Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Dieting is hard work. You probably already knew that, but it bears repeating.

It's especially hard work for me. Not because I lack willpower - I successfully resisted the siren song of raspberry custard tart at the office this morning - but because I have one of those bodies that's brilliantly designed for a massive famine that will never happen.

My metabolism is astonishingly slow. It's the Daewoo Matiz of metabolisms. The resting heart rate of the average adult male is 70 beats per minute. My heart, on the other hand, bangs along as less than 50 beats per minute. A few nights ago I did my usual 40 minutes on my exercise bike then slouched into my Eames chair to watch a movie, without taking off my heart rate monitor. Halfway through 'I'll Sleep When I'm Dead', my pulse was barely ticking over in the low 40s.

Of course it doesn't help that 'I'll Sleep When I'm Dead' is a very dull movie. It features Clive Owen as the hero and Malcolm McDowell as the villain, and tells the story of a burnt out London gangster sworn to vengeance when his little brother is raped and commits suicide. Normally this would mean excitement, fighting and action. In this movie, however, it means actors meandering onto sets and slowly delivering their lines with all the facial expression of an Easter Island statue. On thorazine. No wonder I had the heart rate of a hibernating bear.

Desipte all this, my weight loss is continuing, slowly and surely even though I have a lack of patience and a recalcitrant physiology. I've lost 7.5kg in seven weeks. Which means that I only have 1kg to go... before I hit the midway point. My overall target is a loss of 17kg, which will probably take me into the middle of the year. Ho-hum.

I will, however, take the night off for AndressFest. I may be dieting but I'm not insane.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


As I mentioned a few posts ago, my new Eee netbook has its name written across its cover in an awful low-rent font. My solution to this aesthetic dilemma involved contact, a pair of scissors, and, as ever, giant killer robots.

I'm glad that two out of three robots just say no to crushing, killing and destruction.

Well, it'll do until I find a large enough sticker of Mamie van Doren.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Get ready, people. It's that time of year again. It's just one more month until...

AndressFest '09!

Yes, it's the fourth annual festival of Ursula Andress movies, in which we celebrate the woman who was either the most talented terrible actress or the most terrible talented actress of all time.

Ursula with James Dean

Ursula with Sean Connery

Ursula with Robin Williams

If you're free on Friday March 20 and you want to discover how a woman can be so sexy and yet so appalling at the same time, email me at yevadwerdna (at) hotmail (dot) com for details.

AndressFest - putting the "fun" back into "That movie was fundamentally awful".

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Valentine's Day! It's a day to celebrate lovers! Or, more realistically, it's a day for women to celebrate lovers, or at least such romance as they have in their lives. As one internet commentator archly put it, Valentine's Day is a day when women hope that their man will give them poetry and chocolate and champagne and a romantic dinner and flowers and lingerie and jewellery and declarations of undying love, and men hope that their women will give them a resigned "okay".

As evidence that Valentine's Day is all about the girls, I give you, which as the title suggests is a website that allows contributors to state what they love their valentine more than. As the mast head says, "Paperwhite studio wants to depart from the cliche Valentines sentiment and find out the real things we use as a measuring stick for love."

So off we depart from the cliches of love! Or not, as the case may be. It turns out that cliches are cliches for a reason: most people measure their love against exactly same things. So much so that 90% of them fall into a handful of clearly defined categories.

I should add that all of the examples below are 100%, absolutely, horrifyingly genuine.

Category: The Starbucks Tragic


I love you more than espresso, french roast, and venti soy hazelnut cappucinos.

I love you more than my morning cinnamon latte

I love you more than an iced grande two pump sugar-free vanilla one pump peppermint nonfat late.

I love you more than I love my grande white chocolate mocha with soy

Translation: I love you more than I love buggering up innocent coffee

Category: The Liberal Douche


I love you more than an interesting interview on the Daily Show.

I love you more than fresh granola and yogurt.

I love you more than Obama who is my hero.

Translation: I love you more than being a self-righteous asshat. And I really love being a self-righteous asshat.

Category: The Tubby Self-Deluder


I love you more than coke zero

I love you more than diet coke

I love you more than sugar-free ice cream.

