Sunday, November 25, 2012

Dumb Ways To Die

Here's a public service announcement that people are finding so amusing, it's became a viral sensation! 14 million hits so far!
When viewers realise it's a safety video, they're gobsmacked! The Melbourne Metro Lines safety reminder Dumb Ways To Die is now the most successful ad of this kind in Australian history.
Metro Lines spoke with its employees about dumb things they've witnessed in and around train stations: "Staff were complaining about some of the dumb behaviour people exhibit on our networks. So that's where this evolved from, and we work-shopped the best way to reach young people."
Trains are the most predictable things on earth and, to be brutally honest, if you decide to walk across train tracks between the platforms and don't see a train coming and get hit by it…well, it's your own dumb fault. The decision to mix morbid subject matter with saccharine levels of cute is what ultimately makes this funny and memorable.
Dumb Ways To Die is making people laugh around the world and hopefully this PSA will help them avoid their own dumb way to die.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Merry CRASSmas

Japan's cuisine is usually associated with the delicate flavours and textures of sushi...
but its national airline has opted for a completely different festive meal: KFC chicken!
Japan Airlines is serving Colonel Sanders' chicken fast-food menu on US- and Europe-bound flights, for three months from 1st December.
Each Air Kentucky meal will consist of a chicken drumstick and breast fillet with a cup of coleslaw, lettuce and bread.
JAL recommends passengers either "savour the same, unique taste of KFC’s trade secret recipe of '11 herbs and spices' as it is, or as a sandwich by sandwiching the fresh lettuce leaves and fragrant fillet in the bread, and topping it off with special mayonnaise".
Christmas in Japan is a mostly commercial festival celebrated by young people and KFC is a popular choice for a meal on December 25th.
KFC's website says its popularity on Christmas Day stems from the early 1970s, when US expats in Japan began buying its chicken as the next best thing to turkey, which was not readily available. The company says young Japanese soon picked up on the idea and the fried meat rapidly became a festive fixture.
Yeup, never let seasonal sentiment stand in the way of crass commercialism...

Friday, November 23, 2012

Down, Boy, DOWN!!

"The time has come," the Walrus said, "to talk of many things..." *
...and now at an acceptable volume!
TVNZ, MediaWorks and Maori TV have agreed on compression technology that currently makes tv ads much louder than shows. NBR reports while the agreement offically starts 01 Jan.2013, TVNZ says it'll start this Sunday.
But the big question is: why do stations raise the ads' volume? Well, they don't really. And when they rattle off their pat reply (that "the ads are no louder than any of the other programming we broadcast - they just sound louder"), they're telling the truth. Sorta.
Y'see, a tv prog has a mix of audio levels - loud and soft parts. Most advertisers don't want soft parts. They want to grab your attention. To do that, the audio track is electronically processed (compressed) to make every part as loud as possible within legal limits: nothing is allowed to be subtle. It's all loud - the voices, music, sound effects (eg: like those godawful Big Save Furniture ads!). So the PEAK levels of commercials are no higher than the peak levels of prog content. But the AVERAGE level is far higher, and that's the level your ears care about. If someone sets off a camera flash every now and then it's one thing, but if they aim a steady spotlight into your eyes it's another, even if the peak brightness is no higher.
NBR says the biggest issue for broadcasters will be ensuring that content meets the new standards. Loudness measurement is a fairly new concept - audio mixers aren't used to it yet, and hardware and software to measure it isn't that common. Overseas, USA passed the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (or CALM) in Dec.2010. France also moved to regulate blaring ads. Canada's new tv ad volume rules began last Sept. Here, broadcasters seem to have successfully headed off regulation with their own efforts.
Independent consumer research in July revealed 94% of 18-54yr.olds noticed the difference between ad and prog volumes. Presumably, the other 6% were deaf.

