27 August 2005
One of my UK readers sent me an e-mail today:
Awww. Thanks for writing Annie. As reward for your efforts, here are a couple of nice pictures:
4th Ashes test is like watching a car wreck. Australia could hardly be
playing any worse.
A few weeks after testing Kawasaki's ZX-12 last year, I finally got a chance to try out Honda's big roadburner.
Released in Australia in 1997, the Blackbird has been overtaken by the ZX-12 and Hayabusa in the 300kph+ top speed stakes. While it has received a few updates (fuel injection, higher screen, updated braking system), it is essentially the same bike.
So, what's it like? It's a better bike than the ZX-12. It's much comfier, easier to ride, has better throttle response and it looks sensational.
As with other roadburners, the Blackbird is a big, heavy bike and is meant for the open highway and fast sweepers rather than twisty backroads. It is a mile-eater par excellence. A super-smooth hyperspeed cruiser which soaks up bumps and keeps you in comfort the whole way. The handling is pretty good for such a big machine, but like I said, it's not made for the ultra-twisty roads on the Alpine Way.
The blackbird uses Honda's much-maligned dual-braking system, which for this kind of bike works pretty well, quickly hauling the bike to a stop from high speeds.
Build quality and finish are first-class, the instruments and switchgear are work well, and the whole look of the machine is slick and classy.
The biggest problem with the blackbird is its suitability for Australian conditions. Our fast backroads are infested with ridiculous speed limits and swarms of police speed traps. Use this bike the way it was intended, and you're not going to have your licence for very long.
great bike though...
Caught the Civil War epic the other night. It makes Civil War buffs and the kind of people who like John Wayne movies wet their pants.
Definitely a mixed bag.
At around four hours in length, it holds your attention pretty well, though it varies between tension & tedium like a yo-yo. The movie consists of two elements: battles and speeches.
Some of the battle scenes are stunning, particularly the battle of Little Round Top, where Col. Joshua Chamberlain's 20th Maine corps hold off wave after wave of fierce rebel attacks. This unrelenting sequence is nearly an hour long and is utterly riveting.
Other scenes suffer from ponderous direction and incoherent editing. The climactic scene focusing on the doomed "Pickett's Charge" is a case in point. So much time is wasted showing soldiers marching to LOUD, STIRRING PATRIOTIC MUSIC, I was starting to mumble "oh, fucking hurry up already". The battle scene itself - while exciting in segments - is more confusing than exciting on the whole. At one point, it looks as if the rebels have overrun the union position, then seconds later the rebels lie obliterated.
This is especially disappointing as the movie mostly does a brilliant job letting the viewer visualise exactly what is at stake, where each side is on the battlefield, and the strengths and layout of the respective armies. This is no easy task and the film succeeds admirably for the most part. Kudos.
The cast - despite being burdened with endless big speeches set to LOUD, STIRRING PATRIOTIC MUSIC - is superb, bringing a warmth and humanity to the characters that even the tin dialogue, bloated musical score, and startlingly bad facial hair can't erase. Jeff Daniels, Tom Berenger, Stephen Lang, Sam Elliott and Richard Jordan lend an air of dignity and sadness to the whole affair. You really do get a great sense of the despair of men fighting their own friends and countrymen.
The one exception to this was Martin Sheen, who is badly miscast as legendary general Robert E. Lee. His perpetually befuddled characterisation fails to convey any of the charisma or gravitas that made Lee such a great commander of men in battle. Sheen comes across as Grampa Simpson in a uniform.
There isn't much context to place the whole battle in. Only a brief voiceover introduction is given at the beginning of the movie, and the causes of the war are only occassionally brought up in conversation, which seem to be lacking a certain something: no one - not even the Southerners - has anything bad to say about black folk. You half expect Martin Luther King to walk in at any moment with doves flying overhead.
Yes, I know the Civil War was started for reasons other than "slavery". But I'm damn sure the Confederate army didn't just consist of West Point gentleman having high-brow discussions on states' rights and sovereignty. A lot of them were backward, shit-eating illiterate redneck buttmonkeys who got all cranky when told they couldn't use them niggers as their own personal men-cattle.
I guess it's hard to show men having a heroic death when so many of them probably deserved it.
Gettysburg is a good flick, especially if you're a war movie
buff, and it definitely deserves to be seen on a big a screen as possible.
Just a pity it had to be soaked in so much sentimental, patriotic blather.
"Damn you, vile woman, you've impeded my work since the day I escaped your wretched womb."
I come bearing a gift. I'll give you a hint: it's in my diaper and it's
not a toaster."
Had a nice long weekend in Sydney. Ate like a hog and drank lots. Was fun.
