Hottest 100 2020

It’s that time of year again! Well, to be truly accurate it was that time of year again some weeks back when I put my votes in, but it’s that time of year when I get around to posting them on the Wyrmlog, so there!

Anyway, what I mean is that I’m posting my votes in the Triple J hottest 100 – the objectively (by which I mean subjectively) best 10 songs of the year, plus a few extras that didn’t quite make the cut. Here we go!

Alex the Astronaut – Lost: Alex has been kicking it out of the park this year, I probably could have filled up half my list with her songs. But I try to limit myself to one track per artist, so went with my fave. It covers the same ground as Ben Fold’s classic Brick but more thoughtfully and with a hopeful ending.

Come & Go [with Marshmello] – Juice WRLD: As a grumpy old contrarian I really didn’t rate Juice WRLD, and I have a deep seated puritan streak that limits my sympathy for anyone who kills themselves with recreational drug abuse. But this track really has something. Those guitar and drum loops are outstanding!

Walk my Way – Harper Bloom: A sweet little love song with a dorky but cute made-in-lockdown video.

Word of the Day – RAT!hammock: “Lately it seems everyone’s dreams are in half-time” is one of the best descriptions of the pandemic I’ve heard to date. There’s plenty of other good lyrics and an equally good tune, but it’s the trumpets cutting in towards the end that make this one really work for me. Another great lockdown video, this time tapping green screen technology for everything it’s got.

Flying – Last Dinosaurs: A upbeat yet mellow club track with a great baseline. Not a lot else to be said!

nostalgic (luvsick) – renforshort: renforshort has no truck with capital letters! That build to the chorus and the drop with the guitars make this one simply irresistible.

Bagi-la-m Bargan [Ft. Fred Leone] – Birdz: As with most white Australians I was bought up to idolize James Cook. This song is a much needed kick up the arse to remind us that his ‘voyage of discovery’ was the harbinger of genocide and dispossession that we’ve only barely started acknowledging and taking responsibility for.

Breathe Me – Stace Cadet & KLP: This cover of Sia’s original is simply incandescent. I don’t have words to describe it. Song of the year!

Fresh out of Love – E^ST: Lush and romantic but with modern hip-hop sensibilities. Or something like that. Damn good, anyway! A fine follow up to Talk Deep which I definitely would have voted for last year had it come to my attention in time.

WAXIT – Dennis Cometti: If you’re West Australian and you’re not voting for this call for succession then what the hell is wrong with you? A tongue in cheek celebration of everything great about WA and how the eastern states can take their NRL and Daylight Saving and plundering of our GST revenue and shove it!

The song that feels particularly appropriate this year, what with Clive Palmer trying to force open our hard border and the federal government backing him right up until the moment they realised they were courting statewide electoral annihilation for a generation in doing so, and ran for the hills. Also I could hardly not vote for a song whose clip features the beloved Bayswater subway – just down my street – in its natural state of having a truck stuck under it.

So there we have my ten picks. Songs that almost made it include Dance by Julia Stone, and Caught in the Middle by Alex the Astronaut.

Stay tuned for an update on how many of these even make it in to the countdown!

EDIT: And only about an hour after I posted this the Bayswater subway claimed another victim!

Don’t Say Suicide

NOTE: This post discusses issues of suicide and self harm. If this may be triggering or upsetting for you, please feel free not to read any further. If you feel like you need help in this area then please contact a crisis line for assistance

OTHER NOTE: I AM FINE! This post is about stuff that happened at high school many (far too many!) years ago. While I am certainly no paragon of mental health, I am not in any kind of distress and am not contemplating any kind of self harm. I just feel like discussing some high school memories in my usual irreverent manner. Thank you for any concern, it is appreciated but I assure you quite unwarranted!


One particular year back in high school everyone suddenly seemed very concerned about suicide. I don’t know if there was a particular event that triggered this concern, I certainly can’t recall any of my fellow students attempting self harm, although to be fair it was not the kind of thing that would be openly discussed in the early 90s and I was not sufficiently connected to the school’s gossip network to pick up any rumours. Possibly it came down as a dictate from the Catholic Education Department, perhaps triggered by an incident at another school or as some kind of reaction to the rising popularity of Grunge music. In any case, without warning all our Religious Education classes suddenly switched to telling us why trying to kill ourselves would be considered a very bad move, both personally and spiritually.

Now, this in itself was no bad thing. No one could seriously suggest that trying to prevent teenagers from harming themselves is problematic. What puzzled my friends and I at the time however – and continues to puzzle me to this day – was the very strange way the anti-suicide message was presented. Whether this was due to the powers that be having to quickly come up with materials, some odd strictures of the Catholic church, or simply someone in an important position suffering from a chronic case of Dunning–Kruger is a mystery that will probably never be solved.

