Dork Geek Nerd

"Rational romantic mystic cynical idealist"

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Silver and orange

Guest of honour at the DWCA meeting was Englishman David Banks, who played the Cyberleader in four (original series) "Doctor Who" stories and has written two books about the Cybermen. When his missus was granted a six-week artist's residency in Oz, he decided to end a decade-long retirement from fandom and attend a few gatherings. I'm very glad 'cos he was an excellent orator who (a) clearly remembered the shows he'd done, and (b) had intelligent things to say about them. DB also recalled his fleeting turn as the Doc in the theatrical production "The Ultimate Adventure", replacing Jon Pertwee who'd suffered a minor breakdown. Post-Q&A, I got him to autograph my "Earthshock" DVD, plus a head shot for a Cyber-afficionado who couldn't be present.

Chemical addiction: The prawn gyoza entree and "salmon lover" main at Yama in the QVB. Three times in the past week - there may need to be an intervention :-)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Anime and alcohol

Had to queue for 45 minutes to get into the one-day Animania convention at the Citigate Central hotel. (By lunch, the inadequate venue was so packed that the door staff were only letting someone in when someone else went out!) For the two-day con in August, I'm definitely gonna pre-register. Anyhoo... Hit the screening room too late for "Air Gear", but watched subbed episodes of "My-Z-Hime" (babes vs huge baddies sci-fi in a detailed aristocratic society), "Hell Girl" (disturbing modern horror about retribution at a price) and "Witchblade" (tragic character becomes sexy superheroine in an earthquake-devastated Tokyo). Caught up with CM and a camera-toting AM in the main stage area, where they'd saved me a seat for the cosplay. You won't be shocked to learn that "Bleach", "Death Note" and "Naruto" were the most heavily mined sources of inspiration. Bid the brothers farewell and exited via the dealers' tables. The lone standout was a cool "What would Kira do?" sticker (answer: buy a spare to send to RS).

Fed my face, then temporarily returned to earth with "Sydney's Pubs: Liquor, Larrikins And The Law", a modest exhibition at the Justice & Police Museum near Circular Quay. Appropriate to the context, it focused on drunken disorder, sly grog and underworld connections. Artefacts, documents, models. Monitors cycled through period pics. Once upon a time in Australia, pubs had real charm.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Many happy returns, SC

9pm onward. Lots o' people. "Black Cherry" at Hermann's Bar, USyd. Becks until they ran dry, then Amber Ale. Shouted convos. Quality DJs. "Punk - rock - rockabilly - retro," stated the poster. Surreal mix of subcultures. Zero aggro. I stayed for 2/3 burlesque routines.

Note: The post time below isn't accurate (I was still at "B/C"), but I wanted to categorise this as a Friday event.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Marketing stunts

The blurb for the "Jackass 2.5" DVD suggests our fave daredevils had enough unused material from their second movie to make a third. This isn't quite true - it's more like half a flick, padded with interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, framed by a military skit. I borrowed the office copy and got a chuckle or four, but I wouldn't advise buying it except from a budget bin. To give you an idea of the content, new stunts include Dizzy Boxing, Human Golf Tee, Cajun Obstacle Course, Mini Motorycle Mayhem and The Naircut (as in Nair hair-removal cream).

Cover-tastic: Placebo's version of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill"

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A brew with the crew

6pm onward. CM, CS, DL and I. The Macquarie Hotel. Dark or pilsener, depending. Roaming conversation. The Elana Stone Band. "Jazz rock," she told me. A touch of Missy Higgins. With cred. I stayed for 2/3 sets.

Happy pill: "I Make Hamburgers" - The Whitlams

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I prefer their early stuff

Enthusiastically and amateurishly assessed the Moran Prizes 2008 exhibition at the State Library (open until 8pm!) and concluded the portraits were inferior to last year's assortment.

Nevertheless, Jack Atley's mono photo "Weather Girl: Rose Kelly" repeatedly drew my gaze - the wind on Sydney Harbour was wild that day, but her eyes were wilder. And Louise Hearman's painting "Ned", of a child's disembodied head on a jet background, was freakily effective.

Watching: "30 Days Of Night" (2007). Office copy of the limited-edition blah blah DVD.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Back at work

Nose, meet grindstone.

