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Posts Tagged ‘Beer’

Yeah, yeah … it was only a matter of time before I brought up Vegemite. How can one not when one is prone to blogging about Australian stuff? It is quintessentially Australian. It’s a symbol of Australia around the world. Australian kids grow up eating it. There are even myths surrounding it (ie Put vegemite behind your ears to ward off Drop Bears, a viscious cousin of Koalas … oh, nevermind).

The truth is that Vegemite is really the most foul concoction ever packaged and sold as food. Australians laugh about Americans eating cheese from a can and fake bacon bits. Well, cheese from a can is pretty disgusting but it doesn’t even hold a candle to the revolting, non food status of Vegemite. In case you didn’t know, Vegemite is a nasty black paste that people inexplicably put on anything from toast to cheesy scroll things. Sometimes they even mix it into stews and casseroles in the misguided belief that it “adds flavour.” Since when is ass flavour something one wants in their stew anyway?

Vegemite is basically the biproduct of beer making. How Australian is that? “Hey, we have all this foul black paste leftover from making our beer. What should we do with it? I know, let’s eat it!”  This is a culture so obsessed with beer that not only do they televise Lawn Bowl games, a “sport” that can be played (and usually is) while holding a stubby in one hand, but they actually ingest the biproduct of producing said beer.

I remember the first time I tasted the foul death paste (a description of Vegemite coined by Amanda Palmer). It was on my first visit to Oz, two years before I actually moved here for good. I had been told about Vegemite but had no real idea what it tasted like. My roommate at UW was dating a Kiwi guy who had grown up in Brisbane and was now living in Portland. He had a predilection for Vegemite and potato chip sandwiches. He told me it tasted excellent. I had my doubts (Vegemite & potato chips? Um, can you get more sodium in one meal?). Anyway, when I first got to Australia, I found a pot of it in my future mother-in-law’s pantry. I thought “Eh, what the hell” and opened it up for a sniff. It smelled foul. If I were smart, I would have stopped there. But no, I am prone to stupidity so I got a teaspoon, scooped a tiny amount out, and took a tentative taste. HOLY SHIT! The tiniest touch of my tongue to the tiniest scoop of this shit made me gag. I had to rush for a glass of water to rinse the vile taste from my mouth.

The moral of the story? Believe people when they tell you Vegemite is foul. Do not try for yourself … you will be sorry. I think a love of Vegemite requires training from an early age. Few people actually taste the stuff for the first time as an older child or adult and decide they like it. No, I have not done studies but it just makes sense, ok? It’s my blog and I can say what I want, damn it! 😉

Part of what finally motivated me to write this post was the Amanda Palmer gig we went to last night. She’s touring her most recent album, Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under, which she has described as a “love letter to Australia.” The show was glorious … the audience even spontaneously sang Advance Australia Fair to her. She looked stunned when that happened. It was pretty awesome. Anyway, my favourite song on the album is The Vegemite Song. You see, occasionally, Amanda Palmer manages to hit upon Truth in her songs. This is one of those times. This song is better than any blog post I can do about Vegemite. In fact, you’d probably be better off skipping this post and going straight to this video:

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Twitter is a wonderful thing. It’s provided me with countless hours of time wastage and entertainment. I have also met some pretty awesome people through it. One of whom being Rachel, AKA Shiny. Not only is she awesome, but she also lives in Perth which meant I got to really meet her … and drink beer with her … and we plan on doing it again (the beer part for sure). 🙂 Any woman who chooses her kittens based on their colours in order to name them Gallifrey and Skaro has got to be pretty awesome … AND she likes Ani DiFranco too! Shiny is a nerd with taste. Except for the liking me part. I haven’t quite figured that out yet. But, amazingly, she felt compelled to award me with this:

I’ve never gotten a blog award before! Of course, I’ve only been blogging for a few months, so that’s not really such a big surprise. It makes me feel special all the same. There is just one catch to this award: I have to list seven things about myself. Hhhmmm, this may be harder than it sounds. Ok, here you go, seven things about me in no particular order:

1) I once went skinny dipping at Mount Ranier … while lots of people watched. No, the watching part wasn’t planned … just a bit of a stupid oversight on the part of my and my friend’s teenage selves (I won’t out her unless she wants to out herself). Although, I suspect my friend knew what she was doing and just strung silly old me along unawares. 😉 It was the summer I met The Geek, he was visiting and we took him to Mt Ranier because that’s what you do with tourists. There was a beautiful lake just under the parking lot/observation point. It was a warmish day (for Washington) and we hiked down to the lake. We decided that it would be refreshing to go skinny dipping (actually, we were daring each other to do it all the way down … I should have known better than to enter into such a dare with this particular friend). The Geek was still chasing me at the time so I was uncomfortable with stripping right there in front of him. So we went to the other side of the lake. Only to find out later (via the sound of some tourist shouting “Hey, there are two girls down there without any clothes on!”) that we had decided to strip & swim within perfect view of the observation point! I’m sure a few of them have some blurry pictures of naked teenagers in their collection of vacation photos …

2)  I almost became a primary school teacher. When I moved to Australia on a student visa, my chosen major was Primary Education. I did a year of the degree and went to two minor pracs (one in a primary school and one in a high school). It was at the end of that year that I realized that I would make a terrible primary school teacher. I do not have the patience for it, nor am I creative enough to invent lesson plans. Oh, and the rest of the people in my year at uni? Could barely stand most of them. The classes I had to take bored the crap out of me, too. My hat goes off to people who can be teachers … It’s a fucking hard and thankless job.  I am not cut out for it.

