Sunday, February 27, 2011

"I am home" - a short film by Jason Chan

Created by Jason Chan, who grew up in Western Australia, this film was entered into a 90-second film competition in Singapore, where it was voted the people's choice runner up. It nicely captures some of the conflicts of being Asian in Australia.

0:16 - 0:28: This, and then some.

(Hat tip: Yuey)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Multicultural Australia in the spotlight

Multiculturalism has been the subject of some debate in the media and political spheres recently in Australia. It's no great surprise, following from recent pronouncements from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British PM David Cameron that were critical of how such a policy had worked out in their countries. And it goes hand-in-hand with the ever-present debate about asylum seekers who arrive by boat.

Here's a selection of various takes on the subject.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen recently gave a strong endorsement of multiculturalism in a speech to the Sydney Insititute. This is touched on in the article Weighed down by the M-word by Paul Kelly in The Australian. However shortly after, Bowen seemed not to walk the walk, as he was roundly criticised for his illogical treatment of a 9 year-old orphaned Afghani asylum seeker. Two halves of the asylum seeker debate at Grog's Gamut blog, nicely unveils how the two major parties are playing both sides of the fence on the immigration/multiculturalism issue. Most noteworthy was the allegation that Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison had wanted to exploit anti-Muslim sentiment as an electoral strategy.

A national study into attitudes towards race was released this week. The Sydney Morning Herald's take on this begins with the headline: Australia tolerant of cultural differences: study. By contrast, SBS News takes the same story and calls it "One in ten" Australians is racist. Glass half-full or half-empty? Conservative figurehead Andrew Bolt is unsurprisingly suspicious of the whole shebang (Racism figures just don't add up). Also unsurprisingly, he declares Muslim integration the real problem. His colleague Alan Howe seems to take the same tack, but with a more positive outlook (We are all in this nation's mix).
Check also Ross Gittins' exploration of our nation's deep seated fears (A crack in the wall of xenophobia), and David Penberthy's article in The Punch (Multiculturalism: something we can all joke about).

As for my own views on the subject, I'll rummage around and come up with something shortly for ya.

Friday, February 18, 2011

"The Qu'osby Show"

Aasif Mandvi at The Daily Show sees if a Cosby-style sitcom would work in combating negative stereotypes about Muslims. Cleverness ensues.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Allah in the Family
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Great Black Cover Versions of White Songs, Part 2

Part 1 is here. Plus check the black covers of Light My Fire, here.

Al Green - "I Want To Hold Your Hand"
It's the Fab Four on chitlins and collard greens, courtesy of the steamy Memphis groove that producer Willie Mitchell cooks up for this cover. More than most soul artists of his era, The Reverend Al Green had a penchant for covering the pop, rock and country standards of the day. But no matter what song he sings, it always sounds unmistakably Al Green.

Stevie Wonder - "We Can Work It Out"
Another Beatles cover. An extremely prolific songwriter, Stevie was not really known for recording other people's work, but he kills it with this one. It's got a thrust to it that the original seems to lack, to my ears.

Run DMC and Aerosmith - "Walk This Way"
Such a masterful collaboration - as good as Aerosmith's original hit in 1977 was, it now sounds naked without Jam Master Jay's turntables, and Run-DMC's "She told me to..." bit in the chorus. So it's funny to think that until Rick Rubin played the song to them during the recording sessions of Raising Hell in 1986, Run-DMC had never even heard it, didn't even know who Aerosmith were, and thought covering the song was a lame idea. Fortunately, Rubin persisted, the rappers warmed to the idea, and Joe Perry and Steven Tyler were brought in to re-record their classic hit. It proved a great move for Aerosmith, reviving a career that had been flagging, but its impact on rap, and music in general, was stratospheric. It was the first rap song to break the Billboard top 5, and was rocky enough to get onto MTV, which meant that a whole new audience got their first proper taste of this new fad emanating from NYC's black community. All the bands from the 90s to today who combine rap and hard rock elements, from Limp Bizkit to Linkin Park, owe a debt of gratitude to these pioneers.

