Rarotonga highlights

raro view

Rarotonga didn’t exactly welcome us in, when we arrived at 1.30 in the morning it was so hot my jeans immediately shrunk three sizes and started sweating. Once we were through customs and immigration it started to rain. The lighting in the airport carpark is minimal so Lee collected the wrong rental car (they just leave your car unlocked with the key under the mat on the driver’s side). My sister had called the day before to give me directions to our holiday house, but it was very dark and neither of us had slept any on the plane and it took us ages to find the right place.

Luckily for us, the owners of the holiday house were there to make sure we got in OK. They didn’t have to do that, but we sure appreciated it! Sleeping in Rarotonga when you have just come from a Wellington winter is a trial: factor in the humidity, the heat, the crowing of roosters, the chirping of geckos in your bedroom and the noise the torrential rain makes on the tin roof and it’s pretty restless. We got there in the end, though.

Catching up with my sister and her family was the highlight of the trip for sure, but we also ate at some fantastic restaurants. Here collected for your enjoyment. Continue reading

Another route to finding calm…

I really like this article from the Positivity blog about criticism, especially this bit:

“A man interrupted one of the Buddha’s lectures with a flood of abuse. Buddha waited until he had finished and then asked him, “If a man offered a gift to another but the gift was declined, to whom would the gift belong?”

“To the one who offered it,” said the man.

“Then,” said the Buddha, “I decline to accept your abuse and request you to keep it for yourself.”

Awesome Young Adult books

These books were all borrowed from the library 🙂

The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins

I can’t explain how much this book affected me. It was so involving that I dreamed I was in it. It was so exciting I read three quarters of it in one day, and then I wanted to make love to it. I was a library book though, so I returned it instead.

Story wise it’s a post apocalyptic tale about a facist-ish society where the rulers keep the rest of the country down by forcing them to offer up one boy and one girl every year to battle to the death in an all access, compulsory viewing reality TV show. One kid survives and their district gets monetary and food rewards. Our hero, Katniss, volunteers for the Hunger Games to save her innocent little sister. The book follows the whole process, going to the capital city to get made over and the politics surrounding the games and then of course, the game itself.

It is good, check it out.

So Yesterday Scott Westerfeld

I want to be an innovator so bad. Some of the time I think I am one, and that makes me really happy, but some of the time I think I’m just a trendsetter or even an early adopter.

This book is about trends, and how trends are made, and how they are marketed. It’s also about copyright infringements, cultural terrorism and falling in love. It’s a classic Westerfeld actioner, really pacey and exciting, but maybe a little less out there than the Uglies or Peeps books.

Intensely Alice Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

The latest in my beloved Alice series kind of left me thinking ‘meh’. I can’t quite put my finger on why. I’m wondering if its because Alice isn’t ringing very true as a nearly-18 year old. Or maybe it’s because I’m annoyed that she keeps coming back to the boy she dated when she was 10 years old.

Being Nikki Meg Cabot

The sequel to Airhead and what I’ve come to refer to as Meg Cabot does sci-fi. I found this one not as good as Airhead, I think because it was quite repetitive. There was a lot of Em agonising over whether or not she could ever be with her true love, and it got a little old. On the other hand, the story picked up a lot towards the end and it got very exciting.

I wished there was more of her actually doing modeling, but I guess that’s not what the book is really about.

Learning from Ender Wiggin

Every now and then I like to re-read certain books. I get a hankering to re-enter that world and enjoy that particular story. The books I get the craving for would all come in my top books ever, so to my mind, they are also incredibly well written with well developed characters that one can learn from.

Ender’s Game is one such novel, and while on the surface it may not appear that this sci-fi novel about intergalactic war and the brutality of children is something you can learn to be a better person from, I think there are lessons to be had.

Ender is the third child, specifically allowed by government mandate to exist because of the promise of his two elder siblings. However, Peter is too violent, too manipulative and kind of evil, so he didn’t get into Battle School. Valentine, the middle child, is at the other end of the spectrum, she is too kind and sensitive to be able to cope with the rigors Battle School would demand. Ender is a balance of both of those personalities. He can see where his brother Peter goes too far, and has been a victim of his bullying, when Ender’s own actions stray too far into the ‘Peter-zone’ he is filled with remorse. Remorse of course, is something that he has learned from Valentine. Ender has learned that emotions can be useful, and are indeed essential in being a good person.

