Posts Tagged ‘australia

03
Oct
10

Beer Review: Tooheys Old Black Ale

Good stuff from Australia!

The first time I had Tooheys Old Black Ale, I thought it was pretty close to having creamy, cold black caramel-coffee. I don’t know why it’s called “black ale” because it isn’t really black… more like reddish-brown. It’s a struggle trying to figure out the smell but the coffee-caramel taste is very out there and the sweetness-bitterness is balanced quite well. I’ve had it six or seven times to get to know it properly and won’t be buying it again, but I won’t even turn down a Tooheys Old Black Ale if offered one. Not a complex drink, but coffee drinkers will find this beer interesting.

RATING: 3.5/5


15
Sep
10

Beer Review: Victoria Bitter

These Australians are as bad as Indians when it comes to making lager. Victoria Bitter is the fourth Australian brand of beer I’m trying and it’s fucking disgusting. The cute bottle says “The Best Cold Beer” on one side of the label and “Proudly Australian” on the other, but my insides are fucking revolting to this chemical mess. How the fuck do you blokes drink this stuff and even hail it as a good beer? It’s ‘orrible, mate!

RATING: 0.5/5

More Australian Fuck-Ups:

Little Devils

Foster’s

XXXX Gold


11
Sep
10

Beer Review: XXXX Gold

This dark yellow beer from Australia is pretty much headless and lacks flavour. The initial sharpness of this lager immediately gives way to emptiness on the tongue and I’m struggling to hold on to some kind of taste here. Smells bad, tastes bad. I’m glad I bought only one and I’m relieved there’s an ale to follow this up with. XXXX Gold is a truly bad beer.

RATING: 1/5

30
Apr
10

Beer Review: Foster’s

By far the worst of all the beers popular in India, Foster’s has been around for a long time now, since before alcohol advertising was banned. The cool commercials with the ‘Australian for beer’ slogan stuck, and the unknowing Indian was fooled into thinking he was opting for a quality brew everytime he asked the wine shop owner for a Foster’s. I’m not sure if a beer can be called ‘bland’, but this watery excuse for beer lacks the bite I expect from a lager that has nothing else going for it. Neither the bottled stuff nor the draught are worth drinking, and when I attend parties which has Foster’s as one of the sponsors (making Foster’s the only beer available), I either drink whisky or stick to water. Here’s raising an empty mug to people who drink Foster’s and praise its ‘drinkability’. I doubt anyone in Australia drinks this weak, poor lager they export to us. And Foster’s is drinkable, but so is piss.

