Monday, October 31, 2011

Why Cemeteries Confuse Me

I'm trying very hard not offend anyone with this post.

I fully understand the need to have a way to say goodbye to someone who has died. Personally I like the idea of a gathering that celebrates my life, rather than a maudlin affair that mourns my death. And funeral-wise I have always been completely in love with the idea of a Viking funeral. Ever since I saw one in a movie when I was a kid, I thought being loaded onto a boat with all your possessions, set out to sea, and then having people shoot flaming arrows at the boat until it catches fire and burns to nothing, was the most awesome funeral idea. I still think that, but given that I live in Australia, where I'm pretty sure that's not allowed, I will probably never have one.

I don't understand the burying people in the ground and then visiting them. I don't mean to offend anyone who does that, it's just that most people I know who visit the graves of people they have known, also believe that once a person dies the soul goes elsewhere.

Out of 10 people who I know who visit graves, 6 of them believe the soul goes to heaven, 3 say rebirth, and 1 says she doesn't know for sure, she just thinks they're out there somewhere. Which brings me to the bit I have trouble with. If you believe the soul isn't in the body anymore, why are you visiting the body? Would it not make more sense to plant a tree in honour of the person (unless they hated trees in life), or go to an area you know they loved, where you can just sit and think about them, and if their soul is out there somewhere, they'd know about it.

If you do visit graves, feel free to explain to me why, and please don't think for a moment that I'm trying to cause trouble, or invalidate your choice. I just don't get it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Halloween Question

Halloween is almost upon us. I've heard a lot of grumbling about Halloween being an American thing, and we shouldn't be copying them and blah blah blah wingecakes, but I have Celtic and European blood, and they were celebrating All Hallow's Eve long before the Americans had anything to do with it, so I don't have a problem with it, and any doorknockers go away with mini milky ways or chupa chups. (sidenote: I babelfished Chupa Chup the other day, translating in a variety of languages, to see if it actually meant anything. In both Spanish and Portugese it translates to 'absorber of chup' which seems really odd.)

I've seen, in a fair amount of TV shows, and read in a bunch of books, children on Halloween being warned not to accept apples in case they have razor blades hidden in them. Sometimes these warnings are accompanied by a story about how a friend of a friend knows someone whose cousin's kid got an apple, bit into it, and had their mouth cut open by the razor blade.

This has always confused me.

Question: How exactly does one get a razor blade into an apple without it looking like the apple has been tampered with?

I'm not planning on doing it of course, but really, I wonder. Get an apple, get a razor blade. Shove the blade into the apple. I'm pretty sure there'll be a big visible cut in the surface of the apple where the blade got pushed in.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why I Hate American Idol

Just to be clear I'm not a fan of reality shows in general. I like my tv scripted, my actors paid, and when situations are being staged I like knowing it's because that's how a writer and director chose to have it done, not how a producer wants us to believe it happened naturally.

I also have nothing against the winners. I'm a fan of Kelly Clarkson. I think she has an amazingly powerful voice, and in interviews she still seems really normal, not all famey. I also like Carrie Underwood and Chris Daughtry. I never actually saw any of these people perform on Idol because I don't watch the show, I came to their stuff afterwards, but I don't begrudge them their beginnings. (And wikipedia tells me Chris didn't win his season. I don't know who did.)

This is why I hate Idol, specifically the American version, but that's because I don't know how the audition process works over here. If it's the same, then my hate extends.
We spend so much time talking about bullying lately. How damaging it can be, what it can do to people, and all of that is valid. Then we have shows like Idol.

Before any of those people get to see the three judges in the televised audition process, they audtion for some producers. The producers decide who gets to go on TV and be seen by the judges. Some of the people who audition are clearly delusional. They honestly think they can sing, despite sounding like a cat being skinned, and they are completely crushed when the judges tell them they're hopeless and say a whole bunch of other mean stuff.

We all know while some people at home are cringing in embarrassment for these people, some people are outright laughing at them.

These contestants, who should never go past the producer audition stage, are given false hope and told they have a chance. They are being deliberately set up by the show to be laughed at, made fun of, and openly mocked.

