Archive for the Bloody brilliant observations Category

The flathunt continues

Posted in A Good Whinge, Bloody brilliant observations, Unwarranted criticism on August 18, 2011 by brunswick

There seems to be two strategies for flathunting in Wellington. You can only target the most suitable places, apply, and then wait to see if your application is successful, or you can see as many places as possible, which can be a bit depressing and tiring, but gives you a much more realistic idea of what’s available.

The places in the rent-range we’ve been looking at vary quite widely in quality. Sometimes you feel like taking aside the agents and pointing out some basic things: if the current tenants are students you’re unlikely to shift the place, because the kitchen will be in a horrid state, with enough protein encrusted on the surfaces to make a substantial (albeit terminal) meal. If the first thing that hits you when you enter the flat is a wave of dampness and mould, you can forget it. Blackened ceilings: not good. Bubbling walls: not good. If the second bedroom is actually a dank cupboard-sized “study”, that’s also something of a dealbreaker.

The attitude of the agent also contributes to your impression of a property – visibly wincing doesn’t inspire confidence, not does cheerfully admitting that you don’t know how anything works in the house, or bringing along your special-needs teenager (who promptly disappears to the lavatory to perpetrate god knows what), or sulking when any fault from the previous paragraph is pointed out.

How many cities are there where the only liveable housing is constructed before the eighties and after the nineties? Can we blame Roger Douglas? Full credit to the Art Deco architects who decided to construct really good solid houses which also look quite nice, but is it possible to travel back to the 1940s and slap everyone who decided to point the bedrooms away from the sun and put windowless walls on the sides with the best view*, then travel to the seventies and slap everyone who decided to rip out the chimneys and replace them with bar heaters, then travel to the eighties and slap everyone who decided to save money by deregulating building standards, then travel to the nineties and slap everyone for designing such bloody ugly exteriors, then travel to the present day and slap everyone who hasn’t insulated their old house yet?

Or would it be simpler to go back to the 1890s and say “For fuck’s sake, just because you’re living on an island doesn’t mean it’s not bloody cold and wet, and just because you’re from Scotland doesn’t mean you have to live like a miserable freezing bastard. Make the walls nice and thick, put in some insulation, and make it waterproof. I know that suffering brings you closer to God, but there’s no reason to speed up the journey.”

* A modern concept, especially if there wasn’t anything to see out the window when the house was built except for sheep and Protestants.

More flathunting

Posted in Bloody brilliant observations, Unwarranted criticism, Utter Trivia on August 7, 2011 by brunswick

Bit of a depressing one, this, after waiting to hear back about a great two-bedroom flat in Roseneath, which we had as much of a chance as getting as anyone, to be turned down because the owner preferred to have occupants who would use the smaller bedroom as a study. What an odd preference, and surely they shouldn’t have advertised it as a two-bedroom place if they didn’t want it to be used like that?

The Rugby World Cup Officially Overpriced All Black Merchandise store in Mercer Street has two large white silhouettes stuck to the window, running about and doing rugby things. Some wag has attached Freddie Mercury moustaches to their featureless faces.

Also amusing: the English team photographed in their new black kits, posed and lit to look like a buff, all-male superhero team.

Also also amusing: getting a preview of Weta’s colossal rugby sculpture in Civic Square. I’m torn between devoting next week’s Jitterati to it, or waiting until the 17th, when it’ll have been officially unveiled and more people will have formed opinions about it. My initial impression: beautifully made (like everything Weta crafts, except for employment contracts) and surprisingly low-relief, with its apex player (based on Victor Vito) craning out at an angle which practically begs for a king-hit to the bollocks.

Other people are useless and annoying and other surprising revelations

Posted in A Good Whinge, Bloody brilliant observations on August 3, 2011 by brunswick

I was supposed to finish a 16-page booklet today, except my computer briefly went bung. I was supposed to receive the material for it last week, but in the end I was left with only eight hours (overnight) to put the thing together, so it’s probably for the best that I wasn’t able to continue. I’m sorry to not complete a project, but on the other hand the circumstances could have been better.

I talked to our landlady, and apparently the house sale has fallen through, which means we can stay. Aha, but:

The planned interior renovation is still going ahead. The exterior renovation has been a nightmare for the past two months, which is how long it’s taken to paint a medium size-house and replace a few boards. So she really wants us to stay so she’s receiving income during construction.