By balancing Peter’s determination to get things done and Valentines sensitivity to the human condition, Ender achieves a balance that makes him both likable and an efficient leader.

Watch and Learn

One of the reasons Ender is so awesome at pretty much everything he does is that he gives himself time to learn before he acts. This is most obviously shown when he watches the older boys play a video game for an hour, works out the tricks, works out how different strategies are used and then beats the best older boy 2 out of 3.

Ender also does this with difficult people, he watches how they behave with their friends and their enemies until he knows how they tick, then he can use whatever strategy will work to get them on his side.

Search for love

This one is a little more subtle, but its there. Ender commands others so easily because they find it so easy to love him. He treats people with respect, kindness and patience. Although the teachers are specifically ensuring that he will be isolated from his peers Ender makes friends. His first friend at Battle School, Alai started out as an enemy. Alai recognises Ender’s genius and the way he treats people with respect and opens the doors to friendship with him.

When Alai reveals that he is religious (which isn’t allowed) by whispering the word Salaam Ender doesn’t understand the word, but he understands the warmth of the gesture and keeps the moment secret to protect Alai.

At the heart of Ender’s despair there is always his love for his sister Valentine, which keeps him going. To say too much more about that would be spoiler central, but Ender knows that he is not his brother because of the strength of his love for his sister. Searching out and holding onto love like that makes Ender a great person.

Tied into all of the above, and perhaps the most important thing is Empathy. The reason why the adults hide the things they hide from Ender is that they know he has too much empathy to really destroy the enemy. He is able to think like his enemies, put himself into their frame of mind and act accordingly. As such, he is able to understand his enemies in ways that no one else can, and thus he can feel remorse and regret when his actions have been destructive.

Now, none of us are currently being pitted in simulated war games against a race of aliens (as far as I know, anyway), but empathy is well worth cultivating. If you can understand someone’s actions then you can relate to them and if you can relate to someone then you are closer to becoming friends and everyone needs friends.

Troll 2

Bad movies. What makes a bad movie so good?

In the case of Troll 2 it’s the terrible script, the bizarre plot choices, the awful acting, the ridiculous Goblin Queen and the way the dead Grandfather is some kind of magical time stopping Jedi master.

The premise is that a family is taking a trip to the country for a holiday. Joshua, the youngest, sees his dead grandfather quite a lot. Grandpa Seth likes to tell Joshua stories about Goblins and how evil they are and how they like to trick people into eating stuff that turns them into a half plant so they can eat you. Of course the town they are going to is Nilbog, kingdom of the Goblins (“it’s Goblin backwards!“) and even though Joshua pleads with his parents to turn back, they arrive. The people in the town are all creepy as and the food they have left out for the family is all weirdly green and decorated with green goo. Seth freezes time so that Josh can pee on the food and stop his family eating it….and it kind of goes downhill from there.

I think I enjoyed it more having already seen the Best Worst Movie doco and knowing some of the stories behind it. Like that the director and most of the crew didn’t speak much English so the actors didn’t always know what was being asked of them. Or that the guy playing the spooky store owner was high as a kite during the filming and has since been treated for mental health issues.

It’s like watching Snakes on a Plane , you just have to forget about things like plots that make sense and enjoy the ride. It’s a good ride. There’s even cornography.

I think Manos: the hands of fate is still my favourite bad movie though. Troll 2 did have some genuinely unsettling stuff in it, and it gave me weird dreams. Whereas Manos is just….so sweet. Somehow.

Highlights of my old blog posts

From when I was working out the library…the ABC.

That old musical classic where can you…

Planes are weird.

The time I met Garth Nix and fangirled all over him.

The best fish’n’chips ever.

An entry about my body image issues. (Still pretty relevant, although I suspect I’ve mellowed some.)

