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From Snowstorms to Sunscreen (and a little coin jewelry)

Yes, writing about the weather is so boring and banal, but I’m not feeling too inspired these days (which is evident if you’ve been to my apartment recently) but it’s gotten really warm and sunny, all of a sudden. I spent several hours outside selling jewelry at the cart on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, and even though I put on sunscreen, I still managed to get quite a lovely burn on my arms and forehead. It’s only May and I already look like I’m done with summer.

In other news…I do wonder if anyone reading this would be interested in buying some of the jewelry I sell. It’s all made by my dear friend right here in Madison from vintage/recycled materials from all around the world, so think global shop local (I came up with that one!) We don’t have a web presence just yet, but here’s some of the stuff we sell. If you’d like to own any of it, just comment below, I’ll send it to you, and we can work out some type of payment plan or something.

Here is a selection of just a few of the coin earrings that we sell, made from real coins from around the world. They sell for $15 USD, and if you’re interested, just let me know. I took pictures of eight of our stock, from the beginning of the alphabet, and I will take more pictures – we have many more coins, and other items as well – and upload them here sometime. These coins are from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, and Bhutan. I’ll send them anywhere…any takers?

Ooh la la

7

That’s SoMG: The Tromp Family – Make Australia Strange Again?

I know I fell asleep while posting yesterday, so here’s a super-interesting topic to get myself back on track. It’s another episode of That’s SoMG. It didn’t happen to my family, but it happened to family, so it qualifies, I guess. Well, I make the rules here, so it’s time for…

That’s So Jacob presents:

That’s SoMG: Scandals, Secrets, and Shockers That Will Make You Slap Your Hand Over Your Mouth

Episode 4: The Tromp Family

Victoria/New South Wales, Australia, 2016.

To make a long and convoluted story short, or at least shorter and less convoluted, the nation of Australia has been on edge about the whereabouts and…well, what-abouts of the Tromp family of Silvan, Victoria, Australia, for the past week or so. Here’s a rough timeline:

Monday, August 29 (Day 1): The Tromp family – parents Mark and Jacoba, and children Riana, Ella, and Mitchell – leave their farm in Silvan, Victoria, rather abruptly, taking barely anything with them. Mitchell is the only one who takes a phone, but it gets tossed out of a window later that day.

Tuesday, August 30 (Day 2): The family crosses over into New South Wales, where son Mitchell ditches the group at Bathurst, catching a train home to Melbourne via Sydney. The rest of the group head north and end up at Jenolan Caves, where daughters Ella and Riana bail. Riana is found wandering by the side of the highway near Goulburn. Ella acquires a car (it turns out she actually stole it) and arrives back at the family farm that night.

Wednesday, August 31 (Day 3): The family car surfaces in Wangaratta, Victoria, with no sign of parents Mark or Jacoba. Back in Victoria, Mitchell makes it back to the farm.

Thursday, September 1 (Day 4): Jacoba is found by a couple playing Pokemon Go in Yass, a small town in New South Wales. How she got there from Wangaratta is unclear. Mark is still missing.

Saturday, September 3 (Day 6): Mark is located in Wangaratta and brought home. The whole family, except Jacoba and Riana who are in the hospital, is at home and accounted for. The ordeal – or at least, the family road trip part – is over.

So…what does all this mean?

According to the news.com.au article I read, it’s believed to be some type of mass hysteria known as folie-a-deux or folie-a-plusieurs, which means “madness of many.” It is a type of madness/hysteria which happens to people who are in close quarters for a long period of time, usually people with blood or marital bonds, such as a couple, a pair of siblings, or in this case, a whole family. This condition can lead to paranoia, and even more unsettling behavior, as seen here. It’s entirely possible. The reason why people are speculating in this direction is because the family seemed scared and disoriented, didn’t know why they were going somewhere or where they were going, and if you look at their lives, they seem pretty isolated on a little berry farm in a more rural part of their country. It sounds almost too strange to be true, but it is plausible.

I’m fascinated by this mystery, so here are some of my own theories:

Possible Theory Number 1: Planned disappearance. Maybe they wanted to leave their lives as berry farmers behind and make a new start elsewhere, only for the kids to get cold feet and walk out on their parents. Once that happened and it went public that the parents were still missing, their plot was foiled.

