Friday, September 28, 2012

Eye on Australia

Today I read this old post. "Good Omens Observed By a Girl Who's Paranoid and Delusional".

The title was in response to an overzealous atheist who was slightly critical of my blog.

I wrote it a week or two before we left for our 2009 Australia trip.

I loved reading it again, because it talked about me visiting our beloved used bookstore and finding this book....

It's an American book written by a woman named Carolyn Coil.

I forgot what it was about.

I'm skimming through it.

I think it's just about her experiences in Australia.

But the thing is....

I used the book as MY notebook while we were in Australia. 

The notes are what I used later to write my overly detailed trip reports.

The notes weren't actually that detailed; but I guess I wrote enough to jog my memory.

And Jack helped a lot.

He has a good memory.

Here's an example page from the book.

You can see my atrocious handwriting.

The old blog post also mentions my finding of a Time Out Sydney book. We ended up using that a lot.  I think?  I remember it being special to Jack and me.  

In other book news, I just started rereading Bill Bryson's book.

I think the last time I read it I was in the infancy of my Australia obsession. So it might be very different reading it now.

The beginning talks about how Americans usually totally ignore Australia.

Bryson does a news analysis and concludes, Put in the crudest terms, Australia was slightly more important to us in 1997 than bananas, but not nearly as important as ice-cream. 

By the way, for our next Aussie trip, I'm not planning to do the detailed trip reports.  It's too much pressure.  I don't know how I managed the memory skills the first time. I have doubts that I'll be able to repeat it.

I don't want to spend my holiday worrying about it.

I'll probably share a few stories.

And I'm thinking of doing videos.  Maybe some montages.

We'll see.....

I'm also going to try not to go overboard with photos. I'll leave that to Tim.

I think everything interesting in Australia has been photographed a zillion times and is on Flickr.  Is there anything spectacular I can add to that?   Nope.

I want videos.  We've taken very few videos in Australia on our previous trips.   I don't want videos just for my blog, but also just to have for my own pleasure.  


Andrew said...

I find a few notes each day is enough to remind me of where we have been and what we have done on holidays and take photos of signs, shops, cafes and they are in order of what you have done. Receipts and bills are a help too. And DON'T lose the camera!

FruitCake said...

Andrew has offered some excellent advice.

Live the moments as they happen! Have fun and stay safe.

If all else fails, assume the Myki mess was designed specifically with you in mind. If you can't remember something, why not just delude yourself that you did? What you post will be taken in good faith. Unless it is utterly illogical.

Dina said...

Andrew: Very good point about the camera!

Fruitcake: I agree with you about living the moments as they happen. This is SO important to me; and sometimes I fail.

HappyOrganist said...

How cute! What a fun way to take notes :) And good plan to not stress about taking pictures. I try not to take pictures at all anymore, but then I'm too vain - or my kid makes a mess and I grab the camera. =)
I'm this close to sending you pictures of our carpet littered with toilet paper shreds (a la 3yr old) - and then I think "Dina doesn't want to see that. =D" heheheheh

Dina said...


I can't believe you are denying me the pleasure of seeing your carpet littered with toilet paper shreds.

Why in the world are you trying not to take any pictures anymore?????

That's very peculiar. I'm very interested in hearing your reasoning.

Red Nomad OZ said...

Memory is so fickle - but sometimes that's a good thing because it makes one's 'recollections' more interesting than the actual event!

R.H. said...

