Netflix Recommendations- The Toys That Made Us Season 3

We were all kids once upon a time.

‘The Toys That Made Us’ is a well scripted and highly entertaining Netflix documentary series that re-tells the origin stories and history of some of the most iconic toy franchises from the past half century! Each season (there has been three) feature in-depth stories behind 4 different brands, from the Star Wars toys which accompanied the motion picture (season 1), to ‘Hello Kitty’, the cutesy white cat that was emblazoned on countless pink stationery sets world-wide (season 2).  

It’s funny how these count-down/documentary style programs walk us down memory lane – however once the wizard’s curtain has been thrown back to uncover the truths behind some toys which we held dear to our hearts as kids…it unfortunately somewhat ruins the romanticism of our childhood.

For example, take Transformers (from season 2 of ‘The Toys That Made Us’) – after watching the episode, I was somewhat deflated to learn that my favourite childhood toy was actually just a re-branded Japanese toy, and that the entire cartoon series was later constructed around the plastic robot just to assist toy sales in the West. Well, obviously their strategy worked, as it was these early morning cartoon shows which got me begging and pestering my parents to buy me these things. So finding out that these transforming toys didn’t have a background story, or a connection with one another until the cartoon drew these tenuous links together? This knowledge somewhat tarnished my fond memories of Optimus Prime and the gang. *Sad look*.

 And Season 3 of ‘The Toys That Made Us’ has recently been made available on Netflix – in this season we learn of the brand’s origin stories behind Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, My Little Pony, and Professional Wrestling.

Before watching this, who knew that TMNT was almost dead in the water as a toy when they were not even a twinkle in their father’s eye?; who knew that the action scenes from Power Rangers were actually taken from a much older Japanese kids series?; who knew that the original mind behind ‘My Little Pony’ wanted to produce realistic looking and realistically coloured horses as the final product for girls?; and who knew there’s so much behind-the scenes politics in wrestling!? But you’ll soon also know of these facts, after you watch ‘The Toys That Made Us’ season 3.

However much knowing these truths may baffle and ruin your rose-coloured view of your childhood, if you’re a truth seeker, and knowing all that goes on behind-the-scenes is your thang, then you’ll love the 3 seasons of ‘The Toys That Made Us’!

For me, watching TTTMU it has highlighted 3 things for me:

One. How blessed/fortunate of a childhood I had – as my parents provided me with so so much. I had a bucket full of G.I. Joes, a clothing basket full of Transformers, and throw in a heap of Lego, Ninja Turtles, and Matchbox cars. Truly a blessed childhood. #Blessed

Two. The generational differences between kids- how even a small gap of 5 years, made such a big difference in what types of toys kids grew up playing with. For example, kids who grew up in the 70s were into Star Trek and Star Wars toys. When being born in the early 80s, I was into the latter era G.I. Joe and Transformers as they were all the buzz when I was 7 – 10.

Three. The gender differences- it’s amazing how guys were largely unaware of girl toys, and girls were largely unaware of boy toys. My Little Pony? Raises eyebrows for me. While my wife wasn’t aware that Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson was actually a Wrestler before he became a voice in Moana. Gender differences, so weird, so weird!

But acknowledging credit, where credit is due- ‘The Toys That Made Us’ invested extensive time/resources into research/filming, they had amazing levels of access to key people with firsthand accounts of the time in mention, and the editing and the narration by Donald Ian Black is probably a highlight of the show!

So if you’d like to take a walk down memory lane, geek out over some toys, and learn the secrets behind some of the biggest toy franchises, check out ‘The Toys That Made Us’ on Netflix! And if you just want to read all the spoilers, click HERE for all the episode summaries from Wikipedia.  

Product Recommendations- Pauls Bundaberg Rum Egg Nog

The festive season, brought to you by Aussie brands Pauls and Bundaberg!

