The World According to Renee

Views, Reviews, Randoms and More…

Peak Intelligence

Recently I started a part time job. There’s a few reasons behind this; one is to keep me grounded in the “Real World” and in touch with people that I haven’t met off the internet (keeping in touch with The People is important to me as a copywriter: I have to know how they think and what better way than retail?).

Part of this job terrifies me to my very core. Maths. I’m in charge of counting money and balancing the till at the end of the day. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek! At school, I always topped my class in English and Science but was always at the bottom for maths. Even simple arithmetic takes me several minutes to work out. Thankfully, counting out change isn’t a major problem (as I feared) and I’m yet to encounter an issue with balancing the till. But still, it hangs over me like a storm cloud, ready to hail at any moment.

As I was peeing myself the first time I counted the till, my manager told me I sure took the long road in doing so. I blushed, extremely embarrassed as I explained counting isn’t my best skill (earlier in the shift, I had written a promo piece for the Christmas special we’re having, so I did show my skills in other areas).

This led me to wonder about ‘peak intelligence’. I’m old enough to be competant in these sorts of things, yet I still find them to be a problem. I’m not the only one- my sister is equally disinclined in the way of numbers. Genetics? Maybe. Our father is quite good with numbers, mum gets by just fine. I guess my brain has reached a point where it’s no longer going to absorb the intricies of mathematics, so maybe I’m just stuck with what I know and have to cope as best I can.

Everyone is good at something (or many things…) I guess maths isn’t my ‘thing’ in this life. English is serving me well, and science… well, I can (arguably) keep up with a forum.

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December 20, 2009 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | Leave a comment

The Evolution of James Cameron

Avatar can be described as a typical James Cameron movie. It has the special effects, the length, the love story and of course, the explosions. It’s also the most expensive movie ever made, something which Cameron himself is no stranger to. (Terminator 2 and Titanic were, at their times, the most expensive movies made).  Cameron spent the better part of the decade making this film, or rather, developing the technology needed to create it. And it shows.

Guaranteed, you have never seen special effects like these before. If Cameron could create virtual reality suits to strap you into the cinema seat, he would have. The CGI effects are so good you feel as if you’re the avatar on another planet. The created world of Pandora is seamlessly entered through Jake Sully (Sam Worthington)’s dream world. What a world it is! Lush rainforests, luminent plants and insects, big scary creatures and a race of large blue aliens with flat noses. Jake is there carrying on his dead brother’s work for a team of scientists. He has no training and no idea of what lies before him on a new planet. The avatar is his alien persona- specially created to blend in with the natives. While in a dream state, his nervous system is linked to the avatar’s and he is able to control it and experience sensations.

The first half of Avatar is spectacular. Visually, the best film ever made. It’s very real to the viewer thanks to the 3D technology. The world comes to life like nothing has before. The characters, the alien life forms, the language are all fantastic creations of a vivid imagination. What let the movie down was the tried and true “boy meets girl” story with an environmental message. Terminator and T2 have an intricate plot with twists galore; it seemed fitting that Cameron would make the effort to create a similarly intricate plot to carry forth the imagery. Alas, no such plot was in sight, leaving me bitterly disappointed.

Sam Worthington, a little-known Australian actor with bit parts (such as Terminator: Salvation), has the lead role. I was skeptical about his ability to carry the movie, but he takes the task to hand and delivers a compelling performance. Sigourney Weaver adds experience to the cast, with Giovanni Ribisi in one of his better roles.

If you only see one movie in the rest of your life, make it Avatar in 3D.

December 19, 2009 Posted by | Reviews | 2 Comments

Spelling

I’m constantly surprised at the number of people who cannot spell simple words. Grammar is a completely different issue and most people don’t stick to “proper” grammar anyway (learn when to use apostrophes, people!)

With the advent of internet and text speak, communicating with the written word has become a challenge. I recall the election of Anna Bligh (the Queensland state premier) in May 2009. Her radio campaign consisted of liberal (ha!) use of so-called internet speak, but as the spoken word. For example, “LOL” was said as L-O-L. The entire 30 second ad used about 19 pieces of ‘net speak. Anyone over the age of 12 would have found it laughable. (I’m not sure who the target audience was- clearly people of voting age, however the ad was so pathetic, it wouldn’t have swayed anyone).

