Saturday, 24 December 2016

Your Official Christmas Day Drinking Game Guide

You've just about made it through the festive season! Only a matter of hours to go, and you'll be in that blissful period of time when the kids have opened presents and are distracted by shiny new toys and consumer goods, but before they're howling because said toys and consumer goods have been broken beyond repair. Just the time to sit back with a glass of Pinot Gris, a can of pale ale, or a bottle of meths, and drink yourself into that happy state beyond caring*.

But why just drink festively, when you can drink with festive culture? After the relative success of last year's Queen's Speech Drinking Game, this year I've persued the Christmas programming, and have prepared options to take you late into the night!

Speaking of which, it's an absolute travesty that The Sound of Music is not being shown on any channel this year. Long has it been tradition to watch Georg von Trapp's slow transformation from grumpy old bastard to Cool Dad, but perhaps this year the political themes cut a little close to the bone. Whatever the reason, I feel nothing less than a full parliamentary enquiry into this oversight is needed.

Frozen (TVNZ2, 5.20pm)
You might have to watch this one, so may as well try and make it tolerable. 

One drink
Elsa freezes something
Anna talks about true love
Snow is mentioned
The importance of family is mentioned
Someone you are watching with starts singing

Two drinks
Olaf's head falls off
Kristoff talks to his reindeer
Trolls are mentioned
You start singing

That's two drinks
Three drinks
If you notice that bit where Elsa's ponytail flicks right through her arm

Everybody must  drink for the duration of Let It Go on the assumption that you're going to start singing anyway

The News (Prime, 5.30pm, TVNZ1 and TV3, 6.00pm)
Everybody loves the news at Christmas!

One drink
Reporters you have never seen before are anchoring the bulletin
Lead item is about Christmas
Mention of 'the Big Man in Red'
Story about 'Those who have to work at Christmas'

Two drinks
Mention of Richie McCaw or John Key
Live cross to City Mission Kitchens
Random irrelevant rugby story
Story about the weather

Three drinks
Sports presenter turns up drunk after Christmas lunch, starts singing 
Weather presenter turns up drunk after Christmas lunch, makes crude innuendo about warm fronts
Political editor turns up drunk after Christmas lunch, proclaims this to be the fucking news

Down in one
Government releases controversial policy on Christmas Day in hope that no one notices

Her Majesty the Queen's Speech (TVNZ1, 6.50pm)

Let's get this message over with and get back on the piss 

One Drink
'My family and I'
'Difficult year'
Mentions Phillip's health troubles
'Thinking of those in need'

Two Drinks
'Faiths coming together'
'Friends around the world'
'Welcome Meghan Markle to the family'
'Successful Olympics for Team GB'

Three drinks
'Mr Trump has small hands'
Corgi wanders into shot, takes a shit
Princess Charlotte wanders into shot, takes a shit
Phillip wanders into shot, delivers racist tirade
Drunk Prince Harry wanders into shot, delivers racist tirade

Finish drink
'Brexit's gonna screw us over, I quit, suckers'

Home Alone 2 (TV3 7.00pm)
Start drinking at the beginning of the film, and keep drinking.  Hopefully by the time you get to Donald Trump's cameo, you'll have forgotten he's gonna be leader of the free world in under a month.

'Let me tell you, kid, your family lost you. They're losers. SAD. I like winners. I'll make your film franchise great again'

Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas Special (TVNZ1, 9.40pm)
Hopefully after almost five hours of drinking games, you're well gone by this point. If not, just keep on drinking away the sorrow that showing this is how low our national broadcaster has sunk.

At least they got the grade of the movie right

*Netflix and Children in no way condones heavy and irresponsibly drinking, of course.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Festive App Review: A Call From Santa!

Parenting is hard, which is something that most parenting blogs won't tell you (Not this one though, it's realsitic!). And what a lot of parents don't realise when starting out is that bedtime is one of the hardest tasks a parent can face. IT'S SO DIFFICULT! Recently, over the last four years or so, our four year old has had difficulty going to sleep. 'I want another story', 'I want some more dinner', 'I need a drink of water,' 'I don't want to go to bed.' All common refrains coming out of the mouth of a small child.

