The Technique: A Home Stylist and Former Part-time Hair Model Shares Her Secrets

Posted by Bel. The time is 8:05pm here in Wellington, NZ.

To be honest, this is not a technique of my own concoction, but rather one taught to me by my dear friend Heather. However it has served me well over the years, especially in recent times when a trip to the hairdressers is just too much to face.

I know most salons offer to trim your fringe for free between visits, but I mean, really, who does that?! Isn't it so much more rewarding to take up the snips in your own grasp and feel the power surge through your follicles!

As you can see, I was in severe need of a trim and so decided to employ The Technique. Simply, you hold the scissors vertically, so all cuts are made parallel to the hair shaft. This may seem counter-intuitive, but your locks do get scythed away - just in a far less dramatic fashion, as anyone who has unintentionally hacked their fringe to Bettie Page Land will relate.

Demonstrative video of me in action (only 1 minute long, chill your beans):

[stupid thing isn't loading properly - dunno why, it works fine on my flickr]

You will note at about 30 secs in I am running my fingers through my fringe - this is to shake out any hair that has been cut already - it is ESSENTIAL to do this often, otherwise you will cut more than you intend and the whole operation is futile.

Here is the end result:

Sexy face FAIL haha.

Another tip is to try and not get renegade hair in your bouquet of flowers either, that is kind of gross.

Panic over swine flu in NZ

Posted by Bel. The time is 6:37pm here in Wellington, NZ.

Conversations in workplaces and homes, and not to mention media coverage, have been dominated since the weekend with the imminent threat of infectious swine flu – despite the fact that nobody in New Zealand has actually been confirmed as having the disease.

Stay away! Danger!

Sales in the over-the-counter anti-viral drug Tamiflu have already gone up in New Zealand (it costs $75 for a 5 day hit, by the way) and you know who thinks that’s nothing to sniff at... Big Pharma. As the already wobbly stockmarkets around the world take another hit in the face of the global panic, both Roche and GlaxoSmithKline (multinational drug manufacturers, for those of you not as familiar with your local pharmacy products as me...) have seen as their stocks go up over the last few days.

There is an excellent article here on Mother Jones, a follow up on the journalist’s piece for the Village Voice in 2005 on avian flu.
It’s worth a read, if not solely for the reminder that we have been here before – and some people made a lot of money from it.

And, let me repeat, no one in New Zealand has even been diagnosed with confirmed swine flu yet. In this Dominion Post article, they are saying that the kids from Rangitoto College are supposedly on their way to recovery... What kind of pandemic is that?!

Here’s my transcript of TV3’s John Campbell’s insightful and incisive journalism last night, as he interviewed Dr Mark Jacobs, the NZ Director of Public Heath:

John Campbell: ZOMG SWINE FLU!!!!1

Dr Mark Jacobs: We are moderately concerned.


Dr Mark Jacobs: We are less concerned than we were about avian flu. And look how that turned out here.


Is there a chance that John Campbell has CJD? Because he is acting WHACK. You can watch the clip here and see him stirring shit up for yourself.

A note: please don't take my cynicism and flippancy as disregard for the deaths that have occurred in other countries. I just think that we need to be careful about how the situation is handled here - hopefully without unnecessary scaremongering and playing into the hands of big business instead of looking after the little people.

The God of ...yawn... something.

Posted by Bel. The time is 4:23pm here in Wellington, NZ.

Wow. So. I finally finished this book. As I closed it, the sticker on the front jumped out at me again: ‘Winner of the Booker Prize 1997’. Was that a bad year for books? Because this really did not spin my dial.

“The God of Small Things” is dense, descriptive, detailed and non-linear. I found it hard to follow and couldn’t keep track of whether the characters were children, really young children, or adults. Paragraphs were packed with line after line of similie, draping the plot with layers of description as an plotline made clear from the start was dragged out and doubled up over hundreds of pages.

