Thursday, October 11, 2007

You Can't Just Hop a Plane : On Australia

I was a big fan of "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very, Bad Day," in which the protagonist suffers a series of crippling ailments, including being forced to sleep in his railroad-train pajamas and getting gum in his hair, prompting him to repeatedly resolve to move to Australia. I related, 'cause of Big M. You know what? My hair looks a lot like Alexander's. Maybe tomorrow when I'm trying to put off re-starting my life and joining the world, I'll re-create that photo on Photobooth but with lip gloss. That would be really funny, actually. Maybe just to me, but that's fine. [UPDATE: This could still happen. You never know.]

I promised recently that I'd dedicate an entire post to the country "Australia." This is that post.
As this chart demonstrates, Australians are the second-coolest people on Planet Earth, second only to Americans, who're slightly better than everyone else by alot. Hey, Japanese readers: how do you read this blog? Does it translate to Japanese and, question two, if so, is it good? In Japanese? Do you LOL, or whatever it is that happens over there? Luckily, I speak Australian. As you possibly notice, I use Australian spelling. Also, I have this problem with contractions, but that's unrelated.

I tried to think of a good theme for this Australia-post, like "Reasons Australia's Better Than America" or the opposite of that. Howevs ... I'm not sure if y'all are aware of this, but America's not rocking so hard right now and thus I'm having trouble bashing it [too obvious, possibly ungrateful, also problematic as I'm passport-less and therefore trapped, furthermore probs some Norwegian Star employee's got my passport and is doing dirty things with it] or endorsing it [we suck], so I'm just gonna ramble, per ush.

-A Special Place in My Heart for Australia: I've got a lot of connections to this country. I've got family there [in Melbourne and Sydney, my Mom's side], have traveled there five times, work as a copywriter for an Australian company and write for "The L Word Online," which's co-run by an Australian. Also, my dashboard clock is on Sydney-time, in order to best enable the delivery of about 50% of the work I get every day, which is a lot more than 0%, so that's something. Also, I LOVE SILVERCHAIR. JK, I don't like them, but they looked like girls, which's hot. They opened for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, I kinda went to that concert.

-Handjobs for the Holidays: I attended second grade in Melbourne, Australia for a month. For fun. I honestly thought attending school was fun, isn't that badass? Unfortunately, the Australian teacher immediately noticed my improper pencil-holding skills: I wrapped my fist around the pencil, rather than gripping it properly like a douchebag. The teacher made me cry [first day, keep that in mind] and gave me a "pencil grip," which cramped my style big time. I'm back to the old way now, which makes my hand ache on occasion, but such is life. Other things don't make my hand ache, so that's something. I never learned it proper.

-Fun Vocabulary I Enjoy: , Have you noticed American slang, aside from AutoWinSpeak/Maviland, always sucks? E.g., "Sucks."? "NOT," "the bomb," etc. That's not near as awesome as how Australians talk. Wanker? Dropkick? Full on? Ace? I love "can't be bothered," too. Ace.

-Big M: I don't know why exactly, but as a kid, I felt drinking Big M was like drinking nectar directly from the inner organs of twelve dancing deities. I recall there being far more flavors when I was there than there are now. Someone tried creating flavored milk in the U.S. but it never took off, 'cause Americans are dumb and want to die. I'm one of them, what can I say.

-The Piano Has Been Drinking: Every restaurant is like, BYOB [right?] Saves money for more important things, like having afternoon tea with Queen Elizabeth. Oh wait, that's um, England. Hooo-haaa. Also, they're not so uptight about drinking over there. Kids can drink socially pretty young and consequently, they have less alcoholism and probs less blogs cause people learn to drink responsibly before they turn 21, instead of going off to college and becoming binge drinkers like in MTV True Life: I'm a Binge Drinker. I don't have any data to back this up, but I'm pretty sure it's true.
-The Yellow Book: This show, PlaySchool -- great show. We watched it every day. Bananas in Pyjamas eventually came to the U.S.A. and got kinda annoying. The theme song of "PlaySchool" chanted "open wide, come inside," thus inspiring young trashwhores everywhere to you know -- open wide and come inside, etc.