Sometimes the not evening the threatening tones of Samuel L Jackson
are enough to convince them to shut up and lie down
So as Christmas grew closer, I decided to get a bit crafty and exploit his expectation that Santa would visit and give him presents. At first, simply saying 'Santa wants you to go to bed' would work a treat, but soon I had to resort to lying to my own son, dialling the home phone and pretending to answer a call from Father Christmas to tell the young un' to go to bed. But he was too crafty, not to mention suspicious, and within 48 hours was demanding to talk to the big man himself. So, I downloaded on to my iPhone 5S the A Call From Santa! App.

If Santa's not real, how come I have a whole contact book especially for him?
Why risk becoming the bad guy in your child's eyes, when you can get a strange, heavily bearded man to do your parenting for you by phone?  No sooner had the download finished, I decided to give it a spin. It was well past bed time, and the four year old was stubbornly refusing to stay in bed, so I entered a few programmed choices into the scheduling screen, and not fifteen seconds later, a jaunty Christmas ringtone was blaring out of my phone.

- Ho Ho Ho! Hello, it's Santa! Who am I talking to?
- It's me, the four year old replied.
- Excellent, I was hoping to talk to you. My records say you're four years old, is that right?
- Yes.
- I thought I'd phone you right away, because my elves told me (pause) that you're not going to bed as well as you normally would. (Pause) And I just thought I should tell you that (pause) sometimes I have to put children who don't go to bed very well on to my Naughty List...

Message across, Santa hung up. No sooner had I moved to silence the Game of War ad blaring from the free version of the app, than I had a sleeping child on my hands.

Works for ages 1 to 100. Having exceptionally
small hands will help with navigating the menu 

Of course, just like real parenting, you can't always use the Big Man in Red to gently scold your children, or you're going to do far more damage to his image than Auckland's Creepy Santa could ever do. And if there's one thing New Zealand doesn't need, it's for its unemployment statistics to be bloated by Mall Santas being laid off, because kids are too scared to come near them. So the next night, I scanned through the options, and chose to send a call to my almost two year old daughter to thank her 'for being nice to everybody.' Having been out of the house at work all day, perhaps I should have asked Mum's opinion first, because the four year old was having none of it.

-Ho Ho Ho! I thought I'd phone you right away, because my elves told me (pause) that you've been very nice to everybody. And I just thought I should tell you that I'm putting your name on my Nice List...
-No Santa, put her on the Naughty List! She's being naughty! She's been hitting me all day! Give her a sack of coal Santa! She's been naughty!

Evidently Santa hates narks, as he just ignored the rude interruption and barrelled on.

Looks like a certain President-elect has been sending abusive tweets again 

I've used the calls a few more times since, to stop arguments, damn with faint praise, but mostly to get those bloody kids into bed, damnit. And although the calls are now frequently interrupted with demands for presents, they still in the whole are pretty effective. So if you have a small child, or a particularly gullible adult, who you need to manipulate for your own ends, there's really no excuse for not having A Call From Santa! on your phone.

Three Ho!'s out of three.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Adult Food Review: Heller's Christmas Chipolata

Behold, the bringer of controversy

It sometimes seems these days corporations are more interested in pissing people off with ill conceived novelty products than actually making money. And, by and large, judging by popular millennial echo chamber 'Twitter', many companies are doing a pretty good job. This became most apparent to me this evening on my purchase of Heller's new Christmas Chipolata, a 'delicious, fruity sausage' promising hints of Apple, sultana, currant and mixed citrus peel.

On my way home from work tonight, I popped in to New World for a quick sausage purchase. Seeing a new Heller's festive product, with the 'Free Farmed Pork' sticker emblazoned across the front, I decided I'd be game to try anything once and grabbed them. When I got home, I realised the reason the pork had been free farmed was to give the pigs at least a shred of dignity before being made into such an abomination of a meat product. For these Christmas Chipolata contained fruit mince, one of the most polarising food products of Twitter. Seriously, look at the ingredients!

Also: Festive gold meat tray!

Still, I'd bought the things, so, at least purely for science, I may as well try the things so others may avoid my mistake.

The sausages certainly looked the part, slim, pork coloured fingers, with small little nodules of fruit protruding through the thin skin. Into the oven on bake for thirty minutes, possibly slowly too long, and they still looked not too different from your standard pork sausage. Scent wise, the pork strongly came through as well, but with weird undertones of orange rind and currants. Cutting the Chipolata in half, I was greeted by little nuggets of fruit peering back at me.