Just a little further bother for you; what's so special about Australia? Is it the people, the climate, the buildings? Is it the land itself? Surely not (New Zealand it ain't).
Aussies who've been to America will tell you the people there are exactly the same. Other things are better; in place of a Grand Canyon for instance we've got a stupid looking rock sticking up in the desert.
From the 1960s onwards a lot of your TV performers came here to live and work because they couldn't make it in America. Our standards were low, our mentality childish. Whizz-bang made a huge impression. Don lane, Tommy Hanlon, Evie Hayes, Gus Mecurio, were just a few of these second-raters -although Tommy was a pretty good act, I liked him. We were naive, innocent, with no idea our biggest local star Graeme Kennedy was homosexual until years after his death and it came as one hell of a shock. We were innocent, truly. And so were you, in your way.
I don't watch commercial TV, especially where every second word is fuck. I grew up hearing that word from the cradle and I'm totally sick of it. It seems that as I've been reaching upwards for art and education the better classes who possess it have been reaching down. I was raised in a neighbourhood with the front doors open and radio going. People in and out. Stolen goods as well. A TV disappeared from a broken shop window in Chapel Street and next day it was Full House in the front room of old pa Noonan's to watch My Three Sons.
It was typical American sit com, houses all beautiful, wonderfully furnished; families sane, no bashings, alcoholism.
But it went deeper than that, started earlier: my childhood love of America, comic books and movies. Always in my heart I yearned to go there, to be among it and touch it. In 1998 I did go there, and found it most of all, this magic, in Santa Monica while passing a cigar shop one night. The place was closed but the lights were on. In the middle of the floor a bloke sat back in an armchair, showing himself to passers-by while puffing on a big cigar. "To hell with all of you," he seemed to say. "If I want to smoke I'll damn well do it!"
That was it, my childhood culture, what I'd admired: crass, shocking, confidant, defiant America.

Dina said...

Red Nomad Oz,


If I manage to remember stuff; I think my memory is usually fairly accurate. I mean I don't think I usually create or enhance memories. As far as I know.

My problem is simply forgetting certain things. It's a blank for me. Or very hazy.

I guess I could fill in those blanks with pretend stuff. I don't know if I'd want to write it though. Maybe just have it in my head.

But then I'd probably get confused.

Do you embellish your memories? Do you then ever forget what was made up and what was real?

I did twice write fictional novels based on real things that happened to me. But once I wrote them...well, to this day I'm not sure if certain things really happened or if I made them up.

I don't like that feeling.

Dina said...


That question isn't a bother; though I've gotten it a lot and don't have a good answer.

I still don't know WHY Australia. But I do like the people, the climate, the buildings, and the land itself.

I also like the birds a lot.

I agree with you that Australians and Americans are the same. I mean they're different in that each person is different.

And in the past...before there was so much contact, maybe Australians were more about mateship and fair go; and Americans were more about individualism, being workaholics, and plastic surgery.

But now I think our values have blended together. There's probably equal difference from household to household in Australia; than there is comparing American households to Australian ones.

(that sentence is awful...sorry. can't seem to get it right. hopefully you understand what I'm trying to say)

I'm confused. Are you saying Old Pa Noonan stole a TV?

As for American stars moving to Australia....I think it still happens every so often.

One example I can think of is the actress Jane Badler. There are others. There's some singing star???

I guess it's fair since Australians move to America for show business reasons.

Although maybe it's not fair.

Australians come to America and switch to an American accent. And we don't get any Aussie TV, for the most part.

I'm betting American performers come to Australia and are welcomed as Americans.

In America, Australians are pushed to blend in with Americans.

It's sad.

I'm glad you were able to fulfill your dream of visiting America.

Interesting that the highlight was a guy smoking a cigar.

I'm sure you can find that I'll-do-what-I-please attitude in some Australians as well.

Isn't that what a larrikin is?

American sitcoms (to this day) are usually not going to have alcoholism, abuse, and insanity. They're comedies; so they usually stick to more light-hearted topics.

But we do have plenty of abuse and other negativities on our dramas and soap operas.

Oh and reality TV. That has plenty of it. And reality...not on TV has a lot too.

Grand Canyon vs. Uluru. I think it's in the eyes of the beholder. I can't say I'm overly interested in seeing either. If an opportunity came up, I'd be glad. But I doubt I'll cry on my death bed if I miss it.

What else did you see in America...besides the cigar shop?

Is there any place in Australia you like?

You mention NZ. Have you been there?

Where else have you been?

R.H. said...

Old pa wouldn't have pinched the TV himself. Too lazy. He probably sent his boys to do it. They were a family of ten kids.
I said Second-rate entertainers from America moved here, they were never stars back home. But there was a time when just having an American accent got you ahead here. We thought them way superior.

