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temporal poverty

wednesday : 10 dec 2008

Ahhhh. The days strobe past, just as they did in The Time Machine, with Rod Taylor sitting in his special arm chair, watching the sun streak across the Zodiac in a phantasmagorical blur. My time is divided between socialising, work, recovery, indulging the arts, sleep, etc. My IT demands at the office have been quite draining over the last two months or so, which means less motivation for Toxic Waste updates. Naturally this happens just after I said the exact opposite in a recent post. Nevermind.


wednesday : 12 nov 2008

To say it's been an interesting two weeks would be an understatement. Apart from Barak Obama's sanity-restoring win in the US presidential elections, Your Humble Narrator has been living it up with fine dining and rampant socialising around Melbourne's inner city nightspots. Warm weather has that effect on me. It's been a non-stop circus: sushi mi lunches and street corner rendezvous and umpteen text messages and shouts and dance floor moves and chatting up strangers and late night adventures galore. I've even managed to keep the binge drinking demon more or less under control, rather than having it possess my mind, like what happens to Linda Blair in The Exorcist.

But...there have been two casualties, maybe three. One is sleep, and the other is exercise. You just can't run around the neighbourhood at a fair clip when you're tired, morning or evening (i.e. after work). Of course, the partying also takes it toll on your personal Reserve Bank liquidity. Again, with curbed boozing habits, there's now always a few orange notes and perhaps a yellow one still in my pocket in the morning.

five stars – review pending

monday : 27 oct 2008

Today was quite all right. Better than average, in fact.

First. I got rid of two dud tickets for Kenny Rogers' show tomorrow night at the Palais Theatre in Melbourne. I'm on the Ticketmaster early warning e-mailing list, and since dad was due to visit at this time, it made sense to grab two good seats in the stalls for us to use. Well, it turns out that he couldn't make it, hence I was saddled with $300 worth of useless cardboard rectangles. Was E-Bay an option? Some meticulous research revealed that it was fine – the legal connotation of the term "cannot be resold at a premium price" notwithstanding. So today at lunchtime I posted a listing online, my first ever E-Bay auction, albeit for a fixed price of $300 bux. 35 minutes later, the tickets were sold, and after work I met the buyer at Maccas near Ackland Street in St Kilda, and the transaction was done. Perhaps not the best place in town to be spotted exchanging a handful of $50 notes for a plain envelope, but there ya go.

Second. Heading back to the city from St Kilda via the Number 16 tram, which arrived 23 seconds later, I decided to drop into Transport on the river for a pint of cold Paulaner beer. Why? Because I had $300 cash in my pocket, and because today I received a promotion at work. Between now and March 2010 I'm a senior analyst programmer, or "SAP" as my helpful brother pointed out upon hearing the news. Yeah, thanks for that. Anyhoo, this senior project position has yet to be confirmed as permanent; we'll see what happens. For now, I'll just tackle the role and responsibility head-on. Try to kick SAS arse and earn the stripes, with an eye on becoming senior CEO one day...

Third. Only a small bonus, this one. When I arrived home, Volume One of On the Road with Harlan Ellison, long out of print and just re-pressed by Deep Shag Records last month for a limited batch, was waiting for me in the letter box from the USA. Nice.

1 new text message

thursday : 16 oct 2008

The finger's going okay I suppose, thanks for asking. I consulted Dr Google for a prognosis. It seems that the rather absurd and entirely pointless symptom of swelling in the joint and whole finger for an extended time period is normal. Some spread to the palm itself is also expected, and I did get some of that. I tried lifting a 10 kg dumbbell last week, and it wasn't possible on the left side. So much for resistance training. Dr Google also mentioned that pain in the damaged socket could continue for another four to six months. Smashing news, huh?

Offsetting this gloomy forecast was an injection of retail therapy today. I finally bought – are you sitting down? – a new mobile phone, my first ever. Yep, it's another Nokia, it cost less than $100, and it's 33% more compact than my old phone, a hand-me-down from Marylu which held me in good stead for the last three years. And strewth, did I give it a caning...just looking at the poor bugger makes you wish there was an RSPCA for cordless devices. I mean, this phone looks like it was chewed up by Godzilla, then fired from a canon into one of the World Trade Centre towers, which proceeded to crash down on top of it. Now, thanks to Optus buying out Virgin Mobile, I was able to use my old cheap-arse plan (cheers Code Monkey) without paying to unlock the phone. Oh yes, sometimes the Little Man wins. A new DVD player is also on the way if a certain transaction goes ahead.

You've probably noticed minor aesthetic upgrades to Toxic Waste's façade over the last week or so. These simple tweaks are in lieu of the major renovations I have mapped out and specified in my head. It feels good to have at least a modicum of change. Once my current movie watching binge (1980s American horror flicks) is over, the motivation to fill in more writing gaps is higher than ever. I may even stay home [tomorrow night] instead of bar hopping. What the fuck's wrong with me?!?

sydney visit

wednesday : 8 oct 2008

9:41am. I drove back to Melbourne in the Mazdarati last night after spending a pleasant four days in Olde Sydney Towne. We also headed up to Newcastle on Sunday for the Young Writer's Festival fanzine fair. With rain threatening, the organisers moved the event into one of those huge halls near the train tracks, which was better than being at the mercy of wind gusts, leaves, melanoma-causing UV rays, and spiders dropping out of trees onto your head. Of course, the thunderstorms never arrived. I sold one back-issue of Skinned Alive, and also gave away two copies in exchange for a swig of bourbon from the Paroxysm Press crew.

And...there's not much more to add, really. Over the years, these trips have become routine, although there's nothing much I'd change in the itinerary – maybe not having to use the bloody shower fan? Heh, heh. Anyway, I chose to drive up this time to have maximum flexibility with arrival and departure tims. Besides this, the strange thing is that driving up the Hume Highway is getting easier: no more headaches, micro-sleeps, terminal boredom, road rage, or physical discomfort. It was also cheaper than flying Qantas, even with the elevated petrol prices, and I always fill up with premium unleaded, too. Next time, I hope to have a CD player in the car to replace the tape deck, new speakers, as well as noise dampeners inside the doors. Come to think of it, the Mazdarati also needs a new paint job and panel work to fix numerous dents.

Back to the corporate antfarm tomorrow. Dare I say it, I'm actually geared up to kick project work arse. Must remember to collect my dry cleaning later today, otherwise I'll be fronting up to the office wearing tracky dacks.

holiday 'break'

tuesday : 30 sep 2008

I've got eight days off work. Beyond driving up to Sydney for the coming weekend, there's not much planned otherwise, just relaxing at home and enjoying a routine that includes reading in bed upon waking, running before breakfast, watching Today and Sunrise with Mel and Kochy on the idiot box during brekky (both shows are harmful to one's IQ), French lessons, checking e-mail, web surfing, raiding the fridge, more reading, perhaps catching a DVD (I've been off movie watching lately for some reason), growing stubble, and other fun activities. I also had the fridge repaired yesterday after living a post-apocalyptic existence for three months, which was easy to do once I could cope with the limitations: no milk hence no cereal, and having to buy fresh veggies every week, which prompted a weekly trudge to the supermarket on top of my (spotty) running regime. Good stuff.

Also on the agenda is recovering from a mild injury. On Friday night I was running down Exhibitionist Street to catch up with mates – we'd all been at the Elephant and Wheelbarrow for a pint or three. After bounding across Little Collins Street, I kind of lost my footing and crashed to the ground at a non-trivial velocity. It felt like a heavy fall because it was happening before I'd realised it. In other well-telegraphed spills, I try to relax and roll out of the tumble. Not so this one. I avoided face planting by using my hands and knees to take most of the force. Getting to my feet, I looked at my left hand, which felt a bit funny, and was greeted with the sight of my left ring finger pointing at ten O'clock from the main joint, i.e. 30 degrees, or facing northwest.

It's suppose to be, umm, straight.

My first instinct was to snap it back into place like Deckard in Blade Runner, which I did calmly and without fuss. A muted crack, and the digit was situation normal. Although, it was also badly grazed on the right side of the traumatised joint, which showed just how awkwardly I fallen on it. Then, over the next 24 hours, the joint and whole finger proceeded to swell up to 50% of its original size. It's still chubby as I type this, causing it to remain stiff and immobile. Apparently you're suppose to bandage and splint the whole hand after a finger dislocation. Too late now. It's not getting worse, and I do believe the swelling is going down. That means the bone probably isn't broken as well, otherwise it'd be turning black and any movement would send bolts of pain up the nerves.

The irony is that the fall happened early in the evening, around 8:00pm. The laws of physics predict that I would not have fallen over if I'd had more drinks, due to the auto-stabilising effects of James Squire Golden Ale on a closed system. Maybe. An amusing thought: since I'm into the horror genre, aren't I supposed to relish these kinds of life experiences? The short answer is no. I like scary things in the arts. Nobody gets hurt; you enjoy the thrills and chills safely. Cathartic release and all that. And while this little episode was rather interesting and mostly devoid of pain, I'd prefer not repeat it thanks, especially on larger and more useful limbs and joints.

more punctual pedantics

sunday : 21 sep 2008

Here's three more tips. Minor league stuff, but worth keeping in mind because they are recent developments.

Website Addresses

I've noticed over the last year that website addresses displayed in advertisements tend to drop the "www" prefix. At best this is pointlessly trendy, and at worst it's just plain wrong. Some of these URLs genuinely do not have the www prefix, while most others do require it, and some cashed up organisations hedge their bets both ways, for example Qantas. Ultimately it doesn't matter, since your browser will try to get the address right. For the sake of accuracy, I say include the www if that is in fact part of the URL.

