Monday, August 29, 2011

Lesbian Vampire Killers Review

When I see a movie entitled Lesbian Vampire Killers, I do not hold much hope for the kind of movie that it will be. Other similar titles leap to mind, titles like Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter and Zombie Strippers. It makes me think of a combination of porn and terrible horror, the kind of movie that Paris Hilton might star in. And yet, somehow, I had only ever heard how good the movie was. And this wasn't only from men who might be oggling the girls with fangs making out. This was from some of my female friends as well!

And so, last night, I decided to give it a go. I put the movie onto a flash stick and prepared to be horrified. And then the movie started, and from about two minutes in, I was getting stitches from laughing so hard. I'd had the best intentions going into the movie, preparing to find it crude and revolting and just completely over the top, but I actually thought that it was pretty damn good, and certainly better than the title could ever have led me to imagine.

The movie starts off around 200 years in the past when the Queen of the vampires, Camilla, is killed by a Baron. Just before he manages to off her, she puts a curse on him and the town, the basis of which is that every girl who turns 18 will become a vampire. *GASP* And not just any vampire either. No. A lesbian vampire!! *DOUBLE GASP* This curse will continue until one of the Baron's relatives returns to the town. Then she will rise again, with the aid of a virgin's blood. It then jumps to the present day when two friends are leading equally dull lives and decide to go on a hiking trip. Arriving in the vampire ridden town (in daylight) they are directed to a local inn to stay the night, an inn where the vampires feast on unsuspecting visitors.

The style of the movie is great, reminding us of the older horror movies like Rocky Horror Picture Show, but the humour is fairly modern. It can get a little crude at times, and there is some minor nudity involved, but overall, I found the movie to be funnier than it was gross, and not particularly off-putting despite the occasional obvious play on the sex theme. I had expected a lot worse considering the title, and the most that is seen are occasional breasts through transparent clothing or through cracked windows.

There are no well-known actors in the movie, but I thought that the main characters were great, particularly the chubby and, for the most part unlikeable, Jimmy. Despite his supposedly being the secondary character in the story rather than the hero, I felt that he took over the role of hero while Fletch kind of sat on the sidelines being all quiet and moody and stuff. The one thing that did annoy me slightly were some of the accents that were portrayed. I cannot tell you what they were supposed to be. That is how bad they were.

Overall, I would suggest this movie to anyone who enjoyed movies like Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, and anyone who enjoyed some of the older horror movies. I would describe this one as a horror comedy, and I think that anyone who watches it with an open mind may find themselves enjoying it more than they thought.

Friday, August 26, 2011

French Dreaming

I really don't think that I appreciated France enough when I went there in 2004. I was 16 years old, and it was not where I wanted to be. I wanted to be back in South Africa, at a camp with my friends, lying on the beach during the day and sleeping in tents at night. Instead, I was forced into coming to France, travelling through the countryside, sleeping in four star hotels (that's just how my family rolls, y'all) and eating decadent French cuisine.

Now, I can see what you are thinking (yes, I can read minds). Why on earth am I complaining?? Dirty, uncomfortable camp compared to France in luxury - not too difficult of a choice, right? Well, I wasn't all too happy to be going along. As much as I wanted to visit a foreign country, I also knew by this point what travelling with my family was like, and it wasn't something that I particularly looked forward to. And I was right. As beautiful as the French countryside was, it was a trip filled with fighting. I was fighting with my sister, which led to my father fighting with me, which led to my parents fighting with each other, which led to my sister fighting with my mother for defending me. There was a lot of fighting. In between, we visited Paris, Ceret and other areas whose names lost in the whirlwind trip, but whose images are ingrained in my mind, and overall the trip wasn't quite as bad as I had imagined that it would be, but it was certainly not the way that I would have liked to experience France.

Now that I am older and wiser and far more appreciative of different cultures, different cuisine and different people, I want to travel there again. Unfortunately, this is not particularly likely. Instead I have to console myself by reading books that are based in France - books like Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris.

For those of you who do not know who Joanne Harris is, she is the woman behind Chocolat, the sensational book (also based in France) and the award winning movie that followed starring Juliette Binoche and (swoon) Johnny Depp. I loved Chocolat, almost as much as I love the subject of the novel, and somehow knew that I would love Five Quarters of the Orange as well. Harris has this wonderful way of writing that just draws you into the novels that she writes and keeps you there through a mixture of suspense, longing and nostalgia (for lack of a better word).

