I Blogged Myself

Why do you always come here? I guess we'll never know. It's like a kind of torture, To read this blog, y'know.

Welcome to the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, Muppetational blog since Kermit left just a little bit of the swamp in his pants.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Nice Shelia; Shame About The Name ...

How had this escaped my attention thus far?

Wifey pointed this out to me last night, after someone else had pointed it out to her. Apparently it's been all-the-rage around the traps recently, but Wifey and I were blissfully ignorant.

Take a look at this article, and then this one, and then the top item here.

Let the childish jokes begin.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Let's Talk About The Weather

Whoa - what a crazy day it was in Melbourne today. Pretty intense heat (I'm sure no one would argue with that), followed by a ridiciously harsh storm (just wind and rain, but SO MUCH of it!), and then - at least out where I live - a blackout that lasted four and a half hours and let us wallow in the heat again.

And miss out on Neighbours.*

From 6pm until 10:30pm, Wifey and I sat in relative (and increasing) darkness, with the blinds closed for the heat, reading books by candlelight. It made for an amusing tableaux, but it meant that we couldn't watch the TV shows we wanted to watch, or listen to music, or turn on a fan / air conditioner (if we owned the latter), or make dinner, or go online, or play computer / console games, or watch a video / DVD ... everything we wanted to do relied on electricity!

We couldn't even go to sleep because our alarm clocks needed to be set so we'd wake up for work tomorrow. And our home phone is one of those exceptionally clever ones that require power as well!

Yeah yeah - I'm just whinging about nothing. But the power's back on now, and I've set the alarm and checked the fridge contents (everything seems to be OK - we purposely didn't open the fridge during the blackout, to conserve the 'chilled ambiance' inside for as long as possible), and Wifey's in bed with the fan going. I wanted to come online to see the results for the Australian Blog Awards (I want to see by how much I am KOed), but of course whoever's in charge of that site (which Clokeeeey will no doubt remind us is based on the notion of apathy) hasn't bothered to put the results up yet.

Actually, it seems that the same storm that made my night so much 'fun' is preventing the results from being posted there as well. The dude behind the site must live locally. Maybe he's my neighbour. (If so, that oughta be good for a few votes. I brought in his bin once.)

That's about all I had to say. I'm back at work tomorrow, and then again on Monday. I have Tuesday off, which will be nice. It was arranged as soon as I got back from the Christmas break, and has nothing to do with my resignation from this Tuesday. I'm sure people will suspect I'm having an interview or something, but I'm not. I'll fill you in on the details after Tuesday.

* A little help, anyone?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I Finally Did It!

The crowd is outside, asking each other questions as they anxiously await the news. "Is it good?" "Is it bad?" "Is someone selling hot dogs over there?" "Can you get off my foot, please?" "Is this being televised?" "Did you just fart?"

Suddenly, BEVIS appears at the microphone.

There is a hush of antici ...

... pation as BEVIS blinks uncertainly at the crowd. He clears his throat, takes the microphone in his hand, and says: "Yesterday, after much deliberation and careful consideration, I resigned."

C'mon, that's not very excited!

Even the Chess Club is happy for me:

This really is a red-letter day in my life. I've been stuck in a rut here since I finished my uni degree. Finally, I see a real future ahead of me, even if it is completely unknown.

Yep, I need to find new work. I have quit with nowhere else to go. Crazy, I know, but I just really felt that it was time to get outta here. The email I received from one of the managers here last Tuesday had something to do with this, but certainly not everything.

I'll find something eventually. (Or I won't, and will starve to death on the side of the road - either way, I'll be happier than I've been here for eight years.)

Wish me well.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Elvira Tag

On Wednesday, January 11, 2006 11:34:45 AM, Mr. Kahfarknarkle said...

Bevis, I TAG you to write a post about your detailed thoughts oln Elvira, including; why she was so popular, a detailed review of her career, all the role's she's played, what she's doing now, and then tag another 20 people with the same thing

Thanks for this imaginative and ingenious tag, Mr K. I'm not sure how popular Elvira is with the international blogging community, but I'll see how I go ...

Born in September 1949 (eww - that makes her 56 years old!), Cassandra Peterson was never much into horror films as a child.* However, upon reaching her 23rd year, she landed the much-admir'd role of 'Uncredited' in Roma.

