Dork Geek Nerd

"Rational romantic mystic cynical idealist"

Friday, May 29, 2009

Razzle dazzle

Thoroughly enjoyed the musical "Chicago"...although, were I to pick a nit, I didn't feel the finale was the strongest number in the show. Sharon Millerchip, Caroline O'Connor, Craig McLachlan, Gina Riley, the extended cast and the on-stage orchestra were all excellent. Am now eager to view Tinseltown's take - even if Renee Zellweger is in scrawny mode as Roxie Hart. I prefer her as the v. cuddly Bridget Jones.

Caught a taxi home from Star City. The driver enquired as to my gambling fortunes. I told him I'd lost a whole $2 on the pokies but gained a couple of free magazines. "You got out cheaply!" he laughed, then confessed to squandering thousands on roulette before quitting and shredding his credit cards. He claimed S/C repeatedly attempts to lure him back with vouchers for luxury accommodation and meals.

Listening: "Thick As A Brick" (1974) by Jethro Tull.
Reading: "Casino" (Winter 2009), "Bluff Australasia" (May/June).
Watching: "Click" (2006) - borrowed from the Ks.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"T4" (non-specific remarks)

You've GOTTA see "Terminator Salvation" at the cinema. The opening half-hour will kick your arse so hard you'll be tasting its chrome toes. Seriously, it is action sequence upon action sequence upon action sequence. A bonus for me was that the fillum's Earth of 2018 shares the gritty unrealism of hit videogame "Fallout 3" and is bathed in the same eerie light. While the conclusion's kinda phony, by then you'll have glommed enough high-speed, high-impact carnage and continuity references not to care.

Listening: "Dragonfly" (2003) by Ziggy Marley, "Ebbhead" (1991) by Nitzer Ebb.
Reading: Komikwerks anthology "Rockets & Robots" (2005) - thanks, DL. Also, the "Dragon Warriors" RPG (1986, revised 2008) by Dave Morris and Oliver Johnson.
Watching: The "Wonder Woman" animated movie (2009) - onya, AP2.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Highlights, lowlights and, er, mediumlights

A train carriage so chilly I had to don a scarf. Quaffing three bottles of red wine plus whisky with Dad. An invisible axe lodged in my skull. Accompanying Mum as we picked up my sis EM and bro-in-law TM from Williamtown airport, then visited my dear old gran (who's pushing 91). Just being around the family, sharing food and stories. A train carriage that was positively balmy compared to the previous one. Meeting DL, HV and their daughter J. at the packed-house zine fair at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Taking a chance on DIY rags "The Blue Rinse Society" (which came with a tiny Rubik's Cube) and "Clevo Street", the sticker zine "Cult" and a CD of covers of TV themes. Investing a fiver on a funky spray-painted stencil of a monster (based on a Wally Wood drawing) on scrap cardboard. 'Tis a fine addition to my "man cave".

Conquering: The "Beat The Brat" heads-up poker challenge on "WSOP 2008 - Battle For The Bracelets". From memory, only Ulliott and Chan gave me trouble.
Listening: "A Secret History... The Best Of The Divine Comedy" (1999).
Reading: "Happydale - Devils In The Desert" (1999) by Andrew Dabb and Seth Fisher, "I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell" (2006) by Tucker Max. Ta for both, PG.
Savouring: Butter candy macadamia nuts. Cheers, EM and TM.
Watching (telly): Inferior but not without merit remake "Charlie And The Chocolate Factory" (2005), Palin documentary "Around The World In 20 Years" (2008).

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Love at first bite

It's an understatement to say I hate queueing. Which is why I'd long ignored the tremendously popular noodle bar Ichi-Ban Boshi. But today there were only a few hungry punters waiting and curiosity overcame impatience. While my gluttonous instinct in Japanese restaurants is to favour lunchbox combos, this joint is renowned for its ramen, so that's what I requested. Chilli prawn wonton ramen. I paid two Oxford scholars to add marinated bamboo shoots from the list of extra toppings and they were a winner. The soup was sizeable and not too spicy (with chilli oil rather than fresh stuff or flakes). Floating in it were half a dozen meaty parcels and plenty of greens (seaweed, spinach, spring onions, a different seaweed?). There was a mass of noodles underneath and the broth (pork and sesame seed, I believe) was good to the last slurp. It was worth all the water I subsequently drank to dilute the salt and, damn it, it was worth the queueing.

