Monday, March 23, 2015

It's Monday ...

... what are you reading?

Your meme is hosted by Sheila, here:

I finished Pet Sematary on Saturday, after making a pretty big push to get through the bulk of it. Yay for #gangstercats!

I'm trying to get back into a habit of reviewing books, so will post one up later in the week. Ultimately, though, I found it creepy and sad over out-and-out scary.

I've also dived into The Half-blood Prince for Sheila's Harry Potter readalong, and I'm hoping to have that series finished - if not by Sunday, then by next Wednesday, which is about when the readalong itself finishes.

I haven't reviewed the books or done any posts - I thought I might do a vlog right at the end, though, so ... stay tuned.

My lunchtime reading is Written in Red, by Anne Bishop. I remember inhaling the first three books of her Black Jewels series in one weekend several years ago (there are other books in that series but I haven't picked them up) and I loved it. Written in Red - while a very different book, is written in the same engaging way and all I want to do is sit down somehwere and consume it all in one go.

Coming up, of course, is The Deathly Hallows. Other than that I have The Miniaturist and Bel Canto out of the library. So possibly one of those, or maybe Keeper of the Keys, book two of the Cycle of Fire by Janny Wurts, a trilogy I somehow failed to finish many years ago but Ms Wurts is a favourite author from way back, so I'm excited to get back to that again.

What are you reading?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

So, the X Factor

ETA: Natalia Kills and Willy Moon fired: I don't blog about TV shows, but I have Thoughts and Feelings and so I've decided to share them.

By now, it feels like the whole world knows what happened on X Factor NZ last night. In case you  missed it, this happened:

Stuff story:

With reality shows - especially talent shows - I feel like we all enter into the same, unspoken social contract: we all know that there is going to be manufactured drama, that the producers/judges are going to push for preferred contestants.

They know that we know, and we know that they know we know, and generally speaking, if reality talent shows are your thing, everyone is happy.

However. That. That is not what happened here. Not remotely.

Joe Irvine performed Cry Me a River, a cover of a Michael Buble song; a singer who has made his career work by moving into the Rat Pack's wheelhouse and settling in. It was a good choice for, in my opinion, one of the less-strong singers on the show.

Joe's judge/mentor Mel Blatt obviously worked hard with him, as did the show's stylist, and Joe looked and sounded the best he has so far. (Once again, in my opinion.)

"Constructive" criticism on a reality show like the X Factor can take many forms - it can actually be constructive; a judge can say, for example, that they thought a song was wrong for a particular contestant; or they can hone in on pitch, or stage presence - any number of things.

If the judge in question is cast as the "asshole" judge, or as I like to call it, the Simon Cowell - then they can dig deeper and present opinions that go against both public opinion and that of their fellow judges.

And that's fine. That's part of the contract we all enter into. We know that's coming. We expect it; we anticipate it. Someone has to be the villain.

However. There is a difference between being cast as Simon Cowell and offering up unpopular opinions and so-called constructive criticism and personal attacks.

Joe Irvine sang fine. He looked great. He could have expected a round of "well done's" with perhaps some suggestions for improvements. Instead, what he got was a vitriolic personal attack out of nowhere, and a stack of unwanted drama.

By all means, TV3, manufacture drama to boost ratings. That's fine. We know you're going to do that. But what happened last night is not fine. It's not even in the same neighbourhood as fine. It's not fit to shine the bottom of fine's shoes.

It was a vile display of bullying, and wherever it came from, whether Natalia herself, or from a producer tipping her to amp the drama somehow, it should never have happened.

Surely we are all civilised enough to understand that it's not okay to let loose on someone like that? Critique the performance. Hell, critique his outfit, even though it fit perfectly with the theme of the song. But accusing Joe of "copying" Willy Moon? Because ... Joe is tall and he wore a suit? Not to mention Willy Moon weighing in and basically calling Joe a serial killer.

