Saturday, December 29, 2012

Junk Mail Bargains: New Year edition. Yeah, I know I already did a JMB just a week ago, but the sale catalogues are coming thick and fast!

Officeworks is running a Back to School promotion already (a depressing thought for parents and teachers). The Big Dubs laminator I pointed out last week is still your best bet for laminators, but Officeworks has one for $15.94, which is also what you'll pay for 100 laminating pouches for said laminator.

Officeworks also has 20cm world globes on a classic pedestal stand for $9.91. They come in the classic blue as well as black and white, and the countries are highlighted in different colours. I'd like one just for decorating. I've seen some Pinterest stuff in which people make quite striking mobiles out of old globes.

If you want to be a dickhead whose obnoxiously over-styled home is featured on Fuck Your Noguchi Coffee Table, you could also make a massed display of globes in your house.

That said, how about some googly-eye crafts? Officeworks has a pack of 160 googly eyes of varying sizes, some red and blue as well as black, for $3.17. Here are some things you can do with googly eyes:

Aldi has either a European (square) pillow or 2 regular pillows for $9.99, and 225 thread-count percale sheets in a range of jaunty colours for $24.99 QB and $29.99 KB.

Also at Aldi is Bee Vital Manuka honey for $7.99, which is Active 5+. I looked into WTF that means, and apparently all honey contains the glucose oxidase enzyme, which produces hydrogen peroxide, giving the honey mild antibacterial properties; however Manuka honey has an additional antibacterial component which is not due to hydrogen peroxide and can fight more resistant bacteria. This is known as 'active' honey and if it's been lab-tested against a regular antibiotic it gets a UMF rating. Ratings of 0-4 are negligible; 5-9 is 'maintenance', 10-14 is suitable for therapeutic use and 15+ is the most medicinal. So there you go.

Years ago my friends Renée and Gemma gave me an Eziyo yoghurt maker for my birthday. To my annoyance I have misplaced it somewhere – it might be in a box or something – but currently at Aldi you can get a yoghurt maker for $14.99, and the yoghurt mix sachets for $2.49, which is cheaper than Eziyo.

Aldi also has a six-piece cast-iron cook set for $69.99. It includes a 9-quart camp oven with a wire handle, 3-quart saucepan and wire base, 12-inch skillet, 2-burner BBQ hotplate, 43cm lid-lifting stick and a wooden chest to keep it all in.

It's designed for use in open fires while camping, but honestly I love cast-iron cookware and find it very hard to buy cheaply. I get so much use out of my skillet, which Sandor gifted me as a cherished heirloom from Donald Street. It's the same pan in which my housemate Matt used to make his patented meal, 'skillet'.

Also, would you like to wipe your baby with the baby wipes that won the silver medal for Baby Wipes of the Year in this year's Australian Mother and Baby Magazine Awards? Well at Aldi you can – and they're only $2.49 for a pack of 80 – that's 3c per wipe.

Now, usually I only get depressing bogan furniture store catalogues that make me feel sad, but I was pretty impressed by the Bay Leather Republic catalogue. Not that I could ever get a leather couch: a) I can't afford one; b) Graham would scratch it up in no time. But I quite liked the look of the Apartment three-seater in black, which is currently $999, save $500 (other colours are a bit more expensive).

Also, the Copenhagen three-seater for $2399, save $300.

Recently I joined some online market research panels, mainly for the lure of winning cash prizes, but also because I enjoy doing surveys. Yesterday I did a very extensive survey comparing various supermarkets, and let me tell you, Junk Mail Bargains has equipped me brilliantly for comparing them.

In general I think IGA and Foodworks are the dirt supermarkets – the ones you only go to in country towns on holiday, or if you are unfortunate enough to live in North Melbourne. I get these catalogues but their specials are never very good, and they have the worst own brands. (Black & Gold should be renamed Poverty & Depression.) However, at the moment Foodworks has avocados for $1.68 each. Currently they are $2.98  each at Woolworths and Coles.


Monday, December 24, 2012

Archaeological drinking. I have recently got back into Indiana Jones – largely because I purchased a paperback of this book from Savers, The Sign and the Seal by Graham Hancock, and have become fascinated with the Grail and Ark legends again.

I am really looking forward to the kind of crappy conspiracy-theory yarn I remember from Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. Jonathan Kirsch of the Los Angeles Times described the book as "part travelogue, part true-adventure, part mystery-thriller. But mostly it's a whacking big dose of amateur scholarship alloyed with a fervid imagination and the kind of narrative that comes in handy when telling ghost stories around a campfire."

Edward Ullendorff, a former professor of Ethiopian Studies at the University of London, said he "wasted a lot of time reading it." Ha! Ha!

This week I rewatched Raiders of the Lost Ark and was struck by what a well-constructed adventure story it is: part sincere sense of wonder at the power of the past; part matinee derring-do; part screwball banter between Indy, Marion, Sallah and Belloq.

However, I still maintain that Temple of Doom is non-canon.

Anyway, so this was my frame of mind as I followed a trail of clues in a dusty library in my bedroom. I had heard vague stories about a mysterious treasure that lurked in a secret compartment behind one of the bookshelves.

