Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Early drafts for my review of the bottle of Becherovka I received from my Secret Santa:

The widely-respected master distillers of the Czech Republic have long been…

As you can see from this review, I haven’t actually gone blind yet…

In the interests of theological accuracy I don’t use the word ‘godforsaken’ very often, but…

Drinking Becherovka will bring back vivid memories of Christmases past, providing that your memories include being brutally violated by a department store Santa who spoke no English and reeked of stale whiskey...

If you’re in the market for cheap cinnamon-flavoured Czech hooch, then have I got news for you…

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here…

I can only assume that my Secret Santa wants me dead.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


‘Do you have a copy of ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’?’ I asked the girl behind the counter at Angus & Robertson.

‘Er, the what?’

‘The Scarlet Pimpernel.’

The look on her face was evasive. She was obviously wondering if she was supposed to know what this scarlet pimpernel thing was.

‘I don’t know’, she said, slowly, and cast a slightly panicked gaze at the older man doing something else over at the till.

‘I think we’ve sold out,’ he said, glancing up momentarily and without any interest. ‘Check the computer.’

She began to move over to a nearby terminal, just as a middle-aged woman standing next to me asked another young clerk for the copy of the soundtrack to ‘High School Musical’ she’d ordered.

Any thought of the scarlet pimpernel (whatever that was) went out of the salesgirl’s head, like a balloon snatched from a child’s hand by a sudden gust of wind. ‘Ooh, I just love that movie! The soundtrack is just the best. My mother has it on, like, all the time in the car and we all just sing along! It’s so much fun!’

Salesgirl and middle-aged woman chatted gaily about the delights of the ‘High School Musical’ soundtrack, although neither was apparently moved to wonder why it was being sold in a bookstore. Eventually the salesboy who’d actually gone to collect it had to interrupt them to ring it up. The salesgirl watched happily as it was slipped into a paper bag, then paused for a moment, first reflect on the glory of ‘High School Musical’, then to recollect what she’d been doing before her attention had been diverted. The memory seemed to come to her at the same time as she noticed me staring at her.

‘Oh, sorry,’ she trilled nervously, and turned to the terminal. ‘What was it again?’

‘The. Scarlet. Pimpernel.’

She tapped at the keyboard, and stared at whatever it was trying to tell her as if she found it difficult to concentrate on any piece of information not directly related to ‘High School Musical’.

‘I’m sorry, we don’t seem to have it.’

‘Thank you for looking.’

‘Have a nice day!’

On my way out I passed the older man. The look on his face suggested that the only reason why the salesgirl wasn’t lying strangled in a dumpster was because it would require too much effort.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


On the twelfth day of Blandmas my true love gave to me; a donation to TEAR Australia's Christmas foreign aid fund.

Wait, what the hell? This is supposed to be about me! WHAT PART OF "ME" DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND, TRUE LOVE? I'm the one who's supposed to be getting the gifts here, not some distant bunch of Third World dirtbags! Where are your damn priorities?

Stupid Christmas. Stupid spreading of joy and goodwill. What an appalling state of affairs! I blame my friend (and church elder) OL. Cue the wavy lines and harp strumming of recollection...

Me: I had a bit of a win at work this week. It turns out they've been underpaying me and now I get backpaid nearly two thousand dollars!

OL: That's timely. You know the church is hoping to raise two thousand dollars to build a school for underprivilaged children in Zambia.

Me: ...

OL: ...

Me: D'oh!

At least God let me off with a mere tithing. I still have enough left over to buy that Roomba that I can't conceivably live without.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


On the eleventh day of Blandmas my true love gave to me; a Rama Hughes wallet from Poketo.

rama hughes wallet

After all, nothing says "a real man's wallet" like a giant yellow robot attacking suburbia.

Monday, December 18, 2006


On the fifth day of Blandmas my true love gave to me; a sense of deep malaise and anger at an unjust and unfeeling universe. Every single thing I tried to do either didn't work or went wrong.

I went to buy an exercise bike at my local Kmart. They had run out. I asked the shop assistant if I could buy the display model. He didn’t know the price. I asked him to find out. He told me that there had been a power failure a few minutes before and most of the network had crashed; only three registers still worked, and the queues for them stretched halfway around the store. I took one look at the queues and left.

So I went to the Telstra shop to find out what was wrong with my mobile, which has been telling me that my credit is about to expire, despite the fact that I only bought it a few weeks ago. The shop assistant told me that because I’d only bought $20 credit, it was only valid for one month. I asked him why the last time I bought $20 credit it was valid for twelve months. He was at a loss to explain such an inconceivable thing. Since I only use my mobile for emergencies, averaging less than $2 in calls per month, I’m going to lose the bulk of my credit when it expires tomorrow.