Her performance was so amazing that it took two full years for Hollywood to recover and offer her the role of 'Katya' in The Working Girls. This film is now subtitled (in a really tasteful way) 'Elvira Naked' in video stores, due to Katya's brief* striptease. What class.

A string of memorable roles followed, such as 'Girl with Lugs', 'O'Malley's Girl', 'Busty Nurse', 'Neighbor' (sic), 'Dinner Party Guest' and 'Hostage'. In 1985's Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, she featured as 'Biker Mama'.

However, appearances on many TV shows such as Happy Days, CHiPS, Fantasy Island, Saturday Night Live, The Arsenio Hall Show, St Elsewhere, thirtysomething, Nash Bridges, The Fall Guy, Parker Lewis Can't Lose, Murder She Wrote* and The Richard Simmons Show (on most of which she appeared as Elvira) soon followed. The character Elvira, "Mistress of the Dark", was a supposedly vampiresque woman of sin and shame (although she was always remarkably PG-rated, with only innuendo and bad agents holding her back) who ran her own late night cheap black and white horror movie show on cable TV.

She enjoyed some measure of success in the 1980s*, culminating in a 1988 feature-length film, imaginatively titled Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.

There were two main reasons for her popularity:

Although the character will never die (and has never aged either), her official website certainly has. Be sure to check out the calendars you can buy in the Merchandise section.

Since the early nineties, Elvira has barely been seen in the media (with the odd exception such as The Tony Danza Show, although this barely counts as no one watches it). However, she regularly attends signings and conventions, amazing her fans by her once-natural red hair, her reasonably-aged features, and her bosoms hanging down around her knees.

Congratulations to Riss and later Millwood for correctly identifying yesterday's Mystery Woman.

I now tag every single one of you reading this to do the same thing I've done with this Elvira tag.

* I don't know if this is true.

PS - Later today, I will finally do it. Stay tuned.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Mystery Woman

Does anybody know who this is?

I'll provide the answer tomorrow.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Shout Out # 2

It's time for another Shout Out. I've been corrected; these things are actually called yuyus (the opposite to memes, because they're not about me - instead, they're about one of yu).*

So this yuyu is directed squarely between the eyes of Little Faerie Girl.

I have often enjoyed Little Faerie Girl's views on life; from the heart-breaking moments of frustration and sadness, to the emotional highs of her son Xander's witty remarks and gorgeous observations on the world.

Little Faerie Girl and I have fought the good fight together; soldiers-in-arms; battling against the evil forces of Internet Idiots, ... and we've grown closer through that struggle for The Good.

Here's an example of Little Faerie Girl's wonderfulness: She works as a librarian, and when she was going to throw out some old books that the library didn't want anymore, and she saw that they were Muppet-related, she thought, "I know who might like these ..." -- and she was right!

In return, I made her a mixed CD (because she loves them), but one which was quite liberal in its definition of the word 'mixed', as about half the songs were Muppet songs. (Although, the Muppet songs were mixed up throughout the CD, if that helps ...) But enough of my own hilarious humour.

Little Faerie Girl is enormously generous but is feeling a bit down at the moment, so I thought it would be a good time to tip my hat in her direction. So please, people - scurry on over there and read back through her posts. Leave a lovely comment and make her day. She's a good friend to have.

I salute you, Little Faerie Girl! May the future be bright and shiny.

* This term is not my own, but I will credit the cleverdick who thought of it when it's their turn for a Shout Out / yuyu.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

RIGHT! - That Does It!

I've had it with this place.

I can't say too much because I need to "hold my cards close to my chest", but one of the managers here really offended me yesterday without any cause or reason; just because that's how they operate and treat people around here.

Well, stuff 'em. I was holding out for my supervisor's role (you know the one who quit just before Christmas? Well, I applied for her role and am due to find out shortly if I've been successful), but now I really don't want to work in this place anymore. I have to find other work IMMEDIATELY.

The best thing about this is that if I get another job and give notice here, they'll be scrambling over themselves to replace me (as I now constitute the entire webteam) before the new university year starts back ... which they may or may not do considering the pathetic salary they offer ... and that may leave them with a brand new website and no one who knows how to administer it - right as they head into a new year of trying to convince students to become voluntarily paid-up members (remember my dislike of that VSU thing? That's kinda because it directly affects my job). So basically, me quitting soon would really screw them.

