Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mmm, catalogues

Guys and dolls, I have something very special for you today.

SO special that I had to squeal and run into the next room to show it to MFC, despite his characteristic lack of interest in anything catalogue-y.

an9ie
(trembling): Oh! My! Golly! Look at this! How FREAKING AWESOME is this?
MFC: Huh?
an9ie (points to it): Look! LOOK AT IT!
MFC: Looks stupid.
an9ie: YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH!

Seriously, guys, I love this so much that I'm thinking of setting up a fake wedding just so I can put this on the register and shame my parents.

I take my hat off to the genius who thought of this. Behold! The eighth wonder of the world!

When it's time for poopies, you'll feel like a king pharaoh!


"Fascinating antiquities look for your bathroom!" - I love it.
Can't wait for the Capuchin Monks edition to come out!


At least MFC and I could agree that this next item was pretty outstanding.
How smug does that doggie look?

HA-ha! You want to be me but you can't be me!

What a great idea!

When I think of my poor Pepe (long-haired black and tan doxie) getting old and stiff and arthritic in his twilight years, and how much he would have enjoyed an outing to the park without having to walk there . . . sigh. Poor baby.

I think it needs a little door or something in front though, because if your pet has arthritis or a bad back, the last thing they want is to be awkwardly handled and lifted in and out of a pram.

Now, this little guy here seems a bit concerned.


Is it because there doesn't seem to be any visible means of attaching the crate to the car?

And finally, a quilt pattern that I am a little conflicted about.

The six-year-old girl in me goes, "Ooh, pretty! Like Strawberry Shortcake! I think?!?", while the Zen minimalist growls, "Hah! If Strawberry Shortcake had her period, maybe."

I think I shall call you . . . "Bleeding Eyes".

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

We're all dooOOOoomed!

I just remembered something I witnessed the last time I went to the zoo.

And no, it wasn't the time I saw a monkey pull at a hair coming out of its butt, yank out some poo (which, I'm sure, made a little "plop!" noise), and then sniff it.

Apparently we're getting two male lions at the Perth Zoo. Thank goodness, I say, because the last time I was looking into the lion enclosure, something happened that made my blood run cold.

You know how zoos now are trying to be all earth-friendly and mimic the animal's natural habitat as much as possible?

The only catch with those is that it makes it quite hard to actually see the animals. I had an annual pass to the zoo one year and in my nine or so visits never once saw a single hyena. Little camouflaged bastards.

The lion viewing area, however, is quite clever. It has a sheet of thick glass against the sunniest part of the enclosure, so all the lions come and snooze by the glass, giving you ultimate close-ups of lion nipple and lion inner ear as they loll around sun-baking.

So there I was, looking at these big cats and going, "Awww, you so cute! Yes you are! And you! And you! And you! I just want to take you home and cuddle you!"

In my mind, of course.

Then this family comes in. A Mum, a Dad, and a little boy, maybe about 6 or 7 years old.

Little boy: "Dad, which are the boy lions?"
Dad: ''I don't know, ask your Mum."
Mum: "I don't know, [little boy's name]. Maybe we can ask a keeper."

Meanwhile, I was standing nearby SCREAMING INTERNALLY, and going, "OH! MY! GOD! Male lions have manes, and females don't! All the lions in front of us! Are therefore! Females! How the heck you two managed to figure out what hole to put what pointy thing in, and actually end up conceiving a child, completely astounds me!"

Mankind is doomed. We might as well lie down and let the robots take over NOW.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Five questions from Anastacia Campbell

In a fit of unmitigated generosity, Stacy from Jurgen Nation has consented to send interview questions to those of us who begged for it (and completely without shame too!) on her blog. What a doll!

Here are some questions for me! Stacy's questions are in bold.

1. YOU’RE ALLERGIC TO ALCOHOL! Sadly, that may or may not be the only way I know to unwind. If you came over for a visit, what would I prepare for you?

Alcohol, like milk, I know I can't have, but some days I just go, Eh, screw it, and pour it down the hatch anyway, completely mindful of the consequences.

To give an example of my stubbornness in this regard, I give you Exhibit A: Lactose-intolerance vs. My love of dairy. And bear with me, I am going somewhere with this.

I only became lactose-intolerant two years ago and my favourite drink was, and still is, a 500ml Brownes Mocha Chill. Nowadays, when I'm feeling brave, I'll think, Dammit, I am SO having one, never mind the hideous consequences, and then for the next four hours while I'm clutching my bloated stomach and waiting for that 15 pound alien baby to rip its way out, I'll still manage to gasp from between gritted teeth, "Totally . . . Worth . . . It."

So, Brownes Mocha Chill. Oh, baby.

The same goes for alcohol. If it were just us blogging girls, I would appreciate any of the drinks below, rationed out at one glass per hour, and alternated with iced water:

- a split of champagne (extra dry or sweet and fruity, I love them all),
- a Midori illusion, or any fruity Midori cocktail,
- any Bailey's cocktail,

You would then have the pleasure of watching as:
1) my face and neck turn red and splotchy,
2) my face swells up so that my eyes become tiny slits,
3) my sinuses block up so I sound like Kermit the Frog,
4) a raging headache causes me to fret like an infant and then pass out.

If I'm lucky, I'll throw up half an hour later and be back to normal after that. And for at least 20 minutes before the symptoms above appeared, I would be one happy an9ie.

If we were in polite company, I'd probably just have a glass of water, which is what I drink at most parties, sparkling mineral water if I'm feeling extravagant. Also appreciated would be grapefruit juice, a Shirley Temple or some other non-alcoholic cocktail.