So I went to a café to have some breakfast. I sat down with a magazine and waited to be served. I read the magazine. I finished the magazine. I started another magazine. Halfway through my second magazine I suddenly found myself in the narrow segment of the space/time continuum that is visible to waiters and thus managed to wrestle a coffee and some fruit toast out of one of them, a mere half hour after I’d walked in. The fruit toast was stale and the coffee tasted like someone had put out a cigarette in it.

So I went to look at a house for sale in a suburb I’d like to move to. I found a parking space and walked up to the house. The front door was locked and there was no sign of an estate agent. I checked my printout of the listing. I had the right time, the right date and the right address. I just didn’t have anyone to let me into the damn house.

So I went home and went back to bed and silently shouted abuse at the ceiling. That, at least, worked out like it was meant to.

Meanwhile, on the sixth through tenth days of Blandmas my true love gave to me; jack squat. I want a divorce.

Friday, December 15, 2006


On the fourth day of Blandmas my true love gave to me; a house insurance premium for $243.45... and an electricity bill?

I don't think my true love really gets this whole "gift" thing.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


On the third day of Blandmas my true love gave to me; 'Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold'. MST3K fans will be pleased to note that this movie was undoubtedly the inspiration for Crow T. Robot's 'Chocolate Jones and the Temple of Funk'.

Only it's worse.

It's 1975, and blackilicious Amazonian secret agent Cleopatra Jones has flown to Hong Kong to help thwart a heroin trafficking ring. Obviously the American government thought that a very tall black woman wearing an orange pimp suit (with matching hat) and a green cravat would be nicely inconspicuous amidst the shorter, drabber and somewhat Chinese-ier population.

Despite the fact that she arrived without any luggage, she proceeds to change outfits for every single scene, each costume more flamboyant and impractical than the last. Oddly enough, however, her makeup remains exactly the same. This may be because the Cleopatra Jones method of cosmetic application goes something like this:

Step 1: Arrange cosmetics in a large bucket according to personal taste.

Step 2: Hire an industrial pile-driver.

Step 3: Place head, face down, between pile-driver and bucket.

Step 4: Activate pile-driver.

She doesn't have eyeshadow so much as entireheadshadow, and I think her eyeliner terminates somewhere around her elbows.

Cleo's nemesis is soon revealed to be a drug runner and casino owner known as The Dragon Lady, a title she presumably took because The Pushy Soccer Mom was already taken. Frankly, you'd expect to see her shouting into her cell phone at her personal trainer while weaving her SUV across three lanes of traffic, rather than running a casino and a heroin empire in Macau. Still, it's nice that she has a life outside the house.

So it comes down to this; a bossy WASP type versus a strong, capable Woman of Color. This being blaxploitation, that honky bitch is goin' down. The big climactic fight scene in The Dragon Lady's lavish casino is memorable for several reasons, not least of which being the presence of a well-formed and bra-less extra inexplicably running towards the camera with her blouse open. It's that sort of movie.

Oh, and Cleopatra Jones kills The Dragon Lady. Not that anyone cares when there are boobies jiggling in the periphery.


Why lust after the sexy Tesla roadster when you could drive the "funtelligent" Myers NmG?

Monday, December 11, 2006


On the first day of Blandmas my true love (which would be me) gave to me (which would be me also); a partridge in a pear tree a 1Gb iPod Shuffle.

I love my new iPod Shuffle. It's the size of a postage stamp and has a built-in clip, so I can just clip it to a pocket or the hem of my T-shirt. It holds hundreds of songs randomly hoovered up from my iTunes, which is enough for even my longest evening constitutional and my fussiest musical mood.

On the other hand, I hate the Apple Corporation. Hate hate hate. I want to cause Steve Jobs severe and unending pain.

Apple's designers are far too cool and groovy to bundle the appropriate software with their product, since a big ungainly CD-ROM would spoil their precious little fetishist packaging. The sap who buys the iPod needs to download the software, which, at over 50MB, takes about four and a half hours on dial-up access.

"Do people still have dial-up?" they would no doubt sniff. Well you know what, Apple? SCREW YOU!

Naturally the version of iTunes that came with my 20Gb iPod wouldn't support the new Shuffle, so I had to spend four and a half hours (and several dollars in excess bandwidth charges) downloading the latest version... which promptly refused to install. It even had to gall to instruct me to contact my 'technical support group' to help me fix the problem, which is the equivalent of phoning the automobile club when your car breaks down and having them tell you to get your chauffeur to fix it. I eventually had to call upon a computer-literate friend to wrestle the software into compliance.

Now it's working properly, except for the fact that it makes frequent suggestions that I change the USB port it uses, since the current one isn't a USB2 and as such it makes the data transfer, in the Shuffle's opinion, oh so intolerably slow. Well excuse me, your majesty, but you can use a USB1 and like it! Or if you prefer I can go dig out my old 486 and plug you into the thumb-sized printer port! Let's see how you like that!

Meanwhile, on the second day of Blandmas my true love gave to me; a load of laundry to do. My true love isn't made of money, you know.


