Friday, January 30, 2009

Random comic genius: The Good Samaritan

"That Mitchell and Webb Look" is a fairly hit-and-miss UK sketch comedy, but when they hit, they hit big. Here they take a cheekily look at the racism that underlies one of the great anti-racism stories.

Yellowface is still alive

Below: Rob Schneider in "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry"

The term "yellowface", like "blackface", refers to the practice in theater, TV and film of making up white actors to look Asian or black for roles. This was extremely prevalent in the early-to-mid 20th century. Was this because there were absolutely no black or Asian people anywhere who were capable of doing these performances themselves? Or was the entertainment world in fact so racist that it would prefer the ridiculous conceit of disguising a white actor as another race, rather than give a role to a person of colour? I'll let you figure that one out.

One of the best known examples of yellowfacery is the classic 70s martial arts series Kung Fu. An idea conceived by Bruce Lee, who intended to star in it, was hijacked by Hollywood, who cast David Carradine in the role of Kwai Chang Caine. (Carradine is kinda Asian-looking due to his part Cherokee-ancestry, so he can maybe pass as Eurasian, but the principle of it is still pretty f@#%ed.)

One of the most bizarre yellowface examples in film was John Wayne as Genghis Khan in the 1956 flop "The Conqueror". I mean, really, John Wayne as a Mongol? WTF? Someone must have been smoking the pipe for that one. That's like Schwarzenegger being cast as Idi Amin. Or a white British actor playing Mahatma Gandhi.

(Actually, Ben Kingsley who played Gandhi is half Indian, so he gets a pass, I guess.)

You'd think that in the Obama-era, more PC Hollywood of today, that this wouldn't happen. Well apparently it still does. The upcoming movie "The Last Airbender", based on the anime "Avatar: The Last Airbender", is a live-actor adaptation of the popular series, which is based in an Asian-themed fantasy world. Yet the main actors being cast are all Caucasian, such as teen-heart-throb singer Jesse McCartney. Apparently there are still no Asian people anywhere who can act. They might be able to squeeze in my man Al Leong as a henchman or something (google him, you'll know who I mean).

Avatar fans all over the internets are not happy. I'm not much of an animation buff, and must say I know very little about the Avatar phenomenon. But blogger Derek Kirk Kim has an Asian-American take on the Caucasianisation of Avatar which is well worth reading; you can do that here.

One of the strange things about the Avatar business is that before leaping to the "white racist Hollywood repressing the Asian man again" conclusion, consider that the director is Indian-born M Night Shyamalan (of Sixth Sense fame), one of the most prominent Asian-Americans in Hollywood. So the picture gets slightly more complex. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Btw, I know Rob Schneider is 1/4 Filipino, but that doesn't make it right.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Happy Lunar New Year!

Kung Hei Fat Choy!

Or is is Gong Hey Fatt Choi? Or Gong Xi Fa Cai?
I'm not sure which is the correct spelling (oh, those inscrutable Orientals), but the meaning is the same - "Congratulations and be prosperous" - as we welcome in the Year of the Ox.

A number of people have asked me if my family celebrates Chinese New Year. And since we're not Chinese, and since Asians are not all the same, the answer is no. (Although since half the Indonesians in Australia are ethnic Chinese, its a fair question I guess.) However, given that I seem to be surrounded by Chinese people at all times, its hard not to get swept up in the occasion.

Here in Melbourne, the festivities start a month before the date itself, with the city's major Chinese/Vietnamese areas (Springvale, Box Hill, Footscray, Richmond and the CBD) taking turns at having their celebrations (read: karaoke, firecrackers, lion dancing, roast pork and sugar cane juice).

I celebrated Chinese New Year at Golden Monkey, my mate's Chinese-themed bar in the city. The lion dancers rocked up and did their thing, with drum-banging entourage, which is meant to bless the business with prosperity for the coming year. Two lions, each operated by two people. I wonder if they draw straws and the loser has to be the lion's ass? They did the ceremonial thing where the business owner feeds the lions with a head of lettuce which they dangle from a pole. I like that, a vegetarian lion.

