Recommended Reads For The Modern Gal Monday, Aug 16 2010 

There is absolutely nothing that beats the luxurious experience of reading a good book. A book can offer escapism, knowledge, fantasy and fun. It can save you from a bad mood or monotonous day in one articulately written sentence. It can also give you access to thoughts and ideas that you have never touched on before, and at times things that not only teach you but can make you a better person.

Now, I’m not going to go on to tell you to read Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, or Emily Brontรซsย Wuthering Heights (though both true gems and are classics for a reason!) I am here to recommend a few books that I believe most young women should read – for different reasons.

Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella (NZD$24.99 from Fishpond)

This is a hilarious, fluffy read for the “in-between” girls out there that are no longer teens, but not yet saddled with a mortgage/husband/2.5 kiddies etc. The heroine, the incorrigible Emma Corrigan, is a bubbly, early twenties girl with aspirations of a perfect life. There’s one problem – she tells little white lies to everyone she knows. To her boyfriend (he thinks she is several sizes smaller than she actually is), to her parents (she killed their goldfish, but replaced it before they cottoned on!), to her colleagues (never admits that it’s her that keeps breaking the photocopier) and so on and so forth. This is a fabulously funny book, adorably romantic but also highlights the failings of our society on the up and coming generation. The fact Emma can’t admit the small flaws to herself and the people around her, that she needs to skew things to make herself feel more of a success, is something I see in people every day. This is a good rainy day read, not too heavy, but I think has a good message to it.

Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella

The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pick-up Artists by Neil Strauss (NZD$39.99 from Fishpond)

Now, you may be wondering why the hell I would recommend this kind of book to women. Basically, knowledge is power, right ladies?

I heard about this particular book during a conversation with a male friend. He told me about Neil Strauss, a nerdy writer who couldn’t find love and so took it upon himself to meet the Masters of Seduction around the world. This book tells the story of how he became a part of this bizarre secret society, who he met and what he learned. (There are other books by Strauss that are more dating self-help types, but I think this one gives the better picture.)

Basically, this book goes through how a society of men have developed ways to manipulate women into sleeping with them. Ugly, boring, nervous, creepy, skinny, fat, sleazy, shy – no matter what the drawback of the male, these Masters of Seduction were able to show these ill-equipped men how to bed hot ladies that normally wouldn’t notice them. I read this book with utter fascination – was it possible for women to be manipulated this way? Certainly tricks and lines, gestures and clothing couldn’t get us to fall for someone totally not our type – right?! Well, as I read, I got that sinking gut feeling. Though not all of the tricks would work on all of us, there was real merit in what he was saying. I am glad I read this book – purely so I now know what to look out for! Ladies, beware.

The Game by Neil Strauss

He’s just not that into you by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo (NZD$23.99 from Fishpond)

I would be extremely surprised if you haven’t heard of this book already. It was a phenomenon a few years back, even made it onto Oprah! There has also been a movie made about it, and many a female discussion revolving around it’s teachings.

Basically, this book goes on the list because I know too many gals that haven’t read it when they really should have. This is a must read. A dating bible if you will. It’s not heavy, it’s not all about loving ones inner self. It’s a friendly prod to say – Girl, you are great, but if that guy isn’t asking you out? He DOESN’T WANT YOU! A little bit harsh, perhaps. But sometimes we need a bit of a slap in the face. I know too many girls who justify not getting a text from “that guy” for weeks, because maybe he lost his phone, or maybe he’s really busy, or or… You get the point. This book is brilliant. Makes you laugh, makes you cringe with self realisation, makes you open your eyes to the realities of dating. If he doesn’t call you, he doesn’t like you. If he only calls you at 3am for a drunken stopover after town, he just wants to f#%& you. Plain and simple. You’d think we could figure all of this out on our own, but sadly, when you mix emotions in with a woman’s thought processes, everything goes a bit whack. Hence, why all ladies should read this book!

Seriously!

He's Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo

So there you have it… One book that is light and fluffy, one that depicts the inner workings of seriously screwed up men, and one that guides us poor ladies into the dating light (if you will).

Enjoy! More to come…

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RENT the Musical Saturday, May 8 2010 

When I saw that the musical RENT was playing at the Civic in Auckland, I thought “Hmm, might be interesting.” I soon forgot this little inclination, to be perfectly honest, until one of the girls I work with piped up and said “I want to go to RENT – anyone else keen?” So we got together a group and bought tickets. Well. Best decision EVER!

RENT is an avant-garde rock opera, based around a group of young, down on their luck creative types living in New York and trying desperately to survive (and pay their rent, of course!). This story could very easily tip towards being quite depressing, as it touches often on poverty, death and HIV. And yet… it is woven together in such a way that it becomes a story of hope, endurance and love, without becoming overly sentimental. You fall in love with the characters, you understand that their mistakes are what make them so wonderful and offbeat. You are sucked into their world, and even though you know there can’t be a fairy tale ending, you sit there desperately hoping for them to be touched with happiness even for just a moment.

