A Moment With You|
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|Tuesday, January 7th, 2014|
|The Top Ten Most Important Moments In Roleplaying (in chronological order)
1. Jerome K. Jerome visits H.G. Wells (by 1913)
Unusual start, you might think. But after dinner, Jerome started firing a toy cannon at some toy soldiers and Wells started firing back. They thought that adding some rules would be a good idea and took influence from a form of wargame played for the previous decade by Prussian military (called Kriegsspiel). After several revisions, the renowned author of War of the Worlds and The Time Machine published his 60 page book Little Wars (the full title is "Little Wars: a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys' games and books". How times change...)
Little Wars had a significant impact on the production of Chainmail and Gary Gygax praised it in his foreword to the 2004 reprint. Wells is often called the Father of Miniature Wargaming. Fact.2. Gary Gygax plays Dave Arneson's Blackmoor (Nov 1972)
Dave Arneson liked his wargames to have non-combat objectives and was partial to the Tolkien-inspired fantasy options in Chaimail (by Gary Gygax and Jeff Perrin). He invented a dungeon crawling adventure called Blackmoor that Gygax finally played at Gen Con 5 in 1972. Gygax loved the game and (long story short) the two went on to become co-creators of Dungeons and Dragons (and you don't get much more seminal in roleplaying than that).
The "co-creator" tag is a compromise, largely. The two fell out dramatically, mainly due to Arneson resenting Gygax's creative claims. However, it can be said that if Arneson lit the torch, Gygax ran with it. D&D remains synonymous with roleplaying.3. Steve Jackson, John Peake and Ian Livingstone found Games Workshop (1975)
These three school mates created a small business to make wooden board games and publish articles about "progressive gaming". The company secured a deal to distribute TSR materials and quickly grew into a premier publishing company. Games Workshop would go on to become a titan of the gaming industry.
Jackson (not to be confused with the GURPS designer of the same name) and Livingstone sold their stakes in GW back in 1991, but Games Workshop isn't their only great legacy. In 1982, they produced a book through Puffin called The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. A solo adventure in the Choose Your Own Adventure style, their book incorporated game elements (such as rolling to defeat monsters or traps). Their line of Fighting Fantasy books were highly popular and many other titles flooded shelves in the Eighties and Nineties.
PC gaming has largely pushed adventure books aside, but many older gamers can cite the influence a Fighting Fantasy book had on their formulative roleplaying years.4. Bryan Wiese watches Robin and Marion whilst reading The Lord of the Rings (1977)
Bryan Wiese had never heard of D&D, roleplaying or even reenactment. But while being immersed in both a book and film he was inspired to find a way to recreate the adventure and combat in those works. He founded Dagohir which, though maybe not the earliest game of its type, is the earliest recorded live-action roleplaying game.
Getting the action off the table and onto a field was a natural extension of roleplaying and many independant groups started around the world. Combining roleplaying, sport, theatre and historical reenactment, larping has gained significant attention recently. Large German events can attract thousands.
Live action events are subject to various definitions, and there are many with no contact (such as White Wolf's global Minds Eye Theatre games). Nordic countries have a reputation for bleak and high concept storytelling and Australia has a strong tradition of "freeforming" (non-contact larp).5. James Dallas Egbert III attempts suicide (15 April 1979)
Michigan State University student James Egbert disappeared from his dorm room, entered the college steam tunnels, and swallowed some pills in an attempt to end his own life. It was unsuccessful and, after waking, hid at a friend's house. The search for him took a turn when private investigator William Dear suggested that Dungeons and Dragons was a contributing factor (Dear would later regret making this correlation). The local media whipped up fear by (falsely) reporting that he was roleplaying in the steam tunnels.
The resulting paranoia (especially of a religious nature) that followed still clouds roleplaying to this day. Chick Publications released the glorious Dark Dungeons which blatantly links roleplaying with Satanic occultism and Pat Pulling (who blamed her son's suicide on roleplaying and founded BADD: Bothered About D&D) created a frenzy of anti-roleplaying sentiment that was ripped to pieces by game designer Michael Stackpole in The Pulling Report.
The story ends badly. Egbert attempted suicide once more before succeeding on his third attempt. He was 17.6. Release of E.T. the Extraterrestrial (11 June 1982)
Say wha-? What the hell does E.T. have to do with any of this?
E.T. was a marketing phenomenon. It was the highest grossing film ever for its time and was the first major film to suffer video piracy. In a time when most people had to pay a ticket to see a film, E.T. was a must-see.
So, with a high stake in the family market you can't show anything too controversial. But in this blockbuster we see a bunch of kids roleplaying, and keep in mind this is about the time when roleplaying is seen as being literally in league with the devil. And the portrayal isn't comical or scandalous or offensive; it just shows a group of young gamers doing exactly what young gamers do. Marking character sheets, giving out characters, discussing what to have on the pizza, even explaining to the mum how nobody "wins" it.
