Monday, August 25, 2003
In happier news...
Alix and Dave got married in Townsville on the weekend. Now more than ever I wish we'd been there, but we couldn't make it. But ChrisT and der Simonster went, so I will be following up with them for a full report as soon as possible. From what I hear, though, the weather was pleasant (as opposed to here, where it was utterly appalling) and the crowd were in fine form.
Hope you had a wonderful day, Miz Alix. And I hope all the cold, wet, miserable storms that have been lashing the southeastern coast over the past couple of days have well and truly burned themselves out by the time you have the second ceremony in Wellington next weekend.
After last week's exploration of the much-hyped-but-actually-actual advantages of shopping the Amazon way, I took a look at Ebay as well over the weekend. And immediately started bidding on stuff. And have just won a bid for a secondhand set of the recently-outdated 3rd Edition D&D books. Backup copies of the books is something we've needed badly at the Thursday night game for a while, and since nobody else wants to spend their hard-earneds on gaming stuff, I thought I might as well try to pick them up at a bargain price.
We still have the somewhat tense "throw me the idol and I will throw you the whip" exchange of goods and money phase to go through (when participants are occasionally screwed). I'll report back on how it went quite soon.
In the meantime, I am considering taking a serious look at my comic and game collections and deciding whether I really still need all that old stuff...
Insert unfunny pun about dog impersonation and mental stability here
Our simmering cold war with the neighbours over their pet management abilities hit a weird new height on Friday night. Not sure if I've mentioned it, but a while ago, when the dog's barking and not coincidentally my insomnia had reached near-constant levels, someone in the neighbourhood lodged a complaint with the council. It wasn't us, because we eventually realised that the neighbours were away for three or four weeks and that when they got back the barking would probably return to the merely annoying levels of the past few years. But someone cracked and in due course we received a letter from the council asking if there was a barking problem in the neighbourhood. There was, so we signed it, assuming that they would be directed to do something practical about the noise, like take her to obedience school.
Nope. They had her throat cut.
Seriously, we noticed a couple of weeks later that she was making a hoarse coughing noise. Thinking she must have a cold, we called her over to the fence for a sympathetic pat and she had a shaved patch and stitches on her throat, right about where the voice box would be. She'd obviously had surgery to stop her from making a full-throated barking noise ever again.
Just to stray briefly off the point: I don't know about you, but even the thought of that being a "solution" to a dog's barking makes me both nauseous and furious. I can't believe that it's legal at all, let alone something the council can force you to do. I had no idea that that would be - even could be - the result of the complaint.
Obviously the neighbours didn't take it well either. A couple of weeks later, we overheard their (brattish at the best of times) six-year-old boy rather unsubtly talking to his cousin about all the neighbours who complained and made them hurt Naru. We were gardening about ten feet away at the time. The fact that the kid's parents were about the same distance away as well and didn't see fit to correct him gave us a big clue: this household cleaved to a somewhat less than complete sense of personal responsibility about the dog's behaviour.
I'm kidding. We knew that already. They've really never given any sign of actually giving a shit about the poor mutt, much less shown her affection or done anything so breathtakingly responsible as attempt to train her. They shouted at her, sure, but that's not actually discipline.
What we didn't realise was how deeply the antagonism now runs. It all came to a head on Friday night when the boyfriend (he's not the husband, he's not the kids' father, and we don't actually think he lives there full time) had a bit of a cathartic vent.
Correction. He spent nearly two hours screaming at the top of his lungs, abusing the neighbourhood, swearing, exhorting them to "Complain about this!" and barking and howling like a dog! I am not kidding. He started at 11 and continued basically non-stop until about twenty to one, when somebody presumably took him up on his invitation to call the cops. Either that or he passed out.
This guy kind of has a history (at least a recent history) of anger management and emotional control issues. He often decides to have screaming fits and shrieking arguments at about 11 pm on Friday nights. Is it any wonder nobody in the neighbourhood came and talked to the family about the dog? That was our reason - we think we can probably have a rational conversation with the woman who rents the place, Mel, but if the angry, emotionally retarded arsehole (we don't know his name) is involved, it's hard to see how the conversation could be constructive.
So now we're at an impasse. We need to talk it out, to clear the air and give everyone a chance to get their grievances out in the open. The passive-aggressive child programming and the temper tantrums that would shame a five-year-old have given us some reasons for concern that any approach may just make things worse. We have to try though.
