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    Friday, 7 November 2008

    Renovator's Dream (Fuck That)

    I haven't blogged for quite a while. I almost feel like I should apologise but then I'm not sure who I'd be apologising to as I don't think anyone reads this but myself.

    The reason for my ... unblogging...ness ... is that my wife and I have been renovating our house. Well, when I say "we", I really mean "some builders have been renovating our house whilst we've been living elsewhere". The place we were staying was nice and our housemate was great but staying away from home for an extended period of time gets old pretty fast, particularly when you're not at an idyllic holiday destination AND (queue dramatic music) ... the place has no internet!! What the fuck?! Does that even happen at people's houses anymore? We're not in the Democratic Republic of Congo here.

    So anyway. No internet and then the renovations blow out from six weeks to seven, then to eight and suddenly it's almost been nine weeks before you move back in. Let's not even talk about the money. Dear God, the money.

    Here's a simile for you: Renovating is like getting all of the money you have, pushing it into a giant pile in the middle of a room and setting it on fire as you laugh like a crazy person and dance around it.

    At the end of it all, the house does look pretty damn good but fucking hell it was a painful process. There's almost no way I can see myself doing it again. Ever. I laugh at people who advertise their place for sale as a "Renovator's Dream" or even worse, "Renovator's Delight". Hahaha. See, I laugh at you, you renovating people with your dreams of delightfully renovating things. Laugh, I tell you! What a lie.

    I now feel capable of dispensing advice on the subject of renovating for those who care.
    1. Don't do it.
    2. Seriously, I see you thinking, "It can't be that bad, can it?" Yep, it sure can be. Don't do it.
    3. Fine, don't take my word for it. Do it anyway but be prepared for the following:
      • Don't expect it to take as long as the builder says it will. It will take at least two to three weeks longer, if you're lucky.
      • Don't expect it to cost as much as the builder says it will. Surprising problems will crop up. Your builder will have brainwaves for nice little additional touches that will all cost a very reasonable sum of money. Not to mention all the other people who get involved in the job who want their piece. Expect to pay a lot more.
      • Don't expect to get everything you want exactly the way you want it. Builders take shortcuts and they have a different idea of "quality work" to you.
    I have a dream, my friends... to never, ever think about renovating another house again. Please slap me if I even mention the idea of thinking about it.

    Thursday, 7 August 2008

    I Dream of Zombie(s)

    At least once a week, I dream about zombies. The setting is often different, as are the cast of characters in my dreams (including friends, family and randoms). The constant is that I'm usually working my ass off to fend off a ravening horde of shambling corpses who are all intent on eating my brain and feasting off my free range intestines.

    I've thought a lot about where these nightmares might come from. Obviously, the fact that I watch a fair few horror films doesn't help, nor does the fact I have a love/fear thing about zombies. I hate the idea of them - a painfully slow yet inescapable mass of dead people with an insatiable appetite for their ex-friends and loved ones. Of course what this means is that I like to watch movies with them even more because it adds to the scare factor.

    Yet somehow, these reasons weren't good enough - they don't explain the frequency or longevity of these dreams. So I decided to do the only sensible thing possible - consult google and other assorted dream diary websites (preferably the ones that make no mention of any particular expertise in the field of dream interpretation or psychology) for the answers.

    Here's what I found out: Nobody has any fucking clue what dreaming about zombies means.

    I hear you gasp. "No! The internet? Be unhelpful? That's impossible!" Alas, it's true. I wanted to hitch a ride on the information superhighway and instead I got run over by a truck that stole my underpants.

    For your viewing pleasure, here are some of the suggestions for reasons for zombie dreams. They include (but are not limited to):
    • Attacking a zombie can mean that you are beating yourself up for your nasty habits, e.g. drinking, smoking, etc (I don't drink or smoke);
    • It can mean that you are testing your mental and physical capabilities;
    • It can indicate that you are feeling overwhelmingly helpless, hopeless (and very possibly slightly depressed);
    • Zombie dreams tell us that we are afraid of not being in control; and finally, my personal favourite,
    • Dreaming about zombies means that you have harmed people in a previous life and they are now out for revenge. Apparently, the only way to avoid said revenge is to "shine your light" onto them (possibly a metaphor for shining a torch into the eyes of the revengeful bastards' eyes until they are disoriented enough for you to kick them in their zombie junk and then run away very fast) and admit that you are desperate to help them.
    I have to be honest and say that I'm not desperate to help anyone who turns into a zombie. At the point you start trying to eat my brains, or you succeed in eating somebody else's brains, or you don't notice if I cut off your arm, you are pretty much beyond any help I feel capable of providing.

    All of my friends and loved ones have already been informed that in the event of a zombie apocalypse and them becoming zombified, I will be the first one to blow their heads off with extreme prejudice.

    So anyway, the dream diaries and pop psychologists suck. I guess that means I'm on my own with the zombies. Ah well, at least I'll be mentally prepared for the zombie apocalypse when it comes.

    PS - It *IS* coming. Don't say I didn't warn you.

    If I Ruled the World...

    The following changes would occur:
    • 4 day working week, 3 day weekends for all! (because hey, I'm a benevolent dictator);
    • Day light savings will now be all year round (I just like it is all);
    • Chocolate would improve your fitness and tighten your abs;
    • Doctor Who seasons will consist of 40 episodes per year. David Tennant to be cloned if necessary (NB: Cloning technology to be perfected asap);
    • The scientists will give me godlike super powers, which I shall use to rule you all... benevolently;
    • World Leader (me) to be guarded by crack team of ninja pirate assassins; and,
    • Existence of aliens to be revealed to the world as a universal truth. The world's not flat and we're not alone, people!
    These items to be banned:
    • Calories in food. There will be no such thing as "bad food";
    • Zombies outside of movies (I like my brains in my head, thanks very much);
    • Women wearing shapeless baggy dresses with large belts and black tights. Sorry ladies, it's just not fashionable at all;
    • The wearing of Ugg boots as shoes in public, and/or the wearing of tights as acceptable out-of-home-or-gym pants. No. Just... no. You don't look cool. Wearing either of these things makes you look like an absolute tasteless fuckwit;
    • Almost all Reality TV. The brain melting must stop; and,
    • Petrol-driven cars. We all know the electric and water powered cars work and you bought the patents you car company BASTARDS! Stop killing our planet or I send my crack team of ninja pirate assassins to destroy you all.
    Obviously I would also cure the sick, end poverty, make hot chicks go out with geeks, bring back Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Serenity to TV and blah blah blah do all of the other good stuff that Ghandi was into... only probably better.

