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Dogs make me cry

I don’t cry at movies – apart from Finding Nemo because doesn’t everyone? Also anything starring Tom Cruise, but that’s a visceral rather than emotional response.

I’m much more susceptible to an intense, emotionally manipulative advert. Like the National Bank ad showing at cinemas here that always made me choke on my Malteser, and this one  from NZ Post always mists me up – although more light condensation, really.

However, when I was back in Ireland, there was an advert on telly that showed frequently. In it, the camera shows a Labrador, slumped in a small, bleak cell with bars across the front. He’s bored and lonely and quite obviously hasn’t chased a ball for what might be DAYS. Suddenly, his dull eyes spark; the ears prick; he jumps up, mouth falling open, tongue lolling; he darts to the front of the cell and sits eagerly; tail thrashing; he strains to see past the bars.

As People approach his cell, he looks up hopefully. And as they pass by barely breaking stride, his little ears sag, the tail wags ever more feebly; and as they walk out of frame, his whole body droops in defeat.

Sorry; did you say, what was it FOR? I have no idea. It seems reasonable to assume it was for K9 Friends or cell manufacturers or some such.

Every time this advert showed on telly, it reduced me to tears. One moment I’d be sitting there cynically monopolizing my parents’ Sunday Times magazine; the next choking back seismic sobs on the sofa.

I suppose it might have had something to do with missing my dog at the time. Also because Jed strives so hard to please me (when he isn’t distracted by a moving tennis ball); and looks at me like I’m the most wonderful thing in the world. I mean, Andrew stopped looking at me like that long ago – around the time he discovered me biting my toenails in the kitchen.

(Well, most of my boyfriends were TURNED ON by that.)

ANYWAY, I am grateful I no longer have to see that advert because it was pure embarrassing.

Then the other day, I was reading The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness. It’s an AWESOME BOOK, and I would recommend it unreservedly but for the fact that it ends on a cliff-hanger and now I’m completely stressed that the sequel is out on loan at the library until NOVEMBER.

So the protagonist, Todd, has a talking dog called Manchee. The villain, Aaron, is trying to kill Todd and Viola, when Manchee attacks him and gnaws his face long enough to allow Todd and Viola to escape in a boat. This is the relevant passage:

“Manchee!” Viola yells.

“C’mon, boy!”

And Manchee looks up from Aaron to see me calling him-

And that’s where Aaron takes his chance.

No!” I scream.

He grabs Manchee violently by his scruff, lifting him off the ground and up in one motion.

“Manchee!”

 “Todd?” Manchee yelps.

“Let him go!” I scream.

“Last chance, Todd,” Aaron says, no longer sounding so calm.

“Todd?” Manchee’s still yelping. “Todd?”

And no-

“I’ll kill you,” but my voice is a whisper-

And no-

And there ain’t no choice-

And the boat’s out in the current-

And I look at Viola, still rowing against it, tears dripping off her chin-

She looks back at me-

And there ain’t no choice-

“No,” she says, her voice choking. “Oh, no, Todd-“

And I put my hand on her arm to stop her rowing. The current takes us.

“I’m sorry!” I cry as the river takes us away, my words ragged things torn from me, my chest pulled so tight I can’t barely breathe. “I’m sorry, Manchee!”

“Todd?” he barks, confused and scared and watching me leave him behind. “Todd?

“Manchee!” I scream.

Aaron brings his free hand towards my dog.

“MANCHEE!”

Todd?

And Aaron wrenches his arms there’s a CRACK and a scream and a cut-off yelp that tears my heart in two forever and forever.

Well, I wept for a good ten minutes. When I finally unwracked, I was compelled to track down my own dog for lots of extremely reluctant cuddles.

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Film review: Star Trek The Future Begins Movie

Q: How many ears does Captain Kirk have?
A: Three. The left ear, the right ear, and the final frontier.

091002 Star-Trek

On Saturday evening, Jed and I went to MarkJ’s house, where his brother supplied the latest Star Trek movie. It was an amusing, entertaining film, and if you think I’m only saying that because I don’t know MarkJ’s brother well enough to slag off his taste in movies, I appreciate your dilemma. You’ll have to use your discretion. Sorry.

Star Trek 2009 is a reboot of the Star Trek franchise, telling the back-story of the crew and the series of flukes via which James Tiberius Kirk comes to be captain of the Starship Enterprise.

No idea what the plot is about. It involves a fleet of Romulans. I’m not sure why the producers didn’t choose more compelling intergalactic villains for the franchise premiere – for example, the horny-headed Klingons; or the terrifyingly ridiculous-looking and inalienly strong Gorn. But there you go.

Anyhoo, the Romulans pootle around the universe applying impressive special effects to planets. Apart from that, even Eric Bana’s freakishly small head fails to make the Romulans look the least bit threatening. They have no exoskeletal anomalies, no surplus proboscises, no multiple recessed jaws; they are even a standard Caucasian colour. Although their blood is greenish-yellow, there isn’t half enough of it splattering about the set.

I suppose they do have impressive cranial tattoos – but then so do lots of people – I mean, it’s hardly chillingly blood-crawling.