* ...extract from The Walrus and The Carpenter - Lewis Carroll]

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Tumultuous World Of Television

If it ain't broken, why fix it?
NZ tv viewers are constantly scratching their heads, with change after change in local television, seemingly for no other reason than...change.
As of next year, TV One's 9-noon Good Morning morphs into a shortened, one-hour form, with no guarantees that hosts Rod Cheeseman and Jeanette Thomas will be there.
Good Morning lost viewers after it ditched former hosts ex-sportsman Brendan Pongia and all-round nice gal-next-door Sarah Bradley at the end of 2011. Mind you, Pongia was sooooooo metrosexual that he came across as gay (er, that's in the '70s sense!). But Bradley was a definite loss - she WAS Good Morning and seemed to relate perfectly with the target demographic.
Good Morning's ratings took another hit when The Shopping Channel launched at the beginning of October. However, TVNZ says the new channel had no bearing on its decision to reduce the show from three hours to one. Riiiiiiiiight. The show has been attracting around 70K viewers this year against the Bradley version at 80K.
Just who'll front Good Morning will be announced in the new year. Perhaps Paul Henry??? Sorry, really bad joke! Y'see, TVNZ faced "internal opposition" in its newsroom over proposals to offer the dickshit a role fronting the 7pm replacement to Close Up on TV One next year. In other words, if he walks in here, we walk out!
"I am da GREATEST!"
Henry, in an "exclusive" NZ Woman's Weekly story: "TVNZ did offer me the job as host of the show to replace Close Up." He whose Ten Breakfast show crashed and burned, says he is "by far the best person to do the job".
Oh, puh-leez! TVNZ says PH was approached (along with other potentials), but not offered the job. Henry had a non-compete agreement with NZ's MediaWorks for the Australian Ten Network, and this prevented him going back to TVNZ as it would have been a breach of contract. However, if a legal bypass had been found, the proverbial would've hit the fan among staff.
So who'll get the 7pm and Good Morning slots? TVNZ's not exactly awash with fresh talent these days. Gotta wonder then why it keeps constantly fiddlin' with its shows: too much of that, and it'll go blind!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tourists Do Matamata

Sleepy little Hobbiton will be shaken awake by the tromp-tromp of thousands of orc feet very soon!
A record number of tourists on a pilgrimage to JRR Tolkien's Middle Earth are expected in the once sleepy Waikato dairying town of Matamata.
Numbers through the tourist info office are expected to double to around 400,000 in the coming year, following the world premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Part 1 at the end of this month.
Sue Whiting, manager of the Matamata Public Relations Association, says the town now knows what to expect following the release of a Tolkien movie, having enjoyed three films in 2001, 2002 and 2003. She expects the first of the Hobbit trilogy to break the 2004 record of 360,000 visitors to Matamata and edge close to 400,000: "We went from an average 50,000 visitors a year before the first film in 2001, to a record of 360,000, the year after Return of the King in 2004. We've never really stopped since then and there's massive interest in the new movie."
Set builders, returning the Hobbiton movie set on a sheep farm near Matamata to a film-ready condition over the past few years, have helped boost the local economy. And the new improved Hobbiton employs around 50 staff including 10 gardeners.
The veil of secrecy around the movie set (which attracts hundreds of visitors per day) has finally been lifted. And Hobbiton with its hobbit holes has been restored to its former glory for The Hobbit trilogy. Sir Peter Jackson has also enlarged the set with additional hobbit holes - that's 44 in all.
From Hobbiton's lakeside Green Dragon pub, rebuilt for The Hobbit after being burned to the ground for The Return of the King, punters will be able to enjoy a swift beer as they conclude their tour of the set.
PS: 24 Nov.2012 - The Hobbit jet is revealed!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hitchcock Is Back!

If you like films, there's been a lot to enjoy in 2012.
If you're a real (or should I say 'reel'?) cinema buff though, you'll have been eagerly awaiting the latest from that iconic master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock.
Yes, I know he's been dead since 1980...and yes, it's not really his latest film either...but now, thanks to the National Film Preservation Foundation, you can see his oldest surviving film.
Lost for decades, The White Shadow (1924), is the earliest surviving feature credited to Alfred Hitchcock, and it's now screening on the National Film Preservation Foundation’s website.
The first half of this mysterious melodrama, starring Betty Compson as twin sisters (one angelic and the other "without a soul"), turned up last year among a cache of unidentified American nitrate prints at the NZ Film Archive.
The film is one of 176 early long-unseen titles recovered through a multi-year preservation collaboration of the NZ Film Archive, the American film community, and the National Film Preservation Foundation. Some 70% are thought to survive nowhere else! Already 24 other films are available for free viewing on the NFPF website.
The film will run for two months, but not in its entirety. Y'see, the first three reels of the six-reel film are the only remaining pieces of the film that we have: just 43 minutes' worth. With Hitch credited as an art director, assistant director, editor and writer, the film is a melodrama that also stars his future wife, Alma Reville.
The White Shadow is an intriguing historical film document, and it's great to be able to see it online. Though directed by Graham Cutts, Hitchcock's hand is all over the picture. Enjoy!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Stamping A Kiwi Feel On Xmas

