Vegemite, Australian Troops and Crocodile Hunters…

28 06 2014

Australians are in the consciousness of other people around the world far more than we ought to be in terms of our (relatively) tiny population. Comparing us with many countries such as Belgium, Portugal and Chile, more people know about Kangaroos, didgeridoos and turbo-charged loos than much at all about these aforementioned countries. In part, this may be due to our exotic location, politely referred to as the “arse-end of the world” by one Paul John Keating, who also happened to be our Prime Minister at the time.

So there is a fair degree of mythology about our nation, some which causes a pain in the arse in the arse end of the world, some of which is distinctly to our advantage, allow me to explain. In the 1980s with the rise of the box office dole bludger (as opposed to ‘blockbuster’ in terms of net receipts) “Crocodile Dundee”, Australia became flavour of the decade, at least in the western world. Yes, now we were apparently putting shrimps on the barbie (not the humble ‘sausage’ which still tends to dominate all but inner city ‘not-dog’ vegan soirees) and all wrestling crocodiles outback. Actually, it was not until he 1980s that many Australians even knew we HAD an outback, let alone what was even there, apparently there is some big rock somewhere that is pret-ty darn cool, by the sounds of it.

You see the truth is that over 94% of Australians live in or around cities. Of those, more than 80% solely on the thin eastern coast hemmed in by that bloody big bunch of mountains called, somewhat appropriately “the great dividing range”.Few of us have even seen a crocodile live, let alone wrestled one, but most men in Australia, given a bottle of ‘dutch courage”, duct tape, a hessian bag and a ute full of coaxing mates would be only too pleased to give it a go! In fact, I feel like wrestling a crocodile right now. 🙂

angry crocodile

Steve Irwin certainly helped this cause by appearing to be a typical ‘real-life crocodile hunter’ and gaining worldwide attention for our crocodile hunting (and perhaps taking some of the heat away from a far more popular past-time now deemed politically incorrect of ‘dwarf tossing’ in some of our less-respectable bars). To add to the mythology, he was from Beerwah, yep, EAST of the divide, the Green not the Red. Of course, Aussie males were khaki-clad, Crocodile-wrestlers with a penchant for adventure and the substitution of vulgar vernacular with the relatively benign, “crikey”. Now this only added to the mystique around the sheer courage of such men… if you are ever confronted with a reptile hurtling towards you at full speed who is the weight of a ladened refrigerator and with more teeth than a tardy dentist’s waiting room, I dare you to limit your vocabulary to “crikey”!!!

Which brings us to the real topic of today’s article: Why hasn’t Australia ever been successfully invaded?

Ok, well, in that concession I will rule out the obvious issues of being mostly barely-inhabitable desert, having more flies than is statistically possible to sustain on planet Earth and the fact that Paul John Keating is still alive. You see, we have, literally an abundance of the world’s mineral resources, some spectacular countryside, more beautiful beaches that all the beaches in the rest of the world combined and some of the best food and wine… Well, kinda…I’ll get to that later.

Yet, aside from a few ambitious, or possibly lost,  Japanese submarines in World War II that arguably were here to scout out good real estate deals or sites for successful sushi bars, really, no one has even bothered to have a red-hot go. It is hardly because of our amazing fleet of naval vessels constantly guarding our coastlines. No, there is significantly more chance of seeking the famous white whale, Migaloo, patrolling our coast than any white-uniformed military personnel.

Of course, the secret is spectacularly simple: Vegemite.

Not many people have seriously considered this in understanding the profound lack of interest of nations for invading this land which abounds in nature’s gifts and has some kind of ‘skirt’ of sea (or somesuch!). It lies in this most curious, and in some minds, vile, condiment that has pride of place in most Australian pantries… a jar of black sludge known as VEGEMITE.

Vegemite Jar

Vegemite was famously named out of a hat in a competition in 1923 by sisters Hilda and Laurel Armstrong but fewer people know that Cyril P Callister, commissioned by Fred Walker (the father of food giant, Kraft) actually developed the product in 1922. A scant few of my faithful File:13 readers would be aware, however, that this product is actually made from the yeast products in the sludge at the bottom of brewer’s vats.

