So what do you want to know?


Please don't go basing your PhD Thesis on anything I write here.
The information I provide comes with no guarantee of accuracy, and I'm just as likely to provide the most entertaining answer, as I am the factually correct answer.

**There are clickable links on some words to enhance your reading experience. Click them. You should. They're blue; it'll make their day**

Monday, 14 November 2011

What's wrong with Tom Clempson's book One Seriously Messed Up Week?

I write "What's wrong with Tom Clempson's book One Seriously Messed Up Week in the Otherwise Mundane & Uneventful Life of Sam Taylor Jack Samsonite?"

Hi Me, and thanks for being narcissistic enough to ask yourself a question on your own blog! Welcome.

Thanks. You so pwetty.

Aw shucks. And you're very observant.

For clarity's sake, would you mind being green and in italics, while I stick with black?



Let's move on though, shall we?

Having read this book more than a few times, I have some opinions up the sleeve of my dust-jacket that answer your question. They're quite straight forward, so bullet points would probably be the best approach, BUT as you're the non-paying customer, I'll defer to your judgement. Bullet points? Yay or nay?

Ummm, yay. 
As in "yes", not yay as in "Yay! I'm a dag who gets excited over typography".

Oh, Mon-IQUE! As if you could ever be considered a dag!

In the interest of preventing RSI in my typing finger, from this point on I shall refer to the book by a condensed title - Week In The Otherwise.

Wouldn't "One Seriously Messed Up Week" or even just "Jack Samsonite" make more sense?

OoooooOOOOooooh. Who's the bossy one now?
Fine. Jack Samsonite it is.

Ok, so here we go. The 5 things wrong with Week In the Otherwise Jack Samsonite, in bullet points.

  • It's hard to get through;
  • The things I learned from the book are not useful;
  • I can't relate to the two main characters;
  • It hurt and embarrassed my husband;
  • I knew exactly what was going to happen in the story from page 1.

Whoa. That's a pretty harsh list. You must have really hated it then?

On the contrary; I loved it. I loved it because of all the things wrong with it.


Are you sure we're the same person? 'Cause you seem kinda dim...

Huh? anyway.

Let me explain my bullet points a bit more. Please try to keep up, Monique.

  • It's hard to get through;
I'm always out and about and like to carry a book or my e-reader (Justin BeBook) with me so I have something to do while my daughter is drowning at swimming lessons, or I'm in a cafe with The Boring Friends, or sitting in my car at the pedestrian crossing outside the retirement village up the road.

I could not do this with Jack Samsonite. It was just too firetrucking funny and I got sick of explaining to people that I was not crying tears of joy at Karina's side-breathing technique in the pool, I was actually laughing (which doesn't go down very well in parent circles). I was not showing off for attention; my latte nostril spurt was unintentional etc.

So it took me longer than usual to read because I could only do it at home, sans child, behind closed doors, after a toilet trip, with no hot liquids within reach. Very rare conditions in my life and it was hard to co-ordinate it all.

  • The things I learned from the book are not useful;
The things I learned from Jack all relate to teenage boy behaviour and despite photographic evidence of a disastrous pixie haircut-fail, I was never a teenage boy. I also don't have a son to impart this new wisdom on, so all-in-all it has rather gone to waste. When I explained the social etiquette of public urinal selection and the best fabric choice in trousers for disguising sneaky erections, Karina just looked at me blankly, then continued spinning around in her tutu to Katy Perry.
Jack also taught me how to make up a whole new set of swear words, but I'm too old to get away with using them now. Bloody cock-nuggets <------ see. It just seems creepy.

  • I can't relate to the two main characters;
Jack Samsonite is so much cooler than I ever was. Not in an unrealistic, 90210 way, but as a flawed hero - he's self-conscious, but only enough to ensure playground survival. He still manages to mostly be himself and fly under the radar.
When I was his age I had the flawed bit down pat, but I didn't have any coolness to plonk on the other end of the personality see-saw to balance it out. 
As for the love interest Eleanor, without giving too much of the plot away, SHE IS BAT CRAP CRAZY! From about the fifth page I was in love with Jack (in a non-creepy way. Mostly.), yet she, after years of being in the same school every day, was only just getting an inkling of how cool he was. I can't relate to dim people like that.


