CORROSIVE JOURNALISM
the gradual decay of a half-life
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checking in
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sunday : 28 mar 2010

Just a quick post.

The new computer has been here for a couple of weeks. Being a 64-bit Windows 7 machine, friends ask how fast it runs. So far, the answer has been, "I don't know," because it's not running any software I can use to judge it by. Not even a game, because it doesn't have a graphics accelerator card. However, I can say that DVDs, downloaded videos, and high definition television (via USB tuner) all look smooth as. I have to say that HD TV is disappointing as far as content goes. The HD stations now play exactly the same programmes as standard definition, and much of the content is standard definition upscaled to HD. Let's not even talk about compression rates.

I've also signed up for broadband, ADSL 2+ specifically. Thank you for the applause. The line hasn't been enabled yet – this should happen next week – so this journal entry has been uploaded from the old PC. Nope, couldn't get the dial-up modem working from the new machine. Might need to install the original KTX drivers from floppy disk via flash memory...if I can be bothered.

And speaking of being bothered, there's a 95% chance that the time-consuming sections of Toxic Waste will be retired. These include the Sinema and Television pages. It's too difficult in its current format, namely hardcoded HTML, and the vast amount of reviews published online these days is phenomenal. I was going to teach myself PHP or something else and rebuild Toxic Waste, but while I'm going to bed at 10:30pm and getting up at 6:30am every morning to exercise, no PHP, ASP, Javascript, or CGI is gonna be happen any time in 2010 or 2011. As for Corrosive Journalism, I'll be looking for a service when the new PC is connected up.

Anyway, this change will let me write for fun again, rather than as a chore and obligation. As far as I know, nobody online ever did what I attempted to do (review every movie and book seen and read), and to be honest, I could have kept going with adequate time management. Alas, it's not to be.

The only other significant event of late was enduring a bout of food poisoning two weekends ago, my first ever. It was all coming out of both ends at roughly Mach 2 for 48 hours, necessitating a day off work. It began on Saturday evening...at 6:00am the following morning I gave up on getting any sleep and suffered three hours of Sunrise and The Today Show. It was 24 hours before I could keep down half a glass of water, which freaked me out due to the very real dehydration risk. 12 hours after that, I had my first solid meal: two-thirds of a banana and a strawberry for dessert. Since a friend I'd dined with on Friday night also became gravely ill, the cause was obvious. It was a cruel, dehumanising, surreal experience, and one I hope never to go through again. Still, I lost 1.5 kgs of real weight, which has remained off...that's some bloody consolation, at least!

it's alive! et cetera...
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monday : 22 feb 2010

12:05am Sunday night. I've just returned home from a night at the Espy Hotel in St Kilda with my uncle and friends of his. Before slamming the coffin lid closed, it seemed like an opportune time to assemble a journal update, however cursory and bereft of wit, for whomever is still reading this web domain.

So, what's been happening? Quite a bit, actually, but nothing that warranted a journal entry (read: Your Humble Narrator has been too occupied watching reality TV shows to give a damn). Not only that.

My current – and soon to be extinct – home computer has been struggling to keep up with its constantly changing silicon environment. While everyone else's PC is becoming self-aware and composing poignant sonnets with idle CPU cycles, my posture-challenged australopithecus is still learning how to use an electric shaver. For example: (a) The latest version of Flash refuses to install, (b) the 20GB hard drive now hovers between 99% and 104% full, (c) the Firefox web browser frequently crashes thanks to the new species of pop-ups and animated commercials that infect websites these days, (d) memory swaps cause the operating system to grind to a halt while my hard disk glows white-hot from extended bouts of I/O sodomy, (e) editing large text files becomes impossible with memory leaks draining what little of the 64MB of RAM is available, (f) the video card and monitor only supports a resolution comparable to my cheap Nokia mobile phone, and (g) the tower case is beige, which stops me from getting a girlfriend*.