The game was a modern pop-cultural nod in a film that was designed to be an immediate pop culture success. Compare it to the sensationalist Mazes and Monsters (with Tom Hanks) also released in 1982 and you'll see why E.T. is such an iconic moment of roleplaying representation.7. Mark Rein-Hagen travels to Gen Con with Stewart Wieck and Lisa Stevens (August 1990)
This is the second time Gen Con has popped up, so it could have been fair to give the first Gen Con in 1968 its own spot on this list. On the way to this event, Rein-Hagen (of Lion Rampant) came up with the idea of a modern day game about vampires. Stevens (also of Lion Rampant and now CEO of Paizo) engineered a merger with Wieck's White Wolf Magazine and the next year Vampire: the Masquerade was released by new company White Wolf Publishing Group.
Over the course of about 15 years, White Wolf's star rose dramatically, shone brilliantly, and crashed spectacularly. They achieved notable success with their World of Darkness line which near dominated the gaming industry for much of the mid-nineties. Some poor decisions, player disillusionment and sheer bad luck saw them massively slump in popularity and they were finally bought by CCP Games (of EVE Online) in 2006.
However, White Wolf left a huge mark on game design. Their desire to embrace the more artistic aspects of roleplaying and game presentation were inspiration for many in the '00's indie explosion and the higher standard of their published books forced other game companies to improve the quality of theirs. They surfed a cultural wave; it's a pity they floundered on the beach.8. Peter Adkinson turns down Richard Garfield's Robo Rally (1991)
Garfield approached Wizards of the Coast (then a small roleplaying publisher) with his board game Robo Rally, but Adkinson felt that the cost was out of his league. He asked Garfield if he could come up with something portable, fast-playing and cheap to make.
The result was Magic: the Gathering, which debuted in 1993. It proved massively popular, started the collectible card gaming boom, and grew Wizards of the Coast into one of the biggest game companies ever.
Magic is blamed for destroying many roleplaying groups, clubs and stores as card gaming quickly pushed aside tabletop rpgs. However, it remains incredibly popular and continues to this day.
Wizards of the Coast would achieve even more success with Pokemon and bought out TSR (owners of Dungeons and Dragons) in 1997. Getting hold of the world's most iconic roleplaying game was a boon for the company, as we will see later...9. Ultima goes Online (24 September 1997)
This was a hard call. I kinda want to steer clear entirely of PC/video/console gaming, but in all good faith it needs to be considered. Computer games have taken cues from roleplaying for many years. Mazewar from 1974 (!) takes place in a virtual maze where players shoot each other (players could play over ARPAnet, too). Jumping ahead, TSR licensed SSI for the first AD&D computer game Pool of Radiance in 1988. But back in 1981, Richard Garriott produced the first of his Ultima games.
Text-based Multi User Dungeons (MUDs) allowed many people to play together in the same world, but combining such an experience with a visual interface was beyond the abilities of contemporary hardware, though a few had tried. Ultima Online finally came out in '97 and truly launched the age of the MMO.
It was rapidly succeeded (and surpassed) with Everquest (or "Evercrack" for its addictive reputation) which in turn was supplanted in 2004 by new heavyweight title World of Warcraft.
As another note, the terms "roleplaying game" and "RPG" are now indelibly ingrained in the public's mind as digital gaming terms rather than traditional pen and paper games, which I find sad. Just try googling "rpg" and see what you get.10. Wizards of the Coast produces the Open Gaming License (2000)
By the end of the Nineties, D&D had become a joke. The format was tired and stale. The game showed its faults. There were far too many better products on the market. And TSR management were running the company into the ground. Wizards of the Coast bought it out and got to work revamping D&D.
Most D&D fans weren't expecting the product to be as good as it was (anti-WotC sentiment ran as high as anti-D&D did) but the true innovation was the Open Gaming License that came with it.
The brainchild of Ryan Dancey (bless his soul), the OGL basically gave permission for anybody to create publications for the 3rd edition of D&D. Third party publishers sprang to arms, producing guides, adventures, setting books and more with various success and quality. Established companies (such as White Wolf, Chaosium and Pinnacle) had a new medium and new companies also were able to use the OGL to kick-start their careers.
3rd edition/d20 became the most popular game of the '00s and easily the best supported title to be seen in that time. It also gave D&D back the credibility it so desperately needed.
You'll notice that there's nothing for the last 13 years. Did nothing happen?
Yes and no. 3rd ed D&D floated well for much of the 00's. White Wolf fell in a hole. Chaosium and Steve Jackson Games did their thing. 4th ed D&D dropped the ball and Paizo Publishing picked it up with Pathfinder. The indie scene exploded with a blast of creativity and continues to produce excellent games if you can find them. Warhammer 40K transferred to tabletop roleplay with success. And the latest trend seems to be the retrospective Old School Roleplaying (OSR) movement.
Bit big events? Market shaking ones? Not there. 4th ed had the chance, but it bombed (which has allowed smaller companies to shine a bit). The next possible change could happen with D&D Next, but the track record is mixed. I'll give it a 6+ chance, but am not sure which die to roll for it...
|Wednesday, June 29th, 2011|
|The Toymaker's Mistake
In a small village far away, there lived an old toymaker named Peter. Peter was an exceptional toymaker and he made a wide variety of toys such as dolls and tops and wooden horses. But of all of his wonderful work, no toys were more marvellous than his puppets.