NZ Post has launched its 2012 Christmas stamps, adding a unique koiwoi touch to a traditional theme.
The nativity scenes are bordered with Pohutakawa flower motif (the Pohutakawa tree is known as the New Zealand Christmas tree as its red flowers bloom in the festive season).
Each of the five Xmas stamps tells part of the Nativity story:
70c - Mary and Joseph with the newborn baby Jesus.
$1.40 - the shepherds who were tending their flocks nearby.
$1.90 - the angel who shared the news of Jesus's birth.
$2.40 and $2.90 - the three wise men travelling to worship Jesus, and presenting him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

...meanwhile, NZ is stuck on Middle-earth once again, with the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. NZ Post's set of six stamps features key characters from the film:
70c - Bilbo Baggins: Bilbo's comfortable life changes forever when he is unexpectedly swept away on an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor.
$1.40 - Gollum: Once a hobbit-like creature named Sméagol, Gollum's body and soul have been poisoned by the power of a small plain gold ring he's kept hidden deep in a dark cavern.
$1.90 - Gandalf: One of the most powerful Wizards in all Middle-earth, Gandalf the Grey joins the quest to reclaim the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from a fire-breathing dragon, Smaug the Terrible.
$2.10 - Thorin Oakenshield: A strong, fearless fighter and respected leader of The Company of Dwarves.
$2.40 - Radagast: Forgetful, easily distracted and quite eccentric, Radagast is a fellow Wizard and friend of Gandalf the Grey.
$2.90 - Elrond: One of the wisest and most ancient of the Elves remaining in Middle-earth, Elrond is Master of Rivendell.
Lick 'em and stick 'em, folks!
PS: 24 Nov.2012 - The Hobbit jet is revealed!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What Did He Expect?

Life in maximum security doesn't agree with mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik.
He would like butter, a new pen, more comfortable handcuffs and a view, thank you very much!
The Norwegian extremist, convicted of the murders of 77 people in 2011, is serving 21yrs in max-security near Oslo. But Poor Diddums is not happy with the accommodations... even though his three-cell suite has a television and exercise equipment (yes!!).
I really AM a nice guy, you know.
In a 27-page letter to officials, this bastard recently bemoaned the "800" strip searches he has undergone. He says he'd enjoy more social interaction, because he's alone with just his thoughts for "23 hours and 55 minutes" on a typical day and speaks only with his guards. He's denied a computer or internet access to prevent him from spreading his racial hatred bile. He's also complained about being supervised while shaving and brushing his teeth and, because of the "mental strain" this causes, he's forced to limit those activities to once a week. Nor is he permitted to keep hydrating skin cream, and his quarters are drab and without a view. Switches for his lights and tv are outside his suite of cells, which means he has to call the guards to turn them on and off. Breivik dislikes handcuffs too because the steel edges cut into his wrists, and he dreads putting them on for each trip outside his cell. Without a thermos, his coffee frequently goes cold. Awwwwwwwwwww!!!
But wait, there's more! He's complaining his phone calls and mail are unfairly censored, that his freedom of speech is being violated. Only correspondence from "New Testament Christians and other people who do not like me" has reached him in recent months. Breivik would like to pursue his literary ambitions while in prison, he says, but those aspirations are being thwarted by the stab-resistant safety pen he's been provided, "a nightmare of a tool" that causes his hand to cramp. The pen is "an almost indescribable manifestation of sadism," he writes... though presumably it didn't stop him from writing his lengthy letter of complaint: "I highly doubt that there are worse detention facilities in Norway." No, he's probably right, but then Breivik is considered the most heinous offender in modern Scandinavian history. But his lodgings are commensurate with Norway's typically humane treatment of its convicts.
As I previously speculated, Norway has made a rod for its own back, keeping this piece of filth alive and well. A spell in a gulag would soon straighten him out...and save on a return ticket!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Who WAS James Bond?

