Report Card: Sydney Opening Day

April 6, 2014
Major League Baseball, in their efforts to expand baseball’s reach to the farthest corners of the globe, decided to hold the 2014 Opening Day in Sydney, Australia.
For those of you who haven’t ever heard of Australia, it is a large island nation in the southern Pacific ocean, ‘discovered’ by the Dutch and then ‘settled’ by British prisoners, who thought that any place in the world would be more tolerable than living in cold, damp England. What those settlers encountered in 1778 was a vast and terrifying country, crowded with improbable (and invariably poisonous) animals and plants. But it wasn’t cold or damp, and there weren’t vagabond children with rickety coughs and soot-blackened faced always pestering a man for two pence, guv-ner, so the few convicts who managed to survived the voyage over stayed on, battling wild fires and killing improbable animals, and building a country that is modern, sophisticated, and just a little toxic to the human spirit.
What follows is a report card on the various things I encountered on my recent sojourn to Australia, where I attended the first game of the 2014 baseball season.
Let’s get into it.
Koala Bears – D+
Here is a list of bears that are cooler than Koala Bears: Polar Bears, Grizzly Bears, Brown Bears, Black Bears, Panda Bears, Red Bears, Man vs. Wild star Bear Grylls, the 1986 Chicago Bears, Bear Bryant, Yogi Bear, The Bad News Bears, Gummi Bears, and Jean  M. Auel’s historical novel Clan of the Cave Bear.
I saw my first koalas at a sanctuary on Phillips Island, a few hours outside of Melbourne. My first clue that koala bears would not live up to any reasonable expectations for bear-ness were the many signs posted around the park that tried to explain the koala’s utter lack of movement.
Koalas, for those who skipped the requisite classes on Australian zoological taxonomy, eat eucalyptus leaves. Eucalyptus leaves, like just about everything endemic to Australia, are extremely poisonous...the leaves are made up of wood fiber and turpentine, a chemical that causes brain damage and renal failure when ingested.
As a direct result of their poison-based diet, the brain of the modern koala has actually de-evolved since the species showed up in Australia. While ancient koala brains filled the entirety of their cranial cavity, a staggering 40% of the modern koala skull is filled with nothing more than cerebrospinal fluid. According to the good folks at Wikipedia, the two cerebral hemispheres of the koala brain are like, "a pair of shriveled walnut halves on top of the brain stem, in contact neither with each other nor the bones of the skull."
In essence, koalas have been trying to kill themselves for a million years…and against all laws of probability, they haven’t managed to do it. This is very upsetting to anyone with a brain, which means that it is only 60% upsetting to koalas.
You want sad? Consider the polar bear: there is a good chance that ursus maritmus will be extinct before you reach the end of this paragraph. That is very sad, because polar bears are totally bad-ass: an average day for a polar bear involves swimming across hundreds of miles of open arctic ocean and then killing a narwhal, which is a whale with a sword coming out of its skull. Then the polar bear drags the dead whale onto an ice floe, where it uses the narwhal’s head-sword to write very understated poetry about snow and ice and what it feels like to kill an armed whale in open water. That is tough: polar bears make all other bears look soft. 
The average day for a koala involves sleeping for twenty hours, and eating poison. Often, they defecate.
The real kicker is that koalas aren’t actually bears. They’re marsupials, which is a class of animals invented by naturalists to categorize the many absolutely insane animals that live in Australia.
It is very strange that the koala is one of the national mascot of Australia, as Australians are an extremely active people. This is partially because Australians are the fun-loving descendants of British criminals, and partially because if you stand still in Australia for too long, something will come along and kill you.
The koala bear is a brain-dead, overweight sloth that survives on terrible food…there is no country in the world that embodies those characteristics.
Sydney – A
Here’s what I like to do when I go to a strange city: I like to walk around it.
I don’t like going on bus tours, or heading to the Great Big Landmarks of any destination. I like to just wander around with a map, get a little lost, and find a good place for a coffee, maybe a used bookstore, and then a nice bar with good beer on tap. Then repeat.
I was fortunate, on this trip, to have my good friend Josh fly all the way in from Boston to join me for Opening Day. It is infinitely more fun to wander around Sydney with someone as obsessive about baseball as I am, and I’m glad he came down.