Egg nog is such an American thing! Put up your hands if you’ve ever tried egg nog before? Not many raised hands right? But admittedly I’ve tried making it once, like more than 15 years ago. And I was serving up this thing, not having tried it before and not even knowing what it ought to taste like (I just remembered it being really creamy and alcoholic).

But if you want to purchase a piece of American season’s greetings! – dairy producer Pauls for Christmas 2019 has introduced a range of festive products including Pauls Bundaberg Rum Egg Nog 1L.

To tell you the truth, it reminds me of Baileys – as it’s milky, creamy, and alcoholic! Yum! Granted, it has an eggy flavour to it, and it is nice and frothy. But all that was running through my mind when I was consuming it was:

“It’s just like drinking Bailey’s, for a fraction of the price!” We bought ours for only $3.50 for a 1 litre carton.

So if you want to add some extra Christmas cheer to your next year’s (2020) Christmas party, or if you just want some cheap and tasty alcoholic beverages- check out Pauls Bundaberg Rum Egg Nog at your local grocery store! That is, if Pauls and Coles/Woolworths haven’t been done for selling alcohol to minors. Haaha.

Rey Jr- Haymarket

We only needed a working day in between Christmas and New Year’s to score a table at Rey Jr’s!

Ever since Rey Jr opened its doors on Little Hay Street, we’ve been cruising by trying to spy a free table. But to date, no such luck…But it took a Friday afternoon in between Christmas and New Year’s, for us to score an available table, allowing us to try the ‘express’ version of Darlinghurst’s full menu from Rey’s Place, serving up modern takes on traditional Filipino food.

An outdoor menu enables you to review what’s on offer before you step foot into their hole-in-the-wall store, before you make your orders at the bar. We ordered the Sisig ($16.00), the Ginataang Gulay ($14.00) and the BBQ Corn Coblette to share ($7.00).

We occupied one of the small tables for two at their doorway, and the first thing which stood out for us was how friendly the staff were and how their music selection was right up my alley (2000s Rap/Hip Hop). In less than 10 mins our small share arrived.

The corn on the cob was cut into slender quarters, making them super easy to handle and to eat! As advised by our server when he placed the tray before us, the BBQ corn cobs were also super buttery – hence the need for extra serviettes, and they were dusted with a light coating of chilli powder. Within 4 minutes I had consumed my share of the tasty corn fingers, and meanwhile our rice bowls had arrived.

I started off with the Sisig – twice cooked pork belly with a salty sweet flavour profile. The meat was cut into small pieces, so you were able to easily scoop up a forkful of meat, rice, and pickled veg all in one mouthful.

Meanwhile my wife started off with the Ginataang Gulay- a selection of vegetables (pumpkin, okra, beans, and eggplant) cooked in coconut cream. It was sweeter than it was savoury, and very creamy and filling for a non-meat dish.

Our verdict? 3.5 Stars from 5! (2 from 3 for Food (everything was tasty and ready to be consumed on the  go, thus making it a good take-away option for the nearby office crowd); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (the server was super friendly which made our brief stay at their place feel like a neighbourhood affair); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (the store is rustic and super small, but they play a cool Rap/Hip Hop playlist which might not be to everyone’s taste, and the tables are quite close together so you can hear every word from the neighbouring table); and 0.5 from 1.0 for Value for money ($37 for two for lunch is pretty standard these days, not bad while not being super economical either)).

We’re glad that we finally got to try Rey Jr, and got some Filo food back in our belly’s after a long absence (we hadn’t had Filo food since the Filo place above Mamak closed down a year ago). The food was good, while not being ‘blow your mind’, but we welcome this much needed variety in Chinatown! It definitely adds to the vibrancy of our town!

Rey Jr- Friday 27 December (3.0 Stars)

https://www.reysplace.com.au/reservations-2

PH: (02) 9361 5938

13 Little Hay Street, Haymarket

Mon-Fri 12noon – 3pm, 4.30pm – 9pm

Sat 12noon – 9pm

Sun 12noon – 4.00pm

Audiobook Review- Two Kinds of Truth

Just like getting back in touch with an old friend!