Let us just pause and meditate on this for a moment. We are considering the people of a nation who see it as an important cause to employ someone to develop a food source from microorganisms having a (presumably wonderful) party at the bottom of a brewer’s vat and to promote said food to the populace. Well, there is a more fantastic tale than this droll anecdote.. the people of Australia BLOODY LOVE THE STUFF!!!

Just to make entirely sure that you understand the ramifications of this development in our nation’s history, I add, for the sake of a more complete history of the matter, that other nations have indulged in similar dark, salty and  odorous spreads from similar origins. Most famously (and earlier), Marmite from the United Kingdom, enjoyed pride of place in this rather small section of the “gross condiments category” worldwide and some have even labelled it more inedible than Vegemite. New Zealand still has a hankering for Marmite, though they load it with sugar in much the same way that Methadone is administered with Orange Juice, in a vain effort to disguise the gravity of what you are doing to your body. However, here’s the rub: a majority of people in both nations consider the consumption of such condiments abnormal and wouldn’t feed it to their enemies.

Here are some fairly typical reactions of apparently everyday Americans sampling our national treasure:

 

In contrast, Vegemite is LOVED by the majority of Australians! Now, for those reading this who did not grow up on the stuff and are, perhaps, from overseas, you may have had the opportunity to taste the stuff. If you have, I guarantee that you remember precisely where and when you did and, not only that, but the string of expletives you uttered spitting the stuff out, the exact quantity (and colour) of the vomit that ensued and how many used toilet brushes you went through scouring your tongue for hours to get rid of the vile taste.

Now, think about it. We routinely give this food to our troops. Our troops flippin’ LOVE the stuff. They’ll get those little packets and, in the absence of a nice Vita-Weet, Salada, or even a piece of bread to break up those vile particles of long-dead sozzled micro-organisms, they will LICK THE STUFF STRAIGHT OUT OF THE LITTLE PLASTIC RATION PACKS. Imagine that you are an enemy scout and you see this event, in broad daylight with your binoculars. Imagine that you have also tasted this food in a mad evening of drunken frivolity and ludicrous dares. What impression would you have of these men whom you have the audacity to engage in battle. Yes, that is right. There is NOTHING you could do to these troops that would be worse than they choose to do to themselves. So you turn around and slouch down the wall of your trench, looking heavenward and wondering what the hell you were thinking taking on Australian soldiers.

Indeed, your mind would race with fearsome images of past formidable armies. The horned and winged helmets of the ancient vikings (that mostly only existed in Asterix and the Vikings, but humour me here), the precision and clinical execution of the Roman Army, Hannibal’s famous elephants or perhaps the bright blue woad stained faces (or more fearsome pasty white exposed bottoms) of Celtic hoardes might come to mind. However, nothing would strike fear into the heart of an opposing soldier than seeing an Australian soldier who, presumably, lived off the land in a desert full of flies, wrestling crocodiles in his spare time, able to consume the carbonated cat-piss that is Foster’s Lager and, to make matters worse, revels in the delight of licking vegemite. Yes, young man, you’d better bloody run.

Troops vegemite

Yes, our female soldiers also eat it with gusto. This photo above shows a happy snap taken just prior to this typical consumer of vegemite administering a small portion to an ALLIED soldier. He is in a stable condition in intensive care and is expecting to be discharged in a month or two. Thanks for your prayers and support folks.

So there it is. The US, NATO and possibly China could all learn a few things about defence if they would concentrate their resources and efforts more economically. You see massive economic spending on technology, aircraft and a formidable fleet is all really a waste of time if you’d just get your troops used to eating disgusting stuff (on this count, I’d have my money on the Chinese as the front runners in any particular race to the culinary bottom on this one, particularly with egg-based dishes!).

