Games people play

Olympic Rant #11 Games reputation on the chopping block

WHEN I heard the IOC had booted out a referee and the coppers had lumbered an Olympic tweeter, I thought it best to turn my attention to an alternative spectacular, the annual Pine Rivers Show.
No axes in the back at the Pine Rivers Show
In the noble sport of bashing, referee Ishanguly Meretnyyazov of Turkmenistan was punted from the London games after he failed to stop a match despite a fighter from Azerbaijan being knocked to the canvas six times.
Amazingly, judges awarded the fight to the Azerbaijani Magomed Abdulhamidov, but that decision was soon reversed amid allegations of a $2 million bribe by Azerbaijan. Wow, who would have thought bribery and match fixing would have crept into the pristine sport of bashing?
Outside the bashing ring, police arrested a 17-year-old for tweeting “negative messages” with reference to Olympic diver Tom Daley’s dead father. Wow, who would have thought an offensive message would be posted on Twitter? Police throughout the world are now investigating 45, 762, 811 people over possible similar offences.
Some journos have taken to referring to these London Olympics as the Twitter Games. In my day job, I tweet a bit about the Olympics among posts on more pressing local matters. (I work for what used to be called a suburban newspaper but we have rebadged ourself as a community newspaper.) In these rants, I have quoted a couple of people’s tweets. I am far from an astronaut in the tweet universe but I am not a black hole, either.
On our papers Facebook pages, I posted the discussion point of whether the gun Chinese swimmer was Ye Shiwen or Shiwen Ye. The topic was bubbling nicely when my posts and its attached comments disappeared. Our IT guru assured me the posts were there on the Faceboook page but nobody could see them. This seemed like a great metaphysical conundrum along the lines of “if a tree falls in the forest…” But it curtailed one of my more promising social-media adventures.
One positive thing I will say about my Twitter universe is all the stars in it are rarely negative or insulting. I will just check my Twitter account to see how many stars there are.  I have 22 followers and I follow 30 people. I try to keep parity between followers and followees, but it seems I have slipped up a bit lately.
I read everything I can lay my screen on about social-media strategy. Bent Banana Books is a professional publisher, after all. We need to go into the marketplace and kick arse, ass in America, though I do not get the metaphor of booting a donkey, in the bum, or anyone else, for that matter. I vow to follow hundreds of people hoping some will reciprocate.  But I find it a bit contrived. Then I start getting picky about whom to follow. Those I choose do not follow me back. It’s a mess. One woman – not one of my stars – tweeted anyone with fewer than 100 followers –she actually tweeted less than 100 but I have cleaned her grammar for her – was a cyber stalker. For some reason, her tweet made me feel better.
I believe I should have 2000 followers because what I tweet is really really relevant. Others seem to disagree. They could be right.
After reading depressing reports from the London Olympics, I decided to go to the Pine Rivers Show.

Pine Rivers is a district north of Brisbane. This is its 108th show and the showground is just across the road from where I live.
Pine Rivers has a population of about 130, 000. More than 30,000 people attend the show each year. Per capita, the Pine Rivers Show is far more popular than the London Olympics. No-one watches the show on TV, but.
I tweeted and Facebooked some of my observations to our newspaper accounts. It is my day off, but what the heck, what are a few lousy tweets between friends. I will share some of the tweets and posts, but only the ones which set the scene or demonstrate how wily I am in linking the Pine Rivers Show to the London Olympics.

1. #pineriversshow This is shaping as the best Pine Rivers Show ever. If you like leisurely strolls head down in the next few hours before the burst of the late afternoon crowds.

#pineriversshow Check out 3-month-old alpaca named Short Circuit and 10-month-old miniature long-hair goat Twiggy. They are in the farmyard.

Ugandan drummer Joseph Matovu is conducting free drumming workshops. The kids from Pine Rivers Special School (for disabled students) really pounded out the beat for Old McDonald Had a Farm. “They are fantastic,” Joseph said of the kids. Joseph is fantastic, too.

The variety of food is amazing. You have the old standards of Dagwood Dogs, burgers and chips, as well as the scouts’ sausage sizzle and the Rotary sangers. But there are also wood-fired pizzas, American-style burgers, Teppanyati noodles, Turkish gozleme which is beef cheese and spinach on pita bread and yakitori, Japanese chicken skewers. From the Taste of Greece stall I bought the spanakopita (spinach and feta pie) Yum-eee! The vendor said I pronounced spanakopita so well, he gave me an extra pie free.

#pineriversshow I don’t know what school it was but props for the kids who waited patiently in a 50-metre line to get into the show. They spent the waiting time pointing out to one another all the wonders inside.
                                                     
Pine Rivers was only settled by the White invaders in the mid-1880s and the district only began to become (sub)urbanised 30 or so years ago.  (In 1966 the population was fewer than 14,000). It has nowhere near the rich cultural history of the London and the local council refuses to heritage-list significant sites and buildings in Pine Rivers district. Yet Pine Rivers can host a friendly show of competitions – cooking, horticulture, beef cattle, poultry, arts & crafts, photography, wood-chopping, needlework, school work, colouring-in, show jumping, a rodeo and some I cannot recall – as well as exhibitions and entertainments, many with an international flavour.
I loved it when the Greek man gave me an extra pie for showing the respect to try to pronounce one of his national dishes as best I could.
On that positive message, let’s play the Australian National Anthem for London 2012.

Bernie Dowling, August 3, 2012

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