Q: How many Star Trek landing party members does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Only one, but the extra red-shirt will die in the attempt

The movie introduces Kirk as a foetus, and unfortunately the character does not appear to mature in any measurable way throughout the course of the movie apart from a rudimentary mastery of his motor functions. Impossible as it may seem, Chris Pine’s incarnation of Kirk made me wistfully yearn for William Shatner.

091102 Kirk

Even Uhura, embarking on her mission to boldly sleep her way to the top, keeps Kirk firmly at bargepole’s length. Which tells you all you REALLY need to know.

But since you asked nicely, I will of course tell you more.

Kirk is so whiny and boisterously annoying, you want to ground him until he reaches adulthood – about 20 years. The only new life forms he is interested in seeking out are the female variety (demonstrating a disturbing fetish for bottle-green redheads).

Q: Does Kirk become the first cadet in the history of the Academy to outwit the Kobayashi Maru Simulation with his blistering intelligence and encyclopaedic knowledge of Klingon war strategy?
A: No, Kirk CHEATS.

Q: Following his suspension from the Academy, does Kirk unexpectedly disguise himself as the First Officer and blag his way on board the USS Enterprise?
A: No, he is smuggled aboard by his friend.

Q: Does Kirk detect a Romulan trap using his powers of deduction and encyclopaedic knowledge of Romulan war tactics?
A: No; by pure chance, he overhears Uhura talking about it in her underwear (although the fact that he recalls the information at all with Uhura clad only in her underwear is undeniably admirable).

Even worse, Kirk’s bravery does not translate to skilled combat.

Q: When a Romulan is stamping on Kirk’s fingers as the rest of him hangs from the edge of a drilling platform, does Kirk lunge for his assailant’s ankle and pull himself back onto the platform while simultaneously hurling the Romulan to his death?
A: No, Sulu saves Kirk’s dangling ass with a timely sword thrust.

Q: When another Romulan is in the process spanking Kirk with nothing more than his fists and a big sneer, does Kirk distract him with a talking newt before bludgeoning the Romulan’s head to a fine paste with his thumbs?
A: No, he pulls the Romulan’s own gun on him.

And this is the permanently pubescent person chosen to explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations and boldly pilot the USS Enterprise where no man has gone before.

In fact, the only positive character attribute exhibited by Kirk is a totally unfounded bravery.

Well, Kirk might be brave, but so is Rambo, and I wouldn’t hand the reins of the Starship Enterprise over to him.

Although I would if the only alternative was Kirk.

The vaunted friendship between Kirk and Spock is made possible only by virtue of Spock’s paucity of emotion.

091102 Fascinating

For some reason, the story features two Spocks. Obviously, this is a good thing – but replacing Kirk with Spock altogether would have been better still.

Spock’s ears appear to have been ‘modernised’ into immobile wax sculptures on either side of his head. Why? WHY? What was wrong with Spock’s original aural devices? I’ll tell you what: NOTHING. Spock’s ears used to be sublime perfection: those delicate pinnacles of silicon pointiness that looked like they might fly off into the control console at the slightest hint of turbulence; that, when you flicked them with your index finger, made a satisfying thwippety thwippety sound that resulted in a cochleal orgasm.

Q: How can you improve on that?
A: You can’t.

Terrific movie; well worth a watch.

Q: What is worse than big tobacco? A: Begins with ‘S’ and ends with ‘lingshot’

For nearly two weeks, I have been lost without Internet access. It’s been a disaster. I haven’t been able to use my landline, update Deadlyjelly, check email, surf Wikipedia, buy crap on Trademe, find out the history of fleur de lis, look up Maori face tattoos, view photos of drunk strangers on Facebook, or research the reproductive cycle of the fruit fly.

On the upside, this has freed up HOURS every day; in the region of six. I have done loads of writing.

This morning, Slingshot called to tell me I was back online. ONLY KIDDING! Haha, got you there. Of course they didn’t, because that would involve a modicum of proactivity and/or basic customer care.

Instead, I fought the crushing miasma of despair and hopelessness to fire up my browser in the unlikely to improbable event Slingshot had fixed the problem. I mean, last Saturday during my bi-daily call, I was told I would be back online within 24-48 hours, but that’s one of the things they say to snuff out your will to live. Because it’s not as if I hadn’t heard it before – on no less than five occasions during the previous 12 days.

Of course Slingshot offered to recompense me for any downtime and inconvenience. ONLY KIDDING! They agreed to refund $40, which covers maybe one of the international phone calls to my mobile from Husband who is currently in Dubai – and I had to call them to request the rebate. At least I wasn’t on hold for half an hour – ONLY KIDDING! Goodness, the laughs just keep coming.

Slingshot is evil. If you are employed by Slingshot: shame on you. Why don’t you go and work for a more ethical company, like big tobacco or a munitions manufacturer?

The Turgefest of Madison County

So here’s how it went down:-

MarkJ*: You know The Bridges of Madison County? The film? Well, there’s this scene-

Me: Shocking movie.

