Dork Geek Nerd

"Rational romantic mystic cynical idealist"

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The emperor's next top model

This week’s episode of "A/N/T/M/3" was a travesty! They kept Alice, a failure at anything more advanced than strutting along a catwalk, and got rid of Jordan, who’d nailed nearly every task (OK, she couldn’t schmooze strangers – put that down to her no-bull nature). It seems the fashionistas in charge value a wan’n’willowy “Vogue” look above exotic cuteness (that bone structure! Those sleepy kitten eyes!), unaffected charm and the ability to "switch on" like a professional in the camera sights. I don’t. Steph H to beat Alice and win!

Mini-review: "Asterix And The Vikings" (2006)

Decades ago, I’d scuffle with schoolmates to get my hands on the "Asterix" comics by Frenchmen Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo. I loved their humorous tales of a tiny Gaulish village holding off the Romans by quaffing potions of super-strength. The best parts were the fights and the many puns, as in names like Getafix (the druid). Both elements are present in this animated movie which sees the little hero in the winged helm and his menhir-lugging mate Obelix tasked with training the chief’s nephew, Justforkix. Pity the lad’s an olden-day hippie more into dancing than making war. When do the vikings come into it, you ask? Well, while searching for the meaning of fear (you'll find out), a raiding party take Justforkix prisoner, thus forcing Asterix and Obelix to take their brand of violent chaos to Norway. While it was nice seeing a childhood favourite brought to the screen, hearing Hollywood actors such as Sean Astin and Paul Giamatti voicing the characters annoyed the hell out of me.

[Australian DVD release date: June 6.]

Monday, May 28, 2007

Page 84

To read the novel "House Of Meetings" is to feel crushed. By the abominable reality of the Soviet labour camps under Stalin, where mass murder was committed in slow-motion in the privacy of Siberia. By the imagined plight of the narrator, his status flipped from war hero to traitor, interned by cruelest fate with a half-brother married to the woman they both love (conjugal visits taking place in the building of the title). And by the unparalleled prose of Mr Martin Amis.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Quality time

EM and TM spent the middle night of their mini-break at La Villa Addster. As an early birthday* gift, they shouted me dinner at Churrasco, where we noshed on quantities of roasted meat befitting medieval monarchs. T. spotted a pair of likely lagers on the drinks menu, which we hastened to order. Brazil's Brahma was found to be grog-standard (albeit in a cool, asymmetrical bottle). Italy's Menabrea had a far classier flavour and I plan to invest in a sixpack. Back at my joint, we watched the rugger Test on telly (Wallabies 29 - Wales 23) and my fave concert on DVD ("The Complex Rock Tour Live" by Blue Man Group). This morning, I took sis and her hubby on a walk around my stomping ground, chiefly Randwick Racecourse and the University of New South Wales campus. EM and TM are effortless to get along with. I'm sad they're gone - and sorry they live a whole state away.

*For any heirless eccentric billionaires perusing this on their deathbeds, it's June 4.

Friday, May 25, 2007

If you reside in the Emerald City...

...there's a wizard array of comic art by America's Jim Woodring on display at Books Kinokuniya in The Galeries Victoria (sic). His style is like a cross between Robert Crumb and Salvador Dali - cartoon animals freaking out in surreal, finely lined settings. Worth a gander.

Real family/phantom family

Komachi in Surry Hills was an agreeable place for a reunion with AK, VK, CK, EM and TM (that's two sisters, two brothers-in-law and one niece, for those keeping score at home). We ate chilli baby octopi, gyoza, tempura prawns and vegetables, and assorted makizushi; each course with an appropriate sauce. For dessert, we had scoops of ice-creams made from green tea (bright light green) and black sesame (grey-blue), which were served with red bean paste and a slice of lime. Barely sweet, they were pleasant in an alien way. My cold's on the mend, so I took little persuading to indulge in a bottle of Kirin Lager, then an Asahi for the road.