    One day my loyal minions, one day...

    Wednesday, 6 August 2008

    Miley Cyrus + Daniel Radcliffe = $$

    I just read an article on the Sydney Morning Herald website detailing how much Miley and Danny made in the year just past.

    Miley made $58.8 million from her concert performances earlier this year.
    Daniel has allegedly clocked in a cool $54.5 million for starring in the last two Harry Potter films.

    Now, here's my question:


    How is the average person even supposed to dream of making that much money? If you're old enough to read this and haven't earnt it already, I'm sorry to say that the ship has probably sailed for you personally, my friend. Forget about being a multi-millionaire entertainment star in your own right.

    Fear not, I have figured out the solution for the likes of us. Here's how it's done:
    When I have children, I'm so going to force them into the entertainment industry and work them to the bone until they make me ridiculously large amounts of money. They can divorce me at 18 but by then I'll be rich! RICH I TELLS YA! AhahahAHAHAHA!!

    Man, I wish I owned that Radcliffe kid...

    Thursday, 24 July 2008

    Life is Short

    Which means:
    1. You can tease it mercilessly until it develops a complex.
    2. It won't get to date tall women.
    3. You can hold it at arm's length while you kick it.
    4. It won't get to go on any of the really cool rides at amusement parks.
    5. You can do fun stuff like look over it's head and pretend not to see it standing there, trying to get your attention.
    Take that, life!

    What's the moral to the story? Don't wait around for tomorrow: Punch life in the face today.

    (Don't be scared, it has short little stumpy legs -- you can outrun it)

    Friday, 18 July 2008

    Who Watches the Watchmen?

    Me baby, me. At least, that's if I have anything to say about it.

    Watchmen was a limited series comic written by Alan Moore in 1986-7. It brought about a massive cultural shift in that it pushed the graphic novel format into the mainstream. To date, it is the only graphic novel to ever win a Hugo Award and is also the only graphic novel to have made it onto Time Magazine's list of the "One hundred best English novels from 1923 to the present" in 2005.

    I'm not going to cover the story details except to say that it is set in a dystopian alternate reality that is perilously close to nuclear warfare and follows a group of superheroes trying to discover who murdered one of the group. No way I'm saying more than that; I'm not spoiling it for you.

    Alan Moore is notoriously guarded about his projects being turned into movies. It seems that even when the adaptation is regarded as being quite a good one (V for Vendetta), Moore has done his best to distance himself from it. In fact, he refuses to have his name attached to any of his stories that have been adapted to film. In fact, he's not only had his name removed from Watchmen, he's also negotiated to have ALL of his royalties from the film go to Dave Gibbons (the artist of the original limited series) AND has refused to receive any updates on the project whatsoever. Damn!

    Well, sorry Mr. Cranky Pants Moore, but this is a film that had to be made and I, for one, am very pleased about it! After many, MANY years in limbo, the project finally got under way. It's being directed by Zack Snyder (of 300 fame), from Alex Tse's adaptation of David Hayter's screenplay.

    The trailer was released today and the film looks absolutely, gob-smackingly, jaw-droppingly amazing. Yep, I'm not going to lie -- a little bit of pee came out. Sorry but there it is.

    Check out the website for the brand spankin' new trailer and (stunning) character designs:

    I'll definitely be watching Watchmen. It's just a shame that it's so damn far away.

    Thursday, 17 July 2008

    Review: The Dark Knight

    Wow. Just... wow. The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan's sequel to the 2005 film Batman Begins, blew my cotton socks off. In general, sequels tend to fail to match the quality of the original but Dark Knight takes the original, gives it an atomic wedgie and steals its lunch money.

    Batman's first year of crime fighting in Gotham City has done wonders: The criminals are too scared to venture out at night, police and lawyer-types are actually beginning to enforce the law and Gotham's citizens are once again living in the light. In fact, things are going so well that Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is actually thinking about hanging up the bat ears because Gotham's new District Attorney and resident white knight, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) is doing what Batman can't -- take down scores of villains at a time, in the daylight.

    Unfortunately for Batman and Gotham City, the Joker (Heath Ledger) has other plans. He believes the city deserves, "a better class of criminal" and that's his specialty. The Joker is anarchy incarnate and that's what he intends to visit on Gotham City. Only Batman can stop him but he might have to break his "one rule" (He never kills) in order to do it. Of course, this is the delicious irony of the Joker's plan - it's a win/win outcome because either Gotham will fall into chaos, or its greatest hero, Batman, will break the rule and become the very thing he despises.

    Christopher and Jonathan Nolan have done an amazing job with the screenplay, crafting an intricate tale that explores the impact of Batman's existence in a real world setting. That's what makes this movie so excellent: rather than going for big comic book action and lots of special effects, The Dark Knight constantly grounds its characters in reality (apart, it must be said, from some uber Sonic technology used late in the film).

    Nolan's direction is also outstanding. This film has many more day time scenes than the last one, yet the overall tone is still dark and ominous. Although the film is long at 152 minutes, it still feels exceptionally well-paced, with virtually every scene essential to the plot. The action sequences are of a much higher standard than in the prequel, actually allowing audiences to see Batman throw down with scores of bad guys (though sadly, he's a bit less martial arty in this film). There are also some great Batmobile and Batpod (i.e. Batcycle) sequences. The sequence involving Batman and the Joker's pursuit of a police convoy escorting some very special cargo is particularly gripping.

    Nolan raises some deep and important questions in the film: Can vigilantism ever be justified? How far is it acceptable to go in order to stop "evil" of any kind? And finally, what is the true measure of a hero? Is a hero what a city, a country or the world wants, or what it needs?

    The Dark Knight's characters are rich, interesting and thoroughly engaging. Christian Bale is again excellent as Bruce Wayne/Batman, portraying the dual character believably and intensely, but he does suffer slightly from lack of screen time. My one complaint with the movie was that I would have enjoyed seeing more of both the billionaire playboy and the Batman. Aaron Eckhart is very good but not incredible as Harvey Dent. He plays the go-getting and passionate DA very well but falls just short of the intensity required of his character in the film's final act. At last we come to Heath Ledger's turn as The Joker. Two words: Fucking Amazing. If acting success is judged by how much an actor transforms into a new character, shedding their own skin and becoming the character, then Heath succeeds admirably. If he were to receive a posthumous Oscar for his performance, it would be well-deserved.

