Dork Geek Nerd

"Rational romantic mystic cynical idealist"

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


As TV's "Q.I." and others have informed us, prior to the early 20th century, the colour pink was associated with boys. It was felt to be a strong and therefore male shade.

In the playgrounds of my youth, that was very much not the case. Wearing even a faded red could see you labelled a "girl" (as if that was a bad thing).

Nowadays, thankfully, there's less attempt to divide the spectrum along gender lines. A burly footballer might casually sport a pink suit to a function. My mate D.'s son's favourite colour is pink.

One of the first guys I knew who embraced the hue was an older teen, B. An amateur golfer with the potential to turn pro, he tried to push the fashion boundaries out on the links. In regional NSW in the 1980s, he seemed daring in his pink collared shirt.

A year or so later, a friend my own age, M., decided pink was the radness. He bought a pair of pink shorts to wear to the two local discos he attended regularly. When he showed me, perhaps pre-empting criticism, he remarked, "They're probably too trendy for you."

That comment must have festered in my brain, 'cos about six months afterwards, on a compulsory clothes-buying expedition, I lobbied for and got pink shorts of my own. I'd show M. how trendy I could be!

But I don't remember wearing them to a Blue Light or RSL disco. Or on the golf course (I didn't play). Or to a school function or birthday party. I only remember wearing them to church.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Ranking the "Star Wars" films for May the 4th

Best to worst:

1. "The Force Awakens"

2. "Return Of The Jedi"

3. "The Empire Strikes Back"

4. "A New Hope"

5. "Solo"

6. "Rogue One"

7. "The Last Jedi"

8. "Caravan Of Courage"

9. "The Battle For Endor"

10. "Attack Of The Clones"

11. "Revenge Of The Sith"

12. "The Phantom Menace"

Monday, April 15, 2019

Roamin' holiday

In 2005, a year before this blog was born, I travelled across to Western Australia, then slowly back to New South Wales on a wavy line through South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria. It was a weeks-long journey that involved trains, planes, ships, ferries, coaches and relos' cars. During the trip, I sent my parents 27 postcards. They still have the cards in a photo album, so I thought it would be amusing to pull them out, have a read and share a selection of my comments...

On the Indian Pacific: "We were late for every stop along the way!"

After visiting a Perth supermarket: "Peter's Drumstick ice-creams are called Peter's Trumpets here."

After visiting Perth Mint: "If I was made of gold, I'd be worth $1.7 million!"

After visiting Perth Zoo: "Saw a group of lazing lionesses being teased by willy wagtails."

Raving about the Swan Bells: "Arguably the world's biggest instrument."

After visiting Burswood Casino: "Didn't feel the urge to play blackjack. Past experience has shown it's too much hard work for a small profit."

After visiting the WACA cricket ground (to see WA vs SA): "Good batting early, good bowling late, bad fielding all day."

Raving about the Horizon Planetarium: "Both [documentaries] were excellent, and preceded by a lecture on starwatching with tonight's sky simulated on the dome."

In Fremantle: "First stop, after some fresh calamari and a banana smoothie, was the Motor Museum."

After visiting the Maritime Museum: "America's Cup winner Australia II hangs inside... They even have life-size models of the key people - Bertrand, Lexcen, Bond, etc."

After visiting Fremantle Prison: "Before it closed in '91, the prisoners were allowed to paint the walls of their cells and yards... Some of the artwork is quite brilliant."

After visiting Rottnest Island: "Had lunch, inspected a lighthouse, checked out the old salt works, played 18 holes of minigolf and took a cruise on an underwater explorer."

Prior to leaving Perth: "The things I'll remember most are the brightness of the light and the sense of disconnection from the rest of Oz."

In Adelaide, after viewing the Bradman Collection at the State Library: "Didn't realise he was also a good tennis player and a champion golfer."

After visiting the State Museum: "Early Aboriginal culture has been thought of as simple. However, the wide variety of weapons, tools and bush medicines on display proves that simply wasn't the case."