The upshot is that I've been waiting to obtain a new PC before resuming update chores on Toxic Waste. And yesterday (Saturday), I was told that my new AMD-based system was ready for pick-up. I've already got a 22-inch widescreen monitor and a cordless keyboard/mouse combination waiting to be unboxed, powered up (huh, batteries in peripherals?), and plugged in. Internet access will also be upgraded to ADSL-something-or-other via another external widget called a "router". Now, my father was a carpenter, so it's a bit surreal for me to imagine how a Makita power tool that cuts gouges out of wood can provide broadband data transmission. Another welcome addition to the Toxic Waste technology park will be something called a "scanner". According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, a "scanner" device will let me copy and upload my old artwork online, not to mention presenting all issues of my dead-tree technology (paper) fanzine in PDF format, thus retaining all of the original layouts and artwork at something like five trillion dots per inch (hmmm, maybe that's not such a good thing...sorry, World).

Anyway, that's the story, or part of it. Corrosive Journalism may also be converted to use a standard weblog provider like Blogger because updates are easy, and old posts are archived automatically by date, with subject tags. This is probably a wise move because Haloscan, which until February 16th 2010 supported a free comment service, have discontinued their advertiser-sponsored largesse to the weblogging community. That said, comments are still visible as I write this. But I expect them to vanish any day now. No doubt countless DIY webmasters have howled in protest, demanding a stay of execution. All I'll say is that, over the years, reading your comments/feedback has been the best part of running this website. To acknowledge this point, I've exported your wise ASCII verbiage into XML files, and may resurrect them at a future date.

On the personal front, my status is "business as usual". The key goal in 2010 is to lose 10kgs without gym membership, i.e. get my 20s physique back. Another goal is to cut back on binge drinking in public venues. Towards the end of 2009, such adventures got me into strife, not to mentioned costing a crapload of Aussie pesos. Like any drug addict who thinks he or she is living The Good Life, I didn't get the message until neon signs had been placed under my nose. These experiences served to recalibrate old boozing habits for a metabolism and physiology that is 20 years older than the one that not only first enjoyed these indulgences, but swatted away side-effects like someone who was immortal. You never know how good things were until you realise current truths have been shoved into the wheelie bin of self-denial. It's time I lived up to the other half of that adage, "older and wiser." Yes, I'm a thickhead who suffers terminal vagueness, as close friends know. But there's enough of the younger and sharper Me to reshape the human savage I am today into a better person. Or, like my PC, to perform an overdue hardware and software upgrade. Ooooh. Bad Metaphor of the Year? "I'd like to thank Jesus Christ, God, the Holy Ghost, Allah, Vishnu, Zeus, and others deities. This is a great day for australopithecus everywhere who want to make a difference!"

Jokes aside, the solution to drinking too much in public is what? Simple...plan ahead to provide the means to drink at home. Trust me, it works. True, the social element is aborted totally. Thrown into the airlock and ejected into space. But what I gain by drinking at home is self-control, and a few extra dollars in the hip pocket. Works for me.

(* Despite this sad fact, I am not celibate. To quote Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park, "Life found a way." P.S. It could have been Sam Neill who said that line. Not sure. For the first reader who solves this riddle there awaits a free 12-month subscription to Toxic Waste.)

interstate jaunt
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saturday : 26 dec 2009

I'm driving north for a while over the new year break for some undeserved rest and relaxation. See you all in 2010.

toxic faves for 2008
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monday : 30 nov 2009

"I don't worry about my publishers' nightmares; I'm too busy analysing my own." – Writer Dan Simmons talking to The Zone.

A heavy schedule of socialising reduced the throughput of movies, books and CDs in 2008. I could say being seconded to a project at work also had some sort of influence, but the hours aren't much different to what I was doing before.


top five favourite movies seen in 2008

Blood Diamond
A cracker of a mainstream adventure movie. Leonardo seems to have matured enough to pull off these kinds of tough bloke roles. It's a pity Scorcese didn't wait longer to use him in The Aviator.

In Bruges
One of the few films I caught in cinemas last year, so it gets listed almost by default. These days, there's nothing new in the contemporary gangster picture, and that goes for In Bruges. The oddball humour raised this one above average.

Inside
An extremely violent and disturbing French horror film based on the home invasion formula. It goes without saying that the filmmakers are huge horror fans. Let's hope they resist the temptation to helm one of the dozens of genre remakes green-lit by major studios lately.

The Mist
This is my favourite movie of 2008, a superb adaptation of Stephen King's excellent (and now relatively ancient) novella from Dark Forces. Frank Darabont delivers the chills, the monsters, the human conflict, and a new ending that hits you like a kick in the teeth.

