Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Move along, nothing to see here!

Yeah, this blog is dead. Sorry.

I have done two recent non-makeup posts over on the main blog:
Review of TV show Misfits.
Response to The Guild's new music video.

Since my non-makeup posts are so sporadic, I figured it would just be best to incorporate them into my main blog. Thanks to everyone who followed my ramblings all the way over here, I do appreciate it :)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Thoughts on: Customer Service

I'm not really sure that Australians understand what "good service" really entails. As a customer I am delighted to receive good service - and I am of the opinion that the best way for me to be proactive about getting good service is to remember that, first and foremost, the person I am dealing with IS A PERSON. I am not suggesting that it be mandatory that you ask them how they are, but I make a point of starting off with "How are you today?" or "How's your day been so far?"

What makes me really sad is the number of times the salesperson I have asked that of reacts with an expression of sheer surprise - like they can't believe I actually just enquired about THEM. I can absolutely understand if you're in a hurry, or you're shy/socially anxious and don't have the ability to make small talk at that moment in time. But surely that should leave at least 6/10 people who can take a few seconds to just... Be polite to someone whose job is to take care of you?

As a salesperson whose company prides itself on high customer service standards, 'small talk' is considered just as important as the sales spiel. The more you talk to a customer the better you can help them. Again, I understand that often people are in a hurry or don't feel comfortable talking to people whom they don't know well. But i don't think that excuses this habit a lot of people have gotten into of almost ignoring staff. Before you accuse me of being whiny or oversensitive, let me give you a couple of examples of exchanges that happen daily where I work (and am now leaving).

Salesperson: Hi, how are you today?
Customer: One of [product].

Salesperson: What was the last name on your account?
Customer: [last name]
Salesperson: And what is your post code?
Customer: [first name]
Salesperson: your postal address?
Customer: [postcode]

Customer: I don't know what [product] I want.
Salesperson: I can make a recommendation for you, if you like. How do you usually have your coffee?
Customer: Normal.
Salesperson: .... Would that be with or without milk?
Customer: [answer]
Salesperson: Would you say you like it strong, medium or mild?
Customer: Normal.

[note: it is one of our very busy periods and there is a line of people waiting to be served.]
Salesperson: Next customer, please!
[customer arrives at sales counter]
Salesperson: Good afternoon sir, how can I help you today?
Customer: Why are you smiling when people are waiting?! [note: said without sarcasm]

Good service is a two-way street. Of course there will be times when a customer just gets a rude or ignorant salesperson, and an inevitable part of working in customer service means you will have to deal with people who are snide, demanding, and just not interested in even answering basic questions or letting you do your job. It's times like these I wish that a bit of retail or hospitality work was a compulsory part of high school education - just so more people actually understand what it's like to be behind the counter.

If you are a customer and receive exceptional service, letting management know can be just as beneficial, if not even more so, than reporting poor customer service. Companies are far more likely to get complaints than praise, and I'm sure I don't need to tell you which is better for staff morale. I am not saying don't report bad service, though - sometimes it is a genuine issue with store policy or a particular staff member that NEEDS raising, and I'm sure companies would prefer to know about an issue so they can fix it before they start to lose customers over it!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Review (book): Bones of the Moon

This book was given to me as a Secret Santa gift from work. I feel like buying a box of chocolates for my Santa, since without her thoughtfulness, it's very likely I would never have read this. Ordinarily when I read a book, I want to finish it as fast as I can. I want to know: what happens? Who 'wins'? Who dies? How does the adventure end?

This is the first book I can ever remember not wanting to finish, not because I didn't like it, but because I cared so much about the characters, and I was so enraptured with the story that I didn't want anything bad to happen! I knew it was coming and I didn't want to know! The book is very character driven, the characters lives and actions twine and almost rebound off each other in different ways and that's really what moves the story. There's a bit of action in it, but for the most part the story is quite emotional and cerebral.

If I had to label this book (as a genre) I would say it is magical realism with a touch of horror/suspense (I know those are different and I'm sorry for mashing them together indiscriminately, but I'm not experienced enough with them to distinguish!) The story is a woman named Cullen who has these vivid, sequential dreams. About a third of the way into the book, she becomes concerned about the intensity of the dreams and goes to see a doctor about them. The doctor assures her that she seems like a perfectly normal, well-adjusted person and that the dreams are absolutely nothing to worry about. She's not a hundred percent convinced about this, and she's proven right when her dreams begin to intersect with reality.

