Monday, October 29, 2012

A Musical Interlude

No actual proper post today guys, because I have been busy disorganised. 

Tonight I went and saw this guy:

And this girl: 

Then these guys:


And the euphoria will probably work itself off in about a week. 

And then next time I'm going to do a post about music, and how I don't have a favourite type of music...except I think I kinda do. But it's not a genre or a style. It's something else, and I'll tell you all about it in a few days. 

What are you up to this week (And if it's battening down for a massive storm, good luck!) 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Australian English

I've been having fun with English this week -- mostly US and UK variants, and now it's time to have a look closer to home. Australian English is most closely related to UK English, but I think we've developed a unique turn of phrase. Combine that with an accent that doesn't bother much with that pesky annunciation stuff, and thinks that spaces between words are unnecessary, and you've got a version of English guaranteed to be misunderstood in most other corners of the world. 

Sometimes, it may even be mistaken for its own language. 

Here are a few phrases I picked up while eavesdropping at work these past few days. To me, these are totally normal but I'm hoping that some of them, out of context, might trip up the non-Aussies.  

It wasn’t too exy, I got mates’ rates.

Did you call the ambos?

It’s somewhere out Woop Woop.

You’ve got Buckley’s.

They bogged the ute.

I’m on the bones of my arse this week.

They’re at the servo.

He went off like a frog in a sock.

Aussie English is fun, and you find it in some unexpected places. Once, in Istanbul, a shopkeeper greeted my brother-in-law: 


"How's it going?" Mark said.

"Oh, mate," the man said, flipping straight into our vernacular, "I am flat out like a lizard drinking!" 

He got the sale. 


Have you got a common word or phrase in your English vernacular that might cause me to come a gutser? Figuratively speaking, of course. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

English: UK vs US vs Me

After my last rant post about American English, Maine Character found me this awesome BritSpeak quiz, and it made me realise something interesting: Australian English falls somewhere between US and UK. I understand the UK words, but I don't use about half of them. 

So let's go through a test: 

Take the test here! 

French fries vs chips. 

Confusingly, we use both. If I go to McDonalds I will order fries, because that's what the product is called. However, if I go to the takeaway place down the road I will order fish and chips, because that's what the product is called there. Same product, different context. So these things: 

Chips. And these things: 

These are also chips. Not crisps, like they're called in the UK. I guess we Aussies have just learned to deal with the crazy ambiguity. 

Closet vs Wardrobe. Um...can I just throw cupboard in the mix to confuse things? 

Dessert vs pudding. Dessert. Because pudding sounds like something the Famous Five would be given to eat at boarding school. Something with custard. They would think if was spiffing. 

Sneakers vs trainers. Sneakers, although we use both words here. I just prefer to sneak than to train. 

Vacation vs holiday. Holiday. 

Money vs dosh. Money. That's a win for US English. 

Spatula vs fish slice. Another win for US English. If I want to slice a fish, I presume I would use some sort of knife. Also, I'm pretty sure that a spatula has more uses beyond fish-related cutting. 

Eraser vs rubber. Rubber. And no, rubber is not a funny euphemism for condom if you're not fourteen. 

Mayhem vs Bedlam. Bedlam, all the way, but that may be the history nerd in me coming out. I love the idea that a notorious asylum lives on in the language. 

Crib vs cot. Cot. 

So I think that works out to about half US and half UK English in my Aussie vernacular. But there are some words in me that are uniquely Australian. Where blue is not just a colour, it's a fight. Unless it's a redhead, in which case it's a colour again. Or, if it's true blue, it's fair dinkum. Clear as mud?  


Did you check out the BritSpeak test? How did you go? 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

American English Strikes Again

Okay, so at the moment my pseudonym is co-writing, and it’s fun, except for one thing: my continuing struggles with American English. Here are a few examples that have screwed me over this time. (And please be aware that my arguments are spurious at best. At worst they’re just a random collection of words that signify nothing.)

Why do you call your money bills?

Do you people know what a bill is? A bill is not money. A bill is the exactly opposite of money. A bill is something that arrives in the mail from the electricity company demanding money. You can’t pay a bill with a bill. That’s crazy talk.

