Thursday, December 30, 2010

Review Thursday: Kansas City Confidential (Public Domain Film)

Kansas City Confidential 1952
Directed by Phil Karlson
Starring John Payne, Coleen Gray, Preston Foster, Neville Brand, and Lee Van Cleef

99 mins Black And White

This is a terrific noir film with tough men, a gorgeous babe, and lots of plot twists.

The story starts when an anonymous gangster recruits 4 men to hijack a million US dollars from a bank delivery van.  The heist is successful, and the robbers get away with the loot.

The police cotton on to Joe Rolfe (John Payne) the driver of a flower van that should have been in the area at the time of the robbery.  As Rolfe is an ex-con, the police rough him up.  When they realise Rolfe is innocent, they let him go - but Rolfe is determined to find out who-dunnit.

Really, really terrific film worth watching.  You can download it for free from the Internet Archive.  The poster is from Wikipedia.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

(Nearly) Wordless Wednesday: Leshan Giant Buddha, Chengdu, China

This Buddha was carved between 713AD and 803AD.  It is 71 m tall, sits on the river bank, and is awesome!  For more info check out this site.

More Wordless Wednesday Here

Love romance?  Check out Blackmail Bride, a tale of passion and mystery set in Scotland. Price RM7.56/US$2.32.  Instant delivery, no post charges.  10% goes to Friends Furry Farm, a no kill animal shelter.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Au Speaks Out: How To Make Owt At Hogmanay

I want to haf a few wurds wif you abowt hogmanny hogmenai de last day of de year.

Many kats don't like dis day bekos of firewurks.  Howeffur, you should pay attenshun bekos dis is de day you kan get lots of ekstra treats.

Dis is what you do:

1. Make sure de survunts haf a drink.

2. When one survunt goes to the kitshun for ice, follow kwiately, kwitely quietlee.

3. When dey open de fridge door, gif dem a headbutt.  DO NOT MEOW!

Dey will gif you ham.  Or rost chikkun. 

Now listen karefully, when de other survunt gets up five minutes later, do it all again!!!!  As you didn't MEOW earlier, de survunt won't suspect you've just had a treat.

Sober survunts figure dis owt fast bekos de ham disappears furry quickly.  If dey catsh on, you gif dem a hard look.  Like I do in dis piktshure. Den dey will apologise and think it is their mistake.

For best results, you haf to make sure they get furry squiffy.   Remembur: a squiffy survunt is a generous survunt!

Love romance? Check out Blackmail Bride, a tale of passion and mystery set in Scotland. Price RM7.56/US$2.32.  Instant delivery, no post charges.  10% goes to Friends Furry Farm, a no kill animal shelter.

cats on Tuesday For more cats, check out Gattina's Cats on Tuesday.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Signs Your Cats Have Had Too Much Christmas Fun

1. Your senior kitty Au is flat out in the favourite cardboard box and refuses to move - even if there's ham.
 
2. Your junior kitty Target has developed a strange taste for greens....

3. You say the word, "Turkey," and even the greediest of kitties puts up four paws in surrender.

Check out Blackmail Bride, a tale of passion and mystery set in Scotland. Price RM7.56/US$2.32.  Instant delivery, no post charges.  10% goes to Friends Furry Farm, a no kill animal shelter.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wishing You A Furry Purry Christmas!


Wishing efurryone a furry, purry, Christmas loaded with rost chikkun and ham,


furry wonderful toys,


and a proper Thai foot massage afterwards...

Merry Christmas!

Looking for a last-minute Christmas present?  Check out Blackmail Bride, a tale of passion and mystery set in Scotland. Price RM7.56/US$2.32.  Instant delivery, no post charges.  10% goes to Friends Furry Farm, a no kill animal shelter.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Repost Friday: Scoop Fakes An Illness - And Receives His Due Reward

Merry Christmas everyone!  May your bowls flow over with ham, turkey, and rost chikkun!

To celebrate, here is a whole Katz Tales story, as first posted on Thursday, May 25, 2006.


Scoop Fakes An Illness

I make my living as a freelance writer, and am lucky enough to work with some great people in the Far East and in Europe. If you're interested, my CV is online.

P.S. If you happen to be a newspaper or magazine editor and you would like to see Katz Tales columns with a view to buying printing rights, please contact me at katztales AT lepak.com.


Scoop Fakes An Illness And Receives His Due Reward
By Ellen Whyte
You can't outsmart a cat. It's not just that cats are smarter; they also have the advantage of never feeling sorry for the patsy. Most of us ordinary humans just lack that sort of toughness.

Forgive me if I sound a little jaded. I have been the victim of an extended cat con.

