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
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.