Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Frocks & Shocks

If there's one thing I don't like about the Academy Awards, it's the Red Carpet. I don't like Red Carpets at all, and if I ever have a house of my own, there'll be no red carpets. No sirree.

It's not that I don't like a good nice frock. I like browsing in stores and walking through the expensive clothes department and deluding myself that I could actually afford to buy any of that stuff. I like wasting salesgirls' time by trying on a whole lot of highly priced items, only to say later "Sorry ... not right," when really I mean, "If you'd cut the price to bargain bin Target pricing, I could cut you a deal!"

That's why I have the site Gone With The Wind Forever linked to this one, because the idea of flouncing around in one of Scarlett O'Hara's faves is actually quite fun.

However, what I hate is the sniping and bitching that comes after the Red Carpet by some columnists who really probably are no oil paintings or fashion artistes themselves and probably write these articles in daggy trackpants and novelty slippers.

I open the paper and see a lovely picture of Amy Adams, blown up to almost full page, and rated as only 1/10. I can't see why, she looks gorgeous to me.

Her crime? She wore a dress that was almost identical to what Isla Fisher's was last year. Big deal, does that make the actual dress look really awful? (She also has the same colour hair, but what's wrong with that?)

I'd hate to be a celebrity if it meant you couldn't go out without someone thinking you might have the same clothes as someone else someday; you couldn't shop retail anywhere, you'd have to make all your own clothes. What a bore.

And then the other crunch comes - when someone ralises you wore the same clothes that you wore to another function - the other big faux pas. Which means every time you wear some clothes, you have to throw them in the bin. Then we complain about celebrities who live this high spend big life and only worry about clothes and crap while ordinary citizens are struggling. maybe it's because we crap all over them every time they do something like wear the same shirt or dress as someone else did some other time, or they did some other time, so they spend all the time with it on their mind. With bad dreams of Oscar gowns haunting them.

I think we ought to be proud of celebrities who wear their clothes several times over; at least they're not being wasteful bastards.

Then the next picture I looked at was a picture of Renee Zellwegger, who got a low grade of 4/10.

I couldn't see why, her sequined gown looked very pretty.

The comment was "Stunning sequinned ... dress. but someone give this woman a sandwich."

So basically a bitch about how Renee was on the thin side.
Cate Blanchett was there, and she was on the big side - that is, she was pregnant - and she got appladed by the critics for how nicely and glowingly she showed off her baby bump. It seems it's not ok to lampoon someone for having a natural biggishness, such as pregnancy, even though most mums I've talked to agree that this is a time of your life when you don't look your best. however if you're going through a thin stage, and as far as I know there isn't anything objectively wrong about being thin, except that some people mightn't really think it's to their taste, it's ok to snipe about it - and insinuate eating disorders.

When the chat turns to meanness and personal comments rather than personal preferences about fashion and a general appreciation about the creativeness of designers, I find it really off-putting.
I tossed away the paper in disgust.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Gratuitous Fedora Post

Totally because of TimT's Running Fedora Post I had a vivid dream about relay racing fedoras!

There were black, brown, pink, red, and other coloured fedora hats, all running.

I have never dreamed of fedoras before and now I was dreaming of scores of them and scores for them.

It was then that I realised that I was very different from the other people in my family.

This is what I see when I think Fedora.

This is what the others in my family see when they think Fedora.

The Bird Feeder

I got this bit of spam:

I bought a bird feeder. I hung it on my back porch and filled it with seed.

Within a week we had hundreds of birds taking advantage of the continuous flow of free and easily accessible food. But then the birds started building nests in the boards of the patio, above the table, and next to the barbecue.

Then came the poop. It was everywhere: on the patio tile, the chairs, the table...everywhere.

Then some of the birds turned mean: They would dive bomb me and try to peck me even though I had fed them out of my own pocket.

And others birds were boisterous and loud: They sat on the feeder and squawked and screamed at all hours of the day and night and demanded that I fill it when it got low on food.

