Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Team Australia

So Abbott wants us to become Team Australia. This sounds like a man that was never chosen to by his teacher to be captain for picking sides for PE lesson. The country might be starting to see why.

Let’s say we were a team. First of all we need a uniform. Former Prime Minister John Howard has shown us the uniform for training – the gold and green tracksuit. He has also demonstrated that it can be worn by people of all ages and fitness levels.

Drunken people in the teens and twenties have provided us with our celebratory costume whereby all articles of clothing are made out of the Australian flag. Chests may be left bare, again regardless of fitness levels. It is also plausible to wear an Aussie flag as a cape, though in the new world of Team Australia I think this should be left to the captain, so he/she can truly look like Captain Australia!

This begs the question who would be the captain, the Prime Minister the elected leader, the Governor General as the Queen’s representative or the Queen as Head of State?

If we are to be a team then I expect to see a banner made out of crepe paper and sticky tape at every international terminal for everyone to run through after they have passed through customs as they enter Australia. This would also explain why Abbott is so opposed to boat people – crepe paper banners would just go to mush in the water.

We have a team song, and just like every team (with the exception of Richmond Football Club) the song is a bit clunky and old fashioned. We can sing it every time we win.

The problem with us winning at the moment seems to be our leadership group and they are increasingly under media scrutiny as to whether or not they should be axed before the end of the season. All the while the government is trying to cut budgets to get new things under the salary cap. A salary cap only the government is arguing is at risk of being breeched. To do so they want to drop some of the best features of the team, health care, aged pensions and disability pensions.

A team is only as good as its supporters, and this is a problem for Abbott’s team Australia, his international buffoonery is systematically whittling away at Team Australia’s supporter base; Scotland, Canada or as Mr Australia calls it “Canadia”, Indonesia, China, Japan, US economic experts. Due to his stance on climate change Australia can no longer even rely on the support of Antarctic penguins.

I know Clive Palmer would love to be the Captain, but he would not even be appropriate for our mascot. Although he appears cuddly, he is too unpredictable and too aggressive. It is time to revive Roy and HG’s best friend Fatso the Fat Arse Wombat. Has a character ever got into as much mischief or bee n so loved by the public? Though Skippy the Bush Kangaroo could do everything with his dismembered forepaws, he could even play the drum.

Every team needs the go-to player when the going gets a bit tough, a player that can be relied on to score regardless of the situation. At the moment it would have to be Working Dog Productions. Everything they create ends up being a winner, The Castle, The Panel, Have You been Paying Attention, The  Hollowmen, The Dish. Thank God You’re Here just to name a few. They might be having a less than perfect game with their latest offering of Utopia but it is still one of the better offerings available. Maybe it will just a few episodes for them to hit their straps. Here’s hoping.

Now we just need to get Maggie Beer to grow and cut up the oranges for half time.

Aussie Aussie Aussie…

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ring Ring Now You Can Give Me A Call

Qantas and Virgin have conducted rigorous testing, or watched an episode of Mythbusters  to prove what the rest of the world has known for years. Mobile phone do not emit enough electronic radiation to ignite fuel or discombobulate navigational radar. As a result passengers on domestic flights can now leave mobile phones on when crossing the tarmac and boarding the plane before turning them to in flight mode for the duration of the flight.

So basically, no change for passengers. Be honest, who really turns their phone off?

The airlines claim it provides an “enhanced in-flight experience.” How does being able to either via phone call or text message being able to tell the other person “I am now walking towards the plane, I am now showing them my ticket, I am now walking down the aisle past the rich people, I have found a space in the overhead locker. I am waiting for the instructional video to explain how to fasten my seatbelt” enhance the in-flight experience?

If anything it diminishes the in-flight experience for all other passengers.

Other forms of public transport around the world, that do allow mobile technology have now implemented silent areas because the noise of these devices is intolerable. The beeps and blings and ring tone let alone the loud, pointless and often circular conversations. We have all been caught in a train carriage when a fellow passenger is trying to hold a conversation with a loved one and the only phrase that is repeatedly uttered at ever increasing volume “I cant hear you, I am on the train.”

It is bad enough on a 20 minute commute, imagine being stuck next to that for a 4 hour flight across the country.

Mind you there would be no finer in-flight entertainment eavesdropping on a fellow passenger breaking up with a partner or having a fight with their boss leading to imminent dismissal.

What the airlines should be researching is technology that blocks phone calls and messaging from devices and forces the external speakers to be silent. Passengers should also be forced to wear noise reduction earphones. As distracting  as it is to listen to other peoples choice of music, which is never as good as your own, it is infuriating when it is that hollow, tinny sound of music leaking from earphones. Like a nest of mice playing your cover versions of well known songs, in another room.

If airlines wanted to enhance the in-flight experience perhaps they could give consideration to edible food in Economy, or leg room or coordinating boarding. Board the back rows first, and enforce this, but go even further board the window seats in the back rows then the middle and the aisle seats so people do not have to repeatedly get up and down and squeeze past each other. Enforce the cabin luggage size so there is room for everyone’s bags in an overhead locker in close proximity to their seats.

