Encryption Challenge

Well, if you can see a purple hand thingy off to the right, then you’re looking at the new and improved Wyrmworld homepage. I got sick of having to manually update it whenever I wanted to make a change, so I turned it into a JSP. Pretty cool huh?

So, the question everyone is asking – What happened for the rest of my time in Kalgoorlie? Well it was cool. I read a whole load more Bill Bryson, watched some videos, and on Friday we all headed down to Esperance (four hour drive each way, but well worth it). I just haven’t got around to writing it up yet.

I’ll probably get it done over the weekend. I’ve just been generally bumming around since I got back, playing Caeser III, watching the shows I got the folks to tape while I was away (yeah, like I’m going to miss Stargate). That kind of thing.

Anyway just to put something up here, I’ve decided to set my readers (if there are any of you at all πŸ™‚ a challenge. During my time in Kal I re-read Simon Singh’s The Code Book. This led me to come up with a new (pretty damn simple, but new nonetheless) system of encryption. So naturally I’m inviting people to try and crack it. The encrypted sample is below. The first person to email me with the solution and a description of their decryption method will win…. um, the kudos of having said name posted here as the winner I guess (oh yeah, that’s such a big incentive πŸ™‚

Just to give you all (by who I mean the few bored cryptologists who might happen to stumble over this and decide to waste a few hours on it) a bit of a hand, it is in English. I also did all the encryption by hand, so there’s obviously no complicated mathematical algorythms involved. Apart from that, well, anything goes πŸ™‚

01 81 10 08 02 29 00 50 10 48 01 85 00 93 30 97 31 39 30 37 22 01 42 01 01 49 03 77 12 53 30 87 00 91 14 08 32 07 01 25 14 12 30 67 01 99 00 08 30 17 01 40 00 40 32 07 10 18 02 53 32 07 00 58 32 37 40 51 02 01 00 58 13 98 13 79 00 16 01 89 44 01 30 27 00 55 13 74 22 88 30 87 41 51 21 81 13 79 20 53 31 89 03 75 11 45 30 17 30 47 40 11 10 58 44 10 30 17 11 88 02 29 01 85 00 54 10 38 03 79 21 50 30 07 12 53 31 57 10 42 30 37 00 18 01 89 43 70 03 99 20 52 34 17 00 52 01 45 32 07 11 25 03 74 20 80 02 01 32 07 00 08 03 75 11 25 03 74 20 83 10 05 30 27 01 81 00 17 01 49 30 17 10 44 31 97 04 11 20 52 43 70 20 80 02 55 30 77 02 05 03 70 11 59 10 42 30 67 11 85 32 07 00 58 03 70 01 57 41 21 03 74 14 15 13 74 20 80 03 75 01 20 02 09 21 20 03 75 14 11 01 49 40 71 31 99 30 77 10 18 20 52 43 70 11 59 30 77 10 05 10 45 10 94 00 87 23 70 21 50 31 97 01 83 00 15 10 53 10 08 13 79 01 41 03 74 01 57 10 45 10 94 00 87 23 70 00 90 10 58 14 14 04 05 30 17 31 97 01 21 22 50 32 37 00 08 01 99 10 51 13 78 21 53 13 94 23 70 02 18 14 18 23 70 01 41 22 05 00 98 10 74 44 10

I’ll probably be writing a program to encrypt and decrypt using this method shortly, so if anyone actually does decide to try this and needs a larger sample text, please email me.

So, until the weekend then.

Three Days in Kalgoorlie

Well, so much for exciting daily updates eh?

It’s now early Wednesday morning, which means I’ve gone three whole days without making an entry. I could claim this is because I’ve been having such a wonderfully exciting time in the Las Vegas of the Gold Fields, but I’d be lying. The simple reason is that I’m lazy.