After a while, I couldn't even sit on my own back porch anymore.

I took down the bird feeder and in three days the birds were gone.

I cleaned up their mess and took down the many nests they had built all over the patio.

Soon, the back yard was like it used to be...... quiet, serene and no one demanding their rights to a free meal.

Now lets see....... our government gives out free food, subsidized housing, free medical care, free education and allows anyone born here to be an automatic citizen.

Then the illegal's came by the tens of thousands.

Suddenly our taxes went up to pay for free services; small apartments are housing 5 families: you have to wait 6 hours to be seen by an emergency room doctor: your child's 2nd grade class is behind other schools because over half the class doesn't speak English: Corn Flakes now come in a bilingual box; I have to press "one" to hear my bank talk to me in English, and people waving flags other than "Old Glory" are squawking and screaming in the streets, demanding more rights and free liberties.

Maybe it's time for the government to take down the bird feeder.

Hmmm, I thought.

I liked birds, so I bought a bird feeder. Which was the only reason you'd buy a birdfeeder in the first place. I put it in the backyard and put in birdseed. Birds came a long squawking and they pooped too! Just like the parable.

So I took away the birdfeeder.

Then I would sit in my backyard and dammit!

I couldn't do any birdwatching any more, even though it was pretty serene and peaceful it was also DAMN BORING. Back to square one. I figured I actually preferred it when the birds were pooping and squawking. It's like saying to a dog lover, would you prefer no dog at all, or would you prefer a dog who mooches around, poops on the floor, and expects unconditional love and a rub on the tummy and free dog food for no pay? They'd take the dog.

Also, I found out everyone else got this spam and there were no bird feeders around. So all the birds were going into the wild.

Then they got killed off by the bigger animals because they didn't have safe places to eat birdseed.

Hmmm hmmm. Still our gardens were very peaceful. And boring.

Then I thought a bit more and figured out - spam parables suck and don't explain real life properly!

I have an inbox. I put it out for free. I put out my email address for free.

But within a short time, all these ... emails take advantage of it and poop spam in my inbox.

Then they get very mean and start sending crap like penis enlargement programs and credit card scams and pyramid schemes. They bomb me with the stuff even though I had been very kind and given out my email address for free and set up my account out of my own time.

Then the hijackers and woems and viruses come out of nowhere.

Suddenly it costs heaps for anti-virus programs and you spend all day getting rid of 800 pieces of junk to read one email from your friend. And hackers are demanding more rights and liberties and getting them than we ordinary one mail a dayers.

Maybe it's time I took done the birdfeeder. I mean email account.

After that I didn't get any stupid parables about bird feeders or karma or blondes or how to keep your car like your relationship.

I liked the birds. I could do without the bird spam.

Friday, 22 February 2008

It's over Three Weeks, and Three still is THREE

It's over three weeks since I last really whined about Three.

They STILL haven't dealt properly with my phone bill and I have been at them since January. How long does it take to look at my bank record, look at their record, and ring up my bank to confirm where the discepancy lies?

I ring them up, and they tell me they will have a result by that afternoon, please ring back. So I ring back, they tell me in two days, so I ring back, they tell me in two days, I ring back, they tell me in two days, and so on. Not those exact margins, but somthing similar, It's an ongoing saga and I keep ringing back to hear that they are 'still investigating' and to call back in x number of days, when I find out they are in the same position as last time.

So one day I got a message telling me to call back in three-four days. I was getting sick of this, and so I rang back in one day to complain about how they kept fobbing me off and to ask if there was anything I could do or someone I could speak to to hurry up the progress (or actually get the motion moving, as it didn't seem to be!)

The man told me: "Call back in three-four days"

I explained that was exactly what I'd been complaining about and I was asking if there was an alternative to that, and he asked me to call back in three-four days.

He kept repeating that over and over like some sort of robot.