A recount of Svend’s ticklish romp game where I got to play the girl.

A report of the Sorcerer game we played which was a cross between LA Confidential and Who Framed Roger Rabbit?Sorcerer

The funniest thing ever.

Celery’s effect on knicker elastic is a gallery for the ages.

While I’m away

Oh, I think I forgot to mention on here that we’ve had some good news in regards to my mother in law. The cancer has not spread to her lymph nodes and she has a lumpectomy scheduled for the 31st. Radiation therapy will follow, but its way better than chemo. Her surgeon said she was in the ‘best possible position’, so we’re all feeling rather relieved. Which is not to say that the time ahead will not be difficult, but it’s so good to have some of the mystery removed.

So Lee and I are off to Rarotonga for a week, then we’re in Auckland for a couple of nights. We might get online in Auckland but I don’t *expect* to be online until the Friday when we get back.

I have scheduled some blog posts to publish so that my stats don’t go all to Hell and you have something to read while I lie on the beach. Mmmmm the beach.

Check back here tomorrow and on August 22nd, 25th, 27th and 29th for new stuff 🙂 I’ve scheduled them mostly for afternoon/evening. I obviously won’t be doing my usual twitter and livejournal reminders so it’s up to you to click back. You know it’s worth it.

In the mean time, read about the last time I went to Raro.

Sock monkey part 2

So, I’m a total pro at making the sock monkeys now. I have given one to my friend Sophie and one to my workmate Sophia for her unborn baby.

monkey family

monkey family

That’s a picture of all the monkeys I have in my house right now. To the right left you can see the pale brown monkey with the serial killer pale blue eyes. Lee is a bit scared of that one. Steve bonded with him the other day, though. Not too sure what this means.

In the middle is the weeny little monkey I made on craft Saturday out of socks for a 7 year old girl. He’s adorable! Like, so, so cute. It’s the newest best thing I’ve ever made since the rainbow sock monkey.

In fact, here’s his butt.



Actual Play – Fall “You can’t make an omelette.”

Darius’s kitchen and Alex is about to boil the weird egg that Calvin brought back from the retirement home. After drawing a picture for Megan, Calvin passes over his phone so that she can take the photos of the beastie off it. Darius vanishes. (What I haven’t conveyed in this paragraph is that this action took about half an hour of game play. Turns out Darius is the motivator for the other characters and when Norm isn’t there….we get silly.)

Alex shakes the egg and discovers that it’s empty, they all figure that it was just a dud egg. Calvin checks around the house for Darius, and discovers the flying monkey.
Calvin shouts: What the fuck?!
Alex comes running to check he’s OK and then catches him up on where the flying monkey came from. Calvin also piles some stuff onto the magic mirror, just cause.

Calvin and Alex figure that Darius has taken Nebby for a walk, but then they find the dog chilling out in the occult library. Calvin calls Darius’s phone and has an odd conversation.
C: where are you?
D: I’m out walking.
C: OK….
D: So, I’ll see you later.
C: …OK?
Continue reading

Things I Love Thursday

This week this list has been very hard, but some of it is very easy as well.

  • Friends and Family and Love and Support. Thanks to all of you who have left kind messages here or on twitter or facebook. It really means a lot.
  • Breathing deeply, finding calmness, appreciating the beauty in the world.
  • Went out to micetro last night and it was the closest thing I’ve ever got to seeing a live version of Whose line is it anyway? It was really funny and well done, and at my suggestion they interviewed an expert on gherkins. I laughed my head off, it was only $8 for a ticket and it was over by 10pm. Perfection, will definitely go again and I will encourage people to go with me.
  • Whedon inspired handcrafts, are all so good. Maybe I should do a quilt…

Honourable Mentions:
Sophia Coppola modeling, and this rather fetishy intimate spread of the Beckhams,

This song, and this performance of this song.

The clip that leads up to possibly my favourite part of The Critic ever. The balloon doggies.

Oh and the new video for Strawberry Swing in which Chris Martin is a stop-motion animated superhero. It’s very cleverly done with chalk drawings on the ground. Very pretty.