Dork Geek Nerd

"Rational romantic mystic cynical idealist"

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Three-part harmony

CM, CS and I emerged from the Reel Room singing the praises of director Mike Leigh's newie, "Happy-Go-Lucky", an unexpected cross between his trademark kitchen-sink drama and 2001's adorably optimistic "Amelie". [Australian cinema release date: June 26]

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

"D&D" with SC, L. and G.

It took us 18 complicated combat rounds to dispatch an evil, spell-casting wolf duo. Traps were sprung, a summoned badger was toast, G.'s character was on negative hit points and mine was under the effect of a Charm Person. Fortunately, L.'s alter ego and his pet weasel were still swinging/nipping. It was like "The Wind In The Willows" had been ambushed by "Platoon".

Monday, April 28, 2008

Go see "Iron Man"!

I went to a preview screening at the George St Hoyts with CM, AM and NW and none of us could fault it. Slick, slick, slick, slick, slick, slick, slick. Superior effects to previous superhero adaptations, characters you'll actually believe in and care about (Robert Downey Jr is brilliant!), unforced humour, thumping soundtrack, the requisite Stan Lee cameo, battle scenes that don't drag, foreshadowing... By the way, the refit of the aforementioned multiplex is finally complete. It now houses a Timezone arcade, where I was surprised to see a videogame based on TV game show "Deal Or No Deal" that had buttons for those options and each of the numbered briefcases. But, as Peter David would say, I digress...go see "Iron Man"!

Reading at rest ('cos it's hefty and expensive):

* "The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier" (2008). Writer Alan Moore and artist Kevin O'Neill fast-forward their famous-literary-figures-interacting espionage from the Victorian setting of the two prior comic series to an alternate '50s Britain...sort of. The tome-within-a-tome of the title covers various earlier episodes relating to the so-called "Murray Group".

Reading in motion ('cos it's portable and cheap):

* "Doctor Who: Wooden Heart" (2007) by Martin Day. Doc Ten(nant) and Martha in a mystery in a village in a forest in a starship. And it's really very good. "W/H" is dedicated to noted "Who" author Craig Hinton who, according to Wikipedia, was discovered dead in his home in December 2006, aged only 42. Sad.

Cool souvenir from CM's latest Hawaiian jaunt:

Rum-flavoured pirate mints!

Clifford Stoll channels Wembley Fraggle:

Scientist/educator/eccentric CS is responsible for the non-fiction works "The Cuckoo's Egg" (1989; intriguing hacker hunt), "Silicon Snake Oil" (1995; admirable ode to offline virtues) and "High-Tech Heretic" (2000; can't comment, but I have it on order from Amazon). When PG tipped me off to the lectures available on TED, this was a treat -

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Schoolyard memory #214

(Kindergarten - Year 2?)

If a male classmate was wearing new black leather shoes/desert boots/sneakers, it was the solemn duty of every boy to stomp on said articles - left foot and right - and shout, "Christened!" I bet our mothers wondered how our shoes got so grubby after a single day.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Choosing the right breakfast pizza

Paid a visit to my real estate agency, Couldn't Care & Less, to lodge a fault report. Not about this flat but another section of the building. The stained-glass windows on the floor above mine have been painted stuck in an open position and, recently, a pair of pigeons have taken to entering the stairwell to bid residents an annoying and unhygienic good morning. I'm confident I could loosen the windows with a hammer and screwdriver or chisel, but as all renters know, the golden rule is DDIY - don't do it yourself!

The UNSW Book Fair turned up no treasure and, what's more, the Roundhouse smelt like a foul fusion of stale sweat and ammonia. Had it just hosted a rave for incontinent people? The silver lining to the noxious cloud was a micro-exhibition of "Photos found in books" that covered approximately 12% of a pinboard. A cool idea that I'm sure came about through volunteer boredom.

Sucked in by the ballyhoo surrounding the Doncaster Handicap, I decided to place small wagers on races 6, 7 and 8 at Randwick. I thought jockey Glen Boss was a "special" on Prince De Galles in the Australian Derby, but he could only manage sixth. My sentimental selection, Takeover Target, faded to third in the TJ Smith Stakes. A field of seven meant no third dividend :-( Thankfully, Bossy put me into profit and scored his third successive Doncaster win on Triple Honour (how appropriate). That's the gambling urge sated for a bit.

