Friday, 28 December 2007

The Christmas Jitters!

Christmas means lots of things to many people, but for me, much of it has to do with meeting up with extended family, overeating, and playing lots of games. It also has to do with watching Dancesport and some terrible free-to-air Christmas movies, but those are avoided if possible, especially the latter.

Food was in abundance, and so were games. And relatives. Which meant playing in teams. We pulled out the first two games we could find, and wiped off the thick layer of dust which had acccumulated after possibly over a decade of neglect. One was Pictionary; the other Jitters.

We decided to try Jitters first.

Division was in four teams of two, and Mr Coffee and I were a team. Though most people found they were teams in name only, and much of the game was spent criticising each other's strategy and screeching at their teammate.

The game Jitters is thus named for its Jittery nature. You get a timer and have to make words with dice on cards - the more you make before the timer goes off, the better. And each card has a score according to difficulty. When you have decided you have completed as many as you can, you lock your point score in by switching off the timer. But if you take a card and don't finish it before your timer is up, you lose all your points for that round, including any cards you may have successfully completed.

Jitters was very successful as it was not only fun but brought out our character traits.

For instance, my cousin lazily let his fiancee do most of the work, but when she had finished a card, often frustrated her efforts, even though they were on the same team - which caused her to screech almost every round. Mr Coffee accused me of being bad at rolling dice and hiding cards from him (who, me?).

Now, perhaps that's not quite as deep as showing the relationship we all had with our mothers, but Jitters is on to something. Should be a compulsory accessory to every counsellor's kit.

World Knowledge

This man (Daniel Geale) just became IBO world middleweight champion. And he's Australian. But most people don't know about him.

He said in a recent interview:

"Am I Australia's least known world champion? Yeah probably." with a laugh.

I assure Daniel Geale that I don't know of any other Australian world champion that I know of less than I know of him. There, boy!

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Mismatched Sporting Opportunities

Before I start on a Christmas dissection, I just read a bit in the paper where a journalist was defending soccer (no, he wasn't the goalkeeper).

He was trying to explain that it really was a very exciting game, even if snobs in rugby looked down at it as a sport for the numerically challenged who couldn't understand the complexities of rugby scoring.


Since when did difficult numerics come into rugby, either? This kind of reminds me of the Sixteen going On Seventeen song from the Sound of Music, where the pompous ass seventeen year old thinks he's great guns for being seventeen and not sixteen. Whoopie-doo! Rugby includes something like having to add fours, twos and ones (as opposed to having to just add ones, as in soccer). Which may be brain-bending for some rugby players, but pretty much a laugh for most of us who passed first grade.

Even slightly challenging mathematics isn't something often associated with rugby, so why even bother boasting about the difficult maths needed for your sport? It should be kept simple (for the life of me, I don't see why the 15, 30, 40 is needed in tennis).

Just the same way as chess isn't associated with boxing. But for some reason which boggles the brain, some people with a real sense of humour have put together the sport of chess boxing , combining the two popular competition activities, so while they're sitting down waiting for sudoku wrestling and Scrabble weightlifting to make its mark, I'm going to suggest Rugby Calculus Tournaments.

What sort of mismatched Sporting & Gaming Comps would you love to see - and perhaps get involved in?

Thursday, 20 December 2007

They Were Such Big-Spirited Reindeer, Weren't They?

I never quite related to the Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer song.

There's Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, see. And then there's Rudolph, see. The Classic odd one out. The school nerd. The one with the big fat red nose, the one who gets kicked around in the playground in the playground and teased by all his peers.

That part I get.

Then one day, according to the song, Santa comes along and says Rudolph is actually fantastic, and won't he be the Captain of the team and lead the other reindeer around by the nose, so to speak?

And the song says "Then all the reindeer loved him, and they shouted out with glee, 'Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, you'll go down in history!'"

That bit I don't get.

If the bullied school nerd goes one second from nerd to teacher's pet and gets to lead the popular kids around simply because teacher says so, do you reckon the popular kids would be loving him and jumping for joy?

I think not.

I think the popular kids would dump on him even more, and call him Mr-Suck-Up, and plot evil ways to do away with him. But no, the song goes, they loved him.

Such big-hearted reindeer.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Osama Got Run Over By a Reindeer

Inspired by TimT's post on Christmas Carols I thought I'd add a carol I'd heard on radio recently.

Usually I'm not big on carols that are Aussified versions of the original carol. Mostly they aren't that well sung, and not very witty.

On the other hand, this was a modern American version of a carol, and while it doesn't bring the "Joy to the World" that "Silent Night" or "Jingle Bells" does, the lyrics are worth a peek, I think.

