Dork Geek Nerd

"Rational romantic mystic cynical idealist"

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Ramblin'

Gave myself a morning off from moving duties to indulge a couple of passions. Began by snapping street art around St Peters/Newtown.

Six more pics here - http://artovfarkhus.tumblr.com/post/159523059666/brick-gallery

Went to a cafe to try that "smashed avo" concoction I'm always hearing raves about. Ended up trying a coconut-enhanced hot chocolate instead. It tasted like this.
Dropped in at Gould's Book Arcade, where I spotted a gamebook not in my collection. Sold!
Outside the store, two guys sitting on crates and eating breakfast pizzas asked me which of their jeans I preferred. Said, "I'm wearing tracky daks, what do I know?" But they insisted I choose, so I went for the bell bottoms over the elastic ankle. As I left, their owner bragged to his mate, "That's two-and-a-half to zero!" He didn't look like this.
Walked to the National Maritime Museum in Pyrmont for the exhibition "Escape From Pompeii: The Untold Roman Rescue". The name says it all. Contrary to the impression we've been given since childhood, the inhabitants of Pompeii (and Herculaneum) had plenty of warning and most fled the volcanic eruption in time. The ships on the poster represent the Roman fleet, commanded by Pliny The Elder, which was summoned from across the bay to ferry folk to safety.
Swung by my old office (I can call it that now). Chatted with JC about prehistoric animals and scored a copy of DL's latest kickass fanzine.
Arrived home to find I'd received a funny/blasphemous Easter card from the Michelin tyre company's well-known mascot, Bibendum. Not sure why he was using a pseudonym. Unless it WASN'T Bibendum but his counterpart from an alternate universe...

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Pick of the podcasts

TOPIC - [title to search for]


ANIME - "ANNcast"

BOOKS - "The Book Review" ("The New York Times"), "The 'Guardian' Books Podcast"

CARS/HUMOUR - "Women Talking About Cars"

CARTOONS/ROLE-PLAYING - "The Gameable Podcast"

COMICS - "Serious Issues", "The '2000AD' Thrill-Cast"

CRICKET - "The Unplayable Podcast"

DESIGN - "99% Invisible"

"DOCTOR WHO" - "Radio Free Skaro", "The Big Finish Podcast"

GEEK CULTURE - "Hey Fam!", "The Purple Stuff Podcast"

GENERAL - "Radio Diaries", "Radiolab", "Reply All"

HISTORY - "Dan Carlin's Hardcore History"

HOLLYWOOD HISTORY - "You Must Remember This"

JACK THE RIPPER (& VICTORIAN-ERA CRIME) - "Rippercast"

MATHS - "A Brief History Of Mathematics" (finite set)

MIXED MARTIAL ARTS - "The MMA Hour With Ariel Helwani"

MOVIES - "Kermode And Mayo's Film Review"

MYSTERIES - "Mystery Show" (RIP)

POP CULTURE - "Slate's Culture Gabfest", "SRSLY"

PRO WRESTLING - "The LAW" (multiple shows)

PSYCHOLOGY - "The Psychology Podcast"

ROLE-PLAYING - "The Grognard Files"

SOCCER - "Football Weekly" ("The Guardian")

SOUND - "Twenty Thousand Hertz"

TRIVIA - "No Such Thing As A Fish"

TRUE-CRIME SERIES - "Accused", "Crimetown", "Hollywood & Crime", "Serial", "Undisclosed" (skip to Season 2), "Up And Vanished", "Who Killed Elsie Frost?" (go to BBC site)

UNCLASSIFIABLE (VAGUELY BIOGRAPHY) - "S-Town"

VIDEOGAMES - "8-4 Play", "One Life Left"

WORDS - "The Allusionist"


And those are just my subscriptions :-)

Enjoy!*

*Maybe not the right word when it comes to the crime pods, but you know what I mean.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Unlocked

I've been living in this suburb for nearly 18 years and, when walking to the shops, regularly take a shortcut between a cluster of apartment buildings. Fairly early on, I noticed that if I trod said path on a Saturday or Sunday, I'd often hear someone practising the piano. They were terrible - loudly plink-plonking away and making me glad I didn't reside within earshot. However, as the years have progressed, they've greatly improved. I've recognised famous pieces and, in recent times, actually thought, "It wouldn't be so bad hearing that tune emanating from a neighbouring flat." I don't know if the pianist is male or female, youthful or elderly. I don't even know if it's been the same person all along. Something tells me it *is* the same person, though. And if I had to guess, I'd say they were a child of 4 or 5 when I first heard them torturing the ivories and are now of uni age.