-The Australian Dream: The American Dream is a cool idea, but it doesn't really work, 'cause you're sorta fucked if you're born into a hands down totes shitty family in a super-poor area. I mean, you've got a shot, especially if you're good at basketball or strike oil in the Oklahoman hills, but you might not get toilet paper or textbooks at your shitty local public school, so you're gonna have to pull some Stand and Deliver shit if you wanna be president, which isn't really fair. Yet, Americans insist that we're indeed, a meritocracy [esp. laughable with the Blue-Blooded White House right now] -- that if you work hard enough you can be whatever you wanna be, if you can dream it you can do it, and if you fail, you've got no-one to blame but yourself. Or your parents I guess, but no one really wants to hear about your parents, like shuddup already.

So, this is what Australia and Europe have over us: they're not in denial about how the world works. America's not really a meritocracy, but we prefer to claim we are. In Britan, they're totes like, "yeah, aristocracy, totes," acknowledging of nepotism, the politics of silver spoons, the value of blood, the fact that life isn't really fair, that people aren't exactly where they deserve to be. They just are what they are -- more realistic about expectations and therefore less likely to judge a person straight off based on their occupation.

In America, it's all about "What do you do? What's your job?' It's so common, the first thing to ask straight away. I've become highly conscious of trying to make it not the first thing I ask now, because I don't like being asked, I hate it, actually. I guess it'd be cool if we could just be like "what do you DO?" like, with your time, things you might ask a school-aged kid. You're not gonna judge him on if he's in second grade or not, you know, he's totes just like a second grader or he isn't. Does he play soccer? Enjoy arts & crafts? That kind of stuff. And if the answer is your job, then that's cool.

I mean, people [strangers!] literally ask me "So what do you do for money?" all the time. I can't believe that's appropriate for human people to ask other human people they barely know. This might not be on topic, actually, moving on.

-The accent is really cute. Totes.

-And I Take Into Myself ... The Power of Drugs: I used to have this honesty problem. My Mom smoked a lot of weed and was very paranoid, and thus she swiftly convinced me to also be paranoid. This acceptance of paranoia was the beginning of my life-long personal dedication to humoring the insanity of others, which has paid off and not paid off in a number of interesting ways. Anyhow, when I was in Surfer's Paradise/Gold Coast in the summer of '96 w/my BFF Kristyna, I don't know why I thought the ticket-taker at The Craft would see into my skull and discover I was 14, not 15, and bar us from the film, but I did, and so when he asked my age, I fessed up.

Kristyna was unimpressed: she had a lying problem, and my compulsion for truth-telling habitually cramped her style, and she had significant style. What would we do with the beautiful evening that now stretched endlessly before us? Well, things worked out for us after all -- we trudged to the boardwalk and bought cigarettes and a lighter -- the salesman asked if we intended to "set the world on fire" -- I adopted the phrase immediately and permanently ... obvs. These cute boys asked for a cigarette which's teenage code for "Hi, I also like to live on the edge." They clearly both wanted a pass into Kristyna's pants, which wasn't a hard thing to procure really, but anyhow, they were surfers, invited us to their shady Motel, we clearly went.

Clinton rolled a joint. I tensed up. "Just do it, Marie," Kristyna said. "Just take one hit, your Mom won't know." I knew I was on thin ice already, we'd just met cute boys which was more or less the point of life at that time, and so, I just like, did it. I didn't cough or die or anything.

Clinton had longish blonde hair and sand in his ears, stylish swim trunks, clean pure tan. Jeremy was quieter, funnier, and kept his hoodie on -- we met up with them outside our hotel the next day and took them out to dinner on my Grandmother's dime. She was unimpressed, obvs, as I woulda been, were I her ... the problem was Kristyna, I just couldn't stand up to her. She was my best friend. I loved her and hated her so much.

Clinton and Jeremy kept telling me to take my "toboggan" off 'cause that's when I wore a winter hat 24/7.

