Thursday, January 9, 2014

Jelly is awesome for making marketing JAM

OK. That title was cringe worthy, some might say it'd fall into the Dad joke bin, but if you run marketing for a startup then Jelly is going to turn into another helpful feedback tool in your marketing arsenal.


I asked a question and I got an answer.

Jelly is a new app put out by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone. It is beyond simple to use: you take a photo, include a question (this can include a URL), and then post it out into a community of people quickly running through each posted question as it comes through. Answers are often brief and to the point, you can easily connect with whomever answers or asks questions. Profile information is non-existent at present but you can connect via Twitter or facebook, whichever channel the user chose to to sign up with. Jelly is similar to my favorite online social network, Quora, but in a quicker, tidier, and more visual format it's a hybrid of Snapchat and Quora. While there is no open dialogue other than answers, this app is not meant for dialogue. It's meant for short, to the point, answers.

Here's a few top tips I picked up on while I had fun with Jelly today:

  1. Be aware of time zones when you ask your question. A lot of early users are in San Francisco.
  2. Don't dumb down your questions, be direct.
  3. Use it! See what types of photos and questions are getting a response. 
  4. Ask a straightforward OR totally open ended question which can allow for some creative answers. Either or.
  5. Right now there is nothing preventing people from seeing your question, everything that comes into your feed is un-curated and completely random. This is also brand new-ish and getting heaps of publicity. This means that a lot of people outside of your usual customer base will be checking it out. Use this golden time to your advantage.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Awesome Eats in Auckland

Hey, you know how I'm always trying to be helpful? Suggesting great places to date (should a date ever happen in NZ, of course) and instructing you on soul music and such? Well, everyone except weirdos likes eating so I figured that I'd be helpful to nearly everyone.

You'll find another bitchin' custom google map below, complete with reviews and commentary for all the best places to eat in the central city, Ponsonby, Parnell, and Newmarket.

Who's got your back? This lady.

View Auckland Eats in a larger map

Thursday, May 30, 2013

This is how you use LinkedIn.

OK, well this is how I use LinkedIn.

Lots of people yap on at length about how to unlock the mysteries of LinkedIn. They say stuff like 'the goodness and light of LinkedIn exists through using it in only one way!' and 'I would never accept an invite from a lout whose acquaintance was not already known to me!'

Baloney! There are lots of ways to use it.

Now I will waffle freely on the subject.

1. NO-! You don't have to be snuggly with every last one of your connections! 

I really like the fact that if I don't know someone who would be valuable to a project, team, or event then I can just pop on LI and search through all the folks I'm already connected to with whom I've exchanged a friendly "Hey there, I don't know you but you seem rad and we have this awesome stuff in common, let's connect!" message. I want to know people who run in my line of work and if I need a freelancer then I've already connected with a gaggle of 'em. Sha-ZAM.

BONUS TIP: Don't use LinkedIn to try to hook up. No.

2. Fer chrissakes, cold calls are not bad if you do your homework.

I've made friends and befriended mentors on LinkedIn by simply doing my homework. Let me explain: I read their blog, LinkedIn profile, a few tweets, cyberstalk and then shoot through a "You like Stevie Nicks? I like Stevie Nicks! Isn't she so mystical?!" message. 

BONUS TIP: Prior to any trip I've taken in the last 2 years I've made sure to already have made a couple new LinkedIn pals to meet up with. In my world LinkedIn exists to create connections.

3. Respond to those less polite with endless politeness.

Requests for connections from folks I don't know who neglect to include a message are usually looked at with vague annoyance. However, it happens to the best of us by accident, it really does- I know!

With that in mind, I respond to these types of invites with an uber nice, personalized message explaining that I'm not familiar with them, and offer general assistance. It genuinely confuses me how many people don't write back (jerks!). The ones who do? They are awesome. My inbox gets jobs on a regular basis for various reasons, I hook those well mannered folks up if I can. 