The worst thing about this is that it's really the unsuspecting university students (and, of course, all my wonderful and equally hard-done-by colleagues) who will suffer the most. But I've been here for over eight years (twelve if you count the time I spent here as a student before getting a job), so I'm sick of rolling over and taking one for the team all the time. My 'career' (so to speak) is shot to hell as it is, so it's time I started thinking about my future properly and looked after number one. Not in a selfish way, but in a self-preserving way. Plus, I've got Wifey and a mortgage and hopefully one day some kids to be thinking about. This workplace is full of corrupt managers who are disgustingly rude and hurtful to the staff members they govern. There's no way I want to work here a day longer than I absolutely have to.

Thankfully, long service leave kicks in at 5 years in this industry, so I'll be getting my share of that when I walk, too.

But Wifey and I aren't financially independent enough to support ourselves if I just quit now ... so that means I have to find a new job first.

I hope it doesn't take too long. I intend to file a grievance against the manager who upset me yesterday before I leave (and there's nothing he can do to deny it ... I've caught him RED-HANDED!), but I'd really like to just do that, quit, and then get the hell outta here.

Ironically, the nasty manager in question is the same one I respectfully posted about a few months ago when he suffered a terrible family tragedy which even made the news. I sorta regret being so kind to him now. He is pure evil and frankly deserves what's coming to him. I'm so happy to be in the position to finally do something about him and his corrupt ways.

Talk about spoiling my mood. I'm actually quite upset (and justifiably so, I assure you). Does anyone know of any cool jobs going for a web editor?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Shout Out # 1

I have good blog friends, and I've decided to give them a 'shout out'. One at a time; gradually over the coming months.

For the purposes of my first shout out, let's all take a look at Jobe. He's a funny little fellow, and not at all me (despite some other bloggers' attempts to claim otherwise). He writes in a slightly (nay, severely) bizarre fashion, and posts many, many different times a day. It's like rapid fire, only it's just a bit less painful when Jobe does it.

A bit less.

Jobe is also nominated for an Australian Blog Award, so while you're over there voting for me in the Best Victorian Blog category, be sure to swing by the Best Humourous Australian Blog category as well.

Forget for the moment that his blogsite appears under the wrong name (it's "What's This On My Hand?", not "What Was That On My Hand?"), and that the people putting the awards together can't even spell the word 'humorous' properly ... it would be great if Jobe was to win that award regardless. He certainly deserves it, after all the work he puts in to his blog.

So go on, check out his blog, leave comments wherever you please (there are heaps of options on any given day), and then vote for the dude as well.

Here's to you, Jobe ... and your wacky, crazy, insane view on life.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Electoral Scam

I initially thought Sheriff of Nothing was kidding this morning when she left a comment congratulating me for my nomination for Best Victorian Blog. And I thought Jobe was joking last week when he was talking about being nominated under the wrong name.

Shame on me, but I'd never heard of the Blog Awards.

A quick Google search to see what Sheriff was talking about, however, quickly led me to this site, which is where the 2006 Australian Blog Awards is being hosted.

A search in the site's search function revealed that Sheriff wasn't dropping acid.

Or that she wasn't this morning.

At least not about this.

There I am, listed under Best Victorian Blog: I blogged myself

So how did this happen? I'm very thrilled and touched and honoured and I feel very warm and fuzzy inside - don't get me wrong. But I'm up against some very stiff competition so I know I won't win anything, and frankly I don't understand how I was nominated.

Who nominated me?

But even forgetting that for the moment, how does one compete with sites such as Reasons You Will Hate Me (which gets around 4,000 hits an hour, by my reckoning), LadyCrackerLand (another brilliant bloggy friend of mine), and a heap of others that I confess to not reading myself, but I've heard their blog names being thrown around by many people this past year? It's all so inconceivable.

I guess if I'm going to be nominated, I should at least do whoever it was who nominated me the service of trying to win. Otherwise I'm just slapping that one, solitary person in the face. Cyber-slapping them, probably.

So here goes:


(Click on the image to vote - you need to create a new account first, on the left-hand menu, and apparently you may have to wait a bit after registering before returning to the site to vote. But any votes would be very much appreciated!)

I like winning stuff.

Hey, You Can't Park There! - Case File # 5

'Ooh look! This spot looks like it was made just for me!'