So, that was the first time I ever smoked pot. I didn't feel anything, I just waited to feel things, all the time then. The second time I smoked pot was three days later, with my Aunt Alicia, who's only a year older than me. Alicia, Kristyna and I were staying with my cousin [I think?]'s family in Australia and my cousin's husband took Alicia and I to their study and started rolling a joint, using this joint-rolling contraption. I felt like I wasn't allowed to say No, so I said Yes. He took us out to the backyard.

Kristyna was sleeping, so it felt secret and special, maybe the first time I'd done something cool without her. The lawn was dark green and wet. Alicia was a far more developed badass than I was. I was innocent then, like tigerlilies. It was weird. My head felt sorta large and puffy. Barely felt anything though, as I hadn't yet learned to inhale.

[Kristyna, Alicia, Me.] That's my winter hat that I wore every day, even in the summertime. I thought it balanced out my lack-of-chin, but in fact it only extenuated the problem. Luckily I am far older & wiser now.

-Frozen Hands and Feet: During my most recent visit, in 1999 for my step-grandmother's wedding, I swear I was freezing my ass off the whole time I was there. No central heating. Also, I managed to gain five pounds in one week, pretty impressive. Sticky Date Pudding, spaghetti and meatballs, pastries at three in the afternoon, and fish 'n chips. Also, alcohol, obvs. My Mom freaked out that I was drinking, as I was merely 18. I really hadn't drank much then. I also went running every morning on the beach in Melbourne, listening to Jay-Z. Hot.

-Some Noted Exports: Rachel Griffiths-love her. Kylie Minongue- also noteworthy. John Marsden and the Tomorrow series. A series of books of children's rhymes, including: Unreal, Banana Peal, Alright Vegemite, Captain Cook Chased a Chook and Far Out Brussel Sprout! which are all apparently no longer in print. Olivia Newton-John.

-You Take a Second, Take a Year: The flight to Australia takes approximately a gazillion years. You stop in Los Angeles, then New Zealand. Howevs, Qantas, as referenced in the classic film Rain Man, is an ace airline. I had an ex-boyfriend who'd always joke that I was like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. Like whenever I wanted to drive he'd be like "I'm an excellent driver." And he'd call me Rain Man. That was nice. Autism. ha ha.


Crystal said...

I never noticed you don't have flavoured milk over there. Full on.

The flaw in allowing kids to drink at 18 is that we also have mandatory voting at 18. Voting and drinking shouldn't be mixed, 'cause the result is John Howard. I think it's some kind of dodgy election strategy.

I agree, Qantas is ace. I've spent about a year of my life in the USA to Oz commute. 50% is better than 0%. And Silverchair are hot.

The only thing I'd disagree with is the accent, at least mine. I blame my parents for not letting me learn English from Playschool.
My most recent work convo: Whadda youse guys reckon? yeah sheee'll be orrright, doncha think? yea don' farrken lissen to them farrkers, it's gunna be sweet, youse'll see. Hot.

kate said...

i appreciate that this was posted at an australian appropriate time. top two comments. Nice.

news for you:
those books: not out of print - i can hook you up if you need something to read. Also,
big m has just released double strength iced coffee.

writing properly bust be a nation wide thing – those pencil grips? the hard, red, triangle ones, right? i had to sit inside at lunchtimes to learn the right technique and still never got my pen license.

can’t be bothered is ours? who knew?

Razia said...

The low drinking age is horrible, it means that you're constantly having to find new venues in order to avoid the high school students who seem to be everywhere. I mean picture being out and just chatting to randoms and then finding out that they're still in high school: *blank face* It's so wrong.

You're missing one other great thing, the fact that you can swear like a sailor almost anywhere, as highlighted in Crystal's hilarious work convo.

I sense a new saying in the making, something along the lines of "Auto-ace". It'd have to be pronounced "orto-ace", obvs.

Adam said...

As Junior Representative of team "Dudes Who Like Chicks", I approve of yeah sheee'll be orrright, doncha think?

Especially if you crinkle your nose a bit when you say doncha think?

