Monday, 31 December 2007

Happy New Year

Some predictions for the new year:

People will die . . . some of them famous.

People will be born . . . some of them to famous parents.

There will be major natural disasters. To some they will be irrefutable evidence of climate change. To others they will just be a repeat of past events.

There will be famine in developing nations. Accompanying this will be guilt-ridden sympathy, a lot of talk, and a small amount of useful work achieving an actual solution.

Religious leaders will make ill-informed comments about politics. Politicians will make ill-informed comments about religion.

Our leaders will bicker over bureaucratic minutiae, while larger issues go undiscussed.

Under the ground, new dinosaurs will be discovered.

Out in space, new planets will be discovered.

Here on Earth, new technology will be developed.

The planet will continue to turn and mankind will continue to dream.

Happy new year, everyone.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Cloverfield Update

I've been asked to provide an update on Cloverfield, J.J. Abrams' new horror movie due for release on January 18 (January 17 in Australia).

Back in August, Cloverfield was generating a huge amount of chatter on the net, after this teaser trailer was played before screenings of Transformers.

It appears to be a cross between The Blair Witch Project and a traditional monster-destroys-city movie, with all the action taking place from the point of view of kids with camcorders. You know, something like Godzilla for the YouTube generation.

Word is that it's actually an original monster, although it remains a credible theory that it's a cinematic treatment of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.

Since my last post not a lot has happened . . . the official title of the film has been confirmed as Cloverfield, and a new trailer has been released.

There's also a new official website here (to accompany the earlier ones here and here).

If you're keen, there's also a metric buttload of chatter and speculation around that you can get plugged into. Nerds all the net over have been dissecting the trailers frame by frame and expounding their theories to anyone who'll listen. I won't bother posting any links . . . stick "Cloverfield" into google and knock yourself out.

And that's about it. There's very little in the way of genuine information available. Abrams and co are keeping their cards very close to their respective chests.

It should be fun, as long as you don't go expecting Citizen Kane.

And if it is going to be Blair Witch all over again, then don't forget to take your motion sickness tablets.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Five days to go . . .

Only five days remain to get your nominations in for the 2008 Celebrity Dead Pool!

Here's your chance to ponder the eternal questions of life and death. Tell the universe whose time you think is up, who may be likely (sadly) to go before they deserve, and who you just flat out don't like anymore.

There's no entry fee to play and a double pass to Village Cinema Gold Class for the winner. Rules and scoring details are here.

All nominations must be received no later than 31 December 2007 (that's Melbourne time, kids) so email your entries to me at

And thanks to my lovely wife for the awesome sidebar banner. Isn't she talented?

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

A very merry Xmas to all

Well, merry Christmas everyone.

It's the time to enjoy the company of family and friends, to eat too much, drink too much and wish goodwill to all men. These are, after all, Christmas traditions.

One my other favourite Christmas traditions is to bemoan the overt consumerism that's taking it over, and to reminisce about a (largely fictional) past back when Christmas apparently really meant something.

How far back in the past you have to go to find this universal "meaning" depends on your point of view. In historical terms you don't have to go back particularly far before it stops being a Christian festival at all, and becomes one revolving around the pagan worship of trees.

Actually, yeah, let's do that.

The other great tradition is, of course, the Christmas movie. I'm not talking about Jingle All The Way or (God help us) The Santa Clause. Not the usual sappy Hollywood fare pitched at 12-year-olds high on sugar and excessive brand-name consumption.

I'm talking about those movies where Christmas is simply used as a convenient and somewhat subversive backdrop for some hellish horror, knockout action, or piss-funny comedy.

These might be a few to consider after packing down the turkey and champers:

Bad Santa (2003)

It's nothing to do with Christmas or Santa at all. It's just about Billy Bob Thornton being a drunken asshole. Funny as hell from start to finish. And the fact that he does the whole thing in a santa suit makes it just that little bit funnier.

The Ref (1994)

Small-time crim Dennis Leary breaks into the home of Kevin Spacey and Judy Davis on Christmas Eve. He ends up holding them hostage, but it's not long before he finds out he's the one in danger. For the family, it turns out to be the best thing that's happened to them in ages.

Die Hard (1988)

Action classic in which Bruce Willis braves terrorists, encroaching baldness and the perception that he's only a comedy actor to save his wife, Christmas and the American way. Yippee-ki-yay motherfucker.

Gremlins (1984)

Director Joe Dante meticulously recreates the town of Bedford Falls (featured in that other Christmas perennial It's a Wonderful Life) for the sole purpose of seeing it destroyed by marauding miniature demons. Brilliant.