Translation: You're not very good, but I tolerate you because I have to.

Category: The Apple 'Individual'


I love you more than all the songs in my iPoddies

I love you more than I love my iTunes library.

I love you more than my ipod

I love you more than all the music in my Itunes library. That’s over 20 gigs worth, all for you.

Translation: I love you more than a common and well-marketed household appliance. Lucky you.

Category: The Non-Linguistic Communicator


I love you more than buy a lot of underwaer

I love you more than I love may a bum a smoke.

I love you more than cachemire sweaters.

I love you more than steek.

Translation: I love you more than literacy.

Category: The Pathetic Valentine


i love you more than i hate waiting for you to enter my life. please hurry!!

I love you more than I hate waiting for you to show up in my life. Whoeveryou are

I love you more than my need to hang on to our one-sided non-relationship in my head.

Translation: I love you more than my self-respect.

Category: The Trite Cineaste


I love you more than we love the sisterhood of the traveling pants.

I Love You More Than Edward Loves Bella

I love you more than Jack loved Rose

Translation: I love you more than the movies which make my significant other want to tear his own eyes out.

Category: The Adventurous Gastronome


I love you more than blueberry muffins and squirrels

I love you more than puppies and boiled peanuts

I love you more than Pikachu, cupcakes, and Ariel combined.

Translation: It's a challenging combination of flavours, but once you've tried it you'll never look back!

And the dominant category, by a significant margin...

Category: The Oestrogen Overload


I love you more than Carrie loves her own Mr. Big.

I love you more than kitties.

I love you more than reading trashy novels in bed all day and night.

I love you more than I love rainbows.

I love you more than Frosted Pink Cupcakes

I love you more than 'unicorns'

I love you more than Gossip Girl, Friends and Gilmore Girls combined

i love you more than sparkles.

I love you more than I love purses.

I love you more than new shoes

I love you more than the yummiest choco fountain.

I love you more than a gucci bag + a $100000000000 shopping spree.

Translation: I love you more than I love putting the feminist movement back 40 years.

Oddly enough there was no "I love you more than Xbox", "I love you more than my Triton workbench" or "I love you more than monster truck demolition derbies". Perhaps we're saving those up for one of the more phallocentric celebrations, like the World Air Guitar Championships, Chuck Norris' Birthday, or 7 Meat Pizza Tuesdays.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Sometimes I wonder about my mind. I don't mean that I consider it with wonder, marvelling at its grace and magnificence... frankly some days it seems about as graceful and magnificent as Courtney Love. I mean that I wonder about it in the same way that a biologist wonders about a particularly weird little bug he's been looking at under a microsope.

I have a tendency to get ideas in my head that seemingly spring up out of nowhere, but take root with alarming speed and then burst forth with great fragrant blossoms of foolishness. One moment I'm wondering if there's something more useful for entertaining me on my exercise bike than an iPod Touch or a portable DVD player, and the next thing I know I have an Eee.

If you don't know what it is, the Eee is a netbook. If you don't know what a netbook is, it's a stripped down, miniaturised laptop computer with flash memory instead of hard drive. If you don't know what a laptop is, then there is no hope for you understanding anything more modern than the electric mangle and we should part company now.

Do I actually need a netbook? It's one of those things that could be useful in a number of situations but isn't specifically right for anything in particular. I just sort of wandered into buying it, because it was small and cool and now and inexpensive and The Flatmate egged me on. So now I have something that's sort of amorphously useful but never essential.

Still, for something tiny and cheap it's remarkably feature-packed, with a webcam, wireless networking, plenty of ports for SD cards or USB peripherals, and a comprehensive set of basic software included in the price. About the only thing I don't like about it is the fact that it has "Eee" written in a large, tacky cursive font across its cover. I'm already considering various vandalism options to get rid of it.

One may be moved to wonder why the Asus corporation chose to call it the Eee in the first place (or, as one particular friend insists on calling it, the Weee, suggesting that he's been a little overwhelmed by modern electronics marketing). Did they sit around the boardroom table, tossing around names like MicroNet or xNet or Netmini, until eventually someone shouted out, "I know, let's name it after the sound of fingernails screeching down a blackboard!", and everyone else shouted, "Eureka, that's it! Rice wine martinis for everyone!"?