4. Don't litter your skills & expertise section with lies. 

Claiming to have mad social media marketing skillz isn't as ruinous as saying you can hack open heart surgery when you're actually a plumber, but it's still not cool. Unfortunately it still makes you a bumpkin liar and will bite you in the ass. I put very, very little weight in the endorsement section for this reason. Try to endorse folks off of your direct experience with them and knowledge around what they do. 

5. Don't update your skills/title/profile photo every day, it's annoying. Like that GIF.

I've hidden quite a few folks for this one. Their logic dictates that they be more noticeable on the 'ol newsfeed, but that logic is flawed. Majorly.

6. If you have a friend or mentor who you'd like to mention in your profile, don't do it more than  twice.

Three mentions of someone on your profile and your name will come up when their name is searched. Don't be That Guy. Please.

Boss, like Prince.

7. LinkedIn groups are boss. For realz.

Unlike twitter, which may lead to a handful of click throughs, LinkedIn groups provide you with a group already pre-disposed to your content. Furthermore, if you put in a description which clearly explains why your link is so important in a human-like tone (not PR/scare mongering/d-bag nonsense), then you'll probably get more meaningful click throughs and some new pals while you're at it. Finally, for the love of all things holy and good in this world- don't you DARE post a press release. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New York, New York

Hey kids, I love New York. A lot. Last July Mr Kim and I were there for 5 weeks and two years before that, 4. Currently I'm planning another, shorter trip for this year which will encompass a couple projects and some Fetch related fun.

I get asked for suggestions on what to do while in New York fairly regularly so I finally knuckled down for 4 odd hours today and put together a fairly comprehensive google map. It doesn't include a bunch of random stuff like the Andy Warhol statue:

Or the greatest sandwich of all time- easily procured at Joe Mozz in the Lower Manhattan/Seaport area.

However, it does include a truckload of restaurants, museums, shops, and various other stuff to experience while in the big apple. Give it a look:

View New Yawk! in a larger map

Monday, November 5, 2012


You know who's motivated? Mr. Kim. He makes sure our house gets ample music, sports, and John Wayne movies. Last month he spotted Sight & Sounds Top 100 Films of All Time issue and as we read through the list we realized that we were not the movie nerds we thought we were. Mainly I was the one filled with a deep, piercing shame- I have a Masters in Film, TV, and Media Studies AND went to film school, yet I had only seen a fraction of the films on the list.

Rather than hide under the figurative covers of despair, we decided to man up and watch ALL 100 films. Here were the terms:

  • If we both had watched the film, but separately, then we didn't necessarily have to watch it again.
  • If one of us had seen it, but not the other, then we both had to watch it again.
Let me tell you something: The internet has completely destroyed my ability to concentrate on anything without colour and requiring subtitles. It has turned my brain into oatmeal.

The first 6-8 films were harder than Chinese algebra. Did I fall asleep? Many times. Did Mr. Kim give me the evils and poke me accordingly? Constantly. Have I watched some downright terrific, life affirming movies? Yes, and I'm going to tell you my Top 3 of the '26 Films We've Gotten Through in the Top 100 Film Challenge.'

1. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

This film is black and white, silent, and doesn't do itself many favors with the soundtrack. However, I completely adored every frame- I've never seen acting which successfully conveys real love onscreen. The kind of love which is playful, slapstick, and so utterly entertaining you can't keep your eyes off it. The still is of a drunken piglet. Yes, this film has it all: scandal, unease with urbanization, love, and drunk farm animals.

2. Some Like it Hot

Have you seen Jack Lemmon in his prime? Egads, I found him about 86 times more riveting than Marilyn Monroe- and she wears some pretty skimpy outfits! Anyways. Lemmon. He's a marvel, within a few minutes of the opening I was endeared to him for all time. This film was a romp, tickle, and proper goosing.