Time of Day

Another gimmicky perversion of a perfectly sensible convention is the use of a period in place of a colon for the time of day. For example, 6.45 instead of 6:45. Hmmm...the more I see it being used, the less I like fucken it. Again, the main culprit is the mass media. I hope it doesn't spread, because like the truncation of www in website addresses, it's incorrect, misleading, and utterly frivolous. Yep, you can probably guess that I was one of those people who were crotchety about the millennium celebrations happening one year early, heh heh.

More Titles of Things

In the previous journal entry, guidelines for titling works of art involved the use of italics. Simple enough. However, what's the convention for representing song titles, short story titles, names of poems, and so on? You would be right in guessing there are few options remaining if italics are reserved for the main work. Most professional writers use quotes, either single or double. A few examples follow. Artist name: Cannibal Corpse. Album title: Tomb of the Mutilated. Song tile: 'Hammer Smashed Face'. Artist name: Harlan Ellison. Book title: Deathbird Stories. Story title: 'The Whimper of Whipped Dogs'.

As you can see, I prefer to use single quotes in these instances, because double quotes are reserved for dialogue and repeating word-for-word remarks. This is a convention I picked up from Stephen King years ago from his great genre fiction treatise Danse Macabre, and it seems to be a widely used standard.

being punctually pedantic

friday : 19 sep 2008

Sorry, dear readers. No stories of drunken midweek escapades in the pubs and sake bars of Planet Melbourne this time. Instead, please absorb a tutorial that will put you ahead of the pack in terms of punctuation and formatting etiquette. Or in other words: you gotta know the rules before you can break 'em. While none of this is new, exhaustive, or even written with perfect grammar, I've lost count of the number of times I've seen these basic guidelines molested, especially on the internet. Hence I reckon it's worth presenting what little I know on the subject...for posterity if nothing else.

Proper Names and Italics

Names of things fall into two categories. The first group encompasses the capitalised proper nouns you learned at school, such as people's names (Rocco Siffredi), place names (Brisbane), event names (The Young Writer's Festival), and entity names (Lockheed Martin). Venue names for locations such as restaurants, concert halls and theatres fall into the entity name bucket. The second group includes the names of objects, specifically art. These must be italicised whenever possible. Examples: The Evil Dead (movie), The Plague (book), Make Me a Super Model (TV show), The Scream (painting), Video Watchdog (magazine). You get the idea. Time and again, over and over, I read passages in which italics are not used when they should be. Do not make this mistake. If you're writing for a website, place the HTML tags <i> and </i> around the bits you want to italicise. Most message boards remove HTML tags and instead allow you to use [i] and [/i] to get the same effect.

Often, writers unwittingly substitute other punctuation or formatting conventions in place of italics. These include quotation marks both 'single' and "double", underscores (a throwback to manuscript notation indicating italics to the typesetter), bold type, UPPER CASE, or any ghastly combination of these approaches. The only exceptions are: (a) Use uppercase when italics cannot be produced. (b) You must follow an established formatting standard, however wrong or lame it might be.

There are tricky examples. What is more correct, Jim Beam Bourbon or Jim Beam bourbon? It depends on the context. The former is a brand name. The latter uses "Jim Beam" as a qualifier. When describing a specific brand name, capitalise all words, or repeat what's on the actual brand label. Another common mistake is to use capitals inappropriately. For instance, "I went to The Happy Hour" should only be in capitals if the happy hour in question was the advertised name of an event. Therefore when in doubt, ask yourself: is this title official or not?

Use italics to emphasize a word, phrase, passage, or paragraph. This is probably why some writers, editors, and webmasters use bold type or other gimmicks to make names stand out in their text. To write: "My favourite monster movie is still the great King Kong from 1933" initially looks like a typesetting gaffe. My response is that these collisions happen rarely, and often, choosing the right word removes the need to stress that word anyway. Again, as long as the punctuation is applied consistently, it should be okay. But to me it comes across like a desperate attempt to retain your reader's interest level.

Colons and Semi-colons

Abuse of these punctuation marks is less common than others. But when somebody gets it wrong, boy, it just looks fucking awful. Do not use a semi-colon (;) when you mean to use a colon (:). The former is more final than a comma, and less final than a dash (see below) or a full stop. Always precede a list of separate thoughts or dot points with a colon. Only use a semi-colon to connect a subordinate clause to a sentence or clause. For example: He actually walked to the shop; the humidity was shocking. Mastering the semi-colon takes practice.

Now, when using a colon to introduce a connected thought, you can go two ways. Should you start the thought as you would a sentence or a clause? Two examples follow. (a) Take heed of this news: The sale ends tomorrow. (b) Take heed of this news: the sale ends tomorrow. Personally speaking, I do not capitalise after a colon because it looks like a new sentence is starting in the middle of another unfinished sentence. It jars and looks ugly.

Sometimes, when listing examples to illustrate a point, you find yourself on slippery ground. One instance even appears in an earlier paragraph. For one example, I use a comma (as I just did). For a long list of examples, I'll use a colon and a set of dot points, or a numbering scheme, say (a), (b), (c) and so on.

Hyphens and Dashes

Fanzines and small press publications almost always get these punctuation marks wrong. Only use a hyphen (-) aka minus sign when writing compound terms such as light-headed, dark-coloured, semi-colon. Sometimes you can get away without using a hypehn if it's clear that the words are linked within the context of your expression. Other times, you may be able to combine the words. This depends on the accepted idiom of the period.

A dash is a different beast all together. For a start, it's longer than a hyphen. And it comes in two forms, the short dash (–) and the long dash (—). Employ dashes to end a sentence abruptly, delineate two related thoughts, or in a similar manner to the semi-colon. Long or short? I use short dashes when I intend on putting a space on either side of each dash. Notice in fiction that long dashes are not usually separated from adjacent words; they're all glued together. This can look chunky on web pages and in narrow columns of text, since automatic justification only wraps whole words.

In HTML, insert a short dash with the &ndash; tag and a long dash with the &mdash; tag. Old school manuscript convention lets you put two hypens (--) to represent a dash to the typesetter. I've actually seen people use this notation on websites. That said, in some web fonts, hypens and short dashes look virtually identical. The soft hypen tag &shy; is supported by some browsers, in particular Microsoft Internet Explorer. A soft hypen lets you decide where to break a long word, thus letting the web browser wrap to the next line on a syllable boundary. The browser adds a hypen automatically.

Moving on to a specific example and a pet peeve of mine. Should you write email or e-mail? Technically, e-mail is more correct, because it's an abbreviation of the term electronic mail. It's even pronounced with two syllables. However, more and more people write "email" in e-mails (funny that) and articles through laziness and ignorance. To be honest, this syndrome doesn't annoy me that much. The English language is littered with similar bastardisations that have driven many linguists and English professors to drink or worse. Let's not even talk about SMS texting or emoticons. (Note that you won't find one smiley or frowny in the general text on Toxic Waste. Being informal, journal comments are different, as are message board postings and the like.)

Quotation Marks

Just quickly. When should you use double quotes and single quotes? To be honest, I don't know. Some Googling could answer the question. My personal preference it to use double quotes when quoting someone saying or writing something verbatim. "My god, it's full of stars," said Bowman in 2010: The Year We Make Contact. (Notice here as well that the comma stays inside the quoted text. Leave it outside only when writing a list of separately quoted bits of text.) I use single quotes to emphasize 'quirky' words. In novels, I've seen both forms used. Also, when using nested quotes, be sure to put a space between one set of quotes and the next, otherwise you end up with "'this kind of confusing result'".

Note that if you're writing on a wordprocessor or using desk top publishing software, be sure to use proper 66 and 99 quotation characters. On a normal computer keyboard, only the " and ' variants are available. Sometimes, pasting text from Microsoft Word into a web page text editor will retain 66 and 99 quotation characters. I recommend replacing these with the standard keyboard double and single quotes, otherwise you could end up with a mixture of both symbols – unless it's easy to insert 66 and 99 symbols with the editor. These certainly look better and are more correct.

Digits and &

This topic is straight out of umpteen style guides. When writing the numbers one to ten, use the words, not the numeric digits. This looks like crap: He put 3 bananas up the exhaust pipe. This looks neater: He put three bananas up the exhaust pipe. The first example is informal and should only be used in e-mails, SMS texts, quick messages, etc. Also, when writing formally, don't be lazy and write & instead of and.

Et Cetera, For Example, That Is

A good guideline to finish on, and another pet annoyance of mine. Never write eg or etc or ie instead of e.g. or etc. or i.e. The periods denote the abbreviation of words and should always be included. Don't even write eg. or ie. That's better, but only slightly. Another offense that should be punishable by 600 lashes in public is writing: etc, etc etc. Arrrgghh!!! Put the damn periods and commas in, please.

Now, when writing acronyms on web pages and in printed articles, I leave the periods out, for example IBM and SF instead of I.B.M. and S.F. To me, all of these periods look busy and old fashioned, as if they were written with a manual typewriter. This is my personal preference. It may be technically less correct, but I know the more correct alternative rule and choose to break it.


wednesday : 10 sep 2008

9:23pm. I had a thought today – more like a question, actually. Will 2008 be the year that Corrosive Journalism biodegrades and contaminates the internet no longer? Several factors make this idea a certainty: an 11:00pm curfew imposed to liberate more slumber time; socialising on week nights and on the weekends; a kilometres-high stack of unwatched DVDs; an equally teetering pillar of unread books (recent acquisition: Harlan Ellison's Watching March 2008 redux for a mere $20.85 at Minotaur on Elizabeth Street); plans to learn French, Italian, and Spanish via CD-ROM (Frog speak gets a spin twice a week); getting back into freehand drawing; trying my other hand at painting and/or digital art; critical music listening on the Meridian headphone rig; chronic ennui; liver dysfunction, burgeoning humidity, and various other miscible suasions.

