Finding Damo

The story of a man, his job, two cats and the meaning of success.

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

Are you curious about yourself?

Are you curious about yourself?

Why, yes! I am!

On Saturday I found a Scientology stand in the Mall off Puckle St. They had a guy doing stress tests, a number of L. Ron Hubbard books, an explanatory DVD, and a lovely pink pamphlet that asks: Are you curious about yourself?

I found that I was curious about myself, so I picked up the pamphlet, which contained a Free Personality Test. It consisted of a number of questions that you answer as + (definitely yes), m (maybe or uncertain) or – (definitely no or mostly no).

I was still curious about myself, so I figured I’d give it a shot. Here are some of the questions:

3. Do you browse through railway timetables, directories or dictionaries just for pleasure?

A simple enough beginning. No. No, I don’t browse through timetables for pleasure. Easy. I feel good.

7. Would you prefer to be in a position where you did not have the responsibilities of making decisions?

Slightly more ominous. If I say yes, does that make me fodder for a cult where I am under your control? And I will like it, because of my answer here?

14. Would the idea of inflicting pain on game, small animals or fish prevent you from hunting or fishing?

Now I’m worried. What is it that we Scientologists will have to do in the new world? And if I want to get in, do they want pacifists? Or people who are willing to torture small animals for sport?

19. Are you normally considerate in your demands on your employees, relatives or pupils?

Ok, now I’m freaking out. How do they know that I’m a teacher? And how did they know I’d be on Puckle St at that time? I think my tin foil hat might be playing up. Or that I spend too much time on Foursquare.

26. Is your life a constant struggle for survival?

No. Should it be? Is it going to be soon? Will I be safe if I join Tom Cruise?

31. Could you agree to “strict discipline”?

Oh right. You have got to be kidding me. This is a question? Are they grooming me for the church or for a good spanking? But in all honesty, yes. I suppose I must answer yes.

45. Do you often feel that people are looking at you or talking about you behind your back?

WHAT HAVE YOU HEARD? Was it that bastard Dave? What did he say? Why did I make him best man? GET OUT OF MY HEAD!

Or, to be more honest, no. They might be suspicious and ramp up the surveillance if I said yes.

55. When hearing a lecturer, do you sometimes experience the idea that the speaker is referring entirely to you?

Isn’t it always about me? You just have to know how to read the codes. It was quite difficult getting Packed to the Rafters to be about me. It involved some seriously meta interpretation of camera angles.

61. Do you ever get a “dreamlike” feeling toward life when it all seems unreal?

No. Yes. Is that a walrus?

72. Are you perturbed at the idea of loss of dignity?

This is really a question. I am beginning to think that this might not be from the Church of Scientology at all, but rather a clever plot by the government to get us to answer questions they’re scared to ask outright in Herald-Sun polls.

76. Do you sometimes give away articles which strictly speaking do not belong to you?

Let’s forget about the fact that the Word grammar checker is having a spack attack over that sentence. This question was written on a very VERY old version of this survey and was intended to try and capture Robin Hood.

This, though, reminds me of a story that doesn’t necessarily put me in a good light. It may make it into the novel. I may have to change it a LOT.

I was living with a girl I’d met on RSVP. I keep wanting to call her Emma, but I’m pretty sure that’s not her name. I wasn’t dating her. We went out on a date, realised we had absolutely no chemistry, but she called me in a couple of days asking if I had a spare room. She moved in. But on the night she was going to move in, she called me and asked if I could be involved in a rescue mission for the new girl that had come down from Queensland.

I think I need some back story on the need for a rescue mission.

“Emma” (I don’t usually change names to save the innocent etc. but I really can’t remember her name) was moving in with me because the guy she was living was an absolute lunatic – scratch that, it’s judgemental. He tutored girls and told them that they had to do what he told them. He used spanking as a method of instruction. He made his tenants sign a document saying that he could spank them if they didn’t follow house rules.

And we’re back on track.