3. In the Mood for Love

Do you like colour? Seriously, do you notice its existence on a daily basis? If so, you're in for a right treat. Every shot is a delight in this film, I loved the story, the characters, the sets, the props, the clothes, the noodle takeaway containers, everything. The blocking told a huge part of the story, the acting was dreamy. I can't even begin to properly gush about the editing. And the shot composition! It makes you feel as if everything serves a purpose and has been carefully constructed to present the best mis-en-scene possible.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Fetch

Hello Ducklings, I'll save both of us from the awkward "So, it's been a while..." monologue and jump right into it. Yes- I am back on a regular basis.

What have I been up to? The usual. Popping on planes, jumping trains, eating good food and making new pals, like this wee fella:

Yes, that dog exists! In Brooklyn! His owner was one deceptively scary lookin' dude, but I was adamant about getting photographic evidence.

One of my other new pals, the two legged kind, is digital super woman herself, Kate Kendall. I'd been a fan of hers from afar for over a year before thinking that I might give her a holler on the E-mail. When I say fan, I mean that I read her interviews and felt excited that someone else also believed that communities drive business and the two are intrinsically intertwined. Also, she seemed nice.

Kate does a lot of cool stuff, including but not limited to- speaking at digitally themed events, founding the Fetch, bringing the Fetch to 10 different cities, and working non-stop to bring her start up into the world. Her interviews give a portrait of a well adjusted, incredibly clever and non-egotistical human being with heart, knowledge, and big goals.

Anyhoo. Mr. Kim and I went to New York for a while and after the long flight home our luggage hit the floor in Auckland I said "That's IT. Auckland is getting a Fetch of its own." I shot Kate an email and we started chatting about how New Zealand has been in sore need of a service like the Fetch for years. There are so many professional events and happenings going on in New Zealand, but they're wildly disparate and it's incredibly difficult to be aware of everything going on in your community.

So- what is the Fetch and what can it do for you?

The Fetch is a what's on guide to Auckland's professional community. We cover all things business, entrepreneurship, tech, digital, creative, culture and design in one easy-to-digest fortnightly email. It includes the best events, news, must-reads, jobs, profiles and more.

If you're keen to learn more, follow us on twitter: @thefetchauck or sign up here: The Fetch

Friday, November 4, 2011

Come Together

Ahoy + Hello,

Not to be a clichè, but the kitchen has been chocka and I've been crazy busy gettin' stuff & things in order. I have done a very good job! I have a brand spankin' new job which is permanent and full time (after 3 odd years of freelance and 5 years of work in TV) and thanks to NZ Air's Grabaseat special we are off to Tokyo on Sunday for a few days of giggles, sushi and freedom before I settle in and start said brand spankin' new job.

What will we do there? O ho, we only have a few days so we've already got most of it planned out but here's a hint:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Nacho Time. EVERY TIME.

Pip pip & greetings.

At the end of the month I turn the big 3-0. So, 30-something future self: Don't be a jerk. Don't sell yourself short. Keep an open mind and fer chrissakes- buy a ticket. You can't win the lotto (or get on a plane) without one.

Here is a list. It mainly covers what my brain's been busy with these days.

Before Night Falls Soundtrack - This soundtrack contains my favorite piece of instrumental music: Crisàntemo by Ernesto Lecuona. The movie was about a Cuban poet and novelist, Reinaldo Arenas, who definitely lived life to the MAX. His book by the same title is a memoir that includes tremendously funny anecdotes concerning homosexuality and farm animals.

The Green Album The internet pointed out that an album's worth of Muppet songs have been covered by the likes of My Morning Jacket, OK Go, and Sondre Lerche. NPR have a stream of the entire record, so if you need a morning pick me up click that sucka and start shakin' some tail.

True Blood Oh, True Blood. Words cannot express how much I love Season 4. However, my favorite TB blog, Sookieverse does an extra-specially fine job of singing praises, providing criticisms of Uncle Alan (Ball) and laying claim to the most downright hilarious recaps of each episode.

