archives : jan 2006
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saturday : 28 jan 2006

7:34pm. It's been way too hot to spend time in front of the PC writing stuff. Suffice to say, with January 26th being a public holiday, I had an all-nighter on Wednesday evening that started with an improvised pub crawl in the CBD with Andrew and Dave from work, and ended with sweaty clubbing 'till about 3:30am. I didn't have a hangover the next day because the toxins probably got danced out of my system, heh heh. A heart-felt 'fuck off and die' to the club tart in the venue on Flinders Street who got the owner to kick me off the podium so she and her teenage techno sluts could gyrate limply to the music, which was almost track for track the Aussie Ministry of Sound 2006 Annual playlist I didn't mind that one bit. I also didn't mind talking to a number of attractive women that night. There was something in the air, call it a buzz, the humidity, rampant pheremones, a full moon, Rohypnol, whatever. There was definitely some strange alchemy going on. Almost everyone male, female, bar staff, bouncer, homeless cretin was friendly and approachable. And to Philippa, the dreamy girl at Waterside: shall we ever cross paths again? Swooonn...

The next day, Australia Day, I pretty much just camped out on my designer lounge suite, watching women's tennis with a deskfan stopping me from becoming a baked couch potato in the 40 degree heatwave. I replaced the muted TV sound with various CDs playing on the Meridian. I tell ya, that was nuthin' but pure cruise mode...totally blisstastic. Another tip for keeping the heat at bay is to close all doors to rooms you don't use. This creates large air pockets that insulate the interior of your urban catbox, keeping it nice and chilled.

Hey. Was just watching Gilmore Girls. What the heck was Norman Mailer doing on there? And I added yet another section to the 2005 Favourites list. Scroll down to the January 8th entry for my top CD picks. No surprises, though.


monday : 23 jan 2006

Hmmmm. Drunk on a Monday night? Guilty, Your Honour. It started out innocently enough, with one glass of dubious house red at our local watering hole. But as piss-heads, brawlers, sex offenders, and chocaholics know, it never stops at just one (hundred). Later, we watched the last Aussie tennis hope Sam Stoser bow out at the Australian Open on the poorly configured plasma screens at Transport, Fed Square. This was depressing, a kick to the guts for all patriots. That talented wanker, Lleyton "Come Onnnn!!" Hewitt, apparently went for a duck in the initial rounds, so our last hope was Sammy S. I can't say I diluted my weak house bourbon and coke with tears of remorse, though. That's the way the sporting cookie crumbles: invest your emotions at your own peril.

On to other news. I pretended to be 18 again on Saturday night. Marylu's eldest son held his birthday at The Atomic Bar in Williamstown. Being a friend of the family, I was invited, and since this was my thing (bar, venue, dancing, socialising with strangers, not to mention acting 16 years younger than I actually am) the anticipation index was high for this event, despite temperatures that would makes a camel turn traitor and confess national secrets. Anyway, I spoke to numerous guests at the birthday bash, all the while buying the birthday boy a drink at every opportunity. The dancing vibe was excellent. I fell into my usual energetic clubbing mode this got the attention of a few attendees, I think. Impressive or pretentious, let's just sat that what I do on the dance floor is not typical of the mainstream drink-a-few-Vodka-Cruisers-and-boogie, or what one friend calls "white man's overbite" (from When Harry Met Sally), approach to clubbing. If the beat is agreeable and all it takes is for the DJ to satisfy the lowest common denominator then I will enjoy myself. The female talent, needless to say, was amazing. I introduced myself to several young women (attached and unattached) to get an idea of the 18 year-old world view. In short, there is hope. Whether cynicism eventually wears away their Teflon coating of optimism is anyone's guess. Whether they are enthusiastic and full of beans in spite of, or in ignorance of, current and future idealistic betrayals is debatable.

Things wrapped up in Williamstown at 1:00am. Two underworked policemen tried and failed to spark some fireworks. Nice try, dipshits. I ended up catching a taxi to Next Blue, ostensibly to keep partying with the birthday boy and his entourage, but they switched locations to The Elephant and Wheelbarrow in the CBD, probably because Next Blue were not admitting random patrons at that hour. Well, fuck Next Blue. I inhaled some fast-food, then caught a taxi and crashed on Marylu's sofa at 5:00am. Two hours later, my eyes snapped open when the body clock alarm went off, and I drove home in the thickening dawn haze of what was to become the Sunday inferno. The temperature forecast was 43 degrees C.

