Dork Geek Nerd

"Rational romantic mystic cynical idealist"

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Movie review: "Sukiyaki Western Django" (2007)

The gist: Japanese director Takashi Miike's take on the Italian take on the Yank western. Don't stop me, even though you've heard this plot before... A Wild West town has become the battlefield for two gangs, then an ace gunslinger arrives and refuses to pick a side.

Selling points: Sheer strangeness as cowboy cliches and samurai tradition collide in a vibrant bloodbath. Having the entire Japanese cast speak in English adds to the "What the...?" factor and almost feels like dubbing. Film geeks will be abuzz about Tarantino's role – but if his performance was a sandwich, the filling would be ham'n'cheese.

It's kinda like: Akira Kurosawa's "Yojimbo", Sergio Corbucci's "Django" and various westerns, both spaghetti and Hollywood. That said, it's uniquely bizarre – in one scene, the background looks like a Hokusai print of Mt Fuji; in another, the hero's quoting John Wayne.

Final word: The Wilder East.

[Australian DVD release date: October 16]

Monday, September 29, 2008

Movie review: "Trailer Park Boys" (2006)

The gist: Ricky, Julian and Bubbles are residents of a rough-as-guts Canadian caravan park and spectacularly unsuccessful crims. Fresh outta jail from their latest botched job, the buds plan a newie that'll set 'em up for life: "the big dirty". It involves a massive container of coins…

Selling points: Definitely the rogues gallery. Goggle-eyed Bubbles lives in a rickety shed full of "free-range kitties"; smooth Julian constantly has a rum'n'Coke in hand, whether driving his cool car or appearing in court; Ricky is like a redneck Chris Penn on red cordial; and the supporting characters are equally wacky. Fans of the band Rush will note several references to the Canuck rockers and a cameo by guitarist Alex Lifeson.

(I imagine) it's kinda like: The seven-season "Trailer Park Boys" TV series (shown here on The Comedy Channel). Except I've seen exactly none of it. But that's a good thing – it means I can assure you no prior knowledge is necessary.

Final word: An amusing place to visit, but you wouldn't wanna live there.

[Australian cinema release date: October 16]

Sunday, September 28, 2008


I was correctamundo about the Hawks. The 14 eps of "The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya" stand up to repeat viewing - even in dubbed form. Liverpool > Everton :-) "Doctor Who: Peacemaker" (2007) by James Swallow is dusty streets ahead of Hartnell snoozer "The Gunfighters". Tooheys White Stag - a low-carb New - is tolerable in small, ice-cold quantities. Sakata Thai lime and coriander rice crackers are suprisingly mild and demand dip. Mark Alpert thriller "Final Theory" (2008) sounds pretty silly (Einstein's lost masterwork?) but may well be a ripping yarn. Nothing calms the soul like an aimless wander in the spring sun.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Just got home...

...from the "Shards Of Alara" midnight pre-release tournament held at Good Games in the CBD. Hadn't played "Magic: The Gathering" competitively in years, nor had I studied the spoiler list. Surprised myself by how well I did...

Due to the small number of entrants (you'd have to be mad, right?), it was only a three-rounder. I constructed a B/G/R deck with a decent mana curve - accelerated from weenies and fixers into removal and fatties. Biggest bully was a dragon who brought a buddy to the battle. A spectator christened him "Double Dragon".

My first opponent was playing what his mate described as "five-colour bombs". It was tight - he had an artifact with a Wrath Of God effect AND a way to recycle it - but somehow I won 2-1. The second dude's deck was like a weaker version of mine (he said so himself) - 2-0 to Addster. Opponent three was exploiting the new "exalted" mechanic* in a U/G/W build. His strategy was superior and I went down 1-2.

Winning 2/3 matches (5/8 games) earnt me a booster pack, which contained a "mythic rare" to add to the one I'd opened in the tourney. That's now the top level of rarity - the expansion symbol on such cards is metallic orange in colour.