According to the information presented to us, teenagers attempted suicide for one of two reasons…

1: As an attention seeking strategy

2: As a means of revenge against people who (they feel) are mean to them

…and as such all the anti-suicide material we received was aimed at showing us how self-harm was an ineffective method for dealing with either problem.

For instance, in the first case, we could end up dead! Think about that! Our attempts at drawing attention to ourselves by taking a bottle full of pills, or cutting our wrists, or jumping in front of a train ran a very real risk of killing us! We didn’t want to end up DEAD did we? Of course not!

The second case was best illustrated by an anti-suicide video apparently obtained from the United States. It started with an angsty looking teen standing in a black void angrily making statements like “That’ll show them! They never appreciated me! Well now I’ve got the last laugh! Hah! They’re going to feel so bad now!” And then a deep voice, trying to sound – I seem to remember – like James Earl Jones but not quite succeeding, came out of the void and asked “Well what now?”. The teen, still seething with self-righteous anger, asked “What?”. The voice asked again “What will you do now?”. The teen looked shocked and stuttered “I… I don’t know…”.

While we considered the metaphysics of this, the video continued into a documentary about a second rank hair-metal-band who felt they had to do something about the ‘suicide problem’ among teens, so recorded a song called Don’t Say Suicide. They talked at length about how important the song was and how it would help prevent kids from self-harm – they even went into detail about how a teenager rang up a radio station and asked them to play his favourite song because he wanted to hear it before he killed himself, and the DJ played Don’t Say Suicide instead and the teen called up afterwards to say the song had changed his mind, and the band felt really great about that!

The tone of the piece was very strange. It seemed to veer between suicide prevention, a band-promo and a whole bunch of humble-bragging. At the end it cut back to the teenager in the black void, realising that he’d made a mistake and was now stuck in the black void forever. Whoops!

All of this education about why killing yourself was not a good way to get either attention or revenge was capped off with a reminder that suicide was a mortal sin, so if you did it you’d go to hell for all eternity – which is presumably that black void where not-James-Earl-Jones would question your choices until the end of time. So don’t do it kids!

The inanity of all this was best summed up by a friend of mine who sitting in art class after one of these R.E. sessions posed the question “What if you want to die just because you’re really tired?”. Our carefully administered regime of suicide-proofing provided no answer to this at all.

I guess out teachers did their best to address a difficult subject with the materials presented to them, but even at the time we students could see the inadequacies of the program. I sincerely hope that no student across the education system suffered because of them – although it’s almost certain that they did. And I presume that today’s schools recognise that self-harm and suicide are complex issues requiring more than sitting students down in front of a video of a hair metal band and threatening them with eternal damnation to solve.

(The friend who posed the question in art class is still with us, and turned out fine, just in case you were worried.)


When writing these kinds of posts I generally make it a practice to write down what I remember first, then check the actual historical details. As such I have now determined that contrary to my recollections, it was not an obscure hair-metal band that recorded Don’t Say Suicide but (apparently) well known Christian rock musician Rick Cua.

The song is simultaneously catchier and more religious that I remember, neither of which is surprising considering I only heard it once almost 30 years ago.

Vinegar Tom

Well, it’s been a while.

The world continues to burn down around our ears, but WA is (for now) COVID free, vaccines are being rolled out and the orange dingus in the White House is on the way out – assuming he doesn’t manage to get a coup up and running. There’s also a nice planetary alignment tonight, which will be great as long as I remember to go out and take a look at it.

I have been busy for the last couple of months producing a couple of expansions for the classic board game Arkham Horror. As is usual with me I decided to wait until the worst possible time to do this – Arkham Horror 3rd edition is out and has been out for quite some time, but I’ve been building my expansions for 2nd edition not only because 2nd edition is clearly far superior, but is also (more importantly) the only version I have access to.

The first expansion – Hyperborea – is based around the Hyperborean cycle of stories by the wonderful Clark Ashton Smith. I actually started work on this about five years ago, but the project popped back into my head a few months back so I jumped back in and finished it. It has not been play tested, but should be a bit of fun.

When I get myself a bit better organised I’ll host it here on the Wyrmlog. Until then it can be downloaded from the following dropbox links…

The other, much larger expansion is based on Ramsey Campbell’s Severn Valley setting. I got the card creation part of this sorted over the weekend – which involved learning how to create plugins for Strange Eons, ow my poor brain! – and just need to write up the rules, so hopefully it will be ready to go by new year.