    The supporting cast are all superb, given the amount of screen time they have. Returning from the previous film, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman add credibility and weight to the film. Each plays their character in a very understated, professional manner that will leave you remembering key scenes involving each of them. The stunning Maggie Gyllenhaal brings warmth, grace and pathos to her role as Rachel Dawes. Her performance in a pivotal scene of the film involving a two-way radio conversation is particularly moving.

    I feel that I'm not doing this film enough justice in writing a review having only seen it once. It's the first movie in quite a while that I've walked away from thinking, 'Man, I don't know where to start.' I'm definitely going to have to see it again... possibly a few times. I'm going to agree with some of the other reviews I've read and say that this is the best film I've seen this year.

    What happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force? Go and see The Dark Knight and find out. You won't be disappointed.

    Sunday, 13 July 2008

    Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

    I love Joss Whedon for a multitude of reasons. He created Buffy. I loved Buffy (the character and the TV series). He had a great run as the scribe for Marvel Comics' 'Astonishing X-Men'. In addition, he has a mighty forehead. Well, you're not alone there, Joss and you know what I say - "Mighty forehead, mighty brain."

    Yes, that's right, all of you people with a full and luxurious head of hair, you heard me. It only shows how dumb you all are! My brain is so massive that it needed to push the hair out of my forehead to provide me with the extra cooling and heating required to safely power such an awe-inspiring marvel! AhahahAhaHaHAHAHAhaHaHA!

    *ahem* So anyway, Joss Whedon. I love his writing style and have always found the ideas he plays with to be really interesting and well thought out. That's why I'm very much looking forward to his new series, 'Dollhouse' (Well, the fact that it stars the delectable Eliza Dushku doesn't hurt either), which premieres in January 2009.

    Unfortunately, that's a very long time to wait for Whedon-written watching material. Fortunately, we will soon have our Whedon appetite whetted by an interesting little online project called 'Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog'.

    I really don't know too much about the storyline at present, except that it's a comedic musical starring Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion, about a mad scientist (Harris) attempting to finally get the upper hand on his adversary (Fillion). Sounds fun!

    What makes this production truly unique is that it will be available for a first viewing online at no cost to the viewer! The three parts will go up on the website on Tuesday July 15th, Thursday July 17th and Saturday July 19th respectively. If you happen to miss them, don't fret as there are plans for them all to go up together later on, as well as an eventual DVD release.

    Here's the website in question:

    Having seen the musical episode of Buffy, 'Once More With Feeling' and having read/watched a lot of his writing, I think this is going to be great fun. I'm excited to see something truly... Horrible!

    Saturday, 12 July 2008

    King Leer

    Well played, sir. Well played. Kudos to you, Big Brother. Whilst the majority of your recent publicity stunts ("twists", "surprise" evictions, "surprise" invaders, "surprise" prize money) have done nothing to tempt me (in fact, if anything, they've made me want to watch even less), your latest ploy had me watching despite myself.

    I've tried very hard not to be a Big Brother watcher this season but I have to ashamedly admit that I was hooked in by the recent Pamela Anderson visit to the house.

    Why did I inflict this horror upon myself? It wasn't really to do with Pamela Anderson herself per se, although 14 years ago I thought she was about the hottest thing on the planet, but rather, how I thought the boys in the house would react to her.

    In general, I feel a bit sorry for us men. Most of us see any cleavage whatsoever and immediately lose track of what we're doing and why we're doing it. We gawk, open-mouthed as our brain pops out for a quick beer. Don't get me wrong - it's definitely not something I condone but it IS something I definitely have to laugh at.

    It's even more humorous when you see a guy desperately trying not to look at something he desperately wants to look at. The amount of strain the hapless male is under as he tries to do two totally opposite things at the same time makes it look like there's two sources of gravity at work on his eyes. It's even funnier when the guy in question thinks he's being really subtle about it.

    Having watched the show's opening night (another admission), I had a fairly strong suspicion that the majority of the boys in the house were massive perverts and I thought Pammy might be the true test of just how dumb boys can be around blonde hair and/or big boobs.

    As it turned out, watching Pam's entrance into the house proved to be as hilarious as I had suspected it might be - pretty much all of the boys falling over themselves trying with all of their might not to look at Ms. Anderson's impressive cleavage, whilst simultaneously being compelled against their will to do so. So who was the worst? Cherry gets my vote for 'King Leer' due to his general creepiness and his sleazy attitude towards all of the girls, not just Pam.

    I can't say it was Shakespeare, but for the first time this year, a few minutes of Big Brother actually managed to entertain me. Who knows - maybe the bawdy bard himself might have been lost for words in Pam's presence? Somehow, I doubt it.

    Thursday, 10 July 2008

    'The Dark Knight' or 'Why I'm Going to Feel Sorry For Bec Next Thursday Night'

    Next Thursday sees the release of Christopher Nolan's 'The Dark Knight', possibly my most anticipated movie of the year, which is saying something in a year that has already seen a new Indiana Jones movie (Damn good, bad work with the monkeys though, Spielbergo & Co), 'Iron Man' (awesome) and 'The Incredible Hulk' (mean and green, the way I like it), amongst numerous other films.

    By all accounts the movie is amazing in all departments, easily exceeding the original. Indeed, Kevin Smith has already touted it as being as good a sequel as 'Godfather II' was to its prequel on his blog ( and one of my favourite reviewers, Garth Franklin over at Dark Horizons ( has gone apeshit mental, suffered a brain explosion and suggested that it's the best movie of the year so far, or possibly of the year full stop.

    In short, it appears that this movie has been created to rock my fucking socks off. Although I try not to overly hype movies before I see them these days, for fear of being let down, I am finding it very difficult not to get psychotically worked up about 'The Dark Knight'.

