Sunday, December 30, 2012

Melbourne, please be patient with myki





After many years of using their Metcards, Melbournians (Melbournites?) will embark on one of their greatest journeys yet, the journey of the myki. Melbourne has upped their public transport game and have made the final move to a new ticketing system. Having just gotten back from Melbourne and the surrounding suburbs a couple of days ago, I can tell you that many people do not like the change and are constantly belittling the myki system. But I urge you, please be patient with myki and you will learn to accept it if not love it. 

The old public transport system in Melbourne used Metcards, part paper/part cardboard slips that were encoded with a the barcode that corresponds with your travel. You could purchase a Metcard for a single journey, for travel through multiple zones, or for multiple trips through multiple zones. 

Myki's are kind of like gift cards on which you place a certain dollar amount. You 'touch on' at the beginning of your journey and 'touch off' at the end. You may have to touch on and off multiple times if you are using multiple types of transport, i.e. you touch on at the train station, touch off when you leave, touch on when you get on the tram, and then touch off when you arrive at your destination. The myki readers work out the travel times and zones between when you touch on and when you touch off, and the fare is deducted accordingly. 

There are a number of advantages of the myki over the Metcard, which I will reveal later on, but there is one main disadvantage of changing the public transport system entirely. Commuters in Melbourne will only be able to use myki from now on. If you use public transport every day or once a year, you are required to purchase a myki card. 

Queensland have rolled out their Go Card systems that are designed to stop the use of paper tickets, but paper tickets still exist. If you seldom use public transport then you don't have to worry about purchasing a Go Card, you can simply purchase a one way ticket at any ticket counter. There are many benefits to Go Cards; the fares are cheaper when you use one, you don't have to wait in line to purchase a ticket, and you no longer have to worry about being charged too much for your journey or accidentally buying the wrong ticket. 

But apart from moving everyone to a myki no matter how infrequently they travel, myki is a great thing. 

How many tram travellers have witnessed others scramble to stay afoot while feeding all of their change into a Metcard machine? How many times have commuters had to buy replacement Metcards because theirs have been damaged in the wash? How many times have you accidentally purchased a Metcard through the wrong zone or for the wrong time frame? Myki solves these issues. 

Another benefit of the myki is that it can be registered. You don't have to worry about losing the card or the value because once you tell PTV (Public Transport Victoria) that the card is lost or stolen it (the card) will automatically be cancelled and the balance moved to a new card. Registering your card also means that you can keep a track of your journeys and set an auto top up from your credit card to ensure that you always have enough funds for your travels. 

You might be thinking, well that's all well and good for you Kathy but I don't live in Melbourne and only travel by train once or twice a year. Myki is useless for me!

Well, before you go making accusations you must know that I don't live in Melbourne. I don't even live in Victoria. Readers of my blog will be aware that I travel to Melbourne every year for the Armageddon Expo. Usually I stay in a hotel close to the venue but cost forced me and my friends to take a place further away. It would have taken around 45 minutes to walk to the convention centre, but luckily the hotel was on a tram line. My friends and I purchased a myki visitor pack that included a myki card as well as a map, discounts to a whole heap of attractions, and instructions on how to use both the myki and Melbourne public transport as a whole. We found the myki very easy and we only had to add around $5 of additional funds for our whole stay. We ended up taking the tram throughout zone one multiple times over the four days we were in the city. 

Another bonus to the myki is that the funds on the card are secure for at least four years. Since they don't run out or expire by a certain deadline you can feel free to only use the myki once a day or once a year without having to worry about using up all of your funds. You just have to make sure you have enough money on the card, but you can put money on via the myki website or any one of over 800 services throughout Melbourne. 

I apologise if this post was long and boring to most of you. I am not endorsed or affiliated with PTV or myki in any way. This is just an opinion post, and this is my opinion. 

I look forward to reading comments by my Melbourne friends over this!

Thanks, 

Kathy

Themes: myki, public transport, Victoria, Melbourne, myki card, Metcard

Links: http://ptv.vic.gov.au/, http://ptv.vic.gov.au/fares-tickets/myki/http://www.myki.com.au/

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Rights VS Responsibilities

RIP victims of the Sandy Hook School massacre.

source: AP... http://www.news.com.au/world/feared-dead-in-school-shooting/story-fndir2ev-1226537283734



First of all, I want to point out that I'm not an American and that some people might not like what I have to say, and they might think that I don't have the right to voice my opinion because I am not an American and I was not affected by the tragedy at Newtown earlier this week. 

But I was affected by it. Every person on this Earth was affected by this. When something this huge happens, even if it's only in one small corner of the world, it still affects us all. Because we are all people. And as people we are, or at least should be affected by what happens to other people. 

I do concede, however, that I don't know everything there is to know about the Second Amendment, that is the right to keep and bear arms. If I have any points wrong can you please let me know in the comments. 

What I do want to discuss here is the difference between rights and responsibilities. Some people might not see the difference and they get them confused. But there is a distinct difference between things we are owed (rights) and things we owe (responsibilities). 

A great example of the differences is education. In Australia I had the right to an education. It was not only expected and encouraged that I go to school, but it was against the law for my parents to keep me home (unless I was getting home-schooled). While that was my right, it was my responsibility to use that education to the benefit of not only myself, but to my family and the wide community. At the very least, I had the responsibility to pay attention in class and not to be a distraction or disruption to others who were learning. Part of my responsibility was to not obstruct others in their right to an education. 

In America, people have the right to keep and have guns. But don't the owners of these guns also have responsibilities? Some of these responsibilities are law, such as how to properly house these guns and how they can carry them in public. But shouldn't there be other responsibilities by gun owners, such as not using the gun when you're angry or in a similar heightened state of emotion, or only using the gun for the purposes of self defence or target practice, not to scare someone or to win an argument?

Every time I get in my car I think, I could kill someone. No, this isn't me on some sort of power trip, but a fact. I could aim my car directly at another person and cause their death. I could neglect to stop at a stop sign or red light and crash into another car or a pedestrian. I could fail to pay attention when giving way, or I could be distracted by sending a text message, or I could be under the influence of any number of drugs and I could kill someone. And while I don't have the right to drive my car I have the responsibility as a driver to not kill someone. As a motorist I am aware of the damage I could inflict by doing the above so I stop when I'm supposed to and I pay full attention at all times. I would imagine this would be the same thought process for anyone who has access to a gun; you have the power to stop a person from being alive. Shouldn't that give you pause? Shouldn't that stop you from taking the gun out of the safe and loading it? Shouldn't that stop you from buying the weapon in the first place?