There Will be Blood
Featuring one of the most despicable movie protagonists in recent memory, Paul Thomas Anderson's historical treatise about the oil boom is a totally absorbing, even if one viewing is more than enough.


top five favourite DVDs spun during 2008

The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith – Umbrella, Australia
A great Australian movie delivered on a fantastic local DVD packed full of extras and a decent transfer of the film itself. I'm looking forward to similar home video treatment for Fred Schepsi's Evil Angels.

Planet Terror – Roadshow, Australia
The ultimate drive-in movie? Perhaps not. Just be thankful that the extended version was released on DVD with some engaging extras that include the all-important Robert Rodriguez audio commentary. Note that the Blu-ray contains a scratch-free edition of the film.

Commando: Director's Cut – Fox Home Entertainment, Australia
Dreams do come true for those of us who used to enjoyed censored dubs of Commando recorded on VHS tapes from Aussie television broadcasts. Fox finally released the uncensored version last year two decades after its cinema debut.

Fast Company, Stereo, Crimes of the Future – Blue Underground, USA
The feature movie about drag racing from David Cronenberg is all right. Engaging without being life-changing. The real drawcard of this DVD package are the two pretentious B&W avant-garde short films Cronenberg made before Shivers aka They Came from Within.

Last Exit to Brooklyn – Umbrella, Australia
A solid movie adapted from a cult novel I've yet to read, with music by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits fame. The Aussie DVD contains a dynamite 80-minute documentary about writer Hubert Selby, Jr.


top five favourite books read in 2008

Alastair Reynolds, Galactic North
Yes, I do tend to criticise and nit-pick Alastair's chunky science fiction novels in reviews. That said, he's become a favourite writer on the strength of what he gets right in rousing adventures such as Revelation Space and Chasm City. Galactic North shows the man in top form writing novelettes. Watch out for Zima Blue in local book dens.

George Alec Effinger, When Gravity Fails
Code Monkey introduced me to Alastair Reynolds. He also lent me this gruesome and amusing SF noir thriller that sizzles with nefarious happenings and spicy prose with extra chili. Oh yeah, it's a good pain!

Albert Camus, The Plague
Literature at Toxic Waste? Surely not! I can hear you clanging empty cans of Woodstock and Dry bourbon in protest. Well, as mentioned in the capsule review, the title grabbed my attention first, then the author's name – a chap who's paid his dues otherwise he wouldn't be on the literature shelf at the secondhand shoppe.

Robert Reed, Marrow
A queer science fiction novel with a lopsided plot and imagery that borders on surrealism. Thinking back on it has the flavour of half-remembered dreams. It comes recommended for its incredible middle section, if nothing else. And simply writing this recollection has prompted me to get the sequel.

Harlan Ellison, Harlan Ellison's Watching
An astonishing, though unorthodox, collection of film criticism dating back a few years. In the bargain you must be prepared to embrace the Ellison persona, since only a few early pieces could be called objective. The rest were genetically spliced with Ellison's DNA and can't be separated.


top five favourite CDs bought in 2008

Harlan Ellison, On the Road with Ellison: Volume 1
This early release is not as good as volumes two and three, being shorter and more self-indulgent than those ones. But obviously it's an essential purchase if you've only got the last two in the CD rack.

Psycroptic, Ob(servant)
It's actually playing as I type these words. This is my favourite album from these Tasmanian devils of brutal death metal. The sound is clean and punchy, and the songs are not as over-written as in Symbols of Failure and Scepters of the Ancients, which are still killer metal albums. I will see this live before I die.

Metallica, Death Magnetic
So close. This CD still gets played in Club Toxic, usually in the morning as aural caffeine while getting ready for another day in cubicle hell. JJJ even played a few tracks. While Death Magnetic is not a new classic, it's got enough vitality and old school attitude to think the next one might deliver the magic again.

Company B, Keating! The Musical
Mary Lu introduced me to this hilarious musical about Paul Keating and Aussie politics in the late 1980s to the 1990s. It's out on CD and DVD. ABC also broadcasts it occasionally, so make sure you catch it. Mike McLeish (who plays Keating) recently had a role at Dracula's theatre restaurant.