Having caught a bus and walked to the shop, I allowed myself the luxury of making the return journey by taxi. Thanks to me being positively chuffed, the driver got a generous tip.

Anyhoo, that's the reporting done. Wake us for the AFL grand final. I'll be barracking - against the odds - for Hawthorn. I'm sick of Geelong.

*Creatures that bestow a (cumulative) bonus on a lone attacker. Works great with a flyer or unblockable and, because it doesn't require the others to tap, leaves them as a defensive line.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Movie review: "Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist" (2008)

The gist: On a kerrazy, club-hopping night in New York, a nice guy (Michael Cera from "Superbad" and "Juno") and a nice gal (Kat Dennings from "The House Bunny") realise they have more in common than indie music preferences and bastard exes who prey on their low self-esteem. But do they discover the location of the secret gig by cult rockers Where's Fluffy?

Selling points: The terrific leads. Once again, Cera plays an inhibited-but-charming oddball who seems to be constantly smiling at a private joke. Dennings is a delicious mix of shy, wordly, homely and sexy. You will heart her. The other main selling point is the music, which provides plenty of atmosphere without interrupting the flow.

It's kinda like: What's known in the partying trade as a "big one". That means booze, bands, arguments about where to go next, barf, biff, food you wouldn't eat if sober, car trouble, snogging and sex. Though, there didn't seem to be a point to the ongoing gag – word used deliberately – with the gum. Unless it was to illustrate you never know where something's been.

Final word: A few tunes you've heard before and at least one dud, but the rest of the tracks are killer.

[Australian cinema release date: February 5, 2009]

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Christmas in September

The transport and accommodation are booked and I will be spending Chrissie week in the heart of Melbourne. The primary purpose of the trip is to attend the Boxing Day cricket Test against South Africa at the MCG - with my cousin GH2, if he's not on call. No doubt I'll also be hitting cultural spots missed on previous flying visits. I hear there's a thriving culture at Spearmint Rhino :-)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Post #667

It's OK, we're safe now :-)

Movie review: "Sex Drive" (2008)

The gist: Ian is a decent guy on the verge of college and stuck in the shadow of his two jock brothers. He's in unrequited love with his friend Felicia, who's a bit alternative, a bit rebellious and a lot cool. She's secretly got a crush on their friend Lance, an unashamed womaniser of the Sinatra school who even complete strangers can't help liking. The trio have stolen Ian's big bro' Rex's pride'n'joy – a classic Pontiac GTO in immaculate nick – and are on a 500-mile hoon so our hero can lose his cherry to a mysterious babe he's been fibbing to online.

Selling points: Oh, come on, doesn't everyone wanna hit the highway with their homies and have wild, unexpected, rock-fuelled, rude, scary, piss-funny adventures? Additionally... Seth Green's sizeable role as the ultra-sarcastic Amish farmer Ezekiel. A Jay and Silent Bob-type double act. Boobs.

It's kinda like: The basic premise's the same as in the '85 comedy "The Sure Thing", which sees John Cusack crossing the country on a promise. Obviously, it also owes a debt to the many other big-screen road trips, such, "Road Trip". Comparisons will be made to "Superbad", but "Sex Drive" is the better crafted flick, making its shock humour count yet managing to stay way smart and sweet.

Final word: Not all sex tours are nasty.

[Australian cinema release date: November 13]

Monday, September 22, 2008

The happiness dessert

I never met a block of chocolate I didn't like; the bulge above my belt is proof of that. But there haven't been many I've enjoyed half so much as the new Cadbury Rocky Road, with its diet-destroying arsenal of marshmallow, cherry jellies, peanuts and coconut. Addictive is too weak a word - the choccy is there, then it simply isn't. I fear it may be an invention of the Kandy Man.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Info freako

* "Wiffle Lever To Full!: Daleks, Death Stars And Dreamy-Eyed Nostalgia At The Strangest Sci-Fi Conventions" (2008) by Bob Fischer. The sub is slightly misleading as the author's 11-month odyssey (and rediscovery of his childhood) includes cons devoted to James Bond, Discworld, "Robin Of Sherwood" and Monty Python, as well as the major space operas.

