Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween? Pff.

So over the past month, I've had quite a number of tweets that were all "WHAT DO YOU MEAN AUSTRALIA DOESN'T DO HALLOWEEN/PUMPKINS/THING I CONSIDER NORMAL FOR OCTOBER????".

I was going to write a blog post about it, but then it all got too complicated and long winded and I made a vlog instead. I'm not sure that it really explains anything properly, but my brain feels slightly less rambly so I guess that's a good thing?

Aaaaaaaaand I just realised that I left out this entire spiel I had planned about how Halloween makes no sense here because a decent chunk of the customs involved date back to Samhain, which was all about keeping your family and livestock safe through the winter and holding back the darkness. OH WELL...



Happy Halloween, kiddies.

K xx

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Scariest Covers


Time to link up with the Broke and the Bookish again!

I have to say, I'm an epic wuss when it comes to horror. I rarely read it, I rarely watch it (except for Supernatural, which is more creep-tastic than full blown horror), and if I see the little red "HORROR" sticker on books at the library, I tend to give them a wide birth. That said, here are ten covers that I've come across over the years that have creeped me the hell out.

1. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Source

I had a Sherlock Holmes illustrated omnibus as a kid, and the Hound of the Baskervilles was on the cover. I can't find the exact edition, but the one I had featured an enormous dog with red eyes and glow-in-the-dark drool. I had to hide the dust cover whenever I read it otherwise I had nightmares. This cover is pretty terrifying too. 

2. The Meanest Doll in the World by Ann M. Martin & Laura Godwin
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I came across this one the other week while volunteering at a primary school library, and WHO THOUGHT THAT COVER ART WAS OKAY?? 

3. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
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Zombies give me the mega wiggins. I didn't even get to the first zombie in The Walking Dead before I had to turn it off, and I hid through most of Shaun of the Dead. This book is lucky it was hilarious enough to get me past the cover.

4. It by Stephen King
Source
One that I haven't read, but instead had the misfortune to pull off the shelf while picking up a copy of Salem's Lot. NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE.

5. Dracula by Bram Stoker
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This is the Penguin Classics edition that I have, and I've always been completely freaked out by his pointy eyebrows. Especially when combined with that widow's peak hairline. 

6. Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
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This one is mildly creepy on its own, but when you add the content into the equation, it becomes downright terrifying. Do not read this book when home alone at night... *shudder*

7. Chain Letter 2: The Ancient Evil by Christopher Pike
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Despite being an epic wuss about horror books, I LOVED Christopher Pike in high school. The stories weren't THAT scary, but the covers were pretty bad. (Now, they just look dated - check out that font!!)

8. Pet Sematary by Stephen King
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Another one that I had the misfortune to pull off the shelf at the library while trying to get at something else. That cover art combined with bad spelling? NOPE.

9. Night of the Living Dummy by R.L. Stine
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Yeah, we all know that Goosebumps books are hilarious rather than creepy in hindsight. But this cover, much like ventriloquist's dummies, is all kinds of scary. 

10. Pretty much anything by Richard Laymon
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His books seem to have been republished in the past few years with covers that are more stark and less busy, but there's something about the font and the imagery used on the covers of any 90s edition that just makes me shudder.

What are you reading this Halloween?

K xx

Monday, October 28, 2013

Movie Monday: Scream


Given that it's Halloween on Thursday, this seemed an appropriate choice. I'm an epic wuss when it comes to all things spooky. There are still occasions when I watch Supernatural from behind a pillow/my hands. So when it comes to horror movies, I'm firmly on the Nope Train. Except when it comes to Scream. Because way back in the dim dark past of 1999, the English curriculum included something called a Communication Project. We had to form pairs or threes, and develop a project that required us to work with others from outside the school to do something like hold a masquerade ball or a formal, or put on a play, or host a presentation about something.

Em and I decided that we were going to make a spoof version of a horror movie. And we decided on Scream. We watched it approximately 500 times while writing our script, roped a bunch of friends into starring in it, and then filmed about two scenes because it took FOREVER to do anything. How we were planning on editing our movie, I have no idea...

ANYWAY. That's a really long winded story about why I love the crap out of Scream when I can't stand horror movies.

Reasons why Scream is awesome:
1. Drew Barrymore. She may only be in one scene, but it's a pretty damned fabulous scene.