Or, as I suspect, are the Taiwanese chortling into their sleeves, maliciously delighted that their dominance of global computing is so complete than they can convince people to buy computers with a name like the scream of a frog being boiled alive?

The crucial question is, does it entertain me on my exercise bike, which was the entire, if tenuous, rationale for buying it in the first place? I did my exercise biking this evening with it propped up on the magazine rack, listening as it politely read out the first four chapters of 'The War of the Worlds' which I'd downloaded from Project Gutenberg. I'd already tried to do the same thing with my existing technology, only to find that my iPod Shuffle refused to accept the files from iTunes, at which point I became iPeeved. So there's a win right there.

I also wrote this post on it, while sprawled in my Eames chair. The keyboard isn't as easy to use as my desktop's, but there are extra coolness points in writing one's blog posts from one's Eames chair, so I guess it all evens out.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Thanks to a long chain of links from a politics website, I've become acquainted with the world of Hollis Polk, "extraordinary psychic and teacher".

I'm dead impressed. She doesn't just have psychic powers; she has extraordinary psychic powers. Apparently psychic powers are not, by their very nature, anything out of the ordinary. I should have known this, of course, with my own normal psychic powers. And my ability to levitate small objects and telepathically converse with lizards. But I guess you need more than that.

Hollis offers a wide variety of services. For a start there's the simple psychic reading, which allows her to tell you things about yourself that you already knew. I admit that this is amazing but I can't help but think that it's also kind of futile.

Then there's the chakra reading, which tells you things about other people that you already knew. This is even more amazing, but I would imagine similarly futile.

As Hollis says herself, "Because I see clairvoyantly and hear clairaudiently whatever is there, without you directing my attention in any way, what my psychic abilities 'get' is what is obviously true for you". Or, to translate that into English, she can state obvious truths about you without you telling her what they are. Personally I would have thought that the whole point of obvious truths is that you don't need to be a psychic to see them, but that's why she earns $180 an hour and I don't.

Furthermore there's her "transformative coaching", which I suspect is far more useful than coaching that doesn't cause any change whatsoever. "I use all sorts of tools," she says, "including NLP" (Neurolinguistic Programming, or improving your life by improving your vocabulary), "hypnotherapy" (fixing you with hypnosis), "hypnocoaching" (improving you with hypnosis), "energy work" (upgrading your home to 3-phase power) and "EFT" (Emotional Freedom Techniques, or the manipulation of energy meridians to squeeze cash out of bubble-headed Californian flakes.)

Hollis has obviously fondled the meridians of many a flake, for as she says, "My clients are thousands of everyday people who want psychic guidance in their lives." Interestingly enough, according to her testimonials, a large number of Hollis' clients are in marketing or public relations. Who would have thought that so many people in the image-over-reality game would be so drawn to psychics?

Along with the flight attendants, yoga teachers, "psychotherapists" (ie people with no recognised qualifications in either psychiatry or psychology) and other clairvoyants. Her client list is like a directory of people without whom society could function quite contentedly.

I mock Hollis Polk, but I suspect that she is sincere and very good with people, even if her mind is more festooned with glittery nonsense than a trailer trash Christmas tree. It's also worth noting that she seems to be making a decent living out of just being herself. Indeed, she is merely one individual in a large and financially comfortable class of people who be, rather than do. Doing, apparently, is for chumps. Why get paid for installing airconditioner ducts or repairing roads when you could amass money simply by being yourself - giving encouragement, offering advice and holding people accountable?

So bravo to Hollis for her market savviness and her dedication to self expression, albeit self-expression that's slathered in language that makes psychobabble look like learned discourse. I leave you with Hollis' own motto, printed on the background of her website, in which she endorses "seeing with the heart".

Because seeing with the eyes is so last century.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


I haven't done a movie review in a while, even though I have partaken of such delights as Roger Corman's 'The Big Doll House' and the evocatively titled 'Blood Orgy of the She-Devils'. This is a poor state of affairs, so let me take you on a little journey through last night's MST3K, 'It Lives By Night'.