* "Volume One" (2008) - She & Him. Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward. Pop-rock with a '60s influence is as accurate a description as any. Mix of originals and covers. ZD's voice is like treacle - darkly sweet. Ta, CM!

* "Hard Knocks" (season 3, 2007) Doco series focusing on the pre-season training camp of an NFL franchise. In this case, the Kansas City Chiefs. So you get veterans trying to squeeze out an extra year, rookies attempting to usurp a position, stars holding out for more money and coaches painstakingly picking a squad they feel can make the play-offs. Fascinating behind-the-scenes stuff. Ta, PB!

* "The City Of Falling Angels" (2005) by John Berendt. Yet another bargain audiobook. CS and DL both reckon it's inferior to his "Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil" and, at this early stage, I'm inclined to agree. Oh yeah, it's about Venice and her powers of attraction.

Local knowledge

The stroke of two found me at Randwick Labor Club for the one-bloke show "A Local Man". Written by Bob Ellis and Robin McLachlan and fantastically performed by Tony Barry, it documents the life and legacy of former Aussie PM Ben Chifley. The play takes place during a single night as the ailing pollie potters in his modest kitchen and lounge, dictates his memoirs, tries to compose a rousing farewell speech and fields phone calls from colleagues and friends. BC survived a brutal childhood, worked his way from railway apprentice to the nation's highest office, and never betrayed his ideals or his party. Is it any wonder the crew were wearing "Bring back the Chif" T-shirts?

Trivia: In the spirited post-show Q&A, I realised comedian John "Rampaging Roy Slaven" Doyle was sitting in front of me, while broadcaster Caroline Jones ("Australian Story") was behind.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bailey's musical cream

Bill Bailey got off to a stuttering start at tonight's "Tinselworm" gig at the State Theatre. His delivery was kinda rambling and the gags, while nutty, weren't uproarious. (Admittedly, I've been spoilt by the stand-up of Ricky Gervais, Daniel Kitson and Ross Noble.) It was only when he integrated instruments - guitars plus various effects pedals, keyboards with loadsa samples, theremin, bouzouki and didgeridoo - that I was glad I'd gone to the trouble of seeing him live. Who else could turn the title song from "Friends" into a criticism of Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina? Or an Oz news theme into a rave anthem? The emo parody about the barista self-harming with his coffee machine was also a cracker. I was so impressed I bought the program. It's full of BB weirdness and came with a plectrum, four badges (right on!) and a CD single - the "Hokey Cokey" done in German, in the style of Kraftwerk.

Galumphing Greens

PB and I moseyed on over to Concord Oval* for the Tooheys New Shute Shield rugby union grand final. Sydney University had been the dominant team all season and probably deserved to win on that basis. However, they were clearly off their game and the glory was there for the stealing. Unfortunately, my Randwick were worse. Much worse. Woeful, in fact. The 45-20 scoreline flatters and deceives.

*Home ground of the West Harbour Pirates.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Spare moments

* Reading "Death Note: Another Note - The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases" (2006) by the palindromic Nisioisin, translated from Japanese by Andrew Cunningham. Novel spun off from the "D/N" manga.

* Listening to "An Evening With Dickie Bird" (1998). Billed as "wit and wisdom from around the world with cricket's greatest storyteller". I dunno about greatest, but DB is one of nature's gentlemen and a decent public speaker to boot. A freebie from DL.

* Rewatching - don't ask me why - the "Dungeons & Dragons" cartoon from the '80s (I'm the proud owner of the UK box set). Noticing the peaks and troughs more this time. The dumbest sequence has to be in the episode "The Traitor". Diana, the acrobat, plugs a leak in a hot-air balloon by throwing her staff through the hole!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pizza Face's cousin?