A few things I've learned about Chinese New Year (or, tips for non-Chinese on surviving Chinese New Year):

1. One of the traditions each year is for married people to give ang pao (red packets of money) to unmarried people. If you are not Chinese yet still want to get in on some of this action, make sure you get in the good books with your Chinese friend's parents. Your tightass single friends are probably not gonna give you jack, so work on their parents.

2. If you are at a loud CNY function and you are conversing with someone who then eats a fishcake, do not ask them any questions until they have swallowed said fishcake and washed it down with something. Even if it creates a briefly uncomfortable silence, it is preferrable to getting a blast of fishcake breath in your face as this person leans in to talk to you.

3. If you are giving red packets to the lion dancers, custom dictates that you place it in the lion's mouth, not tuck it in the front of their pants.

4. Knives and scissors are bad luck if used on new year's day, since they apparently cut of good fortune. So when preparing meat for your CNY feast, your teeth will do just fine.

5. Red is the colour of good fortune, so wear something red. However, some items do not count. For example: bowling shirts with red flames on them. Red ugg-boots. Red shirts with rude words on them as an attempt to shock people because you are so "edgy". If you wear any of these items, you are unlikely to have good fortune, like ever.

6. Washing one's hair on CNY is considered to be bad luck, as it represents washing away one's good fortune. Yet if you are out to pick up at a CNY party and you haven't washed your hair, your chances of getting lucky are not great either.

7. The noisiness of firecrackers is intended to scare away evil spirits that bring bad luck. If you notice you get startled or frightened by firecrackers on CNY, might be time to get yourself checked out by a doctor in case you have unwittingly turned into an evil spirit. But I think they have a pill you can take for that nowadays.

Incidentally, this year is especially fortuitous if you are Chinese-Australian, since CNY fell on January 26th, the same day as the Australia Day holiday. Maybe one day the powers-that-be will deign to make CNY an official public holiday, as it is in many Asian countries. That would really show that we are a multicultural country. Maybe if we flood the country with more and more Chinese people, we'll get that extra public holiday. (I mean, we get the Melbourne Cup Day holiday, a holiday for a bloody horse race?) Then hopefully we can get public holidays for Passover, Dipawali, and Eid-ul-Fitr, and eventually I won't have to go to work at all. Avoiding work - it's the Australian way. Let's make it happen, people.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

What's Been Rocking My Stereo Recently...

Mayer Hawthorne & The County - "Just Ain't Gonna Work Out"

Check out this funky white boy. Out through Stone's Throw Records, "Just Ain't Gonna Work Out" has got the gentle hip-hop break thing happening (I believe that's Otis Redding's "Tramp" beat being sampled) and some nice, simple instrumentation; but the vocals really blew my mind. Not that Hawthorne is an amazing singer, but the layered falsetto harmonies evoke the best of 70s Philly soul vocal groups (the Delfonics, the Stylistics, etc). I'm loving the blend of old and new styles. Played this track about 7 times on my computer at work yesterday.

Nickodemus & Quantic featuring Tempo - "Mi Swing Es Tropical"
This is already at least 2 years old but I came upon it only recently. A truly cross cultural collaboration between NYC producer/keyboardist Nickodemus, UK producer/guitarist Quantic, and Puerto Rican vocalist Tempo, recorded in Puerto Rico. I'm not too proud to admit that I play this record at home and dance to it when no one else is around. If you can't get at least some pleasure from this song, check your pulse as you may just be clinically dead.

Dwele - "I'm Cheatin'"

Just copped Dwele's "Sketches of a Man" album, and while I'm not really feeling it as much as I did his earlier stuff - its got plenty of style but not much in the way of actual good songs - this song is probably the album highlight. It's nicely constructed lyric, not so much about cheating but about having a relationship with two sides of a woman's personality. As usual, Dwele's m.o. is all about the effortless smooth vocals and cool fender rhodes keyboards. Niiice.