On a postcard of Rundle Mall: "How cute are these piggies?"

After miscellaneous activities: "Had lunch at the Greedy Goose from TV's 'My Restaurant Rules'."

After visiting Adelaide Zoo, I was again fixated on panthera leo: "The lions - one adult male, two adult females and three juveniles - were downright energetic, wandering all over their enclosure. They even gave a couple of growls to make us smile and step back slightly from the rail."

After touring the wineries of the Barossa Valley: "Yaldara was only one of half a dozen vineyards where Uncle J. and I sampled reds."

After touring numerous townships with Uncle J. and Aunt A.: "We stopped in at their old pub, the Hagen Arms."

In Adelaide again: "Coldish and raining. Could have stayed inside reading, except a maid warned me every carpet in the joint was going to be steam cleaned. So, umbrella in hand, I set off for the CBD..."

In Melbourne, awaiting passage to Tassie: "This postcard written in one of the city's million or so cafes. I think they stayed open late to let me finish."

After crossing Bass Strait by boat: "The wind was blowing at 20-25 knots and the waves were about 1.5 metres high."

In Hobart: "Having now spent time in the eight Australian capitals, I can say that [Hobart] is the most unique."

After a day filled with cultural doings: "Anglesea Barracks was built out of fear the Russians might invade."

After a fantastic guided tour of Bellerive Oval: "Particularly cool was finding a handwritten note in the commentary box listing which commentators were on in which time slots for the Pakistan Test."

After visiting the Docklands/Salamanca area: "I'm not immune to the charms of a neatly maintained wooden sailing boat with a fresh coat of paint and shiny brass fittings."

If I sent any cards between that point and returning to Sydney, they didn't reach Mum and Dad. I recollect being stuck in Melbourne waiting for a night train or bus, with a bag too heavy to tote far, then finding a cinema and watching a few movies in a row, including the crappy kids' flick "Five Children And It".

Speaking of media, while trekking through the four states, I also devoured the first 3-4 vols of George RR Martin's "A Song Of Ice And Fire" - with no idea it would go from a series popular at my local games shop (I discovered it via their newsletter) to a global phenomenon.

Friday, March 29, 2019


Norwegians have a concept called dugnad that - if this outsider groks it - refers to voluntary work, usually manual and usually rewarded with a meal, done for the good of the community.

When my buddies AP and PR bought their first place, SK and I helped them move all of the big items (furniture, boxes, etc.) by rental truck. Once that was done, they took us to an Irish pub and shouted us wedges, nachos and dark beer. They made sure we were full before leaving us to go and move the smaller items on their own.

That memory is the first thing that springs to mind when I think about dugnad. Not exactly "community", but we all hung out a lot at that time, before the kids and splits (not AP and PR), the career changes and relocations, the health problems...

It's been too long since I engaged in dugnad. Heavy lifting is now verboten, so I won't be repeating the feat of carrying PG's minifridge between flats in a bear hug. But gimme a broom or some packing tape and I'm happy to help. No beers necessary. Wedges and nachos gratefully accepted :-)

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Creature decks

RS and I had a bunch of enjoyable, mostly competitive duels using these "MTG" decks. Because they contain only lands and creatures, they would also suit beginners. Don't underestimate their straightforwardness - there are some sick combos!

B/W: 3xLeaden Myr, 3xPalladium Myr, 3xFiligree Crawler, 3xBarrier Of Bones, 3xVampire Neonate, 3xBone Shredder, 3xGravedigger, 3xLord Of The Pit, 3xHopeful Eidolon, 3xWall Of Omens, 3xVenerable Monk, 3xWall Of Swords, 3xDawnfeather Eagle, 3xCaves Of Koilos, 9xSwamp, 9xPlains.

U/G: 3xSilver Myr, 3xSerrated Biskelion, 3xCloud Pirates, 3xBlighted Agent, 3xMan-O-War, 3xPhantasmal Forces, 3xMulldrifter, 3xElvish Skysweeper, 3xElvish Archers, 3xBorderland Ranger, 3xImperiosaur, 3xVigorspore Wurm, 3xVigean Hydropon, 3xYavimaya Coast, 9xIsland, 9xForest.

