Aussie slang: Sanger

Sanger is a classic piece of Aussie slang that sounds odd but makes sense once you know what it means.


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Meaning: ‘Sanger’ is slang for a sandwich.



Bread has always been a popular staple in the Australian diet – and despite the North American low-carb obsession, it’s refreshing to see that Aussies are still enjoying bread as they’ve always done.


How to use it: ‘Sanger’ is a straight forward noun that can be substituted anywhere you would use the word sandwich.



Mark Wahlberg can’t even enjoy his sanger in peace without photographers pestering him!


Examples: ‘Would you like a sanger for lunch Mum?, ‘Look at those steak sangers!’



‘It doesn’t get much more Aussie than a Vegemite & Cheese sanger!’


Origin: In typical Aussie fashion, sandwich had been shortened to ‘Sango’ and had a vowel popped on the end by the 1940s. By the 1960s however it had evolved into sanger and today it can be used to describe all shapes and sizes of sandwiches


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The classic Aussie steak sandwich is made much like a typical hamburger – with a piece of grilled steak, fried onions, lettuce, tomato, tinned beetroot and barbecue sauce or tomato sauce. Occasionally if you’re going all out you might add cheese, a fried egg, fried bacon or even grilled pineapple.

Movie Review: Man on Fire

‘Man on Fire’ is a 2004 action film with a darker underbelly by Director Tony Scott.



Tony Scott is the late brother of Director, Ridley Scott, and has a string of hit movies behind his name including ‘Top Gun’, ‘Days of Thunder’, ‘Spy Game’ and ‘Enemy of the State’.


The movie is the second remake of the novel by A.J.Quinnell, and was located to Mexico City because of the high rate of political kidnappings going on there. (Although the novel was originally set in Italy, kidnappings have sharply declined there since the early 2000s and Scott wanted the movie to be current.)



The 1987 film stars Scott Glenn as John Creasy, who exacts vengeance after the child he bodyguards is kidnapped by the mafia.


Starring Denzel Washington as the sombre John Creasy, the film features a stellar ensemble cast with Christopher Walken, Mickey Rourke, Rachel Ticotin, Dakota Fanning, Giancarlo Giannini and Marc Anthony.



Even as a despondent alcoholic, Denzel is still as charismatic as ever. He’s got some great lines in the movie including this one; ‘There’s no tough, there’s only trained or untrained. Which one are you?’


Christopher Walken plays Creasy’s soldier mate and brings a lightness and balance to the film that offsets Creasy’s darkness. It’s good to see Walken in a more realistic role instead of the over-the-top characters he sometimes plays.



Dakota Fanning gives a surprisingly good performance as Pita; who Creasy is hired to protect. She has great range in the film and has really come a long way since her earlier work.



Rachel Ticotin is excellent in the film as a relentless, sharp-minded journalist determined to stop the corruption and the kidnappings.


Overall, ‘Man on Fire’ is a solid thriller with depth – but I will give a violence warning for one short gruesome part in the film (which I fast-forwarded through).

Here’s the Official Trailer for you to check out here:

To Uber or not To Uber?

Anti-Uber taxi protests brought traffic to a halt in Toronto this week, and it seems like it is finally time for me to choose a side.

With a recent valuation of $51 Billion and a global geographic presence – Uber is challenging the traditional taxi service on a number of levels.



Uber is currently operating in 300 cities and in 58 countries worldwide.


First of all, it’s cheap. Drivers don’t have all of those extra taxi-related expenses – because they’re unregulated and using their own vehicles.



Black marks are Uber luxury vehicles, Yellow is your regular taxi, and Blue marks are Uber X – which are non-luxury vehicles. (Look how cheap some of those blue markers are)


Secondly, it’s incredibly convenient. You can order a Uber ride at the touch of a button through their app. No waiting on hold to get through to the dispatch and then hoping a cab will show up.



Drivers are reviewed and given ratings by customers. Ratings are out of 5 stars, with drivers expected to maintain a 4.6 star average.


Thirdly, it potentially covers a wider territory. Drivers are booked through the app – and not looking for return street fares – this means drivers are more willing to go to less dense neighbourhoods, which is great for those who live on the outskirts of a city.

And yet…. I just can’t get past the fact that drivers are untrained, unlicensed and uninsured.

Not only is there the safety issue of getting into a vehicle with a random driver (there’s a long list of lawsuits going through the courts), but I really like that my taxi driver is licensed and regulated; it means they’ve passed a long list of regulations, including set fares and insurance and safety requirements.


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In fact, there’s a growing list of countries that have banned Uber from operating


I definitely support the competition to the industry and hope that it will spur innovation, but until Uber gets their legal wrinkles ironed out, I’m going to be choosing a yellow cab for now.




Canadian slang: Skookum

Today’s slang is a new one to me that is more commonly heard along Canada’s West Coast in British Columbia.


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Meaning: Skookum has a broad range of meanings, but the principal meaning is powerful, strong or really cool.