Taste wise, it was almost a disappointment how much these tasted just like your average pork sausage. Sure, occasionally you might catch a shrivelled currant or a hint of citrus between your teeth, but I found the maligned fruit mince to be almost disconcertingly absent in taste. The texture was there occasionally, which added a strange sensation of eating a meat product with little squishy bits in the middle. That said, it wasn't really true fruit mince present, but singular pieces of diced up fruit. That said, I'd say If you wanted a true taste of what was promised on the packaging, I'd probably advise buying a bag of homebrand pre-cooked pork bangers, and chucking in a pack of raisins.

So do these sausages really deserve to be so hated? Probably not. But do they really warrant a special packaging and a hefty price tag of $1.33 a sausage? Again, probably not. There's better products on the market with much less gimmicky tastes. But they've got people talking Hellers, and that's probably going to help them bring home the bacon.


Saturday, 19 November 2016

In these tough political times, what can we learn from Disney?

I wrote this wrote this on Sunday night, a few hours before the North Canterbury Quake, but held off publishing it immediately, with the idea of submitting it to the Spinoff. Obviously, the week has become quite a bit more shit since then, and I figure we could all do with a bit of a distraction from the impending Trumpocalypse, earthquakes, tsunamis and whatnot. So here goes.

Wow. What a shitter of a week. By now, we thought we'd have finally worked off the collective hangover we got from celebrating the first female president of the US. Instead we're still drinking to drown out the actuality that a small handed orangutan will be in the Oval Office at the start of the year. I blame Mowgli for teaching King Louie to be so human-like.

Never seen them in the same room
People have been dealing with the impending Trumpocalypse in various ways. Vice President Joe Biden, for example, has taken to boobietrapping the White House in preparation for Donald and Mike's arrival.

I am more of a practical problem solver, and thought it would be good to learn from others who have lived under a despotic regime: regular Disney townsfolk. So I sat down with a few beers (cos that's my other coping mechanism, remember), and watched Frozen and the Lion King, in order to find any advice I could.

1. Do nothing, just play along and hope for the best
This was the option all the lions in the Lion King took when Scar killed the widely loved and respected Mufasa, and I guess what Trump is hoping will happen for the next four years, now he's chased the Clinton dynasty away. Thing is, it really didn't work well, did it? Scar had no idea what he was doing, the kingdom fell to pieces, and the climate changed and the pride were completely unprepared to be able to make any changes at all. It's kinda like its some sort of metaphor for what's going on now... Which presumably means that Chelsea Clinton is out there somewhere eating bugs and having the time of her life before returning in four years time to a soundtrack of Elton John to reclaim the United States of America for the Clinton dynasty, with assistance from a wacky warthog/meerkat duo. You heard it here first.

Washington DC, 2020AD

2. Chase them away, then try and kill them
Here's a statement that's going to land me in controversy. Queen Elsa is somewhat analogous with Donald Trump. She has power that she has no idea how to control. And she's isolationist, she doesn't want her power to get out, so she shuts a gate/builds a wall. Also there's an army of trolls, though they seem to be quite nice, as opposed to Donald's Deplorables. When her ability to summon ice and snow out of nothing becomes simply too terrifying for her subjects, Elsa sees no option but to flee into the mountains, where she builds a large tower and sings a song that haunts the lives of parents everywhere. Not content to see her gone, Elsa is persued by an army intent on seeing her permanently disposed of. Of course, the army fails, but still, the intention is there.

Build a wall, build a wall
Can't hold them back any more
Build a wall, build a wall
Mexico will pay, you can be sure 

Similarly, in Beauty and the Beast, the titular Beast is confined to his castle, and furthermore all of his household are transformed into various items of crockery or utensils for carrying out housework. Given most of the President-elect's inner circle are actually already tools, this could be easier to pull off in Trump Tower than it may seem.