2. Murder-y trivia competitions.
3. Neve Campbell. She doesn't stand around screaming when she gets attacked. She fights back every step of the way.
4. The ridiculous costume Ghostface wears.
5. Matthew Lillard. He's so fabulous at being an asshat. And this line is solid gold:
Source
6. Cell phones as a giveaway that someone might be the murderer.
7. David Arquette and Courtney Cox.
8. Sid punching Gale in the face.
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9. Ridiculously oversized scissors.
10. Henry Winkler. That's right, the Fonz is in it. And he's fabulously awful.
11. Video stores.
12. Rose McGowan.
13. Speaking of, let's add death by garage door.
Source
14. Sid impaling Billy with an umbrella spike.
15. Death by giant 90s television.
16. The hilariously awful 90s costumes. Especially Gale's.
WHAT IS THIS SUIT??? Also, source.
Plus, the following quotes:
- "That is SO sexist. The killer could easily be female!"
- "Liver alone! Liver, liver. It was a joke..."
- "He's my superior!" "The janitor is your superior."
- "How does it feel to be almost brutally butchered?"
- "Oh, now that's in poor taste. If you were the only suspect in a senseless bloodbath, would you be standing in the horror section?"
- "There are certain RULES that one must abide by in order to successfully survive a horror movie. For instance, number one: you can never have sex." "BOOOOOOOOOO" "BIG NO NO! BIG NO NO! Sex equals death, okay? Number two: you can never drink or do drugs. The sin factor! It's a sin. It's an extension of number one. And number three: never, ever, ever under any circumstances say "I'll be right back." Because you won't be back." "I'm gettin' another beer, you want one?" "Yeah, sure." "I'll be right back."
"See, you push the laws and you end up dead. Okay, I'll see you in the kitchen with a knife."
- "There's a formula to it, a very simple formula. EVERYBODY'S A SUSPECT!"
- "Careful. This is the moment when the supposedly dead killer comes back to life, for one last scare." "Not in my movie."
- "You sick fucks. You've seen one too many movies!" "Now Sid, don't you blame the movies. Movies don't create psychos. Movies make psychos more creative!"
- "Where do you get this shit?" "Ricki Lake."

What's your favourite scary movie?

K xx

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dessert Day - the ANZUS edition

That's right, yesterday was Dessert Day. And this time, Deidre and I had an extra special guest - my BFF Kat, who's in Melbourne for a week! And FINE, she's still Australian. But she's been living in New Zealand for like a millionty years now, and I really wanted an excuse to refer to us as the ANZUS trio...

ANYWAY.

The day started with me determined to get to the meeting point before the others. I left home 15 minutes before we were due to meet - said meeting point is about two minutes walk from my house - and arrived to find both Deidre and Kat already there. Obviously, my reaction was "DAMMIT!!!", because I was so determined to not do my usual "leave the house when Deidre texts me to say she's already there" routine. Womp womp.

We were typically vague about what we were actually going to make, and did the usual stand-around-in-the-supermarket-Googling-recipes-on-our-phones routine. We ended up deciding on cinnamon rolls and a chocolate swiss roll. After some Googling, we decided on Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls and Smitten Kitchen's naturally gluten free chocolate roll cake.

There was also an awkward moment in which I was totally in the way and a voice behind me said "Excuse me, ladies", and I turned around to see two police officers with a shopping trolley, and my immediate reaction was "OH GOD, WHAT DID I DO???" rather than "Oh, they can't get past me". Awkwardness followed, because OBVIOUSLY.

ANYWAY.

We started by making the roll dough (we only made a half quantity because 50 cinnamon rolls = TOO MANY CINNAMON ROLLS), except we didn't have the necessary enormous saucepan, so we tipped the liquid into the many cups of flour rather than the other way around. This may explain why it didn't rise as much as expected. Or it could be because my yeast is a bit shit and needs replacing... Either that or gluten free stuff just doesn't rise the way it should...

So we left the dough to think about what it had done, and got on with making the swiss roll. It was surprisingly easy, right up until the point where we had to take it out of the tin and roll it up in a wet tea towel to cool. Then there was much "Oh God"-ing and "WHAT IF IT BREAKS??"-ing, but luckily Kat's argument that it would be delicious even in crumb form was a convincing one and we pressed on successfully.

