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Posts Tagged ‘Crazy Aussies’

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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It’s that time of year again. Festivus season! In honour of this most sacred holiday, let us gather around the Festivus pole (remember, no tinsel … tinsel is too distracting) and air our grievances for the year.  So, without further ado, here are my grievances in no particular order:

1.) To the Douchebags:  A lot of douchebags have irritated me this year from Kanye West to Sen. John McCain to your average internet troll fuckwit on Twitter (and don’t forget Russell T. Davies). You know what? Being a douchebag is really bad. You shouldn’t do it. So, fuck off, douchebags!

2.) To my friends in the US who  haven’t come to visit me nor have they paid for my ticket to go visit them: I think this is very inconsiderate of them and it should be rectified immediately. What’s that? They don’t have any money? Pfft, they can always sell their house/worldly possesions/first born children to raise the funds! Do I have to think of everything for you people?

3.)  To my US student loan company who’ve made repayment from my country of residence impossible: You’ve got to be kidding me! This is so ridiculous, it’s comical! News flash: The rest of the world exists, they have their own currency and banks and *sometimes* Americans even choose to live there!  International transactions involving money happen all the time. Get with the program! (The full story is really quite ridiculous & could make an entire post but I haven’t decided whether it is wise to do that.)

4.) To my house that doesn’t clean itself: You’re a pig sty. Pick up your game. It’s 2010 and will soon be 2011 … haven’t we invented self cleaning houses yet???

5.) To Dora and Diego:  Dora The Explorer and Go! Diego Go! are two are the most obnoxious tv shows ever to grace the airwaves. That fucking map can burn in hell … if only that would shut it up. And, Diego, eggs are fucking eggs! They are not “baby eggs.” There is often a baby inside them that will more than likely hatch out of said egg but the egg itself is not a fucking “baby egg!”  The sooner Dora falls over a cliff or something eats Diego, the better.

6.) To the world: You’re not as small as the interwebz makes you seem. Damn you, world! Don’t you know that I should be able to just walk over to all my friend’s houses?

7.) To Perth Drivers: Seriously, people, learn how to merge. That’s all I’m sayin’. (Ok, that’s probably not all but I realise that you can’t handle too much at once so let’s just stick with learning to merge for now.)

8.) To anyone who addresses correspondance to me as “Mrs <Husband’s name or first initial> <Husband’s surname>” or to both of us as “Mr. & Mrs <Husband’s name or first initial> <Husband’s surname> : You’re a dinosour who clearly has not been advised of the progression of time. It is now 2010. It will be 2011 soon. A woman is not the property of her husband regardless of whether she chooses (as I did) to change her name after legal marriage (I say legal since marriage is not soley a religious institution). I’ll pause to let you process that new and shocking information. Ok so far? If not, I don’t care. Just to clarify: MY NAME IS NOT <Husband’s name>! My first name is Kareena. I say “first name” for a reason, by the way. It is not a “Christian name” because I am not Christian. Get it? Probably not. Until you do get it, please do not send me anything via post. In fact, don’t talk to me. You’re too stupid.

9.) To the company who I pay to deliver organic fruit and vegetables every Wednesday: You fail. You’re supposed to deliver on Wednesday afternoon, usually getting the box to me at around 2ish. Yet far too many times you have waited until 4PM to text me to tell me that the person who normally does the delivery is on holiday or whatever and cannot bring it. You then send it via courier the next day. The courier often doesn’t arrive until 3PM. Thursday is usually the only day I have to do the rest of the weekly grocery shopping and I cannot do it unless I know what fruit and vegetables I have. You can shove your courier up your collective arses. I’m finding a new company to provide me with organic produce in the new year.

10.) To the creators of Single Father: Not only did you create a script that was almost really good but kind of  not due to strangeness, odd format and a totally inappropriate soundtrack but you missed two if not three prime opportunities to show us David Tennant naked … or at least more naked than you did show him. I mean, really, if the BBC could produce something that included Christopher Eccleston completely nude* this year then I think they could have done us fangirls the same service with Tennant. **


 

*    Not that I’m complaining about getting the full monty from Eccleston. Not. At. All.