Go back to sleep Monique.

  • It hurt and embarrassed my husband;
As I mentioned previously, I was never a teenage boy, so a lot of Jack's thinking and interactions with his friends were eye-opening to say the least. In lieu of Jack sitting next to me to girly-slap on the arm and say "That's DISGUSTING!", my poor husband copped the brunt of my disbelief, with bruises to show for it. He also put up with my constant questioning about the day-to-day logistics of having something between his legs that I do not have, which lead to much blushing and leg crossing from him.

  • I knew exactly what was going to happen in the story from page 1.
A good writer gives the gift of smugness to a reader by making them feel like they are one step ahead of the hero in the plot. I like spotting the seeds planted in a story as early as possible so I can pat myself on the back (metaphorically) and reward myself (literally, with chocolate) when my mad psychic powers and deductive logic merge and I correctly predict the outcome of a story.
I learned quite early on in life that when I flicked to the last page of a book and read that page first, I didn't enjoy the story and usually gave up at the halfway mark.
The first page of Jack Samsonite told me exactly how the story was going to finish as clearly as flipping to the back of the book would have done. But (um-ah, I started a sentence with a conjunction) much like my own teenage years, it wasn't the ending that was important or even satisfying, it was the journey that got me there. The true genius of the story is that there were still twists and surprises to keep me hooked despite knowing the conclusion.

So, Monique, those are the 5 things wrong with One Seriously Messed Up Week in the Otherwise Mundane & Uneventful Life of Sam Taylor Jack Samsonite, according to me. You may disagree with them - 

I don't.

- but nonetheless, there they are. 

We all know that two wrongs don't make a right. Jack Samsonite and I have proven you need at least 5.

Is that it? Are you finished?

Piss off and go read the book.

By Monique Kowalczyk

So what do you want to know?

Please don't go basing your PhD Thesis on anything I write here.
The information I provide comes with no guarantee of accuracy, and I'm just as likely to provide the most entertaining answer, as I am the factually correct answer.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Die For Me by Amy Plum

Insert Name writes:

"Is the book Die For Me by Amy Plum worth reading? I like Vampires, but they're a bit passe now. Werewolves? Well, they're really just fancy dogs aren't they. Will I find something different in this book?"

Thank you Insert Name for not sending me this question. I hope I can help!

You're in luck. It just so happens that I have read Die For Me by Amy Plum (cute name, eh? Fruity) and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. As a professional book addict, I promise you that my recommendation is genuine and not influenced by the fact I was eating chocolate and lying in a hammock for most of the book.

I posted this review on Goodreads, which hopefully gives you your answer.

Die for Me (Revenants, #1)Die for Me by Amy Plum
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**No spoilers** **No long rewrites of the blurb/synopsis**

Thank the faeries, someone has come up with something other than Werewolves and Vampires to keep us YA Paranormal fans happy.

The concept of Revenants (Angel-Zombie type people, mostly smoking-hot sexy) is a BRILLIANT one and provides so much scope for Amy's debut novel Die For Me. Romance, mystery, the all important I-love-you-but-I'm-no-good-for-you-so-you-should-run reason.

That would have been enough to keep me happy as a pig in jelly, but Ms Plum has piled on the reading goodness by setting the book in Paris!  C’est vrai!

How could you not want to read it? As the poet Kylie Minogue sang "Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi"

View all my reviews

However, one bit of information I omitted in my review may influence your opinion of Amy Plum.

Amy lives in France. In the pretty countryside in a rambling farmhouse . And is married to a Frenchman.

Hopefully you too can set aside your feminine instincts (to claw her lucky-bitch eyes out with a stale, sharpened croissant) and still read her book. It's worth it.

The sequel Until I Die is out the first half of 2012, but in the meantime here is a sneak peak at the sexy cover!

By Monique Kowalczyk

So what do you want to know?

Please don't go basing your PhD Thesis on anything I write here.
The information I provide comes with no guarantee of accuracy, and I'm just as likely to provide the most entertaining answer, as I am the factually correct answer.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Frantic Frock Find

Kellie types -

"Now you're the only person I feel I can turn to....the weather girl on Channel 7 news (Sarah Cumming) was wearing a really pretty red 50's style dress on Wednesday night. I NEED to find out where I can get the dress. Any ideas where to start?"