In the past there were two zones, smoking and non smoking, in the modern world how about kids or no kids. Obese and healthy. Sport team/bucks or hens party and sober. Halitosis/B.O. and hygienic. Gluten free/lactose free/fructose free/vegan/organic/hydroponic/biodynamic/only eating purple and beef/chicken.

So Long, Farewell

I left a job having secured other employment and giving notice as per workplace agreements, On my last day I met meeting with the HR Manager to do an exit interview and finalised outstanding salary and entitlements owing to me and sign final paperwork. I then returned to my desk a gathered my belongings and went home.

I learned afterwards that word spread around the office that I had left after heating and loud “discussions” with HR resulting me from being escorted from the building by security officers. It must be said that the security officers at this organisation would not have been capable of escorting a kitten into a box of wool off cuts. What a missed opportunity. With this being the expectation I could have been knocking over furniture swiping items off of people’s desks and grabbing at doorways to hinder my removal all the while screaming like a flock of seagulls fighting over a hot chip.

What is the etiquette for leaving a place of work? A meal or drinks with colleagues, sure why not. A small gift and a over-sized card filled with hollow sentiments, ok I guess. Speeches, umm well I suppose someone needs to say something, I suggest 1 minute for every year of service to a maximum of 6 minutes. This is to be divided and not multiplied between speakers if multiple people feel compelled to be the centre of attention. An additional 4 minutes can be added if it is a long standing CEO or employee (more than 10 years service) is actually retiring, not just resigning. This is to leave plenty of time for old jokes. “Old” as in the person’s age as well as the age of the jokes.

It is rare that the person leaving will actually walk out of the office immediately at the conclusion of any festivities. They might be held earlier in the week or at lunch time on the last day. This begs the question, what happens when the person actually goes to leave the building for the last time?

Return the keys, carry out the box of personal effects, place an out off office message on the phone and email. that’s a given. But what about the human interaction? A handshake is appropriate in a work place but is a hug or kiss on the cheek? I would say in most cases this is too much.

And where do the farewells stop? The immediate team and regular working partners, is surely enough. Unless there is a guard of honour either side of a red carpet leading from my desk to the car park there is no need to say goodbye to everyone in the building. Even John Farnham would think this type of farewell was too much.

Personally I expect to see tearful faces of former colleagues pressed up against the window as I drive away.

It appears compulsory these days when leaving a group of people, whether they be work colleagues, travel companions, or teammates at the end of the season, to exchange social media contacts. This can be a long process
  • email
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • Instagram
  • Linked In
  • Tinder/Grindr/Pink Sofa
  • My space

If you were really interested in this information wouldn’t it have already been exchanged during the period you were together. If we have not had social contact prior to leaving then the chances of social contact after one of us has left is as likely as Oprah sticking to a diet. 

If you are that interested, perhaps try Google.

Farewells are getting worse, longer and less sincere. I blame it on competition/reality television, The Block, X Factor, Master Chef, Idol Top Model… Despite all of the footage during the episodes of the characters arguing with each other and scheming against each other, each person as they leave the “house” declares their never ending friendship and love to their fellow contestants.

In the words of Australian boxing champion Jeff Fenech, “I love youse all.”

Friday, August 22, 2014

Australia is Bonza Mate

The Inbetweeners are hitting our screens with their second movie instalment. Personally I was a great fan of the television show but the original movie was too long and way too predictable, and lets be honest the main cast are no tactually that likeable and 97 minutes is a long time to watch people you do not like.

My concern that the cringiness of the second movie will not only result from the boy’s antics but will also be weighed down by the burden of cultural cringe.  This might be time to bring out your “Australian clichés” bingo cards.
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • Kangaroo
  • Koala
  • Beaches
  • Uluru
  • Great Barrier Reef
  • Poisonous animals
  • Outback
  • Aboriginal dance
  • Australian movie star
  • Qantas (almost a given as the national carrier usually sponsors these productions)
  • Sydney Opera House
  • Melbourne Tram
  • AFL
  • Cricket
  • Oka Aussie slang.
All crow barred into the semblance of a storyline.

Playing cliché bingo in Modern Family’s Down Under was just too easy. There were three people shouting “BINGO!” in my house before the first advert break. They crammed every possible cliché in to just over 20 minutes. The only one they missed was getting Ty Burell’s character Phil Dunphy to stand on a rock wearing holding a spear resting one foot on the other knee all whilst wearing nothing more than a loin cloth.

There is always an agreement between the writers/producers and the audience to suspend disbelief for certain scenarios to work.. Modern Family wanted its viewers to disbelieve geography. For the record the land mass of mainland Australia is roughly the same as mainland USA, except unlike the USA Australia only has a few major cities with often hundreds if not thousands of kilometres of nothing between them. So when the show moves seamlessly between Sydney, the Blue Mountains and what appears to be the Great Barrier Reef with all the cast effortlessly meeting up for dinner, that is a lot of frequent flyer points.