When this new girl moved in, on the first night, the man crawled into bed with her in the middle of the night. Hence the need for a rescue. Fair enough? I thought so.

So, we took my car and Emma’s and drove to his place on a night when we were pretty sure he wasn’t going to be there. We quickly packed everything we could into the car. Emma went through a room filled with books.

“Look at these books. There are so many first editions here! Want anything?” she asked, grabbing a signed Somebody Famous.

“God no. I’ve never even met this guy – is that the Egyptian book of the Dead?”

So, maybe I can’t give you a solid No on that one. But I didn’t give it away!

On with the questions.

88. If we were invading another country, would you feel sympathetic towards conscientious objectors in this country?

“…and if you say yes to this one, you will mysteriously disappear on the eve of our invasion, along with your objecting friends.”

More evidence that this is a government conspiracy.

92. Are you a slow eater?

This survey needs a fourth box: WHY?

98. Would you use corporal punishment on a child aged ten if it refused to obey you?

I laughed at this one. There are a number of questions that ask whether you hate kids, or are uncomfortable around kids. And now: will you give a child a good belting for the good of the group?

101. Does the youth of today have more opportunity than that of a generation ago?

Yes. Why did I put this question in? Oh yes, because this really deserves its own blog. Remind me.

110. Is your facial expression varied rather than set?

They really ask this. Are you already one of the pod people? Or should we send your free Quick-grow Audrey III by express post?

113. Would it take a definite effort on your part to consider the subject of suicide?

Well, it did. And then I read this question. Now I’m obsessing.

Pinocchio130. Are you aware of any habitual physical mannerisms such as pulling your hair, nose, ears or such like?

I’m always pulling my nose. Pulling my nose? Who pulls their nose? Are they asking me this so that the clones can imitate me without being caught? Who pulls their nose? I’m trying it now. It doesn’t seem like a nervous habit. It feels like a misguided attempt to pick it.

136. Do children irritate you?

They do. But I have a cream that clears it right up.

138. Do you usually carry out assignments promptly and systematically?

I mean, really. Yes sir! Mr Cruise, sir!

163. Would you take the necessary actions to kill an animal in order to put it out of pain?

This really should follow directly after 138.

170. Are you opposed to the “probations system” for criminals?

And this should follow directly after 163. “animal” yes indeedy.

181. Do you often ponder over your own inferiority?

I often ponder over other people’s inferiority. Does that count?

194. If you lose an article, do you get the idea that “someone must have stolen or mislaid it”?

Yeah. Blame the other guy.

195. If you thought that someone was suspicious of you and your actions, would you tackle them on the subject rather than leaving them to work it out?

If I thought that someone was suspicious of me and my actions, I think I’d have to make sure that they never told anybody else about it. . .

Battlefield Earth

yuk

OK… So I am no longer that curious about myself, but I’m hella curious about Scientology! How is it that a science fiction writer writes a book, calls it real and suddenly some idiot makes Battlefield Earth into a movie??? And don’t tell me you liked it. I’ve said that myself. You just like the memory of it, now that it’s no longer tearing away at the walls of your intellect.

Why is it that I’m allowed to write Scientologist on my census form, but not Jedi? Or wizard? Maybe I can write wizard. I haven’t checked. But I know they don’t count Jedi. At least I can write Pastafarian, and they told everyone they just made it up.

Damn. The paranoia is kicking in. I should change some of these answers. You won’t take me alive! I sleep with a can of plant killer under my bed! Ha. Just read question 199: Do you tend to hide your feelings?

I feel kind of bad about picking on Scientology. I read the website, which is probably all they wanted me to do in the first place. It sounds quite mellow. I’m pretty sure it isn’t, but it sounds quite mellow.

Made up by a science fiction author. But mellow.

Next week: I’ll be married. I could write about that. Or I could write about bees. Let’s see, shall we?

