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September 4, 2006 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

Academic Idol: Round Seven

Do you guys remember that Rugby World Cup, when Australia lost in the quarterfinal and every one was all like “holy crap, Australia is out of the cup, and they win everything!” Well that’s how we felt up here at Salient when you guys threw out Grant Morris. Crazy. Oh, well Grant – at least you got to be in the paper. That’s always fun. Thanks for the memories brother.

The major change in the last half is this. It’s gone from being a battle of attrition to a popularity contest. DO NOT VOTE FOR WHO YOU WANT GONE, RATHER VOTE FOR WHO YOU WANT TO WIN. Just so we can sex up these final six weeks. Voting on the website, to or text vote to 021 169 4608. Only email or text votes are eligible for prizes.

This week’s task was to: Tell us a crazy, and true, yarn about something that has happened to you.

Peter Gainsford (Classics)

Over the break I’ve been away in Germany getting married. We had the civil wedding in New Zealand back in February; we were in Germany for the church wedding, and a very trad Bavarian wedding it was, including a charming custom known as the “Brautentführung”.

According to this custom the bride gets kidnapped by her relatives on the afternoon of the wedding, and the fresh-faced, newly-married groom has to gather up his bemused entourage and go in search of her. My entourage consisted of the bride’s brother, his ex-Communist wife, and an English ex-army captain carrying an inflatable kiwi. I kid you not. Basically this search amounts to a pub-crawl — at every pub the group visits, the groom has to buy a round of Obstler (fruit schnapps, 60%) for everyone at the pub.

Anyhoo, I eventually found her at a beer garden tucked away in the woods on the outskirts of Munich. Having found her, however, I still had to ransom her. In my case this involved donning the clothes of a Bavarian milkmaid and performing three tasks: (1) sing a love-song, (2) address my bride by ten affectionate nicknames (my first choice: “schnutziputzi”) while kneeling on a log, and (3) perform a dance called the “Schuhplattler” (see http://de.wikipedia. org/wiki/Schuhplattler for pictures).

John McDowall (Psychology)

When I was fifteen I got it into my head that it would be a wizard idea to get up in the middle of the night and creep undetected through neighbouring houses until I made it to the street on the other block. One still and dark night at about one in the morning I crept over the next-door neighbour’s fence and began my quest. All was going well until, about half way, I jumped over a hedge and crashed through what was obviously a glasshouse. A number of things were immediately obvious – none of them good. I had clearly made one hell of a noise, I couldn’t see to get out, I could taste blood in my mouth, and last but certainly not least, I couldn’t feel my left hand. Then things got worse. It turned out that the glasshouse was resting on top of a trailer. With a certain inevitability the remains of the glasshouse collapsed on to the ground with an almighty din spewing shards of glass everywhere. Then total silence. The outcome? Multiple stiches, surgery on my hand to repair damage to tendons and nerves, and a right telling off from my mother. “What on earth possessed you to do such a daft thing?” I had no answer then. I still don’t – it just seemed like a wizard idea.

David McLauchlan (Law)

There I was, during the sub-continent leg of my OE, sitting amidst a seething crowd of 80,000 at Chinnaswamy stadium. The test cricket match between New Zealand and India was coming to an enthralling conclusion. Suddenly, a tap on my shoulder. “We need you. Several players are ill after last night’s curry.” Soon I was kitted out in whites and jogging on to the field. The crowd nearby laughed at this unlikely athlete. I glanced at the scoreboard. India, 6 runs to win, 1 wicket left. I am hidden away on the boundary, but the first ball is struck towards me. Straight between my legs! Four! The crowd roars with delight. Then Hadlee, in exasperation, bowls a bouncer. A swing! A top edge! Oh no, it’s coming towards me! I run to my right. I stumble, then dive. What’s this? A ball in my hand! The game is won! I am mobbed by my “team mates” as fires erupt in the grandstands. So, you haven’t heard of this great moment in New Zealand’s sporting history? Many haven’t. Some unkindly say that it never happened. It was all a dream. But it was real to me! I truly lived those moments! And I have relived them since.

Sean Redmond (Film)

The Madagascar Mafia So, there I am, unshaven, unwashed, hungry, shitting myself in the back of a black Merc with my guide, John, trying to explain to the local mafia (nice guys, with Rasta dreadlocks and Public Enemy t-shirts. It was just the loaded pistols they were fingering that I wasn’t too sure about…) that I needed USA dollars and quick. So, there I am, unshaven, unwashed, shitting myself in the front room of a drug den, run by Michael, who we have been told has oodles of dollars to exchange. And as he sniffs a line of coke, asks kindly after my family, and argues with a punter – who has a 9-inch scar across his bare chest – about the purity of his smack, I patiently sit drinking a cup of tea provided by his beautiful wife. So, there I am, unshaven, unwashed, full up on fear, waiting to be shot at any moment by a group of hooded bank robbers (I kid you not). And in the charming surroundings of a bloody slaughter-house I attempt to exchange my useless Malagasy francs for thousands of American green back. And as I walk away, I swear in filmic slo-mo, clutching a plastic bag of dirty dollars, I hear a gun go off behind me and I run and run and run…

Fucking Airport tax. We had forgotten that our airport taxes could only be paid in American dollars. That’s the ugly power of global Capitalism for you, messes you up wherever you are. All we had left was Malagasy francs, and bundles of them. Fifteen of us with a once a week Saturday flight to catch in under three hours. And that’s how and why I met, had tea with, was shot at by, the Madagascar Mafia.

Dedication: to our wonderful guide, John, for taking that bullet, and to Michael’s wife, for a great cup of tea in difficult circumstances.

