The Great Console of China

Using RSS feeds is a fantastic way to get news on your favorite websites without having to actually click into the website every time. I’ve been using the RSS feed reading app Flipboard for a few months now, and I’m now also using The Old Reader.

One of the things that have been popping up lately, but not garnering front page news, is the fact that current generation video game consoles are heading over to China.

Consoles banned in China

So far, the two major players in the console war, Microsoft and Sony, have not been able to sell their gaming consoles inside mainland China. The reason, according to Kotaku:

“Consoles have been banned in China since the year 2000,” Lisa Hanson from market researcher Niko Partners tells Kotaku. “The government thought that was the best way to protect Chinese youth from wasting their minds on video games, after a parental outcry.” The following year, online gaming exploded, and the market size hit $100 million. So the ban, Hanson says, “didn’t stop the ‘problem’.”

 

Then, there’s piracy:

Sony did sell their PS2s in mainland China, but as the same Kotaku article reminded us, the pirate tendency that runs rampant in China has rendered the move a disaster.

Sony released the PlayStation 2 in China in January 2004. The launch was a disaster with rampant game piracy and of the hardware itself. While it wasn’t exactly the financial success Sony might have been hoping for, it did build a brand name for the company. Nintendo’s Wii has been copied by a Chinese company and released as the “Vii”, a game system that runs preloaded motion controlled games. Sony’s PS3 has been knocked off as “The Winner”. Pirated versions of console and PC games are prevalent.

 

10 years later…

So 10 years later, I’m reading about the consoles being optioned to sell in China again. First, the XBox One is announced late April, and just today, the PS4 is also announced to be going to the most heavily populated nation.

While on paper, it may seem like a fantastic idea, but considering that the PS2 was one of Sony’s largest console triumph, and it was still pirated to an early grave, what would be in store for the PS4?

Gaming digitally

One thing that has really changed since the disk-based PS2 days, and that is digital gaming. However, stringent DRM on digital game files still won’t guarantee that piracy wouldn’t swallow the profit margin entirely, as the current piracy market has proved that there is always a workabout around digital locks.

Possible preventions

  • Cheaper hardware and software

While this may not be fair to other markets, the fact that other, knockoff products are extremely cheap (under $100 AUD, or even less) mean that to create a competitive product, Sony and Microsoft would have to put onto the shelf an equally cheap product.

  • Exclusive content

This would have to be done concurrently with the previous point, but having exclusive content for the region (the way that Australia and New Zealand gets special ANZ editions) could be enticement to spend some extra money for the official versions. This might not work if piracy gets their hands on it, however.

  • Locking software

The last, and antagonistic suggestion, is to simply ship consoles that lock up if it detects a pirated game being played. This can be maintained through mandatory firmware updates – that is, to not allow the console to function without updating to a new firmware update – so to overcome any hacking that may occur between firmwares. This might be the least pleasant option, because it creates a distrustful atmosphere that places onus on the consumer instead of the publishers to fix a problem.

In any case, it seems that the console war is going to wage on the biggest (and most flooded) market in the world. Whether that would work out, only time would tell.

Alex.

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So Fuck You, You Can Go Cry Me An Ocean

[Save Rock And Roll – Fall Out Boy ft Elton John]

I’m mostly going to bitch about the episode of Glee where they commemorated Finn/Cory, and also catch up on my life. (I have to write these little intro excepts because Tumblr cuts it off pretty fast and I don’t know how to fix it.)

First, the Glee rant. For those of you somehow not in the know, the actor for the main role of Finn Hudson, Cory Monteith, passed away during July from a drug OD. He was struggling with drugs all his grown life, so it wasn’t exactly completely out of the blue, although he was supposed to have gotten better from the rehab stint he did a month prior. And also a quick disclaimer: I understand there are some strong and loyal Glee fans out there and since I’m going to be tagging this post, they might come across it. I want to make this clear: I mean no disrespect to him, to his work, or to his legacy. You’ll see that my rant is mostly about how the show treated the tribute to him, but some may overlap into sensitive areas.

The tribute episode for him, titled “The Quarterback“, mostly depicted a period of time after Finn’s death, where actors from the previous seasons as well as the current season paid him tribute through each of their storylines and song. It showcased the grief experienced by Finn’s mom, his stepdad Burt and his step-brother/co-Directioner Kurt; Puck his best friend from high school; Santana, the chick who he lost his virginity to and who was horrible to him most of the time; Mercedes who was just his friend but I think the actress was probably really close to Cory in real life, so she got her own song; Will, the teacher; Sue Sylvester, who actually had a really touching and out-of-character scene over him, which I again suspect came as a result of Jane Lynch being very close to Cory; and of course Rachel, aka Lea Michele, aka Cory’s real life girlfriend/fiance or however they were. Then, of course, everyone else were also featured crying and etc.