One dinner was had at "Fiesta on Oxford", which was great. Mexican restaurants in Australia are about as common as phoenix eggs, so to actually find a good one was a blast.
of the trip: laughing my ass off as we were coming back into Canberra
at the sight of a fuckwit in a Toyota Landcruiser trying to race
me on my z1000. Heh.
It seems that senile Fairfax political correspondent Alan Ramsey has left a few important details out of his latest cut-n-paste column.
I'll be returning to the USA (yay), either around November or sometime around March/April once it starts warming up a bit. Hoping to be there for around a month.
The vague itinerary at this point is:
Los Angeles, 2 nights
Wouldn't mind seeing Vegas and/or Chicago either, time permitting.
If you live in one of these places and want to buy me a beer or twelve, drop me a line: tex <at> whackingday <dot> com.
accommodation tips (*cough* *cough*) are welcome.
10 August 2005
snowed in Canberra today.
If you're of the particularly idiotic persuasion, there's still time for you to catch the Paul Keating Musical.
How pathetic do you need to be to even think about going to see this? Oh wait, the article tells us:
Says it all really.
The Madness of King Neville - now in PDF
The Age's übersuckhead Terry Lane is actually outraged at a recent poll showing foreigners view Australia very favourably:
Worldwide "perception" of Australia is exactly what bleeding valentines like Lane have been wailing about ever since Howard came to power. Remember how were were all going to be regarded as a "racist pariah" and similar drool? Looks like it didn't happen, and the likes of Lane don't enjoy having their fantasies spoiled. Kinda like every time Howard wins an election, Lane and his ilk react with amazement at the populace's temerity at not doing what they're told.
And now, Lane expresses similar frustration at the people of the world for not sharing his rage at the stupid Australian population:
Inexplicable! Those bastards.
Guess Lane is upset we haven't had another Sari club bombing to teach us a lesson.
Lane must be upset that his own efforts at creating a nazi-gulag fantasy of Australia haven't been as successful.
think being neutered is a job requirement for working at Fairfax.
I'm sorta looking around for an apartment to buy right now, and it must be a competitive environment for the lenders & builders out there, because I got approved for a loan six times my salary, despite five-digit debts, little savings, one dependent, only two motorbikes for collateral and no deposit required. And the loan itself was a stock-standard variable-rate loan.
Oh, did I mention one developer was willing to eat the stamp duty himself?
On another one I'm looking at, the price has dropped by $17,000 in just over a month.
hoping this trend continues.
I'm not getting a PS/2 or Xbox. Might as well wait till I get a high-spec PC later this year for my games fix.
to all those who wrote in with info on this subject.
Last night, Australia lost the second Ashes test by two runs. An amazing game, featuring some brilliant and absolutely horrid cricket by both sides.
As Scott says: why the hell does Australia always lose these close ones?
I was watching that amazing match in Melbourne 1982, when Australia lost to England by 3 runs.
I was watching in 1993 when Australia lost to the West Indies by one run.
I was watching in 1995 when Australia lost to South Africa by five runs.
And I watched last night. It all gets a little hard to take after a while.
I don't what this means for the rest of the series. Australia's batting is absolute shit right now, and Glenn McGrath is out for at least one more test. On the other hand, England nearly managed to lose from an unloseable position: their bowling and fielding on the final day was terrible for the most part.
still has the edge I think, but it's not a particularly comfortable one.
Our blokes need to get their act together: McGrath or no McGrath.
Why am I saving up for an apartment when runout models of Honda's SP2 v-twin superbike are being sold for $17,995?
Arrrrgh. So many wonderful motorcycles, so little money.
There's an amazing new piece of super-weaponry developed in Australia. It's called Metal Storm.
The unfortunately-named Wanda Fish at the Green Left Weekly provides a glowing recommendation:
It gets better:
Sounds great so far. Fishface is wetting her hemp undies though, threatening that this will be used by Bush & Howard on anti-war protestors:
Whatever you say, Fishface. She's very angry that this weapon will allow the Americans to destroy enemies without taking greenie-cheering casualties:
Dang, this thing rocks.
There's some usual blubber about corporations acting all corporation-y before she closes with this:
Oooooh, scarwwwy, innit? We gotta start using these on some islamists. Makes me proud to be an aussie I tell ya.
can read more of Wanda's crap at her
own website, which features such gems as "the
terrorism of debt", who's really
responsible for 9/11 (hint: it's not Osama), how the terrorists in
Guantanamo Bay are "heroes
in this shameful and corrupt war against terrorism", and a fascinating
essay on how she is no longer a "slave"
of "her things". Oddly, she then unloads these evil "things"
onto poor families, so they presumably can be similarly cursed. Nice lady.
Radley Balko posts some pictures of his cute new pup.
Grey's Anatomy was on tonight, and she was the only good thing about it:
From the local propaganda outlet of the Cuban communist party:
The Green Left Weekly has found the next Bertolt Brecht:
William has a forbidden love with his "Enter" key it seems.
it's to keep those "world zero hollywood tens" from multiplying.