Certainly, the rest of his work was worthy of acclaim. A wealthy merchant paid a small fortune for a boat to give to his son. Peter carved a vessel of such astounding beauty that the Grand Admiral, upon seeing it, immediately built a full sized replica for use as the navy’s flagship. A Caliph from the far east sent emissaries requesting a clockwork bird that sang and Peter managed the task within a week. A whistle of Peter’s, when played at the Russian court, so moved the Queen that she immediately demanded that no other music should ever be played in her presence lest they make her forget the sound from that beautiful instrument.
Yes, all of Peter’s toys were wonderful. But none were more marvellous than his puppets, and those were never made for anyone but Peter.
The puppets that Peter made contained all of his most remarkable talent, so they were naturally very well made as you could imagine. But even more than their extraordinary craftsmanship, they were able to move and act of their own accord.
What fun they would have! Late at night, when all of the villagers were safely in bed, Peter’s puppets would rise from their shelves and wander about the toyshop. Peter would laugh with them and teach them dances while the puppets would play games and help Peter build new toys.
The puppets could not talk, but they expressed themselves in different ways, each according to their make. The woodcutter puppet would try to fell chair-legs with his little wooden axe, but never seemed to mind that he couldn’t manage it. The ballerina puppet twirled on shelves by the light of the toyshop’s candles as a fiddler puppet strummed his violin. There was even a cobbler puppet who would sit on a tiny stool and fix the shoes of other puppets that had worn their heels down.
Those were happy times for the puppets and Peter. And I’m sad to say that it would have continued this way if Peter had not made Smiling Simon.
It was only for the best of reasons, of course, for Peter the toymaker was a kindly fellow who had never so much as thought an uncharitable thing about anyone. But he was very worried for his puppet friends and was concerned that they would get hurt if they left the toyshop. What with carriages and people with large shoes who could not see them, they might become damaged or even destroyed. He knew several children in the village who were less than careful with the toys he gave them, and he would dread to think what might happen to the puppets if they were to pick them up and break them. So Peter told his puppets of these dangers outside and asked them not to leave the workshop.
Of course, the mysteries outside the toyshop soon became too enticing for some of the puppets and they began to sneak out and discover this new world for themselves. Peter turned a blind eye to their adventures, if they weren’t seen, but he quickly became quite firm after the lamplighter puppet got hurt. (He had sneaked out to see a real lamppost and a passing horse broke his little wooden leg.) Peter had to spend quite some time mending him and hoped the puppets had learned their lesson.
Sadly, the puppets did not learn from the lamplighter’s mistake and they continued to leave the toyshop when Peter wasn’t looking. So he made Smiling Simon.
Peter wanted to make a puppet to stop the other puppets from leaving the toyshop. He wanted it to be friendly, so he gave it a big smile so that the puppets wouldn’t get upset. He made the puppet thin so that it could follow the smaller puppets through the nooks and crannies that they were using to get out. He gave it large eyes, like a cat’s, so it could see puppets hiding in the dark streets outside. He greased the joints well and covered them in soft velvet, so the puppets could not hear it and thus hide. Last of all he gave it a name; Smiling Simon.
The moment Smiling Simon was finished, he turned his smiling face and looked at his maker, Peter. And Peter said, “Smiling Simon, I need you to help me stop my puppets from leaving the toyshop, for I fear for them and love them very much.”
For his part, Smiling Simon merely smiled and nodded, for he also could not talk.
“Go now,” said Peter and Smiling Simon trotted away, quiet as a mouse.
It was only later that Peter realised what he had forgotten to tell Smiling Simon before he trotted away. Much later, when he found the farmer puppet lying near the window in the kitchen.
The farmer puppet had tried to go into the garden to look for snails. Smiling Simon had broken off his arms and legs before cutting out his glass blue eyes with a sharp kitchen knife. Peter replaced the missing pieces, but the farmer puppet would never move again without strings. It was like any ordinary puppet.
Peter remembered what he had forgotten to tell Smiling Simon. He had told him to stop the puppets from leaving the toyshop, but he had neglected to say that it should be done nicely. So Smiling Simon had decided not to be very nice at all.
“I must be more careful,” said Peter as he hid the kitchen knives. He looked for Smiling Simon, but all he could find was a smile drawn in chalk on the kitchen floor. Smiling Simon was too well made, and he could not be found if he didn’t want. But he was never far away, as could be seen from his actions.
The night after the farmer puppet was taken apart, the woodcutter puppet was found beheaded. Smiling Simon had tried to use the woodcutter’s little wooden axe, but it was no better at chopping puppet necks than it was at felling chair-legs. Tiring of the axe, he had nailed the woodcutter to the floor with Peter’s tools and used a sharp wood-working chisel to cut off the woodcutter’s head.
“I must be more careful,” said Peter as he locked the tools away. He searched for Smiling Simon, but all he found was another smile carved on the chair-leg. Peter warned the puppets about Smiling Simon and they stopped going outside. None of them had seen Smiling Simon since he first was made, and they were afraid of seeing him again.