In the course of this project I was reminded of the strange case of the familiar spirits allegedly uncovered by Witch-Finder General and all round psychopath Mathew Hopkins in 1644. The story – as with all stories of ‘witch’ finding – is tragic, with a number of harmless old women tortured and murdered, but did produce some wonderful weirdness in the supposed names of the familiars the witches are said to have provided. Here, take a look…

Here we see a number of the creatures the witches supposedly summoned along with the deliriously delightful names they attributed to them. “Sacke and Sugar”, “”Pyewackett”, “Griezzel Greddigutt”, “Peeke in the Crowne” and best of all “Vinegar Tom”. In my opinion – almost four centuries on – Vinegar Tom is a simply brilliant name for anything. I wouldn’t mind being called Vinegar Tom, would you?

Thoughts of this nature led to me coming up with the following ridiculous novelty. Yes, you can now find out what your name would be were you a familiar spirit from the 17th century! If of course that’s your idea of a morally acceptable good time…

As is the way of these things I created this silliness in a white heat of creativity with the result that my own familiar name is the somewhat dull Newes Elme Tree. I could have gone back and rejigged the options to create something more exciting, but that would be cheating, wouldn’t it?

Anyway, enjoy! And keep an eye out for the upcoming release of Severn Horror, where you can summon up all the imps mentioned by Hopkins, should you be willing to risk your strength and sanity to do so!

Volcanoes and Sulphur and Geysers oh my!

As is my way, rather than deal with the various important things that should be occupying my attention I’ve instead been thinking about Minecraft and how it needs a volcanic biome.

The Volcanic Biome would be a rare, warm biome and consist of stone, gravel and terracotta. Plants would be limited to dead bushes, tree stumps and occasional mushrooms and berry bushes. There would be extensive lava lakes and scattered lava source blocks – the latter especially underground so mining would be problematic.

There would be no villages, although perhaps ruined villages (nothing but stone walls left) could be a feature. There would be occasional lakes, mostly floored with magma blocks.

Open topped ravines would be common. Also common would be long, linear caves – lava tubes – just under the surface. Some of them would be roofed by gravel, so having the ground collapse beneath your feet would be a constant risk, which would be particularly unfortunate over one that’s still full of lava.

Volcanoes – conical hills with deep, lava filled shafts at their crests- would of course be common.

The real attraction in the Lava Biome however is geysers!

A geyser block only occurs in a Volcanic Biome. It is extremely hard and if broken is destroyed – unless broken with a Silk Touch pick. It naturally generates on the surface layer with between 1 and 5 lava blocks in a line below it. A water block generates on at least one side.

As long as a geyser block has a lava block below it and is touching a water block on at least one side it will randomly erupt. An eruption is preceded by an increasing rumbling sound for a few seconds (giving players time to run away). It then shoots a stream of particles upwards 5 metres for every lava block below it, to a maximum of 25 metres. Blocks above the geyser will suffer damage and may be destroyed – as per an explosion.

The particles fall to the ground like snow, but inflict fire damage on any mob they hit. They build up in layers, again like snow, and can be harvested with a shovel – although they are tougher than snow and each layer removed only has a 20% change of producing a drop. Particles falling on a geyser block are destroyed and do not create layers – thus keeping the geyser clear.

There are at least two types of geysers, white and yellow. White geyser layers drop bone meal, making them an excellent source of fertilizer. Yellow geyser layers drop sulphur, which is a new resource that can be used in dyeing and potion making. Most importantly it can be combined with charcoal and bone meal to produce gunpowder!

So that’s the idea. I expect my cheque from Mojang directly!

Walking Arcadia part One

When I was a kid, my parents always went out of their way to watch an extremely boring British soap opera named Howards Way. This was not because they found it particularly compelling, but because it was filmed in the vicinity of the Hampshire village resided in by my Aunt. As such any given episode would feature glimpses of places they knew, with an outside chance of spotting someone they’d met walking past in the background.

The idea that we all eventually turn into our parents is a cliché, however the problem with clichés is that they only become clichés in the first place because they’re true. As such I now find myself in a similar position, making room every Thursday night to watch the ABC’s The Heights, solely because it’s filmed just down the road.

(Excuse me for a minute, I appear to have been bitten on the wrist by a spider or something and have to go put some cream on it. If I never post again you’ll know why.)

Anyway, yes, The Heights. Needing both some exercise and some direction in life I decided yesterday to go on a walking tour of Heights shooting locations, and take some photos along the way.

My first stop was Arcadia High School, which is actually the Mount Lawley TAFE college on Lord Street. I caught the bus down there and arrived just as it started to rain.