2. You have a lot of Anatomy books on your Wishlist. OHMYGOD, I love anatomy. Tell us about this interest. Are you in a field or studying for a field that’s related to this? Or do you just like it? (Know that I have a “thing” about going through someone’s archives - feel weird doing it.) Here’s a Part B. just for me: if you’re studying it, what do you consider the hardest part to learn? Because, fuck! I hated the urinary system. Fucking kidneys.

The books on my list are mainly for drawing purposes. Because I need to learn. I'm very conscious of how I end up drawing cartoon people, stick figures, or fantasy humanoids with too many ribs because I'm too butt-lazy to practise.

The jealousy I have for James Jean's work has given me an ulcer the size of Utah. I would give up a small finger to be able to draw like him. Hands and faces and skin folds and musculature all presented so naturally and freely. The man is my hero.

Like you, Stacy, I also find the human body incredibly fascinating. I took Human Biology 100 in my first year of Uni and loved it. The only parts that made me want to bite through my textbooks in frustration were to do with neurology, I think.

Specifically, what blew my mind was reproductive biology. It was my favourite part of the course, and it didn't hurt that we had an awesome, spellbindingly hilarious lecturer named Neville Bruce. One day I think I'll sneak back into Uni just so I can attend a few of his lectures.

I really find it an absorbing subject: hormones, the reproductive cycle and how people try to suppress or enhance their fertility, how everything forms from one cell that divides and rolls up into a little tube and becomes a whole person, how you could theoretically apply the proper stimuli to the right cells and create a person with five heads.

To this end I trawl BBC Health News, The Cochrane Collaboration, Contraception Online, partly for my own edification, and partly because I find it so damn interesting.

In fact, I'm thinking about writing an article about contraception choices in Australia and how limited they really are. Hopefully for paid publishing, but even if it doesn't get that far, I'll just whack it on the blog or a Squidoo lens or something.

3. It’s Halloween and you go out with your pillowcase begging for candy. What, when you get home, do you give or throw away? Me, it was those shitty ass candies wrapped in the black and orange wrapping. Ugh.

Culling Stage 1: Anything licorice or aniseed-flavoured. I'm sorry, I just can't get used to the taste. I can deal with faux licorice that's really raspberry, or Red Vines, no problemo!

Culling Stage 2: Really, really cheap chocolate, the kind that has so little cocoa butter in it that it never, EVER melts in your mouth. Pah.

Haha! After that I may end up with nothing in my pillowcase!

4. What do you consider your personal style; your fashion sense? For example, I’ve tried, but I’m not the princess diva type. Give me jeans or khakis and a cute shirt, Chucks and comfort. I can’t be anything else. What do you think is your own style?

Depends on the occasion. I was a combat pants, sneakers and t-shirt girl for a long time. People at work used to think I was a skater. Ha!

Now I try to dress in a more feminine manner, and Nicky, my very dear friend from high school, is a huge help. I see her once a year, and as my seasonal stylist she makes sure I don't stray from the path. ("You are only allowed to buy ONE black item of clothing today!").

I loathe paying too much for clothing, but I will if it's a good classic item, like a trench. I can't be bothered with current styles or name brands. If I'm veging at home and I know I'll just duck out to the shops, it's tracksuit pants and a t-shirt.

If I could afford to, I'd wear awesome fifties-style clothing all the time. The clothes from that era look so well-cut and fitted, and ladies looked like real ladies, not the skankorama you get today.

5. You live in Australia!! I have always wanted to visit Australia. Let’s assume I or someone else who had never visited your fine country came to visit. What would you make sure they visited/did to give them the full experience?

Hoo-boy. Hard question because, you know, this is a damn huge continent, and I haven't visited that much of it myself. Although, most of it IS just desert, as far as the eye can see, so that rules out quite a bit.

Firstly, when to visit. Australia is nicest when it's not too hot i.e., if you leave a cassette tape on your car dashboard it won't be melted when you return, or too cold/wet/windy. Australian winters are fairly mild, but it's still nice to have fine weather for a visit.

Springtime (September, October and November), or early autumn (March, April, May) would be my choice.

And where?

Ayers Rock would be pretty awesome, of course.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, but only so you could say, Yeah, I've been there, bitches, when the tourism propaganda appears on TV. Sydney is pretty much like any other big city, with lots of fun big-city things to do. The Sydney suburb of Newtown is worth a visit; it has lots of nice little cafes and pretentious shops you can poke fun at and exquisite hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Norton Street in Leichhardt is what they call Sydney's Little Italy, and if you would like to retrace Nicky's and my steps, have coffee and breakfast at The Grind, sit on the balcony, and enjoy seeing the world go past and the planes fly overhead.

About 250km north of Perth, there's a groovy place called the Pinnacles, near the town of Cervantes, which feels like a Star Trek set. It's full of incredible-looking limestone things coming out of the ground, and you feel like you've just beamed down from the Enterprise onto a desert planet. Cervantes also has a lake nearby full of stromatolites or "living fossils", as referred to by Bill Bryson in Down Under/In a Sunburnt Country when he bitched about the silly tourists who failed to recognise how awesome stromatolites are.

Apparently we have quite famous and pristine beaches in Perth, although I only visit them about once a year. The surfing is quite good too, I hear :)

If you like wine and the good life, down you go to Western Australia's wine region, Margaret River, about 3 to 4 hours drive south of Perth. Cape Mentelle has delicious wine and Vasse Felix has a beautiful restaurant with the some of the BEST pork belly I have ever had (except they called it something posher than that).

What about our nation's capital, Canberra? Well, Bill Bryson thought the city's slogan should be: "Canberra - Why wait for death?" and I agree with him all the way. It was in Canberra that I met a strange man who claimed to have become a millionaire from inventing car LCD tail-lights and the Scrabble tie pin. He then took me on a tour of about seventeen car parks so we could look for cars with his tail-lights in them. ANU has a great kendo club, and there is some kind of annual hot air balloon festival. I like hot air balloons.