The night after the woodcutter puppet was beheaded, the ballerina puppet was found burned. She was dancing on her shelf by the candles while the fiddler puppet played. Smiling Simon had ripped the strings from the violin and used them to hang the ballerina over the candle, where she slowly roasted to a charred lump. The fiddler was never found, but he had been thrown into the fireplace and had been reduced to ashes.
“I must be more careful,” said Peter as he threw away his candles and covered the fireplace. He searched for Smiling Simon, but all he found was another smile etched with soot on the hearth. Peter refused to light any more fires and the toyshop became cold and dark. The puppets stopped their games and instead huddled together on their shelves, each hoping that Smiling Simon would not return.
But the night after the Ballerina puppet was roasted, Smiling Simon did return, for the cobbler puppet was found worn away. Smiling Simon had grabbed the cobbler with his long, silent fingers and rubbed the cobbler’s back against the rough stone doorway. He rubbed and rubbed the cobbler so that the back of his body, legs, arms and head were all worn down. Smiling Simon left the cobbler’s unmoving face lying at the door, and had scattered the shavings from the cobbler’s back into a smile shape nearby.
And Peter realised that he could not be careful enough. Smiling Simon would keep finding ways to destroy Peter’s puppets and none of them could be repaired once ruined. So Peter made another puppet to find Smiling Simon.
Peter made a knight puppet called Sir Valiant and told him to find Smiling Simon and bring him back. Sir Valiant was found crushed beneath a rock. Peter made a soldier puppet called Sergeant Stalwart, but the Sergeant was torn to pieces. Peter made a policeman puppet called Constable Courageous, but the Constable was dropped from a rooftop and lay shattered in a cobbled alley.
After that, Peter stopped making puppets to find Smiling Simon.
By now, Peter had become desperate as one by one his puppets were taken from him. He tried locking them away, but Smiling Simon learned to pick the locks with his thin, silent fingers and even stole away the locked tools from the toyshop to continue his deeds. So Peter came up with a desperate plan.
It was not a plan that Peter liked. Indeed, it was a plan that would mean that he would never see his beloved puppets again. Worse, it would mean that they would never truly be the puppets that he knew and loved ever again.
With tears in his eyes, Peter gathered his puppets before him. “My dear puppets,” he said. “I cannot protect you from the terrible Smiling Simon. And if I were to send you away, he would surely find you. So I must do what I can to slow him.”
One by one, he picked up his puppets with loving hands and gently took them apart. Peter gathered his spare puppet-making parts and made new puppets, adding only one piece of each of his marvelous friends onto each new form. Some would only have a puppet’s head, others merely an arm. They were nowhere as beautiful as they were previously, and they would never be whole again. But they would be much safer.
Peter sold all of his new puppets the next day. The people that bought them were surprised, for Peter had never shown his puppets before, and the puppets he sold were simple and inelegant; nothing like the quality of the other toys he made. But many also noticed that there were certain parts of their puppets, maybe a head, maybe an arm, that were exceptionally made indeed.
The puppets traveled with their new owners to all the corners of the world. Some ended up in the bedrooms of princes, while others entered the care of poor orphans. Some would be placed in museums while others would lie forgotten in disused suitcases. And while Smiling Simon was able to find some of them, many more have escaped him to this day.
That is the story as far as I know, but there are other parts for which I cannot attest. I asked an old man once what happened to Smiling Simon, and he said that Smiling Simon eventually found another puppet who taught him to be nice. Another old man agreed with him and said that he heard that Smiling Simon has continued looking for the puppet parts, but now to join them back together into the puppets they once were. I hope that is true.
And what of Peter the toymaker? He has long since departed from us, I am sad to say, but he was a very old man when he began to make puppets in the first place, so I suppose that’s to be expected. I went to his village once and tried to find his toyshop, but it had been turned into a bookstore.
Thankfully, the owner of the bookstore was familiar with the tale of Peter and his puppets, and he told me something I have never heard from anyone else.
The gentleman had heard that as Peter lay in bed for his last time in this world, Smiling Simon came to visit him. It was the only time that Peter had seen Smiling Simon since his creation and Peter was naturally quite scared. Seeing Smiling Simon standing by his bedside on those long, silent tiptoes, Peter gave one last gasp and passed away.
And Smiling Simon stole the gasp that Peter gave. Since he was first carved, Smiling Simon had wanted a voice and now he had one. A voice that is the dying breath of an old man.
I can’t say if that is true, but if ever you wake in the night to find that your toys have been moved, your closets rummaged, your things moved ever so slightly around, listen for that rasping, horrible sound. And if you do hear it, and I pray you don’t, then look for any puppets you may have. Hold them tight against you and try not to fall asleep. Smiling Simon could be nearby, prowling around on his long, silent legs.
|Friday, December 17th, 2010|
|Living with a super
He'd hate me revealing it, but my cockhead housemate, Nigel, is a "superhero". I put that in inverted commas because a real hero would at least know how to pick up his shit on occasion. And a real hero wouldn't come barging home at three in the morning, spilling beer over MY rug before letting one of his mates crash on MY couch in full battle armour. (Couch is wrecked now, FYI.)