It is cruel. It is heartless. It is bullying.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I Want... Ice Cream Maker (and also masses of other things, but this thing in particular is within my financial grasp.) I've thought about it on and off, mostly when realising that by the time I get my store bought ice cream home on the bus it will be all melty, and it always goes kinda weird when it's re-frozen.

Then I thought about it even more when I heard a mention of butter-pecan ice cream, thought it sounded really nice, and couldn't actually find it here in Australia. I looked up the recipe and it seemed fairly easy to make. That, of course, got me thinking about all the other flavours I could experiment with. And I'd definitely use it, at least until March, now that we're coming into summer.

Does anyone out there already own an ice-cream maker? I'm looking for suggestions of what's a good brand to buy. Decently priced, easy to use, not prone to break-downs and whatnot.
And if you have any interesting and innovative flavours you'd like to share, do so in the comments. As long as they don't involve pineapple, passionfruit or coconut, all of which I hate with the fiery passion of a thousand burning nuns.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Weird Dreams Are Weird

I had a dream. Not a noble dream about fixing the world, although that would be nice, just a normal (normal? for me maybe) weird dream.

I was in a barn with Olivia Wilde, filling crates with styrofoam packing peanuts. There was nothing else in the crates, just the packing material. After we'd finished filling the crates and nailing them shut, we went back to my house for a cup of tea. (My normal dream house that I live in every time I dream about a house.)

We'd just settled down in front of the television with our tea when we heard a noise from upstairs. I headed up to check it out, and found a couple I'd never seen before, having sex in the second-floor bedroom. I stand in the doorway and shout "What the hell?"
The woman responds with "It's alright, I'm the real estate agent."
I point out that her being a realtor doesn't actually make it okay, and she says "Well, from an ethical standpoint I can't sell the house unless I've tried out all the rooms."

As I was telling her the house wasn't for sale I woke up.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Fashion Look I Hate

Store bought cut-off shorts with the pockets hanging out.

I don't have a problem with people wearing really short shorts. If you've got the legs for it, good for you, and feel free to show 'em off all over the place.

It's the pocket thing that bugs me. It looks stupid, the bottom of the pockets, poking out from the leg of the shorts just resting on the thigh like that.
I know they're meant to emulate cut-offs that were made at home from an old pair of jeans. But they're not. They were made in a damn factory, so get rid of the stupid looking pockets.

And if you're one of those people that can wear short shorts, get the kind that don't have the pockets. Your legs will look better without them.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cooking With No One: Vegetable Curry.

This is a picture heavy post.

A few weeks ago I was watching a movie called Nina's Heavenly Delights and it inspired me to try making my own curry, without using any store bought curry pastes, or curry powders. It turned out really well, so I made it again, and this time I took pictures.

First I pre-cut a mountain of vegetables. I used potato, sweet potato, carrot, cauliflower and green beans. Of course, these can be swapped out for other veggies depending on personal taste. (I've heard there's some degenerates out there that actually like to have peas in their curry. Horrifying, I know.)

 Cut up 2 onions. Then go and sit somewhere else for a while, cursing the fact that scientists keep developing new treatments for erectile dysfunction, but haven't yet genetically engineered an onion that won't make my eyeballs feel raw. Damn onions.

Once the onion-induced tears stopped streaming, I started making my home-made curry paste.  I began with an entire small jar of minced garlic. Woolworths brand, nothing fancy.

Add a big dollop of minced chili.

A smaller dollop of minced ginger.

A bunch of chili powder.

Some ground cumin.

Garam Masala.

And finally a bunch of tumeric, (Apologies for not having actual amounts here. When I cook with spices, I generally just keep adding until stuff smells the way I think it should. It's worked for me so far.)

Mix thoroughly until you get a fairly unappetizing looking paste, that smells great.

Heat oil in a large pot. Add paste to hot oil and stir around for a little while releasing all the flavours.

Throw in the onion. Mix through paste, and saute for a few minutes, stirring all the while.

 Add the mountain of vegetables.

 Mix them around until they are completely coated in curry paste.

 Add two cans of diced tomatoes. I like the diced Italian with basil, garlic and onion. I use it every time I have something that requires diced tomatoes. (Unless I'm using fresh ones.)

 Mix well. It was at this point I remembered that last time I used my much larger stockpot, and had to swap everything from the pot I was using to the stockpot, as I was having trouble stirring and there wasn't going to be room for the yoghurt.

