Wednesday, 24 December 2008

I am not a Harry Potter Wannabe!

After discussing various delightful books and my delight in them, I ventured to read an author (well, her books) recommended to me by TimT.

Eva Ibbotson. I started wth reading The Secret of Platform 13.

Now, the plot and characters are fairly simple - no deep soul searching or worldly messages much, but it's a fun ride, and extremely entertaining. I enjoyed it greatly and am keen to read more.

I decided to peep at to find what others had to say about Ms Ibbotson's book, and people were not surprisingly divided into camps of those who hated it and those who loved it.

But what was annoying was when I read many reviews, instead of spending much time wrting about the book, per se, many either sent time writing about how it was a Harry Potter wannabe book or like Harry Potter except not as good; or defending the book by saying it was better than or as good as Potter, or pointing out that it couldn't be a Potter wannabe as it was written befoer the Potter books were published, so the book is still honourable, so there, so there!

Now, I've heard some weird stories about manuscripts that land on publishers' desks that tout themselves as "the next Harry Potter crossed with the Da Vinci Code" - not exactly sure what the plotline for that book would be, but how does that happen befor Harry Potter and the Code even exist?

And nowadays, I'm so over reading about Potter everywhere, I couldn't care.

Does every kids' book have to be reviewed in terms of how it compares to Harry, even when the similarities are practically non-existent? Even if someone has been inspired by a bit of Harry-reading, unless it's outright plagiarism, who gives a damn? People get their inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. When they sit dwn to write, probably many don't even know where all their inspirations and influences actually come from.

Disclaimer: If I ever publish anything, the story is based on fictional events that took place anywhere but Hogwarts or Privet Drive. Unless it is based on non-fictional events that occurred anyplace but Hogwarts or at Privet Drive. But it definitely isn't based on Harry Potter events. Unless, errh, I disclaim otherwise. Uh, that's all, folks. For now.

Totally, Unexpectedly, Made a Friend (Sort of)

It was getting to the end of the year and I decided I wanted to use up the bit of money that my health fund allows me for optometry cover. Heck, I pay them a certain amount each year, I guess I should try to get some of it back, although I s'pose trying to get run over by a bus so I could get myself a few days in the luxury of a private hospital wasn't the best way to do it.

So I opted for the new glasses.

Mr Coffee advised me on a few places in the city which had a wide range of glasses, so I went off to one, all with the full intention of being a canny customer - I would check out each store, take notes, ask intelligent questions and go for the one with the best deal.

Well, I stopped by Laubman & Pank in Myer first off, and unfortunately, canny customer went straight out the window. They were so nice and sweet and told so many funny jokes without being annoying that I decided to spend my money with them without checking out the other stores first.

This is where I go from canny, astute customer to TOTAL SUCKER FIRST CLASS. They were good.

Well, I seem to have picked a pair of specs I like, and got a new eye test.

The staff fluttered around me like I was a celebrity. I'm surprised I wasn't asked for my autograph. I was in a tizzy afterwards and came back from the optometrist walking as ifmy shoes had little wings on them.

However, there was one teensy weensy problem - the machine through which I had to swipe my medical benefits card was broken at the moment but they would be getting it fixed soon, certainly in time for me to get my rebate back by the end of the year. They'd call me the minute it was fixed.

The next day I happened to be in the area so athough I hadn't received a call I decided to pop in just to see how everything was going.

No, the machine wasn't fixed, but they were definitely on to it.

What was supposed to be a 3 second pop in ended up in me chatting to the girl there about my current glasses - and ten suddenly her sitting down and giving me a whole cutesy optometry lesson - and then a whole talk about the history of glasses and contact lenses and discusing fashion - and Christmas - and work - and the Christmas sales - and current affairs ...

Oh how did that happen? Suddenly she was my best buddy, even if we were standing there bending over a counter of eyedrop displays!

The spell was broken when she said, "Whoops, a customer!" and I realised I really ought to get back. Maybe it was time for dinner.

Get your eyes checked, and make a friend. It should be the new spectacles slogan.

BTW, I'm still waiting for the machine to be fixed. Who knows what could happen when I go to swipe my card?

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Tomorrow, When the War Began (the series)

I could already tell when I started this book that I liked it. And the series keeps up the pace that the first one set.

This is one of the series that I did not felt suffered from "cleaning up" syndrome - though it could be argued there is a little of feeling of being cheated by the ending. I didn't actually feel that.

One thing that was great about it was that it didn't lose momentum, and it didn't run out of ideas.

The premise is fairly original and cool - kids coming back to their hometown after a weekend away to find it invaded by some unidentified army, but there was a possibility of it fading - were the kids just going to spend the entire time running around scrabbling for survival and every so often blowing up an army truck with a home made bomb?

The series was cleverer than that and thought of several ideas for action and variations, as well as exploring relationships and the way different personalities would react to pressure.

Marsden wasn't in the least afraid to explore grit and violence instead of trying to make it cheesy like Rowling was more apt to do - but then he was exploring a war topic, not a magic story, and writing, at least to begin with, for a much older audience.

The different characters in the group represented a wide number of character traits, and I thought this was a great way of exploring character and story ideas, and allowing readers to have someone to empathise with. Probably people could find one or two people and a few of their reactions they strongly identified with in the book. I also felt it was great that Ellie, the lead, was portrayed as strong, opinionated, yet flawed - an excellent character to see things through, even though I didn't strongly identify with her.

Marsden did use some techniques to allow for the children to have some superior powers to what many children reading his books might have - for instance, they could drive, make bombs, and use guns proficiently. This is explained by them being "country kids" and doesn't feel too much like a cheat.

The fact that Ellie's friends are "not really dead" at the end does not feel too much like a cheat at the end (as I sneakingly suspected that they weren't) and in fact there seemed to be something too "easy" about finishing them all off just to end the story. What in fact seemed more realistic was the fact they survived but that the war tarnished Ellie's relationship with them.

At any rate, I will be reading the Ellie Chronicles later - or at least I will have a go.

This was an excellent ride, and well worth reading 7 books. Addictive!

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Harry Potter - Series Comments and Recommendations!

I definitely recommend trying to have a go at this ne in Latin. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll learn some exciting new words! If this series motivated kids to get up and read, imagine what it could do if it were on the compulsory Latin syllabus.

We may have a whole generation of Classics trained, pagan tudents whose first recollections of Latin are not "amo amas amat" or "cerberus est canis" but "Puer qui vixit!" and "Dominus et Domina Dursley".

Harry Potter, for me, was an enjoyable series and I don't regret at all reading it. It was a fast read despite the heftiness of some of the tomes. However, I don't think it will be the kind of series I will go back to over and over.

It started off rather tamely and then suddenly turned into a much more "advanced" series - with subplots, deaths, double entendres and also what seemed to be lots of unnecessary extra info. Not always for the better. While for me the more interesting books were near the end - I liked No.s 4 and 6 best (Goblet of Fire, Half-Blood Prince), I also thought the weakest book was the longest book- the Order of the Phoenix. I felt that a lot could be said for having tighter scripts - say in The Philosopher's Stone, which had a certain charm to them, rather than lashing out and going all over the place. Bigger is not always better!

I think I was one of the later people to get into all the Harry Potter stuff, and while I found them amusing, sometimes charming and entertaining, and imaginative, I was a bit mystified as to what the big deal was - after all, there are plenty of fantastic authors out there and in my opinion many just as good if not better than Rowling, many with wonderful, imaginative ideas, great characters blah blah - so what was so special about this that had kids lining up for this rather than others?

I really don't know. One fan (adult) who was obviously starstruck started gong on to me about how she thought it was because Rowling had "created a whole world" but then, plenty of fantasy writers do just that.

I've watched the first 5 movies. I've heard that the 7th book may be made into two movies because there is so much material; to be honest I don't know if I could be bothered watching two movies for that book, certainly I wouldn't buy two cinema tickets. I'd have to wait til it came out on TV til I watched it.

Anyhow, it was a good experience. Aaaaah!

Harry Potter Awards - as given by OJS

Worst Film Adaptation Award - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (far too sketchy - longest book, shortest movie!)

Most predictable ending - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Cheesiest Ending - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - oh spare me, Gryffindor wins a whole lot of extra points and wins from behind?

The Award for Best Portrayed Defence of the Dark Arts Teacher on film (so far) - Dolores Umbridge by Imelda Staunton - in Order of the Phoenix

The Award for Best Hiding Place for Voldemort - back of Professor Quirrell's head - you really started off well.

The Award for Most Annoying, Perky Character - a toss-up between Gilderoy Lockhart and Rita Skeeter. If Oiliness is an added characteristic, Gilderoy wins.

The Award for Most Sadistic Concept - Harry Potter No. 5 - The Umbridge "I Must Not Tell Lies" Quill (When writing out lines in detention, the words etch themselves as if being carved into the back of Harry's hand with a knife. I think this is even worse than tying Ron up underwater and making Harry find him in Goblet of Fire)

Best Ghost Character - Moaning Myrtle - yes I preferred her to Nearly Headless Nick

Hogwarts teacher who reminds me most of my TAFE photography teacher - Professor Trelawney, by a long shot

Hogwarts subject I would take if I could choose - I'd love to know how to make Potions or be good at Transfiguration - and definitely, how to Fly a Broomstick, if I were studying witchcraft. They would be my top priority! I want to know how to turn a mouse into a pincushion!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

This book suffered from the old "cleaning up" syndrome that series often have - clean up loose ends, and you can feel that, somewhat to the detriment to the story.

