Friday, 29 May 2020

Friday Funnies: Sesame Street Bathtub Orgy

Sharing another Sesame Street clip this week. So what I am getting out of this one is that Ernie takes a bath and when he starts to sing the other residents of Sesame Street decide to join him in the tub as though it is all one massive orgy. And then they run and hide when Bert expresses some concern for Ernie's welfare by knocking on the door.

Monday, 25 May 2020

Friday, 22 May 2020

Friday Funnies: Dynamite Dance

This short clip was released by Warner Brothers in mid-2019 to advertise that some new Looney Tunes cartoons were coming, ones that were in keeping with the originals, just like this hilarious but explosive

I don't know much about the new cartoons, whether they have launched yet and if they are any good, but I am keeping my fingers crossed!

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Review: Heartstopper Volume 3 by Alice Oseman

The third volume in the Heartstopper series sees Charlie and Nick travel to Paris with a number of their friends on a school trip. There they are provided with new challenges, in particular Nick, who is slowly coming out as bisexual to his friends ... which in turn means that Charlie and Nick are slowly coming out as a couple. 

Heartstopper Volume 3 gets off to a strong start, but sadly fails to live up to its potential. In particular, a major plot line that involves Nick expressing a desire to come out to his dad, which is then followed by the revelation that his Dad lives in Paris, had a lot of potential, which is then squandered in a few short frames where [[[spoiler alert]]] Nick receives a phone call from his dad to say that he is too busy to catch up this week, and Nick just shrugs it off as though it is nothing and it's not like he and his dad live in different countries and he doesn't have something rather big and important to tell him, and that his reaction (good or bad) could help shape a part of the novel. I have a few other quibbles with the story, for example a subplot where two teachers hooked up on the trip felt somewhat superfluous in a YA novel. Even Charlie's eating disorder appeared to be mentioned purely for shock value, rather than offering readers any real insight into his behaviour or problems. There is a pleasing moment where Charlie stands up to a bully, which will be relatable to anyone who has been on the receiving end of extreme bullying. 

Overall, this felt less like a story that had been carefully constructed and more like a fan fiction featuring the same characters as the first two books in the series. There is no depth, no moments of great insight and no reason whatsoever for me to read on should there be a volume four.

Not really recommended.

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Review: In the Time of Foxes by Jo Lennan

The debut short story collection from Australian author Jo Lennan takes readers to places far and wide across the globe as it tells the story of various humans and their complex relationships with the world around them. Cleverly weaved in to each of the stories is the motif of a fox. Sometimes the foxes appear as they are, sometimes as a metaphors. Each time it packs a real punch. The stories vary in their locations and the characters vary in age. 

I read this one over the course of several evenings, dipping in to one story per day, an approach which allowed me to appreciate each story in full. As always in a collection like this, while all of the stories stood up well on their individual merit, I had my favourites. In particular, I loved the third story in the collection, titled Joyride which kept me guessing right up until the end what the clever and cunning Sylvia would do--and I certainly found myself biting my nails wondering whether I would leave the story feeling satisfied or utterly devastated at the ending. (I'm thrilled to report that I loved the ending.) And while Joyride is set in Sydney, many of the other stories gave me a chance to be an armchair tourist as I read about places such as Japan and Russia, which feel so very far away at the moment. 


Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my copy of In the Time of Foxes

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2020

Monday, 18 May 2020

Friday, 15 May 2020

Kathryn's Random Trivia

Random Trivia: The first episode of The Young Ones aired on the BBC on 9 November 1982

Source: BBC Archive

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Review: All At Sea by Decca Aitkenhead

A perfect family holiday very suddenly turned to tragedy for British journalist Decca Aitkenhead when her husband, Tony, drowned whilst rescuing their son who has been caught in the tide. In this autobiography, Aitkenhead recounts her unlikely relationship with Tony, a former drug dealer who had previously been in jail, but had who turned his life around and become passionate about helping troubled teenagers. But it is more than a story of two unlikely people who meet and bring out the best in each other. It is also a story of grieving and how life can change in an instant. 

This was a short but compelling read, tinged with sadness. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this book is the way that the author makes herself vulnerable, depicting not only her grief, but the inner workings of a less than conventional relationship, one that managed to work despite all odds. 


Friday, 8 May 2020

Curiosity Show: Handy Illusions

Sharing this clip, because I actually remember this one from my childhood. My brother and I had a lot of laughs, pretending that we had two noses! 

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Review: My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Debut author Kate Elizabeth Russell offers a compelling portrayal of a young woman who is targeted and groomed by a man who should have known better, and let down by the people who her parents trusted to look after her.