Thursday, January 12, 2006

King Kong Klanger

Wifey and I went and saw this film last night. It's a very big budget movie featuring a very big budget chimp. Apparently Marlon Brando was originally signed on before his death to play Kong. After hearing of the actor's death, Director Peter Jackson was quoted as saying that he was still happy to make the film with Brando in the titular role, because "no one will be able to tell the difference anyway". Some scenes indeed used Brando's corpse as a stunt double for Kong, and the switch was barely perceptible.

CAUTION: POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD (but I'll try to be funny about them)

It could be argued - quite convincingly - that this wasn't my favourite movie of the year (and this is the first one I've seen). Allow me to break down the problems I had with the film:

- It was too freakin' long
- The CGI effects were terrible
- Characters just disappeared without being given a proper 'ending'
- The best bits weren't shown
- Suspected hints of bestiality

To clarify the above points, I'll elaborate on my concerns below.

It was too freakin' long

Clocking in at 187 minutes, this is a movie to which you don't want to take a mega-sized soft drink. Unless you plan to re-fill the drink bottle after you've emptied it (this doesn't really work, though - sure, it's dark in there, but the smell is kinda overpowering, and if you forget about it and take a sip later ...), you should definitely only take in a small drink. And make sure you've emptied your bladder beforehand.

It was probably around 45 minutes into the film, when Ann Darrow and Jack Driscoll were starting to get all nervous and lovey-dovey in the bowels of the boat out at sea, that I lent over to Wifey and whispered, "I think there's supposed to be some kind of monkey in this movie."

She lent back over and said, "I think they were just talking about you coming to see it."

If that's not witty enough, try this one: She lent back over and said, "He prefers to be called by his name: Jack Black."

Whichever one you find more amusing. Anyway, Jackson decided to spend almost an hour of my life building up a bunch of human characters before we even landed on the mysterious island we'd heard so much about in the movie trailer, so I figured it was going to be one hell of a pay-off with these people. I settled back to wait (and asked Wifey to wake me when the chimp got on the scene).

If that's not bad enough, throw in a couple of (exciting, I grant you) fight and flight scenes, and way too many lengthy looks of love between a woman and her giant pet ape, and you've got a frickin' long movie that could have been told in half the time.

The CGI effects were terrible

I'm sorry, but I couldn't believe it when we walked out of the film, and the guy behind us immediately got on his phone and rang someone, saying "I just came out of seeing King Kong. Oh, man - the special effects were amazing! ..."

Wifey had to restrain me, because I very literally started turning around to ask him angrily if he was watching the same movie I was. The special effects were amazing?? Was this guy on drugs?

It turns out that yes, he was. But it was still no excuse.

Now, don't get me wrong. Kong himself was great. His face and body and everything else were very life-like and impressive. I'm not arguing with that. But anytime Kong was in the same shot as a human, particularly if he was carrying them, it all fell down. (And imagine the whiplash Darrow would have received if he was really shaking her like that in the early scenes of him holding her - about 75 minutes into the film! She'd be suing him in an instant, today.)

I'm not saying I could do a better job myself, but for the hundreds of millions they spent on the film, and the hundreds of millions they're making from it, I expected more (in this day and age, etc).

Plus, Jackson's Lord of the Rings battles never looked this fake. I mean, when Darrow and Driscoll were on the Empire State Building, the boat, watching the sunset from Kong's mountain ledge, running with dinosaurs (hey, what a cool title!), and so on, the blue-screen (well, green actually, but anyway) effects were plainly visible!

I wasn't impressed at all. The dinosaur stampede in particular was all wrong. The speed of the running was out, the outlines around the humans took from the realism, the quality of the footage of the humans versus the dinosaurs was mismatched, and the men looked paper-thin (especially when darting back and forth between the dinosaurs' legs). It was quite botched for a 2006 CGI gig. That's what let the movie down the most, for my money. It was like a bad 1984 science fiction film.

Let's not forget the dinosaurs themselves. Like Kong, they looked great when they didn't share the frame with any humans. But Jurassic Park did it thirteen years ago and was impressive for its time. We've come a long way since 1993, but this movie presented no evidence of it.

Characters just disappeared without being given a proper 'ending'

So what was the point of Manny, the old theatre guy who gave Ann Darrow the pep-talk in the beginning that "it's always been a let-down, but not this time!"?? Did his whole character exist purely to make this deep philosophical statement? I think this could have been established in a much better fashion than that. What was the point of him? Was he meant to re-appear at the end of the film in a scene that was later deleted, or something? He just seemed entirely pointless to me. Was he a special guest cameo that I just don't get? Maybe he was in the original 1933 version or something, and his very inclusion was 'necessary' to Jackson (a massive fan of the original film) for sentimentality reasons - in which case it was a poor decision not to cut him altogether. The actor who played Manny doesn't appear anywhere in the IMDb.com listing for the film, so that's probably meant to mean something.