Then he repeated information to me that was incorrect, such as telling me what I had been informed, which I hadn't been informed about. When I explained I hadn't told him that, he started yelling and arguing with me.

What has customer service come to - a battlefield?

It seems many peopole in customer service haven't figured out yet that they are the service and you are the customer; they're supposed to be listening to you and providing a solution and/or explanation, not simply trotting out standard phrases and trying to establish a moral high ground over the customer. If you don't have the authority to deal with the customer's problem, maybe you shouldn't be dealing with it at all. And if they don't intend to listen and even pretend to solve your problem, then why are they in customer service? If I wanted the standard phrases I'd read the website.

Monday, 18 February 2008

I'm a Floss Fraud, and who are you?

I've got a dental appointment on Wednesday, and I know what he's going to say before I even get there.

"Have you been flossing?"

And it's a dumb question, because he knows I haven't been, not the way he means, and he knows my answer as well as I do:

"Ummm, recently ..."

When recently means I picked up a bit of dental floss either an hour before I turned up, or the night before, and did a bit of a floss out of guilt.

I hate flossing. And I'm not too fond of dental appointments either, because dentists mean the flossing question, plus sitting back in a chair with your mouth opened wide and someone blowing air on your teeth - and a lot worse if you have a filling - and forking out a couple of hundred dollars for the pleasure, often even if you have nothing wrong with you.

Dentists aren't covered by Medicare, an d they're not much fun. Which is why I don't go every six months like they tell me I should.

And you lose out no matter what.

You sit there hoping like mad you don't have a filling. But if you don't, they tell you you're fine, charge you an outrageous fee, and you walk out saying "I paid that amount for ... nothing!"

Then there's the floss. My dentist always tells me about plaque and how I ought to floss. Of course I ought to floss. But I'm a bad flosser. I was born without the floss skills. If there was a flossing Olympics, I wouldn't finish the race. If there were a Flossing Idol, I'd be one of those disgraced "Unforgettables". Nobody flosses worse than I do. I'm sure of it.

Of course, I always draw blood, though my dentist assures me that I shouldn't have to. But I always do. This puts me off flossing for some time til I feel guilty, maybe several months later, and I tentatively try flossing again, and draw blood again, and then get put off again. And so it goes on. I usually floss right before the dentist so I can say, "Ummmm, recently!" And give him a big goofy smile which fools nobody at all.

Then I get the floss lecture and I hand over a wad of cash, get guilt-tripped into flossing the next time I brush - and draw blood again.


I'm sure all this is meant to be a great metaphor or something, I can't figure out what yet.

I'm off me bum (soon)

I ought to put in a note here: I'm no longer a bum. Well, soon to no longer be a bum. I've got about a month of bumming left, and I intend to use them wisely.

Around last week I got myself an offer to do some alien thing called work at a home cum law office. It's quite a nice suburban place; the elderly male there uses his house as an office, and a grand place it is too, thick rugs, ornaments and chandeliers abound. I felt rather inferior just to the alrm clock so I'm hoping I'll cope and not spend time in therapy wondering whether a penholder is peering snobbily down at me the whole time.

However, must say, the staff group, small group it is and friendly it seems which is always a bonus. And it's only in the next suburb, which is another bonus, and third bonus is it's nearby a library, which means if I get a lunch break I could always pop over and probably indulge in several of my favourite childhood picture books. Like 'Thingnapped' or the best of Milly-Molly-Mandy, and be back before anyone noticed.

And the front garden's very green and yummy looking, and nice and big. Not exactly something that makes me want to slide all over it in my overalls, but very pretty. Another plus!

A fork in the road of life

I woke up semi-early this morning, for moi, at least, and wrote on the back of an old envelope, a semi-conscious and self-consciously long list of things I ought to do some time in the near future.

It wasn't one of those lists that people write, like "See Stonehenge; Do a parachute jump; Meet the Dali Lama".

It was really boring stuff like, "Clean up desk!!! Throw away old birthday cards!!! Floss!!!"