And the music… ohhh THE MUSIC! Beautiful, haunting, catchy… Obviously, many actors/singers have played these brilliant parts all over the world during different productions of RENT, but the songs themselves are pure gold. And the New Zealand cast of Rent? Didn’t let the show down at all. They were exceptional.

When I got home, I went straight onto iTunes and downloaded the album (from the film that was made based on the musical) and I have the film itself on order, too. This musical left me buzzing… It just was so riveting, dark, honest and thought provoking. I recommend anyone, anywhere in the world, to go see this show if the opportunity presents itself. It isn’t light and fluffy, but it is utter brilliance.

Can you tell I really enjoyed the show? Haha ๐Ÿ™‚

Watch a few scenes here from the musical RENT!

From The Net (My April Trawl) Wednesday, Apr 14 2010 

A few interesting items I have stumbled across…

Jennifer Anniston takes a jab at herself… and also Brad Pitt by association.

I went and saw “Love Exposure” the other day, a 4 1/2 hour long Japanese film Directed/Written by Shion Sono. Possibly one of the most bizarre, yet arguably one of the best, films I have seen of late. Read a really good review here, on my fave blog, Three Dice. See the movie trailer (with English subtitles) below:

This one’s a serious one. Following the murder of Eugene Terreblanche in South Africa, a racial debate got heated on a SA TV news set. Secretary General of the AWB Andre Visagie lost it, and became quite threatening and well, came off quite racist to be honest.

This is a video of a teenage girl speaking about depression and suicide. I think she is really brave, and has a big heart, to do this. Please watch.

A bit of a mix in there – enjoy.

April Madness – What’s On My iPod Monday, Apr 5 2010 

Just a quick posting to update you as to what I’m listening to on my iPod at the moment! Some of my picks are popular, some not so much. Hope you find something that YOU like in the process!

Possibility by Lykke Li. This song was played in the movie Twilight Saga: New Moon and I totally fell in love with it. So sombre, so haunting.

Telephone by Lady GaGa FT. Beyonce. Okay okay, everyone is listening to this at the moment. But I love it so much I just had to give it a mention! Plus the video clip is so cool.

Bad Things by Jace Everett. A bloody AMAZING song, this guys voice is pure sex. You may recognize it as the intro theme for the TV series True Blood.

Blue Eyes Blue by Eric Clapton. I have loved this gorgeous song for years and years, and have started playing it again. In my top 10 most loved songs.

Behind Blue Eyes by Limp Bizkit. I guess I’m loving the blue eyes at the moment, huh? But another haunting melody. Everybody knows it as the movie theme for Halle Berry’s Gothika.

More Than Words by Extreme. Relaxes me every time I listen to it. ๐Ÿ™‚

American Pie by Don McLean. I couldn’t find an official video, so here’s the best quality clip that I could find!

The Most Beautiful Girl (In The Room) by FOTC: Flight Of The Conchords. EPIC EPIC EPIC!

So many good songs out there, both new and old. There’s just nothing better than tuning the world out and getting absorbed into music that you love! Hope you found a gem in there, or found an old fave that you haven’t listened to in ages. Until next time!

Hugh Grant – My Foppish Older Man Crush Sunday, Apr 4 2010 

We all know who Hugh Grant is. He’s the lovable jerk, Daniel Cleaver, from the movie’s Bridget Jones’s Diary 1 & 2. He is the dorky sap from Mickey Blue Eyes, and the foppish English dweeb from the famous Four Weddings And A Funeral. Over his long-spanning acting career, and a successful one at that, he has racked up countless roles that have showcased his acting talent, wittiness, ingenious facial expressions and great hair. (I’m sorry, but he does, even if he is stuck in the past with his chosen styles!)

Born Hugh John Mungo Grant on September the 9th 1960, in Hammersmith, London, he earned himself a scholarship to esteemed Oxford University where he enrolled in acting courses. Since then, his career has been on the up and up. His roles aren’t usually serious, gritty journey’s; he often portrays affable, eccentric and witty characters that you can’t help but fall in love with. His most common film trend is that of the leading man in a romantic comedy – working alongside actresses such as Drew Barrymore, Mandy Moore, Andy MacDowell, Julia Roberts, Emma Thompson and Sandra Bullock to name but a few.

He’s also the guy who got caught with prostitute Divine Brown in 1995, whilst dating Elizabeth Hurley. (He was consequently arrested for lewd behavior and fined.) Which isn’t exactly sexy buutttt…

I’m coming out of the closet here. Hugh Grant is my all time older man crush. From his quaffed hair, sparkling blue eyes and crooked grin, to his sexy English accent, his ability to be so witty and lovable onscreen and his quirky personality. I just can’t help but fall for him all over again whenever I watch one of his films. Age difference much? But I don’t care! Haha, he just does it for me!