I don't want to infringe on anyone's rights, but I think you should think about your responsibilities as well as your rights. My friend Kat posted on her blog "it shouldn't be about an individual's right to bear arms, but about a society's right to be safe", and I wholeheartedly agree. 

Kathy

Themes: Sandy Hook School shooting, gun control, US gun policy, Newtown massacre, Connecticut, Newtown school shooting, second amendment, right to keep and bear arms, right to bear arms

Monday, October 29, 2012

Top Five things to bring to a Convention/Expo

http://www.sxc.hu/profile/cararr




As many countries around the world begin their pop culture/fan expo season I think this is a very timely subject. I've been going to conventions for the last five years, averaging about three per year, and here is my list of top five things to bring to a convention/expo:

1- Comfortable shoes
There will be a lot of walking around and even more standing in lines during the typical convention, so you best be prepared. High heels might look great but your feet will begin to ache after a few hours. If you’re cosplaying (costume playing) you might need a pair of great looking shoes to complete the outfit. However, you can plan ahead by bringing a second pair of shoes that you can change into at regular intervals. I have also seen people bring camping chairs that are light and portable. When they're in a long line they fold out the chair and have a sit. 

2- A large bag
I find carrying one large bag is easier than carrying a purse or small back pack. For one thing, a purse or handbag will most likely not fit everything you will buying. And I get very nervous having everything in a back pack that I can't monitor at all times. A large bag such as a canvas bag that a lot of grocery stores sell for cheap will be large enough to fit in most things that you'll end up buying over the day or two. 

3- Your manners
Personally, I think you should bring this everywhere you go, but manners are very important during a convention/expo experience. The excitement of the event can sometimes cloud your judgement, but you should always remember to say thank you to the line guards/monitors and to ask the guest politely before you engage them in a hug or hand shake. Remember, just because they pulled you into a hug at that convention that one time it's not polite to embrace them without forewarning. 
Some conventions offer VIP passes which are usually very expensive and come with many perks. Among these perks tends to be express queuing, which means holders of these passes can cut to the front of the time. If you have one of these passes please remember to say excuse me and thank you to the people in front of whom you're pushing. And if these VIP pass holders are cutting in front of you please don't bitch or complain about them. Sure, it can be very annoying to be pushed back further and further in the line, but these pass holders sometimes pay up to ten times as much for their tickets. Without VIP passes being sold months before the convention most guests wouldn't be able to come. 

4- Enough money
A lot of conventions are now switching from cash only to cash and EFTPOS, but this is never a guarantee. and this doesn't account for the possibility that the phone lines can go down when they're overtaxed (say, like at a convention when hundreds of people are using EFTPOS to purchase comics, photos, autograph tokens, clothing, etc). Many conventions/expos are located near ATM's, but the lines there are usually incredibly long, and more than once I've seen these machines run out of money. It's always safer to bring cold hard cash to these events. Sure, it can be a hassle carrying a lot of money with you, but it will be worth it when you're able to buy the things that you want. To make sure you have enough money before the event you should check out the event website. There you will be able to calculate how much your photo and autograph sessions are going to cost, and then you can add in extra for such things like comics, clothes, badges, food, books, etc, etc, etc.

5- Snacks
I usually bring a bag of chips or biscuits, but this last convention I bought a box of nut bars and this went down pretty well. No matter what your taste is, you should bring some snacks to help you make it throughout the day. The expos that I frequent are located near large food courts but you can never guarantee that you'll have the time to eat a proper lunch. When food establishments are inside the convention you can bet that the food offered will be quick and easy, aka not very healthy. 
If you have a particular dietary needs (lactose intolerant, gluten free, sucrose intolerant, etc) then you should bring your own food along. You'll end up saving money if you pack your own lunch. 

So there you go; my top five things to bring to a convention/expo. Please let me know if you have any other ideas. 

Kathy
Themes: conventions, expos, comic conventions, fan days, lists

Thursday, October 4, 2012

How to prepare for a convention


Hi everyone!
Sorry I've been MIA for so long, I've been struggling to get into the mood to write. I've got a few ideas on what to write, but I just can't seem to find the motivation. 
But I'm working for the next seven days straight and then going to Melbourne for the Armageddon Pop Culture Expo for four days so there will be little time to write in the near future. So I'm sucking it up and writing now. This is all stream of consciousness writing; this isn't planned or moderated in any way. 
This is how to prepare for a convention/expo:
1- Check out the schedule as soon as possible
Many conventions will release a demo of their schedule before the official one is made. While these are never set in stone (and they aren't even set in stone on the day) it's good to look these over and get a sense of how busy you're convention is going to be. Personally, I like to copy the schedule into a spreadsheet. This helps me to get rid of the events that don't interest me and help me to focus on what I really want to see.
2- Understand how much money your convention experience will cost
Just getting into the convention area will cost money, but there will also be many things inside the convention that you will want to have or you will want to do. If you don't prepare for this beforehand you can be blind-sided in one of two ways; you can overspend and you can underspend. Overspending is pretty self explanatory, and the effects of this are pretty obvious. Underspending can also be an issue because you can end up feeling that the convention wasn't worth attending. 
Proper planning will mean you'll know exactly how much you will be spending so you won't be surprised or disappointed. 
3- Plan for the unknown
That sounds impossible, but it's always good to plan for when things go wrong. At many conventions and expos guests can pull out at any minute. Guests can even pull out the morning of the convention, if another offer comes up such as a job or they get sick or their family gets sick. Guests can show up for day one but something can go wrong and they don't make it to day two. 
The schedule can also change depending on the already mentioned guest changes but also for other reasons such as inefficient space for the expected number of ticket holders. Other reasons for last minute changes include flooding of the convention space due to heavy rain (this has happened before).
4- Relax!
Preparing for a comic convention or pop culture expo can be a lot of work, but it's only a lot of work to make sure you have a good time. Knowing the schedule before you arrive means that you won't miss out on anything, and knowing how much it will cost will help you to budget wisely. 
Conventions are meant to be fun, so relax and smile and enjoy the experience. 
If you have any other tips on how to prepare for a convention please add them in the comments. 