How to use it: Skookum is an adjective and can be used anywhere you would express a positive opinion for an event, person or object.

Examples: ‘That’s so skookum!’, ‘She’s a skookum woman’


‘Check out this skookum treehouse!’


Plus Plus: Skookum also has two other common uses.

The first one is a variety of monster similar to Bigfoot or Sasquatch.



Skookum could also mean a bad spirit of which crows, eagles, owls, blue jays, and various beasts could be representation. They could inhabit a person and cause serious illness.


And thirdly, Skookum is also a term used for Skookum dolls.


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Skookum dolls were a popular souvenir item in the 1920s – 1960s.


Origin: Skookum is a word from the melting pot language of Chinook Jargon – or Chinuk Wawa as it is often known these days. It’s heyday was in the 1800s – 1900s, but there are still small pockets of people who speak it today.




Chinuk Wawa was commonly spoken in the Pacific Northwest from Northern California all the way up to Alaska. It was used as a shared language by traders, trappers, Catholic missionaries and various ethnic groups (First Nations, Hawaiian, Chinese to name a few).

Movie Review: Clean Spirit

‘Clean Spirit’ is a gripping documentary that follows the Argos-Shimano cycling team as they prepare and then race the 2013 Tour de France.



The Argos-Shimano team is a professional team built on a foundation of solid sprinters with a commitment to racing clean.


This was the 100th Tour de France – and the year after Armstrong had been stripped of his titles. Not surprisingly, fan cynicism is at an all-time high, given that professional cyclists have been brazenly lying about blood doping for over ten years.


FILE - In this July 22, 2004, file photo, Lance Armstrong reacts as he crosses the finish line to win the 17th stage of the Tour de France cycling race between Bourd-d'Oisans and Le Grand Bornand, French Alps. In 2004, Armstrong was also named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year and ESPN's ESPY Award for Best Male Athlete. (AP Photo/Laurent Rebours, File)

Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France in 7 consecutive titles from 1999-2005. He was stripped of his titles and banned from all professional racing in 2012 after a lengthy blood doping scandal.


The movie is full of intimate interviews, candid footage and great questions – and gives us an insider look at what it is like to race professionally in today’s current climate.



German sprinter Marcus Kittel features on the team as one of the world’s best and if you were a fan before this documentary, you’ll be a double-fan afterwards.


This is an outstanding film on what it’s like on the Tour de France today, so do yourself a favour and give this one a watch.

Available on Netflix and here’s the official trailer:


Perfection: everything or nothing

I read recently that perfect doesn’t exist and to continually strive for it will break our own hearts. I have certainly found this to be true as I’ve tried (and failed) time and time again.


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Brene Brown’s latest book ‘Daring Greatly’ speaks about the power of thoroughly embracing our imperfections and getting vulnerable with each other.


The thought struck a chord with me, but even in a purely scientific sense I understand that fundamentally nothing is permanent.

As soon as I think I’ve attained that perfect moment, situation or thing – it’s already shifting into the next moment.



In some ways, you could say that everything is already perfectly imperfect – and is exactly as it is meant to be right here, right now.


The nature of an ideal is that it’s simply not attainable.

And once I accept that applying more force & discipline won’t get me there any faster or better – my only real choice is to relax and go with the flow.











The good news for us perfection-seekers, is that there’s a great openness and freedom in embracing our imperfection – and perhaps the real measure is that we showed up in the first place.



Aussie slang: ocker

Ocker is a surprisingly common piece of slang for a relatively recent import into the Aussie language.


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Meaning: A person who is uncultivated and ignorant. Typically this term is used to refer to a rough Aussie male who has an aggressively thick Aussie accent and manner.



Previous to ‘Crocodile Dundee’, Paul Hogan was famed for his comedy show in which he played a number of characters including this guy – Super Dag: an ‘ocker’ super hero complete with zinc on his nose and terry-towelling hat.


How to use it: ‘Ocker’ is both a noun and an adjective, and given that you’re calling someone ignorant, it might not go over so well –  so use it wisely.

Examples: ‘John is such an ocker’, ‘That was pretty ocker, mate’



An Ocker is traditionally a slobbish guy who might be found on the couch drinking beer and watching football – which is less and less likely these days in the younger generations as most young Aussies take an interest in keeping fit and active.


Plus Plus: 

There is the more obscure female slang, ‘Okerina’. It was popular in the 1970s but is not so commonly heard today.



Dame Edna (played by Aussie comedian Barry Humphries), is no okerina – she prides herself on how sophisticated and cultured she is – and despises ockers. Famed for her outlandish costumes, she’s seen here in her Sydney Opera House dress.



In the typical Australian love of shortening names, Ocker was originally a slang nickname for anyone named Oscar or Horace.


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After the Ginger Meggs cartoon in the 1920s included a character called Ocker Stevens, anyone with the surname Stevens was also likely to be called Ocker.