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Success

OK. Pick 3:

  • be fabulously wealthy
  • become a household name
  • marry a supermodel
  • become the boss of the company
  • create your own company
  • have kids
  • act on Broadway
  • Have hundreds of people attend your funeral
  • pass the million followers mark on Twitter
  • own your own house
  • get published
  • fill your passport with stamps
  • get married
  • be known in your field
  • have lived in over a dozen countries
  • reach old age
  • own the sports car
  • have a YouTube clip go viral…

Which of these three things mean Success to you? I’ve always wanted to be successful, but when I decided to make it a focus in Finding Damo, I found that I had to actually think about what that meant.

The book’s not finished yet. I’m not done thinking. But a few things have become blatantly clear:
1. Success is fluid.
2. Success is elusive
3. You should never be able to achieve it.
4. It is very different for everyone I’ve talked to.

At the age of 20, working in a shocking job, but earning real money for the first time, my ambitions were simple: the house, a wife, three kids and a string of successful novels and computer games based around characters Dave and I invented.

At 26, working at Racing Victoria and headed for a semi-successful IT career, I went to a psychic. She told me that somewhere around 30 I would get married to a girl with long blonde hair, tied at the back with a red ribbon. We’d have two kids and I’d write a novel which would be published after a chance meeting with an overseas investor. That all sounded pretty good, although I’ve never had a thing for blondes.* Then I went to Japan, had a year where I could write for four hours a day, and got to meet all sorts of foreign people – none of whom have bought my book.

Yet.

At 33 I was living in Dromana, living the beach life. I was unmarried, unpublished, still renting, and had no kids that I knew about. My younger siblings both had all of this. My first novel was in editing limbo, I was building up a collection of “this is great, but it doesn’t quite fit” rejection slips on my short stories.

It sounds grim, put like that. None of the things at which I wanted to “succeed” were eventuating. But I was happy. Living by the beach, acting and directing in local theatre and very happy at school. The house and the kids seemed like less of an issue, compared to the fame and the sunny beachy days. I was getting ready to travel again. Lots of plans. My idea of Success at that stage could have twisted off down two very different legs of the trousers of time.

Have you seen Sliding Doors? Imagine that with even more Monty Python references.

Funnily enough, it was then that I met a girl – completely uninterested in a domestic lifestyle – who cemented my concept of success as “wife, kids, house”. She already had a house and wasn’t interested in marriage or kids – and that made me realise that they were things I couldn’t live without.

And now, I’m living the trifecta all in one year. Well, two out of three aint bad**. Now all I need is the fame and fortune.

That’s my success. I’ll get back to you on success for other people.

* Except Scarlett Johanssen, and who wouldn’t?
** Pratchett points out that, actually, it isn’t great. It’s only 66%.

Diary of a Beta Tester

I was absolutely stoked when I received the Beta Test invitation to Mists of Pandaria. I’ve always wanted to be a panda, and now I could be. More importantly, I could be a panda before a whole heap of other people!

I downloaded the test client, almost installed it, solved a number of installation issues through combination of Google searching and WoW forum posts. I created a character on a US server, which crashed and wouldn’t let me back in. I created a character on a Korean server which was full of spamming lunatics who were trying to make it as difficult as possible for anyone to get anything done. And then I created a character on an EU server which worked quite nicely. Not to crowded, not too crashy, just right, says Goldi-Panda.

It’s a weird experience, playing the Beta of a game. It’s obviously good enough for us to test, but it’s not quite there yet! For example, I can’t make Pandaimo tell jokes or dance. He doesn’t have a voice. There aren’t any cinematics. But it looks phenomenal.

What really impresses me with Mists is that the Pandarens aren’t aligned with the Horde or the Alliance. I’m only at level 5 at the moment, but I can see that this is going to be an extremely interesting change to the game.

So, Pandaria. Apparently, we’re floating around on the back of a giant turtle. I’m going to go for a swim soon, to see if I can confirm it. It might even be turtles all the way down…

Pandaren starting area
Where the curious pandaren lives.
Do the crane, Daniel-san!
Do the crane, Daniel-san!

