Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Australian Culture Lessons #1

Like I've said before, the main problem a person can have (other than bone marrow disease) is thinking they know it all. Sure, I've painted a pretty clear general picture of Australia, what with my rugby shirts and mentions of slightly unkempt, devilishly wavy hair; with dudes always crackin' lagers the size of tennis ball canisters; with girls who punch horses in the side of the head when they don't behave. That's just the basics of what Americans know about this great country, though, so I hired on this Australian guy, Roger Barnaby, to teach me the real nuances of the place. I want to enter the country with grace and graciousness, all. That's the only way a player should *ever* act as a guest.

Here's how my first call with Roger went:

- - -

ROGER: [answers phone] Crikey, there's a big 'un!

ME: I...Hey man! This is Ray Smuckles! I emailed you? From the thing?

ROGER: Roight, roight! RAH'-dja BAAH'-nuby hea'! [Hard to represent his accent, and i won't keep doing it, but it was cool.] Listen mate, I've got a pod 'a meal wasps settin' up shop in me kitchen alcove, can I ring you right back?

ME: It would be better if we just went on speakerphone. That way I could see how a real Australian handles a pod of meal wasps. Start the lesson early, you know!

ROGER: Bloody good idea. Awright, I'll set me handset down, and you can listen while I work these bastards into a right paste. COME 'ERE, YOU LOT!

ME: Awesome. Just do what you gotta do. It's all gold to me, man.

ROGER: [handset clanks on table] Aye, this main bloke here's the size of a lager, he is. I've got me knife through one 'a 'is wings, and he's mad as a cut snake, I tell you. I'll be gone a minute, got to fetch me shotgun. You'll keep an eye on 'im, will you?

ME: I'm on the phone, man.

ROGER: Right, right. You don't hear back from me in five, call the Koolaburra Station antidote unit, will you?

ME: Definitely, man. I'm Googling it right now.

ROGER: [boots clomp off, huge buzzing sounds in the room]

ME: [gets distracted, starts looking at a website about women]


ME: Oooh! Ooh! You get him? The big guy?

ROGER: Nahhh, I were just blowin' a wallaby off me mailbox.

ME: You blew away a wallaby? They're hella cute, dude!

ROGER: Bastard were munchin' on me mail, he was.

ME: Well, I guess that's acceptable. He'd probably die from magazine cologne samples anyway. So — what's up with the wasps?

ROGER: They're right cranky, now. But I've got old Bonnie Busket full 'a rock salt and that'll be the end of it.

ME: You shoot them with salt?

ROGER: It's easier on the wallpaper. Me wife loves the stuff, hates when she's got to paste a new patch up. I can go two, three infestations and it's still fit for Christmas.

ME: Dang. Alright, I'll wait while you take care of business.


ME: Dang, dude! You get 'em all?

ROGER: Aw, blast it. I've put a hole in the damned wedding photo.

ME: Just put new glass on the front of it and smooth the paper out with your finger, man.

ROGER: Naw, it's worse than that. Her 'ole 'ead's blowed off. Stands out like a shag on a rock.

ME: That's tough, man. I ain't even think Photoshop can fix that one.

ROGER: Eh, what can you do. Got time for a lager?

ME: Yeah, I picked up a couple before the call. [Cracks a lager]

ROGER: [Sound of a lager cracking]

ME: So, how's the economy down there?

ROGER: Bloody good, mate. Exports steady as ever. Life's beautiful.

ME: What's for dinner tonight?

ROGER: It's six in the bloody morning, I dunno. Steak, likely. It's Friday here.

ME: Wow, it's only Tuesday here.

ROGER: Big planet, innit, mate.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Gettin' ready to go to Australia.

I tell you, man, I am seven kinds of beamed over my upcomin' trip to Australia. I got me some thick-ass cotton rugby shirts, you know, with the wide horizontal stripin', and Thaddeus is even teasin' my short hair out so it's a little tousled, like an Australian dude's. Got me a puka shell necklace and some chunky-punk Blundstone "Blunnie" boots, like all true Aussies wear. Hell, I ain't be surprised if people pull up alongside me on the road and ask for directions!