Headroom, Artelligent
To be honest, I don't play this album very often. It's here because I don't buy much music anymore, due to being (a) time poor and (b) not keeping up with what new releases are recommended. Some dedicated listening time might crack open Artelligent.


top five favourite TV shows watched in 2008

Good Game (ABC 2)
Gooooood fucking television programme. What I love about Good Game is that it never dumbs down the content. Most of the gaming jargon goes right over my head, since I haven't played computer games for years and years. It's sometimes very funny, too. Sadly ABC 2 is trying to stuff around with the formula by introducing a female presenter called Hex, supposedly to widen that show's appeal. Uh-huh...

Kitchen Nightmares USA (Ch 9)
It comes, it goes, it's on late, it's on early, it's out of sequence, the UK and USA series overlap, the station supports it, complaints cause it to be dropped...temporarily. Arrrggghhhhh!!!!! Just. Show. The. Bloody. Thing. Comma. Motherfuckers.

The Farmer Wants a Wife (Ch 9)
Reality TV with heart and soul. Or maybe I'm just a sooky big girl's blouse? Either way, you couldn't stop me from missing an episode of The Farmer Wants a Wife. It's popularity guaranteed a second series, but an explosive bout of socialising meant that I missed half of it.

Political Assassinations (SBS)
This engaging series showed up at 11:00am on Saturday mornings, so you had to be on the ball to see it (no doubt these were repeat broadcasts). Each episode delved into a different assassination case, many of which I knew nothing about. No details were spared in the telling. Superb.

The War (ABC 1)
An amazing 12-part documentary series about World War II. It covered the experiences of service men and women from four US towns who were posted either in the European theatre or the Pacific theatre. This meant background details about the various offensives were sacrificed in favour of first-hand accounts. As a whole, though, The War stands as one of the best wartime documentaries I've ever seen.


top five female legs in mass media for 2008

Jennifer Hawkins
She looked smouldering in that clunky show Can We Make You into a Supermodel? Poor Jennifer had to spout priceless lines such as, "Models, today you're going to learn how to walk." She handled the cheese factor the only way possible: by playing it absolutely straight.

Frances O'Connor
If you're a bloke and don't have a thing for Frances O'Connor, then you need an emergency dose of testosterone. In the TV melodrama Cashmere Mafia, O'Connor played a sassy corporate ladder climber whose motherly duties often conflicted with important work assignments. Of course, she also looked great wearing all those Loise Lane skirts.

Bridgette from Big Brother
Nothing enlivens a reality TV show than a genuine bimbo or himbo. The blonde Bridgette was dumber than most bimbos, actually. But for us men, it didn't hurt to see her strutting around the Big Brother house half nekkid all the time.

Gweneth Paltrow
In 2008, as demonstrated by Skimpy Skirts, Ms Paltrow has been to the gym and buffed up. Rumors of a split from Chris Martin don't seem to have resulted in Gweneth bashing down my front door or clogging up my mobile phone with lurid text messages. Nevermind...the woman is lookin' hot these days.

Natalie Lowe
Who? She's one of the staff partners in Dancing with the Stars. In this year's series, she danced with professional boxer Danny Green in outfits that were basically coloured shreds of cloth held together by static electricity. I never saw Jennifer Hawkins' stint on the show. Natalie Lowe made up for that. 'Cor blimey...


top five favourite booze consumed in 2008

Warm Sake
I bloody love this drink. However, there is always a risk that having it too often takes away some of the magic. Twice a week is a good number. Then again, I have at least two large (300-380 ml) bottles per meal session. I don't know what Japanese tradition dictates...and I really don't care. Kanpai!

Carlton Pure Blonde
A decent choice for fatties that's easy to find and dirt cheap during happy hours. Actually, the low carbohydrate feature doesn't mean much. It's the alcohol that contains the calories. The only diet-friendly beer is light beer, or none at all. Both clearly insane choices, all things considered.

Preece Cabernet Sauvignon
I had a few bottles of this drop at home in 2008. That is until I learned through a friend that wine costing under $10.00 is frequently adequate, and even splendid to quaff. With my yearly booze expenditure of roughly $cough-cough, maybe life isn't too short to drink cheap wine.

Wild Turkey and Diet Coke (no ice)
My own non-beer concoction when hitting the bars. Removing the ice makes the drink last longer. After a couple of serves, the fact that it's not cold becomes utterly unimportant. Substitute cheaper bourbon at ye owne riske.