Hi Kellie!

Thanks for your question and your faith in me and my Googling skills. Thank you also for allowing me to post your question on my blog without your permission.

Firstly, I must apologise, but I don't know who Sarah Cumming is as I don't watch the news much and my religious beliefs forbid me from acknowledging the dark art of weather forecasting. Luckily for you and your dilemma, Google searches are kosher.

However, Google search results for "Sarah" and "Cumming" are NOT kosher. In fact, they are quite shocking and rather on the messy side. So let's try it again, this time with the additional search term "news".

Ooooooh, yes, yes, yes, I know who you mean now. Pretty. Blond. Has teeth. Fond of red dresses.

Further delving reveals that Sarah has a tribute page dedicated to her and her wardrobe.
Unfortunately it's a dead end for us on the trail of the red 50's dress she wore last week, as the page hasn't been updated since December 2010 when Neil Mitchell from 3AW Radio complained about Sarah's flirty cleavage being "very un-television".

In my experience, radio hosts are generally suited to this faceless medium because they are "very un-television".

Anyway, I think it's time to consider employing some professional methods to track down the outfit and ask ourselves - what would Scotland Yard do?

And so, after a milky cup of tea and a biscuit in a greasy spoon cafe, I'm back on the case, no closer to an answer for you.

At this point (10 minutes in), I'm finding myself off-task, Googling the etymology of "greasy spoon" (fast-service diners in the US served food cooked in lard and the high turnover of customers meant cutlery wasn't always cleaned thoroughly enough before being passed on to the next fat-bastard) and this lapse in concentration is given the freedom to run wild and free. Inevitably I find myself on Facebook and Twitter, getting my hourly fix of friends' status updates and minor celebrity self-promotion.

Minor Celebrity.

Sarah Cumming.

By George Negus, I think I've got it!

Yes, just as I had hoped, Sarah has a Twitter account. Even more perfect is that she created it only 2 days ago which means she'll be desperate to reach out to her fledgling Twitter followers to show them she cares about them and their regional climate trends.

A few hours later...


Well, will you look at that! To escalate the joy, we now also hold the honour of being the addressees of Sarah's second ever Tweet! And they said a Bachelor of Arts* would get me nowhere. Ha!

Using the search terms "dress flare" on the ASOS website, I think I have managed to find your coveted frock.

Like a retro card-trick magician, to the sound of a snare drum roll, I now ask you -

Kellie, is this your dress?

"Yes Monique, that's it! But I've decided I don't really need another dress. Thanks anyway"


* I don't have a Bachelor of Arts

By Monique Kowalczyk

So what do you want to know?

Please don't go basing your PhD Thesis on anything I write here.The information I provide comes with no guarantee of accuracy, and I'm just as likely to provide the most entertaining answer, as I am the factually correct answer.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Why was Frankie Boyle's joke about Katie Price's disabled son Harvey funny?

It wasn't.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, read this, watch the video if you have time, and get up to speed before reading on. Click here to read the Mamamia article about it, which also has a video imbedded.

In short, a UK comedian made a premeditated  "joke" on television that suggested the profoundly disabled son of glamour model Katie Price a.k.a. Jordan, wants to rape her. Nice.

First - I love irreverent humour and there is very little that offends me. Even if it is a touchy subject for me, I can still "get" the joke or pun, although I may not laugh. Some things however, do not contain a joke; they're just shocking and crass. Saying it's a joke, doesn't make it one.

Second - I think Frankie Boyle is funny and witty. That doesn't mean all his jokes are though.

Third - For the most part, I believe adult celebrities who make money by putting themselves in the spotlight, as opposed to their talent, are open to being the butt of jokes and need to take it on the chin. Harvey is not an adult, or a celebrity in his own right and he doesn't put himself in the spotlight; so he doesn't qualify for this.

So let's start.

While I think making a joke about a disabled boy is low, there is an even lower base to Frankie Boyle's comment that most seem to have overlooked. 

People have been angered by this "joke", and rightly so, because they believe it's wrong to make fun of an innocent boy who suffers a multitude of disabilities.

But I think it goes even further into the offensive waters, by making the crux of the "joke" about a 9 year old boy raping his mother.