3. Sing!
Really, this should go without saying. All Disney heroes face adversity with a song, be it a heartfelt ballad alone in their basement bedroom, staring whist fully out the window, or a crowd marching to confront their common enemy and to drive him out of town. Even the drudgery of a day down the mines can be cheered up by whistling a merry melody! Cinderella, Simba, even Peter Pan and the Lost Boys didn't suffer silently: They fought back with a song in their hearts and an irritating ear worm in the ears of their audiences. It's not just a tactic completely devoid of historical precedence either: if Hugh Jackman has taught me anything, it's that the French aristocracy were overthrown by soulful anthems sung in the street, and a huge pile of rubbish. And the pro-Clinton team have form! Why can't Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Sprinsteen, Madonna, J-Lo, the Dixie Chicks and Katy Perry lead a mass musical uprising?

Sure, the villain usually gets a musical number too, but it's usually the least popular song, and in a depressing minor key. And the best the Trump-Pence campaign could come up with is Ted Nugent. (And apparently Kanye for the next 4 years til he runs in 2020).

3. Protest. Stick it to the man!
Popular uprising and civil disobedience? It's too obvious, surely! But without the people of Paris realising what a bad, bad man Judge Frollo was for wanting to kill all the gypsies, Quasimodo would never have won the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Sure, defences made out of molten lead helped, but a rioting underclass is what truly strikes terror into the powers that be. With story lines like that, how Public Enemy never got a contract to score a Disney film is beyond me. And in Lady and the Tramp, without Old Trusty altruistically throwing himself under the wheels of the dog catcher's cart, The Man, represented by Aunt Sarah and her Siamese cats, would never have been exposed for the tyrants obsessed with ridding the world of her nemesis, Tramp.

F#@k Tha Dog Police 

And it looks as though this may be the way the US is heading, with major protest across the eastern and western seaboards. Signs saying 'Not My President' are all well and good, but we need re passion. Where are the pitchforks and flaming torches? Because calling the Vice President-elect slightly immature names is all well and good, but it's probably going to get a bit old before four years are up.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Surprise and shock as Bono announced winner of 2016 Presidential Election

There was surprise and confusion expressed in the United States of America and around the world today, as U2 lead singer and one of nine reigning Glamour Magazine Women of the Year Bono was announced the winner of the 2016 Presidential Election, despite not having being amongst the candidates in the running for the post. Those in the running included Democrat Hillary Clinton, aiming to make history by becoming first woman to gain the job; and orange skinned Republican Donald Trump, looking to become the first Oompah-Loompah to take on a position in human governance. However the ageing rock star and self proclaimed saviour of mankind was cited for his humanitarian work and thirteen studio albums of exponentially decreasing quality and sales. It is the first time in the 241 year history of the United States of America that a foreign born rock star has been chosen as president.

The President Elect gets a few tips from his predecessor 

'For many years the House of Representatives has been discussing the possibility of announcing a President who not only isn't a politician, but who isn't even a citizen of this great country,' House Speaker Paul Ryan (R) said in a released statement. 'In 2016, with the two most unpopular candidates in living memory, it seemed to be the right time. As a House, we have come together in our beliefs that Bono's stated values of self-aggrandisement and forcing his lofty ideals upon the rest of an unsuspecting world match well with those of the United States. We are delighted to name Bono as our Commander in Chief and President of the United States 2016-2020.'

Bono himself reacted with trademark humility and grace to the shock honour. 'U2's music has always stood for the empowerment of every man, woman and child on this earth, and through this music we have managed to bring about the change that the world has needed. I'm humbled to be able to continue this change through this surprise elevation to a position I am sure I was born to fill,' he said. 'It's a Beautiful Day!'

Reaction amongst the other candidates has been mixed. Clinton, until recent days thought to be the unassailable forerunner in the election, was generous in defeat. 'The American people and their elected representatives have spoken, and I'd like to congratulate Bono on his election win,' she said at a somber reception for supporters in Brooklyn, NY. 'Our campaign can learn from this election race, and will come back stronger to fulfil what I believe is my destiny in 2020. #ImWithHer.'

Trump, however, was less accepting, sending out several furious tweets. 'CROOKED BONO steals rigged election!! SAD. Why won't Bono release his tax returns, hasn't paid in US or IRELAND since 1984.'

World leaders were quick to react to the unexpected news. British Prime Minister Theresa May was keen to point to the Irish citizen's rapid ascension to the top of US politics as yet another example of the creeping insidious influence of European politics. 'Brexit means Brexit,' May declared. 'An independent United Kingdom refuses to be beholden to Continental influence, be it from Brussels, Dublin, or Washington DC.'

