The Hobbit-themed "Air Middle-earth" safety video from our national carrier was no surprise, Wellington Airport's giant airport-friendly Gollum sculpture wasn't either, nor the overkill TV coverage. Even the Hobbit coins made commemorative sense. But the official Middle-earth passport stamp? Wow! Did the Customs Service have nothing better to do? It's getting a little cringey, no? FilmDrunk's Vince Mancini said we "might as well change the Prime Minister's name to Bilbo Baggins, to commemorate New Zealand's status as the world's most far-flung Lord of the Rings gift shop", and described the real New Zealand as "indistinguishable from parody" and saying "New Zealand is exactly how it was portrayed on Flight of the Conchords." What do you think? Too much Hobbit hype or a promotional opportunity to be seized?

A gender-neutral Christmas to you, and to you

Sweden's Top-Toy has gone for a more gender-neutral Christmas catalogue this year - including images of a girl shooting a Nerf gun and a boy playing with a baby doll. "We want our catalogues to reflect the way that boys and girls play in real life, and not present a stereotype image of them," retail marketing director Thomas Meng said. "If both girls and boys in Sweden like to play with a toy kitchen, then we want to reflect this pattern." But the changes could just be tokenism. As the Huffington Post noticed, a page advertising costumes shows a boy in a Batman outfit and girls in dresses (including several dressed as princesses), and another page with musical instrument toys shows a girl playing on a pink keyboard and a boy playing on a red and black one.

Apples with a side of vomit residue


"My son once vomited in a supermarket trolley," states this mother. "Naturally I mopped him and the trolley up as best I could with wet wipes, then informed supermarket staff. I was really shocked when they shrugged and did nothing, and when challenged, said: 'People do gross stuff in supermarket trolleys all the time. Assume they're filthy and always bag everything.' I've never shopped in quite the same way since!"

Nasty, nastier and nastiest objects

Ross from Rotorua: "In reply to your correspondent Russell [and the dirty supermarket trolley], the ever-famous MythBusters tested this out. When asked if there are any objects that people touch every day that are dirtier than a toilet seat, the trolley beat the toilet seat for the number of micro-organism colonies but didn't quite beat it on nasty germs. Results for nasty germs were: 1. Kitchen sponge (most nasty). 2. Money. 3. Light switch. 4. Computer keyboard. 5. Toilet seat. 6. Cellphone. 7. Shopping cart. 8. Hotel remote (least nasty).

In happy news ...

An update on the painting nicked from Makotuku and featured in Sideswipe last week: "The fabulous painting done for my late grandfather by Stafford Wolfson has been recovered," says our reader. "Along with my pop's favourite chair. I'm ecstatic! They were dumped under a bridge outside of Takapau. May the township of Makotuku sleep more soundly."

Issues things: Apparently, from today until the end of the year, women will work for free. Say whaaat!? And we're not talking about the loads of washing, or the meals or the endless picking up of toys and running errands and luxing (that's Mainland talk for vacuuming)...We are talking about your actual paid job! That's because on average women in New Zealand are paid 10% less than our male counterparts say the YWCA who are getting behind the Pay Equality Bill with this tongue in cheek television ad that flips the issue on the head and uses the word penis without batting an eye...

This is the new planking: They call it Baby heading. Cashing in on breeders love of photographing their bundle...Check it out here ... And if it goes global, remember you heard it here first.

Picture this: Facebook bans picture of elbows in the bath because they thought they were breasts...

Video: This French ad for men's underpants is just gorgeous... (although is would be good to know from someone who spoke the lingo what the tag line is)...

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