Every girl I know has an older man crush (George Clooney being the most common!) and Hugh is mine. YUM-O!

Hugh Grant

Hugh Grant

Hugh Grant

Hugh Grant

77 Movie Sequels Currently in Production Tuesday, Feb 9 2010 

Stumbled across this article at the “Den of Geek!” website, detailing which movie sequels are being made (some rumored, most verified) as I write this/you read this! Yay for imagination and originality! ๐Ÿ˜›

Haha – nah, some of them have me pretty excited… Like Avatar 2, Anchorman 2 and Indiana Jones 5! Whoop!

Read the full list here.

Movie Sequels

Outtakes, Bloopers and Gag Reels Saturday, Feb 6 2010 

Not very informative or educational, sure, but here are a few of my much loved bloopers picks care of YouTube! They made me laugh, so I figured they were worth posting! And it’s always fun to watch behind the scenes stuff ups from some of your fave movies and shows.

Ashley Green and Justin Long doing an ad for Teens For Jeans, a campaign that encourages people to donate their old jeans for the teenage homeless in the U.S. (Awww bless) Watch the footage here.

Behind the scenes of the TV show Extras with Ricky Gervais and a mass of Hollywood celebs. Watch The Art of Corpsing Part 1 and Part 2. So funny, made me laugh until I cried! God bless Ricky, always the consummate professional! (Note: Sarcasm)

The gag reel from Forgetting Sarah Marshall – if you’ve seen the movie you will crack up. I don’t know how they even completed the film considering how funny it is… to keep a straight face and act out some of these lines shows real willpower and talent! Watch it here.

Bloopers from the movie The Hangover.

The movie Anchorman is funny enough on it’s own, but these outtakes are great!

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like the TV show Friends – and to be honest, I don’t want to! Obviously, with 10 seasons, there is a multitude of gag reels for this epic show, but here is a good one just for a taste! These guys are just so brilliant! *Grins*

So that’s enough of my finds from YouTube – hope one of them gives you (at the very least!) a bit of a chuckle!

The Man Who Loves Causing Bloopers

UP! (2009) Sunday, Jan 31 2010 

I went round to a friends house the other evening for a board games and movie night (don’t laugh, totally the best kind of evening EVER!) and the movie we ended up watching was UP!, of Disney/Pixar fame. Two of my friends had already watched it, and had been raving about it ever since, so I was mildly excited to finally see it.

What ended up happening was I found a movie that easily slotted into my top five fave flicks (alliteration at it’s best ๐Ÿ˜› )!

UP! is an animated movie that at first glance, seems like a kids movie. But it is so much more than that. Hilarious, witty and smart, but also unexpectedly raw and heartfelt. The story follows Carl Fredrickson through his shy boyhood, as he dreams of being an adventurer like his hero Charles Munts, who claims to have found The Lost Land somewhere in South America. This place has been labeled a myth by the scientific community at large, but Carl clings to hope of its existence. He meets the rambunctious neighborhood girl Ellie, their shared love of The Lost Land growing as they do. They grow up and marry, live a happy but fairly uneventful life together.

At the ripe old age of 78, Mr Fredrickson finds himself alone after his beloved wife has passed. The world he knew has changed, his demeanor is crotchety and negative, and all he wants to do is keep living his days out in the house he and his wife were happy in. Unfortunately, a developer is trying to get him to move, and when he plonks one of the workers on the head with his cane, he gets told by the courts he has to go into a retirement home. So, what is a man to do?

Well, as an ex helium balloon salesman, he attaches thousands of balloons to his house and floats off of course! He decides to keep the promise he had always made to his wife – to find their magical place they always believed existed. Unfortunately, Mr Fredrickson doesn’t discover his accidental stowaway until its too late! Russell, an eight year old boy who his trying to get his scout badge by helping the elderly, was on the front porch when the house took to the sky and now the two of them are stuck together on an adventure that leads to The Lost Land.

I won’t ruin the plot by divulging the rest of the story line in detail, but once the two unlikely adventurers arrive in The Lost land, hilarity ensues. You meet Kevin, a female bird that has yet to be discovered by the rest of the world and who is being hunted by Charles Munts, Mr Fredricksons lifetime hero. Theres Dug, one of Munts’ dogs that comes equipped with a specialized collar fitted by his owner that allows him to speak. Dugs lines made me laugh so hard I cried!

Dug: “My master made me this collar. He is a good and smart master and he made me this collar so that I may speak. Squirrel!”ย [looks to distance for a few seconds] “My master is good and smart.”

Dug: “I was hiding under your porch because I love you.”

