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Tom Weiss

Tom Weiss is a retired Army officer with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. His writing has appeared in professional military journals, PJ Media, and Liberty Island. He splits time between Western Wisconsin and Eastern Australia and is convinced the Minnesota Vikings will never win the Super Bowl.

That Time I Almost Met Hugh Jackman

The first time I was in Australia, I walked past Hugh Jackman on a path winding through the Royal Botanical Garden in Sydney right next to the Opera House.

At least, I think I did.

After fifty or so meters, I turned to my partner and said, “That was Hugh Jackman back there.”

They flung themselves around to look. “I don’t think so. That’s just a tall guy in a hat and sunglasses.”

“Whatever. I’m telling you that’s him.”

Name That Australian Celebrity

The first time Kevin called after I moved to Australia, I had to explain how to use the World Clock feature on his phone. “I understand it’s the middle of the day there,” I said before throwing my phone on the floor, “But, it’s the next morning here. I’m still in bed.”

Uncharacteristically, Kevin learned from that mistake and has called at more appropriate times ever since. Until this week.

Where Does Matt Damon Live?

If it’s not on social media, Kevin doesn’t know about it. And if it is on social media, he probably knows the wrong thing.

This is how I came to learn that, early last year, the US entertainment media got all worked up over a rumor Matt Damon was moving to Byron Bay, New South Wales, in an effort to escape Donald Trump. The rumor turned out to be wrong, (those rumors are always wrong) but Kevin hadn’t heard. That part of the story didn’t make it to social media.

Let’s Talk About What Can Kill You in Australia

Kevin hates spiders.

At least he says he does. Normally I wouldn’t question a phobia like this, but on a regular basis I open my inbox in the morning to find he’s sent me pictures or videos like this.

If I hated spiders as much as Kevin says he does, I think I’d spend a little less time watching giant ones crawl across a woman’s face.

What’s it Like to Drive on the Other Side of the Road?

Not long ago, Kevin asked me what the weirdest thing was about living in Australia.

”The brands at the supermarket are all different,” was my first thought. “But, driving is probably the weirdest thing. It took me a long time to get used to being on the other side of the road.”

”They drive on the wrong side of the road down there?”

”Yes, Kevin.”

”Why?”

What is a Democracy Sausage?

The last time I spoke to my friend Kevin, all he wanted to talk about was the Australian election last week, which was surprising because normally the only news stories that interest him involve things like great white sharks attacking fishing boats.

Kevin told me the election was all over the news because the polls got it all wrong. It was a miracle and an incredible shock like Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Kevin didn’t have a clue it was happening until it was all over, but now wouldn’t rest until he had the inside scoop.

“What the hell is happening down there?” He asked.

Where Is Australia on the Map?

Part 5 in an Ongoing Series on Australia, Its People, and Culture

Kevin’s next question isn’t as silly as it might sound. Growing up in the Northern Hemisphere, he and I were conditioned by every map we ever saw to look for Australia at the bottom right of the world. He wondered if the opposite was true in Australia.

“We’re at the top of all our maps because they’re made here,” he said. “It’s the same reason North is at the top. The opposite should be true down there, right? Don’t maps in Australia have South at the top?”

I didn’t want to admit it, but he had me stumped. I hadn’t thought at all about the question.

What is Macca’s and Why Does Everyone Go There?

Part 4 in an Ongoing Series on Australia, Its People, and Culture

Kevin called me on the phone a while back and the first thing I said when I answered was, “How ya going?”

I instantly regretted my choice of words.

“Where am I going?” He asked quizzically.

“No, I mean how are you?”

“I’m good. Why didn’t you just ask me that?”

I didn’t because I’ve been in Australia too long and nobody here says “How are you doing?” A few months ago I was on the wrong end of a long, one-sided conversation with another American expat who was exasperated that a young person working the checkout at ALDI had asked her “How are you doing?” instead of “How ya going?”

Which Way Do Australian Toilets Flush?

Part 3: Thank You Bart Simpson

This, believe it or not, is the first thing my friend Kevin wants to know about Australia. He saw a Simpson’s episode once (Season 6, Episode 16. Kevin remembers next to nothing of his four years in college, but he does remember this.) where Bart calls Australia, collect, to find out which way the toilets flush.

Educating Kevin About Australia

Part 2 in an ongoing series about life and culture down under

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