Pandaren are cute, fluffy, round and apparently quite deadly. Even the little kiddies have beards. As in Pratchett’s Interesting Times, Pandaria is a mish-mash of a number of different asian cultures. I helped an old pandaren collect wood so that he could smash his head above it. I’ve balanced on one leg in the crane formation – and then been chased by a crane after I fell into a cursed pool and was changed into a frog.

The only thing ruining this experience, apart from the bugs, are the people. I’m not sure who’s giving out beta passes, but I think they need to use a little bit of discrimination. Quests are being run one at a time at the moment. I’m assuming we’ll eventually be able to complete a few quests at a time, but I’ve been stuck a couple of times with only one quest to complete and one major problem to overcome: idiots.

Yes, even pandas can be idiots. When I arrived in the world, I needed to talk to a wise old monk who would tell me what to do. Surrounding this wise old monk was a throng of bouncing, shuffling pandaren n00bs and trolls, yelling obscenities and coming up with the panda equivalent of Chuck Norris chat (“blizz really shouldn’t panda to these people!” “OMG, it’s panda-monium!”). To get a quest from the monk, I needed to find his wise old black-and-white form in amongst all of the dropkick black-and-white forms smothering him. It was like finding a needle… in a stack of needles. Black-and-white, furry, obscene, illiterate needles.

Pile-o-pandaren
Pile-o-pandaren

I did it. I found the monk, got the quest, completed a few others, and then: “Snatch this ball of flame from my hand. Climb to the top of the temple. Find the Edict of Temperance. Burn it.” Yeah, OK, old man. However, you didn’t mention the OTHER throng of stupid pandaren weirdos who, for some reason, found it incredibly amusing to stand in a pile around the edict, stopping anyone from clicking on the quest item and completing the quest. They’re still there. Every time I log in. Mountains of them on a tiny balcony not really designed for that many pandas.

What is amusing is the view of the inside of hundreds of pandas, as I tried to shift the camera view to a point where I could see the Edict to click on it:

Inside a massive pile of pandas
Inside a massive pile of pandas

It’s not impossible. I did it. I moved on, and got to see some wonderfully impressive examples of Pandaren architecture. The quests, for the most part, are basic WoW fare – collect this, kill that, return, repeat. There are a couple of exceptions, including playing games with a water spirit and learning to balance on a pole in the middle of a cursed lake surrounded by hungry cranes.

My God, it's full of Pink!
My God, it’s full of Pink!

The fun part of playing a Beta game is finding and reporting on bugs. It reminds me of good old Vanilla WoW when I’d play with Mel and Corey and every now and then would get trapped behind something or laugh at a monster who was walking around up to the waist in solid ground. Here, I’m discovering the aesthetic joy of pink blocks. Every now and then I’ll come into a new zone, or log in, to find the buildings or chunks of landscape replaced with huge pink blocks. It’s easy to force the game to re-render the area and fix the issue, but sometimes it’s fun to walk around, or through, these huge pink cubes.

Don't get too close!
What happens if I… oh.

One of the great joys of starting a character in a new race is running through the emote system to see what the developers have for us. /sleep, /lol, /dance, /flirt, /train, /chicken are only a few of the emotes that can be typed in for humorous effect. Most of these aren’t in place just yet. I’ve checked. But PanDaimo does love a good snooze.

zzzzz
zzzzz

I’m really looking forward to trying some of the high-level content as the beta test progresses. At the moment, I’m simply enjoying the view, the fuzziness and the crowds of inept, annoying teenagers with nothing better to do. More soon.

n00bs
n00bs

Rupert, Roger and Roderick

Rupert sang Yellow by Coldplay while slitting Roderick’s brassiere. Yesterday Regina saved Rupert when skies were falling on Roderick. Roderick drugged himself to death by show tunes while bleeding profusely on roger fainting. Sunsets faded into nothingness causing death and destruction to Roger. Tomorrow Regina helped herself to death by poison for herself to suicide assisted death for herself. Resurrecting Rebecca proved impossible however vampires drank Rupert’s life force transforming Roger into Captain Corpse. Captain Corpse disintegrated slowly killing Rupert and festooning Roderick with intestines.