Instead, I want to focus on what I think of as the more, er, 'valuable' aspects of Toxic Waste, namely the reviews and movie censorship research. And then there's the intent to learn PHP and convert Toxic Waste into a dynamic, database driven website – just like the pros. (Visualise your favourite butterfly to caterpillar metaphor.) Now, I'm not exactly the type of IT tradey who strives to gain certification in every DBMS, programming language, operating system, and network protocol ever invented during my limited idle hours on planet Earth. I like to cut loose. Engage the arts. Engage bar staff. But I think if any IT skill is going to be valuable in the future, it'll involve web development of some sort, and not just writing static HTML, which is all I can do at present. Hence, PHP or an equivalent webpage rendering language.

get stuffed, coldness

monday : 25 aug 2008

8:17am. I just had a 20 minute shower to wake myself up after four night's out in a row. The soundtrack to Keating! the musical is playing through the Marantz, and the stomach is getting to work on its regular fruit and egg on toast brekky.

No hangover, either.

But the best thing about this morning is that it's actually somewhat warmish, rather than hovering around 3 degrees Kelvin. Winter seems to be retreating at last, just like the glaciers did 10,000 years ago. Good riddens!

he shoots, he scores?

friday : 8 aug 2008

By now you know how sulky I get about all of the attention heaped upon sport by us Aussies, especially in lieu of more meaningful pursuits such as being refused bar service as part of the recent surge in nightspot arrogance and contempt for customers. (Memo to government: the violence and misbehaviour is not occurring in the streets, it's happening inside the clubs.) show that I'm willing to step out of my comfort zone and feature – embrace, even – the coming Beijing Olympic Games (note caps), here is a short piece on one of the events. I hope this attempt to provide more diverse content for (the) long-suffering reader(s) of Corrosive Journalism is well received.

The image shown on the left is a press photo taken during tonight's exciting football clash between Australia and Serbia. From what I can tell, one player is tripping over another player who was lying down on the grass having a rest, whilst a third player appears to running in the wrong direction. This match ended in a one-all draw, although it's not exactly clear who scored the goals, whether the goals were in fact netted in the correct halves of the field, and if any player received red or yellow cards. From the brief section of the game I viewed on digital TV, the confused commentators seemed to think they were at a volleyball game. Bizarre. Stranger still are reports that say many spectators and players are still wandering around inside the stadium because they can't find the exits. What also stumps me is that nobody told the organisers of this soccer match that The Games (note caps) start tomorrow, not today. Someone screwed up on their calendar big time. Lotus Notes strikes again?

Like I said, I'm no sports expert like Homer Simpson is, I just do I.T., so I apologise if a few boo-boos were made in the article. This is all new for me, writing about sport on Toxic Waste. I still hope you found it engaging enough to perhaps kick-start a burgeoning interest in sport that may lead you to other information sources. It has for me.

fuck long room

thrusday : 31 jul 2008

I realise this is spiteful and childish crap that may generate more interest for the target venue than is warranted. However, be that as it may, as I promised the manager on duty tonight: Fuck Long Room on Collins Street. I repeat: Fuck Long Room on Collins Street, Melbourne. Fuck The Long Room on Collins Street. Fuck Long Room on Collins Street. Fuck Long Room on Collins Street. Fuck Long Room on Collins Street. Fuck Long Room on Collins Street. Fuck Long Room on Collins Street. Fuck Long Room on Collins Street. Fuck Long Room on Collins Street. Fuck Long Room on Collins Street. Fuck Long Room on Collins Street. Fuck Long Room on Collins Street. Fuck Long Room on Collins Street. Fuck Long Room on Collins Street. Avoid Long Room. Avoid Long Room. Avoid Long Room. Avoid Long Room. Avoid Long Room. Avoid Long Room. Avoid Long Room. Avoid Long Room. Avoid Long Room. Avoid Long Room. Avoid Long Room. Avoid The Long Room. Avoid The Long Room. Avoid The Long Room. Avoid The Long Room. Avoid Long Room. Avoid Long Room. Avoid Long Room. Avoid Long Room. Avoid Long Room. Avoid Long Room. Fuck Long Room. Yeah.

hibernation nation

sunday : 27 jul 2008

It's that time of year again. Turn up the ducted heating to maximum, put on warm house clothes, grab the in-progress science fiction novel, heat up tinned pumpkin soup with toast drizzled with organic extra virgin olive oil, press play on the Dire Straits CD, turn off the mobile phone, and just drift away for a few hours as needles of icy rain pelt the windows...

Which does beg the question of why I've also been out on thw town three nights in a row. This evening I was supposed to see film director George Romero giving a talk at the Forum for MIFF, ahead of seeing Dawn of the Dead at the Greater Union cinema on Russell at 9:15pm. But I never made it out the front door.

Now...where are my slippers?

obligatory birthday post

thursday : 10 jul 2008

Q: Why do moon rocks taste better than normal rocks?
A: Because they're a little meteor.

Yes, it's my birthday today. As for my age, let's just say I'm only hexadecimal. Traditionally, this is the period (geological epoch?) when people stop saying "you look good" and start saying "you look good for your age". Be that as it may, I certainly feel great, which sounds fine and dandy now, but it could lead to all sorts of eccentric behaviour later in life, such as laughing at nothing in particular whilst on public transport. I can't wait.

I've taken the day off from the corporate antfarm for 24 hours of self-indulgence. Also planned is a spot of house cleaning ahead of my brother arriving from Brisneyland tomorrow. This is a surprise birthday visit for the weekend, so I've sketched out a few city-bound activities to enjoy, such as drinking, attending the Carlton vs St Kilda match at the MCG (he's never been) on Friday night, bar hopping between my favourite venues, fine dining, boozing, sight-seeing, having a few cold ales, sipping strong espressos at trendy cafés, sharing one or more bottles of sake, and drinking. This is all par for the course when he used to visit with mates for Oaks Day and what not. Can't say I object, heh heh.

Additional breaking news concerns the 13th day of my alcohol detoxification. Since abstaining, a bizarre thing has happened. I've been devouring science fiction as if I'm possessed by the ghost of Arthur C. Clarke. I'm currently ploughing through my second Alastair Reyonlds book, a collection of eight stories called Galactic North that are set in the Revelation Space milieu. By the way, thanks to Code Monkey for getting me onto Alastair Reyonlds. Now, earlier in the week, mum asked what I wanted for a birthday pressie, and I suggested any other book by the prolific Reynolds, since every bookshop I visit stock at least a couple of his titles. Well, cut to three days later. Her parcel arrived this morning. Dear mom actually picked up two of his novels for me. Bewdy. Not only that – the books she chose at random happen to be Chasm City and Redemption Ark, the prequel and sequel respectively to the very excellent Revelation Space. The chances of this occurring are bloody astronomical. Hmmm, maybe not. It does, however, bring us neatly full circle to the cute joke that heads this journal entry.

DIY alcopop

wednesday : 25 jun 2008

"Never take on redheads or abos in a fight, mate, because those blokes have nothin' to lose." – Loud bogan dispensing wisdom to friends while walking up Lonsdale Street

Just a brief entry while the trance CD that arrived today from Germany (Artelligent by Headroom) pumps out off the stereo. Sitting here at the computer, I'm also finishing off a glass of a new drink I invented tonight, just a slight variation on bourbon and coke.

The recipe: Reach under your bed and grab that unfinished bottle of bourbon. Pour a shot into a glass, add Coke Zero, then drop in one pill of Sugarine. Yep, the artificial sweetener. Just drown that little white fucker in the glass and watch how it dissolves faster than Kyle Sandiland's television career. You must use Coke Zero for this to work, otherwise the end result is too ghastly and overpowering. You see, during tonight's Endless Commute, I was brooding over my determination that Coke-a-Cola has to be total shit. I mean, that stuff has got to be made with the cheapest ingredients and processing methods, by below minimum wage factory workers obviously. No shock, there. I thought, if that's a given, then even the artificial sweetener in Diet Coke has to crap – chemically suspect all the way down to the quark level, and probably beyond that to the Planck scale, I reckon. The solution? Add your own choice sweetener to Coke Zero. I like Sugarine because it's not the dreaded alternative aspartame, instead it's sodium saccharine. The result is a smooth and delicious bourbon and coke that tastes better than real Coke-a-Cola coke. It's also an improvement over Jim Beam's own sugar-free, hangover-in-a-can, ACME cola premix.

And the name of my new drink? As I take a few more sips, many options present themselves. Here are a couple – none are quite good enough to stick, though. Let me know if you can think of one and I'll add it to the list, with due credit.

Fake Rohypnol
Bourbon and Zero+
Diet Bogan and Zero
Bourbon and über-Coke
Bourbon + Zero = Won

In other life matters, another cruel Melbourne winter has descended upon the city for another year. I don't really mind low temperatures, but do we have to endure wind gusts and icy rain, too? Needless to mention, the weather has kept Your Humble Narrator indoors much of the time, apart from Friday nights spent bar hopping around the CBD, and quick dashes between the supermarket and the cave for supplies. Therefore it's all the more remarkable that I'm going to see The Incredible Hulk with Code Monkey tomorrow night at the local grindplex. Laughably, this remake slash sequel has made less money so far than Ang Lee's original abortive attempt, which may have just earned its budget back, but not advertising and sundry expenses. I wonder how the DVD sales went? You've got to hand it to Follywood.