 Add a large container of natural yoghurt. If you want to go vegan, or know someone who's vegan, you can use some kind of soy yoghurt or whatever vegans might use as a yoghurt substitute. I'm a firm believer in the magical powers of bacon, so I'm not sure what that substitute may be.

 More mixing. I also added coriander, but I forgot to take a photo. Oops.

 Simmer over a low heat for several hours, stirring occasionally so you don't end up with gross burned bits on the bottom of the pot. They're a bitch to clean off later.

Served with Roti bread. Yum.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Diamonds: Recap, Part 2

Part 1 directly below this post.
London: Diamond Model is being interviewed about Denmont Diamonds. When she is asked about the blood diamond trade she tells the interviewer that Denmont only engages in fair trade practices as she has been told.

Congo: Senator Mom is at the diamond mine where Sarah was killed. She is very upset.

Sierra Leone: Boy Soldier and Camera Boy are crossing back into Sierra Leone. They shelter overnight in a broken down old house. The next morning they are caught by rebels who plan to take them to their camp. A group of border soldiers open fire on the rebels and the boys run away.

Canada: Actual Dyson is shooting at blocks of snow. It looks fun. Steph asks him to take her out in the helicopter to do some geophysics stuff my Brother-in-Law would probably understand far better than I do.
They fly over the setup of the opposing digging team  - owned by Denmont. I'd be shocked by this development if I'd never watched TV or a movie before. Actual Dyson is bitching about not wanting to be there. The chopper is shot at and has to land.
The Denmont people claim it wasn't them shooting at the chopper, and they won't help Actual Dyson and Steph get it fixed. They will feed them until they can find a way out though. Luckily they're not quite evil enough to poison their food.

Evil Demont joins Steph and Actual Dyson for dinner, and Steph (rather stupidly in my opinion) starts telling Evil Denmont where she thinks the diamond depositories are. Actual Dyson tells her to shut up. Good call Actual Dyson! Evil claims he wants to help them.

Probably Johannesburg: Another boring meeting with Denmont executives that I will not be going into detail about.

London: Evil Denmont (who must be racking up a shitload of frequent flyer points), is in bed with Diamond Model. I care nothing for this romantic subplot unless it truns out Diamond Model is a secret agent collecting info. It probably won't.

Congo: Senator Mom chats on the phone with her husband. He thinks she is endangering her politcal career. I start to wonder if he's actually just an aide since I'd think a man would be more supportive of his wife's decision to go after her daughter's murderers. After hanging up she heads to the bar and meets with Tape Guy. While they are talking he is escorted from the premises by three big security men. The next time we see him, he is badly beaten and being manhandled out of a car. He is shot in the head. Two mysterious men in another car watch while the shooter leaves the body and drives away.

Johannesburg: Daddy Denmont meets with Evil Denmont, who wants Evan (Evil's younger brother/guy having engagement party way back near the start of part 1), to join the business. Daddy tells Evil that the Russians think Evil is behind the slaughter at the Russian-owned mine in Angola. Evil is dismissive of these claims. Daddy makes it clear to Evil that he will fight to regain control of the company.

Canada: Steph and Denver chat about Evil Denmont saying he wants to help them. Lou will not be happy.  Steph shows Lou where she thinks the diamond deposits are - deep in the ground under a frozen lake. They argue about drilling there, she pulls rank and then threatens to go to Denmont. (Oh noes! Don't be stupid Steph!)

Sierra Leone: Boy Soldier is trying to sell his diamonds to a pawn shop owner. Not happy with the price he's offered he leaves.

London: It has been leaked to the press that Denmont buys blood diamonds. Evil Denmont has been set up by Daddy Denmont. Denmont board members are upset and have a very boring meeting about it.

Congo: Senator Mom is told the guy responsible for the massacre at the Russian owned mine is the guy who arranged Sarah's murder and that it was done on order from the Denmonts.

London: Diamond Model goes to see her activist ex-boyfriend who tells her the Denmont company is evil. She defends them, but it has got her thinking.

Evil Denmont is having a rough diamond cut to go in a ring.