I wouldn't recommend coming here for skiing or snowboarding, although we have some pretty mountains. Go to Japan for the best powder, man.

Visit Melbourne during the International Comedy Festival, and catch some awesome local and international acts. (Perth has a pretty good International Arts Festival as well.) Melbourne has wonderful foooooooooood, and lots of lovely buildings, shops and little wine bars. And if you're a fan, you can tour the Neighbours set!

That's probably enough to go on for a bit, I think :)

Thanks Stacy, that was fun!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Anti-Christ: A Satirical End of Days by Matthew Moses

Although a short novel at 396 pages, Anti-Christ: A Satirical End of Days manages to pack in religious, secular and celestial corruption, the story of a downtrodden everyman who somehow becomes entangled in it all, and an amusing look into the secret life of angels, binding it all together with keen intelligence and gritty prose.

The novel starts with the painful portrait of a loser.

And Matthew Ford, the protagonist, is not even a likeable loser.

He is the kind of person you immediately become frustrated with, and I found myself muttering remonstrances like: "Three hours of being stood up! That's two and a half hours too long! Don't be a victim!", "The dog peed on your leg and you haven't got time to use the bathroom? Don't you have a hose?", and "Matthew, why is your mother doing your laundry? Empower yourself, man, for goodness' sake!"

(Note that becoming cross with a character is not necessarily a bad thing. It shows you are accepting his reality, and even empathising with him, to an extent. And it is definitely an improvement on being bored and indifferent because you can't relate to a character at all *cough*Cecilia Dart-Thornton*cough*.)

As the story progresses, Ford starts to show promise. The former loser displays a gutsiness and integrity that becomes more and more impressive as he defies the corrupt Messiah, is tempted by Satan, and, finally, guided by Buddha, takes on Armageddon with an army of zombies. By the end of the book I almost liked the guy.

I admit that I found Anti-Christ: A Satirical End of Days a little heavy-going, because although I like Moses's writing style, I have a certain simple-minded ADD when it comes to my reading choices.

Nevertheless, weighty narrative aside, the novel is founded on an unusual and clever premise that will hook you in and keep you wondering where and how the madness will end.

Anti-Christ: A Satirical End of Days is not so much anti-Christian as it is anti-establishment. It seems to say, Please, have a closer look. Don't just accept what you're told. If the government is really doing God's work on Earth, then God help us all.

Amapedia has an excellent article about Anti-Christ, which gives a thorough summary of the book and explains the controversy within in far better detail than I ever could.

If you would like to explore the novel further, please visit the book's website to read the first three chapters. Here you will also find Matthew Moses's blog, which comprises educated debate, introspective anecdotes, and dark and often beautiful poetry.

Pre-review Preamble: Anti-Christ by Matthew Moses

Well.

Welly, welly, welly, welly . . . Well.

Two Thursdays ago I received an e-mail from author Matthew Moses, asking if I was interested in featuring his novel on my blog or making a link exchange.

At the time I suspected this missive was probably an automated letter from Moses's web server, sent out to all the blogs in blogdom, with code like:

While (not end-of-blogspot.com) {
sendEmail "Hi <$blogtitle>, I was wondering etc etc";
}


Still, anything that mentions my little blog, or encourages me to write more in it, even if it comes from diligent robots and refers to a novel with a disturbing title, fills me with a golden, fuzzy warmth.

Surely I will! I was going to reply enthusiastically, Although I'm not sure about your choice of title, dude.

I mentally composed a nice reply while I clicked on the link in the e-mail, which took me to the website.

Then I read the first paragraph of the synopsis which went:

Imagine God is a vegetable in a wheelchair, Jesus is the fascist CEO of a corporate Church, and a Cold War is ongoing between Heaven and Hell while America is led by a complete and utter moron whose every decision takes the world closer and closer to the brink of World War III. This is the setting for one of the most controversial novels of modern times.

HWHAT?

The mental reply then swiftly did an about-turn into a "Nononononono, sorry!" or a I will be radio silent and he will assume the e-mail never arrived. It's OK, web server robots don't have feelings. At least, I don't think they do. Damn you, Isaac Asimov!

But then I thought, Hang on, why such a kneejerk response? I looked into myself (not one of my favourite pastimes) and wondered, Why am I so shocked? Why take it so personally when I haven't even read the first chapter?

I'm sure fundamentalists would say I shouldn't even be giving a title like that a chance. Back away! It's the devil's snare!

On the surface the answer looked like: Come on, just look at that synopsis. Will this book mock something I hold personal and close? What if it disrespects my religious beliefs?

These are beliefs that I hold and will continue to hold even though people tell me I'm being irrational and here is science, our new god who will explain everything with charts and numbers and empirical evidence. (Note: I do choose to believe in science and God, although some say they are not compatible.)

But I wanted to give Moses the benefit of the doubt, so I steeled myself and quickly read through the first three chapters. Then I decided to write back to him and see what happened.

I warned him that the review, and I use this term loosely, would consist of: my initial horror, a fair (or as fair as I could make it) “Read it and see what you think” point of view, quite a bit of rambling as I went off on a tangent regarding my own beliefs and experiences (as I usually do), and a link to his website. If he didn't mind any of that, I was certainly up for the writing challenge.

I also added that if he didn't like what I posted, well, it wasn't like I was Dooce or anyone important, so it shouldn’t affect his sales in the long run :)

Moses then sent me a nice reply (on the same day, which quite impressed me) saying that he didn't care if it was a negative or positive review, as long as it was an honest one, and also sent me an e-book copy to peruse.