I'm not gonna say what his super-name is because I, unlike someone else I could mention, believe in respecting the privacy of someone I live with. Respect means not being all coy about supering and then waiting til I'm watching TV before "accidentally" dropping a power-gauntlet and grapple-gun out of your gym-bag right in fucking front of me! That grappler almost fell in my lap! What if it had gone off? Did you think of that, Captain Genius?
He came barreling into my room last week, which in his world was perfectly acceptable because he was drunk and wanted to whine about his sex life. Never mind that I was asleep and had to go to work in four hours. Seriously, this guy is so pathetic. Twenty minutes griping about the number of beautiful women who'll spend one night with him and then ditching him. He thinks it's because women are stupid bitches. NEWS FLASH: The reason that they don't come back is that they're smart enough to know that you're an arsehole whose only redeeming factor is that you can carry an aircraft carrier and look good in spandex. If I didn't have nine months left on the lease I'd be gone, too.
Speaking of girls, I wish that I could just once bring a date home without him ruining everything. He always insists on joining us and then cockblocking me by trying to hit on my new friend. He always ends up somehow shirtless and flexing his muscles before making me get in a wrestling match with him. I've no desire to wrestle a man who can melt concrete by looking at it (and still never does his share of the cooking), but he just always grabs me and fucks me up. It's really humiliating and it hurts; especially that time he dislocated my leg. Oh, but he always makes it look normal and non-superpowered because that'd be awkward for him. Instead, he just makes himself look like a dick and me like a loser.
He's out tonight, thankfully. I'll no doubt hear all about it soon enough, possibly from the news but far more likely ad nauseum via his own super-sized mouth. I can't even avoid the live telecast of his reward acceptance tomorrow because he wants it taped and I've agreed to do it for him just to ensure that he doesn't tape over one of MY cassettes.
Alright. Rant over. Just needed to vent. I suspect I'll be doing a lot of that in future.
|Friday, September 10th, 2010|
I hate this outfit.
The cape. The mask. The colours. The need for an alternate identity.
I just want to make a difference.
I'm not against them wanting to keep the nutters out. I just object to their methods.
I'd always thought there'd be a certain glamour to this caper. Fighting crime. Appearing out of nowhere to save the day.
It's harder than that.
You can't just sit on a rooftop in a bad section of town and expect the bad guys to show up. You've got to look for them. You've got to pick your moment. You've got to wait.
But the bad guys don't show. They aren't built like that. They don't have a gene or anything that makes them evil. There's no template for antisocial behaviour that delineates the good from the bad.
There's just people. You have to be the arbiter of morality for this society that paints grey strokes on every tableau.
Black and white is my domain. And I know that I'm on one side, the good side, whichever it is.
But I'm getting tired. I see these muggers and beggars and thieves every day. The filth is building up and I can't stop it. Maybe we can do something to stop the rot before it begins. Maybe I'm just a temporary solution. I wish I could help in another way, if I just knew how.
But today is a different matter. I've got to save the flock of humanity from the wolves. Today, I shall bring protection and retribution, no matter how minimal the result. Today belongs to me.
Tomorrow can wait. Tomorrow is out of my control.
I feel so alone, sometimes.
|Thursday, June 24th, 2010|
Now the other half of the population will get to know how it feels to be misrepresented.
Well done, Comrade!
|Thursday, June 17th, 2010|
"What are we doing, Mark?"
She said it with an honesty that neither of us had shown for a while, but I had to be sure. "What do you mean?"
She sighed and said, "This."
I sighed too. "Yeah. I know what you mean." I sat down on the bed next to her. It had been a while since I'd done that.
Our relationship hadn't been working for a while. Months, in fact. Maybe a year. It was obvious, but we hadn't wanted to face it.
"I've actually been wanting to talk about this with you for a while," I said.
She nodded and we knew that there'd be tears. It wasn't a race, nor a denial. Just an eventuality that we'd go through together.
"This isn't working," I said.
"No," she said. "It's not."
"I'm sorry, hon."
She shuddered a sigh and said, "Me, too. I never wanted it to be like this."
There were many things said. It was the first time in far too long that we had honestly connected. And it was done with love. Love that we couldn't show when we should have. It was a great shame, and we knew it.
I remember telling her, regardless of it all, that I never stopped loving her. We both cried at that.
I said, "It's over."
She nodded. "It's over."
I gave her a kiss, and it ended.
I gathered my things and it was hard to leave. She saw me to the door and I felt that there needed to be something more said. I looked her in the eyes and searched for something to say.
She found it first. "Please go before I cry again."
I smiled for her sake and left. The next day ruined me.
|Wednesday, January 20th, 2010|
Now the Arthouse is closing
I'm getting close to losing my temper
|Tuesday, January 19th, 2010|
Just wrote a letter to the Age and Herald-Sun:The outrageous behaviour of thugs at the Australian Open is reflective of the same violence seen on Melbourne streets and should be treated with the same steely resolve.