Kathy

Friday, September 7, 2012

Things I want my kid to know


from  http://www.sxc.hu/profile/mokra 

... Not that I'm thinking of having a kid any time soon (calm down mum!), but when I do have one there are some things I want him or her to know:
  • Please and thank you

It’s a simple concept, saying please when you want something and thank you when you get it, but a lot of people nowadays don't use it. it's a nice way to showing someone you appreciate what they're doing for you, so why not say it to the person who serves you at the coffee shop or the person who just rung up your order at the service station?
I always try to use 'please' and 'thank you' as often as I can, and any child of mine will, too. Time and time again I've heard that children pick up most of their behaviour from their parents and mine are going to be very polite (at least in public). I'm always amazed by the children who are aware of when to use 'please' and 'thank you', but they don't. I get the impression that they have been told to say those words, but they never hear their parents or other adult role models say them. 
  • There’s a time and place for cussing

I’m not naive enough to think that my child will never swear, but they will know to do it at an appropriate time and place. My seven year old might want to drop the f-bomb after losing a sporting event but other parents might not have taught their kids about bad words, best to save that kind of language to the privacy of the home, or at least the car ride on the way back. 
This isn't to say that I'll only teach my children 'bad' words, but I'm not going to forbid them from ever saying the words. Like I said, there's a time and a place for that kind of behaviour. 
  • It’s okay to suck at some things

Any child of mine is likely to have a predisposition for anything nerdy, whether it is reading, writing, mathematics, or quoting obscure and classic TV series. But that's just my opinion; my kid could suck at maths! My children could be horrible spellers who want nothing to do with books and think twitter uses too many words. Or they could be really rubbish at sports and never make it onto the team. But no matter which activities my kids excel at or which ones they can't grasp I will let them know I love them, and that it's okay to be bad at things. See, I love singing but I can't do it very well. In fact, the word 'tone deaf' has been thrown around more than once. But do I care? Nope. Knowing that I can't sing gives me a lot of freedom. If I was a very good singer every time I open my mouth to sing a little ditty I’d be worrying how well I’m doing. Now I can sing till my heart's content without worrying about how good I am. 
  • Always cross at the designated area

It just makes sense. 
  • I will love them no matter what.

Again, to me this just makes sense, but I want any and all future progeny will never have any doubt in their mind that I love them. Sure, they might do things that piss me off like stay out past curfew, throw their food on the floor, or scream until they can’t breathe because they can’t have a toy, but that won’t stop me from loving them. I’ll also want them to know that if they do mess up they can always come to me. If they go to a party and get drunk when I have specifically told them they are not to drink at all I want them to know that I won’t hate them for it. In this scenario I’d like them to call me rather than try to find their own way home. I’ll let them know that they can count on me even if they do get into a bit of strife.
I will love my kids no matter who they are; if they’re gay, if they’re straight, if they’re bi, if they’re a nerd fighter, if they’re a jock, if they’re a poet, if they’re a painter, if they has Asperger’s, if they have Down’s Syndrome, if they can’t spell for shit and can barely count how many fingers they have, if they want to spend all day staring at spiders... no matter what. I’ll love them, and I want them to know.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Shows I'm excited about: Homeland




Homeland is a slow-moving but gripping tale that follows Nicholas Brody, a US Marine who if rescued after being held captive by Al-Qaeda since 2003, and Carrie Mathison, the CIA investigator who gets the impression all is not what it seems with Brody.
Homeland is a unique series that keeps viewers guessing right till the very end. For most of the season viewers don’t know if Brody has returned as a sleeper agent or if Carrie’s past mental health issues have clouded her judgement. Or are both assessments true?
Homeland not only deals with hard-hitting topics such as religion and terrorists but it also looks at the impact these things have on a modern family. While Nicholas was gone his wife and his best friend began a relationship that could tear the Brody family apart. Meanwhile Carrie is dealing with being under suspicion from her own side.
Homeland is definitely a series to watch. It does take a little while to build up, but before you know it, you’re hooked.
Claire Danes stars as Carrie with Damian Lewis as Nicholas, Morena Baccarin as Nicholas’s wife and Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson, Carrie’s mentor at the CIA.
Homeland season two will air on Showtime September 30.

Themes: Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, Morena Baccarin, Mandy Patinkin, Homeland Security, terrorists, Carrie Mathison, Nicholas Brody, Saul Berenson, Showtime, drama

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Shows I'm excited about: Sons of Anarchy




There is a difference between the synopsis of a show and what that show is about. For FX’s Sons of Anarchy, this difference is more like a vast chasm.
The synopsis of Sons would go something like this: sex, drugs, and guns are all a part of everyday life for members of the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club from the small California town of Charming. But if you think that’s what the show is about, you’re wrong.
SOA is about family; namely, what would you do for your family. To members of SAMCRO (Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original), everyone who wears the cut is your brother. The men who ride always have their brother’s backs no matter what, whether that means seeking revenge or just hiding you from your old lady after you’ve had a rough night out.
The show also explores other types of familial relationships, such as the thin connection between mother and adult son, son and step-father, and, of course, new girlfriend and his mother. It also delves into what makes a family, is it blood or bond? And what does your family really need from you, your presence or your pay check?
Set against the backdrop of bikes, bimbos, and booze, Sons of Anarchy tells an interesting tale of love in all its forms.
Sons of Anarchy stars Charlie Hunnam (Jackson “Jax” Teller), Ron Perlman (Clay Morrow), Katey Sagal (Gemma Morrow), and Ryan Hurst (Harry “Opie” Winston), and is executive produced by its creator Kurt Sutter. It will return September 11 on FX.