So peruse it I did. Gentle readers, you will find my review in the next post.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Human contact is nice when it's nice

I've noticed that even if someone pushes in front of me in traffic, if they wave immediately after (and it's a friendly looking wave and not a dismissive hand-flick), my blood pressure immediately starts to go down and thoughts of garroting them with my hair elastic begin to dissipate.

Last Friday I was stuck for a few seconds at a roundabout inside a carpark while a boy got into his dad's car.

"Come on, buddy!" I grumbled.

Then the driver turned and waved apologetically at me, and my slight resentment lifted. Aw, bless him and his little angels! I thought.

And then after I parked my car and started walking in, my day was brightened further.

"Hello!" I heard a little voice behind me cry.

A girl in a pink cardigan cycled past, saying, "Sorry! I don't have a bell!"

Then I heard a bell and it was her Dad.

Finally someone cried "Ding-ding!" AND rang their bell, and her little brother went past me with a big grin, looking like his little family outing was a strawberry sundae with chocolate sauce on top.

I smiled for the rest of the 10-minute walk in to work.

But then, that afternoon, I called up a Community Recreation Centre and spoke to a lady who could have been half-troll, because she appeared to have turned to stone after sunrise.

Reception: "L----- Recreation Centre. This is Boulder McStone*."
an9ie: "Hi Boulder, my name is Angie. I'm just calling to find out when your Body Jam classes are on."
(Silence. Not even a "hold on a second, please".)
Reception: ". . . Saturday 4.30 . . . Wednesday 6.30 . . ."
an9ie: "Oh. That's interesting. All the Body Jam classes in the gyms seem to be on Wednesdays and Saturdays."
(Yes, I realise this may sound a little bimbo-ish, but I was trying to make conversation, she didn't sound terribly busy, and the silence was unnerving.)
(Silence Strikes Back.)
an9ie: "And do you have casual entry fees or is it membership only?"
(Return of the Silence.)
Reception: "Yes. $11 a class."
an9ie: "Great! Thank you, Boulder!"
Reception: "Bye."

All in a monotone, not even a "Hang on a minute," when she was looking up stuff or "I'll just look that up for you," all those little chatty things you do with strangers to make them feel at ease or fill the gaps. I've met perkier Tamagotchi.

She wasn't offensive, or impolite, just so grudging with words and friendliness that it left me, kind of, Well, OK then. Um, I guess you don't want my business? And, I suppose, screw you too? I think?

Strange. Maybe it's just as well. Perhaps the centre had been taken over by zombies or those horrible things that from Slither and I've had a very narrow escape.

* Name changed yada yada.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Food. Poison. Ing. Ack.

Hi guys, if you've been thinking that I've been less garrulous than usual this week, you were right. Or you may have noticed nothing at all, or simply assumed I was being slothful, and at any other time you would have been right too.

Anyway, apologies for the radio silence. On Tuesday I managed to scrape out enough energy for an answer to Guess what this (food) is #2 before crawling into bed again to rest my aching, oh, everything.

For the 48 hours from Monday 11:00, I was down with a really horrible strain of food poisoning/food intolerance that just didn't want to go away.

***Scenes involving human body functions follow.***
***You have been warned.***

The main suspect is the yoghurt I had from the canteen that morning, although my stomach was already slightly vulnerable from indulging in ice-cream (I'm a little lactose intolerant) and champagne the night before (I'm also a little allergic to alcohol but I adore sparkling wines, Bailey's and Midori.) Yes. I know.

Since my insides were already a little tender, the only thing I could face on Monday morning was, ostensibly, what I thought would be a beneficial and healthy food: low-fat peach, banana, and passionfruit yoghurt. This was at approximately 9am.

At about 10.30 I started feeling quite nauseated. Okie-dokie, I thought to myself, now, who would have the good anti-nausea meds? Ah! L, my lovely and pregnant colleague.

Except she was over the morning sickness and only had ginger tea to offer me.

Drat. Sipping the tea helped a little but at 11:00 what was in there absolutely had to come out. Run for the bathroom!

After two lots of throwing up (and more), I decided that I should go home before my cubicle looked like something out of The Exorcist.

I headed off for the car, walking very slowly, because I had parked my vehicle a 20-minute walk from work to save on parking fees. In my enfeebled state, it took me 35 minutes to walk there. Although it was an incredibly slow trip I was rewarded by a sight so monstrous it was almost beautiful: a glistening, shirtless whale of a man on his bicycle waiting at the traffic lights. With man-boobs.

The first 24 hours were the worst, as I encountered monstrous betrayal from a normally well-behaved digestive system. Food poisoning is a very ew-some affliction for fastidious people, and I didn't feel clean unless I had a shower after each visit to the water closet. Luckily I had lots of clean towels.

If I had to get up, I would walk around half-bent over, because straightening up would make my stomach cramp painfully. I lay in bed, trying to relax enough to ease the cramps, which were like small hands wringing my guts dry. At the same time I was trying not to relax too much, in case something bad happened to my sheets. A delicate and agonising balance. Luckily my sheets stayed clean.

Mostly I lay there with a pillow under my knees and another on top of my stomach, and listened to the bubbling and gurgling noises coming from my belly. I was too dizzy to read and at times, too weak to pull up the bed-covers when I felt cold. Very frustrating. So I slept and woke, in fits and starts, often running to the bathroom, showering, and then falling into bed again.

It's funny how your body is very firm about what it wants to eat when you're ill. All I could face was water and some watermelon. On Tuesday morning, the smell of someone's cooking seeped in under the door and made me gag. Later that afternoon, my mother brought me some rice porridge, standard Asian sickbed fare, cooked with some fish and a little stock. It was very good.

So I think I have a good idea of what to expect with labour pains now. Whoop-de-doo. Oh, and you know what the final indignity was? The crimson tide decided to rise at the same time. So I got me a trifecta! Freaking awesome. I was watching for the Horsemen of the Apocalypse to complete the picture but the slippery bastards must have peeled out through the back.