Q. Why three of things and not four?
A. Since we'd planned to play with the decks for hours at a local watering hole while having a good natter, I felt it was worth sacrificing consistency for increased variety.

Q. Why [Card X] and not the strictly superior [Card Y]?
A. I didn't construct the decks that way. Besides making them evenly powered, my goal was to include old stuff, newer stuff and cards I hadn't used previously, e.g. Vigean Hydropon.

Friday, November 30, 2018

You are at a school friend's birthday party in the 1980s

You are at a school friend's birthday party in the 1980s.

The games are the same as those you play at home - Tips, Hide & Seek, Statues, riding bikes, trampoline, road cricket, Totem Tennis, Frisbee, British Bulldog if it's not vetoed by an adult - except with more kids, which makes them 10 times funner.

There are no clowns painting faces or magicians vanishing scarves. There are no educational demonstrations of native wildlife. There are no jumping castles. Such things would be an unthinkable extravagance.

OK, there may be Pass The Parcel (using sheets of newspaper) or Pin The Tail On The Donkey. Those become less frequent as you grow older, though, as it's easier just to herd you all outdoors.

When it's lunchtime, you are allowed indoors again to crowd around a table laden with familiar favourites.

Golden-brown party pies and mini sausage rolls go fast, despite your pal's mother warning, "Careful - those might be a bit hot." One boy submerges his pie in a glass of lime soft drink to cool it. Problem solved.

Cocktail frankfurts always look weird and always taste delicious with their accompanying tomato sauce.

The crinkle-cut crisps are most likely plain, so as not to challenge childish palates. (You don't mind chicken flavour, but salt and vinegar are too strong, and you'll never understand the maniacs that claim to enjoy barbecue.)

Opposite the Tupperware bowl of chips, there's another of Cheezels. Inevitably, someone slides 10 of them onto their fingers and thumbs like rings, proudly showing off the bright orange jewellery...before suddenly realising they're falling behind in the sweet scoffing!

Chocolate Crackles and Honey Joys. Maybe iced cupcakes. Possibly a plate of creamy Butterfly Cakes, dusted with icing sugar and ripe for wing-plucking. Lamingtons if you're very lucky. Pink and white marshmallows. Jelly snakes that will be competitively stretched and s t r e t c h e d 'til they snap.

If there are additional lollies, they are the leftovers from those that were used to fill the goodie bags each child will receive, along with a slice of birthday cake wrapped in a napkin, when they leave. (Should there be an unappealing ingredient in said cake, e.g fruit, it'll pass to an older sibling.)

At the end of the day, there are minor breakages around the house and yard. Weary adults. Over-excited pets. New clothes are grass-stained. Young foreheads sweaty and hands sticky. Games peter out as energy levels begin to drop, and as more and more kids are collected.

Your car is waiting out the front now, so you're saying goodbye. You're clutching your take-home treats. You wish there was time for one more round of Hide & Seek as you've got the perfect spot, but your father has already beeped the horn twice and may start getting annoyed.

"Thanks for coming," says your school friend, dutifully. "See you on Monday. Oh, and thanks for the Space LEGO!"

Monday, November 26, 2018

Roll call

Most Saturday afternoons, I play in a 5E "D&D" campaign. We started with six players, only to regrettably lose one fellow as a result of changes to his work schedule, then another due to personal hassles outside of the game. The characters of the four remaining players are:

* Half-orc cleric/potter who worships a dwarven goddess and really wants to be a ranger
* Damaged human sorcerer experimented on as a youngster, with a number for a name
* Aging gnome wizard/sham fortune teller who'll steal anything that's not nailed down
* Human bard mirroring the real-life player (who has been transported to the "D&D" world via an antique found in our world).

Which, you'll agree, is enough wackiness for any campaign :-)