Dug: “Hey, I know a joke! A squirrel walks up to a tree and says, “I forgot to store acorns for the winter and now I am dead.” Ha! It is funny because the squirrel gets dead.”

This movie was a delightful and well crafted mix of comedy and heart, so good in fact, that I think Disney has outdone itself. This is definitely going to be one of the few movies I want to own myself, as it is JUST THAT GOOD! I recommend that you watch it, either with the kids, with your significant other or even with friends. I think the audience for this movie is the entire human race!

Watch the trailer here.

UP! Movie Poster

Henry, Russell, Dug and Mr Fredrickson

Dug In The Cone Of Shame



Wacky From The Web Friday, Jan 29 2010 

Okay, so I admit, when I get bored I often find myself mindlessly watching clips on YouTube. It was on one such occasion where I stumbled across “Garfunkel and Oates” , a two women musical comedic duo.

Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci are quirky young women that have, between them, dabbled in acting, music and stand-up comedy, and have become an online phenomenon. Their 2-to-3 minute videos on YouTube feature self written songs about everything from dating and sex, to duck-love and pregnant women. These two extremely talented women are amazing. I cried with laughter while listening to some of their songs – especially when complimented by the petite Kate playing a ukulele!

Kate has had cameo appearances in shows like Scrubs, Malcolm in the Middle and How I Met Your Mother.

Riki has been in even more shows, and is quite a good little actress (in my opinion). Her credits include roles on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Heroes, The Big Bang Theory, Bones, Criminal Minds, Nip/Tuck, and even roles in a few movies, such as Changeling.

So between the two of them, they are talented little dabblers. But it is their hilarious, self deprecating, bizarre songs that have me hooked. A selection of their songs that I love the most are:

Pregnant Women Are Smug

Me, You And Steve

Silver Lining

They have many, many more songs than just these three, but you can hunt them out yourself! Take the time to have a look – I promise you will have a bit of a chuckle (at least!) over some of their witty lyrics.

Kate and Riki

Avatar Movie (2009) Thursday, Dec 24 2009 

So I went and saw this last night with one of my best friends at her very excited insistence. She had already seen it and was over the moon at being able to go again. So I went in with high hopes. I walked out going “Oh my god, that was one of the best movies EVER!”

The movie is set in the future, and though there is talk of Earth, everything is set either on spaceships or on the planet Pandora. Jake Sully, a paraplegic former marine, has taken part in a science experiment in the place of his dead twin brother. He is part of a team of humans that have created “Avatars”, bodies like the native Na’vi people of Pandora (big, blue, amazonian). He can transfer into this new body and out of his broken human one. In the beginning he is protection for the rest of the team, going down with them to Pandora in his new body (and enjoying being able to walk!) and scoffing as they take plant samples and talk of learning the ways of the natives. When he is suddenly separated from his group due to the horrifically scary animals of this planet, he is saved by one of the natives, a female called Neytiri. When the essence of the planet gives Neytiri a sign that he is important, she takes him back to her clan, where he is forced to pass through trials to prove he can be one of them.

Whenever he goes to sleep as a Na’vi he wakes back up in his human body (and vice versa), and during these times you find out more and more about the true reason humans are on Pandora. Underneath the Na’vi tribes home is a precious metal that Earth people want and believe they have every right to take. Jake’s team of scientists know this is inevitable, and are trying to get the Na’vi to move so that they don’t get hurt. The military side of it has stated that if they don’t move in three months they will be executed. At first Jake isn’t that fazed by this, as he thinks he can make them move and with the promise of his legs being fixed, he selfishly believes he is doing the right thing.ย 

As Jake learns more about the cultural and spiritual aspects of the Na’vi’s world, as well as falling in love with Neytiri, he finds himself. He reevaluates what is important, what is right and good. He learns a strength he never had before, and as a character becomes more animated in his Avatar body than as a human being. I won’t give everything away, but this movie HAS IT ALL! Romance, action, humour, fantastic CGI (and I mean, bloody amazing! Go Weta Productions!), heart and even an environmental message that really makes you think. I kind of thought this was a super modern day Pocahontas, where two worlds meet and the individual who thinks they are more civilised learns that really, they are not. This movie has a beautiful feeling to it, backed up by great acting and amazing, fantastic, wonderful CGI and effects like none I have ever witnessed before.

All in all, I’d give this movie a 10 out of 10. I’m most certainly going to be buying it on DVD when it’s released. I can’t stop raving about it – and neither can anyone I know thats seen it! Please, take my advice. Go see it. Don’t think, boy flick yuck. Science fiction, no thanks. Animated? Bleh. No. Go into it with new eyes. It’s just great – and now I think I prefer blue boys! Hehe.

Avatar The Movie (2009)

Neytiri - Daughter of the clan leaders

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