Martin Luther - "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"
Some Beatles again. Fab Four enthusiasts will no doubt take me to task for this, but let's be honest - as singers, The Beatles' members were functional rather than amazing. Which means that their often wonderful material is ripe for reinterpretation by better singers. Martin Luther is one of those guys who should be a massive star, but for some reason is not. This song, never released as a single, appears on the soundtrack of Across the Universe.

Donny Hathaway - "Jealous Guy"
Hathaway is arguably the greatest soul singer that most people have never heard of, yet his vocal technique has proved enormously influential on R&B stars throughout the years - even Stevie Wonder is said to have imitated him to a degree. Not a prolific songwriter, Hathaway excelled at reinterpreting the works of others, wrapping his rich baritone around the arrangement like no one else. Yet another case of a soul artist applying their talents to the brilliant songwriting of John Lennon and coming up with something arguably better than Lennon himself.

Dennis Brown - "Black Magic Woman"
While most people know this as a Santana song, it was originally written by Peter Green, who recorded it with his band Fleetwood Mac. It only seems fitting that a Caribbean artist like Dennis Brown would cover a song with this title, and a fine job he does too, although Santana's sublime Latin-rock cover is undoubtedly the definitive version.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tiger Airways - a cunning predator of the unwary

Budget airlines are tricky creatures. Bless them for bringing extra competition to the market, but my goodness can they be sneaky. AirAsia, who I fly with regularly, have some sneaky tendencies as their web-booking system attempts to sneak a few sneaky hidden charges past you as you blithely click through - but I have found it to be mostly harmless, if a bit too sneaky.

This past weekend I flew Tiger Airways for the first time. And probably the last.

A scan through the interwebs will reveal a variety of complaints - poor service, delays, cancellations, hidden charges - about Tiger, which is based in Singapore but runs many domestic flights throughout Australia. What put me in a foul mood for a sizeable chunk of my weekend was Tiger's online check-in policy. Lots of airlines offer online check-in option these days, and generally it's a good thing which can save you time you might otherwise spend in a queue. But Tiger give it a twist and charge you money if you don't check in online.

Turn up to their counter without having checked in, and they slug you with a fee of $25. According to this news story, it was only $15 barely 8 months ago. (And yes, I wish I hadn't only read that article just now.) Now technically speaking, this information is available when you book the flight, but it's not completely obvious - it's unclear enough for lots of people to miss it, anyway. And given that most people book flights more than a week in advance, it is easy to forget that there even was an online check-in option, which is what happened in my case.

So my very first experience of walking into a Tiger terminal was being hit up for an unexpected $25. I'm sure you'll agree it's not a good first impression. I hadn't even got on board the plane yet and already I was vowing never to fly with them again. And if you are thinking that perhaps I'm the only fool to get caught with this fee, the person at the counter next to me also got stung, as did the couple in front of me on the return leg. I saw the wallets come out, and the looks of bewilderment and disgust on their faces.

Now $25 is not all that much money, you might say. And Tiger has every right to have this as their policy if they wish. Fair enough.

I just don't like businesses that treat their customers with contempt. Because no matter how Tiger's Australian Managing Director might mouth things like "It's about unbundling all the extras and being transparent about all charges to allow customers to tailor their travel needs to their budget", the web check-in is ultimately just a trick to bleed some extra money from unsuspecting customers. And those are customers who will feel cheated, start their journey on a sour note and be less likely to fly with Tiger in the future.

The thing is, Tiger clearly thinks that making that $25 is worth that horrible first impression. And that ethos fills me with contempt. For all AirAsia's hidden charges, they still itemise it for you before you decide to pay, so you can see what you have unknowingly upgraded to, so they are not all that hidden.
I also experienced delays on both of my flights this past weekend. About 30 and 45 minutes, which is not horrible in the scheme of things. But given that Tiger staff are well-known to be obsessively rigid in punishing anyone who turns up even a minute after the designated check-in time, it's kinda poor form for them to routinely have late departure times. If I turn up late for check-in and simply said "I apologise for the inconvenience caused", would their staff accept me with the same shrug of their shoulders with which I am expected to accept their apologetic voiceover?