If anyone has been grossed out by this tale, I entreat you to go for a nice restful walk to ease your mind. Sing a happy song, play with the bluebirds, pluck doughnuts from the pastry trees, and ignore any hospitals or aged care centres you may pass, safe in the knowledge that your body will never fail you, that only the poor use toilets, and that sick people are a myth perpetuated by the broccoli farmers.

YES, I am being sarcastic! For goodness sake, my mother is a nurse and she has to deal with that sh!t every day. She has to see it, treat it, clean it up, and comfort the people who have to deal with it. And she does it with grace and compassion and dignity.

It wasn't all bad though, on Monday night I had an interesting dream where Jake Gyllenhaal was trying to smother me with a blanket, but in a nice way.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Guess what this (food) is #2 - Answer

The food in question is called you tiao in Mandarin, yau ja gwai in Cantonese, and yew char kuey in Hokkien (which is what we called it when I was growing up).

It is a lightly salted deep-fried strip of dough, which can be easily torn into two long pieces. When fried lightly and drained on paper or a metal grill so it doesn't sit in its own oil, it is quite light. Fluffy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. If you've tried it and haven't liked it, you've either had a bad batch, or you don't share my impeccable taste :)

The translation of the Mandarin simply means "oil strip", but the Cantonese and Hokkien terms translate directly to "oil-fried devil" or "oil-fried ghost".

The story goes that a dastardly Song Dynasty official, Qin Kuai, together with his wife, conspired to bring down a well-loved and noble general named Yue Fei. With corruption in the government being widespread and virulent, people were to afraid to openly condemn the crime, and instead made up this food to show their contempt of the official and his wife. I'm sure the general populace found some kind of redeeming pleasure in figuratively tearing the two apart and chowing down on their delicious crispiness.

Other cultures build monuments and statues, the Chinese make up food. Them's my kind of folks.

If you would like to know more, please feel free to read about yew char kuey at Wikipedia!

Monday, April 16, 2007

A lesson in Blogger images

This will teach me to accidentally post at another blog, and then think I can just cut and paste everything over.

I'll redo that picture and post the answer on Monday night, guys. Sorry!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Guess what this (food) is #2

Sorry guys, busy weekend.

Helping my parents look for a new house, two birthdays, and an invitation to dinner Sunday night means no lazy evenings spent writing blog posts on the computer.

But just for kicks, here's another peek into the world of Asian cuisine. I'll let you have a guess before I reveal the answer tomorrow or the day after.

This is one of my favourite breakfast foods. You can eat it sliced thinly into rice porridge or sweet mung bean soup, smear it with kaya (egg jam), or dip it in sweetened condensed milk.

Mmm. Heartattackalicious!

Love it.

And on a less pleasant note, today was the second time that I've been yelled at, in public, because I was Asian. (I have been yelled at in public before, but mostly with sentences that incorporated words like "boobs" or "funbags". Classy.)

My first experience with outright racism was in 1993, so twice in fourteen years is pretty good, I guess. That time, I was leaving Garden City Shopping Centre and these two spotty youths, probably all of 16 years, blocked my path and then thrust their faces into mine, chorusing something I didn't quite catch before running away. One of the words sounded like "slope", and "yellow" might have been in there too. I was still in my teens, so time has thankfully blurred most of that memory.

I stood there frozen in shock, ears ringing, vision blurry, before I recovered and walked nervously back to my car.

Today, as I was crossing the road to a different shopping centre, a guy in the passenger seat of a car driving past, leant so far out of the window that I could see his shoulders, and yelled, "KONNICHI-WA!" at me.

Idiot.

This time I didn't even pause. I just cocked an eyebrow contemptuously, and kept walking.

He was in throwing range, so it's not the first time I wished projectile stunners were legal.

Obviously I need to train me some kind of crazy, smart, genetically-engineered Revenge Cat. A nice fat Ginger Tom who's nice to normal people but flies hissing at the groins of morons.

Sigh, I can only dream.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sort of a meme about me

I found this at Create A Connection, from Tammy at Mimmsical Creations.

It's an open invitation to answer some questions from a book called The Conversation Piece by Paul Lowrie and Bret Nicholaus. I like doing surveys and quizzes, so I thought I'd have a go.

1. question #255 - If you had to change your first name, what would you choose as your new name?

Nooo! I really like my first name! It's unusual and sounds nice, although it's a bit too long to be practical. Mind you, now that Evangeline Lilly is being all selfish and appearing on Lost telling the WORLD about this awesome name, there will probably be a veritable deluge of Evangelines in a few years and I will hate them all.

Last year I got all mad with someone when she told me her friend wanted to name her daughter Evangeline. Because: A) I don't like sharing, B) her friend has had three other kids who are all snotty brats, so I don't see why this one would be different*, and C) the kid will probably end up looking like the father. Gah.

It's OK, I'll get over it eventually.

I should just change my name to Bibbo. No one's going to steal that one.

Oh wait, OK, I don't really want to be called Bibbo. That's not my answer, Miss!

I suppose I would choose Faith, because she was on Buffy and she rocks. That's my answer. Wasn't it fun getting there?

2. question #158 - What is your favorite saying, quote, or expression?

"It's not the world's fault you want to be an artist . . . now get back to work." - Elizabeth Gilbert

Please read this page if you feel like you're slowly dying inside and you need to free your creative spirit. I love the anecdote about Werner Herzog.

3. question #49 - If you could buy any rare collection in the world, which would you choose? Why?

At the moment I'm feeling very encumbered by possessions. I looked around my living/study room last night and thought, "There's so much stuff! Why is there so much stuff! I do not need all this . . . STUFF!" It wasn't all my stuff, but it still felt a little crowded.

