"Rational romantic mystic cynical idealist"
"With role-playing games, the in-game character's skill level is raised. But with shoot-'em-ups, your own skill level is raised" - Clover-TAC
It will mean nothing to anyone but RS that the Rasta mural near my apartment is complete - Lion Of Judah heads; bands of red, gold and green; Wailers quote. Without crapping on about cultural enrichment, I'll just say it makes me happy that it's there.
While Melvin Guillard was assassinating Evan Dunham in the main event of the UFC's Fight For The Troops 2, I was at Glebe's Roxbury Hotel for the launch of CM's ukulele magazine, "Kamuke" (which you'll soon be able to order from the under-construction kamuke.com). The many familiar and unfamiliar faces who turned out were rewarded with a neat venue, friendly staff, cheap booze and, against a background of vintage beach movies and an inflatable palm tree, plenty of live entertainment. In my biased opinion, CM's set was the peak, consisting of an Old Crow cover, Hawaiian-esque original and George Formby classic that built to a ridiculously fast strum (whistles and cries of "Faster!"). However, every act offered something different - from MC Mic Conway's history lesson and legerdemain to the big-band jazz numbers brilliantly arranged for uke by a father-son duo from the Blue Mountains. But whether sweetly traditional or playfully satirical, the songs had in common that feelgood and relaxing vibe for which the ukulele is renowned. The finale saw CM bust out another oldie, then 15 players take the stage for a rousing group rendition of "Surfin' USA". Can we do it all again for issue #2?
On the weekend of April 8-10, a Sir Terry Pratchett/Discworld con is being staged in the frankly unlikely location of Penrith. The Panthers Convention Centre, to be precise. Titled Nullus Anxietas III, it will, according to ausdwcon.org, include an appearance by TP himself, art, a banquet, cosplay, games, merchandise, panels, talks and so on. I doubt I'll be attending, but I can recommend the PCC and adjoining hotel as DL and I once stayed there for a wrestling show. I'll always remember the "Almost Famous" moment in the bar afterwards, when a bunch of brawny, battered'n'bruised rasslers were singing along to Elton John's "Tiny Dancer". No doubt there'll be much weirder sights at NA3...
If you can get hold of the first volume of the "Magic: The Gathering" manga, say from the Japanese-language section of Books Kinokuniya in Sydney, you'll find an envelope bound inside the back cover. It contains a foil Kuldotha Phoenix (RRR2, 4/4, flying, haste, return to battlefield from graveyard for 4 if you have metalcraft) that, disappointingly, doesn't feature alternate artwork, but does have a unique(?) stamp. If you're wondering, the comic itself is utterly unspectacular - red mage Chandra Nalaar comes to terms with her "fire power" against boring backdrops, meeting blue-wielding rival Jace Beleren at the end. I think.
Fruit Tingles aren't what they used to be. For 5c (three for 10c), you once got a roll of lollies as thick as a flashlight. Its paper and foil wrappers came away together in a single motion, having been designed to make surreptitiously emptying the contents into a blazer pocket as easy as possible. Although the Tingles were enormous, a teacher could never spot you eating one as long as you slipped it into your mouth while pretending to cough. Scientists are still trying to understand why this was, but the fact remains that no student was ever caught. Anywhere. Sucking an FT - while providing 100% of the daily requirement of vitamins and minerals, as well as cleaning the teeth more thoroughly than the best dentist - induced a meditative state similar, though far superior, to that achieved by Tibetan monks. Prized speckled Tingles had the further effect of permanently increasing the IQ by a point. Chewing all flavours simultaneously, it was discovered, granted the ability to fly unaided for 30 seconds. This last property caused the sweets to be banned by the federal government, citing airspace congestion. The inevitable backlash was a modern-day "children's crusade" in which a hundred thousand young FT fans from across Oz marched on Canberra and razed Old Parliament House to the ground (what's there now is just a replica). The United Nations stepped in and decreed that Fruit Tingles be devolved to their current form - coloured sugar with a hint of fizz.
My latest televisual addiction is "The Book Show", which screens on the SBS-operated cable arts channel Stvdio (they write it Roman style). MILF-y presenter Mariella Frostrup - imagine "Good Game"'s Hex in 20 years - is either hugely knowledgeable about the printed word or she has a crack team of research droids. Regardless of which it is, she's adept at coaxing famous authors into waxing literary, and I can't get enough. At present, that means fresh episodes Monday-Friday while we catch up with the UK, where it's a long-running weekly fixture. At the conclusion of each ep, all of the guests nominate the fictional hero or heroine they'd most like to be. Who would you choose? WHY?
Steam is uninstalled forever. It whinged constantly about being in offline mode, then when I finally had time for some more "Duels Of The Planeswalkers", it sat there dumbstruck after I'd input my details. Conceivably, it was downloading an update, but there was no notification of this, let alone a progress bar. And the official site "support" was zero help. Cancel, retry, twiddle thumbs. Cancel, retry, stare at wall, yawn. I grew sick of waiting and hastened to the control panel. I'm not sorry in the least that it's gone. (Mates have since complained to me about how buggy it is with headseats - forcing them to listen to strangers, but preventing them from hearing friends.)
Spent six or so of your Terran hours boardgaming with TC and LPO... "Descent: Journeys In The Dark" is a fairly typical but still fun dungeon delve in which one player reveals the encounters and controls the monsters and traps, while the rest pilot a band of adventurers. In only the second room of the scenario "Problems Of Life And Death", our fate was sealed by a low dice roll. Had my shaman-type character copped another point of damage, he would have exploded, killing every enemy on the map. Unfortunately, he survived (it's not often you say that) and we were outmanoeuvred and picked off from a distance. L. wrecked us almost as rapidly in the princess rescue "Spoiled Brat" - I blame T. for convincing this beginner to open what was ultimately a door too many. Next, we switched to "Cadwallon: City Of Thieves". (The "Cadwallon" part appears in a smaller, subtler font on the box and we reckon was added purely as a legal precaution due to the existence of Fighting Fantasy gamebook "C/O/T".) This one involves directing a quartet of robbers, each with their own special skill. Buildings are entered, then chests are lock-picked or bashed apart, and rare items and ducats absconded with. Rival gangs can be harried with city guards, foiled via arcane magic or biffo-ed head on, in order to steal what they've just stolen. The scenario we used was called "The Receivers' Market" (ooh-er!) and was based around trying to sell a specific commodity per turn, while demand was high. Learning as I went, I had no idea the endgame would be so brutal and had to watch my ill-gotten gains become losses as I was repeatedly mugged and shunted out of profitable patches. There really is no honour among thieves! :-)
Congratulations to the Poms on a well-deserved Ashes series victory, having outplayed us in four out of five Tests. Congrats also to your host for topping a minuscule fantasy league through a combination of guesswork, luck and false modesty.
Q. Which of the following have RS or I NOT witnessed in the past week?
Album of the year: "Leave Your Sleep" by Natalie Merchant