Canada: Steph's team is drilling through the ice into the lakebed. They let her know that the ice is starting to weaken. She tells them to drill deeper even though the ice is softening. I worry they will all fall through and drown/freeze to death.

London: Evil Denmont tries to convince Diamond Model they aren't evil and it's not their fault if the occasional unsanctioned diamond ends up in their possesion. She seems to believe him. He gives her a diamond ring.

Sierra Leone: Boy Soldier and Camera Boy hide out in Boy Soldier's aunt's house. Later they try to sell the diamonds to people outside a diamond exchange but are spotted by the rebel soldier who sent Boy Soldier on his mission. He takes both boys back to his camp.

Congo: Senator Mom calls Daddy Denmont to ask about the man who arranged Sarah's murder. He points out that is no longer the head of the company, but that he will look into it.

Johannesburg: Daddy Denmont's intelligence man confirms that Evil Denmont was behind Sarah's murder.

London: Denmont press conference trying to downplay all the bad press.

Canada: Actual Dyson snowmobiles out to the ice rig to talk to Steph and Denver. Steph is worried they may not find any diamonds. I'm still worried they may all drown.

Sierra Leone: Boy Soldier's boss is going to cut off one of his hands as punishment for stealing from Mohammed. Boy Soldier stops him by promising to take him to more diamonds.

London: Daddy Denmont goes to see Diamond Model. He gives her proof that Evil Denmont is evil.

Canada: Denver and Actual Dyson head up to their old dig site, which is where Lou wants them to be. Steph lets one of the other team members (I'll be calling him Guy)know that she's starting to think there's nothing under lake.

Sierra Leone: After Boy Soldier takes his boss to the diamonds, Boss tries to shoot him. He misses. Boy Soldier and Camera Boy run. After almost being caught Boy Soldier kills his boss and takes his diamonds back.

London: People are protesting the opening of a Denmont diamond store. Evil Denmont is informed that Diamond Model hasn't arrived and goes to find her. He ends up in a confrontation with Daddy Denmont who is planning to sue him for all his misdeeds.

Congo: Senator Mom is giving a press conference about Sarah's killer. The Congolese President is there claiming he wants an honest and open investigation into the murder. We know he's lying.

Canada: Steph and Guy snowmobile out to the ice rig. The team has found diamonds out there. Lou is pleased, and he bonds with Steph. They notice Denver is missing. Steph, Actual Dyson and Guy go looking for him. He's lying in the snow too frozen to move. They get him back to his tent, warm him up and determine he'll be fine. Lame dick joke from Guy. Steph's really upset that she forgot one of her team and he could have ended up dead.

**********I'm breaking up this sad moment with a joke*****************
A man takes his broken down snowmobile to a mechanic.
The mechanic says "looks like you've blown a seal"
Man says "nah, that's just frost on my mustache".

London: Evil Denmont won't answer phone calls from his lackies. He drives past the diamond store with all the protesters, but he doesn't go in.

Canada: The team pack up and say goodbye to each other. Denver has frost in his mustache which makes me laugh to myself, because I decided to tell that joke before I saw this scene. Hah.
We get a really pretty shot of sun shining through the clouds over snowy rocks.
Ohhh pretty.

USA: Senator Mom and Steph visit Sarah's grave. Steph leaves a cylinder containing a diamond sample on the grave. (It will probably get stolen). Senator Mom tells Steph not to feel guilty about anything because Sarah's death is not her fault, and she's glad Sarah was with Steph. They hug. Awww.

Sierra Leone: Soldier Boy and Camera Boy make their way to Sierra Leone Freedom School. They offer the diamonds to the priest in charge. He won't take them, and invites the boys into the school. They join a soccor game with the other students. Happy ending for them.

End of movie.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Diamonds: Recap, Part 1

I was just going to review this movie, but since it turned out to be quite good, and may not be the easiest thing for people to get ahold of, I decided to recap it instead. My messy, handwritten notes were about 14 pages long, so it will be a two part recap. (And will presumably take up far less space now that it's being typed, and I'm editing it down as I go).