I’ve spent the last few days alternatively sitting around on the couch reading, or wandering into town (five minute walk to the city center, excellent!) and taking tourist type photographs. While this has left plenty of time for writing, I haven’t done any at all. Hey, it’s my holiday, I can do what I like with it! πŸ˜‰

I’ve come to the conclusion that I quite like Kalgoorlie. Coming from the big city (OK, Perth only has a population of just over a million, but that’s big around these parts) I’ve never seen the attraction of living in a country town. But this place… I dunno. It’s nice to step out the door and be twenty minutes walk from everything. After only three days I feel like I know the town backwards. This is in part down to Dom, who (in sheer desperation to keep me occupied until Rebecca came off shift) drove me round and round the city for a good hour on Saturday, pointing out the landmarks. My Geek brain rapidly compiled a map of the place which (now that I’ve purchased one and checked) has turned out to pretty accurate.

I think this is about the right size for a city. Thirty-two thousand people. Big enough to have all the neccesary services (there’s a well stocked electronics boutique and a gaming store within five minutes walk of each other – Geek paradise!) but small enough to get around on foot. If they only got all the TV stations*, I could almost live here permenantly.

I say almost because I’m sure I haven’t been here long enough to experience all the inconviences of living in an isolated urban island in the middle of the desert. The lack of anywhere else to go for instance. If you get bored of what’s in Kal, it’s not like you can get into your car and go somewhere else. The nearest place that offers anything you can’t find in Kalgoorlie is probably Esperance, about 400km south. And all that has is beaches.

So, on refelection Kalgoorlie is a very nice and relaxing place to visit, but I probably wouldn’t want to live here, no matter how much I’m enjoying it so far.

Now of course to keep up my promises to everyone who’s been vising the Wyrmlog and then muttering visciously at me for not updating, I’d probably better say what I’ve been up to since I arrived. Saturday afternoon was taken up with Dom’s orientation tour. This zigzagged back and forth across the city taking in all the sights, or at least driving past them. We only actually stopped at one place, the observation deck of the Superpit.

When gold was first discovered at Kalgoorlie by Paddy Hannan (and two other Irishmen, but no-one ever remembers them) a series of underground mines were rapidly established to exploit it. The ore body being concetrated in a more or less straightish line, the resulting string of workings were known as ‘The Golden Mile’, and it became famous for being one of the richest square miles on the earth’s surface. The mines dug away, the owners became rich, and everyone was happy (except for the miners who died in cave ins, or of lung diseases, or their families who died from cholera or dysentry because of lack of water).

Then came new developments in mining. Originally the underground mines just followed the concentrated seams of gold, because technology wasn’t available to make extracting the scattered particles from the rest of the ore body economic. Scientific progress however discovered new refining methods, and eventually processing became cheap enough to make smelting the rest of the rock a viable proposition. So the mine bosses decided to dig the rest of it up.

All of it.

What was once the Golden Mile, a series of streets and alleys lined with frame heads, tailing piles, pubs, stores and other mining town ephemera, is now one of the world’s largest open cut mines, popularly known as the Superpit. It’s 3 kilometers long, 1.5 kilometres wide, and 290 metres deep. And it’s nowhere near finished. Just yesterday the paper announced that they’re going to extend it out by about another kilometre from the plan which was going to extend it out by about another kilometre anyway. It’s seriously big. What you see when you stand on the observation deck beggars belief. This gigantic terraced abyss with dump trucks crawling around the edges looking like they’d fit four to a match box. And these are big mining dump trucks, the ones taller than a double decker bus with a cabin you have to climb up a ladder to get into. The sides are speckled with openings that used to be underground tunnels from the original mines, and little specks run around that are only identifiable as people because of the sun glinting off their hard hats. The pit is so deep that you can’t even see the bottom, and because of the shape of the hole and the position of the deck you’re only seeing half of it. Wild stuff.

What’s even more crazy is that it’s right on the edge of town. It literally is the edge of town. The town grew up adjacant to the mines, the mines were built (obviously) on the ore body, and the Superpit is dug into said ore body. You can look east down almost any street in central Kalgoorlie or Boulder and see the mountainous tailings piles blocking the end of the road. In fact, if the mining companies had their way the Superpit would probably expand westwards and devour a good chunk of the rest of the city, which is built partially over the ore body. This is unlikely to happen though, as it’s too full of historic buildings and motels. The tourism market would collapse.

