Friday 27 September 2013

Holi-day! Cele-brate!

Everyone loves a good holiday. Even if it doesn't quite turn out to be the amazing dream you had in mind, it still beats looking at the same walls, being at work or doing household chores - right? When it comes to actually planning the holiday though, well that can go and get more stuffed than a Christmas turkey. I know some people love discussing, researching and mapping out their holiday to the finest detail, but for someone like me, it's a total nightmare.

My husband and I decided a few months ago we were going to have a holiday in November, but like the lazy procrastinating fools we are, we didn't actually start doing anything about it until last week. I think we were both waiting for the other one to just sort it out. Also because our last trip away was challenging to say the least (you can read all about that crazy adventure here), we were nervous about making the same mistakes as last time - a very likely scenario when you consider we're travelling with two children under three.

So we finally got off our backsides and began the holiday booking process. Shiza Minnelli. We immediately realised we needed to lock something in fast or we weren't going anywhere, because accommodation had already been snapped up at many places on our list and flights were getting expensive. Destination wise we started off keen on Noosa, then moved on to Fiji, the Gold Coast, Hawaii, South Coast NSW and then gave up. By this point we were stressed up to our eyeballs, completely over looking at Trip Advisor and wanted to throw in the towel.

The reason? Our boys are at that terribly awkward stage where they're too young to get into kids clubs yet old enough to need constant stimulation - and as we learnt last time, swimming all day every day is just not going to cut it. All the places we looked at were either not suitable, not available or too expensive; and in the end it made us think we should just hide away in the house and never go out until the kids are both at least five (or 18). We were spending so much time trying to organise the darn trip it was losing its spark. Isn't planning a holiday supposed to be fun? At one point I actually shed a few tears and then bitch slapped myself back into reality - what about all the people who can't go on a holiday? Or are living in poverty? Or war zones? Talk about first world white girl problems. Get a grip!

And then my husband dared to come up with an idea so deliciously crazy, it just might work. Bali - take two. Our aforementioned holiday last year was to Bali and we struggled big time - mostly in our minds - so why on earth would we attempt to do it again? I'll tell you.

1. Bali is beautiful, affordable, close to Australia, and has a wide variety of activities to keep our bruisers entertained (plus tons of stuff for us as well)

2. We know exactly where we went wrong last time, meaning we won't make the same mistakes again - like checking we're all set up for child-friendly amenities such as pool gates, high chair, porta-cot and children's menus

3. Our boys are a year older - so no breastfeeding twice in the night for starters (seriously, I don't know what we were thinking taking a four month-old)

4. We know what to expect - not just from the place and culture, but from the experience of holidaying with young children, and have therefore set our expectations at a more realistic level

And here's the big one...

6. My sister is coming with us - nothing like an extra pair of eyes and hands to ease the stress!

So what do you think, are we coco loco? Maybe, but I'll tell you one thing - I'm absolutely pumped (and I'm taking my cameras).

How do you find planning holidays - totes fun or major ball ache?

photo credit: sektordua via photopin cc

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Say cheese!

I hate getting my photo taken. Well actually, it's not the process of getting snapped I don't like, it's the fact I'm not very photogenic and end up looking some some crazy scrubber on the sidelines. Not cool. I could probably step it up in terms of increasing my chances of a good shot, but frankly I'm too lazy. I don't know my 'good side.' I don't know what the best poses are to make. Open mouth smile or closed lips? No idea. I don't own a good camera. I'm not on Instagram and don't know how to add nice borders. I haven't a clue how to use groovy techniques on my phone to change the lighting to make me look good. And I most certainly have not perfected the art of taking a selfie, because I do not have time to take selfies. But I am fine with all of this. Sure, I'd love to have some smokin' hot mama pics of myself lying around or plastered on Facebook, but it's never really been on my list of priorities...until now.

It occurred to me recently, that in this present day there should be no such thing as a 'bad photo.' Long gone are the days of snapping blindly and then anxiously picking up your prints to check how many of them are blurry and feature shut eyes. Technology is smarter than it's ever been and the tools for capturing and creating the best photos are available to basically everyone - they're not just for fancy magazine airbrush wizards anymore, they're right here at my fingertips but I'm not using them. Who is though, are savvy ten year-olds, groovy grandmas and everyone in between - particularly the younger generation.