It was some hard archaeological digging to remove the rubble of cheap shoes that obstructed the entrance to this fabled shelf. Only by throwing the shoes into my wardrobe and forcing the sliding door open could I reveal the bookshelf.

Ah, yes! Here it was, largely untouched since 2005, when I moved into this room and used the shelving in my wardrobe for books. I don't think I've looked at these ancient artefacts in the interim period.

Carefully I began to remove the fragile books, stacking them on my bed, always wary for the booby-traps with which the ancients guard their treasures. Finally, I dislodged a large shoebox guarding the entrance to the secret compartment. What did I see? Wonderful things!

I actually excavated the blue curaçao back in 2008 to make the ill-fated icing for my Terminator head cake. But I was totally thrilled to see the rest of this precious hoard. Aperol! Vermouth (aka MARTINIS)! Blue curacao (FRUIT TINGLES)! Triple sec! Creme de cacao! Baileys!

Look how well-preserved it all is, like the leavings of a cocktail party one has in one's early twenties when everyone is instructed to bring a bottle. This belongs in a museum. But as the next best thing, it belongs in a glass!

I used a soft-bristled brush to remove the dust, and put the bottles on my drinks shelf along with the whipped cream-flavoured vodka. I plan to make several cocktails tonight to drink while watching Carols by Candlelight and tweeting disparagingly about the guest performers.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Junk Mail Bargains: festive edition. I've been meaning to do a pre-Christmas edition of junk mail bargains for the last few days but only now have I actually sat down to do it.

Today I went Christmas shopping in the Deep North. Yesterday I meant to go to IKEA but I got on the wrong bus and ended up in North Balwyn. I trusted the journey planner function on my Metlink app, which is usually quite reliable. I am just now cross-matching the published timetable with the timestamps on my tweets, and I feel that the bus that came along was not the one scheduled – maybe it was early or late.

Then today I meant to go to Northlands, but I couldn't resist dropping in on Savers too. But when you use public transport, 'dropping in' is a relative term. On weekends, buses leave the Mill Park Stables shopping centre every frickin' hour. I missed one by just a minute or two, so rather than bake in the sun, I got on another bus that took a very circuitous route, but was air-conditioned. I enjoyed seeing parts of Melbourne I haven't visited before, or have only driven past in a car.

Here is a map depicting the places I visited yesterday and today, with some commentary. Zoom in for more detail.

View A Christmas Public Transport Adventure in a larger map

But anyway. You came for the mad bargains, not my rhapsodising about public transport. So! Let's divvy up the bargains into Pre-Christmas and Post-Christmas.

If you are still looking for some last-minute gifts (especially for a not-very-close relative), Woolworths has some half-price beauty gift packs for $5! I quite like the look of the Floral Collection, which is some rose-scented hand and body wash, and matching lotion, with a pink rose-shaped object that might be a soap. There's also a collection of eight mini nail polishes in a good range of colours, also for $5.

Kmart has women's summer pyjama sets for a ridiculous $5. The top is like a short-sleeved collared shirt, and the pants are 3/4 length. They come in powder blue with white spots, pink with white spots, or white with pink and blue butterflies. And they're sized from 8-10 to 20-22.

And if there's someone you know who takes long showers, you could give them the Bush Shower Radio from Big Dubs – $28. Presumably it's waterproof.

Kmart has some really nifty-looking kitchenware gifts for just $12. Choose from a stainless-steel pasta machine, a spice rack consisting of a sort of carousel with spots to put little round glass jars, a pizza stone with matching guillotine cutter, and a mortar and pestle. I'd go the mortar and pestle.

And if someone you know likes tea but says loose-leaf tea is too much of a drama, Kmart also has little 500ml ceramic teapots in red, white or black, with built-in infusers, for $5. I don't want to be one of those dipsticks in the ads roaming around the store marvelling at the low, low prices, but honestly I was astounded today to see quite nice, plain glass vases at Kmart for $2. I really worry about the conditions of satanic cruelty under which these products must be manufactured.

Did you know that you can buy Bunnings gift cards at Coles? This might be handy if, like me, you have a Coles within walking distance but no Bunningses for miles. Nasty Bunningses!

You probably don't want to buy these, but did you know there are board game versions of The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family? These are $28 from Big Dubs.

An excellent bargain may be had at Coles: a 25L Willow esky for $20 – half price! To put that in perspective, Big Dubs has a 27L Esky brand esky for $48.

A beauty bargain at Coles: Pantene shampoo and conditioner in giant 750ml bottles for $7.50 – that's half price!

Also, I know I go on about BB creams, but the Rimmel BB cream is currently $10 at Woolworths, which is a $3 discount. I've tried this on, and it offers the best coverage of the non-Asian brands I've tried; the others are basically just tinted moisturisers. I also like that it's SPF 25 which is quite high for a cosmetic sunscreen.

And now, here's my Food And Drink Intolerances Corner! If you know someone who can't or won't eat gluten, Ajitas Vege Chips are on special at Coles for $2.15.