We've written them a letter. It's a start.
Friday, August 22, 2003
Victory! Victory to Lexifab
In the inaugural Otherleg Trash-Blog Smackdown, I claim a complete and sensational triumph. Andrew has admitted the inadequacy of his feeble blog fu and slunk miserably from the cage. Only Lexifab remains, its dignity intact and integrity held high. For truly it is said, only the blog with no ambition may truly surpass itself.
Eat cryptic, made-up zen koan, Otherblog!
He's really going to make me pay for this, isn't he?
Andrew! Come out and play!
Dammit, it's no fun ragging on you if you're just going to drop off the face of the earth and not respond. I'm putting some real effort into baiting you publicly - which I would remind you is what the Internet was invented for - so the very least you could do is make a ranting, flamey, defensive response!
Or update your damn blog.
Thursday, August 21, 2003
Forgot where I was going with that
Yeah, I kinda got distracted and didn't really get back to the point there (you don't say). What I meant to add was that everyone who might want to ever get any presents from me or who could see themselves somehow being placed in a position where I might feel either obliged or inclined to get them a present (what?), should go and make themselves an Amazon wishlist as well. That way I would know what they want.
Oh. Couldn't you just ask them? No, Common Sense. Be quiet.
Do I even need to point out that beyond the potential cost savings there is no special reason to actually buy anything from Amazon.com (and plenty of reasons not to, such as their appalling labour policies and the fact that you might have to wait 3-5 weeks for something that you want immediately), but that a Wish List still makes a very handy reference for all your friends?
No. That's obvious. I thought I told you to be quiet.
Andrew still hasn't updated his blog. Yes, I intend to keep harping pointlessly on about this until he does. My mighty mockery will shame him into returning to his labours!
We gathered at the boys' place last night for the lowest of low-key celebrations of Chris' birthday. How low-key was it? He brought the cake. Nobody was in much shape for a big electrified bash though - I'd given blood earlier in the day and was ready to pass out at any second, Fiona was stuffed, Chris was still getting over being sick all last week and Jimbo was...well, Jimbo. So we ate cake, and drank beers (or not, in my case) and ordered way more Indian food than was strictly necessary, and generally sat about loafing. As we do.
But it was a birthday, dammit, and it would have been nice to be able to hand over a present. Unfortunately, trying to get an idea out of him of what he might want is like trying to extract teeth, but with marginally less screaming. I have a solution now, thanks to a fatal slip on his part - Jimbo said "Do you have Talons of Weng-Chiang on DVD yet?" and Chris incautiously said "No, I couldn't find it". Well, Chris, I found it, so you can stop looking (and wondering what you might get for your birthday, so that matter).
But I was thinking about the hassle of trying to come up with a decent gift for friends who will just refuse point-blank to give you any ideas, forcing you to endeavour to pick out a thoughtful gift of your own and invariably get it completely wrong. It's just mean. So I've done something about it by creating a wish list at Amazon. Just click on the link about wish lists, type in my email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) and hey pesto! There's a list of junk I wouldn't hate it if someone bought me.
This may all sound gratuitously self-serving, and I grant that it is, but it's more than that. It also serves as a useful shopping list for myself of things that I might want to get one of these days. I plan to do a bit more browsing and add things like CD's and books to the list (but not DVD's because they only have the NTSC format discs, which don't play properly on my 20th-century hardware, and not computer games because my wife would not be amused), which I can then use to remind myself what useless stuff I am currently keen to accumulate.
Ted has one. I wish I could work out how to get the link to my Wish List page, but I must be stupid or something because it just ain't obvious. Just like it ain't obvious how I'm supposed to sign out of Amazon's web site.
Don't do it! It's a trap!
Tuesday, August 19, 2003
Andrew still hasn't updated Otherblog. Has he fallen so far that even public nagging and personal insults cannot move him to words? Pfah! The heck with him then. A pox on both his eyeballs.
Look what I got
Seven shiny new tickets for Weird Al Yankovic's show at the Enmore on Sunday 12th October arrived yesterday and now have pride of place on my dressing table. As Ev says, I'm more excited about this than I really have any right to be. Fiona has begun a merciless (but fair) campaign of derision, pointing out repeatedly (and again, not unfairly) how spectacularly daggy and lame it is to be a Close Personal Friend of Al (as we fans like to be called ), but I don't care! It's who I am. I'm comfortable in my Dweeb Skin Coat.