Last month, Scoop picked up a minor infection. The vet gave him an injection and some tablets, but it took old fuzzy a few days to get his appetite back.

Scoop is at that middle-aged stage of life where it isn't so easy to run off those extra bowls of biscuits. Before his illness, he was well on his way to being a rather podgy kitty. But this infection cured that. Poor Scoop lost weight rapidly.

The vet's jab started to work, but as the infection cleared up I started to feed Scoop up, adding baked chicken and other goodies to his normal ration of tinned cat food and biscuits.

After 10 days of pampering, he was putting on weight and his coat was glossy again. However, I was worried because he didn't seem to have an appetite for the cat biscuits he loved so much before his illness. He was also off his favourite tinned food.

I worried he had sore teeth, weak gums or lost his sense of smell. I tried him on cat biscuits dipped in water. No luck. Chopped up his tinned cat food carefully before presenting it. He wouldn't touch it. All he liked was baked chicken, boiled fish and imported French ham.

You will probably have grasped the point by now, but it took a while for my poor noddle to twig.

I live quite far from town, so when I go for an extended shopping trip, I take a taxi to avoid traffic jams, parking hassles etc.

Both Scoop and Au recognise the sound of my car and rush to greet me, but they don't associate the sound of a taxi with my coming home. So when I returned from town by taxi, I took Scoop completely by surprise.

He was sitting in the kitchen, cheeks bulging with cat biscuits. It was obvious he had been having a major munching session. When he saw me, his eyes opened wide with surprise. Turning his back to me, Scoop tried to swallow them surreptitiously, but the game was up.

In a flash, I realised Scoop had been playing me up for weeks: eating cat biscuits on the sly and pretending to be an invalid in order to get his paws on unlimited amounts of food usually reserved for special treats.

When I accused him of malingering, he managed a muffled mreowf but didn't look in the slightest bit guilty.

Now the little fuzz is comfortably asleep on the sofa, paws in the air, a picture of complete relaxation. Au is lying next to him, no doubt planning on running a similar rig soon. Scoop and Au in bed

What really bothers me is the certainty that Scoop will commandeer the piece of roast chicken I brought home with me to tempt his failing appetite for his dinner. Machiavelli must have been a cat in spirit.


Looking for a last minute Christmas present?  Check out Blackmail Bride, a tale of passion and mystery set in Scotland. Price RM7.56/US$2.32.  Instant delivery, no post charges.  10% goes to Friends Furry Farm, a no kill animal shelter. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Review Thursday: Inspector Singh Investigates


Inspector Singh Investigates: A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder
By Shamini Flint
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Piatkus Books (7 May 2009)
Language English
ISBN-10: 0749929758
ISBN-13: 978-0749929756
RM35.90

When a Singapore national is accused of killing her abusive Malaysian husband,  Singapore sends out their man Singh to make sure that justice is done properly.  Although his bosses are more interested in looking concerned than finding out the truth, Singh promptly finds himself embroiled in a maze of lies and deceit but one thing he is certain of, the lovely accused is innocent.  And hot, sweaty, fat Singh is determined to find out whodunnit.

I was hoping this would be a Tony Hillerman, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö or Janwillem van de Wetering type book where you really immerse yourself in a different culture (Navajo, Swedish, Dutch) but this is very light.  A bit too light for me, but I think people who don't know Malaysia and Singapore would like it.


It's a nice murder story with a few plot twists and turns.  A good afternoon's read.  Available in the UK as well.
 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

COT: Big Tough Kitty

Au has totally recovered from his operation.  The hole in his side has healed so nicely, that he won't even have a scar.  Considering it was a wide wound that needed 7 stitches, this is a miracle!

Despite being 100%, Au continues to hit us up for extra treats.  He also gets me up at 2AM, and he gets the other survunt up at 6AM to serve him biscuits, water and early breakfast. 

We give in because he is a senior kitty. Also, he has a really loud MEEEEEOOOOOOOWWWWW!!!!

Still, when you see him like this, do you think he looks like a 12 year old boy?  We don't, but then again, he has us wrapped around his paw.

Looking for a last-minute Christmas present?  Check out Blackmail Bride, a tale of passion and mystery set in Scotland. Price RM7.56/US$2.32.  Instant delivery, no post charges.  10% goes to Friends Furry Farm, a no kill animal shelter.

cats on Tuesday For more cats, check out Gattina's Cats on Tuesday.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Target Speaks: Humans Are Much More Intelligent Than Some Cats Give Them Credit For

Hello, it's me: Target!  I'm purring to see you again.

Au always says humans are stupid.  He orders ours around and plays tricks on them. 