    Why is this leading me to feel sorry for my beautiful wife? Well, several reasons:
    1. She often sits patiently through my explanations of why this episode of 'Doctor Who' was cool, how well-written 'Battlestar Galactica' is and what's happening in this month's issue of 'Amazing Spider-Man'. She does all this despite having no personal interest whatsoever in these subjects.
    2. She's coming to the movie next Thursday with a bunch of geeks who are realistically going to be behaving like giddy schoolgirls before, after and during the movie. Not a cool move for anyone with a modicum of self-respect, which she has.
    3. She has to sit next to me during the movie and try her best to block out my continual little squeals of delight or, better still, try to pretend like she doesn't know me.
    4. I'll probably hold her hand during the movie and, I'm not going to lie, I tend to get pretty sweaty hands when I'm watching a movie I'm engrossed in. Even worse, I sometimes squeeze too tightly when I'm excited.
    So to my lovely, immensely patient and very understanding wife, I apologise profusely in advance for the wet and broken hand that you're more than likely going to have next Thursday night. Batman made me do it!

    Wednesday, 9 July 2008

    Facebook "Friend" Sluts defines "Popularity" as "The quality or state of being popular, especially the state of being widely admired, accepted, or sought after."

    In times gone by, the poor folk who came before us probably found it difficult to judge how popular they truly were. They would have had to rely on old fashioned things such as seeing how many people actually came to their birthday party/night out, etc, or how often they received invitations to such social events from others.

    Thank god those "Dark Ages" are behind us. Now we don't need to wonder about such things as the marvels of modern technology have given us the means to truly, empirically determine how widely admired we are: enter the Facebook Friends List.

    When I was younger, even as little as ten years ago, I judged how many friends I had by the number of people I regularly associated with and how much I felt we mutually enjoyed each other's company. Now, the Facebook phenomenon has shown me how truly paltry my understanding of the terms "friendship" and "popularity" was.

    Apparently, in this wondrous new age of ours, somebody can be your Facebook friend if they've met you once at a party or a nightclub for two minutes. Once this person has "befriended" you, they don't ever need to communicate with you in any way, shape or form - it's enough to know that the two of you are "friends".

    Here I was thinking that you actually needed to get to know someone AND that you needed to want to know more about them, or at least wanted to spend more time in their immediate company to be their friend! How sadly wrong I was.

    Facebook has told me that I am not as popular as my sister. In fact, I'm less than 1/3 as popular as she is (I must say this is actually the truth, she is annoyingly well-loved). Yet one of our mutual friends has over 1200 Facebook "friends" - easily double my sister's number.

    My self image has been shattered. My thought that perhaps I was a reasonably popular person was clearly a delusion. I have become the mad cow I once feared eating. People must have been LOL'ing at me for so long now; LOL'ing at the unpopular loser.

    I have to somehow regain my popularity and thereby, my self-esteem. What's a mad cow to do? Well, as someone much smarter than myself once said, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." In the past, I had thought only to befriend people on Facebook that I felt truly close to but I can see now how silly that was of me.

    I have to adapt to meet the needs of this popularity yardstick. From this point forward, I vow to become a Facebook Friend Slut. If I've spoken to you for long enough to know your name, consider me your friend. If I worked with you 12 years ago for a week when I did work experience, I shall poke you. If you are a foreign exchange student who went to my school in kindergarten for three days, we will rekindle our friendship. Finally, to those of you who I've heard about in passing from friends and family, I offer you my e-love.

    The only downside of all this is that I'll probably be too busy tracking down and befriending people to see my friends in real life. Ah well, it's a small price to pay for popularity.

    Tuesday, 8 July 2008

    Californication, Season One


    Fuck! I hate this show. I hate it because it is so ridiculously amazing that I have watched the first season twice through now and already want to watch it again. I hate it because as a very wannabe writer, it's achieved so much of what I'd love to accomplish.

    If you've been hiding under your rock (Go out! Stand in the sun, laugh at the petrol prices), or didn't watch the show because you were afraid of the show's "steamy" nature (Tsk tsk, we're livng in the naughties people, it's okay to watch swearing and sex on TV now), or you just plain ol' managed to miss the show because of other commitments (Your priorities are askew), here's the gist:

    Hank Moody (David Duchovny) is a best-selling novelist who hasn't written a word in years. He also missed the boat on his beautiful ex-girlfriend Karen (Natascha McElhone), who is now engaged to the slighty douchebag-y Bill (Damian Young). Hank is doing his darndest to avoid both of these issues by living to excess, sex and alcohol being the main poisons of choice. Also, despite being immensely charming, witty and intelligent, he is way, way too painfully honest for his own good. He's as subtle as a porn star's boob job and not likely to change his ways anytime soon.

    Hank and Karen's precocious twelve year old daughter, Becca (Madeleine Martin) still loves him and his best friend and agent, Charlie (Evan Handler) still puts up with his shit, but the clock is probably ticking on both of those relationships too and Hank knows it.

    Then Hank meets and is seduced by a beautiful girl (Madeline Zima) in a book store and they have punchy sex. Really punchy sex. This is a good thing because it finally gets Hank writing again. Unfortunately, the bad may outweigh the good: the girl is actually Mia, Bill's daughter. And Bill's daughter is only 16 years old.

    Duchovny won an Emmy in 2007 for his portrayal of Hank and deservedly so. I've thought he was fantastic ever since the first episode of the X-Files, so I guess I'm not a hard sell, but in my humble and absolutely non-hyperbolic opinion, he was born for this role. He portrays the character with so much depth and realism that it's difficult to remember at times that it is just a character and not that friend that almost all of us have tucked away somewhere - you know, the one you love but want to kill at the same time.

    The rest of the main cast are equally great, given the amount of screen time and characterisation they get. Each character is well-realised and unique, bringing something different and essential to the show. I can't single out any one other actor for particular praise above the others because they all put in such a solid effort.

    The writing is good. Heaps good. Gooder even than mine, for seriously. I think it all stems from the simple yet delicious concept of the show - the writing team are obviously in love with their characters and content and it shows. They combine outstanding adult humour with genuinely poignant scenes, as well as the occasional naughty moment, in just the right balance of each. Direction and cinematography are also excellent.

    So does it have any flaws? Any chinks in the armour for you to complain about so that you can pull the show down and feel superior? A few, but they're more my problems than the show's: 1) At only 28 minutes apiece, each episode is ridiculously short and always leaves you wanting so much more; 2) It's definitely adults only (not actually a problem for me at all but don't say I didn't warn you); and, 3) The first season is only 12 episodes long. ARGH!