I got home to find World Vision had sent details of the sponsor child I requested recently. Now there are three photos of phantom kids atop my CD cabinet (each corresponding with a pay rise over the past four years). Before you judge, I don't think this makes me a hero as the money's tax-deductible. Nor is my motivation to play saviour - the only communication I will ever have with these children is the birthday and Christmas cards WV requires me to fill out (I sign them simply "Adam, Sydney"). My sole intent is to provide a small monthly stipend to assist struggling communities where, had the dice landed differently, we might have been born.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Origin sinner

The first game of this year's rugby league State Of Origin series was the ballet of brutality we've come to expect.

For the benefit of those awaiting delayed telecasts (PG and DG? DQ?), I won't divulge the scoreline or the victors. What I will say is this: I think referee Paul Simpkins had a negative impact. There were too many penalties and the rulings he got wrong repeatedly killed a side's momentum at a crucial point. (Note that I'm not suggesting any bias as he did it to NSW and Queensland.)

Finger pointing aside, it was 80 minutes of edge-of-the-lounge action and I suspect the better team triumphed.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Whenever I detect the onset of a head cold/sore throat, my home remedies are megadosing on vitamin C, rubbing tea tree oil into the neck lymph node areas, and prolonged gargling with Listerine. I've done all that and I still feel poorly.

Blame a temperature drop of seven degrees (Celsius) in a matter of days. The chill winds flowing between the skyscrapers evoke the flawed sci-fi movie "Slipstream". Or, as it's known in the Philippines, "Slipstream: Bounty Hunter 2000".

Monday, May 21, 2007

F_ll_ng _n th_ bl_nks

I didn't blog on Thursday because my wetware was otherwise engaged, computing the doability of an internal writing project CM and I were suddenly offered. Strictly hush-hush at the mo', but I can say it tangentially relates to an idea for a new rag that we pitched to the company two-plus years ago. There's been only slight progress since. If nothing comes of it, at least we scored free pub grub and pints of Kilkenny at the "business meeting".

On Friday evening my noggin was nestled in "The Elfish Gene: Dungeons, Dragons And Growing Up Strange" by Mark Barrowcliffe, followed directly by "Achtung Schweinehund! A Boy's Own Story Of Imaginary Combat" by Harry Pearson. The former's about a teenage obsession with role-playing, the latter a lifelong love of wargames. Both are deeply British, mostly humorous though in rare instances narrow-minded, 100-pages-per-hour reads.

Saturday was socialising. The M. family and I went to the Opera House Drama Theatre to see the excellent play "Ying Tong: A Walk With The Goons", which I believe does justice to the singular talents of Messrs Greenslade, Secombe, Sellers and, primarily, Milligan (it begins after Bentine). It was then a short trot to the Sir Stamford Hotel for cocktails in The Bar. Mine was called The Last Goodbye and contained cognac, brandy, Cointreau, lime and grenadine.

That night, CM, AM, PB2 and yours boastfully dined at the Churrasco ("koo-rasco") Brazilian BBQ restaurant in Coogee. For $30 a stomach, you get baked vegies, white rice, kidney beans and spiced beef/chicken/lamb/pork (steaks and snags) delivered to your table until you cry, "Mercy!" Try the Chilean red wine.

The four of us stayed up to watch the FA Cup on my 80cm idiot box as we do every time it rocks round. The 2007 coverage was atrocious - I saw more of Wembley Stadium Redux on a BBC World preview. The game was worse, leading me to dub it (hilariously) the Frankly Awful Cup. Both Chelsea and Manchester United were cautious to the point of being soporific. In the 116th minute, Didier Drogba found the net for the Blues to spare us the torture of penalties.

Two terrific pieces of telly were the highlights of my Sunday. The first was Japan's "No. 1 Athlete Competition", which my sister AC graciously records and sends me. The heavyweight division (events include tugs of war, rolling giant balls, hurling weights over walls) was won by a rikishi. An American pole vaulter took out the lightweights (activities focus more on sprinting, climbing, jumping, diving and number puzzles!).

