Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ugh. Xmas is here. Let the gender essentialism begin.

So at the shop of dreams, the xmas stock has started to roll in. And it's really at this time of year (and at mother's day of course) that consumerism likes to, in addition to diminishing our bank balances, remind us that all of us are supposed to be exactly the same all the time always.

Women are either mums or they're five. They will all enjoy cookbooks, novels by Jilly Cooper or little pink-packaged sets of doings to make their own lipgloss or create little models of cupcakes. Presumably so their imaginary tea-party guests don't go hungry.

Men however, all read Lee Child and Tom Clancy novels, possibly a sports book or two, and never cookbooks, unless they have the words 'beer' or 'barbecue' in the title.

Now none of this stock is inherently bad or problematic, it's just totally annoying (and heteronormative) how it's all set underneath 'for him' and 'for her' signs.

(By the way, if you're neither a him or a her, you're not expected to like anything).

Oh, and what d'you mean you don't celebrate xmas?

This rant has no purpose. I have nowhere to go from here.

I feel better now.

If you'll excuse me, I have to go back to pricing lipgloss in the shape of cupcakes and sparkplug keychains.

Just shoot me now.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Song of Ice and Fire

Okay, so becoming addicted to a looong series of fantasy novels a mere two books into my list is a small snag in my plan to read all of these books by march. But I think I can rise to the challenge.

I read the first novel (Game of Thrones) in George R.R. Martin's epic series A Song of Ice and Fire because, like so many others, I fell in love with the HBO TV show based on the books. For those of you who are tv watchers, I would highly recommend it, unless you are particularly squeamish or have a problem watching a lot of naked people. Because, I have said elsewhere, it really is tits and guts all the way down. Also there are dragons.

The books are hefty things, the first one nearly 800 pages, the second slightly longer, but they are so gripping that one barely notices the page numbers fly by. While on a wee holiday, I managed to rip through the second book A Clash of Kings and am at the moment managing to avoid getting straight into part one (yes, there is seriously a two-part book in this series) of book three.

The series is set in the land of Westoros, centering around the Seven Kingdoms and the families within them. The central family of the novel is House Stark, of Winterfell in the icy north. They become scattered across the Seven Kingdoms and embroiled in a huge war over the Iron Throne. There are so many characters with so many strange names that there is a list in the back of each book, with the families, their sigils, and their geographies to keep them all straight. It's like reading one of those epic Russian novels, except it's entertaining.

One thing I really like about these books is that there are lots of excellent strong female characters in them. Make no mistake, a lot of awful things happen to women in this series. The dudes in these books seem to really love rape (the covers should have gigantic trigger warnings on them) and the way it is brushed aside can be very off-putting, but there are some truly bad-ass ladies on the side of light (and quite a few who are pretty darn evil too). Lady Catelyn Stark is my favourite (possibly because she shares my name, we'll forgive the misspelling), she takes rich men captive, fights off wildlings and will walk through fire for her children. Queen Cersei Lannister is definitely one of the bad guys. She kills people and lies and cheats. I hate her living guts, but my goodness is she bad-ass. She, like Catelyn Stark, will do anything for her family and for power.

I would reccomend this series to every fantasy-lover out there, it is truly epic. If you aren't usually a fantasy fan I would suggest having a go at the TV show before reading the series, as it sticks very close to the first novel, taking whole chunks of dialogue straight from the book.

And now, I continue to fight my own battle, the one to stop me from just reading all of them in one go.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It Has Begun

That's right, my journey through The Most Epic Booklist Which Is Perpetually Added To (TMEBWIPAT*) has begun.

I decided to begin with probably the most light-hearted book on my list, Bossypants by Tina Fey.

I'm about halfway through and I am thoroughly enjoying myself. I don't usually laugh out loud** while reading books, even funny ones. I don't know, I just usually smile, or inwardly laugh hysterically while retaining my normal internet-reading expression.*** But I have spent most of the time spent reading this book laughing like a person who is really very amused. You may be able to tell that some of Tina's writing style has rubbed off on me. Or at least I like to think so.

She somehow manages to make everything funny, even what I imagine would be a truly hideous experience (fainting after being hit hard in the cervix by a speculum at your first pap smear for example)**** into a charming and funny anecdote, the type of story that you would tell at an afternoon cocktail party.

So I would highly recommend Bossypants to everyone, but especially 30 Rock/Fey fans, because this book is like reading the memoir of a slightly more well-adjusted Liz Lemon, without the crippling insecurity.

Also her dad sounds like a BAMF.


*Don't worry I won't refer to it as this. Much
**I said laugh out loud, lol.
***Which is this by the way.
**** OUCH, basically. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

My list of books to read is getting out of control.

My books are getting out of control. I need to do some trademe selling to free up some space.