** Really, I only put this grievance in because I had 9 already and I thought that an even 10 would look better. Oh, ten and Tennant … hahahhaha … geddit? No, unless you’re as hopeless a Doctor Who nerd as me, you probably won’t. Sigh… Also? I just proved once again that everything can be brought back to a Doctor Who reference. Everything. Even a post based on an episode of Seinfeld. It’s a Festivus miracle!

And now, as Festivus rolls on, we come to the Feats of Strength!

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When moving from an English-speaking, First World country to another English-speaking First World country, culture shock is subtle and often food related. I’ve already blogged about the Australian obsession with beetroot and my reaction to it. Now let’s talk about pickles, donuts and marshmallows. Australian food FAILS.

I love pickles. they are awesome. Crunchy dill pickles. On sandwiches*, on the side along with a sandwich, on burgers, just to snack on in the middle of the day, or even to electrocute for the fun of seeing how they glow**.  The pickle is a wondrous food. I love the flavour, the consistency, everything. The best are the big, homemade pickles swimming in brine in ginormous jars at delis in the US. Mmmmm, pickles! Yeah, not so much here. For some reason known only to the misguided Australian pickle makers, they appear to *cook* their pickles. I’m not kidding. They’re soft, often rubbery,cooked & humiliated cucumbers often swimming in a mixture that is far from the delicious dill pickle brine of my childhood. I have to be careful about which brands I buy (because, as bad as they are, I cannot have a burger without at least something resembling pickle on it) lest I get one that tastes truly foul. They seem to have an abundance of flavour varieties, as well … like, bread and butter pickles, etc. Um, wut? DILL, people! DILL is the only kind of pickle! And they are called “pickles,” in everyday language, not “gherkins,” or whatever. Oh, and only the cucumbers are called pickles … you can’t call relish or other “pickled” items “pickles.” Sigh.

Moving on to donuts … I should preface this with the fact that I’ve never been a big donut connoisseur. I mean, I like donuts and I’ll eat them if they’re around but I’ve never been the type to eat a lot of them on a regular basis or even to think of buying them when there are other choices for a sweet desserty item available. Having said that, compared to American donuts, Australian donuts taste like ass. Ok, maybe not that bad … but they aren’t good either. They’re dry, the wrong texture overall, often missing flavour and a certain … something. I can’t put my finger on it. I’ll eat them occasionally but I prefer to think of them as mediocre cakes as opposed to real donuts. Recently, Krispy Kreme has made it to Australia sparking a phenomenon. Reportedly, there are lines around the block to get these things, people in Perth beg friends from over east***  to bring them Krispy Kreme donuts when they visit. Now, I have never had Krispy Kreme donuts, so I can’t speak from experience but I’ll say one or both of the following things are happening here: 1) Krispy Kreme put crack in their donuts and/or 2) Australians are getting a taste of donuts made the American way and are HOOKED.

Moving on, let’s talk about marshmallows. Marshmallows are, quite possibly, the most non food item human beings have ever invented and willingly eat (aside from McDonalds burgers and Little Debbie cakes, of course). Seriously, who thought of jet puffing sugar and eating it? I don’t know but I think I’d kiss them if I met them. I used to love marshmallows. In my hot chocolate, roasted over the camp fire, roasted and sandwiched between graham crackers and chocolate …. Then I moved here. They have no idea what a proper marshmallow are. The ones of my youth were big, fluffy, melt in your mouth kind of things. They had just the right amount of powdered sugar dusted on them to keep them from sticking together and to make them perfectly delicious, they roasted beautifully, they made me happy. The ones I can find here are shriveled, miniature, overly sugared sad little things. Often they’re flavoured, too. Flavoured and coloured marshmallows? YUCK!

I am well aware of the possibility that some of these things taste so good in the US because they are likely pumped full of artificial flavours and additives that I normally would shun. You know what, though? I don’t care. I still lust after a good pickle and a proper marshmallow. A decent donut would be nice every now and again, too.

*    Only occasionally and only certain kinds of sandwiches, of course.