Ok, so big deal right? Well sure except it means that in the future when my children look back at records of this time, it will appear that everyone was seriously good looking - except their mum! Sorry kids, I wasn't totally bad looking I promise - ask your Dad! If you're looking average in photos when every single other person is channelling professional models, it seems a little off though right? Photos just aren't real anymore.

I look at photographs in the media and online on things like Facebook and think, is that real? I don't get excited as much as I used to when I see a great photo anymore, it reeks of effects. On the flip side, the positives of all of this is that on average people are recording way more still and moving footage now - everyone is a budding photographer or filmographer these days. Everyone except me that is! I grew up in a family where my parents were obsessed with taking family videos and photos, yet sadly I struggle to do the same even though the desire is there.

Now that I've got children I worry all the time about recording memories with photos and home movies. We have a video camera and a camera, but every time we go to grab them they either need to be charged or the memory card's full. So I end up grabbing my iPhone instead. The quality is of course pretty good on iPhones, but when you take into account it's me taking the footage, well, it ends up being really crap.

I've therefore decided that over the next few months I'm going to set myself a little mission. I'm going to make a conscious effort to up the ante on photography - for my sake and my children's. I'm going to:

1) try and become better at taking photos
2) buy a really good camera
3) make sure our video and still cameras are always charged and full of memory
4) take my cameras everywhere and make sure I use them at functions
5) learn how to do a few editing tricks (without turning the photos into fictional works of art)
6) back up and store all my photos and footage properly on a hard drive
7) actually print really good shots and frame them
8) start making cool photobooks to keep and show the kids
9) have home movie screening sessions at home with the children

So look out world! Super hot photos of me and my life coming soon to a computer near you...

Do you suck at taking or having your photo taken?

photo credit: Lotus Carroll via photopin cc

Friday 20 September 2013

Let's party like it's 1999

Yes Marky - so get that shirt off, the party's this way!

I'm obsessed with the idea of throwing a 90s party. I've been thinking about it for quite a while now and love planning it in my head, even though I have no idea when or how it will come to life. I've never been to a 90s party (er, except for lots of ones actually in the 90s), but I reckon it would be ace. Decades like the 20s, 60s, 70s and 80s have had a good monopoly on the party scene the last few decades, but now that enough time has passed I think the 90s is ready to step up and wave its glow stick.

I guess the reason I'm so keen on the idea is because the 90s was when I was a teenager and young adult - that golden period in your life when you're not really a kid anymore but you don't have all the responsibilities that come with being an adult yet. It was awesome when you think about it. Seeing your friends every day, listening to loads of music, going to parties and being introduced to bars and clubs. Good times.

My mythical 90s party will of course be totally themed - from the invites and decorations down to the food and essential dress code. Hmmm...body suit, choker necklace, Stussy pants and Reebok Pumps; or crop top, slap bracelet, Hypercolour hot pants and Doc Martens? So many choices. Perhaps I can let my mood ring decide.

The main reason for my party however, is definitely the music. The 90s was responsible for producing some timeless classics like Smells like Teen Spirit (Nirvana), Creep (Radiohead) and The Rockafella Skank (Fat Boy Slim) - but they're not the kind of tunes I'm talking about. When you think of 90s music who pops into your mind first: Alanis Morissette and Oasis, or Vanilla Ice and The KLF? You know it's the Ice Man and those crazy Justified Ancients of Mu Mu! Because when you think about 70s music does Billy Joel's Piano Man spring to mind? Or for the 80s, is it U2's Where the streets have no name that sums up the decade? No. Just because a song debuted in an era doesn't necessarily make it indicative of that time frame - even if it is a top tune. For me I'm all about the ones which have that typical cheesy 90s sound and vibe - so basically anything heavy on the synthesisers and bad backup dancers.

The music playlist therefore plays a very important role at my party. Not high on the priority list are timeless numbers as I mentioned before - i.e. songs that are actually really good and stand the test of time in any decade (ok a few can sneak in). And also out are songs which are kinda slow, because it's a party! - sorry Sinead, Mariah and Whitney. So what does that leave? Songs which make you want to get your groove on!

I may never hold my 90s party but I can have a virtual one! So here it is. A teeny tiny sample of some of the songs on my gigantic party playlist (in no particular order), which I feel unmistakably define the 90s - plus a couple of clips to get you in the mood!