MarkJ: Um, well, I suppose**. Anyway, there’s this scene where- this lovely moment- where Meryl Streep’s† character, she’s on the phone, and she- she rests her hand quietly on Clint Eastwood’s shoulder. It’s the first time they touch††, and it’s- laying your hand on someone’s shoulder, it’s very intimate‡; and it’s a small gesture, but so deep; it speaks volumes about their feelings for one another.

Me: But you know, I think it would have been better- you know, deeper– if she’d STRADDLED him.

MarkJ: <chokes on tea>

* MarkJ totally stole my blog post, so I’m stealing it back, along with the picture

090707 Bridges of Madison County

** It distresses me to report that the usually discerning MarkJ did not categorically condemn The Bridges of Madison County as a a pus-filled boil on the botoxed face of Hollywood

† God, I can’t stand her

†† It is actually NOT the first time they touch. That would be when Clint – the horny old goat – gropes Meryl’s leg in his pickup

‡ It was his SHOULDER, not his g-spot

More maintenance

Me: I had to fix the espresso machine as well-

Husband: Don’t tell me. It sheared in two, so you went down to Mitre 10 and purchased some heavy industrial machinery and a mask, and welded it back together in the kitchen. And now it works perfectly.

Me: You know, sarcasm doesn’t suit you at all.

Husband: Ok, what was wrong with it?

Me: After your whole shearing/welding scenario, it sounds a bit lame. Er, ah, well, so there was water leaking around the filter.

Husband: Maybe you were packing the coffee too tightly-

Me: I considered that, so I tried packing the coffee loosely, but it was still leaking; so I tried half-filling the filter, but that didn’t work either; so I filled it right up in case there was too much pressure building up in the space at the top. Then I cleaned the head and ran water through the machine to dislodge any burnt coffee grounds, and then I scrubbed the O-ring even though it appeared to be fine-

Husband: Wow, you really considered the options.

Me: I did! I objectively analysed the problem and applied logic and guile to test and eliminate the issues according to cause probability. So then I emailed Breville’s Customer Support-

Husband: Really?

Me: Yeah, but all they did was write back and ask what model it was. Useless bastards.

Husband: When did you contact them?

Me: This morning.

Husband: You expect a lot from your customer support, don’t you?

Me: I just don’t see why they can’t support customers, as per their job description.

Husband: Fair enough. So-

Me: Well, I’m still waiting to hear from them. But I managed to fix it in the meantime-

Husband: For the love of God, HOW?

Me: Changed the brand of coffee.

Husband: . . .

Me: It was too fine a grind, so I’ve gone back to Robert Harris. Seems to have done the trick.

Husband: You’re a genius.

Me: I’m pretty special

Reward offered for return of muse

I think Róisín kidnapped my muse, because there hasn’t been a cheep for days. It doesn’t help that I read over old work and consider it a pile of crap; alternatively, I think, “Wow, that’s terrific!” followed swiftly by, “How can I ever write like this again? Pass the razor.”

 

I’ve been here before and know I’ll come out the other side eventually – however, it feels like I’ll never be able to write again. I have spent the slack time reviewing my notes, and keep coming across things like: ‘The crow flies thrice around the scorched holly tree’ and ‘Snails. Withered balloons’ or ‘Karmic tantra as applicable to cayopses. Can make something out of this? Investigate’.

 

I have no idea what I was trying to tell myself (any suggestions welcome). This state of affairs is particularly distressing for two reasons: (1) it’s not often that I have an idea inspiring enough to write down, so these lines of gibberish represent the best that my brain has to offer and (2) I’ve never fully realized how twisted my mind actually is.

 

On the bright side, I now have a sleek new laptop with full size keyboard, glowing blue lights and shiny silver casing. It is about five times faster than my Compaq Evo – I don’t know what to do with myself now that I don’t have to wait three minutes for web pages to load.

 

The great laptop hunt was ferocious and poor Andrew spent hours prowling around the computer shops with me.

 

“How about this one? Is this a good one?”

 

“You’ve already asked me that. Five times.”

 

“What was the answer again?”

 

“Same as last time.”

 

 

In the end I went for a Dell XPS M1210. Much to Husband’s disgust, it was the very first laptop I’d picked out over three weeks ago. To his even greater horror, it was Dhs 500 more than a HP laptop with slightly more features. He was bitterly resentful that I chose a computer for form rather than functionality. Regretfully the HP computer was quite revolting; every time I looked at it, I wanted to gouge out my eyeballs with stale nachos, which I didn’t feel was conducive to creativity. In addition to which, I’m sure nacho crumbs are bad for a keyboard.

 

At the same time, I don’t want to give you the impression that I simply picked out the prettiest laptop. Oh no. After viciously paring the shortlist down to two – the Dell and HP – I looked up some reviews on the internet. The Dell is geared more towards gamers, so all the reviews were written by geeky kids. They may have no idea how to get to first base with a girl or use multi-syllabic words, but by gum they know their computers and acne gel. The Dell consistently scored higher reviews than the HP.

 

I am delighted with my new computer, and my fingers are already starting to revert back to hand rather than claw formation.

 

Better go and see if I can torture some creativity out of myself. At the least I’ll spend a couple of hours caressing my new laptop – I’m quite shallow that way

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