Newcastle Ale
One of a number of agreeable brews that goes down well pint after pint after pint. Locally, it's usually found on tap in faux Irish pubs.


top five personal highlights of 2008

Job Promotion
Got bumped to senior thanks to doing project work.

Running
I stopped in 2009. But in 2008 during this health kick I reached 77 kgs only after a couple of months of concerted effort. Buying good running shoes is a great way to start an exercise regime. The only drawback to running outside is the weather.

Mobile Phone
My freebee given by a friend, Mary lu, died. I'm serious...it looks like it was run over by a Centurion tank several times. This prompted me to buy a modern $80.00 Nokia, which I still have today. The speaker sucks – it's not loud enough without turning the loudspeaker on. For texting it's perfectly fine.

Lunches with Pete
Pete is on the project team at work. Pete is fond of lunching, and when I say 'lunching', I don't mean that pansy shit where you order the cheapest main meal, a glass of Diet Coke, and scamper back to work at 1:05pm. No, Pete showed me the joys of taking your time and ordering several courses. It burns up a lot of flexitime and added some padding to my still sexy physique, but this is what people mean when they say "live life to the fullest".

Binge Drinking
I love it. I love it. I love it. I love it. I love it. I love it. I love it. I love it. I love it. I love it. I love it. I love it. I love it. Then again, it's gotten me into some minor strife. Of late, I've been trying to tame the beast, but it's not something I worry about because...I love it too much. I love it too much. I love it too much.

"I hate it when I've got a good flow, I'm writing well and suddenly I have to put a character name in and suddenly everything comes to a grinding halt because I'll spend two hours trying to find the right name for this bloke who comes in with a cup of tea and walks out of the room again." – Writer Alastair Reynolds reconfirming to The Zone that art is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration.

resumption of service
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monday : 19 oct 2009

My uncle moved into his own place last Thursday. I now have this week off work to reduce my tall stack of unwatched DVDs, and hire a few new releases from the not-so-local video shop in the next suburb. If anyone's still reading this website, I hope you're doing well.

uncle installed at casa toxic
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thursday : 30 jul 2009

I've got a new flatmate. My uncle from Sydney has retired and moved to Melbourne. While he's looking for accommodation, he's staying with me. It's been bloody good, actually. He's laid back and easy going, enjoys Two and a Half Men, Family Guy and TV Burp. He also wanted to see Texas Chain Saw Massacre as well as some Japanese 'Pinky' violence. Ahem. The upshot is that I've had very minimal internet time at home. Reading Peter F. Hamilton's 1200 page, 600 gram opus The Reality Dysfunction (part one of a trilogy no less) soaks up any remaining spare time. But it's all fucken sweet!

birthday – 40.0 years old
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friday : 10 jul 2009

Thursday 11:00pm. Two score, four decades, forty years, 480 months, 2080 weeks, 14600 days, 350400 hours, 21024473 seconds, 21024473019 milliseconds, 210244730193726519487 picoseconds. That's how old I am today, July 10th 2009. Not a patch on the universe, though. The senile old cosmos is about 14 billion years old and counting. Imagine how much pension money that amounts to, or how many painful birthday morning teas one must endure at work, featuring cakes bought hurriedly that day at Coles or IGA. Groan. Anyway, I threw together this diagram to illustrate the point, namely my age and its relative insignificance. On this scale, my 40.0 Earth years might be a sub-pixel roughly half a Planck metre square...

Tonight (Thursday) on TV I watched MasterChef Australia (adios André), Rules of Engagement (Jeff cracks me up), Catalyst, and finally The Chaser's War Against Everything. Since then I've been playing some favourite music loud (Michael Jackson, Slayer, System of a Down, Spiderbait, et al) and, umm, washing the dishes.

Party. Central.

Ahem. Now, you'll be astonished to know that the perfectly sensible urge to drink heavily on the eve of one's 480th-month birthday was smothered, conquered, even...except for one shot of Smirnoff vodka. I'm not a straight vodka drinker, and therefore didn't enjoy it that much; I'd make a poor Russian comrade. I wanted to save myself for Friday night, which is not supposed to be a humongous boozing session – it's more to do with dodging the inevitable monster hangover than anything else. No thanks.