Listening: "Permission To Land" (2003) and "One Way Ticket To Hell...And Back" (2005) by The Darkness, "Magic And Loss" (1992) by Lou Reed.
Reading: "New Mutants - Back To School" (2005) by Lots O'People.
Watching on deev: The likeable cartoon characters of "Role Models" (2008) and the realistically reprehensible quartet of "Closer" (2004).
Watching on teev: "Cracking The Maya Code".

Thanks for those - in order - go to my collection, ditto, ditto, Amazon US, Universal, the Ks and ABC1.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The 54th annual Eurovision Song Contest

Russia finished 11th - they should have been 10 places higher, slightly ahead of the UK's all-star effort and *then* Norway. I also rated Lithuania, Croatia, Portugal, Armenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Moldova, Malta, Germany (with Dita Von Teese!), Albania and Romania. Was undecided about Sweden, Estonia, Denmark and Norway. Disliked the ditties from Israel, France, Iceland, Greece, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Ukraine and Spain. SBS's commentary was worthless - unoriginal, unfunny and unco-ordinated (don't speak over your fellow announcer) - but neither that nor the dependably dodgy voting could ruin a fantastic show.

Listening: "Signs Of Existence" (2008) by myGRAIN.
Playing: Solo "M:TG" using the "Shards Of Alara" intro packs.
Reading: "Making Money" (2007) by Terry Pratchett.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Domestic scientist

Cooked, feasted, did the dishes, processed data, began again.

Cheering: My Newcastle Knights making Henny Penny outta the hapless Sydney Roosters!

Listening: "The End Of Life" (2008) by UnSun. Another LA special. Driving, femme-fronted metal originating from Poland. Gets better with each spin.

Reading: Paused "T/C/L" to zip thru the comics "Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Time Of Your Life" (season eight, volume four) and "Hikaru No Go #15". Minor spoilers! Must admit Ms Summers teaming/tussling with her 23rd-century equivalent Fray wowed me less than the ghost Sai's disappearance and Hikaru's terrible decision. But H. blitzing the No. 1 Go amateur like that was a stride towards the "divine move".

Watching: "Joanna Lumley In The Land Of The Northern Lights" (2008). Promo disc from my TV columnist bud DL (it'll be broadcast on BBC HD on June 28). No host embodies grace and charm like La Lumley and her tour of Norway, seeking a glimpse of the aurora borealis that's fascinated her since childhood, is absolutely captivating. I think she surpasses even Michael Palin at this sorta caper and wish she'd film more.

The Brotherhood Of The Camel

When a bunch of blokes rent a hotel room in the CBD on a Friday night, it's a safe bet they have drunken debauchery in mind. But not in this case. TC, LPO, SC, L. and myself chipped in for a serviced apartment to use as the venue for a "D&D" session that'd be easy for people to go straight to after work and travel home from at 1am or whenever. Its close proximity to several eateries and a Friendly Local Game Store (as they say in "Knights Of The Dinner Table") didn't hurt, either.

With TC behind the Dungeon Master's screen, my Deva priest - promoted to fifth level - was joined by a cynical, sweary human ranger (SC), a dwarf druid modelled on Pigsy from "Monkey Magic" (LPO) and a warforged* barbarian (L.). Our church-sponsored mission was to trek through the desert to a princess's tomb, then guard it from a necromancer with designs on an artefact buried with her royal deadness. Of course, the villain reached the crypt first, while we were busy arguing with the DM why our precious camels DIDN'T run away...and thereby forging a group indentity :-)

This - and SC's hilarious character sketch of a man poorly endowed and bitterly cognisant of the fact - was indicative of the levity that punctuated the adventure and added to this player's experience. Not just because I needed to unwind. It was a flashback to the joke-filled "D&D" of my youth, when the lack of a time limit meant we could concentrate on having fun. Why press on to the next chamber when you can practise your bird call for worshippers of the Raven Queen, hack apart harmless vines or devise a method for attaching a sun rod to your robotic bonce? And we did *eventually* foil the nefarious scheme, though I suspect a smidgeon of "NERF-ing" on the referee's part.