Trading Places (1983)

Contains the iconic scene in which Dan Aykroyd, after being royally screwed over by Don Ameche and Ralph Bellamy, pathetically and hilariously fails to shoot himself in the head. While drunk and wearing a santa suit. We wouldn't see such a great bad santa again until, well, Bad Santa.

Enjoy the season folks, and don't forget to get your entries in for the 2008 Dead Pool.

Email your nominations to me at

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Dead Pool Update - Email Address

Greetings, players.

A few people have expressed concern about posting their nominations before anyone else . . . and showing their hand, as it were.

It's felt that waiting until the last minute will provide an unfair advantage over those with the courage to get their nominations in early.

This is a very valid concern and to alleviate this, I've created an email account for your use.

If you'd rather not advertise your nominations before the game begins, then please email them to

I will collect and collate all the nominations, and post them once the game has begun.

Dead Pool Update

A couple of quick updates on the Dead Pool.

First, the keen-eyed among you will have noticed the link on the right-hand sidebar. Clicking on this will pull up all posts relating to the Dead Pool, allowing you quick and easy access to all the relevant info.

Second, the mysterious unnamed prize has been decided. The winner of the 2008 Dead Pool will be awarded with a double pass to Village Cinema Gold Class. This will be an Australian pass, and therefore useful only to Australian entrants.

If you're playing internationally, then . . . we'll work something out.

Good luck !

Star Trek the Sitcom

In a similar vein to the Office / Battlestar Galactica mashup, here's Star Trek TNG as a sitcom.


Saturday, 22 December 2007

Celebrity Dead Pool 2008

Welcome friends, to the macabre world of The Celebrity Dead Pool 2008.

The rules are very simple.

You nominate a list of up to 10 celebrities that you think will shuffle off this mortal coil between 12am on 1 January 2008 and 12am on 1 January 2009.

Points are awarded for each correct guess, and the highest score at the end of the year will win a prize.

That's it. It's very simple.

Please enter your list in the comments section of this post.

I will post updates as events unfold throughout the year.

The scoring method and rules are below.

Let's get to it.



1. The score awarded for a correctly predicted death will be determined by the formula 100 minus Age at Date of Death.

2. A person's "age" will be defined as their Age Last Birthday. This figure is incremented at the instant of 12am on the date of the person's birthday. This means that if a person dies on their birthday, their age is taken as the age they had just become that day.

3. If a person is over the age of 100 at their date of death, the score will be zero.

4. In the event of dispute about a person's precise age, the issue will be investigated by the moderator (which is me) and a decision made based on the best available evidence. The moderator's decision is final and no correspondence will be entered in to.


The Rules

1. All nominated persons must be human and must be alive as of 12am on 1 January 2008.

2. If you make a nomination and the person dies before 12am on 1 January 2008, you may substitute another name. You have 1 day's grace, and the substitution must happen before 12am on 2 January 2008.

3. Nominated persons must be famous or infamous in their own right, not (for example) because they're sick, or because they're very old, or because they're hideously and tragically deformed, or because they're about to undergo an extraordinary, ground-breaking and very risky operation.

4. For a death to be valid, it must be reported by at least one major mainstream media outlet. Examples include AP, AAP, Reuters, a major national or metropolitan newspaper or a major national or metropolitan TV network. Your blog doesn't count.

5. The death of a local celebrity will only be valid if their death is reported by a national media outlet, or by a major media outlet in another city.

6. If a nominated person is on death row at the start of the game, no points will be awarded if they are executed. Similarly, if a nominated person is being held hostage at the start of the game, no points will be awarded if they are killed by their captors or in a rescue attempt. Points will be awarded only if the nominated person dies from another cause.

7. Each nomination list may have at most 10 names.

8. No name may appear on a nomination list more than once. You may, however, submit more than one list.

9. Any attempts to influence the result via murderous acts will result in immediate disqualification.

Friday, 21 December 2007

The Void

We've been in our new building for a week now, and I'm beginning to get used to working next to a vertiginous drop.

To give some perspective, here's a shot of my desk in the old building, just before we moved out:

And here's a shot of my desk in the new building (taken from the floor above):

Vive la difference.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Trivia Final 2007

After five weeks of nail-biting tension, backroom sledging and numerous jugs of beer, the Commercial Hotel Trivia Competition 2007 is over.

The scores have been tallied, all challenges have been laid to rest, and the result is clear.

We have won.

That's right, we won.

On this final night our numbers were reduced to three (myself, Kate and Eliza) as Shannon had some poor excuse about having to work or something. (Apparently Christmas is a busy time for retail . . . who knew?)