  • Pump up the jam - Technotronic
  • Boombastic - Shaggy
  • I saw the sign - Ace of Base
  • The rhythm of the night - Corona
  • Good Vibrations - Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch
  • Spaceman - Babylon Zoo
  • The Power - Snap!
  • Get ready for this - 2 Unlimited
  • 3AM Eternal - The KLF
  • Things that make you go hmmmm - C+C Music Factory
  • U Can't Touch This - MC Hammer
  • Here comes the hotstepper - Ini Kamoze
  • Macarena - Los Del Rio
  • Rump Shaker - Wreckz N Effect
  • Jump around - House of Pain
  • Jump - Kris Kross
  • I'm too sexy - Right Said Fred
  • Baby got back - Sir Mix-a-lot
  • Informer - Snow
  • Tequila - A.L.T and the Lost Civilization
  • O.P.P. - Naughty by Nature

Which are your favourite 90s party tracks? Let me know!

photo credit: sambeckwith via photopin cc

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Are you being served...your arse?

Sell animal onesies, in this store? Captain Peacock was outraged.

Ever walked into a retailer and the shop assistant is so rude you end up walking out empty handed? Or sat in a restaurant for half an hour before you've even been offered menus or water? Today I'm talking about that hairy old chestnut called customer service. Why? Because the older I get the more I can't believe how bad businesses are at it and there really is no excuse.

Haven't people learnt by now? With all the modern advances in technology, customer service should have improved in leaps and bounds over the last few decades, yet there are companies still failing dismally at it and most of the time it's individual staff members who are letting down the team.

Customer service in my opinion is completely straight forward. Just imagine yourself in the customer's shoes - What things would I like? How would I like to be treated? - and voila! It's tip tango time or repeat business. But for the bored twenty-something on the end of the phone or handing out your food, what do they care about your experience? They're thinking about the last text they got or what they're doing on the weekend. And it's not just the young ones either, plenty of older people are also terrible at customer service.

There have been so many instances recently where I've tried to book restaurants or beauty appointments and ended up having to leave messages only to have the place not call me back. Do these people actually want to make money? I don't understand how they can expect to run a business like that. Sure, maybe they're so run off their feet (and up their own arses) that they don't need my coins, but sooner or later that disregard will no doubt bite them in the bum.

I swear my husband and I are magnets to bad customer service, particularly when it comes to the hospitality industry. Whenever we go out to a restaurant they always forget to take our order, or get a dish wrong, or overcharge us on the bill. We're so used to it now we actually find it a bit amusing. One incident we didn't find that funny though was the time we rocked into a bar for a quick cocktail before a dinner reservation. When the drinks still hadn't arrived after about 30 minutes (even though the bar was almost empty), we looked over to see the bartender giving staff members a cocktail lesson with our drinks - including letting them take a sip from our glasses so they could taste test it. Ok, so they used straws, but still not cool!

I know I sound like a big fat whinger, but I know a thing or two about customer service, having been around the traps myself as a check-out chick and bartender (to name a few of my past jobs). So I  know good customer service when I see it, and when it is done right... oooh, makes you go tingly in all the right places. Sometimes it's a cafe waiter who goes the extra mile to make sure the kids are as happy as possible so you can really enjoy your meal, or an unlikely source such as the friendly phone insurance salesperson who points out how you can save money on your policies - and does it really quickly with no fuss, and so you can actually understand what the hell is going on.

I understand it's human nature for errors to occur from time to time, and some bad service is not intentional. The important thing is whether or not the business acknowledges and rectifies it though. I recently went for a much needed massage (lopsided body from permanently carrying a one year-old on my hip). And when I say 'much needed' I really mean it, because it was when I was smack bang in the middle of a stupid food elimination diet where I couldn't eat or drink hardly anything, so I was particularly cranky and desperate for some TLC. I had been looking forward to it all week and arranged for my husband to be home so once the kids were in bed I could hop off for an hour of supreme relaxation. When I got there though, the place was shutting up and the woman on duty had no record of my booking (which had been done online).