Dave Pike Set - "Mathar"

This has got to be one of the great dancefloor monster tracks of all time. Not that you'd know it from the opening 40 seconds, when it sounds like the soundtrack to some documentary about Indian village life or something. And then the beat kicks in and - what a beat! I used to dance to this track back at the legendary Cocoa Butter club night in the mid 90s, thinking it was an example of the then-new psychedelic breakbeat style, but I had no idea that "Mathar" actually stems back to 1970. There are to my knowledge no Indians playing on the track either; bandleader Dave Pike was an American jazz vibraphonist, and the rest of the band is all German! The stupendously funky sitar playing is by a cat named Volker Kriegel. Who knew that the funkiest Indian music ever created was by a bunch of Germans?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Knobhead of the week: Samir Abu Hamza

Sometimes I think the greatest enemies of a harmonious multi-ethnic society are not the xenophobes who reject multiculturalism, but the buffoons give the rest of the world the worst possible advertisement for their culture.

Case in point, Samir Abu Hamza from the Islamic Information and Services Network in Coburg has gathered worldwide attention by placing his 2003 sermon up on the net, laughably entitled "The Keys to a Successful Marriage". The wisdom he dispenses includes the correct way in which to beat one's wife, and how Australian law is wrong to outlaw rape within marriage. You can see bits of the sermon here.

The wife-beating comments, to be fair to him, are straight out of the Qur'an and are in the context of advising men to avoid beating unless as a last resort. I'm not condoning this at all, by the way. The comments about forcing a wife to have sex, however, are quite amazing in this day and age from a supposed man of learning.

"If the husband was to ask her for a sexual relationship and she is preparing the bread on the stove she must leave it and come and respond to her husband, she must respond.

"In this country if the husband wants to sleep with his wife and she does not want to and she hasn't got a sickness or whatever, there is nothing wrong with her she just does not feel like it, and he ends up sleeping with her by force . . . it is known to be as rape. Amazing, how can a person rape his wife?"

Wow. Maybe if Abu Hamza was willing to help his wife in the kitchen, she might be more likely to feel like having sex. Although clearly that doesn't matter, since she doesn't have the right to say no to her owner-cum-husband.

I don't think for a moment that the majority of Muslim men think it is okay to beat their wives or force them to have sex. And indeed, there has been widespread condemnation of the comments from Australian Muslims. And we shouldn't pretend that Muslim men have some monopoly on mistreatment of their partners. Lest we forget that it was less than 20 years ago that Australian laws acknowledged that marriage was not a guarantee of consent.

Australians will no doubt be reminded of the comments several years ago from another Islamic figure of great intelligence, Sheikh El-Hilaly, who described women dressed in revealing clothing as akin to leaving uncovered meat out in the street - and who could blame a cat for eating the meat, as it is in the cat's nature? El-Hilaly and Abu Hamza should form a partnership to think of more ways to make Muslims look bad.

Most fascinating is the view held by these two men and others, that male sexuality is somehow an unstoppable, untamed animal force. El-Hilaly implies that it is somehow in a man's instinct to force himself on a woman if she tempts him. Abu Hamza seems to regard the satisfaction of male needs as a matter of urgent and extreme importance, so much so that a wife cannot even finish making bread. Reminds me of an Islamic version of the old "blue balls" excuse used by teenage boys to coax girls into putting out.

For all the sheer contempt for women inherent in these men's comments, they are also contemptuous of men, reducing us to mere beasts ruled by our uncontrollable need for sexual gratification. Now I can't speak for anyone else, but I must say that I never get so sexually aroused that I feel the need to rape a passing scantily-clad floozy, or that I become unable to accept my partner "not feeling like it". Is that so unusual?

Oh, and by the way, when the media latched on to Abu Hamza's sermon and caused an uproar that even the Prime Minister got involved in, who do you think he blamed for his troubles?

If you answered "zionists", give yourself 10 points. Ah, those pesky zionists, at it again.

No sh*t Sherlock

(In case you didn't know.)

To put this sign in context, Aveena photographed this at the start of the Great Ocean Road, some 200km and 2 hours drive from Melbourne. I'm not sure how anyone would reach this location and somehow not realise that they had been driving on the wrong side of the road all the way. Nonetheless, human stupidity being boundless as it is, I guess it can't hurt.