A post from the aus.politics newsgroup, brought to you in its entire, unedited glory:
to hear from you again, Mr. Latham.
felt like it, that's all. I'll change the "Past", "Spleen"
and "About" pages later.
As the PC I'm using is an ancient fossil (albeit a free one), I've decided I wanna buy a PS/2 so I can actually play some decent games at last.
So, some questions for those who know about these things:
1- What are some good driving games other than GT4? I'm looking for fun more than car-geek realism, though that's cool too. (Not interested in anything to do with F1)
2- Is a PS/2 really better value than an Xbox? If so, why?
3- Any opinions on Destroy All Humans? Kinda looks like a game version of Mars Attacks!!, which is definitely an attraction. I'm easily amused.
4- What are some good sports games?
5- Does anyone else find the PS/2 controller as bloody awful to use as I do?
6- I've heard the PS2 versions of popular Windows first-person shooters aren't that great (eg. Return to Wolfenstein). Opinions?
send me your feedback: tex <at> whackingday
<dot> com. Make your answers as long and/or as geeky as you
The pro-Castro idiot I mentioned the other day is going absolutely bonkers.
Read the whole thread, concentrating on the charming opinions of "Prof Jonez". Among them:
Believe me, that's only the tip of the iceberg.
is, he's absolutely typical of all Castro apologists: a sociopath with
a raging insecurity complex about Americans.
From the letters page of the Communist Party of Australia newsletter:
Here's one guy I'll watch in absolutely anything:
Name: Luis Guzman
roles: Raoul 'El Cid' Hernandez - Oz, Eduardo Roel
- The Limey
Three great fast food chains
Three Best Picture Oscar winners which suck ass
Three Great Restaurants
Magical Oriental Express - Canberra
Three dreadful TV shows
Three listenable live albums
the Absence of Pink (Knebworth '85) - Deep Purple
Three languages I'd like to learn
Three great old computer games
Ray - Amiga
In this thread at aus.politics, I took a brief swipe at Cuba under Castro, causing one Castroid to explode with rage.
Read and titter at the shrieking of one 'Prof. Jonez'. I especially liked this bit:
Must be a Michael Moore fan.
We've been treated to the mass-murder by Islamist loons in London, so what is the Green Left Weekly talking about? The poor oppressed Islamists of course...
Yes, can't imagine why the muslim community is getting criticised.....
Oh, and they're showing us their deep understanding of middle-east politics:
would that be the war of extermination started by the Arabs?
I never post about cricket, even though I am a fan. I leave that to the real fanatics.
However, I did enjoy the clobbering the aussies gave the poms at Lords last night. So much for the pre-series hype. Still, there's a long way to go, and I still think England will win at least one test.
The destructive performance of Glenn McGrath got me thinking about the great fast bowlers in cricket history. For my money, this bloke is still the king:
376 test wickets at an average of 20.94
I have a highlights tape of the 1984/5 Aus v. WI series in Australia. Marshall was simply amazing to watch, even next to Michael Holding and Joel Garner.
That short, odd runup, the lighting-quick whipping arm action - Marshall was just so blindingly fast, and as superb a tactician as any bowler the world has seen.
I remember one dismissal in particular: Marshall was bowling to Allan Border at the Adelaide Oval. Marshall blasted the ball at the stumps with such awesome speed, that Border was unable to get either bat or pad to the ball, and he was out for 5. Marshall was later named Man of the Series.
Remarkably, as his body aged and was no longer able to deliver such thunderbolts, he became a great fast-medium bowler, able to swing the ball at will.
Sadly, we lost Marshall in 1998 to cancer, aged 41.
Chuck S. sends in a theologically-inspired answer to my tax question:
Well, I'm an atheist, so I couldn't care less what the bible says about anything. Even if I did, I still don't see how these three quotations are a defence of taxation, and I'm especially baffled by this conclusion:
"He says to pay what the government says you owe, not what you think you ought to pay."
So, would Jesus defend land seizures? Because that's the implication here. If Robert Mugabe thinks that's what whitey owes him, aren't they morally obliged to hand it over?
An obligation to pay
tithing, yes. But "what the government thinks I owe"? I think
Ace ozblogger Steve Edwards has quit.
Have fun dude.
Some bit's n' pieces From the new Communist Party of Australia newsletter:
Yeah? How about the detention of the entire Cuban population in Cuba? I guess our Stalinist friends aren't too concerned about that.
That racist bastard: promoting individual rights and home ownership!!
And these people praise Joseph Stalin and Fidel castro as great, visionary leaders.
there anything in the world more disgusting than a communist?
Some opinions that have come in re. yesterday's question:
From Michael S.
On the other hand, Robert G. argues....
Paul Bickford says....
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