Aussies need to be highly talented to crack it in America. A larrikin is a good bloke who likes misbehaving. The Sentimental Bloke is a larrikin. Marcia Hines could be the singer you're thinking of. I'm actually a fan. I've never heard of Jane Badler.

You've never been to the Grand Canyon? Good heavens! I got a bus there from a youth hostel in Flagstaff. The driver was a jolly old chap wearing a ridiculous bright red sports jacket, if I'd known I'd have worn a ridiculous bright tartan jacket I got from an op shop in San Francisco. We could have had a photo together.
Well I fear seeming like one of those trendy Aussies here who travel to come back and talk about it boring the arse off each other but I went to a lot of places in America and had some funny times. I'm unsure which one to mention. None would be considered Mature Audience Only. I was staying in a youth hostel in Santa Monica, right near the cliffs, it was a very plush joint, everything laid on, huge breakfast with a wide choice. One morning I got on a bus to Rodeo Drive to see what it was all about. During the ride a passenger was bent over the driver, gasbagging him all the way. He reminded me of a mate called Tom: large beefy bloke, totally manic. When I got off the bus at Rodeo Drive this bloke got off too.
He came straight at me, firing about a dozen questions. He was movie mad, terribly excited, turns out he'd recently seen Tommy Lee Jones at some function. Let's get a taxi, he said, give the driver twenty to drive us around Beverly Hills. Next thing I knew he had me in a cab and we were off! When the Beverly Hills Hotel came in sight he got hysterical. "Beverly Hills Hotel!" he hollered, "That's where all the big stars stay!" The driver was ordered to stop, my new buddy leapt out, danced around taking photos. Then we were off into the hills. The driver stopped outside a mansion. "That's where Marilyn Monroe lived," he said. "Marilyn Monroe!" The door flew open and he was out on the road, more photos. "Jane Fonda!" door thrown open, and so on. Eventually something dawned on me. I looked at the drivers mirror to see his face and there was a little smile on it. It made me wonder. Were these really places big stars had lived or was he just picking them at random? I've never been sure. It didn't matter, my big worry was how I'd get rid of my new buddy when we got back to Rodeo. But I needn't have worried at all, soon as we got out of the cab he dismissed me immediately, strode straight off up the hill. I watched for a moment to make sure, then took off in the opposite

I've got a plastic sign in my kitchen. It's about a foot long by four inches. Blue lettering on a yellow background says: ARMED RESPONSE. I pulled it from a fence in Beverly Hills while visiting there on my own a few days later. It fitted into my back pocket very nicely and was hidden with my jumper over it. The sign was falling off the fence anyway, just held there with one piece of rusty wire. But then immediately after I'd pinched it I heard a police siren and nearly shit myself. America is a bad place to get charged with anything, handcuffs straight away.

R.H. said...

The mentally strange in America are all big wide people, very well fed.
I've no idea why

Dina said...


You have some good stories. I hope you share more of them.

I like the term "gasbagging". I'm not sure if I've heard it before or not.

Marcia Hines. Yeah. That's the one.

I can picture your over-excited celebrity spotter.

The tour of maybe-celebrity homes reminds me of when we were in Los Angeles. We had a (not famous) actor with us, and he gave us a tour of celebrity garbage cans.

It was all a joke, of course. But fun.

Who knows what's real and not real on these tours.

Well, I guess we could maybe trust the established tours. They're probably authentic.

I'm not sure about Taxis.

Some might know the trivia. Maybe?

Ha. I was just rereading your part about stealing the sign; wondering how I should respond.

Then our house alarm went off.

As for mentally strange people...we come in all different sizes here.

Then again. I think pretty much EVERYONE is mentally strange.

For me, the opposite of mentally strange is probably corpse.

I guess you loved the Grand Canyon?

Did you ever see Uluru? Have I already asked you that?

R.H. said...