Added to the list below:

Half of a Yellow Sun/Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Alias Grace/Margaret Atwood
Briefing for the Descent into Hell/Doris Lessig
Remains of the Day/Kazuo Ishiguro
The Bean Trees/Barbara Kingsolver
The Namesake/Jhumpa Lahiri
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings/Maya Angelou
Small Island/Andrea Levy
White Teeth/Zadie Smith
Brick Lane/Monica Ali
Plugged/Eoin Colfer
Stories/Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantino
The Final Testament of the Holy Bible/James Frey

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A list of some female writers I love

In response to this misogynistic nonsense, and in no particular order (plus these are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head).

  • P.D. James
  • Agatha Christie
  • Alice Hoffman
  • Diana Wynne-Jones
  • Margaret Atwood
  • A.S. Byatt
  • Jane Austen
  • J.K. Rowling
  • Paulina Simons 
  • Virginia Woolf
  • Harper Lee
  • Did I mention Margaret Atwood?
  • Hilary Mantel
  • Joyce Carol Oates
  • Patti Smith
  • Oh and, I'm sorry, I think I may have forgotten Margaret Atwood. 

And you know what worries me, after having re-read my list? I'm pretty sure they're all white.

Caitlin fails.

Note to self: read some female authors who aren't white. Or who aren't Margaret Atwood.

Friday, May 20, 2011


SHOCKED to learn there is gambling going on in this establishment.

Very few people will get that joke.

Anyway, I am yet again apologising for being a bad blogger. I'm actually an excellent blogger, just not here. Mostly here and here.


Yes, tumblr has seduced me, with her shiny surfaces, random hipsters and gif parties. So many snippets of wider debates and screencaps created by various fandoms. SO ADDICTIVE.

What with uni, two jobs and a social life (HA!), I have been finding it difficult to keep this blog going. But I MUST NOT give up. This was my first blog and I would be loath to lose it. So I shall persevere.

It might change a little, as I seldom feel the need to vent my customer-based frustrations anymore. Maybe I'm growing up, or maybe I'm getting a thicker skin or something.

I am, however, planning to do some serious reading after exams are over, so I imagine this will become a record of my literary adventures.

In fact, for your internetting-pleasure (internet can be a verb, right?), here is a list of the books I plan to read, crossposted from my tumblr.


I have now made a list, similar to this one of all some of the books which I have but have not read, which I plan to read during my 8-month-long hiatus from university. It has 34 books on it.

These are just a selection of what I guess is probably about 200 books which I have but have not read. It could be more than that, I’m just guessing.

I have a problem. I think bibliophilia might be a real thing and I may have it.

So here they are, my July 2011-March 2012 challenge, organised by genre.


Everything is Illuminated/Jonathan Safran-Foer
Falling Man/Don DeLillo
Shades of Grey/Jasper Fforde
The Beautiful and Damned/F. Scott Fitzgerald
House of Leaves/Mark Danielewski
A Place of Greater Safety/Hilary Mantel
I Married a Communist/Philip Roth
Day After Night/Anita Diamant

Graphic Novels

Howl: The Graphic Novel/Allen Ginsberg and Eric Drooker
V for Vendetta/Alan Moore and David Lloyd


Women of the Revolution: Forty Years of Feminism
America’s Women/Gail Collins
Cunt/Inga Muscio
Fat is a Feminist Issue/Susie Orbach
Why Women Should Rule the World/Dee Dee Meyers
The Means of Reproduction/Michelle Goldberg
The Beauty Myth/Naomi Wolf
Bananas, Beaches and Bases/Cynthia Enloe


The King’s Cardinal/Peter Gwyn
Nightmare: The Underside of the Nixon Years/J. Anthony Lukas
Shakespeare/Bill Bryson
Crown and Country/David Starkey


Third World America/Ariana Huffington
Same Sex, Different Politics/Gary Mucciaroni
Gaza: Morality, Law and Politics/Raimond Gaita
Race of a Lifetime/John Hellerman and Mark Halpern
Globalization and its Discontents/Joseph Stiglitz
Sex, Lies and Pharmaceuticals/Ray Moynihan
One State, Two States/Benny Morris
Orientalism/Edward Said
Conservative Comebacks to Liberal Lies/Gregg Jackson (see here for an explanation)


Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks/John Curran
Shakespeare’s Philosophy/Colin McGinn
Talking About Detective Fiction/P.D. James

Think I can get through these in 8 months?

Let’s see, shall we?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

This started out as a post where I bitch about customers and turned into one where I bitch about society.

SO many idiotic customers today. And I've had a LOT in the last couple of weeks. Things have been a bit topsy-turvy at work, hence the lack of posting here for AAAAGES. I think most people will know what I'm talking about. If not, I'm sorry, I can't post about it directly (MYSTERY).