At new eatery Pie Face (corner of Oxford and Crown, da city), the pastries have facial expressions that denote their fillings. I chowed down on the steak'n'cheese and spicy Mexican vegetable varieties. Both were dark brown in colour, though nowhere near burnt. They held together well – no scalding spillage. The steak pie was a little light on filling (more cheese, please, baker!), but it was proper steak and what was there was nice and spicy. The vego one was packed with mixed beans in a yummo tomato sauce. I'll definitely be returning to try the other flavours and sample their sausage rolls. The shop itself is tiny, with only three tables, so make sure ya get there early for lunch.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I went to "Penthouse" mag's Pet Of The Year party. It was held at Q Bar, which I'm told is rather trendy (it's also rather trashy). Thanks to CM, I was able to jump the queue and get the special second wrist stamp that allowed access to the VIP room. Behind the red curtain, the Asahi was gratis and the Pet-to-bloke ratio was higher. Alas, my shoulder angel was AWOL and my shoulder devil easily convinced me to switch from beer to spirits and even indulge in a coffin nail – "to be sociable". I remember talking a lot to publishing types. I remember laughing a lot (mainly at an hilarious convo overheard in the loo). And I remember perving on purdy ladies, one of whom resembled Nigella Lawson. I only dimly recollect leaving in the wee hours. Curse you, shoulder devil!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Movie review: "Man On Wire" (2007)

The gist: Set the Wayback Machine for 1974... Having walked tightropes strung across landmarks such as Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Frenchman Philippe Petit – part circus clown, part superhero, all artist – decides he must traverse the gap between the Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Center. Rather than ask permission, he devises a plan to sneak his accomplices and equipment to the top and carry out the fearless deed as the city wakes.

Selling points: It actually happened! This is a documentary in which the events are retold using recent interviews with those involved, the extensive shots they snapped, file footage, and dramatisations so good you'll forget they aren't real. A big tick for the beautiful music lifted from a bunch of Michael Nyman soundtracks.

It's kinda like: A heist picture – the walk was meticulously planned and executed at speed, but there were unforseen problems and lucky breaks along the way. Watching the film, you can't help thinking about the terrorist attacks on the Towers in 2001. That mission was to rob the world of something. Petit's was to bring it wonder.

Final word: High-tension wire.

[Australian cinema release date: October 16]

Monday, September 15, 2008


Couple of additions to the "Blogs I read" list:

Wonderland - videogame news site with an emphasis on creativity.
Victoria Coren's blog - peerless prose from the Pommy Poker pro.

I've kept them from you for far too long.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The peashooter

Find a PVC pipe with a diameter of a few centimetres. Saw off a piece approximately 20cm in length. File any rough edges. Now cut a finger (or thumb) from a rubber glove. Slip the end over your gun barrel and fix it in place with electrical tape. Note: most of the finger should be hanging loose as this is the firing mechanism. For ammunition, use a cheap bag of chickpeas from the supermarket. In hairy situations, multiple bullets may be loaded into the shooter for a shotgun effect - at the risk of tearing the rubber. Who says I learnt nothing as a teenager?

Spinning from arvo to evening: "Go Away White" (2008) - Bauhaus. Anaemic rock lullabies by ageing goths for ageing goths. LA gave me his promotional copy. Would I recommend buying the CD? I dunno, but it has a certain seedy appeal. Also, it's been 25 years since the last Bauhaus studo album and they claim this is their swan song.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


After voting in the local council election (it rhymes with "good neighbour"), I hied me to Marrickville for the Newtown Jets' home final against the Windsor Wolves*. The rugby league was rough, the KB Lager was slightly less rough, and the atmosphere was convivial as ever. I soaked up the sunshine with AC, AP and future Jet HP. My boss also dropped by to say hi. Full-time score: Blue Bags (featuring "famous" Amos Roberts) 30 - visiting varmints 16.