While scooting around the internet, I stumbled across a fan site for people who build Star Wars dioramas.

star wars

It reminded me of my own youth and my collection of Star Wars action figures.

I still have my figures, despite my mother's best efforts to donate them to another generation of children; sheesh, that woman had no idea. All of the figures bear the marks of serious play. The stickers on R5D4 wore off, as did the gold paint on C3P0, leaving him an unsettling shade of nude. The Jawa got savaged by my dalmatian and lost an arm in the process. And it's hard to be scared of a stormtrooper when his body turns yellow while his limbs stay white.

the battered survivors

Worth approximately 18c on eBay.

Original Star Wars figures were made from softer, lower-quality plastics than those made today, since their creators intended them to be purchased by children with limited pocketmoney, not, as would be the case in later years, by fat bearded 30 year olds with jobs in IT and no life. As such, most of the figures' heads came off after a few months and had to be re-attached with superglue, with varying aesthetic success. As you can see, Luke Skywalker apparently developed the gout in later life.

Luke (with gout)

You kids! Get off my lawn!

You can also see the difference between the recent incarnations of these toys and the crap we were fobbed off with 25 years ago.

R2D2s old and new

New R2: How does it feel to be anatomically incorrect?
Old R2: Bite me.

Capes, guns and lightsabres were, of course, promptly lost.

Ben & Darthy

I don't know about you, Obi Wan, but I feel kinda naked.

Looking at these dioramas on the internet, I remember with a tinge of sadness that I made my own out of bits of random junk. I had my own Hoth set, made from crumbled polystyrene on a painted baseboard. I think there was also a shield generator built out of washing machine parts (or something similar). I also seem to recall having some sort of Death Star, but nowhere near as sophisticated as the Hoth set.

However my dioramas were thrown out years ago, probably by me. I really wish I'd kept them.


3 Wise Men

Despite their little misadventure with the time machine, the Three Wise Men eventually made it to the Nativity.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Happy Blogiversary to me! Today is this blog's second birthday, and in line with the modern consumerist zeitgeist my first thoughts are not ones of introspection or personal review, but rather of what sort of gifts other people should buy me in order to mark the occasion.

According to the Get on the Blandwagon! Modern Blogiversary Gifts List, it's time for plastic fantastic, baby!

Of course the choice is yours, but I find that a few discreet suggestions are helpful at a time like this...

Perhaps a set of original 1967 Panton chairs?

A work from Brian Jungen's 'Shapeshifter' series?

Some vintage bakelite jewellry?

A MyCar?

Or just an Imperial Star Destroyer?

I'll leave it up to you. I know you won't let me down.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Among other things, Christmas means one of my rare visits to the toy store, or at least, one of my rare visits to the toy store to buy something for a person who isn't me.

For the little boys on my list (a trio of nephews) it's all easy. The eldest likes medieval action figures, so he's getting one of them. The middle one likes both Lego and Star Wars, so he's getting a blocky little AT-ST driven by a bite-sized stormtrooper. The youngest is only two, and hasn't expressed any particular preferences, so he's getting trucks. There is no such thing as a two year old boy who doesn't like trucks.

My sole niece is somewhat more problematic, since it means that I have to venture into a place in the toy store where no man ventures of his own free will: the Barbie aisle.

Once a man gets over the initial onslaught of concentrated girl germs, the Barbie aisle is a puzzling place. Barbie seems to spend a lot of her time being either a princess or a fairy, or both. Occasionally she will condescend to be a model, a rock star or some kind of unspecified trust fund kid who just hangs out in nice clothes, but mostly she's a princess or a fairy. She also seems to command a small army of other princesses and fairies, who no doubt rampage across he countryside teaching the value of sharing, helping cloyingly anthropomorphised animals, and changing outfits every twenty paces.

Since she's into both horses and Barbies, my niece will be getting Brietta, the Barbie pegasus. It's mauve. It has bigger false eyelashes than Edie Sedgwick. It appears to be wearing blue eyeshadow, and has sparkly plastic baubles braided into its mane. It is what you would get if you ground up the front row at a Kylie Minogue concert and poured the resultant goo into horse-shaped moulds...

Oops, I should be more careful. I may have just accidentally stumbled onto one of Mattel's production secrets.


For Christmas I want a Talking Prayer Teddy, a green Jesus Truck, and also some kind of flamethrower.

Friday, December 01, 2006


Our Finance Officer just stuck her head around my door and mentioned that she had some good news. Apparently something went wrong with the automatic step increases on my salary, and they haven't been paid for about two and half years. Fortunately she has now fixed this.

"Does that mean I get more money?" I asked her, with a certain amount of befuddlement, since personal finances and I have a sort of mutual antipathy thing going on.

"Yes," she replied. "And it's backdated, so it means you get quite a bit more money."

Yay, I thought, in the expectation that this might mean an extra hundred bucks or so. But then I checked the pay scales, and if my calculations are correct, it means I'm owed something in the area of two thousand dollars...

Excuse me while I gibber excitedly...