That thing you have in your hand? That’s a printed piece of paper with a previously agreed-upon value that you can exchange for goods and services. A piece of paper. Are you with me? It has printing on it. Still with me? Do you know another name for a piece of paper with printing on it?

A note. It’s a note.

And that’s what we call them in the rest of the world.

I also have an issue with bedding. It’s romance, guys, they’re going to go there. And pillows and sheets are fine, but what the hell is that thing on top of the bed? No, not the guy with the abs. Under him. That thing that I would call a doona, and my relatives in the UK would call a duvet?

I’m pretty sure you call them comforters.

Really? Your bedding comforts you? Okay, I get that if you’re three — I had a bunny rug as well — but you’re not three any more. You’re an adult. You should be seeking comfort in the same things the rest of us are: cynicism, alcohol and the misuse of prescription medication.

And last but not least: "Write me". WTF is "write me"? 

As in, "Oh, I'm leaving now and I'll miss you terribly. Write me." 

Did you forget the rest of the sentence? Write me what? 

A haiku? 
A ransom note? 
A three-act play set in the the monastery in Melk in 1527 that can later form the basis of an operetta? 

Or do you mean "write to me?" 

Say what you mean, America. Things like this make the rest of the world pissed off. 

Not pissed. Pissed means drunk. Pissed off

There's a difference. Sort it out, America. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

What's your favourite banned book?

Hey! Apparently it was Banned Books week in the US last week. That’s me, always relevant, always on top of the game.

I went through a stage of reading books that had at one time been banned by censors. It started off with mostly historical stuff, but is now very heavily balanced towards Young Adult. And American. Seriously, what’s that about? Oh noes! The book contains drug use, violence or sexual themes! We can’t possibly have our teenagers reading that instead of playing Grand Theft Auto.

Tiny ill-conceived rant over.*

My banned books include:

The 120 Days of Sodom, by the Marquis de Sade.

My verdict: First horrifying, then banal, and then amusingly repetitive. Insert Tab A into Slot B. Repeat ad nauseum. Seriously, there’s only so many times you can commit an atrocity on a fictional character and have me care. Real world violence is terrible. So is your book. But I forgive you because you were mad.

Come in Spinner, by Dymphna Cusack and Florence James.

This is an Aussie classic It’s set in Sydney during the Second World War, and was banned because it covered things like rape, prostitution and abortion. It wasn’t published in an unabridged form until the 1980s. This is one of the first grown-up books I read as a teenager, and I still love it. The title, if you’re wondering, references two-up, a gambling game.  

All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque. If you have never read this book, you must read it. You must. It is awful, and beautiful, and heartbreaking, and I don’t have enough words for how brilliant it is.

One banned book I’ve never read is American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis, which is a shame because this one was actually banned for sale in my home state of Queensland until really recently. You can still only buy it wrapped in plastic from behind the counter, like a—gasp—dirty book.

A few years ago, I got a call at work from a woman.

“Is it still illegal to buy American Psycho in Queensland?”

“Oooh! Let me look it up.” A few minutes later I broke it to her that it was, in fact, illegal. But I had a cunning work-around. “Why don’t you just order it off Amazon?”


“You know,” I said. “Just get it posted.”

“I suppose I could consider that,” she said warily, like I was setting her up for Operation Undercover Illegal Book Sting.

“That’s what I would do,” I told her.

“But it’s still illegal, right?”

“Oh, sure,” I said, “but Customs aren’t going to open a parcel from Amazon. Besides, even if someone found out, I highly doubt anyone’s going to charge you for something like that. It’s a book.”

“Ah,” said the lady. I suspect this was not the advice she expected when she called the police station. “Um. I’ll think about it?”

“Well, okay, good luck,” I told her.

My Bringing-Them-Down-From-The-Inside quota fulfilled for the shift, I wished her well and went back to work.

Do you have a favourite banned book? 

*Ill-conceived because censorship offends me a hell of a lot more than any video game ever has.  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Most Inspiring Guru Ever.