However, I must defer to Grand-Wizard/Team-Captain Lozo for official judgment on this matter.

Crystal said...

Ha, Adam - yeah sheee'll be orrright, doncha think? wasn't in reference to a woman, although now I wish it kinda was.

The 'She' is my car. We like to give inanitmate objects a gender. The top/roof wouldn't close back down and the parking lot security felt I was encouraging theft. This was my classy Aussie response.

riese said...

Crystal: We do, I think, like Nesquik, but it's not as ubiquitous as I felt Big M was, especially in schools. I mean, we got chocolate milk and shit. Our voting system isn't working too much anyhow. Also, your accent is hot.


kate: Really? I couldn't find them on amazon, only like, on ebay and shit, on amazon they didn't even have photos.
And I know I saw that on the website! re: Big M, holy shit! I can't imagine anything better in life than that.
Mine was purple, my pencil grip. Man. That thing.


Razia:Wait, what's wrong with chatting to a random who's still in high school? Still young, in the bloom of their youth ... JK. I swear like a sailor everywhere, that's probs why I gotta stay away from other people ... or just move to australia I guess?

Auto-ace sounds effin brill, I'm incorporating it immediately.


Adam: That is the best Team ever, and hilarious, also being Jr., Lozo being wizard, etc. I think Brooklyn Boy is on your team too, actually ... and I'm sure others ... totes ... I crinkle my nose all the time. I almost just wrote "ASAP" and then realised it was not the right abbreviation.


Crystal: All I know is when I need someone to pull a B&E on my car, I think Crystal, doncha think, etc.

Jo said...

The mandatory voting concept sounds interesting- how does it work? I feel like if we had mandatory voting here then maybe Bush wouldn't still be in office.

The Spaz said...

You just made me notice I've never in my life met an Australian but I know at least a dozen people from New Zealand.

Its like what're the odds of somebody meeting a dozen Canadians and never meeting an American ever? I mean outside of Cuba obvs.

Also, I've managed to completely forget about strawberry milk until now. I wonder if they still make it?

Anonymous said...

I loved being referred to as a badass! Not sure how much has changed.

Your blog brought back many a memory. There is so much I would like to say but think I will save it for our next drink - when ever and where ever it may be.

Loved it hun.

Big love

Madey said...

Um, is this a joke? I usually can tell, but this time I simply cannot.

I am referring, of course, to the reenactment of the Alexander drawing, a feat that you have plainly accomplished. To be fair, it is unclear if this Alexander fellow is indeed holding Hustler matchbooks, but I think it’s a reasonable conclusion to infer. Cheers then, go join the world.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I bloody loved this post! Though a lot of things you said about Australia are true of Britain also (eg: drinking age, voting age, pretty much all the slang words) - it's amazing how similar we are I guess. I would love it so much if you wrote a post about Britain too - being a Brit living in Germany for the next year I'm very much missing 'the island' (as the Germans seem to refer to it), and would love to read a post about the (dubiously named) Land of Hope and Glory!

Keep up the go work :) x x x

Adam said...

I really have nothing new to add, but I thought I'd clarify:

By "I approve of" I meant "I stand by Reise' assessment of the accent, I think it'd be cute to hear even this (or maybe particularly this) said by an Aussie." I sort of figured something inanimate was involved...but I more envisioned a question of "is thing sturdy enough to be safe? Um...yeah...sure!" Maybe that's just because I've built one too many sets that we had to ask that question about.

I do have to agree, though, that that would be an amazing thing to say about a woman.

Ok...I new thing.

Is Reise' the correct possessive of Reise? Because the word ends with an 's' phonetically, but it's spelled with an 'e'. I want to apply the 'an honor' principle, but maybe I'm just trying too hard. Halp! I need ur grammarz!

Rhee said...

I had to laugh...I'm %100 New Zealander....all I have to say is

NEW ZEALAND is so much better!

Reise, if you think the Australian accent is cute...we should meet up for coffee(I'd pay, no this is not a date lol) accent is cuter! Promise! Hands down, I haven't met an American that didn't like it!