Listening: "Doctor Who: Caerdroia" (2004) by Lloyd Rose. Big Finish audiobook #63 featuring Doc Eight, Charley and C'rizz.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Stop checking the mailbox...

By now, you should all have NOT received humorous postcards from my overseas jaunt. Despite taking a list of 17 addresses with me, I didn't write directly to anyone. There were two reasons for this. 1. I only encountered a single facility that could remotely be termed a post office and that was a stall on Mystery Island. 2. What the blog didn't cover will inevitably be related in person until you're sick of hearing about it :-)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Further recommendations

* "Fables: 1001 Nights Of Snowfall" (2006) by Bill Willingham et al.
* "Eating For England: The Delights & Eccentricities Of The British At Table" (2007) by Nigel Slater
* Stephen Fry's "podgrams" - available for download from

LPO's 30th birthday barbecue, held at his parents' mansion (the word "house" wouldn't do it justice) in Kogarah, was an utterly civilised and pleasant affair...which I daresay got messier after I left :-)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Hit and myth

From the thousands of words I read prior to this evening's union/league coverage, I can recommend the following:

* "Wrong About Japan: A Father's Journey With His Son" (2005) by Peter Carey
* "Odd And The Frost Giants" (2008) by Neil Gaiman

Thursday, March 20, 2008


When I was a wee lad, an annual highlight was attending the Newcastle Show - or, if I was impatient and had the chance to tag along with a friend, the earlier, less spectacular Maitland Show. Confectionery/toy showbags, dodgy rides (such as the "Battlestar Galactica" ghost train - darkness, loud horns, descending gorilla hands and that was it!), sideshow alley, videogame tents and abundant fried/sugary food equalled kid heaven. However, as with many things, the novelty wore off during high school and I never returned.

Today, mainly for nostalgia's sake but partly out of curiousity 'cos it's so famous, I made my first visit to the Royal Easter Show. It was exactly what I remembered from Newie - minus the mini-arcades - just on a grander scale. How tastes change! I rode, played and ate nothing, buying only the value-for-money "PC PowerPlay" showbag. But I spent a good two hours looking at animals (alpacas rule!), handicrafts, produce, wood chopping and other stuff the young Addster woulda dismissed as "boring". He'd have appreciated the freestyle motocross, high-wire stunts and precision ute driving, though.

I also saw the 7.10pm session of "Be Kind Rewind" at Cinema Paris in the Entertainment Quarter. Plot in a nutshell: Jack Black and Mos Def are left in charge of Danny Glover's struggling video shop, all the tapes get wiped, they begin remaking the movies (they call it "Sweding") with the help of Melonie Diaz, they're suddenly inundated with customers. What it lacks in the comma department, "B/K/R" makes up for in imagination and - as sappy as it sounds - heart.

Latest wacky ice tea: Wintermelon. An unusual, clean sweetness.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Went to the SCG for the fifth day of the Pura Cup cricket final between New South Wales and Victoria. The Bushrangers required an improbable 532 additional runs for victory; we needed to take eight more wickets. White made 57, Jewell 99 (poor bugger) and Crosthwaite 50, but by precisely 3.01pm the matter was settled. Lee, Clark and Casson had done the necessary damage and my Blues were triumphant.

Walked to the city via Yoshinoya (stomach was gurgling to be fed), then on to the Art Gallery Of NSW. As usual, I strongly disagreed with the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prize winners. Had I the option to hang an entry from each comp on my walls, I'd take Yi Wang's "Long Hair", either David Keeling's "Narawntapu, Close Up, II" or Andrew Bennett's "The Casual Farmer", and Keith Lane's "8 Histories".

Eye candy: "PiQ" magazine (April 2008). "Newtype USA" grows up and, um, shrinks.
Ear candy: "Nil Recurring" EP (2007) - Porcupine Tree. My first "super jewel box" :-)
Actual candy: Japanese mandarine-flavoured Kit Kats. Fangs, sis!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


While I was a-roamin', the oldies - bless 'em - gave my apartment a THOROUGH cleaning. They even resuscitated my bamboo plant, Bam. Their kindness shall be rewarded with tax-exempt grog and perfume!