As we have done with our licensed venues, I propose that all tennis clubs have their major expenses increased by 400 – 500% (with that fee doubling at the first breach of conditions), and insist on a match at any level requiring them to hire two security guards for the first hundred people with an additional guard per hundred people thereafter.
Of course, this may result in some harmless local tennis clubs folding due to these strong measures (as we saw with Collingwood’s Tote Hotel), but we cannot make exceptions if we are to ensure public safety.
Stop the madness in these sporting venues now!
Cross fingers for a printing
|Friday, January 15th, 2010|
I am furious about the Tote closing down.
Not very surprising. I've been seeing this kind of thing coming for a while now.
Very pissed off.
|Monday, December 28th, 2009|
Apparently, I'm now hosting a NYE party.
Time: 8pm til whenever
Place: 10/36 Holmes st, East Brunswick
Bring: party stuff, I guess
Hope y'all had a merry christmas, kids
|Sunday, November 29th, 2009|
Because it can't hurt...
Anyone know of any work going? Anything stable is good.
0411 568 199
|Wednesday, November 4th, 2009|
“Right,” Lisa says. “How do we get through here?”
“There should be a roundabout up ahead,” I tell her. “Turn right there.”
I navigate her through the town. I’ve travelled this way a few times, but Lisa’s new to this route.
Right at the roundabout, left at the big set of lights, right again just after the supermarket, then follow the truck detour signs to the bridge.
There’s something simple and wonderful about driving over the Murray. She’s New South Wales waters, so there’s the knowledge that you’ve broken out from Victoria. Broken out from home. But there’s also the splendour of the river herself. Wide and dark and heavy with history.
She’s down a bit, though. The drought, of course.
I look over to the driver’s window and see Lisa calmly taking in the scenery peripherally as she keeps her eyes forward. She’s been good about the driving, but I should take over soon so that she can enjoy the scenery.
We get off the bridge into Moama, Echuca’s sister city, and I point out the petrol station.
“We’re still pretty good for petrol,” she says.
“Good idea to fill up anyway.” I kind of like the feeling of being knowledgeable and experienced in these travelling matters. There’s also a small part inside me noticing the change in the land, preparing to unwind and strip all the layers from me.
Lisa pulls the car into the servo and I head in to pay while she fills the tank. I grab some sandwiches and then notice there’s some locally-made sausage rolls, which are a particular weakness of mine. I consider the merits of both sandwiches and sausage rolls, trying to decide which would be better and which Lisa would prefer.
“Fuck it,” I say to myself, and grab both sandwiches and sausage rolls. We’re on holiday, aren’t we?
I get back to the car and offer to drive, which Lisa accepts. I hand her the food and start the engine.
“What’s in the bags?”
“Home-made sausage rolls.”
We pull out onto the road and are out of Moama within a minute. The speed limit increases to eighty as we hit the outer limits of the town. I put my foot down a bit harder and the wind through the window gets cooler.
Unwind, it whistles.
Lisa opens the bag to a sausage roll and grins in pleasure at the smell.
“Get any tomato sauce?”
“Nope.” I reach into my top pocket and flourish a sauce sachet at her. “Mustard!”
We chow down just as we cross the interstate train tracks and the speed limit rockets to 110. Speed limits out here are practically guidelines, and I kick up to 130. If it were Easter, I’d be more cautious. The cops patrol this stretch trying to nab the hippies on their way to or from Confest. But there’s nothing going on at this time of year. Anything goes.
We finish the sausage rolls but leave the sandwiches for later. Lisa spends a while enjoying the scenery.
“We’re far enough out now.”
That’s the cue we’ve both been waiting for. She reaches behind the driver seat and pulls a couple of beers out from the esky. She opens them, hands one to me and we both take a deep drink. The beer’s made even better by the fact that we’re being a bit naughty. I’m not going to go crazy with it, however. Just a few to keep the edge off.
Lisa reaches into the ashtray and grabs the smoking kit.
“You rolling a jay?”
“Just a mild one,” she says. “You gonna have some?”
“I might have a puff or two.’
Right now, it doesn’t matter where we’re going or where we’ve come from. This is a great moment. Travelling along with my favourite person, no cares and no worries. I love this. I love her. I love everything.
Just over fifty kilometres to Mathoura, then on to Deniliquin. We’ll camp by the Edwards river.
|Friday, October 9th, 2009|
I hereby present: Not Racist
List of things I need to start a bar.
Beer taps, lines, superchiller
Andale fitting replacements
Fridges (Beer, wine, soft drinks, juice)
Glassware (pots, pints, wine, flutes, old-fashioned, shots, martini(?), jugs)
Coffee mugs, saucers, spoons
Spirit-pourers, jigs, bottle openers, corkscrews (better to have screw-cap wines)
Ashtrays (for outdoor smoking area)
Heating and air-conditioning
Candles (for atmosphere), lamps, cool lighting
Some way to make food, or order it in
Enough cash to cover 1 year of losses
Good relationship with local cop in charge of Liquor Licensing
Gas, water and electricity accounts
What am I missing, folks?