When I was a kid, I had a million different heroes. When I was in high school, I devoured different religious texts. When I was at university, I read as much philosophy as I could cram into my brain. Always looking for guidance, for advice, for answers.  And if I had to pick a fictional character as my life coach / inspiration / ultimate guru -- and let's say that for the purposes of this blog I do -- then here she is.

Yep. It's Dory from Finding Nemo, and, short-term memory difficulties aside, I think we can all learn some valuable lessons from her. She is tenacious, she is optimistic, and she is fearless. (It also doesn't hurt that she is Ellen, right?) 

Here she is not judging others: 

Here she is believing in herself: 

And here she is giving the only advice you will ever need. For anything. In your entire life: 



Which fictional character sums up your current life philosophy? 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Dear Bogans

Dear Bogans, 

While I often hang around the comments sections of just to get a cheap laugh and learn about how immigrants/Muslims/women are destroying your job/country/marriage, unless you can fix up some of your more basic mistakes, I regret that I will no longer be able to read your litany of complaints about the government/petrol prices/gay marriage. 

A bogan
Because I'll read any comment, seriously, however badly it's argued, as long as at least 80% of it is spelled correctly. Please take note of the following: 

1. The word is appalled. Not apaulled. There is actually no such word as apaulled. That's why when you type it on the computer, a little red line appears underneath it. Now, I know as well as anyone that you can't always trust the spellcheck feature of a computer, but I say that as someone who has a proper for-realsies dictionary sitting on her desk, whereas I'm fairly sure you have to move at least six empty tinnies of VB,a carton of Winfield Blues and some sort of V8 Supercar memorabilia to reach your computer. 

2. I'm sorry, am I being rediculous? No, no I'm not, because there is no such thing. I am appalled that you would even accuse me of that. (See that? Appalled, not apaulled. Refer to point 1.) Seriously, if you feel the urge to use words of more than three syllables to make yourself seem sneeringly aloof -- "Gazza, don't be so farkin' rediculous!" -- please ensure you spell them correctly. Otherwise you just look like a wanker. 

Or maybe that's just the mullet. 

3. I've probably annoyed you so much that you've already left this blog. Well, good riddens to you. This is one I've seen more and more often lately, usually after a post about immigrants, boat people, or anyone not born in this country. You know, the generic racist-whackjob comment that starts with "If they don't like it here..." and ends with my questioning whether or not your parents were closely biologically related. 

Do yourself a favour and check out some of the other words while you're there. 



Monday, October 1, 2012

Warning: Adult Content. Allegedly.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with my accountant to do my tax return. The Australian financial year actually ended on June 30th, but I don't like to rush into these things. The excuse I use is that I make an appointment at the same time as my mother to save her the drive, and her finances are way more complicated than mine and sometimes she has to wait a while for statements and stuff to arrive in the mail. The truth is, I'm just lazy. 

I know. Shocker, right? 

This year, I think that Christine, my accountant, will be pleased to find out the following things: 

1. I have lost the folder she gave me last year to keep all my financial stuff in. Seriously, no idea where that's gone. Luckily none of my paperwork was in it. It was all in the empty Rekorderlig cider carton on my study floor. 

2. Despite not even being able to tackle an Australian tax return, I went and earned money overseas. Did the IRS tax return myself. Can only presume the IRS are laughing so hard at some of my more dazed and confused answers that they haven't had a chance to send me an angry letter yet. 

3. There is a dead spider stuck to one side of my Group Certificate. It's okay, it's not Simon. 

Every year, without fail, my tax appointment reminds me of one thing: I am an alleged grown up who has the financial acumen of a five year old. 

Make that a five year old with superannuation, bitches! Can't wait til I can blow the whole lot on Chocolate Marshmallow Fish, Lego, and shiny things. Who's with me? 

Chocolate Marshmallow Fish - the best thing to come out of NZ since Split Enz.

Is there anyone else out there not-so-secretly masquerading as an adult? 

Oh, and just for funzies: Here is my favourite Split Enz song, Six Months in a Leaky Boat


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