My colleague and his family once flew Tiger to his holiday destination, and for the return journey turned up to the check-in counter 5 minutes late (he'd rushed there from a medical clinic because he'd been bleeding out of his ear). No amount of negotiation or begging would convince the Tiger staff to let them check in, which meant their tickets were wasted. (I'll bet as well the plane was delayed more than 5 minutes, btw.) To get home in a timely fashion, they had to purchase tickets with another airline, which cost my colleague over $1000 extra. Now, it is not uncommon for airlines to enforce this cut-off time with some rigidity, but you have to wonder. They didn't really gain anything by forbidding these people from boarding - the seats had already been paid for, and now they would just be empty. But the cost to them is that one family will certainly never fly with them again, and each member will undoubtedly spread the bad word to friends and acquaintances (unfortunately, not to me - I only heard this story after venting my own annoyance with the airline).

It seems to be terrible business practice, but one that is totally consistent with Tiger's way of doing things.
I'll say in fairness that while a couple of the Tiger staff I dealt with on the plane and on the ground were surly, the rest seemed pleasant. And Tiger does still fill a purpose - it has a slight lowering effect on the prices of other airlines through the power of competition.

All budget airline tickets need to be purchased with care - sometimes it does pay to read the fine print. As I said, they are a tricky species. But Tiger seems to be vying for the title of the trickiest of them all. Perhaps, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for after all. Caveat emptor.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Guess who's Asian? (Part 8)

More famous folks you may not have known were Asian. Well, a bit Asian.

Ok I'll admit: given that I'm not a teenage girl, I have only a very vague idea of who Chad Michael Murray is. Apparently he's hot or something and he was on One Tree Hill. Oh and his mother is half-Japanese.

Seen that show True Beauty? If not, don't rush, it's one of those programs where self-absorbed good-looking people compete to see who can be the biggest douche. Or something. Charged with bringing this rabble to the masses is former Miss Teen USA and MTV TRL host Vanessa Minnillo. She's Filipino on her mother's side, and Italian and Irish on her father's.

Remember that song Sway? A big hit in Australia and New Zealand in the late 90s that also found its way onto the American Pie soundtrack. A beautiful tune too. Upon seeing it's New Zealand-born singer, Bic Runga, I was intrigued by her appearance? Asian or Islander? Turns out she's both, product of a Maori father and Chinese Malaysian mother.

I'll admit I don't quite "get" Nicki Minaj, but the rap star has won 7 BET Hip-hop Awards and been nominated for a Grammy, so someone is obviously digging it. Don't mind me, I'm getting old. Born in Trinidad, she is of mixed Indian- and Afro-Trinidadian parentage, although the exact details seem to vary all over the interwebs. Apparently there's some Chinese in there as well, but I dunno. The Indian is on her Dad's side anyway, although he may be part black. Her real name is Onika Tanya Maraj.

One of my very favourite songs from the last few years is the effervescent faux-British pop gem I'm not gonna teach your boyfriend how to dance with you by The Black Kids. Turns out their dangerously handsome and excellently named lead singer Reggie Youngblood and his foxy sister, keyboardist and vocalist Ali Youngblood, are Blasian. Half black, half Filipino, and they're from Florida. None of which explains why Reggie sounds like such a dead ringer for Robert Smith of The Cure, of course. Check the song out here, it really is pretty damn awesome if you like that fey indie kid sort of thing.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Random funny food things

You may remember that Jamie Oliver once had a show called The Naked Chef. Given that he is a man and never actually got naked, it was clearly seen as a hugely wasted opportunity by some canny Hong Kong TV execs.

A Hong Kong adult channel is set to debut a cooking show headlined by a nude host who will prepare Cantonese dishes wearing a transparent apron — an apparent bid to encourage more men to cook.
Host Flora Cheung will start each 30-minute show shopping for fresh ingredients in the city's famous wet markets, undressing once she is back in the privacy of her studio kitchen, the South China Morning Post reported. Cheung, who admits she has never worked in a restaurant kitchen, said she hopes the risque show will draw more men into the kitchen. The first episode is set to air later this month.
"I have always liked cooking and I thought I should share (the) enjoyment with more people," the 26-year-old told the Post.
"Most men don't like to cook, but I want to get them interested ... From shopping to cooking, it's the whole shebang," Cheung added.
The host promised that her tailor-made, transparent apron won't leave much to the imagination. "It covers pretty much everything but hides nothing," she was quoted as saying.
Producer Jesse Au told the paper that the show may spawn similar offerings with nude hosts cooking up a range of Asian cuisines: "This could be an endless series if it proves popular."(Source)
Note that it's not about mindless titillation at all - it's aimed at encouraging men to cook. See? All about the betterment of society. How caring of them.