Fight for your right to chapati

This was a party I hosted at my place, titled the "Chapati Party", or just "Cha-Party" (I can't tell you how pleased with myself I was in coming up with that name). It was a worthy successor to last year's Malaysian-themed night entitled "Dirty Roti Scoundrels" (I should so write headlines for tabloid newspapers).

Being the honorary (read: wannabe) Indian that I am, Aveena (an actual Indian) and I taught the rest of the gang how to make chapatis (flat bread), and everyone had to make their own. A kind of Ikea approach to a party perhaps, but it was fun. We also made masala chai and a couple of folks had a go at tareking the tea (pouring it from jug to jug to aerate it) - fortunately I had plenty of paper towels handy. Not all of it ended up on the floor.

Obviously, chapatis and chai do not a dinner make, so I whipped up some Indian food to accompany (shahi paneer, chana dal, mixed vegetable curry, tomato salad, raita and saffron rice, with gajjar halwa and kheer seviyan for dessert, and three kinds of lassi - rose, mango and cardamom.)

The 3-finger sign in this last pic represents Malaysia. These Malaysians are showing their ghetto side. Scared?

Thanks Jason, Sheree and Aveena for the photos.

Alternative names involving bad puns for this post I considered:

Chapati all night long
Chapati people
Chapati on, dude
I likes to chapati

Yes people, I actually am that lame.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Q-Tip & Raphael Saadiq - everything old is new again

I was contemplating writing a "Best of 2008"-type list of albums, but since I barely purchased a single CD in the last year, that would be kinda stoopid. The reasons for this include my chronic lack of money to throw around, but primarily because there is so little great music coming out that I deem worthy of forking out my hard-earned for. Which is really sad, since in the late 90s I was buying 50-60 CDs a year on average. I did recently lash out on John Legend's "Evolver" album, but that was kinda disappointing, an embrace of the mainstream so blatant he may as well have resigned as a serious soul artist.

Strangely in a genre that celebrates youth culture, the best hip-hop I've heard this past year came from a real old head. Q-Tip, formerly of A Tribe Called Quest, who has been in the rap game for 20 years (pensionable in rap terms). That his album "The Renaissance" is arguably the best hip-hop album out this year says as much about the shitty state of the art form as it does about this album.

I've never really loved Tip as a lyricist; he's solid, and his smooth flow always sounds nice to the hear, but without his former ATCQ partner-in-crime Phife Dawg, he is like bread without the butter. However, the real star of "The Renaissance" is the production, which is handled almost entirely by Tip himself. Damn, I never knew the guy was this good behind the boards, but the finely crafted jazz-funk-tinged grooves make the album eminently listenable. It's all pretty retro, a slick, slightly updated take on the early 90s NYC hip-hop sound, and pays little concession to current trends, which is largely what makes it so good. Lead single "Gettin Up" is one of the great tracks of 2008, and "Won't Trade It" is equally fabulous. Raphael Saadiq pops up with the hook on the infectious "We Fight, We Love".

Speaking of Saadiq, I finally was able to cop his latest album at a reasonable price ($26). I could have got it earlier for $40 but in this tough economic climate I ain't gonna pay that if I don't have to. Man it's tough to score quality new soul music in this city, if you don't wanna pay inflated import prices. And they wonder why people download illegally. But I digress.

Anyway, "The Way I See It" is a good album. Real good. It is even less contemporary than Q-Tip's album, and it adds nothing innovative to the soul music canon, but it is classy, fine music. If Amy Winehouse can make big bucks out of rehashing 60s soul (with naughty words added to make it "edgy"), Saadiq should as well.

If you ain't in the know, Raphael Saadiq used to be called Raphael Wiggins and was the key member of the trio Tony Toni Tone, who put out a handful of good if not amazing albums in the 90s. The singer and multi-instrumentalist has released a few solo albums as well as one as a member of Lucy Pearl, and has produced a whole heap of stuff for other people. But this is the first album of his that I feel I can embrace wholeheartedly.

