Dork Geek Nerd

"Rational romantic mystic cynical idealist"

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

One-winged angel

The Winged Victory Of Samothrace is a marble statue of the Greek goddess Nike believed to date from ~200BC and known to have originally stood in the grounds of a temple complex on the island of Samothrace, then part of Macedonia and now part of Greece. Based on factors relating to the period, setting and aspects of the artwork itself, she’s generally held to have commemorated a naval victory.

Sculpted with an incredible fluidity, the Winged Victory, which has occupied a prime position in the Louvre since 1884, is celebrated as a masterpiece – and yet she’s missing her arms, feet and head. On the plus side, the museum also possesses one of her hands. On the minus, her right wing and a section of her chest are fake, fashioned from plaster by well-meaning restorers back in the 19th Century.

The aforementioned complex was sacred to the Cult Of The Great Gods, whose notions and practices we don’t fully understand. Also mysterious are the feathers of Nike’s real wing, which scholars say don’t match those of actual birds or any contemporary statues. During a thorough cleaning in 2013-14, traces of pigment were found that suggest her wings may once have been painted blue.

Given how the exquisitely detailed, nine-foot body that remains captivates the eye, one struggles to imagine the majesty of the Winged Victory Of Samothrace when she was whole. Where is her head? Does it lie buried? Was it destroyed, by the elements or by vandals? Is it secreted in a private collection? Perhaps it met an ironic end, taken away on a boat that tragically sank, like a warship on the losing side.

Here’s a wild theory that an expert might discount in a second: Could Nike have been outfitted in her heyday with a metal item or items which, as she weathered invisible waves from atop a stone prow, caused her to act as a lightning rod? Ultimately, we can speculate or we can appreciate what is left. Part of me thinks this goddess’ head is lost to the modern world because we aren’t worthy to gaze upon it.

Saturday, February 29, 2020


“What’s that?” I asked.

You said: “I went to a writers’ camp. It’s the booklet we made.”

Despite priding myself on my academic ability, and always looking for opportunities to prove it, I’d never heard of such an activity.

Som-nam-bu-lists,” I read.

“That’s what we called ourselves. Sleep walkers.”

The word was new to me. Who were these kids that identified themselves by words I didn’t even know?

Then you told me about the story you’d written at the camp.

It concerned a missing person. In the end, whoever was searching for them found only traces of a strange flour around a huge old millstone.

The subtlety and sophistication boggled my mind.

I didn’t tell you how impressed I was. I probably just said, “Cool.”

And now I can’t tell you, because you’ve dropped off the radar again.

Step safely, sleep walker. Return with more tales from writers’ camp to dumbfound your old friend.

Friday, February 14, 2020


The convex lenses we term magnifying glasses have been around since truly ancient times. They allow us to view items enlarged and to start fires by focusing sunlight on a point on combustible material.

This is the 3000-year-old rock-crystal Nimrud Lens, from an Assyrian palace dug up in Iraq.
The first m/g I owned as a child was small and made entirely of clear plastic. It came with either a stamp-collecting kit or a Bug Catcher toy. I do not remember which one.
Discovering I could use it to burn a hole in a dry brown leaf was an astounding scientific breakthrough. But I never used it to fry unsuspecting ants. Nor did I ever hit them with a cricket bat, as depicted in the background of a scene in "Reckless Kelly", a 1993 Aussie comedy on which my mate DB was an extra.
I was 20 when that movie dropped. Years earlier, though, another friend, DP, had shown me how a magnifying glass could add “battle damage” to action figures. He liked to have two copies of the same figurine, and swap in the scorched version after the character lost a gunfight.

He also crucified an Action Man high on a tree in his backyard.
Seeing an m/g makes me think of Sherlock Holmes and, by extension, a further image from my youth – the canine mascot of the MS Read-A-Thon, attempting to hunt down a cure for multiple sclerosis.
These days, it has also become the universal symbol for a computer/internet search of some description. The icon isn’t usually red, but I just happen to like this graphic. Sue me.
There’s a rumour that men with grey creeping into their goatees now need to employ a magnifying glass when reading magazine articles of a certain font size. To study the finer points of an insect or stamp, the sad bastards would probably require a microscope.