Themes: Charlie Hunnam, Jax Teller, Ron Perlman, Clay Morrow, Katey Sagal, Gemma, Ryan Hurst, Opie, Harry Winston, Tara Knowles, Maggie Siff, Kurt Sutter, SOA, SAMCRO, Sons of Anarchy

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Shows I'm excited about: Once Upon A Time




Once Upon a Time is a series that I am very passionate about. A great story about good and evil, Once Upon a Time follows Emma Snow and the residence of Storybrooke. According to the series there are many different universes that exist, and some, like the world where all of our fairytale characters exist, have magic. When Snow White and Prince Charming wed, the Evil Queen gives them a chilling warning; your happy days are numbered. The Queen (with some help from Rumplestiltskin) finds a curse that will take away everyone’s happy ending. This means sending them to a truly horrific world, a world without magic... Our world.
Fast forward 28 years and Emma Snow is confronted by her ten year old son whom she gave up for adoption. Her son Henry comes bearing chilling news; Emma is the child of Snow White and Prince Charming, and she alone can break the curse.
Once Upon a Time gives us a ‘behind the storybook’ approach to the characters we all know and love. Throughout the first season we got a look at why Jiminy Cricket is so moral, why Grumpy is so... angry, and just what Snow White did to get the Evil Queen to want her dead. Season two can only bring us more insights as well as terrific acting from Ginny Goodwin (Snow White), Jennifer Morrison (Emma Snow), Josh Dallas (Prince Charming), and Lana Parrilla (Evil Queen). Once Upon a Time was created by LOST writer’s Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, and they both write for the show, too.
Season two will begin airing September 30 on ABC.

Themes: Ginnifer Goodwin, Snow White, Jennifer Morrison, Emma Snow, Josh Dallas, Prince Charming, Lana Parrilla, evil queen, Rumplestiltskin, Edward Kitsis, fairytales, Once Upon A Time, Once upon a time TV, Raphael Sbarge, TV series, Robert Carlyle, Adam Horowitz, 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Shows I'm excited about: Grey's Anatomy





Grey’s Anatomy is an oft-talked about show full of drama and suspense. Following the lives of a group of interns at the fictional Seattle Grace/Mercy West Hospital, Grey’s Anatomy takes a hard look at topics that many shows shy away from. Sure, each episode structure is like every other medical drama, but it’s what they do within this that counts. Grey’s has had episodes about adultery, abortion, adoption, and same-sex marriage to name but a few.
Another great thing about this series is the characters. At first they all seemed very stereotypical, but as the episodes progressed you could see that the writers and actors banded together to tell something more, something stronger with these people.
This next season of Grey’s promises to bring more action and more drama to the table than ever before. At the end of last season a number of main characters were injured in a small plane crash. A number of things are still unknown, not only who will survive but how will those who lived through the crash deal with the aftermath? Plus, there’s bound to be a lot of drama and excitement ahead!
Grey’s Anatomy is aired on ABC and season 9 will commence September 27th

Themes: Grey's Anatomy, ABC, medical drama, Meredith Grey, Christina Yang, Alex Karev, Miranda Bailey, Callie Torres, Mark Sloan, McDreamy, McSteamy, Lexi Grey, Owen Hunt, Arizona Robbins, Teddy Altman, April Kepner, Jackson Avery, Derek Shepherd, Ellen Pompeo, Sandra Oh, Justin Chambers, Chandra Wilson, Sara Ramirez, Eric Dane, Chyler Leigh, Kevin McKidd, Jessica Capshaw, Kim Raver, Sarah Drew, Jesse Williams, Patrick Dempsey, Shonda Rhimes

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Movie Time! Rock of Ages



Wow, Kathy saw a musical? Who would have thought?
Yes, I saw Rock of Ages, and like a few other reviews I found it lacking. This is not to say I didn't enjoy the film, but it's definitely not a movie I'll rush out to see again. Why? Well, for a few reason, two of which are Tom Cruise's nipples. The man doesn't wear a shirt the entire movie. It's really quite appalling. I have nothing personal against the man, but he needs to wear shirts more often, or at least cover his chest with something.
And speaking of Tom Cruise, while the singing was good the acting was sub-par at best. No one really went above and beyond in their roles. I got the feeling that the actors like their characters but didn't really have a connection to them, and because of this I didn't care about them either. The main character Drew (Diego Boneta) has potential but he really wasn't given enough opportunity to shine. Same with Sherri (Julianne Hough).
Another issue with Rock of Ages is the plot. There doesn't seem to be one main storyline; rather there are quite a lot of side stories and sub-plots that masquerade at actual plot. The end result is a woven tapestry that, instead of being a comfortable blanket, is a confusing miss-mash of colours and designs. Some threads change colours half way through while others just become loose and disappear all together.
While this review might seem like I hated the film there were some parts of it I liked. The music was good and it was quite easy to sing along with the characters, and the dancing made me move and groove in my seat. And occasionally there were shining moments and the actors had a chance to do some, you know, acting.
But mostly this was a fun way to pass some time and listen to good music.
What did everyone else think about this movie? Am I being too harsh or am I spot on. Let me know in the comments.


Kathy


Themes: Tom Cruise, Diego Boneta, Julianna Hough, Rock of Ages, movie review, musical, Adam Shankman, Russell Brand, Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones

Monday, June 11, 2012

Soulless (book review)


Soulless: An Alexia Tarabotti Novel by Gail Carriger




“To put the pudding in the puff: she had retreated to the library, her favourite sanctuary in any house, only to happen upon an unexpected vampire. She glared at the vampire”

That, my friends, is why I read this book.
It, in short, is awesome. I have never read such a witty and engaging novel in all my years. Far from being over the top and pretentious despite being set in Victorian England, this book relishes the absurdities of social etiquette, such as having a specific gown for carriage riding and another for walking in the park. While reading this book I often got the notion that I was enjoying a tea party with friends; we follow the social rules but know nothing of why they exist. Alexia Tarabotti is like this. She follows (most of) the social norms but you get the feeling that she’s secretly laughing at them. Multiple times she reminds people to be mindful of her feminine sensibilities but later she will question why women aren’t allowed to hold high powered jobs.
She also has no soul, which makes for quite a few social faux pas, on both her end as well as the vampires who try to attack her. Whenever Alexia touches a supernatural creature such as a vampire or werewolf (and there are a lot of these walking around England) they revert back to their mortal selves.
Alexia is a bundle of contradictions, but in a good way. Plus, she is sassy and polite at the same time. What’s not to love? The other characters are great as well. Lord Maccon is the fierce yet emotional werewolf who challenges Alexia at every corner, Lord Akeldama is the dramatic vampire who loves pretty things (hats, shoes, men), and Professor Lyall is just trying to stay sane. Add in Alexia’s fashion-challenged friend Miss Hisselpenny and a spate of vampires appearing as if out of nowhere and you have one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.
I love this world that Carriger has created. Polite vampires and rude werewolves are just the tip of the iceberg in this alternate universe. Soulless is a mix of genres: steampunk, romance, comedy, supernatural, plus more that I cannot think of at the moment. Needless to say, there’s something for everyone here. What’s even better is that this is only book one of the series ‘The Parasol Protectorate’
I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. Well done, Carriger.

