move forwards hance their selection to represent the ideal of progressiveness for a young nation. If, however they do not move forward quickly enough when we are barrelling down the highway at 110kph and thus become road kill there is no hesitation in firing up the bbq. We also feed kangaroo to our pets. Kangaroo is considered appropriate feline food. Adding insult to the mortal injuries cats already unleash on Australia’s defenceless fauna.

…because Australian society is so stable (education, economy, health and employment) that politics is almost inconsequential to most people. On the whole we are apathetic. Whoever is in power we do not like and will ridicule, yet show no higher interest or preference for the opposition. Yet change the captain of the national cricket team and it will be passionately debated on talkback radio, in letters to the editor and around bars for weeks. Everone knows the history of the chosen captain and can articulate a detailed comparison with the other contenders for the position

…because Australian's fight to protect disease free fauna and flora. Wether it be bee hives, keeping fruit fly from the orchards or arguing against international rulings to protect Australian apples from fire blight, farmers and scientists will not rest to protect Australian flora and fauna. The government spends millions of dollars to allow biologists to find a cure (and prevention) for the facial tumours that are fatally afflicting the Tasmanian Devils. When Darwinists would suggest it mere natural selection in action, Australia has decided it is just as important to solve as tumours and other medical ailments that take thousands of human lives every year.

… because the High Court can rule that legislation passed by Parliament is in fact unconstitutional and the worst of the consequences for the judges was a bit of a whinge from the Prime Minister. Her rhetoric was then inturn ridiculed by the judges and media like. In other parts of the world the High Court – if given the opportunity to rule on the legalities – may not have had the nerve to disagree with the ruling party, or faced execution if they did. Teenagers may have rioted for a week looting HD televisions and high fashion clothing.

…because Australia had an obesity problem. Australia is grossly overweight at the same time that people in some countries spend their entire day trying to scrounge together enough food for the day and even then it is only corn or corn based products. In one country they beg for corn, in Australia, the population can choose whether they want their corn to be served dripping in butter, pre-prepared in five artificial flavours, deep fried, or served in bucket sized portions with a side of chocolate dipping sauce .

…because when a police officer draws and fires his/her gun at an alleged perpetrator who was allegedly threatening to harm the police officers using the allegedly stolen vehicle, the alleged theft of which was the cause for police to approach the individual; it is front page news. Shootings in general and the more specific subset of “police shootings” are so rare that it is a major talking point. It is an event that generates an internal police investigation it is so uncommon. The rarity of this type of event may also explain why when the officer discharged his weapon he was so inaccurate that he missed the vehicle let alone the person inside; allegedly.

…because when debating refugees and “boat people” Australia is discussing people desperately wanting to enter the country not leave it.