Possible Theory Number 2: Some type of murder plot. A newspaper in the UK just ran a piece the other day on fathers/mothers who kill their families in odd, isolated incidents; maybe one or both of the parents had this in the works. It would explain why each of the children left, for fear of their own lives at the hands of their parents. Maybe they are disoriented because the thought of their deaths, or being killed by their parents, is too much for them to handle. However, the UK article mentioned families with small children, and this family’s children were all in their twenties. Also, were there some sort of struggle, they conceivably could have fought back. So this is less likely.

Possible Theory Number 3: Business ploy. Kind of strange way to go about it, but there have been stranger ways to get people to pay attention to you. Remember Richard and Mayumi Heene and their Balloon Boy stunt? It was also very strange and unexplained, until the littlest one blabbed the truth on live television, which got his parents sent to prison. Although if it were some sort of ploy, I don’t think that they would have gone out of their way to be so uncooperative with the law. For example, Ella stealing a car, and Mark being uncooperative with the police when he was apprehended. Those kinds of things are much more negative than taking a train home or being found and taken to a hospital, which are strange but not illegal. Either way, their farm’s business will never be the same.

I really hope we find out more about this whole deal. Maybe it’ll unlock some sort of secret of the human psyche, or something.

Oh, and in other news, I got a great deal on a Supremes record, some jewelry, and a bamboo wall hanging at the Columbus Antique Mall today.

Work Cited:

O’Neill, Marnie. “Is the Tromp family suffering from a rare shared psychotic disorder known as folie à deux?” News.com.au. 5 September 2016. 

5

A Troppo Romp Through the Mulga

In order to get my mind off my impending prelims despite the fact that I ought to be working on them more, I actually started and finished a book this weekend. It’s actually supposed to be on its way to someone in Champaign, Illinois, via PaperBackSwap, but they don’t have to know that. It’s a book that’s been sitting on my shelves for years: Tracks by Robyn Davidson.

Flag of Australia.svg

Tracks is a firsthand account of Davidson’s trek across the Australian Outback with a dog, four naughty camels, and her own wacky self. It starts in Alice Springs, a remote town in Northern Territory (where the first half of the book takes place), and continues as Davidson wends her way through South Australia and Western Australia to the Indian Ocean. It was also made into a movie in 2013 starring Mia Wasikowska, which I’ve heard is much, much better.

The book has its pluses and minuses. First, the positives. I was entertained by Davidson’s spunky “no holds barred” personality and amused by her weirdness, such as the image of her walking naked through the desert because there was no one around. She is definitely someone who marches to the beat of her own drum. She is also brutally honest and doesn’t hold back; when someone treats her poorly, she tells us the truth. She is not afraid to defend herself, whether it’s verbally, against the guy in Alice Springs under whom she apprentices to learn the ins and outs of camel maintenance, or physically, fending off men and wild animals. She’s also more hardworking than almost all other travel writers I’ve read and it seemed like an actual undertaking rather than just a pleasure trip.

However, as someone who is a huge fan of travel writing as a genre, I was kind of disappointed. The book seemed to not really know where it was focusing. The first few pages have a map, but the author doesn’t even leave Alice Springs until halfway through the book. Seriously. You could have chopped the book in half and sold the first part as a manual on the care and keeping of camels. Next, the style of writing seemed kind of sloppy. The author used a lot of jargon and dialect, and often wrote seemingly in stream-of-consciousness; I didn’t need to know her every thought. The journey part of the book seemed kind of lackluster as well. I suppose it was not the most glamorous of trips, but she seemed so irritated the whole time. There were obvious reasons why, but after a while it seemed like she was doing it because someone told her to. And though it’s not like every travel book needs to have an Eat Pray Love style moment of great spiritual meaning, it could have been a little brighter – she’s on this amazing adventure, yet she has so much to complain about. That’s the thing that bothered me the most – aside from the choppy writing, Robyn Davidson just came off as so ungrateful and pithy. She was sponsored by National Geographic and had a photographer for parts of the journey; she should have been more cooperative, or just told them all to screw off and have that be the end of it. She was upset when people wanted to learn more about her, take pictures with her, or just in general get some info on her well-being; well, as a person traveling through the Australian desert alone with a bunch of camels, do you think that’s not going to attract attention? The last few chapters of the book, while the most exciting parts of the journey, are tough to stomach because of her attitude. She is so loath to talk to the press that she deliberately misleads people, takes pleasure in throwing them off her trail, and even changes her route at the last minute to avoid some people who are waiting to talk to her at the end of her journey. It’s not like she’s a criminal on the run, and while these people might be a nuisance, what would you expect?

