Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday Folly Your Brains Out


It's a long weekend 'round the Xander and Nico way, so here's a batch of follies to keep you going until we return and you don't have to think for yourselves anymore.

From Overheard in New York: you try these one-liners!

Blockbuster getting really desperate for custom these days

The guys on the treadmills (for both the people who haven't seen it yet)

Engrish isn't limited to Japan

If like me, you are addicted to lip balm,
help is here

Then no wonder people stayed virgins for longer back then

Truth in blogging...

Finally,
classic Overheard at the beach to celebrate the approaching summer.

See you when I can be bothered getting up off the bean bag!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Let's Put This Behind Us


Being as how I'm too old, I never got to blog as a teenager. But imagine an adult's post, written by a teenager...

AAAGHH! I had the WORST day at work today. The day started badly because I looked in the paper and the prices of all my shares had dropped and I was sad :( So then I get to work and my boss was all, "Have you finished your preliminary budget report yet?" And I'm like "Yeah, yeah, I'm nearly finished! LAY OFF BITCH!" Went to cafe for lunch and had risotto which was yummy. But performance reviews are coming up and I am freaking!!! I hate this office, I can't wait till I'm more experienced then I can leave and go somewhere better they won't nag me all the time.

I went shopping for a bit. I bought a new pair of shoes. Even though it seems like my credit card statement yells at me when I buy new stuff. It was worth it they are SO gorgeous with a patent upper and great arch support. I looooove patent leather!!!

I miss all my friends. They're so busy with new husbands and babies and never have time for me. But some of us are going to the theatre on Saturday. So much cam whoring.


No one cares what I say. So I shall go...


...The End.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

We Can All Be Greatful For The Silence


According to a recent news story, several prominent Australian musicians are refusing to go to Iraq to play for the troops there. Pete Murray, the Whitlams, and Augie March are amongst those who say they won't perform Christmas concerts for the troops in Iraq, as they don't agree with the war. Even Col Joye, an entertainment industry veteran who performed for the troops in Vietnam, refused to go to Iraq, saying, "Sooner or later you have to stand up and say what you think. In Vietnam, we didn't know any better." Meanwhile, the Defence Minister, Brendan Nelson, has chided the musicians for not being able to seperate the politics of the war from the sacrifices being made by the troops.

Well, it's not this story itself that's especially interesting. I won't describe the Australian contingent serving in Iraq as tokenistic (not this time, anyway) but there are only
450 Australian soldiers on the ground in Iraq at present. So the issue of providing entertainment for them is not exactly major, especially since I'm sure the US happily invites the Australians along to their own USO shows.

What's amazed me is the silence from the right wing columists on this one. Sure, Mark Latham has a new book out, so they're busy
gleefully denouncing it. And I do understand that most right-wingers find it pretty much impossible to think about more than one thing at a time. Still, I would have expected the conservative bloggers (or con-bloggers, for short) to be all over this like Piers Akerman with the News Ltd expense account during a long lunch. Imagine the invectives they could come up with for the recalcitrant performers - "Cowards!" "Un-Australian!" "Chardonnay-sipping elites!" "Boycott them!" You know, they same drivel the cons come out with for all those they disagree with.

But nothing. The few comments I've read generally agree with the stance the musicians have taken. As for myself, generally my feeling is it's up to the individuals to decide what they want to do. (Which is my opinion on more issues than just this). What if I were asked to perform for the troops in Iraq? Maybe they need someone to display an exciting new variation on stand up comedy - "fall down comedy". Though I'm sure the novelty of the sight of myself repeatedly tumbling over would tire quickly for a sober audience.

Still, I have to admit I felt a little uneasy when I read the story, though I couldn't pinpoint just why. Maybe it's because I actually have more experience of military service than of attending concerts. Maybe because I think it is possible to disagree with the war, and still entertain the troops -
Al Franken has been to Iraq twice. Maybe the unease was simply reading about the Australian "entertainers" who have been to Iraq so far - Lee Harding (the punk Wiggle) and Bessie Bardot (well, the troops probably would have liked that). Come on, Pete Murray, Tim Freedman - the troops over there knew they'd endure soaring temperatures, uncomfortable conditions and being shot at, but they never agreed to being forced to hear "Wasabi"! Go play them some real music!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Give A Little, Get A Little


Well, eagle-eyed readers may have noticed we've had a slight face-lift around the Pod. I won't be doing another major overhaul for a while, but I did want to freshen the place up a bit. (Also, I've always wanted a userpic where I look rather aloof and mysterious).