For one thing, there's a whole lot of carnage. OK, they are fighting Lord Voldemort here; on the other hand Harry has fought Lord Voldemort in six previous books. In the first three books, he escaped without a single death, in the next three, one death at a time. Suddenly they are dying in spades in this one, almost like Rowling is cleaning characters out for springtime. One might argue that Voldemort has suddenly got really really strong but it just seems rather over the top, and gratuitous and unrealistic when compared to the lack of carnage in the other books.

Poor Hedwig! For some reason I felt more sorry about the loss of Hedwig than the others!

I LIKE owls!

I won't say too much about the plot, it's not too bad but it's not unusual either. As could be predicted, a magic mission which is completed, by Harry, with the aid of good friends. He finally learns of the allegiances of some of the greater characters in the series, defeats Voldemort and heaps of people get killed along the way.

This one didn't really grip me but I did want to find out what happened and it didn't bore me, which I can say is in it's favour. It wasn't one that could make me smile a lot or think "Oh, that was fun or imaginative" and that's what I rather like in children's fantasy.

But you end up having all the ends tied up for you, and for those who like plenty of action and want to know "what happened to whom" then this is good.

Note: There are notes on Wikipedia which say things about what happens to which main characters which include details that are not all in The Deathly Hallows, or not that I noted on my reading (maybe I didn't look closely enough). I suspect some of these details may have been released in J.K. Rowling's subsequent notes/interviews etc. For instance, details of the full names of people and their offspring and what they do with their lives after Hogwarts.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I liked this book. I rather did.

Despite my not being a huge Quidditch fan and despite this having a lot to do with Quidditch - Harry becomes Quidditch Captain in this one - I still thought this book had a lot more going for it than some of the others.

It had a nice sense of wonder and exploration in it - Harry's extra lessons with Dumbledore, Harry trying to figure out who the Half-Blood Prince was, with the certain darkness that comes with it - the impending footsteps of Draco Malfoy hot on his heels!

What I think this had in common with the Goblet of Fire was a good sense of pacing and a nice balance of light and dark. That's why it felt good.

Oh, and of course, anything with a bit more focus on Professor Snape - now that has to be a good thing. Professor Snape gets the job he has long coveted - Defence of the Dark Arts - and reveals quite a bit more of his background here - which all has to be good stuff!

This is also the one where Professor Dumbledore died. As did many readers, I likeed Dumbledore, but I felt his death almost inevitable - the martyr and older, wiser, heroic death. At least he went out the way he wanted to.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

I have two words for you:

Imelda Staunton

Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the movie adaptation of this book really makes this book, which is overly long and really not the best Harry Potter book in my opinion. However, Imelda Staunton goes a long way to redeeming it.

I believe she is the best portrayed of the ill-fated Defence of the Dark Arts teachers we've had in the movie versions so far, although in the upcoming Half-Blood Prince she may be well-challenged by Alan Rickman when Professor Snape takes the position. I do think Alan Rickman makes a fantastic Snapey ... oooh Professor Snape. Sorry, Dumbledore.

Staunton is admirable, but if you want a really good Staunton movie, go watch the movie adaptation of Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals where she plays Mother. It's a much funnier, quirkier movie and the book is excellent too.

The first problem with the Order of the Phoenix is the book is really far too long, and even Rowling has admitted she could have trimmed it.

Also, the story isn't nearly as riveting.

OK, I liked some of the ideas. The whole take-off of bureacracy with Umbridge's silly self-constraining decrees (and the question whether this would mean she could actually stop people playing Exploding Snap in class because of her own decree), and the sadistic Umbridge quill was pretty good. And the side plotline of abuse of authority through prefects seemed to work too - even if it was a little overplayed.

Cho was wet and annoying, thank goodness Harry seemed to grasp this. And Neville grew up in this one - somthing good to see.

By the end of the book it was more like a trek than anything else - and the problem with the movie was it felt more like a sequence of sketches, rather than a really good, strong, well-developed storyline.

All in all - not a fave Harry Potter of mine and despite being the longest of the lot, one of the more forgettables, to me.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Out of the Harry Potter movies, I think this is one of the better ones so far. I really rather liked the Philosopher's Stone as a good intro, but Goblet of Fire is probably second on my list. It's a good mixture of light and dark, and while it does cut out heaps from the book, it keeps in the right bits. In my opinion.

When we've got up to Goblet of Fire, Rowling started lashing out. No more Miss Nice Gal - or Miss Pretty Succinct Story Gal. She went the full hog. So the books had to be cut - a lot - for screen or end up with an epic like Ben Hur or Gone With the Wind just for one book.

Goblet of Fire is quite a fun book and it has some nice mixtures of dark and light. Of course there is the predictability - we know that Harry's name is going to come out of the Goblet despite the fact that he is restricted from enterinig the competition, so why bother stringing out the process?

The whole idea of the S.P.E.W. (Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare) was pretty amusing, though possibly a bit overdone. It was a good cultural satire of certain do-gooders who can turn others off, and who may believe they are doing good but are imposing their values on those they wish to help - a sort of "forcing them to be helped by my standards". It was probably wise to leave this secondary theme out of the movie but it was still a good plotline in the book.

As for Cho ... I cannot see what Harry sees in her! Harry shows terrible taste, fortunately he redeems himself later in the series by losing his infatuation. She's a giggly, egocentric, overemotional pain-in-the-butt.

The challenges in the Goblet of Fire are pretty good, satisfyingly dangerous and make for good reading. It's fairly obvious that Harry has been put in the challenge for evil reasons and You-Know-Who is behind the whole thing and Harry will triumph so three more books can be written. However, that doesn't diminish (as it never does in such books/movies) that it's really a great ride just finding out how he accomplishes each feat.

In this book, J.K. Rowling does start killing off characters. In this book it's a fairly minor character, but again, she's not playing Miss Nice Gal any more. In my opinion, the way it ended was "appropriate" and so was the choice of character ... not gratuitous ... and not cheesy. A better ending.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The Harry Potter books started lighter and kept getting darker. Darker in a kind of grim way, not in a black, delicious, wicked, delight way.

This one rather reminded me of grey skies and I guess that had something to do with the grey skies in the ending scenes of the movie.

Or maybe it was the Dementors draining the happiness out of me?

Yes, this one's the one when lots of new characters and ideas are introduced - one's Dementors which suck happiness out of you. Another few characters are Professor Lupin, the kind werewolf teacher, Sirius Black (the prisoner of Azkaban) and Peter Pettigrew.

I didn't really dislike this book, I just didn't really fall in love with it. While it was darker it wasn't so much fun and it wasn't fantastic with everyone being upset with each other - Hagrid wasn't so happy and people weren't so happy with his class, Hermione was more grouchy, the skies were darker. And there wasn't intrigue or depth to go along with the darkness.

A couple of things to note about the Potter books so far:

Professor Snape: OK, now that I've read the whole series I can say I know Professor Snape isn't the bad guy. But I figured this out from the first book, although the finer details were yet to be revealed. However it gets increasingly annoying to have every single thing revolve around how Harry and Ron and Hermione have to have arguments and suspicions over Snapey. Snape is cool! The more they whinge about Snape and try to blame him for anything and everything, the more I want to crack a broomstick over their heads and award a thousand points to Slytherin!

The Time-Turner: The Time-Turner concept was not bad but the way it was executed in both film and book (which were both differently done, markedly so) was crude. All the obvious and repeated pointers to "How could Hermione have done that, she hasn't done that class yet?" or "She was standing there and now she's standing here" over and over again were so blatant in the book.

And i the movie - when Harry went on about having seen his father save him - the moment it was out of his mouth, before I knew about the time-turner (I saw movie before read book) I said to myself "that was YOU not your Dad". I don't know how all this stuff is so obvious, or maybe I have just read a whole lot of similar books and too many borrow on the same plot devices.

However, I do not see myself as a huge fantasy fiction reader. I read some, I read it if it looks interesting or some if it's recommended, but I am by no means a buff.

So if I could figure that one out - who knows who else did?

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Unfortunately, this book is a lot like The Philosopher's Stone except not that much better. In fact it's the same plot structure - Harry against the enemy at school, and a certain teacher who's the foil, a certian teacher who hates him, others he can trust, plus friends and enemies among students ... but it loses the shine of the freshness of the Philosopher's Stone.

The "anagram of Tom Riddle" device is not really very clever.

This book does introduce Ginny Weasley who turns out to be a better character later on in the series. Right now, she's not very interesting. Wait for her to grow up and gain a personality. Oh and it introduces Dobby, who, along with other house elves, become more interesting later on.

I read this one and watched the movie thinking "A bit more of the same, unfortunately it's getting a little tired now. And what's up with the Defence of the Dark Arts position?"

Some bright spots:

I actually thought some of the best bits worth commenting on were in the movie.

The whole Gilderoy Lockhart character - the vain, pompous, autograph-writing, egocentrical teacher is a good idea - but it's especially well carried out by Kenneth Branagh. And that duel between him and Professor Snape is really nicely done.

And I also liked seeing Arthur Weasley when Harry was brought back to the Weasley's place, and Mr Weasley interrogates him about Muggles (his obsession).