3)  I’m 30 years old and I still don’t know who I am. It freaks me out. I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up nor do I have any idea what I’m doing now (other than trying to survive the early years of motherhood). I have ideas but I’m not sure they will ever pan out nor am I sure that I will *like* them if they ever do pan out.

4)  I care more about what other people think than I should. I pretend to think I’m awesome but I don’t really think I am. And now I’m admitting to it which is just a big freaking paradox in and of itself, isn’t it? I worry constantly about what other people think and how they view me. It doesn’t stop me from being a weirdie, dreadlocked nerd but it eats away at me just the same.

5)  I consider having my babies naturally at home to be the most empowering and feminist thing I have ever done. Sure, there are things about the first birth that didn’t go exactly as I had hoped (and I may blog the birth story later to explain this).  Consequently, there is a little bit of mother guilt that things went so well for the second.  But those things don’t matter. What matters is that I trusted my body and I did it. I pushed two children out of my vagina in a warm, safe home environment lacking in harsh lighting or superfluous machines that go “ping.” I did it on my own without Drs interfering, without unnecessary medicalisation of the process. Me, my womb, my vagina and my babies working together to create the best moments of my life. If I accomplish nothing else in my life, at least I did that.

6)  I consider succeeding in full term breastfeeding the second most empowering and feminist thing I have ever done. The first time around wasn’t easy. In fact, it was a fucking nightmare that brought me to the brink and back. But I persisted because I knew I could do it and could conceive of no other way to feed my child. After we overcame our horrific problems, I fed with pride. Anywhere. Everywhere. And I still do since Cub is only 19 months old and will likely be feeding for at least another year if not more.  I may hate other parts of my body (especially post baby) but my breasts doing their intended job of feeding children are things to be proud of. I don’t wave them about, I don’t make a big deal about what I’m doing but I do it when I need to, where I need to, regardless of the age of my child because I know that it’s the right thing to do and I know that buying into the idea that a breastfeeding woman must hide is misogynistic, prudish nonsense.

7)  I am essentially a very lazy person and I hate it. There are lots of things I don’t do  because I decide it’s not worth doing or would be too hard to do before I even try. I wish I could change this about myself but, then, that would be too hard, too.

Now, I am supposed to pass this award along to someone else who deserves it. The problem is that I am only just getting started on keeping up with blogs so I have a short list of those I’ve thus far added to my very, very new blog feed … and most of them have already been given this award! But, there are two who, to my knowledge, have not received it  yet and who deserve it for various reasons:

Stay At Home Mayhem

Spilt Milk

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We’re having a long weekend down here in Oz. Why? Because Monday is a public holiday? Why? I have NO FREAKING CLUE!

Australians like their public holidays. They have a freakish amount of them each year(around 10 depending on which state you’re in). Rarely does anyone even know *why* they have the day off work. But, you know what? That’s fine by me!

Australian’s laid back attitude where there is always time to relax is an easy one to adopt. Being here so long, I have nearly forgotten how hideous it is to be a part of the US workforce. I mean, no wonder Americans rarely know anything about the world around them … they’re too busy being worked to death and paid shit to travel or think about the world outside! Over here most workplaces have something called “long service leave” in which you get a month or two off for something like 5 year’s work or something silly! This is on top of being entitled to way more paid (and unpaid) annual holiday leave than the average American worker can even dream of PLUS the public holidays. You’d think, given this laid back attitude towards work vs play that Aussies would have a reputation for being lazy sods, right? Well, anecdotally, this isn’t the case. I’ve been told that UK workplaces often prefer hiring Aussies for their good work ethic!

So, I salute the Australian public holiday. I suggest you all raise your beers and salute it too! Take that, US Puritanical “work ethic.” *thumbs nose*

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Today is Australia Day. Otherwise known as Invasion Day. Otherwise known as Hottest 100 Day. Take your pick.Basically, for the non Aussie readers, Australia Day is the national holiday. From the American perspective, it’s kind of like the Fourth of July (BBQs, fireworks, beer) only with the deeper racial issues associated with Thanksgiving (for those of us who bother to worry about such things).

When I first moved here, I thought Australia Day must mark the day the penal colony went from being a penal colony to a proper, semi autonomous country in its own right within the Commonwealth … er something like that. Basically, I got sucked into the harmless fun of the day and enjoyed it like I would Fourth of July with beer, fireworks and BBQs. The calls of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie! Oy! Oy! Oy!” amused me as some quaint little foreign thing that I had no idea about so I joined in. I was young, childless, loved a cruisey BBQ party and there was Little Creatures beer on tap. Woo!