So to mark the occasion, I'm borrowing an idea which I saw on another blog and just had to swipe for myself: ask me anything time! Put any questions (well, almost any questions) you have for us in the comments, and I'll post the answers on Thursday. Whether you want to know more about Xander and Nico, or you just want help with your homework, this is your chance.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A New Day Dawns...Much Too Early


Of all the things that have been annoying me lately, burglar alarms is the one really getting me into a lather.

Barely a week goes by that I'm not woken up at 4am at least one morning by an alarm in one of the commercial buildings nearby. It usually lasts at least an hour and destroys any chances of getting back to sleep (not least because the sound of the alarm sends my cat into a frenzy).

What on Earth is the point of having a security alarm on a property anyway? I doubt that it has every actually stopped a burglary. When was the last time you heard a security alarm and thought "Goodness me, there must be a break-in taking place. I must go at once and apprehend the scoundrel"? No, if you're like me, the only reaction you'll have is to scream "TURN OFF THAT FUCKING ALARM!" and pull a pillow over your ears in the vain hope of muffling the god-awful noise.

Or you might go one step further. I haven't seen any statistics on this, but I wouldn't be suprised if the majority of break-ins were, in fact, people just trying to get into the building and shut off the damn alarm.

All the alarm can do is notify the security company of the possible intrusion. And I really mean that's all it can do. One night, driven to distraction at 3am, I called my local police station to report an alarm which had been sounding for over an hour. The nice officer on duty explained to me that they'd had a lot of complaints, but that the security firm had been notified and was on the way. But the police weren't going to go and investigate if there had been a break-in themselves..!

Anyway, when the alarm is triggered, the security company is notified automatically, so what is the point of all that whoop-whoop anyway? Just have a silent alarm, and then there's no risk of the having windows smashed in by irate residents. Then we can add burglar alarms to a list of banned noise pollutants, which will also prevent Paris Hilton from ever releasing another single.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Illustrated Guide To...


Skittles Vodka!


"Hey Apu, have you got any of that beer with candy floating in it? You know - skittle brau?"
"No, but this is better!"

In time to get it ready for the weekend, here is my so-easy-a-drunk-could-do-it (which is kind of the point!) guide to making your own, fabulous...skittle vodka!

You will need a 700mL bottle of vodka and a 250gram (share-pack size) packet of skittles, another empty bottle, a funnel and a tea strainer.

  • Start by pouring out about 1/4 of the vodka, to make room for the skittles (you might at this stage want to do a quality-control taste test of the vodka). Then, put all of the skittles except for the green ones, into the bottle (the green skittles will turn the skittle vodka brown).



  • Then give the bottle a good shake to get the colours to mix, and leave it to stand. Over the next few hours, the skittles will slowly start to dissolve.

    After three hours

  • Over the next two days, the skittles will dissolve, and the sugar will form a thick scum on the top.

    Sk_vok_24

    Your skittles vodka is almost ready when there are no traces of skittles on the bottom of the bottle.

  • All that's left to do now is remove the sugar scum from the vodka! The easiest way I've found to do this is put the bottle in the freezer for a few hours. Then, place a funnel inside the neck of a clean empty vodka bottle, and put a tea strainer inside that. Then pour the chilled skittles vodka through the funnel into the empty bottle. The frozen sugar scum will be filtered out.

    SK_vok_done

    Time now to enjoy! Try doing it in shots, or having in a highball with soda water (it is much too sweet to mix with lemonade - I even think so, and I have three sugars in my coffee). You could even try adding gelatine to make skittles vodka jelly - now there's an idea for next time...
  • Monday, September 18, 2006

    I Don't Know How Much Longer I Can Keep Complaining!


    Well, I've had the weekend from hell.