Sydney rates among the most pleasant cities I’ve ever walked around for an extended period of time. There are lots of nice neighborhoods, lots of green parks, and any walk seems to loop you back to Circular Quay and the central city. The coffee is excellent, and the bars are solid. It’s a great city to walk around.
The Word ‘Quay’ – F
It’s pronounced ‘key.’ Who would guess that?
‘Salty’: A+
‘Salty’ is a term of endearment that Australians have given to the salt-water crocodiles that swim in their oceans and rivers. It’s a nice term: it suggests that the salt water crocodiles are old sailors who like to tell yarns about white whales and sultry natives while whittling scrimshaw in the dim-lit bars of a derelict port town.
Here is what a ‘salty’ really is: a swimming, murderous dinosaur.
Here’s a list of animals that the salt-water crocodiles have been known to eat: kangaroos, monkeys, wild boars, sharks, cows, water buffaloes, blue whales, birds, commercial jets, elephants, polar bears, wolves, ants (paradoxically), hippos, other salties, horses, Derek Jeter (please), sheep, eagles, bears, and the Mayan god Nohochacyum.
Salt water crocodiles are terrifying…by any rational measure their presence in Australia is a perfectly good reason to not live in Australia. Or even visit Australia. Or even think about Australia.
There is exactly one bit of good news about salt-water crocodiles: like Achilles, they have a singular, specific weakness, one that you should jot down on a piece of paper, and keep in your wallet if you ever visit/crash land/immigrate to Australia.
The one weakness of the salt-water crocodile is this: the muscles that open their mouths are extraordinarily weak. Really…you could tie a yellow ribbon around a twenty-foot-long salt-water crocodile’s mouth and it would not be able to open its. It would just look at you with sad, puppy-dog eyes (actual puppy-dog eyes, because the crocodile will have just eaten a puppy), and you will laugh and laugh until it slinks back into the brown waters from whence it came, rendered harmless by a little bit of ribbon.
Of course, the crocodile will have already bitten your legs off, and probably your arms, too, because the crocodiles' down-biting muscles are the strongest of any animal on the planet. The Great White Shark has an impressive bite force of 400 pounds per square inch…the salt-water crocodile bite is twelve times higher than that: 5000 pounds per square inch of force. So trying to tie a ribbon around a salt-water crocodile’s mouth is like gift-wrapping your own apocalyptically terrible death. 
Sydney Opera House – A+
I have a completely amateur interest in architecture, and the ways that buildings can help or hurt a space. I could talk about Boston’s City Hall, a building and a use of public space for hours…I find it a fascinating, horrible building, and a titanic mistake of a terrific piece of land. If you’ve only ever been outside that building, I heartily recommend that you go inside someday, because if you are the normal kind of person who wretches as the sight of the exterior of Boston City Hall, you should really see the inside. It is, by some miracle of design, somehow worse on the inside than it is on the outside. The interior of that building looks like a funhouse in Siberia. It’s fitting that the most iconic photograph of Boston City Hall depicts some guy trying to spear another guy with an American flag.
The Sydney Opera House is the exact opposite of Boston City Hall: it is a great and beautiful building on its own, and it’s a building that is centrally important to Sydney’s position as a destination city of the Southern Hemisphere. It might seem silly to go all the way to Sydney to see an Opera House, but a) plenty of people do it, and b) the Sydney Opera House is the rare building that absolutely lives up to the hype, and in fact exceeds it. It’s a spectacular, breathtaking building, and I love it without reservation. 
Opera, in General – C-
Is this still a real thing?
Manly Beach – A
Manly is one of the two really popular beaches that you can access easily from downtown Sydney (the other is the slightly more famous, but less pleasant Bondi Beach). Manly is accessed by a harbor ferry that runs every half-hour from Circular Quay.
Manly is a beautiful beach, located on the far end of a strip of peninsula. The waves are excellent: a long break of warm water and clean sand. I didn’t see any sharks or jellyfish or salt-water crocodiles, so it was a complete win.
Surfing - D
Feeling plucky, I rented a surfboard at Manly, from a decidedly surfer-ish guy who had a stand of boards available for rent. I am, in my increasingly old age, reluctant to take lessons in anything: I would sooner cut off my legs than have practice jumping up on a surfboard while some younger and skinnier man makes comments about my form. Ugh.