Well we're all cured when we're dead. Mind you, I know a bloke who murdered his mother because a God called Infinity told him to do it. I call that mentally strange. But then he was judged unfit to plead and inherited a million from her estate. How's that. Not bad. It's true. Five years in the nuthouse (The Thomas Embling) and he's free as a bird. On medication mind you, a knock on his door every night when a nurse sails in to see he takes it, but when you work it all out he's way ahead. Even in the Thomas Embling he was going out on his bicycle every day. That's when I used to meet him at posh Camberwell flea market market on Sundays. And he's marvellously charming. It was funny to see. I wondered what all those ladies he was having a joke with would think if they knew he'd killed his mother.
Don't fall for platitudes, there are people seriously mad.

There's a park in Melbourne now called 'Biguerra Marr' (or something). I hear it mentioned and have no idea where it is. I would have known with its original name but now it's gone aboriginal I've no idea. Ayers Rock has become 'Uluru'. How absurd. Really, it's all bullshit.

Dina said...


Yeah. I agree. Some people are seriously mad. Then I think the rest of us are just....well, maybe comically mad? Or mildly mad.

It's unfortunate that sometimes madness ends in murder. But then there's a lot of murder that has nothing to do with insanity.

I like the Uluru name.

I can see though how name changes might be confusing.

R.H. said...

There's a place called Coogee, near Bondi. Coogee means 'stinking place, most people don't know that. My social worker niece gave me a dirty look when I told her.

My sister Mad Lynette is mildly mad. She owns five houses but lives in a tin shed, giggling all night. True.

R.H. said...

Steal property from natives then re-name it in their language. Not a bad trick.

Dina said...


Does Coogee still smell?

I wonder why your niece gave you a dirty look? Was she thinking of stinky smells? Did she not believe you? Did you not like the information?

Giggling all night in a shed. That doesn't sound mild to me.

It sounds a bit spooky.

How long has she been doing that?

Renaming stolen land. Is it a kind gesture; or an empty one? Maybe a little bit of both?

I don't know.

Dina said...

I think it would be very hard to have a sister like that. Kind of depressing.

R.H. said...

Coogee is an abo word. It means stinking place. My niece lives in Coogee, she was driving me along a street there when I told her, just to cause trouble. It's a lovely area, awfully trendy, cafes, cafes, cafes. But she was working in Sutherland, about twenty miles away. Wanting a bit more trouble I suggested she move there and she looked at me like I'd suggested a sex change.
Her face went all funny. "I am NOT leaving the inner suburbs." she said.
Really, it astonishes me that someone paid to tell other people how to live can be so led herself.

My daddy was a great guy but he kept having kids born to him which he saw as a series of misfortunes. In the end he started handing them out on the doorstep to strangers. I was the eldest and the last to go. There are eight of us, some very odd indeed. Mad Lynette isn't the worst case. She's smug, enormously self-assured, stares at you and giggles. I want her locked up, but she knows she's crazy, they can't lock you up when you know you're crazy. Look at what's going on now with Alan Jones. He has a man's balls and a woman's bitchiness. He's a particular kind of homosexual, beyond fear, criticism, shame. He can't be gentrified; can't be rehabilitated, good behaviour is for the nicely brought up.

Dina said...


Your homosexual remark had me googling. I'm still not sure if Jones is really gay. But I was surprised that he had pretty liberal views on homosexuality.

As for your line "good behavior is for the nicely brought up".

I think it would depend on how we define good behavior and nicely brought up.

People have different ideas on that.

Of course there are extremes most of us can agree on. It's not nice to live in extreme poverty, with sexual abuse, neglectful parents who are on drugs, etc.

But I think some people have very shitty lives and still end up acting decently.

So...when your father handed you out to someone? Who did you live with? Did they treat you badly, or okay?

Which sibling has a worst case then Lynette?

Is Lynette ever lucid? Well, I guess she is if she's able to express knowledge of her mental state.

Do you keep in touch with most of your siblings? Are they all in Victoria?

R.H. said...