EDIT: Okay, much as I like talking about them, this isn't about music, theme, alcohol selection, location, or what colour swimsuits the staff should be wearing. Just the essentials. We can cover the style and atmo another time.
|Sunday, October 4th, 2009|
|How I met Tess
I was walking into the cafe, newspaper under my arm, when a woman sitting out the front said, “Hello!” She smiled quite brightly when she said it.
“Hello,” I said. “Have we met before?”
“No,” she said. “I’m drinking tea.”
“So you are,” I said. I didn’t feel like I could leave it at that without offending her somehow, so I added, “Is it nice tea?”
“All tea is nice tea, but this tea is an extra special nice one.”
“Really? What kind is it?”
“It’s a sitting-in-the-sun-on-a-Saturday-morning tea, which is perfect because that’s what I’m doing now.” She gave a satisfied nod. “Are you going to have some tea as well?”
“I was thinking of having coffee.”
She raised a brow. “Coffee?”
“Well, I have this newspaper, you see, and I generally find that coffee and newspapers make good friends with each other.”
“Tea is a better friend for your newspaper,” she told me.
“Is that so?”
“I’m an authority on this sort of thing.”
“You’ll have to forgive me, then. I’m merely a hobbyist.”
“We all have to start somewhere.”
“Well,” I said. “I hate to seem an amateur, so I think that you have convinced me.”
“You’re going to have some tea?”
“I think I am.”
“I wouldn’t like to disappoint my newspaper, now, would I?”
She thought for a moment and then thrust a wiggling hand toward my newspaper. “Give, please!”
I handed it over.
“Now,” she said. “You should go get your tea. My tea will keep your newspaper entertained while you’re gone.”
“Your tea is very kind.”
“Yes, it is. But it’s almost empty.”
“Well, that won’t do at all. I’ll fix that problem.”
“Thank you, Doctor.”
“You’ll make sure my paper doesn’t run away?”
She threw a foot onto the table, pinning the newspaper in place, and then saluted.
I chose a peppermint tea. I hadn’t had peppermint tea in years.
|Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009|
Triple JJJ Overhauls Hot-List
After the controversy surrounding this year's "Hottest 100 of All Time", public broadcaster Triple J have decided to review their voting instructions before attempting the popular music countdown again.
The recent list, the first of such for twenty years, was heavily criticized for the distinct lack of female artists featured.
"We were a little too broad in our selection criteria," said a radio spokesperson.
"Our instructions asked people to vote for their personal favourite songs, and they could choose any songs they wanted, as long as they had been released.
"Sadly, this freedom led to a social bias that was unacceptable to the community and our own ethics.
:"We never suspected that our listeners would neglect to consider community concerns and political trends when deciding on the merits of a song.
"Therefore, we have decided to try it again, but this time adding some parameters to ensure that our voters' personal favourites are socially acceptable."
The updated instructions have replaced section 1.5 which used to state:
***You can vote for any song which has been released.
to the following:
You can vote for any song which has been released, on the following conditions.
- At least four of the ten songs chosen must be by a female artist, or band that includes a prominent female member.
- At least one song must be by an artist who has a mental or physical disability.
- At least two songs must be performed by an independent artist
- At least two songs must be performed in a language other than English
- At least one song must be instrumental.
- At least one song must be from prior to 1925
- At least one song must be from each continent (Antarctica excluded)
- At least one song must be from a non-musician
- At least one song must contain religious content ("God-damn" does not suffice)
- At least four songs must contain some form of educational content suitable for children
- At least one song must be from an artist who has been either homeless, a prisoner, a refugee, or a victim of abuse
A Triple JJJ press release states that these clarifications will ensure that the new Hottest 100 of All Time will reflect a better understanding of the wider community and more accurately represent the music that their listeners like.
|Friday, August 21st, 2009|
|Melbourne's most over-rated alcoholic drinks
I’ve been working bars for too long now, and I’m getting fed up with the drinking public’s inability to distinguish a decent drink from a shit one. The same old rubbish continues to be served up again and again to folks who are drinking it for no good reason.
So here’s my list of the top offenders. Don’t go thinking that you’re exempt. There are many reasons why a drink is over-rated, and not necessarily just because it’s crap.
10. Carlton Draught
When VB got popular, a host of badly informed drinkers discovered that draught beers were supposedly fresher because “they come straight from the keg”. They then started drinking Carlton and picking on VB, even though they taste almost identical. Well, all CUB products come straight from the keg, and CUB actively helped to promote Carlton to urban drinkers at the time of the backlash. Carlton drinkers fell for the marketing. And it’s lower in alcohol volume than VB. But it’s priced the same.
9. Tequila Slammers
I like tequila. I have a lovely tequila bar around the corner from me (Mi Corazon). Tequila is a drink with a proud tradition. So it’s frustrating, not to mention disrespectful, to see wankers treating it as nothing more than a quick way to get pissed. Even worse is the lemon and salt chaser, which does nothing for the tequila. The traditional (and best) chaser for tequila is sangrita, which is sipped alongside from a shot glass. I usually make do by squeezing a lime wedge into a shot glass along with a couple of drops of Tabasco, a very small splash of orange juice, topped with tomato juice.