– Dromana trip – 2012.

Road Trip

Road Trip

Before the days of smart-phones, this is what we used to do when we were bored. Rupert, Roger and Roderick were names we took from Life of Brian. We were on a long car trip, or sitting around a campfire, or drunk and bored somewhere and needed something to do and decided to play theatre sports. We told a story, with each person saying a word to make a sentence. And then one of the characters died in a most horrible way. And we laughed. And did it again, this time trying to kill the character. And then again, with each person trying to save their own character and kill off the others.

I was hunting through my old files of random nonsense and found the first ever story, the precursor to Roger, Rupert and Roderick. Here it is:

On a bright summer’s morning the hotdog vendor went north to the hotdog vending laboratory where he inspected hotdogs for sale rapidly in succession. Suddenly out from a bun leaped (leapt?) several mottley yeast particles intent on bloating everything? No! Suddenly out of the bun popped the many faces. Each face ate another bit menacingly of the hotdog vendor.
Seriously though folks,  the moral sucks because there is never time on many faces tick-tocking away to bother eating hotdog vendor.

                        The End?

                           No!

        Consequently, stories like Goldilocks stink because the moral never equates correctly with statistics much in practice but only when [insert budgie’s name here] tells the story. Not often does [insert budgie’s name here] tell stories however hotdogs do. Nothing.

        Mary was sheepishly eating sheep relish and using a forklift to eat daintily. Barry thought Mary should watch herself because without cutlery she might injure him less rapidly. Mary is unconcerned mostly because she doesn’t conserve barries in Australia. When Mary spat the sheep bit she targeted Barry but missiles of destruction work wonders with Barry’s defensive corset. Retaliation was not mandatory however Barry did. Death came yesterday with great pecs of bone and nicely scythed through sheep to provide food for beasts like Mary with alien nuclear capabilities. Barry was angry because Death missed his breakfast on toast, so went under Mary for some beast bits to dye. Instead Barry walked right into hours of plastic
sheep work. Unfortunately Mary dyed the group  of Barry’s sheep dips metallic so committing herself.

– First ever game, October, 1998.

By now we had a game, and so we had to come up with some rules. And thus was born the most exciting game of Rupert, Roger and Roderick. At this stage, it was Rupert, Rufus and Roderick:

Rodgering Rupert, Rufus and Roderick

Roderick killed Rufus almost but fortunately Rufus killed Rupert
nearly totally acting badly. Rupert loves Rufus but killed himself. Rupert
decomposed compost but for now. Rupert resurrected 80’s music after tea
reviving Rupert almost. Roderick suicided unsuccessfully but was bruised by
Rufus who revived Roderick lovingly to throw himself nicely, painfully and
safely onto spikes living in memory escaping life.

As you might guess, it was, of necessity, a three-person game. The first time we added a fourth (we named her Regina) the game went as such:

Regina: Regina

Rupert: Died

Roger: Full stop.

(shocked laughter filled the car)

Regina: Well, that didn’t work!

So we added some more rules.

OK. Rules.

Basics:

Rupert

Rupert

Roger

Roger

Roderick

Roderick

Regina

Regina

Each person takes a name. Traditionally those names are Roger, Rupert and Roderick (with Regina if we need a fourth). You need to keep your character alive and kill the others. However, if you die, that’s not necessarily the end of you. Characters have been resurrected in the past. Often at the expense of someone else.

Grammar:

We had high hopes for grammar and sentence structure when we started this game. Now we just say “if we can’t follow the sentence, we’ll challenge you and it’s up to you to make the sentence work out.” The sentence should work as a sentence. But we’re not going to fire a mailbox up your bottom (Death of Rupert at one stage) if you don’t get it perfect.