Monday, March 17, 2008

St Paddy's Day

It's official - there ain't a drop of Guinness left on board.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


* A champagne waterfall in the Grand Plaza. As we began deconstructing the pyramid and emptying the glasses, hundreds of balloons fell from the ceiling.
* BBC World, CNN and ESPN - signals permitting.
* Musicals with themes of country and western (Friday), Motown (Saturday) and a bit of everything (tonight).
* Five channels of films...
"In The Shadow Of The Moon" (2007) - Comprehensive, revelatory and stirring doco about America's Space Racers. Magnificent!
"Bridge To Terabithia" (2007) - We studied the book in Mr Marsh's Grade 5 class, 26 years ago. It remains a little magic and a lot tragic. Zooey Deschanel songs a bonus.
* Ages 18+ jokes in The Dome, a futuristic nightclub that's kinda like Ten Forward from "Star Trek: The Next Generation".
* "Vampireslayer" (2001) by William King. Gotrek & Felix #6. Thus exhausting my supply of nerdy reading material.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Isle Of Pines

By Murphy's decree, the furthest "tender" trip was also the bumpiest. A lose-your-hat breeze was blowing on shore, the palms bending like eavesdroppers at a door. The ranks of pines stood tall, though, as uniform as a model railway diorama.

I/O/P is part of New Caledonia and was formerly a French penal colony. It's more modern than Vanuatu, with a noticeably European style. For example, locals vend similar products, but from the trunks of their Peugeots and Renaults. The buildings are prettier, decorative rather than merely functional.

A stroll down a tarred road - stepping aside for the gendarmes in their blue Land Rover - took me to an expensive restaurant/bar opposite a resort. I tried a bottle of Nouvelle Caledonie's No. 1 biere, appropriately titled Number One. In the adjoining souvenir store, I sheepishly paid 500 Pacific Francs for two variations of Twisties we don't have in Oz - Mexican and Pizza.

What else? Teenage cruisers on rented bicycles, skinny hounds shadowing picnickers, weird landforms (a miniature wooded island within a bay), the exotic combination of Melanesian women and the French accent. At a boutique above the jetty, I grabbed a hand-carved leather fridge magnet for DL and HV's collection, plus four lovely illos that AK - the artistic member of the family - may wish to frame. Mum's present will have to be an item of P&O merchandise.

Movie: "Miss Potter" (2006). Stop sniggering at the back.
Yank junk: Jolly Rancher Hard Candy. raspberry.
Sport: Commiserations to the Kings. Yay Knights!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Mystery Island (aka Anatom)

Tiny. The sand/volcanic-rock coast can be circumnavigated in under 45 minutes. Trust me, I did it with a belly full of brunch.

Sheltered. A halo of reefs makes it ideal for lagoon swimming, snorkelling or viewing coral from an outrigger canoe.

Uninhabited. Not permanently, anyway. A landing strip was cleared in WW2 which remains in operation (closer inspection reveals it's streaked with tyre marks). There are rudimentary cabins for ultra-adventurous holidayers, and folk from the adjacent isles bring their wares across for boats like ours.

Curious. Breadfruit trees. Piles of pumice. Darting lizards. Four legs and a formidable nipper slipping sideways into a crevice...

Of course, the ultimate enigma of Mystery Island is whether the canary yellow Liverpool "away" jersey I purchased for $12 is a naughty facsimile. It has the Reebok tags and bag, so it must be kosher, yeah? :-)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Port Vila, Etafe Island

Vanuatu is like the USA in that drivers sit on the left and vehicles travel on the right. Road rules seem optional. I witnessed a truck execute a three-point turn in the middle of a busy two-lane road, holding up traffic in both directions. Nobody beeped their horn or yelled abuse as they would've done in Sydney - they just paused, then carried on.

I'd chosen my minivan on the basis that the dude behind the wheel was wearing a Wallabies jersey. (Rugby union apparel of all the top-tier teams is common hereabouts.) Contrary to cautionary passenger tales about white-knuckle rides, he drove at a sedate pace to the Ekasup Cultural Village. I'll describe that excellent attraction at a later date.

Page: "Beastslayer" (2001) by Wm King
Screen: "Beowulf" (2007)
Stage: "Do You Wanna Dance?" (Tues), "Boogie Shoes" (Wed), Peter Dean and his very non-PC comedy routine (tonight)
Glass: Moscow Mule (42 Below Vodka, ginger beer, bitters, fresh lime)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


From a beach of white, blue-grey and black stones, some the size of emu eggs. Through an idyllic village - neat huts, the scent of woodsmoke, chooks ranging free, a general store with a New Zealand Warriors "try time" poster, western-style marble grave in one front yard. To a steep, grassy slope. At its summit, a 30-metre tower of criss-crossing branches, like a zipper in the sky.