James Bond.
To most of us, that name conjures up the fictional British spy from the popular 007 film franchise. To some people though, the real "James Bond" in their lives was never a secret agent.
Not even close, according to family history website It recently dug up 7,672 records of "James Bond" and discovered real-life James Bonds held an array of occupations. Their jobs included orchid grower, photographer, pattern maker, clerk and labour foreman, among other gigs far removed from the thrills of the handsome, fictional spy. FindMyPast unearthed these details by searching through US Census records, UK passenger lists and other historical documents.
One James Bond in the early 1900s lived an aggressive life, landing in Irish courts multiple times for various crimes, going so far as assaulting and beating a complainant. Another seemingly preferred a quieter life and, at one point, got annoyed after someone knocked on his door - that James Bond took the door-knocker to court!
In the 1920 US Census, both "James Bond" and "Golde Finger" (a close spelling of 007 antagonist Goldfinger) appeared. And someone with the name of "Q Branch" pops up in an outbound UK passenger list from 1927 as a chemist. Q Branch is a made-up British Secret Service division in the Bond novels.
...meanwhile the new 007 film Skyfall is blitzing the box office overseas, and opens in New Zealand on November 22nd.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Cathedral Demolition Stopped

A High Court judge has halted demolition of the earthquake-savaged Christchurch Cathedral.
Late yesterday, the judge extended a ruling to stop demolition work until a judicial review has taken place. The review was sought by the the Great Christchurch Building Trust (GCBT), which argues the owners are under a legal obligation to restore the existing cathedral. Justice Lester Chisholm allowed the review, saying there was considerable public interest in the issue. However he agreed with the owners that they were only legally obliged to either repair the existing cathedral or build another on the same site.
After the Feb.2011 EQ, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) said the cathedral was unsafe and needed to be demolished to 2m high, but Chisholm today ruled they were not required to act on that.
Earlier this year, the GCBT commissioned a report that claimed the cathedral could be safely restored. In October, it sought a binding court ruling on whether the Anglican Church's deconstruction plans breached an act of Parliament protecting church buildings. However, the Cathedral Trust has maintained restoring the historical building would be unsafe and they cannot affort the $100m cost to repair it.
EQ Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says the last-minute decision is to "placate the masses", while Bishop Matthews says the cathedral has become a way for councillors to regain their reputation with Cantabrians.
But in light of this decision, one wonders just how many of CERA's other rapid demolition decisions - for example, the loss of Cranmer Courts - may not have been legally binding...and just how much of a bully and a bulldozer Gerry "Who ate all the pies!" Brownlee actually is!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Breakfast Is Toast

Australia's Channel TEN has finally axed its breakfast tv, after 9mths of subjecting ever-decreasing numbers of citizens to the puerile prattling of that loathsome and unpopular New Zealand host Paul Henry.
...and he can't even tuck
his damned shirt in either!
Following ratings that nosedived faster than a faulty Qantas jet (just 40,000 viewers nationally a day), Paul's Henry's Breakfast will end on November 30. That's the same day that many of the 100+ TEN staff who've been given redundancy will have their last day at work.
Before Breakfast was cancelled, resentment was so high against Henry that staff were threatening to boycott the Christmas party if he turned up! "Staff feel he is being protected while they lose their jobs. The mood is savage in the newsroom. Staff won't look at him when he walks in the room."
Henry boasted of securing a $1 million contract from TEN: it's unclear whether that was $1m for three years or $1m for every year, but either way, he's likely to be paid out at least part of that.
The whisper is that Henry is tipped to head up a new project at TVNZ - but TVNZ will neither confirm nor deny. It is possible it's re-hiring the dickshit to present the new 7pm show replacing Close Up, planned to start on TV One next year. It's a show he's always wanted to front, but he shot himself in the foot when he made fun of Indian minister Sheila Dikshit's name on TVNZ Breakfast.
Yea, BITE me!
If he does come back to TVNZ it'd be to a very different environment. News is now run by Ross Dagan, far more conservative than his predecessor. It's doubtful that Dagan would take the risk that Henry has mass appeal and would work at 7pm. And the newly announced executive producer for the show is also conservative...the complete opposite of Henry.
Can you see Puerile Paul thus working well at 7pm? Hmmm, methinx not.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Torches Not Required