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, however, sent his congratulations. 'Look, obviously Bono is actually a pretty successful singer, and he likes his golf. I've been in touch to say, look, if you're ever in New Zealand get in touch for a round, or come and watch the All Blacks play rugby. I could get him into the dressing room if he wanted. And I sent him a mixtape Max made, see if he wants to put it on his next album.'

Outgoing United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon expressed relief that maybe with a whole country to look after, Bono wouldn't be hanging around trying to do good at the General Assembly so much any more, and bemoaned that the singer's appointment hadn't come four years earlier.

With power to chose the Vice President, speculation remains rife as to who the  Upper House might chose as Bono's deputy. Rumour has it that chief amongst the names being bandied around is Kanye West, in preparation for a run at the top job in 2020.

Monday, 31 October 2016

The Hihi responds to a somewhat embarrassing Bird of the Year Results

Forest and Bird's annual Bird of the Year results were released today, and it was a resounding win for the majestic Kokako. Featured on the ten dollar bill, the Kokako polled 3,614 votes, over a thousand more than the second placed Kea, with the fan-tailed  Piwakawaka a further thousand votes back, despite the best efforts of sporadically relevant hipster collective Fly My Pretties. However, several candidates complained that the three top placed birds represented a staid elite establishment hellbent on reclaiming the power they have enjoyed for decades.

One of these was the antiestablishment firebrand the Hihi, who first came to prominence when it promised to 'build a huge predator proof fence, with a little gate' around New Zealand. When challenged initially on such a scheme, given its ability to prevent migratory birds such as the Godwit, or wind blown self-introduced species such as the Barn Owl, the Hihi had responded: 'The Godwits are sending us their murderers. Their thieves. And some Godwits, I assume, decent birds. But they come here illegally. We must act now to Make Our Forests Great Again.' Furthermore, after it heard a rumour that a barn owl may have once chased a pukeko from a barn, Hihi pledged to stop any more barn owls entering New Zealand 'until we know what's going on.'

Clearly, a controversial candidate for bird of the year. And a candidate wh would have been dissapointed to poll a paltry 243 votes. When asked to comment on today's result, Hihi simply pointed to a tweet it had sent out earlier in the day.

Of course, Hihi wasn't going to be allowed to rest on accusations of a rigged voting process without going unchallenged. When asked about the claims, Hihi pointed to the 'Lamestream Media believing crooked Kokako campaign lies.' 

'Read the treemails!' Hihi implored. 'Kokako should be locked up in an aviary, not running for Bird of the Year. Such a nasty bird.'

However, Hihi admitted not all media were against him, surprisingly singling out formerly revolutionary left leaning freedom fighters Radio New Zealand for thanks on social media.

It wasn't just the media picked out for their perceived corruption, however. 'The Spur Winged Plover is a corrupt puppet candidate sponsored by Crooked Kokako to take votes off me,' Hihi declared. 'Sad! The plovers send us their murderers. Their thieves. And some plovers, I assume, are decent  birds. Only Hihi can make the Forest great again.' When pointed out it had used the same accusations against the Godwit, Hihi declared such claims were lies, and he would instruct his attorney to sue any outlet making them. 'The disgusting Spur Winged Plover (check out the mating ritual) is being used by Crooked Kokako to discredit me.'

It has since been pointed out that there is nothing unusual or disgusting about the Plover's mating rituals. Indeed, the Hihi is in fact unique amongst birds, in that it mates face to face.

throughout the Bird of the Year campaign, Hihi insisted on portraying itself as a loose cannon, amtiestablishment firebrand, happy to play to the lowest common denominator with distasteful slogans such as 'Blackbirds matter? All birds matter!', and fiercely defending the size of its wings. 'My wings are great. I have the best wings, and believe me, I would not hesitate to press the 1080 button with those big wings,' Hihi declared. However further research points to a bird once firmly ensconced in the avian elite, appearing on a three dollar stamp under the name 'Stitchbird.' These revelations were put to Hihi, however were flatly denied. 'Lies. I'll be instructing my attorneys.' 