IT lives by night? Well yeah, I suppose that makes sense, what with all the ICQ chattering and LAN parties.

It's 1974, and ill-defined "doctor" Johnny Beck is honeymooning with his new wife in the mountains of New Mexico. While picnicking on an arid hillside he hears a weird throbbing sound that's only apparent to him. He suggests that they go and explore the nearby caves. She suggests that they go back to the motel and try this new "sex" thing that all the kids are talking about. In the end, they decide to combine their ideas and get jiggy with it in the caves.

Sadly for their respective libidos, they fall down a small crevasse in the caves, where she gets bitten by mites and he gets bitten by a bat... but not before he hears the weird throbbing sound again. Perhaps it's coming from his pants; if they'd just gone back to their motel like normal newlyweds none of this would have happened.

Beck is concerned about rabies, but as it turns out rabies is the least of his problems. He begins having wild dreams about nubile young women being attacked, and it turns out that this has nothing to do with any weird throbbing. Nubile young women really are being attacked by a mysterious killer, and the sleazy local sheriff thinks that Beck has something to do with it. It could be because his hospital bracelet was found next to the first body, and the bandages from his bat bite next to the second body. As you can see the sheriff isn't a great one for detectivizing, which is I suspect why we've never seen 'CSI: Carlsbad' come up in our TV listings.

Beck thinks that he's turning into some kind of man-bat, but maybe he's just crazy from the anti-rabies injections he's been receiving. He goes on a few non-murderous rampages, but not in any bat form. It's only when he finally gets around to having sex with his wife, and she catches a momentary glimpse of something that's either bat features or really shoddy special effects make-up, that we begin to realise that he might well be joining the ranks of the guano-producing, mosquito-eating, sonar-shrieking masses.

Beck turns into a were-bat. Or an extra from 'Planet of the Apes'. It's a little hard to tell.

Beck decides to off himself, but his mind is changed by a drunken hobo he meets in an old barn. The hobo is intended to be comic relief, but he ends up as lunch. Beck then flees back to the caves where he first got bitten. Sheriff Sleaze is already there, and despite being armed with a rifle and a maglite Beck beats the guano out of him then scuttles off into the darkness.

The sheriff retreats to the police station, to let Mrs Beck know that her husband is as crazy as a fruit bat, and offers to drive her back to her motel. However she too starts to hear the weird throbbing sound, and when bats attack the car on the way to the motel she opens the door and gets out. Sheriff Sleaze is devoured by bats (which is pretty impressive, given that they're all of four inches long and have teeth the size of sesame seeds), and Mrs Beck goes off to join her batty husband and presumably become a crazy bat lady herself.

This is problematic: Beck heard the weird throbbing before he got bitten by the bat, but she only heard it after she did the nasty with him. Cause and effect don't appear to have any correlation. True, this is all happening in 1974, when correlation was just a conspiracy by The Man to keep a brother down, but even so it's rather bewildering.

I had a nightmare that we were stuck in a terrible movie! IT JUST DIDN'T MAKE ANY SENSE!!!

Thank goodness that 1975 was only just around the corner, and with it 'The Giant Spider Invasion', 'One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing' and... er... 'Mitchell'.

Well, it was only three more years till 'Star Wars', anyway.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


I went for a lengthy bike ride with The Flatmate tonight. He’s a super fit bike junkie, I’m trying to lose weight, and he has two bikes, so it works out for both of us if we can go out for a ride in the long summer evenings. He’s been letting me ride his astonishingly expensive mountain bike, which is a lot more comfortable to ride than his racer, even if it’s slower. I’ve also been wearing his spare heart monitor, which wirelessly transmits my heart rate and calorie consumption to a little screen on my wrist. According to it, tonight’s 24km ride used up more than a thousand calories… so its value as exercise can’t be overstated.

However I think that The Flatmate gets a little frustrated at my cycling style, partly because I’m an overly cautious noob, and partly because I have some odd little foibles. For example, I resist changing gears. When I find a good strong gear I like to stick with it, even if it means pushing hard to go up a hill or pedaling faster than is strictly necessary going downhill. Why? Well, this conversation from the middle of our ride may explain it somewhat…

Me: I managed to hit 177bpm on that hill back there. It wiped me out, though.