Back at the ranch, I used my supreme mastery of remote-fu to watch six further games of football (in four different codes) during a five-hour block. I was ambivalent about half of the results. The Wallabies' loss to the All Blacks was bitterly disappointing. Newie's draw with Sydney FC was satisfactory given our form and their depth. Liverpool defeating Manchester United was a rare joy to be savoured...and raised in conversations with Red Devils supporters :-)

*A feeder club for the Penrith Panthers.

Guest starring...

* "An Evening With Johnners" (1994) written and orated by Brian Johnstone (RIP). Charming anecdotes about cricket, broadcasting and cricket broadcasting, all with groan-worthy punchlines. Ta, DL.

* The NRL and AFL finals series. It's just a pity greedy Nine and Ten squeeze in so many ad breaks.

* New Smith's BBQ Ribs thin-sliced potato chips. Too sweet for me and only vaguely reminiscent of rib sauce.

* "Kujibiki Unbalance #1". One of the cool things about "Watchmen" was the inserts of "Tales Of The Black Freighter", the pirate comic from that world. "K/U" was originally a fictional series followed by the characters from my fave manga, "Genshiken". Now it exists and it's ace.

* Four preview episodes of US college drama "Greek" (as in Greek-lettered fraternities/sororities), coming soon to FOX8. A guilty pleasure.

* Internet videogame radio show "One Life Left". Ann, Simon and Ste are back for another season - yay!

* The September/October issue of "Bluff" poker mag. Ta, SC.

* "Beer And Loathing In The Square Mile" (2008) by "Cityboy". Pseudonymous expose of the outrageous excesses and dealings in London's financial sector.

* My Newcastle United Jets country membership kit. Not sure I'll be wearing that headband...

* "The Lost Buddhas" exhibition at the Art Gallery Of NSW. An assortment of 35 beatific figures that were carved and decorated around the 6th century, wrapped and buried along with more than 350 others in a pit in the 12th (no-one knows why) and accidentally uncovered in 1996.

* New Double Dipped Cherry Ripe (with 70% cocoa). The best choccy bar just got betterer.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Nuisance caller

Someone from an unfamiliar organisation rang wanting to confirm my details so they could "discuss my file". It sounded like marketing hooey, so I interrupted their spiel with my standard response to telemarketers: "Sorry, I'm not interested. Please remove me from your list. Thank you." I hung up and they immediately phoned back, insisting it was an important matter and, presumably to frighten me into co-operating, saying, "You haven't taken care of your responsibilities." I got angry and forced them to admit they were from a finance company. Super-suss, I agreed only to reveal my birthdate (they already knew my first initial, surname and suburb). Well, it turns out the person they're seeking was born in the '50s - 20 years before me. The nuisance caller tried to apologise and I made that difficult for them. I reckon they were systematically going through the phone book, bothering every unlucky bugger with a similar name, in a bid to fluke their mysterious defaulter. And after hours on a Friday, too. SCUM!

Ask a glass of water

Last night, SC, AH and I had bevvies with DL at the Civic, then successfully undertook the Quad Stacker burger challenge at Hungry Jack's (trivial compared to doing the Pounder at Macca's), then gate-crashed* the "Ralph" Australian Swimsuit Model Of The Year beano at the Astral Bar on level 17 of Star City Casino, stayed to the death, then migrated, via someone's hotel suite (for no discernable reason), to the Lagoon Bar downstairs, then reached our limits and split a cab.

I slept in this morning, which was naughty since I'm acting editor for two days. I only woke as a result of a nightmare in which that ratbag Poorman, host of exploitative cable show "Bikini Beach", was hassling me to take part in a streetfight with a hobo – while I desperately tried to get to an antiques store where friends were negotiating the purchase of a device that was like an orrery, except with a complete collection of "Star Trek" ships instead of planets and moons. Analyse that!