A short walk through the drizzle to East Perth train station and an equally short train trip bought me to Arcadia Hospital, which funnily enough is another TAFE college, this time the East Perth branch at Claisebrook. Along the way I realised my camera lens was filthy and cleaned it – hopefully making subsequent pictures a bit sharper.

The fact that it’s directly across the road from Perth’s ABC headquarters is surely a complete coincidence…

A short walk along the reconstructed Claise Brook – which doesn’t seem to have had any maintenance in the last 10 years, seriously, can we do something about that? – takes us to the steps that I think are where Shannon got bawled out for arriving late for community service. It was certainly somewhere along Claise Brook anyway.

Following the steps upwards takes us to the old Boans furniture factory, home to the apartment inhabited by Claudia and Sabine.

By now the rain was starting to get serious. I had plans to walk down to the river and take some shots of the parks and bridges which often show up in episodes, but instead decided to stop in somewhere dry and have some lunch. I had a quite decent pizza at the Royal while drying out and reading the latest Fortean Times, then considered my options.

My original plan included a trip down to Trinity College (AKA Embleton) then across to Wellington Square (location of many open air scenes), hitting up the Towers themselves just behind the Old Mint, then getting a bus across to Iris’s store near Hyde Park. But the weather didn’t look likely to improve much, so I decided discretion was the better park of valour and I’d be better served by taking a quick jaunt directly to Wellington Square, see if I could grab a long shot of the towers, then head home. This turned out to be complicated by massive roadworks all along Wittenoom street, and work being done on the square itself but I did my best.

And thus ended my grand day out.

Sooner or later I’ll get around to some closer shots of the towers, the river parklands and Iris’s store. In the meantime I did take some shots last year covering the old Perth Enterprise Centre that serves at the exterior of the Railway Hotel, and the mural on Moore street that’s often seen as an interstitial with trains rushing past it. I stepped in an actual human turd (the city really needs to do something to support the homeless population) getting these pics, so appreciate them!

And that’s your lot! Be sure to tune in to ABC at 8:00pm Thursdays to see these places on air. Or not, I’m not your dad.

I’m serious as eczema when I’m playing on my decks!

And, because why not, here’s another attempt at transcribing a Moped track. This time their incandescent version of Abba’s Dancing Queen (including a sneaky shout out to Snap!)

(By the way I’m not terribly excited about the shout out, the band Snap! actually included the exclamation mark in their name, making it rather difficult to discuss them in a calm manner. It was the nineties, we did things differently then.)

Dancing Queen – Moped

Two-thousand and four! You know the score!
Come on people! Let’s get busy with the fizzy!
Insane-ia-ism!

You can dance, you can dance,
Party people!
Having the time of your life,
I wanna see you shake your booty with a significant degree of confidence tonight! Yes!
Ooh, see that girl, watch that scene,
Digging the dancing queen,

In dancing queen!

Oh yes!

That’s right!

Friday night and the lights are hot,
Hangin’ with Moped give it all you got,
Little bit of fresh flavour, I’m gonna make you dance,
We’re in the mood for some trance,

Only Moped could be those guys,
I’m quite small while the other two are high,
Bumping in your disco, we’re coming in your ears,
In brand new underpants,

And when you get the chance,
You are the dancing queen, young and sweet only seventeen,
It’s not eighteen but it’s legal!
Dancing queen, feel the meat from a tangerine, oh yeah!
Arrr-aargh!
You can dance,
Yes!
You can jive, having the time of your life,
You’re twisting the lemons man!
See that girl,
My lemons!
Watch that scene,
Whip it!
Digging the dancing queen,
Arrr-aargh!

Urrrrrrrrrrrrr!

You’ve got to push the groove and pump it up to the max,
We’re like a train to your brain laying down nineteen fresh tracks,
We’ll always run to the rhythm, get down with the flow,
We’re bigger than the Beatles! You do it – Darius!
Duh-uhhh,

Yes! That’s right!
I’m serious as eczema when I’m playing on my decks!

Huh!

You are the dancing queen, young and sweet only seventeen,
Dancing queen! She’s bootiful! Really bootiful!
You are the dancing queen, young and sweet only seventeen,
Inhale! Exhale! Don’t forget to breathe!
You are the dancing queen,

Thank you! I love your English face!

And your butt,

Sweet Child of Moped

It is, in my opinion, a great crime that the lyrics to Moped’s various reinterpretations of rock and pop classics do not seem to be available online.

To understand Moped there are a few things you need to be aware of. For instance, the existence of Scooter – a German dance group who specialise in taking samples of other people’s songs, putting a dance beat behind them and then shouting random nonsense over the top.