I wouldn't have had such a problem with Manny if he'd turned up again at the end and done something. Even if it was just to be killed by Kong or to tell Ann Darrow that she'd finally 'made it' (because she can't work these things out herself anyway - and besides, she hadn't made it yet!) or something. Anything!

But he wasn't the only character to just disappear. What about Bruce Baxter, the cheesy actor who originally left the group on the island only to re-appear with the Captain and crew to save the (few surviving) men from the ravine filled with giant insects? At the end, in the theatre, he simply slips away again. He doesn't get killed or reappear later so we can see he's survived. In fact, his early fleeing not only shows that he's actually a coward after all (but we already knew this anyway - we weren't fooled by his return at the ravine); it also teaches us that the cowardly way is the smarter way. (True, it does indicate that he was more aware of what was actually going on with Kong than anyone else was at that point, but why not say anything to warn everyone else? He deserved to be crushed or chomped in half. I would have liked to see that - although I really like the actor ... does anyone else remember him from TV's Early Edition?)

And Preston? The last we saw him, he was talking with Driscoll on the mezzanine and indicating that he was now disullisioned with Jack Black's character, Carl Denham*. So what? I'm not interested in that. Does he do anything heroic or get squashed by the giant ape? That's what I paid my money to see. He runs off with the crowd and we don't see him again. Very unsatisfying.

* Black was actually very good in the film, especially considering he had very few comic lines and was basically playing the kind of role I'd never seen him do before ... which is to say: "Acting."

And how about the surviving members of the crew? The Captain and little Jimmy?** Why don't we see them at the theatre, dressed up in their new tuxedos, living the wealthy life now that they bought into the capture and kidnapping of Kong from his native land in exchange for the money? I'm not satisfied with the lack of resolutions for all these characters. At least the ones who died had an ending. The rest just disappeared.

** While we're on the subject of Jimmy, I can appreciate the supposed-humour of the kid who's never fired a gun before picking up a semi-automatic whatever (I'm not big on guns) in the panic of the moment and firing at a guy covered in ten giant crickets not five feet away, shooting 40 or 50 rounds in total, the gun and his arms flailing everywhere while the guy with the bugs and the bugs themselves move around like crazy, and the bugs all get shot off without the guy being hit even once. I get it. It's humour. But at that point in the film? When his mentor father-figure was just killed and the cook is being painfully devoured by giant teeth-wielding penises to their immediate left? It's poorly misplaced humour, I'm sorry.

If it comes to that (and it does), what about the island natives? Where the hell did they all run off to after Darrow was taken by Kong? They all conveniently disappeared as well. Served their purpose, had they, Mr Jackson?

After all the time Sir Peter made me invest in these characters, I expected way more than I got.

The best bits weren't shown

Okay, if you've read this far and you haven't seen the movie yet, you're a bit of a dill (or you don't care about the film). Either way, I hope you don't mind the next few things I'm going to say.

The really gruesome moments weren't shown!! I took note of this - it was definitely a deliberate, intentional decision not to include the following bits, all of which are creatures, people and/or machines landing:

- The dinosaurs and men who fall off the cliff during the stampede;
- The T-Rexes when they fall down the precipice during their fight with Kong;
- The men hitting the ground in the ravine after Kong shakes them off the log;
- The fake Ann Darrow actress in the theatre landing when Kong flings her aside;
- The three or four blonde women out in the street landing who Kong grabs and then flings aside;
- The plane crashing that Kong first knocks down;
- The two planes crashing that Kong causes to collide; and (of course)
- Kong himself landing in the street.

These are the bits I would have loved to see! Wifey wondered if this was because it would be too hard to do it or if it would make the movie too gruesome, but the answer to both of these concerns is: "Pah!"

It's not too hard to do it if they can show dinosuars and giant chimps running around making a nuisance of themselves. And as for gruesome, what about that insect ravine sequence? Or the islanders' faces? It wouldn't have been too much to show the fake Ann Darrow actress landing upside down in a twisted mess of limbs on top of three chairs and an old lady and watching her snap in half. In fact, it would have been hilarious!