Curb Your Enthusiasm It's taken me years of living with a die hard LD fan to finally see the light. This season's hilarity appears to be ramped up to a level that I find impossible to not utterly love- it's addictive and horrifying at the same time. I can't wait to see this week's ep, I hope Rosie O'Donnell gives Larry what for.

Just Kids Patti's Smith's memoir about her time in NYC with Robert Maplethorpe is so well crafted that I'm able to handle all the hippie stuff/attitude. Smith has always been one of those artists that I thought I should know more about, but genuinely just haven't found the right 'in' to learn about her. I'm real late to the party with this book- it's been at the top of the best sellers list for months or somesuch.

Mexican Food.
All. The. Time.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Free Stuff & Things

Thank you Dan Pupius!

Hello Again!

I figured I'd do us all a favour and have a chat about how helpful social media can be. Now, some folks may be a little bent out of shape about that tweeter thing or that we tube who-sit, but I'm not! In fact, I'd easily say that you gotta hop on that train as soon as you can, 'cause there's more than a free lunch or six at stake. SM is best served in a few different styles, depending on what you want to get out of it:

Side Dish: Most companies need social media. Think about how refreshing it was when celebrities started to talk to us low-lifes (ie normal people) through twitter! How exciting it all was! Imagine the ability to drum up business and interact with your customers (or potential customers) through an online service. So, if you like connecting with people and realize that your place of work could benefit from opening up to the notion of social media- do some research!

Appetizer: Job hunting is a little exciting, depressing, and exhausting. Do yourself a solid and sort out how social media can help get your foot in the door. However, traditional networking MUST follow up any introductions you broker online- if you're considering pursuing becoming an architect, find some architects in your area via twitter, follow them, then by golly- send them a line! Ask them about some subjects they've posted about, and if they seem friendly enough, simply ask to take them out for a coffee. Unless they are crazy busy or a jerk, they WILL say yes if you are polite, flattering and genuine. Prepare questions and be direct: if you're looking for work then ask for advice, if you're not sure whether you want to be an architect, ask what traits are necessary to build nice buildings.

Snack: I like people! Social media allows you to connect with a lot of different people in an easy fashion. Whether you use it to find out about free stuff going on (including lunches), meet new pals, or find out about happenings in your town, it's a resource that shouldn't be ignored.

Dessert: Social media can be described as any online entity that connects people and allows them to interact and share information. On-line dating has been a boon for quite a few friends of mine, it's a good way to meet people outside your usual group of bar regulars and mix outside your gene pool (ho ho, jokes!).

* That charming fella up there is a Havanese puppy. My parents recently got one and he is the official scamp of the house and obsessed with their dining room rug. This photo is totally unhelpful and not related to any content in this post.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Get Soul in Your Life

Oh, Aretha. This track is off her 'Young, Gifted, and Black' record which has been living permanently in my car since I purchased it 3 weeks ago. How much do we love soul in this household? How does a dolphin love the ocean? How does Ice T love Coco? Oodles, my friends. Oodles.

Who do we dote on the most? Here are the usual suspects in our spinning lineup for the Lesch/Mackenzie residential record player:

Aretha came into my life during my last birthday. I was moping since we were no longer in NYC (we'd just gotten back from a month long trip) and was a total Debbie Downer. B decided that some Queen of Soul would perk right me up. 'Soul '69' and 'A Best Of' later, I was back in the game and ready to jump into the ring. If you haven't experienced Aretha, I'd suggest either a 'Best Of' or 'Young, Gifted, and Black' which is a record everyone on the planet should own right this second.

2- Sly & The Family Stone Sing a Simple Song
Just get the Essential Sly & The Family Stone and you will be the life of any party worth going to. Need proof? Click the link. The End.

