Dork Geek Nerd

"Rational romantic mystic cynical idealist"

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

[Shakes head]

01/09 is a crazy collision of Stuff I'm Into. Besides the bound-to-be-fascinating natter on the telling bone (remember "Catweazle"?) with Mr Adelstein, there's the premiere of the third season of "Survivorman"* on Discovery, the "20th Century Boys" movie trilogy hits shelves, and "Duels Of The Planeswalkers: Expansion Pack 2" is released for the downloading on Steam. Oh, and when I'm not being incredibly nerdy, not to say materialistic, I'll be attending a little soiree known as Pet Of The Year at Minx bar. I have threatened to wear a tie.

*"Man Vs Wild" done properly.

Still nup

"Sea creatures rarely like flying"
- Dr Helen Magnus, "Sanctuary"

This ain't it, either

Going along to the China Mieville thing at Kinokuniya at 7pm. Nearly got an F2F with him myself, to promote his wonderful, warped, ideas-heavy new urban fantasy, "Kraken". A publishing rep set up an appointment, then apologised and cancelled it again, explaining that the bloke was now arriving on a later flight and there wouldn't be time. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Kino appearance is being billed as a Sydney exclusive.

Folks I have chatted to in the past six months include competitive eater Patrick "Deep Dish" Bertoletti (in the flesh), wrestler-turned-actor "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (on the phone) and "Resident Evil" videogame creator Shinji Mikami (via email). In what made for a fun single-page yarn, Bertoletti thrashed myself and a "RALPH" model at Slurpee-drinking and estimated what quantities of classic Aussie foodstuffs, eg. Vegemite sangers, he could consume. Austin was promoting decent straight-to-DVD actioner "The Stranger" and was an absolute gentleman, humble about his acting abilities and with the undiminished passion for rasslin' of a lifelong fan. That piece was heavily condensed to fit a panel, but hopefully the unedited version might see the light in DL's fanzine. My quizzing of Mikami-san on third-person shooter "Vanquish" will be printed in an upcoming issue of "Penthouse".

Tomorrow, I'm doing a phoner with expert on Japanese crime Jake Adelstein. It'll be the christening of my Sony ICD-UX200F recorder and, courtesy of BS ('cos you can't buy them here), Philips telephone pick-up mic. As a naturally shy guy, I can get quite nervous prior to interviews - irrespective of preparation - so it's probably for the good of my stress level that I'm not speaking to Mr Mieville as well. Shame, though.

Reading: "D&D" supplement "The Plane Above - Secrets Of The Astral Sea" (2010) by Rob Heinsoo et al

Monday, August 30, 2010

Not the next one

Bibliophiles will appreciate this series of podcasts in which respected writers discuss their formative tomes -

Reading: 2006's "Marvel Zombies", and 2008's "Marvel Zombies 2" and "Marvel Zombies: Dead Days" (ta, PG)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Devalued dreams

Warning: may contain traces of finance.

For some reason, I was labouring under the misapprehension that you can't alter the governing email address on an Amazon account. You can, of course, and it's a doddle. Now that I've finally done so, my UK and US store receipts won't be forwarded to a derelict inbox - and I needn't fear losing my precious wishlists (which presently sum to a not-gonna-happen AUD$486.94 plus postage).

Under that banner and caveat, I'd also intended to rivetingly diarise the acts of reducing my union contributions to match my modest projected earnings for this f/y, lodging my increasingly complicated tax return and, as an independent contractor, setting up a system for making regular tax payments and superannuation contributions (oh, for an employment agency to handle vulgar pecuniary affairs).

Unfortunately, I haven't managed any of that yet because, er, I was recruited by the Star League to defend the Frontier from Xur and the Ko-Dan Armada. Or some shit.

And if you think this entry is lame, wait until you get a load of the next one. I took notes during Joss Whedon's talk this arvo, so I could share the spilled beans. Cool, huh? Yeah, except I was sitting in a darkened auditorium and my handwriting is less copperplate than dog's dinner plate. If I were youse, I'd stay glued to this page, hitting refresh.

