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Irony Alert!: This blog may be a tad contrary.

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February 01, 2008


Jonathan Shaw

Yes, I've tried too. In the late 80s in Massachusetts, I was asked to explain the Castanets T-Shirt I was wearing, which featured the text, "Dags with Heart". (The Castanets were a Newcastle-derived band that included at various stages Mikey Robins, The Sandman, Shirley Purvis: they developed from an earlier group The Musical Flags (Dance Between Them), which would have been just as hard to explain.) I tried to liken dags to nerds as well. I don't think I had a lot of success, but we had an interesting conversation about nerds as moral heroes. This was some years before nerds became cool, even before The Revenge of the Nerds.

Coy Lurker

Sounds like a nice NY itinerary to me -- I'm envious.
Re: dag. I've also tried to explain the term in the US. It's hard to find an equivalent that isn't more pejorative, and which suggests the dag's potential fond acceptance in different social groups. To me the term nerd has too much of a connotation of a Harry high-pants ostracised in the corner of the playground with others of his/her kind. I would imagine Yiddish must have a term that comes close, though "nebbish" seems too much like "nerd" and a "schlemiel" is probably more of a loser...?

Pavlov's Cat

Great post. I particularly enjoyed the phrase 'refreshingly, nobody dies'.

Your disquisition on dags reminds me of the lovely moment in a Helen Garner essay (can't remember which, alas) where one of her sisters (I think) is wearing what the family has traditionally referred to as 'old duck sandals' and one sister says to another 'They're so daggy they're almost CLEVER.'


I went to talent night at the Apollo too - and 'daggy' is a pretty good word for all the contestants. Japanese tour groups must be a fixture.

Francis Xavier Holden

aah the 50s beatnik look in Melbourne. Black Sloppy Joe Jumper over black leggings. Cleverly updated to the late 90s with blunnies.

Still a favoured look coming in from the hills down around Apollo Bay in winter or Daylesford/Castlemaine anytime. Usually teamed with a perennial drum rollie and a fetching old footy beanie. Blunnies often swapped for rubber boots.

Francis Xavier Holden

Sorry. I do know RMs aren't blunnies. RMs would signify discreetly academic /writer to those in the know. Squatter to others.

Or Prime Minister


I saw Four Months etc at the Brisbane Film Festival and like you didn't know it was about abortion beforehand. I went with a couple of friends and none of us could just go home afterwards, we needed to do something life affirming, even if that was just hanging out and drinking wine. As you say, a really effective film.


"Shy Japanese girl doing impromptu rap with backflips"?
Methinks the shyness is a clever front for a wildly exhibitionist nature.
What an exotic life you lead.


Re: dags: part of the problem seems to be that it's an uber-set of social otherness which can encompass other subsets like nerd, dork, prat, etc, without being reduceable to any one of them. And none of these terms quite convey the sense of laconic affection that CL notes.

When I was in England, I used to use 'prat' instead of dag and 'naff' instead of daggy, but neither of these are quite right ('prat' has more the connotation of 'pill'). The English are, however, somewhat more familiar with the word 'dag' because of their enthusiastic Aussie soap watching.

FXH -- I don't think the Melbourne 50s beatniks would have had lurid fluoro stripes down the sides of their leggings. If I wore a pair of jodphurs, maybe I could blend in at Apollo Bay with some of the latte matrons. I used to dress like this in my impoverished student days *with* Blunnies.

Mikhela -- it often seems fairly humdrum to me.

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