Life is catching up on me too fast, and it's only mid-February.

Last night I had one of my 'moments' when I had a six-course Japanese banquet in honour of a friend's birthday (Happy Birthday, m'dear). A friend discussing kids, another marriage, another going overseas and taking up new interests, a new language, a new direction in her career.

I think it was somewhere around the salmon and avocado sushi when I thought "Gosh, we're all making life-changing decisions this year! We're no longer little girls!"

That's when I got home and decided I really ought to floss.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Rise above your (school's) name!

Brad Pitt was educated at Kickapoo High School .

He was even voted best dressed in school in 1982.

Now to dig into Amazon.com (and co.uk)

I've ranted at Three. I've ranted at CityRail. Now to get stuck into Amazon.

I like writing book reviews, just ... because. Anyhow, I started an account on Amazon so I could, every so often, write something about a book I had thoughts on. I found out if I set up an account I could do this. All I needed was an email and a password.

Everything was getting along dandy, and the last review I wrote was 12 days ago. Then I got a message when I tried to write a review: That I needed to purchase something before I wrote a review.

A purchase requirement was necessary to control the quality of review.

Now of course, that doesn't exactly follow, because you can buy some handcream or something from Amazon, and you can still be allowed to write a review on War and Peace, and that doesn't really control the quality of the review. It doesn't guarantee anything - that the person has purchased the object they're reviewing, or that they have read the book.

What it does guarantee is that if you want to write a review, you have to hand over your credit card details, and some money.

However, it is Amazon's site, so if that's their rule, I guess it's their rule. though surely they could come right out and say "Amazon needs to have your personal details and cash before we let you review products".

So I began browsing reviews. My own previous reviews, which I'd mysteriously been able to write 12 days previously, and before, were still up. I thought, I couldn't write a review, but could I comment on someone else's? Underneath each review is a section where you may post a comment on someone's review, or vote as to whether it's helpful.

I attempted to post a comment on someone's review. it told me that unless I made a purchase, I couldn't comment.

So I tried to post a comment on my OWN review. I couldn't do that either - I had to make a purchase too!

Hey, I thought, that's not fair!

Sometimes people get quite heated in comments on reviews. Under your review they ask questions, scoff, debate why you wrote your review in a certain way. Amazon had let me write a review, then changed the rules on me so it was possible for others to debate my review but not possible for me to answer those people - unless I paid a fee!

That really irked me, so I tried to get rid of all my reviews in one hit, by deleting my account. Funny thing was, I couldn't find a "delete account" button.

I did a google search and found some articles saying that Amazon was quite sneaky in that it did not provide a facility for deleting accounts! You could change your details, etc, but you could not actually delete your account. And often people did not want their account there.

So, I went back and manually deleted every single damn review I had written. Laborious, I know. I'll be writing reviews elsewhere in the future, methinks. And the account remains, but it's empty. Since I didn't ever buy anything from them, I s'pose the worse thing that I can get from them is spam mail; I didn't hand over credit details.And I didn't have wish lists to delete or anything.


I really think it's crap for these big places not to have "delete account" facilities.

Oh, and Amazon has been slow in getting a parcel out to Mr Coffee. That's another thing not in their favour!

Review: Jesus Christ Superstar

On the weekend, I had the pleasure of watching Jesus Christ Superstar TWICE. One was the 1973 version, directed by Norman Jewison and mainly set in the desert, and the other was the 2000 version more like a filmed stageplay, funkier and directed by Galed Edwards and Nick Morris.

I'm going to be ambitious and attempt to give my opinions of both versions in the same post without mixing them up.

To begin with, I'll state that I preferred the 1973 version, though the 2000 version was interesting and there were some bits of it which were just as good and even better. And IMDB seems to disagree with me, giving the 2000 version a higher rating than the 1973 version, which just says pot about my opinion.