Walk, bus, walk, bus, walk.

My new fave burger joint is Burgerfuel in Newtown. A branch of a Kiwi chain, their wide range includes hippie-friendly fillings such as smoked teriyaki tofu. They're not afraid to add fruits like pear or mango to the standard meat'n'salad combo, either. I recommend ordering kumara (sweet potato) fries with your burger. I've loved these things since I tried 'em at a Rotorua fish'n'chip shop in 2002.

Chased my repast with a couple of relaxing light ales at The Duke, where a log fire was burning in the back room. There's no other warmth or aroma like it.

So to the Enmore Theatre, the reason I was in the neighbourhood. Opening act Sleep Parade played heavy neo-prog and played it well. The Melbourne three-piece definitely had the musical chops, but some of their tracks lacked focus. Also, for a first-time listener, the subject matter was opaque. I'm sure they learnt a lot from the band whose Oz tour they were supporting - Porcupine Tree. The UK* five-piece** delivered a live performance unmatched in my experience. I don't mean the smoke'n'lights, video backdrop or on-stage movements (though frontman Steven Wilson has amazing presence). I mean their incredible clarity. At heavy metal volume, I could make out every wonderful note and word. The ageing muso next to me pronounced, "I've seen Zeppelin and I've seen Floyd, and these guys are better."

*Three Poms, an Aussie and a Yank.
**When not touring, they're a four-piece.

Shirt slogan that made me smirk:

"We now interrupt this marriage to bring you THE FOOTY!"

The optimum pizza for brekkie is, of course, deep pan Hawaiian - all the fat and salt of a ham, cheese and tomato croissant, plus the sugar of a glass of sweetened pineapple juice :-)

Friday, April 25, 2008

"'Tide" and tested

In my correct opinion, the four theme decks for the "Magic: The Gathering" collectible card game expansion "Morningtide" are the most evenly matched yet. Hours spent hunched over the coffee table, drinking Boag's Draught and eating beer nuts with a spoon (so as not to get the cards greasy :-)), conducting a solo round-robin tournament, produced the following results:

[Deck name/type/creature focus/matches won/games won/rank]

"Battalion"/UW weenie evasion/Kithkin + Soldiers/2/5/2nd
"Going Rogue"/BU weenies + discard + card drawing/Faeries + Rogues/0/3/4th
"Shamanism"/BGw tough critters + life gain/Treefolk + Shamen/2/4/3rd
"Warrior's Code"/GR big, fast creatures/Warriors/2/6/1st

Mixed media:

* "Doctor Who: The Game" (2005) by Darin Henry. Big Finish audiobook #66, featuring the Fifth Doc and Nyssa (I myssa!) on a world devoted to a deathsport.
* "Fear Of A Blank Planet" (2007) - Porcupine Tree. Near-indescribable. Critics have labelled them "the new Pink Floyd", but that may be selling PT short. Seriously.
* "Faker" (2007-08). Vertigo graphic novel written by Mike Carey and drawn by Jock. US college housemates confront an existential dilemma. Too soon to tell...

Colourful past:

For their annual ANZAC Day rugby league clash with the Dragons, the Roosters wore predominantly sky blue jerseys (instead of navy), just as they'd done during WW2 when there was a shortage of the darker dye. It looked weird (and they got deservedly flogged), but I applaud the historical reference.


It's the 90th anniversary of the Battle Of Villers-Bretonneux, a northern French village of strategic significance that was recaptured from the German forces - at the cost of 1200 lives - by hugely outnumbered ANZAC troops. Brave bastards to a man. Lest we forget.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A tale of two (footballing) cities

Adelaide United trounced Binh Duong 4-1 at home, thanks to some Nathan Burns wizardry, to remain on top of Group E in the AFC Champions League. Meanwhile, Melbourne Victory lost 2-0 away to Gamba Osaka, in a game that barely held my attention, and languish at the bottom of Group G.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"D&D" with SC, R., L. and N.

Why do those swamp hags want us to fetch that jawbone from the ogre's lair, anyway?

Monday, April 21, 2008

This evening's entertainment

"UFC 83: Serra Vs St-Pierre 2" was very...Canadian.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Is there a common theme?