8. Black Sambuca
For times when a tequila slammer just isn’t macho enough, go even more bogan by grabbing a round of black sambuca. Wanna know the difference between black and white sambuca? The colour. No other reason. But the black looks nastier, so it makes you more of a man to drink it, even though the alcohol content is lower than that of ordinary basic spirits. I hate aniseed, anyway.
7. Absolut flavoured vodkas
Years ago, I was at a blind vodka tasting, and a few of the participants were Absolut drinkers. All of them converted after discovering that it was shithouse compared with other vodkas of the same price (for the record, Smirnoff Red is outstanding for its price, the Black version isn’t worth the extra cash, and 42 Below is well worth forking out ten more dollars). Adding some substandard flavouring doesn’t improve it. It isn’t hard to get a better vodka and infuse it yourself, and the payoff is a far superior result.
Caribbean/Central American beers are noted for being of a similar bent to Australian tastes. However, that doesn’t excuse the Australian fascination for Corona. It’s become popular only because of the lemon wedge rammed into the top of it. The reason for the lemon, traditional in Mexico, is twofold; to enable the tasteless liquid to gain some form of substance, and to keep the flies out. If you must have a beer of this style, show some class and go for Red Stripe or Quilmes.
5. Bundaberg Rum
They’re not very bright in Queensland, and with beers such as XXXX around it isn’t surprising that they go for another drinking option. Normally, i would respect the choice of rum (apart from the violence that goes hand in hand with it), but they have to choose Bundy. It’s harsh and oversweet and you’re much better off with Coruba, Mt Gay, Havana Club or even Captain Morgan. I also don’t get the deal with the Polar Bear.
4. Heineken/Peroni/Becks/Stella Artois
Wherever you are, drink the local beer. Beer is made for the local climate and lifestyle. It also travels badly, especially in light coloured bottles. Also, exported beers are generally mass-produced dross that drinkers in the country of origin deride. So why would you want one of these generally flavourless beers from Europe that have travelled for weeks in non-refrigerated conditions, tossed about in cargo containers, crossing the extreme heat of the equator, cooled and warmed who knows how many times, quite possibly left in the sun at some stage to get light-struck, only to pay a premium price for it? It only makes you seem distinguished to people dumber than you.
3. Jim Beam/Jack Daniels/Cougar
Rum and coke isn’t as popular down here as it is up north. Bourbon is the preferred drink of the Victorian bogan, and almost always one of the unholy trinity. These all-too-obvious drinkers will also never just ask for a bourbon; it’s always by the brand. And they never have a mixer other than cola, meaning they never even taste the alcohol they supposedly love. I often have people asking for a “Jim Beam and cola”, which shocks me because not only do they want a bad bourbon, but they don’t care what mixer i use, which is the only taste they’re gonna get in the end. You could use Coke or Diet Schweppes, or even No Frills, and they couldn’t give a shit as long as you’ve given them Jim Beam. Retards.
2. Coopers Pale Ale
I can hear the howls of protest already. It’s not like I stepped on your mandolin and picked on the faux Celtic spelling you’ve given to your name, Mr Coopers Pale-drinker, so relax. And it isn’t even that Coopers Pale is a bad drop, because it’s fine. The problem is that it’s in no way as amazing as everyone thinks it is. Just because you want to drink a naturally brewed beer doesn’t mean that you have to resort to Coopers Pale to the exclusion of all else. Widen your horizon, Seamus! Pale Ales aren’t that great, anyway, and other companies have done it better (Kooinda make a beauty, as does Grand Ridge). Coopers themselves have better beers; Sparkling and Lager are both better and stronger, and their Stout and Vintage are magnificent.
1. Jager Bombs
I’m so tired of these. Jagermeister is a perfectly fine liqueur, and great with a dessert (especially tiramisu). And there is definitely a place for energy drinks. But whoever came up with this abomination needs to be shot in the face and then pissed on. The flavour doesn’t even work. If you really must have a spirit with your energy drink, rum is the best choice (trust me). And just have it poured in like any other spirit, as depth-charging shot glasses into other drinks results in damage to the glassware. And if you’re doing it to “get fucked up”, then you’ve picked the wrong drink. Jagermeister has a lower alcohol percentage than standard, cheap basic spirits.
So the next time you and your mates hit the bar, pause before ordering three Jack and Cokes, a Stella, Two coronas and a round of Jager bombs. You may have just proven yourselves to be dickheads with no originality. It can’t hurt to ask the bartender if there’s something nice that they’d recommend, particularly if they’re cute.
|Friday, July 31st, 2009|
So a reminder to any who want to wish me a happy birthday tonight...
98-100 Lygon st Brunswick East
And I'm drinking, not working
|Friday, July 24th, 2009|
Next thursday, I turn thirty.
I'm also working.
So bring a friend and come see me at my work.
Thursday 30 July
284 Sydney rd
(Right next to the Retreat, Brunswick)
I'll be there from 8:30 pm
If you can't make it, I work on Friday at another place
Friday 31 July
The Comfortable Chair
98-100 Lygon st, East Brunswick
Be good to see people.
EDIT: I fucked up some of the details, so they're now fixed.