New Zealand's stargazers will want fine weather today, to see a partial solar eclipse blot out up to 91% of the sun.
Solar Saros 133, the series of eclipses which last appeared almost two decades ago, is due to begin at 9.18am today over Auckland, reaching maximum coverage at 10.28am.
At its point of "maximum coverage", the sun would appear as a slim crescent - but will not have a significant effect on the amount of daylight.
Stardome's honorary astronomer, Grant Christie: "If you've got safe solar viewers, you'd see a bite out of the sun. The partial eclipse will gradually get bigger and bigger until it'll look like a crescent shape, a bit like a moon, so the sun won't be a circular disc any more - it'll be a sliver of itself."
Over Auckland, about 87% of the sun would be blocked out, compared with up to 91% in Northland but less than 60% in the far South Island.
Christie expects thousands of Kiwis from outside the astronomy community will be watching for the eclipse today: "You have to go back 20 years to see anything like it. And to see anything better you'd have to go back to 1965, when there was a total eclipse visible from NZ in the Far North."
Stargazers hope the weather will be good, but frankly, it's been a pretty cloudy spring...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ahhhhhhh, Vienna!

It's pants down, and on with the job!
Brace yourself for Europe's biggest brothel, with 147 rooms and parking for buses.
Planned to open in 2014 the giant brothel (officially dubbed the "FunMotel"), will have capacity for 1,000 'guests' a day with around 150 sex workers employed. It'll also have 350 parking spaces and a 3m high perimeter wall to ensure privacy.
Peter Laskaris, the Austrian businessman behind the project (who already operates a brothel in Vienna), says the glitzy bordello's "four-star hotel" facilities will be the sex industry's shift from "grocer to supermarket". The FunMotel will offer "swinger parties, gangbangs and "porn stars" along with more mundane hotel attractions such as restaurants, beauty salon and gym.
[Laskaris featured in the news during the last northern winter... when he offered homeless people free rooms in his brothel during the cold spell. As temperatures hit minus 20 in Vienna, he offered ten people a night a bed in his Red Rooms Laufhaus for free, including a hot shower and a hot meal. But he made it clear that other services were not included.]
His new brothel will be built at a still-undisclosed location near the Austrian capital: "We've deliberately spread false information about the location to avoid trouble before we had the authorisation to go ahead, but it'll be situated in a location that doesn't bother anyone."
New Viennese regulations requiring brothels to have official permits made locating the FunMotel in the capital an impractical option. But local authorities and the police have already given their consent to
this project.
...meanwhile, a public hearing continues today on a proposed 15-storey super brothel in Auckland's CBD. Brothers John and Michael Chow's plans to build the Penthouse Club on Victoria Street West (opposite SkyCity Casino) include a brothel and entertainment facilities.
Perhaps the Chows might have more success if they too relocated their brothel to a country area, and bussed the bonkin' boys in!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Macca Makes It - Just!

It was nearly 'game over' for Sir Paul McCartney and his wife.
A just-released report shows how close Macca came to death on May 3rd! He and his wife Nancy had been heading home via helicopter when the pilot became disoriented in bad weather and plunged towards trees by the helipad on their East Sussex estate. With just a metre to spare, the pilot managed to lift the chartered Sikorsky away from the rain-lashed tree tops, and eventually landed at an airport about 15 miles from their home. The couple were unaware how close they came to crashing.
The UK's Department of Transport is investigating the near-miss. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has categorised the episode as a 'serious incident', which it defines as 'involving circumstances indicating that an accident nearly occurred'. According to its report, the minimum reading from the helicopter's altimeter was two feet! The report also reveals flying conditions that night included low cloudbase, poor visibility and rain. Despite this, the pilot pressed ahead and prepared to land on the helipad, which is in the corner of a field encircled by woodland. While manoeuvring, he became disoriented and the helicopter descended towards tops of trees. The pilot then executed a go-around or aborted landing.
The £5million 9-seat helicopter was chartered from Air Harrods, which describes itself as the leading London-based business aviation service provider. The firm counts ex-UK PM Tony Blair among its clients, and charges around £3,000 an hour.
Air Harrods: "Harrods Aviation can confirm that an incident took place on May 3 involving an Air Harrods helicopter. We are working in full cooperation with the AAIB which are currently investigating the incident."
And from Macca's camp: "Paul has been spoken to. It has been put to him, everything. It's a no comment."