There was a queue the length of a diplodocid for the Australian Museum's new dinosaurs exhibition. Plan B was "Bateaux Jouets - Toy Boats From Paris 1850-1950" at the National Maritime Museum, via the tourist bustle of Darling Harbour.

Don't be misled by the title, these multifarious miniature vessels are on loan from a French institution, but many of them were manufactured in Germany. From wooden Noah's Arks for toddlers to steam-driven "leviathans" (one that can fire .22 caliber blanks!) with a hundred variations in between, it's a window on a European craze and a massive, competitive industry now almost vanished.

All change:

* "The Machine Gunners" (1975) by Robert Westall. Kids' yarn about surving bombing raids and gleefully exploring/collecting/trading the military wreckage in WW2 England. From the bulging "classics I missed at school" file.
* "A Brief History Of Rhyme" (2004) by MC Hawking. Phat beats and synthesised gangsta raps dropping physics knowledge. Tracks include "All My Shootings Be Drivebys" and "Entropy" (in the style of Naughty By Nature's "O.P.P.").
* "Dark Matter" (2007). A brilliant foreign student's thesis is rejected with dire consequences. Ignoring what's been altered from the tragic real-life inspiration, this arthouse fillum is a gripping depiction of culture clash and alienation. Another preview DVD from DL. [Australian rental release date: June 25]

When the clock struck five:

I was sampling Oporto's "new" Oprego burger - the usual ingredients with a sweet brown sauce instead of a hot red one. Ho-hum.

Ups and downs

Thurs: Stayed late at the office to conduct (then transcribe) a phoner with up-and-coming UK glamour model Emma Frain. Nice girl. My unjustified reward to myself was a rendezvous with Yama, where the beef yakiudon was deceptive quantity and big flavour down to the last chop of the sticks.

Fri: "No Life Til Leather" - an '80s metal night named after a Metallica demo tape - with SC, LA, etc. at Hermann's Bar, USyd. Too much inebriated idiocy on my part to relate, eg. entering a power metal scream comp, then doing a less-impressive-than-I'd-hoped death metal growl into the mic instead.

Sat: Waratahs versus Lions with PB, at the SFS, in the pouring rain. Don't worry, Mum, I was wearing a disposable hooded raincoat :-) The first half was scoreless; in the second, we outpointed the Jo'burg team 26-3. Healed my hangover with lemonade and ketchup'n'mustard-smothered hotdogs.

Sun: Awoke literally paralysed with fear and unable to vocalise anything but a pathetic moan. Lord knows what I'd been nightmaring about. It took me minutes to regain control over my limbs. Eventually, twisting my neck left and right slightly seemed to loosen the rest of my muscles. A childhood flashback.

Brainbox pollution:

* "The Rules Of Modern Policing - 1973 Edition" (2007) by DCI Gene Hunt. Humorous manual attributed to the "Life On Mars" character. Fake ageing, wear and biro additions by DC Chris Skelton.
* "Neither Washington...Nor Moscow" (1986) by The Redskins. Political soul-pop whose time has gone, but which I find curiously appealing.
* "Life After People" (2008). 90-min. doco about this planet without us. Screens 19/05 on The History Channel. DL gave me a preview DVD.

Hard name to live up to:

Napoleon Einstein (a cricketer in the Indian Premier League)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Full of delicious antipasto, bread rolls, almond biscotti, imported beer and good cheer am I. While she was a teensy bit unwell and initially overawed by the number of lofty strangers pressing her with presents, my niece enjoyed her second birthday party - especially the cake part. First, we sang her a song. Then she got to steal the sugar flowers (without scolding) and try to extinguish the candles prematurely as the photographers in the group used every trick to snare her elusive smile.

Returning to my domicile, I finally finished "Puzzle Quest" on the DS. I'd breezed through 99.9% of the game weeks ago, only to be annihilated by the ultimate enemy, Bane. This was about my 10th crack at him. I stopped rushing my moves, concentrated and won easily. Swapped that cart for anime beat-'em-up "Bleach: The Blade Of Fate" (a freebie from SC). Shocked myself by completing it first attempt in "easy" mode, using mainly low sword thrusts. Wherefore art thou, pattern searching?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Thought for the day

A surefire way to make it rain is to dump an unwanted lounge or mattress on the street. No matter how blue the sky, within 24 hours the heavens will unload, leaving said item so waterlogged that even a desperately needy person won't take it. It's a phenomenon I observe regularly in this medium-density neighbourhood.