The story is about Jesus, from the point of view of Judas, which is pretty interesting. And I think it would be a pretty difficult musical to follow if you weren't familiar with the Jesus story beforehand, as it doesn't provide much background or explanation, but since the Jesus story is so well-known, that isn't a detraction; indeed labouring the background may have become a bore for the intended audience.

Judas is therefore depicted more sympathetically in Superstar - somthing that I think is done better in the 1973 version than in the 2000 version.

A quick sum up of the characters can be like this:

Judas: The interpretation of Judas was "different" in each, but more sympathetic in the 1973 version. Also, Anderson in the 1973 version is a better singer. And the fact that Pradom (Judas) in the 2000 version looks like Quentin Tarantino's long lost twin brother doesn't exactly make him sympathetic, either!

Jesus: In both versions, Jesus is a bit of an idiot - a poseur. He smiles goofily at cameras like a politician and loves himself too much, and has hissy fits. This is definitely emphasised more in the 2000 version. It's only towards the end when he gets crucified that he gets kind of likable (and in the scene with the lepers). however, in the 1973 version, he actually looks a lot like the Jesus of historical depictions, which I think does a lot for the movie and its poignancy. In the 2000 version I kept laughing because Jesus looked too much like a "Fabio" - a buff Italian guy who kept wanting to show off his man-boobs and spent too much on his crinkle-perm. The idea was amusing but went too over the top for me.

Simon: Both versions were whacky, and I thought they were equally good. An energetic Jamaican in the 1973 version, a punk bleached blonde in the 2000 version. Though at the last supper we saw more of Simon's tragedy in the 2000 version through close-ups; that was done nicely.

The Pharisees: It was a bit .... hmmmm ... for them to be done as some kind of weirded out sci-fi dudes in capes in the 2000 version. Not sure I liked it. I found the screeching of the bald guy, though, more annoying than the actual change of costume.

Mary Magdalene: Much better in the 2000 version.

Pontius Pilate: I preferred the 1973 version of Pilate, but not bad in the 2000 version.

King Herod: By far more comical and inventive in the 1973 version. When I saw him lazing there as Jesus was to be crucified, I couldn't help but think of Biggus Dickus in "The Life of Brian".

The Music: In my opinion, the music was far better in the 1973 version - the 2000 version tried too much screeching and wailing and it got on my nerves. And Jesus and Judas in the 2000 version couldn't sing like in the 1973 version. However, the songs are fantastic, I highly recommend the CD and humming them over to yourself.

I found some of the scenes quite inventive for the 2000 version: for instance, the scene where Jesus is surrounded by lepers is scary and well done, and its parallel to the scene where Pontius Pilate is swarmed by those calling for Jesus' blood is great.

However, I thought it was let down by other scenes.

Where Jesus goes and overturns the moneychangers, the scene set in a casino/nightclub is over the top and unnecessary. The flashing lights and the King Herod dance seems to me also to detract from Herod's scene. I far preferred the 1973 versions of these scenes, set in a market and on water, where the music and personality carried the scenes.

And really, the scene where Judas turns in Jesus is done much better in 1973, basically because it shows the varying emotions - Judas's doubt, but how he caves in, and the Pharisees and their manipulation and scorn.

However, watching both versions was a treat to compare - I found the 2000 version a really interesting comparison and interpretation, despite the fact I felt it fell short of the 1973 version.

I especially liked the scrawling of graffiti on a wall "JESUS T'AIME"

There - now you may wish to get both versions and watch for yourselves.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

I can't wish you a Happy Chinese New Year

It's the beginning of Chinese New Year, and I'm terribly sorry, bloggers, I can't wish you a Happy Chinese New Year.

It sticks in my throat, really it does.

It's not got to do with my lack of goodwill, actually I'm bursting with it, it's those darn Cantonese tones. I just can't seem to get them right. I feel like Eliza Doolittle, repeating the same syllable, over and over again and never getting it right.

