Saturday, October 1, 2011

Learning about Australia: The Footy Championships!

Footy, sport of the ruling class!

Being new to Australia I have been working hard trying to learn about the place so I don’t seem like a complete buffoon. As difficult as that task may seem to most of you, I have succeeded surprisingly well. The main reason for my success is due to the fact that I have hardly spoken to anyone in the past week or so. Communication for me has regressed back to a series of nods and grunts (as opposed to nods, grunts and hand signals). Aside from my few sojourns to the local nudie beach, I have limited myself to hanging about the house, tidying up the place and solitary walks along the bluffs and through wine country. This has been nice, but it has taught me little about the culture. So today I have dedicated myself to watching the “Footy Finals” otherwise known as the AFL Premiers Cup, or Aussie rules football championships. Here is what I have learned:
A)     No matter how much scorn the majority of Australians hold for Adelaide, the weather is better here today than it is in Melbourne. Sure that may not matter to you, but it would if you were at the Footy Finals. This is because the big news of the day was whether or not rock star Meatloaf, or “Loaf” would cancel his pregame concert. All I can say is that if the game were in Adelaide, the weather would have been fine. Despite some wind, the sun is shining here at nudie beach.

B)      Meatloaf is the biggest selling foreign artist in Australia. I was very surprised to see that anyone cared about his appearance, but clearly people were worried. The only parallel I can think of is the uncanny popularity of The Carpenters among Japanese college students. When I visited Japan in 2005 I was very surprised that all my friends were sing Carpenters songs at karaoke. It was amazing. They knew most of their hits, and probably some of their B sides. It was a strange phenomenon. I doubt that most Americans in their 20’s have even heard of The Carpenters, let alone knew their songs by heart. I have to assume it is the same with “Loaf” here down under. This fact has been mentally noted.

C)      Meatloaf did NOT cancel. As they say, “Loaf” must have “hardened the f__k up!” because after being escorted to the stage by half a dozen Harley riders, Loaf proceeded to show the world why the world has forgotten about him. His “performance” consisted of a quick 7 songs, two of which I had heard previously. As with many aging rockers, “Loaf” was supported by a much more talented backing band, the “backup singer” being the actual lead singer. He strutted about the stage as much as a man who is aptly named Meatloaf can, and his singing was best when he was pausing to breathe. The most pathetic aspect of the show was when he tried for “audience participation” one of the saddest tropes in rock and roll. The highlight of the show was that “Loaf’s” microphone was turned down so low he was difficult to hear.

D)     The shorts. Yes, I am “not a gay” though I have many gay-centric tendencies. One of the last things I bought in the US was a vintage copy of Jane Austen’s “Persuasion” and I got it for a bargain. Being comfortable with my “heterosexuality” I simply do not see the problem in admiring world cl-ass ass-thletes in some tight, sensual, revealing, shorts.

E)      The Australian national anthem mentions: gold, soil, and history’s pages. It does not mention ‘roos, dingo’s, or Vegemite. I never would have guessed. It is also fairly short.

F)      Game on. Now I need to try and figure out how the game works. A guy just kicked a field goal for the Geelong Cats. Meow. And the game is underway. It seems that this game is a combo of soccer, volleyball, and field goal kicking. There are no cheerleaders. One complaint I have is that the Collingwood Magpies (“pies”) are wearing uniforms with black and white vertical stripes, which makes them look like referees. This is quite confusing. As are all aspects of play.

G)     Resting. I find that watching the footy finals is a great opportunity to rest. I closed my eyes while concentrating on the rules of Aussie rules, and when I was done meditating, the score was 45 to 35, Pies.

H)     Injuries. A Cats player got his shoulder dislocated. The medical team was attempting to put the shoulder back in while he was on the field to save time so he could get back into the game. They ended up having to get him “stretchered” off the field, losing 20 minutes. He will get his shoulder relocated, inject painkillers, and send him back in. Either footy players are incredibly tough, or astoundingly stupid.

I)        Halftime. After the pregame performance from “Loaf” the viewer is left with little or no information about the halftime entertainment. I am personally hoping for a kangaroo rodeo.  So far they are playing Link Wray's "Rumble" at a high volume and showing people talking about sports. Not bad. Also footy locker rooms have no benches and the players sit on the floor. It seems that they will be having a sprinting race which is a “time honored tradition”! Patrick Dangerfield of the Adelaide Crows just won!!! $5,000!

J)       Bikie wars. Is it sad that I find myself much more interested in a news story about the possibility of bikie (bike gang) wars? It seems a gang member’s son was killed by rivals, revenge is probably in the works. I can’t help thinking that the word “bikie” sounds hilariously cute. This of course is not to be confused with “bikkie” which is a cookie, or a savory cracker. I cannot remember.

I have decided to watch the second half with the volume off playing guitar. If I learn anymore about footie, I will include it in my next entry. Cheers!
Note: In the end Geelong won. It changed my life.

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