I’ve never liked social workers, a degree in social work is a degree in gossip.
Busybodies. They talk, that’s all. You see them on Q+A, yak, yak, yak. My niece is high up in it now, lectures students if you please. She’s even got a chapter in a text book published recently. And proud of it? Oh golly! Meanwhile she’s obtained letters, documents: old government reports to do with my family. They describe the dirt, neglect, mattresses on the floor, kids crawling around in a little wooden house. Quite a circus. My father is a drunkard they say, my mother a mental defective (retard). Good heavens, well none of it's complimentary, not to my thinking. But my niece is enormously proud of them, these reports, reads them out at dinner parties.
It’s as though she was part of it. She wasn’t. She’s the daughter of my sister Clara, taken to Sydney as a child by travellers, gypsy types. She never knew her mother, neither did I, but her mother apparently had a fumble with some Asian because my niece is part Chinese.
She was lucky, adopted by a North Shore couple who gave her everything. Put her through university, that’s everything. And she’s turned out nice, a cafĂ© lizard: dark clothing, short hair, arts section of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Lynette and two brothers ended up in Bairnsdale, adopted by wealthy graziers. Sometimes I think of them being put on that train, little tots, taken miles away, and I get melancholy. Then I think some people have a cheek, taking other peoples kids away, but they were better off, there's no arguing that. Eventually she was boarded at Firbank, Brighton, Church of England Girls Grammar School (if you don’t mind!), but she ran away, married a drunk, got rid of him, worked, saved money, began buying real estate. Some of it jumped in value. Plus she’s shrewd, knows a bargain; lots of boyfriends have come and gone, working on her houses. One of these goats played guitar and sang to her, musical evening in the old tin shed. It got her smug. “If you go out you have to pay for that you know.“ Yes indeed, what a saving. She’s miserly, a skinflint, laughs all the time. Well there’s no other defence.

R.H. said...

I should be embarrassed but can't be bothered, not anymore.

Dina said...


I don't see much of a point in being ashamed or proud of upbringing.

It's more about how we turn out. And well, we won't know the full story of how we turned out until after we're dead.

Well, even death doesn't end some people's stories...their impact on the world.

Your family's story is interesting...and sad.

R.H. said...

Well golly me, my quest was to be your favourite commenter, and nothing to do with bust measurement.

Jokes aside, trendy boneheads hate religion.

They should be thankful, if it weren't for Christ I'd have killed about 10,000 people by now.

Dina said...


Being the best commenter on my blog? Yes, that IS the most important quest in the world.

Why isn't everyone else in the world striving for it?

They should!

As for religion. I think it's an excuse for some people do bad. And I think it's an excuse for some people to do good.

Or it gives people a reason NOT to do bad. If Jesus is keeping you from becoming a mass murderer; that's a good thing.

I really don't think it's about religion. It's about the people IN the religions.

There's good and there's bad.

The same goes for the secular/atheist folks.

I disagree with people who think they can't be moral because they don't have a God.

But I also disagree with any atheist who believes they're morally superior because they do NOT have a god.

R.H. said...

Favourite, not best, I never wanted to be best at anything. Americans persist in leaving the U out of words like favourite, they even drop an L from travelling. You should have stayed like us, faithful to the British Queen's English. 1776 was a mistake.

There's a mosque near where I live, I've seen some magnificent examples in the middle east but this one is a bit of a laugh; broken-down little factory building on a corner. I see moslems around there on Fridays and want to hug them; where it matters we're the same.
Athiests don't interest me. They can worship King Nokia, what do I care?

Dina said...


Sometimes I agree with you about 1776.

I had no idea about the other l in travelling.

Does American English look really strange to you? Or are you used to it?

So you can better tolerate those who believe in a different version of your god more than those who believe in no god.

What about those who believe in a completely different set of Gods. Like Hindus?

R.H. said...

No, some of it looks wrong but not strange; don't you write travelling as traveling?
Yes. I respect Christians Jews, Muslims.
The only Hindus I've known are Harry Krishnas. (Joke)
America hotted up the language, gave it zip, anyone wanting to write interesting prose can't afford to ignore some of its slangy and earthy style. I'm thinking of Sinclair Lewis, Henry Miller, Richard Nixon.

Dina said...


Yes I write travelling as traveling.

Sometimes I like to use Australian spelling. Like theatre and centre.

But I don't think I can adopt the two l's in traveling.

With that, I prefer the American.

It's probably laziness. If it's about switching letters If I have to add a letter? No thanks.