Like a number of others in the fuzzily defined world of neo-soul, Saadiq in his various incarnations never seemed to be sure if he wanted to be a contemporary R&B artist or a full-blown retro act. Thus he, like Musiq, Eric Benet and others, mixed up a brew that was better than the dominant casio-R&B of the day, but still lightweight compared to the soul heroes of yesteryear they were influenced by. And for every great track Saadiq is responsible for (Anniversary, If I Had No Loot, etc), there is a corresponding lame half-assed idea. I still regret shelling out 30 bucks for his "Instant Vintage" album. Should've illegally downloaded it instead.

So with "The Way I See It", Saadiq has just decided to make a full-blown Motown/Philly soul record. Why not, it's trendy right now. Even Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian just put out an album of 60s soul covers. Fortunately, Saadiq has the musical nous to make a solid album that does more than just rehash old riffs. Actually, I take that back, he rehashes a whole bunch of stuff, with heaps of riffs sounding suspiciously like I've heard them before. But who cares. It's got good tunes, great arrangements and sprightly grooves, almost entirely played by Saadiq himself, and his singing sounds more at home in this environment than it has previously in his long career.

I'm always interested to read reviews on artists like this, who are mining a sound of yesteryear (60s soul, golden-age hip-hop). Half the reviews tend to get nostalgic about the artist recapturing the vibe of a much-loved bygone era; the other half deride the artist for a lack of relevance. There tends to be a different standard for rock performers. For instance, bands like the Strokes, Kings of Leon, and whoever else is feted as the current Kings of Rock, may have good songs but don't do anything particularly original. Yet within the sphere of what is considered "black music" there is frequently an expectation to remain constantly on the pulse of what is shiny and new, even if what is shiny and new (eg. Soulja Boy) is mostly crap.

The way I figure it, its great when artist break new ground and introduce new ideas and sounds and trends. Without it, music would be dull and stale. Yet there must always be a place for "classic" sounds in music. The mid 60s to early 70s was the celestial highpoint of soul music, and the late 80s to mid 90s the glory days of hip-hop. No wonder artists like Saadiq and Q-Tip (or Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, or Jurassic 5, or Duffy, and so on) wanna recapture that magic. And why not? Why should we be resigned to not hearing great music anymore? A good song is a good song is a good song.

Oh, and if I sound like an old has-been complaining about the music young people listen to these days, don't think I'm unaware of that fact!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Splitting the bill - East vs West

I was reading a post over at I Eat Therefore I Am about the etiquette of splitting the bill equally amongst a group in restaurants. Is that the best way, or is it better to work out what you ate and just pay for that?

It got me to thinking about what me and my peoples do when the bill comes, and about how much this practice is cultural. Usually we split it. Since the majority of the folks I eat out with are of East Asian and South Asian background, I couldn't help but wonder if there was some connection there with how we pay. Thanh who blogs at IETIA tends to favour the equal split. Could this have anything to do with his Vietnamese background? This is mere speculation on my part, but I'll explain the reasoning behind this.

Western-style restaurants tend to encourage their diners to eat individual meals. Most restaurants serving non-Western cuisines, whether they be Chinese, Indian, Lebanese, Ethiopian, Thai or whatever, tend to favour a communal approach to dining in which everyone shares the food. I realise I'm making gross generalisations here, by the way. I blogged on this in the past (read it here).

Sharing the food has a logical connection to sharing the bill. So given that Asians will usually eat Asian food more frequently, perhaps they are more used to splitting the bill. Hmm?

As a general rule, my posse has an unspoken understanding when the bill arrives. If we all shared the food, we share the bill. If you had a bit more stuff, like dessert or alcohol, that not everyone had, you pay a bit more, and others might pay a little less accordingly. If on the other hand it was a meal consisting of individually oriented dishes, we may split it sometimes, but often people will pay only for what they ordered. I'll tend to do whatever suits me because of my chronic tightassedness.

Both ways can have their problems. As a vegetarian, what I eat is frequently cheaper than what the meat-eaters eat, and fortunately I have friends who are take this into account when it is relevant. But not everyone is sensitive to this sort of thing; for example, the person who drinks 6 beers with the meal and then assumes the bill will be split evenly with his companions who may have only had one. Also, if someone leaves early before the bill has arrived, it is hard to judge how many benjamins they will have to leave, if the food has been shared.