10
Mar
10

Self-Hate

By Devdutt Nawalkar
They say the newly rich have dough but lack the class that comes with ancient breeding. Something similar applies to the state of things in India today. I think our chequered past as a nation – centuries of subordination, first to the Mughals, then to the British, and eventually to red taped baburaj – has lent a peculiarly feeble character to our collective psyche (I use “our” only to sound modest. I am not prone to any of your delusions). Inspite of the educated strata in the country doing reasonably well over the past two decades, we are still innately insecure of our self worth. Maybe we’ve gotten too big for our shoes too soon, and in the process have lost all context and balance. Constantly craving recognition before the world, keen to latch onto the achievements of others while somehow psychotically and vicariously willing it to be an affirmation of our shaky, uncertain egoes, embracing some incident happening halfway across the world as a personal affront to our mothers while losing all sense of perspective; we have got to be some of the most annoying cunts on the planet today. And the sad bit is that we’re just like the Bubonic plague –  everywhere.
Sachin Tendulkar became the first man to hit 200 in an ODI a couple of days ago, sending the cricket crazy nation into rapture. Instantly, there were calls for The Don to move over and make room for our GOD, conveniently forgetting that the little champ would be privately cringeing against the blasphemous sycophancy of his adorers. All appeals to logic have been discarded outright. Different eras, vast disparities in averages, fitness, pitches, opposition, the long line of great batsmen since Bradman, equipment and protective gear, and just the general futility of trying to ascertain the “greatest” – nothing seems to hold much weight in the eyes of the frenzied masses. It’s as if they’ve been waiting like malnourishedzombies for this moment to pounce on, to raise their darling son to apotheosis. The delicious and somewhat tragicomic irony, which I’m sure is lost on Sachin’s braindead, potbellied, pencil-legged and lily-wristed legions, is that the subject of their adulation is probably one of the humblest sportsmen to have walked the planet. Much the pity that his followers are such utter dicks.
Then there is the medu-vada from Madras, that conman extraordinaire – A R Rahman. Before I go any further, have a looksie at the following link if you have the time, the inclination, or if you’re just out of a job:
Unless you haven’t used an earbud in ages, there is absolutely no doubt that this dork has been lifting off motifs and entire themes for some of his biggest Tamil hits. As I’m writing this, there are fresh allegations over his shitty music for Slumdog Millionaire. I haven’t explored it nor have I the heart or ears for it. Anyway, I strongly disagree with my good friend Count Varathora over the veracity of his supposed genius. Sure, art is subjective and all that pious cluttertrap, but I seem to feel that I have a good sense for aesthetics, and Rahman’s music does nothing to evoke the higher emotions inside my ample skull. Peppy, good for a lark, but cathartic? I beg to differ. Anyway, I’ll jot that down to personal opinion – people seem to like him, and that’s cool. But then he went on to win the Oscar for his score, and the country went batshit crazy again. “He’s done India proud”, “the world’s greatest composer and he comes from India”, “Madras Maestro, Madras Mozart” – I’m sorry, but did I miss out on the ten orphanages he’s opened since? Why has he made India proud? Because he has perpetrated the consistent Western notion that Bollywood music is total gutter? Not just him, even the cinematographer or whoever that won an Oscar for his camerawork; this dude goes up on stage, and proudly proclaims that India gave the world the beautiful word ‘Om’ and the number zero. WTF? I’m sure ‘Om’ and ‘Zero’ weren’t exactly things at the forefront of Angelina Jolie’s mind that night. As tedious as award recipients thanking their dogs and cats is, I can tolerate it. But please, for the love of my sanity and your missing sense of shame, keep your dumb jingoistic garbage and misplaced cultural pride out of what is a completely individual endeavour and accomplishment.
Finally, desis getting walloped Down Under. A peek at any of the message boards (we’ll ignore the TV channels for now), and all you’d see was Indians casting the foulest aspersions imaginable on Australian lineage and heritage. These fools seem to have read somewhere that all Australians can trace their ancestry back to the convict ships that sailed in the eighteenth century, and they use that inaccurate tidbit at every given chance to heap ridicule on the natives and bolster their uncertain complexes. While I certainly don’t condone Indian students getting slammed abroad (partly because I was one myself not too long ago), and do acknowledge that Australia has had a shady past with regard to human rights (Aborigines were considered fauna till the 1960s), could there be a more classic case of glass houses and stones than this? We are some of the most bigoted people on the planet. What right do we have of sounding so self-righteous and butthurt? If you’re so offended, get up and LEAVE! Nobody’s holding a gun to your head (Besides, from what I heard from two close and reliable sources, the whole thing was blown way out of proportion..but that’s not really surprising). As anyone of decent upbringing who’s studied outside the country would attest to, a vast majority of desis abroad tend to get extremely loud, obnoxious, and lack in general etiquette (and hygiene). They’re meek n gentle as sheep when by themselves, but get them in a group, and their pack mentality asserts itself. Barging into queues, leaving microwaves stained with rice and sambhar, having zero consideration for people around them, ogling at women; the list is endless. And don’t even get me started on unlawful activities like creating fake resumes and experience, staying illegally in the country after visa expiry, the whole consultancy racket, so on and so forth. They might get away with it in more politically correct places, but Australia, from what I gather, is a pretty brusque land. Not unwelcoming, but not too tolerant of loutish behaviour either. My mean self chuckled.
Some jerk once accused me of self-hate. You were way off base, dude… wrong diagnosis. The doctor says I’m allergic to dickheads.