I know humans aren't as bright as cats, which is why I hit the Help button on mummy-cat's keyboard for her.  But I think humans are much more intelligent than some cats give them credit for.

Look at T-man for example.  He doesn't say much except for, "Hey there, Mr Snizzles!" and "You're a stripey old cat!" but when I sit on top of him and let him give me squizzles I can see he is furry happy. 

I think Au is underestimating human intelligence.  After all, when I play with my T-man, who knows whether he is not amusing himself with me more than I with him!

Looking for a Christmas present?  Check out Blackmail Bride, a tale of passion and mystery set in Scotland. Price RM7.56/US$2.32.  Instant delivery, no post charges.  10% goes to Friends Furry Farm, a no kill animal shelter.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Living In Malaysia: Don't Apologise. Fix It!

Malaysians are very big on apologies.  If something goes wrong, customers expect fulsome apologies before any discussion of solutions.  This drives me absolutely nuts.

In most cases I'm buying from one person, and then when something goes wrong, I usually end up talking to someone completely different who has no idea what has gone before.

Therefore, I'm not interested in apologies beyond a "I'm sorry to hear that," as they're a waste of my time.  I want solutions.  I want to hear, "What can I do to fix it?" or even better, "Don't worry, I'll fix it."

I believe that this is one of the reasons why overseas customer service centres are so horribly difficult to deal with.  They teach operators basic language skills, but no cross cultural skills.

In Malaysia I have to learn to deal with local manners, but if I'm put through to India or whatever, I hang up.  I can't be bothered leaping the cultural gap.

The other thing that bugs me is, "That is our company policy" as an excuse for not doing something.  It's hugely popular in Malaysia as a well-that's-the-end-of-that conversation but it carries no weight with me.

If a company police is based on a good reason, why don't they EXPLAIN the reason?  If they don't have a reason for their policy, get rid of it!

I realise that many customer service staff don't have the trust of their employers and are little more than slaves with a script.  All they can do is apologise and stall.

Which is why I prefer to write.  An email or a fax helps me get straight to the point.  Then, if whatever I want can't be done for a reasonable reason that's fine, and if it can't be done for no apparent reason except for "policy", then I take my custom to a company that works in a way I like better.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Repost Friday: On Strike

Don't forget: Katz Tales is out in The Star Weekender tomorrow.  Print version only. 

This post was first published on Saturday, December 30, 2006.


On Strike

Scoop turning his back to usScoop has been so spoilt in the last few days with turkey, lamb and tinned tuna for people (he needed a bit of extra oil in his diet to keep his coat glossy, his claws sharp, and his bones strong) that he has firmly turned his back on the idea of cat food – and me!

Here he is, the little monster, turning his back on me because I refused to replace his bowl of crunchies with a treat.

I’m not giving in, and Scoop will have to eat his cat food before he gets any more treats. I guess he’ll cave at 7 o’clock when he realises he won’t get his share of our chicken dinner tonight unless he toes the line.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Review Thursday: Love and Lust in Singapore

Love and Lust in Singapore
Edited by Caz Goodwin, Femke Tewar and Joseph Hoye
Monsoon Books August 2010
Paperback 256 pages
ISBN: 978-981-08-6113-1
Price: S$22.50 RM39.90

Singapore is a terribly correct and stuffy place but the weird thing is that sex books sell like hot cakes there.  Also, Singaporeans aren't fussed at all when writers tell stories about prostitution, sex in the office, and so on.

In fact, I remember the SPG (Sarong Party Girl) stories and the No Money No Honey tales being hugely popular.  I like the Singaporeans for their attitude to this.  

This collection of 24 short stories written by Singaporeans and writers living in Singapore is a huge mix of stories: sad, happy, romantic, strange, twist in the tail, and plain weird.

Although they're all set in Singapore, I didn't find the stories particularly Singaporean.  If you've never been there, you're not going to be confounded by a cultural gap or by attitudes you don't understand.  The stories are universal.

My favourites were I Got You Babe by Dawn Farnham where the detective fancies her client something rotten, and A Fraction Of A Whore by Zafar Anjum where a hooker playing games changes a man's life. 

It's a fun read, so if you see it, pick it up. Monsoon books offer a preview but as I write, the link is broken.  Try it though, as I'm going to warn them about it so they may have fixed it.