Some people seem to have a shocking lack of perspective. Especially when it comes to retail. There is this expectation, one which has been fostered by the 'customer is always right' nonsense which retailers bear a lot of the responsibility for, that somehow, if you're in a shop, everything should be exactly as you want it. Because, as one customer once put to me, "we pay your wages."

This is clearly wrong. But not just in an 'actually-the-people-who-employ-me-pay-my-wages' sort of way. It smacks of the old 'taxpayer money' idea. That somehow because X pays tax (or deigns to spend money in the shop where I'm employed) they should be able to loudly complain about every tiny thing they don't like. Certainly, taxation needs to be accompanied by some form of democratic representation, but the idea that there is a mythical catalogue of taxpayer funded things that citizens can choose from, is an entirely ridiculous one.

Consumerism, basically, sucks. And yes, if it didn't exist I might not have my job in a shop. If consumerism didn't exist I might be able to attend university without the need of a job, or if I had one it might be one which actually values me and my skills. Instead of being Employee No. 472247 I'd be me. I could make suggestions to my boss about stock and I'd be listened to. Instead of getting ridiculous directives from slick executives who've probably never stepped into my city, let alone my shop.

What I'm trying to get at, is maybe instead of thinking of ourselves as 'paying customers' or 'taxpayers' who can behave as badly as we please to the faceless 'employees' because we indirectly remunerate them, we should start thinking of ourselves as valued individuals who have different skills to bring to our communities and different needs to fulfill.

Is that so freakin' hard?

And if it is too hard, and we're irrevocably stuck in this nightmare that is consumerist capitalism gone mad, can you at least not yell at me?


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Crappy Day in the Shop of Dreams

Yesterday was really awful. No seriously, worst day in ages. So, in order to really show my frustration at all of the hideous customers I had to deal with yesterday, I went looking for a gif. On my search I found so many great things I stopped being annoyed.

Thank you, internet. Thank you.

Snuggle Buddies Gif - Snuggle Buddies

Cooking is Hard Gif - Cooking is Hard

Bunday Delights Gif - Bunday Delights

Hey Theres Dancing Santa Gif - Hey Theres Dancing Santa

Endless Bird Supply Gif - Endless Bird Supply

Living the Life Gif - Living the Life

Dont Honk at Granny Gif - Dont Honk at Granny



Monday, December 13, 2010

Bookshop Babylon PSA: How Not to Piss off Retail Workers at Christmas

A lot of people seem to have real problems not pissing me off at Christmastime. Me and lots of other poor sods who have to work in shops at's hell, we know. It's hell for you, it's hell for us.

Christmas music blasts continuously from tinny mall speakers, reminding you, that Santa Claus Is indeed Coming To Town, so you'd better get those damn presents PERFECT!

Not one air conditioner actually works, they buckle under the weight of the globally warmed air, so everyone walks around sweltering in the recycled, tepid atmosphere.

The shops seem to have run out of what you want every single time you step in one.

We know.

But think about it for a second. We have to stand, with the music and the heat beating down on us for freakin' hours on end. Our lives do not revolve around you and whatever shit you want to buy for your annoying relations. Our jobs don't even revolve around that.

BUT we are very appreciative of nice people at this time of year. If I like you, I will help you out a little more than I perhaps would if you piss me off. So, here are some handy tips to make all of our lives easier.

1. There is a queue. There is always a queue, it's Christmas. Jesus has to queue at Christmas. Don't take it as a personal affront when I point this out to you. No matter how confused you pretend to be, we all know that you are an impatient ass, so get to the back of the queue already.

2. Shops are not like the Tardis. It is not the mythical Argos of Bill Bailey's dreams (in joke). We cannot stock everything on earth. I'm dreadfully sorry that we don't have the obscure history of the Ukrainian Sewage system you're looking for (this actually happened), but we need room for all of the Dan Brown books. I hate it too, you know.

3. It is not my fault when other shops fuck up. I am sorry that there is no one manning the calendar club stand, but we cannot sell you something that isn't ours. I cannot change this. In other words, it ain't my problem, lady.

4. Unless you are Amish, you have been in a shop before. We expect you to have some rudimentary level of knowledge about how things go in a shop. Shops are owned by people, who are sometimes corporations. Corporations run on Capitalism. Capitalism wants your money. It is unlikely, therefore, that Capitalism will let you have stuff cheap. When there is a sale, the discount will not apply to already discounted items. This is not a rip off, as you so often tell me, because it's ALREADY DISCOUNTED. You're already getting it cheaper, so quit freakin' moaning.

I'm sure I'll think of more tips as the 'primary gifting period' continues, but that'll do for now.

Please try not to piss me off.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Overheard at the Bookshop

(Me, sitting on the floor, surrounded by about five cartons of lonely planet guides)

CUSTOMER: "Do you guys sell lonely planet guides?"

ME: .... (incredulous look)

CUSTOMER: "Have I walked right past them?"

Seriously folks, I couldn't make this stuff up.

kitty kat face palm