The entire episode, I felt, was a way for each cast member to properly say goodbye to Cory in a place where Cory meant a lot. And in that, it was very good. The emotions were extremely raw, and I even overlooked the bad lip syncing done when Rachel did her solo, because it was obvious that Lea was breaking down, and that was real. For the same reasons, I overlooked Sue’s huge character discrepancy because I know from interviews that Jane Lynch respected and loved Cory a lot, and of course she wanted a way to say goodbye properly on screen. For the most part, I think that all the monologues were either well structured, or at least forgiveably deviant. But, I had a problem with the story for the episode.

Because, see, Glee is a show about issues. It’s a musical dramedy, which tackles all and almost every hot button issue that comes around, which may be relevant to the target demography (teens and young adults). They had homosexual relationships, bullying, suicide attempts, trans-gender, divorce, adultery, teen pregnancy, hell they even had a school shooting. So when the episode started with Kurt’s voice over saying that Finn had already died, and that they did not want to go into the ‘how’ despite so many people asking, I was extremely annoyed.

Yes, this was a clear reflection of the real-life situation where all the tabloids wanted to talk about was that Cory died from OD, and how tragic it all is, when all they want is some privacy for the family. But in the show, in the story continuation, why couldn’t they address the OD? How is drug use and abuse not a common issue among the demography? There are so many ways which the OD could have been written into the episode without evening changing much of the script, and they really could have hit home the impact of an OD for some of the audience.

They could have easily had Puck feel extreme guilt that he didn’t look out for Finn at a party, where he OD’d. The survivor’s guilt storyline is almost identical to the real one that happened. It would have been a matter of a few extra words to put in Puck saying something like, “I was the screw up, not him. So why am I still walking around?”

Will could have gone through self-blame, thinking that he wasn’t father enough to Finn, and didn’t give him enough guidance, only to realize in the end that he did all he could, and ultimately Finn made a bad, fatal choice.

They could have easily had either Kurt or Rachel go through the stages of extreme anger at Finn for having done something so dumb, and died from it, and finally succumb to the real grief that is in their hearts, but they didn’t. They had a chance to show kids who may be experimenting dangerously with drugs that it could end horribly and hurt everyone around them, but they didn’t. They didn’t even so much as put a whiff of it. We don’t even know if Finn died from an accident or foul play.

And, I understand it was out of respect to Cory that they didn’t talk about the dark side of his life. I understand, most likely, that FOX probably didn’t let it happen, or the producers were worried that an episode might glorify drug use and ODing, and make matters worse. But I just feel like, with so many other teen after-school specials having dealt with the topic, that they definitely could have done something about it. It was a missed opportunity to take a tragic death and bring some good into it.

Alright, that’s it for the Glee rant.

Recently, I’ve been working a lot. The new manager has been very tough on everyone, but he has also trained me up in a lot of areas. I am now moderately confident in my coffee skills, and with more practise I’m sure I’ll be rather competent. I also got a new phone, the Sony Xperia Z1, and of course I ran it under the tap because the motherfucker is waterproof. I’m finalizing the steps to studying next year, and now I’m just waiting for summer to properly roll around so I can wear the new sunglasses I got from ASOS.

I’ve also been playing a lot of Phoenix Wright instead of Pokemon, and it’s quite gripping so far.

That’s all for now. I think I should find a theme for this blog but I feel like that’s not really my thing. Maybe the theme for my blog could be themes.

Alex.

Moonlight Would Provide The Spark

[Three Cheers For Five Years – Mayday Parade]

Serena brought it to my attention that I never finished this post.

As this was two years ago and I’m not bothered enough to check back, I’ll do them all now. I actually have a post in draft for the last few days that I didn’t write, but since I have to sleep within the hour, this might be faster.