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Classic Children's Film Review: Planes 2: Fire and Rescue

Living in the cosmopolitan city of Palmerston North, one comes in contact with many people from different cultures and walks of life. I, for example, have managed to earn the respect of Bogan parents. This, of course, is due to my children's penchant for performing AC/DC's Thunderstruck in public at the drop of a hat.

How do a three year old and a 18 month old learn the lyrics to one of rock's most enduring anthems?If you guessed from a Disney movie, you'd be pretty much on the money. For this is the song that features during a climactic scene of Planes 2: Fire and Rescue, a film so epic, that when Luke was told he could get two films from the video store, he returned with two copies of it. So beloved, that he still requests a visit to JB Hifi to ensure 'that they have a copy so that other kids can buy it.' So frequently viewed, that it is imprinted to view upon my retinas whenever I close my eyes.

Even then I don't remember half the characters who have been made into must-have toys

I hadn't seen the original Planes at the time I first saw Planes 2: Fire and Rescue, so I was a little worried that I would have difficulty catching up with the back story. Of course, these concerns were baseless: Planes 2: Fire and Rescue has more or less exactly the same plot line as every childhood movie you have ever seen, just with characters changed to maximalise the earning potential from merchandise. What toys do kids love playing with? Planes and fire engines!!!

For some reason a sentient crop duster named Dusty has somehow just won a race around the world, but now his home airport is threatened with closure, because it  doesn't meet those pesky health and safety regulations. It's bloody PC gone mad!

Pictured: realistically, the only aircraft a crop duster could actually beat around the world

Of course, Dusty has a plan! He's gonna do what any crop dusting plane would do, and become a fire engine plane! So off he goes to Piston Peak National Park, to learn to fight fires to the soundtrack of early 90s metal, under the tutelage of grumpy helicopter and former television police drama star Blade Ranger. Spoiler alert! He may be gruff, but in the end he has a heart of gold!

Or an engine of steel, or something like that.
Needless to say, the training isn't quite as smooth sailing as Dusty had hoped. Obstacles are met. Adversity is fought. so is fire (it's right there in the title). But in the end, he gets his wings (although he actually had wings all the way through), and he gets the lady plane, and he gets the admiration and respect of Blade Ranger. And my wallet gets to open for the assorted die cast models, colouring in books, t shirts, sticker albums and AC/DC CDs that have been released to encourage maximal toddler nagging and parental spending.

Indeed, Planes 2: Fire and Rescue finds Disney once again on form, knowing exactly what children want, and how to leverage as much money from their parents as possible for it. I expect the next instalment to be entitled something along the lines of Planes 3: Chocolate Dinosaurs and Magical Talking Circus Dogs. If it has a soundtrack by Guns n Roses, Reel Big Fish or Public Enemy, though, I probably won't mind so much.

featuring the hit songs, Welcome to the Aerodrome,

Live and Let Fly, and November Plane

An enjoyable romp, but shit it's getting expensive.


Sunday, 21 August 2016

Grown up food review: Whittaker's K Bar Choolate (lime and raspberry flavours)

I wanna take you to a K Bar
I wanna take you to a K Bar
I wanna take you to a K Bar
K Bar
K Bar

Not my words, but the words of early 2000s disco rock band Electric Six, slightly re-interpreted by myself. And words which, perhaps, would have made a better announcement of the forthcoming release of Whittaker's K-Bar flavoured chocolate than the image they did use.

About this time they realised it was lucky they hadn't exclusively used white chocolate

That's right, though, Whittaker's have taken the nostalgic tooth breaking toffee, made it a little softer, and encased it in their dark and milk chocolate. Not all their flavours, mind. After much trial and error, Whittaker's have chosen, apparently, the 'best ' three flavours, a deeply subjective, some would say wrong, selection of raspberry, lime and pineapple. I used to be a big fan of the blackcurrant flavour, however I was then exposed to other taste sensations, and realised that orange is the new blackcurrant.

Anyway, the big release date is tomorrow morning. But because my local supermarket is cool/slightly incompetent, I've managed to score a couple of bars, purely for research purposes. So behold, the first review of Whittaker's K Bar chocolate.