The way he asked Harry "What is the use of a rubber duck?" was actually really funny - and from what I remember, that wasn't even in the book.

(Oh and for the critics who complained that Hermione was not ugly enough in the movies - the scene where she takes Polyjuice Potion and turns half-cat should convince you she isn't always really cute, neither!)

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

This is the order in which I eked the essence out of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone:

My first acquaintance was the Latin version of it - I tried to translate the first chapter into some semblance of English.
Then I watched the movie.
Then I read the book.

I am, as they say, "The Woman who is Backwards".

The Philosopher's Stone, I thought, was not a bad book. It had a charming simplicity and freshness and fun to it - for younger readers. I guess I don't fall into that category but I'm used to reading kids' books so maybe my brain switches easily into appreciation of that and doesn't need the later bloodsheds and twists of story to think "that's a good book!"

Even if it was a little too predictable for my liking, the characters were very likable. Against the flow, I happened to like Professor Snape. He reminds me of Dr Cox on Scrubs except without the humour and he's not American. But if there were an American Professor Snape and he could just have a little bit of humour, I could see John C. McGinley there. Not that Alan Rickman doesn't do a superb job. He was, I thought, one of the better actors in the cast. I also thought Hermione was brilliantly cast.

And some of the concepts were a bit of fun - like the Sorting Hat, or Professor Quirrell and Voldemort's head! And "Wizard Chess".

However: Some things about the Philosopher's Stone were just plain cheesy. The ending where Gryffindor wins all the points and beats Slytherin - that was too plain cheesy. You might as well have found princes for all the girls to marry.

I found the explanation of Quidditch to be just plain weird. The whole concept of having a game where one team member (the Seeker) be the one who not only can end the match by catching the Snitch, but "whoever catches it usually wins the game" - you wonder why the heck they bother with the Beaters and Chasers at all. Why don't they spend all their time coaching the Seeker and/or hitting the other Seeker of his/her broomstick? Why does anyone really care about the other players at all - the Seeker gets pretty much all the glory?

It seemed to me that the game would be pretty boring most of the time.

I read a whole lot of critics going on about how the Philosopher's Stone was so unique and creative and how it was so like Roald Dahl.

Personally, I thought the writing was entertaining and there were some imaginative concepts there. However I agree with Ursula K. Le Guin (The Wave in the Mind) that those who ranted about its uniqueness didn't seem to note that it drew from two grand literary traditions - the English boarding school and the witches/wizards/magic tradition (with some very obvious nods to established myths and terms in magic).

Even the idea of a "witchcraft school for young witches" isn't a unique one - A set of books by Jill Murphy called The Worst Witch series centres on a witchcraft school attended by young witches of various abilities who have friends and enemies, teachers who are variously likable and dislikable, different "witchcraft classes" and a central character "Mildred Hubble" who gets into trouble constantly but somehow saves the day. The series was even popular to get made into a TV series.

This doesn't detract from Harry Potter as a fun and entertaining series - and most writers either get their ideas from somewhere or have had bits of their ideas "done" before - coming up with a completely unique idea is virtually impossible. However I'd just challenge that particular "school of critic".

The other thing is ... well I'm a big fan of Roald Dahl and when I read the Philosopher's Stone I didn't think that there was a lot to compare Rowling and Dahl with ... oh except they are both popular and successful British children's authors, and Rowling even broke into poetry (with the Sorting Hat) in the middle of her book, which was a popular device of Dahl's.

What marked Dahl's writing for me was not all the weird names he used for his characters (which some people probably felt was similar to all the imaginative names Rowling gave to her characters) but his somewhat savage and often naughty sense of humour.

Kids who get eaten up in a pie. A headmistress who throws a kid over a fence for wearing her hair the wrong way. Farting for sport. Collecting food in your beard for a "snack". Putting worms in the spaghetti, turning children into rats, throwing kids into the garbage chute and then jumping around and singing songs about how fun it is. That's all characteristic of Dahl. Not nearly so in the Philosopher's Stone.

All in all, quite good but not what I would say gripping. Perhaps it would bave gripped me had I been a lot younger.


Even though it wasn't on my list of New Year's Resolutions, somehow I stumbled upon a pursuit this year and turned it into some kind of goal, game, race, whatever. It was an accident that I found it, but I'm glad I did.

I started to read two children's series with seven books in each series. Both well-known. Both highly acclaimed. Both very different. (One I've finished, one I haven't).

The first was the Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling. I completed the last book in series tonight.

The other was the Tomorrow, When the War Began series, by John Marsden. I've completed up to the fifth book in that one.

Now, first of all, I'll mention that both these series were not just series I forced myself to read to complete a task. I enjoyed reading both - and will definitely complete Marsden's series.

There have been other series which I've heard are good but have been unable to continue going with. I attempted to read Isobelle Carmody's Obernewtyn. It didn't really do it for me. I pursued with Book 2, then stopped. It just wasn't my thing.

But both these series have been a lot of fun and captured my interest. I was interested in doing a compare/contrast, but the series were so different it was like comparing apples with oranges.

Then I thought, "What the heck? Why can't you compare apples with oranges? They are both fruit!"

So why the heck not? .... just have to finish 2 John Marsden books ...

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Equal Rights for Pet Owners

I read a little piece by Clover Moore that pointed out that many pets travel free on public transport in other states, however they don't in NSW. In fact they aren't allowed at all except Guide Dogs (who are often called Blind Dogs. Are Blind Dogs blind versions of Guide Dogs, I've often wondered?)

The piece did say Clover would fight to make pet owners equal citizens and look at pets travelling on public transport subject to certain conditions.

So what would 'em conditions be?

Personally I am looking on with bated breath because I am looking forward to escorting my own pet hippopotamus on the next CityRail carriage. I think my brother is thinking that the entire family could claim free transport as a sub-human pet-species.

Anyhow, again, I am looking forward to those conditions. Will they cart out the usual boring conditions?:

1. All cats and dogs must give up their seats for older cats and dogs
2. Please be respectful and mind your yapping, barking, meowing, tweeting etc into your mobile phones.
3. Please poop in the station litters provided

Or something a little more creative?

Some suggestions:

1. If feeling the need to chew at a bone during the trip, please make sure it is not attached to another (live) passenger's torso. Penalties apply. Fines scaled depending on whether gnawed passenger was travelling on a concession or full fare.
2. Parrots, mynas etc are requested not to annoyingly mimic and repeat other passengers' conversations, especially that of schoolchildren. We've heard it enough.
3. Please take any eggs you may lay on the trip with you. Lice are requested to respect the hair of other passengers.
4. Please do not walk along the train tracks, even if you have nine lives.
5. The term "bitch" will not always be used literally in public spaces.

New Petty Crimes

Mr Coffee and I were just walking down Pitt Street side by side the other day, chatting - I think it was about mobiles or something. At any rate, we weren't chatting on our mobiles to each other like something out of an American teen movie.

Some bearded older bloke a little behind us growled at us to "Stop that talking, it's against the LAAAAAW!"

It was a bit tempting to point out that of course he had been talking in order to point out that talking was against the law, so perhaps he had done himself in.

So beware all ye public yammerers - the vigilante citizen police are on their way to arrest you under the Public Yammering Offences Act.

Personally I think an unkempt beard of the type he was bearing was more of a public offence, but apparently I'm not an expert in this area in this kind of law.

Mr Coffee and I both started laughing at this guy, which I believe may break a section of the Act dealing with giggling, laughing and smirking in public, all the more serious for at a public vigilante officer and all the worse the crime since we couldn't easily stop.

He then threatened that "Next time he would HAVE A CAMERA!" and we wouldn't find it so funny.

I hope he has it set to video otherwise his still photo with no audio is going to sorely disappoint him with no yammering evidence. Or perhaps lack of chatter is the way he prefers it.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

The Asian Wants a Xenophobe

I read in the celebrity section of the Daily Tele that Pauline Hanson might be interested on getting on a dating reality TV show - and she likes the idea of The Farmer Wants A Wife.

That's a show where rural males are tried out with city ladies, and the city ladies are put through the hoops to see if they could manage a country life - things like sticking their hands up cow's bums and stuff. Maybe a man will look at a girl with her hand up a cow's bum and just say "That's the girl for me." I don't know, maybe lot's of country romances start out that way.

But I just don't think we're exploring Pauline's potential to the fullest. My concept for a show would be The Asian Wants A Xenophobe (or The Asian Wants Pauline).

Watch a host of Asian males with Pauline Hanson as the dubious prize. Watch Pauline vy for their attention - or at least their votes, and the males put her through various tests.

Pauline Hanson attempts to put her hand in a martial arts slice through 6 breadboards!

(if she psyches herself up to think they are Asian immigrants' faces, she may well get through this one!)

Pauline Hanson doing the lion dance!

Pauline Hanson having to order in a Vietnamese restaurant without once asking a waiter to "Please Explain" the menu.

I think this one's got legs. Bring it on!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Public Toilet Queasiness

I'm going to come out of the bathroom and admit to another phobia.

I have a distinct phobia about public bathrooms.

I really dislike them. I avoid going to any public bathroom; of course some places' "amenities" are better than others but all up, it's not my cup of tea. Or cup of toilette. Or bowl of toilet.

I know there have been studies saying that the public toilet seat is in fact no more swarming with germs than your work keyboard, but I've never believed it. I'm sure they must have done a switch when they did that test. Someone switched the toilet seat with the keyboard and the tester just didn't notice when he or she was taking a sample of germy bits.

