Beep Beep


Whose bloody stupid idea was it to make cars go beep beep when they’re automatically locked? When you work in a street which is near a shopping centre and people are parking in it all day, this seemingly innocuous sound begins to take on the quality of Chinese water torture. Also, people leave their cars at 3am sometimes, outside houses with sleeping people in them. Didn’t this cross the tiny minds of the perpetrators of this astounding design flaw? Nope, they were too busy devising yet another way for their inventions to disturb the peace. “Engine noise? Check. Fumes? Check. Destroy ozone layer? Check. Annoying little beep beep sound when you lock it? Check! Righto, now for some more refinements to my other masterpiece, the leaf blower …”

Oh, why stop now:

Other Things That Shit Me As I Work From Home
– old men walking by hawking up huge gobs and spitting on the pavement

– council workers parking their trucks just outside and leaving the engine on while they eat lunch

– the same people who feel the need to always shout at each other from one end of the street to the other instead of getting a bit closer to one another

– groups of old women walking by all talking at the same time at about 2000 decibels

– the fact that someone, somewhere in the street is always operating a large power tool, if not a jackhammer

– the house three doors down that has been renovated and painted and now looks like something out of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, ruining the character of the row of houses (I mean – blue walls with grey tiles? Argh!)

– people who leave shopping trolleys from the shopping centre (around the corner) in our residential street – not to mention in great numbers in the park nearby

– the screaming kids next door (of course)

– the damn barking dog a few doors down (of course)

– people who tie their dog up outside the shopping centre, resulting in said dog barking non-stop for an hour

– anyone who goes to the shopping centre and parks in this street instead of the huge shopping centre carpark (see shopping trolleys, above)

– people who eat their crap McDonalds food (from the shopping centre) and then leave all the wrappers in the grassy area at the end of the street

– going to the shopping centre and seeing hugely overweight parents feeding their hugely overweight children McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken at bizarre hours like 9am and 4.30pm

– I’m sure there are more

Corporate Greed


Cross City Ripoff

Regular readers may recall that back in March of last year I posted the transcript of a letter I sent to CrossCity Motorway Pty Ltd with the toll fare and fine I was forced to pay after accidently stumbling through their badly signposted bloody cross city motorway.

Well, just a couple of little updates on that one—Fire sale as tunnel price plummets and Tunnel owes taxpayers, too.

The traffic flow was a third of the estimates. The tunnel is now worth a third of what it cost to build. Banks and investors are hundreds of millions out of pocket. Unpaid phone and electricity bills. Even staff are owed holiday pay.

It never ceases to amaze me that banks and corporate organisations will spend hundreds of millions on a complete fuck-up which could have been completely avoided if they’d asked the opinion of few people in the street. We didn’t want existing roads changed to funnel cars into their tunnel, and we didn’t want to pay a fortune for the privilege of using it. I won’t use a toll road that forces me to buy an automatic electronic payment system (extrapolate how that will ultimately be abused). Of course, the real fat cats responsible won’t be touched—as usual, it will be the taxpayers who suffer for their greed.

I’m sick of having to pay extra for basics that should be covered by our taxes. Hopefully this debacle will bring up short the greedy bastards who think building roads and tunnels is a licence to print money. The people of Sydney have spoken!

Toy fair takes an ‘adult’ turn


Toy fair takes an ‘adult’ turn

You are coming to a sad realisation. Cancel or allow?


You are coming to a sad realisation. Cancel or allow?

The Virus of Faith


Religion“Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.” Steven Weinberg

I strongly urge you to watch this documentary by Richard Dawkins, which takes a good, long, hard, rational look at the damage that religion is doing to the world, and the bigotry and fundamentalism it is perpetuating. There are some truly frightening people out there, fully convinced that their version of truth is divine truth, and determined to drag us back into a dark age of ignorance. And what is even worse, they are indoctrinating the adults of tomorrow with their own twisted version of reality.

How many times has the cry echoed throughout history while the most horrific atrocities were committed: “God is on our side.”

I hope, without much hope, that one day the human race will wake up to itself and abandon primitive superstition. Only then can we hope to embrace tolerance for our fellow humans, ethical behaviour untainted by the expectation of reward or punishment, and fully enjoy all the wonderful diversity of which we are capable. Now that would be heaven on earth.