Speaking of sexy cookery, ever watch Nigella Bites? I always wondered if she really meant to make everything sound like a double-entendre, or if it was just my imagination. This hilarious video makes clear that it was purposeful.

Meanwhile, a short burst of foodie goodness from The Onion:

And a look back at the clever British series Posh Nosh, which has a nice poke at the elitist aspects of foodie culture.

Viking influence on the English language

The language we now know as English is a product of the numerous invasions of warlike peoples into the British Isles. The Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians were all Germanic-speaking peoples whose original territories stretched from Holland to the Danish peninsula, and who took over England in the early 5th century AD. Frisian (spoken today only in coastal and island areas of the Netherlands) remains the closest living relative to English. What we now know as Old English is a hybrid of these tongues with traces of Latin, brought by the previous Roman rulers of Britain.

In the 8th century, Britain faced another invasion of an aggressive Germanic people - the Vikings. Some Norse raiders came from Sweden and Norway, but the vast majority who arrived in Britain were from Denmark. Soon, raiding was followed by settlement along the coasts and rivers, and overthrow of local rulers. By the late 9th century, Viking descendants controlled virtually the whole eastern half of England, an area which came to be known as the Danelaw.

Danish rule really only lasted until 954, yet this period would leave a lasting impact on the English language.

Many English words beginning with th originate from Old Norse, although the sound did already exist in Old English. Examples:
thrall (slave)

Likewise, most English words starting with sk are Norse in origin, such as:

Given the seagoing ways and cold northern homeland of the Vikings, it makes sense that they brought into English a number of words that reflected their lifestyle and origins. Aside from the aforementioned skate and ski, there is also:
sled, sledge
wake (the nautical term)

Other Norse-derived words include anger, ugly, knife, troll, boulder, slang, tackle, whore, keg, husband, egg, bun, clown, cake, freckle, window, gate, and many more. There are some which are possibly Norse in origin but are more ambiguous; because Old Norse and Old English are Germanic in origin, they share many similar words, so it is not always easy to tell which was a Norse introduction and which is simply a similar word of Anglo-Saxon provenance.

We owe many common English names to the Danish invaders. Eric descends from the common Norse name Erik or Eirik. Garth comes from the Old Norse word for a forest clearing. Howard appears to be a variation of the Scandinavian Havard.
Probably the most common Norse contribution to English names is the addition of the patronymic -son at the end of a word. A patronymic is a name component that indicates the person's paternal ancestry, and it is common in different forms throughout Europe. So Andersson is the son of Anders, Williamson is William's son, and so on. (Parallels are the Spanish -ez, Serbian -ic, Russian -ov, Ukrainian -enko, Scottish Mac- and Irish O'.)
Numerous place names are Norse in origin too.
The suffix -by means yard, farmstead or village. This is seen in place names such as Grimsby, Normanby, Rugby, Selby, Barnby and Sotheby. This is also the origin of the term by-law, meaning the law of a local area.
Thwaite means "meadow" in Old Norse and appears in place names such as Braithwaite and Langthwaite.
Thorpe is another Norse name for village, and is seen in place names like Winthorpe and Scunthorpe.

The names Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday are named after the Old Germanic gods that both the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings believed in - Tiw (Norse Tyr), Wodin (Odin) and Frige (Freyja) . But they are from Old English and thus predate Viking contact. However, Thursday does bear the stamp of Norse influence. In Old English it was called Thunorsdag, named after the god Thunor (meaning Thunder). It is very similar to the German equivalent, Donnerstag. However, the Danish referred to Thunor as Thor, and thus it became known as Thorsdag in Danelaw, which crept into the language of the rest of England. Over time Thorsdag became Thursday.