Besides, his latest album is pretty good.
I've started buying more CDs lately. Not too many - nothing like on Der Simonster's scale, which involves a collection you'd need a forklift to shift (I know, I've participated in its shifting often enough) - just a couple here and there, around pay day.
It started with Ev, of course. He compiled a list of what he claims/feels are the best 15 songs ever. Amongst the songs was Tom Waits' extraordinarily beautiful "Grapefruit Moon". Ev didn't know much about Waits' stuff, and Simon's collection proved for once to have some small but crucial gaps, so I went out and picked up Waits' Closing Time album for ten bucks and gave it a listen. After that, I got another, and that seems to have been all I needed to pick up the habit. well, that and having enough money to support the habit.
Now I'm trying to find all those albums that I kept telling myself I'd get one of these days when I started getting albums. I've picked up some Bjork and Pretenders and Tori Amos (Little Eathquakes is one of my favourite albums ever. I just needed to own it to be reminded of the fact) and The Dandy Warhols and Blur and Goldfrapp and David Bowie and and and...
Oh lord. There's still a lotta music out there, isn't there?
- Not that I ever went to far as to join the fan club of the same name. I mean, there are limits even to my spazzy lameness.
- Potted review: It's melancholy, as you might except. What you might not expect is that Tom Waits used to have a voice and sang actual notes. This was back in the '70's, mind you. A lot of whisky's washed over that bridge since then, I'd bet.
- Argh! Their singles album doesn't have "I'll Stand by You" on it! What the hell is up with that? Wasn't it a single?
- Double argh! Last week on Andrew Denton's show I saw a film clip of Chrissie Hind singing a duet with Russell Crowe. Truly the End Times are upon us! (And she still has a beautiful singing voice. And he really, really doesn't).
Friday, August 15, 2003
Dissin' my homies
You'd hardly know that I'd made any progress over the last couple of days, from the graph here....
I didn't want to have to do it, but more than two weeks without a blog entry automatically qualifies His Aliaslessness to a major diss.
Now get yo' shiny white ass back to the grindstone, dawg. Don' make me throw down.
Monday, August 11, 2003
Moments of high weirdness
Evan had been trying to get hold of me all weekend. After a leaving a message on our answering machine (we were dropping Meagan off at the airport, I think), he tried Jimbo's mobile (no answer) and called Andrew, who sent me an email (which I only checked this morning). What was the big emergency?
Weird Al Yankovic is coming to Australia on his Poodle Hat tour. Understand that Evan and I have been avowed Al fans ever since he bought me Weird Al Yankovic in 3D for my 14th birthday. Understand that I still believe the line "I've been around but I ain't never seen/A guy who looks like a muppet but he's wrinkled and green" to be the epitome of lyrical genius (which I know says everything that you need to know about my tastes, and for that matter most of my own songs). Understand that this man, for all his flaws (such as every album he released in the '90's, and the fact that after 20 years he has yet to move past his belief that songs about food and television somehow implicitly constitute parody, let alone humour) he is like a scrawny, whiny god to me.
I am going to see him. As Ev points out, it is unlikely we will ever get another chance to see him perform live. Teenage-Me would hunt me down and kick my arse if I allowed the opportunity to pass by. (What? I'm a dork? You knew that already. Don't make me come over there...)
The only question remains, should I go see him just the once, when he plays Canberra Theatre on Friday 10 October, or should I go all out and see that, then join Evan in Sydney for the Saturday and Sunday shows? Ev's already booked tickets for the Brisbane gig - dare I match his implied crazed stalker challenge?
Well, probably not. Fiona doesn't need to think I'm any more deranged than she already suspects, I guess.
My supervisor, Craig, who is on study leave at the moment but is hanging around the building writing research papers and such, just dropped by my desk to reveal that he stumbled across Lexifab on the weekend. It turned up on a Google search that he was doing for research, apparently: "AusAID + something + something". If he was actually expecting me to have made some rational, scholarly observations on the government efficiency dividend or public sector reform, he was obviously sadly mistaken. He did get a laugh out of reading about how productively I spent the Branch planning day a couple of weeks ago. D'oh!