Listening: Audio adaptations of the three lovably awful/quaint "Doctor Who" stage shows, viz. "The Ultimate Adventure", "Seven Keys To Doomsday" and "Curse Of The Daleks"
Reading: "The Professor, The Banker And The Suicide King - Inside The Richest Poker Game Of All Time" (2005) by Michael Craig (ta, DQ), "Gamer Fantastic" (2009) edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes
Watching: "American Splendor" (2003)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Black Bag

Neil Gaiman @ Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House, 07/08

Full house cutting across strata of comic, fantasy and hip-lit fandoms. High quotient of PDBs (appropriate, given that NG himself favours uniformly dark dress). Introductory speech from co-arranger of Graphic festival. Surprise appearance by Kevin Smith, who, along with a representative from Screen NSW, presents highlights of animation competition and announces winner, "Seven Year Twitch" (a short about escaping the soul-crush of office work). KS worryingly obese in his uniform of baggy pants and hockey jersey, but as likable as ever in that genial, sweary way. Endearing acceptance from Canadian animator of "S/Y/T". Then Neil, to an ovation. Touched and taken aback, he has to ask us to stop clapping so he can begin his tale. It is called "The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains" and, set in olden timey-wimey Scotland, sees a dwarf and a border reaver undertaking a perilous journey in search of treasure and, ultimately, understanding. To say more would be wrong (and anyway, the text is available here - Gaiman is a consummate storyteller, unfurling his sentences with nary a stumble or jumble. Intermittently, but not in any rhythm that could distract from the narrative flow, illustrations by the great Eddie Campbell are projected above the stage. Enhancing the changing moods and providing transitions when the author pauses to wet his whistle are semi-improvised pieces by the FourPlay string quartet (cello, viola, viola, violin). As I tweet afterwards, the effect is spellbinding. Neil has a unique gift for crafting modern myths that feel like ancient truths. Revelations are all the more shocking and terrible for being pronounced in his gentle, measured tones. Love it. Don't want it to end, but the ending is perfect and I can't complain. The illustrator materialises, looking dapper, to conduct an interview, having allegedly sourced questions from audience members. It soon becomes apparent that the funny, interconnected queries have really been sourced from the mind of Eddie Campbell. Gaiman treats us to unpublished poem, "In Relig Oran", a musing on St Columba supposedly burying the druid St Oran alive to strengthen the foundations of his church. Deeper meaning - pardon the pun - seems to be Christianity burying pagan traditions and, indeed, any dissenting voices. "I/R/O" is amazing, perhaps even better than "Black Mountains". Thoughts still racing when... Bows and applause. Bows and applause. Bows and applause, and PB and I leaving on a high.

Listening: "Doctor Who Unbound - Masters Of War" (2008) by Eddie Robson, "Prognosis #3-5", "Leave Your Sleep" (2010) by Natalie Merchant
Reading: "Game Boys - Triumph, Heartbreak And The Quest For Cash In The Battleground Of Competitive Videogaming" (2008) by Michael Kane, "The Man Who Loved Books Too Much - The True Story Of A Thief, A Detective And A World Of Literary Obsession" (2009) by Allison Hoover Bartlett
Watching: "Crank - High Voltage" (2009), "Starter For 10" (2008)
Nerd rap couplet: "Aimin' to please like a sniper/Got more cheek than Billie Piper". Needs work? :-)

Sunday, August 15, 2010


"Pro wrestling is real. People are fake!"
- slogan on tee worn by Mr Anderson, "TNA Impact"

Saturday, August 14, 2010

"Follow the bloodline..."

For a blue-balled Aussie lad in the '80s wishing to convey his yearnings to his girlfriend via mixtape, there was no more obvious inclusion than Mondo Rock's sublime "Come Said The Boy". The singer of that song, Ross Wilson, penned "Eagle Rock" for his earlier group Daddy Cool, championed and produced Skyhooks, co-wrote John Farnham's monster hit "A Touch Of Paradise" and, as DQ reminds me, must also take the blame for the earworm "Bop Girl", performed by his then-missus Pat. Where's all this leading? It's leading to me telling you that Ross's current solo single, "I Come In Peace", is a devilishly catchy slice of Oz rock (check out - And I'm not just saying that because of the hot blonde guitarist in the clip. When CM scored an invite to the launch of the album of the same name tonight at The Basement, I encouraged him to RSVP and "+1" me. I'll update later on whether the rest of the tracks are of a similar standard.

[15/8: Live renditions can be deceiving, but I believe there are 2-3 other good'uns on "I/C/I/P".]

Some of you will be familiar with this anecdote

It was the Nucon 199? convention and we'd reported for a single-session "AD&D 2E" module with self-generated characters that were totally munchkin-ised, eg. the warriors had the animal handling and training proficiencies and were flanked by blooded war dogs.

If this min-maxing wasn't enough to put the Dungeon Master - whom none of us knew - offside, in the scene-setting flavour text, which saw a poobah charging us with investigating eldritch goings-on, there was a brief mention of the captain of the city guard's nose twitching.

"Wererat!" said BP.

To the DM's credit, he barely flinched.