Don’t get me wrong here, I see the value in abbreviations with limited characters; eg Twitter, text messages and even the internet when you’re chatting on a fast-moving forum or twelve people on MSN. The problem arises because many people can’t understand it. Have you ever read the comments on a LOLcats page? www.icanhascheezburger.com It’s nearly impossible to decipher.

My mum was a victim of this. For years, she’s signed her emails “LOL mum”. It took my sister and I a little while to work out that mum thought it meant “lots of love”. Recently we both received an email saying she’s worked out it means “laugh out loud”. The confusion happened because her workmates were signing their emails “LOL”.

In copywriting, good spelling is a must: your audience has to know what you’re on about. After all, you’re trying to sell them something (don’t lie- we all know this is what copywriters do!) If they have no idea what you’re on about, why would they spend their money on your product? Clear language that people understand. Seems easy, but is surprisingly deceptive.

A commonly misspelled word is “lose”. For some reason, people forget it only has one ‘o’. Other examples that get me riled up are: “Quart’s” (they meant quartz), “congrad’s” (congrats), they’re/their/there and you’re/your.

Don’t people learn these things anymore?

*goes back and re-reads, fixes all spelling errors*

December 14, 2009 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | 1 Comment

For Some Reason I Wanna Quote Delta.

As I started typing the subject title, “Out of the Blue” by Delta Goodrem popped into my head.

Anyway… Thanks for following me this year, loyal readers. I’ve been somewhat busy lately, hence the lack of regular entries. Busy, and my brain melting with this heat. On the news this week, they’ve been going on about having a heatwave. It’s summer in Queensland- it’s usually this hot! I’ve noticed it more this year because our aircon is playing silly buggers. Sometimes it works (when you press random buttons) but mostly it doesn’t. We rely on fans and the breeze that magically appears at 4pm.

In keeping with the “out of the blue” theme, this morning I had a message via MSN from someone I vaguely recall. Shortly after I moved here to Kwazy Kweensland, I scouted housemates. One guy still lives here, but the other one, well, that was an odd story. Everything was good to go- the moving date was settled, he’d picked a room and everything was sorted. The day came, but he didn’t. I called him, no answer and I never heard from him again… Until this morning, more than two years later. How random! I have no intention of replying to his message for a couple of reasons: 1) WTF?? and 2) I don’t resond well to people who randomly pop up and start calling me “sexy”.

I guess every day has a random moment, but usually they’re so minor we give them little thought.

This time of year (the most wonderful time of year, according to some), is frantically busy for most people. Somehow, ordinary people find extra time and money to do everything they need to do before The Big Day. My sister and I went shopping the other day (well she shopped, I gave helpful advice). It was a Thursday, middle of the day. Where did the million people come from that were at the shopping centre? Don’t these people have 9-5 jobs? The carpark was full, the department stores were full; the specialty shops were mostly empty. It was insane. Now as a copywriter, I find this extremely interesting. Advertising hits you everywhere you look. There are items placed strategically where you’re most likely to buy impulsively. Good luck trying to keep to a budget. We’re coerced into thinking our loved ones really need that Susan Boyle CD, Bryce Courtenay book and MasterChef paraphernalia.

Traditionally, I’ve been in retail this time of year. It amazes me that people leave things to the last minute and will buy anything they can get their hands on. Two years ago, I was a Christmas gift-wrapper for The Body Shop. I was rostered on 50 hours for the week before Christmas, including 10 hours on Christmas Eve (although I did two hours overtime). I never thought people would actually go anywhere Christmas Eve… they do. Last minute shopping- they’ll buy anything! It’s so easy to upsell on Christmas Eve, especially to men. They don’t want to be seen as cheap, so they’ll buy a gift pack, but then you suggest a fragrance or balm and they’re happy to add it to be “original” and they can claim the gift pack is unique. Or at least, this is what we tell them 😉

This time last year I was having daily nightmares about chicken. I was terrified I hadn’t ordered enough for Christmas. I constantly dreamed I sold out at lunchtime. I was talking in my sleep every night; my boyfriend reassured me every day that I would have plenty of chickens. As it turned out, I had waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many and needed to sell them at half price for the next three days.