In fact, I've also been avoiding caffeine all week, and the abstinence has helped my sleeping habits by about 30%. The last time I tried this strategy bugger-all happened, so I went back to the medium cappuccino each morning, collected en route to the corporate antfarm. The coffee ritual is addictive, but I'm enjoying the quality sleep as well. Not that I'll get much on Friday evening. Oh yeah...before that, Japanese cuisine for lunch. Yeeessssss.

fair shake of the sauce bottle!
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sunday : 5 jul 2009

Michael Jackson. The King of Pop is dead? This was the first thing I heard through the radio in my Nokia mobile phone: no, it was not Green Day, an annoying commercial, or random static, but this startling news item. Ya see, for the walk to the train station that crisp morning, I'd decided to swap my dreary inner monologue for Nova FM or Triple J via the ear bud – something I'd never tried. But...MJ dead at 50? It was a surreal moment. Later, when traveling on the train, I discovered that the overhead powerlines fuck with radio frequency reception. Not to worry. Digital radio is coming soon to an antenna near you. This makes me glad that I never got around to upgrading the sound system in my scratched and dented Mazdarati.

Politics. I haven't been keeping up with current events that much. Sarah Palin resigned this week. I hope she didn't get the local bowling league confused with governing Alaska. She's got a few kangaroos loose in her top paddock, that one. Speaking of sayings, what about Kevin Rudd and his cringe-worthy refrain "fair shake of the sauce bottle"? It would have been better if he'd had another night out visiting a strip club compared to the ooopse factor of the sauce bottle. Gawd. Meanwhile, the Senator for Communications and Bullshit, Stephen Conroy, is still ploughing ahead with the internet filtering trials. His department has changed their tune and now propose to block only banned or 'refused classification' content. This has upset the religious right lobbyists, because it paves the way for R 18+ and X 18+ pornographic content, which was illegal in the previous chaotic and unfair approach. Don't get too hopeful. The government can amend the laws to say that refused classification extends much further than it does right now. A good example is the existing computer games system. Games that may have received a classification of R 18+ or X 18+ are in fact refused classification (RC) and therefore banned. You can thank the Attorney General of South Australia for keeping that insulting law in place.

Television. The only programme I chase right now is MasterChef Australia. It has the perfect blend of reality TV competitiveness, bright, personable and normal contestants, i.e. not fatties, geeks, would-be models, over achievers, or Big Brother bogans, and an educational aspect, namely the cooking. The judges Matt, George and Gary are great, as is host Sarah Wilson in her first television gig. My tip for the winner is either Chris or Poh, although Julie and Justine might get there with consistency. At first the judging bits were off-putting, as three rotund gentlemen masticated food scraps in widescreen close-up, but it's all part of the fun I suppose. Bringing back contestants who'd been kicked out was a cheat. I say tough shit, losers...heh heh heh.

Sport. Just quickly. My three football teams Australia (soccer), St Kilda (AFL), and Queensland (rugby league) have either won or are winning or should win. It just goes to show that even if you ignore your teams comprehensively and give them utterly no support – not even one synaptic blip of idle contemplation – they'll eventually rise to the top. So the lesson is: don't watch sport. If you have to indulge, NASCAR, poker, and BMX are way more stimulating.

off to brisylvania
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friday : 16 may 2009

Shock, horror. A journal update. It's not a mirage, or a drug-induced hallucination. However, it seems that only a short flight out of the state of Victoria can prompt a post here. These are brutal times, for your Humble Narrator at least, and on a number of levels.

Now, while Kevin Rudd's budget has skipped the unsung moral minority of Australia yet again, namely single blokes who binge-drink to cope with work stress, and collect imported genre DVDs to address the paucity of true 'culture' in Australia, it takes a lot more than that pissy amount of government persecution to demoralise us. Par for the course. That's the curse of being Generation X: you know much more than the previous or next generation (strangely, we like to read and learn new shit), but somehow we have far less power or visibility than either demographic.

That said, I cannot complain. Tomorrow morning I'm jumping on a jet aircraft, bound for Queensland to celebrate some birthday occasions. The new Canon digital camera I purchased last night – my first, actually – should have its 16Gb memory card filled up with 90 mins of 16:9 720p video or 9999 photos by the time I return. Maybe...

checking in
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sunday : 29 mar 2009

Hello Constant Reader. I've been ferociously busy at work in the last couple of months. This situation has eroded most of my mental energy reserves. Doing anything more complex than navigating DVD menus or paying an electricity bill tends to be left in the too-hard basket.