The other great viewing was anachronistic cop show "Life On Mars" on the ABC. For fear of revealing the wrong plot detail, I'll just say I haven't been so riveted by a piece of television since...I dunno, "Twin Peaks" maybe. Immediately it was over, I jacked into Amazon UK and ordered the DVD box sets as well as the '70s rock soundtrack. That should be recommendation enough.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Three hours was enough

To praise the venue (Deus Ex Machina - a motorcyle shop/cafe), chinwag with coworkers present and past, ponder the gender of an androgynous figure in a suit, harken unto speeches, amuse a stranger while queueing for a "David's hotdog" (allegedly modelled on the frankfurter rolls sold by a Canadian outlet), terminate canapes with extreme prejudice, empty eight glasses/bottles of beer down my neck (Hunter Kolsch, Hunter Pale Ale, Redback Crystal), declare the launch of "Beer And Brewer Australia" magazine a carousing success, and split a taxi back to the city with DL. CM, NP and RS may still be there partyin' hearty now - and the devil on my left shoulder says I should be, too. But three hours was enough.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Loving the ogre

Another day, another advance screening. I won't waste too many keystrokes lauding "Shrek The Third", which will be unavoidable in Oz from June 7. It's prettier, busier, noisier and, by my estimate, 37% Shrekier than its animated predecessors. Maybe 38%. The familiar voice of Eric Idle makes for an endearing New Age Merlin, but there's no upstaging John Cleese as Far Far Away's...expiring...[cough, splutter]...amphibian...[wheeeeeze, choke]...monarch. The "helpless" princesses discovering their grrl power is a welcome reversal and the epilogue has real heart. If you only see one self-referential slapstick fairytale musical 'toon this year, etc.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Joining the club

My techno-trailblazing mate PG had already conquered it, as had thousands of Nintendo DS owners whose initials I don't know, but that didn't diminish my sense of accomplishment when I beat the 42nd and ultimate stage in "Clubhouse Games" at the time shown below.

That was "Stamp Mode". For my next trick, I'll be tackling "Mission Mode", in which the aim is to win individual games while meeting set criteria, eg. accumulating 500 chips in Blackjack, scoring a 10-piece win at Checkers or solving Mahjong Solitaire in less than three minutes.

PS. Did you notice "Blogs I read" has grown to an even dozen? You did? How observant! Buy yourself a "Where's Wally?" book as a reward :-)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Hello Helsinki, this is Sydney calling...

The 2007 Eurovision Song Contest was held in the Finnish capital and the theme was "true fantasy". It suited the encore performance by last year's winners Lordi (a monster-masked metal band), the quirky linking vids, the appearance of Santa Claus and the high proportion of dream girls singing/dancing/announcing votes.

Of the 24 songs, there were 13 I'd willingly hear again: Ireland, Finland, Hungary, Greece, Georgia, Sweden, France, Latvia, Germany, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Moldova. I'll pass on the acts from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Spain, Belarus, the FYR Macedonia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Russia, Ukraine, the UK, Turkey and Armenia.

The ever-political phone/SMS voters of Europe chose Serbia ("Molitva" sung by Marija Serifovic) as their overall winner. She wasn't my favourite, but I won't argue with the quality of her voice. To me, the entries from France, Romania and Greece were closer to the spirit of Eurovision, ie. creatively catchy and upbeat.

Georgia and Bulgaria were my bag, baby.

Ireland's last place was undeserved. The decent music and lyrics were let down by weak vocals. It should have been the UK, a shamelessly manufactured outfit with zero panache. But don't take my word for any of this - go to and watch the routines for yourself (note: may require installing plug-in).

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Reasons to be cheerful today

* Mum and Dad are visiting.

* I acquired the new Rush album, "Snakes And Arrows", from Utopia.