Five Quarters of the Orange, like Chocolat, has a theme of cooking running through it, and she uses this theme to reminisce about the main character's secret past. Framboise, the main character, inherits a cookbook and a single truffle preserved in oil when her mother passes away. Her brother inherits the farm that the family grew up in, and as he has no use for it, Framboise buys it from him and returns to the town where she grew up under the pseudonym of Madame Simon. There, she builds up a restaurant and a life for herself, all the while delving into the mystery of her mother through her cookbook, filled with recipes and diary-like notes, and trying to avoid the past that threatens to catch up with her.

I adored Five Quarters of the Orange, and it is a book that I intend to read over and over again. The scenery described is beautiful, the recipes mouthwatering and the story intriguing. If you have read Chocolat and loved it, I would highly recommend this book. It has some of the best parts of the novel, and even though I still think that Chocolat is slightly better, I wouldn't pass this one over. For those that have yet to read Chocolat, I would recommend reading it first.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Kindly Give Me Back My Kindle

Hello readers :)

I figured that it had been awhile since I last posted something of interest on this blog, so I thought that I would write a post while I had a spare minute or two.

As anyone who reads my blog may have guessed from the many posts about books, I like to read. Quite a lot really. Enough for me to have books to fill practically fill a full two bookshelves by myself. Which means that when I move around, when I travel and when I move houses, I tend to take a lot of books with me. What this leads to is a lot of extra weight and a lot of extra space. This led to a decision being made last year - I needed an ebook reader. When Shaina got given her Nook for her birthday, I was incredibly jealous and I started working on Grant, insisting that I should get such a device myself. It would come in handy for the both of it, I pleaded. And eventually he gave in, getting my a wonderful Kindle for my own birthday in March.

It is now August, and I am ashamed to say that I have not made too much use of my Kindle. After downloading a huge number of books and taking my Kindle to Johannesburg with me, I have barely touched it since, and there is good reason for this. My Kindle, my wonderful Kindle, the third (or fourth) love of my life (after Grant, Puddims and, at times, my HTC) is faulty. You see, while Amazon advertises that the Kindle battery can last a full month, I can barely get four hours out of the thing. The wireless is turned off. There is no music playing. I have decreased the number of books on the machine, but after fully charging it, turning it on and opening a book, it automatically jumps to less than half health. The last time I did this, I then turned it off and left it sitting on my desk. Two days later, it was completely dead.

Contacting Kindle from South Africa is a problem. You see, Amazon does not have South African support, and though I emailed them about the problem, they required a phone call. There is no local number to call. My cellphone does not have roaming and cannot dial international numbers. My Skype does not have credit as I have no credit card. I am left with only one option - to take the machine in to the shop where Grant bought it. Which I will do. But I thought that I would vent my upsetness first.

I am upset. I loved my Kindle with all my heart, glorifying it as the best birthday present ever. And it is broken. I seriously think that Kindle needs to get some South African support, particularly if these devices are being marketed at an International audience, which they are. If they cannot get South African support, then they need to be prepared to have better reception when emailed and provide better service than merely saying: "We can't help you over email. Give us a call." I can't give you a call, and I am left with a defective machine until I can get off my ass and go to Insight. Which, fair enough, is not too far away. But while Amazon offers a replacement in days, I know that my Kindle is not going to get back to me for weeks when I hand it over to Insight, because it is doing nothing more than passing it on to a middle man, who then has to get in contact with their suppliers, who then have to get in contact with Amazon, who then have to send a replacement, which then needs to be sent to Insight and finally ends up at me a lot later than it would have if I could have just gotten hold of Amazon myself.

I am upset. I am unimpressed and I want my Kindle back, the way that it should be. Rant over.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Moving On Up

As some of you may already have gathered from my Facebook status, I am not going to be living in my current house too much longer. Some people have been asking why, and it is not the easiest of questions to answer.