So new they're still using the Jellytip chocolate stands

The first bar is lime in milk chocolate. I'm a big lime fan: sliced in Corona, garnishing a gin and tonic, or mixed with lemon and vodka, all perfect tastes, so I was pretty amped for this. Whittaker's are renowned for their milk chocolate. Even Nigella Lawson endorses it, and she knows a thing or two about addictive substances. So I was hopeful that the two would complement each other perfectly.

Unfortunately, the creamy milk chocolate all but obliterates any tangy limey zest. Sure, if you break the chocolate open and lick the gooey centre out, the citrus flavours are there, but unless you have a very small tongue, you're going to have difficulty. So on the whole, this ain't really a bar of chocolate I'd go out of my way to buy. As chance would have it, I didn't actually have to go out of my way to buy this: the stand was between the fruit aisle and the meat, but to be honest I would probably go out of my way in order to buy a more exciting flavour, or a bar of milk chocolate without an indiscernible goo in the middle.

Raspberry in dark chocolate, however, is where the magic lies. The flavours complement perfectly, the bitter 72% cacao set perfectly against sweet berry flavours. Biting it in half, the bright pink filling even resembles what I can only imagine genuine unicorn snot to look and taste like, pure fantasy (the dreamlike sensation, not the drug). Does it taste of real raspberries? Of course not, but you're hardly eating this for your five plus a day, are you?

Mmmmmm..... Sweet, delicious unicorn snot, right there

I didn't buy the pineapple flavoured bar. I don't really trust a fruit that looks like it should be hanging off a tree, but in fact grows on some long spikey grass. Maybe another time.

Behold, the origin story of the internet's most controversial fruit

So there's your first Whittaker's K Bar review. Buy the raspberry flavour, give the other two a miss. Maybe we'll get the orange and blackcurrant flavours soon. Or maybe we'll get another Nigella inspired collaboration with Coke.

Friday, 5 August 2016

This young man started saving at 3 years of age. At 3 1/2, he owns his own firestation

Over the past few years, we've heard plenty about housing. The property market, initially in Auckland, more recently reaching into the provinces, has had more and more investment sunk into it, until it has reached a point described by economists as overinflated.

A balloon artist's impression of the Auckland housing market
The more money that pours in, with property prices climbing out of reach of younger buyers, the closer we are told we are coming closer to the market rapidly bursting, risking economic devastation.

A balloon artist's impression of the Auckland housing market following a sudden unexpected deflation
Regardless, it seems we are unable to peruse the media without reading the story of a student or worker in their early twenties who, having saved steadfastly since their early teens, and forgone luxuries such as food or friendship, has just taken possession of their first home or investment property. But the question remains to be answered: if these young property tycoons had buckled down and put money aside from an early age, what could they have achieved?

Luke knows. Right from an early age he knew what he wanted: 'Mummy, I want to buy a fire station,' he declared shortly after his third birthday.

So middle class he eats barely cooked fish
Luke started his financial success by earning money at home. 'I tidy my room, and do washing,' he stated, with his parents rewarding him with inconsequential sums of money as a crude form of bribery, in an attempt to protect themselves from stepping on stray Lego. Asked further about his duties, Luke stated: 'I did washing, and I broke a plate.' Expanding on his entrepreneurial portfolio, he found other ways to boost his finances: 'I found some moneys in Mummy and Daddy's room,' Luke explained.

Soon, he had enough to consider investing in the property market, and was the proud owner of a small two story fire station. Of course, like many youngsters making their first steps in the ladder, Luke did receive financial aid from his parents, who contributed thirty dollars whilst the building was on sale at Farmers. (But let's not concentrate on that as it ruins our narrative).

Luke with his property and two of his tenants, Sam Jones and Elvis Cridlington
Still living with his parents, Luke has little use for the fire station as a primary dwelling. With no mortgage to play, he has charitably allowed four small firemen to take possession of the facility, to use for their own purposes, free of rent. Asked if he one day plans to move in to the fire station himself, Luke admitted that he probably wouldn't, 'cos I'm too big.' Unashamedly, this is only the first step on to the property ladder for a young man who dreams of owning more grand properties.

Indeed, Luke says he is already saving once more in hope of buying himself some prime South Pacific real estate: 'I want to buy Tracey Island'.