Fast-forward 2.5 hours and our band, black'n'blue and having reluctantly left the mastiffs at the bottom of a climb I suspect was inserted on the fly, had brawled its way through a sewer complex to the lair of the mysterious mastermind. Who/what do you think we found there?

Listening: "The Final Frontier" (2010) by Iron Maiden

True horror

"This black thing suddenly popped out from the side of the road, swaying unsteadily. I had no idea what it was. I slowed down my bicycle and gradually moved closer and realised that it was a person.

"I tried to look at its face, but it didn't have one. There were these two big swollen balls where the eyes should be, a gaping hole for their nose, and the lips had puffed up so big that they were covering half the face. It was hideous. And it had a black thing that looked like a sleeve draped off its arm, so I initially thought it was wearing rags.

"I was wondering what all this meant when suddenly the person started moving towards me. My first reaction was to move back. But then it tripped over my bike and fell down. Being a doctor, I immediately rushed forward and tried to take its pulse. But the skin from the entire arm had slipped off and there was nowhere for me to touch.

"I realised then that the person was not wearing rags but was entirely naked. What I had thought were sleeves was actually raw skin that had peeled off from the body and was dangling down. The skin on its back had also burned and peeled off completely, and there were dozens of small shards of glass piercing the surface. The person suddenly twitched a couple of times and then lay completely still. It was dead"

- Tomokazu Kosuga, "An Old Japanese Doctor Who Survived Hiroshima" (from "The Best Of 'Vice' Magazine, Vol. II 2003-08")

Kindred spirit

"I hate picnics. I mean, the most I'll do, at a push, on a really sunny day, is grab a bag of crisps and sit on a bench and go, 'Ah, nature... Now can I go inside, please?'"
- Sue Perkins, "Edwardian Supersize Me" (2007)

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Oracular FAIL

In order: "Big Country" displayed an iron resilience but lost on points to Junior Dos Santos; Hughes won in spectacular fashion - clocking "Big Dog", then choking him unconscious; "The Carpenter" did the business; Jon Fitch gave "The Pitbull" a lesson in Greco-Roman (JF's style makes for frustrating viewing, but I wouldn't go this far -; and "The Spider" wove a miracle submission after doing a convincing punching bag impression for 23 minutes. So that's 2/5 for me and, incidentally, the same score for Brazil against the USA. A wretched effort (obscure reference), but it didn't detract from my enjoyment one iota. Can't wait to see Couture vs Toney - aka MMA vs boxing - at "UFC #118", and I notice Kiwi K-1 legend Mark Hunt is in a "#119" prelim.

Reading: "Samurai Deeper Kyo #32" (ta, RS), "Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love", "Hikaru No Go #20", "Bakuman #1", "Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour (Vol. 6)", "Bone: Tall Tales" and "Bleach Official Bootleg: Color Bleach".

Quonset The Hutt

"UFC #117" predictions - Roy Nelson, Ricardo Almeida (but I hope it's Matt Hughes), Clay Guida, Thiago Alves and Anderson Silva. The initial four are tough calls and could as easily be wrong as right. Only the brutal comeuppance of the trash-spouting Chael Sonnen in the headliner appears a foregone conclusion.

Listening: "Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Piece" EP (2009) by Devine Electric (ta, Black Cherry)

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Heart and mind games

It was an inauspicious debut for the A-League's 11th franchise, Melbourne Heart, as they kicked off the comp's sixth season with a 0-1 loss at home to Graham Arnold's Central Coast Mariners. New stadium, Dutch coach, eclectic team, admirable "traditional club" philosophy and the support of Jon Bon Jovi notwithstanding, the red'n'white stripes looked to be very much an unsharpened blade.

Something I am impressed with is the intro packs for "M11", the latest iteration of the "Magic" core set, which have gone up in size from 40 cards to 60 (and Wizards hasn't removed the sealed booster). Forget the boring, monochromatic piles of yore, this pentad have clear themes, aren't afraid to splash "enemy" colours and the B/g "Reign Of Vampirism" concoction is essentially a beginner's combo deck.

Sharing the uncaring

"Initially, [the announcement] was, 'Someone has been struck by a train.' Then that got downgraded to, 'There's someone underneath a train.' Then *that* got downgraded to, 'Trespasser on the line.'"
- Ste Curran, "One Life Left #125"

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Oldie but a goodie

"On the opening night... the TARDIS console came loose from its moorings and drifted across the stage. And Pertwee, being a real old pro, said, 'Come back here at once!'"
- Terrance Dicks, "Remembering 'The Ultimate Adventure'".

