Ask the Editor, 11/26/2004 – Wrapping Up Australia

Ted finishes up with his parting thoughts on Australia. How much do Nikes cost in the land of Oz and should you be eating bug if it is offered? The answers to these questions and more are all inside.

Monday November 15th, 11:23pm — Wrapping Up Australia

Random Items I Forgot to Mention

Dude: Gee, that’s a small pen (USB) drive.

Me: Yeah, I’m compensating for something.

*Somebody drops about $10 in coins on the table to use as tokens*

Me: Wow, when you guys use change for tokens, you toss some real money out there. In the States we mostly use pennies and nickels.

Mustachioed Aussie Judge whose name I can’t remember: We haven’t had the penny since 1962 or so.

Me: Yeah, and I bet none of you have an appendix or wisdom teeth either. Must be nice…

Their fifty-cent pieces make excellent weapons. Not that I have practiced using them as such or anything.

Speaking of Aussie money — They don’t have bills for $1 and $2, only coins, which made me wonder: what happens when you go to a strip club there? Do you just keep putting coins down the stripper’s thong like a vending machine until her thong falls down? Is there some sort of backwards token system they use where you exchange coins for slips of paper meant to represent dollars? I’m motivated by sheer curiosity here, not by the prospect of seeing any Aussie nudity or anything (it’s a bit late for that, after all). How do these things work?

Buying things in Australia was a little odd, because while most things are normal or cheap prices compared to what you’d see in the States, some items were horribly expensive. For example, the Nike Shox 2:45 shoes that I bought just before leaving the U.S. cost me $110, but in Oz they were $239, which is insane, even with the exchange rate. The same goes for computer games and music CDs, which cost on average about 50-60% more than they would in the U.S.

Australia is really a giant melting pot similar to what you’ll see in the U.S. except they have fewer random Euros, more Asian influences, and lots of English/Irish/Scottish descendents. The food is about as diverse as you could ask for excepting the lack of good Mexican food which hasn’t made it there in any numbers yet. Gyros and the like seem extraordinarily popular, which is good, because they are hella tasty.

Of course, with any sort of food fusion, you often get some messed up combinations like the following, which I found at an all-night pancake house we visited for the judge dinner:

The Classic

Potato pancakes covered with melted cheese, grilled pineapple, eggs, banana, sour cream, onions, and hollandaise sauce. What the f***? [Note to Jacob Orlove: This is not a footnote. – Knut]

Oh, and bug is quite the fruit of the sea. Even though it looks rather foul in its natural form, it is a very tasty dish and one I highly recommend.


The end of a Grand Prix or a Pro Tour is such a mixed bag. Sure, there’s usually some feeling of accomplishment when things wrap, but even more there’s a basic sadness that I feel marking the absence of the friends I saw/made at the event. This feeling is often staved off by late-night drafting or drinking with friends until the wee hours of the morning, but at some point the feeling hits, regardless. That’s how I felt on Monday night, while I was packing my sh** to get ready for Japan.

Australia was ridiculous. I’m just sorry I got sick and didn’t have the energy to party or sightsee nearly as much as I would have liked. Two more days in Brisbane would have been just about right — I will have to come back and spend at least a week in Sydney and maybe Melbourne sometime, if only to take pictures of more random Aussies.

I’m also usually exhausted and despairing at the end of an event because I know my work on the event wasn’t good enough. When I read coverage (particularly my own), I see only the blemishes. I read it with an editor’s eye, and I can feel the ghost of Josh Bennett staring over my shoulder telling me that it’s just not good enough — that I should have done more. In fact, sometimes it’s not the ghost that’s mocking me, it’s Josh himself.

You see, there is no editor for Grand Prix coverage. What you write is almost always what goes up on the page, warts, typos, fatigue-riddled mistakes and all. I never know if I did a good job at a GP or not. Sure, there are bits and pieces that I can take from a weekend and enjoy by themselves, but weighing the value of the work as a whole? I can’t do it. You don’t get much feedback from coverage unless people are hopping mad about something, and since I don’t know if my work was good or not, I don’t focus on it. It’s a device – a crutch really, that I use to preserve my sanity until my body and mind recharge and I can be rational about things again.

The only way I have a clue that what I write is valued is that the folks who pay for these things keep inviting me back to do more. It’s not as if you hear “Well, thanks to the awesome coverage by Ted Knutson and Brian David-Marshall, I figured out x, y, and z about foo, thus making me a better player, winning me thousands of dollars in prizes, and helping me win the girl of my dreams to boot.” I get the subtle feeling that no one is actually reading the work (though they do seem to like the pictures), but since I haven’t had a John Stephens incident yet, there isn’t a particular reason to fire me.

Anyway, Australia as an event was both better and worse than a normal event in the States. On one hand, I was sick and I didn’t know anybody there, so I had to learn on the fly and wasn’t able to cover storylines as well as I would like to. I also didn’t get a chance to dance to Michael Jackson’s Thriller in any of the clubs, though I’m sure it brings down the house on a regular basis. I didn’t even get a chance to try and remember how I was dancing in the 80’s to hits by Tiffany, New Kids on the Block, or Martika. These things left me a little down. On the other hand, the weather was great, the country is great, I met scads of worthwhile new people, the girls are beautiful, and I had a bunch of fun.

It was great to be here and I can’t wait to come back. Unfortunately, Oz is done now. It’s time to pack up my stuff and prepare for another grueling plane flight across thousands of miles of ocean. A country of true foreign-ness looms on my schedule, a concept both exciting and intimidating.

Japan awaits, but the sweet scent of Australia will linger — for a little while at least.

Leaving was never my proud.

Ted Knutson

Teddy Card Game

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