Dork Geek Nerd

"Rational romantic mystic cynical idealist"

Thursday, January 31, 2008

"The famous beer of Mauritius"

Famous it may be, but I've just been sampling some and I don't reckon Phoenix Beer can compare with:

* Marvel superheroine Jean Grey-Summers, aka Phoenix, from the X-Men (although, coincidentally, both were "born" in 1963)

* "Phoenix" the Atari VCS version of the classic arcade game, at which - if I can toot my own trumpet - I was the champ, OR

* The fiery phoenix mode of the spaceship in 70s 'toon "Battle Of The Planets" (Japanese title: "Kagaku Ninja Tai Gatchaman").

That said, it's got a dirty-nice flavour, packs a 5% alcohol kidney punch and I'm sorry I've run dry.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


"Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem" doesn't suck. It consists of stereotypical characters doing exactly what you'd expect in cliched situations. The violence and gore are over the top, out the gate, around the corner and down the road. Events unfold (and enemies spawn) at a pace that defies logic. But it doesn't suck because there's no pretence "A/V/P:R" is anything other than an excuse to watch Aliens, Predators and Terrans do battle. In a darkened cinema, with the sound system cranked to dangerous levels, there were moments when it sorta rocked.

Thanks for the free ticket, PG.

Trivia: There were printed signs in the foyer of the George St Hoyts warning of a "professional pickpocket" operating in the area!

Monday, January 28, 2008


Some dimbulb forgot that our weekly chronicle ignores public holidays and we arrived to find ourselves electronically barred from the office. Naturally, any folks who could've bypassed/reprogramed the security doors were absent.

There was nothing for me to do but attend the Randwick gallops :-) The atmos was great as always - especially standing on the rail as the horses thundered past. I didn't fare terribly well on the punt, though, with three mediocre collects out of eight races ($20 loss overall).

In between the action, I put a fair dint in "Doctor Who: Island Of Death" (2005) by Barry Letts. Quality prose and it really captures the Pertwee era, particularly Sarah Jane's journo mindset. The Doc and Brig aren't badly drawn, either.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


My father showed me a hardcover novel he purchased secondhand that has a very cool frontispiece:

"Bought at the Ocean Bookshop"

[Sketch of a fashionable duo reclining in deckchairs]


It's a medical thriller, so I imagine the QE2 buyer was a wealthy doc with a penchant for sea voyages.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Happy Australia Day!

I'm at Mum and Dad's place in Newie, catching up on sleep (it's so relaxing here), being too well fed, watching televised sport and reading Richard Matheson's original 1954 novella of "I Am Legend".

Earlier, I rendezvoused with PG and DG and we saw the play "The Philanthropist" (1970, revised 1985) by Christopher Hampton; the tale of an academic so accommodating of the behaviour/opinions of others that he loses all sense of himself. This production was staged by the Hunter Theatre Company at their modest Lambton digs. It was directed by an old acquaintance of ours, DH. Decent script - slightly dated and overlong, but also amusing, startling, witty and it covered a lot of ground. Bravo to DH, cast and crew...even if they did make us passively smoke umpteen herbal cigarettes.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tucker soapbox

Base pizza bar on Belmore Rd, Randwick has combos a "Killer Instinct" character would envy. Since discovering it, I've enjoyed:

#1 - Beetroot, red onion, snow peas, pumpkin, goats' cheese, walnuts and horesradish cream, AND
#2 - Duck sausage, caramelised pear, pistachio nuts and goats' cheese.

They're as rich as they sound, and a tad greasy (see bottom of pizza box for details), but even as you acknowledge those facts, you'll be reaching for another slice.

I toyed with calling this post "I'm in your Base, eating your foodz", which only the net.geeks woulda got. Chose a generic head instead, so I could tell you about additional new products...

Tim Tam Crush Honeycomb biscuits are to die for with a smile on ya dial, while Barons Lemon Myrtle Witbier (wheat beer) is as exciting as sipping dissolved aspirin.

Monday, January 21, 2008

"Road" rage

While he was in The Land Down Under, RS recommended the manga trilogy "Maniac Road" by Shinsuke Kurihashi. Trusting in his otaku knowledge, I immediately ordered it from Amazon US. Ripped through the lot in two hours - what a beaut yarn!

