Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pike River Mine Disaster


Flags are flying at half mast in New Zealand today as the nation reels from the tragedy in the Pike River Coal Mine, which claimed the lives of 29 men.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Yvonne Walus on Crime Watch!

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What is one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn't in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider?
Define my hometown. If it's where I live, and it's North Shore City (not Super City), they should sit on a bench at the Tui Park beach in Beach Haven, look at the water and listen to the silence. My original hometown is Warsaw, Poland, and there I would invite the visitors to take the first mode of transport out of the city and head south until you hit a tiny spot called Wieliczka, where you go underground to tour a salt mine.

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Read more here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Despicable Me


What is it about animated children's movies that makes them so accessible to parents? I mean, if you look at my favourite movies of the year, you'll notice a pattern:
  • 2001, Shrek
  • 2002, Ice Age
  • 2004, Shrek 2
  • 2005, a tie between Madagascar and Hoodwinked
  • 2006, Ice Age 2
  • 2008, Kung Fu Panda
  • 2009, Up (with Avatar a close second)
  • 2010, a tie between How To Train Your Dragon and Inception
  • and I'm really hoping to put up Kung Fu Panda 2 for 2011.
We can debate all we like whether it's mommy-brain or parent-sensitivity that's to blame, or whether it's the simple fact that more thought and creativity goes into animated movies in order to recoup the budget. The point remains: "Despicable Me" was one of the better movies I saw this year.

From an adult perspective, the plot was a tad too pat and predictable (Annie meet The Two Who Stole The Moon), but it had enough quirkiness and humour to make for an enjoyable hour and a bit in Gold Class. My own 8-year old female found it funny and touching. From my 6-year old male's perspective, the best part was when the yellow animals made photocopies of their naked bums. And on that expert note....

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Heroines We Like To Read

Who is your favourite heroine? Scarlett O'Hara, Stephanie Plum, Bridget Jones? Do you admire the feisty and the sassy, or the girl next door with a scratch card addiction?

In my search for a heroine I love to read (and write!), I turned to Jane Porter books, who allegedly writes intelligent heroines with a great sense of humour. I didn't get past the Amazon reviews. For every 20 or so 5-star reviews, there would be a not-so-good-one calling the heroine whiny, spoiled and irritating.

Linda Howard's heroines vary from the kick-ass female butler in "Dying to Please" to the bad-tempered shallow crybaby in "Mr Perfect".

It was a great loss to the book world when Madeleine Wickham became Sophie Kinsella. Madeleine wrote memorable heroines, quirky and often flawed as human beings yet perfect as book characters and always immensely likable. Sophie's heroines are larger than life but extremely mediocre: after all, there are only so many seconds in a year that I spend thinking about shoes.