10:43pm. I discovered a flaw in my bourbon masterpiece. After a couple of standard hits, one may forget to drop the Sugarine if it's not close by.

tales from the bar #2

monday : 16 jun 2008


Set off for Transport? More like hobbled off. From Gin Palace, at least it was all down hill. Now, I don't remember if there were bouncers outside T-port. Being a Thursday night, probably not. Plus they're usually laid back there unless it's completely packed inside, which means any sign of drunkenness or volatility is reason enough to block ingress. Luckily I've developed a few strategies for negotiating my way past all kinds of bouncers. Most involve careful control of body language (walk tall, smooth movements, maintain casual eye contact, but not for too long) and if I sense a challenge, smile and try to speak first, clearly pronouncing each word. Sometimes bouncers get patrons to talk by asking mundane questions – thus telling them how sober or drunk they might be, so anticipating this test helps a great deal. The key mindset is simply to 'assume the sale'. Which is to say, be calm and confident about being able to stroll in without any hassles, and the rest usually takes care of itself. You're a regular, a big spender, and you own the fucken place. The sharpest bouncers pickup everything they need to know from your eyes, therefore having an attitude of success should cut through any bullshit. This is the art of bar hopping. Sometimes I'll see a queue outside a snooty club and try to get in just for fun. All right then. So, once inside, you can drop your guard and relax into the comfort and familiarity of the barfly slouch, stumble your way to the men's loo (with the obligatory wrong turn into the women's lavvy) and empty your screaming bladder into the nearest urinal or sink, check your handsome self in the mirror, then say "Heyyyy" with a cheesy grin to every female who passes by on your way to the bar.

On this particular evening, I was still alert after downing two cocktails due to my leg mishap. The venue was sensibly populated: there was certainly no Friday night moshpit around the beer taps, that's for sure. More like a civilised social environment for meeting other sophistos and engaging them in erudite conversation. Clutching a glass of that week's feature brew (last tap on the left), I found a spot with line of sight to all parts of the venue, and settled into people watching. I ended up chatting to several folks over the next few hours (and pints) before heading off to Toff on the Town, aka Cookie level two, which was unfortunately dead. I then ventured across the CBD and lobbed into Robot off Flinders Lane to score a $9.00 bottle of hot sake as I munched a packet of Redrock Sea Salt chips and talked to the owner, who was already packing up. That tells you how late it was. At this time of night, the only remaining option is that place up the escalators on Elizabeth Street. True to form, it was going off. I spent another few hours there talking to students and tourists and buying them drinks, my sore leg long forgotten. Hot food of the fast variety and a barely remembered cab ride home finished off a fantastic peregrination of solo bar crawling.

Checking my pockets and mobile phone the next day, hungover and loathing the universe, is usually quite interesting. There's always a slew of phone numbers entered into my mobile or scribbled on ATM receipts for useless aliases such as "Timbo", "Drummer Dude", "kate2", "Paul (actor)", "tracy@yahoooo", and other mysterious dwellers of this benign netherworld. No doubt my own details have been recorded and deleted many times from SIM cards as the result of these evanescent friendships. Ah, just writing about these nocturnal binge sessons makes me want to indulge and regret it all over again.

tales from the bar #1

wednesday : 21 may 2008

8:32pm. Well, in a rare concession to my traditional sporting allegiances, the first State of Origin rugby league match for 2008 between Queensland and New South Wales is currently playing on my Loewe widescreen CRT. So far New South Wales are up two tries to nil after about 17 seconds of play, thus reminding me of the pointless misery and frustration of following any sporting team. Perhaps a few cans of Beam and sugar-free cola would have helped? It certainly does for half of the low-budget genre movies I force myself to watch, heh heh. Sadly, I try to abstain from the turps during the week in order to detox the old liver-o-matic between Friday night binge sessions. Having a bottle shop right near the train station doesn't help matters. Idea for new reality TV show: The Biggest Boozer.

The only other tempting programme on tonight – besides a post-mortem of the Titanic disaster on Seconds to Disaster at 10:45pm, during which I expect to learn nothing new – is, believe it or not, Paparazzi on the ABC. Not because I once sat beside Darryn Whats-His-Name (pictured left) aka "Mr Paparazzi" on a Qantas flight to Sydney, but rather to see exactly what the cheeky buggers do and how they do it. It's all pretty outrageous, but they're just feeding a basic human need to be voyeurs of lives outside one's normal experience. So as with everything grand and shitty about us, blame the species, not the individual or the culture. Paparazzi presents a fascinating and cringe-inducing glimpse into the "pap" business, and of one person in particular, Darryn, a colourful Aussie character who lives in Geelong and seems to project a façade of pretentious glamour fueled by money "borrowed" from the bank. What the fuck? Think of it as Lifestyles of the Kitsch and Shameless. With his flamboyant clothes, painted hair, potty mouth, broad ocker accent, and gold jewelry, he's appealing in a losing kind of way. But yeah, it's a bloody mesmerising show. Fr' instance, I never knew France had laws against taking someone's photo without permission, and most of the paps under Darryn's employ are ex-rail workers, ex-lorry drivers, ex-students, and so on. Also, in several cases, celebrities allow the paps to shoot them in staged set-ups designed to look accidental. Not so with attempts to get up-skirt shots, a below the belt maneuver even for these bold pricks. All up, it's a good laugh...try to catch it next week.

Anyhow. I was going to start relaying some bar hopping tales. So where to start?

The Long Room. Because of the strict dress code after 8:00pm, high drinks prices, and occasionally screwed up staff protocol that favours serving attractive women over other people who've been waiting at the bar longer, many punters I know don't like The Long Room. This is understandable. But taken on its own terms – the snooty attitudes, overbaked decor, outrageously expensive food, and middle-crust clientele – The Long Room can provide hours of rarified alco-tainment, especially if a speed dating event has just ended, or flight attendants from one of the more 'exotic' airlines are in Melbourne for an overnight layover. Cheers! clink

Last Thursday night, two quiet glasses of Rooftop Lager with Mike at Cookie turned into a bar hopping marathon that ended sometime after 3:00am. Still criminally early when Mike went off to a dinner appointment at 8:00pm, I lobbed into Long Room to scope the scene. Thanks to Melbourne's chilly autumn temperatures, it was relatively quiet. Since I wanted to compare LR's black Russian's to Toff on the Town's, which are made with coffee liqueur, premium vodka, and garnished with two cherries, I ordered Long Room's equivalent and began the taste test. Unfortunately it was nothing special, although an average black Russian is still quite enjoyable to my sweet-biased booze palette. Anyway, half way through my treat, I decide move off the stool near the bar and sit on one of the lounges behind the screens to better position myself for watching a potentially bored party girl (Indian, curvy, big boobs) stuck on the outer conversation zone with two friends. However, on my way to the pit, my left shin bashed into a heavy wooden side table that's barely 30cm high. It didn't really hurt immediately, but after five minutes I knew the bruised area on the shin could become crippling. It would at least make jogging difficult. Having the dreamy ambience of the Long Room compromised somewhat by my shattered lower limb, I drained my glass and exited...

...straight into Gin Palace around the corner. Needing both a cocktail upgrade and anesthetic to dull the pain in my leg, I negotiated advice from a barman to try a negroni, his favourite drink. That may be the case, but I found it too tart and too dry. Definitely one for martini lovers. I also ordered an icepack, which was delivered promptly, wrapped in a towel, no questions asked. Now that's what I call excellent bar service. A well-dressed couple sitting nearby who looked like they were on their first date did enquire after a spell. I fired back Mike's brilliant "Karma Sutra injury" line, which got the expected laugh. It took 45 minutes to finish the negroni – I was in no hurry because you really need to hold an icepack on for a while to constrict broken blood vessels and therefore minimise bruising. (Checking my war wound at home later revealed that the edge of the side table actually drew blood.) Still, as well as I was treated at Gin Palace, I didn't stay for a second round, and set off for Transport.

To be continued...

11:54pm. Shit, it's late. Oh, by the way. I don't know who won the State of Origin match, and I did learn something from the Titanic documentary. Apparently the fatal flaw was not human error or brittle hull plate steel, but instead wrought iron rivets that contained too much slag. Because wrought iron is not as strong as steel, slag was mixed with the molten iron to form crystals that strengthen the iron. But too much slag creates critical microscopic weak spots. It was calculated that Titanic's rivets sustained a force of 14,000 PSI when it hit the iceberg. Tests at NIST (US) showed that replica rivets failed at just under 10,000 PSI. And these replica samples contained less slag than rivets recovered from the Titanic itself. Snapped rivets broke the previously water tight seals between hull plates, letting in more water than the slight impact damage alone would have allowed. Fascinating stuff.

ISP meltdown

tuesday : 20 may 2008

I'm back online. My ISP had a meltdown over the weekend, which prevented me from posting new changes to Toxic Waste. Accessing any Cosmos website with Internet Explorer may have caused that browser to crash, as it did to me at work yesterday (proving once again that Microsoft suck shit), while Firefox merely burped politely at the inconvenience.

umm, surprise!

monday : 6 may 2008

I just flew in to Melbourne after spending ten days in Brisneyland. The occasion was a surprise birthday party for someone I know there that was held on Saturday April 26th. I took the Thursday off and caught a Qantas flight up on Anzac Day. I couldn't post an entry here just in case the person in question read this weblog.

The party went off. The guest of honour's expression was priceless – if you've been to such an event, or had one thrown for you, you'll know what I mean, heh heh heh. It was an 80s theme party, but I barely had time to pack and get myself organised, let alone find a costume and then cart it with me 2000 kms. In the end I managed to have my hair spray painted pink and lime green. In turn, I gave the family dog (a pure white samoi) a pink racing stripe. Anyway, with beer on tap from in refrigerated kegs and plenty of quality food, it was a great night.

The rest of the trip was spent on quality time with immediate family members. Dad was even in town, so I got to see a plenty of everyone. Let's hope they didn't get sick of me? By the way, the weather was sheer perfection. Brisbane in Autumn is just magical. Actually, the whole city is maturing more and more each time I go back. There's lots of cafés now (as expect) and interesting retail franchises that don't exist in Melbourne. One shock was property prices for apartments: they're basically the same as Melbourne, except that you might get a slightly larger apartment for the same money, but there are fewer properties on the market for some reason.