The Code to the Kingdom of Stupid


CodeI received this little beauty in my mailbox today. I immediately rang the Reverend over at Tetherd Cow to share the good news, and in the brief pauses between my indignant splutterings he suggested I blog it. Or if you don’t want to, he went on, send it to me and I’ll blog it. Hold on, he said triumphantly, let’s both blog it!

Calm in the knowledge that his finally honed sense of the ridiculous would be the perfect foil to my impotent outpouring of rage at the stupidity of mankind, I agreed to a world first: a simultaneous posting by Headless Hollow and Tetherd Cow on the same subject!

Let’s have a good look at this gem, shall we. From a design point of view, we have here a classic example of jumping on the bandwagon long after the bandwagon has left town. Note the pseudo-Da Vinci Code stylings. Let’s sit in on the design meeting …

Client: “I was thinking we should make it look like that Da Vinci code movie, because those sinners out there are all obsessed by that stuff, and if we do it in the same style, we might actually trick them into believing that it has something to do with the Da Vinci code and get them to read it before they realise that it’s actually a Christian flyer, ’cause then we’ll actually be fooling them because we’ve subverted the style and are using it for our own worthy cause and we’re therefore not only being culturally relevant but cleverly twisting around the whole sinful Da Vinci concept into a pure and Christian one!”

Designer: “OK. I’ve got this clip art picture of a Chinese dragon I can use.”

But wait, no sub-Christian spin-off church flyer is complete without those two classics—the clean WASP mother with her clean WASP baby, pointing off to the wonderful new horizon just ahead (“we’ve got the Code—and money—and you don’t!”), and the troubled WASP teenager, her face partly in shadow, wondering “what’s it all about? Should I let Bobby feel me up, or will I burn in hellfire for all eternity if he touches me there?”

Now, about this Code … sorry the Amazing Code to Real Hope, Spiritual Peace & Happiness®. Shit! I’m not safe! I don’t Know the Code! Quick, tell me! All I can say is, lucky for me it’s all Free!

Look, if you’re Christian, and you feel you really must bother other people with unsolicited mailings, at least be upfront about it goddammit! Don’t treat me like a complete frackin’ idiot! The truly horrifying thing is, there are no doubt people out there who will be fooled by this transparent marketing junk into actually giving away their contact details. Receiving the postcard in their mailbox, their thought patterns go like this …

Hmm, something to do with the Da Vinci Code, great … everyone’s into that … though I only got three chapters in when I was on the beach last Christmas, but the movie’s got Tom Hanks in it, so it must be ‘serious’ … wait— True Happiness? I could do with some of that! The kids are screaming and my husband is having an affair and my life is meaningless and empty and Dr Phil just doesn’t seem to be giving me all the answers anymore … and it sounds easy, I don’t actually have to question anything or put any effort in, I just need to be told The Code and I’ll finally find the answer to all the confusing non-black-and-white situations that life keeps throwing at me every day … wow, I’m sending this in! This is really it this time!

Two weeks later in the newsagent … Shame that Code thing didn’t work … hmmm, what’s this paperback? ‘Six Easy Steps to Real Hope, Spiritual Peace & Happiness’—wow! I’m buying this! This is it! This is really it this time!

Which Science-Fiction Writer Are You?


Which Science-Fiction Writer Are You? I’m
Samuel R. ‘Chip’ Delany … shame I’ve never read any of his books!

Film Review: Casino Royale

Comments Off on Film Review: Casino Royale

Casino Royale

I have to admit, James Bond is a guilty pleasure, even more guilty since I recently got around to reading the Ian Fleming series (I tracked down a whole set of the 60s Pan editions, with their beautifully designed covers) and experienced some of the dodgy writing, casual racism and full-on contempt for women that characterise the series. Despite the innumerable flaws however, there’s a reason James Bond has become one of the most enduring of cinematic characters, and the books are such entertaining page turners, perfect for plane journeys—he is seriously, unremittingly cool.