Jokes, even inappropriate or offensive ones, are only funny if there is an element of truth in them. Which means Frankie Boyle must believe, consciously or unconsciously, that there must be some truth in the possibility that Harvey would rape his mother.

If Frankie had said that about her other, non-disabled son Junior, no one would have laughed because it’s not funny or clever. It’s inappropriate, disgusting, paedophillic and has only one purpose – to anger or disgust people. Neither of which comes under the banner of “comedy” or “joke”. It couldn’t even be considered a cheap gag, because there is nothing funny about it at all. Something being shocking or going-too-far, doesn’t automatically make it a joke. It’s just weird and wrong.

If he believes his comment was just an attack against Katie Price, and not against Harvey, then why didn't he make the joke about Junior, her other son?

Because he doesn’t believe there is any truth in the possibility of Junior raping his mother.

Ergo, the only conclusion you can draw is that Frankie, and the audience members who laughed at the joke, believe the joke to be funny based purely on the unique attribute of Harvey – which is his disability. I'd like to think that the audience members went along with the joke in a group-think manner. I often get into a rhythm of laughing at something and giggle in anticipation of the joke, only to realise after my loud guffaw that it actually wasn't funny. While the audience can be forgiven for being put on the spot, Frankie can not. This was a scripted, practised and premeditated stand-up routine.

Therefore, Frankie must believe that disabled people are more capable and inclined to rape than non-disabled people.

That has to be the most ignorant, ridiculously pathetic idea I have ever heard and I defy anyone to successfully explain to me where the joke is. And trust me, while I may not always admit to it, I can find humour in some of the lowest, dirtiest and most obscure places possible. Not this time. All I can see is filth.

By Monique Kowalczyk

So what do you want to know?

Please don't go basing your PhD Thesis on anything I write here.
The information I provide comes with no guarantee of accuracy, and I'm just as likely to provide the most entertaining answer, as I am the factually correct answer.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Should I be scared about the new Facebook Face Recognition?

It really annoys me when sensationalist articles are written designed to scare people about technology. Nine times out of ten it's easy to see that the issue is nothing to wet your pants over, so long as you ignore the overuse of exclamation marks !!!! and you don't let the words "privacy" and "security" give you heart palpitations.

The latest scaremongering is about Facebook's Face Recognition Photo Tagging.
WAIT!!! Stop running and screaming like a girl (really, you need to lift the knees more and the voice less), it's ok, really and truly.

"But I don't want random strangers tagging me in photos"

They can't. Only your Facebook friends can tag you. So unless you have Facebook friended Slimy John Who-Jerks-Off-Over-Blurry-Photos-Of-Fully-Clothed-Strangers Smith, you're ok. And if you have, then you have problems even I cannot fix.

"But I don't want any of my Facebook friends to post photos of me and to be automatically tagged without either of us realising"

Bravo. You show common sense and a healthy respect for your (freak-out phrase coming, be prepared) online privacy. Which is why I'm sure you disabled the photo application years ago. No?? You mean you want photos on your Facebook page? If you want photos on your profile, you have to allow tagging. You can remove the tag as soon as it goes up and that photo can't be tagged with your name again. If you have your settings set to only allow your friends to see your photos and photos tagged with your name, that is still the case - nothing in your privacy settings has been changed.
If you're not bothered by being tagged so long as it's not automatic, you're still a-ok. The new face recognition tool is only a suggestion. Your friend still has to click your name to accept the suggestion. And your name has to already be tagged in photos enough times that Facebook can associate your features to your name. In which case, you've been happy up to this point with being tagged, so stop whimpering.
If your friend is constantly accepting the suggestion that Buster the bulldog's ass looks like your face, your issue is with your "friend" as they have obviously tagged their dog's butt with your name enough times to encourage Facebook to think it's you.
Or maybe you do look like Buster's ass in which case, stop allowing photos to be taken of yourself and consult a plastic surgeon.

"But if Facebook can recognise my face doesn't that mean they have my image stored in a database somewhere?"

