Friday, January 30, 2009

Ugly Aussies raise their heads

Sure, I've aired my opinion about all this Aussie flag flying fervour, so it's only to be expected that the other side of this debate would raise its head - in this case a rather ugly, close cropped, white supremacist kinda head.

Doing a search on the Australian flag in facebook groups took me to this charming site: 'People who find the Australian flag offensive should GET THE FUCK OUT!'

Not sure where the fuck out I'm supposed to go, but I think their logic that anyone who doesn't sport a flag out of every orrifice on Australia Day finds the flag offensive it quite fatally flawed.

There are a whole bunch of arguments in this group based around some council's decision to remove a flag on safety reasons that the 8,000-plus people in this group see as completely un-orstrayen... and somehow linked to the 'foreign invaders' in our midst.

And for the record, I'm your classic Anglo-Scot-Irish mongrel 4th generation Aussie, so no, I'm not pushing any racial barrow here.

But I am deeply ashamed when I read posts like this one from Victor Young, shown in his facebook profile pic with a young child in his arms:

Victor Young wrote
at 10:02am
there's nothing wrong with the australian flag, if u dont like the flag fuck off to another country and ian i quote "But this 'fuck off we're full' attitude is deplorable, and to my eyes - extremely un-Australian", it's not deplorable, we r getting full of pricks that come here and cant even speak our language and the citizen test is a load of shit, if u cant speak english, Fuck off we're ARE full, there is only so many jobs at the 7-11's.

I'd suggest Victor that if you're typical of the type of person that flies the Australian flag on Australia Day, then leave me out of it. This is deep south US of A circa 1950 sorta language.

I'd go as far to say Victor, that if you can't write proper English, should u also fuck off?

Surely, of the 8,000 people in this group, the vast majority couldn't possibly share these views? Could they? At this stage, the silence is deafening.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm over the Aussie flag

Is it just me, or was this Australia Day a virtual patchwork quilt of Aussie flags flying from every vehicular orifice available?

I spent the long weekend up at Lancelin, two hours north of Perth, and the number of flags rose proportionately with the number of dirt / quad bikes on the back of trailers hitched up to preposterously large SUVs.

Greath swathes of sand dune conquering machinery festooned with the Aussie flag were lined up at the back of the bakery, as singleted, sand blown occupants spilled forth like ants joining the queue for their meat pies and iced coffee.

I am SO over that bloody flag.

The only saving grace was not actually seeing anyone wearing it this year. But there were plenty of board shorts, hats, bikinis and YES, singlets adorned with the Union Jack and its little mate the Southern Cross to make up for it.

What is it with all this OTT patriotism? Good lord, there was even a young bloke in the weekend paper getting the Southern Cross tattooed across his torso.

Funny thing is, I don't actually know anyone who had a car flag, or any other flag for that matter. Despite the fact that in Lancelin - and no doubt across WA - there were at least three flags for every man, woman, child and dog.

Is the crowd I mix with un-Australian? Is the fact that we find all this nationalist fervour somewhat cringeworthy a bad thing? I suspect not. At least we weren't hitting each other over the head with beer bottles.

But what is un-Australian is the fact that my local butcher ran out of lamb chops! Sam Kekovich's head finally made its way into my subconscious and I took heed of his mantra only for my butcher to let the side - no, no, the country - down.

Then the Aussie cricket team posted an epic-fail to lose the current series 3-1 and all of a sudden I didn't know what country I was in. I had a chicken stir-fry and watched a French film on SBS.

I WILL take the Christmas tree down next weekend...

Monday, January 19, 2009

WA Monopoly champ 'fesses up

In a move that has the online community tearing at its thinning hair and gnashing its collective teeth, The Perth Files can today announce that it has signed up the 2009 Western Australian Monopoly Champion to the team.

Yes, The Perth Files is now the unofficial (cause we like it like that) blog of choice for Graham 'The Marlborough Man' Mason - 6PR producer extraordinaire, Hawthorn FC fanatic, purveyor of fine wines and NOW, WA's very own Monopoly Champion for 2009.

We caught up with the King of Free Parking at his luxury games room retreat on the outskirts of Perth. Wearing a toga and grinning like he'd just had a touch up from big Buddy Franklin himself, Mason welcomed The Perth Files and our six pack of Emu Bitter with open arms.

So mate, let's not beat around the bush here, what's the most blatant cheat you’ve ever seen?

I must say as there were plenty of judges floating around at the WA state championships and plenty of eagle-eyed competitiors, I'm not sure that any cheating went on.

On a personal level, I have added the odd number to the dice when I have played against my kids for fear of being eliminated early. If they're not alert to it, then fair move, play on. Did I mention they're only eight? Also when controlling the bank, I may have slipped the odd extra $100 into my kick when passing 'Go'. But nothing major.