Congo: Native Africans working in a diamond mine. They are being watched and recorded by two geologists, Sarah & Stephanie. Just as a teenaged worker finds a large diamond, some Rebel Soldiers arrive. Steph wants to leave because it isn't safe, but Sarah goes to introduce herself to the soldiers while Steph films her. Sarah is shot in the head, and the soldiers open fire on everyone else as they run for cover. Steph drops the camera as she runs. The boy who found the diamond is killed. One of the soldiers pockets the video camera while another takes the diamond from the dead boy.

USA: A republican senator is having a campaign party. The senator is Sarah's mother (hereafter known as Senator Mom {American spelling because she's American}), and she is told of her daughter's death during the party.

Johannesburg: Head of the Denmont Diamond Company (Daddy Denmont) is holding an engagement party for his youngest son, Evan. His older son (Evil Denmont) shows up with the diamond that was taken from the dead boy.

London: A young woman is being prepared to model in a show featuring Denmont diamonds.

Sierra Leone: Diamond mine. Workers are digging for diamonds, then bringing them to rebel soldiers who are underpaying. A worker argues over the amount he is given and is shot by a little boy soldier, who looks to be about 10-12 years old.

USA: Sarah's funeral. Steph is very sad, and feeling guilty that Sarah was murdered as she was in charge of the mission.
If this movie was a graphic novel this would be the point where Steph would swear to avenge her friend's death, and then become a superhero.
It would look like this:

That doesn't happen.

Senator Mom wants to go on a UN backed mission to bring Sarah's killer to justice.

Africa (probably Johannesburg): The Board Members of the Denmont Diamond Company are having a meeting about how the don't control enough of the diamond trade. The Chairmanship is taken away from Daddy Denmont and handed over to Evil Denmont, possibly because he is clearly evil and willing to engage in unscrupulous practices.

Sierra Leone: Boy Soldier is being sent on a mission to smuggle diamonds into Liberia.

Canada: Steph's dad (who is also her boss), has sent her to do some geological survey work with a mining group. She is collected at the airstrip by Lou, a grumpy guy who is not happy she's there. He takes her to a strip clup to meet the rest of the team. I'm not sure if that's because they're hazing her, of if they just hang out there regularly. The guys are largely obnoxious. The pole dancer can't dance and her underwear is a horrible shade of green.

USA: Senator Mom is at a reception for the UN group that will be traveling to Africa. At the bar she meets Daddy Denmont who tells her to look him up should she make it to Johannesburg.

London: Diamond Model has been made the 'face' of Denmont Diamonds. She impresses Evil Denmont with her attitude. Also I'm pretty sure he wants to get her in the sack.

Liberian Border: Boy Soldier makes it to the border checkpoint. He takes the diamonds he's smuggling out of his backpack and puts them a teddy bear belonging to a little kid sitting nearby. He takes them back after they have made it through.

London: Boring meeting about diamonds.

Canada: Steph arrives at the exploration camp. They guy who plays Dyson on Lost Girl shows up and I find him just as skeevy here as I do on Lost Girl. His name is Denver, but I shall be calling him Dyson. Dyson tells Steph the guy she replaced died on the job.

Angola: A previously unseen diamond mine owned by Russians. Some shady looking guys show up and kill a bunch of people.

Congo: Senator Mom has arrived and is being escorted to a reception with the Congolese President. Rich, fancy people sure do have a lot of receptions.
After the reception an aide to the president (or a man claiming to be an aide) gives Senator Mom an envelope he says contains a clue about Sarah's death. It is a videotape with footage from right before Sarah was shot.

Johannesburg: Pointless scene with Daddy Denmont and his wife.

London: Diamond Model is being grilled by Denmont PR people about how to handle questions as to whether Denmont trades in blood diamonds.

Liberia: Boy Soldier makes it to the home of his contact in Liberia, a man who appears to be of Middle Eastern descent, named Mohammed. As he walks in, a boy around the same age is taking photos of him until he is told to stop by his older sister. Mohammed is happy with the diamonds and invites Soldier Boy to stay for a few days until someone can take him back to Sierra Leone.

Canada: Even though the team ask her to sit with them Steph sits by herself at dinner. It's not made clear if this is because she doesn't like and/or trust them, or if she just likes to be on her own. Dyson joins her, and it's at this point I find out that one of the guys on the team is actually named Dyson, so I shall start calling Lost Girl Dyson by his character name, Denver.