* I caught up on some culture - "Beautiful Minds: The Centennial Exhibition Of The Noble Prizes" at the University of Technology, Sydney, and "World Press Photo 2006" at the State Library's Mitchell Galleries. (Neither will cost you anything; both will teach you something.)

* The Newcastle Knights came from 12 points down with 12 minutes to go to beat the New Zealand Warriors, 24-18. Kurt Gidley, you're a deadset champ! Two tries, four conversions and no backward steps!

* "Torchwood: Slow Decay" by Andy Lane continues to thrill...even if the pages have a sour smell (which I've also noticed with recent "Doctor Who" novels).

* Mum and Dad are visiting.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Movie review: "Confession Of Pain" (2006)

I'll say one thing for this Hong Kong crime flick: it’s unusual. Rather than a cops vs gangs power struggle, we get an implausible murder and enough emotional trauma for a year’s worth of daytime soap – which would be hard to endure if "Confession Of Pain" wasn’t so elegantly crafted.

When the girlfriend of policeman Bong (Takeshi Kaneshiro) commits suicide, he sinks into whisky worship, quits the force, begins dating a club hostess who charges him "rent", and becomes a cheapo private detective.

His ex-partner Hei (Tony Leung) and Hei’s wife Susan (Jing Lei Xu) stay in contact with their troubled friend and after her wealthy father’s beaten to death in a well-secured home, they employ Bong to investigate.

As he stumbles drunkenly toward the solution, Bong can’t help uncovering secrets about all of the characters, including his dead lover – deceptions, connections, long-hidden hurts and an elaborate quest for vengeance.

Final word: Suffering in silence begets ultraviolence.

[Australian DVD release date: May 16]

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Kinda pointless

Also yesterday, at Aussie Stadium, with four of the lads, in intermittent light rain, while being bothered by an aberration of winged insects, I watched referees and linesmen make consistent dud calls as an apathetic Sydney FC played out a dismal 0-0 draw with a theatrical Shanghai Shenhua in the Asian Champions League.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Mars attacks!

At midday, DL and I represented our weekly gentleman's digest at the launch of - deep breath - the Australian tour of the UK stage production of the international hit 1978 concept album "Jeff Wayne's Musical Version Of The War Of The Worlds". (A work of which we're both fans.)

Although there wasn't a droplet of liquor or crumb of food on offer, the pitch was slick - especially, appropriately, in the sound'n'vision department. We're talkin' oversized screen, mixing desk and loadsaspeakers.

JW himself had flown out for the event, and local ring-in Shannon Noll rocked up to grin for the press. But what most impressed this space cadet - and the reason I'll likely drop $90 (minimum!) to attend the show come September - was the footage of the 10-metre tall Martian fighting machine that invades the stage.

I've no doubt the orchestra, rock band, singers and visual effects will be glorious, too...though I feel slightly uneasy about the way they've resurrected narrator Richard Burton as a holographic head.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Guess what I had for dinner?

If, like me, you're a fan of meals that begin in a tin and end up on buttered toast, steer clear of the Rich Italian Beans in the new SPC Bean Cuisine range. The label advertises cannellini beans in a tomato, olive and herb sauce. Alas, a promising aroma of minestrone belies a flavour so subtle as to be undetectable to the human tongue. Even cracked pepper doesn't help - it's just absorbed into the blandness like light into a black hole. A poor excuse for Italian beans, more like!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Toilet humour

DL, SC and I went to a 6pm showing of "Reno 911! Miami" at UIP. It's a superior cinematic chucklefest to "Blades Of Glory" and an order of magnitude cruder...but hardly worth expounding on at this advanced hour. Fans of the cable TV series be advised there are a couple of absurd appearances by Super Terry. Everyone be advised there's extra footage post-credits if your bladder can wait that long. We three just managed it - the curse of the complimentary Crownies :-)

Saturday, May 05, 2007

And then there were 11

I've expanded "Blogs I read" to include DL's new Encyclopaedia Of Wrestling Comics (if anyone's qualified to catalogue the things, it's him) and CM's MySpace site (destined to become a virtual haven for Aussie ukulele fanciers).

