October 2, 2019

it was “surreal” last night.  on ABC last night, it featured MoJo (an iconic advertising consultancy and, eventually, a “full-blown” agency)that influenced and shaped Australia.  For those that don’t know, ABC  is a national TV channel that’s mainly funded by the government and disallows all forms of commercialism (including ads) – you can’t even discuss (much less promote) any brands on their shows.

it was so meta.  Admittedly, they have a programme called Gruen that “humorously” critiques ads but this somehow felt different as it impacted Australian culture.  It can be argued that it was simply a mirror and a true insight into the Australian zeitgeist.

While prior to them “proper” American or British accents were used to voice over commercials, authentic Australian enunciation and expressions were instead  used (although they were considered “vulgar” by the “establishment”). i think this “honesty” was greatly appreciated by the Australian public. i now believe that you should never be ashamed of your actual heritage despite what you were “taught” and the constant stream of messages to put you down. i’ve got a feeling that’s why they dislike the old country so much – it is said that POME was originally an acronym for Prisoner Of Mother England.

Hogs (Paul Hogan better known by some Americans as Mick “Crocodile” Dundee) was the human face of a former tourism campaign – i challenge anyone to say it wasn’t effective as Australia moved from the 78th preferred holiday destination by Americans to the 7th.  Prior to him, it was all wildlife (like koalas and kangaroos) and he was even recognised, arguably, as Australian of the Year for its success.  The catchphrase was even adapted to the Yanks: “put another shrimp on the barbie” – as no one Down Under referred to them as “shrimp” but as “prawns”.  They say a real measure of a tourism campaign isn’t just about the foreign visits but also abut how good the locals feel about their country.

(sliding) doors

January 24, 2019

as a pragmatist, I’m conscious that automated doors can be expensive or impractical for disability toilets but i don’t understand why some doors are really heavy and require at least two people to open it (and keep it open).  Some of them aren’t designed properly:  there are doors that open the wrong way, there are quite a few doors where you’ve got to form a plan in order to open a door with a walking aid or wheelchair, and there was even one where you couldn’t close the door with a walker inside.  Moreover, there are locks that are problematic as well: some don’t indicate when they’re locked (or are not that obvious to the occupant), there are a few double locks so you’re not sure which to use (and sometimes you need to use both as the engaged indicator is seperate), and few locks require fine, manual dexterity to operate.  It underscores how compliance isn’t a substitute about thinking about the practicalities of actual use.

born to run

November 24, 2017

PBS Newshour showed again Part 1 of Jeffrey Brown‘s interview with Bruce Springsteen (originally aired December 19, 2016; the video url: ). It was meant to be a promo of his memoir but it was much more to me.

He might not be my favourite artist or a technical singer but like he says: he’s learned to ‘inhabit his songs’ which makes his songs more believable.  Moreover, his working-class roots makes him seem authentic and relatable. I don’t pretend to be an expert on him (or his numerous works) but it wasn’t until I heard the original acoustic (and much more slower) version of ‘Born in the USA’ that I thought I understood the lyrics and what that song was truly about.

As he says in his interview and his in his new memoir “I wasn’t modest in the assessment of my abilities. Of course, I thought I was a phony (sic). That is the way of the artist. But I also thought I was the realest thing you had ever seen.” It’s about dichotomy, I guess – existing on two different planes at the same time.  For me, a real artist lives (and exists) with contradictions – they are only human after all.

You can watch Part 2 at


July 3, 2017

the other night we watched the musical in the Adelaide Festival Centre with my “youngish” family.  We thought it was quite good and my 13 year old son really liked it.  It was my second favourite of everything I’ve seen (and I’ve watched a few Broadway productions). The kids were amazing.

turn that frown upside down

November 12, 2013

psychologists say that the act of smiling can change your mood.  As anyone that knows me can attest, I’m naturally grumpy – so much so that my son calls me a Grinch even if I’m not anti-Christmas (I’m not a big fan of carols though.) I’ve always believed that one needs to be true to one’s self but trying a “forced” smile is worth it to experience some happiness.

as you like it

August 1, 2013

one of the things i like about Australia is you can like what you  and not give a stuff.  This was markedly different to the culture I grew up in – sure what other’s think is sometimes relevant but most of the time it’s unimportant.   I was first exposed to this in my graduate studies back in 2001.  You  weren’t expected to dress “nice” for everyday events – you could generally ruck up how you please.  The laid-back attitude suited me fine. Don’t get me wrong, I think you need to dress appropriately for each occasion but I’ve always felt that comfort is more important than porma – you tend to be judged on what you wear.

It didn’t matter so much if you prefered a top drop or completely content with a “value” bottle of plonk – all our tastes are different.  Sure, some “gourmets” are considered as wankers but that has more to do with pretense than what they enjoy.  You’re not constantly feeling judged.  Some people think it (that can’t be helped), but at least they generally leave you alone to live your own life.

When a female friend came to stay with us a while, she was pleasantly surprised that no one stared at her every time she dined alone unlike back where we’re originally from.  We told her that’s just the way it is here.  It’s not all good – al cultures are damaged.  We still experience some racism – although it’s much milder now.  We suspect some of it has gone underground with the advent of political correctness.  It’s simply a matter of what you can deal with.  What did Bismark say (something like) :  “Never argue with fools, people might not know the difference.”

I embraced being a nerd back in high school but I think it was more a function of rebellion than anything else I – I have since “accepted” this fact.  This is something from Wil Wheaton, an American actor who was a cast member of Star Trek: The Next Generation: It’s about nerds and being true to yourself.


March 1, 2012

my wife wants to paint the front doors of our new house – i guess i’m not that fussed as i won’t see the exterior that often.