On Saturday, I once again took the shortcut to the shops through the cluster of apartment buildings. I could hear someone practising the piano. It was not a piece I recognised. It was soft and assured and completely fast-slow-high-low chaotic and yet a delight to the ear.
I reckon they were improvising.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Missing person

Last time I was in hospital, being wheeled from one department to another through the labyrinth of corridors, my eye was caught by a sign. Clearly meant to read "ELECTRICAL SWITCHBOARD", it was missing two letters. The altered text tickled my fancy and made me think of a cyberpunk sorceress. I wanted to photograph the sign, but I couldn't exactly ask the porter to stop wheeling and pass me my backpack so I could fish out my phone. So here's an amateur artist's impression of the nameplate of my next "Shadowrun" character :-)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The perils of a "D&D" pitstop

In the mid-’80s, our group of five was heavily into “Dungeons & Dragons”, playing most of most weekends, with the odd break for swimming, bushwalks or Commodore 64 appreciation. However, we also longed to be able to emulate action sequences from the blockbuster science-fiction films of the era. MD would eventually get hold of TSR’s “Star Frontiers”, but before we even knew that game existed, we decided to make our own pen’n’paper sci-fi RPG. What we came up with was a hodge-podge that had some severe limitations and only briefly supplanted “D&D” in our affections. And yet, in its way, it was kinda visionary. It was called “Space Perils”.

I’m not sure who thought of the name (the moderator was the Space Master), but I know I supplied the thick exercise book into which the rules were penned. That’s right – penned. It was years before any of us saw the need to get a printer for our C64. Anyway, said parameters borrowed large chunks from “D&D”, notably the THAC0 mechanics and set of ability scores with values from 3-18. In the case of the latter, I believe we added PSI, for psi power…and maybe LCK, for luck. Not positive on that second one. To be honest, though, the majority of the rulebook was lists of spaceships from movies and TV shows, the relative values of which we spent ages debating, e.g. should a Battlestar cost more galactic credits than a Star Destroyer?

So far, so not visionary. The innovative aspect of the otherwise-derivative system that I’m still amazed/proud we came up with was having a player take on the role of the party’s starship computer as a sort of co-GM (technically, co-SM). This person handled space combat and worked out the amount of fuel needed to reach planets, etc. They didn’t control the plot, but they stepped in occasionally when number-crunching was required, freeing the Space Master from having to stop and perform these calculations. I distinctly recall us playing out on my parents’ front lawn – how did we not lose our dice in the grass? – and asking the ship’s computer technical questions which he’d work on while the rest of the adventure continued.

It’s obvious to me now what inspired this idea – the A.I.-in-a-box Orac from telly’s “Blake’s 7”, who we all liked almost as much as we did the sarcastic-bastard character of Avon. At the same time, it took lateral thinking on our part to break from the classic format of having a single all-powerful GM. And it would be years, not counting convention freeforms and wargame hybrids, until I again played in a tabletop RPG with two moderators. (A weird session of “Mage: The Ascension” during the glory days of White Wolf springs to mind.)

As I said in the beginning, “Space Perils” proved a fad and we quickly returned to the fantasy genre. The game’s lack of longevity probably had a lot to do with the fact we put loads of effort into quantifying Lightsabers and Colonial Vipers and so on, and barely any into developing the politics and personalities of the future setting. I’m confident in saying every “S/P” scenario could be summarised in three words: blow shit up. Nevertheless, the memory remains a fond one, even if the lone rulebook is buried fathoms deep in landfill.

Back in “D&D” land, we were soon facing a much bigger problem than a 99% complete Death Star: a friendly little homebrew creature known as the Emerald Dragon, whose breath could transform anything to emerald. This critter threatened to ruin not only the Oerth economy but, as we PCs vied for control of it, the continued existence of the campaign itself. Ah, but that’s another anecdote…

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Heart strings ]|[

Being the second sequel to my shit-ically acclaimed Dec. 24, 2015 post, and an attempt to improve on the weak June 19 follow-up. I've bent the unwritten rules to allow crossbows as well as bows. Jesus, you'd bend anything for a stunner like Carole Bouquet, including the Second Law Of Thermodynamics. Ahem. From de top to de bot: Amy Acker in an episode of "Angel", Ana Ularu in "Werewolf: The Beast Among Us", the aforementioned Ms Bouquet in "For Your Eyes Only", Gemma Arterton in "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters", Jessica Biel in "Blade: Trinity", Katheryn Winnick in an ep of "Vikings", Milla Jovovich in "Resident Evil: Extinction" (the second "R/E" instalment), Sophie Turner in a deleted scene from "X-Men: Apocalypse", Tracy Spiridakos in an ep of "Revolution", and Willa Holland in a promo for "Arrow".

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Halloween fell on a Monday...

...and there's only so much stuff you can do post-work. That's why I commenced my pagan celebration on Sunday, playing co-operative "OneChanbara: Bikini Zombie Slayers" [Wii] with AM. Character advancement was glacial, but it was something humorously unusual.
So here's what I lined up for Halloween proper:
I ate the pumpkin soup, four pieces of the pumpkin-seed bread and three of the vampire Freddos (alas, they haven't modified the choccies themselves, only the bag and wrappers). Got through 100% of the monster mag (ta, DL), 50% of the spooky audioplay (classic Mark Gatiss) and 0% of "Cloverfield" ($2 from a local op shop). Why no filmage? 'Cos there was a better - and still thematically acceptable - option on the WWE Network and it went for freakin' hours!
All I could manage after that assortment was to fall asleep listening to the Big Finish Halloween Podcast.

Hope your October 31st was fang-tastic!