The Normans, who were later to conquer England and have an even more profound effect on its language, were of Viking stock (their name Norman means "north men"). The Normans were Vikings from Denmark and elsewhere who settled in Northern France and adopted the local language and culture, but they did contribute quite a few words into the vocabulary of Modern French, particularly nautical terms.

The Norse influence in England is more prominent in the Northeastern areas that were part of the old Danelaw. Yorkshire is the most obvious example, where Norse words live on in local slang; arse is the example of a Norse-derived word that was originally Yorkshire dialect slang, which has subsequently passed into the broader English vernacular. There are hundred of place names in Yorkshire with -by and -thorpe, and the accent bears a distinct Norse stamp as well. There's a good example of this here at the British Library's sound recordings. You can also check the next couple of clips for comparison. Don't worry about the content - the first is a interview with two footballers in Danish, the second is a caricature of the Sheffield accent (South Yorkshire). Maybe you can see some similarities.

See also:

English words of Indian origin

Cooties in your Poontang: Filipino words in the English language

How language tells the history of Malaysia and Indonesia

How Muslim names evolve across the world

Pilaf, paella and pulao - how a rice dish conquered the world

So, who really invented noodles? China or Italy?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Ughh... and it was hairy...

In case you thought the Japanese had cornered the market for perverse and bizarre game shows, Denmark's Total Blackout proves otherwise.

But seriously, if you were a contestant, wouldn't you have foreseen this eventuality straight away upon learning the premise of the show?
You also have to wonder what the guy did to ensure his ass was at just the right level of stankiness.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Top Gear provokes the ire of Mexicans

The hosts of the BBC's popular motoring program Top Gear found themselves under fire this week after some disparaging comments about Mexicans.
The actual offending footage of Richard Hammond, James May and Jeremy Clarkson is a bit hard to find but you should be able to see it here.

HammondCars reflect national characteristics, don't they, so German cars are very well built and ruthlessly efficient, Italian cars are a bit flamboyant and quick, a Mexican car's just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight... leaning against a fence asleep, looking at a cactus, with a blanket with a hole in the middle as a coat.
May: It is interesting, isn't it, because they can't do food, the Mexicans, can they? Because it's all like sick with cheese on it, I mean...
Hammond: Refried sick!
MayYeah, refried sick.
HammondI'm sorry, but just imagine waking up and remembering you're Mexican: 'oh, no'.
Clarkson: No, it'd be brilliant… because you could just go straight back to sleep again.

They also joked that they were unlikely to get many complaints from the Mexican ambassador because he'd probably be snoozing in his chair. Snoozing or not, the ambassador did hear it, and made an official complaint.

And yes, you did hear that right: that was James May claiming that Mexicans "can't do food". May is British. Just think about that for a second.

Perhaps the worst comment of the lot, which surprisingly hasn't got that much attention, comes from Richard Hammond. "Imagine waking up and remembering that you're Mexican," he says, making a disgusted face.

That so offended Manchester United's striker Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez that he participated in a campaign with PowerAde, that turns the comment on its head. Next to an image of the proud Hernandez reads, "Yes, imagine waking up and remembering that you are Mexican." Beneath it reads, "Less prejudice. More exercise."

The BBC have duly apologised, but also said that remarks centring on stereotypes of various nationalities are part of British humour.

I don't necessarily have a problem with that in theory. Jokes about various ethnic stereotypes can be and often are funny. But there's only a certain extent to which you should take them, and I would certainly say that the Top Gear hosts stepped way over the line.

It's notable also that this is hardly an isolated incident. There's plenty of form there, and it wouldn't be overly cynical to assume that it is mostly about attention-seeking. It was after all a scripted segment, not an impromptu riff.

Jeremy Clarkson, for example, has been referred to as a "dazzling hero of political correctness", which is certainly one way of putting it. In one incident in 2007, he found himself being criticised in the Malaysian Parliament after describing the Malaysian Perodua Kelisa car as one of the worst in the world, claiming its name was like a disease and suggested it was built in jungles by people who wear leaves for shoes. He then attacked the car with a sledgehammer and then blew it up.