Moving house five times in one year really gives you perspective.

When I ended a nine year relationship, and the last thing I wanted to do was move back in with my parents (who thought I was mad and kept in contact with my ex without me knowing), I briefly stayed in someone's spare room, in an unfinished house on a bare concrete floor.

I had a single suitcase and two boxes, one full of shoes, the other full of books. My bed was a borrowed air mattress on the floor, and I had a fan and a reading lamp. That was all. Everything I had fit into my car.

It was incredibly liberating and I felt surprisingly light and fancy-free.

(Oh, OK, I had a bit more stuff stored at my parents', but I didn't need it, and I didn't see it for three months. Whee!)

So, I wouldn't buy any rare collection in the world.

I don't want to haul it around when I move house. I don't want to lose sleep at night wondering if I've insured it for enough or if someone will covet it and steal it. ONE item from of a collection of something rare and beautiful would be more than enough for me. (And I'd probably lose a little sleep over it anyway, because I am a worrywart.)

You can't take it with you when you when you leave this world, folks.

But if I had to have one beautiful thing, I would like an old, perfectly made violin, with wood that looked like amber and dark smooth honey.

Of course I'd be too ashamed to play it. So I'd end up using the money I saved on beginner's lessons from the best teachers, and painfully scrape away on my $200 Made in China number for a few years before attempting to play the good one.

4. question #1 - If you could fly in a hot-air balloon over any city in the world, what city would you choose? Why that city? Have you visited there before?

I love hot air balloons. I was in Canberra a couple of years ago during a hot-air balloon festival and it was such an awesome sight to see them all in the sky. I love that they don't need fuel or fancy electronics to take you up into magic.

Update (13/4/2007): I was talking to MFC about hot-air balloons and he pointed out that they did need fuel, to keep the air in the balloon hot. And yes indeedy, I had forgotten that little point. But it's still a drop in the bucket compared to planes and helicopters! Now there's energy efficiency for you.

Any city with centuries of history. Floating high above and seeing the old world side by side with the new would be so fascinating.

Rome, London, Paris, Petra, Cairo, don't make me choose!

5. question #221 - What is an item you own that has a minimal monetary value but has such sentimental value that you would not sell it for $5,000?

I have few such items. What comes to mind immediately is a stuffed dog named Heen that MFC gave me when we were in Tokyo last year.

Diana Wynne Jones is one of my favourite authors and I was very keen to see Miyazaki's film adaptation of her book. I found the movie a little disappointing, but fell deeply, unflinchingly, in love with a grouchy carpet of a dog named Heen. I decided I wanted a Heen of my own, and when we got to Japan I kept an eye out for it in every store we went to.

MFC and I were in a large store in Tokyo. Akihabara, I think. The store had five storeys of anime stuff. Geek paradise. We were doing the browsing thing, sometimes wandering off on our own, sometimes meeting up to laugh at or admire something.

MFC was a little ahead of me, and would "finish" a floor and move on up the escalator, while I lingered below, savouring the novelty of everything. I knew I wouldn't lose him. Worst case, we'd meet up right at the top. And I could speak a little Japanese, so I had the upper hand and could say to the security guard, "If you see a tall gaikokujin with a ponytail, stop him because I saw him lift some porn!"

Except my Japanese is rather limited, so it would probably come out as: "Alien tail! Stop! PurpleMonkeyDishwasher Porn!"

I found a shelf full of Miyazaki merchandise and was gazing at it dolefully, when MFC came up behind me.

an9ie
: (Sad) Still no Heen. They must be really popular.
MFC: (Sympathetic) Aw, that's too bad . . .
an9ie & MFC: (Quiet mournful pause)
MFC: Oh, wait. Do you mean this? (Pulls out a Heen in a white plastic bag from behind his back.)
an9ie: SQUEEE!

Heehee, that was fun.

If you guys feel like doing this meme, full speed ahead with my blessing! Leave your input in the comments, or send me a link to your own blog, go on!


* And before you say I'm being selfish, seriously, dudes, would you put your name to shoddy merchandise? Hmm?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Emo rabbit

Check out the bunny at this post. I refuse to believe rabbits like these occur anywhere in the wild. Not even on Fire Island. Surely only man could have created this travesty.

Yes, it is cute, in an emo kind of way, except it seems to emanate pure evil. (Heehee, poor emos, they try so hard to be bad, but it doesn't quite work. When I see the word "emo" it makes me think, ooh, Evil Lite! Or I Can't Believe It's Not Evil! Diversity through conformity! NB: I can laugh because I used to be one, or something like one, in high school, except there was no such term then, and we were just "those freaks".)

I've figured out what gives me the heebeejeebees about this rabbit.

It's the eyes. The eyeliner effect makes it look like it has human eyes.

Voldemort eyes.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Harsh But Fair?

The title for this post was brought to you courtesy of my housemate K. (Except for the question mark. That's all mine, baby.)

According to an article in today's news*, Kirsten Dunst enjoys smoking marijuana, and says that it can be inspirational. Apparently, "if everyone smoked weed, the world would be a better place."

This is just the kind of broad fantasy generalisation I love. Ooh, ooh! Let me try some!

If fairies were real, everyone would ride unicorns!

If I had a million dollars, I would pay Nathan Fillion to be my fake-husband for three months!


OK, maybe that last one wasn't so broad or general, but I do think about it lots. Mmm . . .

I suppose if everyone was too stoned to commit any crimes, that wouldn't be such a bad thing. You could throw off muggers just by pointing behind them and going, "Look! A colourful swirly thing!"and then run away.

I just haven't been very impressed with its effects on people I know, and I don't think it's very responsible of Dunst to say something like that to the media.