Punctuation that ends a sentence or that changes the meaning of a sentence counts as a word. The phrase “full stop” has been the knell of death for many a poor R-named hero or heroine. We also allow the addition of ‘s to a word. Hence “Roderick slashed Rupert’s sneakers”. Finally, the person who says the word is not always the person who spells the word. So, almost once a game we get:

Roger: Rupert
Roderick: dies
Rupert: wool. See what I did there? Change the spelling you tosser!

Roderick dyed his Rufus green. Roderick slashed Rupert’s sneakers causing Rufus’ safe death. Roderick prospered almost committing Rupert. However when Roderick fell four stories fatally it happened that he died.

Cause of Death

We really ramped it up when we decided that people should really die of something. So we added the necessity of weapons:

Scissors didn’t bother saving Rupert from washing powder poisson distribution (this was Dave’s save. a bit dodgy but hey!) but caused Roderick massive lifespan loss. Rufus swallowed nothing but lettuce insecticide fatally kissing Rupert unsuccessfully. However rabbits of great happiness and humour napalmed Rupert almost. Rufuses everywhere donated killer bees. Roderick laughed as chainsaws didn’t stop ever killing Rufus lookalikes but Rufus came undone. Grabbing missiles stealthily Rupert suicided unsuccessfully and aimed them at Rufus. Not aware of the impending destruction, Rufus smelled Roderick’s immortality fading as Rupert destroyed Roderick momentarily distracting himself. Let knives fall. They pierced? Yes but missed Rufus mother, murdering Rufus.

I’m getting the feeling that this is how They Might Be Giants write a lot of their songs.

Once we had the “cause of death” clause, it was safe to put in a fourth person. Thus, Regina was born!

End of Game

When everyone but one person is definitively dead, the game ends. They might be able to be saved in the next sentence, but if they’re dead in this sentence, that’s it. And majority rules. If you think you’re still alive, but can’t argue your case strongly enough, tough, you’re pushing up daisies.

rabid weasel

Worst. Death. Ever.

Rupert, Roger and Roderick is not a game for the faint-of-heart. It’s not a game for the overly argumentative or people unwilling to back down. It is best to enjoy the carnage, embrace the death of your character and try your hardest to take revenge on your murderer. And it doesn’t have to be Rupert, Roger and Roderick (as evidenced by the loss of poor Rufus in the great name shuffle of 2002). You can use your own names, or anyone else’s names. But we find that there is more laughter at “Rupert was stripped to the bones by rabid weasels” than at “Damian was stripped to the bones by rabid weasels”. Well, by me, anyway.

I don’t know how you’re all doing, getting checkout servers to laugh. But we’re done with that now. Make ’em laugh in your own time. New challenge: Get two or three friends. Play Rupert, Roger and Roderick. Write down your game and post it in the comments section. Let me know what worked and what didn’t.

Oh. For the sake of fairness: Dave has a rule that he keeps trying to add in, where you can add “ing” or “ed” to the end of the last player’s word as your go. I feel that it takes away from the simplistic purity of an already devilishly complicated game. However, feel free to give it a shot.

I’m pretty sure there’s an App in this somewhere. If only I could program.

One fine morning when Rufus stabbed Rupert non-fatally complications set Roderick crying with joy because he died. Roderick smells vile but not alive even though he lived shortly. Rupert! Dead finally survived not.

“Oh what a tragedy!” said Bob about Rupert. Even though Chucky died in theory and practise, their genius will prevail when medical tricorders revitalise the tomato and then something exploded.
Chucky, decomposing rapidly decided to forsake Bob after Rupert plunged sinks on Rufuses everywhere. Consequently Chucky posessed Rufus! As Rufus stripped, Chucky’s spirit ate bananas in Hell!
The Armageddon soundtrack sucked and so Bob died.
Chucky disintegrated taking everybody or nobody. Everybody wasn’t crying over Bob’s reincarnation myth. ARMAGEDDON! Nobody liked anybody. Rupert lives not.

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