It’s been some time since I’ve last read a novel from the Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly, and returning back to LA with Detective Bosch has reminded me how much I love this book franchise!

Over the past few years if I’ve returned back to the LAPD to solve another case with Detective Harry Bosch- it had been to listen to old titles which I had skipped over in the past, as I had listened to the books out of order (I’d been listening to whatever the library had on its shelves). So it’s been a very long while since I’ve listened to a Bosch novel which is more up-to-date with the present day.

Two Kinds of Truth is the 20th title in the Harry Bosch series (2017), Harry is now a volunteer detective for the San Fernando police department working cold cases from an old jail cell which is now his office. He and his small department of San Fernando detectives are called to a double homicide of a father and son pharmacy business, in what seems to be a botched robbery. Meanwhile an inmate on death row, whom Harry and his partner had put away back in the 80s, claims that he has been wrongfully imprisoned for the past decades for a crime that he did not commit, and now there was DNA evidence which proves his innocence – that puts into question Bosch’s slam-dunk case and also puts into question his methods and his 30+ year detective reputation.

The novel is a definite page turner, fast-paced as the duel cases unfold in parallel, which keeps driving Bosch forward to uncover the truth – and with Mickey Haller (Bosch’s brother-from-another-mother) weaved into the story-line, the detective and law-room drama makes it a very compelling and satisfying read indeed!

For me I particularly enjoy the Harry Bosch series and the way Michael Connelly embeds his character in the present day, therefore as current affairs, technology and culture evolves in reality, this evolution and passage of time is also reflected in the fictional life and times for Harry. Therefore as we, Michael Connelly’s audience, grow older, so does Harry Bosch and all those around him. Therefore after so many years of separation, picking up this novel has felt like I’ve been reunited with an old friend, catching up on how he’s been and what he’s been up to in the intervening years. It’s a little sad to see that Harry is now a relatively old man in his 60s, but I guess we’re all getting long in the tooth as well.

So if it’s been a while since you’ve picked up a book from the Harry Bosch series, you’d be pleased to know that the novels are only getting better as Michael Connelly pens his 20th book in the series. And at present, Book 21 (Dark Sacred Night) and Book 22 (The Night Fire) are also out and available for your listening pleasure.

And for the past years, I’ve been avoiding Michael Connelly’s Mickey Haller series, due to the fact that I’m not a big fan of the courtroom drama genre, and frankly the name Mickey Haller didn’t capture my imagination. But after Mickey’s cameo appearance in ‘Two Kinds of Truth’, I’ve actually warmed to his character and after two weeks I’ve already smashed through the 1st (The Lincoln Lawyer) and 2nd novel (The Brass Verdict) in the Haller series.

If you want to check out all of Michael Connelly’s titles to see what the prolific author has been up to recently – please click HERE!

January Festivals and Things to Do!

Here we go, here we go all over again! Another year, and another year to experience all the awesome things our city of Sydney has to offer! Here are my top things to see and do for the month of January 2020 in Ol’ Sydney Town!

ATP Cup- Fri 3 – Sun 12 January

Ken Rosewall Arena, 2 Rod Laver Drive, Sydney Olympic Park 2127

Be apart of the inaugural ATP Cup, to be held in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane! The Cup will kick-start the 2020 tennis season in style! Sydney goers will watch teams from group C (Belgium, Great Britain, Bulgaria, and Moldova) and Group E (Austria, Croatia, Argentina, and Poland) compete in the round robin stages. And the final 8 countries will compete in the knock-out stages in Sydney at the newly renovated Ken Rosewall Arena between 9 and 12 January!  

For more information and to purchase your ATP Cup tickets, click HERE!