Blackmail Bride by Normanda Whyte Book promotion image

And now a message from Au and Target.  Looking for a Christmas present?  Check out Blackmail Bride, a tale of passion and mystery set in Scotland. Price RM7.56/US$2.32.  Instant delivery, no post charges.  10% goes to Friends Furry Farm, a no kill animal shelter.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Civilised Urination In China




Looking for a Christmas present?  Check out Blackmail Bride, a tale of passion and mystery set in Scotland. Price RM7.56/US$2.32.  Instant delivery, no post charges.  10% goes to Friends Furry Farm, a no kill animal shelter.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

COT: Target is Cute

Could you resist this furry face?  We can't.  Target has us wrapped around his paw.  
I'm sure you can see why.


Looking for a Christmas present?  Check out Blackmail Bride, a tale of passion and mystery set in Scotland. Price RM7.56/US$2.32.  Instant delivery, no post charges.  10% goes to Friends Furry Farm, a no kill animal shelter.

cats on Tuesday For more cats, check out Gattina's Cats on Tuesday.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Au Is Better But Demands More Ham

Since Au had his stitches out on Thursday, our senior cat has been perfectly all right - except that he's washing about every 20 minutes.

We brushed him a little when he was wearing his lampshade, but of course we didn't do the job half as well as he normally does.

Au is now so super clean that he sparkles in the sun.

Although Au is better, he's keeping up the demand for ham.  And as we have been so worried about him, we've laid in extra supplies.

We tried to cut down on portions, however, we forgot to appoint one survunt as ham dispenser, so for 3 halcyon days Au got half the amount of treats from twice the amount of survunts.  Yep, humans are stupid.

Looking for a Christmas present?  Check out Blackmail Bride, a tale of passion and mystery set in Scotland. Price RM7.56/US$2.32.  Instant delivery, no post charges.  10% goes to Friends Furry Farm, a no kill animal shelter.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Living In Malaysia: Touristing In Temples

I like places of worship because of the artwork.  In Malaysia the mosques are almost always closed to any but their own people, but the other religions are very welcoming.

I pop into temples and churches whenever I walk past one that looks interesting but I love Hindu temples in particular because the art is extremely colourful.

This one here at the end of Petaling Street, a place famous for it's fake bags and other goods, is very popular with tourists.

Etiquette is easy.

You can wear anything you like but in general it's polite for Westerners to avoid plunging sleeveless tops and shorts.

I think this is not so much for propriety but to show that you take the temple as serious business.  If you come in a Sari like the local ladies, showing off your cleavage and mid-riff is perfectly proper!

You leave your shoes at the door and pay a man some money to make sure they're still there when you are back.

You walk in, wash your feet (clean feet is a hugely symbolic thing in Hindu culture) and then walk about in bare feet.  (I always hope that nobody has verrucas and walk on tiptoe.  So far I've perfectly all right.)

You can take pictures although in general it's polite not to do it when people are praying.


Hindu temples are still very much a part of daily life for believers, so there's always something going on.  Don't let that put you off.  Visitors are generally very welcome.

In the few dozen temples I've popped into, I've found worshipers and priests take it as a compliment to be asked the history of the temple, the meaning of the various offerings, and the history of the gods featured there.

They're usually very informative, but watch out!  You may end up staying for a vegetarian lunch, and making a dozen new friends.

If you do stay for lunch, you'll be told it's all free.  Don't listen to protestations but ask to make a donation to the temple, or local orphanage or something.   Temples support a lot of charities so contributions are always needed.

Friday, December 10, 2010

We Have Won An Award --- For Eating Ham!

Au's dream has finally come true: we got the Catnapping Seal of Approval award from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Kitty Horde for eating ham!

Au's stitches came out yesterday and so he celebrated by eating ham, fish and roast chicken for lunch.  Afterwards he had a huge bath and then napped on the sofa.

Everything is back to normal.  It's lovely.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Review Thursday: The Cat Blogosphere 2011 Calendar


The Cat Blogosphere 2011 calendar is now out. The Zoolatry Survunt has been working hard getting it all together.  It stars dozens of famous cats from the blogosphers, including our friend Scoop who passed away 3 years ago.  Price is US$19.99.

Listen, you've got to buy a copy because all proceeds will benefit our fur friends in need, through the Cat Blogosphere.  I'm buying mine for my relatives in the USA.

Blackmail Bride by Normanda Whyte Book promotion image
If you are in Malaysia, and RM80 plus postage is just not within your price range, you can also buy Blackmail Bride, a romance novel written by me, for RM7.56 in the knowledge that 10% goes to Friends Furry Farm, the no-kill sanctuary. Buy extra copies to give to your friends!!!

The Zoolatry Survunt also made this promo pic for Blackmail Bride, so you can see how talented she is.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Au Speaks Out: My Operashun - A Tail Of Horror With Ham




my tail of horror started on Saturday when de survunt diskovured dat I had a deep wound in my leg.