Does violence ever come into the game and describe the biggest pain in the arse player you've met?

No violence at the state champs, unfortunately. In my past I did once have an anger management issue and was guilty of kicking over the table in disgust on a couple of occassions. But after being hauled up before the Monopoly judiciary and being given a last chance reprimand I began to curb my ways.

I went for the subtle, less obvious stuff rather that the grandstanding trashing of the board style-gig.

There are small things you can do to unsettle opponents. Without giving too much away, one tactic is to throw the dice in an opponent's eye when it's your turn. A simple raised hand, 'sorry mate, it slipped' apology usually gets you off the hook. Just make out that you're Peter Sumich kicking at goal and you have no idea where the ball/dice is going to go. Hell, he made a career out of that.

Free parking cash bonus or no free parking?

I'm a traditionalist. Free parking is just that, free parking. No cash bonus. Same as in life.

--- at this point TPF throws a bottle cap at Mason and the term wanker may have been deployed. A return deployment of dice at speed draws blood ---

Can you play monopoly drunk?

I have played Monopoly after I have had a few and it is in a word, chaos. It simply becomes impossible to fathom monetary denominations and do simple mathematical equations.

Monopoly skulls was a big game at university. One of the dullest plays in Monopoly is when you land on your own property - nothing happens. So my uni buddy Otis and I instituted the shot of tequila for when you landed on your own property. No comment on what happened when you landed on the "Go directly to jail" square.

So what piece are you - I'm thinking Graham 'The Iron' Mason?

Not sure about Graham "the Iron" Mason although it is probably better than "The Thimble". I was thinking of "The Marlborough Man" in honour of my favourite property, Marlborough Street, on my favourite colour group - the orange set.

where did you hone your skills? The family holiday house during breaks in the Boxing Day test matches?

I've played Monopoly since I was about 7 and come from a big board game playing tradition. Board games over computer games, any day. School holidays were always massive for Monopoly. OK, so I didn't have much of a life!

Hawthorn is touring the Premiership Cup, if you win in Vegas, will you tour the Monopoly Cup? Is it a cup, or is it a racing car, or top hat perhaps?

Mate, if I win the Monopoly World Title, did I mention it is being held in Las Vegas (sorry, that's Vegas, baby, Vegas) I will be touring the cup everywhere.

The last Australian to win the world title was back in 1983 (also a Hawthorn premiership year I note). Not sure what the physical prize is, but there is a US$20,000 cheque and the way the $Aussie is behaving that may be a king's ransom come October.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I still have the nationals in Melbourne in March and has all sporting greats say, I'm just taking it one game at a time.

Is the missus concerned about Monopoly groupies - the Bond Street Babes or Whitehall Ho's for example?

The wife is pretty keen to accompany me to Melbourne for the nationals and I suspect you have hit the nail on the head, it is in fact to head off the groupies, or "Monopoly moles" as she calls them. Or it might just be the shopping, the latter I suspect. I don't know, what is the classic Monopoly pick-up line, "fancy coming back to my place?" All the better if it's Mayfair or Park Lane and not Old Kent Road. It's all about "location, location, location".

Can The Perth Files join you for an official training session and better still, can we host it in a pub?

More than happy to indulge The Perth Files in a Monopoly session. And obviously it would have to be in a pub. I'll put a call into Otis and bring back "The Monopoly Tequilla Sessions."

Thank you for your time Graham and mate, since I supplied the grog, any chance of whacking some party pies in the oven?

So there you go folks, he is da man. The Marlborough Man Mason will contest the Australian Championships in Melbourne shortly, atop of Bruno Grollo's mammoth Eureka Towers complex.

If you want to join The Perth Files for a sneak peak into the training techniques of this great man - and get on the turps - leave me a comment right here, or do not pass go...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Burn baby, burn!

Standing in the backyard yesterday it was easy to think a storm was brewing. Thick, bulbous clouds massed around the city and a similar storm head was pushing high into the sky over the back of Osborne Park.

But they weren't clouds of course, they were thick plumes of smoke from fires raging in Kings Park and... well, I don't know exactly where the other fire was.

Further north another loose-head pyromaniac was fiddling about with the Red Head matches in the Yanchep National Park and down south the bush around Bridgetown was about to be torched.

With the temperature nudging 42 degrees celcius, it was odds on that the fire nuts would come out to play, particularly with the Sydney blazes featuring heavily in the news.

I'm told that a lot of fires are actually started by volunteer firies who are keen to see action, but that's not a path I want to go down. I've heard enough stories about walls of flame that charge down valleys like blazing tsunamis to know that it's a job only for those with the sizeable cojones.