After dinner Denver goes to see Steph in her tent and she tells him she thinks they are digging in the wrong spot. She wants him to get everyone together early in the morning so she can show them where she thinks they should be digging.

Lou tells Steph she's wrong and they get into a little pissing match over it. He tells everyone about people dying on her last mission, and for some reason Steph doesn't point out that they were killed by rebel soldiers, which has nothing to do with her skills as a geologist. The team goes with Lou.
Steph calls her dad and says she wants off the mission. He won't let her, and he's being a bit of dick about it so she hangs up on him. She's sad. Awww.

Congo: Senator Mom is taken to a warehousy place by Tape Guy. The have the soldier who shot Sarah tied up, and they've been torturing him for information. Senator Mom isn't too happy about the torturing, but then they show her the rest of the tape, so she sees Sarah's being killed. The soldier confirms that she was killed because of diamonds.

London: Yet another diamond party.

Liberia: The Congolese President shows up at Mohammed's house. They are clearly involved in some shady dealings. Camera Boy takes photos and the President notices and accuses Mohammed of setting him up. In order to prove himself trustworthy Mohammed orders Camera Boy be killed. Boy Soldier shoots the gunman in the head, and after Camera Boy's sister gives Boy Soldier some diamonds she stole from Mohammed's safe, they run away.

End part 1.

Monday, October 10, 2011

DVD stuff

Some of you may remember a while back I posted about how I was on a mission to see all the stuff the Warehouse 13 cast had been in, starting with my TV girlfriend, Joanne Kelly. Some of you may not remember this. I'd link to that post but I'm lazy, and it's basically explained in the first sentence of this post.

One of the things I wanted to see was a TV mini-series called Diamonds. All about the rough diamond trade in Africa and the people that get killed over it. So, like Blood Diamonds, only without having to watch Leonardo DiCaprio. Which is a plus for me because I find him really off-putting. (Other actors I find off-putting: Antonio Banderas, Megan Fox, and sometimes Drew Barrymore, mostly in her real-life appearances, where her cheerfulness always seems really forced and desperate to me. Maybe it is, her life wasn't really a picnic, maybe I'm imagining things, anyway, I've gone off track a bit).

Diamonds. Made as part of a collaboration between the Canadian and South African film industries. Filmed in both countries. And for some reason only released on DVD in Norway. Why Norway, I have no idea. I would have thought they would at least release it in the countries where it was made.

I now have a copy. Because Amazon is awesome, and because the first thing I do with any new DVD player is set it to region free, so I can watch DVDs from anywhere, I ordered it. It only cost $37 AUD including delivery, so I'm happy with the price. It arrived in my post box today, and I spent my lunchbreak making a mad dash into the city to pick it up, because now that my hours have changed, they're closed in the mornings when I pass through the city, and in the evenings when I go back.

I shall watch it when I get home from work, and may or may not do a mini-review, depending on how I feel and/or whether anyone is interested.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Internet Explorer Hates Me

For the past few weeks I've been having some problems with Internet Explorer. It started out with my yahoo mail account. I would click on a new mail, it would open, but no text would load, unless I pressed the forward button (reply didn't work, it had to be forward). Then I could read whatever was in the email.

Next the emails just wouldn't open at all. Since it was happening at work as well as at home, I thought maybe it was a problem with Yahoo. Especially after it had a fit and spontaneously deleted a whole bunch of the emails I could see sitting there, but couldn't read.

Then just as that problem started resolving itself I started having issues with blogger. The pages take forever to load. I can't reply to any posts because even though I have no problem seeing all other images, the little security word shows up as a box with a cross in it.

And the three times I've tried to post here, as soon as I hit the Publish Post button I get an error message.

Luckily I've still been able to do stuff at LiveJournal, since everyone I follow over there has been freaking out about what happened in the Warehouse 13 finale just as much as I have.

So, I've loaded up Safari on my computer. My emails all loaded very fast, and I had no problem reading them. I was able to successfully comment on a blogger post (and then just to check it wasn't a random blogger problem that had been fixed, I tried to comment again using IE and had the same issue as before). Now I'm trying to do a post of my own. If it works, yay!
If it doesn't I will cry bitter tears of frustration. (Well I probably won't because I'm really not a crier, although I did tear up at Warehouse. It was just so sad.)