In praise of a little recreational slothfulness on public holidays

Waitangi Day was much more than Waitangi Day for most thinking people. And television reporters. There was even a tsunami warning thrown in to keep us on our toes.

But I am very rarely a thinking person, and I welcomed Waitangi Day as a time to put my brain in the cupboard under the stairs and roam utterly free in the sprawling world of recreational sloth and unnecessary knowledge.

And what a wonderful day it was. I looked up all the supposedly stunning links people had sent me on email and Facebook for the last month, I read nearly a week of junk mail, carefully, gosh pizzas are cheap now, $4.99!, I remember when they were $25, and I saw two movies. And when the inevitable question came up at the dinner table that night, what did you do today, darling, I replied proudly, without a widgeon of guilt, that I sat on my fat something that rhymes with farce.

And how farcical is this? Herring communicate by breaking wind. This came up in a rapid-keyboard-pressing chase after those aforementioned links. Words and absurd facts were recurring topics. Columnist Dave Barry appeared twice (one included a reference to an Otago University course, Writing For Psychology), and I found a new literary hero, Geoffrey Pullum, who writes on grammar and linguistics.

I immediately sought him out in Books on Trade Me, but the only one there cost $421. Quality. My reading on Waitangi Day was his vigorous contention that Eskimos do not have 400 words for snow, found in chapter 19 of his essay collection,

The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax. Did you know that in Kansas education, ''can't'' is not a word? And yes, Mr Pullum knows Eskimos are properly known as Inuits and Yupiks. I have seen this snow non-factoid many times, but I have never thought to question it, just like I have always believed herring need to communicate, to get into the correct tin at the supermarket and so forth. Eskimos, according to Mr Pullum, have just 12 words for snow. By the same definition of word, we actually have a fairly similar number ourselves - sleet et al - so Eskimos, who some people would love to believe are weird and have the IQs of cheezels, are just like us.

I suspect if it was reported in The Yupik Herald that Dunedin spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a stadium for rugby without a contract with rugby, and for music without any research into psycho-acoustics resulting in unfixable dead areas everywhere, then they would think we were pretty weird with cheezel IQs, too.

But I digress. I saw two exceptional movies on Waitangi Day, both nominated for Best Picture at this year's Oscars: Silver Linings Playbook and Django Unchained. The experts are banging on my window shouting Lincoln will win this award in a canter, but sheesh, Lincoln is staggeringly dull. Listening to a herring break wind is far more interesting than anything you will find in this film. Sally Field! Awful!!

Django Unchained is another Quentin Tarentino homage movie, in this case to Sergio Corbucci's original 1966 spaghetti western Django, from which Tarentino stole the eye-opening ear scene in Reservoir Dogs.

Even after 47 years, Django remains the best spaghetti western of them all, but Django Unchained is a vivid and compelling second, a masterpiece of cinema craft. Beautiful script. Silver Linings Playbook probably won't win the Oscar, but it should. Just another romcom? No. Brilliant acting, Robert De Niro mercifully rescued from those silly Fockers, and a movie that tells you stuff about mental illness properly.

The theme song should have been Mama Weer All Crazy Now, I mean, isn't it time Slade won an Oscar? The next day I wafted from cafe to cafe answering that inevitable question from the dinner table the night before, what I did on Waitangi Day.

''I watched Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook,'' I replied, smirking.

''You know, there is simply no finer way to spend a day.''

Recreational sloth is savagely underrated.

- Roy Colbert is a Dunedin writer.