Today it would seem that Kings Park is 'contained', albeit scarred and blackened across a wide area, but Yanchep and Bridgetown continue to burn. Smoke hangs heavy across a large part of WA, including the Perth suburbs where I'm at.

Right now I'm sitting here looking out across a Beijing-like skyline, wearing a shirt that's soaked up its own small part of the Kings Park smoke. I wonder if the foreshore ferris wheel kept turning during the fire? Seems almost perverse really to think that people were paying $15 a pop to watch the city's landmark burn, but hey, you gotta make your money where you can get it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Take your flag and stick it!

So here we go, another Australia Day around the corner and another 50,000 drunken yobs in boardshorts and Bintang singlets careening around draped in the national flag shouting, 'Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oy! Oy! Oy!'

Please, give me a break! I love living in this joint as much as the next bloke - unless he's the homeless person, in prison, or biding his time in a mouldy detention centre of course - but, enough with the nationalistic (is that a word?) flag waving fervour.

Wrapping the flag around your shoulders doesn't suddenly transform you from a boorish yob to one of our country's proud pioneers. It just makes you a nob. Pauline Hanson did it for fu&#@ sake and she's a ranga to boot!

And of course our esteemed newspaper has got in on the act and is selling the flag for $2 a pop. They even got Matt Rosa and Matt Pridis from the Eagles to help spruke the booty:

To help others get into the spirit of the day, The West Australian is offering readers the opportunity to grab an Australia Day flag for just $2. From tomorrow, readers can get their coupon in The West Australian and redeem it at participating newsagencies for a flag to wave at the fireworks or put on the car.

With only 50,000 flags on offer, Rosa said he wasn’t taking any chances. “I’m going to stick it on the car. It’s a really good idea,” he said.

Yep, only 50,000 - a nice $100,000 into The West's kitty, minus of course the cost of producing the flags. Made in China perhaps? Yeah, really good idea Matt.

These flags are of the really annoying variety that people clip to their car windows. 'Hello, yes, I'm an Australian and I have a friggen flag to prove it!'

Good lord people, you don't need to have the flag hanging from every orrifice to be a good Australian. We aren't Americans yet. And dare I ask what about the Aboriginal flag - where does that fit into the scheme of things?

Ah bugger it, pass me a beer and a burnt snag. Oy, fricken oy!

Will YOU be wearing the flag on Australia Day???

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The last Bushism?

In his second to last public address, George 'Dubbya' Bush has given us a Bushism to truly remember. "I think the American people have misunderestimated me..."

Yes George, I think they did. In fact, I think the whole world has misunderestimated you, but not to worry. Not long now and you'll be able to join JW Howard in retirement, roping a few steers and hanging out in your tassled chapps.

Thanks for the laughs and watch out for them spurs.

Your favourite Bushisms???

Monday, January 12, 2009

Perth International Beer Fest

Great work from Stu at YelPar for this invigorating bitch about the Perth International Beer Fest over the weekend.

Of course, my good mate The Lazy Aussie thought it was a motza for The Worst of Perth as well. Truly a grand Worst - if the reports are correct.

I'm loving the fact that according to our spies, punters lined up for over an hour, only to line up again at one of the beer 'tents' to be handed a warm bottle of something not very exotic at all.

Indeed, one of my colleagues here in the Hub commented, "I didn't mind it, but that was because I was pissed when I got there. You'd have to be pissed to enjoy it".

Shame Perth, shame. I think you'd find a better time swigging a bottle of Stones Green Ginger wine on the Cottesloe foreshore, watching out for sharks. If the rozzers don't get you of course...

Friday, January 09, 2009

Six metre monster shark menaces Perth

Yeah, it's the sort of headline that drags you in doesn't it? In a sense it's true - there probably is a six metre white pointer somewhere off the WA coast, maybe closer to Antarctica than Cottesloe Beach, but by god the bugger's out there... waiting for its chance to hit our shores, gnashing its teeth and snapping surf skis in half like, well, like... surf skis.

These monsters live in our heads and I dare any one of you to make the claim that you never ever think - just for a fraction of a second - that there might be a big Noah's Ark with your name on it just about to burst through the next wave.

Like most gen-Xers and probably most baby boomers, I live by a creed of 'never turn your back to the sea'. It's in those moments, no matter how brief, that something built like a combi van with dead black eyes and a mouth like a cave filled with razor sharp stallectites, will suddenly appear from the 'dark patch'.

You know the dark patch? It's that bit where you can no longer see the sandy bottom. That bit that you glimpse when you open your eyes under water only to see multitudes of shifty shadows darting your way. I steer clear of the dark water. I fancy that if that hungry behemoth crosses from dark to light, I'll at least have a couple of seconds on my side to churn my way to shore.