Day 01: Your views on death, how you cope, etc. – If I answered this already, forgive me. I guess my answer will be different now. Since then, I’ve come across two deaths, one close but not extremely close to me, and another in my own family. Both were very sad but not in the shock tragic way. The former is definitely very upsetting, since it was my friend who battled cancer for eight years, and who ultimately lost to it. The thing is, the whole family knew it was coming, so they had time to prepare, to spend time and to smile and laugh. Her last days were spent in the company of her friends and family, so all things considered, it was pretty beautiful. The second death was my own grandfather, and it was a bit of a shock, but he was old, he lived a full, happy life, and there were no prolonged pain and suffering. He left my grandmother with a place to live, money to spend, and they had a lifetime of memories together. So my views? Death sucks, obviously, since it’s the ending of an existence, but I’d prefer to think about them when they lived, and how good they lived, and in that way they can continue existing in a sense, and positively so.

Day 02: How you introduce yourself to new people. – I try to be myself, but for the most part I gauge the situation. It’s easy to create a public persona, a funny, slightly inappropriate jokey, kind of persona, and just let that take care of the social conventions. But let’s be honest, we all do that. It’s how society is made for us to survive in, and instead of condemning it, think about the kind of people in your life around whom you could drop your public persona easily. It makes times with them even more special.

Day 03: What you think about love. – Judging by the time stamp, this was initially written just before I met Amelia. June 2011, I was pretty into someone else, and it wasn’t requited. I would have been a bit naive, hopeful but ultimately cynical about it. Now, I think it’s probably at the stage where I think love is definitely something which can fix someone, but also an elusive something which you may never know you’ve had, because who knows what love is? How can you tell you’re in love, and not just deep infatuation? And more importantly: does it matter? If you’re happy, and they’re happy, and your sex drive is VERY happy, then does it matter if it’s not really “love”?

Day 04: Write about someone you love. – Please see previous posts about Amelia. SORRY I just have to sleep very soon.

Day 05: A list of things you fancy doing. – Lately, I’ve been working more, so I do appreciate down times when I can read a good comic or book, or watch some shows while playing Jetpack Joyride, or reading about cool new techie things. I also really, really enjoy cuddling Amelia’s dog Meg.

MEG3

Day 06: Recommend some books to read. – This might just show my immaturity and taste in literature, but a few books I’ve been recently reading that I really enjoyed:

Perfume – the Story of A Murderer by Patrick Suskind (yes, I saw the movie first)

A Song of Ice and Fire (the series Game of Thrones is based off of) by G. R. R. Martin

Repotting Harry Potter – A Professor’s Book-by-Book Guide for the Serious Re-Reader by James W. Thomas (a wonderful way to also read through the series itself as you go along)

The Casual Vacancy (Where Rowling shows she really, really understands how people work) by J. K. Rowling

White Fang (literally one of the first adult English books I ever read, and I fell in love with it) by Jack London.

I’m also going to recommend some comics which I like.

Saga – Image Comics. The illustration is astonishingly beautiful, and Fiona Staples conveys emotions so artfully that some panels are laugh out loud funny, because of the way she’d draw the characters. The story is also compelling, but now that I’m waiting monthly for them instead of consuming them in one go, I feel like it’s so slow!

Chew – Image Comics. I have a thing for Image. Chew is funny and then punch-you-in-the-guts heartbreaking without notice. It takes quite a lighthearted approach at a really, really morbid theme, and it’s so fun to see where everything is headed.

Rising Stars – Image Comics. This series ended a while back, and I blew through it in one day. I’d wanted to savor it slowly, but before I knew it, it was pitch black and I had a sore butt, but I was just sobbing at how things turned out. It’s like Heroes, but better (which isn’t saying much, I guess).

American Vampire – Vertigo. Ever since reading Preacher (which is also good, but I won’t put it on my list), I thought Vertigo would come out with weird-ass things (just like Hellblazer too), but American Vampire’s story really SUCKED me in, even considering the fact that it had time jumps and deviations in protagonist focus. The world which Snyder created is so engrossing I wish they could make a bigger thing of it.

Fables – Vertigo. Also a surprisingly not weird series. It’s like Once Upon A Time but not so whiney. The reason I got into it was because I read a review for Wolf Among Us, which is the Telltale Game’s prequel to Fables. The game sounded fun, and the comics did too, so I gave it a go. Great decision, cannot wait for the game now.

Numbercruncher – Titan Comics. This was one of those random new comics recommended by Comixology, and I gave it a go. It was strange to start with but then the premise really grabbed me, then it continued being extremely awesome, and it’s something I’d totally re-read slowly while contemplating the idea behind it.

The Bunker – Hoarse and Buggy Productions. Yet another random digital-only recommendation, which turned out to be very time-travelly mind-bendy stuff. It’s slow in picking up and just started, so it’s not built up to much yet, but the creators are promising something huge, and I hope they deliver!