Sydney Festival- Wed 8 – Sun 26 January

Sydney and surrounds

Sydney in January is the place to be! Not only if you’re already in Australia, but the place to be in the WORLD! Due in part to Sydney Festival 2020, invigorating the start of the year with theatre, dance, music, circus, visual arts and big ideas! There are countless free and ticketed events across the city, across the 3 weeks of SF2020! Check-out the event schedule for the location of free events, or purchase multipacks to save up to 20% on ticketed events (must purchase tickets for 3 or more events to qualify for a multipack).

For more information and to purchase tickets, click HERE!

So Frenchy So Chic- Sat 18 January

Bicentennial Park, Chapman Road, Glebe 2037  

For one day only, all that France has to offer is brought to you and presented on your doorstep at So Frenchy So Chic 2020! Expect French Euro-pop, French wine, French food, and French culture in a laid back Aussie park setting! Conviviality starts at 1pm till late (11pm). Ticket prices range up to $96 pp depending on the type of food hamper you order with your ticks, children under 12 go FREE!

For more information and to purchase SFSC tickets, click HERE!

Sydney Street Party- Sun 26 January

The Rocks, Sydney 2000

Who doesn’t like a neighbourhood street party!? Well, The Rocks is opening its streets and inviting you to participate in an Australia Day street party- expect a day-long carnival including street stalls, live music, giant games, and roving street performers! The festivities will kick-start at 9am and continue on to 6pm! Entry is FREE!

For more information on Australia’s favourite street party, click HERE!

On The Move Exhibition- throughout January

Museum of Sydney, Cnr Phillip and Bridge Streets, Sydney 2000

The future of transportation is a hot topic ATM, so what better than to get our next generation’s young minds thinking now – about how we’d be getting around in the future, while minimising our impact on our environment! Have your kids come check-out this interactive exhibition on transport, it promises to be both educational and hands-on! The exhibition is designed for children between 3-8 years, child entry $12.00/ Adult $15.00.

For more information on the ‘On the Move’ exhibition, click HERE!    

Make Your Own Glasses Frame Workshop- Anytime

Monster Mouse Studios, 9 Gerald Street, Marrickville 2204

In 4.5 hours’ time, learn how to make your own one-of-a-kind spectacles or sunglass frames! Designer Chris Savage will walk you through the process of how to construct your frames from a slab of Asatate (coloured plastic block) with stainless steel sides. You’ll learn how to use a Jeweller’s saw, files, a dremel, and sand-paper- but it’s up to you to bring your own creativity! You’ll choose from 10 different colours and 8 different styles for the front of your frames, and choose from 3 different coloured metals for the sides! Plus choose from 3 different tinted colours for your tinted lenses (or upgrade to prescription sunglass lenses or prescription clear lenses). Everyone goes home groovier after 4.5 hours, with your own pair of custom made glasses crafted by your own hands no less! Pretty cool hey!? Cost $300 pp.

For more information and to book in to a session, click HERE!        

Shredded Potato and Pork Mince Bowl Recipe

Inspired by the traditional Potato bake, this quick and easy mid-week recipe takes the flavours of a potato bake minus the lengthy cooking time!

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

2 Large potatoes

1 Large brown onion

6 Cloves garlic

500g Pork mince

1 Cup cooking cream

Spices of your choosing

Rice to serve

Directions:

Step 1: Cook rice with your preferred method.

Step 2: Peel potatoes, and then with the peeler shred potato into thin strips. Dice onions into small pieces and crush garlic.

Step 3: In a hot wok, add cooking oil and fry onions and garlic for 5 minutes until it starts to soften. Then add potato shreds and stir fry for 5 minutes.

Step 4: Add pork mince to the mixture, and stir fry for a further 5 minutes, before adding cooking cream to the wok. Add a sprinkle of spices (whatever you have around the house e.g. Cumin, Cajun, Paprika, etc.). Bring the cream to a boil and turn down and allow simmer for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.

Step 5: Divide rice into 4 bowls and serve potato and pork mince mixture over rice.