Anyway, because I know strangers' role-playing anecdotes can be as boring as strangers' dreams, I'll wrap this up with a piece of info that may be of general interest. TC adapted the scenario from "Tomb Of The Tiefling Empress" in the "Dungeon Delve" supplement, which is replete with three-encounter mini-modules for parties of levels 1-30. Perfect for a nerdy Friday night!

Listening: "Shadowheart" (2008) by Kivimetsan Druidi. Finnish symphonic metal (female operatic vocal, male growls) courtesy of my record reviewer pal LA.

Reading: "The Colditz Legacy" (2005) by Guy Walters. Cross a WW2 escape yarn with '70s espionage involving MI6 and you officially have my attention.

Watching: I'm still keen on the "Top 10" military docos on Discovery, but didn't enjoy "Fighting Ships" or "Submarines" quite as much as earlier instalments.

*A type of mechanical golem from the "Eberron" campaign.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dessert sushi

Although AM beat me to the munch by 26 hours, that won't stop me detailing the newest sugar rush available at Sushi Train. Imagine typical nigiri, except replace the mound of steamed rice with an agglutination of sticky rice bubbles and the smear of wasabi with jam, drape it with a "fillet" of pink marshmallow, then serve with a container of chocolate sauce for dipping/drizzling. Mixed in the mouth, the nearest comparison is a Chocolate Crackle with a hint of strawberry - but only in the vague sense that a cheese'n'tomato toastie is reminiscent of a gourmet pizza.

Listening: "Community Music" (2000) by Asian Dub Foundation. When this UK crew performed their highly politicised hybrid electronica at the now-defunct Hemispheres festival, I was directly in front of the stage, beer in one hand, shared spliff in the other, bouncing on the spot. For a brief moment, I almost felt cool.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ancient lore

If you were rolling 20-sided dice in the '80s, you may remember the heroic fantasy RPG "Dragon Warriors", which was sold as six regular-size paperbacks. As someone who tried but failed to collect the sextet then, I was intrigued to learn (via a recent catalogue) that "D/W" has been reprinted as a single volume by Mongoose Publishing.

See -

This discovery led me to consult the Wikipedia entry on "Dragon Warriors". It links to another on the "Blood Sword" series of gamebooks, also set in the "D/W" world. I'd never heard of these! Assuming you don't envisage playing them, check out the wild and crazy storyline (summarised under "The world of Legend"). What a finale!

Listening: "Heartbeat" (1991) by Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Chucked a sickie to spare my coworkers the ongoing sneezing and coughing fits. Spent most of the 9-5 snoozing. Naturally, there were some diversions -

Listening: "Psalm 69" (1992) by Ministry. RS got me into these industrial metallurgists. And back when I lifted weights, this was my workout soundtrack of choice (be careful not to injure yourself during "TV II"). I'd describe it as precision anger with awesomely incorporated samples. Personal fave - "Scarecrow".

Reading: "Fatty Batter" (2007) by Michael Simkins. Oft-praised humorous memoir of an English cricket tragic.

Watching: "Red Dwarf - Back To Earth" (2009), parts 1-3. My reactions ranged from "It's not the same" to "I don't like where you're going with this" to "Actually, I like where you went with that" to "It's way too similar". Great sets/locations/props, however, and the "Blade Runner" homage was cute.

Here's hoping tomorrow finds me fully recovered; my false sense of invincibility returned :-)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Tonka tough

On this evening's ep of "The Ultimate Fighter 9", there was a delay at the start of round two in the Wilks/Lester bout. The latter was having difficulty re-inserting his mouthguard...until a corner man prised out the broken teeth. Then the combat continued.

Different @#$%, different day

Perhaps it was the shot of whisky before bed or merely the decent night's kip, but the main body of the Phlegmite army has decamped and marched down into my lungs. Goodbye aloe vera-infused snotrags, hello Salty The Seal bark. Also, a twitch of the curtain reveals it's raining steadily. There goes my audacious plan of spending this Sunday moving between the city's galleries and museums, viewing no less than five temporary exhibitions. I won't be setting flipper outside the unit. Consolations include toasted turkey sandwiches and random entries from the entertaining "It Looked Good On Paper - Bizarre Inventions, Design Disasters And Engineering Follies" (2009), edited by Bill Fawcett. There's even one, in the "Exit Stage Left" section, on the ill-fated "Everway" RPG. "Here's a pretty picture - OK, everybody role-play."