If you've read this book before please let me know what you thought in the comments. You can follow Gail Carriger at  or at http://gailcarriger.com/index.php
Kathy

Themes: Parasole Protectorate, Gail Carriger, supernatural, steam punk, steampunk, romance, comedy, Lord Maccon, Lord Akeldama, Professor Lyall, werewolves, vampires, Alexia Tarabotti, Ivy Hisselpenny, hats, Victorian era

Friday, May 25, 2012

My Love for High School Musical





I still get odd looks from people when they find out about my love for the tween sensation High School Musical. In fact, just the other day two people who I thought were cool with others being different saw the trio of movies next to the TV and looked like they were trying to contain their laughter. Go ahead, laugh. I don’t know why you’re doing it though.
Despite my love for science fiction, biographies, and TV shows with long and arcing plot lines, I have a soft spot for children’s movies. I don’t know if it reminds me of a simpler time in my life or if there is any deep psychological reason, but I love most movies aimed at children. I recently just did a marathon of the Champion/Mighty Ducks movies*, and loved every minute of it. I have the Aladdin and Little Mermaid soundtracks on my phone and am waiting until I have a little bit extra spending money before I buy The Lion King on BluRay.
I also love musicals. The Rent soundtrack is on my phone although I don’t need the music to play to get me to sing along as I know most of the words to all of the songs (Yes, even La Vie Bohème).
So, knowing these two things it can’t come as a shock that I love the all three of the High School Musical movies (although if pressed I’ll say that the second doesn’t rank nearly as high as the first and third).
Not that I need to justify why I like the things that I do, I thought I would explain the reasons here to give you a better understanding of what I love about these movies. It might even encourage you to at least try one out:

1-      The main female character is a good role model.

Gabriella is smart ya’ll. She joins the matheletes and doesn’t care if it’s ‘not cool’. In the second movie when her boyfriend Troy is being a bit of a dick to her and his friends while they’re working a summer job Gabby doesn’t take it; she leaves. In song form she says that she wants to be herself and doesn’t wanna spend her precious time with a guy who won’t treat her right. If I recall correctly, Bella became comatose when Edward left her...
Sure, the other female characters in the movie aren’t as cool as this, but they are fun to watch, and one even has goals of being the President.

2-      The songs are catchy.

The songs get stuck in your head and make you wanna dance around a bit. They’re fun and epic and angsty and funny and silly. It is a musical, after all.

3-      There’s character growth.

We all know one of the main problems with sequels is the returning of the bad guy. If the group can defeat them in the first film then it won’t be too much of a problem in the subsequent ones, or at least it shouldn’t. The ‘bad guys’ of these films are the brother-sister act of Sharpay and Ryan Evans. They don’t like the idea of anyone coming into the drama club and stealing their lime light. But as the movies progress they realise that having other people share the spotlight can be fun. Other characters also have to come to terms with their true feelings about themselves as well as others. In the first film they go from singing “Stick to the Status Quo” (a song about, well, sticking to the status quo) to “We’re All in This Together” (‘everyone is special in their own way/we make each other strong’) .  

4-      There’s a bromance.

It’s not as epic a bromace as is seen in other movies, but the friendship and love between the two main male characters is cool. It’s nice to see a popular film that shows sporty guys can also care about one another.

5-      There’s definite slashy undertones.

It’s not wrong because the characters are all sweet and innocent, but there’s definitely something going on between Chad and Ryan. At one point they swap clothing!

6-      It’s fun!


Does anyone else have anything that they love that they are often mocked for? Share your story here in the comments.

Thanks,
Kathy


Themes: high school muscial, HSM, Disney, musical, songs, dance, Ryan, Sharpay, Evans, Chad, Gabriella, Troy

*In Australia the first movie is called Champions, the second The Mighty Ducks, and the third is called D3: The Mighty Ducks. According to IMDB the first movie has an alternate/original title of The Mighty Ducks and the second is named similarly to the third, D2: The Mighty Ducks. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Joke?

by Global Photographics, under CC A-SA 2.0

 
The other day a friend of mine told me this joke:
“what do you call five gay guys walking in a straight line? One Direction”
I sort of giggled along with everyone else who was laughing, but I have no idea why this is funny. I have since seen this written on a number of parts of the internet and a lot of people always reply with ‘lol’. Again, I don’t know why.
Why is this funny?
I’m not a big One Direction fan, so I had to do a little research and it seems that none of the members of the group are gay. Of course, they could be but not ready to come out publicly yet, but until they do we can all run with the assumption that they are heterosexual.
Is that they the joke is funny, because they aren’t gay? Is it like the times when I’m reading a book and someone asks what I’m doing, so I reply “playing the banjo”? Personally, I think it’s more sarcastic and a bit rude but it’s also kind of funny.
Or is it a joke because they could be gay? Like, ‘ha ha you are a homosexual’? The person who told me the joke would never mock another because of their sexuality so I don’t think that’s the reason, but it could be why others find it amusing.
I also think it could be funny because they might be gay. But then again, is this the best way of showing support to young men? “You could be gay and that’s funny”? While people tend to call men in boy bands gay*, the only ‘out’ member of a boy band that I know of was Stephen Gately from Boyzone. I don’t think mockery is the best way to assist someone in coming out; “I think you’re gay and that’s okay so I’m going to laugh at you about it until you come out”... Hmm no I don’t think that will work.
I think this ‘joke’ tends to be leaning on the side of mocking these men because of their assumed homosexuality and that’s not cool. Gay or straight, what does it matter?
Can someone explain to me why this joke is funny? If you can, please leave a comment here or @ reply me on Twitter.

Thanks,

Kathy

*I think people call members of boy bands gay because they are men who spend a lot of time together but no one calls football/soccer/rugby/gridiron players gay and they spend just as much time around each other.