I was reasonably convinced that I could manage to pull this off: while I am not in killer shape, I’m not too bad off, and I like splashing around in waves. I assumed I’d be able to a) stand up on the board, and b) stay standing for a few moments. 
It did not happen. The closest I came was getting up on my knees, which seemed like a hollow kind of victory. Still, I looked way cooler than the body surfers.
Sydney, Again - A
Just to recap: I took a ferry to a beach, tried surfing, and then saw a major league baseball game…in the same day. How fantastic is that? People who live in San Diego are so lucky.
Ned Kelly – Not Graded
Ned Kelly is Australia’s version of Robin Hood, a historical figure who has gradually merged into the narrative mythology of the country. He was either a violent criminal or a political revolutionary, depending on which side of the political spectrum you swing towards. His body armor, hewn from stolen ploughshares which he wore under his clothes, is on display at the State Library of Victoria, in Melbourne. It’s a great library. I love good libraries.
Melbourne – B+
Melbourne is Sydney’s hipster cousin of a city. It has better bars and coffee shops, but it doesn’t have the amazing harbors or beaches that Sydney claims, and it lacks an iconic Opera House. People who live in Melbourne would probably tell you it’s cooler, but I ain’t buying it.
Also: the city is pronounces ‘Mel-bun,’ and everyone will correct you on this if you slip up and make the mistake of pronouncing Melbourne the way it is written. I hate things like this….if the founders wanted everyone to call it ‘Mel-bun’ they should’ve left out a few more letters when they named it.   
Duck-Billed Platypus – F/F
Evolutionary biologists and Christian fundamentalists agree on exactly one thing: the duck-billed platypus should be eradicated from the earth.
For evolutionary biologists, the duck-billed platypus has long been a proverbial thorn in the paw of Darwinian Evolution, for there is nothing evolutionarily advantageous about taking a beaver and giving it a duck’s bill and a poisonous spur and a bizarre capacity to lay eggs. Point-of-fact: Charles Darwin actually encountered the duck-billed platypus on one of his journeys…here is what his actual diary entry says about it: "I consider it a great feat, to be at the death of so wonderful an animal."
You would think that anything whose death Charles Darwin considered so great a feat would be treated with affection by the godly folks of the world. But religiously-minded individuals also hate the duck-billed platypus, because the DBP disproved any notion of Biblical inerrancy. As Genesis 1:24 reads: "God made the wild animals according to their kinds…and He saw that it was good."
The contradiction is obvious to anyone who has ever encountered a duck-billed, poison-spurred beaver that lays eggs: whatever one’s standards of ‘good’ are, whether those standards are aesthetic or philosophical or based entirely on how something tastes when it is marinated by barbeque sauce and then grilled over hickory chips, there is nothing remotely ‘good’ about the duck-billed platypus. It is whatever the opposite of ‘good’ is. It is the animal kingdom version of Adeiny Hechavarria.
The contradiction of an all-good God creating a duck-billed platypus and then having the audacity to call it ‘good’ isn’t the most glaring contradiction in a text we’re asked to consider infallible…the problem is that this specific contradiction appears on Page 1, when a reader is still trying to decide whether the book is worth reading, or if it’s better to pick up the latest book by Jodi Picoult or Stephen King, two writers capable of sustaining a consistent plot past the opening scene.
Sydney Cricket Ground – B+
This year’s Opening Day matchup between the Diamondbacks and the Dodgers was played at the Sydney Cricket Grounds. The grounds are (by Australian standards) an extremely old building: the original stands still exist, but around them Australia has built up massive new seating sections. The effect is that there were parts of the stadium that looked like old Ebbets Field, and parts that look like the new Chicago Bears football stadium.
Surprisingly, the overall effect was quite pleasant: it didn’t seem at all hackneyed to have the older building abutting the gleaming new stands. It made me wonder why this design strategy hasn’t taken off in American ballparks: incorporating the old into the new. If the Cubs ever decide they need to overhaul Wrigley, they might consider the approaches taken in Sydney.
The ESPN Zone– B
Arriving at the Cricket Grounds, we entered near the ‘outfield’, where the grounds crew had erected a false outfield wall for the two games. This was the ‘ESPN Zone’ section of the grounds: it was also the place where the batting practice hitters were dropping homerun balls.