But even so, we have prevailed.

Eliza is going home with a shiny new laptop and the Fiat Pandas and The Johns are going home with their tails between their legs.

Victory is sweet.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Into the Wild

How about that Sean Penn, eh?

His latest directorial effort Into the Wild is out, and it's really quite good. Not as good as his previous effort The Pledge, which was nothing short of spectacular, but this one doesn't have Jack Nicholson, so what are you going to do?

Sean Penn's a better director than he is an actor. Which is not to say that he's a bad actor. He does emotionally unstable better than just about anyone. But he's kind of a one-note actor. It's a good note. But it's only one note.

Into the Wild is a long, dreamy love letter to the American countryside in general and the Alaskan wilderness in particular. The film is based on a true story and follows the adventures of Christopher McCandless who, after graduating from college, gives his life savings to charity and heads off to live in the wild.

What follows are lots of sweeping shots of beautiful landscape, scenes with eccentric and colourful characters met on the road, and sweeping landscape shots featuring colourful and eccentric characters. You get the idea.

It's kind of like Easy Rider on dope instead of acid.

It's ponderous, a little slow, more than a little depressing, and tends to deify its characters more than is really necessary. I'm sure Christopher McCandless is an ace guy, but I'm also sure a lot of the set pieces in the film have been written to make him seem just that little bit more angelic than the rest of us.

Don't get me wrong, it's a great film. Emile Hirsch is very strong in the lead role (as he needs to be . . . he's on screen 95% of the time) and he is ably supported by the likes of Catherine Keener, William Hurt and Marcia Gay Harden.

But like all Sean Penn movies, this is an Important Film. It tells an Important Story that really Means Something. And how much you enjoy it depends on how much you're willing to buy into the vision. This one had me about 80% of the time, so I'll give it 4 out of 5.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

It's oh so quiet

Tomorrow will be my last day working in the old building at 447 Collins St. I've worked there for the last 7 and a bit years.

After more than 40 years in the same spot, AXA will be moving four blocks down the road to a spanky new building in Docklands.

People have been moving over for the last few weeks, and tomorrow we're the last lot to go.

My activities tomorrow will consist of finishing packing (one box to go . . . 5 minutes), a farewell morning tea for Melissa, who's defecting to MLC (maybe half an hour if the cake is good) and a meeting over in the new building (20 minutes tops).

We have to vacate the old building by 1pm for the movers. No problem. I've got a bunch of Heroes episodes to catch up on.

The great thing about moving has been the relative calm in the lead-up. Because we don't have only one lot of people moving and getting grief from those who aren't, it's been sweet. Everybody's moving, so everybody's distracted.

Cleaning stuff out of filing cabinets and putting it in boxes (or, more often, bins) has become everybody's regular task. And mentally taxing it ain't.

And I even have minions to do that for me.

So between all the packing and half the office being on leave anyway, it's been a very quiet week at work.

Of course prior to all this it's been a nutso year, so it's been nice to have a bit of a break.

I can wander into work in the morning. Have a cup of tea, check the news, check the blogs (see links at right), get into the odd Wikipedia spiral of shame, do a bit of work, have another cup of tea, rinse and repeat.

It won't last, of course. Once the move is over it'll be back to it. And hot on the heels of Xmas will be End Of Year and all the joy that entails.

But until then . . . stick the kettle on, Baldrick.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

The results are in . . .

. . . and we won.

Ably assisted by some ring-ins in the form of Marissa, Jamie and Skye (not forgetting Rohan, who may just become our official mascot).

We now have a five point lead over the Fiat Pandas and a ten point lead over The Johns.

Stay tuned for next Tuesday's result.

That was the weekend that was

Very quick post. Going out to trivia tonight.

We've got a running trivia competition at our local. It's over six weeks, with the grand prize being a laptop. We're currently neck-and-neck with two other teams, with two weeks to go. How very exciting.

Anyway, the weekend just gone was tops. So tops in fact that I've not got around to writing about it until now. (That and I've been distracted by another semi-religious debate over at Budge's blog).

Ty came down from Sydney on Friday, and we headed over to Mt Franklin for a house party to celebrate Robb and Bianca's tenth wedding anniversay.

The medieval trappings of the ceremony ten years ago were sadly absent. We did, however, pull out the musical instruments and have the odd jam in between the eating and drinking and merriment.

The initial crowd was just Robb and Bianca and me and Ty. This was nice and somewhat symbolic, that being the precise crowd present on the night of my 21st birthday, when Robb and Bianca first met. Bless.

Then Paul arrived (all the way from Shepparton!) and Kate and Budge came along a bit later. And there was much drinking and merriment till the wee hours.