The Flatmate: Did you use the gears?

Me: No.

The Flatmate: You realise that’s what the gears are for, don’t you? To make the ride easier?

Me: I don’t want the ride to be easier. I like the challenge of using one gear. I gives me a chance to demonstrate my RAW MANLINESS.

(The Flatmate suddenly veers off onto the other side of the road)

Me: What, are you threatened by my RAW MANLINESS?

The Flatmate: Yeah. That’s it.

And then later…

Me: Did you hear that old man yell at me to slow down?

The Flatmate: No. When was that?

Me: Back on the Mt Pleasant esplanade. I was fanging it and I decided not to slow down for a blind corner, so of course that was the one time that someone was coming in the opposite direction.

The Flatmate: Did you nearly hit him?

Me: No, not at all. I think he was just intimidated by my RAW MANLINESS.

The Flatmate: Unbelievable.

I believe that The Flatmate is simply jealous.


A couple of posts ago I mentioned that I'd spruced up a dowdy piece of furniture. It was pretty simple. I've had this old chest of drawers for years, and for 90% of those years I've been meaning to replace the chipped beige piece of melamine that forms its top. Here's what it looked like:

Eventually I came up with the idea of covering it with a piece of heavy paper, kept in place with double-sided tape or something similar. I went down to Jackson's Art Supplies and found a remarkable sheet of art paper embroidered with gold, silver and bronze thread, and used it to upholster the melamine. By tucking it over the sides I found I could fix it in place with thumbtacks driven into the underside of the wood. So here's what it looks like now:

Not bad for $12 worth of paper, a bunch of old thumbtacks and a couple of badly bruised thumbs.

I recommend that you drop into your local art supply shop and have a look at their specialty paper. It's beautiful, and cheap for something so luxurious.

Monday, February 02, 2009


My diet is continuing to be successful, although the humid heatwave we're experiencing at the moment makes exercise approximately 1000 times the chore it would be otherwise.

As one might expect, the internet is proving to be most enlightening when it comes to working out what activities burn the most calories. At, one can learn the caloric expenditure of common, everyday activities and thus tailor one's diet and exercise accordingly.

However many of the activities they list are not specific enough for my needs. How am I supposed to plan my weight loss properly if they keep leaving out vital information? Witness the activities and their glaringly omitted details below:

Activity: butchering an animal

Caloric Expenditure: 420 calories per hour

Glaringly Omitted Detail: Type of animal. I imagine that butchering a cow is a lot more active than butchering, say, a duckling. Or a hitchhiker.

Activity: sugar bashing

Caloric Expenditure: 350 calories per hour

Glaringly Omitted Detail: What "sugar bashing" is, precisely. If it's hitting sugar cane with a big mallet, then 350 is probably a fair figure. On the other hand if it's what you call it when you completely lose self-control and start cramming meringues into your cake hole, then not so much.

Activity: sitting quietly in church

Caloric Expenditure: 70 calories per hour

Glaringly Omitted Detail: Denomination of church. Sitting quietly in a Southern Baptist church equals an unruly Bacchanal in a Methodist one, so I think more specifics are needed.

Activity: being a policeman making an arrest

Caloric Expenditure: 280 calories per hour

Glaringly Omitted Detail: Era. Are we talking '70s cop show chasing-bad-guys-across-the-roof-tops arrests, or '00s style cop show standing-around-while-hillbilly-couples-swear-at-each-other arrests?

Activity: bookbinding

Caloric Expenditure: 161 calories per hour

Glaringly Omitted Detail: Size of book. If we're talking about the King James Bible (Extra Thees and Thous Edition), then you have to include all the calories expended in going out and hiring a hydraulic lift. On the other hand, if we're talking about 'Every Funny Thing I Ever Said' by Margaret Cho, then it's a considerably easier job.

Activity: playing the trumpet

Caloric Expenditure: 175 calories per hour

Glaringly Omitted Detail: Linguistic intention. That is, do we mean literally or as a euphemism?