The coveted island paradise

Friday, 22 July 2016

Guest Post: a three and a half year old reviews The Wiggles

Get ready, to read the best writing this blog has seen
This week, my children's favourite Crayola impersonators The Wiggles came and played two shows in Palmerston North, thus ignoring ageing curmudgeon John Cleese's advice that the city is only a place to tour if you are contemplating committing suicide, or trying to pay off your fifth divorce (please don't let this be so, Emma and Lachy, we at least need you to breed some sort of hybrid Warm Grey Wiggle first).

Don't listen to Cleese, Wiggles, Palmerston North has loads of really big fans, and that joke never fails

Unfortunately, having a job and a further 107 Pokèmon to catch, I was unable to make the gig, so am unable to rate the performance of such classics as the ode to conspiracy theories Wake Up Sheeple!, and Labour Party campaign jingle Big Red Car.

We're gonna implement sound social policy the whole day long

Fortunately, it turns out I am able to exploit willing child labour, as are multinational media conglomerate Fairfax, who managed to coax a hyperbolic review of the Wiggles Auckland show out of a six year old. So, ever the one to try and one-up the establishment, here are the musings of a three and a half year old I happen to be related to: 

The concert was in October. October. It was in a room with a biiiig curtain. The curtain was, like, yellowey orangey collour. 

The best bit was when Captain Feathersword falled over. It went BEEEP and then he fell over like this. And then he made Anthony fall over like this, mmmmhp, and then he fell over. But they didn't all fall over. Just Captain Feathersword and Anthony fell over.

Emma and Wags and a teddy bear were there too. They danced. And I gave Anthony a bone, and Anthony put my bone in his bag. It wasn't a real bone, it was a cardboard bone. Then he didn't do a song about it. Wags didn't have it first, but he's probably eating it now. It's probably time for The Wiggles to go to bed. The Brown Wiggle wasn't there. What  is the Brown Wiggle called? Why are Emma and Lachy in love?

Emily liked the concert, and even she danced, but then she rolled over and she cried. 

I didn't dance, cos I refused to dance.

They singed Rock-a-bye Teddy Bear. It was a good song. The best song was Here Comes Simon, it was really funny. They didn't have the big red car. It was probably broken and needed fixing at a garage. They had an animal car. They did sing about Fruit Salad, but there were different rhymes from a different song in it, which isn't actually fruit salad.

I think i would like to go to a ADCC Thunderstruck concert.

2 stars (out of two)

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Game Review: Pokémon Go!

I'm reliving my childhood! And that is perhaps one of the greatest things you could do. but wait, there's more... In reliving my childhood, I'm able to cruelly cause my son maximal confusion. After we took this photo, he spent a good minute or two trying to figure out where the bat actually went.

And he has absolutely no recollection of a Vulpix head butting him in the square yesterday.

Nor of breaking his mother's vow of his vegetarianism on this Magikarp.

I've been playing Pokèmon Go for a week now, and Luke still hasn't figured out why he can't see the friendly monsters I keep taking photos of him with. The joke's not getting old on me either, not until I get a pic of him stuck inside an invisible box with a Mr Mime. After some early criticism due to a misunderstanding  when I told her I was going out at night to try and score some weedles, Rachel seems to be right into the game too. And the dog is also pretty happy, now that he's getting more walks after work. Though he doesn't seem so keen to stop whenever I went to try and get a Slowpoke in the bushes.

In fact, it seems the whole country has gone mad for the game. ACC released a cringeworthy video trying to warn of the dangers of playing. Indeed, there have been concerns that PG has led to an upswing in soft tissue injuries, and poses dangers to driving. To those concern-niks , I say just wait until the inevitable release of MarioKartGo. In addition, apparently Parliament are opening up their buildings to trainers this weekend eager to catch any Governmental monsters. My offer of a reward for the ultimate metaphorical Pokèmon photo still stands.

Everyone knows, though, that the true genius behind Pokèmon Go's popularity is the ability to name your monsters as you catch them, bringing out each trainer's utmost wit. Some names can relate to popular television celebrities of years gone by:

Some to Popular musicians or songs:

Some to topical political topics or  politicians:

It remains to be seen whether Pokèmon Go will last the distance as a true touchstone of 2016 culture, or whether, like most things that involve visiting a gym, it will last a couple of weeks and then be rapidly forgotten. However, in the meantime, certainly it provides fun for the whole family.