Themes: One Direction, homosexuality, gay jokes, not funny, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Zayne Malik, Louis Tomlinson, Larry Stylinson

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Crazy Day



No one in my family does well with change. Like, really. We get panic attacks and medications need to be adjusted. We have to have pans and routines constructed to detail what’s going on down to the half-hour. We don’t do well with change.
I’ve never done well with change. Which is no surprise seeing as no one I grew up with accepted change with anything less than panic. I’ve often chastised myself as lazy because I don’t do some particular things, but whenever I try to do them I get panicky and scared. I can’t even pin point what the fear is exactly, but it’s there, along with the butterflies in the belly.
But I’m trying to change this. I’m trying to look at change as a cool thing, that doing something new can be fun and rewarding.
Yesterday was ANZAC Day in Australia, the day we mourn our fallen soldiers, pray for the ones in active duty, and pay tribute to those left behind. The day is also commemorated with a dawn service just about everywhere in the country. People drag themselves out of bed to their local RSL (retired servicemen’s league) or the beach and stand in silence as the sun rises. Wreaths are laid by fires, the last post is played, and sometimes a prayer is given. While I’ve been to ANZAC Day services before, I’ve never been to a dawn service. See, besides being terrified of change, my family also loves a good sleep in. None of us kids were ever the type to get up early on the weekends to watch cartoons, unless by early you mean 9am. But recently I was thinking that I might as well go to one. This year the stars aligned and not only did I not have to work yesterday but I didn’t have to work today either which meant that if I was overly tired I’d still have a full day to reorient myself before heading back to work.
I almost talked myself out of it, thinking about the cold of the early morning as well as the traffic and parking problems, until I saw Hank Green’s YouTube video where he talked about adulthood. One of the things he said was an XKCD quote “we’re the adults now, we decide what that means”. I’ve seen that quote many times before, but that time it finally clicked. I am an adult now, screw doing the norm! I can get up early if I want! I can be tired the rest of the day and drink too much coffee!
It’s like a light switched on and suddenly I realised how just doing something different can be fun and an experience in and of itself.
The service was very moving and even educational. And while the kookaburras hadn’t stopped their ‘dawn is coming!’ chirping throughout most of the service they all seemed to shut up during the minute of silence.
To keep with the ‘change is good’ song of the day, my friend/roommate and I were watching Sunrise (morning breakfast show on channel 7) and noticed that they were filming just 20 minutes from our house. Not only that, but they brought along one of our favourite local celebrities; Grant Denyer!
What else could we do but hop in the car and drive down. After getting turned around and stopping at the wrong place we finally found a parking spot and started operation: find Grant. As it turns out, operation: find Grant lasted all of ten seconds as we found Grant and a bunch of his PA’s walking towards us. They stopped to get something that was left back as base camp, and I quickly jumped in, telling Grant that we were big fans of him and asking for a photo. He volunteered one of the men with him (Tom?) to take the snap, and my friend and I quickly positioned ourselves on either side of him.
I’ve gotta say, I was quite nervous. Sure, just the other day I got a photo with Wil Wheaton (more on that to come), but that was in the controlled environment of a convention when this was real life. Grant could easily have said no.
That was just the beginning of my amazing day. At 1:45pm I went to see The Avengers in Gold Class 3D at my local cinemas. I’ll write more on that later with an actual review.
I don’t know if there was much of a point to this post. It certainly wasn’t to brag (but it kind of was). I guess if you can take anything away from it, it’s that challenging yourself to do something different can work out to be a very rewarding experience.
Have you had a similar experience to me? Did you go to an ANZAC Day or other commemorative dawn service, or act like a crazy stalker person to track down a celebrity? Please tell me I’m not the only one in the comments!
Thanks,
Kathy

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Blood test

I have to go for a blood test today and I hate them as much as they hate me (whenever I give blood I get really dizzy) so I thought I would look at things that are cute or pretty to cheer myself up:

beautiful shot from the first ep of Once Upon a Time
Prince Charming on his horse
make a wish Emma
pretty wolf...

another pretty shot 

cute puppy sleeping

more sleepy puppies!

Kathy

Monday, April 9, 2012

Be My Kryptonite?

Taken from the Wikipedia page on Kryptonite


The UK group One Direction has taken the world by storm so fast that it's almost impossible to go one day without hearing their songs. And just this morning I heard them on the TV when a certain part of their song caught my attention. The song was 'One Thing', which I don't particularly mind except for this part: "you're my kryptonite/you keep making me weak". 
Yep, the girl to whom he is singing is like his Kryptonite and makes him weak! That’s a horrible thing to say to someone! For those who don’t know, Kryptonite is a mineral from the Superman universe and, while it comes in many different forms among the many different versions of Superman, it always does the Man of Steel more harm than good. After hearing this song I started thinking about this and came to the conclusion that I never want to be someone’s Kryptonite, and neither do you.
  1. Green Kryptonite makes superman weak! Is that the type of relationship you want, constantly bringing him/her down? No way.
  2. Red Kryptonite has a variety of different effects such as paralysis, apathy, selfishness, even hallucinations... in short, it makes superman crazy! Now, we all wanna make our man ‘crazy with love’ but this doesn't make superman more willing to love, at least not one woman if you get my drift.
  3. Black Kryptonite splits his personality! I want my man to be able to trust me with his whole self, not just part of it, and I certainly don’t want to cause him to hide himself from anybody else.


Personally, I'd rather be a Utility Belt. 

Taken from the Wikipedia page on Batman's Utility Belt
Batman's famous accessory helps him in many different circumstances. He doesn't rely on it all the time but he can use it whenever he wants to scale a building or take down some bad guys. Rather than make him weak, the belt makes him strong. Among other things the Utility Belt comes with: but-cuffs, batarangs, master bat-key, batlight, and a flamethrower! Basically, whatever circumstance Batman finds himself in; his Utility Belt can help him out.
So when you’re thinking about your relationship, think about what you give to your partner. Do you make them weak by bringing them down or forcing them to be someone/something they’re not, or do you make them stronger by helping them whenever they need it?
That’s just my two cents; feel free to leave your own in the comments.
Kathy

Friday, March 30, 2012

My top couples who aren't couples

I don't know when, where, or why this thought came to me, but it happened and I wanted to share it with all of you. This is about my top couples who aren't couples. These are people who are so great together but they aren't together in a romantic or sexual way. I guess another way to put it would be examples of great friends. But that doesn't seem to do these people enough justice.