Holy. Shit.

I stayed indoors with a desk fan trained on me the whole time. This worked, of course: Queenslanders are masters at coping with hot, humid weather. We endure it, boast about it, pride ourselves on it. Sit beside or under a fan and you'll be OK. Drink lots of fluids, too.

Speaking of hot places...on Ogrish the other day, I read about a unique terror running loose on the killing fields of Iraq: the infamous "Juba", an expert sniper thought to be working among the ranks of the insurgents. He (or she) targets coalition soldiers and only fires a single shot, aiming at gaps between segments of body armour. Here's an example of some recent footage plus a compilation of hits thought to be the work of this Angel of Death, or what you might call a modern-day bogeyman. However, banter on message boards claims that much of the information about Juba is false or misleading. At the same time, of course, these people offer no proof to back up their own counter-claims. With a character as shadowy as Juba, assuming s/he exists at all, sorting out myth from fact is going to be almost impossible until an official statement is made by the allied forces.

Finally, for what it's worth, here is the link to the meaningless 2006 Weblog Awards, which is now accepting optional preferential ballots until the totally arbitrary date of January 26th. Of the weblogs I read regularly, I only recognise fridaysixpm, run by Beth, in the Best Victorian category. (Note that you have to regiester at that website to cast a vote. Yes, I know: tedious. Also note that I'm still refusing to adopt that vile neologism 'blog'.) I was reading a page today at work where your could check out the nominated websites, but I can't find it now. Here is the result for 'Best Weblog' of 2005. Winners for the other categories on Collective Apathy are impossible to link to from one page. Stupid. Interestingly, only the distribution of preference percentages were published, not the actual tallys. Which means a grand total of six people could have voted for all we know. However, with web writers able to nominate their own weblogs for the awards, the counts will at least match the number of nominees.


tuesday : 17 jan 2006

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just got home (11:35pm) after having cruisy drinks with Mike in the CBD: Coopers Red Label at Spleen Bar, followed by a couple of Cascade Lite chasers at Transport, which was busy for a Tuesday night, probably due to Australian Open tennis tourists wandering past and popping in for a couple of local brewskis.

Wow. I looked at my movie watching inventory and noticed I've had a drought since buying the CD player. It's been constant sonic wallpaper for that time, definitely. The Meridian G08 burn-in has apparently plateaued. The sound is detailed, articulate and faster than I expected. Metallica's first album Kill 'Em All hammered itself from the speakers with astonishing urgency. There was a risk that a CD player with excellent resolving capabilities and upsampling gymnastics would make distorted guitars sound polite and laid back, losing their aggressive edge, but this has not been the case with the thrash and death metal albums I've tried so far.

Speaking of Metallica, their first album Kill 'Em All (1983) still sounds fresh and gutsy today it might be my favourite of theirs. Raw, ratbag speed metal. Some Kind of Monster, the kooky documentary sleeper hit, is on sale at JB Hi-Fi for $16.00. Tempting.

Finally, in relation to a thread in the comments section about Aussie TV fixture Livinia Nixon, I submit this link for your consideration.


thursday : 12 jan 2006

Not much to write about this week. Had a few drinks last night on the footpath outside Spleen Bar again with Mike and Tim from work, followed by dinner at the dodgy pizza joint across the road. Avoid any non-Italian menu items at places like this. The last time I ate there I tried being Mr Health Conscious Yuppie and ordered the chicken salad. Big mistake, doofus. For $14.00 of my hard unearned cash, I got (a) limp lettuce you might find at the bottom of the bin at Bi-Lo, (b) two and a half miserable slices of unripe tomato, and (c) vinegary salad dressing that had the consistency of dishwater. Order pasta or pizza or nothing. Last night I couldn't finish my pizza meal and baked cheese cake, so I took the left overs home and gobbled them up an hour ago like the sad-arsed bachelor that I am. Burp.

Tomorrow there's yet another leaving lunch, this time for a business analyst (I'm sure the effect of her departure will be felt for a long time). In the evening is another work social club piss-up, and then on Saturday I've been invited to two afternoon BBQs gatherings. The first invite gets precedence. Unfortunately, because of distances, I can't do both.


tuesday : 10 jan 2006

Yawn. Just about to head off to bed. The Best of 2005 list now includes a DVD section I had a vague feeling that a category had been forgotten.