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Alive - But Dead

The good news: they're not extinct.
The bad news: two extremely rare Spade-toothed beaked whales, a 5.5m mother and her 4m calf, beached themselves and died in New Zealand in 2010...only now have the two skeletons been identified as belonging to this species.
Though discovered in 1872, no one had ever seen it alive. Scientifically known as Mesoplodon traversii, it was named after Henry Travers, a NZ naturalist who collected a partial jawbone found on Pitt Island in 1872. Since then, a damaged skull found on White Island in the 1950s and another found on Robinson Crusoe Island off the Coast of Chile in 1986 are the only evidence of the species. It's hard to believe this is the first time an entire whale has been seen, considering it's over 5m long!
The reason so little is known about these whales is that they're thought to live deep in the Pacific Ocean and come up to breathe infrequently. Rochelle Constantine from the University of Auckland: "It may be that they are simply an offshore species that lives and dies in the deep ocean waters and only rarely wash ashore. New Zealand is surrounded by massive oceans. There is a lot of marine life that remains unknown to us." Scientists hope the discovery will provide insights into the species and into ocean ecosystems.
The two whales were discovered on the North Island's Opape Beach near Opotiki, on New Year's Eve 2010, but they were mistaken for the more common Gray's beaked whales. It was only after DNA analysis that their true identity was revealed. Perhaps this pair will teach scientists more about the elusive Spade-toothed beaked whales. Luckily their size makes them uneconomic for the Japanese to "research" them...

Friday, November 9, 2012

And The Headlines Screamed...

I often despair at the standard of modern journalism...
The rush to be first with the story instead of checking the facts again and again, the burning desire to thrust a monster zoom lens into someone's private life, and let's not forget the creation of a searing headline to catch the reader's eye!
Regularly, newspapers shoot themselves in their mouths...and don't we gloat! I believe this was a Daily Mail fox-pass from 2007. Duuhh!
(Also spot the grammatical error in that first sentence: "series" is singular, therefore "has revealed"! Ahh, quality journalism...*sigh*)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How Gay He Doth Speaketh

Our prime minister is vying with Prince Philip for the title of Prize Pillick.
Twice in a week, John Key opened his mouth and fell into a yawning chasm. Last Friday, he told some students that ex-Manchester United football star David Beckham was as "thick as batshit"! The comment raised the ire of such high-quality UK rags as The Mirror...
So Johnno, did you really say that? "Someone thinks they overhead a conversation I had. I'm not going to engage in that, because otherwise I am going to engage in every conversation someone thinks I had." But did you call Beckham thick? "No, what I'm saying is that somebody has overheard a personal conversation and that's their recollection of it."
Beckham's brainpower's been questioned before - via his own lips:
"My parents have been there for me, ever since I was about seven."
Are you a volatile player? "Well, I can play in the centre, on the right, and occasionally on the left side." On faith: "We're definitely going to get Brooklyn christened but we don't know into which religion." And let's not forget, he also married 'Scrawny Spice', so it's fair to say Beckham's not the brightest star in the galaxy...however he does play for LA Galaxy and has over NZ$300 million (while NBR lists JK as worth a mere $50m)!
JK takes one for the 'gay' team?
But wait: there's more! Johnno's second fox-pass! Yes, with all the world's other issues, its rotation stopped because the Prime Munster said a radio host's shirt was a "gay red top".
Key defended his verbage, saying it meant 'weird': "Young people use it all the time. I don't think many people would be offended by it."
Of course, prior to it becoming an idiom for 'odd', and after it meant 'happy', 'gay' was associated with! Thus, into the One Ring charges Gandalf the Gay Grey - English Lord Of The Rings/Hobbit wizard actor Sir Ian McKellen who is'happy'. He says the
PM should watch his language: "I'm currently touring schools in the UK attacking homophobia and discouraging kids from the careless use of 'gay', which might make their gay friends and teachers feel less about themselves. I do hope Key appreciates their concern. Careless talk damages lives." So have I got this right? This Knight of The Realm is saying gay people would have their lives damaged if their friends called them gay? How 'weird' is that! How precioussssssssssssssssss!
Green Party MP Kevin Hague (also 'happy') says gay NZers don't take too kindly to being called 'weird'. "The basis for the comment is in homophobia...with all of those negative traits of being hopeless, awful, terrible, useless." Hmmm, so let's see - 'happy' folk can call each other 'faggot', 'twink', 'queer', 'dyke', 'troll', 'bear', 'fairy', 'queen'...but others can't use the idiom 'gay'? Wow, methinx someone has an inferiority complex!
While an adult using the teenage idiom 'gay' to mean 'weird' needs to stay in his own demographic - where there's already the word 'weird' to mean 'weird' (as well as creepy, flaky, outlandish, curious, strange, peculiar etc etc) - I also feel there's a helluva lot more for the world to worry about, than the PM's flippancies - 'happy' or not!
Update: And just to add more 'weirdness' to the mix, this Friday 9th. has been declared Gay Red Shirt Day, by some parents on Facebook, who say that just because a definition is in the dictionary doesn't make it acceptable: "We want to destigmatise the word 'gay'. As parents of children who may or may not be gay, we're standing up for their future." Very preciousssssssssssssssss INDEED!