One of my best friends from high school nearly threw herself off a second-storey balcony after trying pot for the first time, because she thought "they" were chasing her.

Another friend, who was a frequent user, told me she would become incredibly paranoid and go, "Why is everyone staring at me? Stop them staring at me! The dog is staring at me!" after a few cookies.

And then of course there was that time Useless saw a couple of possums and ran away thinking they were enormous rats.

When I talk to people at parties who nurse their joint like a candy cane and become excrutiatingly slow and incoherent, I feel like my head is going to explode. And then they fall asleep, which is just rude, I tells ya.

Dunst also said that Carl Sagan was "the biggest pot smoker in the world and he was a genius." Well, dammit. My opinion of Carl Sagan just lessened considerably. And to think I got all excited last week when I saw him on X-Files!

Luckily, I don't need pot to be creative, just a strong streak of passive-aggression, a soul filled with black inky darkness**, a memory that holds grudges dating back to the 80's, and music overflowing with pain and thrashing guitars.

Tell you what though, Kirsten, I'll consider using pot to "inspire" me, if you consider wearing a bra whenever you go out in public.


* Smoke more pot, says Kirsten Dunst. Article from BANG Showbiz.
** As opposed to the white, powdery kind.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Homely

I always think that Mummies make wherever they are feel like home.

Well, this is probably debateable, depending on whether or not you're lucky enough to have a Mum like mine or MFC's.

They clean, they garden, they cook and fill the place with appetising smells . . .

You can certainly tell that MFC's Mum is in da house.

The floors are so clean, they gleam with reflections . . .

The fridge is full of snacks with little enticing notes on them, like in Alice In Wonderland.
(These are rum balls from
The Cheesecake Shop, by the way.)


And when she's home and not out working to earn money for snacks, there's a nutritious, yet delicious, hot dinner on the table at night!

And for some light relief, here is something I found at a friend's house on Friday night. Very much a Nanna item, methinks:

It's a toilet roll bra!

The scary thing is, I used the loo at someone else's house, then raced out to get my camera from my handbag*, and went back in to take a photo. I am truly a blogging nerd.


* Update (11/4/2007): And YES I washed my hands before I got my camera, thank you very much.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Indiebloggers Writing Challenge #006

I'm starting to really enjoy doing these weekly challenges. And I'm not afraid to admit that I am so anal, I made sure my entry was exactly 250 words. My entry is listed below, but if you would like to read more, do go to the Indiebloggers Weekly Challenge page (previous link).

The story I've started reminds me of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, and I'm intrigued to see where it could go. I may write another chapter to the story, and I'll post it in this blog if it turns out well.

250 words regarding:
In your job as a tree trimmer, you’ve encountered oddities before. But nothing like this morning when you split a dying elm over on Regality Drive and found a solid stone axe embedded in its heart. It’s covered in sharply engraved Nordic runes. Translated, the runic carvings read: whosoever wields this blade shall conquer time.


I frowned at the axe and put my chainsaw down.

My grinder was close to hand, and I used it to carefully remove the wood from around the contours of the stone weapon. Then I wrapped a hand in the corner of my shirt and gingerly pulled the axe out. It came willingly, in one smooth motion, and the chill of it stung me through the thick flannel.

In my van there lives a chest of rowan wood, circled with iron. I made it, from necessity. The axe went in there, next to a jade scepter and a metal crown bejewelled with flint.

Sweat trickled down my back, and my underarms were damp with perspiration, despite the cool autumn weather.

Some people are comfort-eaters, I’m a fear-sweater.

I had to make a phone call.

“Arnbj√∂rg Antiques!”
“Morning, Arnie.”
“Good morning to you, Brynhild! How is it with you? I haven’t seen you since-”
“Yeah, I know,” I interrupted him, remembering the last time we met, the flames and screams.
And blood, so much blood.
“Arnie, I’ve found some more . . . things.”
“Oh.”

I squinted down at the contents of the chest. Yes, I can read Nordic runes. Just one of my skills, part of a heritage you don’t want to know about.

“Whosoever lifts this scepter shall conquer hearts.”
“Whosoever wears this crown shall conquer minds.”

And now, the axe.

Axe, scepter and crown were too small for mortal man or woman. But they would fit something else.

Roasting chickens - free-range please!

By the way, I just checked on the chickens roasting in the oven. And I've noticed a bit of a . . . smell.

We usually try to get free-range chickens, but on Saturday, the supermarket was all out, so I got a twin pack of smaller hens. I'm sure they will taste good, but I wish I hadn't now.

You can definitely taste and see and feel a difference in the meat. It tends to fall apart more easily, and not in a good way, it's not as good to chew, and the skin is thin and sickly looking. Whereas the free-range chickens I've cooked are firmer and definitely hold the seasoning and flavour better. And as I mentioned before, there is a . . . smell. Not to put myself off my own dinner, but it's a bit of a dung-y aroma. Mmm.

Next time, free-range, or nothing!

Happy Easter! Again! (For Real :)

Happy Easter to you all!

I had a good think about how Easter came about, especially on Good Friday. It made me feel a little sad, and a little awed.

The whole chocolate thing, I never really experienced it until I came to Australia. I think I got my first chocolate egg when I was 16.

Incidentally, my brother and I were talking about how the whole rabbit and egg thing got started. (Yes, I know I can look it up on Wikipedia or something, but I don't care that much :)

Glen: I'll bet it actually has really sinister origins, like, the druids used to sacrifice rabbits and fill them with cooked eggs or something.
an9ie: OR, maybe some guy would dress himself up in freshly killed rabbit skins, and wander around the village, fertilising the women in the dead of night!
Glen: EW! Angie!

Bounty from MFC, and family of MFC.