*With permission.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Movie review: "The Duchess" (2008)

The gist: On the eve of her 17th birthday, Georgiana Cavendish wed the 25-year-old 5th Duke Of Devonshire, England's pre-eminent peer, on the understanding she'd bear him a male heir. Looks, brains, fashion sense and political acumen combined to make the Duchess the most celebrated and influential socialite of her day. However, within her marriage she was virtually powerless; forced to accept her hubby's adulteries – including making her bestie his mistress and moving the woman and her kids into their mansion on a permanent basis – while forbidden from conducting affairs of her own. This, as they say, is her story.

Selling points: Keira Knightley's performance as Georgiana consists largely of sitting/standing still while pulling faces – but what pretty faces they are, and suitable for portraying such a legendary beauty. Ralph Fiennes' Duke is a complex creature ruined by extreme privilege. Able to behave exactly as he likes, he is by turns a figure of fun and an unfeeling monster.

It's kinda like: Then and now. The example that sticks in my mind is the 18th-century equivalent of paparazzi – artists who'd congregate outside important functions to sketch the A-list for the following morning's papers.

Final word: Don't mistake this harsh slice of history for a chick flick.

[Australian cinema release date: October 2]

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Movie review: "Big Stan" (2007)

The gist: Dodgy property developer Stan (Rob Schneider) is going to prison for 3-5 years for fraud and has six months to get his affairs in order. Terrified of being raped, he employs The Master (David Carradine) to intensively train him in martial arts. Once behind bars, the now-deadly Stan rapidly becomes top dog and sets about reforming his fellow inmates. When the warden offers him an early release in exchange for assistance in an evil scheme, it's moral dilemma time.

Selling points: Schneider's humour – assuming you're a fan and don't mind every second joke being about male rape. Carradine can do the mystic warrior thing in his sleep. This variation is refreshingly disgusting: an unkempt and uncouth, chain-smoking, scorpion-eating sadist. Finally, martial arts afficionados can play spot the real-life star among the cons. Let me get you started – Don Frye, Randy Couture, Bob Sapp...

It's kinda like: A 105-minute sentence to jailhouse cliches, uncomfortable scenarios and the occasional cheap laugh.

Final word: He's not big and it's not particularly clever.

[Australian cinema release date: November 27]

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Fight! Fight! Fight!

In what's becoming a monthly tradition, I travelled to the K. residence for the latest mixed martial arts pay-per-view – "UFC #88: Breakthrough". It was a top-notch card and the main event lived up to the subtitle with Rashad Evans breaking through the favoured Chuck Lidell's defences and knocking him out cold. As superbly conditioned athletes without an ounce of fat on 'em battled, we enjoyed spicy pizza, Calbee gyoza-flavoured chips, Cadbury tiramisu-flavoured chocolate and Peroni beer. If they're the modern gladiators, we're the overfed Romans cheering from the Colosseum stands. Roll on UFC #89!

Green + gold > orange

It was worth messing with my sleep patterns to see the Socceroos shock the Netherlands 2-1 in a friendly in Eindhoven. Here's hoping we can repeat the feat against Uzbekistan in the World Cup Qualifier in Tashkent on Wednesday.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Lazy Jones

The weather outside was frightful, so I camped on the lounge and attacked my stack of unwatched DVDs. Got through fantasy flick "The Golden Compass" (a new Kate Bush song!), documentary "Shaolin Ulysses: Kungfu Monks In America" plus its extras, concert recording "Devo Live 1980", obstacle course challenge "Sasuke 2008" (or, as it's known in the US, "Ninja Warrior") and literary adaptation "A Separate Peace" - gifts from GH, PG, DL, AC and myself, respectively.

