Lazy Luddite Log

24.9.08

Chow Mein And Pizza?

As a kid my two favourite foods were special friend rice and pizza. Imagine then how my interest was piqued recently on walking past the Great Eastern Hakka Restaurant in Mount Waverley and noticing on the menu in the window that they did both a selection of Chinese dishes and Swedish pizza!

The story as they tell me is this: They are ethnic Chinese (of the Hakka culture) who once ran a Chinese restaurant in Sweden and it was there that they got into also serving pizza the way Swedes like it. Now they are here and continue the tradition. In two separate visits I have sampled both sides of that tradition now and can recommend it to others.

The Chinese dishes are reminiscent of those of other such restaurants and I realised that it is a while since I enjoyed this kind of fare and has subtler flavours and aromas than the now ubiquitous noodle bar. I had the Cantonese Chow Mein with Chicken, Beef and Vegetables. The ingredients were fresh and tasty and there was a nice effect of having crispy noodles hidden under soft noodles. This took me back to many-a-past Chinese restaurant experience. Mind you the days of Chinese restaurants playing Chinese music are long gone and I was lulled into passivity by a combination of filling food and Easy Listening.

Then onto the pizza. They make fresh-to-order thin crust bases and the focus with toppings is on quality rather than quantity. I had Vegetarian #1 which includes mushroom, onion, garlic, fefferoni (a kind of hottish pepper), tomato sauce, cheese, oregano. The peppers came whole one-per-slice so I took the liberty of cutting them into smaller bits and scattering them back onto my pizza (I am experimenting more now with spiciness than in my younger days) but I suppose the way they do it allows one to remove them if necessary. The pizza was tasty (my suburban habits however make me desire something with more sloppy toppings). The other interesting thing was that they served the pizza with a side salad of tangy shredded cabbage (apparently something they do in Sweden).

All-in-all I am happy to return there and try more of the menu. The service is good and the notion of having friends there too and having the freedom of choosing from this eclectic menu is appealing. Maybe you will come with me sometime...

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10.9.08

Plastic Surgery

I have just entered a new level of Transformers geekery by making modifications to a Transformer toy in my collection. This is new and scary. It is the kind of thing one finds on the Internet - hopeless fans who 'kitbash' existing Transformer toys into forms they prefer - making the toy the way it "should have been" or using an existing toy to represent a different character that has never been represented in commercial toy form.

In the past I have altered a Transformer in a superficial way by (say) adding stickers to it from another Transformer rather than the one it was intended for. Or I have done something more structural but only to put it back into its original form (by say supergluing a broken limb back on). This time I went further and I worry for my sanity.

The toy I altered was Energon Arcee. The Arcee character from the original cartoon never had a toy produced for it. Partly because it is of female 'gender' and is part of a line of 'toys for boys' (grrr). Partly because of the difficulty of making a toy look convincingly like a sportscar and a robot mimicking the form of a woman. This always seemed a pity to me. Then one day I saw Energon Arcee in the shops and was most impressed.

Some genius had cottoned onto the notion of making Arcee (technically a different character but heck it has the same name and basic appearance) transform into a motercycle. Amazing. Those kinds of 'streetbikes' have lots of curves and barely any right-angles so bits of the bike could convincingly look like bits of a fembot (the fuel tank becomes her thighs which is just a classic).

The same basic design has since been used for the live-action movie associated Arcee (she was designed to be in the movie but never got to the final edition) and I have that one too - it just shows that this is a design considered worthy of the live-action movie franchise with its more organic design aesthetic. But back to Energon Arcee.

The Energon generation of Transformers had its own separate story which I have never bothered getting into. The gimmick of the Energon toys is that they have 'Energon' attachments made of colourful transparent plastic. I have never liked this gimmick and in the case of Energon Arcee have always been frustrated by the big socket on her front that is there purely to attach a stupid bit of pink plastic crystal. It looks silly and detracts from the fembot profile which makes this toy so distinctive.

So finally I snapped the other day and took to Energon Arcee with an artist knife. I cut and carved away at the pesky socket. In the process I scratched off some of the paint on the torso. So then I got some model paint of similar colour to what I had marred and applied it as carefully as I could (using some Blu-Tack to cover areas I wished to keep paint-free). The result is amateurish but I think satisfactory. At close inspection one can tell that the painting is by hand rather than by factory process. Likewise some of the surface looks more carved than mold-set. However the overall effect is an Arcee with the right lines and a completely removed Energon socket.

Hmmm... maybe I should change the 'Creative Writing' tag to simply 'Creativity'...

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