I always imagine toilets with this infestation of creepy crawlies. I can never bring myself to sit down on a public toilet seat, which means environmentally unfriendly-like covering the toilet with lots of toilet paper so no skin at all has danger of any even accidental contact.

I can't believe the average public toilet could be considered as clean as a keyboard. not some of the ones I've seen. Twice I've been to a public toilet and someone before me has blasted faeces all over the toilet seat. I have never seen that on a work keyboard, fortunately.

I usually attempt to go to the toilet before I leave the house so I don't have to go in the public bathroom. Sometimes I go twice at home before I leave the house. I dont' know if this ups my chances of not having to go once I've gone out.

There have been some public bathrooms which are not all puddly wet on the floor and don't look like a poo-bomb has hit them, but I never feel quite comfy in the cubicle.

It just doesn't feel the right place for swishing out the bladder and bowel area.

I can never feel at home in a public bathroom.

Or maybe that's the point.

Too fat to die

A death row inmate has put on so much weight he may be too pudgy for them to lethally inject him.

I thought obesity was supposed to be a death sentence, not avoid one!

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Got my Keys ... Got my Phobia

I have a phobia. It used to be secret, but hasn't been since I went around telling people about it and now am publishing it on the net.

It's about switching things off, especially my heater.

I have this secret fear that my heater is always on.

Before I leave the house, I always check that my heater is off.

Actually, usually I check my heater is off in the morning after I'm done using it, then I check as I leave my bedroom. Then I open my door again after I leave, and check again, in case it turned itself on after I left my room. Then I go upstairs and wander around, and I think I might have been mistaken, so I check my room again. Then later on, when I'm ready to leave the house, I race into my room again to check the heater isn't on. because you know, you wouldn't want to leave the heater on while you're out of the house all day. Think of all the electricity it may be guzzling!

I often do this several times, while I'm at the front door, after I've taken one step out. I then get to the bus stop or I'm on the train and I ring my Dad (who leaves home after me, usually) and ask him to please check my heater. This is the marvel of mobile phones.

But just last week I did a terrible thing.

I walked out the door and guess what?

I was all set to go, and Dad asked if I was ready, and I was, and I was happy and I ALMOST forgot I had a phobia!

I mean, I almost walked straight out of the house without worrying once about my heater!

How could I do such a thing?

Luckily I remembered my phobia just in time, and I got worried and dashed back inside and checked my heater. Then I felt better.

But then I got on the train and I kept worrying - how could I forget my phobia just like that? It's not normal. It's not right. One day I'll completely lose my phobia and I won't be me anymore. I'll be lost.

And then I'll really be scared.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Borders Books: Identity Theft and Indian Giving

Now, I enjoy a good bookstore - wide variety of products and discounts - and while Borders books has offered that to me, it's a pity that like many of those big corporations that gets popular for products, it falls down severely on the customer service side.

Like my experience with Panasonic and their idiocy about not advertising correctly what their stereo system will do, and then their lame compensation which actually puts me at a disadvantage. These big corporations can afford better than others to both be accurate and to do a little more to please the customer and keep them onside; it just seems that many have got so big for their boots they don't bother - and forget that pissing off one customer can cause a chain reaction that pisses off many. And it's a lot harder and more expensive to gain a customer - especially gaining back a lost customer - to maintain one.

My experience was with this year's Border's The Ultimate Kids' Collection Competition.

Now, I happen to like kids' stuff, so I thought, hey why not? Besides, the stuff I don't particularly "get" - the stuff that's a bit too twee and not nostalgic or in my category of fun - if I win it, I'd give it to my cousins' kids. Or the disabled children my sister babysits. Hey, I know lots of children who would get a kick out of a good story book, picture book, adventure book, whatever. I thought it would be fun. But if I won that gift edition of Pippi Longstocking - it was going straight to the poolroom!

The game is pretty easy in formula - there is a picture of a bookcase with 100 prizes lined up on it. You have to log in and say you'll accept marketing communications from Borders as part of the conditions. You get to click on a prize to see if you've won. You might win the prize you've clicked on. Alternatively you could win a coupon like "3 for two kids books" or you could possibly win the whole 100 books in one swoop. There's only 1 of the big swoop prizes to be given out, and 1 each of the individual prizes.

In order to play again and again, you have to each time enter a "friend's email address" - or what the conditions say has to be a "valid email address" (so they really don't care if that happens to be your worst enemy, not your friend).

Then you get another shot at guessing where a prize may be.

Sounds easy enough, and I played a lot.

One thing I did do though, which probably a lot of ordinarily email savvy people do nowadays, is one of the first emails I entered as a "valid email address" was one of my own alternate email addresses - hey, I am my own best friend!

I then logged in to that email address to see what happens.

Instead of sending an ordinary email from Borders saying "Your friend [my login name] has recommended that you play this game, here's the link" sort of message:


Identity Theft.

Basically, what does this look like, especially if you play this game a lot - which, by the way, Borders explicitly encourages you to do on its website (with its "Play again - hurry up - prizes will go fast - etc exhortations)

It makes you look like a spammer. Without your permission, or even your notification, and unless you send this to yourself near the beginning - you mightn't find out. If you had instead sent them to all friend's emails, you might have annoyed friends complaining, possibly even blocking you, if they don't like that stuff and they see you've sent it to a couple of their emails.

Anyhow, undeterred, I played on. However, I decided that this was really unsavoury, and after all, it did say "valid" not "working" email address, so why should I enter working email addresses if a whole lot of people may receive them and Borders would make me look like a spammer?

I decided then to enter valid, but not working, emails. They had a correct form - in fact, if you don't enter an email address with the valid form, the competition prompts you that it's not valid, please enter a valid email, so it seems if they accept it, it fits in with their definition of "valid".

I played on and won a lot of prizes. I mean, a lot.

It wasn't difficult because Borders seemed to choke the game for a while then suddenly give them out in spurts and I got in when they were given out in spurts.

I even won Pippi Longstocking!

Later, I received a phone call from a Borders spokesperson on a Monday before the comp ended - whom I will call Melanie Paris here. Melanie called from Melbourne and asked me to call her back. It was about the competition.

I did. Twice. She didn't answer the phone, but I left messages.

On the Tuesday afternoon I looked at the prize tally - suddenly it had gone up by a lot - coincidentally by the exact number of prizes I had won! It looked suspiciously like they had decided to strip me of my prizes and place them back in the prize pool before talking to me. I checked my email, they hadn't notified me either. So I decided I'd send my time that afternoon winning many of them back. And I did - not all but most of them. And as I suspected, they were the prizes I'd won before - I was winning back many of the same prizes.

On the Wednesday, I received a call from Melanie Paris, who wanted to talk. She sad she was concerned over the NUMBER of times I had entered and WON and that she wanted to investigate because she thought that the emails weren't valid and were bouncing. I pointed out valid wasn't the same as working, and a bouncing email wasn't indicative of whether either an email was either not working or not valid.

She just went on about some "investigation" and later on - that afternoon - Melanie Paris called and told me that they'd decided to strip away all the prizes except one token prize (the first book I'd won, which wasn't Pippi Longstocking) because they'd decided that "valid" meant "working valid email address.

It's such a pity they'd decided this and don't put it in the rules.

My guess is, they saw I'd won a whole lot of prizes, freaked a bit, and tried to come up with an excuse to take them away because they realised they'd mucked up - instead of getting it right in the first place.

So I asked Melanie Paris, what would I need to do to win a prize? Enter a working valid email address.

Funnily enough, the prizes went back in the prize pool last night. I knew exactly where every single prize was, and which prizes were already taken - as I'd won them all previously - yet although I played continuously for quite a while, I didn't win anything while the prize tally went down ... until I changed IP address, logged in under a different email and cleared the cookies on my browser. Possibly a coincidence, but rather suspicious. Could it be that they blocked me - thus it was not playing against the rules they were against, but just me, personally?

A summary of offences:

1. Borders steals your identity, sending spam-like emails as Borders promotions under your name and email identity, without your express permission
2. Borders changed the meaning of "valid" email address to mean "working" email address - to suit their needs
3. Borders didn't return my calls - but returned prizes to the pool without letting me know (on Tuesday). This also meant that I had no chance to ask them what they objected to in my playing before they were returned and no real possibility of asking how I could win them back in a manner they would approve of on Tuesday.
4. I "suspect" Borders blocked me from playing last night, after my books were returned ... for the second time
5. If Borders was really concerned that I had won so many prizes, and needed some prizes for the continuation of the game for the week, but it was clear I had played by the rules, then the obvious way to deal with it would ave been to negotiate with me more fairly. Taking away all the prizes I had won and giving back 1 isn't negotiation. Asking to negotiate with giving back some prizes would have been.
6. If Borders' real beef was that I had entered in non-working email addresses:
a) There should have been terms that set this out clearly
b) They could have installed a system that checked for this
c) They certainly could have notified me about this when I first started winning prizes. So I had a chance to change my style. But considering the fact they waited til the end of the game ... it obviously shows complete incompetence ... or that they didn't so much care about non-working addresses as the fact that they couldn't stand that someone had let all their prizes fall off their competition before the official closing date. Dumbasses!!!!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Meeting my Spiritual Animal

I'm reading an essay now - Spiritual Animals, Guardians, Guides and Others Places by R.J. Stewart (published in Psychology & the Spiritual Traditions, edited & introduced by R.J. Stewart Element Books, 1990)

Anyhow, I'm reading a bit about how I may meet my spiritual animal guide.