Then a few things happened. First, I slowly began to realize just what January 26th marked: The day the first boat of convicts arrived to set up the original colony. It is, quite literally, Invasion Day from the Indigenous perspective (and from the perspective of any rational human being with a bit of compassion for conquered people). Needless to say the day was a bit soured for me. Then an even worse aspect of the day started to pop up: the rabidly racist, anti immigration nationalism. Suddenly the occasional Aussie flag or silly costume turned into a mark of just how Aussie (read: racist) you were. Australian flags all over cars, people wearing the flag like a cape, “Fuck Off We’re Full” bumper stickers are everywhere now. Even the Southern Cross symbol has become an emblem for racism, intolerance and hate.

As an immigrant myself, all this makes me extremely uncomfortable. And, ironically, the fact that I am not readily distinguished as an immigrant (at least the kind that these yobbos are attacking) makes me even more uncomfortable. I am white, middle class and a native English speaker. I do not get as overtly attacked as the hardworking non white people who likely struggled a hell of a lot more than me to get here (I count having to learn an entire new language and completely foreign culture as struggling more than I). So I’m lucky and privileged in that but it doesn’t have to make me happy. It sickens me that these people have to deal with any of this shit.

At the end of the day, though, Australia Day is also a summer public holiday. A perfect day for BBQs, beer and friends. How to resolve all this? I think of it as Hottest 100 Day. The Hottest 100 is a tradition started by the national youth radio station Triple J. Triple J, incidentally, is the only radio station I can stomach listening to and would miss it bitterly if we were ever to move overseas. It is, quite simply, the best radio station I have ever encountered (and I’ve lived in quite a few areas of the US so have had a bit of experience with radio stations). Every year, they run a poll for people to vote for their favourite songs of the last 12 months and then they count them down all day long on January 26th. Its usually a fantastic soundtrack to a BBQ. There is discussion of what will get in, who will be in the top 10, and how much we can’t believe that people actually voted for this particular song. It’s pretty awesome and something I can get excited about. So, that’s what this public holiday is for me: Hottest 100 Day. Even though this year’s number 1 got leaked a few days before the event. 🙂

On a personal note, today marks something else as well: I officially became an Australian Citizen on January 26th, 2008. I did have brief misgivings about having my ceremony on Invasion Day given the implications. But I opted not to decline the invitation for fear that it would have taken them forever to offer me another ceremony date and I did want the whole thing over and done. So, I have been an Australian for two years now. This week, in particular, also marks nine years since I officially moved to Australia. Nine years. That’s a long, long time.

For more information on the race issues associated with today, I have some links. The first is the wiki article about the Cronulla Riots which happened in December 2005 but which I feel was a catalyst for the nationalistic fuckwittery around January 26th to crank up to full throttle. The second is a link that I have not had a chance to look at myself (audio issues on my machine & no chance as yet to steal The Geek’s machine to review it) but which was highly recommended by an Indigenous friend of mine as a representation of the Indigenous perspective on this holiday. I’m shit at the fancy link embedding crap, sorry.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2005_Cronulla_riots

http://www.sbs.com.au/firstaustralians/

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There was a time (when I lived in my home country) when I thought baseball was the most boring team sport EVER. I mean, seriously, you sit and watch nine innings of … well, not much, really. Occasionally you get a pretty exciting game but, in my experience, that isn’t very often. Usually there is a whole lot of waiting for one or two exciting moments … maybe. Add to that the privilege of watching lots of men in tight pants scratching their balls and spitting a lot. It does nothing for me (baseball players tend to have oddly developed thigh muscles that totally put me off perving on them).

Then one day, I went to Australia and encountered cricket. The. Most. Boring. Team. Sport. EVER! Basically, as far as I can figure out, cricket consists of a bunch of bored looking dudes in white clothes standing around, throwing balls in the weirdest looking pitch technique I’ve ever seen, hitting said balls with an equally as weird looking bat and occasionally running back and forth between what appears to be two dismantled baby gates sticking up from the ground. And here’s the kicker: They sometimes do this FOR DAYS ON END. I’m not kidding. A single game of cricket can last for days.

As far as I can tell, cricket seems to only be popular because it is possible to play while drinking a beer and because the people “watching the game” can drink copious amounts of beer for days on end all the while using “watching the game” as an excuse. This is the only explanation I can come up with for the popularity if cricket because, otherwise, I have no freaking clue. Seriously, cricket makes me miss sitting on my ass waiting for something good to happen at a baseball game. It makes the seventh inning stretch look like some sort of genius, innovative moment of awesomeness … instead of a weird tradition. Yes, I realise there are probably nuances to the rules that I am missing (or, you know, all the rules) but, frankly, I’m not sure I want to be enlightened.

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