Homeless fanboy Takezou helps sweet Haruna, violent Aoba and cute Isuzu save their tiny shop in Tokyo's Akihabara district from bankruptcy, then sets about transforming it into a Mecca for hard-core collectors. He's frequently forced to demonstrate his skills by a guy called Mikasa, the owner of a gigantic rival operation who's keen on Haruna.

This gives the author the perfect excuse to dig deep into hobbies such as military model making (his personal passion), cosplay, paintball, ultra-realistic dolls, tabletop role-playing and crane games (aka UFO catchers).

At this point, you've already made up your mind whether you wanna travel the "Maniac Road", so I'll cease typing.

Who's the boss?

That'd be me. The ed's gone on vacation for a fortnight and I've risen to the level of my incompetence. Due to the Australia Day holiday, we've only got until Thursday to finish this week's issue. It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have to burn tomorrow morning at a compulsory Office of Film and Literature Classification training course. I'll try to disguise my contempt for a government body that lacks consistency in its rulings and, therefore, credibility. Yes, I am biased.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The eternal question

Attend Doctor Who Club meeting or join brother-in-law for beverages and boxing pay-per-view? Astoundingly, I managed both.

Lingered at the former function just long enough to see the sixth story in "The Sarah Jane Adventures", "The Lost Boy". In summary: character twists, creature continuity, a pacy plot and, I thought, an echo of the Madeleine McCann case. Replenished my stock of Big Finish audiobooks (at a generous reduction), passed my lucky door prize ticket on to a lass in a "Who" T-shirt and exited stage left.

The main event on the card that VK and I watched was the light heavyweight bout between legends Felix Trinidad and Roy Jones Jr. RJJ may not have stopped "Tito", but he knocked him down twice and was undeniably the stronger boxer - nuffink FT threw seemed to have any effect. Two of the other three fights also went the distance, while the third was a shock 10th-round knockout (by a dude behind on points). Not a mismatch in sight!

Pig hunting

Yesternight, at the Entertainment Centre, my Sydney Kings met the West Sydney Razorbacks for our third cross-town clash of the basketball season. Going into the game it was a win apiece, but on this occasion the Pigs were no match for us - especially in the defence department. The quarters finished 32-16, 52-45, 84-65 and 108-90. We remain on top of the NBL ladder. Oh, and PB, I still say those cheerleaders are all over 18, so it's OK to look :-)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Paying my dues

Caught a bus to Coogee where I renewed my membership at the Randwick Rugby Club. Couldn't resist staying for a couple of Carlton Draughts as the cricket was on and Ricky Ponting was approaching his half-century. Punter was clearly struggling against likeable young Indian paceman Ishant Sharma (whose name makes me think "instant karma"). On 45 runs, the Aussie captain edged a straightforward catch to Rahul Dravid in the slips. Time to get a return bus.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Nestle Chestnut KitKat

Tasted like an Arnott's Adora Cream Wafer, with a hint coffee. I prefer the apple and banana versions that sister #1 included in my "Nightmare Before Christmas" stocking. This double-pack was expensive, too - $3.70 on import at my local Asian grocery store.

Monday, January 14, 2008


My Indianapolis Colts just had their season ended by the blasted San Diego Chargers. The commentators were speculating Coach Dungy might retire.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The future, failure, football (American)

As part of the Sydney Festival, UNSW is allowing Joe Public to get our mitts on the T-Visionarium. It's an interactive 360^ television environment in which 300 brief clips from a database of 20,000+ are played on 3D windows projected in a grid pattern around a room.

Use the handheld pointer to select a window and it enlarges, activating the audio stream. Press buttons to alter the values of seven criteria (eg. motion, communication) and the "screens" will reshuffle as the software displays the most relevant clip, surrounding it with examples of similarly classified footage. And in the same way a good thesaurus offers antonyms as well as synonyms, the other side of the room will show clips "opposite" to your criteria.

Leaving aside the present technical limitations and obvious issue of subjectivity in classification, it's a nifty piece of kit that's surely worth half an hour of your existence to do the tour.

The Komachi Japanese restaurant in Surry Hills has a long-standing ramen challenge... If you can scoff a huge bowl of the spicy chicken or spicy pork variety in an hour, they'll award you a $50 voucher and stick your pic in the store window. Fail and they'll charge you a fiddy for the food.