On the other hand, paying strictly for your own stuff brings its own issues. On numerous occasions when a large group has divided the bill this way, we somehow manage to end up short, and then either try and figure out with great difficulty who has forgotten to pay for something, or chip in extra to cover it. As Thanh points out, it also becomes fuzzy when someone offers to share their dessert with you... what's the etiquette there?

I once had an Italian dinner with some friends and their friends. A couple of people had discount vouchers for that restaurant, which offered 2 meals for the price of 1 or something like that. I kinda assumed they would extend these savings to everyone, in the same way that I had ordered a salad and made it clear that it was for everyone. But no, they spent about 7 minutes (seriously) working out the intricacies of the bill, and ended up paying about 3 bucks each less than me, probably saving about 8 bucks each. I hope all that effort was worth it.

That's a cautionary note for you folks: while you are getting pedantic over the bill, take note of the other people sitting around you getting a bit annoyed. So obviously a degree of sensitivity and magnanimity goes a long way when calculating the bill.

I'm interested in what anyone else has to say on this matter. Are there cultural influences at play? What happens in other countries? What do you do? And most importantly, how can I get away with paying the least amount possible?

Slumdog Millionaire wins big

Caught Slumdog Millionaire the other week and a thrilling ride of a movie it is too. Nice to see it pick up 4 Golden Globe awards too, particularly for a film that contains virtually no Western characters and is only partially in English. There's been some interesting articles around recently about how it is being received in India, as a film directed by a Westerner (Danny Boyle) but about India, and some criticism that it's treatment of Indian society is disrespectful - despite its being based on an Indian novel. I myself find it kind of funny that this great warmly human story was directed by a guy whose previous credits also include one of the best zombie movie of recent times (28 Days Later).

Good article in The Guardian about how the film could not have been made by the Indian film industry, which focuses too greatly on the escapist fantasies of the middle class. Hard to argue with that; Bollywood flicks can be wonderful in their own way, but some of the best recent films about India that touch upon rawer issues (such as Deepa Mehta's trilogy Fire, Earth and Air, and Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding) were made by overseas-based Indians. Not that Slumdog should be regarded as some kind of hard-hitting documentary. Its highly fanciful twists and turns and celebration of chaste love could be straight out of any mainstream Bollywood flick, but this is nonetheless a film unafraid to show the gritty struggles in the lives of India's forgotten impoverished majority.

I liked the film a lot, but my enjoyment of it was almost ruined by a couple of factors, neither of which actually had much to do with the film. Firstly, one of my viewing companions told me that the movie was based on a true story, which it most definitely is not. But foolishly believing her, I spent the whole movie thinking to myself "Wow, that really happened?" and "Nah, that bit is too unrealistic, they must have embellished that heaps." Which prevented me from just enjoying it for what it was.

The other obstacle to my viewing pleasure was lead actor Dev Patel as orphaned slum boy Jamal Malik. No knock against Patel, who has a likeable presence, but I couldn't disassociate him from his breakout role as Anwar on British series Skins. I have seen one too many shots of Patel as Anwar the perpetually horny Pakistani teenager, exposing his skinny buttocks or furtively masturbating, to truly accept him as the virtuous hero of Slumdog. But that's just me.

Oh, but how hot is Freida Pinto in the role of Lathika? Very hot, that's how hot. Just thought it was worth mentioning.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Famous Melbourne "Hook Turn"

My girl (who is from out of town) and I were goofing around in the car and I seized upon the opportunity to explain to her this unusual feature of Melbourne's traffic. Being a tourist, she always has a camera handy, and thus this video was born.