The more common definition of ‘ocker’ didn’t appear until the 1960s when Comedian Ron Frazer played the character of Ocker on the Mavis Bramston show.



Ocker would appear leaning on a bar, speaking with a broad Australian accent, wearing shorts and thongs, and periodically sinking a glass of beer. As that character was called ‘Ocker’, ocker became the name of the type.


Movie Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service

‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ is an over-the-top British spy film with a top notch cast, some clever stunts and plenty of laughs.

Featuring a cast of Hollywood veterans including Colin Firth, Samuel L.Jackson and Michael Caine as various straight-faced spy archetypes, I got the impression that they had a lot of fun making this film.



Seen here with his double, Colin Firth stands out as an impossibly-British gentleman spy with all kinds of tricks up his sleeve. Or shoe. Or umbrella. (You get the picture)



Samuel L. Jackson plays off Firth’s ‘pomp’ with a great performance as a megalomaniac villain with a lisp who can’t stand the sight of blood.



Welsh actor, Taron Egerton, is a relative newcomer to the acting business, but holds his own as a good hearted, wayward kid.


Michael Vaughn is Director and Co-Writer of the film and although I wasn’t a fan of his earlier writings (‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’, ‘Snatch’), I have enjoyed his later works such as ‘Stardust’ and ‘Kickass’.



Vaughn has a distinctive style of comedy that is quite dry – and at times even ludicrous. This script could have been easily destroyed in the hands of an inexperienced cast.


In criticism, I will say that some of the violence was too much for my tastes, and I’ll admit that I fast forwarded through one particularly extreme scene that seemed to go on and on.

But overall this is a great film for those looking for a well-acted, easygoing movie that doesn’t get too deep. It only just left the cinemas and is available on Netflix.

Check out the official trailer below:


Once we were gardeners


Famed for the haka, tribal warfare, ta moko and the world’s greatest rugby team, it’s comes as no surprise that māori are known as fierce, warrior-like people.



The New Zealand All Blacks rugby team have popularised the haka by intimidating their opponents with it before each game.



Ta Moko is the traditional form of māori tattooing which was outlawed by the British when they colonised New Zealand. Suffice to say, it didn’t die out, but simply went underground – until it’s modern day resurgence and reclamation.


With a history of territorial skirmishes with each other –  and then with the British after colonisation – there’s no doubt that māori are fiery, passionate people.



The Treaty of Waitangi is New Zealand’s founding document and was signed by British and Māori chiefs in 1840. The British and Māori versions of the document varied significantly – including the māori’s authority to retain governance over their own lands (rangatiratanga). The Māori version allowed for rangatiratanga while the British version removed it.


Yet despite the popularised image of the ‘noble savage’, at the time of European arrival in 1769, most māori were peaceful traders and gardeners who fed their whanau (families) from communally worked lands.



Traditionally, Sweet Potato was the most widespread crop, followed by taro, yam, gourd and tī pore (Pacific cabbage tree) being grown in the north. After European arrival, Māori replaced their traditional crops with those brought by Europeans. Their main crop was soon potatoes, which provided a heavier and more reliable food source than kūmara, and could be grown throughout the country. Corn, cabbages, tobacco, carrots, turnips, squash, swedes and new varieties of kūmara were also added to Māori gardens.


And so to that end, perhaps it’s not just that we once were warriors – but also that we once were gardeners.

Aussie slang: Banksia Men

Depending on how you were raised, you may or may not know about Banksia Men – but be assured they were quite real to me as a young child and I would be extra careful to watch for them when I was out walking with my Mum.


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Meaning: Banksia Men are the woody cone of the Banksia plant and are named after a character in May Gibb’s classic Australian children’s stories, ‘Snugglepot and Cuddlepie’.



The first book was published in 1918 and follows the adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie; who are gumnut babies (gumnuts are the nuts from eucalyptus trees).


How to use it: Banksia Men are the main villains of the books and are always referred to as ‘Bad Banksia Men’. You would use it in reference to a particularly evil looking banksia cone – but since I live in Canada these days, I like to use it occasionally on a rough looking pine cone!


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This is your typical banksia cone that you’re likely to come across – they grow abundantly throughout Australia, and are inclined to drop on your head when walking in the bush.



Gibbs added eyes and other facial features to create her ‘Bad Banksia Men’.


Examples: I like to use it the way my Mum does, as a warning – ‘Watch out for the Bad Banksia Men’.



Let’s face it, given the number of potentially dangerous animals in the Australian bush, watching out while you’re walking around is sound advice no matter what the reason.


Origin: The Banksia plant comes in 60 varieties with a range of shapes and sizes. They were named after the British Botanist, Joseph Banks, who traveled with James Cook to Australia on his voyage of discovery in 1770. Banks is famed for making the first major collection of Australian flora, many of which were new to science.



This is one of Banks’ many botanical drawings. Banksia are known for their beautiful, distinctive flower which turns into the ‘cone’ of the bad banksia men as it ages.