In 1982, when my friend Joel got cable, and we sat in his dad’s office watching MTV and waiting for them to play “Land Down Under” once an hour, I had no idea that a) that song was about Australia, and b) I would one day in fact go to Australia, a place where winter is summer, night is day, beer is measured in units called “schooners,” and salted seaweed paste is considered food.
I love Australia, but it’s not an especially nerdy place. You spend a lot of time at the beach being exposed to direct sunlight. Many of the men in Australia display unsightly ribbed protrusions on their abdomens that are caused by overdeveloped muscles. In fact the only important events in my nerd life that occurred on my trip to Australia occurred on the way there and back.
Here’s how you get to Australia. You get on a plane (the ticket costs about the same as a nice laptop), watch three movies in a row, play every handheld gaming device in your possession, get off the plane, drink a complimentary Grolsch in an airport lounge while watching the sun rise, get back on the plane, more gaming, more movies, take a sleeping pill and wake up in Sydney. Wait three weeks, then repeat in reverse order.
The first important event occurred on the flight to Sydney, during which I saw Wanted. This is a truly great movie that altered my consciousness forever, to the point where I don’t think I will ever truly know workplace anxiety again. It’s like The Matrix crossed with Office Space.
The second important event occurred on the return trip, when I finely ascended to and beat Dubai, the final level of the Texas Hold’Em App for the iPod Touch, which I un-deleted in honor of this journey. Current stats: 272 games played (that’s 272 tournaments, not 272 hands), $10,410,000 winnings. To quote from Wanted: “What the f— have you done lately?”
In conclusion, Australia is a land of contrasts.
(Joel and I could never figure out what the first line of this song is. It’s “Traveling in a fried-out combi.” A combi is what Australians called a VW-type mini-van. Now you know.)