Should Mexicans, and any other ethnicity offended by Top Gear and its presenters, just grow a thicker skin and deal with it? Is it any worse than the jokes British comedians make about Americans and Australians and Scots and Northerners and Welsh and French people? Or for that matter, the jokes Australians make about Brits and New Zealanders, and so on?

And at what point does someone cease being "cheekily irreverent" and "politically incorrect" and just become an offensive tosser?

I cannot express it any more eloquently than another British comic, Steve Coogan, who confesses to being a big fan of the show, and has appeared on it, but wrote in The Guardian that the hosts have well overstepped the mark this time.

If I say anything remotely racist or sexist as Alan Partridge, for example, the joke is abundantly clear. We are laughing at a lack of judgment and ignorance. With Top Gear it is three rich, middle-aged men laughing at poor Mexicans. Brave, groundbreaking stuff, eh?
There is a strong ethical dimension to the best comedy. Not only does it avoid reinforcing prejudices, it actively challenges them. Put simply, in comedy, as in life, we ought to think before we speak. This wasn't one of those occasions. In fact, the comments were about as funny as a cold sweat followed by shooting pains down the left arm. In fact, if I can borrow from the Wildean wit of Richard Hammond, the comic approach was "lazy", "feckless" and "flatulent".
Richard has his tongue so far down the back of Jeremy's trousers he could forge a career as the back end of a pantomime horse. His attempt to foster some Clarkson-like maverick status with his "edgy" humour is truly tragic. He reminds you of the squirt at school as he hangs round Clarkson the bully, as if to say, "I'm with him". Meanwhile, James May stands at the back holding their coats as they beat up the boy with the stutter.
It's not entirely their fault, of course. Part of the blame must lie with what some like to call the "postmodern" reaction to overzealous political correctness. Sometimes, it's true, things need a shakeup; orthodoxies need to be challenged. But this sort of ironic approach has been a licence for any halfwit to vent the prejudices they'd been keeping in the closet since Love Thy Neighbour was taken off the air.
The Lads have this strange notion that if they are being offensive it bestows on them a kind of anti-establishment aura of coolness; in fact, like their leather jackets and jeans, it is uber-conservative (which isn't cool).
Here's another perspective on Top Gear's brand of "edgy" humour, which precedes this particular incident.

See also: Racial humour - is it ever OK?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Don't get a divorce, get a donut

This is another from the I Love Local Commercials series from comedians Rhett and Link. It's funny, adorable and brilliantly low-budget.

The story behind the scenes is also worth watching.

See also their ad for The Red House - it's where white people and black people buy furniture.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mistakes Indonesians make when trying to speak English

So, yesterday I am with my girlfriend and he want to buy a pair of earring, but I spend the money on some shirt for him instead.

Anyone who speaks a language that is not their first is going to make mistakes. It's a universal phenomenon. But if we look at particular cultural and linguistic groups, we can notice certain specific kinds of mistakes common to that group.

An obvious and well-known example is the Japanese difficulty in pronouncing the sound /l/, often rendering it as an /r/ instead. But these sorts of culturally-specific mistakes are not just in pronunciation. They may be in grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure, or even in concepts that differ from culture to culture.

I'm using the Indonesian language here as an example. By extension, this also includes Malay, of which Indonesian is really a dialect. (Although given that Malaysians are normally exposed to English earlier on than Indonesians are, they might not make the same mistakes.)

People who speak English as a mother tongue often take for granted what a damn complicated language it is. By contrast, Indonesian is a very simple language in many ways, and it is in this contrast in approaches that some of the most common mistakes are made.

- INDONESIAN GENDER CONFUSION. (Nothing to do with transexuals here.)
Indonesian does not distinguish between “he”, “she” and “it”. When it comes to third-person singular pronouns, Indonesians just use the same word (dia) no matter whether it's a male, female or an animal without any specific gender. While that may sound confusing, it's not, because the context is key.
Here's an example:  If I start talking about “Mr Smith”, then I have established by my use of "Mr" that he is male. So subsequently when referring to Mr Smith, I can just refer to him as dia because whoever I'm talking to knows that it is a man. But if I then start talking about Mr Smith's daughter, or Mr Smith's dog, I also use dia.
But when Indonesians speak English, they commonly confuse "he", "she" and "it". Thus it is common to hear phrases like, "Yesterday I was talking to my father and she got a bit angry" or "Check out that girl, he has nice legs".