And for next two weeks, I'm the acting team leader of our BI project while the real team leader flies to Bangladesh for a well-earned holiday and tonnes of home-cooked meals. I know that works for Bogan the Wanderer, and it certainly works for me. For instance, the last time I was in Brisneyland, mum used me to road test her new chicken korma recipe. Needless to say, it was delicious. Mind you, this coming from someone who eats spicy Indian food at least once a week.

As for other matters, a lot has happened in the world during the last couple of weeks. There's the new digital TV station run by Channel Ten called One, which is dedicated to, umm, sports. Not my cup of sake, but there you go. Channel Nine are planning an entertainment channel, while Channel Seven will announce for their Freeview channel soon. I can guess that it'll contain children's shows and/or documentaries.

What else has happened? Labour Senator Stehpen Conroy was on Q and A the other night, swearing that mandatory internet filtering will stay within the existing "refused classification" banned content guidelines. Given that Queensland police have cracked peer-to-peer criminal activity, the need for internet filtering seems to be less vital than ever. However, he did make the useful point that it was the Liberal government who set up the original 'black list' of banned websites. In other words, it's always been the federal government's intent to close the classification loophole that the internet provides. The current shitstorm (to use Kev's term) is nothing new. My view is that the current guidelines are too restrictive to be applied to movies and magazines, let alone online material. In other words, they should stop trying to ban so much content, and simply classify it properly. After all, that's what the OFLC keep saying their role is when the question arises.

Last night I went to see the Florida death metal band Malevolent Creation at the Hi-Fi Bar. A very fine evening of extreme music was had by all. Unfortunately, the amplifiers in the venue couldn't deal with the volume levels, so there was way too much distortion. Frankenbok sounded much better (hello Yeti). Of course, this didn't stop me from spending time in the mosh pit. It felt like I was 34 all over again.

Oh yeah...the Toxic Top 5 Lists for 2008 will be posted later this week.

some of mine artwork
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monday : 16 feb 2009

Nice. I was just poking around my ancient Western Digital C:\ drive while waiting for Good Game to start, and chanced upon two scans of ink drawings I produced for my fanzine Skintomb, issue #666. Shown below are the front (Medusa) and back (Lovecraftian monster) covers respectively. I forget where the images came from. An online review page?

   

The originals were A3 in size and drawn on semi-gloss 130 GSM paper with black markers using stipple technique. This is one of the few ways you can render grey tones in black and white that don't tend to breakdown when photocopied and passed on to the printer. These days, you just e-mail high resolution scans, or draw it all digitally using a tablet. If I'd gone to art college in the 1990s, pen and ink would have been the preferred method. Some experimentation with steel nibs and India ink showed that I liked the convenience and neatness of markers (aka "Nikko" pens) much better, although the line you get with steel nibs is fantastic once you've mastered the buggers in 15 year's time. Check out the B&W art of Bernie Wrightson to see what a master of these tools can do.

I've also dabbled with sable brushes and India ink. Using this elegant combination is even harder to control than steel pens, which tend to leave blotches of wet ink that are prone to accidental smearing. However, with a brush, there's virtually no friction, so you have to glide your hand above the paper and hope that the brush touches down and lifts off in the right spots – usually at the tips of two other strokes nervously laid down earlier.

Anyway, there'll be more Roddy W. artwork appearing when I purchase a new PC and a scanner to match. Speaking of arty topics, I hope everyone caught the Leonardo DaVinci documentary on Aunty last night.

2009 – a bogan odyssey
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tuesday : 13 jan 2009

Christmas and New Years. I must have had a great time, because Your Humble Narrator put on 5.2 kgs during the month of December. So I'm officially a fat fuck. However, the weight's already coming off due to my diet retuning to its usual nightly regime of steamed vegies and 100 grams of tinned fish, albeit punctuated by voluntarily gulping down quantities of liver poison to celebrate the death-throes of 2008 and usher in the arrival of summer. On Christmas Day I was invited by a work friend for lunch at his sister's place, which just happened to be on my side of town. That lasted all the way to 10:00pm and included table tennis tournaments, tons of food, a grinning toddler, three dogs, FM radio chart favourites, and several cans of pre-mix. On New Year's Evil I decided to shun two party invitations and stay home to drink three cans of Jim Beam and cola. This was because I was totally shattered after four weeks of said indulgence; I blame the rich food, mainly. At around 10:30pm, I must have nodded off in front of the TV, only to wake at 11:30pm and notice that the front door was still open from earlier in the evening. I eventually crashed at 1:20am.