    Recently I decided the time has come to move house. Call me precious, but I've reached the stage in my life where I want a house that doesn't threaten to fall over every time I sneeze. So last week I put in an application for a place that's just perfect; affordable, quiet leafy street yet close to where things are happening, and best of all, only 50 metres from Boof and Funky's house! (For some reason, they're not so keen). But I haven't heard back from the real estate agent yet, and the place was advertised again on Saturday. *Sigh* Back to the search...

    Then there was the football on Saturday night. Yikes. Watching the Knights get steam rolled 50-6 by the Broncos, the second-worst defeat in finals history, was a truly horrible experience. It was like an eighty-minute, slow-motion car crash you just couldn't stop looking at. All the commentators remarked how sorry they felt for the players. The players? It's all right for them, they can get a transfer to North Queensland and the next time we'll see them is when they're running at the Knights try line next season. What about us poor saps who are stuck here? There's not a lot to get excited about in Newcastle...

    To top it all off...I didn't win the $22 million lotto! After I picked up a lucky coin, my horoscope predicted a win, and I even bought a ticket! Everyone is going to have to wait a little longer for the cars I've promised.

    So, I ran a big, fat 0 for 3 on the weekend. And it wasn't quite over yet. This morning I got up - very tired, as Xander has taken to sitting under my bed at 4am and clawing at the mattress through the slats, which is as annoying as it sounds and can't be good for the mattress - to see that Manchester United had lost to Arsenal overnight.

    Nevermind. We all need times like this to make us appreciate the good things. Next weekend will be better.

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    The Ten Point Plan For A Better Australia


    From the "silly" files...Kim Beazley has copped a lot of flack from all sides for his proposal that everyone who visits Australia would have to agree on their visa application to respect Australian values whilst they are here. Merely obeying Australian laws is not enough. Tourists would also need to agree to show respect for women, tolerance and mateship.

    Now, I do believe that those who wish to settle permanently in Australia need to make an effort to integrate and respect our way of life. But how does making visitors agree to this help us any? How would it work anyway? Nearly five million foreign visitors come to Australia each year. Who is going to monitor whether they're respecting Australian values? Imagine a situation where the "values police" board a tour bus and pull a guy off, saying to him, "Whilst in Australia, you've been keeping to yourself and not making friends with the rest of the tour group. You're not displaying 'mateship', as you agreed to do on your tourist visa application. Therefore, we're going to have to deport you."

    And Australia would become an international laughing stock.

    I have
    written previously about the difficulty of defining Australian values. The Chaser has solved the problem, with a proposed Australian values statement:

    I promise during my visit to Australia that I will:

    1) Respect other cultures if completely assimilated into Australia's own

    2) Respect for other religions as long as they're not fundamentalist (except Christianity)

    3) Respect for Australian institutions such as Don Bradman, Phar Lap, Steve Irwin and Peter Brock

    4) Respect Australia's democracy unless I have a Senate majority

    5) Respect the equal treatment of women, except when depicted in Ralph, FHM and ZOO. I note note that 'equal' does not extend to pay, hiring policies, seats in parliament or adequate childcare facilities.

    6) Respect hard work, especially when directed towards avoiding tax

    7) Respect Australia's Laws, and also its Jones and Mitchell

    8) Respect Australia's armed forces no matter where America may deploy them

    9) Respect Australia's parliaments, except the 'fun-sized' NT and ACT parliaments which no-one respects

    10) Above all respect Australians' most important value – the value of their mortgage repayments

    On a serious note though, if Beazley wants to regain "middle Australia", he's not going to do it on issues of national security (my polite way of saying, pandering to people's fears). The Democrats trying to be the Republicans didn't work in the USA, and Labor trying to be the Liberals hasn't, and isn't going to, work here. Labor needs to concentrate on where it can gain ground; the issues that affect peoples day-to-day lives, like the IR laws. We're just over a year away from the federal election, and I don't want my afro-wig run to be on hold for another four years...

    Monday, September 11, 2006

    2,996: A Tribute To Yvonne Kennedy





    Yvonne Kennedy, of Sydney, Australia, dedicated her life to helping those who needed her. She was volunteered for the Australian Red Cross between 1976 and 1990, for which she recieved the Australian Red Cross Service Award in 1986.