Alex Day and Charlie McDonnell


screen cap from one of their YouTube videos, capped by me
Despite how many times they have told people, neither of these men are gay, but it really doesn't matter. When you watch their videos you can see their affection for each other. They always joke around with each other, but they also help and encourage each other with their own musical pursuits. I would imaging it would be hard being friends with someone who is pursuing the same creative field as you. Art is hard enough without adding the pressure of success, and being friends with someone who could potentially be your competition (in terms of sales, etc) has to have it's hard points. Yet these two always seem to have each others back and are always keen to help. Plus, they're just great fun to watch, either singularly or as a duo.
Charlie's YouTube site: http://www.youtube.com/charlie
Alex: http://www.youtube.com/nerimon


Larry Emdur and Kylie Gillies






Of course, being co-hosts of a breakfast television show you'd have to think that these two have great chemistry—otherwise the show wouldn't work. But Larry and Kylie have such a great friendship that I'm sure the producers never saw them coming. Larry has been in the TV business long enough to know a good thing when it comes around, the The Morning Show is a GREAT thing. This 2.5 hour show gives him the excuse to have fun, eat, and joke around. Oh, and occasionally he may read what's actually on the Teleprompter. My guess is that Kylie was chosen to be the voice of reason between the two. Coming from a background in news journalism, it seems that the producers thought she would be a mature, calming influence on the ex-game show host. They were wrong.
Nine times out of ten Kylie is egging Larry on, and when she says 'no' or tells him to stop, it just makes him to harder... oops, I mean it just spurs him on more. They laugh, they joke, they share stories, they congratulate and mock each other. They're just great fun to watch.
The Morning Show airs channel 7 9am-11:30am Monday to Friday. Website: http://au.tv.yahoo.com/the-morning-show/


Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day

Ah yes, geeks in love. But like I said, this post isn't about romantic couples. By watching anything involving Wil and Felecia (like Eureka or The Guild for example) you can see that they have real love and respect for each other. Their friendship is the stuff of dreams, two geeky people who have found camaraderie with one another. If you follow them on twitter you'll see them both mocking and congratulating each other. These two are so cute together, it's so adorable (or adorkable?)
Wil on twitter: @wilw
Felicia on twitter: @feliciaday



Amanda Tapping and Robin Dunne




While I've been going out of my way on this post to remind you that these people aren't really couples, Amanda and Robin love nothing else but to make people think that they are together. When they go out together for dinner or on a flight they pretend to be Mandy and Rob Bickerson, a married couple who fight all the time. In their scenarios "Rob" is a big drinker who made a fool of himself at "Mandy's" mother's birthday party, and Mandy is a constant nag and cryer. According to Robin, sometimes this act goes too far and the people on set want them to stop. The act is also so real that strangers will often come up to Amanda and tell her that she's too good for Robin!
It takes real friendship and a heck of a lot of trust to act this way with another person, let alone a person of the opposite sex, but friendship and trust is what these two have in spades.
A great video that shows the relationship between these two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fojrJ3EBL_w.


So what does everyone else think? Do you like my choices? Have I missed a couple? Let me know in the comments.


Kathy


Themes: Amanda Tapping, Robin Dunne, Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, Alex Day, Charlie Day, Larry Emdur, Kylie Gillies, fun, funny, couples, relationships

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Thoughts on The Hunger Games movie


I'm not that big of a fan of The Hunger Games books as I am of many others. Don't get me wrong; I have read the trilogy and thoroughly enjoyed all of the books, but I have only read them once and have too many others to read before I can even think about doing a reread. 
But I do love a good movie, and I was excited to see The Hunger Games at the movie. I watched the trailers four or five times in the week leading up to the film, and was determined to see it the first day it came out. Thursday night a big group of friends and I arrived at an aging theatre, loaded up on sugary foods, and entered the darkened room. 
I give The Hunger Games movie 8/10. I really liked it, but I didn't love it. I'd be alright to watch it again at the movies, but if I don't I'm okay with it. Compare this to Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Part 2, which I saw twice, and Serenity which I saw three times. 
I think that the cast and crew did a great job of recreating the world of The Hunger Games. I was a bit worried how they would balance the horror of District 12 with the elaborate-ness of the Capitol but they did it well. If this doesn't win best costumes at the Oscars next year I will not only be surprised but deeply disappointed. 
In terms of sticking the to the truth of the book, I think they nailed it in most parts. The horror of the games and the twisted notions of sacrifice and war came across wonderfully. However, one thing that I felt didn't translate across was the relationship between Peeta and Katniss. In my opinion, in the book you could tell that Peeta was truly madly deeply in love with Katniss no questions asked, but you could also understand why Katniss thinks it all a ploy. In the movie you can see Peeta has love for Katniss but you don't know how deep it is. Likewise, I couldn't work out what Katniss thought about it all. 
I also felt they didn't do enough justice to the Katniss-Haymitch relationship while Kat was in the arena, but the movie did make me love Haymitch even more than before. I've always had a soft spot for the man, and I felt that  book 1 wasn't as generous to him as book 2. Woody Harrelson was amazing. 
The Hunger Games is a great movie and I recommend it to anyone who loves a bit of escapism. 
What did everyone else think of the film? Let me know in the comments. 
Kathy


Themes: katniss everdeen, peeta mellark, gale hawthorne, the hunger games, suzanne collins, young adult fictions, jennifer lawrence, josh hutcherson, liam hemsworth