PS: 21 Nov.2012 - PM goes "gay" at meeting in Cambodia...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

If It Ain't ART, Then What IS It?

An exercise machine with a penis - Jason Beca does it again. Ruffling feathers, that is!
The self-taught Kapiti artist's latest creation has now been removed from an exhibition at Porirua's Pataka Museum.
His piece, called Sex-a-size, is an abdominal machine with a wooden phallus attached. It was displayed with no warning that the exhibition was R18. Complainants were not so much offended by the exhibit, but more unimpressed with the lack of warning. Even the museum's GM Darcy Nicholas agrees: "I've been part of the arts scene for a long time, and every now and then, someone does something funny that you can laugh about. But this piece, I think, was far too graphic." He's had the sex-ercise machine removed. "It's not fair on the other artists for people to be distracted by a large wooden penis, which totally takes away from the quality of the other work."
Beca claims the gallery wanted a 'show-stopper', which is why he brought it in. But this is not the first time his work's been in the controversial news files: his Alice in Wonderful Land (a solid timber chair decorated by large laminated fake $100 bills, a video camera and two armrest monitors) was well discussed over connotations of eroticism and voyeurism.
Other work has included a Tardis time-travelling bed which folds down into a bed...and a lamp made out of a Barbie doll and a road-kill hawk. He attached the wings to the doll, replaced the doll's legs with the bird's claws, and now she sits in a bird cage and can be lit up!
But is this latest work actually art?
Art historian John Stringer thinks not. He points out that penises appear in art of all cultures and are not considered obscene, but "'s about context. Beca's work is silly and provocative with little artistic merit. It is merely sexualised erotica.''
So there you have it! Would critics in 1504 have said the same about Michelangelo's David?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Google Gaffes Again

A Google map error has transformed Manukau Harbour into New Zealand's second largest lake!
The harbour, the country's second largest, sits on the SW coast of Auckland, with Auckland Airport located on the rim. The harbour's entry is squeezed between Huia and Wattle Bay but, if you're referring to Google Maps, then it's not water between those two areas...but land instead (don't tell Auckland's rabid property developers - they'd be onto that fresh slab of land like rats up a drainpipe!)
You can see the mistake right there in the standard Google Maps, while the correct image appears on Google Maps' satellite version.
It's the latest in a long run of recent gaffes by internet giants when it comes to maps. Apple's new maps unveiled in September placed Timaru Airport in Christchurch, and Dunedin Airport 30km from where it actually is.
Elsewhere in the world, it dropped the Norwegian town of Leknes into the Norwegian sea, a farm became an airport, highways led to the the middle of nowhere, and a hospital now covers the entire centre of UK city Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare's home!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hobbits CAN Fly!