**  The Nerdy older brother of a friend of mine once did this to impress us at a sleepover (we were 13, he was 17). And, boy, was I impressed! It was awesome! Plus, well, I might have already had a bit of a crush on him. What can I say? I have a thing for nerds. 🙂

*** The franchise hasn’t made it here yet.

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I hate beets (or, as I have learned to call them, beetroot). They taste like dirt and something even more foul mixed in. They are on the list (along with brussels sprouts and various other foods I can’t think of right now) of The Most Revolting Things Western Society Will Eat.So, you can imagine my utter revulsion when I came to Australia to find that these people put beetroot in EVERYTHING! I am not kidding. They put it in salads, on sandwiches, on BURGERS ffs! I shit you not.

I’ll never forget the first time I ordered a “burger with the lot.” We were in Kalgoorlie visiting my (then future) father in law. I thought that “burger with the lot” was just a charming Australian way of describing a cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and pickles (you know, the *normal* burger fixings). Oh, was I wrong. So, so wrong. The waitress plunked a ginormous burger with all the fixings (though no pickles … I’ll blog about atrocious Australian pickles later) plus beetroot and (get this!) a fried egg! It’s not bad enough that they put beetroot on a perfectly good burger but a fried egg as well? What are they thinking??!?!

So, I’m curious about Oh-My-God-Do-They-Really-Eat-That moments you all have had. Share!

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We watched Up with Bug (4 years old) yesterday … and I LOVED it. 🙂 I’ve been hearing people rave about this flick for a while now and, hey, I’m a bit of a sucker for Pixar so we finally got around to watching it. I wasn’t so sure about it in the beginning. It was a little sad and realistic for a cartoon. Not that I have a problem with sad realism, its just that I tend to prefer my cartoons a bit more … cartoony. And then the dogs were introduced. Classic. Absolutely … Squirrel!… classic. I think I pulled a muscle from laughing. 🙂

Some points that particularly impressed me about Up: Both the hero and the villain were geriatrics. Awesome! Finally old people being shown to be able to do stuff other than sit on their asses being grumpy old farts (not there weren’t a shortage of grumpy old fart moments, of course). The other thing that struck me was that the kid who befriends Carl in the movie was non-white! He looked to be Asian of some description (hey, its a cartoon, its hard to tell sometimes) … definitely NOT white, though. How easy/standard would have been to make the kid your typical blonde haired, blue eyed Anglo stereotype? Really easy … but they didn’t do it. Its sad that that is notable and impressive. It shouldn’t be but it is.

A good, funny movie would have been enough for me but Up had an added bonus: It got The Geek to say “squirrel” which amuses me to no end. Have you ever heard an Australian pronounce the word “squirrel?” It’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. It triggers a giggle fit each and every time I hear it. But then, I guess I’m just easily amused ….

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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 is a busker well known in these parts called The Badpiper. I’ve only been lucky enough to catch his show once or twice and then not even a whole set. But I’ve loved what I saw. Picture this: a dude with a mohawk, a leather kilt, huge (and AWESOME) goth boots, tattoos all up his arms and an electric bagpipe. You can’t get any better than that, right? 😀 Well, he did …

Today I had to duck into Fremantle to pick something up at the markets. I waited until Cub went down for his nap and then bribed Bug with icecream to get him to come with me. I quite like taking Bug to Freo by ourselves … its our one on one time. We got to the markets, got what we wanted, got Bug’s icecream and headed out to the courtyard outside the markets to have a look at the buskers. Bug loves buskers, he loves music of any sort and a chance to actually watch it being made appears to be his idea of heaven. The band playing was one of those mood music type of bands … you know, the type with a bongo drum, dulcimers and a bunch of electronic sounding whale song-esque stuff in the background. Not too bad but not anything to be excited about. Then I noticed the board with the names of the performers and times that they will play. The Badpiper was on it and he was next! I got ridiculously excited. I hadn’t seen him around in years and I had begun to think that he was off the busking circuit. So we hung around to see him, which turned our quick trip to Freo to an hours long outing. But it was worth it. He’d added FLAMES to his show! I shit you not. He’s got some sort of rig on his pipes so that he can shoot flames off the ends of three of the pipes while he plays. Thankfully my phone is pretty handy and I took a video:

How awesome is he? He does this professionally so you can hire him for weddings, parties, etc. I wish I’d known about him when we got married. We would have hired him in a heartbeat. I wish I could come up with an excuse to have a function that would require a musician …

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