Ah well, it's obviously a rite of passage in the blogger's evolution that sooner or later he will get outed to his co-workers, usually timing it to coincide with the most breathtakingly slanderous accusations and revelations about them. This is invariably followed by the dawning realisation - intellectually understood but not previously acknowledged - that anyone could be reading this stuff, and that maybe their gushing disgorgement of accumulated bile and frustrated irrationality onto the wider internet could do with the odd bit of editorial mopping here and there. Thus is ushered in a new golden age of well-judged, thoughtful and considerate observation and commentary.
Well, that's how it would work in theory. Don't hold your breath. I will probably still keep talking about bad music, shabby gaming and how crap my neighbours are. You write what you know.
Friday, August 08, 2003
Woah! Just - woah
I was watching this for quite a while before I realised what I was looking at (it probably didn't help that I didn't have the sound on). It would be absolutely awesome to see live.
How curious - I hit the Publish button on this yesterday, but it seems not to have gone through. This is just an extra little snippet of typing to see if I can change the entry.
Thursday, August 07, 2003
Greatest movie plot ever?
Of course we already know that Campy-Johnny-Depp and Spunky-Orlando-Bloom Fight Nefarious-Geoffrey-Rush and the Undead Pirates of Doom in the Caribbean-a-Go-Go will be the greatest film ever made by anyone ever, but can it beat this for a plot synopsis? I don't think so!
Bruce Campbell doing another Elvis impersonation! Woo hoo!
Oops, I forgot where I was going with that
I meant to ask, in the bit about Spit below, whether enthusiastic fans (he knows who he is) might want to write to me or His Aliaslessness or Ed Revolting Ruptured Spleen With A Hangover, and let us know which three or four Spit songs you could actually stomach to hear on the radio. We're trying to compile a list of the ones with the widest "popular" appeal.
d: None of them. What are you, mad? is a valid response, but will be ignored.
Somewhere there's got to be a pun in all this
Still reeling from the news that Jerry Springer is declining to run for the US Senate (and what possible skeletons could be uncovered in his closet worse than what we've already seen on his show?), the world was today plunged into the End Times with the startling revelation that Arnold Swarzenegger is going to contest for the office of Governor of California against wheelchair-bound Hustler publisher and Woody Harrelson impersonator Larry Flynt.
It sounds like the sort of implausible scenario you get playing a game of Illuminati. There must be a pun on the word "gubernatorial" in all of this, but I can't quite bring myself to think about it too hard.
Well, that was quick...
Almost a year to the day (huh, seems longer) since the first time I qualified for same, I finally got the word yesterday that I'm going to be promoted. Obviously this is good news, and I will try not to think too bitterly about the five or six grand I didn't get during the past year of working at or above that level. Because - yay! I'm finally doing work I enjoy and I'm getting paid for it.
That's the American Dream or something, isn't it?
Played the first session of brother-in-law Alastair's game last Friday night. Jimbo came along too, as well as a couple of other guys we didn't know and we had a pretty good time. The new guy didn't seem to be into it much, and Al was obviously a bit nervous, but it was all good. Except that my rogue is demonstrably incapable of shooting a crossbow to safe his own life, but you get that on big jobs.
My weekly game is on tonight. Don't tell Simon, but everything will depend on him staying focused and playing smart. Heh heh heh.
There's been a flurry of emails today about the future of Spit, and in particular the blooming of discussion on the idea of developing a demo CD with ten or so of the best Spit songs to be sent off to radio stations, music papers, record industry lowlives etc in the strange and unwarranted hope that they will listen to it. As Evan puts it: "You never know - someone might actually listen to the CD! At the very least, you will all have experience of sending heaps of CDs out and getting absolutely no response - an essential right-of-passage for Australian musicians!"
Now, aside from the unintended-I'm-sure slur against Australian musicians, I'm actually sort of bang-up for the idea. I like the idea (in principle) of a wider audience for Spit, although I have this sneaking suspicion that the majority of them would be in the under-10's age bracket. And really, the costs associated with printing and distributing a couple of hundred CDs weighed against the bragging rights of getting "Karmic Moose" played on a obscure internet radio station are worth it. Aren't they?
Well? Aren't they? (Cue forlorn howl of lone coyote)