Air New Zealand's latest in-flight safety video has gone where no airline has gone before: deep into Middle Earth.
Called An Unexpected Briefing, it features hobbits, wizards and elves. The video was inspired by the upcoming film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It features Oscar-winning director Sir Peter Jackson along with various cast members (eyes open for Sir PJ about 1'38" into the vid - you can't miss him! He won't get an Oscar for his acting skills, but he's having fun nonetheless!). There's also Mike and Royd Tolkien, the great-great grandsons of The Hobbit's author, JRR Tolkien.
The release of An Unexpected Briefing marks the official start of Air NZ’s two-year global marketing programme dedicated to The Hobbit trilogy. A coming feature of the airline's support of the films will be a themed aircraft that'll be unveiled prior to the movie's global premiere in Wellington at the end of this month.
PS: 24 Nov.2012 - The Hobbit jet is revealed!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Disney Vader

First, it was Winnie the Pooh, then the Muppets, and now the beloved Star Wars franchise is following suit. Is there any end to the insatiable appetite of Disney?
"The Force will be with you
(and my bank account)...always."
The Walt Disney Company announced this week that it's buying Star Wars director George Lucas's company, and plans to revive the classic sci-fi series starting with a new movie in 2015.
Disney chief Robert Iger: "The deal combines a world-class portfolio of content including Star Wars, one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney's unique and unparalleled creativity."
Lucas says it's "time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers."
If bringing the Disney touch to the next series of Star Wars sounds like just the thing to make the next trilogy better than the last, then you'll buzz to know that Episode VII is due out in 2015.
If not, you'll be horrified to know that we should expect to see a new Star Wars movie every two years from here on, even beyond the planned Episode IX (yeup, that's right: NINE!!!), and Star Wars will soon be invading resorts as well as a theatre near you.
Lucas: "Disney's reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products."
Yoda must be spinning in his tiny little grave!
The acquisition comes after Disney's takeover of animated film giant Pixar and comic book character-driven Marvel Studios. But why? Why? WHHHYYYYYY??? scream the purists. Well, NO-one in their right mind would turn down an offer of US$4-BILLION, would they??!!! And Lucasfilm is 100% owned by Lucas. Chick-ching!

Friday, November 2, 2012

To Hell With The Ross Sea

Hell, why on earth would anyone want to protect the Ross Sea...when their fishing boats could strip-mine it first? Get REAL!!
A bid to safe-guard the Ross Sea's pristine eco-system with the world's largest marine protected area has failed. NZ and the US had proposed a 2.27m sq km reserve, including a 1.6m sq km no-take zone, but yesterday the 25-nation Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) failed to agree. Not surprisingly the talks fizzled after fishing nations blocked progress.
In particular, Russia and China hid behind procedural concerns and made it impossible for constructive dialogue to occur. The Ukraine forgot the conservation mandate of CCAMLR completely, pretending not to know that fishing interests are not the only consideration. Korea and Japan have a long way to go if they want to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. Stopping Ross Sea commercial fishing is a "no brainer"... yet even NZ wants its share: last year's catch of 730 tonnes means the Ross Sea toothfish industry has a $20m export value to NZ companies. So NZ can't hold itself up at conferences like these, and try to look holier-than-thou...
At the end of the day it all boils down to financial gain and wanting a piece of the action, despite what the public wants. Public support for Antarctic marine protection had grown significantly this year with more than 30 international environmental organisations convening and amassing more than 1.2m calls for large-scale protection... what should that tell the powers-that-be?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Air NZ, We're Not Laughing

Blenheim didn't see the funny side of Air New Zealand's Hallowe'en promotion.
The airline jumped into the spooky spirit yesterday in its on-line
Grab-A-Seat site, by giving its domestic destinations Hallowe'en names like Spookland (for Auckland), Spellington (Wellington) and Witchchurch (Christchurch). Yea, I know, hardly side-splitting, right? But it really hit a bum note when it referred to the town of Blenheim as Beastheim.
Marlborough District Council Mayor Alistair Sowman ain't laughing: he's sick of the town being associated with Stuart Murray Wilson, one of the country's worst sex offenders. Wilson, dubbed the 'Beast of Blenheim', was paroled under strict release conditions in August. He served 18 years of a 21yr.sentence for multiple sexual and violent crimes against women, children and animals in the Blenheim area.
Beastie boy...
Mayor Sowman says nobody wants to be reminded of the former resident, and he's concerned about victims in the area who are trying to get on with their lives.
Air NZ rushed to change Blenheim's name to Ghostheim on the
Grab-A-Seat site, but the damage was done. Sowman says an apology to residents would be appropriate, but Air NZ was as silent as the grave...
Meanwhile Mayor Annette Main of Wanganui (to where the creepy pervert has been paroled) says she think Air NZ's promotion missed the mark. Quite possibly: it did after all call Wanganui WRONG-anui!