Rhee :)

riese said...

Jo: I feel like you're right.
The Spaz: Nesquik makes strawberry milk, I think, but it's so loaded with sugar you might as well just eat sugar.
Alicier: Obvs you are still a badass, as you were My Original Badass. I totes remember being out there on the lawn and you passing me the joint like "har har, don't tell Maureen." It was awesome. And then sneaking into bed later. Ha. Bigger Love, xx. Marie.
madey: Do you mean I should reenact it, or that if i were to reenact it, I would become Super-Lame (nothing wrong with that though obvs) or that I already basically have reenacted it in 700 prior photobooth photos? I just need to find so me Hustler matchbooks ...
anonymous: Dude, my bed is also called the Land of Hope and Glory. That is really weird. Maybe my bed is Britan, and I should just write a post about my bed? Britan is bringing up the rear behind Australia in the graph, so that's something ....
adam: Riese's is the correct possesive. Right. I don't even know what grammatical rule it is specifically that you're referencing with the phonetics, but perhaps this'd be a good time to admit I never learned phonics or grammar officially. Also, your icon rocks.
rhee: I need you to record yourself doing a number of pick-up lines and describing intimate situations. I'll then listen to them and let you know how much it turns me on, on a scale of 1-10. Then we can talk about the coffee. Dunkin' Donuts is my favorite coffee shop, FYIez. They have all kinds of accents there, a milion ways to say "no sugar?"

Ollie said...

Straya rules!
I say this as my gorgeous Aussie boyfriend sleeps in my bed.
It is far away. From France even more. Thank you Riese.

some say shay. said...

The digression about "What do you do?" reminds me of the The Little Prince (one of my all-time favorite books).

He says that adults just care about what you do, and not what you like to do... well I'm forgetting now, but that book is really great.

Rhee said...

so pick up lines huh, thats easy! only problem is, I need a number to call and leave them on! ;)

America runs on dunkin...I could handle that even tho I prefer Starbucks.

So Reise, this is in your hands! ;)

N.Z Rhee

cait said...

how did you even get off the boat without your passport?

in college we had coffee milk, it came in the same machine that the other milks came in, and a lot of the massholes i went to school with were familiar with it, so maybe it's a new england/ australian thing? i wasn't into it though, milk makes me nervous, something to do with a babysitter of mine always calling it cow juice, totally freaked me out.

next time someone asks you what you do for money tell them you're a hooker, or you rob banks, that'll shutup them up.

riese said...

Ollie: Tell your gorgeous Aussie boyfriend I say "Haaaaay!"
some say shay: It is. I like its French title even though I know no French, La Petit Prince always sounded so dreamy.
Rhee: You're keeping my hands very busy. You know. I actually can't sit inside Dunkin 'cause everyone there is crazy, seriously, they truly are.
cait: Funny story. Here's what I did: I was like, "It got stolen," and said I'd just realised that as I was packing that morning. I was still drunk, so I sorta just strode by the customs people while Lainy gave them her stuff, maybe they got distracted by her boobs.

I actually do say that I'm a hooker. Seriously. Or that I'm a crack dealer. Then Haviland goes "RIESE!"

AK said...

This whole Australian piece has thrown me a curveball. You now come under the heading "has overseas connections" as opposed to "landlocked American". (These have been my two basic categories since I landed on this continent and met people who had never heard of most of the rest of the world. OK they were only ten years old, but still I knew my geography and my flags by the time I was eight.) And here I thought you were just extraordinarily smart. This changes everything. I shall have to recalibrate all past input.

I have not actually been to Australia, though my primary school in Bangkok was run by Australians and I had an Australian girl sit next to me in Busy Bees. Every sentence out of her mouth began with "In Australia, blah, blah". I'm afraid this put her in nearly the same category as Americans, but not to worry, I soon outgrew that perception as I realized how much I had in common with Australians in an American context.

I have since grown quite fond of the Australian accent though as a speaker of the Queen's English, I was programmed to find it awful. I am also incapable of swearing to my public, (though I seem to be able to to yours given extreme circumstances).