The meal equates to six normal servings - or, in numerical terms, 1kg of noodles, 300g of meat and (minimal) vegetables, and 3.5 litres of soup. The liquid component's the killer 'cos it ain't no clear broth, but rather a dark, gelatinous gravy. I know because I attempted the feat on Saturday evening, in the company of my sister and her family.

I'd prepared by having a medium-sized breakfast and lunch - so as to keep my stomach from shrinking without sating my appetite - while doing light exercise in the arvo, viz. trudging to and from the UNSW's Scientia building, site of the T-Visionarium :-)

Komachi give you the option of tackling the dish as a whole or in two equal portions. Fortuitously, I chose the latter. They make you sign a form absolving them of any liability for injuries sustained...while playing the "Rocky" theme in what would seem encouragement to push oneself beyond mortal parameters.

The first 50% of my spicy chicken ramen arrived and it was murky, steaming hot and daunting. I clicked my stopwatch. Along with chopsticks, there was a ladle and regular bowl for isolating clumps of the noodles. This proved the optimum method for beating the heat.

By the 16-minute mark, the 500g of curly carbs were in my belly. The chook and veg took comparatively longer as I felt the need to dredge up every morsel before drinking the thick soup. After 27 minutes, I'd effectively consumed three main meals and was halfway to glory and financial gain.

It was then I did something I've done on many occasions, though never in relation to eating challenges: I quit. You see, I knew with absolute certainty that I couldn't do for the same amount again. One quarter as much, yes. Half as much, maybe. But all of it? Not on your Nelly Furtado.

I don't think, apart from the sweating, it was apparent I was nearing my discomfort zone, as waitresses twice asked if I was ready for the next bowl. As greedy as I must sound, I abhor waste. The equivalent of 1-2 servings wasn't gonna be tossed in the trash to feed (sorry) my vanity. I announced my surrender.

With sis's discount card, the experiment set me back $45. Considering a triple helping of ramen ordinarily costs $39, that's far from the dearest lesson I'll ever learn.

Today mirrored last Sunday in that I spent the majority of it at PB's, our eyes supaglued to the NFL playoffs. Hefty homemade hamburgers and Barefoot Radler - a refreshing lemon'n'lime-flavoured alcoholic soft drink masquerading as a beer - only improved the situation.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Animal behaviour

We shifted offices this afternoon so that the publisher could squeeze two more lad-oriented magazines onto the floor. Our new space is significantly cosier, with less panoramic views, but it's also more private - no snooping at the issue in progress, you rivals! - and the storage is better organised. Partly because we took with us all of the bookcases that weren't nailed down...hehehe. The move was so smoove, the editor let us clock off at 4.30pm.

I amscrayed to the Australian Museum to inspect the 2007 winners of the annual Shell Wildlife Photographer Of The Year comp. When I got there, it was 20 minutes until close of business, so the lady at the front desk waived the entry fee. I just managed to peep the final pic before the staff herded us towards the exits like sharks driving fish into the shallows (one of my fave photos, along with the near-invisible arctic fox, cathedral of beech trees, "Hawk And Passing Storm" and "Bear Glare"). On my way out, the money I'd saved was invested in a portfolio featuring annotated highlights of the exhibition. See the snaps, buy the booklet - you won't be disappointed on either count.

Watching: The "Yarennoka!" MMA event held in Tokyo this New Year's Eve gone. Extremely engrossing. The No. 1 heavyweight on Earth, Russia's Fedor Emilianenko, submitted Korean giant Hong-Man Choi, but not before his face copped a pounding.

Listening: "Take Cover" - Queensryche. A surprise find at JB Hi-Fi. Distinctive renditions of Pink Floyd's "Welcome To The Machine"; "Heaven On Their Minds" from the musical "Jesus Christ Superstar"; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Almost Cut My Hair"; Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth"; The O'Jays' "For The Love Of Money" (70s soul); Queen's "Innuendo"; Black Sabbath's "Neon Knights"; The Police's "Synchronicity II"; Peter Gabriel's "Red Rain"; Italian-language number "Odissea"; and U2's "Bullet The Blue Sky".

"Nanostray" status: 100% complete - as the credits roll, your ship zips about a Grand Canyon-esque setting.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

How every working day should end

Had purifying ales with DL and CM at the Macquarie Hotel, headed home via Why Thai (who don't skimp on the prawns), then crashed on the couch for an ep of the guilty pleasure that is "Beauty And The Geek".