Suspected hints of bestiality

I'm not going to go into this too much, but the whole premise of Darrow caring for this massive beast who (lonely and heroic though he may have been) was still clearly a gigantic threat (no pun intended) on mankind - especially now that he had somehow been brought back to New York on that tiny ship. At which point she was present. To object, If she'd wanted to.

So why did she get so cuddly with him looking at the sunset (and the sunrise) with the creature. He's cute if he's happy and looking after ONE SOLITARY PERSON, you stupid little woman, but to him, everyone else on the planet is fair game to be cut down. He's clearly a menace and no, we won't stop from shooting at him. Get out of the way, you moron. I've got a gun and you're wearing white against a morning skyline. I can't see you. I'm going to shoot. This oversized simian is going down.

Poor Driscoll. He may have got the girl in the end, but by then she was in love with an ape.


If anyone hasn't seen the movie, please feel free to stick your head in a bucket of slop and gargle. It'll leave a better taste in your mouth.

3 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I'm Not Ready Yet

Tomorrow is my first day back at work since the twenty-second of December. I know, that's a lot longer than most people get off over Christmas ... but I don't think I'm ready to go back yet.

My supervisor handed in her resignation a week before Christmas, and - coincidentally - tomorrow is her last day. So we're like ships passing in the night, only without any pseudo-romantic notions that that analogy might conjure up. What I mean is: Any 'handover' information that has to be done (in case I'm asked to deal with anything she would previously have dealt with until they find a replacement for her) will have to be shown to me tomorrow only. You see, she and I constitute our entire department. We're a two-person webteam, and she's the one in charge. I'm just the pleb. I don't want all the hassles that come with solving emergencies and the like that seem to crop up on a daily basis. I'm certainly not being paid to do it!

But tomorrow is also a full day of training for me. And did I mention it was my first day back? I don't want to have such a busy, hectic, full-on and stressful first day back. I want one of those first days back where you come in, talk about what you did on your Christmas break for two hours with everyone else in the office, go to lunch, come back, post something on your blog, make some calls, read some emails, collect your pay and go home.

I have a feeling it's going to be a very awful day.

I want another holiday.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Burning Question # 2: Extinguished

Question: "Who put the bom in the bomp-de-bom-de-bom?"

Answer: This guy here. (I mean, it's just a guess, but seeing as he wrote the song ...)

Monday, January 09, 2006

My Neighbours Are Back From Holidays

So the new season of the Aussie soapie Neighbours started this evening. After the cliffhanger four weeks ago of all-round good guy Harold Bishop being pushed by his overwhelming grief from losing his son David in a plane crash to strangling resident bad guy Paul Robinson (whom Harold blamed for David's death because the plane they were both travelling on was blown up by a bomb apparently intended for Paul - or so we are led to believe - and Paul was fortunate enough to survive), we saw the aftermath of the near-fatal incident this evening.

What a complicated and convoluted sentence! But I'm not going back to fix it up now. It took too long to write it.

For MelbourneGirl's benefit (and for anyone else who missed it and cares), I will give a brief synopsis of the show below.

To start with, this is how TV Week (that fantastic televisual manuscript) 'sold' the episode:

"A new girl comes to Springfield and much to Bart's dismay, Milhouse falls for her."

No, wait, ... that was Headland. (Great friggin' show!)*

The Neighbours write-up went thusly:

"Harold struggles to return to a normal life, while Steph and Max brace themselves for an uncertain future."

Basically, the run-down of the episode goes like this:

It started with a recap of Sky Mangel getting blasted by her grandfather Harold for interfering in his private grief, then Steph Hoyland telling her husband Max that she'd found a lump on her breast and that her cancer had returned, then Gino encouraging Ned Parker and Elle Robinson to kiss (for a play he's directing them in) while Elle makes it clear that Ned's not interested in her, which sparks Ned to finally kiss her (much to Gino's quiet amazement at Ned's 'enthusiasm'), then Harold squeezing Paul Robinson's neck until the latter fell to the floor.