It looks like my plans to purchase my own penthouse in the clouds will have to wait until I can afford at least 20% of the asking price, due to mortgage insurance guidelines for inner city apartments. This was all confirmed when I put an offer in for a 16th floor apartment and started to go through the approval process. Oh well. A few more months of salary income will do the trick. Fingers crossed that prices stay level...or drop. Melbourne's overall increases have been 4% this year, but that's obviously an average across all areas and types of property. So, failing all that, Plan B involves getting two 25 year old female flatmates to share the rent, among other things. Save water: have communal showers!

2626 (revised)

monday : 21 apr 2008

Greetings neomammalians. Greetings also to any paleomammalians who skipped a grade and are able to comprehend these squiggly lines. Speaking of matters cerebral, guess who just got back from the 2020 Summit in Canberra? Yes, I was invited up to contribute my two cent's worth + GST on various national issues and concerns. Here are my key recommendations. And they are not negotiable, Kevin07.

  1. Make quality alcohol available for free at public kiosks. Alcohol may also be consumed in any public space.
  2. Sake is to become the national drink.
  3. All women must wear mini-skirts or mini-dresses, even in winter.
  4. No censorship of movies, books, magazines, music, the Internet, television, comics, radio, fine art, thoughts, sky writing, bumper stickers, sand sculptures, etc.
  5. Laser pointers of any power rating are to be allowed in the country. Lasers you can see are futuristic and therefore loads of fun.
  6. People who own barking dogs and mean dogs are to be summarily executed. Also, dog owners who do not pick up their mutt's crap – straight to the gallows.
  7. Other new capital crimes include: leaving chewing gum anywhere in public, smokers who drop cigarette butts anywhere in public, being part of the executive management of Connex, not standing left on escalators, and having poor taste in interior decoration.
  8. Government funding for the arts, especially fringe and underground arts ventures, is to be $100 billion per annum.
  9. A free optical fibre network will be installed by 2020, with a pilot roll out commencing in Melbourne during 2009.
  10. AFL, beach cricket, lawn bowls, Formula One racing, and other silly sports are to be banned from television (free to air and pay-TV).
  11. More coverage of sports such as drag racing, poker, and extreme ironing is to be mandated for all media.
  12. Distribution of 9/11 conspiracy literature to all households. Saturation of all media of the facts and mythconceptions will commence until the truth is accepted.
  13. Fashion TV is to replace sport shown on all plasma/LCD screens in pubs and bars.
  14. Addendum to new capital crimes list: not showing content on flat panel displays in the correct anamorphic 16:9 ratio.
  15. More licenses for pubs and bars will be granted. Furthermore, every church will be converted into a pub or bar.
  16. Gordon Ramsey will replace all celebrity chefs on every cooking programme and reality TV show that features kitchens, restaurants, or the consumption of food.
  17. All religions are banned. Atheism is the new spiritual standard, and Richard Dawkins will be retained as an expert consultant.
  18. Christmas will be replaced by a lavish ceremony for the Annual Darwin Awards, during which stupid people (surviving and deceased) are comprehensively shamed and ridiculed.
  19. The embarrassing TV Week Logie Awards are to be abolished.
  20. TV Week is to be abolished, along with Big Brother and Australian Idol. This is not censorship, it is common sense. It is to ensure the survival of our species.
  21. Arnotts will be forced to produce BBQ Shapes at their original pre-corporate takeover seasoning specifications.
  22. No more drama shows are to be made in Australia, period. Any existing drama shows will be canceled with immediate effect.
  23. The release of movies in cinemas is to coincide with US and European release dates. Same goes for DVDs.
  24. Two new national anthems will be written, one death metal song (with lyrics) and one progressive trance track (without lyrics) timed at about 130 BPM.
  25. No more daylight saving ever for New South Wales and Victoria. This edict only becomes null and void when (a) the sun goes nova, or (b) planet Earth's rotation slows due to gravitational drag so that one side faces the sun. When either condition is met, a review of this conformance may occur. Entities persisting in virtual reality are, of course, exempt.
  26. Advance baby bonus payments may be claimed by bachelors who say they might have kids at some point in the future.

I had many more suggestions and ideas to put forward. By this stage, however, the security guards at Parliament House had strapped me to a trolley Hannibal Lecter style and were wheeling me off the premises.

three beam night

wednesday : 16 apr 2008

You've heard of a three-dog night, when it's so cold outside you need sleep with three dogs to keep warm. Well, I've just had a three cans of Jim Beam White and sugar free cola night. It's quite heartening to know one can get tipsy – not drunk, so relax, just buzzy – on exactly $10.00 worth of pre-mix turps. It certainly beats the hell out of blowing $100.00 for the same effect over a bar. As far as enjoying the social therapy of running with the herd goes, there are plenty of garrulous brute beasts lurking on the world's more reputable IRC chatrooms.

Earlier in the week, I told a workmate that (shock horror) I occasionally drink at home alone. Himself a non-drinker who's pedantic about maintaining peak liver health and general organ longevity, he responded to my frank co-worker bonding admission with, "You home?!" I had to laugh at that. Or was it the uncomfortable kind of laugher designed to mask my own shame? Naahhh, I concluded happily. What a silly conceit. The simple fact is that I enjoy drinking: it's fun. So...cheers!

Also tonight, besides venturing into cyberspace, I just finished watching that very excellent, highly praised (by Toxic Waste if nobody else) TV series called Seconds to Disaster. This episode examined the calamitous sinking of the $1 billion Russian nuclear submarine, circa 2000. Sitting on my leather lounge, drinking in the various engineering minutia along with slugs of Jim Beam, I realised that my other favourite show about mechanical failure causing accidental violent death Air Crash Investigations was made by the same outfit responsible for Seconds to Disaster. Outstanding. I think these people deserve their own 24/7 television channel.


friday : 11 apr 2008

"Say no to Emo" – Sticker on back window of Toyota Corolla

7:18am. Good morning. TGIF and all that. Last weekend I deliberately didn't go out bar hopping, seducing, and binge drinking. Yes, on Friday night...I went straight home. Why? Lack of sleep was the main reason, as well as just detoxing – giving the liver a rest. The wallet, too. At 10:00pm I received a call from Steve on my mobile asking, "Where the bloody hell are ya?" I had to admit I was power lounging in the cave watching Friday night telly. What a pathetic specimen of bachelorhood I was, betraying the troops like that. But tonight it's back on. Let's hope the promised precipitation doesn't water the night down, like adding too much mixer to a drink.

In terms of Toxic Waste, I'm gearing up to do a massive Chopping List update to clear a backlog of titles. A real domain name and the visual renovation of the whole site are also planned for two double oh eight. But, right now, I've got to give myself a hair cut, put on some clothes, and then 'piss in the direction of off'. Have a good one.

feeling better

monday : 31 mar 2008

I'm feeling better after a strange little detour into the realm of bodily dysfunction: a glimpse of what's in store for old age, one supposes? Anyhow, I saw way too much television during numerous marathon sessions of power lounging. Toxic Waste updates, book reading, and even basic movie watching dropped off dramatically. At one stage during the Easter long weekend, I found myself obsessively channel surfing the digital TV airwaves, scanning for cooking shows of all things. Needless to say, the rancid Ready Stead Cook was a depressing way to get my cuisine viewing fix, like doing drugs that are cut to buggery. Luckily the fabulous Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares made up for it in the evenings. P.S. Anyone who complained about the profanity in this show can go fuck him/herself.

One activity that did not suffer was music listening. My Zu Mobius cable for the Sennheisers lost its right channel after being yanked accidentally one too many times as I shifted positions reaching for books or comics or something, I forget what. Its replacement arrived just before Easter from the USA – it's a brilliant six foot cable by ALO Audio, the 18G Cryo. This sucker provides more detail and separation than the Zu Mobius (itself no slouch), so much so that I spent countless hours listening to familiar and favourite albums to hear sonic nuances I never noticed before. Right now I'm listening to Megadeth's Countdown to Extinction on the speakers, remastered and remixed (read: Mustane's vocals are louder). I probably should be watching the Oxfam Comedy Gala on Channel 10, but I'm seeing Daniel Kitson this weekend, so I'll get a laughter fix that way. Anybody want to see Henry Rollins with me on April 18-21st, assuming he's not sold out?

On Sunday I caught the Game On expo at ACMI with Code Monkey. It presented a neat history of computer games and featured many playable arcade, console, and PC games. Playing the original Asteroids, Missile Command, and Donkey Kong was a major nostalgia trip. These are games I drooled over in bowling alleys years before I could afford to play them. Not surprisingly, the game play doesn't hold up compared to modern titles, and I found myself getting bored very quickly with these silicon relics from yesteryear Of course they had Pong set up, but I couldn't be bothered twisting the controls for more than 10 seconds. Upon leaving, a pang of sadness went through me as I realised that, more than likely, I'd never play those classic games ever again for the rest of my life. After all, they're the reason I have a great career in IT.

RIP arthur c. clarke

thursday : 20 mar 2008

The last 32 hours has seen me fighting off an infernal bug of some description. Had chills and achey joints all yesterday, as well as a crushing tiredness and lethargy (well, nothing new there) and a hyperactive digestive system. I feel better today; at least the long weekend approacheth. Just have to summon enough energy to engage the clubs and bars tonight. Memo to self: no Nightrider buses will be running. So get the last train, you dummy.

"If you've never seen a UFO, you're not very observant." – Arthur C. Clarke.