I was devastated. I actually cried. Yep, that's right, real tears. The woman was very apologetic (which was nice but didn't really help me), however it was in the morning when they really came through with the goods. They rang to apologise again and booked me in for another appointment, free of charge. So basically, they admitted their mistake and immediately offered some compensation to make up for it. As a result, instead of forever boycotting this massage joint, I still think highly of them and will continue to visit them when required and refer them to others. Honest, caring and classy - that's how it's done.

The reason I think a lot of places get away with poor customer service is because most people either don't feel comfortable complaining; can't be bothered; or don't have the opportunity to - and so heaps of companies are never pulled up on their shortcomings. I personally hate complaining (and it's not just because I don't like spit in my food!) - I don't want to appear rude for some reason, which is bizarre when you think about the hard earned cash you're handing over yet don't always get the product or experience you're after.

I prefer to make sure I take the time to compliment great service when I see it - could be letting the cafe owner know their waitress was amazing and leaving a nice tip; or telling your dentist you've referred him to a friend because you love the way he remembers details about your kids; or saying a special thank you to the incredibly helpful telco phone assistant at the end of the call (mmm maybe not, although I'm sure there are some good ones out there somewhere!). People love being told they've done a great job, and it often makes them want to continue giving the best service possible - so in a roundabout way, I like to think the praise creates a happier and better customer service community out there.

But what about all the schmucks who don't give a damn? Well I've decided I am now going to take the time to give negative feedback when it's due. I'm going to do that phone or online survey after dealing with a nightmare telco or bank. I'm going to fill in that feedback form at restaurants and hair salons. And I'm going to grow some balls and speak up when something is really out of line. Because there's a good chance that a business owner may not know their staff member is slipping up, and if it were my company, I'd definitely want to know. And if after that they still don't care? Well, I'm simply not going to go there anymore or use that provider, because I don't like being served my own arse. Not sure I'm going to be sending the steak back just yet though...

 What's the worst customer service you've ever experienced?

photo credit: Larry He's So Fine via photopin cc

Friday 13 September 2013

I almost named my son after an iPhone app. Really.

Yes it's true. Totally mental, but true. Before you get your judging sticks out though let me explain first. I did almost call my first son the same name as an iPhone app (iPad too if you want to get really techno about it), but it was completely by accident. Even though I do own an iPhone, I'm not one of those Apple freaks who puts stickers all over my car and queues overnight with 15 year-olds when the next store opens. So what the hell happened then? Well, I'll tell you.

Long before babies were officially on the agenda, my husband and I had often discussed children and occassionally even brought up name options (as you do). During one of these moments my husband stated that if we were ever to have a boy, he wanted to name our son after his grandfather who was very kind to him when he was a child. I had no problem with this, except for his name was Cyril. Not being pregnant at that stage I kind of agreed to it anyway and didn't think too much about it again, until fast forward to a few years later when I'm actually pregnant and have found out we're having a boy. Reality sunk in.

Now, there's nothing really wrong with the name Cyril, except that it's terribly old-fashioned and not in the kind of way that's now cool (apologies if that's your name). So to get my head around how this was going to work I insisted to my husband that if our son was going to be called Cyril then he needed a good nickname that he could go by so he wouldn't get teased for it at school. My solution? Cyri (yeah yeah, quit your sniggering I'll get to that in a minute).

At the time we thought Cyri sounded pretty cute and a bit unusual, and of course there was still the full name to fall back on for more serious occasions. I was on board with it. We were ready to roll. I imagined my unborn Cyri being a really spirited and charismatic lad, maybe even a musician. Cyri and The Gang had a nice ring to it.

But then we started to think about how Cyri sounded a bit like Suri (the sourpuss-faced daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes). Would people think we were trying to be cool like celebrities coming up with strange names for our children? Would our son be ridiculed for having a name that sounded a bit girlie? In the end it all had too many question marks around it and we opted for something entirely different altogether that we love and really suits our boy.

And thank F#@K for that! Because almost exactly a year after my son was born, Apple launched their latest and greatest app, Siri - the clever clogs cyber personal assistant for your phone (yes iPad too tech frothers).

Say whaaaaat? My husband and I couldn't believe the lucky escape we'd had. Our son was THIS close to having the same name as a popular technology device which existed to serve people. Imagine the teasing our poor boy would have had? "Get me that bag Cyri. Do my homework Cyri. What's the population of China Cyri?" And what about us as the parents? We would have had years of denying we were secret Apple worshippers with framed Steve Jobs photos around the house.