It also used, time and time again, a literary trick which I find ages incredibly quickly – the dramatic foreboding statement at the end of a chapter. ‘They all looked each other with smiles. BUT LITTLE DID THEY KNOW THEIR SMILES WOULD SOON BE WIPED OFF THEIR FACES.’ ‘With the sun on her face, Jill comfortably rested her head against Jack’s. NOT REALISING THAT IN TIME THEIR FACES WOULD BE WIPED OFF THEIR HEADS’. And so on.

This was #22 off 'This List' and I will give it 2 stars. One because it ended with a sex scene and the other because at least it was a conveniently small sized paperback.


I have just checked and other books shortlisted for the Booker in 1997 and I’ve never heard of any of them. Does this reflect badly upon me, or them? Has anyone out there read any of these books? Did they also suck?


Posted by Bel. The time is 3:31pm here in Wellington, NZ.

120 billboards have been reclaimed in New York City, after Jordan Seiler of the Public Ad Campaign website discovered that the company hiring them out for corporate and multinational advertising did not have them registered for permits with the NYC Department of Buildings.

Over the weekend, a team of volunteers reappropriated them for artworks in an act of art-activism that is becoming ever more popular as the Current Economic Climate (C) TM registered trademark causes people to think a little more carefully about where they spend their money on and what they are being told to spend their money on.

Click on any of the images to see them larger.

I sourced the photos from here and here, where you can read more on the project.

Amazing Survivor Tyra's Got Biggest Talent Idol Factor

Posted by Lou. The time is 9:19pm here in London, UK.

My name is Lou and I'm a reality tv addict.

It started with Survivor. Then there was Amazing Race. Then American Idol. Biggest Loser. And then America's Next Top Model rocked my world.

But I moved to the UK and my programmes were ripped away from me. I developed a tic. Starting waking in the night crying "Tyra! Tyra!". At a workshop somebody played a showreel previewing the latest series big American reality tv shows and I actually shed a tear at what I was missing.

But I soon discovered X Factor. And it was good.

But there was better to come.

Britain's Got Talent, oh how I love thee. You are the best of things, the worst of things. You combine manipulative editing, a mighty despot, Britain's favourite double-act, and a weird and wonderful mix of all people to create something like perfection.

Nothing less than tv heaven.

Shaheen and Stavros and Flawless and, yes, Susan, and we're only 2 weeks in.

Britain's Got Talent, I think I love you.

"...the triumph of a loving and generous heart over an empty one"

Posted by Bel. The time is 8:01pm here in Wellington, NZ.

So goes the description by Peter Jackson's partner, Fran Walsh, of Lovely Bones.

PJ argues the point that although the book has a pretty bleak subject matter, the main character Susie Salmon "transcends the horror of her murder" (literally as well, I guess) and that the tone of the book is not one of gloom and despair. It is this hope-filled attitude they've taken into the film apparently - however when asked about how faithful they've been to the plot, he concedes: "There are changes, definitely."

You can read the whole interview here, or you can be like me and try and avoid any further contact with any details of the film betweeen now and December 11th.

The Geek-Hot List

Posted by Lou. The time is 11:52am here in London, UK.

Here is my list of the elite geek-hot - men who I wouldn't recognise if I passed them in the street, but who through their talent have me ready to drop everything and come running if beckoned:

1. Ryan North. T-Rex toonist. HOT.

2. Dave Eggers. Writer/ editor. HOT.

3. Michael Chabon. Novelist. HOT.

4. Seth MacFarlane. He of The Family Guy. HOT.

5. Charlie Kaufman. Screenwriter. HOT.

PS could somebody do a psychological study on the fact that by coincidence 3 of these guys look like each other and like every guy I've ever had a crush on even though I didn't know what they looked like at the time of crushing?

Buried lives

Posted by Bel. The time is 7:48pm here in Wellington, NZ.

"If someone is drowning, you have to give them your hand. When the war started, all of Poland was drowning in a sea of blood, and those who were drowning the most were the Jews. And among the Jews, the worst off were the children. So I had to give them my hand"

Irena Sendler saved twice as many people in WWII than Oscar Schindler, and was tortured for three months by the Gestapo when they discovered she was smuggling children out of the Warsaw ghetto. She still refused to reveal any details.

After the war ended, she went back to the apple tree where she had stashed the identities of the children in buried glass jars and worked to help reunite them with their parents, or with what living family members they had left.