3- Stevie Wonder I Believe (When I Fall In Love)
OK, you know that amazing song that plays through the end credits of High Fidelity? This is it. This is Stevie Wonder before he wrote 'I Just Called To Say I Love You;' the dude actually had credibility! I picked up his 'Talking Book' record, which has this track on it, when I picked up 'Young, Gifted, and Black' and my ears have been spasming with joy ever since. It's a terrific record with so many great songs, well worth every penny I paid for it.

4- Bill Withers Use Me 
Withers also wrote 'Ain't No Sunshine,' 'Lovely Day,' and 'Just the Two of Us,' however it is solely due to this track that I think he is The Man. For a period of about 5 years I put this track on every last mix I made, I was adamant that people should listen to this song at least once, if not several hundred times. He has a lot of other songs that are brilliant, but please just listen to this one for now.

5- Marvin Gaye Ain't no Mountain High Enough    
You know when you first hear a David Bowie greatest hits collection for the first time and you go "No way! He wrote that?" for about every single song? Well, you sort of do that when you hear a decent collection of Gaye's earlier work. Then you can go "Well I'll be darned! Did he write that as well?" So it'd probably be a good idea to pick one up some time this week. Just sayin'.

My illustrious partner and music professional, B, always checks out a site called All Music any time he decides to get into an established musician. Their site is frightfully well organized and tremendously helpful, especially if you're unsure which records are worth listening to in a daunting discography. We often use it while music shopping since we have the interwebs on our highly intelligent cellular phones, and you should too.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Top 5 Dates For Under $30 in Auckland

                                           Thanks to Tim Parkinson for the photo

You may have noticed my mild obsession with eating well on the cheap.

I managed to claw my way through two degrees while living 'The Student Lifestyle' for 6 and some years and let me impart this nugget of wisdom to you: One doesn't go through THAT without learning a thing or two about thrift.

At any rate my partner would rather spend his dollars on Miles Davis records and I would prefer a nice pair pants over a swanky ass date. We are alike in our extreme sense of frugality when it comes to romance. In light of my last post wherein I spoke disparagingly about the lack of dating culture in New Zealand, here are some dates that Aucklanders can get behind:

1. The Chocolate Boutique, Parnell
Question: where else in Auckland would you be able to get a downright DIVINE slice of homemade chocolate mud cake for $5.50? NOWHERE. Most of the desserts here are under 6 clams and certainly don't taste it. I'd suggest going either earlier in the evening or very late as all school age children are also aware of the awesomeness that is The Chocolate Boutique. Luckily it's open late (an Auckland rarity).

2. Bitchin' Bingo, Vulcan Lane, Central City
A downright amusing mash up of stand up and gambling, Bingo Mistress Viv serves up a whip smart 2 hours of laughs and rad prizes for $7. She's only at Cassette #9 now, but as they also do tapas it could serve well for either an 'early on' date or just something to do for a less full on evening out.

3. Academy Cinema, Central City
During the last few months Academy Cinemas have totally redeemed themselves from 'that pokey place that's down like 6 flights of stairs' to 'that boss cinema that's playing classics for $12.' We saw a 35mm print of 'Casablanca' a couple months back and had a couple bucks left over for some ice cream cones. Everyone in the theatre was quiet as mice since it was a CLASSIC film and not the new X-Men.

4. Little Cake Kitchen, Upper Queen St, Newton
Do you know what most women like? Sweet, sugar laden baked goods AND small things. Few women are immune to cuteness, especially in food. This is where cupcakes comes in. We are hopeless suckers for small cakes that are well decorated. HOPELESS. SUCKERS. Men-! Take note! Little Cake Kitchen is cute as pigs and full of things your gal will go batshit over. Also, their cupcakes rock in at around $3.50, so you'd be able to spring for a couple AND a coffee or 3.