There would have been no other option but to immediately quit the Cyri and get back to the full name, Cyril (which again I stress is essentially a very nice name). But I didn't sign up for Cyril - I was only on the bus for Cyri, so there's a strong possibility that I would still be calling my son Cyri even now, in defiance that his name had come first and therefore Apple could go and get stuffed.

Well, maybe not. I don't think I could ever be that cruel to my son. One day when he's older though I'll tell him the story and he'll probably laugh and laugh, and then pause as it sinks in just how close he was to having a siri-ously crap name.

Did you almost call your child something utterly mental?

photo credit: Photo Giddy via photopin cc

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Films I'm not embarrassed to love

Everyone loves the hot librarian look, especially dwarfs.

I recently admitted to being a huge fan of scary movies and did a shout out to my all-time top five (see the list here). But I also love films of all genres (well, almost any genre - snuff films are out for obvious reasons). And even if a movie is pretty bad, I can usually find something I like about it - could be an actor's performance, the musical score, the story concept, or even just one really good line. It might be a blockbuster, foreign flick, documentary or a small indie, but as long as it throws a little cinema magic my way in some shape or form, then that's what really matters. Because movies are awesome and I love giving them all a chance to win over my eyeballs and steal my heart.

When you look at cinema this way and ignore critic reviews, opinions from friends and sometimes even common sense; you find that some of the movies you really love are in fact ones a lot of people either hate, have never heard of, or (the real biggie), would be embarrassed to admit they like. I realised the other day that a stack of my favourites fall into this category. Of course there are also plenty of films which are universally deemed amazing (or just not considered lame) which I love as well, but extra fondness lingers for those gems I should probably be embarrassed to watch yet enjoy viewing over and over again with no shame whatsoever.

And I know I'm not alone, everyone has at least a few films they dig which are like this. If you're not exactly sure what I'm on about, think of a title and if it ticks at least one of these boxes then you're in business:
  • You know it's a really bad movie but you just can't help loving it
  • Critics and moviegoers have openly slammed the movie
  • You've never told anyone you secretly like the movie
  • You don't know anyone else that has seen it, but you've watched it at least 30 times and can quote every line
  • There's an audience stereotype for this movie which isn't that cool to be associated with
Life is too short to only watch movies praised by the masses. So in the spirit of encouraging others to open up I'll be the first to come clean with some of my top picks I'm not embarrassed to admit I love*.

1. Foul Play (1978)
There's so much to say about this movie I'm almost lost for words. A shy yet sexy librarian goes on her first date in eons only to have him cark it in the movie theatre and now she's the next murder target - sounds simple enough, but did I mention albinos, dwarfs and the Pope were in the picture? It's also got snakes, car chases, Dudley Moore with his pants down, and Barry Manilow music (the title track was actually nominated for an Oscar believe it or not). Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase head up the cast of comedy gold, with other swell actors like Brian Dennehy and that old dude who played Rocky's trainer thrown in for good measure.  It's a thriller, it's a comedy, it's action packed and it's even got some romance. There is so much to love about this flick I seriously don't know why it's not more popular. If you've never seen it, go and hire it immediately. 

2. Can't stop the music (1980)
Ah, the story about how the most famous gay boy band The Village People formed. I don't care what anyone says, their music is a whole lotta fun and because it's been captured on the screen I get to experience what it would have been like to rule the disco dance floor at the time to their crazy tunes. And even if you're not into the songs, there are so many nuggets of joy to be found such as the outrageous outfits (lawyer wearing denim cut-off shorts and midriff t-shirt anyone?) They were right, you can't stop the music. At least in my house anyway. 

3. Grease 2 (1982)
Another musical? Yep I love 'em. Sure the original was great, but what about the sequel? Smoking hot Michelle Pfeiffer singing her heart out and wearing leather! Alright, the lead guy was pretty lame but so what? Deliberately cheesy and far less serious than Grease, you just can't help love the stupid characters and even worse songs. Grease 2 is the word. 