Monday, August 02, 2010

The history boy

"For those who've played 'Lunar Lander' on the hardest 'Command' mode will know it's one of the most painful difficulty spikes in gaming. Trying to land your craft with rotational momentum applied is akin to performing open-heart surgery on an ice rink, wearing slippers"
- Paul Drury, "Retro Gamer #79".

American excess

Despite the fact he packed up his truck and moved to Beverly - [plucks figure out of thin air] - five years ago, American Express has never stopped junk-mailing BS at this address, trying to get its talons on his IT bucks. I've returned the envelopes to sender marked "not known at this address" and he's spoken to the company from his end, but when there was still no cessation I resigned myself to recycling an extra wad of paper periodically. That changed today when I was delivered another fantastic, unmissable offer for my erstwhile flatmate, along with TWO for me (there were slight variations in the details, implying that a couple of unscrupulous orgs have sold my data of late). I phoned AE's hotline and politely requested it leave my mailbox the hell alone. The fella had me open each letter and quote a string of digits. He explained cancellation will take 6-8 weeks...during which time I may receive further offers.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Duchess Satine Of Mandalore

I probably shoulda recorded my thoughts about Stephen Fry's humorous lecture/Q&A with Jennifer Byrne at the Steak'N'Kidney Opera House on Tuesday, but the moment for enthusiastically doing so has passed. And anyway, it was filmed for telly, so youse will get to viddy it eventually. Who knows - they may compile an even-better-than-what-I-saw best-of using material from his appearances here *and* in Melbourne.

What I am gonna do - before returning to an overdue freelance assignment (I'm the carry-over champ of procrastination) - is dash off a rave about yesterday's "SmackDown" show at Acer Arena, as it was pretty spesh. Not necessarily from a wrestling perspective, although there were entertaining bouts, but because we (meaning DL, CM and I) got closer to the WWE Superstars than usual - without being tasered.

Thanks to DL's charming industry connection, our triumvirate was provided with VIP wristbands that allowed us access to a large below-ground chamber of which I'd previously been unaware. While Eddie Punchclock and Sally Housecoat (to channel Monty Burns) awaited the commencement of the rasslin' festivities, we veeps were plied with booze and finger food (pity I'm on the wagon and had eaten a whole field of potatoes for lunch) as a selection of "names" trooped down a red carpet, happily pressing the flesh and posing for photos. I'm not one for pretending to like people just 'cos they're famous, but I reckon Kofi Kingston's the most exciting wrestler on the "SmackDown" roster at the mo', so I made sure I shook his hand.

On the way out, we received WWE gift bags and traded the contents amongst ourselves. (The sole bit of kit I decided to retain was a Kofi "Boom Squad" T-shirt, which I carefully held onto along with my scarf and cap all night, then idiotically lost while trudging to the Hockey Centre car park.) Catching the personned elevator back to the entry level, we devised a plan for using our tickets. You see, we had three very good seats in the gold section, plus one of the $1000 diamond jobs at ringside to share. It was agreed that I'd take the primo location for the opening two matches, CM would sit there for the next two, then DL - as the organiser and biggest wrestling aficionado - would stay there for the remainder. (A confession: I volunteered to go first as it involved the least amount of musical chairs and I'm a deadset fuddy-duddy.)

So. From my celeb's-eye-view, I witnessed the Hart Dynasty battle the Straight Edge Society (SES), with a run-in from Kane, followed by Cody Rhodes against MVP. That near to the action, you realise there's much more going on in the squared circle than it might seem. From the ref flipping a mouthy kid the bird when the lights temporarily dimmed to the constant chatter between the grapplers to the buckets of sweat and the minor injuries (Luke Gallows split the webbing between two fingers, Rhodes suffered a busted lip). There's a heap of heckling, too - unsurprising when (a) those responsible have forked out a grand for their spot, and (b) they know the jibes will be heard. When the Straight Edgers made their entrance, a dude yelled, "SES? State Emergency Service! Help me, me roof fell off!" Well, I laughed.

After tagging CM in, I assumed my proper position in the stands for a card that, while lacking heavyweights The Undertaker and CM Punk, did give us a memorable old-skool encounter (a portly post-op Matt Hardy vs Christian) and a "three-way dance" in which Rey Mysterio Jr, far and away the crowd favourite, 619ed both Jack Swagger and The Big Red Machine. Not that he won. C'mon, did you really imagine either Kane, Dolph Ziggler or Layla would "drop their straps" on tour in Oz?

Listening: "Only The Dead See The End Of The War" EP (2010) by Acrassicauda (ta, LA)
Mantra: "It's easier to have none than a little"
Curious term: null acronym