So, we stopped off and viewed this titanic hole. Then we drove around some more before returning to Becca’s place and waiting for her to get home. When she did I was press ganged *g* into making spring rolls for the party the next night, something that I turned out to be rather proficient at despite the fact that we rapidly ran out of fillings except for noodles, carrot and chicken. We decided that if anyone objected to their meagre contents we’d say they were a traditional Laotian recipe.

Sunday was pretty uneventful. Rebecca was working again (despite the fact it was her birthday, if I ruled the world everyone would get their birthday off school or work no questions asked, and one in lieu for each year it fell on a weekend or holiday damnit!) so it was just Dom and me again. We went out and did some shopping for the party, then back to his place to pick up some CDs Rebecca had been burning from MP3s. Unfortunately we didn’t know what songs had been burnt on the first CD, and which hadn’t. So we had an amusing half hour listening to the CD and trying to match them to the WAV files on the computer. We did fairly well, although we were somewhat thrown by one – “Can’t take my Eyes off of You” by “Frank Sanatra”. At first we presumed that Frank must have done a cover, but when the vocals came in we were startled to hear the most girly voice imaginable singing them. We came up with a number of theories…

a) The person labeling the MP3 was an idiot who’d never heard Sinatra in their entire life

b) Frank had been hit very hard in the groin just prior to recording the track

c) Frank “Sanatra” is a Japanese Karaoke singer with a very effeminate voice

The mystery remains unsolved *g*

Later on I walked into town and wandered up and down Hannan street (just about everything in Kalgoorlie from hotels to supermarkets to pet meat stores is named after Paddy Hannan) photographing the period buildings and getting to the mining museum just as the camera’s internal memory filled up.

This annoyed me. After muttering to myself for a bit I went in anyway and spent an informative hour or so viewing the exhibits. My visit culminated in taking a lift up to the observation deck on the massive head prop they’ve got set up over the main enterance. This, painted in garish red and yellow, offers a stunning panorama of the city, and I was seriously miffed that I couldn’t take any photos of it. After wandering about up there for a few minutes feeling rather put out, I descended and walked back to Becca’s place.

The party that evening wasn’t bad, considering I’m not a big fan of parties and didn’t know anyone except Rebecca and Dom. It was a cocktail party, so everyone was meant to dress semi-formally and bring some ingredients. This policy was adheared to with varying rigour. Towards the end everyone cleared off except for one guy who’s name escapes me, and a girl named Meagan who led a very entertaining* conversation involving safety tape, two way radio protocol and breaches thereof.

Monday had a late start as Rebecca wanted a sleep in to recover from the cocktails and prepare for her night shift that evening. We headed into town about 10:30 and did some more shopping, including a stop into Dick Smith Electronics where I purchased a 32MB memory card for the camera at a ridiculous price that I’m too embarrased to repeat here. But at least it gave me room for 100 extra images. Soon afterwards the cocktails – which had been beaten into retreat by the sleep-in but not yet defeated – regrouped and launched a counter attack, and Rebecca decided she really should get home and go back to bed. I spent the rest of the afternoon reading He Died with a Felafel in his Hand by John Birmingham, which is one of the most horrifyingly funny things I’ve ever read. I had to keep sticking my fist in my mouth to prevent myself from laughing and waking Bec up.