Jonathan Carroll's way of writing is effortlessly engaging (or so I found it). This book absolutely sucked me in. I read it slowly, over a period of several days, even though (by my usual 600+ page standards) it was relatively short. I can think of only a few books I have taken my time with like that (and I'll be reviewing one of them soon).

Without risking over-analysis (thanks, uni!) I'd have to say that the themes and issues this book touches on are done beautifully - it presents some ideas about psychology, relationships and mental health without being preachy. I would however, mention that some people might find the characters a bit less 3D than they could have been, particularly the character of Elliot, who plays Cullen's 'gay friend' and falls into a few stereotypes. My only comment on this would be that the book is told in first person, 'by' Cullen, and so the limited scope is a little bit excusable.

In the interests of honesty (and I do hope this doesn't spoil the book for anyone): the book does contain abortion, murder and some description of mental illness. It is fairly matter-of-fact, and I didn't pick up any definite moral standpoint, but not having a personal experience with any of these issues, I can't say as to whether or not some people who have will find the books' treatment of them a little 'lightweight'.

CONCLUSION: As an avid fantasy reader I very much enjoyed this brush with semi-realism, and I do hope you will consider picking up Bones of the Moon. I'm off to see if any of Carroll's other work is available in a  Kindle version - I foresee many pleasurable commutes to work in my future!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Where do I put all this?!

I have a slight problem.

That's my comic book and graphic novel collection RAPIDLY OUTGROWING the space I have (and I've somehow lost the magazine holder labelled Artifacts/Anthologies). I know that the traditional storage solution is to get a bunch of longboxes but I don't know where you buy longboxes from, let alone where I'd put them if I found some!

Any suggestions? Apart from waiting and buying trades of everything... I'm pretty much only managing to do that with Chew and Buffy at the moment and it's soooo haaaard... and now there's a buttload of other trades I want. First world problems, anyone?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Why I won't read Aspen's Executive Assistant series

Remember how excited I was about this series? Female-character centric. These were some bad-ass lady characters, with some jaw-droppingly good racial diversity to boot.

Issue #1 of Executive Assistant: Lotus really impressed me. Lotus, a stunning Indian woman, has this great interior monologue talking about how her appearance gives her an advantage. The fact that she's a young, beautiful woman takes people off-guard, and the 'cleavage window' in her armour gives her the element of surprise. Now I dislike these stupidly sexual and impractical costumes, but it was RATIONALISED here. I may not agree with it but I had to respect and appreciate that there was a reason provided.

All that went out the window when I started reading Executive Assistant: Orchid.
1) The son of Orchid's employer sleeps with her. There is no hint of a relationship, attraction or anything else - the book has already established that Orchid "feels nothing."

2) Orchid's employer slaps her across the face for 'letting' his son get into trouble.

No. Just NO. The Executive Assistants are bodyguards, PAs, and what-have-yous, but I promised myself that if prostitution every got hinted at in this story, I was out. Additionally, there is enough violence towards female characters in the comic book industry without further gratuitous, unnecessary shit that weakens these supposedly awesome, badass characters. Sexual exploitation is a serious issue and it was dealt with so badly in this book, I just can't continue with this series.

I'm not the only one who was turned off by this issue:
Mary Staggs of Panels on Pages review
Eric Whitman of the Daily Blam

Also all of the posts calling the dirtbag son "unruly", please look up the meaning of the word, because I don't think it has ever included sexual assault.

Friday, July 8, 2011


I'm feeling so many emotions right now. I'm elated, triumphant, hopeful and awed.

Womanthology is an anthology graphic novel created entirely by women for Charity. The purpose of the book is to showcase the works of female creators of every age and experience levels.

The Graphic Novel will majorly consist of many short stories interpreting our theme for this volume; "Heroic". We'll also have interviews and how-to's with some of the industry's top female pros, as well as talks with young girls who someday want a career in comics. Womanthology is an anthology graphic novel created entirely by women for Charity. The purpose of the book is to showcase the works of female creators of every age and experience levels.