Within exactly three seconds of arriving in the ESPN zone, we heard the crowd around us making noise. A short distance away, two men started scrambling among the seats, trying to locate a souvenir baseball that had just landed in the stands. Not having seen the ball, but realizing that it would probably travel down from wherever it had landed, I picked the closest aisle and walked down it. I didn’t even bother looking down the aisle…I just sort of moseyed down, taking in the view of the field. Then my friend Josh yelled at me that the ball was directly in front of me, spinning on the concrete in the middle of the row. The two men who were scrambling around looking for it were sad when I picked it up. It’s my first souvenir ball ever: my son has already tried to a) throw through our living room window, and b) eat it. I don’t think it survives the season, but I’m happy to have it.
Later on, another homerun ball came into the stands. This time a teenager with a Dodgers cap grabbed the ball. As he was showing it off to his friends, one of the security guards started barking at him, ordering the kid to throw it back. The kid looked at the guard with a bemused expression, but the security guard was adamant, and very loud. One of the Diamondback outfielders turned around to check out what was going on, and the teen tossed the ball in. The D-Back’s outfield caught it and immediately tossed it back to the kid.
Someone eventually informed the security guard that in baseball, unlike cricket, balls that go into the stands are allowed to stay there. It is reason #10,327 what baseball is better than cricket.
Yasiel Puig – A+
We ended up crashing in the ESPN Zone for the first four innings of the game, which granted us bar stools directly behind the right field wall.  
The Diamondbacks did their hitting and fielding drills first. Then the Dodgers took over, which meant that we’d be seeing Yasiel Puig up close.
Puig, at this moment in time, is generating a bit of controversy with the Dodgers. He showed up late to yesterday’s game, which led to Mattingly benching him. A lot of other players on the Dodgers seem to be grumbling about him. I have no idea what kind of a person he is: I don’t know if it’s youth and immaturity, or some greater flaw in his character that causes people to react to him so strongly. Frankly, I don’t particularly care.
What I sawwhen Puig took right field for warm-ups was a man absolutely ecstatic to be warming up to play a baseball game in front of fans in Australia.
If you’ve ever watched outfielders warm up before a game, you know that 99.5% of them will make a modicum of effort if the baseball comes within three feet of them. Otherwise they let it go by.
Not Puig. He came to his position on a full run, and went after everything. He made two fine catches near the wall that brought him within inches of where we were sitting. He threw some lasers back into the infield, and he threw some of his catches up into the higher decks in the stands, to the people who were deliriously calling his name.
This was, again, in warm-ups: Yasiel Puig was the most interesting player on the field by a factor of ten. He was the only interesting player: the only guy on the field who looked like he was excited to be on the field.
Baseball is a new thing in Australia: though they have a professional league, attendance is low, and the average Aussie doesn’t know too much about the game of baseball. I don’t know whether or not Yasiel Puig will have a Hall-of-Fame career, and I have no idea what the color of his soul is. All I know that Puig seemed the single best representative for how exciting and kinetic and beautiful the game of baseball can be.
Phrased differently: if Opening Day in Sydney was the first game I had ever attended, I’d have left the game convinced that the Dodgers outfielder was quite probably the best player on either team, and I’d be baffled why no one else played the way he did. All major league players make the game of baseball look easy: Puig makes it look fun.
Wade Miley - B
There were a lot of "Wrecking Ball’ jokes in the outfield, as the Diamondbacks starter for Game 1 was warming up. These made me giggle.
Getting back to Australia a bit…
Goon – Incomplete
‘Goon’ is boxed wine…in Australia, it is an essential part of coping with life in a country ruled by a distant monarch and populated by swimming dinosaurs and brain-dead bears. When I first visited Australia, my sister insisted that I try ‘goon’, because it was a formative part of her Australian experience.
So we bought a box of ‘goon.’ I remember being in the liquor store, staring at the many boxes. I remember debating between the box of ‘fruity lexia’ and the box of ‘red lambusco.’ I think we went with the ‘fruity lexia.’ I remember the man at the store laughing at us when we put the box on the counter. I remember he gave me change for a ten dollar note. I don’t know what happened after that.