The benefits to the Australian way of life is quite obvious. None of us has to go anywhere near anything as dangerous as a crocodile, flies aren’t a problem in most places we live and we can continue munching our morning toast with a fine film of black sludge content that we live in the luckiest country on the planet and there is not a damn thing any other nation is going to do about it any time soon! 🙂

Mickovich.. the GenericOracle.

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Mate.. yer rings are blown!

15 08 2012

Let’s get this straight, this is NOT a post about mechanics diagnosing the state of my Delica’s engine. Nor is it a post about Doctors diagnosing any body part after a vicious night on the Vindaloo (why the plural, anyway?? ooo.. that would be a really bad night on the Vindaloo!).

No, ladies and gentlemen, the gleaming hues on the Olympic rings have faded as we drift into the thirty first Olympiad, waiting for another taste at their conclusion in Rio. Talk of the country here down under is, of course, why we didn’t do any bloody good this time, despite finishing 10th (?), having more medals than all but 5 countries and with our athletes leaving London with a 1:10 ratio of medals to athletes. Australians have an amazing way of boasting even in virtual defeat, don’t you think.

Folks, I am not going to waste any more digital ink on how ‘goodweshouldadone’. We all know that there are deeper issues that must be addressed:

1. Why is there always so much damn gymnastics???????????????????????

2. What were the English thinking with those “Gary Glitter” suits in the Opening Ceremony?

3. Why are some ‘sports’ actually even AT the Olympics?????????????????????

Yeah. Serious. I have finally worked out why people in Australia, especially, get so perplexed with the choice of ‘sport offerings’ at the Olympics. First, however, let’s consider those noble sports that grace our screens for 16 brief, sleepless days ever leap year. Ah, Fencing, (the type with an Epee not a nail gun, Bourgeois renovator!) such grace, such poise, such skill! Yes, and Horsies doing all that Horsie stuff, lovely, cheapest way to ever enjoy those large things that, as it turns out, aren’t really dogs. What about sailing? Grand, challenging, tactical, windy! Rowing, white water canoes! Archery! Clay pigeon shooting! Hurrah! (why are they pink, with no wings or discernable internal organs??)

We LOVE the 100m sprints, pole vaults, high jumps (any jumps!), diving, marathons, volleyball, USA Dream team basketball, man! The BEST in the world man, the BEST!

Then we see badminton (even when they ARE playing properly not being retarded nongs trying to lose), ping pong and, hey, wait a minute… syncronised swimming, and we start looking at our loved ones begging the question on our collective minds…”WHY IS THIS AN OLYMPIC ‘SPORT’?”

Well, fair and noble readers, I know EXACTLY why it irritates us Australians, that most professional of Olympic viewing audiences worldwide. In short, if you can do it at home, it ain’t an Olympic sport. Simple.

I had no idea that trampolining was a sport until this Olympics and now I can’t believe it. Syncronised swimming is what Australian girls spend summer doing with 8 hours a day in the pool to fill. A trampoline is what EVERY Australian kid gets to do any bloomin’ time he  or she feels like it. You bounce. You bounce on your bum. You bounce on your bum and turn 180. WOOO. You double jump, sending your little sister 10 feet up due to Hookes amazingly linear law. She breaks both arms and you are halfway to getting a pool instead of a dumb trampoline.

Badminton is to tennis as playing squash with a soggy wet lettuce is to playing squash. No sensible people persevere with the concept. Let me get this straight. You tap the bloody thing, it moves slowly. You whack the living crap out of the thing and it moves slowly??? Where is the return on metabolic investment here IOC? Faster? Higher?Stronger? Quod Erat Demonstratum! NEXT!