Friday, February 07, 2020

Snakes, rodents and alien technology

When I was a lad, the three aspects of popular culture that mattered most to me were, in reverse order of importance: Atari, "Star Wars" and BMX.

I rode a Cobra, a brand manufactured by the Toowoomba Bicycle Company. Here's me on my bike when I was 7 or 8. Pretty sure that was the Christmas morning when I got it.
I never thought much about the name at the time, although because I was the only kid within a few blocks who rode one (there were numerous BMX brands), it did lead to peeps calling me "Cobra" and "Cob".

In hindsight, the serpentine mascot was clearly the TBC positioning itself as an Australian alternative to top US brand Mongoose.
But don't mongeese snack on cobras? According to Wikipedia, infrequently. "The Indian gray mongoose and others are well known for their ability to fight and kill venomous snakes... However, they typically avoid the cobra and have no particular affinity for consuming its meat."

In the end, Cobra didn't survive, while Mongoose did. Today, they produce a range of modern BMXes (that I dislike), and recently released a sweet replica of Max's bike from "Stranger Things". A shop a short car trip away claims to have some of those in stock. It's tempting.
Of course, if I could hang any BMX on the wall to admire and fill me with nostalgia, there'd be no competition -
1. Mongeese are rodent-like but not actually rodents, so my blog-entry title is technically incorrect. Yay!
2. Those badges aren't a fair comparison as the Mongoose example is decades newer. Best Cobra badge I could find, soz.
3. I made a million changes to that bike over the years - enough for a far longer post. Maybe one day :-)

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Heart Strings VII

Only five this time:

* Liu Yifei (32) in the forthcoming live-action movie of "Mulan"
* Lindsey Stirling from the clip for her song "Artemis" (hey, a violin bow is still a bow)
* Supermodel Linda Evangelista doing the fashion thang
* Sophie Skelton in online series "Ren - The Girl With The Mark"
* Caroline Munro on the cover of the compilation album "Hot Hits 11".

Friday, January 17, 2020

Gleaning the cubes

While at PAX, my workmate AH purchased some sort of tabletop-gaming lucky dip. Among the contents was a packet of "Doctor Who"-themed Rory's Story Cubes, which he kindly gifted to me.
The face of each cube represents a being, other object, place or situation. The instructions stress that these are simply a guide, e.g. The Master could stand for any mad scientist.
The idea is to roll the cubes like dice, group them into three lots of three, then use those trios to tell a tale with a beginning, middle and end. OK, let's give it a crack...
For the record, those nine faces represent (left to right, top to bottom): Sontaran, Choking, Sonic Screwdriver, Adipose, Guillotine, Custodian Helmet, Psychic Paper, Silurian, Planet.


Once upon space and time, a Sontaran playfully throttled Steven Moffat for overusing the sonic screwdriver and turning it into a magic wand. During the confusion, the Cuteness Police took the opportunity to behead every last Adipose. Fortunately, that's where the violence stopped as Madame Vastra used the psychic paper to prove Silurian ownership of Earth, then she and Jenny Flint lived happily ever after. And Strax, too. Actually, for continuity's sake, let's say that he did the pretend choking earlier. So it was basically a Paternoster Gang adventure where we rid ourselves of the Adipose. Hooray!

Current not-so-instant noodle recipe

* Two different types of noodles
* Handful of fresh bean sprouts
* Cashew nuts and/or peanuts
* Plenty of dried onion flakes
* Parsley
* Garlic granules
* Turmeric
* Japanese red pepper
* Splash of quality soy sauce

Note: I don't use the powders or oils that come with the noodles.

It tastes better than it looks, so rather than a snap of my noodle bowl, here's Akari Hayami in the title part on "Miss Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles" (Japanese telly series of the fun manga).

Pool removal

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Ha'amonga 'a Maui

Waited ages to take a phone photo of the "Tongan Stonehenge" without any fellow tourists in the picture. Snapped a bunch because it was bright sunlight and hard to aim/frame. Got back on the idling tour bus, checked them and realised I'd accidentally selected selfie mode. So instead of a mysterious ancient structure, all I could see was my own ugly mug. Deleted the images in disgust. Suddenly, the bus lurched forward and I had *just* enough time to shoot the following pic through the window. No posing tourists visible - only half a frickin' tree!