Mark Trumbo, LF – B+
Mark Trumbo plays outfield like a koala bear drunk on goon.
I still love him, though. Trumbo is my favorite Cedar Rapids Kernel: the big homerun threat during the years I’d watch games out in Iowa. I hope he wins the NL homerun crown this year.
Kangaroo – B+
Ostrich – F
One of the really cool parts about visiting Australia is the tremendous access one has to strange animals. I had the pleasure of visiting an animal refuge near Melbourne, which was a really big park that that people can chase around kangaroos and ostriches, and no one tells you to knock it off. .
Kangaroos are really cool: they look cool, they move cool, they kick cool. They have an ephemeral, otherworldly quality to them. They are fine, strange animals, and I enjoyed looking at them.
Ostriches are not cool…it’s very surprising that ostriches haven’t been killed off by all of the scary animals in Australia. The first ostrich that I came across acted like a big, dumb chicken. It was standing in the middle of the path, at a place where I had to walk close to it, so that I could continue down the trail.
I approached it slowly. I was afraid that it would reveal that it had a poison spur or sharp teeth or Swiss Army Knives for wings…something that would explain its continued existence in Australia. When the great bird heard me, it lifted its head and fixed its cold eyes to my suddenly motionless body. Then…it blinked twice, and promptly forgot that I was there. It bent its head down and went back to pecking at bugs on the ground.
I moved again. The ostrich again looked up and saw me. Astonished at my suddenly appearance and proximity, the largest bird in the animal kingdom blinked, chirped, and then forgot me again. It was mildly humbling, actually.
You remember that trick in Jurassic Park, where the T-Rex can’t see the guy because he isn’t moving? It turns out that’s actually true…for ostriches. They are, of course, the direct descendents of dinosaurs, and the single trait that they’ve carried down through generations is an inability to see something if it can stay still for more than two seconds.
Footy – A
‘Footy’ is Australia-league football.
I have tried very hard to be open about the weird sports that I’ve encountered in the antipodal lands. 
Cricket, for instance...I tried to see the ways that cricket is a richer, better version of baseball, but I can’t escape the fact that it takes something like twenty-eight years to finish a single match, which can (and often does) ends in a tie. I can’t shake my deep loathing of the many tea breaks in cricket, or the absolute silliness that one has to throw a ball hit into the stands back onto the field of play.
Rugby is a little better…it’s exciting and kinetic and faintly transgressive, and New Zealand usually wins their rugby matches in decisive fashion. But the majority of the action of rugby involves one person running head-long into a wall of bodies, which is not dissimilar to the ‘Red Rover’, a game we used to play as kids when we didn’t any anything better games to play. I’ve even watched netball, which is the single most sexist sport I’ve seen.
The point is: I’ve tried to care. I’ve tried to see the beauty in all of these games, to come at them openly, without bias. But…I just can’t quite do it.
I thought that Australian-league football would be similarly disappointing. I was completely wrong: Aussie Football is, without any question, the Greatest Sport Ever.
I can’t describe it in a way that will do it any kind of justice. It has the grace and constant action of soccer, but it has way more scoring than soccer. It has the speed and violence of football or rugby, but it’s played on a field the size of ten football fields, and it doesn’t stop for commercial breaks. Because it doesn’t stop, coaches send runners onto the field to relay play calls to the players, as the players are running around like mad men. Think about that: all of thecomplicated strategy happens on a dead-run.
 During the game, there’s something in the vicinity of forty or fifty people on the field at any given moment, but even in that mass of bodies it is very easy to see who the standout players are, who the superstars are. It is an amazing, entertaining, fascinating game. It is probably the best sport I have ever seen.
Opening Day in Sydney – A+
Please, please, please do this every year, Major League Baseball. I will happily pay for all of the fruity lexia and red lambusco that both teams can drink, if this becomes an annual event.
David Fleming is a writer who lives in Wellington, New Zealand. He welcomes comments, questions, and recipes on how to grill duck-billed platypus here and at  