N'gol. Land diving. Bungee jumping with a vine instead of a bungee cord. Not over a river but a patch of raked dirt.

This ancient ritual is enacted between March and June, when the vines are the right balance of strength and elasticity. The same tower is used for the entire period. Before each performance, diving platforms are erected on the structure at points corresponding to body parts. Boys as young as eight may leap from the knees, while only the bravest man will go from the head.

I wait with anticipation from a spot secured by rising at an unreasonable hour - a stumps'n'plank bench in the shade of a thorny, spider-silked lime tree. I silently petition the spirits of Pentecost Island not to let any of their sons die for the tourist dollar.

The diver climbs agilely to his mark. Fellow jumpers help tie the purposely frayed end of the vine to his ankles. It is already bound around the platform. The ground crew - an elder naked save for a penis sheath, carrying a raking stick - checks the vine hasn't become entangled with any others.

The diver steps forward. He raises his hands to acknowledge the crowd. He claps and so do we. A group of males on the hillside begins to dance, sing in unison, whoop and holler. There are echoes of the Maori haka.

The diver sways and prays...then falls gracefully into the sweltering air.

His descent stops when the vine does - two metres shy of the earth. The platform snaps in half by design. His body is jerked so violently I think his back must be broken (mine would be). But the ground crew lifts him to his feet and the diver acknowledges the audience again.

It is the most amazing, gutsiest thing I've seen in my life.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Champagne Bay, Espiritu Santo Island

Due to the absence of a dock, we were ferried ashore by "tenders", ie. three of the ship's 90-person lifeboats. Espiritu Santo is covered in a verdant afro, the water is azure, the sand is bone white.

Setting foot on land for the first time in days, we were serenaded by a Christian youth band (it's how they raise money for schooling). Along the back of the beach were 20-30 covered market stalls.

I waded in the shallows, then explored the goods'n'services for sale. Had a bottle of Tusker beer (5% alcohol, top flavour) for $5, got talking in pidgin to a fella who was selling it for $4 and had another.

While Vanuatu has its own currency - the vatu - they accept small Aussie notes and coins, so there's no need for exchanging. Large bills/cards can be locked in the programmable safe in your cabin.

Waiting for the return tender, I was caught in a tropical shower more intense than any I remember from Darwin. As the giant droplets ran down my grinning mug, it was like feeling rain for the first time.

* "Inside Man" (2006) - all-star NYC bank-heist baloney. Still more engrossing than...
* "Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End" (2007) - stupidly convoluted, borderline tedious, vulgar display of budget. A trilogy seriously weakened.

Also: Questions about cruising - however trivial - welcomed. Lemme know what you wanna know!

Monday, March 10, 2008


String Fever were as impressive at 9.30 as they'd been at 7.30. I doubt I was the only repeat offender.


I lost at wooden-horse racing and bingo, while I won at "Scrabble" and shuffleboard. Clearly, I have a higher score for skill than luck :-)

Normal nightly entertainment has resumed. Husband'n'wife duo String Fever - he on violin/keys/percussion/voice, she on cello/p/v - were all kinds of brilliant. Hubby resembled Austin Powers crossed with a Gypsy minstrel. His missus was a classic beauty with a ski jump nose, decked out in a glamorous gown and diamonds. They met as members of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, leaving it 11 years ago to craft their own travelling act - a mix of traditional and pop numbers/impressions, punctuated with anecdotes and gags. Oh, to be so musically gifted.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Unsteady as she goes

It's windy and rainy. The swell is "moderate to rough", sayeth the captain. The boat pitches constantly. Barf bags line the handrails. Tonight's cabaret performance was cancelled for safety reasons. And I'm strangely unworried. I who, like Jerky Boys character Sol Rosenberg, am scared of my own shadow. Shhh! He could be listening.

In uvva news... Whatever gunk I washed my hair with this morning has rendered it vertically spiky. I imagine this makes me look like TV chef Gary Rhodes. The truth is probably nearer to Marvel Comics' Legion, as drawn by Bill Sienkewicz.

I reckon "The Holiday" (2006) is a doubly satisfying (if doubly predictable) romance, thanks to the actoring of Cameron Diaz, Jude Law, Kate Winslet and Jack Black.