Bus literature: "The Pefect Thing: How The iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture And Coolness" (2006, new afterword 2007) by Steven Levy. As extensively researched and fascinatingly, playfully told as the rest of his tech-centric library.

Handheld fun: After slaying the evil deities in "Chains Of Olympus" (that final boss was a bitch!), I've moved on to a more cutesy PSP title - "LocoRoco". Who doesn't like rolling smiling blobs around colourful cartoon landscapes to jolly tunes?

What's that noise?: Although I'm grateful to LA for the album, Dream Theater's "Greatest Hit (...And 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs)" (2008) has done nothing to alter my perception of the band as less than the sum of its prog-metal parts.

OK, then what's that other noise?: Surely you recognise the "Doctor Who" theme, sir/madam? It's Big Finish audiobook #65, Scott Alan Woodard's 2005 tale "The Juggernauts", starring the Sixth Doctor, Mel and some fella named Davros...

Don't bother: "30 Days Of Night: Blood Trails" (2007). DVD prequel (comprising seven webisodes) that's short and sour. Sorry, DL.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

500th post!

I found "Death Note #13: How To Read" tough going. A companion to the top-selling, 12-volume supernatural crime manga, it's basically a mini-encyclopaedia. There are analyses, timelines, design notes, interviews with writer Tsugumi Ohba and artist Takeshi Obata, bonus comics and even a personality test - the character I'm most like is Near, allegedly.

Contemporary fantasy novel "Dingo" (2008) by Charles De Lint, on the other paw, is instantly accessible and just plain lovely. It takes me back to second-year uni when I'd skip class, lie on a grassy slope or a bench on the library roof, and lose myself in the same author's exquisite imaginings "Moonheart" ('84), "Yarrow" ('86) and "Greenmantle" ('88).

AFL: Yay Sydney Swans! But Barry Hall socking Brent Staker on the jaw, then later slamming into the signage ("Poetic justice!" cry the West Coast Eagles supporters) guarantees our enforcer is set for a spell.

Adequate protection

Awoke feeling inexplicably paranoid about computer security. Soon discovered my freeware versions of AVG, Spybot and Ad-Aware had all been superceded. And that an individual who SHAN'T remain nameless - PG! - had registered one of them to "Magic: The Gathering" creator Richard Garfield. Downloaded the new programs on the block, updated their respective databases and performed exhaustive (ie. looooooong and boring) scans. A dozen aberrant but probably benign files were zapped before my PC was given a clean bill of machine health. No idea why I neglected this stuff for so many months - it's a wonder a Nigerian e-mail scammer isn't partying hearty on my credit card.

Not yer typical work function

The editor MP and I attended the finale of the A Night Of Horror Film Festival at the Dendy Cinema, Newtown. Our community-minded periodical (joke) once again sponsored the Scream Queen award. The boss made a speech and last year's honey crowned this year's winning actress - Tess McVicker - with a wicked, silver-grey, bejewelled, beskulled tiara constructed by none other than AM. The after-party was in the Bank Hotel's Velvet Room, which was cordoned off with fake cobwebs. We hung with photographer DM, ex-ed MV, the organisers and a stunning model who was "buttering up" the editor (his words). Two Heinekens was enough for me as it was my third fact-finding mission to the pub for Friday. By the way, Shakespeare's Pies - our stepping stone between Dendy and Bank - has been rebranded and the product is inferior. Despite a dearth of filling, the pastry's so weak it collapses under its own weight mid-scoff. The pies were the only horrible thing on the night.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Movie review: "Ten Empty" (2008)

The magazine has a new four-part review format, which means I do, too...

The gist: A dysfunctional family's reunion starts out drily amusing, turns intriguing – why won't the football hero younger son leave his bedroom? – and ends up harrowing and moving.

Selling points: Dinkum drama that avoids cliches, living legend Jack Thompson, a kitchen table bonk (not featuring living legend Jack Thompson), a few real "Oh, shit – no!" moments.