COMMENTS (16 Comments, most recent shown first)

The " ostrich" is called an emu and is a different kind of bird. Lays the worlds largest eggs.
9:24 AM Apr 13th
That their most notorious serial killer's last name is "Bunting": I'm-a give that a flat F but enemies of the bunt may feel differently.
7:00 AM Apr 10th
About footy I agree completely. I became a fan in the 80s and of all games ruled by a clock it is my favorite. I even subscribe to a streaming service at that costs about the same as my subscription. Did you know that Aussie Rules is the world's oldest football code, older than even soccer and rugby?

But despite having seen numerous games televised from the SCG I had no idea it was such a beautiful venue until I saw these two MLB games on the Dodger network (also watched a few innings of Arizona's telecast). I suppose the Aussie broadcasters just take for granted that their viewers will know what it looks like. I also thought the organizers did an excellent job of fitting baseball onto that huge grounds, documented on the Dodger cast by a terrific time-lapse sequence.

A+ and much thanks for your report card, Dave. I have to say that I enjoy cricket, though I admit limited overs makes it more palatable.
7:30 PM Apr 7th
The ferry ride to Manly is wonderful. On our way back we ended up sitting across from seven or eight Diamondbacks players, who had gone to the beach before the game.

The Sydney Botanic Garden are nice, but I think Wellington's are better, mostly because we don't have a highway running through ours, and there's more altitude and a cable car.
5:42 PM Apr 7th
To tigerlily's question: my sense is that baseball is catching a few of the younger fans, but is still mostly an oddity in Australia.

Cricket is a time-consuming game. It takes a long time to watch, a long time to play. I have friends who play weekend 'club' cricket, which takes something like ten hours of their Saturday or Sunday to play. There are still people obsessed about cricket, but it's fan-base is likely dwindling.

I can't speak for Australia, but as I've played on a team for three years now, I can certainly speak about baseball as it is played here in New Zealand.

First, they play softball softball. Men and women.

The NZ team, the Black Sox, are extremely good. Out of the last eight ISF Championships, New Zealand has won five times ('84, '96, '00, '04, '08, '13) and come in second the other three years. This is a contest against countries like the US, Japan, Canada, and Australia....countries much more populous than New Zealand (4 million).

There is a slight push to change over to baseball....I think that Christchurch and Auckland have leagues that are starting to change over. But....softball has a strong hold here.

While I wouldn't wouldn't want to speak too declaratively on this, it seems that there is a noticeable socio-economic divide on whether someone plays cricket or softball.

Cricket is expensive to play: the equipment is extremely expensive, and the time one has to give to playing the game is expensive, too. I think that's part of the divide: the cost of equipment and the time-cost.

I used to live in an apartment that overlooked a big cricket pitch here in Wellington, and cricket batting cages: most of the people who were taking turns in the cages were either a) white guys (pakeha), or immigrants from really big cricket countries like India or Sri Lanka, places where cricket is THE #1 sport.