Aside from the word troppo, meaning “crazy,” I learned a few new words to add to my collection of…words:

  • Yalka – a type of bush onion. Comes from Arrernte, an Australian tribal language.
  • Mulga – a type of Australian tree, also a term for the Australian Outback in general, as in “going to the mulga.” Comes from Yuwaalaraay, another tribal language.
  • Quandong – a type of Australian fruit tree. Comes from Wiradjuri, another Australian tribal language.
  • Pituri (pronounced PITCH-er-ee) – another type of Australian tree, also a mild narcotic. Comes from Wiradjuri.

This book review was brought to you by the stuff stated in the first paragraph, and having no direction in life.

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Flip The Script: Five New Guinea Plays

Well hello there again.

I’ve been on a Flip the Script binge, so today I bring you Episode 5 of this series. Well, actually, it’s Episode 4, but I’m calling it Episode 5 because I make the rules, and because another episode or two is sure to appear tomorrow since I have a bunch of plays due at the library on Wednesday. And for today’s episode, I bring you five plays in one, in a familiar place. In true Lost fashion…

That’s So Jacob Presents: Flip the Script

Episode 5: Five New Guinea Plays

This delightful little collection was actually the impetus for my English paper on the ever-lovely Nora-Vagi Brash and Which Way, Big Man? My journey to Papua New Guinea started off with a mention of the play The Ungrateful Daughter in one of the many postcolonial drama books edited by Helen Gilbert. When thinking about a project for English class, for some reason, this play that I always wanted to investigate came to mind. It was only available in a little book called Five New Guinea Plays, which the library had but alas, I could not find it. Eventually, I found not one but three copies of Brash’s play, and then I was summoned back to the library. Apparently, the librarian had put in a request for me, and it had gone as far as Penn State, who graciously shipped me their copy. So, thanks Penn State…I guess this kind of makes you a sponsor.

But now, to the plays.

Like the title says, there are five plays here. All premiered at the Prompt Theatre, Canberra, Australia. The Unexpected Hawk and Alive premiered on 20 August 1969, and the other three on 20 April 1970.

First up: Manki Masta, Kumalau Tawali.

Recap

Native islander Poro seeks a better life for himself and his family, so he shows up at the door of Mr. and Mrs. Jones, hoping to be their houseboy. His family has mixed feelings about the white people after hearing about all the strange objects they have. One day, while Poro is cleaning, the Jones children break a mirror and blame it on Poro, who is promptly fired and sent home in shame and disbelief.

My Thoughts

A very neat piece which opens up a lot of questions. Communication is key here, between Poro and his family, and between Poro and the Jones family. At home, Poro speaks eloquently and mellifluously to his wife and friends, describing the Jones family to a tee, whereas when he is in the Jones home, his words come out in short, ungrammatical bursts. It tells much about the native propensity to accept blame, causing misunderstood consequences.

Second: Cargo, Arthur Jawodimhari.

Recap

Albert Maclaren, an Anglican priest, has landed on Papua in order to educate the locals about Christianity and teach them skills such as reading and writing. Unable to grasp the concept of God, the tribe believes that God is actually their revered dead ancestors. After a misreading of labels on a cargo shipment and an odd dream by a local woman, the group seizes the cargo, at a price.

My Thoughts

I had trouble making heads or tails of it. The character names are similar: Ewa, Ewage, and others. There were also a lot of them and I wasn’t sure who was on what side. Apparently it’s based on a real thing called a cargo cult.