5. Bite Cafe 2nd Floor Smith & Caughey's, Central City
Bite is one of the best cafes in the central city. It still confuses me that nobody has done a decent write up on them and there are virtually NO websites with a review. The cafe is much more like a restaurant, it's relatively quiet, the food is very high quality yet reasonably priced, and the staff are unreal with their level of customer service. Go for lunch or their $9 high tea and be sure to get a coffee card, they're generous with the stamps.

6. *BONUS FOR NERDZ* Video Game Arcades on Queen St
There are two video game arcades in close proximity on Queen, Time Zone does a half priced Thursday on ALL their games. Now, call me corny & American, but in my book, it's the actual activity of a date that gives you stuff to talk about. Hence all the random cafes, they're all well placed for a good wander after eating lunch/cupcakes. Video game arcades, however, are just FUN. Spend $20 on credit (which would translate into $40 on a Thursday), then have $10 left over for two coffees.

How helpful! See? I told you I was helpful.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Can We Please Make Out Now?

I recently met up for pizza and booze with another transplanted Americano and a Kiwi who had lived abroad and visited the states annually for nearly 10 years. We chatted about polite subjects until the third beer, then The Question that all Americans are tremendously confused about came up, as it always does when I'm around newly minted expats: Why is there no dating culture in New Zealand?

The usual mating tactics of the native Kiwi largely consist of meeting someone they find attractive while out with their respective group of pals, gettin' crunk, and then half assedly making out in the toilets (or preferably in a bedroom if they're attending a house party). How uncouth! I mean, seriously? This is the Best you've come up with while Western civilization funds movie theatres, restaurants, mini golf, and bowling alleys with their mating habits? Generally six weeks after said drunken groping, someone mumbles or texts something along the lines of 'i like u. u r kewl & I wnt 2 b yr BF.' A very funny Kiwi I met last week said that it was more like 'i am l8 & yr a daddy.'

On the flip side I've heard horror stories of well meaning and vaguely honorable Yankee lads approaching Kiwi women with a smile and a drink offer only to be smirked at and given the cold shoulder. Quite frankly, if your friends and their friends aren't there to supervise then you're stuffed. I think Kiwis are used to a slower, less full on approach, and it's the slower approach that I've grown used to over the last 8 odd years- I totally find American dudes uncouth with their forwardness every time I visit.*

We may both enjoy Subway and Flight of the Conchords, but it doesn't mean that our cultures are so easily similar. In fact, I would say that the biggest difference between New Zealand and America is how personal relationships tend to develop. Kiwis are more guarded with their feelings, so a larger social setting suits them better and since NZ is a fairly petite place you have a wider berth of older friends around you that you grew up with to help instigate that. Americans are more keen to get to know someone faster and therefore prefer more one on one time before friends are brought in for introductions. A date is a period of time when you get to nervously hang out and try to find out as much as you can about this person who has given you solid proof that they think you're a hottie. It's greyer in NZ, and largely without as much structure. But all that said- both countries have a lot of married couples so both systems work, just very differently.

If only this post existed 8 years ago when I first moved here! Take note, if anyone you know is about to embark to and/or from NZ to the States please pass this along. Unless they're not single, then don't.

*For the record, I snagged my partner at a gig by yelling 'WANNA DATE?!' in his ear. He found this charming and has luckily kept me around for 4 years.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pancakes & Puddin'

I don't know about the rules in your household, but right now we are the Carb Capital of Auckland since winter has set in. The weather's gone right wackadoo. First with tornadoes and now with rain so ridonkulous it doesn't seem worth it to get out of one's jammy jams. As I am a part time lady of leisure I rarely have to worry about such menial difficulties as dealing with nature's cruel precipitation.

Instead, I have been filling my days with finding excuses to create more carb filled substances, preferably containing butter, sugar, and sometimes chocolate. Go ahead and live vicariously through me, don't be shy! In the last 24 hours I've managed to get knee deep in pancakes and attempted to somewhat bake a pudding. I wasn't too familiar with what a pudding exactly was since it's not a common dessert found on American menus, but this seemed insignificant. It wasn't. In fact, it led to a lot of issues concerning how the pudding should look once properly baked. Needless to say I overdid the hell out of it. Luckily there was a lot of chocolate and butter in the recipe so it still tastes nice.