It was Olvatine in my neck of the woods. I would mix it dry with sweetened condensed milk. Sounds gastly now.

delurker said...

Wow, here I was a week ago promising to lavish praise on your writing to the left and right, then I go on a Internet-disabled work binge for a week (which happens from time to time, just like in that experience you had about 423 posts ago that I didn't comment on either), and look what happened: tons of new posts! It feels a little late to jump on those now, so I'll just pick up here.

I'm actually also British, but I'm here in the US, so I am personally responsible for skewing your breakdown at least 0.something points toward the American supremacy. I feel with this knowledge in mind, it might be possible that we could overtake the lovely Australians, thus warranting an entire post dedicated to us. Whaddaya think?

(Also, I realise that my jealousy is entirely transparent)

delurker said...

PS. Re: stripclub outing post.

One word: Awesome!!!

Anonymous said...

"In Britan, they're totes like, "yeah, aristocracy, totes," acknowledging of nepotism, the politics of silver spoons, the value of blood, the fact that life isn't really fair, that people aren't exactly where they deserve to be. They just are what they are "

Well this ain't all good - I'd much prefer if we had our american cousins "Can Do" atitiude! Everything seems so much more positive in the States and really this country gets me down. We're always so harsh. It's like we build people up to knock them down. I think Prince Andrew said that once but he's right.

Also re the 18 drinking age - there's a whole binge drinking debate that is going on here at the moment. Apparently it's a "problem" if you enjoy a good drink of a friday/saturday night so it really ain't all that.

Also - would love to see this post British-ised but know we have nothing to compete with Kylie (who we all love!)

Razia said...

There's nothing wrong with having a chat with some school folk, per se. It's just that when I'm inebriated in a place with seedy lighting and loud music I'm not expecting to bump into someone I can't make out with. Which is obviously a testament to how young I am myself, because I figure that everyone is fair game. Either way, it's defo not auto-ace.

riese said...

ak: I LOVE OVALTINE. We used to have ovaltine every day. my Mom said it had vitamins in it.

I knew my geography and flags pretty early to, but that's cause it was on the inside of my Trapper Keeper folders and I liked to memorize things in order to stay awake in class.

I am just extraordinarily smart, obvs! [ending sentences with "obvs"=big sign of intelligence]

In the interest of full disclosure, I should let you know that I've also been to the UK, Mexico (Puerto Vallerta), Canada (Vancouver, Toronto, Victoria, Windsor), Germany for about three hours (layover, Frankfurt), Paris for about five hours, and Geneva Switzerland for about 24. So be prepared for me to be even extra ordinarily smart ... maybe? Hm. I dunno. I wasn't officially enrolled in Australian school, I honestly went for fun. 'Cause we were visiting.


delurker: There's only one way to overtake the Australians, and I think it includes a great deal of page loads. You've been slacking, Rocky, but there's time to catch up. Starting ... now. Watch out for the Netherlands though. is that part of the UK? Totes Re Awesome.


anonymous: I think people build other people up to knock them down here too though, they just go like "You couldn't do it! Ha ha!" afterwards instead of being like "Oh, sorry for knocking you down." [sidenote: I've got no idea what I'm talking about] Also, I think you've got some good Kylie competition. Hello SPICE GIRLS! TOTTTES.

riese said...

razia: You know, everyone has to learn some time. Even 17-year-olds.

(Just kidding)


rosiethejafa said...

1)Woah, childhood flashbacks galore!

2)The reason we don't become binge drinkers at uni is because we're already binge drinkers at 15 :)

3)Being a New Zealander with an Australian accent sucks

Abster said...

I used to LOVE that book when I was a kid, I could totes identify with Alexander. Maybe I should pick up a copy for adulthood, just in case.

Bridget said...

John Marsden was definitely one of the most influential authors of my childhood. The Tomorrow Series is amazing. As are several of his other works.

This whole post was awesome. I must say I was slightly surprised (but maybe not entirely) to see that you ended up writing it.