9:19pm. I was going to leave work at lunch time, but stayed until 4:30pm, then left. This was while the lads were applying beer pressure on me to visit an Irish pub with them for a few cold ones, but with temperatures dropping below 16 degrees, and my body feeling as though it was going to hatch little monsters a'la Alien or the spider birthing scene in The Mist, it was best to slink home and listen to the bogans on the 4:45pm train out to the burbs. Marylu even rang to ask whether I was up for a drink or three. The shocked tone in her voice upon hearing I was at home in the cave was amusing.

checking in

thursday : 6 mar 2008

Blooooooody heck. Was February 20th the last entry? Well, the Italian horror DVD campaign lasted one month – a tad longer than expected. I became kind of addicted to digging out more and more titles from my overstuffed, teetering towers of grisly continental cinema classics on DVD. Then, to avoid getting square eyes, I had to venture out of the dungeon and see a few movies on a real moofie screen. And one of them, The Mist, his this popcorn muncher for fucken six.

Just quickly before I nick off...the running continues. I'm not losing weight so much as losing body bulk, albeit steadily, millimetre by millimetre. Because the alarm goes off at 6:40am on most mornings, sleep debt has been racking up fast, together with some brutal interest. But if my worldly experience shrinks to exercise, work, eating, and sleeping, it won't be long before I stick me head in the oven. And yet, some people do live that maddeningly bleak lifestyle. I really don't understand how, or is it that I've just got too much on my plate? Hmmm.

Anyway, have a good long weekend.

oil is $100 US per barrel...discuss

wednesday : 20 feb 2008

I was a bit tired when I got to work this morning, so I downed three cups of strong decaf until I'd woken up properly.

Anyhoo...The very serious development of oil hitting the dreaded price of $100 US has sent shock waves through the global economy. However, instead, let's talk in depth about Cashmere Mafia, the sapphic new show that ostensibly carries on the legacy of Sex in the City and its precedents, which premiered on Australian telly tonight on Channel 9 at 9:30pm. And yes, I did misspell 'cashmere' in a previous journal entry – got it confused with Kashmir the city.

The show stars Frances O'Connor (Aussie), Lucy Liu, Miranda Otto (Aussie), and someone whose name I'll edit in later. It's got the expected 'snap' in the dialogue and sassy chicks-about-NYC characters promised in We-Heart-TV's saturation promo advertising (they must have laid out some coin for this one). Now, there were no fewer than four scenes in trendy bars in which the girls drank alcohol, and one scene in a which, yes, the girls drank alcohol (subtle coup on established stereotypes). Quite irresponsible role models, really. Then again, since I bought a bottle of Gekkeikan sake to quaff during the show, I can't complain. Cheers! The women all belong to Generation X. They are successful corporate types, either entering, questioning, or leaving stormy relationships. The unsettled, frustrated blonde appears to be exploring her bi-curiosity, no less. Cue much soul searching, self analysis, calls to the redneck parentals in Wyoming, and a fling with a scruffy male beat poet from Greenwich Village in future episodes. "Conflict is the essence of drama," as my high school arts teacher said. I think two of them are also moms; one has a disaffected daughter called Em. Shades of Californication? Uh-huh.

There's not much to add except the gams ranking goes in the following order: O'Connor, Liu, Otto, and the blonde (who has the best breasts). I also have to say that Frances O'Connor looks more ravishing the older she gets. Ha, no wonder I rated the Victoria's Secret softcore fashion show poorly. Then again, what was happening with her hair? It looked like fibreglass – horrid. See Fig. 1, right.

So. A frenetic beginning segued into an interesting third act that will get Your Humble Narrator coming back next week. Unlike Sex in the City, which was better written (look out for the film), Cashmere Mafia offers straight forward bitchy story telling and melodrama. The acting and accents are all right, and the opening episode even featured the bloke from An American Werewolf in Paris and That Thing you Do! (Tom Everett Scott) as a love interest. That's a good way.


sunday : 17 feb 2008

The apartment hunt continues in earnest. The routine for the last couple of weeks has consisted of inspecting random apartments during the week, followed by catching the train back to the CBD on Saturdays to see anything from one to six or more properties. With the weather as fine as it is, coming in to town for the whole day is bloody good fun – during work lunch hours, the clock is always ticking, and it's hard to relax. On weekends I can hang out at Borders in between inspections, then have a cold stubbie of Razorback at Transport as the sun goes down.

Which is all good...relishing the various attractions of the CBD is what someone living in the city should enjoy. Some friends have suggested renting first to make sure I'd take to the lifestyle. This does make sense if I was unsure about doing the sea change (more of a concrete change really), but working in a CBD highrise office and partying in the CBD after dark every week without fail is all the convincing I need.

As for the state of the inner city housing market, I can report that while many properties are still selling regularly, I believe these are mainly investment purchases. Chatting to prospective owner-occupiers like myself when doing inspections, I find they are as fussy as I am and care about things like views and decore. Investment demand is keeping prices up for the time being, although anything above $400,000 seems to be a bad business decision if you're borrowing most of the asking price, because rental income won't cover repayments and outgoings anymore.

All up, the prospect of find the 'right' place and engaging the lifestyle change is exciting. It could be a very interesting 2008 indeed...

the running man

wednesday : 6 feb 2008

"Compare...but don't stare!" – Anonymous, men's urinal wall, Flinders Street Station

7:21am. Last weekend I got measured up at Athlete's Foot and bought some running shoes. Proper ones. They're Adidas Supernovas, or should that be Supernovae? Now, I'm not sure what exactly the violent death of a star 10+ solar masses in size has to do with a handsome bachelor getting rid of his sexy paunch and lust handles. The upshot is that I've been out running two mornings in a row like some sort of human hamster. Oh yeah, my exercise clothes suck. Special attire that both steams your sweat off and provides air conditioning are available these days, in trendy colours. Anyway, this morning happens to be is a weightlifting – ah, so sorry, resistance training – day, so I'll finish tapping this out, upload, and bugger off.

Besides having my leisurely mornings violated with mindless exertion, I've been going out every night this week. Last night involved a Mid-summer Comedy act in Fitzroy, on Monday night I had drinks with friends who'd watched the Superbowl that morning, and tonight I'm attending the Iron Maiden concert at Rod Laver Arena with Mike. Toss in hardcore property viewing, late night movie watching, web surfing, and work, and you've got one tired goose. I'd write a Blues song about my woes, but I don't have the time or the energy...

12:52am. Just returned home from the Iron Maiden gig. How to sum it up? Given I don't know their music that well – not even one CD in the library – the concert was easy to enjoy. They play melodic rock tempo heavy metal with real sing-song vocals, courtesy of Bruce Dickinson. The stage was decked out in an Egyptian theme (Nile would be jealous) and the guys' energy levels were very up for the whole show. The manic audience in the stands pretty much stood the whole time. We were three rows from the front at the back, and therefore remained seated. In terms of audio, the first 20 minutes were bloody horrible to listen to. I tore strips from a KFC napkin I had in my back pocket and shoved them in my ears. But then the sound improved and became clearer, so I removed the plugs and got into the shenanigans a lot more. They seemed to save their big numbers for the second half, which got the crowd more and more worked up. A great vibe.

Now, Your Humble Narrator had a laundry list of things he expected to see tonight from a real heavy metal band, as opposed to a metal band, who tend to just get on with doing the business. More than half of the items were checked off. To wit:

Synchronised headbanging from the four guitarists (yes, I think)
Synchronised guitar bobbing or swinging (briefly during an anthem)
Skin-tight black jeans (bonus points for an ammunition belt)
Skin-tight black jeans with white joggers (bzzzt, but a good thing)
Crowd punching their fists into the air in time to music (and then some)
Fights in the mosh pit (too well behaved)
No itchy beards (they packed shaving equipment, hooray!!!)
Pyrotechnics (fireworks and flames, though somewhat cheesy)
Guitars chucked into the air or windmilled (2x ticks)
Equipment wrecked (assume musicians are too old)
The Eddie creature walks on stage (Terminator/mummy/Power Ranger)
Stage diving (only one clown made it up...and down)
Punters in wheelchairs moshing (dunno, they were behind us)
People wearing death metal t-shirts (several...a very 'metal' crowd)
Mullets (none spotted, but many other fashion violations)
Drum solo (he was hidden behind the tom-tom rack, so no point)
Two guitar solos going at once (perhaps, but I didn't hear or see it)
Limbo stick guitar shredding (hair didn't touch the stage)
Had a few more points, but I forget what they were

At the end of the day, it's hard not to like a band that wears its own t-shirts on stage.

toxic faves for 2007

monday : 28 jan 2008

As more than one movie fan has pointed out, no James Bond film was released in 2007. Even so, Yours Truly had a good twelve months in planet Melbourne. The main difference in 'approach' this year compared to last year was trying to read as many books as I could during 2007, given other activities, personal motivation, and downtime spent hungover. As a consequence, the quality and quantity of movies watched in 2007 suffered. A worthy compromise, though. Anyway, on with the accolades...

top five favourite movies seen in 2007

Yeah, granted, it's not the best film ever made. However, along with Sin City and perhaps two or three other examples, Zach Snyder's 300 is one of the most interesting comic book adaptations to come out in recent times. Everything about it is totally stylised and dream-like, as was Frank Miller's graphic novel. Pure eye candy for its own sake? Toxic Waste applauds that.

Blade Runner: Final Cut
Saw it looking up at the huge Astor screen via 4K digital projection – this event almost qualified as a Personal Highlight for 2007. Apparently Rutger Hauer was at the Sydney engagement. I still love the film, flawed masterpiece that it is. Both the budget and the deluxe DVD releases of this definitive version are superb. Just fucking get this or die.

The Departed
Strewth, even Marty Scorsese is doing remakes these days. What's it coming to? He picked a good movie to defrost and microwave, namely the minor HK crime classic Infernal Affairs. Strangely, whenever I think back on The Departed, scenes from Hot Fuzz pop into my brain instead.