The novel "Dragonslayer" (2000) - fourth in the Gotrek & Felix series and nada to do with the venerable Disney 'toon - is compelling Warhammer fantasy. Although author William King doth misquote Lady Macbeth.

Blew my duty-free booze quota with bottles of Bundy OP Rum (for Dad's coffee) and Absolut Vodka (for a mate's 30th). $51 in toto - bargain! Anyone need a carton of cut-price ciggies? :-)

Nouveau posh :-)

As we propel across the choppy Coral Sea, spray flying and overspilling swimming pools closed, my agenda reads: 11am - wine tasting session, 2pm - art auction, 5pm - James Bond cocktail demo. Might even have a postprandial cognac in the Bengal Bar, so named for the golden tiger statue that is its centrepiece. CM would approve.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The breathtaking blue

Three a la carte meals, two free flicks - 06's "The Sentinel" (presidential security run'n'gun nonsense) and 07's "Dan In Real Life" (soul-gladdening family/relationship drama. Steve Carell is tremendous!) - plus a '50s/'60s rock show by Roland Storm (who plays a Roland keyboard) and the seven-piece house band.


I didn't choose this cruise for the four-star luxury. I really wanted to do what I did earlier: stand on the uppermost deck, turn 360 degrees and see only an immensity of perfect water.

* They sell certain US snacks, eg. Cinnamon Teddy Grahams and Snackwell's Creme Sandwich Cookies.
* I've switched to Carlton Cold which provides more alcobang for the same bucks.

First night

* XXXX Gold appears to be the best value beer on board at $4.50 per can.
* Took part in pub trivia. The winning team of six scored 13/20. I got 11/20 on my lonesome. Part of me feels proud, while a different, slightly cynical part wonders if we're the Golgafrinchan B Ark ("Hitch-hiker's Guide" reference).
* "The Welcome Aboard Show" in the massive theatre - seating more than Sydney's IMAX cinema - consisted of Bucks Fizz camp, '50s rock'n'roll and Cockney stand-up. It was hosted by a Canadian who reminded me of Kryten from "Red Dwarf".
* Watched "Music And Lyrics" (2007) in my cabin. A-grade schmaltz starring that charming rogue Hugh Grant and the eternally cute Drew Barrymore.
* Slept like a Hobbit in a hole.

* This satellite Net access is costing me 75c a minute!

Friday, March 07, 2008

At sea on the Pacific Dawn!

An Italian-built ship with predominantly Italian senior officers, registered in London and taking Aussies to the South Pacific. There are 1400 miles until our first stop - Champagne Bay, Vanuatu. My tummy's adjusting to the "motion of the ocean". No sickness so far, though sleeping may be difficult. The movie channels should help :-)

* We had to sign a form to say we haven't suffered gastro recently. Obviously, they can't risk an outbreak.
* I was briefly questioned at Customs due to the fact my passport expires a mere seven months from now.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

If the cap fits, declare it

My Newcastle Knights membership goodies arrived. A weird, transparent, drawstring backpack and a cap that actually accomodates my egg-noggin (for a change). They didn't bother with a poster this year, which is fine with me since it always gets crushed in transit. No sticker, neither. [Shrug] I'd rather have headwear I can use. Go the Knights!

Dangling plotline

Just completed my delayed best-out-of-ten tournament between those M:TG elf and goblin "Duel Decks". The forest folk were victorious over their cave-dwelling cousins, 6.5 to 3.5. If you're curious about the half marks, it's because the gobbo deck is capable of forcing a draw using the Skirk Fire Marshal card. ("Tap five untapped Goblins you control: S/F/M deals 10 damage to each creature and each player.")

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The ballad of John and Juno

Watched a couple of leaked "screeners", courtesy of NP...

"John Rambo" (2008): Surprise beginning (Burma, eh?), gorefest middle and end, corny epilogue. "Rocky Balboa" is Sly's superior reprisal. 5/10

"Juno" (2007): Nobody talks like the hip characters in this gentle yarn about teen pregnancy, but we should imitate their compassion. 7/10

RIP E. Gary Gygax (1938-2008)

The visionary scholar behind "Dungeons & Dragons" and the factory of fascination that was TSR. As influential as Tolkien, he brought magic to the suburbs in a cardboard box.