In fact, according to Stewart I don't go out and find my animal guide so much as I let my animal guide find ME. This could be a little scary to me, because if I'm just wandering around letting an animal find me, just say it turns out to be something like a pugnacious bulldog or ferocious lion? Shouldn't I be on guard?

Stewart says (my interpretation and summary):

Start off with a period of stillness and awareness. You intend to enter into a visualisation where you will meet an animal
The animal will be your companion and will lead you to a journey of power
The animal guide will choose you

(of course there is more to it than this - moving through worlds, feeling certain powers, you receive a gift from your companion)

I haven't tried this experiment. I have felt some strong affinity for some animals but I could say this has a lot to do with social/cultural elements or just because they're cute! I'm a big fan of monotremes for instance. On the other hand, is this the whole point of animal guides, that they can be attached to your emotional and cultural responses and are not supposed to be divorced from them?

If I had a very nice echidna or platypus leading the way in my life ... well I could see that. On the other hand, I'm quite keen on turtles too. Gosh, can't one have an animal guide for every mood?

Choose your own Middle, Climax and Ending!

Remember those Choose your own Adventure Books?

You were the master of your own destiny. You started the story, and then when you got to a certain point, you would be told to choose what step you wanted to take next, and then you'd be redirected to another page. That way, the story had multiple possibilities and you could keep CHOOSING YOUR OWN ADVENTURE!

While I've been unemployed, I've decided to come up with a whole new concept in books - the CHOOSE YOUR OWN MIDDLE, CLIMAX AND ENDING book.

They say necessity is the mother of invention, and for an uninspired and somewhat lazy writer as myself, this seems to be the perfect sort of book.

I have ideas! I have inspiration!

It just seems that everytime I do, I get about 500 words into writing the first chapter of a book and I forget what the inspiration was. And anyway, what the heck were the characters going to do and why was it interesting and where were they going anyway?

But I've got PLENTY of starts to short stories. I've just never written a middle, climax or end.

My books will allow the reader to choose what the middle, climax and end will be! You don't even need to be redirected to a page! That's sort of lame CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE style, which while it gives you multiple possibilities, does mathematically limit the number of possibilities of stories you can create.


My books will give you INFINITE POSSIBILITIES by giving you the beginning - and leaving the rest completely open! No barriers! No redirection! No bossing you around and telling you what to do or where to go or how you have to end it. It's YOUR BOOK - you can make it whatever you want it to be!

I think it'll be a hit.

No need to thank me - except through royalties.

No Bookings

Why is it once you've found someplace good to eat and it becomes popular, they try to suck the goodness out of it?

It's like celebrities, the popularity goes to their head, and they seem to think they are popular just because they exist, not popular because of particular things about them.

For instance, Mr Coffee and I have tried various places which may have not had the greatest ambience, but they did one dish fairly well and they had a good cheap lunchtime special. They let you choose from a number of their dishes, plus one of their sweet flavoured teas. So it got popular around lunchtime, and it's one high quality Chinese dish wasn't bad either!

Then they decided to cook worse and use lower quality food.

Then the more popular dishes on their lunchtime special menu started disappearing or you had to pay "extra" to get them - for instance, the duck.

Then you couldn't get some of the nicer teas.

The final straw was when they wouldn't serve any of the flavoured sweet teas at all - all you could get was the plain regular Chinese tea - or what Mr Coffee calls "brown dishwater"

We walked out without bothering to order.

At another restaurant, their very nice handmade noodles were really good value at $6 a bowl - and some of their other dishes weren't bad either. Despite the fact the place looked crummy and their service wasn't really good. Then it crept up to $7, then $8, then $9 ....

I have just recently enjoyed eating at a nice Thai restaurant. It's really popular - people queue in the street to get in. The food is pretty good and I have preferred it over another Thai restaurant mainly becuase it's a little cheaper and you can actually make bookings.

The other Thai restaurant, while the food is delicious, doesn't allow bookings and is a tad more expensive.

Then I rang the first Thai place just now and asked to book, a week in advance. "No weekend lunchtime bookings!" they cried. This was new to me, only a couple of months back I'd booked a weekend lunchtime.

I hope this one doesn't start changing all its ways just because it's popular. Please no.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Chocolate and Orange

Recently Mr Coffee and I found ourselves in a cafe called the Citrus Cafe in Newtown. Or Citrus Espresso Bar. Either way, it is a good place for cakes and coffee and also hot chocolate which is a favourite of mine.

(recently we bought about ten or so bars of Lindt chocolate especially for making hot chocolate so we know what we like)

I like the colours in this place. Yes I am a big fan of green and purple and this place wasn't green and purple. It was chocolate and orange with trimmings of jaffa red. But it was a very cosy chocolate and orange place and just right for drinking chocolate in and eating chocolatey cakes in, I think.

It had yummy colours.

And if you get a booth it's even more cosy.

Now we've been there a couple of times we've tried a few of their cakes - the blueberry cheesecake, lemon meringue pie, cookies and cream cheesecake and the bon vivant.

The bon vivant would all up have to be my favourite. It is nice and chocolate-y without being so rich you feel like throwing up or bursting.

This place has the advantage or disadvantage of being on King St Newtown which means Mr Coffee and I trot past a few secondhand bookstores in order to get to it.

This can be a lot of fun but also a rich temptation. We have arrived there quite a bit poorer for the experience and bags heavier. i think that could explain why we haven't tried any main meals yet, just the cakes and sweet drinks.

However a book feeds the soul so to heck with the main meals!

I feel good with my purchases.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Someone is a Teapot; or How OJS is Influencing People all over Australia, and indeed, the World

Anyone who was a doubter, start undoubting yourself, starting now.

Anyone who believed it wouldn't happen. Anyone who ridiculed the proposition.

I wrote just about a month or so back about my wonderful idea for converting your loved ones into tableware . After they had died, that was. Ashes to ashes, ashes to porcelain, was my motto. Bone china, actually.

Dine off Aunty May, the delicate dinner plate? Sip out of Cousin Nettie, the Teacup? Take a sugar cube out of Uncle Herbert? What better way to enjoy a comfy Sunday afternoon? And I'm happy to report that I'm not the only one who think s this way.

I was travelling home this evening when I heard the Philip Clarke program on 2GB. I hasten to add that this was not my choice of radio station.

Mr Clarke was reading a TRUE STORY about how a man told him he'd always enjoyed a ritual with his Dad - Tea. yes, every week, teatime.

Then Dad died. He missed his Dad and teatime. It was important to him. He would bemoan "How can I have tea with my Dad again? There's a void in my life!"

Then, he explained, someone suggested how he COULD have tea with his Dad again. They got a potter who worked in clay to mix the ashes with the clay and make him a teapot.

"Now I have tea with my father again!"

Now, it mightn't be bone china, but there you go - that's Daddy the tea pot, and who's to say the whole family mightn't follow suit? Broadcast on 2GB it could easily become a craze, and coffin-makers could be replaced by potters.

Famous people could organise for their ashes to be made into fine china sets and auctioned off at amazingly high prices - only the best exotic herbals drunk out of them, thank you. None of this ordinary cheap teabag stuff.

I still think the person who is begging to be made into a mug is the President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe. The guy has it written all over him.

To be a mug, or not to be a mug? Mugabe has pretty much told us the answer to that question.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Brendan Nelson doesn't even rate!

I just got a message on my phone. There was a phone poll you could do where the first question was "Who is your preferred Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd or John Howard?"

Um, as far as I know, John Howard isn't the immediate possibility the alternate major party's putting up, Brendan Nelson is.

It's lovely to know how great a profile Dr Nelson has. Really must boost his ego.

Take up the Belgian Mussel Muscle Challenge!

Folks, you know you want to.

I've agreed in an earlier post that I wasn't so keen on the RedOak Boutique Beer Cafe, but I do engoy the Belgian Beer Cafe. One thing I like about it is the mussels.

You can get them in all sorts of flavours. Not cookies 'n' cream yet, but I'm sure they're working on it. however the Tin Tin au congo, the blue cheese, the Poulette, the white wine ... yum. All extremely tasty, as are the others.

And what really makes them go down nicely is a Wednesday night special when mussels are half priced.

Now I've just checked out their promotions page and here are two very interesting deals:

*On WEDNESDAYS Mussels are half priced between 6PM-10PM for everyone. (bookings recommended)

*MONDAYS-THURSDAYS if you get in after 4PM and leave by 6.30PM, promptly, you will be given a discount of 20% off your bill.

Now I don't know exactly how deal 1 works. Does the "6PM" relate to when the mussels are ordered, or when you book, or when they arrive on your table, or what?

But what I want to know more is whether anyone can manage to combine these two deals (and yes, you have to at least try to eat the mussels. It's not much of a deal if you order them, and try to leave without eating.

Imagine it: A busy Wednesday night. You book a table, you race in at 6PM, you order a pot of mussels, on the double! They come and you chomp them down, faster than a speeding bullet, and leap, push past the herd, to the cashier, with the bill to get


with a further 20% off!

You have just entered the hall of fame of extreme cheapness, and what's more, your stomach is ready to kill you.

Anyone ready to take up the challenge?