If that is a sport then so is ‘totem tennis’.. a stick with a ball on it.. and we make games out of these things?? Sheesh! Ping Pong is a rumpus room game, seriously. Yes you can squint (glasses are eschewed in this intense ‘sport’ in any attempt to squeeze coolness out the discipline but it doesn’t help when locating that celluloid ball ten feet away travelling at 1/10th the speed of a tennis ball!). Yes, you can stomp on serve, kissing your ball with your pencil-grip tight. You can even elicit ‘OOOH’s and ‘AAAH’s from the crowds with your amazing spin, but, when it comes down to it, you are playing on painted plywood, there is no one passing you wimbledon towels to mop your saturated brow and should you resent a call, you haven’t got a hope in hell of smashing that wooden paddle to pieces on that hollow table. Not with the tiny muscles developed smashing a 2g hollow ball across your rumpus in gruelling training sessions. Fun? Yes! Sport? Not so much!

So , we could lament the inclusion of any rhythmic gymnastics with balls, hula hoops, nunchucks (sorry, I don’t know the proper name of those nunchuck-like objects that get thrown around!). Not sport, sorry. BMX? Gee, I don’t really know, if you are on acreage any bozo can have a stack on a mound of gravel. NEXT!

Now, I have probably offended billions of the Earth’s inhabitants (if only they’d read this blog.. in which case I am remarkably safe from harm! :)) with the comments above, but I’d like to petition the IOC for the inclusion of the following as Olympic Sports if they will not capitulate to removing these non-amazing competitions from the schedule:

1. Darts. Seriously. Come on… “John Henderson draws the forearm back. Gentle release, lovely motion, excellent choice of dart ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY!!!! What a magnificent athlete!!

2. Cluedo. “This for the Gold Medal. One guess. He knows it’s Colonel Mustard.. deduced turn 4. Likewise the candlestick, weapon in question, round 7. He calls the Library…waiting for the card…the audience is willing him to win..NO. It’s the Ballroom, it’s always the Ballroom, he’s come undone, four years wasted and instead Klemenickov takes the win for the GOLD MEDAL!

3. Sleeping Lions. Might need to start early in proceedings to get a result after 16 days perhaps.

4. Slip and slide. With 10m, 20m and 50m marathon events, of course we’d expect the Jamaicans to reign in the glamour 10m event and you’d need random vaseline checks but this sport could seriously rock!

5. Marco Polo. Face it. This beats anything else you can do in a pool at the olympics with lots of people (who are not swimming in straight lines). The world has waited long enough.

Well, I anticipate penning my letter to the IOC in time to get the legwork done on these events before Rio, so if you find any other negliected domestic recreational pursuits that deserve elevation to Olympic level, please let me know as soon as possible. Please forgive me if there is a delay getting back to you, I am currently training hard with my dog at present with “competition fetch” for 2016 in Rio and I’ve just broken in a bald tennis ball… you should see that mutt run! He’s like lightning I tell you!





Manhood? Houston, we may have found a horizon..

18 06 2009

It was around 1950. The blokes that survived “that other Great War” had finished their celebrations, found careers again, fathered probably a few children and life was kind of really good.

Women dutifully left the factories, shops, government offices and schools where they had all but taken over from 1939-1944 whilst the menfolk were either killing each other, running away or getting perhaps a little too close to prostitutes on their R&R. This is not to suggest that the army of feminine labourers were saintlike after hours, with a good number of flat-footed, cross-eyed and mostly deaf men getting far more than their usual share of attention.

In the 50’s, middle-class men could expect to come home from the drudgery of fairly uninteresting work to a well-cooked meal, some slippers and the evening paper and, if he was really lucky, well, let’s just say life wasn’t half bad.

Well, it couldn’t last. Fair enough really. The women didn’t take too long to realise that these “Kings” weren’t really doing miracles in the workplace any more than they had done during the war years AND they had to look after the house as well. Many women, completely justifiably, felt that the playing field should not so much be levelled as made a little less like playing hockey on the slopes of Mt Everest. The mountain-levelling earthquake variously known as “equal opportunity”, “Affirmative Action” or “gender equity” had hit these Himalayas. Of course, each of these terms had slightly different meanings, in much the same way that “Communism”, “Socialism” and “Social Democracy” do to the average punter (to the similar Chagrin of the Che’ crowd).

