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.