It’ll still be put on the market after the renovation. So much for living security.

It’ll look nice, but it’ll still be bloody cold. There’s no plans to put in basic insulation, plus we lose our laundry, a lavatory and all our storage space for the sake of a sodding deck.

I seriously need to get the hell out of this place before I kill someone. If you had to empty the lint filter, wipe down the kitchen before use, re-wash gunk-encrusted and supposedly clean pots, open windows post-shower, hang up the bathroom mat, re-pack the dishwasher, put down the toilet seat, mop-up midnight puddles of wee and close drafty doors every day for four months you may feel the same way.

Unless you have a toddler, in which case you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

I don’t have a toddler.

18 things I learnt from finally watching the Millennium Trilogy

Posted in Bloody brilliant observations, Sound & Vision on July 12, 2011 by brunswick
  1. Don’t fuck with Lisbeth Salander.
  2. Chicks dig doughy Swedish journalists in their mid-forties.
  3. Noomi Rapace has huge cheekbones, like a dome tent.
  4. No-one in Sweden locks their doors.
  5. When you tune in to a traffic report on your car radio in Sweden, you’ll immediately drive past the incident in question.
  6. Every male over the age of seventy is either a Nazi or a pedophile.
  7. The DVD of The Girl Who Played with Fire has an odd stereo sound mix: most of the audio is in the centre and sounds like it was recorded in a biscuit tin, while the incidental music is much higher quality, and pipes in ominously from the extreme edges of the stereo image.
  8. Apple computers are ridiculously easy to hack, but only with other Apple computers.
  9. Apple laptops have keyboards which go “clackity-clack”
  10. Like many trilogies, the first film is fine on its own, while the second leaves things open so the consequences can be dealt with in the third.
  11. Investigative reporting involves the meticulous analysis of thousands of pages of information, with brief breaks involving being shot at in forests and beaten up in restaurants.
  12. There are only two non-white people in Stockholm.
  13. Old Swedish houses are apparently full of white smoke which catches the sunlight atmospherically.
  14. The official DVD English subtitles are rather dull – the downloadable ones are badly formatted and frequently hilarious, managing to make the speakers sound formal and retarded at the same time, as though they learnt English from text messages. There’s no female pronouns and they keep referring to a Soviet “detour” instead of “defector”.
  15. For added hilarity with the downloaded subtitles, turn down the volume and read the dialogue in the voice of Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel.
  16. If you didn’t have issues before being committed to a Swedish children’s psychiatric hospital, you certainly will by the time you get out.
  17. The relationship between Blomkvist and Salander is beautifully gauged, even though they spend very little time onscreen together after the first film.
  18. Men Who Hate Women is a more relevant title than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is a much better title than The Air Castle That Exploded.

Blander than newsprint

Posted in Bloody brilliant observations, Cartoon stuff on July 2, 2011 by brunswick

Our esteemed daily newspaper has a new local cartoon in its Saturday magazine section, and it almost makes me cry, knowing exactly what they could’ve chosen to print in that same space instead.

There’s a big difference between printing shitty, mediocre, pandering, insult-the-intelligence-of-the-reader, dead-at-the-wheel newspaper cartoons because they’re part of a syndication deal, and actively seeking out the shitty, mediocre, pandering local equivalent.

There will never be another great New Zealand newspaper comic strip. There’s no incentive for any local cartoonist to try.

Capital Times & KFC Double Down

Posted in Bloody brilliant observations, Jitterati, Utter Trivia on May 11, 2011 by brunswick

I walked into the Capital Times offices in Pirie Street for the first time since late 2009, to meet everyone again for the first time. There have only been two consistent staff members since I first walked in 15 years ago, and one of them owns the thing. The ad staff are there and gone like mayflies, such is the harsh reality of life in marketing.

Anyway, the staff seemed pleased to meet me, although I think the new editor was a bit tired. The graphic designer was nice, like designers everywhere he appreciates content he can paste in without awkward formatting.

After two days of national headlines (because our press really is that awful and trivia-obsessed) there was a queue outside KFC for their new breadless-burger gimmick. The sight of the queue (healthy, fit, laughing students) was just as revolting as the concept of the burger. This is something which is literally sanctioned by Act on Campus. Would you want to put anything like that in your body? I think not. That’s not how Ayn Rand kept so stylishly slim.