Now, a tale of woe and utter disbelief. What is the world coming to, I ask emphatically, with implied italics, uppercase letters, and a 120 decibel font? Last night, after seeing Good Night, and Good Luck at the Kino with Michael and Shazza, Mike and I end up at Flinders Street train station. My ride was leaving in 23 minutes, his in 10, so we both shuffle into the small newsagent stand near the taxi rank on the bridge. Browsing periodicals at random, I spot the latest issue of Mad Magazine. A quick, cursory flip through convinces me to buy it for the long journey home. However, when I reach the back page, which contains the fold-out gag, I notice that someone has already folded the picture. The volcanic outrage that boiled my brain at that moment cannot be adequately expressed in words. It was an obscenity!

In a huff, I take the violated copy to the counter and explain to the gaunt young dude, who looks like an engineering student, that a person of dubious morals had already folded the back cover to reveal the hidden joke, and could I, therefore, have a discount? Me: poker faced. Him: a bit stunned and floundering. I glance over to the other guy on serving duty. He is laughing. Heh heh, he got my joke. Once the profound absurdity of my request sank in, engineering student relaxed, cracked a smile, and took my money. As it turns out, that issue of Mad was pathetic. I'll give them credit though for calling Paris Hilton "super-useless". That made me chuckle. Still does, in fact.


sunday : 8 jan 2006 Faves of 2005

Ooooh boy, it really is difficult to drag myself away from the new CD player and write an update. Burn-in has past the 100 hour mark: more transparency is kicking in, causing the soundstage to float in a seamless curve in front of the speakers quite a remarkable effect. Bass has also been getting tighter and punchier, even since Code Monkey popped in briefly yesterday morning for a demo featuring tracks from the Ministry of Sound 2005 Annual. Dido's Life for Rent album, which is playing now, just sounds phenomenal, as if the diminutive pixie herself was actually in the room. The scary thought and general consensus is that the G08 passes the golden break-in point at 200 hours. On top of that, upgrades to the power cord, amplifier, and RCA interconnect cables could make it sound even better. Furthermore, I'm not even using the balanced outputs, which would improve the sound another notch, but I'd need a amplifier that accepted balanced inputs.

Shit, I've created a dilemma for myself...the Meridian was supposed to replace the old Arcam 8 player in my headphone set-up, but now I think it's too good for headphones. Just hearing how the visceral bass thumps away from a point in midair on certain tracks makes me wish I had two G08s: one for the lounge room and another for the bedroom. Arrrghhh! Once the new flatmates move in, I think the migration back to headphones will be inevitable. That more intimate approach to music listening has its own magical qualities, too.

Anyway, enough indulgent audio drooling. Let's get on with the Best of 2005 recap. The items listed are not representative of what was released in 2005, but rather, what Your Humble Narrator encountered for the first time this year. The selections are in no particular order.

top five favourite movies seen in 2005

Looking forward to seeing it again when I buy the DVD.

A romantic comedy with a brain. Repeat viewing potential? Hmmm.

Land of the Dead
Worth the wait for us deadheads. Give Romero Spielberg's cheque book.

Sin City
I'm still amazed at how faithful it was to Frank Miller. Rodriguez = Legend.

Violent Cop
Zen and the art of killing people violently. My favourite Takeshi Kitano film.

top five favourite DVDs spun during 2005

Soldier Blue RCV, Holland
Perhaps the year's viewing zenith. Tears of joy blurred the perfect 2.35:1 image.

Tombs of the Blind Dead Blue Underground, USA
Never seen it, then suddenly I can watch the totally uncut Spanish version. Giddy-up!

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King Roadshow, Australia
This longer cut is mandatory viewing to catch the great missing scenes.

Kung-Fu Hustle Columbia Tri-Star, Hong Kong
A surreal experience: part Django, part Road Runner, part Manga, part Jackie Chan.

Patrick Still Lives Shriek Show, USA
Brilliant trash from Italy, resurrected on DVD for future generations. Warms the heart.

top five favourite books read in 2005

Stephen King, Different Seasons
It was nice to wallow in vintage Stephen King. Great story telling.

George Orwell, Animal Farm
Besides being a razor sharp political satire, it's a fun read, too.

Clark Ashton Smith, The Last Oblivion
This collection of fantasy poetry deepened my appreciation of the man.

Allan Moore (writer) and Dave Gibbons (artist), Watchmen
A superb graphic novel that transcends its superhero trappings.