Then it was time to assemble the cinnamon rolls. We cut back quite dramatically on the quantity of butter we used, because REASONS, and mixed the sugar and cinnamon together before sprinkling it on:

Then it was time to roll! It was less stressful than anticipated, possibly because we'd rolled the dough out on baking paper, so we were able to use that to get us started:

Then it was into the pan! I think we were all a little hesitant about whether or not they'd work, because they still weren't doing the whole rising thing very well despite the presence of both yeast AND baking powder. But we ploughed on regardless:

While they were in the oven, we whipped up something that vaguely resembled the glaze that Pioneer Woman's recipe called for. We skimped on the butter again, used milk instead of coffee, and used maple syrup instead of maple flavouring. Once they were out of the oven, we drizzled the glaze over the top:




Then it was time for the most terrifying part of the day - unrolling, filling, and rerolling the swiss roll. It was pretty much as scary as anticipated, especially when a couple of cracks developed. But we managed get it assembled without the entire thing falling apart - WIN! (The tea towel seemed appropriate, given Kat's presence)





And so to the verdicts:
- The cinnamon rolls are pretty damned tasty, but had a slight gluten free aftertaste. They were definitely better warm - the cooler they are, the more they taste like a big greasy gluten free mess.
- The chocolate swiss roll? AMAZING. I might reduce the amount of cream next time because there was more cream than cake involved. But it was fabulous - light and fluffy and completely and utterly delicious. My mum rated it 25 out of 10, which gives you some indication of how tasty it was. Basically, y'all should go make one immediately.

Which one would you go for?

K xx

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Unusual Character Names


Time to link up with the Broke and the Bookish again!

Today's topic was to do with character names - either our favourites or the most unusual ones we've come across. I've gone with unusual ones, because my full name is pretty damned unusual so it's nice finding those who would also suffer from "Sorry, what? Could you spell that for me?"syndrome if they were real. Oh, and I'm discounting the entire Harry Potter series, because I could make a top ten list just from that!

Rincewind from Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. Goodness, Pratchett comes up with some fabulous character names. But given that Rincewind is one of the characters that started off the Discworld series, it seems fitting to go with him.

Katniss Everdeen from Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games series. Oh, Katniss. You poor baby. No one should have to live with a name that rhymes with "piss"...

Cather and Wren from Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl. As much as their mother was an awful character who I couldn't stand, I kind of loved the idea of her being all "Twins? Oh well, split the name I'd picked in two!"

The Montgomery Overbores from Alysia Gray Painter's Wilfair series. Oh, goodness, I love these characters and their fabulous names. Even if it DID take me approximately half of the first book to work out that Gomery was short for Montgomery. Well done, Kirsti. Well done...

Karou from Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. Her name is unusual AND full of meaning. Awesome.

Temeraire from Naomi Novik's Temeraire series. Okay, so he's a dragon which means that weird names are kind of par for the course. But he's a major character, and it's not even a name that can be shortened effectively!

Sophronia Temmennick from Gail Carriger's Finishing School series. Gail Carriger loves her bonkers character names, and this one is pretty damned spectacular.

Cricket Bell from Stephanie Perkins' Lola and the Boy Next Door. Cricket has a pretty stupid name, especially when you come from the part of the world where it's a sport rather than an insect, but he's completely adorable so I forgive him for it.

Jericho Jones from Libba Bray's The Diviners. It's a pretty great name, you have to admit.

Margo Roth Spiegelman from John Green's Paper Towns. Look, Margo's kind of an insane character, but her name is pretty fabulous and I love it that she's consistently referred to by her full name.

So. What are your favourite unusual character names?

K xx

Monday, October 21, 2013

Movie Monday: Hairspray


Sometimes my brain wants to not think. Obviously, when this happened last night, my brain turned to musical theatre.

Reasons why Hairspray is awesome:
1. Nikki Blonsky.
Source
2. Awesome barrier breaking.
3. Amanda Bynes. I miss sane Amanda Bynes so much...
4. The music OH GOD THE MUSIC.
5. Zac Efron, even though he's a total babyface.
Source
6. The costumes. Oh my God, the costumes. (Did you ever realise that Penny's dress at the end is made from her bedroom curtains?)
7. Christopher Walken and John Travolta. Ahahahaha OHGOD.
8. The hairstyles. Solid gold win.
9. James Marsden.
10. It's an honest musical in which a whole stack of shit is far from perfect.
Source
11. Michelle Pfeiffer.
12. Riding to school on a garbage truck.
13. Brittany Snow.
14. Sleeping on a bed of whoopie cushions.
15. Elijah Kelley.
Source
16. Singing about hairspray. And then having coughing fits when they cut to an ad break.
17. Queen Latifah.
18. Civil rights.
19. Allison Janney. She steals practically every scene she's in.
Source
20. Entrances via rocket ship.