I'm trying to rise above, and not get personal but let me tell you, if I had to walk home alone on a dark night for whatever reason and I could choose between Joe or Willy to get me home safely ... well, let me just say I'm not crossing the road with Willy Moon.

I keep asking myself what should happen now. I see chatter all over twitter and facebook and comments on stories that Natalia Kills and Willy Moon should be fired. And, yes, probably. What they did - what they chose to engage in on live television was nowhere near any kind of criticism. Instead, they chose the route of schoolyard bullying, picking on the most vulnerable character on the show.

We've all seen Joe cry it out after Bo-Rap, and at boot camp. We shared in his absolute delight in getting to go to Thailand, and to making it to the live shows.

And now. Joe's delight and joy is marred by a vicious, vicious attack out of nowhere. Natalia and Willy might as well have charged the stage and kicked Joe in the shins.

At the very least  - AT THE VERY LEAST - TV3 needs to make them both apologise - publically, and profusely.  A few weak tweets that TV3 doesn't condone bullying is not going to slice the chicken here.

Actually, they should apologise, and then withdraw. And I do understand that it's hard finding judges for a show like X Factor, and a shake-up like that would hurt their contestants, but honestly, their contestants are going to suffer the backlash from this anyway. Someone - likely from Natalia's team - is going to go home tonight, whether their performance warranted it or not.

Ginny Blackmore put her hand up on twitter. There's a decent replacement for Natalia.

As for Willy Moon .... well, Benny Tipene is around. There's a narrative that you could spin pretty easily, given Benny was the runner-up on X Factor last time. Or how about Neil Finn? He wouldn't do it, I don't think, but Neil Finn interacting with Brendon Thomas and the Vibes would be TV gold.

The golden rule, for me, is don't be a dick.

Why is that so difficult for some people to grasp?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

I'm sorry panko

So, Trish over at has a cookbook challenge, wherein you cook from your cookbooks like, once a month or something.

I went through the cookbooks that I do own, but they're by like ... chefs. I mean, I own a cookbook by Gordon Ramsey. It's nice to look at and all but I'm not auditioning for Masterchef or anything. So, accepting that EVERYTHING EVER in ALL the cookbooks I own is well above my skill level, I naturally turned to pinterest.

I searched chicken recipes that I had saved, that were more like .... do this thing and do that thing, and less .... okay first butcher your organic free range very posh chicken, then butterfly the legs and the wings and ... anyway. You get where I'm going with this.

So I found a recipe for panko-encrusted chicken drumsticks and went "I can make that." THEN I went, "But do I have to buy panko? Isn't that just fancy breadcrumbs for wankers?"

And. Well. Maybe. BUT. Panko is DELICIOUS. It is crunchy and textural and tasty and all good things. I drafted Jeremy to make chips, which he shallow-fried in a frypan and they were also crunchy and delicious.

The panko is full of seasonings like garlic and smoked paprika and parmesan so it's basically a flavour party for your mouth. I did have issues with the timing of the cooking, because I'm an idiot, so next time I'm going to make chicken tenders and use the same crumbing.


I'm on a mission now. A quest, if you like. It may or may not involve cookbooks - likely from the library, but it will certainly (probably) involve pinterest.

Also, chicken.

But probably not Gordon Ramsey. I love you Gordon Ramsey but ... yeah.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

This can only end badly

Jill over at is hosting a Pet Semetary readalong.

Details are here:

I saw the chatter on twitter in passing and thought "hmmmm another readalong. I'm already behind on Harry Potter. I started Pet Semetary once before and didn't finish it .... LET'S DO IT."

This despite the fact that I nope'd out of watching Penny Dreadful when one of the characters snapped a cat's neck to feed a vampire. I mean, I know it wasn't REAL but. Still. I have my limits.

I'm hoping that Pet Semetary is more .... zombie animals rising up and less .... animal torture. Plus, I do love Stephen King. And I DO own the book ... these are terrible reasons but they're also MY reasons so.

I'm, er, I'm in.