I told her it was nothing but she took me to the vet anyway!  I told her all de way at the top of my voice dat I didn't want to go but did she listen?  NO!

before i new it de vet gave me an injekshun!!! i fell asleep while de survunt held me.

while i was asleep the vet kleened and stitched up de wound.  i think it was very gory bekos wen i woke up de survunt still looked pretty sick.

i want to kleen de wound by likking it a lot but dey won't let me.  dey've put on dis kollar so i can't touch de wound.  it is furry inkonvenient but i'm not complaining bekos of dis:

1. both de survunts are worried i am too sad to eat so de feemale bought me 200g of imported ham!!!  i am training her to hand feed me efurry hour.

2. de male gets up at 2AM and 3AM and den again at 4AM to pet me - without me having to yell at him.

3. de survunts think dey can't leave me alone so dey have kancelled their nights owt and are staying wif me 24/7.  finally i haf de survice i deserve!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Ups And Downs

Blackmail Bride by Normanda Whyte Book promotion image
So on Saturday morning I see that Ann from Zoolatry has made me this seriously cool ad for Blackmail Bride - read first chapter for free by clicking here!

We were super excited and shouting SQUEEEEE! everywhere until Au came to tell me he had cut himself.  It was very deep so we had to go to the VET and have it stitched.

Au was sedated and the vet said that he had to stitch a little of the muscle underneath too.  So poor Au is not feeling too hot.  He's up and about now but  wearing a lampshade.

He'll tell his own tale tomorrow.  See you then!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Living In Malaysia: Do You Worry About Dark Armpits?


This month the Unilever company Rexona have launched a new ad campaign that's really weird.

In the TV ad some supermodels break down on the motorway.  Nobody stops to help until one of them rips off her dress sleeves and shows off her whiter-than-white underarms.  Dazzled by this beauty, a car filled with male supermodels shrieks to a stop, the men rescue the girls, and then they all drive off to live happily ever after.

My mates say they never even think about a girl's armpits, however, they all know the ad so I guess Rexona know what they're doing. 

The pic here is the accompanying print ad.

What's interesting about this is that in Europe everyone buys fake tan lotion whereas in Malaysia the obsession is for whitening creams.  Some people get very excited about this because they see it as Wicked White Western Imperialism.

I've read some old tales that show very clearly that white skin was prized in Asia way before the 15th century when Europeans first started taking territory here so I'm not that fussed. I think that it's just that people have different ideas of beauty, and I'm all for that. 

Friday, December 03, 2010

Our romance novel Blackmail Bride is out!

Stalked by her abusive ex-husband, Lucy Grant is desperate for a protector. Lucy aims for the one man who is tough enough for the job, ex-convict Jack Welsh.


Found guilty of a crime he didn’t commit, Jack Welsh is convinced Lucy’s ex set him up. Jack will do anything it takes to clear his name - even if it means marrying Lucy.

It’s my 11th book but my first romance and my first e-book. I’ve used my mum’s name Normanda Whyte rather than my own as Normanda sounds much more romantic than Ellen.

You can read the first chapter for free and buy it from here.

Available in Standard PDF, Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Sony eReader formats.

If you like it, the price depends on how many copies have sold.

The first 50 copies will be sold at £1.49 (converts to EUR1.78, US$2.32 or RM7.32)
The second 50 copies will be sold at £1.99 (EUR2.37, US$3.10 or RM9.77)
Every copy after that will cost £2.49 (EUR2.97, US$3.88 or RM12.25)

So hurry up and buy it now CHEAP!

As usual, 10% of my earnings will go to Furry Friends Farm, a no-kill animal sanctuary.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Memorial For Qwill

Qwill passed away on Monday.  He was 18 years old and my mum’s constant companion.  Like all Siamese, he was determined to have his own way all the time.

We will miss the way:

Qwill dominated the house.  The arm of the sofa and the right side of my mum’s bed is HIS, and will likely remain so for some time to come.

Qwill was never afraid of anything: not moving house, noise, storms, dogs - anything.  His companion Annie though looks tough but is a bit of a coward.

Qwill would greet guests at the door with a loud YARGLE YOW! and then sit by the door, fix them with a beady eye, and shout YARGLE YOW when he decided it was time for them to go home.

Qwill would demand to have his fish hand-fed when he was feeling a little low because the attention made him feel like an emperor.

Qwill would purr with a seriously rusty purr that vibrated his whole body.  If Qwill did something, he really threw his heart into it.

Qwill was always there for mum, through good times and bad.  In fact, he was so there for her that she tripped over him at least twice a day.

Qwill leaving has left us all heartbroken.

Qwill is on top, which figures!, and that is Annie below.