The Graphic Novel will majorly consist of many short stories interpreting our theme for this volume; "Heroic". We'll also have interviews and how-to's with some of the industry's top female pros, as well as talks with young girls who someday want a career in comics.

I can't remember how I stumbled onto this project but I'm SO excited about it. They've gotten on board a bunch of new/indie comic book creators, but they've also had some big names join in. Two that I'm super duper excited about are Gail Simone (famous for a buttload of things but my favourite work of hers is Welcome To Tranquility) and Fiona Staples (who worked on Mystery Society, which I have to review soon because it's a seriously great comic book that ticks nearly all my boxes). I plan to check out the works of the other contributors when I can.  

Not only will this be an amazing book, but it's giving to charity and showcasing the talent of female creators! They've paired some newcomers with the seasoned pros, to give the new ladies some more experience, which will (fingers crossed) lead to more industry opportunities for them.

Their Kickstarter  (a website dedicated to helping fun creative projects) opened yesterday, with the goal of $25,000 for a print run of 1500 books. I logged onto Twitter this morning and a little over 24 hours later... $36,000 has been pledged. This is more than I, and those involved, could ever have hoped for. When I sat down to work out how much I could pledge, I had imagined that in the final days of July, I'd be anxiously watching the numbers crawl up to the final goal.

But it's not over. More money = more books and maybe even a second anthology. Even if you don't care about that, the rewards being offered for pledges are AMAZING and Renee is adding more as more pledges come in. Even if you don't give a shit about women in comic books, the profits are going to charity.

I urge you to check out their website and learn more about this project. If this stirs you, even just a little, go over to the Kickstarter page. Even $5 will help this amazing cause, and if you want a guaranteed copy of the anthology, pledging is the way to do that.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

30 day comic book challenge! Days 1-4

I just found this super-awesome challenge and have decided to DO EEEET. Since it's already the 3rd of July for me here, I'm going to condense days 1-4 into this post. I'm also going to talk about webcomics since they're a huge part of my comic reading life. I've included links to all the webcomics I talk about, but please note that NONE of them are safe for work ;)

Day 01 - Your first comic book.
I can blame thank Joss Whedon for a lot of things, and one of them is getting me into comic books.

My first webcomic... gosh. It was either YU+ME: dream or Dar. I'm not quite sure. Both comics are sadly completed, but both creators are working on new webcomics :)

Day 02 - Your favourite character.
My favourite comic book character of the moment is probably Jessie from Changing Ways. I am haaaanging out for volume 2 because it's 10 years into the future and I'm sure Jessie's badass as a grown-up.

My current favourite webcomic character is probably Didi from Menage a 3. She's adorable and funny and I love the way she speaks, half-French and half-English.

Day 03 - A comic that is underrated.
Hmm... probably SugarShock by Joss Whedon (yeah, I know). It's this fantastic little one-shot which I'd love to see expanded upon. The characters were so complex, I want to know backstory, dammit.

Webcomics I'm not too sure about, but I'm in freaking love with Khaos Komix. It's a heartbreakingly beautiful  story about a group of teens navigating the waters of self-identity and sexuality. Really lovely art, and the way that Tabs tells the story is intriguing.

Day 04 - Your guilty pleasure comic or character.
Webcomic is undoubtedly Sore Thumbs. It's completely ridiculous and a little bit everything-ist but it's so over-the-top you cannot help but laugh, even whilst thinking "Why the hell am I still reading this?!"

Comics proper? Oh, geez. This is a hard one! I don't reeeeally have anything I feel 'guilty' about... if anything, I dislike how shallow Deadpool is portrayed in a lot of comics, but he does it in a humorous way, so it's almost making fun of the way in which most comic art treats female characters as eye-candy only. Deadpool: Pulp was a really beautiful story in which there was a female character who equalled Deadpool. And Lady Deadpool is scary and awesome. So I didn't really answer that question, but oh well!

Next post will be days 5-7. I'm going on yet anoooooother work trip, but I'm taking my shiny new laptop with me. Hopefully a few hours by myself in airports and hotel rooms means I'll get some writing done, for the blogs and for my project. Then again, I did just download Hydrophobia: Prophecy, so maybe I won't....