Softball is much more popular in the less 'tony' suburbs of Wellington. It is much more popular among Pacific Islanders, and I suspect that it's more popular among the Maori, too. I've certainly had lots of teammates and opponents who were Pacific Islanders or Maori.

The divide is partially a rugby, the concensus 'big' sport of New Zealand, is a winter sport....a lot of rugby guys play softball is the summer sport to keep in shape and have something to do on Saturdays.

There's a formal/informal thing, too. Cricket is a really formal has all these rules about how one should carry oneself, about decorum, about how white your jersey should be. Softball is played a bit more boisterously, a bit freer. No one drinks beer during a cricket match; most of us have one during our softball games.

Anyway....major league baseball is making a big push into OZ/NZ . Everyone here was very excited when a kid from Lower Hutt were signed by the Red Sox a couple years ago.
5:34 PM Apr 7th
Well, you have to apply a Kiwi filter to this amusing and fun piece. "Toxic"? Who but a Kiwi would say that? However, Dave, as far as I can tell, the Aussies stole credit for "flat whites" from you; they are a wonderful invention. So I would be a bit cranky too! By the way, although I was raised in a cricket culture, it took only one baseball game for me to see that baseball is a far better game.

4:16 PM Apr 7th
Well, you have to apply a Kiwi filter to this amusing and fun piece. "Toxic"? Who but a Kiwi would say that? However, Dave, as far as I can tell, the Aussies stole credit for "flat whites" from you; they are a wonderful invention. So I would be a bit cranky too! By the way, although I was raised in a cricket culture, it took only one baseball game for me to see that baseball is a far better game.

4:16 PM Apr 7th
Great job Dave! I am wondering, how do you think the average Aussie sports fan views baseball? Do they view it as boring as cricket?
11:27 AM Apr 7th
Steven Goldleaf
Ya forgot to describe the ferry ride out to Manly Beach from the Circular Quay--I thought it was the best part of the trip, sorta like riding through the fjords. (I didn't see what was so manly about the beach either--seemed like a lot of poofters to me.) And the Botanic Gardens--did you really visit Sydney and not duck into that park? It's the greatest in the world by my estimation. Great article otherwise, though.
10:52 AM Apr 7th
Well, to my point, that famous quote is from the good people at, and meant to excuse the overall number of bears going from 5k to 25k, endangering things like... .donations to, and their salaries. And they are the last declining population of eco handwringers to fail to adopt "climate change" rather than "global warming" because their lyrics don't rythme to that music. The fact is, frigid temps kill even polar bears, warmer temps cause them to romp with their cubs for fundraising brochures.
11:32 PM Apr 6th
From Wiki:

"Of the 19 recognized polar bear subpopulations, eight are declining, three are stable, one is increasing, and seven have insufficient data, as of 2009"
7:40 PM Apr 6th
Looks very funny. I stumbled on the part where you like Bear Grylls...what a tool. Any hunter or outdoorsman knows that is a fake show...."if you are lost run down a wooded tree slope." I hope no one I know is taking this knucklehead's "wilderness" advice. We were all highfiving when he broke his hip. Survivorman rules.

Also, there are three and perhaps five times as many polar bears as there were fifty years ago, and if one spotted you with, say, a broken hip, you'd be wishing there were a lot less. Anyplace you see that says they are declining has "polar bear" in the web url.
7:26 PM Apr 6th
Carey. Peter Carey.
1:46 PM Apr 6th
Terrific read, David. Thanks.
Peter Caray wrote a terrific book, [u]True History of the Kelly Gang[u]... historical fiction, Ned Kelly's autobiography.

1:46 PM Apr 6th
I loved this! The travelogue, the baseball, the Puig analysis.... I just wish they had an Aussie or two on one of those teams. This series, and its lack of Aussies, inspired the first entry (other than an intro) in my new blog.
11:44 AM Apr 6th
Thanks for the travelogue.
Since Australia is about 20 hours from the US east coast, I've never seriously contemplated a trip there.
Now I'll just furgeddaboutit.
10:15 AM Apr 6th
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