DRIVER: Say, mate, 's the Berra Borra petrol 'round this way? We're just out from Adelaide on a driveabout!

ME: Heh! I'm from America!

DRIVER: [cracks a lager, hands it out the window] Crikey! After you, mate!

The important thing to remember about Australia, though, is that it is some tough-as-nails country. It's, like, where all the nasty stuff from evolution went to go and live in a trailer with a shotgun. They got ants that are literally on fire, like a pilot light, all the time, and they got a kind of shark that actually says runes when it jumps out of the water. They got a type of bush there that will rustle all night when you're sleeping near it and drive you nuts. (You're not near it? It's silent. They've done tests.) Oh, and did I mention the spider that can mimic the tones of you keying your PIN number into a telephone keypad? Okay, so I made that up, but in Australia, that would be the LEAST treacherous animal.

One nice thing about Australia is all the solid music they contributed to the scene in the '80s. (Before that, their radio was mostly news about light aircraft failure.) You can joke me for playin' outside 'a my hip-hop comfort zone, but Aussies claim much coin on Midnight Oil, INXS, AC/DC, all that proper pop/rock stuff. They even turned out Men at Work! You definitely know "I Come From a Land Down Under" — they play that song at inaugurations, when the bride walks down the aisle, when they lower the casket, just any old chance they get. It's a catchy tune, I can see why. Hope they didn't waste too much money on some national anthem, all locked up in the basement of some library somewhere.

Whoah, I just YouTubed the Australian national anthem! No wonder they use Men at Work instead. Hello, winner of the high school project. Your dad came, he's in the car queue outside.

Damn. Maybe I can talk them into some new anthem action. I see they were actually considerin' "Waltzing Matilda" instead of this jerked-up Muzak thing. Jesus, if a drinkin' song is your anthem then you're a Parrothead, not a nation. I may bring a little lagerproof keyboard to demo some ideas to them.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Goin' to Australia.

I'm thinkin' bout goin' to Australia for a spell. Maybe a month or so. Strap on some rude external-frame pack from REI, some hella cush tennies, and a bedroll. I been watchin' all this Aussie TV on YouTube and I got to tell you, Australian people put the damn mack on. The dudes are all like the friendliest jocks you ever met, totally slapping your back the first moment they meet you, and if they've had enough lager, they'll moon you until you both god damn pass out on the floor. In the morning you'll both wake up with a bad head on, and they'll crack you a lager and go, "Aagh, crikey! After you, mate."

The chicks? Man, they are harder than any American chick, even a switchblade chicaloca from raw angles. First of all, any Australian chick would shoot a goat in the side with a rifle. That's number one. I don't mean they'd do it out of spite; hell no. I mean they'd do it to kill the goat in a real quick way, just hitting the heart, and before you knew it they'd have that bad boy strung up and bleedin' for Sunday dinner. Ask some raw angles chicaloca to blow a goat away, you'll see what I mean. You can't put question marks on the table, chica. They're tough down there — they all intern on farms and ranches, I think, instead of military duty (Australia has no military that I've heard of — who's going to invade them, Princess Cruise Lines?).

But not only are the chicks super-hard, they get up to even more good fun than the dudes. And I mean DUDE fun, not some Steel Magnolias french-braid-a-thon. All chicks there play paintball, even the quiet ones (and there ain't many of those), and they all will arm-wrestle you. Sit next to some real-estate lookin' middle-aged lady at a cafe table, plant your elbow, and you're on. She'll beat you with a beer in her hand. A cold Foster's. Then she'll get back to her niçoise salad and cell phone call.

Yeah, I'm goin' to Australia. They got this resistance swimmin' pool at the club — I'ma get a surfboard and go see how well I can cut water. Build up the old triceps and delts. Been a while.