A tiny triumph

At 12.01am AEST, I mastered Facebook's "D&D: Tiny Adventures" app by progressing Band-Aid the human cleric, equipped with an obscenely powerful array of magical devices, to the mandatory retirement level of 11. No doubt the game will be expanded in the future. Until then, I'm in the market for a harmless obsession :-)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Administration frustration

With my passport about to expire, I opted to get some exercise in my lunchbreak by walking half a dozen city blocks to the Passport Office for a renewal form. Alas, you can't do ANYTHING there without making a prior appointment by phone. Wasted journey. I filled out the form online when I got home. This required logging in to a government site and submitting a bunch of personal details. Lacking an operational printer, I sent the .PDF to my company account. It didn't make it through the firewall. Sigh. The following night, I forwarded the original e-mail to the same address and – don't ask me why – that was successful. At lunch on day three (that'd be today), I printed the thing, signed and dated it in black, and took it to the post office. They were too busy to do my new photo and directed me to a nearby camera store. Although needing only two pics, I had to have a minimum of six taken, pay $14 for the privilege and wait 15 minutes for them to be ready. The skilled snapper captured me looking sleepy and angry, like a koala that had just been poked with a stick. Returning to the P/O and handing over completed form, old passport, mugshots and driver's licence, I experienced no further problems as a perky lass efficiently processed my paperwork. Except...I had to cough up 208 bloody dollars for the renewal. In the past 36 years, I have visited a total of three foreign countries. But I guess it's always possible that sometime in the next decade I could visit a fourth.

Movie review: "The House Bunny" (2008)

The gist: The misfit Zetas are on the verge of losing their sorority house when Shelley (Anna Faris) lobs. A rival's ploy has seen the aspiring centrefold evicted from the Playboy Mansion, leaving her free to mother seven college students in need of a social makeover.

Selling points: Faris nails the ditzy blonde act and has been aptly described as the new Goldie Hawn. She's well supported by Colin Hanks as a nice guy who inadvertently teaches Shelley how it feels to lack confidence. Kat Dennings is memorable as the cynical Mona – look out for her in the upcoming "Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist". Competent cast aside, viewers assuming the "Playboy" connection guarantees nudity or raunch will leave the multiplex disappointed.

It's kinda like: "Legally Blonde" screenwriters Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith watched a marathon of underdog teen comedies from the '80s, realised how boy-centric they were, then decided to pen a girly version...with a titillating twist for the fellas.

Final word: Revenge of the she-nerds.

[Australian cinema release date: September 25]

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Njorl's Saga

I've begun a new fantasy series - Steven Erikson's "The Malazan Book Of The Fallen". It's currently eight overweight paperbacks in size, with two more pending. SE is an anthropologist and an archaeologist (lucky sod) and spent ages creating the setting with a mate for a role-playing campaign. The first volume, 1999's "Gardens Of The Moon", is far and away the most detailed make-believe world I've ever blindly belly-flopped into. I wouldn't say it's welcoming exactly, but there's something about the stream of unanswered questions that makes it compelling.

Movie review: "The Wackness" (2008)

The gist: Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck) doesn't fit the drug dealer stereotype – no BMW, bling, babes or bullets. When he's not pushing his ice-cream cart full of weed around New York, tuning out beneath his headphones as he sells baggies to earn money for college, he's hanging with his only friend/regular customer/psychiatrist, Dr Jeffrey Squires MD (Ben Kingsley). Luke wants to grow up; the doc wishes he was young again. During the stinking-hot summer of 1994, they bond over music and mind-altering substances while suffering the wackness of relationship breakdowns.

Selling points: Our unlikely hero's romance with Squires' stepdaughter Stephanie (Olivia Thirlby), doomed by their differing levels of experience and expectation. A broad picture of dependence that doesn't get preachy or even distinguish between alcohol, cigarettes, pot, prescribed pills, etc. A cool soundtrack featuring A Tribe Called Quest, The Notorious B.I.G and other popular acts from the period. In short, sex and drugs and hip-hop.

It's kinda like: Coming of age in the Big Apple in the mid-90s.

Final word: More dope than wack.

[Australian cinema release date: November 13]

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

15 Credibility Street

Felicia Day joins Jonathan Coulton on stage at the Penny Arcade Expo 2008 for a rendition of "Still Alive".

Monday, September 01, 2008

For the win

Following the Bill Bailey segment on "Enough Rope...", I changed channels to "Bones". Emily Deschanel was dressed as Wonder Woman.