4. Clue (1985)
Based on the board game Cluedo, this movie has been referenced a lot (most recently when Battleship came out). Yet no one ever talks about it in a good light and I have no idea why. The humour is, for me, unparallelled by any other film. It's out there all alone in it's hysterical quirkiness which gets wittier with every viewing and is largely due to the fantastic cast. Actors like Tim Curry, Madeleine Kahn, Christopher Lloyd and Michael McKean look they're having so much fun and you can't help but get swept into the silliness of it all. 

5. Club Paradise (1986)
Robin Williams, Twiggy, Peter O'Toole and Jimmy Cliff - on a tropical island? Hells yeah! Cheeseball central yet some seriously funny stuff if you give it half a chance. Rick Moranis and Eugene Levy are particular standouts as the typical nerds looking to score. If I ever meet Robin Williams I'm telling him how much I love this film - I might possibly be the only one to ever say so. 

6. Hudson Hawk (1991)   
Bruce Willis - with hair! The ex-con forced back on the job to steal Da Vinci masterpieces for some crackpots (in the form of an excellent Richard E. Grant and Sandra Bernhard), so they can turn metal into gold - all while getting jiggy with a hot nun. Huzzah! It's zany, it's stupid, but if you think of it like a fun cartoon it doesn't matter one little bit. 

7. Bigger than Tina (1999)
Why this Aussie treasure came and went as quickly as a silent, odourless fart is beyond comprehension. A brilliant mockumentary about Dan Vardy-Cobb - a fictional wannabe singer who idolises Tina Arena and finally gets his big break - is darkly funny without resorting to obvious gags, and was way ahead of it's time. It's in the same vein of mockos like Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show yet features unknown actors and subtle Aussie humour, so it constantly makes you wonder if it's in fact a real documentary. Dig it up and piss yourself. 

8. The Notebook (2004)
Forget the hype, forget the Gosling - this was flat out the most romantic movie I've ever seen and I don't care who knows it. I know it's terribly stereotypical of me, as a female, to love this movie (because it's of course common knowledge that all chicks love romance flicks that make us go through more tissues than a teenage boy right?), but seriously - this was a beautiful movie. Say what you want, but if you didn't cry in this you are not human.

What  films are you not embarrassed to love?

* My movies picks are a mere sample of some of those on my 'should be embarrassed but love them anyway' list. There were so many more films I could have added (like 20 more musicals for starters), but it was starting to get a little crazy. It was also tempting to add a bunch of kids' movies, but most of them are not deemed embarrassing to love because they're actually good (e.g. Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), so that's why they didn't get a look in this time. 

photo credit: numberstumper via photopin cc

Friday 6 September 2013

A is for apple and M is for...chippies

I had a pretty shameful parenting moment the other week. I was reading stories to my almost three year-old before bedtime, when after carefully studying the front cover of one particular book he suddenly pointed at a large, rounded letter "M" in the title and said: "Chippies!"

Goodness, gracious, great balls of FARK. I was horrifed. My child was associating the letter 'M' with McDonalds. What kind of parent was I? We don't go to Maccas that often - I swear! It's only a treat every now and then. It's true that he's some kind of McDonalds trainspotter, calling out "Chippies!" whenever we drive past the golden arches, but I'd never really worried about it...until now.

Obviously the association between the letter 'M' and fries is far more ingrained in his impressionable mind than I realised. Damn it! Those crazy junkfood pusher hypnotists. Ever since it happened I've been cursing myself for ever introducing him to the restaurant chain. It's both a reminder about how bad and addictive the food is for little ones, and also an eye-opener to how it's wrongly influencing his understanding and development of the English language.

My son can't read or write yet, but he can say the alphabet (about 90% right anyway), and he does recognise certain letters and words when he sees them. I simply cannot believe he's now incorporating a burger chain into that world. Makes me feel squeamish just thinking about it.

On one hand I'm impressed with his recollection skills and the ability to connect a symbol to a place. But on the other it horrifies me beyond belief. I feel like I've failed as a parent in some way. I know that senses like smell and taste are the strongest, and in this instance I guess that's how he's been guided, but it just reeks of wrongness.

In my feeble attempt to rectify the situation, I had to explain to my son that the reason he thought 'M' meant chips was because the brightly lit sign he often sees with that letter stands for a word, called McDonalds. I then went on to discuss a stack of other words that started with the letter 'M' but it felt kind of moot. I knew he was still thinking about hot, salty fries and how good it would be to have some right now. Yeah whatever Mum - blah blah blah blah. Not cool.