Around 5:00 Rebecca got herself up and headed off to work. I finished the book, heated up some of the spring rolls (which weren’t actually served at the party despite all my hard work damnit! πŸ˜‰ and watched SBS. There was a truly bizzare show on called John Saffran’s Music Jamboree, hosted by the afforementioned John Saffran, a former Race Around the World contestant who’s main claim to fame was recording a parody of Everybody Free to Use Sunscreen some years back…

Congregate in gangs around carparks and shopping malls,
It’s a free country,
It’s public space,
Skateboard on war memorials,
And if you see Quentin Tarva on the street,
Punch him the face for me,

In any case the show seemed to consist of him telling a long winded story about how the former turntablist for the Beastie Boys attempted to steal his girlfriend during a tour during the late 80’s. This was acted out as he spoke by people wearing large, oversized, two-dimensional Beastie Boy masks, and if not true has surely opened him up to massive libel suits. He concluded by interviewing the current Turntablist (Mixmaster Mike) via satellite and after a few general “tell us about the latest album” type questions attempted to get him to take an oath that he would never attempt to steal his girlfriend…

Mixmaster Mike: What?…. So you have this televison show and you interview musicians… and get them to swear never to hit on your girlfriend?!?
John Saffran: No
Mixmaster Mike: Then wha..
John Saffran: Just members of the Beastie Boys
Mixmaster Mike: What?!?
John Saffran: I’ve been burned before

I don’t know if this was actually real, but it had a very weird air of reality about it. Mixmaster Mike’s consternation seemed very authentic. Saffran has pulled numerous risky stunts on public figures before, so I like to think it was genuine πŸ™‚

He finished up by having some university music Professor give a brief history of the balalika, then got Scandal’us* to demonstrate the instrument by performing their hit “Me Myself and I” on it, which was surreal to say the least. It’s amazing how much the chorus of a crappy mass market pop song can sound like authetic Russian folk music on the right instruments πŸ™‚

The practical upshot of all this is that I am so gonna be watching next week πŸ™‚

On Tuesday I got up at about eight and read some of Bill Bryson’s “The Lost Continent”. People have always recommended him to me, but I’ve never got around to reading any of his work. I can now say I waited far too long. He’s great! Almost (although not quite) as good as Douglas Adams in Last Chance to See. At 9:00 (with Rebecca having gotten in at about 5:30 from her night shift and very deservedly asleep) I walked into town and did a bit of tourist style shopping – postcards, ridiculous golden key chains, that sort of thing. I then walked down to the east end of Hannan street and resumed taking photographs where I left off on Sunday. This neccesitated another trip to the museum, but this was OK as it’s only $2.00 to get in and it turned out I’d somehow neglected at least half of the exhibits. So I spent a further enjoyable hour looking at union banners and restored buildings out back and the southern hemisphere’s narrowest pub (3 metres at the widest). I was way too amused by a sign in the bucket toilet out the back of the replica miner’s cottage that read (in big letters)…

Toilets in the visitors’ center

I really don’t want to know what sort of incident prompted them to put that up πŸ™‚

Finally, having made sure that I hadn’t missed anything else I proceeded back up to the head frame to take some panaramic shots of the city. This all went well until I pressed the lift button to go down. Nothing happened.

I pressed it again.

Still nothing.

I pressed it repeatedly.


This merry little game went on for a good ten minutes. I was entertaining myself with visions of being trapped up there all morning by lift failure – the fire brigade having to send up ladders, interviews with the Kalgoorlie Miner, appearances statewide in the humourous little filler bit they use to pad out the end of the news bulletins – when someone downstairs pressed a button and apparently stirred the thing into motion, causing it to finally respond to my summons. By the time it got me back down to the ground floor I was so relieved to have escaped that I completely forgot to inform the museum staff of the fault. So for all I know the next bunch of tourists got stuck up there as well πŸ™‚

I walked back to Rebecca’s and finished the Bill Bryson book, by which time she was up, and we went back into town just to do some stuff. This neccesitated a visit to the tourist bureau to try and figure out what stuff to actually do. In the end we plumped for “the largest gem and mineral collection in the goldfields” at the School of Mines geologic museum. A short drive through town later we arrived at the museum only to find that it’s opening hours were 8:30 till 12:00 (or something similarly ridiculous, they’re not on the brochure so I can’t say for certain), and as it was now mid afternoon it was closed.