I would love to hear your story.

Category Uncategorised

I have a "Miscellaneous Items" Folder. Yep Sirree, I do.

I've seen people put a "Miscellaneous" Label on their posts.

Then I saw a blog where someone went one step further and put an "Uncategorised" Label on a post.

I thought the point of labelling was to categorise.

Next step Label - "Unlabelled".

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

An amendment (Not as easy as 1,2,3)

When I first made my resolutions I said I'd try to learn some Cantonese, because it was disconcerting to mess up "Happy New Year" and only know the numbers.

Now I've learnt I've been messing up the numbers too.

Back to the drawing board, I've been repeating the numbers over and over. It's all these tones that's hard to do, so I feel a lot like Eliza Doolittle.

Keeping Resolutions: Lord of the Rings, Mary Poppins

Early this year, I made a whole heap of resolutions , some of which won't get kept, which is the nature of resolutions, I guess.

However I'm proud to report that I have partially kept one of them, which had to do with the watching of certain old classic movies. No, I haven't managed to get my hands on Pollyanna, nor have I made time to watch Gone With the Wind again from beginning to end (how I wish!). However I've watched the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, and watched Mary Poppins. I watched Mary Poppins TWICE.

My thoughts? Lord of the Rings wasn't bad, and I was impressed by the direction, sure, and the costumes, scenery etc. I kind of get sick of fantasy princesses that always look like Galadriel and I spent a lot of time wondering why someone would set out on a quest like Frodo's and not where shoes, but that's an aside. Also Frodo's and Sam's Hobbit friends were annoying pains. And the battle scenes, despite my appreciation for the work put into them, were not my favourite bits.

I really liked Gandalf's sole battle with the big monster on the bridge - that was cool! I also liked the talking trees. And I thought Gollum was rather interesting in his messed-uppedness.

My favourite part was Part One.

Now ... Mary Poppins

I've been disappointed with some children's books turned movies lately. Hating Alison Ashley, Playing Beatie Bow.

Mary Poppins was gold. OK, it wasn't perfect, but it was really engaging and I loved it. I went around singing "Tuppence a Bag" and "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" long afterwards. Julie Andrews makes a great Poppins, and unlike in Annie, the children are not annoyingly tryhard sweet/cute. There's a nice double story running here - the fun of Mary Poppins' magic, with also the struggle of Mr Banks to come to terms with his children and his wife, a rabid suffragette, around him, and it works well.

I went around later and couldn't get John Cleese out of my mind every time I thought "Mr Banks" either. He also reminded me a bit of a married Professor Higgins (from Pygmalion) - self-satisfied and routine, and not able to listen to others.

Of course, the movie does have faults, the main one being that some of the song and dance sequences go on for far longer than they need to, repeating themselves over and over, and could have been better edited. This is most evident when the penguins are dancing in "Jolly Holiday" and the sweeps are dancing in "Step in Time". It's probably done to amuse kiddies, but it doesn't push the story forward.

However, the charm of the actors and a good script and score covers up little things like this quite easily. What's also great about this is while technology has greatly improved since this movie was made, the effects used here don't look jarringly aged. I can imagine that if Mary Poppins was made today, the effects would have been done differently, especially in the chalk painting scene, but they are still extremely effective to convey the spirits and feeling and fun, as they are.

All I have to say now is ... supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Another resolution I made back then was "Get a job". Does getting one for three months then losing it count as fulfilling that resolution? I say it does. Tick that one off!

Drive as a Team!

The whole spectacle of driving makes no sense whatsoever, and no wonder there are so many accidents and crashes on the road. It's not because of drunk driving or hooligans or anything, although that may contribute.

I've figured it out; it's because driving is an inefficiently designed concept.

Usually, at a high-level efficient-output workplace, you have one person who heads the team, someone who takes notes, a few on tech, someone on editing, someone on maintenance, someone else on legal, someone on acounts, blah blah whatever. Everyone SPECIALISES. Driving is one of those stupid things where everything is do it yourself so you never learn one thing properly, you're a jack-of-all trades doing everything badly.

You have to sit there, listening to the radio, checking the GPS, glance at the road ahead, the rearview, the side view, handle the brake, the accelerator, the clutch, watch the speedo ...

Gosh it's enough to make anyone have a fit and many do.

And it's silly enough that P-platers are restricted in the number of passengers they carry at late hours. If any they should be carrying MORE.

They should have a whole tag team with them.

One person on brake, another on accelerator, one watching the rearview, another watching the road ahead, another watching speed. Each one would specialise in its particular function in order to coordinate the car perfectly.

It makes a heap o' sense.

I volunteer for specialty of "backseat driver" or "freeloader", I'm good at it and have had heaps of practice. I practically have a PHD Gold Medal or whatever you can get, in it.

Review: RedOak Boutique Beer Cafe (A Night of Bumps)

The RedOak Boutique Beer Cafe is in Clarence St, Sydney, just in case I'm mixing it up with any other establishments of the same name.

Mr Coffee and I ventured out there last Friday, in a group of 12. And it was a pretty bad experience.

Let me first preface this by saying - I think it had a lot to do with the fact that we picked one of their busy nights, and we were a large group.

That doesn't get away from the fact that it was still a pretty lousy experience.

The great part of the night was the company, but we brought that with us. Hahaha.

First whinge - the place was like a maze. A puzzle. So when a large group books, they find it difficult to put you anywhere, and we were rather carelessly put in a certain place, despite requesting a "quiet corner". The place is darn noisy and the acoustics bad, so forget about conversation, try sign language.

But heck, it's part of a Beer Cafe experience, isn't it? Noise?

That wouldn't have annoyed us so much if it hadn't been for the stupidity of the table arrangements. The way they placed the tables was so illogical, it was like they wanted to create a warren so the waiters had to bump in to people, when it was perfectly obvious to us there were places they could have arranged the same tables so there would have made room for easy carriage.

This caused waiters to have to squeeze past Mr Coffee, behind him, constantly, and one deliberately gave him a shove. That's when you really want to be like those guys on TV and can swing another guy with immunity. Or have a special sperpower that makes a guy get an electric shock, a big one, whenever he shoves your chair. A waiter tried to tell him he ought to have to squeeze himself in to the table into a position that would make Mr Coffee uncomfortable, simply to make up for staff stupidity.

Really, the whole RedOak experience was one where the waiters acted as if they were doing you a favour by allowing you to be there! One got Mr Coffee's order wrong, and when he brought out the wrong beer, and was corrected, tried to argue with Mr Coffee and convince him he'd really ordered what he'd brought out!

At another time, waiters brought out entrees and placed them in front of some of us. They rested there for a while, but just before our friends were about to dig in they said "Sorry, wrong table!" and picked them up, and carried them elsewhere!

I wouldn't like to be at that other table - I mean, who knows, someone could have eaten a bit of those entrees, or got spit in it or something! What was the waiter going to do next, argue and try to convince you that you had ordered table 20's spittle?

We waited quite a while for our entrees and main courses, our stomachs were GROWLING. We watched as people who came much later than us got their meals faster and finished up before us. It could be that they were trying to coordinate our meals as a large group - but how long really does it take to cook those meals? The wait was really far too long.

I had nothing against the actual meals when they came out, the portions were fair-sized and quite tasty. I had the chicken, which was fine.

Mr Coffee said the beer was ok, but was not really strong, and tasted like water when compared to beer you could get at the Bavarian or Belgian Beer Cafes.

If you have a MYER ONE card you can get a buy one get one free main meal here, but there's a maximum of two redemptions per table, so at twelve people per table, this didn't amount to much, and as those who paid the bill didn't specify the second and fourth most expensive should be those taken off the bill, the least expensive were taken off the bill.

With this deal, this would probably be a good deal for up to four people, and on a week night, in a smaller group you probably get far better service. The food, then, is not too bad. But if you're booking for a large group, steer clear away, this place is hell.

Monday, 16 June 2008

I'm Bummed

As of Friday the Thirteenth, I'm officially Bummed.

That's right, my boss picked Friday the Thirteenth to officially announce that I was out the door, out on my bum, de-employed. The light at the end of the tunnel was I had a few minutes to clean out my desk and I "could give myself an early mark if I wanted to".

Oh, and he assured me it was nothing personal, and he thought I made terrific coffee.

Well, it's always nice to get a reference and ego boost like that on your way out.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Review: Playing Beatie Bow

I have always loved the story Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park, well, ever since I read it. It has the usual Park attributes - a ratty teenager, a world within a world, a few adults who teach her something she didn't know. (Have a read of My Sister Sif.) However, it's a damn good writing - the story of Abigail going back in time to the Rocks, 1873.

It's a pity they totally butchered the movie, then.

I wanted to watch the movie just to see how they'd translate it to film, and I must admit it was one of those experiences where you spent the time thinking "Damn, I could have done better, and I'm not a film director."

However, the movie was not without good points. The best bit would have to be the recreation of a genuine set for the 1873 Rocks area - very realistically portrayed and probably a lot of research and effort put into the design. Top marks.

The Chinese laundrymen were also pretty cool. A bit of comic relief, and their Chinese was actually real, not fake-out stuff that sounds like Chinese but are some actors pretending to sound Chinese for the benefit of non-Chinese people who wouldn't know any better.