It's funny how easy it is to solve the world's problems when you're at the pub. The trick is remembering the solutions afterwards :-)

Watching: "UFC #79 - Nemesis". A so-so show kept interesting by the rivalries and mix of fighting styles.

Reading: "Piratica II" (2005) by Tanith Lee. Clever Y/A adventure...but something has been lost in the retelling.

"Nanostray" status: 87% complete. Once I eradicate the alien ringleader, I'll start on the individual challenges.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Learning curve

This was gonna be a post bemoaning the difficulty of the Nintendo DS vertically scrolling shooter "Nanostray", which I recently received as a gift. My initial three attempts were pathetic, prompting the realisation that I'm horribly out of practice at such fare and my hand-eye co-ordination has deteriorated. But 24 hours and a reluctant perusal of the instruction manual later, I'm pleased to say my next session was passable. I got the hang of the four-button weapon/sub-weapon/smart bomb/bonus attracter system and completed 50% of the game in "normal" mode. I probably could have liberated another planet or two, but there was a small, squarebound volume requiring my attention...

Reading: "Hikaru No Go" #11 by Hotta and Obata. Follows the trials of a go prodigy in modern Japan. The twist is that the protagonist's haunted by the ghost of an ancient expert. No, he doesn't use it to cheat. Except, well, there have been times when its genius was felt; incidents that continue to cause complications.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The playoffs

Miraculously, I made it to PB's apartment before 8.30am, when the opening NFL playoff began screening on ESPN. We both wanted the Washington Redskins to win - he as a lifelong supporter, me 'cos of the Sean Taylor tragedy. Our hopes were dashed, momentarily raised, then double dashed. Behind 13-0 going into the fourth quarter, the 'Skins fought their way to 13-14. But the Seattle Seahawks - at their mega-noisy Qwest Field - replied with a further 22 points and that was that.

The second game - during which mine host prepared Scotch fillet steaks on his balcony barbecue and Extra Dry was guzzled - was between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Jacksonville Jaguars. PB was cheering for the Jags, reasoning that they'd have a better chance of upsetting the all-conquering New England Patriots. I was barracking for the other side, who I saw as the underdogs. It was a 31-29 thriller and Jacksonville became the first team ever to defeat the Steelers in Pittsburgh twice in a season. A beaut day's entertainment!

Reading: "Gyo" (2002) by Junji Ito. Horror manga that's bizarre (land dwellers attacked by fish on legs) and truly original (did I mention the fish on legs?).

Friday, January 04, 2008


RS and I caught the ferry to Manly. It was rough outside the heads. The beach was nice, although Bondi's nicer. Got bullied by a wave and cut my heel on a rock. The return journey was calmer. Ate an excess of crumbed calamari at Salt & Lemon. Waddled the streets of Randwick until our food went down. Tonight we're watching the "Doctor Who" Chrissie special, "Voyage Of The Damned" (onya, JH!).

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

There we woz

The SCG's Brewongle Stand for day one of the second cricket Test between Australia and India. Andrew "137 not out" Symonds is the greatest saviour since Flash Gordon. Having recovered from 6/134, the Aussies will begin day two at 7/376.

Fact: Telstra Stadium is now called ANZ Stadium.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

How I saw in '08

* Walking the water's edge (right along and back) at a Bondi Beach teeming with people yet oddly peaceful. It reminded me why I was either in the sea or on the sand for a huge chunk of my youth. Living on a peninsula didn't hurt :-)
* Busting out the Magic cards for some coffee-table clashes.
* With the slowest Thai takeaway in human history!

How I saw out '07

* A white-knuckle ride ('cos it's 46 metres tall and I'm a fraidy cat) on the Sky View Ferris wheel at Darling Harbour. Of course, RS wasn't the least bit worried.
* Wandering the gorgeous chaos of the Powerhouse Museum.
* Zooming through the "Iceman: The Story Of Otzi" exhibition at the Australian National Maritime Museum.
* Sitting/standing at the Circular Quay end of Phillip St, awaiting/appreciating the hell out of the squillion-dollar midnight fireworks display that was launched from the Harbour Bridge, floating barges and the tops of skyscrapers. Particle showers!