We weren’t too happy about this, and spent the next ten minutes trying to figure out why they kept such odd hours. Front running theories included the staff all going out fossicking for more samples in the afternoon, and the staff hating the students, and thus closing before any of them got out of bed. With nothing else to do we decided to wander down to the Goldfields Art Centre, and see what was on at the gallery.

The Goldfields Art Center turned out to be a large, modern looking theatre with a small room labled “Gallery” stuck onto the back, seemingly to justify the title “Arts Center” rather than just “Theatre”. This room turned out to be full of jewelery, some of it nice, the majority truly bizzare. Like the semi-circular necklace with little gold tiles hanging off spelling out “Buddha Fist” or the “Impliments for the first Wash” which included a bit of seagrass on a bit of wire, a bowl made out of an old tin can, and a ladle made out of a kangaroo rib. To make matters worse the room was heated so heavily as to put much of the jewelery in danger of melting. On our way out I dropped $2.00 in the donation box to help them fix the air-conditioner.

We then wandered around to the front of the theatre to have a look at the posters of previous shows. These mostly consisted of performances by Rodney Rude* and a moustachioed man by the name of Col Elliot who’s posters made Rodney’s look sophisticated.

With the entertainment possibilities of the town exhausted we returned home to look at the tourist map. The only thing we could concievably do in the 45 minutes remining before Rebecca had to go to work was have a look at the Miner’s Hall of Fame, a multi-million dollar tourist trap at the edge of town. Admission costs $20.00 for adults, but as you can see virtually everything in it for only $2.00 at the town museum I had no intention of going inside. I just wanted to wander around the outside, take a few photos and generally mock the whole enterprise. So this we did, getting back to Becca’s just in time for her to cook some chips, and head off to work.

I spent the evening frying up more spring rolls, starting on another Bill Bryson book, and watching the Brad Pitt episode of Friends, which was shown in Perth abut three months ago, but was on it’s first run out here in the Goldfields.

So yeah, that’s what’s been going on. Rebecca now has four days off, so we’re going to actually do some stuff (when she wakes up). I’ll try and make entries with a bit more regularity from now on.

I wouldn’t make any bets though πŸ™‚


* Perth has five free-to-air TV channels. The ABC or Channel 2, which is the Government funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation, has no add breaks and plays a lot of local content with some first run British stuff thrown in, Ten Entertainment Network, or Channel 10 which mostly plays Anerican stuff with enough local content stuck on to satisfy the regulations, Channel 9 which plays a mix of everything, Channel 7 which used to be mostly local content but now has a slice of the American shows and repeats of British stuff so old the ABC won’t touch it anymore, and SBS, the Government funded Special Broadcasting Service which plays more arty, alternative and foreign stuff. Kalgoorlie gets the ABC, SBS, GWN (Golden West Network) which is a sort of country cousin to Channel 7 and gets their shows about a year later than the city, and WIN, which is an unholy amalgam of randomly picked shows from 9 and 10. It can hardly compare.

* To listen to. Conversation is not one of my life skills.

* The Australian version of Hear’say. The band from our version of Popstars. You Brits know what I’m talking about! πŸ™‚

* A standard of Australian comedy. He stands on a stage for an hour or two swearing at the audience, cackling nasaly and singing songs that range from the merely bawdy right through to absolutely filthy. People love this and pay him lots of money.

Kalgoorlie Day 1

There’s an odd kind of surrealism to long distance train travel. I’m looking out the window at the brown, foaming waters of the upper Swan river (although this far upstream it could well be the Avon) swollen by the rain from the massive frontal system that’s rolled over the state for the last few days. The waters are pouring violently over rocks and boulders, just a few meters from where I sit, yet all I can hear is the endless thrum of the diesel engines pulling us eastwards.