If an Australian show was to do the same in the United States they would be based in New York, but head off to Miami for a swim in the morning off to Colorado for a bit of a hike after lunch before settling down for a dinner and a show on Broadway.

Having said that, the geographical errors were also levelled at the movie Australia which was directed by Aussie Baz Luhrmann. He also delved into some Australian clichés for his epic story.

Bringing a show is an increasingly popular thing to do, Ellen brought her daytime talk show to Australia hot on the heels of her nemesis Oprah. I am not complaining, on the contrary my Melbourne based tourism company has financially benefitted from Ellen's trip with some of her  audience joining a tour. Check it out yourself

The Simpsons have visited Australia’s animated shores. Something about really bad accents and a koala hitching a ride back to the states on the outside of the plane.

My earliest memory of a television show having an Aussie movie was when Blair, Jo and Natalie from The Facts of Life along with the others girls no-one really cared about or now remembers headed south to go walkabout and help capture a jewel thief. Unfortunately Mrs Garrett did not join them as the actor Charlotte Rae died the year before their trip.  Even in the 80’s producers concept of space was poor with Natalie getting lost in the outback whilst the others were solving crime in the city.

Oh if Only Mrs Garrett was alive to steer them away from this sort of trouble.

If only Mrs Garrett could steer the Inbetweeners away from trouble and their producers away from the clichés.

As an Australian I am tired of the exaggerated clichés used to depict life in Australia by every production company. Its not like when visiting Europe that every cast needs to be seen riding a bicycle and eating a baguette with the Eifel Tower in the background  or if in USA they lose money in a Las Vegas casino whilst donning a cowboy hat only two win it back gain when a feather-topped showgirl high kicks past – just before they fall in love ever after…

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Political Litter

Australian politics has a new litter, and like all infants they are getting into trouble as they explore their new world. Just like all new born they (hopefully) will learn from their mistakes. Toddlers learn that stove tops are hot by burning the tips of their fingers and realise that eating bugs might make you ill, only by trying to eat bugs.

The Palmer United Party senators are only weeks into their new parliamentary roles and the PUPs are (hopefully) learning through playing. Just like a child eating bugs, the problem is what is coming out of their mouths.

Every litter has a pecking order and Clive Palmer has proven that he is the biggest and most dominant of the pack. Primarily he struts around showing himself off to everyone without really doing much, however when he gets going watch out. Like all good pack leaders his best defence is attack as we saw in his recent appearance on Q&A when he let the world know what he really thought of Chinese political and commercial leadership.

Like a good pack leader Clive also knows how to pick a fight or walk away. To mix the metaphor he knows when to hold ‘em and knows when to fold ‘em. He has proven his willingness to mercilessly attack others who he thinks are corrupt, China, the Australian Electoral Office basically anyone who might get in the way of his personal ambition. But when a media outlet scrutinises his own business dealing he rips of the microphone and storms out of the interview.

Though it is quite fitting that the dominant member of this litter used the word "mongrel" to describe others. Hello pot...kettle speaking.

Jacqui Lambie is the media’s darling because just like and insecure puppy who barks and yaps for no obvious reason there is no guessing what will come out of her mouth and once she gets started, she does not appear to know how to stop. The Australian public knows way too much about her romantic life and her preferences in men. She is Chester to Clive Palmers’ Spike. (Warner Brothers cartoon reference) Busily agreeing with him and supporting everything he says, Senator Lambie just seems desperate for attention and approval.

Senator Wang, is the odd one out, whilst clearly part of the litter is showing signs of being capable of surviving on his own. He is often out exploring things by himself, this may be in part that he lives in Western Australia. Lets face it WA is just so far away. Like any litter of PUPs, Wang is definitely getting some value out of being a member of the pack in the Senate.

That must mean Glenn Lazarus is the runt of the litter, sure he is there but no-one really notices him. Has anyone really heard from him? Like all runts everyone will briefly give him a few minutes – out of pity – but no-one wants them for their own pet. Everyone wants their PUP to be a little stronger and playful.

Finally there is Ricky Muir who although a member of the Motoring Enthusiast Party seems to have left his own den to suckle at Clive Palmers ample teat. The MEP was never going to sustain him into a second term in the Senate. In fact they appear to have lost their satnav and are just driving aimlessly hoping they will still arrive at the destination. His staffers are bailing or getting kicked out of the car, with three-including the most senior advisor-already terminating their association with Senator Muir. Apparently it is safer to try and hitch-hike home than stay in the car, with the dog.
What this litter of PUPs needs is a good mother who, whilst allowing freedom to explore and learn for themselves will also discipline them and set the example.

Unfortunately the example is being provided by Tony Abott whose own lists of international embarrassments are too many for this blog. If only his mother was muzzling him occasionally.