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.