Plus, the following quotes (not including song lyrics, on account of I would never stop quoting if I included those):
- "It is my...obligation...to announce that Amber von Tussle..." "...is about to get out-danced!"
- "Miss Wimsey, what am I supposed to do? Hair can't just lie there like a dead thing on your cheeks!"
- "Brenda will be taking a leave of absence from the show. How long will you be gone, Brenda?" "........just nine months."
- "I'm very pleased and scared to be here." "Now, honey. We got more reason to be scared on your street."
- "Penny, get home before your mother shoots you."
- "So, you two better brace yourselves for a whole lotta ugly comin' at you from a neverending parade of stupid." "So, you've met my mom?"
- "I get who Caesar is, but what's the ideas of March? How can a month have an idea?"
- "Sorry, little darlin'. Hope I didn't dent your do."
- "I want that chubby Communist girl off the show!"
- "This is just SO afro-tastic!"
- "First the hair, now this?" "But, all the kids are battin' up their hair now, hon." "You're no help." "It's ratting, daddy. And our first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy does it!" "I don't believe that." "What do you mean you don't believe that? How else would it look that way?" "I believe that it is naturally stiff."
- "If you protest you'll be in files! You'll be on lists! J. Edgar Hoover will still be wire-tapping your cold dead body in the grave."
- "I don't know why we have this room, but there's food, water, a bed, gas mask, Russian language books..." "...and it's really well insulated."
- "It took me five years to figure out you were flirting!"

So. Thoughts?

K xx

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Nerdtasticness

Remember this time last year when I had Must Be Thrifty, her boyfriend Cheap Geek, and our high school bestie L over for Mexipalooza? Almost a year to the day later, the four of us were together again. With an additional 80 or so people, because MUST BE THRIFTY AND CHEAP GEEK GOT MARRIED!!!!!! And it was quite possibly the most geek-tastic event I've ever had the pleasure of attending.

First of all, Cheap Geek and his family entered to The Imperial March from Star Wars. As played by MBT's nephew's bossa nova band. Awesome. Said band also provided much of the music for the evening, which included the theme from Super Mario, a selection of songs from The Lion King, the Doctor Who theme, the Futurama theme, and the cantina theme from Star Wars. In short, the music was made of solid gold win.

Also made of win? The teapot that was used to serve the tea for the semi-traditional Vietnamese tea ceremony:

The table decorations consisted of old boardgames, a variety of teapots filled with flowers, and completely hilarious books - there was a cowboy book on our table called "The Leather Slapper" and the verso listed other books from the same publisher, which included "The Two-Fisted Cowpoke", which had half the table cackling with laughter. One of the other books on our table? A guide to Chinese cookery from the early 1950s. It included this delicious sounding recipe...
Excuse you, that is acceptable as NOTHING EVER.

The food was TO DIE FOR. I honestly thought that the vast quantities of hors d'oeuvres that graced the buffet with their presence over the course of an hour or so were dinner. But no. They were just the entree. And were followed by a main course, cheese plates, dessert, and wedding croquembouche. Complete with Lego MBT and Cheap Geek on top, because OBVIOUSLY.



In keeping with the "normal weddings are boring" theme, the bride and groom had a first lawn bowl (the wedding AND the reception were at a bowls club) instead of a first dance, and instead of tossing the bouquet, we played bouquet bingo, complete with wedding related bingo calls!


It was definitely the most relaxed wedding I've ever been to - the bride was mingling with guests when I arrived - and also one of the most enjoyable. It may not have fitted what a lot of people think a wedding should be, but pff. It was awesome, and it totally fitted Must Be Thrifty and Cheap Geek!!

Congratulations, guys. Hope you're having a spectacular honeymoon.

K xx

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

101 in 1001 #69

On Friday, my mum and I headed into the city for her VERY belated birthday present (her birthday's in August) - afternoon tea at The Hotel Windsor. I'd completely forgotten that I'd put "have high tea somewhere nice" on my Day Zero list until I was writing my post last week about seeing Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. YAY HAPPY COINCIDENCE.

Interestingly, since writing my Day Zero list, I have discovered that high tea is the poor people term for such an event, on the basis that it was all fancy compared to their regular lives. And while it may have been fancy compared to my regular life, I'm going to go ahead and call it afternoon tea like rich people did back in the day, because I went to snooty private school and I can. Or something.

ANYWAY.

That's The Hotel Windsor. It was built in 1883 and started its life as The Grand. It's pretty much opposite State Parliament at the swanky end of the CBD.

And here's what they presented us with when we sat down:

Yes, we got one of those EACH. Mum, as you can see, got a slightly different one to me because hers was all gluten free. Five finger sandwiches, five petit fours, and two scones. Plus, a glass of bubbly each. And fourteen different kinds of tea.


Hello, deliciousness. Two eclairs - one caramel, one lamington, a lemon meringue pie, a mille feuille and a teeny tiny piece of sacher torte. And yes, I ate all of them and then regretted it.