    Thank Zeus's girdle, it's been renewed by Showtime and will be coming back for a second season.

    If you want to be challenged by a TV show, if you're looking for inspiration in your own writing, or if you just want to remind yourself why 'Big Brother' isn't real entertainment, watch this series. Better still - buy the DVDs so you can watch it repeatedly!

    I want to marry this show but, failing that, I guess I'll just have to settle for watching it again. Such is life.

    Sunday, 6 July 2008

    Baby Olivia VS Me

    Dear Baby Olivia,

    I have begun to notice a severe gap between the way we are viewed and treated by society. This is not fair. This is "discriminatory", which is a big person's word meaning "I'm annoyed that I don't have it as good as you and I'm going to complain about it."

    I won't stand for it, Baby Olivia. You may be only 6 months old but your extreme and continuous flaunting of these differences has to stop.

    You: Get to sleep all day and people think that's cute.
    Me: Sleep all day and get owned by Wife for not having done chores/contributed to society/washed, etc.

    You: Get fed whenever you cry about being hungry.
    Me: Go hungry whenever I cry about not being fed.

    You: Talk nonsensically about nothing in particular and get praised for it.
    Me: Make many pithy jokes, witty remarks and excellent puns, only to receive whithering looks of un-appreciation.

    You: Put on 1.5kg in 6 weeks and people applaud how big you are getting.
    Me: Look at an ice cream and get reminded that I really need to go to the gym a bit more.

    You: Have more hair than me already.
    Me: Shut up. I'm not doing this anymore.

    End this now, Baby Olivia. Let us have peace in our time. If not, this means war.

    I don't know how to tell you this but...

    Your fly is open.

    Well, probably not YOURS. Although it's possible. You might want to check it out anyway, just in case.

    Yesterday, I met one of the builders who is going to be working on a small job for me. He was a great guy, very friendly, chatty and most importantly, he liked the dog. You HAVE to like the dog, or you don't get the job.

    A few minutes into the visit, the builder leaned up against a wall nonchalantly and my eyes suddenly felt tugged, compelled downwards, towards the crotch region. The gaping maw of the open fly welcomed me with smiling, steely teeth. I wrenched my eyes away as soon as possible, profusely praising the inventor of underpants as I did so.

    So now I find myself in the strange position I'm sure everyone has been in at some time or another - (deep breath) I know something you don't know and I'm sure that you'd want to know but I'm not so sure that you'd want me to know.

    Is there an agreed rule of social etiquette in this kind of situation? Because some people do want to know, and they're glad you let them know you know, so that they know now. But some others say no, no thanks, I'm not happy you know and now I wish I'd known earlier.

    I think I'm in the "want to know" category. Tell me my fly is undone, please. Thank you for informing me that I have a giant glowing red zit in the centre of my forehead. I welcome the fact that you've been brave enough to inform me of the sushi roll stuck between my teeth. If you tell me, we can be a bit embarrassed but then share a hearty laugh. If you don't, it could potentially lead to embarrassment on a much larger scale, involving many more people laughing at me.

    However, I'm not so sure that I'm in the "want to tell you" category. What if you don't take it well? What if you shoot the messenger? What if you're doing this intentionally to spark a new fashion trend and I'm being so passe not knowing what you're doing? And the biggest 'What If?' of all - what happens if you do know about it but either can't do anything to fix it OR don't see it as a problem?

    I don't believe in stereotypes buuuut ... we all know builders are a notoriously angry breed of people. Bearing that in mind, I chose not to choose life. I chose not to tell my builder his fly was undone. I thought about it, I really did. Unfortunately, when I was playing the scenario out in my mind, one of the early possibilities for the scene's conclusion involved the builder asking me why I was looking at his crotch anyway and then punching me in mine.

    Did I take the coward's way out? No, I don't think so. In fact, I was actually pretty brave. I might even go so far as to say courageous. I heroically didn't say anything, despite desperately wanting to, because I was thinking of the builder. I valiantly spared him an awkward social moment, selflessly prolonging my own awkward social moment in the process.

    It turns out that sometimes not telling is the bravest thing of all.

    Thursday, 3 July 2008


    There are many important questions that mankind has grappled with since we first laid an opposable thumb on a large enough stick to be able to effectively whack another person over the head. Questions such as, 'Why are we here?', 'Is there a God?' and 'Where the fuck did that sock/pen/set of keys go, I left them here two seconds ago?!' have boggled our minds and been the source of much philosophical debate.

    Today a new question dawned on me in what I like to call "My thinking sphere" -- the shower. The question was, 'Why do I want to read/hear spoilers about TV shows and films I'm looking forward to watching?' I'm sure this is a question that has plagued many of you for some time now. Let us delve together. If you have delving pants, now is the time my friend.

    I think we can safely say that there is one group of people above all others who love the spoiler - nerds or geeks. I can safely talk about this group of people without fear of retribution for three reasons:
    1) I'm a card carrying geek myself.
    2) I'm bigger than most of the geeks or nerds that I know. (Note: I'm not implying that I'm a better fighter, just that nerds are timid by nature)
    3) In the event of a bigger, angrier nerd actually trying to fight me, I'm just fit and fast enough to run away.

    So why do nerds such as myself spend hour after hour trawling the information stupor highway for news that is going to ruin the movie/TV show/book etc that they've been looking forward to seeing for days/weeks/months? Doesn't it ruin the experience, taking away the excitement of all the twists and turns to come?

    The only way I can really answer the question is to think about myself. Over the last two weeks, I have been a veritable spoiler fiend, hunting tenaciously for any and all spoilers for the two-part Doctor Who finale ending this week. Every time I find a new piece of news, my heart flutters excitedly, reaching a crescendo of rapid beats as I digest the tasty brain morsel and then, ten seconds later, it hits. Buyer's remorse.

    I feel kind of guilty and dirty that I've potentially ruined a sublime moment of entertainment for myself. I tell myself I won't do it again. I try to do something else. But the internet is right there, it's so inviting, it calls to me, yearns for me. I am compelled to look again. It's exactly the same problem I have with chocolate. So.... tasty.... can't stop eating...