Yes. And Mark Zuckerberg has it wallpapering his million dollar office and he sniffs a lock of your hair he stole from your hairdresser's floor last month.
The reality is, if you have ever posted a photo of yourself online anywhere, including Facebook, it's on a database somewhere. That's what the internet means. If you don't like it, go back to printing your photos. But before you do, watch that Robin Williams film One Hour Photo where the guy at the printing shop makes extra copies from the negatives people bring in and keeps them for himself and his sick little fantasies. Sickos have been around forever. They weren't born with the internet.
And seriously, is that grainy photo up your snotty nostril of you draped across your equally drunk mate, really going to interest a criminal mastermind hacker who might be able to sneak past the Fort Knox security of the Facebook cloud storage servers? And will they search through the millions of images, ignoring Miranda Kerr breastfeeding and Blake Lively having sex, just to find your photo? And then sell it to Pepsi to use in their international marketing campaigns without paying you a penny? Yes??? Ok, again, you have issues beyond my capabilities.

"But I'm still irrationally scared"

Shhh, shhh, shhh. It's going to be alright. There, there. Go into your settings and opt out of allowing your friends to have your name come up as a photo tag suggestion. They'll just have to cope with tagging photos of you the old fashioned way using brain recognition. Be aware that this will involve them having to access the database of images they have of you in their head. Who knows what muck they will have to wade through before identifying the image of you. But if that makes you feel safer, it's worth it, right?
After that lengthy process they will then have to go through the arduous task of clicking "tag" which could take hours. Then the hard manual labour continues when they have to type the beginning letter of your name before the name recognition kicks in and Facebook says "Do you mean your good friend John Scaredy-Cat Smith?" and they say "Nay, Facebook, I shall shun thy devil influenced automated suggestions and type letter by letter the whole name myself".
Days later, your photo will have been painstakingly tagged by hand the way the pilgrims did it in the days of yore.

"But Professor Brian Lovell of the Advanced Surveillance Team at the University of Queensland is concerned"

What? Who?
According to a article, the professor is concerned that photos of people before they went into witness protection could be used to tag photos of them after they have gone into witness protection and blow their cover.

*pain, extreme pain* nnneeeeeerrrrrrr.

*bangs head on wall several times*

I'm betting, in fact GUARANTEEING that the professor doesn't have a Facebook account and he thinks LOL means "lots of love".
He needs to read this post of mine and Witness Protection For Dummies and the chapters titled "Yes, you have to leave your friends behind, including your Facebook ones, or it doesn't work" and "Disguises are kinda important".


I don't think you should be on Facebook.

By Monique Kowalczyk

So what do you want to know?

Please don't go basing your PhD Thesis on anything I write here.
The information I provide comes with no guarantee of accuracy, and I'm just as likely to provide the most entertaining answer, as I am the factually correct answer.

Sunday, 9 January 2011


**A reminder to click on the blue words. It will enhance your reading experience. Maybe**

This enquiry came in from three of the seven dwarfs – Sneezy, Coughy and Curious.
I’m sure the question is on behalf of “a friend”, or more likely, a brother. Perhaps the brother was too Bashful to ask it himself?

I know why people blush, but why do some people
blush at the drop of a pin?”