Tony Schirato (Media Studies)

When I was 23 I went to PNG as a volunteer to teach in a high school called Sogeri: it was in the mountains, about an hour’s drive from Port Moresby. One Saturday afternoon most of the teachers and students went off to Moresby to take part in a dancing & singing festival that evening at the University of PNG: the only people left on campus were myself, the mathematics mistress (not what you think), and about twenty students, all of whom lived in the (gender segregated) dorms. In the middle of the night I was in my hut peering through the window, watching huge spiders hunting down stray cattle & a snake swallowing the school goat (a personal friend), when a female student knocked frantically at the door and told me to come to the girls’ dorm. I thought this an unusual request, as the girlss weren’t like that at all. When I arrived the mathematics’ mistress (it’s not what you think) told me a couple of guys from the boys dorm had boozed themselves into oblivion & were heading towards the girls dorm, with EVIL intentions. “Hmmmm”, I thought. ‘Who are they?’ I stupidly asked, hoping to hear that it was the school debating champion & the president of the ‘Pacifists Club’. As this was the real world, it turned out to be two huge forwards from the school rugby league team. “Hmmmm”, I thought. And again, Hmmmm”. “You’ll have to go & stop them’, the mathematics mistress told me” (it’s not what you think). “Why can’t you stop them?” I asked. “Because I’m a woman and you’re a man”, she said. I checked. She was right. Damn. With the pale-green, limpid pool-like eyes of the mathematics mistress upon me (sadly, it’s not what you think) I turned and walked into the night. Bang. I stumbled over the school debating champion: a budding entrepreneur, he was busy selling tickets to the forthcoming massacre to the local tribespeople. Giving him a disdainful look, I picked myself up and walked to the girls’ dorm & stood, firm and masculine (I had stuffed a towel down my trousers for luck) in front of the only doorway. I started whistling ‘High Noon’, but this only succeeded in attracting more spiders & snakes, so I kept quiet. Out of the night the two boys came a-staggering. I knew them pretty well (not in that way) – I use to referee league & soccer games when I wasn’t teaching or being chased by snakes. They got to about ten metres from me. They were huge and as they were clad only in a pair of shorts (between them) I could see every frigging muscle on their bodies. There were lots of them. They had muscular nipples, for heaven sake. It was one of those very curious moments when your life literally lashes in front of you – not a pretty sight. I was dead. I considered pretending to see a snake and running off into the jungle screaming, but I thought of the mathematics mistress & her pale-green, limpid pool-like eyes (it’s not what you think), and my towel stiffened. I wondered what you said to people who were on their way to tear you to pieces. I remembered all those things my father had said to me, the advice he’d given etc: sadly he’s spoken to me in Italian, and I didn’t speak the language, so I had no idea what that advice was. Instead, I let out a hearty “Howdy boys”. They stopped, which was a start (if you get my drift). They approached me, slowly. I counted down: ten seconds to live, nine seconds to live etc. They were next to me. Around me. Above me. My towel slumped. Suddenly one of the boys burst into tears. “Mr Schirato”, he said, “I’m so sorry. Last Wednesday when you disallowed that try for a double movement I threw the ball at you behind your back”. “And I swore at you”, said the other lad. They both burst into tears. I remember thinking “I’m going to live!” I started to cry as well. We embraced. We hugged. I forgave them. Yes, I forgave them. Crying and hugging and crying, I walked with them back to the boys dorm, saw them collapse on their beds and went back to confront the pale green, limpid pool-like eyes of the mathematics mistress. You get lucky sometimes (it’s not what you think).

Matt Wagner

Irish Pub. St. Patrick’s Day. Early 21st Century. We could say from the start of this yarn that the night ended in a massive brawl between my crew and the bouncers, in which, of course, we prevailed. No. None of that’s true. What’s true is the following (this is what ‘crazy yarn’ means to academics…): myself and two friends (from work — no names) walk into the pub. We stealthily mark a) the bar (one, on the left), b) open tables (none, anywhere), and c) the bouncers (many, everywhere). We order up the first of only two pints for the evening (ok, that’s not true either — no numbers). We survey the scene, welcome more friends, secure a table (by means that aren’t proper to go into here), and settle in for the evening. We’re feeling young; we’re feeling vigourous. We’re feeling the opposite of old and tired and past our bedtime. We’re ready for action. And, not to disappoint, action arrives. We get kicked out of the bar. Yes, friends, we’re evicted. Escorted out. Removed from the premises. (Well, one of us is evicted, escorted, removed. The others followed. No names, remember…). All this because … get ready for it… we fell asleep. Well, one of us fell asleep. The others followed. As a sign of solidarity of course. So off we went, bound for the train station and points homeward. Kicked out of the bar for sleeping. That’s us — your wild, crazy, (and true) academics. And we learned an important lesson that night… It is possible to be ejected from licenced premises for excessive fatigue.


About the Author ()

Salient is a magazine. Salient is a website. Salient is an institution founded in 1938 to cater to the whim and fancy of students of Victoria University. We are partly funded by VUWSA and partly by gold bullion that was discovered under a pile of old Salients from the 40's. Salient welcomes your participation in debate on all the issues that we present to you, and if you're a student of Victoria University then you're more than welcome to drop in and have tea and scones with the contributors of this little rag in our little hideaway that overlooks Wellington.

Comments (3)

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  1. m says:

    aHHHH crap! you can’t pull stunts like that James! ive voted for the Law guy cos his one sucked and i didnt see we were suposed to vote for WHO we wanted. and hes winning? i think people are confused and have it the wrong way around… i vote SEAN REDMOND in

  2. Sean says:

    Dear M,

    thank you…. I need all the votes I can get!!


  3. Hey,
    I will further remind everyone in issue twenty, and would again stress that although internet votes have grown to 70 percent of all votes, and that there are another 60 or 70 text and email votes to consider here.

    But next week it will be very clear.

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