Ok, so I can't undo the past or rewire his tastebuds. He can never unsee those golden arches of fast-food evilness. So what can I do? A start is to step up the reading (even though we normally read at least five books a day), and my proactive teaching of words and letters. But other than that I'm lost. I don't really want to start saying chips are bad, because I think it will confuse and upset him. He was most likely extremely proud of the fact he'd recognised the 'chippie sign' on the front of his book. And technically he was right (on some levels), so I'm not going to say he was wrong. I just need to now sidestep him away from that association and not visit McDonalds for a very long time.

Mmmm. "Today's show is brought to you by the letter 'M' - would you like fries with that?"

Not lovin' it so much right now.

What parenting moments have made you want to hide in shame?

photo credit: _skynet via photopin cc


Tuesday 3 September 2013

Fifty shades of vomit

I started a book club earlier this year with a bunch of girlfriends after realising I never make time to read anymore. I think it's safe to say it's been a success. We've all had great fun burying our heads into different titles such as The Happiness Project, Lolita, Ghostwritten and The Rosie Project, and then discussing them afterwards over dinner and a few drinks. Not only has it been awesome to get back into reading and catch up with friends, but it's forced a lot of us to go outside our comfort zone with the types of genres we normally pick. Our latest read however, has certainly pushed the boundaries of comfort, and not in the way you'd expect.

A few of us (including me), had heard about a book called The Secret Lives of Emma - Beginnings - the first chapter in a trilogy written by a man under a female pseudonym, which is based on the stories of affairs and infidelities he'd overheard real women discuss in his bookshop in the Sydney suburb of Mosman. We thought it might be a little racy but would make a good laugh and feature local places we could relate to, with us all living near and knowing the suburb well.

Suspicions arose first of all when I borrowed it from the library - it was in the erotica section. Embarrassing when you're checking something like that out with a baby on your hip and toddler at your side. At least I got the book though. One friend in the group was turned away from her library - apparently they didn't stock 'that sort of thing.' And this is because the book wasn't saucy chick-lit as we had all thought; instead it was boring, soulless, empty...mummy porn. Just writing those last words makes me want to be sick. A revolting term made famous with the mega popular series Fifty Shades of Grey, I find the phrase 'mummy porn' degrading and gross. Heave!

Back to our book though, I'm no prude so it wasn't all the throbbing genitals and sexual escapades going on that bothered me, it was the fact that quite frankly, it was plain old crap. Lazy, uninspired writing; awful characters; and a plot thinner than a run over panty liner. Mummy yawn was more like it. And, it was completely obvious that a man had written this instead of the posh-but-secretly-naughty sounding "Natasha Walker."

How does stuff like this get published? Even without the "From the publishers of Fifty Shades of Grey" big stamp on the front cover, it's clear the author and his team were attempting to cash in on the mummy porn (heave!) craze. Seriously, it's more like really, really bad Mills and Boon garbage. Nothing clever or entertaining about this style of writing at all.

The Secret Lives of Emma feels like it could have been written in less than a week it's so lacking in substance. I haven't read Fifty Shades but I'm told it's equally as dull and boring. You know, after a character has whipped out his johnson more than ten times and that's ALL they do, it does start to get a little tedious. By all means keep the sex, but why can't these authors give us something more to grip on to than some giant, fictional member? If the stories were sharply written page-turners, well that would make it a worthwhile trip down Naughty Lane, but these are simply shoddy work.

The author, John Purcell, recently unmasked himself as the real writer instead of Natasha Walker - just as J.K. Rowling did earlier in the year for her crime novel (which wasn't selling well under her male pseudonym, Robert Galbraith). Hmm. Makes a good PR story doesn't it? Certainly worked for my friends and I, misled by the media hype around the tale and sucked into the story behind the author.

Next time just be straight up about what it is you're trying to flog - badly written, trash books for bored housewives who want a brainless literary romp; and which unlike the characters in the book, will leave the reader frustrated and more limp than a pack of wet noodles. I'm sure there's still an audience for that kind of tripe - just don't dress it up to be something else and for the love of God, stop calling it mummy porn.

What do you think about (cough), mummy porn?

photo credit: katybird via photopin cc