Now I picture the burly, bearded, bespectacled bloke disappearing down a 10'x10'x??? corridor - well equipped for whatever challenges lie ahead.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Compulsory tie

There are two formal dinners on the cruise. Gentlemen are required to wear either a suit or a jacket and tie. I've got a nice grey sportscoat, but the only tie I own depicts Jesus Christ on a psychedelic background. So I went in search of something less offensive to oldsters, preferrably in green. The prices were outrageous! Up to $220 for stripes I didn't want in shades that didn't remotely appeal. In desperation, I checked a souvenir store and seized on a dark green tie dotted with tiny gold kangaroos. A bargain at $25 (with free stick pin). If I can't be fashionable, I'll settle for patriotic. Speaking of which...

No third final

I can't believe we lost the one-day cricket tri-series to India! Any wonder they're scrapping it as of next season.

Treat from Treats From Home

Peanut Butter M&M's. PB inside chocolate inside candy. Soft but not overly so. Swee-eet. Hope they get a local release.

"Ashes To Ashes"

That's the name of the sequel to stonking UK TV series "Life On Mars"! The action (and therefore soundtrack) have fast-forwarded a decade to the '80s, and it stars the delectable Keeley Hawes from "Spooks"! Sure, the conclusion of "L/O/M" was like a kick in the guts followed by a head'n'shoulders massage, but that won't stop me ordering this show the attosecond it's available on Amazon UK.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Play, rest and work

(To rearrange a slogan.)

I hate catching taxis. Let me rephrase that: I hate paying to catch taxis. Nevertheless, it was necessary to do so thrice within 24 hours...

Friday night was MV's farewell at the Macquarie Hotel, where everyone was at their friendliest, the funk/soul band was smokin' and an excess of the micro-brewed Dark Bier rendered me unsuited for a slow ride on a bus without a lavatory.

Saturday morning, I was nauseous to the point where it was hard to keep down water. To maximise my damage-control time, I waited until the absolute last minute to leave for SC's. Hence: another cab.

A session of "Expedition To The Demonweb Pits" (not "Queen Of Spiders" as I erroneously stated earlier) took my mind off my body until it was time for SC, LC, LPO, TC, JC and I to trek to the fish'n'chippy. The healing properties of a battered saveloy and potato scallops drenched in tomato sauce, chased with 600ml of Fanta (it's 5% fruit, you know), cannot be overstated.

"You've come good, mate," said LPO, as we packed away our books and dice. "When you first arrived, I wasn't sure if you were gonna be able to sit at the table."

I repeat this not to advertise my Wolverine-like regenerative ability but to explain why, rather than heading home to bed, I hopped a train to the CBD to scoff a yasai don (tofu, mushrooms, vegies, egg, rice) then meet CM and AM at the Entertainment Centre for a crucial basketball game between my Kings and the Perth Wildcats.

Couldn't have enjoyed this more. Not only did we grind the enemy beneath our high-tops, 109-77, the lion mascot inexplicably removed his head to reveal a Gene Simmons KISS mask and danced to "Rock And Roll All Nite". Fharlanghn knows why. Also, CM and I had ourselves in hysterics commentating on a hyperactive kid who was running round the stadium, waving his giant purple and yellow flags in a semaphore only he could understand.

Escaping the city afterwards woulda been a problem even for Snake Plissken. It was Mardi Gras, the throng was of New Year's Eve proportions, roads were blocked and buses diverted. What's more, I didn't experience any of the intended positive vibe - only broken glass and aggro. After one too many jostle, I flagged a taxi that was forced to drop me in Randwick via Kings Cross then Bondi Junction.

On Sunday, I issued a stop-work ban. Spent the whole of it sofa-bound, watching our mostly pathetic display against India in the cricket (broken in the middle by the phenomenal "UFC #82: Pride Of A Champion" PPV), reading "Fables" graphic novels #7-9 ("Arabian Nights (And Days)", "Wolves" and "Sons Of Empire") and selling my tarnished soul to the DS title "Puzzle Quest".

Today, I accounted for all of my neglected housework, some snail mailing and a few trip preparations. The Pat Metheny Group's "The Falcon And The Snowman" - featuring sublime Bowie vocals on "This Is Not America" - got a workout. The latest "Hyper" mag was over and done with in a sitting.

So much still needs sorting before I weigh anchor on Friday...