    How can I keep doing it to myself? Why do I keep doing it? Here's what I've come up with:
    • I have a somewhat obsessive personality. If I find something I'm interested in, I want to know everything about it.
    • I like to complete what I start. No matter how bad a movie/book/TV show was, if I start it, I like to see it through to the end. I watched every episode of the new 'Bionic Woman' TV series for that very reason, so that should be a pretty good indication of my dedication to completeness.
    • I like to feel like a pop culture detective. I try to put together all of the pieces and finish the puzzle before I watch the show so that I can say, 'Ha! I KNEW that was going to happen!' These moments make me feel happy and happiness is good for you. (Yes, I am one of those annoying people who figures out the twist before you do and then gives you a knowingly wry yet piteous smile as you figure it out a few seconds after me)
    • I like to feel superior sometimes. There, I said it. I'll admit it. You should too, it'll make you feel better.

    At a guess, I'd say that most spoiler hounds pursue spoilers for any or all of the reasons above. In this crazy, messed up world in which we live, it's nice for the average nerdling to know something that others don't and who among us can fault them for it? Not I. I'm not about the judging (remember?)!

    A blog about spoilers wouldn't be complete without actually including spoilers of some kind. So here you go, the top five film moments* that would absolutely suck to have spoiled for you:
    5) The chick in 'The Crying Game' is actually a dude.
    4) The chick in 'Ace Ventura' is actually a dude. But luckily not in real life, because I found Sean Penn to be hot.
    3) 'Vanilla Sky' was aaaaall just a dream.
    2) Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father.
    1) Bruce Willis is a ghost, you know the movie. Suck it if you haven't watched it yet.

    If I've just ruined any of these movies for you, I don't apologise. In fact, YOU should apologise to me. Your lack of trivial knowledge offends me. Stop wasting time and go immediately and begin living your life - watch these movies back to back, preferably with a large bucket of popcorn at your side.

    *Disclaimer: Okay, so this isn't a definitive list but it's pretty damn good for one I knocked up off the top of my head in under five minutes.

    Being (Ironically) Awesome is Awesome

    NRL. Football. The Game of Champions. Gladiatorial Warfare. Where men are men and women are spectators. Nothing excites me more than NRL and football season is truly a time of wonder and joy in my life. The fights, the tights, the kicks and chips and above all, thirty really big, sweaty men hugging and humping each other in an effort to touch each other's balls (sorry, too obvious I know, but I just couldn't resist!).

    Oh wait, no I don't. Do I? Let me give it some more thought. Nope...... definitely not, as it turns out. I realise that stocks in my masculinity are going to plummet after saying this, but I really get nothing out of watching an NRL game. I won't say I've NEVER found one exciting but as a general rule, I tend to find the games a bit repetitive and dull.

    So why, then, am I doin' the blog thang and talking about NRL? Well, it's like this: The majority of (male) teachers at my school love a bit of footy and set up a Footy tipping competition for this season. I was asked to join and thought that I'd better, being the uber masculine, Rambo-esque, gun-totin', car-lovin', boobs man that I am.

    When the MEN come to school on Monday and engage me in post-game match analysis, I stare blankly at them and nod, laugh and mutter generic words of agreement and platitude (as required). I just don't have the heart to tell them that I have no idea what they're talking about. I hardly know what the positions are, let alone how many tries Diesel Tightpants scored in the second half. Oh, that's a great name. File that away for later!

    The reason I don't have the heart to break this news to my fellow tipsters is because I am, as it turns out, ironically awesome at football tipping. Against all reason and probability, I am currently sitting in 2nd place in the tipping competition, one off the lead. Word on the street is that I may just take it home. They ask me how I pick my winners. I change the subject. Should I tell them that I use divination? That I read the entrails of small birds, soothsayer style? Witchcraft? The power of prophecy? Dumb luck?

    I'm not sure that any of those responses would make the boys particularly happy. So it will have to be our little secret for the time being.

    The real irony is that if I actually cared about NRL or winning the competition at all, I probably wouldn't be doing half as well as I am. It's awesome to be (ironically) awesome at footy tipping.

    Sunday, 22 June 2008

    Doctor Who: Turn Left

    What would happen to a world, even a universe, without the Doctor? Today's episode of Doctor Who, 'Turn Left' by Russel T. Davies, explores that very idea. As it turns out, the answer is "Not very well at all!"

    The Doctor (David Tennant) and Donna (Catherine Tate) are exploring a bazaar on the (presumably) distant planet of Shan Shen that appears to be distinctly Chinese in origin, when Donna gets sidetracked and enters a fortune teller's den on a whim. At this point the fortune teller, in league with a giant time-sucking cockroach (No, I'm not joking), takes Donna back in time to change a simple decision that ends up changing not only her fate but the fate of the universe itself (and perhaps every universe). Only Donna, with the dimension-hopping Rose's help, can set things right.

    The episode explores a question that's been asked time and again in popular culture: What If? In this regard, tonight's episode is certainly nothing novel. Main character changes a simple decision (in this case, turning right instead of left). Main character's life changes. Character's whole world changes around him/her, until they can somehow set things to rights. Yada yada, you know the drill.

    Despite being nothing new, the question is always an interesting one. My guess is that this is because we all ask ourselves the same question regularly, always wondering what might have happened had we taken a trip down the road less traveled. However, as Donna discovers in tonight's episode, the alternate route is sometimes perhaps best left untrodden.

    What makes this episode interesting is the deeper insight into Donna's character. I can't say I've been a particularly big fan of her as the Doctor's companion (I've preferred Rose and Martha, and harboured secret hopes for a Sally Sparrow spin in the TARDIS), though I must say she's definitely exceeded my expectations this season. The writers have brought a depth to the screaming idiot audiences were first introduced to in the Who Christmas Special, 'The Runaway Bride'. Her time this season has revealed a softer, more insightful side to the character that I have grown to like almost despite myself.

    Certainly, the scenes with her grandfather, Wilfred Mott (Bernard Cribbins), and mother, Sylvia (Jacqueline King), have added an extra dimension to the humanity of the character. Cribbins is outstanding as Donna's grandfather, bringing pathos and a palpable sense of love for his "granddaughter" to every scene. King, on the other hand, makes Donna that much more sympathetic by being so unknowingly cold and unpleasant.