It also helps to know that Scooter had a mainstream hit in 2002 with a piece based around Supertramp’s Logical Song.

And the final piece of the puzzle is that in the wake of Scooter’s Logical Song, some fun loving British lads created a parody group named Moped and sent a pastiche of Scooter’s style – based around Coldplay’s Clocks – into the popular Chris Moyles radio show, which inexplicably decided to play it.

And then Moped kept doing it, and the rest is history.

Anyway, I find their stuff hilarious and thought it was abut time their unique interpretations of the modern dance form got some love, so here’s my best attempt at the lyrics of their spectacular cover of the Guns N’ Roses classic Sweet Child of Mine.

Sweet Child of Mine – Moped

Yes! Moped are back, going back in time like Doctor Who! But we don’t have a TARDIS. But we do have a Talbot Horizon…

Oh-wo-wo-wo sweet child of mine!

This time we’re rocking for the UK Posse. Cream! Gatecrasher! Nexus Wine Bar! Crystal! And Joker! In between the kebab shop and the taxi rank!

Guns n’ Roses are hot, and it seems to me,
That we’re back on the remix in 2003,
Yes, Moped are phat! It’s satisfaction guarantee!
(Moped are subject to status, terms and conditions apply, ask for written details)

Now and then when I feel the base,
It takes me away to that raving place,
And if I rave too long, I’ll probably miss my last bus and it’s a long walk back to Battenburg let me tell you…

Yes!

Oh-oh-oh sweet child of mine,
Irritation for the nation!
Oo-oo-oo sweet love of mine,
Mmmmm-nice!

She’s got flavour and she’s all gravy,
But I’ve absolutely no idea what that means, and, and now I’ve missed my place in the verse, and, I’ll catch up, it’s coming up in a little bit there, eh, here we go!

Her hair reminds me of the one safe place,
Like Ibiza or Clacton-on-Sea,
We go there all of the time you know,
To get fresh with the Moped Posse,

Here we go!

Oh-oh-oh sweet child of mine,
Fresh with the flavour!
Oo-oo-oo sweet love of mine,
Freestyle! Key-change!

Oh-oh-oh sweet child of mine oh-oh-oh!
Bring back thats beats!
Oo-oo-oo sweet love of mine,
Moonshanka!

Arrr-agh!

I’m the wide runner, I’m the big hitter,
You can’t get better than quick-fit fitter,
Up, fork, you know the score,
Don’t leave towels on the bathroom floor,
Clunk, click, Chas and Dave,
UK Posse gonna hear me rave,
I’m the rhythm police, the baseline protector,
When I say ‘bo’ you say ‘selector’,
Hick, schlep, bacon and eggs,
Guns N’ Roses, they have legs,
I’m the lord of the dance, I’m hung like fire,
This Moped vibe gonna take you higher,
I-I-I-I can’t find my way out of the recording studio, where do we go now?

Arrr-agh!

Real mega-nice!

Where do we go?

Get fresh with this!

Where do you go kids?

Sweet child! Of moped!

Urrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

On Horny Space Salamanders

Horny Space Salamanders Batman!

You know, Threshold – the infamous episode where Tom Paris travels really fast, turns into a salamander then has salamander babies with Captain Janeway) really should have been the last episode of Star Trek: Voyager.

I don’t mean production should have been shut down, everyone fired and the sets put to the torch – although a case for that can certainly be made – I mean that they discovered a perfectly plausible way to get back to Earth in no time flat.

The souped-up, transwarp shuttlecraft that inexplicably turns people into horny amphibians moves at infinite speed – it occupies every point in the universe at once until the pilot decides where to drop out of transwarp. As such there’s nothing stopping the pilot jumping instantly from the Delta quadrant to Earth orbit. The transformation into a space salamander takes some time to start, so they can land at the nearest medical facility and explain that they’re about to grow gills and cough up their own tongue, but that their doctor has prepared a complete treatment protocol and it’s right here on this PADD. A couple of days later they’re back to normal with no harm done and they’re home.

Janeway should instantly have devoted all of Voyager’s resources into building transwarp shuttles, packing them full of crew members and sending them back to Earth. The last person to leave the ship sets the self destruct to avoid contaminating the Delta quadrant with Federation tech, and everyone arrives back home safe and well with only the slight inconvenience of turning into an amphibian for a couple of days.

But no. Gotta hit that end-of-episode reset button! How else would we have been treated to the exquisite cringiness of the Doctor and Seven-of-Nine duetting on You Are My Sunshine?