And if you are in the market for non-alcoholic wines during the festive season, Woolworths has Fronti red and white varieties on special for $3.89. Appletiser sparkling apple juice is 2 for $5 – a saving of $1.84. And Aldi has Ariel dealcoholised wine in 'rouge' and 'blanc' for $9.99. They also have Paulaner Alcohol Free Beer for $1.79 per 500ml bottle.

Now to the post-Christmas bargains. New Year's Eve is coming up, and both Coles and Woolworths have your disposable revelry totems covered. They work out to the same price but the pack sizes are different. So at Coles you can get 16 sparklers for $1 ($1.49 for 24 sparklers at Woolies); party poppers are $2.39 for 20 at Coles, and $3 for 25 at Woolies (but $1.88 for 20 at Big Dubs so I'd go there); and "party glow bracelets" are $4 for 10 at Coles and Woolies alike.

Coles also has glow sticks for $2 each, which Woolies is clearly refusing to match. Come on. It is not the 1990s any more. However Big Dubs wants $2.97 for 20 of those satisfyingly old-fashioned 'blowouts', which are those things that inflate and unfurl with a sad toot when you blow into them.

Big Dubs' post-Christmas sale includes 30% off pillows, doonas, mattress protectors, etc, and 40% off the Tontine Good Night range. I am in the market for a new pillow so I will be looking into this. And just so that your pet is not left out, there will also be $15 memory foam pet beds.

Maybe you are not lucky enough to be related to a primary school teacher, and you wish you could get documents laminated at the drop of a hat. Well at Big Dubs you can! An A4 laminator is just $15.

Would you like to take up boxing in the New Year? Big Dubs offers a low-stakes entry with $10 Everlast boxing gloves. And to stay hydrated, how about a Sodastream machine for $55 (save $9.88)? They reckon the gas cylinder is good for 60L. When my housemate Paul had one of these, it was a golden era. I drank so much bubbly water.

In other water bargains, Aldi has Brita water filter jugs for $19.99. Holds 1.4L filtered water. I got one of these when Is Not Magazine had the Vesta House office and the water came out of the tap a weird brown colour. It was astonishing how it made the water normal.

Aldi also has cheese knives for $2.99, and a glass multi-function cake stand for $19.99 that has a pedestal and a domed lid. When you tip the pedestal base upside down you can use it as a chip'n'dip; the upside-down lid holds desserts such as trifles; or you can display and store cakes.

And for more entertaining, Aldi has rigid wire domed food covers for $4.99, citronella candles in tin buckets for $4.99, and packs of three jaunty striped tea towels for $4.99.

I am in the midst of a Summer of Champas, and so I was interested to learn that from 29 December Aldi is also selling bottles of Grandin Méthode Traditionelle, which is one of the better French cheapies, for $12.99. You can get it right now at Dan Murphy's for $13.60.

Another Dan Murphy's bargain I can recommend is the Saint-Hilaire Blanquette de Limoux Brut, which I (shamefully) bought because the label superficially resembles that of Veuve Clicquot. It's $13.99.

And just finally, you can't beat Aldi's price on blueberries$1.99 for a 125g punnet, which works out to $15.92 per kilo. By contrast, Coles has them for $3.40, or $27.20 per kilo.


Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Scent of a woman. For the last couple of days, whenever I have got up early in the morning to shut Graham in the living room so I can get a few more hours' sleep, I have sensed a presence in the hall, as if a woman had walked through there seconds earlier. It was the scent of an unfamiliar perfume – not mine, and not my housemate's.

Because I was in that dreamy place between sleep and wakefulness, I wondered if I could sense a ghost.

This morning when I went to sit down at my desk, the scent was in my study, too, and I was wondering if someone has been in here when I've been out, 'getting up in my bidness'.

Then I realised that on Friday I went wandering around the shops in the city trying on makeup and perfume and had accumulated lots of perfume cards. The next day I threw the cards in my wastepaper basket. I realised that I had always scented the mystery woman at the point in the hall when I walked past my study doorway.

Much like Jason Salavon's Every Playboy Centerfold: The Decades, the perfumes' individual fragrances blurred and blended into this ghost perfume that suggested an idea of woman.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

A real ball-busker. In Swanston Street at the Bourke Street tram stop is a young magician-type guy who busks by doing those juggling tricks with balls like in the movie Labyrinth: making them roll across his hands and appear to hover in space as he gestures gracefully in the air.

Imagine having sex with that guy. You'd be at his house and his bed would be all draped in crushed velvet panne, maybe with silver moons and stars printed on it. There'd be some ridiculous 'mystical' mood music playing.

He wouldn't actually squeeze your breast. He'd just wipe the back of his hand dextrously over the underside of it, and his palm over the top surface.

Then he'd display his flaccid penis to you, but after a series of deft manipulations it would rise as if by magic. Applause!

Now that I think about it, the Bananarama video clip for 'Venus' is basically a coded demonstration of how contact-juggling tricks can be used in boudoir scenarios. Check out their hand gestures. Back in grade three I knew what 'Venus' rhymed with, and I don't believe I was mistaken.

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