Now 97 years old, Irena Sendler is being considered for nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize. She would get my vote. Read more here.

Wherein I sing the praises of Abrakebabra's falafel kebab burger.

Posted by Bel. The time is 5:32pm here in Wellington, NZ.

I have always like Abrakebabra, for their hilarious name, if not their delicous Middle Eastern food products. Tonight they once again came through, with a delicious redition of my favourite: the falafel kebab burger.

It is better than a kebab because you get to eat turkish bread! Yes! And this is why Abrakebabra stays at the top of the list. They would never resort to using common white bread burger buns, no: you get yummy thick turkish style bread. (One of my favourite types of bread, up there with ciabatta. But that is a WHOLE OTHER post.)

So this is the one downside of the falafel kebab burger: it is very filling. But if you are having a late lunch and feel like you need a decent feed, I think it is the best value $6.50 will get you.

PS lots of people get skeeved out by kebab shops because of the rotating meat stick things, which is understandable. This is why I always asked for the vege option, even before I was a hardout vege! But guess what: at Abrakebabra they cook in canola oil, not lard or dripping or anything (the guy told me tonight) so I reckon they are pretty OK.

PPS I might be a bit biased because when I told him that actually I was having a really bad day, he gave me a few hot chips on a serviette while I was waiting, to cheer me up, but you know, it just goes to show their general all round awesomeness.

Unimpressed by "Bad Behaviour"

Posted by Bel. The time is 4.31pm here Wellington, NZ.

This collection of short stories by Mary Gaitskill was the #8 book I read off 'The List'. Sure, well-written I suppose, but unpleasant subject matter and hard-to-like characters made this a tough read regardless.

I'm not big on short stories and I found this demonstrated why: content became repetitive as we kept harking back to the same themes and the author's axe was ground on a minimal variety of topics. It gave me the same uncomfortableness that a novel like "The Corrections" did, but with much less sense of the absurd and any levity that could come from that.

In summary, 'WHAMPP WHAMMP'.

PS yes this is where the source material for Secretary starring Maggie Gyyylennenhaaaaall came from, but I thought that film was a confused lump of mixed messages with an unsatisfying resolution, so no suprise there.

Life sucks and then you die. Then Chapter 1 starts.

Posted by Bel. The time is 3.58pm here in Wellington, NZ.

I am very reluctant to give up on a book, with dogged determination that has seen me suffer through some terrible novels in my time (Jonathan Franzen, I’m looking at you).

When You Must Remember This had the 15 year old protagonist swallowing down a bottle of aspirin and staggering back to bed to die in the prologue, I knew I was in for a long ride. But I am committed to ‘The List’ and so persevered with this absorbing and slightly nauseating family drama/coming of age story, set in the thick of America’s 1950s post-war paranoia.

Joyce Carol Oates can write, that’s for sure; the book is filled with vivid descriptions of both the time and place, as the characters are shown as human beings in every sense of the term – flawed and desperate, as well as loving and tender. There were chunks of the book I skimmed, as subplots about boxing didn’t hold my attention, but other images that really gripped me – I loved the way Enid’s sensuality was dealt with so honestly and with all the passion she was feeling, despite the warped circumstances.

You Must Remember This by Joyce Carol Oates - #21 on 'The List'.
I give it 2 iPods out of 5 iPods and not recommend it widely.

opinion of Scarlett Johansson: IMPROVED DRAMATICALLY

Posted by Bel. The time is 4.02pm here in Wellington, NZ.

Scarlett Johansson blogged on Huffington Post about trash talk in the tabloids that she's been crash dieting for her role in Iron Man 2.

"If I were to lose 14 pounds, I'd have to part with both arms. And a foot... I'm frustrated with the irresponsibility of tabloid media who sell the public ideas about what we should look like and how we should get there." Gawd, aren't we all, Scarlett, aren't we ALL.

Did you know she is 5 foot 3? I did not. That is WEE.

Read the whole thing here. It is refreshing and level-headed and she gives props to some interesting organisations, in the way that only well-meaning and slightly grating celebrities can.