When I moved out of my first Grahamstown house, there was a slight aspect of relief. There were a number of reasons for this. Part of it was living with four other people, all of whom had their own vices, myself included. Living with other people is always hard, and living with four of them, trying to juggle five personalities and keep everyone sane, was a job in itself. I think that we managed quite well. The fact that four of us were Journalism students helped, as it meant that we had a common ground that we could connect on. The fact that I spent a large amount of my time at my Grant's house meant that I was out of the way most of the time and not getting into too many arguments, which helped a great deal as well - one of my vices is my terrible temper which I struggle to keep in check, so having somewhere else to go when I got irritated was handy. Another part of the relief that I felt was that I would no longer be dealing with Homelet.
From the first month we started having problems with our rental agency. It all started when we asked for our washing machine to be fixed. It took them a month to send someone, it then took that someone two weeks to admit that there was a problem and it then took another full month for the machine to be replaced, all this while having five people doing washing in one bath. We were not impressed. When we next had an electrical issue, we therefore didn't bother going through the agency, a mistake that we soon realised as they refused to pay for the bill and it had to be split amongst us. One of the agents was incredibly rude throughout the washing machine ordeal (as was the electrician supplied by the agency) and by the end of the year, was refusing to speak to two of my housemates, preferring to deal with myself and Mike instead. Not wanting to shuffle things around too much, and with most of our ordeals settled, three of us decided to stay in the house for a second year while two of our housemates were replaced.
In our second year at the house there were also a number of ordeals including, but not limited to, having to pay for an alarm battery which I believe should never have died and having a break-in which we were blamed for because the alarm wasn't on at the time. Of course, these seem like nothing when compared to the drama that was faced when we left the house and were refused our deposits. Deposits are supposed to be given within twenty days of the tenants leaving the house. So, when over a month later nothing had been received, I decided to send them an email asking what was happening. No, they told us. We weren't getting them back. See, when one of the housemates left, it had been difficult to find a replacement, and though we eventually did manage to find one (and told her that she would need to pay for the full 12 months rent rather than the 10 that she would be living there, which she and her family accepted) our agency insisted on keeping our deposits to cover her first two months rent. As you can imagine, I was thoroughly unimpressed with this - the lease that I had signed was for a single bedroom, not a bedroom and part of another - and having a lawyer friend, threatened legal action. It took awhile, but I eventually got my deposit back, and I was not very happy with the agency. These days, if anyone asks me which agency they should go to when looking for a house, my only answer is "Not Homelet."

So that was my first house. When Grant moved out of his first house, it was simply because he wanted a little more privacy. He was no longer a student and living in a "digs" with six people was getting a bit much for him. So he moved into our current house was Jono, who had been one of the six from the original house, and when I returned from Korea, I joined them to make a house of three. When I first moved in, it did have a slight bachelor-pad feeling to it, but I soon made myself at home and made the place feel more home-like.

So, down to the real question: If it feels so much like home, why are we moving? Is it the people? Is it the agent or the landlady? Well, the landlady does have a little to do with it, but she is not the real reason. She is a little slow at getting things done, which is why it took a month to get our oven fixed, and she is a little stubborn about some things that tend to get on our nerves (ie. the burglar bars the jut into our driveway making it a hazard to drive through), but we love Peta overall and she is not the reason for our move. In fact, we felt terrible telling her that we were moving.
The fact is that we are now a little more grown up and are looking for a house that is not a digs but a home. We are looking for something a little more private than the semi-detached that we stay in at the moment. I, for one, am not so fond of waking up in the morning to a barking dog, or listening to banging as pictures are hung on the wall, or listening to children running up and down the stairs. While it was fine when Kim was staying next door, a single woman with one cat and one dog and one son who came to visit on occasion, having a full, growing family next door has become a pain in my neck.
We also wanted to find something in a better neighbourhood. African Street is not the safest in Grahamstown, and the area that we are staying in is close to what used to be the railroad. Three years ago, you couldn't have paid me to live here, and while the neighbourhood has cleared up a little, I still don't feel particularly safe climbing out of my car in the middle of the night to open up the gate.
And so, we started looking for something that was a little more private, a little more quiet, a little more grown up and a little more calm.
And we found it!

When I saw a picture of the house, I jumped on the phone to the rental agency and made a booking to see it. It wasn't a particularly good picture of the house - in fact it was mostly of the garden - but it looked nicer than anything we had seen so far. Being curious and not wanting to wait until the next day, I convinced Grant that we should drive past and have a look. And we liked what we saw. It is in a very nice area, near Graeme College which is a little far from the University (a slight problem for Jono who will still be living with us and will need to invest in a bicycle) but pretty close to work. The area also tends to be safer as most of the houses are bigger and the area is more secluded than African Street.
When we arrived at the house for the booking, it was with the mindset that if we liked it, we weren't going to hesitate. We walked up the driveway, at the end of which was a double garage (something new in itself considering that both of our cars have been parked outside for as long as we've had them), through the front garden (another first for me in Grahamstown) and into the house itself. We were greeted by a large lounge with a big fireplace - a good first impression. Off the lounge was a dining room (in a separate area, another first) and past that was a nice, big kitchen - room for a table and all. The kitchen also had a backdoor which led to the back garden, which was huge with steps going up to different layers of garden and the perfect braai area. Back inside the house, we were shown into the three rooms, all of which were a little smaller than we were used to, one with a newly redone en-suite bathroom (our room). That didn't deter us, however. Even with the smaller rooms, the house itself was much bigger, much nicer and much more private than the one that we were staying in, and it didn't take much for us to fall in love with it.