    Of course, the big bad news for the episode was the return of the Bad Wolf herself, Miss Rose Tyler (Billie Piper). Who fans rejoice, as everyone's favourite companion returns to the show with a kick ass attitude and inside knowledge of the coming darkness. She didn't disappoint in this episode, more than meeting the anticipation her return has generated. Piper brought a more dangerous, more experienced edge to the character in this episode than we've seen previously, leaving me hungering for more.

    This was a good episode but not an amazing one (apart from the last minute - Fantastic!). The story was reasonably well-written and certainly ably executed by cast and crew. Ultimately, the unimaginative premise of the episode (What If?) left a little to be desired, I think largely because the end was a foregone conclusion - we all already knew that a universe without the Doctor to keep the darkness at bay would be a terrible place indeed!

    The trailer for next week's episode, 'The Stolen Planet', was a fanboy's dream that had me jumping out of my seat. Seeing EVERYONE from the first 3 seasons come back, including Sarah Jane AS WELL as Ianto and the divine Gwen from the Torchwood team... well, let's just say I'll be watching it a few times as I salivate for next week's episode.

    I want to be watching it now! Where's a TARDIS when I need one?!

    [Image courtesy of the Doctor Who BBC website:]

    Friday, 20 June 2008

    Apple Store Openings

    I just finished watching a news report about hordes of lunatics queuing up for hours (and in some cases sleeping outside in the middle of Winter) for the privilege of being amongst the first customers to enter Apple's new flagship store on George St in the Sydney CBD.

    I might possibly understand this behaviour if any of the following conditions had applied:
    • Many wondrous prizes of limited availability but amazing worth were promised,
    • New and interesting products went on sale at the opening, such as Apple's new Iphone,
    • Every customer received some kind of sexy thank you gift for attending (Sorry, lame promotional shirts need not apply),
    • Unicorns were present at the opening, shooting rainbows out of their diamond horns at customers.
    As far as I can tell, none of this actually happened. Particularly not the unicorns. Lame, Apple, lame.

    I'm not big on being judgey (okay, actually, I love it) but it seems like an awfully big waste of time to me. Why bother? To say you... went to a store... before some other people... and didn't buy anything? Seriously?

    Come ON, people! Do something worthwhile and interesting with your lives! Do what I do - spend several hours a day watching people hurting themselves on YouTube. Now THAT'S excitement.

    Thursday, 19 June 2008

    Midnight Redux

    Upon reflection, I have realised that there was something that didn't sit well with me in last week's Doctor Who episode, 'Midnight'. The ending.

    The episode's villain psychically takes control of the Doctor's mind. From what we know of the Doctor via previous experience and from what we can see on Tennant's very expressive face, I think the audience is meant to assume that the Doctor is fighting a battle against this being in his mind, giving everything he's got.

    Showrunner and writer Russel T. Davies has made quite a point of the Doctor's own psychic abilities over the last few seasons. He has shown the Doctor using his mental abilities to unlock another person's memories ('Girl in the Fireplace') and to awaken new senses (allowing Donna to hear the Oodsong in 'Planet of the Ood'). He has even shown the Doctor using psychic power to levitate, project force fields, telekinetically disarm the Master and so on ('Last of the Time Lords'), albeit with the help of the entire human race.

    Given all of this, and always remembering that the Doctor is (within his mythology) possibly the most resourceful and determined being in the universe, it seems very strange that the episode should end NOT with the Doctor winning the psychic battle but rather, with the unnamed Hostess valiantly sacrificing herself for the good of a group of people who she didn't know and who treated her with no care or compassion whatsoever.

    Obviously, this ending was chosen simply because it provided a cheap and dirty way of pulling at our heart strings. It might have worked if not for River's sacrifice the week before, which was one hundred times more emotive, largely because it was realistic to (what we know of) that character.

    The Doctor loves life and he doesn't kill... unless he really, really needs to. How much more interesting this episode might have been if RTD had shown the Doctor reversing the psychic control at the last moment and forcing the entity out of the "truck" NOT because it had necessarily been unrelentingly evil but out of a need for self-preservation. How much more might the ending have resonated with audience if we'd been left with the image of the Doctor alive but shaken to the core by the experience, questioning his morals?

    This ending would also have heightened the dramatic irony of the episode significantly as it would have strongly juxtaposed the Doctor's earlier moralising about their rising hostility to a new life form. It also would have provided the perfect opportunity for another "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry" moment for the Doctor.

    Leonardo Di Cap(tain America)rio?

    Word on the street (God, I am so amazingly cool for using such "hip" lingo) is that Leonardo Di Caprio is being strongly considered for the titular role of Captain America, slated for release on May 6, 2011.

    In one sense I can see a similarity between Leo and Cap. That being, they both fell into some really cold water and got very, very cold. Cap survived this and went on to become the ass-kickin', uber-patriotic, super-soldier serum powered badass we have come to know and love today. Leo, on the other hand, died. Holding hands. With a girl.

    As far as I know, Cap doesn't hold hands but if he does, I'm sure it's only because he's playing an angle - he's just looking for some Nazi or super powered, or super powered Nazi scumbag to take down and he's holding hands as cover.

    Yes, I'm certain that Leonardo could do a fine job as the scrawny, pre-serum Steve Rogers (Captain America's alter ego) but there's NO WAY he can believably fill out Cap's red, white and blue spandex. So the director would be forced to pad him out ridiculously, computer generate Cap, or let paper-thin Leo run around as Cap.

    I'm all for getting great actors to play these parts, rather than just the big guy who LOOKS the part, as would have no doubt been the case if this movie had been made in the late 80s or early 90s. However, I'm sure there are some great choices out there for the part from actors who could look, as well as act, the part.

    Supernatural's Jensen Ackles, anyone? (Hmmm, I'm not gay but..... so dreamy! Yes, I have a man crush.)

    Wednesday, 18 June 2008


    'Midnight', written by Russel T. Davies, the 10th episode of Doctor Who's 2008 season, mixes up the typical 'Who' formula by pulling back on the SFX and concentrating on thrills and spills of the more psychological kind.

    The Doctor (David Tennant) and Donna (Catherine Tate) head to the planet Midnight for a relaxing vacation after the traumatic events of the previous (brilliant) episodes. Of course, nothing's ever straightforward in the Doctor's world. Spending holiday time in Samoa or the Hamilton Islands just isn't good enough for the restless Time Lord. Instead, he chooses Midnight, a barren, diamond-covered planet circling an Xtonic star. I know what you're thinking. And you're wrong. 'Xtonic' isn't the latest X-TREME sports drink that rehydrates you TO THE MAX! It's a type of radiation that vaporises all biological life on contact... to the X-TREME.