Gibbie, Dovey, and Beatie weren't too badly portrayed. Gibbie in particular was pretty vile, just as he's meant to be, and a lot of his annoying pain-in-the-neck lines were kept intact and well delivered ... all the talk about his funeral was enough to want you to lash at him.

However -

The musical score was annoying - and pervasivly so. It added to the whole feel of the movie being, as Mr Coffee called it "Home and Away in 1873". I really couldn't argue with that. The long passionate kiss and roll around in the sand with Judah and Abigail - what the heck was that all about - it did seem too Summer Bay, not Abigail just recognising her mother's emotions and relating, and growing as a person, but Abigail wanting to darn well get it on and turn it into a lovefest for the soap fans out there.

Then, there was the removal of Vincent from the whole story. In fact, the whole back story of how Abby developed before she time travelled was abbreviated, and while I understand why some of this was necessary, I think so much of it was done that it didn't really make the time travel story meaningful. Really it was meant to make her grow up and make a better relationship with her and her mother - and the placement of her, Vincent and Natalie as outsiders was crucial to that.

The melodramatic rescue scene where Abby's saved from the "painted ladies" is over the top in the movie, but it's kind of understandable that the directors wanted to add in more action than was in the original book, just for some fun and visuals.

The real idiocy of the plot though was how the "Gift" was explained. This didn't need to be muddled up at all and it was.

The way they left out Beatie's dream which leads to Abby's conclusion that Beatie becomes famous (and explains why the game "Beatie Bow" developed and explains half the "Gift" - that Beatie is to be barren) - but then add in the conclusion that Gibbie is "the One" - I thought it made Granny seem a little stupidly over the top in the movie rather than wise and gentle and strong - just ruined the story.


It didn't give you the opportunity to feel for Beatie and encourage her to be famous. It didn't add in the suspense of "who will die" and then the feelings that make Abby "wish it's not Judah". It doesn't allow for her mix up over Robert Bow's ancestors later.

Add into all that that Imogen Annesley as Abigail was painful, far too pronounced, and enunciating each word as if she were on stage not on screen, and you have a woeful movie.

Oh, and the change of how time travel worked (by touching Beatie's hands, not by simply "running down the street and finding yourself in the next century") - in my opinion, change for the worse. Much better if you just have to run really fast and suddenly you're i the next century, it's less corny.

Run Abby, run, let's see you hit 88 miles per hour, and you'll be in 1873! Something like that.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Does it matter if he's Black or White?

Barack Obama has made history - (well I think technically we all do, each second we live, but that's how the news article put it) he's become the first African-American to run for President of the United States of America.

OK, so he has apparently got enough delegates to put one over Hillary Clinton.

Anyway I was coming back from work today and I heard some lady called Vicky ring up the radio station to talk about the Obama vote and she wanted to know "how black is he?"

I wasn't sure what answer to expect. Maybe the DJ was an interior designer and he was going to say, "Well, darleeeng, the colour we call it is not exactly midnight or jet, but a kind of chocolate mixed with charcoal which gives the overall effect of darkness but has a lovely light overtone for a th casual sunny outlook days and goes beautifully with cream and turquoise shades."

Anyhow the DJ answered that Obama's father was African American but to his knowledge his mother wasn't.

"So he's half black, half white?"

I thought this might lead to a witty comment about greyness. Or maybe stripes, like a zebra.


The DJ went on about how the significant thing was that Obama identified as black and Americans saw him as black "when they look at him they see a black man", and he'd made it to candidate. That was what made it historically significant.

"But he's part white," the woman whinged.

"So what do you see him as?" asked the DJ.

"If he's got any white in him ... he's white!" said Vicky.

I think this is pretty dumb.

I'm all for accuracy, like pointing out that someone might not be completely Asian but "Eurasian" or "half black" or "one-eighth French" or something.

However trying to (it seems) make insignificant that of Obama's candidacy by claiming him "all white" just because he's half white seems pretty daft - especially since the same woman seemed to get so hyped against him being called "black" when he was also half-black!


I’d rather play a maid and make $700 a week, than be a maid for $7

Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American to win an Academy Award, is famous for saying "I’d rather play a maid and make $700 a week, than be a maid for $7"

Hell, I would too. Though on this site it is pointed out that with this comment and others similar she brought wrath and it was thought she traded group values for personal gain.

Her Academy Award seemed to be loaded with criticism, but I think it's one of those double edged sword things. People seemed to complain when she won it that she played a role that just perpetuated stereotypes of blacks and brought up issues of slavery which they'd rather not revisit. On the other hand if you don't hand it to her, I guess people would foam that it was a great opportunity to give an Academy Award to a black woman and the Academy didn't because they were racist. Oh damn.

So, Hattie played a slave and this was offensive to blacks. As is noted here she didn't have a whole lot to choose from - she's a huge black lady and at the time there weren't a whole lot of roles for huge black ladies. What was she supposed to do - I like her comeback - "''What do you expect me to play?'' she asked. ''Rhett Butler's wife?''

At least she got out there and played something, which is more than can be said for some people who whinged about her.

Naturally, if a white person makes a career out of playing delinquents and villains and druggies and criminals, it doesn't seem to get loaded with criticism. I guess it's because there are other caucasians out there playing heroes. So why should Hattie cop it all for not carrying the responsibility of depicting the "acceptable image that Negroes want to be portrayed as" on her shoulders? Is it because they are such broad shoulders?

No, it seems it's because there aren't enough Negroes in Hollywood so they put all their expectations on her. Maybe those who whinge ought to have got off their backsides and become stars instead of telling her how to live her life, their way.

I do think a lot of hit films in English are mainly filled with white actors in more varieties of roles, but then, what you have to do is crack in to the market. I see Asian actors badly stereotyped too - you either are a martial arts fighter or a whore, to a large extent. I suppose the way to change this is to become a scriptwriter or producer - preferably both. You can also encourage actors of certain races to get involved to support your projects. A lot of stereotyping could be argued to be the laziness or disinterest of some nationalities in cracking into certain markets, and some of them perpetuate their own stereotypes.

I think there is nothing wrong with Hattie playing slaves and maids if that's what she wanted to do - she probably did a whole lot more for film than many will admit. It's not possible always to make giant leaps all at once; her driving that small wedge in made it possibly easier for many other people later to secure more varied roles and they would not appreciate her difficulties - and make it so much easier for them to criticise her.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

TimT has just written a perfectly good review of the new Indiana movie on his blog, but I've decided that that won't stop me from just regurgitating everything and putting my own spin on the movie, which is basically the same as TimT's: The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was not nearly as bad as the critics have been saying it was. In fact I enjoyed it. If you want a similar opinion, I suggest you check out TimT's blog. I have witnesses!

I definitely think you get the most out of this movie if you remember Raiders of the Lost Ark and especially The Last Crusade, fairly well. there are heaps of nods in the direction of both, and many of the in-jokes may be lost on you if you haven't watched them or don't remember them.

Indiana has changed here. He's older, and the movie doesn't try to hide it, instead it adapts to it, which in my opinion was the best way to go. You can't really hide the fact that Harrison Ford is much older now, and it would be plain lame to attempt to disguise it. Indiana films were always filled with good-natured humour as well as fast-paced action and well-drawn characters, and this has a lot of each. Here there are lots of "oldie" jokes thrown in, as well as jokes that are obvious nods to Raiders and The Last Crusade.

Cate Blanchett does a great job of the evil Dr Spalko. The character is not a deep and complex one, but who cares? Who goes to Indiana films for that anyway? She fits in well and really shows off some nice arch-villainness.

The return of Marion Ravenwood was perfect - it fit in well with the plotline and also Indy's age, and she was just as spunky as ever. After all, just as Indy cringed when Sean Connery hinted he'd slept with the young hottie in The Last Crusade ... well did we really want Indy chasing a young babe at his age in this one? Perhaps Marion was the more appropriate choice for a female sidekick!

As some of my friends mentioned, there are also references to other archaeology films, with some devices taken from National Treasure, which I haven't seen, but I noticed quite glaringly the bits of plotline taken right from The Mummy - maybe something fans of the genre will have a bit of a laugh at, too.

In general, I thought it had a nice mix of humour, energy, and good characters and pacing. Even if the plotline didn't make a whole lot of sense - it's not entirely clear where the Soviets come in, and the psychic powers and paranormal stuff may seem a bit far-fetched to some people. But it's a great adventure. Just what I would watch Indiana Jones for.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

I want a Grab-the-toy-with-a-clamp Game Machine Power!

I once wrote a blog article asking which superpower people would have if they could choose one, like say psychic powers or flying or running really fast or shooting lasers or invisibility or something.

However I've thought of a new superpower I'd really want. I'd like to have the power to win at those grab a toy with a clamp game machines.

You know the ones. They are filled with fluffy toys, and you put money in the slot and have a turn. You either use a joystick or buttons to control a claw or clamp, and you get one chance to point it a certain way, then it will go and dive and reach out. If you have aimed well and the toys are positioned nicely it may pick up a toy for you and then drop it in a chute. If you haven't then you don't win anything.

Of course those games are nigh imposible usually because the toys are in a mess, the claw is inaccurate and you only get one chance to dive. And the claw is often really wide so even if it does pick something up it is liable to drop it before it reaches the chute.

Most likely it will dive and all it will do is toss around a few fluffy toys.

I think it's very frustrating. I tried a couple of those toy machines out. No deal! I still would have liked that devil Hello Kitty. Just for the heck of it, why not?