Thank you boys for your question, but before I start in on the answer, I must stress to yourselves and readers of this blog post, that I do not condone the dropping of pins in any form.
This includes needles. As someone who has had surgery to remove the detached eye of a sewing needle that embedded itself in my heel when I was 13, it is no laughing matter. My appendectomy a few years later however, was HILARIOUS!
You three wise men claim to know why people blush, so if you could please pop a quick 500 word response explaining it, and email it over to me, I will post it alongside this post about why some people blush more than others.
While we await your detailed report on the physiology and psychology of blushing, I will provide a quick rundown on the main points, in case some of my readers (all two of them including me and my split personality) don’t know why we blush.
You can thank me later. I like diamonds. Or gold. I’m not sure what you mine for when you march off to work with your little pick axes and shovels, but if it’s tin, I’d prefer a cash offering.
What is blushing?
Firstly, we need to distinguish blushing from flushing. Nothing to do with toilets. Unless that smell was you, in which case you SHOULD be embarrassed. And checked out medically.
Flushing occurs in areas all over the body and is a more severe redness than blushing. And I’m not going to write too much about it today because it involves, by definition, a lot of sweat. Yuk. We’ll stick to blushing.
From, blushing is a reddening of the face, especially from modesty, embarrassment, or shame”.
This can also extend to the ears, the neck and d├ęcolletage area in females. Or in men, the chest area above their pectoral muscles. Preferably, pecs that are sculpted from a few weight lifting sessions at the gym each week that may or may not have a sprinkling of manly hair and could even be slightly oiled...
What are some of the reasons we blush?
Apart from thinking of oiled pectoral muscles?
The emotions that can cause blushing are; embarrassment, self-consciousness, sexual attraction, shame and modesty. In some situations we can experience all of these emotions at the same time, if you get my drift – wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
And if you don’t get my drift, you’re obviously not doing it or not doing it right.
How do we blush?
One of the things that separates blushing from flushing, is that it comes from a mental source. The mere thought of something embarrassing or sexy (pecs...) can cause the hormone adrenaline to be released, which then stimulates the small veins and capillaries of our face and neck area to dilate (expand), resulting in increased blood flow and oxygen delivery. It is part of the sympathetic nervous system or as it is more commonly known; the fight-or-flight response.
But why only in the facial area?
This is where it starts to get tricky.
Several different psychological and psycho-physiological mechanisms for blushing have been hypothesised, but none have been proven or universally agreed upon. Most theories work on the assumption that the cutaneous blood flow (blood to feed the skin) in this region is anatomically different to the other parts of our body. There are more capillary loops per unit area, more vessels per unit volume and blood vessels of the cheek are wider in diameter, are nearer the surface, and more easily seen as there is less tissue fluid in the area.
Therefore, when there is only a minor increase in blood flow as a result of minor stress on the body (for e.g. when you become self-conscious because you are thinking of someone you're attracted to), it is only visible in the facial area, despite the whole body being affected = blushing.
A greater source of stress on the body (such as exercise or heat), would result in a greater blood flow to the capillaries and veins of the body and would then be seen in other areas such as the arms, chest and feet = flushing. When flushing, the facial area becomes markedly redder than when we blush.
Skin conditions such as rosacea (or “The Celtic Curse” as it used to be known), can also cause some peoples' blush response to be more easily detected.
Yes, but how does the process of blushing help our body deal with embarrassment or shame? Why blushing and not something else?
What? Like farting? Would you prefer that was our body’s way of coping in stressful situations? Sheesh. Be happy it’s just a bit of a tinge in your face, and not a bottom trumpet, heralding your mortification.
Well lucky for you, Ray Crozier of the United Kingdom, a psychology professor of considerable experience who has written several books and papers on the psychological responses of humans, has been enlisted by me to find an answer for you. Well, me and the University of East Anglia have jointly enlisted his help. Ok, ok, JUST the University of East Anglia has enlisted his help. But I’ll be sure to “like” his Facebook page in thanks and help save his lonely Farmville cow.
My man Ray has concluded that blushing evolved as a way of communicating to our fellow cave men that we had acknowledged the social faux pas we just made, and that we were really, really sorry for eating the last BBQ pterodactyl wing that Grug was saving for breakfast the next day.
Ray also suggests that blushing displays emotional intelligence – the ability to monitor your own and others’ feelings and emotions. So all those blushing girls, hiding behind fans in Jane Austen’s books that we thought were dopey doras, swooning after poncy blokes in ruffles, were actually emotional Einsteins.
So to conclude, people who blush more readily than others, accompanied by dropping pins or not, could be deemed either;
a. More prone to social blunders that need physical apologies,
b. More emotionally intelligent, or
c. Have a skin condition.
Doesn’t sound too good does it?
I don’t think your brother Bashful, is likely to be scoring with Snow White anytime soon. Having “emotional intelligence, social ineptness and a skin condition” on an dating profile, doesn’t really rate that high with the lay-deez.
But then again, he is a dwarf, and portability in a boyfriend is always desirable.
Interesting fact – the operation to sever the tiny nerves in the spine that control blushing, is called an endothoracic sympathectomy. Try and say that six times fast.

By Monique Kowalczyk

So what do you want to know?

Please don't go basing your PhD Thesis on anything I write here.
The information I provide comes with no guarantee of accuracy, and I'm just as likely to provide the most entertaining answer, as I am the factually correct answer.