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The only man in China who likes Australia…

…the movie.

And I am glad I saw it.

australia

I had some time in Beijing, between the blizzard of social connects and meetings that are part of any trip I take outside of Guangzhou, to see the movie Australia. I don’t make it up north very much anymore so I  try to maximize my time while still managing to squeeze in a little enjoyment: seeing a movie, bravely foolishly curiously trying some new local dish, making new friends, enjoying a movie or cherishing a few moments with old acquaintances. I did all of that over two snow scattered days in the capital city.

The only movie showing at a time that would fit into my schedule was the aforementioned blunder from down under. Australia is a cinematic muddle of  magic, mystery, murder, military, melodrama megalomania, and memoirs from a bigot ridden outback….It is so bad that it is a sure bet we will see it again on Hong Kong’s ATV or CCTV here in mainland China.

But, I am glad I saw it.

The movie wandered the bush in search of a theme and stumbled over romance, history, allegory, and object lesson before falling down on a soft core adult tenor via a buffed up Wolverine bathing out of a bucket (and no, the consonance decided on itself…) in front of a barren, befuddled and buffoonish Nicole Kidman.

But I am glad I saw it.

All kidding aside, and man is that a Crocodile Dundelean feat, I learned a lot:

The Japanese rained down more bombs on the port at Darwin than it did two months earlier at Pearl Harbor in the 40’s. And they attacked another 63 times over the next two years to bring Australia as close as it has ever been to war on its own soil. That one reviewer of the film, and one Wiki entry, calls the assaults on Darwin “Australia’s Pearl Harbor” is exactly why I am glad I watched the movie….

A few days ago, if you will permit me a rare digression, I read a viral email sent to me by a “conservative” friend ( conservative is a euphemism, but as close as I can come without risking war on my own turf) who lives in America (the part with 50 states)… He and the email author somehow did not know that Australia had elected a new Prime Minister nor that the alleged PM had not boldly declared that Muslims should denounce their heretical ways and swim off to calmer spiritual waters–while hopefully meeting and greeting several sharks along the way–in an effort to ethnically cleanse Australia….The email was likely designed by an American and meant to give credence to some nationalist notions that U.S. borders should be closed, job stealing wet-backs flung back into the Rio Grande in order that we might realize a new prosperity: thousands of t-shirt assembly-line jobs, radish picking tasks and domestic helper slots that will vault us out of our recession far better than any stimulus package.

When did we become an ethnocentric melting pot? (That is only an oxymoron if you don’t believe that the National and American Leagues can collide at the end of the year and actually play a “World” Series in baseball.) And just so you know, I am guilty too of narrow thinking despite three decades abroad: You mean WWII was not just the U.S. against the forces of evil? The Allies (a close knit group of American G.I.s) didn’t single-handedly saved the world from the dreadful grammar of the Germans and the limited syllabary and endless bowing of the Japanese? I confess to never knowing before this movie that the country, who has battled and died alongside America in every major war and conflict in the last 70 years, suffered the loss of so many lives in Darwin.

Oh, and just for the record I learned from my good friend Des that “Waltzing Matilda” is no more the National Anthem of Australia anymore than “Danny Boy” is the musical representative of Ireland…;-)

We all need a culural wake up once in a while. I thank the the director of Australia–wherever he is in hiding–for mine…

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Chinese Twitter and the #080808 Twolympics

A 4th year Chinese student in IT dropped by today and laughed at me spending as much time delighted by news appearing on my i-Phone as on the television. It took a long time to explain to someone, who isn’t even allowed a TV in his dorm or access to much outside of the school intra-net, that I was (insert wry smile here) “riding a wave into the future of social media”  I was “tweeting” a story about an Olympic medalist friend of mine and realized that the student  was not even alive when my buddy won his cache of medals. But, I am lucky enough to stay young and trendy (2nd wry smile goes here) because I play in the social end of the web’s information pool.

I have virtually stopped using my RSS news readers since social media ‘s soup of the day, Twitter, saw its user base explode in recent months. I get sent (tweeted) dozens of links a day that I dutifully follow to viral fun and even breaking news that might not have reach me via email alert for several more hours.

Twitter Olympics

Twitter + Olympics

I have also have made a host of new “friends’ around the globe. The blogosphere, before I slowed down my postings, brought me almost daily into a cohesive network that connected me to dozens of like (and not-so-like) minds in China and elsewhere. Debate, helpful web information, coping strategies and places for fun and personal development appeared in ping-backs, linked posts and comment threads that I would discover via statistics programs, and aggregation tools like Technorati.

These days most of the news, reviews and acerbic boos I track are first broadcast in real time over Twitter, Friendfeed and Facebook. And yesterday’s hash mash (a way to view aggregated info on a single topic)  during the Olympic Opening Ceremonies was just straight-up fun! David Feng, the hardest working tweeter in the business, did a better job at translations, and commentary than did any of the newscasters on CCTV or Pearl (HK). Kaiser Kuo, Paul Denlinger, Thomas Crampton, China Buzz (from the news center), Rebecca MacKinnon, Papa John. Siok Siok Tan, Marc (from inside the stadium), Frank, and a host of others joined the creators, like Flypig, of a phenomenon that was and is by turns funny, wonderfully irreverent, informative and better at fashion critiques and obscure celebrity sightings than (insert the dubious catch of Canadian language geek DaShan walking with the Canuck team) is Perez Hilton’s army of snitches. And they do this while character-cuffed to 140 (133 if you count the hash tag) keyboard ticks a tweet.I think having to compress  thoughts quickly and concisely forces you to write free of your normal subjective shorthand and makes for unusual candor and sometimes great comedy: Cyber-Haiku.

Twolympics

Twolympics

Intermittent breaking news about the Hurricane near the US and the deeply disturbing report of a Russian attack on the Georgian capital was woven into observations being made during the parade of nations. If you were following along, you did not want for flash bulletins on anything of importance inside or outside the venue.

You can follow, or join in, on the micro-madness (you are gonna need to draw on that course you took in speed reading) here at  #080808, view some of the icons, and click on them to follow folks, created for the ongoing funomenon here: Icons

And just so you know that the rumors of traditional media being dead are truly and greatly exaggerated: The organizers and participating Chinese-Tweetlandians were humbled and impressed by a mention in The Times where, if you want the skinny on the people and reasons for all of this you “can read all about it” here: Chinese Tweeters Celebrate Olympics With #080808 – NYTimes.com

As veteran film producer/director, and wholly addicted tweeter, Siok Siok Tan broadcasted last night: “Twitter is fun again!!” Yes, that and a lot more….

Sorry, I need to go now and tweet that I wrote this story….

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