I’m one hour into the eight hour train journey from Perth to Kalgoorlie, and am passing through the deeply eroded and disected edge of the western continental plateau. People are starting to settle in now, taking off jackets and coats, and either producing food from their bags, or ordering it from the attendants. Even the baby a few seats back has got used to the rythym and settled down to sleep. The train is winding in and out of the steep valleys, occasionaly bursting out into patches of sunlight, but mostly travelling through shadow and occasionaly patches of low cloud, hiding in the deepest valleys.

I’m not typing this, I’m writing it longhand in a notebook with a ballpoint pen for later transcription. This is somewhat appropriate – for all our development railway travel is still an eighteenth century technolgy, so it’s fitting that I’ve reverted back to a more primative form of recording to match. This is of course lost on the man sitting in the window seat next to me. He keeps trying to read over my shoulder, but as I usually do in public I’m writing in the oksos, so he hasn’t a hope of understanding it.

It’s eight fifteen and the landscape has changed. We’ve emerged from the state forest of the escarpment and into sheep country. The land is flattening out and the man in the window seat is trying to sleep. These cripsy bacon biscuits are making me thirsty.

Eight twenty five and it’s raining in Toodyay. Much to my relief a number of small irritating children have just alighted. We continue on our way, passing through cuttings of rich red earth. The sun is out, but the sky ahead is black.

We’re in dairy cattle country now. The trees are changing from dark barked to pale white, like ghosts gums. We lost the river at Toodyay, but a fragment of rainbow is flaring up against the dark skies ahead. Grey green rocks are poking up out of the hillsides.

The track suddenly divides. A gigantic grain elevator looms. It’s the W.A.R Avon Yards, a great comglomeration of warehouses and workshops, laced with railway track. We pass under a bridge, and enter Northam where we briefly meet with the river once again. More people alight, but some get on as well.

Golden fields to the right under a mist of rain. Canola? Perhaps. I don’t know.

We are surrounded by sheep once again as the Kalgoorlie pipeline appears. Running hundreds of miles from the hills of Mundaring, carrying water from the coast inland to the desert city. The greatest achievement of the cursed C.Y.O’Connor. The ravages of salt start making their first appearances on the land, marring the green fields.

A forest of dead and dying trees. Salty mud lies in swathes between the the bare trunks. In twenty years the entire wheatbelt will look like this.

Another grain elevator, a twin for the last one looms up. I miss the name of the town, and the driver offers no clue. A sign flashes past. Merriden? Earthquake ravaged Mekering? It’s gone too fast to tell.

Salt ravaged land stalks the northern horizon. It sudenly swings southwards, and the train travels through a desert landscape of barren sand, low saltbushes and brackish ponds. It pulls back, but remains like a dark shadow to the north, returning to haunt us with another patch just outside of Cunderdin. It’s hard to appreciate the magnitude of the salinity problem until you see it for yourself.

A frieght train rushes past. It’s carriages are compressed by our relative speeds until they seem only a metre long each. The land becomes flatter, and the trees shorter.

We’re well into the wheatbelt now. Green stalks sprout from the fields and the driver has to blow the horn to scare pink and grey galahs off of the tracks. Then, as if to confirm my thoughts, the driver announces that we’re pulling into Tammin.

Tammin! Scene of the year 12 Geography camp. Looking just the same as it did nine years ago, from the gigantic grain elevator (built to the same standard plan as every single one along the line) to the co-operative store full of metal tubs, to the old westrail depot (still in use to torture students, to judge by the tents outside). Even the big fat bastard tree is unchanged. It hasn’t changed a bit since 1993.

More’s the pity.

If you squint, Kelleberin looks like Guildford. It has the same period buildings interspersed with eighties brick, the same types of trees, even the people look the same. The only difference is the empty fields stretching to the flat horizon visible down every side street.

You get a feeling for when we’re nearing a town. The road, the pipeline and the tracks all come closer together. The train slows down. Some buildings and a grain elevator flash past, then it’s all gone.

The driver announces we’re pulling in to Southern Cross, but the train doesn’t stop. Did I fall asleep? Was I so wrapped up in my book that I didn’t notice? The mystery remains.