Breakfast on Saturday morning revealed an amusing surplus of bacon. Why was that the one thing that everyone decided they should bring? And why oh why can I still not get "Bacon, bacon, bacon . . . everybody loves bacon . . . " out of my head?

Great party. And a fitting celebration.

Headed back to Melbourne in the afternoon, hoping against hope that the cats had refrained from pissing anywhere in the house. Happily they had not. Hurrah.

Not much else achieved for the rest of the weekend, which was nice.

Although on Sunday did see a great movie called Control, about the tragic life of Ian Curtis. Highly recommended.

Gotta go. Bye.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Blood and other bodily fluids

It's been an interesting day.

It starts as I'm leaving for work, and my cat Milligan decides to piss in my clothes cupboard.

He doesn't wait til I'm out of the room, or even looking the other way. I open the cupboard to get a shirt and he leaps straight in, almost with an air of "hmph . . . about time" and proceeds to do his thing.

Little bastard, I think. And yell.

It's not even so much the pissing. Well it is. But it's really the appalling lack of respect. I mean to say . . . right in front of me!

When I get to work I realise I still have the faint smell of cat piss on my hands. Very professional.

Apart from that, work is reasonably uneventful. So much so that I leave early(ish) to give some blood at the Red Cross.

Actually, the intention was to give plasma. I'd got a phone call on Monday asking if I would like to donate plasma instead, plasma apparently being the fluid your red blood cells float around in. Well, why not.

The idea is that your blood gets sucked out into a machine, separated into red blood cells and plasma, and the red blood cells get put back into your arm. Takes a bit longer than your average donation. But OK. That's the plan.

I turn up for my appointment, and after flashing my donor card, the nurse asks if I've had my veins checked. There's an embarrassing moment or two when I think she says "bones" instead of "veins" and have a nasty mental image of a marrow donation.

Once that confusion is sorted out, I say no, not as yet, having just walked into the place through that door directly in front of the counter I am now standing at. So I am handed over to another nurse, Cheryl, who asks me the same question. No, I say. I have not had my veins checked.

Well then. Cheryl straps up my left arm and begins to tap tap tap away at a vein. Then she purses her lips. Hmmm. Let's try the other arm.

So the in tube and the out tube both go in the same arm? I ask.


Oh. So that arm will be really sore at the end of this.



And again on the right arm. Strap up. Tap tap tap. Purse lips.

Well . . . it's better than the other one.

But still no good?

No. It's borderline, really. I might usually do it, but the computers are down at the moment.

(Pardon? I'm not sure what the logic is here. But I wasn't about to argue with the lady with the needle).

So a regular vanilla blood donation it is for me. I walk back to the office behind Cheryl for the usual pre-donation blood pressure / haemoglobin tests, feeling oddly ashamed. Would there be a drastic lack of essential plasma due to the paltry state of my veins?

Oh no, I am assured.

In fact, they seem dreadfully apologetic that I'm not able to donate plasma. Their manner suggests my heart had clearly been set on the idea and I would be going home terribly disappointed.

Truth be told, I'm going home a little relieved.

The regular donation is . . . well, regular. I have the usual sausage roll and milkshake in the cafe afterwards.

On the way home, I run into Micky walking to the station. Then I run into my wife on the train. We've sent a couple of text messages back and forth before we realise we're on the same train, and actually in the same carriage.

Kate had had an awesome day as it happens, with her 2008 season trend forecasting presentation to their biggest client going down an absolute treat. Well done babe.

And then I arrive home to a pile of cat piss-soaked clothes in the laundry basket.

Life. Don't talk to me about life.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Xmas Shopping

December is here. Tra la la.

Have you noticed we don't tend to hear the phrase "Only X shopping days til Christmas" so much anymore? I think it's because the number of shopping days now equals the number of calendar days, so it's just not as useful a piece of information.

The halls are decked, the bells are jingling, the nights are silent, and the mangers are away.

Shopping centres are full of the trappings of odd North American Christmas traditions and packed with shoppers eager to spend the minimum possible amount on presents for the minimum possible number of people. After all, there's another interest rate rise on the way.

We hit Highpoint (aka Knifepoint) this afternoon with a view to rolling it all completely. Didn't quite manage that, but we managed to get most of it done.

It was on oddly positive experience, actually. The crowds of great unwashed seemed less grumpy than you might expect. But I guess these are the early birds. The pressure's not on them yet.

I wouldn't be going within an adjacent postcode of the place in the week leading up to the 25th.

So you better hurry. After all, there's only 23 shopping days to go.