Good gains


"Future Sight", the latest strategy-sparkin' expansion for Magic: The Gathering went on sale planet-wide, and I was desperate to get my mitts on the cards. But due to a luncheon appointment at the public house, I didn't have the opportunity to do so until after work.

When I finally called it a week, the local M:TG vendor - Games Paradise - was well and truly closed. I was considering a rail ride to the Sydney Games Centre at Burwood (which I knew would still be open), when I realised there was a shop in nearby Ultimo where I might score my coloured cardboard fix. I gave 'em a call.

"Good Games, Scott speaking."
"Hi. Do you have the new Magic expansion, 'Future Sight'?"
"We sure do."
"The four Theme Decks?"
"We've got everything."
"Great. What time do you shut?"
"Verrry late."
"OK, I'll see you after I've had dinner."

One sushi feast later, I was at GG, waiting for the next round of Friday Night Magic to begin so the players would take their seats and allow me access to the counter. The stock had swollen noticeably in the months since my previous visit and the far corner now housed a trio of double-sided arcade machines (all beat-'em-ups and all in frenzied use).

I ended up being served by Scott, a big dude in a Green Lantern T-shirt, with long hair and a friendly manner. He picked me as the person who'd rung earlier.

"The Theme Decks are normally $18 each, but if you're buying all four, we can do them for $16."


"The Fat Pack? It's $50."

Covered with fantastic art and chockers with bitz'n'bobz. Sold!

That was plenty (I'm supposed to be saving money), but I greedily enquired about boxes of boosters.

"They're $160..."

Same price as everywhere, eh?

"...and we throw in a Magic T-shirt and a promotional item. At the moment, we've got Serra Angel notepads."

Holy Hand Grenade Of Antioch! I've been collecting M:TG for 14 years and never found a box deal that generous.

I daresay I'll be returning to Good Games next pay day to part with additional bills. I might even swing by on Tuesday or Thursday to play in a draft. To quote the store's web site: "Never. Enough. Games."

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Movie review: "Hellboy Animated: Sword Of Storms" (2006)

If you haven’t made the acquaintance of the 2004 live-action "Hellboy" movie or the Mike Mignola comics, you need to know that the title character's a big, red, rock-fisted bloke who trots the globe (he also has hooves) demystifying mysteries and debraining monsters with a mob known as the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.

In this feature-length cartoon, Hellboy and the BPRD are dealing with a samurai blade in which two wicked spirits – Lightning and Thunder – have been imprisoned. Sucked into a dream realm of Japanese folklore, the demon do-gooder learns his only way home is to snap the sword...except that’ll release the devilish duo...and possibly lead to Earth’s destruction.

"Sword Of Storms" gets a big tick for bringing back the stars of the film – Ron Perlman (Hellboy), Selma Blair (Liz Sherman) and Doug Jones (Abe Sapien) – to voice their animated counterparts. While the horror elements make it unsuitable for the wee folk, it’s stylish, plot-twisty and savagely amusing enough to hold an adult's attention.

Final word: He always was a bit two-dimensional...

[Australian DVD release date: Today!]

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Reading my subscription copy of the May "White Dwarf", I learn that "Games Workshop's monthly miniatures magazine" is 30.

Seriously, 1977 was a tremendous year. "Star Wars" wowed the movie-going world. The first "Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set" (blue box) hit the shelves. As did the mighty, mighty Atari VCS. Blue Oyster Cult witnessed "Spectres", while Rush bid "A Farewell To Kings". Tolkien's "The Silmarillion" was posthumously published. And Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor ruled the telly.

Meanwhile, a young Australian boy went to kindergarten, mastered his Malvern Star Dragster and dreamt about dinosaurs :-)