Indonesian has no separate markers for tenses (as in the English “had”/”has”/”will have”/”is having”).  Everything is said in the present tense.
If that sounds strange, it's not. Again, it’s all context – once I establish that I’m talking about something that happened yesterday, it is just assumed that I’m speaking in past tense, and I use the same verbs as I would if I was talking about the future or the present.
Obviously, when speaking English, Indonesians can forget to apply tense to their verbs, saying things like “yesterday I go to the shop”.

In English, the suffix "-s" on the end of a word indicates plurality. However, Indonesian doesn't really have plural suffixes. Sometimes, plurality is indicated by simply doubling the word. So teman means "friend", and teman-teman means "friends", which does not imply a specific number. But other times, a single teman is enough, accompanied by a contextual word to indicate whether it is plural or not. So if I add banyak ("many"), I have banyak teman ("many friends"). The use of "many" implies plurality, so it is not necessary to further indicate that there is more than one friend in this situation. Thus the use of the suffix "-s" in the English phrase "many friends" is redundant, as saying "many friend" would convey exactly the same message. Likewise, if I have 80 teman, the plurality is implied by the number.

Thus, many Indonesians when the speak English say things like “I own 2 house” or “We have enough player to make three team”, because it makes perfect sense in their own language.

Thus, comparison to a simple and utilitarian language like Indonesian reveals what an unneccesarily complicated language English is; it's full of grammar that doesn't really have to be there.
Take, for example, the phrase, "Yesterday I went to the cinema with Gary and he brought some friends."
The Indonesian equivalent translates as "Yesterday I go to cinema with Gary and he bring some friend." Which may sound strange and fobby to native English speakers, but it conveys all the same information, only stripping away all the fiddly grammar which makes English a hard language to learn.

It is worth bearing in mind that Indonesian is a lingua franca. It may be the official language of business, school and government, but less than half the country speak it as a first language. Instead at home they are more likely to speak their local language (Balinese, Acehnese, etc). Indonesia descends from the dialect of Malay that was spoken around the archipelago as a trade language. Perhaps one reason it was successful in this context, and thus able to spread all over the region, is because its simplicity made it easy to learn.

It is notable as well that "Manglish" (Malaysian English, basically a pidgin form of English spoken widely in Malaysia) is also far simpler than English in its sentence structure and grammar, and has taken on many of the characteristics of Malay/Indonesian. Here's an example:
A: "On the fan, can or cannot?"
B: "No, dowan [don't want]. Off it lah, it will blow my papers around."
A: "Ok lah. Aircon got, what?"
B: "Ya, got."

"Hep you pinis? I hep pinis. So now you won to go to de bits to kets de pis, or you won to wats the pilm instead?"

Certain sounds don't exist naturally in Indonesian, such as /sh/, which is usually mispronounced as /s/. /th/ is pronounced either as /d/ or /t/ depending on the word. /ch/ exists in Indonesian, but never at the end of the word; Indonesians struggle to pronounce this in that context, and it usually comes out as /ts/. Regarding vowels, /a/ as in the English "cat" doesn't exist in Indonesian and is pronounced /e/ as it "pet" instead.
Not all Indonesians can pronounce /f/ and /v/, pronouncing them as /p/ and /b/ instead. This is common but hardly universal, whereas it is ubiquitous next door in The Philippines.

So the phrase above would properly read, "Have you finished? I have finished. So now you want to go to the beach to catch the fish, or you want to watch the film instead?"

See also:

How language tells the history of Malaysia and Indonesia

Is English threatening the future of the Indonesian language?

Communication challenges in Malaysia

Koreans, you too can curse like an American

English words of Indian origin

"Pulp Fiction" in Italian, German, French, Turkish and Spanish