It's kinda like: Lots of other beaut Oz fillums, not to mention every family function you've been to where friction leads to a blow-up that results in all the old grievances being aired.

Final word: The full story.

[Australian cinema release date (tentative): July 3]

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

PSP saga

I tried to buy a Sony PSP on Sunday, but my local Electronics Boutique wouldn't price-match (thus losing a repeat customer). So I purchased one at JB Hi-Fi in the city yesterday, only to find it had a bung pixel that made using it like watching a TV with a fly on the corner of the screen. The defective unit was exchanged today with minimal fuss and the replacement seems A-OK. It's the Slim & Lite model, "ice silver" in colour, and came with "God Of War: Chains Of Olympus", the most cinematic game I've ever played. I grabbed a 2GB memory stick as well, which should take me a while to fill since it's just for saves.

Lunch munch: Vegie burritos at Mad Mex in Darlinghurst.

Saturday, April 05, 2008


Shute Shield rugby and Tooheys New at Chatswood Oval. Gordon 28 - my Randwick 26. Frustrating. Aged, grain-fed Scotch fillet and Stiegl Goldbrau at the Bavarian Bier Cafe, EQ. Super 14 rugby and H20 (you can't regress from SG to VB) at the Sydney Football Stadium. My NSW Waratahs 37 - Auckland Blues 16. Sensational! I couldn't have managed the treble without ya, PB :-)

Snack attack: Japanese Earl Grey tea-flavoured Kit Kat.

Friday, April 04, 2008

My kind of menu

Dining at Sushi Bar Rashai in Annandale with my sister, brother-in-law and niece, I discovered that "ninja balls" contain potato and chicken, wasabi ice-cream is a dessert to be respected, but tempura lettuce is a mistake. It's a funky, friendly restaurant. I plan to revisit, in the same company, for my birthday.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

I turned off the TV

I turned on the stereo and listened to all 220 minutes of "Doctor Who: The Next Life" (Big Finish audiobook #64, 2004), Alan Barnes and Gary Russell's three-disc epic about Doc Eight, Charley and C'rizz, guest starring the vocal talents of Paul Darrow (at his ruthless, Avon-like best), Daphne Ashbrook and Anneke Wills. Can you say "reset"?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

What happened in "WrestleMania XXIV"? (spoilerama)

Jets flew in formation over Orlando, Florida's Citrus Bowl. John Legend played piano and sang "America The Beautiful". We saw the first of several pyrotechnics displays. JBL defeated Fit Finlay, accompanied by the midget Hornswoggle (now revealed to be Fit's son, not Vince McMahon's), in a Belfast Brawl. "Hostess" Kim Kardashian encountered Mr Kennedy backstage. Matt Hardy interfered in the Money In The Bank ladder match, ruining MVP's chance. CM Punk unhooked the briefcase, earning a title shot wherever and whenever he desires. The WWE Hall Of Fame 2008 inductees/reps were publicly celebrated. Snoop Dogg appeared in a skit with Festus, Santino Marella, Mick Foley and a modified Mr Socko. Freddie Prinze Jr was shown in the crowd. Batista botched his bomb but beat Umaga in the "RAW vs SmackDown" challenge. After surviving a 24-man Battle Royale, Kane was given a crack at Chavo Guerrero's ECW belt. He pinned the champ in nine seconds. Raven-Symone informed us of some Make-A-Wish Foundation kids in the audience. Shawn Michaels booted Ric Flair outta wrestling (yeah, right). Snoop led the Divas to the ring in a pimped-out golf cart for the "Playboy" BunnyMania lumberjack (lumberjill?) match. Part-way through, there was a brief lighting failure. The King flattened Santino for getting involved. Beth Phoenix and Melina were victorious over Ashley and Maria. Snoop flattened Santino as well, then smooched Maria. A brass band performed John Cena's entrance theme as majorettes twirled batons. Randy Orton retained his WWE Championship over Cena and Triple H. The Big Show versus Floyd Mayweather wasn't horrible. The boxer copped a hiding before KOing the wrestler. Ms Kardashian announced the main event. A run-in by Hawkins and Ryder couldn't prevent The Undertaker from submitting Edge, winning the World Heavyweight Championship and taking his "'Mania" streak to 16-0. I fell asleep and was forced to replay my recording and type this summary on Tuesday.