A more detailed analysis. The cluster on the bottom right (including box of 32 Lindt balls) is from my sweetie. He either cares very much, or plans to rob me tonight while I lie in a diabetic coma.

Speckled M&M eggs! I left these in the bag rather than spread them out on the carpet. That would be unsanitary, no?

Eheheheheeee!
(Picture taken before I ate much chocolate and then played 3 hours of Rayman on the X-Box, making myself extremely ill from motion sickness. Yes, I am a wuss and cannot play 3D games for very long. Luckily no throwing up occured, although it was a close call and I lay on the bed willing my oesophagus to be a one-way valve. Nothing is going to come back up, dammit!
Stupid Rayman.)

Last night and today we watched nine X-Files episodes, from 4.14 ("Leonard Betts") to 4.23 ("Gethsemene"). As I stopped watching X-Files at around Season 2, it's all fresh and new to me, which is nice. Such a good series. I encourage you all to re-explore it.

We're going to watch more X-Files tonight, along with Elf, and maybe The Weather Man, if we're not too pooped. There is a garlic roast chicken in the oven, along with some roasted potatoes and an experiment in roasting garlic.

Long weekends. Awesome.

P.S. I saw the Bride at a little party on Friday, and she told me about something quite revolting that she and Crabs conspired to do when Crabs returned to her interstate abode. It really is quite horrible, but I won't tarnish your Easter with it.

Tomorrow, then? It's a date!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Happy Easter (in advance)!

Can't write much tonight guys, in about 5 minutes MFC and I will be heading off to this little Japanese restaurant for dinner. I think I'll have the Braised Pork Belly Bento Box. Mmm, the pork wins every time.


Housemate K brought these hand-dyed eggs home from work. No chocolate inside but still very pretty!

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Don't look at me like that

Hello!

This will be a bit of a quick post because I am very tired and dying to get to bed. Tonight I went to Week 2 of, and I almost hesitate to write it here, a beginner's pole dancing course*.

Yes, har de har. But I staunchly maintain that at least I'm going to the nice school, and not the naughty one.

The tenuous distinction between these two schools, or groves of Academe, if you will, is that, at the one I'm going to, you can just wear your normal gym gear and go barefoot, whereas at the other one you are requested to wear tiny shorts and chunky heels to class, and there is a "graduation" at the end of each level, to which you can invite friends and family to watch. So even if you don't feel like inviting your Mum and Dad along to see you spread-eagle your legs in mid-air, you know someone else's parents and friends will be there, watching those seldom-ventilated areas getting a walk in the park.

There's a little too much Ew-factor in that for me.

The naughty school has a more professional emphasis, they have five different difficulty levels, whereas the nice one only has four**. Certainly go to the former if you would like to be trained for the industry, because they're extremely accomplished and polished at what they do, whereas the one I'm going to treats pole-dancing like more of a fitness adjunct, and integrates it into dance and aerobics classes. Instructors at both are lovely people and very talented, I know and am told.

I'm enjoying the lessons a lot. It's a lot of fun in a casual girly atmosphere, and I'm finally getting some flexibility in my lower back, which has been plaguing me with stiff muscles and pain for the past five years. And don't worry, I'm still going to Hip Hop :)

Anyway, the long and short of it is, I am exhausted. Damn muscles that only cavemen used. Honestly, you'd think we'd evolve a little faster into sitting office drones.

MFC thinks it is all rather sordid. A few weeks ago someone from the naughty school invited me to special lap-dancing lessons that the school was holding for Valentine's Day. I didn't have any intention of going (it didn't sound terribly exciting and I was trying to save money), but I brought it up with MFC, just to see his reaction.

He exclaimed with mock delight, "Why, YES! I would love for my girlfriend to learn to dance like a [insert bad name for bad women here]!"

And then a few weeks later we were talking about lap-dancing and lessons again, and MFC said, "I don't know, it all seems kind of seedy to me, like paying someone to teach you how to give a blow job."

So, his opinions on the matter are quite clear, eh?


* This reluctance stems from the fact that: a) I was making fun of people who took pole-dancing classes not that long ago, and b) last year I gave MFC a t-shirt which has a silhouette of a pole-dancer on it that says, "Support a stripper's college fund - one dollar at a time!" He gets compliments on whenever he goes anywhere remotely geeky like Electronics Boutique or Game Traders. Actually, I'm not sure if b) is that relevant but I thought I'd stick it in there anyway :)

** Bear in mind, that although I use the terms "naughty" and "nice" to differentiate between the two, ahem, institutions, in this day and age, the terms are largely interchangeable.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Indiebloggers Writing Challenge #005 and Creepy Golems

On Friday I submitted a little piece to the Indiebloggers Weekly Challenge. The challenge was to continue the following story.

300 words regarding:

To be mean, you shave your neighbor’s monkey. It gets a cold and dies. You get arrested for animal abuse and go to prison for three years. On your first day in jail, as you walk into general assembly, the crowd goes completely silent. They part like a wave revealing a shrunken old man who radiates a merciless, palpable evil. He looks at you and says “Finally.”

I was bored (probably procrastinating while doing something important like renewing my passport) and wrote it in about 15 minutes. I like to think the main message people will take home with them is, "Man, this chick watches WAY too much Simpsons and Futurama!"

Here's the link.

Also, for your amusement, I would like to present the local jeweller's little tribute to Easter. When not masquerading as Creepy Rabbit-Obsessed Golem Wearing A Butcher's Apron Covered In Suspicious Brown Stains, it's a little mannequin that stands in the window and strikes his little hammer towards you in a jerky, slightly violent manner.

One day I'll kill you all . . . like little rabbits. . .

My brother and I walked past and he went, "Oh man! As if that thing wasn't creepy enough already!"