I've seen a shark or two in my life. I've even caught two small bronze whalers and eaten the proceeds, so I know there are family out there with a reason to want me chewed on.

In one trip to Esperance alone I saw the mo-fo of all great white fins breach the foreshore surface and cruise silently between me and about a dozen surfers before sliding under again. I didn't say a word.

The next day we watched two gents of southern European experience frolicking with a school of dolphins in a remote bay. "Come and see the dolphin - is swimming with us yes?" It was quite a sight to see how quickly two men can exit the water when they're told the dolphins are actually tiger sharks feeding on salmon. One of them kept swimming right up the slope of the granite rocks leading down to the bay. Blood everywhere!

But we all let our guards down at times, despite the clear and present danger that Jaws taught us was lurking EVERYWHERE.

I'll never forget the day I was surfing at Cottesloe, on the Leighton side of the groin (meant to throw in a testicular shrinkage pun here, but forgot - thanks for pointing out my 'groyne problems '') very late in the day. My mate had gone in about 10 minutes earlier, but I just wanted to catch one more wave.

The water was dark and almost oily with a thick layer of weed that pulled at your legs and arms as you paddled. The light was almost gone, so I sat up on the board and swung around to the horizon to see if any small sets were coming through.

It was then that I heard a splash to one side. A loud slap on the surface.

I whipped around and could see that something had broken through the weed about a metre away. Too close, no matter what it was. I lay flat on the deck and reached in to start paddling.

Suddenly a black mass burst through the weed about three feet from my face.

It was a seal. A damned seal, that had my heart punching its way out of my wetsuit.

Jaws had been the first blow to my life as a part-time surfer and that seal was without doubt the mortal wound. I could never quite relax after that and if you can't relax while you're having a surf, then what is the point I ask?

These days I still love a dip in the briny and I know that my chances of being shark chum are very, very slim, but there's no escaping those nasty thoughts. And who could blame me right now with the sort of headlines and constant parade of sharkies we see in the media every second day?

And I know you're all suckers for a good shark tale, because in the past three weeks I must have had over 600 hits to this site thanks to Google searches on 'shark sightings in Perth'.

So now that you're here, tell me why? What is it about those beasties from the deep that float, ahem (sink) your boat? For now I'll keep one eye on the latest happenings and the other on the sea [cue Jaws soundtrack here...]


Monday, January 05, 2009

Perth shark sightings - the real story

I thought that since 80% of the traffic coming to this site was linked to Google searches for 'Perth shark sightings', it would be remiss of me not to add to the discussion.

What a lot of people don't know - and I probably shouldn't be divulging this sort of information online - is that we've seen an increasing number of large sharks off Perth beaches this summer for one simple reason - the Cottesloe pylon and its dramatic lean.

Yup, that leaning tower of cancer ridden concrete that sits in the middle of the Cottesloe Beach bay plays a far greater role in shark protection than anyone, particularly government, cares to admit.

You won't read about it in the history books, but that pylon actually contains some of the most radical technology to come out of Soviet Russia during World War II.

A chap by the name of Vladmir Solsvensky bought this particular technology with him when he landed on our shores in 1935. The device, about the size of a football with a long tubular antenae, was designed to cripple the radar systems of German U-Boats when they strayed within 5km. More importantly it jammed weapons systems, rendering submarines useless, and had an in-built power generation unit that ran on sea water... the technical details I can't explain.

And so Vladmir just happened to raise this technology with a local councillor from the Cottesloe region over a few Swan Lagers one evening and the rest, as they say, is history.

The councillor had the device installed into one of a number of pylons installed in 1936 that were supposed to be anchor points for a vast shark net in the bay. Of course, the central pylon containing the anti-sub device was the most highly fortified and the only structure to remain after a storm swept in and knocked all the others down.

This is where it gets really interesting...

While there were no submarines to repel, over the course of the next 12 months the local authorities and surf lifesaving patrols noted a distinct drop-off in the number of shark sitings off the coast of Perth, at Cottesloe and Swanbourne in particular.

Vladmir insisted that it was his device that was now working to scramble the sharks' radars and detering them from venturing too close to shore. Alas, the Russian died in 1938 and knowledge of his device went with him to his grave.

Only the original councillor now knew what was really in that pylon, but he dare not speak for fear of retribution at having installed the device in the first place.

Over the next 70 years the effects of weather, vandalism and human modification have seen the effectiveness of the anti-shark device slowly wane. In recent years, as the pylon took on its distinct lean, the signals have almost disappeared.

This summer alone we've had shark sitings on a daily basis, many of these creatures well over four metres in length.

To be honest, I don't know if the sharks really pose a threat to humans, but I reckon old Vladmir's invention has probably saved at least a few swimmers from a close encounter of the very worst kind.