The NSFW 2011 Jitterati Easter Smackdown

Posted in Bloody brilliant observations, I can write stuff as well, you know, Jitterati, Utter Trivia on April 19, 2011 by brunswick

Jaimee couldn’t remember a time when she’d felt angrier – mind you, this was rather like asking a fish to remember the time it felt the most wet.

There were so many things about Fitz Bunny that were infuriating and hateful, starting with the glint in her evil black eyes and the mocking “Haw Haw!” of her laugh, but at the moment Jaimee was transfixed with fury at the sight of her former ponytail crudely affixed to Fitz’s grinning lip with spirit gum.

The long hair of a redheaded women is her pride and joy, and since that fateful morning four months ago when Fitz had passed by with a big pair of scissors and pure evil in her heart, Jaimee’s mornings staring in the mirror with the redundant Mason Pearson brush she’d been given for her 21st had been glum indeed.

While the roseate fiend was distracted by having a good chunky mock, Jaimee swooped down, grabbed her by her long ears, and with a strength that surprised many of the scattering Civic Square observers, spun Fitz around her head several times and up into the Neil Dawson fern globe, where she lodged like a surprised pink tennis ball.

Debbie craned her head up, admiringly. “Effective” she said, “but not the best long-term strategy.”

Before Jaimee could reply, there was a bright white flash and the globe disappeared, along with half of the Council’s windows. Shards of aluminium embedded themselves in the bricks at their feet, and as the white after-image faded, Fitz Bunny could be seen poised manga-like on one knuckle in the centre of a molten ceramic ring, which began making little “ping” noises.

It was at this point that Jaimee remembered Fitz had been named ‘Most Dangerous Non-Nuclear Object Which Can Fit Into A Box’ by the United Nations for five years running. They had eventually retired the award when it became clear that Fitz wasn’t going anywhere and it would be several decades before scientists could develop suitcase-sized black holes.

Nevertheless, this had been coming for a long time, so with a cry of “Have at thee!” Jaimee jumped on the glowering rabbit in a rain of fists and invective.

It was at this point (five minutes late) that Tony ambled up alongside Debbie. They watched in silence for a few seconds with their fingers entwined.

“It’s like that Yoda fight in Star Wars” offered Debbie, as the furious combatants rained blows at or near each other.

“Which one?”

“I dunno, one of the dreadful later ones they expect us to pay again to see in 3D next year. I’m not going, are you?”

“Huh” said Tony, who’d already booked his tickets.

It was becoming apparent that the sides were too evenly matched: Fitz may have had an evil-hardened Bunniculum skeleton and the malicious intent of a thousand parking wardens, but Jaimee was so pissed off that she was proving a rare match. Things were complicated by a lack of weapons: all of the useful stores that actually sold things had moved out to the Northern suburbs, and Jaimee quickly calculated she didn’t have the time or resources to get a $500 Javanese walking stick from Kirks or a $400 Ignite cricket bat from Rebel Sports.

Thinking fast, she dashed through the Adidas Originals store and began whipping Rugby World Cup propaganda at Fitz’s melon with razor-sharp accuracy. Fitz responded by flypapering her with sticky Vacancy signs peeled from central Wellington commercial properties. There seemed to be rather a lot of them.

As they slowed down, winded, they rampaged through an Internet cafe. The fight moved briefly online: Jaimee commented cattily on Theatreview that Fitz’s musical was overrated and in no way deserved to be named one of the Herald’s Top Five plays of the year, while Fitz observed archly on The Wellingtonista that there seemed to be rather a lot of unsold copies of the Jitterati book in Cuba Mall’s Graphic, even at the low price of $12.50.

Dashing down Manners St, Jaimee had a sudden flash of inspiration, and seized a copy of the Wellingtonian. Alertly, Fitz grabbed an Independent Herald. To Debbie and Tony it was apparent that they’d both had the same idea simultaneously. To the horror of onlookers, Jaimee began to read out a worthy local news item which was too dull to appear in the Dominion Post, while Fitz countered with an advertorial. They were attempting to bore each other to death.

Unfortunately they each had to listen to their own voice while reading the items, and the pair quickly succumbed, toppling over gently onto each other like sleepy children. Debbie and Tony paused only to tweet photos of the rather sweet tableau before moving to rearrange limbs to prevent cramp and check for brain damage.

In the end they asked a passing JP to declare a draw.