Just about the only bit men were fond of was the off-chance of seeing a woman get her bra off and burn it, but truth be told he would be more likely to cop a biff in the eye than anything remotely pleasing if he stood too close.

In the 70’s gender retreated like linoleum tiles as it seemed that people, like houses, were keener to sport wall-to-wall carpet and it was notoriously hard to even determine gender in many cases. Men and women, it seemed, could have any hairstyle imaginable and even the merciful patch of facial hair as some kind of male identifier was not failsafe in some parts of Eastern Europe. But unisex, like pretty much anything with the prefix “uni” fairly quickly loses its appeal and you tend to grow out of it.

In the 80’s tribalism took root in manhood and some men came out of hiding with all the tentativeness of a monster truck on top of a clapped out caravan. Punk was not dead, they just smelt that way. Indeed, anarchy found poultry in the most unlikely of fashion statements; angry men were back, and were somewhat dangerous. Skinheads thrived. The football lout raised his ugly head (but not much, since most were not endowed with a neck).

In Australia, the “Yobbo” was ubiquitous and found safe havens to the side of barbeques, with stubby holders that, when the time invariably came, needed to be surgically removed. The Australian man could laugh well, communicate poorly, watch cricket for days on end and spend, according to a study in 2003, ten times less than his french counterparts in lovemaking (a meagre 9 minutes compared with 90). Hardly surprisingly, many Australian women tend to set their sights a little higher than your average yob.

The paths diverged further, with the evolution of the sensitive, new-age guy, who was either a hippy with a haircut or an urban heterosexual male with an enterprising mind for this wide open female market, or simply just a poof.

Nevertheless, this crowd that could leave all kinds of fascination with balls behind (including both scratching and watching balls, or occasionally, simultaneously) to talk art and music and how much they adored kids and women and gender equity had women temporarily spellbound. However, if you happened to marry one, you might find them more inclined to play “Doom” ad infinitum, go out to see (yet) another band, go shopping or rifle through Architect digests than swat that bug, open the jar lid or hang some new shelves in the laundry. Dual sinks in ensuites also became de rigeur in this era as women realised finally how frustrating it was to wait in line for the sink when you are trying to get ready to go out. “Just HOW much of that $25 mousse is this guy going to use to go out for a coffee??” she found herself thinking.

The 90’s saw a sophistication of this creature into the “Metrosexual”, which was really just a very expensive version of the snag, though taking away some hard-won ground from the gay movement in the process.

The twenty first century then has left us with, what appears to be on the surface anyway, indefinable maleness. Actually, it is a good time to be a man.

These days we realise that many of the heroes of the screen from the 50s were not only fictitious but many of these “macho” men got their Saturday night dates without straying far from their own changerooms. The idea of one stoic hero against all odds saving the planet in time for tea is more fuel for parody than inspiration nowadays. Equally disdained is the foppish, pasty white almost-man that lacks wildness, drive and the ability to pursue women for the prize that they are.

No, the modern man, if there is such a beast, is, above all, authentic.

He can watch a chick flick on the odd occasion with his wife. He admits he can’t dance but he’ll have a red hot go because his wife loves it! He wrestles with his kids on the front lawn, cooks a great lasagne, thinks to bring the washing in before it rains and enjoys a cold beer and an afternoon of AFL with his mates. Some of these men might step aside for their wive’s careers, or pHDs and choose to live in places better for raising kids than climbing corporate ladders.

These men can rejoice that they are not women, celebrate their manhood and not consider passing wind in public an obligatory rite of passage (excuse the pun!). These men can laugh heartily, occasionally land themselves in risky situations and somehow come out alive and work to live, not the other way around.

If they are overweight, it won’t stop them getting on boogie boards with the kids in summer. If they are bald? Hell! Shave it ALL off!! Bald and proud, dammit!

The best lovers? Who’d ever know? Any woman who manages to find most things in the last three paragraphs in a man is far too wise to tell him anything other than he is awesome. As long as he takes longer with his lovemaking than he does watching the evening news it must be a pretty good start, eh? 🙂

aragorn_arwen