The opening credit sequence is new (more on this later, as you all know I love credit sequences), but the main points to pull out here are that Paul is included (showing us for sure before the payoff has been made clear that he will survive Harold's strangulation attempt), and new faces to be added to the opening credit sequence are the three Kinski kids (Katya, Rachel and Zeke), toddler Oscar Scully (in his mother Lyn's arms, but still not facing the camera - why should the credits be any different to how he normally behaves on set?!), Ned Parker, and Elle Robinson. Gay hairdresser-cum-amateur-theatre-director Gino is still not a regular (despite being a recurring character for a few years now), Lou Carpenter is still there (despite being massively under-used in the past year especially), and from memory (although I reserve the right to correct myself when I see the credits again) Summer Hoyland is finally missing altogether. Also of note is the total absence of Kim Timmins (the father), which presumably means he will not be staying around for long, despite them all looking like happy families again. Boyd Hoyland is also seen hugging Sky Mangel (*I think*), which is not who he is currently dating, so we'll see what that means. Are these two lovebirds getting back together? And what will that mean for their two jilted partners, siblings Dylan and Janae Timmins?

Anyway, like I said, I'll look into the credits in more depth (if you can believe it) in a future post. For now, let's get back to the episode.

Harold, in a daze, is slowly wandering home from the Robinsons' house next door while Izzy comes downstairs, finds Paul lying motionless, freaks out a little, screams for help, then calls an ambulance. Sky, sitting by the pool in the backyard next door and adding some finishing touches to the same pencil drawing of her uncle David we saw late last year, is wearing headphones, but hears Izzy's scream through the music. She pulls the headphones off, slightly puzzled, but hears nothing more. Like any good, caring neighbour, she ignores the possibility that something might be wrong and returns to her drawing.

Harold, whose hands we see have massive scratches across the 'heel' of his thumbs (at the wrist, if you know what I mean) from where Paul was struggling for his life and clearly scratched him for all he was worth before collapsing, puts on a pair of gardening gloves and asks Sky where the secateers are. She tells him to look where he always keeps them, in the laundry, then he says he's okay (she naturally looks concerned for him - again), and he apologises for berating her 'this morning'. (Note: this is all still meant to be happening on Boxing Day; in fact, it must still be fairly early, based on the events that follow.) Sky also asks Harold in the beginning of the scene if he heard anything from next door just before, to which he snaps 'no' (this is before his apology), and she says it was probably 'just one of their domestics again'.

Then we cut to The House of Trouser where Stuart Parker is ironing a shirt and talking to Elle Robinson about how he saved Dylan and Stingray Timmins from their gaol term (for a crime they didn't commit) by going undercover in the gaol and helping Dylan get a taped confession from the real culprit Reuben (or "Roo"), who was serving time in the same prison and making the Timmins boys' life a living hell. This is the first we've seen of Stu since the confession was obtained, so as far as we're aware, he hasn't been thanked by anyone in the Timmins household yet. (Let's hope they don't forget!)

Also, as Stu is ironing and others in the street are using their electrical appliances as well, it seems that the Paul Robinson-induced power failure from the previous day (Christmas morning) has already been fixed. That's pretty good service by an electrical company over two public holidays - and a weekend, no less - in a row! And at Christmas!).

Anyway, as they're talking, Ned enters and Elle jumps up into his arms and kisses him, which initially surprises Stu a bit. It is revealed that Ned came back early to get away from the family at Oakey and see Elle again. When he told the family over Christmas that he plans to become a singer, they all told him to become a cop like his hero brother instead, which clearly irked him. (Despite not having made his travel plans in advance, and only leaving Erinsborough in Victoria for his country hometown in Queensland a couple of days before Christmas, here he is returning on Boxing Day. The dude moves quickly!)

Now we're back with Max and Steph and he tries to tell her that maybe it's just her hormones because she's pregnant, but she says she knows her own body. Max calls Dr Karl Kennedy and asks to see him urgently. Later, when they're seeing him in his office, he assures them that he can get the test results back within the day if he pulls some strings. (This is still Boxing Day we're talking about, folks - and Karl seemingly has strings he can pull everywhere! How well-connected is this guy?)

Meanwhile, Harold is seen at the coffee shop thing he runs with Lou, wearing kitchen washing-up gloves and serving Stu and Ned their drinks (which he spills when he hears that Paul Robinson is improving or something). Ned gets a call on his mobile from Elle to tell him that Paul has recovered and will be okay, which startles Harold into dropping a tray of crockery on the table.