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A new way of thinking

Yesterday I had to wake up from a perfectly good sleep in order to go to work. Among the initial grouching and cussing at the alarm clock, I ventured out of my nice, warm bed and into the kitchen to make a coffee. While I was waiting for the water to heat up I was suddenly struck by how lucky I am. No, I wasn’t again musing on the fact that I won this awesome coffee machine (although that is an awesome story, click here if you haven’t read it), but I was thinking that I am lucky to HAVE to get up and go to work.
See, many people around the world aren’t in this same situation. While it’s true that some people are out of work because of choice, the overwhelming majority of unemployed people don’t want to be. They want to be out in the workforce making a difference or at least earning their own money. But because of the economy or other circumstances they are left trying to make ends meet on their limited savings and ultimately useless unemployment benefits. Some people are unemployed because they have a disability and they either cannot work or cannot be hired because someone is afraid they aren’t up to the tasks at hand.
I am not disabled (migraines aside), and I spent a great deal of time trying to find paid work in the writing industry. When everything I found was too short term or paid too little to cover the bills I decided to look elsewhere, and was fortunate enough not only to find a great job in the retail/finance sector, but also one where I work with great people.
I am also lucky enough that I can legally be employed. It wasn’t that long ago in the grand scheme of things that women weren’t allowed to hold jobs. Someone thought that women could only marry, run a household, and tend to children. I am lucky enough to live in a time and place where I can not only be given a job but it is downright encouraged for me to have one.
Now, I’m not saying that there is equality in the workplace when it comes to the gender gap, and women are still paid less than men to do the same job, but we have come quite a ways in a short time, and I can only see things getting better.
So while I hate the early mornings and having to commute through peak hour traffic to get to work, I am grateful that I have work at all.
Now please excuse me while I enjoy my day off. 

Kathy

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins



I got this book based off of a review by vlogger Alex Carpenter. It’s a good review so I thought I’d give the book a go. I am happy that did.
Anna and the French kiss is a good book about a year in the life of an American high school student who is sent to a Parisian boarding school by her parents. Her father is a sappy romance novelist whose books are finding fame as films, and to seem more cultured he sent Anna to Paris. Understandably, Anna is not pleased by this. But like all good stories, the main character does not brood for long. Anna soon finds companions and indeed a crush or two, but this isn’t a typical teenage love story.
Perkins does well not to heap the romance in n over the top fashion—that is, if you can call it romance. There are longing looks, but Anna isn’t self-involved enough to believe they are solely for her, or because of her beauty. But that’s not to say that Anna is a wall flower, waiting for the right man to come along and show her how beautiful she really is. Anna is as logical and selfless as any teenage girl; she doesn’t always think the world revolves around her. In fact, when a crush makes a drunken pass at her she denies him because of his own emotional problems, and she doesn’t want to add to them, but that doesn’t stop her from making a fool of herself when she too is drunk later in the novel. Anna sometimes acts cringe-worthy, but Perkins does a good enough job getting into her head that you accept why she acts these ways even if you don’t agree with them.
The characters are believable, if not a bit bland, and the story does gloss over some important aspects of a teenager’s life like picking the right college, but it is a great read and something that people of all ages will like, not just teenagers.
Let me know if you have read Anna and the French Kiss, and what you thought of it, or if you have any suggestions for similar books.

Kathy

Themes: young adult fiction, stephanie perkins, anna and the french kiss, romance, alex carpenter 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dirty Liar by Brian James

Article first published as Book Review: Dirty Liar by Brian James on Blogcritics.





The blurb at the back of the book says that the main character, Benji is “trying not to self-destruct”, and truer words have never been written.
Benji is going through hell just trying to survive. After a traumatic experience with his mother and her boyfriend, he has moved states to live with his father, step mother, and new half-sister. But things are never that easy, and Benji soon realises that you cannot escape the past no matter how hard you want to.

Despite the somewhat negative nature of the book, I really enjoyed reading it. James truly captured the dichotomy of a troubled sole. As much as people say that Benji is just out for attention, the opposite is the truth and all he wants is to be left alone. But when being alone means being alone with your thoughts, that proves to be the wrong course of action.

I love the way that James writes. There’s a certain poetry to the way the sentences flow together and apart. He also doesn’t use the typical grammatical marks for speech; instead he separates speech like so –This is someone talking–This disconnected way of writing works really well to further the fact that most of Benji’s life exists inside his head, and the outside world is just distractions.

I did a little bit of research and found that Benji is actual a character in another one of James’s books called Perfect World so I’m excited to find that as soon as possible.

I recommend this book for teenagers because it will help them to realise that they’re not alone in their thinking, but also for parents because it might help them to understand their kids a bit better.

If anyone else has read this book please leave a comment whether or not you agree or disagree with my views.

Kathy

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Top Female Characters On TV #1

So, the moment we've all been waiting for, queue dramatic music, my top female character on TV!




Murphy Brown!!



Murphy Brown is my favourite female character who was every on television, and I say all the time that she should be granted the honour of best female character on TV for all time. Murphy wasn’t a superhero and didn’t have a superbrain or any other superpowers, and more often than not she got into trouble because she couldn’t keep her mouth shut, but this is what makes her such a great character: she does what she thinks is right all the time, and when she wins it’s because she has tried.

In the pilot episode of the series, we see Murphy coming back to work after a stint in rehab because of her alcohol addiction. This as well makes her more human. Murphy struggles with her alcoholism throughout the show and they portrayed this in a real way. In one episode in particular she offered to sponsor another journalist in whom Murphy could spot the symptoms of alcohol addiction.

Murphy Brown as a series was also one of the best at the time. It was a sitcom, yes, but it brought in a lot of real life politics and opinions. In one of the most famous episodes of the entire series (and personally I think one of the best episodes of TV ever) was where they included a real-life segment of news. Politician Dan Quayle spoke poorly about the series and Murphy’s character in particular after she decided to raise her child alone (the father was a war correspondent, and both he and Murphy felt that his job was too important for him to give up, but he would make an appearance in the child’s life when he could). In response to the speech, the fictional news team FYI devoted a segment to the modern American family, showing that not all single mothers are single by choice; fathers die or go to war or are in jail.

Murphy is my favourite female character on TV for all time because she was strong and brave and human. She stuffed up some times and made mistakes and got angry for no reason, but she was also kind and loyal and (mostly) nice to her friends. She and fellow journalist Frank Fontana had one of the best friendships on TV despite their different genders and competitiveness had one of the best friendships on TV despite their different genders and competitiveness---they never tried to make them have a sexual or romantic relationship either!

It seems that a lot of people either don’t like Murphy or don’t know her because she only got 1 vote on my FaceBook poll. If you are one of those people who don’t know about Murphy Brown then please check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

So what does one else thank about Murphy Brown? After reading my views, does Murphy move higher up your list? Let me know in the comments.

Kathy