Dork Geek Nerd

"Rational romantic mystic cynical idealist"

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Brokering a war

"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

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Teenage dream

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.


Back when I was a teen, a few of us local lads were chatting to a few of the local lasses when the boldest among them asked in conspiratorial tones if we wanted to know a secret. Of course we did.

"There are devil worshippers in this town!" she said.

Now, this chick was no bastion of truth, having sworn she could get her gal pals backstage at any rock concert, then failed to do so at the next available opportunity. But neither was she in the fibbing league of Jay from "The Inbetweeners".

"Oh, yeah? What makes you say that?" Naturally incredulous, BP had also dwelt in our seaside suburb the longest.

As I recall, she didn't want to give a reason. Perhaps the challenge had left her suddenly unsure of herself. Or she'd assumed we'd accept the unsupported statement. But with some prompting:

"We walked up to the water tower...

[A great green cylinder that sat atop the hill overlooking the bay, reachable by a rocky road too steep for bikes and gated against 4WDs.]

...and it'd been spray-painted with all these demonic symbols!"

Poor girl. She couldn't have chosen a worse audience with whom to share the forgivable-at-our-age conclusion.

Because they weren't demonic symbols but a mixture of Iron Maiden "logos" (actually the signature of artist Derek Riggs), "D&D"-inspired sigils and other stuff'n'nonsense, all put there in a fit of boredom by us guys.

"That was us, you idiot!" cried BP, and the laughter/teasing began.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

An afternoon at The Roxbury

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 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?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hakuna matata

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, 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...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

One for the folder

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.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"This is the ninja zombie room"

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.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Al Pachinko

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?

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Me! I disconnect from you

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.)

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Rookie mistakes

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! :-)

Bit that didn't fit: "Descent" has a cool mechanic, reminiscent of overwatch mode in "Space Hulk", whereby you ready an action. It could be an aimed shot, retaliatory ranged/melee strike, dodge or - getting hazy here - energy recovery.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Shush, Penfold!

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.

L: "Doctor Who: Hornets' Nest - A Sting In The Tale" and "Hive Of Horror" (both 2009) by Paul Magrs, "Tarot Sport" (2009) by Fuck Buttons, "D/W - Rise And Fall" (2010?) by George Mann, and the unabridged audio version of Thomas Pynchon's "Inherent Vice" (2009) - one disc down, 11 to go!
R: CM's excellent new ukulele periodical "Kamuke" (January 2011), "Wizard #232", "Doctor Who Magazine #427", "The Walking Dead #1" (2010 reprint) by Kirkman/Moore, "20th Century Boys #12" (2003, translation 2010) by Urasawa, "The Unwritten Vol. 2 - Inside Man" (2010) by Carey/Gross, "Vortex #22", and "Rolling Stone" (February 2011) for the previously unpublished John Lennon interview.
W: Cricket and dodgy documentaries, eg. "Hitler And The Occult" and "Vampires Of Venice".

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Quick quiz

Q. Which of the following have RS or I NOT witnessed in the past week?
a) A grown man in the racetrack stands crying as if he'd blown all his dough.
b) Someone being ordered off a bus for threatening to murder the driver.
c) A 19-year-old girl professing the belief that a person can be "half a virgin".
d) Fellow diners loudly comparing their (multiple) upcoming cosmetic procedures.

A. We saw/overheard them all! Although, admittedly, c) was on a TV program.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

2KX plaudits

Album of the year: "Leave Your Sleep" by Natalie Merchant

Book O/T/Y: Nothing springs to mind. I suspect I might say "Skippy Dies" by Paul Murray, were it not sitting unopened on the shelf.

Event O/T/Y: Tie - UFC 110 (Acer Arena) and Neil Gaiman's "The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains" (Opera House).

Film O/T/Y: "The Social Network"

Game O/T/Y: "Bayonetta"