Comments & Curiosities


September 22, 2000

Are you watching? If you're like me, you are, but not much. I'm an

Olympics fan, but these Olympics are tough to sink your teeth into.

For one thing, the time difference is a killer, with Sydney 18 hours

ahead of us. Even when it's a three-way photo finish, it's hard to get

too worked up over something that happened 18 hours ago. And if you're a

news junkie, there's no way to escape the results of big events by the

time NBC finally gets around to waking up the peacock and rolling the


Olympic fanfare that night.

Following our local heroes -- Lindsay Davenport, Amanda Beard, Julie

Foudy, etc. -- is fun, though. Lindsay had to withdraw with a sprained

foot, darn it, which is probably the most coverage she would have gotten

even if she repeated her 1996 gold-medal performance. Could someone

please tell me why she gets about a thousand times less recognition than

she deserves? Thank you so much.

I'm actually enjoying the background stuff on Australia more than the

games. You might be interested to know that Costa Mesa's sister city is

in Australia. It's the city of Wyndham, just outside Melbourne. It used

to be called Werribee. Now it's Wyndham. Do you know why they changed

their name? I forget. Very, very nice people, though.

A few members of their city council and school board have visited in

recent years. They call their council members "councilors," which is

stylish, and two members of the current council are named Peter, which

shows they are very smart councilors. Peter Ross and his wife paid a

visit (what does "paid" a visit mean?) during my last term and couldn't

have been more warm or gracious. The Aussies are a fun-loving lot,

though, exactly as advertised. It's "Aussies," by the way, and they call

the country "Oz."

I remember one delegation that fell head over heels in love with Goat

Hill Tavern. No matter what sights we suggested they see, they had only

one question: "How far is it from the Goat Hill?"

Americans and Australians -- as Winston Churchill observed about us

and the British -- are "two people separated by a common language."

Local slang is always fascinating, but especially so when you toss in

some Aussie irreverence. A dentist is a "fang carpenter." Very elderly

people are "crumblies." If you'll need a jacket or a sweater, they advise

you to "rug up." A busybody is a "sticky beak." And, my personal

favorite: an inexperienced surfer is a "shark biscuit."

I'm also fascinated with Tasmania, just off the Australian mainland,

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