When Vanessa Wye was fifteen she fell in love with her English teacher at boarding school. Years later, a number of allegations are made against the teacher by some of his former students. Vanessa is horrified. What happened to her was love, not abuse ... wasn't it? Through flashbacks the author shows the terrifying reality, of a young woman who is selected and betrayed in the worst possible way, and the psychological harm that follows. My Dark Vanessa is not an easy book to read, but my goodness it offers readers a chance to understand how others can be betrayed and why they don't just say no. It also shows how these situations can be compounded, by adults who choose to look the other way for the sake of their own professional reputations--in this case an elite boarding school whose lazy investigation is all about salvaging the school's reputation rather than helping someone who is being abused. 

As I stated at the beginning of the review, the story is compelling. At times it was tough to read, in particular the scenes that described the abuse, showing just how innocent Vanessa was, and just how depraved Strane, her forty-two year old abuser was at heart. My heart broke for the older Vanessa as she slowly began to come to terms with what had happened to her, after being in denial for so many years. 

This is not an easy read, and is most definitely not a book that should be picked up by anyone looking for entertainment, or a book that depicts a bit of a scandal. It is a book written to help better understand what victims go through.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Review: Right Ho Jeeves by PG Wodehouse

Jeeves and Bertie are back, and this time Bertie wishes that Jeeves would jolly well stop interfering, after his suggestions find Bertie's old friend Gussie Fink-Nottle stranded in London in fancy dress. And so, disaster ensures when Bertie decides to help Gussie win the heart of Madeline Bassett, without any help from Jeeves.

As always, this was a fun, lighthearted comedy that perfectly satirises the lives of England's idle-rich in the 1920s. Jeeves and Wooster make for the perfect duo, the dim witted millionaire and his clever valet. This time around, Jeeves' solution to the problem may have had a touch of malice in it in regard to his employer, but, lets face it, working for Bertie would try the patience of a saint.

Overall, lots of fun. Highly recommended.

Saturday, 2 May 2020

Tragically Forgotten: How Some of the Worst Events of the Twentieth Century Remain Unknown

Here's a strange fact. There are people out there who have never heard of the Holocaust. (Read more here.) It seems bizarre that someone could not know of the one of the biggest and most horrific events to occur during the twentieth century, but sometimes these things happen. Or, at least they happen to other people. People like me can safely blame a combination of lousy parenting, general ignorance and a poor education. Or I can go a step further and use my 'superior' knowledge to question the sources and the biases of those who conducted the survey and whether or not the publication who reported it has sensationalised the article at all.

Or, if I want a truly deeper understanding of how these things occur, I can turn and look within myself. Here's a bizarre fact: Until I was eighteen years old, I had never heard of the Chernobyl Nuclear Accident. And no, this wasn't due to some radical Soviet cover up. It was, if anything, a strange reflection of the times where, during the course of my schooling, the curriculum tended to focus heavily on the collapse of the Soviet Union and the nations who, one by one were gaining independence. Unsurprisingly, after I learned about the tragic events at Chernobyl, a number of jokes on The Simpsons made a lot more sense. 

Unfortunately, it is a big world we live in and often many tragic events occur, only to soon be forgotten. I was reading Yellow Notebook by Helen Garner recently, a book made up of diary entries written by the beloved Australian author recently when I stumbled on a short paragraph (on page 43 to be exact,) detailing a terrible motoring accident that had occurred in France in 1982. The event described sounded so horrible [[[trigger warning: no seriously, this is pretty awful and if you don't want to be horrified and then sad for the rest of the day stop reading now]]] where forty-four children were killed on their way to a summer camp when the two buses carrying them collided with several other vehicles. Petrol spilled from one of the vehicles and a spark caused a huge fire. Most of the children were only able to be identified through a careful checking of who had boarded the bus and matching them against the names of survivors. It remains the worst motoring accident in French history. Despite this, there are very few resources available in English that detail the event. (If you really want to know more, here is the Wikipedia article.) It is, I suppose, one those things that is simply too horrible to talk about. 

And that perhaps in that lies the answer of why things are forgotten. We don't want to spend our lives thinking about the events that have happened to scores of other people. Not only are they tragic in their own right, but it can remind us of our own vulnerabilities and how the same thing could easily happen to us. No one wants to be a newspaper headline, the person who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And perhaps these things are circular and it comes back to that we cannot stand to see others in the same, vulnerable position.

Friday, 1 May 2020

Friday Funnies: There's a Fly in my Soup!

This week I am sharing a sort of funny, sort of annoying clip from Sesame Street. The intention is to show preschoolers the differences between on, in and around, in a fairly comically fashion, with just enough humour to keep any parents or caregivers who are watching along with their child entertained. Now, with that said, I have one question: Why does the Muppet with the moustache keep going back to the same restaurant where, every week it would seem, he finds himself stressed out by the overly attentive yet highly incompetent Grover? 

Or maybe he secretly got his revenge by sending The Count there one week in his place?