Osama got run over by a reindeer
Walking out of his cave Christmas eve
You can say there's no such thing as Santa
But as for we in America, we believe

He'd been blowing up too many buildings
So we said he had to go
But he hid in his cave in Afghanistan
Defiant as he was, he said, "Hell, no!"
When we found him Christmas morning
It was clear he'd been attacked
There was a note stuck to his forehead
It said, "Either give up now or we'll go bomb Iraq!"

(repeat chorus)

Now we're all so proud of George Bush
He's been taking this so well
See him in the Oval Office
Knowing that Osama's really going to Hell
It's not Christmas with bin Laden
Nor for Saddam in Iraq
And we just can't help but wonder
Should we go bomb Baghdad in a sneak attack?
(Bomb Iraq!)

(repeat chorus)

Now the cards are on the table
See George W. dance a jig (Ah!)
And the red, white, and blue candles
(Gore thought that the election had been rigged!)
I warned all you stinkin' terrorists
Better watch out for yourselves!
They should not make hijacking weapons
Out of stuff that you would find upon the shelves!

(repeat chorus)

Sing it, George W.!

(repeat chorus)

Saturday, 15 December 2007

The Philosophy of Shopping: Need not Greed

I have done my Christmas shopping, and I'm kind of proud of myself, but it doesn't stop me shopping, especially when it comes to books.

I once read an old maxim "Need, not Greed" ought to be applied to shopping. Funnily enough, I can apply this to many things, food, clothes, whether to really pay uni fees or not. I manage to go about in unfashionable clothes - or fashionable clothes, so long as I wait 10 or 11 years, and fashion does the full circle, and pyjamas with holes in the knees, convincing myself that it's greed to lash out on more because the legs are still good. Or at least there is still a bit of fabric that covers me, anyhow. Or a bit of me.

However, the same maxim doesn't apply to two things: boooks, and useless odds and ends found in markets and discount shops. If there's a cool ceramic turtle going for a few dollars, certainly, it can be bought. Need? I just do. And besides, it's only a few dollars.

And books. Well, everyone needs three copies of their favourites, and besides, several bookcases of books you haven't read yet just makes you feel smarter.

Osaka ... Okinawa ... sounds (kinda) the same, looks (kinda) the same, feels (kinda) the same ...

My brother just left Australia for Japan. He'll be visiting Tokyo and Osaka.

Whenever I hear Osaka, I usually say, "Oh, where Mr Miyagi came from!"

This is embarrassing for two reasons.

Number one because it gives away that I watched the Karate Kid, enough to remember Mr Miyagi and have a vague recollection of some of the dialogue.

Number two, because Mr Miyagi actually came from Okinawa.

Well, they sound the same to me. They start with O's and end in a's and have k's in them, what else do you expect? They are also supposedly Japanese-ish, well that's what people get from the screen promotions.

I would be extremely humiliated if it weren't for the fact that I remember the old dictum - there's always someone more embarrassing than you. There was a much older man than me who believed that all real karate was taught to students by waxing cars and painting fences by short Japanese men. And other stuff was fake. He was very sincere in his convictions, and I'm sure he believed there were little Mr Miyagis in backyards all over the world looking out for bashed up young boys and ready to teach them the Way of the Catching Flies with Chopsticks.

Considering karate lessons don't exactly always come cheaply, if you could get a little band of car-waxers, fence painters and floor sanders for it ... nice job being a karate instructor ...

P.S. The pictures below are pure indulgence.

Friday, 14 December 2007

To State the Blinkin' Obvious

To state the blinking obvious, I haven't posted many blogs this December. Like ... one so far. Besides this.

This is partly slackness, and partly because I've been busy, and partly because I haven't had the urge to write a great deal - at least not blog-wise.

On reflection, some years you have shite years. While it seems superstitious, often you get this feeling it's moving in cycles. And some, you have excellent ones, and some are somewhere in between. I have been blessed. While this year hasn't been perfect - what year is - I can say that I think I've had a better than average year. And then I've been talking to friends and it seems that on average, unfortunately, some of them haven't had the best of years, so I can count myself fortunate.

And can just hope that for everyone, friends and family, things look up in 2008 - the very best is yet to come for them.

Sunday, 9 December 2007


Each year, my Mum makes her Christmas pudding, and this is was my first taste of it today.

Unlike cheesecake, and lemon tarts, and chocolate mousse, which are just plain good, this is tradition, so it must be good.

It means lots of fruit (which is good) and rolled into a cakey mixture and boiled in a towel, so it comes out nice and round. Then it is eaten with ice cream or custard, which is good.

A lot of good heart and effort is put into it.

I am not a big fan of red and green gelatin bits, but Mum cuts down on these and concentrates on the raisins, and nuts, so that is another very good feature.

All in all, while I am not the hugest fan of fruit puddings, Mum does an excellently good job of her Christmas pudding.