Knocked Up
Judd Apatow and his Gen-X buddies are the Nirvana of mainstream romantic comedies: they're bringing the genre out of the previous decade and into this one. Call it the When Harry Killed Sally Movement. Knocked Up is just fresh enough to overcome its various contrivances. Another six months in the word processor would have yielded a five star movie.

The new Dave Fincher. It's set in the 1970s (mostly) and deliberately feels like a 1970s movie. No fireworks this time, just hypnotic story telling. I have yet to see the director's cut, although one automatically suspects the distributor of double-dipping. It's hard to imagine Fincher letting Zodiac out of the bag in a too compromised version. Still, it will be nice to see the DC as my second viewing when it comes out locally.

top five favourite DVDs spun during 2007

Black Hawk Down: Extended Edition – Columbia Tri-Star, Australia
A pleasant surprise. I really liked Black Hawk Down, but always thought the first act had been trimmed back too much. Well, this extended release both scratches that itch and slips in some bonus war footage as well. The end result now comfortably hovers between four and a half stars and five stars, depending on how loud you play the DVD. It's also perfect for a KIA drinking game of some description.

The Burning – MGM, USA
Talk about having a 'burning desire' to own this uncensored release on DVD. It was worth the wait, though. Studio accountants and casual movie-goers might chuckle derisively at horror fans obsessing over 14 seconds of restored footage. Which is OK, I can accept that. Because when I slice your throat open with a pair of garden shears, I will b-b-be the one having the last laugh, heh heh heh...

Night of the Bloody Apes – Something Weird Video, USA
Speaking of dubious levity, this demented fruit cake of a movie delivered the best belly laughs I've enjoyed in the Toxiplex Home Theatre all bloody year. Just think about how sad that is. There's also some prurient Z-grade trash that would make the likes of John Waters envious. Truly a psychotronic film that serves up what all those fanzine writers promised.

SS Camp: Women's Hell – Shriek Show, USA
We ain't in Kansas no more, Toto. Too inept to be shocking, too sleazy to be dismissed lightly, SS Camp loads up both barrels with 70s calibre exploitation and fires them at you point blank. No finesse, no artistic pretentions. In doing so, like so many other comparable titles, it attains its own brand of rarefied splendor that proves irresistible in this age of CGI fakery and mainstream pandering. Let's hope the move to digital improves the situation.

This Film is Not Yet Rated – Genius/IFC, USA
Part of the problem mentioned above is the MPAA, aka the US film censorship body. The industry sanctioned US film censorship body. The totally unaccountable and secretive US film censorship body. The US film censorship body that operates within a wider landscape of commercial pressures and loony religious conservatism, and whose decisions affect other countries. For decades. No wonder the system is so fucked up. Watch this ground-breaking documentary to learn more.

top five favourite books read in 2007

Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything
An excellent popular science book. Like Brian Greene, who wrote The Elegant Universe and others, Bill Bryson puts as much effort into the quality of the writing as he does the content. As a bonus, Mr. Bryson possesses that charming kind of humorous affectation you only tend to get from British authors. Still, his description of a killer asteroid striking Earth was vivid and scary.

Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
Another Brit tackling the same subject...from a different angle. At least one Australian book poll in 2007 voted The God Delusion as its top choice. This is heartening, given the rising tide of religious fundamentalism around the world, and its attendant nutty behaviour.

Thomas Harris, Hannibal Rising
Not counting Black Sunday, which I own but haven't read, this novel could be Thomas Harris' most commercial effort. Either that, or his laziest. Nevermind. This horror fan discovered enough ghoulishness and smart prose to keep the pages turning over three feverish days. The celluloid adaptation compresses too much of the plot and, most tellingly, drops key elements of Hannibal's descent into madness.

Alastair Reynolds, Revelation Space
Recommended by Code Monkey, this emotionally dry space epic juggles big ideas, features big space ships, which make big interstellar trips, carrying crew members with big egos who're hiding even bigger secrets. While the ending doesn't quite payoff the build-up, Reynolds succeeds well enough for me to sample more of his hard SF during 2008.

Webster Griffin Tarpley, 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA
This book, once a #1 best seller on and now into its fourth edition, is arguably the heavy hitter in the alternative 9/11 theory stakes. Tarpley's achievement was to place 9/11 in the wider context of known state-sponsored terrorism from history in grueling detail. I'd recommend viewing the various 9/11 documentaries before tackling 9/11 Synthetic Terror. It takes no prisoners.

top five favourite CDs bought in 2007

Harlan Ellison, On the Road with Ellison: Volumes 2-3
These selections are not so much the top five CDs I bought this year, but virtually the only CDs I purchased in 2007. The ones played most often (usually in the morning) were these two spoken word releases of selected Harlan Ellison lecture highlights. Volume 1 is yet to be located and obtained to complete the set. Ellison rarely toured and/or gave speaking engagements outside the USA, hence the value of these items.

Nile, Ithyphallic
I've wanted to like this band for years. Nile's latest release is their most accessible title to date. I suppose I just prefer orthodox metal riffing and structures – Ithyphallic has plenty of those, as well as the intensity and nifty Egyptian themes of earlier albums. The lyrics are also more discernible. Wild, crazy shit.

Pycroptic, The Scepter of the Ancients
More highly technical death metal, this time from a Tasmanian four-some who demonstrate their formidable musical talents on this blistering record. The riffs and song arrangements are twisted and barbed, and yet they're easy to enjoy from right the first listen. Lyrics encompass the usual pseudo-fantasy hokum and odes to the headbangin' lifestyle. Yeah, woteva.

Stereolab, Fab Four Suture
My first Stereolab album, and it didn't disappoint. This band deliberately plays monotonous songs containing monotonous melodies and monotone vocals. And yet somehow it works marvelously. You could say that Stereolab are a rock and roll version of drone 'music' bands. P.S. A sense of humour is essential for enjoying this stuff.

Assorted Trance Albums and Compilations
None of the 20+ progressive trance albums and compilations I bought this year cheap at JB Hi-Fi stand out. However, among the tracks I found some real gems by bands I'll be hunting down in cyberspace in 2008. This music sounds brilliant on audiophile headphones – more enjoyable than on subwoofer-assisted speakers, I reckon. And they're perfect to use as 'soundtracks' while reading science fiction yarns.

top five favourite TV shows watched in 2007

Aircrash Investigations (Ch 7)
The new series featured even more polished computer animations. Many looked photorealistic. My favourite narrator came and went at random; I suspect Channel 7 were playing episodes in the usual any-old-order sequence. Dipshits. The scope of disasters was also expanded to include the space shuttle (which I missed), an aircraft carrier in World War II, and the Hindenberg. Mesmerising television with a dark edge.

Californication (Ch 10)
Many people I know who should have been watching this series missed it for various lame reasons. Arrgghh. Yes, the promotions looked painful, but anyone who actually saw the first episode would've been as hooked as I was. True, it is naughty ratbag TV for its own sake, but rarely has it been done this well. It remains to be seen whether season two measures up. Here's hoping that the promising Cashmire Cunts (or whatever it's called) doesn't clash with Hank's hooker adventures.

Chaser's War on Everything (ABC)
I didn't chase every episode. That being said, whenever I did see it, the Chaser Team rarely failed to entertain. Watching politicians cringe with embarrassment over topics they themselves perpetuated will never become tiresome. Apparently the Chaser Team is taking a year off. If the ABC keeps showing repeats, maybe I'll end up seeing all of the episodes anyway.

First Tuesday Book Club (ABC)
Oh yes, every bibliophile's favourite show. As a replacement for the sorely missed Critical Mass, First Tuesday Book Club fills the gap nicely, since I can read a million film reviews for any given title, and have limited interest in art exhibitions and stage shows (purely a priority thing). More genre novels would make the show better – they're sticking mostly to mainstream literature these days.

Pimp My Ride (Ch 9)
An incredible, amazing show from the studios of US MTV. Petrolheads insist that Overhall is better, because those mechanics also upgrade the engine and whatever else. But somehow I doubt it captures the stupid jocularity and emotional frission of Pimp My Ride. I will give Overhall the 'mirror treatment', and look into it. In the meantime, season one of PMR on DVD is currently discounted to $20.00.

top five female legs in mass media for 2007

Jessica Biel
Last year she was in that gay situation comedy with Adam Sandler. I never saw the movie, just footage and photos of Miss Biel in revealing outfits teasing Sandler's hetero character. The poor sod.

Sophia Bush
[Late entry, replacing Catherine Hiegl] Damn it. I had forgotten about Sophia Bush's appearance in the kinetic though vacuous remake of The Hitcher. She wore a denim mini-skirt and boots during the whole movie – credentials that trump previous choice Hiegl in Knocked Up. Bush's form in celebrity snaps is variable, however. She stepped into feature films (going the usual scream queen route) from the leggy TV series One Tree Hill.

Jennifer Hawkins
2007 was another year of maximum exposure for the cheerleader with the million dollar income and the million dollar legs. They're even more toned and athletic now compared to 2006, judging by several TV commercials and glamour appointments for her fashion pimp, Myer. Sadly, Jenster was wearing blue jeans when I saw her at a shopping mall lingerie show. I did my best Travis Bickle impersonation.

Gainsville Furniture Model
I try to avoid choosing models and athletes for this category – that would take the challenge and goofiness out of it. That said, the Gainsville brunette who dry humps their ungainly lounges and fondles their coffee tables has been haunting my Loewe television for a number of years now. Who is she? I'll never know. Second non-celebrity runner up was one of the staff dancers on Dancing with the Stars (or Jiving with the D-List as Marieke Hardy called it).