08
Feb
10

Review: Van Diemen’s Land (2009)

By Devdutt Nawalkar
Directed by Jonathan auf der Heide
Actors: Oscar Redding
“Hunger is a strange silence”
Some years ago, I read ‘The Fatal Shore’, Robert Hughes’ seminal work on the establishment of the penal colonies that came to be called Australia. It was a remarkable piece of literature, one gathered from the historical record, and tracing the journey of convicts and other undesirables from the zealous assizes and overflowing prisons of the Old Country to the newly discovered land in the nether regions of the world. The inhuman conditions of transport, first encounters with the aboriginal natives, the terms set for ones freedom, folk tales and legends – ‘The Fatal Shore’ gave a succinct picture of the evolution of the fiercely independent, competitive, and often misunderstood, Australian character.
Van Diemen’s Land, written and directed by Jonathan auf der Heide, is a movie centered around one such legend. Based in the Tasmanian (previously known as Van Diemen’s Land, named after some bureacrat) wilderness of 1822, it tells the story of a group of convicts that fled their shackles in search of the fabled and fertile eight districts. Their initial levity, however, is gravely tested as they come to grips with the harsh, unchartered, and unforgiving landscape. It rains, it snows, the wind is biting cold, the rivers are angry torrents -indeed, there is a memorable line before one such boiling rapid: “That river there is one for an angry man.” Left to their devices with no hope in sight, they succumb to a paradoxical form of cabin fever amidst the vast, green expanse, letting mistrust take seed and bloom. They try to live off the land initially but food is almost mockingly sparse. Trapped between all-pervading hunger and  fast-receding hope, they turn to cannibalism, weeding out the weak and the hesitant.
Van Diemen’s Land is told from the perspective of one Alexander Pearce, played by Oscar Redding. Pearce was eventually caught and hanged sometime in the 1800s, however his accounts of cannibalism were dismissed as so many tall tales by a culture still governed by Victorian proprieties. The movie itself doesn’t allow us to get well-acquainted with the characters; instead choosing them as props against a backdrop of the dormant inhumanity that lurks within us all. The no-name cast handles the parts well though, admittedly, there isn’t much to be done here.
Pearce soliloquies, in Irish, throughout the movie. His monologue is the sole link we have to the ravaged minds of these miserables. The narration is laden with insight into the mind’s darkest recesses, and frustration with an indifferent God. On an occasion when the resident priest among the lot (Mathers) expresses his resentment on being asked to carry the “crumbs”, Pearce muses, “Mathers has a pure heart still, but Dalton’s flesh rots his teeth.” In a way, the movie refrains from judging these men; it merely posits that stretched far enough, there is space for the unmentionable within us all. However, in the absence of all social mores and structures, when we’re reduced to our basest, do our ideas of good and evil even hold credence?
Jonathan auf der Heide shows a huge Terrence Malick and Herzog influence here. The wide screen, lingering and contemplative shots of the forest canopy, the dependence on monologue as a tool for examining conscience, the sounds of nature, etc – he has obviously studied Malick’s work, especially The Thin Red Line. Van Diemen’s Land is stark, repressive but never anything other than beautiful to look at. auf der Heide doesn’t take the movie’s grim subject matter as a warrant for exploitation; there are few, if any, explicit images of cannibalism. To an extent, it deprives the movie of a certain visceral punch. But I can gel with the director’s mindset.
Van Diemen’s Land isn’t a movie for everybody. It’s bleak, sports little cheer, has no standout performances to speak of, and doesn’t have a road to travel or a resolution to meet. As a meditation on the darker aspects of humanity, however, it is a worthwhile investment.
Rating: 3/5



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