Christmas is a stressful time for everyone: consumers, retailers and everyone in between. One last point: can’t we have some new carols/Christmas songs? I’m sick of hearing the same old ones that I’ve heard for the last 30 years.

December 12, 2009 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | Leave a comment

Perspective

Today’s just been a crappy day. Some days are like that. I’ve been over-thinking due to boredom, which is never a good thing. Some work has been coming my way; I’m pleased I’ve been able to finish it all before deadline. This over-thinking has led me to some inner turmoil which has taken a lot to shift.

Today, I discovered my number plates had been stolen from my car. It was deliberate: they’d gone around the other two cars parked to get to mine. The worst part is, I heard my dog barking madly early this morning and yelled at her. Since she barks at anything, it’s hardly worth checking on everything she barks at. Still, I felt stupid at just yelling at her. It’s an annoyance like you wouldn’t believe. Police reports, paperwork, other govt offices, more paperwork… and the cost of getting them replaced (why they’re not covered by insurance, I don’t know.)

Anyway, I spent the day cursing the (censored) and hoping they’ll be struck by lightning. I was so angry, so frustrated, so ticked off with the whole thing. What kind of moron steals personalised plates? They’re so easily traced and recognisable (I suspect some teenage girl thought they were cute and persuaded her boyfriend to steal them for her). When I took time out from my ranting and raving, I saw the bigger picture.

Ten years ago, in a small village called Glenbrook in the Blue Mountains of NSW, a commuter train hit the famous Indian Pacific. The crash killed seven people- including the father of my best friend. She’d lost her mother two years earlier to cancer. It was a horrific time for her but also for the whole Mts community. It didn’t occur to me until I saw the news today that it’s been 10 years since the tragedy. It’s strange how something so much bigger can instantly put you in the backseat.

Further down my facebook page was another post from a friend; eighteen years ago she lost her father. It’s safe to say I felt spectacularly foolish at these posts. Here I was ranting about a minor annoyance of stolen number plates when two of my friends lost their fathers on this day.

December 3, 2009 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | Leave a comment

Friendship Divorce

I have awesome friends. They patiently listen to my rants, notice when things aren’t quite OK (even though I’m blissfully unaware), support me in all I do and other general friend-type things. (Thanks T for the random gift- I love it!)

But with great friends comes great responsibility. What happens when one person no longer wants to be friends?

About a year ago, I went through a friend divorce. I was friends with someone and one day, we were no longer friends. Just like that. I’d gotten a message from Friend saying I was to no longer contact them. It sent me for quite a spin. I had no idea our friendship was in trouble. Moreover, I have no idea what I did that it had to end so suddenly.

Such is often the nature of a friend divorce. Sadly, it’s not the first time I’ve been through it. In my teens, I went through two best friends in about four years. One friendship dissolved due to my jumping to conclusions (and I’ve regretted it ever since, but we’re now facebook friends and the air is clear) and the other was due to someone sleeping with my boyfriend. That friendship has also been cleared. As an aside, what would we do without facebook?

It’s said that friends are the family you choose for yourself. It seems to be true, although regaining a lost friendship can be entirely up to you. If you disassociate your family, it can be quite trying and other family take sides, making things incredibly awkward and messy. Friends can understand you more than family can. It’s easier to talk to friends about deeply personal stuff: is it easier to talk about your sex life with your best friend or your sister?

I miss my former friend. I think of them often and wish them well. I’m still hurt by what happened because I had no choice, no idea, no say in it. The friendship was just taken away. It’s sad they feel they have to distance themselves from me at all costs. I hope one day, they can move past whatever and we can be friends again. After all, it was only a friendship.

December 2, 2009 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | Leave a comment