(After claiming that this is unique to Melbourne, I was subsequently corrected by my homeboy Steve Cheah, who pointed me to a Wikipedia entry on the hook turn - apparently it exists in a number of cities all over the world. So maybe it's not that unique. Shows how much I know.)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Things you have to eat in Melbourne: Gelatello

Pictured: Gelatello's eponymous gelato variety, and the alfajores biscuits that lift it to higher planes of caramel heaven. (Oh, and I know the icecream from this angle looks kinda like something you'd create on the pavement after a drunken night out, but ignore that)

If you want friendly and helpful service, the Argentinean-style gelato bar Gelatello in Chapel Street may not be the place to go, but ignore that and focus on trying the house specialty - the icecream that shares its name with the venue. You've had cookies & cream flavoured icecream, right? I was eating cookies & cream icecream the other night and reflected on what a great flavour it is. Well, the Gelatello flavour at Gelatello gelato bar (I hope this is not too confusing) is like next-level cookies & cream. Like cookies & cream to the nth @#$%ing degree, baby! My favourite of all the icecreams I have ever tried. Ever. For ever ever.

They start with a base of dulce de leche (South American milk caramel) flavoured icecream. Which is pretty damn good in itself (I'm a sucker for all things caramel). To that, they add crushed alfajores biscuits. Alfajores are no ordinary cookie however - they contain a layer of gooey dulce de leche caramel and are coated in chocolate. So a mouthful of the icecream is a riot of the milk-caramel base, biscuity crunch, hints of chocolate and the occasional gooey caramel fudge explosion.

In other words, a caramel-lover's wet dream. There other varieties of gelato are nice, I'm sure, but I don't care about that so much; I may never need another icecream flavour again.

Gelatello, 166 Chapel Street, Windsor.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Shock and Horror: Black man says the N-Word

Most ridiculous "scandal" of the week goes to washed-up rapper Coolio, for perhaps the least controversial thing he has ever done. The UK's most reputable purveyers of tabloid muck, the News of the World and the Sun, have reported that Coolio, currently appearing on Celebrity Big Brother, recently mentioned the N-word in casual conversation.

Coolio, known to his moms as Artis Ivey Jnr (yeah, I'd probably call myself Coolio too), said the offending n-word while describing a dream to a fellow has-been pop star housemate.

For those of you who were born yesterday, that n-word is nigger. (Yeah, I said it.)

NOTW reports that Coolio is "well known for his hate-filled song lyrics", and... hang on, what? This is Coolio we're talking about here. If he is well known at all, it's for the songs Gangsta's Paradise and Fantastic Voyage. And I know he is a (air-quote warning) "gangsta" rapper and all, but of the half-dozen Coolio songs I've ever heard (which is 4 or 5 more than the average member of the public), I don't remember hearing anything I'd call hate filled. Mildly offensive to old ladies, perhaps.

Meanwhile the Sun gets in on the act, reporting that a previous BB housemate (an albino black man named Darnell), used the N-word THREE times while he was in the house. (I wrote THREE in capitals because the Sun did.)

The broader context is this: a housemate was ejected in 2007 for racial abuse involving the N-word towards a black housemate, while there was also an uproar over the racial bullying of Indian film star Shilpa Shetty in the house.

Yet these two black people got away with saying the n-word? The sky is falling!

I'm not sure how both newspapers have managed to ignore the frequent use of the n-word in the public domain by black people for the last 20 years, but for their benefit and yours if you need it, I'll break it down simply. Black people, you are allowed to use the n-word. Non-black people, you better not say it in public.

Some think that's unfair, and perhaps it is unfair that it is no longer considered cool for white folks to hurl racial epithets around at black folks. What a terrible loss of liberties! Oh, the oppression!

Coolio cooking up racial hatred yet again.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Thought for the day

I think there's something in that for all of us.

Spotted at the awesome St Andrews' Market just outside Melbourne.

(Thanks Aveena for the photo)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Japanese study links breakfast and sex

Yep, apparently teenagers who regularly skip breakfast are likely to have their first sexual experience earlier. You can read about it here

Apparently, skipping breakfast in your early teens is a sign of a poor upbringing, and resulted in the surveyed Japanese losing their virginity at an average age of 17, as opposed to the national average age of 19.(Or maybe they weren't eating breakfast because they were too busy having sex. I dunno.)

Now watch as teenagers worldwide start skipping breakfast in their eternal pursuit of some action. If only I had known back then!