Time has started to melt and run out at the ends. The constant thrum of the engines and the rise and fall off the power lines between their poles has a hypnotic effect. The man in the window seat pulls the curtain halfway across to keep the sun out of his eyes. We stop somewhere (Merriden?) and most passengers dash outside to stretch their legs and have a smoke. I stay inside. The land becomes completely flat, the fields dissapear and desert scrub takes their place. How long has it been since I wrote last? How many towns have we gone through? I can’t remember. I read my novel and the landscape flashes by unnoticed. The attendants offer empty seats to the remaining passengers, and I swap sides, leaving the man in the window seat to snooze on on his own.

A hill rears up suddenly in the distance, visible over one of the salt lakes that have been appearing out of the scrub for the last hour. The contrast to the flat desert is startling. It looks for all the world as if someone has excised Greenmount Hill from the Darling Escarpment and relocated it a thousand kilometres inland. As we draw near, a mob of emu scatter across the lake, startled by the train. Sunlight flashes off the iridescent patches on their necks. I think of grabbing my camera, but they’re gone before I have time.

The hill draws closer, and we pass it by. Hidden in the scrub at the summit are two buildings, disturbingly white against the drab olive vegetation. Who would build this far from anywhere? Vehicle tracks lace the steep sides of the massif, but the train pulls by, and this strange outpost remains a mystery.

The train pulls to a halt by a small brick shed and a man alights. He walks off into the scrub carrying his backpck. The train continues on. I presume he knows where he’s going.

The refreshment service is discontinued, and we pull into the outskirts of Kalgoorlie. The mountainous refuse piles of the Superpit looming up behind the city provide a contrast to the flat desert surrounds, and a beacon on the highest point flashes continuously. It is 3:00 in the afternoon. I gather my luggage, and alight.

I have arrived.

Return of the Ring!

Sometimes I don’t know if I should laugh or cry.

There was an article on NineMSN today talking about the DVD release of The Fellowship of the Ring and how it’s expected to break the record set by Harry Potter. This in itself wasn’t very provocative, what got me was towards the end of the article where it talked about the two upcoming sequels. The Twin Towers at the end of this year, and The Return of the Ring in 2003. Oh come on! Where did this so called reporter do their research? The back of sugar packets?

Mind you, I do kind of like the idea of Return of the Ring. Frodo and Sam risk their lives, pushing themselves to the limits of their endurance and sanity crossing Mordor and casting the Ruling Ring into the fires of Orodruin, Frodo gets his finger bitten off, and then – after all their efforts – THE RING COMES BACK!!! (Cue ominous music).

Still, some journalists should be shot.

Changing the subject, Mark has kindly enlightened me regarding the Aardvark thing. It was (of course) a promotion for the upcoming stop-motion-animation film Hamilton Mattress. You can read about it here. And here. It’s by the people who did The Wrong Trousers, so is no doubt fairly good. Not as good as it would have been if Hamilton actually was a Set beast of course, but hey, you can’t have everything.

Changing the subject again, come this Saturday I’m off to Kalgoorlie for a week or so for Rebecca’s birthday. Also to do some confluence hunting, and just to soak up the general goldfields ambiance. So I won’t be answering any emails for a while. I will be taking plenty of photos on my brand new digital camera though! (It’s not all that speccy, but hey, I could afford it! *g*) And I’ll also be trying to get another Tale written. Nothing like staying in a town you don’t know with a person who works insane shifts to give you time to write πŸ™‚ I’ll probably be making some entries here though, so log in daily for updates on my outback odyssey.

If I don’t get lost out in the desert while looking for 31

Aardvarks Ahoy!

There are certain songs that really grab me from the get go. Ones that I hear once, then absolutely have to hear again. And again, and again. Songs like Sonia Dada’s You ain’t thinkin’ ’bout Me, Shivaree’s Goodnight Moon, Mozart’s Voi che sepete, REM’s What’s the Frequency Kenneth? and Anita Kelsey’s Sway*. I have no idea what makes me like these songs so much, I just really really like them. Perhaps if someone who actually knew something about music was to analyse these selections they’d be able to find some kind of pattern, maybe to do with minor keys. Hmmmmm.