Of course there have been times (Roger Moore *cough*) when the filmakers completely forgot this essential fact. To give them their due, take a look at the average 70s haircut and wonder at contemporary definitions. But Bond was never supposed to be cool in a fashionable, trendy way. He was cool in a hard, uncompromising, lone wolf kind of way.

Director Martin Campbell and writers Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Paul Haggis get it. The first stroke of genius was casting Daniel Craig, whose steel blue eyes and craggy face are perfect for the role, not to mention the acting chops he brings with him. It’s a breath of fresh air to see emotional depth in the lead character’s eyes in a James Bond film. I can only shake my head in amazement at those who campaigned so vehemently against his casting, and wonder if they ever read the books.

The second stroke of genius was abandoning all pretence at there being a chronology (the films have never followed the order of the books anyway) and taking Bond back to his first assignment. This is more character development that we’ve seen in the last ten films put together (with the possible exception of some of what happened to Brosnan’s Bond in Die Another Day, before it got very silly).

Of course there’s an alluring girl, Eva Green (Vesper Lynd), an interesting if slightly undeveloped bad guy Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), and a convoluted plot. Thankfully missing is the villain’s huge underground/undersea/in space lair, the dumb gadgets and stock funny Q scene (in the books, Bond often bemoans the fact that he doesn’t have any gadgets to fall back on). Present and accounted for is torture (Bond is captured and tortured surprisingly often in the books), incredible action sequences (the opening is one of the best chase sequences I’ve ever seen), tense gambling sessions in expensive European hotels, and real danger and visceral punchups. The writers have obviously had great fun shaking things up (“Shaken or stirred?” asks a waiter. “Do I look like I give a damn?” shoots back a pissed off Bond). Of course there are a few flaws—most notably the plot gets messy towards the end and loses momentum.

But this is the best thing that’s happened to Bond since Connery. How long can it last? Not long I suspect. Another director will eventually bring back the lame humour and derivative phrases. But if you’ve ever enjoyed a Bond film make sure you catch this one. And next time you get on an airplane, enjoy one of the books.

Four cane chairs out of five.

Film Review: Pan’s Labyrinth


Pan's Labyrinth

Guillermo del Toro has come into his own with his new Spanish-language film Pan’s Labyrinth, a stunning journey through two parallel worlds of cruel reality and uncompromising fantasy.

I was lucky enough to see this film over a month ago when we won free tickets to a sneak preview, and now that the film is in the cinemas it’s a pleasure to see it receive such wide acclaim. del Toro has definitely realised the potential he showed in relatively mainstream fantasy actioneers such as Blade II and Hellboy.

Pan’s Labyrinth tells the story of Ofelia (Ivana Baquero), a young girl forced to live with her ailing mother and cruel stepfather in the countryside of Spain in 1944. Her sadistic Fascist stepfather Capitán Vidal (a frightening Sergi López) is determined to rid the area of Republican sympathizers who are hiding out in the woods. The harsh reality of this story is interwoven with Ofelia performing several dangerous tasks given to her by a faun (Doug Jones) she encounters in a labyrinth near the house, who tells her she is the rightful princess of the underworld.

To his credit, del Toro doesn’t let either of the threads of his story—the real or the fantastic—dominate, but skillfully weaves them together, allowing each to reinforce the other. The fantastic world can be cruel and horrifying—the incredible Doug Jones is a very scary child-eating, tottering creature called the Pale Man whose skin hangs in loose folds and sees through eyeballs in his palms like stigmata—but the real world can be equally so—Vidal tortures and kills members of the resistance without emotion. While sometimes difficult to watch, the reality of both worlds is reinforced by the unflinching violence. This is not a film for kids, parents, even if it is about fairy tales!

Ivana Baquero plays the young Ofelia with an ‘unprocessed’ innocence and intensity, in sharp contrast to the cocky little adults Hollywood so often casts as children. Also excellent is Maribel Verdú, whose performance as the housekeeper is a lynchpin of the film.

Not surprisingly, the film looks stunning. It’s obvious that del Toro has thrown his heart and soul into this film, and any interview with the director will tell you how devoted he is to the telling of fairy tales—fairy tales, thankfully, in all their raw, original state, still dangerous, not the Disneyfied, G-rated versions.

Four and a half chalk lines out of five.



When good boardgaming goes bad

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