Vincent LoBrutto, Stanley Kubrick
It contains as much detail as anyone could stand on Mr Kubrick.

top five favourite CDs bought in 2005

Ministry of Sound, Australian 2005 Annual
A superb mix of pop dance tracks. Both CDs can be played start to finish.

System of a Down, Toxicity
Damn close to being a perfect album, this is both humourous and heavy.

NOFX, The War on Errorism
An appropriate companion piece to Toxicity. Emo punk with groove and killer riffs.

Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds
This remastered CD/SACD release brought back fond memories of dad playing the LP.

Aborted, The Archaic Abattoir
Joyous death metal from Sweden to play at your next family BBQ meat-a-thon.

top five favourite TV shows watched in 2005

Daria (ABC)
Only found it lately. Very funny acerbic teen cartoon from MTV.

My Favourite Film (ABC)
Saw it three times. Highly entertaining show...well done, Aunty.

Masters of Cinema (ABC 2)
Fine 60 minute documentaries on four great directors. Argento on telly? Fuck yeah.

Rage (ABC)
Live System of a Down footage got me onto the band. Still no hosts, woohoo!

Mad TV (Ch 9)
Ridiculous 3:30am timeslot. These non-PC skits made me belly-laugh in the dark.

top five female legs in mass media for 2005

Natalie Bassingthwaighte
Only seen her in the Rouge Traders clips. All woman, but already married. Sob.

Fergie (Black Eyed Peas)
What an amazing physique. Even she thinks her legs are her best feature.

The Pussycat Dolls
They all look incredible in their sugary, cock-teasing video clips. Nasty.

Jessica Simpson
Has taken Britney Spear's place as the brown-eyed blonde poptart worth watching.

Natalie Portman
Thanks to her appearance in Closer as the discombobulated stripper.

top five favourite booze consumed in 2005

Lite Beer
Attempting to enjoy mid-week socialising without destroying the poor liver.

Jim Beam Black and Cola
A good choice if you suspect the venue of watering down their spirits.

Warm Sake
Still my absolute favourite alcoholic drink. Thank you, piss-heads of Japan.

Gin and Tonic
A smooth, refreshing drink that makes blokes look like poofs. Whatever I like it.

Coopers Red Label
Had a relaxed time downing longnecks on the footpath outside Spleen Bar, Bourke St.

top five personal highlights of 2005

House Reheating Party
You all made it great. Nice to have dad down from QLD, too. No hangover!

Meridian G08 Purchase
I fucking love music. Gear like this gets me closer to the texture and emotion.

Meeting Laura
This short but sweet relationship galvanised dormant circuits. Bliss while it lasted.

Lounge Room Movie Festivals
Two run by Beth, one by James at Hooverdust, and one by me. Rollicking good fun.

Eating Steamed Vegies for Dinner
Still going strong. I expect to live for at least 300 years in good health.


thursday : 5 jan 2006

9:09am. Well, my new Meridian G08 CD player was delivered to me at work yesterday. After coming home, I drove back into town to pick it up, brought it back, carried it over the threshold, and unpacked it. Ominously, there was a 100-120V label on the box, which is the US standard, even though the player supposedly accepts universal AC power from 100V to 240V. Would it work with our 240V mains current? Hmmm, better e-mail Meridian Tech Support in the UK, so I do and then crash into bed. 6:00am rolls around and no answer yet. Fuck it all indications and research about fuses and what not showed that it would work. Heck, even my Pioneer DVD player accepts universal power. I plug the G08 beast in and wait for it to boot up. Success! The unit (I have the black version) is burning in now and will be for a day or two, playing one CD on repeat 24/7. Even after two hours I've noticed more detail in recordings, better separation, and smoother treble. Merry Christmas, me.


tuesday : 3 jan 2006

7:23am. Remember that TV show Space: 1999? Then of course, there's 2001: A Space Odyssey, Orwell's 1984, and the British SF comic 2000 AD, featuring Judge Dredd doling out justice in Megacity. The year 2006 sounds very futuristic to me, and yet we still have ground cars and true teleportation is hundreds of years off, if it's possible at all (if anything, a kind of virtual teleportation will be commonplace in about 100 years from now). Still, gadgets like the Sony PlayStation Portable console and the current generation of mobile phones provide tangible evidence that things are moving forward for us primates, that standing up three million years ago thus freeing up our hands for tool making was an okay idea.

I hope your New Year's celebrations were terrific. Bring on two thousand and six, woo-hoo!! I'll be posting my Top Five lists for 2005 tonight.