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Confined to quarters

Woke up with a mild but annoying head cold - nose constantly dripping, face achey. Parents arrived mid-morn, bearing delicious pre-cooked meals as usual. (I tell them it isn't necessary, but they always insist it's no trouble.) Had to miss my niece's third-birthday lunch so as not to risk transmitting germs. Mum went along, while Dad stayed here. I dipped into the aforementioned delicious meals as we talked about the future and followed the horse races on TVN, trying to predict the winners. Was sorry when he had to leave to meet my mother at the station.

Gave the telly a rest, put Depeche Mode's latest CD, "Sounds Of The Universe", on repeat and launched into career mode on DS title "World Series Of Poker 2008: Battle For The Bracelets". PG is of the opinion that it's the best Texas Hold 'Em videogame on any system, and I'm inclined to agree. More a test of patience than skill, though. My highest tournament position so far is second - runner-up to "Fossilman" himself, Greg Raymer. (Or at least his crude electronic representation.)

And now the hour has cometh for me to finally see "WrestleMania XXV". The M. brothers graciously made me a recording weeks ago and it's been sitting on a stack of discs, effectively preventing me from tuning in to WWE programming for fear of spoiling the results, ever since.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


Apart from...

Listening: "Blowback" (2001) by Tricky. Genre-splicing genius with beguilingly seedy undertones.

Reading: "Doctor Who - The Eyeless" (2008) by Lance Parkin. Gotta slip the grip of these little hardcovers soon.

Downloading: Gratis .PDFs of Big Finish's monthly "Vortex" magazine (March-May), from

Scoffing: Tucker's Natural Gourmet Crackers - Caramelised Onion. Distinctive. Moreish. Isosceles.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Why I heart YouTube

Because when someone asks if I've seen the "Doctor Who" Easter special "Planet Of The Dead" (broadcast in Blighty on April 11), while it's shameful to admit I haven't yet had that pleasure, I'm comforted by knowing exactly where I can find it :-)

Listening: "Perelandra" (1995) by Glass Hammer. Uplifting, multi-instrument (what the heck is a zoomitar?), CS Lewis-inspired prog. Solid, but it's no "Subterranea". Gets a guernsey every couple of years.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


AP2 is crashing at mine. Purpose of visit: observing the Sydney Swans' 94-75 victory versus the Richmond Tigers from a prime position in the SCG's Victor Trumper Stand, then sampling Nepalese cuisine (lentil pancakes, lamb curry, pulau rice, coconut panna cotta...hmm, not sure that dessert's traditional) at the Mandala restaurant.

Listening: "The Scavenger Bride" (2002) by Black Tape For A Blue Girl. Did I ever really like this? Seems so dull and pretentious now.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


Following International Shirkers' Day, it was time to get back to the serious business of, um, role-playing. Specifically, "Dungeons & Dragons" at TC's joint, with LPO, J. and L. More specifically, tackling a tweaked version of the module "Death In The Skyfire Wastes" with a fourth-level party comprised of a Deva cleric, Tiefling warlock, Half-Elf paladin and H-E rogue. The formidable encounters included our inaugural 4E dragon battle - against a desert-dwelling, scalding sand-breathing brown wyrm that could transform, in Taz fashion, into a spinning storm of hurt.

Listening: "Sereno" (1997) by Illapu. Chilean panpipe music.

Endorsing: Marvel Comics resurrecting "The New Mutants".

Friday, May 01, 2009


The powers that be (The Thing Upstairs) regularly hassle me (Berk) about accruing too much leave, so with the editor's permission I took today off. Whenever I'm granted an absence, I immediately feel under pressure to do all of the things I *wish* I was doing while I'm stuck in the office. Which is, of course, impossible. Still, May Day wasn't entirely unproductive... Had a lie-in, watched "Top 10: Infantry Fighting Vehicles" on TDC, progressed further in Nintendo DS title "Retro Game Challenge", did chores and food shopping, witnessed a derelict 4WD get towed from my street, dug out Journey's "Trial By Fire" album and gave it a few spins for 1996's sake, took a constitutional around the university campus, found a b-day gift for my niece, ripped through issue #188 of "Hyper", finished one "Who" novel and began another ("Beautiful Chaos" (2008) by Gary Russell), saw the majority of the two NRL games plus the opening parts of web conspiracy series "The Ennead" (ta for the tip, LA), eschewed takeaways, wrote my ten-thousandth lazy list.