In any case I’m rambling on about this because as I type I’m holding in my hot little hands* two brand new CDs containing the two most recent songs to grab me in this fashion. Ben Folds’ Rockin’ the Suburbs (for Annie Waits) and Cake’s Comfort Eagle* (for Commissioning a Symphony in C). I ordered these a few days ago from a well know Australia online music store, who I just don’t feel like mentioning the name of now. Dunno why, I’m just in a recalcitrant mood πŸ™‚

Also in my now rather overcrowded hot little hands are brand new DVDs of Clerks and The Fifth Element. I decided to buy the latter after watching it on TV last week, and deciding that it’s one of my favourite films of all time*. It’s extremely well written, is very funny*, has great special effects, fantastic music, an agglutinating conlang* and features Milla Jovovich who is probably second only to Alisen Down in my actress-I’ll-never-get-anywhere-near-but-wouldn’t-it-be-nice affections. Clerks, another one of my favourite films of all times just happened to be sitting on the shelf next to it, and going out cheap, so how could I resist? So, all up I’m about $120 down, but quite happy πŸ™‚

And now for something completely different. Each Thursday the ABC has taken to filling in the two minute or so gap before Daria with a video clip. As for some reason they continue to classify Daria as a children’s show (it’s animated! It must be for little kiddies!) these clips are aimed firmly at the pre-teen market, and generally include colourful Sesame Street type characters singing about how wonderful trees are or something of that ilk. However the other week they played one of the oddest and most intriguing video clips I’ve ever seen.

It was stop motion animation, and about an aardvark* who plays the drums. He plays the drums in a swing band with a whole load of other aardvarks (all in very cool 40’s attire) in a 40’s style nightclub, and everything’s going well. Then a bunch of Gangster Parrots* take over the club and kick them out, although not before dragging him before the big boss and roughing him up (apparently they don’t like his drum solos). He wanders the streets, poor and destitute, until he ends up living in the dump, where he has lots of fun playing drums for the rats, who are highly appreciative. What happened after that I really can’t say as I was cooking dinner and a pot threatened to boil over, but it was pretty damn surreal. I think he got a new band together at the end, and named them after a mattress billboard, but I’m not sure. Anyway, I was most impressed, and would very much like to know what the heck it was all about.

Anyone care to enlighten me?

In other news, it turns out that the proprietors of Lovebox.com, who I so heavily vilified a while back for their evil spamming practices, are in fact a bunch of innocent cardboard box manufacturers from Kansas who’s domain name has been hijacked by the evil spammers. I was informed of this in a very apologetic email from a Lovebox employee – the company seems to be scouring the net for people inconvenienced by these parasitic bottom-dwellers in order to apologise to them, which is a refreshingly polite attitude in these, the waning days of our civilisation. So, anyone else who’s received the Lovebox email should visit this page for the full lowdown, and follow the advice provided to crush the squamous vipers besmirching the name of a respectable packaging company.

OK, I’m gonna go sleep now. Or watch The Glass House. Whatever.

* The real version. Off the Dark City soundtrack. Not that dance travesty from a few years back. Die dance travesty makers! Die!

* Not literally. I’m not that dexterous.

* Comfort Eagle. Not Lone Eagle. Yes, I’m talking to you πŸ˜‰

* For the record Clerks, Ghostbusters, The Blues Brothers, Men in Black, Run Lola Run and The Fifth Element. MiB is now the only one I don’t have on DVD. Cool!

* Multipass!

* Listen to that and tell me it’s not agglutinating buddy!

* I presume it was an aardvark. I thought at first it was a pig, but it had a long tail, and the ears were probably a bit big. It could have been a Set beast I suppose, but the prospects of stop-motion animators knowing what a Set beast is, let alone using one in a children’s video clip seem rather remote.

* I am not making this up!

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