Kiera Knightly
Two movies from 2007 showed the form she demonstrated in Bend it Like Beckem, Atonement and Pirates of the Caribbean III (albeit for three wenchy seconds). Even then she hadn't won a place convincingly until some Google image searches uncovered the required evidence that swayed this year's judging panel.

top five favourite booze consumed in 2007

Carlton Pure Blonde
The so-called low carbohydrate beer. To the snooty newspaper columnists who said it was only a marketing scam: all blokes know that energy content is what counts. We is not as dumb as we look. The fact remains that for the price, Pure Blonde is a refreshing and drinkable tap beer.

Jim Beam White and Sugar-Free Cola
Marylu alerted me to this great new Jim Beam product. Normal Coke-a-Cola is about 10% sugar, and therefore regular Jim beam cola would be comparable. That's a hideous amount of sugar to consume onto top of the whiskey itself. Therefore sugar-free premix bourbon and cola is a winner.

Moët Champagne
Well, la-de-bloody-da. No, I'm not a regular sparkling white drinker. Blokes tend to look a little bit poofy downing flute after flute of bubbly. For celebrations, though, accept no substitutes. Moët is a very smooth drop that goes down waayyyy too easily. It's full bodied and basically puts the cheap house shit one normally orders by the glass to shame.

Little Creatures Ale
When I go to bar and pubs, I'll try any beers if the mood is right and I'm not involved in shouts. In 2007 I probably drank Little Creatures slightly more often than others due to its availability. This WA beer has a strong flavour and yet no weirdo after tastes. 100% enjoyable.

Warm Sake
This is still the only alcoholic drink I crave in between binging sessions. It's all about the flavour and the fact it's served hot. I will probably end up like those frail elderly Japanese couples, who have shared a bottle of sake in their back garden every evening for decades. I can think of worse ways to spend my golden years. Who wants to join me?

top five personal highlights of 2007

9/11 Knowledge
I'm sure some friends of mine detest this topic, and the kind of mindset it represents. I understand completely, since I started off as a skeptic too. Well, to be honest, it was just apathy. All I'll say is that I'm not interested in following 'conspiracy theories' just for their own sake. I'd happily to let it all go given enough convincing evidence that supported the official story. However, the physical evidence and suspicious FBI, CIA, FAA, FEMA, and military behaviour all run counter to flimsy White House doctrine. The whole "gross incompetance" argument ignores too many key facts.

Family Time in Queensland
It's always nice to return to one's birthplace. The only problem in 2007 was not having several weeks at a time to spend interstate, just mere days, or a week at the most. Well, right now I have almost six weeks of accumulated rec-leave, and I intend to use it all this year. Of course, I'll have a fresh batch of four weeks by this time next year. Bonza! Speaking of Queensland, congrats to Kevin Rudd for winning the Federal election. Now prove your worth and relax the X 18+ rating.

Maintaining Toxic Waste
Updating this website can be a chore, but so was publishing eight issues of a print fanzine in the 1990s. Some things are worth the effort and inconvenience. That said, my approach to updates has been, and will always be, the following: If I don't feel like writing, I simply won't do it. So it's never a problem, apart from, perhaps, committing to do too much.

Seeing Slayer Live in Concert
The War of the Worlds live show came in a very close second. It didn't quite deliver the same chills up the spine that seeing Slayer live produced. This band was my first introduction to metal, and alternative music for that matter. Before Slayer (B.S.) I was listening to Dire Straits and FM chart music. Thanks to Chris Doolan for opening my ears – you should have been there with me, man.

Watching Twin Peaks at Hooverdust HQ
It was a tough commitment for me. I rarely watch TV shows at home, let alone travel to someone's place every week on the same night to see 28 (?) episodes of something. But this is no ordinary TV series, it's David fucken Lynch. It's Dale Cooper, the Log Lady, kinky Laura Palmer, The Black Lodge, the dancing dwarf, darn good coffee and pie, black tortured souls called Bob, and blacker comedy. It's Twin Peaks. The mind boggles over what Mulholland Drive would have been like if it actually became a series...

ASB (c)rap

saturday : 19 jan 2008

A complaint was lodged with the Advertising Standards Board about advertising for a computer game called Juiced 2. The full article was posted on the most excellent censorship resource Refused Classification this week. The following governmental waffle is but one example of your hard earned tax dollars at work:

The Board then considered the images of the cars being driven around the women at high speeds. The Board noted firstly that the computer generated images from the computer game were not in breach of the Code as they were clearly depicted as being part of the product, were stylised obvious computer game images and did not depict material that amounted to a breach of the Code. The Board considered however that the non comptuer generated images of the women standing in the street with the cars circling around them were depictions of behaviour that was very unsafe. The Board noted the disclaimer which states "Professional Stunt Driver: Donít try this at home." and determined that the disclaimer did not detract from the images and would not prove a deterrent to people likely to mimic the behaviour depicted.

The Board considered that the images of the women standing in the street being used as 'witches hats', although in the context of an advertisement for a computer game, were inappropriate as they were images that could easily be replicated in certain streets all around Australia. Given the concern in many communities about late night driving behaviour (burn outs and high speed racing) similar to that depicted in these real scenes the Board considered that the images were inappropriate and made more inappropriate with the additional images of the women being driven around. On this basis the Board considered that the advertisement depicted material that was contrary to prevailing community standards on safety.

Finding that the advertisement breached section 2.6 of the Code, the Board upheld the complaint.

Ahem. I'm tempted to lodge my own complaint about the complaint, but I fear the resulting Board review document would cause a devastating meltdown of the Advertising Standards Board LAN network and web servers, making the greater metropolitan area of Canberra uninhabitable for 100,000 years. And now, just for the fun of it, here's another version of the same word salad, but spiced up a bit with some Toxic Waste Thousand Island Dressing:

The Bored then wanked over the images of the rice rockets being driven around those sexy sluts at high speeds. The Bored used their crayons to note firstly that the computer generated digital computer images from the electronic computer game software were not in breach of the Da Vinci Code as they were clearly depicted as being part of the product, were stylised obvious computer game computer generated digitally rendered electronic graphics and did not depict material that amounted to a breach of the Da Vinci Code. The Bored navel gazed however that the non computer generated pixelated digital 3D computer images of those nasty whores standing in the street with the Matchbox cars fish tailing around them were depictions of behaviour that was very hilarious. The Bored Googled the disclaimer which states "Corey Delaney Driving: Do try this at home while your parents are out." and pontificated at great length that the disclaimer did detract from the computer generated digital electronic video computer animation and would prove a detergent to bogans likely to mimic the behaviour depicted.

Whilst sitting on the toilet, The Bored cogitated that the computer generated electronic digital penetration of the moles standing in the street being used as 'witches', although in the context of an advertisement for an electronic computer game software program, were appropriate as they were images that could easily be replicated in certain streets all around Redfern, Ipswich, or Sunshine. Given the concern in many braindead communities about late night knitting behaviour (burn outs and high speed racing) similar to that depicted in these surreal scenes the Bored considered that the images were appropriate and made more appropriate with the additional images of those nasty dyke bitches being fisted. On this basis the Bored pontificated that the advertisement depicted fabric that was contrary to prevailing winds on safety.

Since it was 4:59pm and knock-off time, the Bored quickly upheld the advertisement complaint and found that it breached section 6.9 of the Da Vinci Code.

another year dawns

tuesday : 8 jan 2008

Well, I survived the 'silly season'. Not much to it, really: avoid swimming with piranhas, avoid hugging bearded men wearing bulky coats, avoid drinking bleach by accident on stinking hot days. Et cetera.

Christmas in Brisbane was quick but nice – wasn't even up there for 48 hours, which meant, alas, I did miss the Andy Warhol exhibition. An extra couple of hours up my sleeve would have done the trick. Nevermind...the exhibition has received a titter of critical remarks in the trades, so perhaps it wasn't a such huge loss. I'm more looking forward to seeing the new gallery of modern art up there in Brissy than anything, so it will keep.

The New Year's Eve BBQ out in the eastern suburbs was also agreeable, with fine food, drinks (BYO cans of Jim Beam and sugar free cola, thanks Marylu for the tip) and company the main highlights. A lowlight was the presence of only one single female, a friend of a friend visiting from Sydney. I discovered she had soft hands, but that's all. And then at 1:30am, as the party was winding down, a friend buzzed my mobile phone to find out what I was up to. It just so happened the BBQ was five minutes drive from his house, and would I like to come over for a glass of shiraz and lunch tomorrow? Yes please. They had to pick me up after 30 minutes of me dialing taxi companies and getting a busy tone. With Rage playing on his Panasonic plasma TV and fluffy dogs going nuts with excitement in the lounge room, we downed a few drinks then crashed just before dawn (good flick by the way). The next day's home-cooked curry lunch just happen to coincide with another 40 degree scorcher – I probably lost 20 litres of fluids by the time I arrived home at 7:30pm.

Since then, I've been hitting the bars on weekends and during the week; in other words, the usual story. Not to mention catching up with a cute girl I met at The Long Room the previous Friday night, a 30 year old research scientist in the medical field. I'm not sure there was much, ahh, chemistry, but (a) the summer is only getting started and (b) I am still a very handsome man. Modest, too. As for new year's resolutions, I've decided to lose 10 kgs not just 10% of my weight, since a few werre adding during the holiday period. Bring it on!!!! Er, I mean, off. What else? My 11:00pm curfew still remains. Only today I read that lack of sleep can make you gain weight. Yeah, sure, that's it.

However, first, the Toxic Top Five for 2007 has to be compiled. There weren't that many clear-cut choices last year, so it should be an interesting exercise. And unlike the Golden Globes, the writer's guild strike in Hollywood will not affect this auspicious occasion. The judging panel just has to get his arse out of neutral and into top gear.