Later, Stu and some other non-speaking cops are asking Harold and Sky some questions about the attack, seeing if they heard anything. Harold is relieved to hear that Paul didn't see his attacker, and Sky says that he heard Izzy scream just after 2pm. Stu says Izzy's emergency call was made at 2:07pm. This places the entire episode's events as being set between 2pm and the evening; including Karl's complete cancer test (more of which is still to come before nightfall) and Harold nearly killing a man and then fitting in some light gardening. :)

When Stu and the non-speaking cops leave, Harold removes an oven mit and Sky spots the scratches on one of his hands. She asks what happened, and he says he cut himself when he was pruning the roses. She goes to get ointment for the scratches. (It is unsure whether she sees that his other hand has the same scratch marks, as we never see her putting the ointment on his hand/s.)

Paul comes home with a red neck and husky voice, but is determined to make his home safe again like it was when he thought Tony Corbett (the gangster) was trying to kill him. He asks Izzy to get the closed-circuit TV system going again and to call the security company to get guards back at the house. Strangely, for Boxing Day night, the companies can't get the TV system up straight away and can only send around one guard in an hour's time, which Paul accepts (thankfully - if he'd been unreasonable about it I would have been rather annoyed!). Ned also moves in (temporarily, is the apparent plan) to help Paul look after the place (and the girls) until Paul's feeling better. When Ned tells Stu that he's moving in with the Robinsons, Stu initially poked fun at him, to which Ned kinda snapped about there being only room for one hero in the family, right? Stu said it was more of a Parker family trait, to 'protect their women'. How very caveman of you, Stuart. Anyway, it didn't resolve the issue of Ned and Stu's supposed brotherhood jealousy (which is news to me), so I expect we'll see this simmer for a while longer before it boils over. Meanwhile, Izzy confesses to Paul how rattled she was to see him lying on the floor like that, and says she can't imagine her life without him.

Stu arrives and asks Paul some questions about the strangler, and Paul admits that he didn't see 'the mongrel' but he can assure Stu that the guy was strong. Stu takes some hair and other follicles away to be studied. After he leaves, Harold comes by with some freshly-baked muffins (again covering his hands with oven mits), and finds out from Paul that Paul doesn't know who the attacker was but that he now feels like he's trapped in a nightmare. Harold says something spooky about it being the worst thing, when life loses its meaning, etc, and Paul looks at him a bit funny. Harold leaves, and Paul thanks him, saying he's a good mate.

Max is getting antsy because Boxing Day is nearly over and Karl "assured them" he'd have the results for them before the end of the day and won't answer his mobile (this isn't what Karl said at all, but I can understand Max's impatience). As if on some miraculous cue, Karl arrives at the Hoyland house and confirms that Steph has cancer again. He says he'll book them in for treatment the next morning, and her chances are good because they caught it so early. He also says that the chances of Steph's treatment harming the baby are slim because she's so far through her pregnancy already. Lyn and Max are very relieved to hear this, but Steph doesn't look convinced.

The next day, Max and Lyn are preparing to leave for the appointment for Steph to start her treatment, when Steph announces that she has just rung and cancelled it. She tells them that she's not undergoing any treatment while there's ANY chance of it harming her baby. And on that note, we cut to the credits.

It was actually a fairly full episode. And the closing credits are atrocious. Gone are the clever coloured shapes with rotating screenshots from the episode; in its place is an ad for a couple of Channel 10 shows on the top two-thirds of the screen, while the bottom third shows the very basic and forgetful closing credits (simple names against a light blue background). Yawn! However, the final ad break no longer means the end of the show. This year they've changed it so that you come back from the final ad break, see a few minutes more of the show, then the teaser for the next episode, followed by the credits. I'm sure it's a deliberate change to stop people from switching over once we get to that final ad break (which I'm sure people used to do all the time). They even had a tiny ad there telling us to "wait around to see more drama when Neighbours continues after the break".

So there were a couple of new things with the credits sequences in particular, but otherwise the show was quite full. Tomorrow's TV Week posting is the following:

"Gibbs and his team get into a turf war with the FBI as they try protect a Naval officer from Al-Qaeda."

Sorry about that; that was Everybody Loves Raymond. It's actually:

"Harold wrestles with his conscience, but renews his determination to make Paul suffer."

Looking forward to it.

* Oh, puh-lease believe that I'm being sarcastic there!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Burning Question # 1: Extinguished

Question: "Do you know the way to San Jose?"

Answer: Take the 680 south from Pleasanton and you can't miss it. (Note: If you start heading north-west, you've gone too far.)

Sunday, January 01, 2006

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