An hour later, the lease was signed, the deposit paid and we were the proud lessees-to-be of the house at 5 MacGowen. As many of you may have guessed, I am uber excited about the move and am already trying to convince Grant to go furniture shopping (one of the drawbacks of the house is that it doesn't come ready furnished as most houses in Grahamstown do) to no avail. I suppose I will just have to wait for 01 December. It can't come soon enough!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fantastically Light

I know that it sounds like a lame play on words, and yes, it is, but it is the best way that I can think of to describe The Light Fantastic. It really was fantastically light and just what I needed.

Over the past few months, I have been struggling through books - through one book in particular. I have been enjoying it when I get around to reading it, but it is not the kind of book that I find myself wanting to pick up. It is not the kind of book that I can read anywhere and anytime. I have to be in the right frame of mind to read it. I have to be concentrating, otherwise I find myself getting lost and having to backtrack to find out what I missed. It is a problem, because even now, when I pick it up and open the book to the page that I had been on, I have no recollection of what came before and no interest in what is going to come next. The writing is exquisite, but getting through it is a daunting task.

This is why, when I picked up The Light Fantastic, I was thrilled to find that it really was fantastically light reading. It was the complete opposite to the kinds of books that I had been reading over the last few months and it was the kind of book that I wanted to pick up and read, rather than finding it an effort to do so. There was a bit of a break in between my reading of The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, but that didn't hinder my reading of it in the slightest. Pratchett picked up where he left off with the story of Rincewood of Twoflower, not recapping too much - a practice that tends to annoy me in series as they spend our valuable time recapping what happened in the last book when they could be continuing the story. Pratchett doesn't waste time like that. He spends perhaps one or two sentences explaining how the characters got to where they are, in a humorous way as is always the case it would seem with Pratchett, and then he carries on with the storytelling. It is writing as it should be. It is reading as it should be. There are no drawn out descriptions, no unrequited love stories. Things happen as they happen and he tells it as it is. And I like that. A lot.

That isn't to say that there is no suspense to the book. Not at all. The book is full of suspense, and Pratchett has a way of leaving stories hanging at important moments and continuing with a seemingly completely separate story that he somehow connects at the end. It makes for suspenseful reading, but in an enjoyable way. You are constantly sitting on the edge of your seat waiting to find out what happens, but you are not bored to tears by unnecessary details while you are waiting. No. Instead, you are treated to further adventures, which you suspect will somehow end up relating to the story, but are not quite sure how yet.

Pratchett is a talented writer. There can be no denying it. And now that I have read two of his books, I am utterly hooked and cannot wait to delve into more. Though I know that the next book in the series is not one relating to Rincewood, I am looking forward to getting to know some of the new characters that the Discworld can provide. Equal Rites, here I come!

Thursday, August 11, 2011


I have not been doing too much reading lately. Or writing for that matter. Well, I have been doing quite a bit of writing, but it is not the kind of writing that I usually like to do - it has been writing to clients, writing newsletters and writing advertising ideas. Not so much the creative writing that I love so much. However, this month I am making yet another attempt at a 50,000 word novel, this time for Camp Nanowrimo. I doubt that I will finish it, as I am already about 4000 words behind schedule, but it has been getting me to write a little more than usual at least. And, in terms of reading, I have a new aim for the month. I am going to try and read at least 5 books in one month. I am going to try and curb the enthusiasm for the series that I have been watching a concentrate on reading a little more. I do not know if I am going to end up finishing all 5, but if I get through at least 3, I will see it as an achievement.

So which books do I intend to read then? Well, first of all, I should mention that the book I am currently reading does not count towards this total, as I am about 40 pages away from finishing it. It has taken me about 2 weeks to complete, and it is not a particularly long book, so that should tell you something. The books that I chose for this challenge were picked at random from the shelf upstairs. I have tried to include books of varying genres, as well as books that I have been looking forward to. Looking at the pile of them now, I somehow doubt that I am going to make it through in the one month that I have given myself, but I am going to try my hardest in any case.