More scurrilous talk of recession

Posted in Bloody brilliant observations, Utter Trivia on April 2, 2011 by brunswick

Pray for Borders. Their remainder shop on Willis St has closed, and their large Dymocks-killing shop on Lambton Quay has halved its stock. This has been disguised by removing some shelves and spacing out the remaining books. I’m sensing that consumers have tired of paying five dollars more than anywhere else for already-overpriced books and DVDs. Or, for a more specific example, being charged full price for six-year old books on software which is three versions out of date. No-one is going to miss this boneheaded store, not in the way we’d miss Unity, which has its own problems with street access – at the moment you have to walk through a construction site with a sticky floor.

The general air of malaise and despondency in retail has seen a return to the shabbiness I remember in New Zealand in the 1980s, and I wonder if we were fooling ourselves all along.  It wasn’t until the early ’90s that I remember seeing absurdly expensive European cars parked in the street, and meeting people who were massively conceited and entitled, not because they belonged to an old farming family or because they’d ever achieved anything, but because their parents were very, very rich. We’ve spent the past thirty years living beyond our means and mistaking it for progress, and maybe this new genteel poverty (with isolated concentrations of extreme wealth and destitution) is just our natural state.

As a side-note, and not wishing to cause offence, the new strategy of appealing to the patriotism of expats to pay off their student loans in order to help rebuild Christchurch may be misguided. It doesn’t matter how much you emphasise the “heroism” of meeting your debt obligations to a country who subsidised the advanced education which enabled you to have a career, and whose tax base you no longer contribute to. The fact remains that a significant percentage of our 600,00 expats are overseas because Christchurch is, well, Christchurch.

Recession, anyone?

Posted in Bloody brilliant observations, Utter Trivia on March 25, 2011 by brunswick

Pray for Real Groovy. I was in there today for the first time in a few months, and they’ve started reducing their floorspace by fencing off a big empty area with racks of $1 CDs. Sadly, this is the same physical space which they proudly expanded into a few years ago. It’s like watching a tide recede.

They’re carrying less stock, which is understandable considering they depend on a churn of second-hand material, and if people are buying fewer new CDs and DVDs then eventually there’s fewer second-hand sales. What I can’t understand is their disastrous decision to get rid of the big display of new CDs and their biggest sellers which used to be right in front of the tills. No impulse purchases for you! Now if you want to find new music, you have to know exactly what you’re looking for, and dig for it. The New Zealand music section is looking particularly sad.

I remember during the last big recession (mid-nineties) I started building my CD collection by pouring over sale stock from independent stores which were closing, like an impossibly sexy ginger vulture. Those stores never re-opened when the economy improved. We’re assured that such is the cyclic nature of capitalism, that things will eventually get better. Of course they will, but for whom?

The damage from the latest recession is affecting everyone in different ways. The richest can afford price rises, and they may even be lucky enough to have incomes rising at the same level as inflation. Things for them are fine. Unfortunately the vast majority of us are not-so rich, and are struggling to stay solvent as our income levels stagnate. Then there’s the growing number of the poor who were poor to begin with, but after three years of everything (especially the basics) going up, they’re double-poor. You must keep in mind that, despite sizeable civil service cuts and freezes, Wellington is still unusually insulated – it’s worse outside the cities.

The difference between this recession and the previous one is segregation. We are a less egalitarian society. If you go to Moore Wilson’s, the recession is over. Everyone is eating healthily and can afford fresh vegetables. They can go down the street to Magnum Mac and queue for an iPad 2, which they don’t really need, but they want because it’s a distraction. If you go down Tory St to The Warehouse, the recession is in full swing.


Capital Times reports that Left Bank’s Graffiti Alley has been fenced off by the council, before being repainted as part of the gentrification of Cuba Mall before the World Cup. Because nothing offends international lager louts more than pissing against a wall that’s covered in graffiti.

Jitterati’s 10th anniversary

Posted in Bloody brilliant observations, Cartoon stuff, Jitterati, Lovely pictures, Utter Trivia on March 2, 2011 by brunswick

Ten years ago this week, Jitterati first appeared in City Voice, four months before it folded. The two events are unrelated. Capital Times still doesn’t like talking about City Voice, so I haven’t mentioned this anniversary to them… maybe I’ll say something next year, when it’s the 10th anniversary of its first Capital Times appearance. Media politics, eh?

Until then, here’s a special 10th anniversary cartoon which will never see print. Click for a readable version (NSFW on account of proper adult swears).