Boozing and Alcotherapy. I'm happy, overjoyed, chuffed, ecstatic, and delighted to announce that I've broken my binge drinking / hangover / recovery cycle. This decaying orbit of self-abuse had been showing signs of getting out of hand towards the end of 2008, at least relative to what I was used to. After the failure of the light beer approach – I just drank faster and still got hammered, plus it tasted average – the heavy drink followed by a chaser programme I'm on now is working fabulously. Not one hangover since the end of November 2008. Plenty of drinking still, mind you. Perhaps more often than ever before, but it's all controlled. But don't worry about your stocks in the sake industry. Me and a mate have been putting away billions of gallons of Japan's precious exported supply at least twice a week. In fact, we expect Japan's (sober) leaders to announce the beginning of a Global Sake Crisis any day now. As if things weren't bad enough.

Reading. Yep, for some reason, I've swapped alcohol binges for reading binges. And I suspect there's a tenuous connection there. With the weekly bouts of brain fog now vanquished, my head is clearing little by little each day. This has manifested itself in a voracious reading appetite. Science fiction tomes are currently providing the most nourishment after I suffered through a couple of bloody awful horror novels. I even splashed out and bought a signed, numbered, limited edition, out of print hardcover of Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan from Subterranean Press via Flea-Bay. Right now I'm barely resisting the urge to take Chasm City back to bed and let it ravish my imagination. I'd thought that a detective story (of sorts) from Alastair Reynolds might be a drag, but it's turned out to be absorbing in the best way possible, despite a few clichés here and there (you knew I'd find something to winge about, heh heh). Retail spending on books has also been on the rise this quarter, with 10 or so paperbacks now waiting to be read, purchased new and secondhand. These include some Peter F. Hamilton space opera paperbacks that could be mistaken for stone blocks left behind by the ancient Egyptians.

Movies. They've not been terribly important of late. One would think that a month of gluttony to rival the entire reign of Henry VIII should inspire nothing more strenuous than chain-watching DVDs all night after work and all weekend. This has not been the case. A few titles have lit up the Loewe picture tube, but certainly nothing has been seen in cinemas, not even Australia. Hard as that is to believe. But knowing myself fairly well, the recent bookworm cycle will give way to cinephilia before long. All it'll take is one crap novel. By the way, RIP my local video shop, which closed its doors and rolled credits forever just before December 31. Nevermind, because 2009 has to be the year that I sexually assault my backlog of censorship research and post new entries, or commit ritual suicide if I fail.

Travel. Last weekend I drove out to Moe for lunch, with drive-by looks at Beaconsfield, Warragul, Morewell, Tarralgon, and other east Victorian country hamlets. I'd heard that Moe was the bogan capital of Victoria, and was curious enough to test the theory. Upon taking the freeway exit ramp – which seems to lead right into a McDonald's – and cruising the neighbourhood, I thought Moe looked all right...you know, fairly normal. Then I arrived in the town centre. This was roughly at 12:45pm. To get to the main drag (George Street), just turn as soon as you see the "Guns and Ammo" sporting shop. I parked just across from the weed-infested train station, then went in search of any shops that were open, as well as (a) a cold beer and (b) lunch. For the brewski, I went into the pub on George Street nicknamed "The Tav". It was one of those combination bars and TAB betting outlets you only find in trendy, gentrified areas of Melbourne. I must say, though, that my pot of Boags Draught was magnificent. A short stroll brought me to a bakery that sold salad rolls. Mine featured a delicious multigrain bun, which I enjoyed heartily whilst peering through the front windows at the muscle cars growling up and down the street. I even saw a roo-shooting utility, covered in mud, just like the one in Crocodile Dundee. Amazing. I also noted that skateboarding is a popular means of transportation in Moe: good to see people in rural areas saving the environment. The residents were friendly, and came in all shapes and sizes. Sadly, it was already time to climb back into my Mazdarati (with its diminutive rear spoiler and impotent four-cylinder engine) and leave Moe behind.

Gone, but not forgotten.

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Journal entries are posted just before beddy byes unless stated otherwise. Be warned that reader comments may contain gross profanity.

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