So here they are, the books that I will be reading and the reviews that you can look out for. In no particular order:

Wizard's First Rule - Terry Goodkind
Bitter Sweets - Roopa Farooki
Five Quarters of the Orange - Joanne Harris
The Eye of the World - Robert Jordan
Laughable Loves - Milan Kundera

Wish me luck peoples!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Firefly and Serenity

It has been a rough week. An incredibly rough week actually involving me taking calls from angry customers, one of whom screamed at me for ten minutes, making me cry, demanding that she talk to the owner of the company without even giving me her name. But regardless, I have survived and come back stronger than ever. Well, come back strong at least. Thankfully things seem to be calming down at work a bit, which is why I have the time to write this blog.

When I have been coming home in the evenings, I have not been feeling up to much. I eat dinner (sometimes even make it), have a nice long bath, do a little reading (Terry Pratchett being my author of choice at the moment) and then go and lie in bed for awhile watching an episode or two of a series. And so, I thought that I would write a post about the series that I finished watching recently. It is one that I have always wanted to watch, that I have always heard good things about, but that I have somehow just never gotten into. As I have currently watched most of the series on my computer and Grant was getting round to watching reruns of The Simpsons, I decided that it was time to try something new. And so, I started to watch Firefly.

For those of you who have never heard of Firefly, it is a Joss Whedon which only ran for one season. It is a sci-fi Western revolving around a group of illegal traders who earn their living by ferrying travellers across space and by doing dodgy deals along the way. It has recently been compared to Cowboys and Aliens, and I can kind of see why as the two genres tend to run together more than you would expect, but as I have not yet seen Cowboys and Aliens, I cannot do a comparison yet. I will let you know if I ever get around to it.

Part of what makes this series so awesome are the characters. The series stars Nathan Fillion (of Buffy, Dr. Horrible and Castle fame) as Captain Mal Reynolds the captain of the ship, Serenity. His sense of humour and his one-liners make the series, and despite his attempts to be hard and badass, despite his threats to kick Simon and River (two of the travellers) off his ship or leave them behind somewhere, you know that he has a soft side underneath and that it is simply not in his nature. His crew consist of married couple Zoe and Wash, badass assassin Jayne and engineer Kaylee, while his travellers consist of the courtesan Innara, the priest Sheperd, the doctor Simon Tam and his sister, River. I recongised a number of names and faces when I started watching the series, including Wash (who is played by Alan Tudyk from 28 Days and A Knight's Tale) and Jayne (who is played by Adam Baldwin from Chuck). Summer Glau, who plays River Tam, also became a bit of an icon because of the series, and is fawned over by Firefly and general sci-fi fans everywhere. She was an extra in an episode of Big Bang Theory, where all four of the friends tried their luck with her and all four of them utterly failed.

Another part of what makes the series awesome was the plot. Every character had a very definite part to play, and it was clear that Joss Whedon had a larger plan in mind than the one season that the show ran for. He carefully developed plot lines, from the love stories that develop between Mal and Innara and Kaylee and Simon, to the mystery of what it is that the government were doing to River, to the mystery behind the Shepherd and the way that he is treated by the people he encounters. The fact that the series only lasted one season was highly disappointing, and a huge number of people were disappointed by it. So many that they decided to make a movie to try and seal off some of the loose ends.

Serenity was released in 2005, two years after the series ended, and became a cult hit in the same way that Firefly had become cultist rather than mainstream. Of course, it meant that the characters had changed a great deal in the two years that the series had been finished for, but the storyline picked up quickly, and the differences were not too harsh aside from the occasional hair-style change or weight loss. Most of the movie revolved around River and trying to cover her story, where she came from and what she had been subjected to, while the other loose ends took a backseat and were only briefly referred to. While it was good to see the cast together again and to have a little bit of finality (the series left off on a bit of a cliffhanger, which made it all the more disappointing), I still found myself a little disappointed in the movie. I wanted to know more! I wanted other things to happen! I wanted the series to start again so that they could pick up where they had left off, but I knew that it was never going to happen.

Despite my disappointment, I loved Firefly and Serenity. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is into action, sci-fi, western or comedy series. In fact, I would highly recommend it to practically anyone. The only reason I found them so disappointing was because of the awesomeness. In reality, I am disappointed with Fox - the bastardly network that decided to drop the series. I am glaring at them right now.