If I had a magic power, the claw would pick up a toy every single time it dived. Maybe it would pick up two. And it would drop them in the chute. I would have the largest collection of soft toys ever that way.

It is not entirely selfish. I would have an overflow so I would donate some to little kiddies in hospital. Maybe. When I have got bored with lining them all up in rows and photoing them and picking out my top 100 out of all the green teddies or whatever.

I spend nights thinking about that claw and wondering what I did wrong, why I missed, why the toy slipped. Someday the nightmare has to stop, and if I had the superpower maybe I could live a normal life. Someday.

Aaaargh! My Driving Instructor Cursed Me!

It sounds lame, but I haven't been blogging recently because I've been cursed.

I have been so ill recently I haven't been able to look at the computer without feeling a bit nauseous and feeling like I want to puke on the keyboard; not a healthy way to feel when I want to compose a blog article. On top of that I haven't been really in the mindframe to write a coherent few sentences.

It all started when I went for a driving lesson. As usual I was driving pretty badly, but that's the usual for me and I deal with it. My usual habit of not being able to brake or accelerate smoothly.

My instructor got frustrated with me and told me I'd feel sick because of it. "You'll feel it HERE," he said and touched the right side of his neck.

"What a wuss," I thought. I'd driven like this and much worse many other times, and never had such problems before. I'd always felt fine.

The day after the lesson I started to feel a bit groggy. "Must be Fridayitis," I thought, making up a convenient ailment. I felt like flopping down on the keyboard at work and was glad that the boss gave me an early mark at 4pm.

I was feeling all tight on the ... yes ... right side of the neck, so I fortunately got a lovely neck massage from Mr Coffee (many thanks!) which seemed to ease some tightness. However I still felt groggy - and I developed a headache on the right side of my head.

Saturday - head still throbbing. Tried to sleep all day. And it didn't get better by Sunday.

By the time the next week rolled around, things weren't getting better. In fact in the next week I developed MORE ailments, not fewer, including a worsening migraine on the right side, tightening muscles, tummy aches and a fever. Couldn't sleep, couldn't eat, couldn't think. My body ended up with cramps and pains.

I took a whole week off work.

I've never had an illness quite like that before so I dub it "The Curse of the Driving Instructor" and hope there is no reason to have to go through it again.

Certainly not if I get my license!

Sunday, 11 May 2008

I'm a Mug!

Over dinner, my mother pronounced her preference for fine bone china over other kinds of china. She wants to replace a mug she broke at work with one made of this elegant china.

"Why's it called bone china?" asked my brother.

"'Cause it's got bones in it," I explained. None of my family believed me at first, but it's true. I read up on it a bit more closely to ffind out how it's made. Bone china is a large percentage animal bone ash, as I reported back to my Dad.

"But why not HUMAN BONE ASH?" I mused.

"Good idea!" enthused father, who has taken to the idea of being cremated. "I'm a mug in life, why not make me a mug in death!"

I now present to you my services - or my FAMILY DINNER SERVICES.

Don't put granny in an urn - Make Granny into an urn!

Preserve the whole family in a classy dinnerware service. The Family Dinner Service, where you can choose the dinner service piece you'd like to be that represents YOUR personality! Would you like to be a fancy jug, an elegant platter, a smooth plate?

Be part of the family dinner ritual for decades after your death!

Or perhaps you'd like to be a little jam pot - not just be preserved but HOLD PRESERVES!

It's all up to you, at CREMATIONS and CERAMICS - We CARE for your WARE!

Review: Moliere

I think I've written some mean reviews lately. Not that those in question didn't deserve it, like Hating Alison Ashley, yegads, but I've shown a bit of dissatisfaction with what I've been watching.

Well, last Friday, I saw Moliere. Heartily recommend, especially if you're looking for a good cackle!

It's not a movie I would have picked to see, but now I've seen it I'm glad I did. I won tickets - so a freebie always makes you feel extra good in the theatre. The movie's a French one. It's about this Moliere fellow, a comic actor who's part of a bankrupt troupe of actors. He then ends up trying to earn his keep by hiring himself out to a Mr Jourdain under the pretense of being a religious young man and a tutor, for the man's daughter.

Mrs Jourdain catches on pretty quickly, but Mr Jourdain's in the dark. If you happen to appreciate a Ricky Gervais kind of comedy, with a cringeworthy David-Brent-from-The-Office character, then Mr Jourdain is your man. The film makes some obvious points about people asking for advice or criticism - but not taking it unless it's exactly what they wanted to hear - and has some excellent oppportunities for Moliere to showcase his comic acting abilities.

Watch out especially for the "dewdrop and horse" scene and the "Fair Marquise letter" scene. The "singing lesson scene" is definitely worth a mention too. You'll know which they are when you see them!

Mums worth $124,000

A calculation based on all the different job titles Mum takes on figured that if Mum were paid in cold hard cash she'd earn $124,000 a year.

Typical duties included:

housekeeper, daycare centre teacher, van driver, psychologist and chief executive officer

and the fact she works more than 40 hours a week.

I actually find this amusing because I asked someone what CEO means and it means you get to make all the executive decisions.

In fact I do that all the time, anyone can make them if they choose, just wish I could get paid in cold hard cash what duties I perform.

I am

CEO - I make decisions on everything for myself and often for other people too.
Legal secretary/paralegal (OK I'm getting paid for this)
Typist (what the heck am I doing now?)
Housekeeper (my bedroom is quite spick and span thank you. Lots better than some housewives I know)
Computer technologist
Events Organiser
Boardgames Player
Orange Juice taster
DVD watcher
Phone answerer
Professional Procastinator and Sleeper

to name just a few ... Oh and I do this full time.

Darn, I should be getting paid a fortune. Unfortunately I'm not. It's a disgrace I tell you!

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Law & Order: DUI

Recently I was sent a little note about a crime-writing competition, and accompanying it, a useful pamphlet with crime-writing tips.

One stuck out to me: Don't take 'crime' too literally; most crime fiction involves murder. Fraud and espionage rarely makes for a good crime novel

Well, there went all my fantastic ideas, just like that, but I just don't see why people are so bloody (excuse the pun) narrow-minded. I can assure you that every crime has its thrills and spills, and if you think you can just get your jollies out of murders, then you're missing out on a whole buffet of potential ecstasy the crime world has to offer you.

Here was a synopsis I had all planned:

Stacey is a beautiful and misunderstood young lady with a traumatic past. We follow her throughout the story as she divulges more and more about her difficult childhood. She has few friends and has isolated many in her life. The suspense is immense, until one day Stacey is at the mall and decides to rebel against the world that has caged her glorious soul by stealing two erasers.

That one was going to be called "Winona Forever".

Then I sketched out:

The detectives are called to the crime scene. The evidence is scanty, but they are making do with the photographs they have. They have no eyewitnesses - at least there are none who'll make a statement - and the man who owns the nearby pub is tightlipped. But Special Agent Shamrock Combes will figure it out in the end - he always does - which bastard really was the owner of the sedan that was driving 10km over the limit past the camera, and possibly under the influence, given the probabilities? If only the camera had taken a slightly better shot ... (but difficulties like this never faze Shamrock)!

Friday, 18 April 2008

If we're man's best friend, why do you still call us bitches?

The heading is my answer to the question "What would dogs say if they could talk?", but I'm sure plenty of people out there have their own idea about that.

The question was spun out by HarperCollins, and winning answers won a Selby pack - mine got me a pack, but I really thought it wouldn't, because Selby is a children's series and I thought the bitches bit might exclude me. Seems not.

A Selby pack was a copy of Duncan Ball's Selby Santa, a dog plush toy and a Selby cap. It's childish, but then Selby's a favourite of mine. I got the first Selby book when I was a kid (even then it was a simple read for me) and the series is still going strong. And I must admit that I catch up on Selby's adventures every now and then when I'm in bookstores!

For those who haven't had the joy of Selby in your life, the premise is this:

Selby is a normal dog, who lives with his owners, Dr Trifle, a somewhat eccentric inventor/scientist, and his wife Mrs Trifle, Mayor of Bogusville. Then one day Selby realises he understands human language. He decides to teach himself to speak it. After acquiring language skills, he thinks it'll be a great idea to reveal his secret to his owners as a Christmas present.

He's just about to do it, when he overhears a conversation that makes him realise that if the Trifles (lovely people though they are) knew that he were an intelligent, conversant dog, he'd lose his laidback, leisurely life. He'd be running errands, answering phonecalls, and in general being a slave.

He's best off keeping his secret a secret and using it to his advantage when he can, but keeping his old life where he can laze about the house and be the adored and looked after pet with no responsibilities.

Of course, this isn't easy, because Selby's ability to understand language makes him a sensitive, feeling, understanding, intelligent dog with curiosity, ambition, worries ... and the ability to get himself into a lot of trouble, all the while trying not to give his secret away while trying to use his skills to his advantage when he can.

There must be something like 30 Selby books out there now.

I find Selby fun - maybe also because in the whole thing, he's incautious, and just a bit up-himself! Just as many kids like their books - the adults around him are kind of gormless, even if one's a scientist and one's the Mayor, and Selby the talking dog is far wittier than them - and knows it - and doesn't try to hide it.

In Selby's Secret, Selby kisses himself in the mirror, saying "Oh you perfect pooch! You're my kind of dog."

He's my kind of dog, too!