Last year I managed a passable Happy Chinese New Year, and you know what? I got so nervous at meeting Mr Coffee's father I never used it, and now I've forgotten how to say "Kung Hey Fat Choi" properly. Damn.

Happy Rattiness to you all, my friends, and peace be with you.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Review: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

I saw Sweeney Todd on the weekend, and I seemed to have a more positive reaction to it than TimT - see his review which may simply confirm I'm a pessimist and a masochist. Which doesn't tell me a whole lot that I didn't already know.

This adaptation of a musical was beautifully dark and very Tim Burton, and lots of fake blood which looks very tomato sauce like. If you're thinking about grabbing a pie with tomato sauce after this film, maybe you should rethink meal options. We tried sushi instead afterwards.

Even if it's really fake I still spent a good part of the film with my hand on my neck - Aaaargh!

The film has not many surprises in terms of plot, but makes up for them with style, music and great characters. After all, it's a ghoulish fairytale so the ending is fairly predictable.

I found a good dark humour in a lot of this - the cameo of Sascha Baron Cohen (Borat) comical, and the fantasy sequence of Mrs Lovett hilarious, especially. The only character I really found annoying was Anthony - the bumbling male love interest - why is it that there always has to be some foolish lovesick male who spends his time mooning around and can't get his act together and the girl still falls for him? It was the same reason I wanted to kick Freddy in Pygmalion, and Anthony in Sweeney Todd.

And yes, I was surprised that Johnny Depp could actually sing. Not a strong enough voice to hold out a stage play, but really not bad for a movie. Combined with his acting skills, a great Sweeney Todd.

Mr Coffee came out of this one calling it "Harry Potter meets Borat". If that pulls you in - then maybe you want to check out Sweeney Todd.

Give Blood, Drive Longer

A letter writer to the Daily Tele, John Cody of East Epping, came up with this novel idea to solve the blood shortage at the Red Cross:

An incentive where each time you gave blood, your driver's license could be recredited a demerit point for a donation.

His reasoning was that you didn't have to be a complete ratbag to lose demerit points, with all the signs there were around on the streets etc, so it was a win-win set up, with driver's getting back there demerit points and the Red Cross getting their blood.

Now, I'm just thinking, that sounds good - to begin with.

Of course, the first thing - or probably the first thing - that pops into your mind - is "Why do I want some idiot hoon who can't drive being able to stay longer on the road simply because someone stuck a needle into his vein?" But of course you are reassured that it's not because the driver is an idiot hoon, it's because of all those signs and school zones and stuff. I'll bet you John Cody's lost a few demerit points in his time.

But then there's some other points to consider - pardon the pun.

If you HADN'T lost any demerit points that year, and you gave blood, would you get any credit? Could you get credit points on your license? And if this campaign - the demerit-points/blood-giving thing was heavily marketed, and no credit points could be had ...

Then would it mean people would stop giving until they had lost a demerit point and then just give in order to win them back. You could end up losing donors instead of winning them.

What's more, people who don't drive cars at all, or do so infrequently, might think that they have nothing much to gain from the whole process, and that the Red Cross doesn't value them as donors as they are pitching the whole campaign in favour of drivers instead of treating each donor as a valuable person and treating their gift equally. They may lose those donors too.

We might even get people being that little bit more careless on the roads because they think they can afford to - they 're going to be donating blood soon.

In general, I don't mind campaigns or causes which give favours to people if I feel those people deserve or are in need of extra help - people which give student concessions, assistance to the elderly or disabled, single mother help or daycare - that's cool. It's singling people out for special treatment because they've broken road rules that I feel somewhat repulsive. Surely there must be some way to get more people energetic about donating blood - though I can't think what.

There seem to be so many things governing whether you can or cannot donate blood.

I know some people who pass all the rules for donating blood but are still basically told not to - one is borderline on the weight category, and another, even though she is around about the right weight, still faints each time she gives blood (for some reason) so has stopped donating for her own health and safety reasons.