But I honestly think my favourite part was the scones. With a healthy dose of raspberry jam and clotted cream added, they. were. TO DIE FOR. I'm not usually a big fan of scones - they make your teeth squeaky for some weird reason - but for these? I instantly changed my assessment of scones. And no, there are no pictures of said scones because I was too busy shoving them in my face. Sorry not sorry.

Hell, even the TEA was enjoyable and I'm not a tea drinker. Okay, so I had peppermint tea, which isn't *really* tea, but whatever...

Anyway, I'm thinking that I may have to try out the afternoon tea spreads at other fancy hotels around Melbourne. You know, for comparative purposes...

Have you been to a proper afternoon tea?

K xx

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top ten books you were "forced" to read


Time to link up with the Broke and the Bookish again!

Today we're talking about books that we were "forced" to read, whether they were for class, for book club, or because friends were all "You haaaaaaaaaaaaaave to read this!!!". I've gone with a selection of books I loved and books that I really wasn't a fan of, because obviously you're not always going to like something someone else is making you read.

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
I had to read this for Year 10 English AND Year 12 Literature. I can remember - ridiculously vividly, I should add - getting my school books in January, and looking at the cover of the Penguin Classics edition and groaning because it just looked SO. FREAKING. BORING. I started reading it in the back of the car one day when my parents decided that we should go out for a drive (because OBVIOUSLY I had all my books for the year read before school started), and not wanting to put it down because I was so engrossed in the story. I've loved it every since.

2. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
I read this out of sheer desperation because I'd run out of books and it was the only book available in English at the "book store" at the airport in Guatemala City. It kept me distracted, but mostly I spent the time it took me to read it thinking about how much the addition of Buffy Summers would improve the storyline. 

3. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
There was a time at the start of the year when literally half my Goodreads timeline was "OMG, I CAN'T WRITE A PROPER REVIEW OF THIS BOOK BECAUSE SPOILERS. JUST READ IT." I inevitably bowed to peer pressure and wrote my own review very much along the same lines. Seriously. If you haven't read it, you should go and do so immediately. 

4. Trainspotting by Irvine Walsh
In my first year of undergrad, I took English on the basis that I didn't know what my fourth set of subjects should be (the other three were Archaeology, History and Ancient Greek), and English had been my best subject at school. So I ended up doing a subject called Text, Criticism and the Visual, in which we read books, then watched the movie adaptations, and compared the two. It was pretty awesome, but this book? Took me FOREVER to get through, because the only way to understand about 60% of it was to read it out loud in a bad Scottish accent.

5. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
As I've mentioned approximately a dozen times in the course of this blog, my first exposure to Harry Potter was in 1998 on a flight from London to Melbourne. The ten year old son of a family friend had fangirl flailed about them to us repeatedly in the previous week. My mum - who was on a different flight to me because mine had been booked as part of a school trip - handed me the first two books at the airport, and was like "Read them on the plane and tell me what you think". The rest is history.

6. Fly Away Peter by David Malouf
This book is only 135 pages, but it took me about a week to read it. This was one of our exam texts for Year 12 English (the other was Cabaret), so we had to read it and analyse it approximately a hundred times and then write a never-ending string of essays about it in the lead up to exams. Ornithology plus World War One? SNORE. There's a reason it's on a Goodreads list titled "Read these in school - would rather have a root canal".

7. Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
Another first year uni English subject book, this time for a class called The Classic Victorian Novel. I'd seen the BBC mini-series when it aired in 1999, so I knew the storyline already. But I wasn't quite prepared for just how much I would adore this book. And having seen the mini-series, I was completely unprepared for the book to just END, practically in mid-sentence. Damn you, Elizabeth Gaskell, for dying before you finished the story!! 

8. Un Lun Dun by China Mieville 
I had to read this last year as part of a book group assignment for a class on YA recreational reading. It was interesting in that when I read it, I mostly enjoyed it but was puzzled by certain elements. But in the course of the discussion, the things we disliked seemed to bounce off each other and snowball into a giant blob of "I DID NOT LIKE THIS BOOK". At the end of the day, I think its biggest problem was that it would have worked better as a series of short stories - it was trying to do too much at once, and wasn't 100% sure of its target audience.

9. Van Diemen's Land by James Boyce
I had to read this for work a couple of years ago, and it's one of the most engaging history books I've ever had the pleasure to read. Boyce is a fabulous writer and if you're interested in Australian colonial history, it's definitely worth checking out. I loved pretty much every second of it.

10. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
This was another one that I had to read for first year English, and I hated it more or less from the get go. I despise all the characters, and the story just dragged on FOREVER. I don't think I've ever been so glad to finish a book in my life. 

So. There are my ten. What are yours?

K xx
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