    After her husband Barry passed away in 1990, Mrs Kennedy took up the role of NSW State Coordinator of the Voluntary Aid Service Corp (VASC) for the Australian Red Cross, recieving the service's State Distinguished Service Award on May 8, 2001. Shortly after, she retired aged 62, following 25 years of service to the Australian Red Cross.

    Mrs Kennedy then took a well-earned retirement tour of the US and Canada. Whilst in North America she got to experience things she'd always wanted to do, such as white water rafting - "Pretty amazing for a 62 year old woman", as her son said at the memorial service. On Friday 7 September, she sent an email to a friend to let her know she was returning from "a wonderful trip".

    On the morning of Tuesday September 11, she boarded American Airlines Flight 77 at Dulles Airport, Washington, bound for Los Angeles, on the first leg of her trip back to Australia.

    We can only imagine what Mrs Kennedy was thinking that morning; probably sadness that her trip was coming to an end, but no doubt looking forward to getting home and seeing her beloved family again.

    Sadly, that was never to happen.

    Mrs Kennedy should have been able to deservedly enjoy her retirement years with her two sons, Simon and Leigh, and her grandchildren. Instead her life was horribly taken that day along with 2,995 others. I have paid tribute to her life so that we might remember the enormity of what the world lost that day.


    *****

    My huge thanks to Krista at Purple Orb for producing the illustration for this post, and to all the others who have helped with this tribute.

    You can find more tributes remembering those lost on Spetember 11, 2001 at
    The 2,996 Project.

    Thursday, September 07, 2006

    Making Plans For O.J.


    If you were greivously wronged...how far would you go to get some sort of justice? Recently Fred Goldman, the father of Ron, who was murdered along with Nicole Brown Simpson in 1994, filed a lawsuit seeking to gain O.J. Simpson's publicity rights, as Simpson has never paid the damages awarded against him in the wrongful death case.

    Ostensibly, this is so Mr Goldman can receive the monies from O.J.'s public apppearances. But just think. If Mr Goldman wins the case, he could use O.J. Simpson's image for...anything.

    If it were me, I wouldn't be able to resist the comedic possibilities of this. Nor the chance to get a little revenge. I'd start by putting O.J.'s face to a line of butcher's knives. Maybe launch the O.J. law firm, specialising in defending people accused of sex offences. The latest SUV, "The O.J." 100% guaranteed (as opposed to 90% guaranteed, for regular SUVs) to roll on sharp turns.

    I wouldn't stop by making O.J. "endorse" undesirable products, either. I'd use recordings of his voice and mix them to produce rap songs where O.J. admits to all the sins of the universe.

    And I was going to suggest lifting O.J.'s digital image and inserting it into really, really crappy films. But the crappy film thing has been done, by the man himself.

    Does anyone have any other ideas?

    Wednesday, September 06, 2006

    A Short Treatise On Compulsory Voting


    (Or failing that, here's my misinformed rant, which you might as well read - do you really have anything that much better to do for the next ten minutes?)


    In spite of the fact that "compulsory voting" may seem a contradiction in terms, I've always agreed with the principle. I think it was put most succinctly on The Glass House a few weeks ago, when an American comedian who was a guest that night said, "I can't believe you guys have compulsory voting over here. Tell me, is it true that if you don't vote, you get fined?"
    And Dave Hughes replied, in his inimitable drawl, "Yeah, but if you guys don't vote, you get George W. Bush!" It was one of the funniest unscripted lines I think I've ever heard.

    Lately, however, I'm starting to change my mind on the issue. The genesis of this came a few weeks ago, when some friends and I were returning along the freeway from a trip to the Central Coast. We were overtaken by half a dozen police cars with their sirens and lights activated, and assumed there must have been a bad accident. When we came upon the scene however, it appeared to be just a man standing beside his car, which was stuck in a ditch it the middle of the road; and apart from wondering why that would require such a police presence, I assumed it was just some moron trying to do a u-turn despite the many and prominent "NO U-TURN ON FREEWAY" signs, and didn't think much more of it.

    Well, moron was right, but I didn't know the half of it. Until I opened the newspaper last week, and read about that man's court appearance. He was charged with a range of offences - apparently he drove five kilometres north along the south bound lanes of the freeway, with a blood alcohol level of 0.214 (this at 4:30pm!) before finishing his afternoon's adventures in the ditch when he tried to escape the police. Truly a "thank God no one was killed!" moment if ever there was one.