As half the audience hails from a commonwealth country and the other half have Wal Mart, I will explain this dish to Team Wal Mart: a pudding is sort of like a cake that comes with its own gooey sauce. It's very delicious! You should try it if you see it on a menu some time, you will not regret it if you like food.

There are a few other things that are sort of okay about winter. You listen to different records, eat more root based vegetables, have that extra mug of Milo,* watch more films at home, spend full nights spent reading under a blanket, and we usually have a couple scented candles lit around the house at night. Here's a smattering of what I've been enjoying:

1- Hurts - 'Happiness' These Brits have come up with one of the best cold weather records ever, it simply shines at a late hour with a torrential downpour outside. If you adore Depeche Mode's 'Violator,' then get this record ASAP.

2- Carbtastic! Yes yes, we've had roasted veggies galore the past few weeks. Guilty as charged, we've started making roasted veggie sandwiches with crusty fennel foccacia and Parmesan (with a healthy dollop of pesto & aioli)

3- Fables. I generally use this comic as a recommendation to all my pals new to comics, it's epic! I recently purchased 9 soft covers off a jet setting friend so I've finally gotten down to brass tacks and have managed to reread the first odd 8 years of it during the past week. The story follows a crew of characters from traditional fairy tales (Snow White, Rose Red, Sleeping Beauty) living in contemporary New York. It's funnier and a touch sweeter than Sandman.

4- Glade Hawaiian Breeze Candles. Don't knock it. Our house smells like Pineapples, Mangoes, and Vacation.

*Yet another commonwealth commonality, it's like hot chocolate except it's billed as a 'sports drink' since it has a chunk of iron and other elements of HEALTH steeped in it.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Move it or lose it.

Dear Readers,

What a week. What a mother truckin' week. Blogger's been on the fritz and my brain is banana oatmeal from 3 overnight shifts. I went out last night and was a human cadaver for about half the conversation. True Story.

OK. I feel better now, which leads us to the first and only topic of this post: Motivation. At this very moment, I only have a smidgen. To combat this, I am listening to Aretha Franklin. She inspires excessive Motivation and Effort for me. I hear her voice and it seems like a great idea to do 4 loads of laundry and clean the shower. Is this a kumbaya love everybody, work hard, and succeed kind of post? Hells no. Everyone needs incentives-! Even hippies. I often feel highly Motivated to save money, but only on certain things. Here they are:

1. Food. I like it. It likes me. I will go to great awkward lengths to get good food! I will go to restaurants that have self esteem shattering customer service for nice cake! I will hand over expired coupons, vouchers, coffee cards, and credit notes in the hopes of acquiring a half priced treat. I will argue over that loophole in a menu to save a dollar, as it would be cheaper to separately order the creamed mushrooms and the toast instead of the creamed mushroom toast.* However, thanks to our stinky economy, it's fashionable to be cheap! Check out the plethora of daily deals that have sprung up all over NZ.

2. Travel. I won't enjoy the trip unless I know for an absolute fact that I got the Best Deal of the Year. Our last trip to Melbourne was legen- wait for it - DARY! We got flights for free with our hotel package. Did it make an entire year's worth of spammy weekly emails from House of Travel worth it? Totally! Keep an eye or two on Flight Centre, House of Travel, Webjet and you too can brag about how you practically got paid to go on your holiday.