    Resting by the pool is Donna's idea of a good time but the Doctor is never happy without an adventure and so off he goes on a "tour bus" with a "random" (i.e. carefully chosen cross-section of society) assortment of fellow holidaymakers to see a diamond waterfall.

    Just as the small group are starting to get comfortable, the inevitable happens and ... something takes out the bus's driver before starting a game of knock-and-run that takes a turn for the worse in very short order. Somehow, the something gets inside and takes control of one of the passengers, Sky Silvestri (the excellent Leslie Sharp) and the real game begins.

    The entity in Sky starts by mimicking what the other passengers are saying (all of them). Even more eerily, it's gradually getting faster until it's speaking in time with them, leaving the Doctor to wonder what comes next. The Doctor is intrigued but the other passengers are slightly less so. So much slightly less so, in fact, that they propose a good ol' fashioned plank walkin' for the unfortunate lass.

    At this point, the episode shifts into gear and goes from average to great. One of the Doctor's greatest talents is his ability to inspire others, to lift them above their usual expectations or constraints so that they become capable of extraordinary things. However, inside the truck, with paranoia and fear on the rise, the Doctor's asset becomes his weakness as the other passenger's distrust focuses on him instead.

    Generally, I'm not the biggest fan of Davies' WHO episodes. I greatly admire his overall vision and enthusiasm for Doctor Who but sometimes his great and grand ideas fall into the realm of the slightly camp or even the utterly ridiculous - last year's Christmas Special, 'Voyage of the Damned' being the perfect example. Robot angels, self-sacrificing fat people, a bad guy who looked suspiciously like a fork lift with a human head? Ummm, no thanks!

    However, this episode was very nicely written. The Doctor is almost always in control - cool, calm and collected, no matter the manner of menace. So to be able to convincingly show him in a situation that he can't contain, that is spinning out of control at an exponential rate, was both interesting and thrilling. To see the Doctor actually showing fear was another step entirely. As an avid WHO-lover since my childhood, it was actually quite alarming seeing the Doctor scared because if he's scared, you know it's got to be terrifying! Kudos to RTD for being able to build such a simple concept into something so dark and intriguing. I've read that he knocked this script out in a weekend... if that's the case, as an aspiring screenwriter, I'm in awe.

    I can't finish without mentioning the acting in this episode. The majority of the supporting cast were fine, if not outstanding, in their broad brush stroke roles. Leslie Sharp (as Sky Silvestri) did a truly magnificent job as the unnamed villain of the episode. At one point the Doctor says to Sky, "You need my help? Oh, I'd love to believe that... but your eyes..." Her eyes say it all. Darkness and malevolence in abundance. David Tennant was the stand out for me, though. In the final stages of the episode, when his character is effectively speechless, the level of emotion and expressiveness in his face and eyes was unbelievable. May he travel time and space as the Doctor forever!

    All in all, a very simple idea that was well executed and proved to be an unexpected but thoroughly enjoyable change of pace for a show that occasionally (as much as I hate to say it) forgets that the Doctor is the thinking wo/man's hero and that's why we love him!

    Molto bene!

    What the f**k is (The) Happening?

    Tonight's Tight Arse Tuesday viewing was M. Night Shyamalan's latest homage to Hitchcock, "The Happening". I won't bore you (or myself) with plot or full cast details as I'm sure you can probably find out for yourself, or you already know. If not, Wikipedia (The Oracle) has the answers.

    'The Happening' left me thinking. Unfortunately, it did not leave me thinking about things like, "Oh my god, what are we doing to our planet?" or "Truly, we must treat our friends, the trees, more respectfully." or even, "Wow, in our great hubris we have destroyed nature, it's only fair that it return the favour." This is a shame for two reasons: 1) Because I believe these are the things Mr. Shyamalan probably wanted me to take from the movie; and, 2) They are undoubtedly important lessons to learn.

    What the movie actually left me thinking was, "What the hell happened to M. Night?" His first movie, 'The Sixth Sense' stands as one of my favourite movies of all time. It is scary, thought-provoking, interesting and consistently tense. As someone who dreams of being a full-time screenwriter sometime in the future, this is a screenplay I could only dream of writing. The idea and the execution of it were immaculate.

    By contrast, 'The Happening' is none of those things. Well, okay, that's probably slightly harsh. It does have some atmospheric scenes (the first 3 minutes are genuinely disturbing), as well as one or two other moments of glory (Mark Whalberg's story about the girl in the pharmacy) but overall, the movie is terrible.

    One of the first rules of good movie writing, so I am reliably told is "Show, don't tell." Shyamalan appears to have forgotten this rule when writing 'The Happening'. His characters say, "I'm frightened" when they are frightened. They say, "I want to be with you" when they want to be with you. Well, not you personally but you get the point. One of the supporting characters even says at one stage, "He's very resourceful, isn't he?" to the female love interest (Zooey Deschanel, phoning it in) about Marky Mark. At this point, thankfully, M. Night shows us that yes indeed, Marky Mark IS resourceful.

    The end result is a potentially interesting concept with a smattering of suspenseful scenes that is let down by the execution in almost all departments. Simplistic writing, lazy directing and very average acting all combine to leave a very poor taste in my mouth. Obviously I can't speak for everyone who might go and see this movie but certainly the two friends who were unfortunate enough to share the journey with me, T and D, shared my feelings.

    M. Night, what's changed? What happened to you? If his latest movie is any indication, he has no idea either...

    Tuesday, 17 June 2008

    This Blog is...

    • definitely going to consist predominantly of my own opinions on a variety of subjects. They won't be educated opinions. You won't have asked me to express them. I will offer them based purely on my idea of my own self-importance.
    • probably not going to interest anyone but myself.
    • possibly not going to get updated very often.
    • unlikely to be informative or insightful in any capacity. If it happens to occasionally turn out to be either of these things, I assure you now it will be through no intention of my own.
    So, as it turns out, it seems like this blog fits nicely within the parameters of most blogs and therefore, has earned its right to exist on the internet.

    Welcome! Allons-y!