    And my point? This man votes!

    Okay, it's probably not a good idea to do my own u-turn on one of my cherished political beliefs based on one incident. Abolishing compulsory voting would make politics in Australia far more partisan; only the people who really cared one way or the other would turn out to vote. It would diminish the importance of "middle Australia" in the political process - on election Saturday, most of the people in the middle would be too busy taking the kids to netball, catching up on housework, working their part-time jobs, and generally taking advantage of the weekend, to go and vote, when the majority of them don't have strong political opinions in the first place. Changing the law so that only the people who actually wanted to vote did so could also make it a lot harder to get rid of the Liberal government: old people love to vote, and generally what they love to vote for is John Howard.

    But still. It's a pity that we can't abolish compulsory voting for just one election, so we could see how things turned out without the "idiot vote". And of course, the end of compulsory voting would mean I could get one of those "Don't vote - it only encourages them!" bumper stickers (yes, I like bumper stickers. I put them on backpacks). We can't do this, of course, because if it didn't work out, it would be impossible to re-instate it once it was abolished. But it's a fun idea. And frankly if you're a lefty in Australia these days you need to find fun wherever you can.

    Monday, September 04, 2006

    The Last Night Out


    On Saturday, the moment came; my last night out (for now, anyway). I'll get to that in a moment, but first I just have to tell you what a complete and utter wuss my cat is. Saturday morning I went to hang out the laundry, but the garden had several magpies flapping ominously about, so I decided to take Xander out with me to scare them away.

    It certainly was scary...for Xander, who got within a metre of a magpie that weighed maybe half a kilo, let out a yelp of fear, and sprinted back into the house. Some knight in shining fur he is!

    *****

    So what made me decide that there would be a "last night out"? I think I've just reached that stage. The Zelda Fitzgerald who vowed in 1998 to let the good times roll has now turned into a model of temperance. I'm just tired is all, and having fun isn't much fun anymore.

    Anyway, it wasn't a bad night. It wasn't an especially good one either. I went to The Crypt, the club which has replaced Necro, solely because I wanted to catch up with a few people one more time. But there was all the attendant problems of uncomfortable chairs, loud music, and almost passing out on the bus home because there were no seats left and I was too dizzy to stand up (you'd think someone would have offred me a seat - I'm practically a senior citizen compared with most of the people returning from a night out at 4am).

    But yesterday was what really confirmed that it's the right time to stop going out. I felt just awful, a wrethchedness that seemed out of all proportion to my only real sin of mixing drinks. I couldn't even enjoy the real estate guide in the paper, which for someone like me, is akin to a straight man being unable to ogle the bikini models in Ralph. Even after an early night last night I still feel a bit out of sorts today.

    So I'm happy to pass the social baton on to a new generation. I've had my fun, but now I'm over it. Things in life are really changing, and I'm much too excited to miss waking suddenly to discover you're not in your own bed, but on a bench on Hunter St and the bus isn't due for another hour. In front of The Bill on a Saturday night with chai tea and Xander is all the social life I need!

    Friday, September 01, 2006

    Thank God It's The Friday Follies!


    Well, my posting hasn't been so great this week. I've just been too busy and too tired to construct coherent political arguments. But I can always find follies.

    I bet it wasn't as hard as trying to teach me to drive

    Another stirring message from Bush

    The Chaser's war on short cab fares

    The Glass House brings you The Costello collection!

    (Two vids in one week. I'm sorry.)

    Interpreting foreign business gestures

    The Chinese government's altest act of heavy handedness has been to
    ban strippers at funerals. What I found really funny about this is that the ad above the story reads "find your perfect job". Well it would be a great job wouldn't it? You'd never have to worry about lewd cat calls, nor that you'd later bump into the punter whilst out shopping with your mother.

    And lastly, the lighter side of gender inequality...


    Yeah, yeah, I know it's sexist. But come on, admit it. You laughed.

    Enjoy your weekend. Unless you have better alcohol than me. In that case, I hope you wake up with a shocking hangover to discover you've slept with your ex.