3. Books. Around a year and a half ago I realized that there were a lot of books that were coming out that I wanted to read that either the library didn't have (and wouldn't get in for ages) or the waiting list was 1500 people deep. My previous post was obviously extolling the wonderous virtues of Mighty Ape but they're certainly not the only online retailer out there. Any time I read Entertainment Weekly's book review website and find something that sounds particularly fantastic then I check out (in order) Mighty Ape, The Nile, Real Groovy, and then Warehouse. Don't expect the kind of impressive service you might get from non-virtual bookshops like Unity (new books) or Jason's (used), but if you already know what you want then save yourself 20-40% and go online.

* True story. The menu has changed since my last visit wherein I pointed this out to the mystified staff, evidently no one had tried it out before.

Friday, May 6, 2011

It's Not Who You Are, It's What You Like.

5 Books I'd Take on a Deserted Island

You'll probably note the excessive (yet informative!) use of links in this entry which I'd prefer to gently explain. Every so often I order all different types of stuff off of The Mighty Ape, it's an online shop based on the North Shore in Auckland. Unlike most places in NZ, it offers very decently priced books and vinyl. I use them because they are cheap, fast, and friendly. Also, I won two free passes to see Terry Pratchett's talk off their twitter competition. They made me a WINNER! If Mighty Ape carries a mentioned item, I've put up the cheapest priced link where you can find it.


1. 100 Food Experiences to Have Before You Die by Stephen Downes

This is my favourite book of all time, and I'm not ashamed to post it for all to see. His list ranges from tremendously complex dishes to a simple piece of fruit, each entry carefully constructed to give a full background and understanding of just WHY Properly Cooked Chips are worth the effort. He includes the full run down of the 100 Dishes, including his own history with said dish which leaves you heady from the descriptions of how each has the possibility of changing your existence. Case in point: I've been pescetarian for 11 years, but his writing on Coq Au Vin makes me seriously question my beliefs.

2. The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis

This book would serve as a vital reminder of what a pain in the ass it is to deal with fictionally awful and dramatic teens. If I'm on this island by myself then I'd like to think that people are over rated and this book would be a huge help. All that aside, it's a terrific book with extraordinarily fast paced, clever, and delicious plot. Teen drama done right by Uncle Bret. PS- Click link on his name to gander at his delightfully bitchy twitter account.

3. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner (Their podcast on itunes is ranked #1)

Some people really hate this book or get bored with it. I've surmised that they must just be simply hateful towards books or boring people. Jokes! Jokes! Ho ho. Human behaviour in economics is a fancy pants and lucrative subject, what with Malcom Gladwell on the loose, et al. However, I am a total sucker for these hip academic types. This book's topics range from how to utilize your real estate agent to their full potential to how cheating works in Sumo wrestling (and public school systems). Reading about what makes people tick and what incentives work fascinates me; you're getting down to the brass tacks of basic principles. Namely, stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with logic and everything to do with re-adjusting how you think people will react. Their podcast is perfect for a workout or a long car trip, you should download a few (they're free) and give the two Ste(ph)vens a go.

4. A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace

Wallace's greatest gift as a writer was his uncanny ability to make you snort through your nose with laughter at one line, then continue onwards with that hilarity, steadily building to a fever pitch for the next 20 odd pages. This book is a fine collection of his magazine articles and essays which (in my opinion) better demonstrated his super mutant writing and storytelling powers. The essays are wildly varied, which makes them even more tasty: his time as a tennis player in Illinois, the time he got sent on a cruise by a magazine, the afternoon he got to spend on the set of David Lynch's 'Lost Highway' and cursed out one of the picture's main actors in the footnotes, you get the point.

5. The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster

I find it a little hard to articulate how I love this book, especially as it's part of a very staggering list of well written works that Auster has produced. However, I can say this, if you're familiar with his other, textured and curious works then this book stands out for it's softness and nearly wholesome demeanor. While it's been a long time since I've read The Brooklyn Follies, it still stands out in our large collection of his work. It's conversational and not doggedly political or analytic or mysterious or many of the other tropes that wind together Auster's various books. I find that I have to be in a certain mood to read Auster's other works, but I always feel very open to rereading this book again.