Day 07: Write about the arts (music, art, dancing). – Obviously, these things are all around us and we don’t realize it. It feels like these institutions have been built to such an elitist state that, if you’re not AMAZING AND TOTALLY ACE at it, then you’re relegated to “sucking” and “keep it as your hobby”. I mean, for most people, it probably is a hobby anyway, but they don’t need you to tell them that. I wish I was good at all three, because musicians/artists/dancers are sexy, but I think I’m okay with just writing and storytelling.

Day 08: Write a poem. – I once took a creative writing class where one of the assessments was to write a poem. I think poems are also built to be something more than it needs to be. Poems are meant to be a gathering of words in a way which draws beauty and instills thought and emotions into the reader. Just because you didn’t write it in a bloody sonnet format doesn’t make it any less special. A limerick isn’t any lesser than a haiku. A kid who wrote an acrostic poem using the word “MOMMY” and writing about how much they love their mother means a lot more to that mother than anything Hemingway could have come up with, because poetry isn’t about how poncy you are, it’s about the emotion behind it. In other words, I can’t really be bothered writing one right now.
Day 09: Photo of your favorite pillow. – I only have one pillow, and it’s light blue. Unless you want a photo of Meg again?

Day 10: How you wake up in the morning. – I tend to wake up more often to alarm clocks than not, then I take 10 minutes to scroll through my overnight Twitter feed, especially for interesting news, then I get up and do my stuff.
Day 11: Write about your sibling(s) or what it’s like to be an only child. – Being an only child can be lonely sometimes, and also your parents pressure you a lot, since they only have you to make them proud. But, you get lots of stuff, so whatevs, right? It’s getting late and these questions ask too much of me!
Day 12: Your relationship with your parents. – I think this is a bunch of worms which need to remain in the can for tonight.
Day 13: Write about what you believe in, be it God, yourself, etc. – I believe in finding happiness, and one’s innate right to be happy, no matter how. Of course, if being happy means you absolutely need to go on a killing rampage, then maybe you shouldn’t be happy, or even alive. I’m not really one for all-life-is-sacred, because in the end we have about 6 billion on this planet, (I’m the only one with the uncanny ability to be awesome,) about half of them is in a constant state of poverty and probably dying, and the other half cares that a deranged gunman not get a death sentence? Again, let’s keep those worms for another day. My point is, being happy is all you should aim for, because once you die, who knows what else comes after?
Day 14: What you do for Valentine’s Day. – I’m not allowed to celebrate this day because Amelia hates it.
Day 15: Write about the best gift you’ve ever received. – It’s hard for me to pinpoint the best gift, since I constantly want and get tired of new things. I think that a photo album that a friend gave me when I left my old school was probably the most heartfelt and sweet thing, though.
Day 16: Write another poem, about the weather. – Roses are red, the sky is blue, the rain is gray, brown is poo.
Day 17: Post your favorite gif.

Cry3I used this reacting to when Amelia said that we were no longer in the honeymoon period.
Day 18: Your plans for tomorrow. – I work 8 hours.
Day 19: Write about something you fear. – I’m scared that Amelia will find being with me too tiresome as times goes on, because we either have to hide it from our families forever, or come out and face the consequences. We’re both bi, so I’m worried she’ll end up finding it easier just to be with a guy who she can be public with. But that’s silly, because she loves me, and her dog has basically imprinted on me so it will take too long for it to love someone else.
Day 20: What did you eat for dinner last night? – Dad fried up some Spam and we ate it with burger buns and he also made soup.
Day 21: Your favorite thing to drink. – SO I HAD MY FIRST WET PUSSY (well…”second”) TONIGHT AND IT WAS DELICIOUS AND I LOVE IT.
Day 22: How you take your coffee or tea. – I usually have a latte with one sugar, but I used to do double shots with one sugar as well. I take tea black with one sugar, unless it’s green, then no sugar.
Day 23: Your favorite thing to wear. – I like wearing hoodies because they feel like mobile blankets.
Day 24: Another poem, about the shoes you wear most often. – Roses are red, my shoes are purple, some bits are black, so black and purple.
Day 25: Write about where you live. – I live on a street predominantly white, and we used to have a problem with some kids down the road, who would ding-dong ditch us, and they escalated to kicking our trash over, harassing my mom when she’s working in the front yard, and once egged our house. They’ve stopped recently, though.
Day 26: Your favorite smell. – Amelia! Also bacon. OH IMAGINE IF AMELIA COOKED BACON!
Day 27: Your thoughts on the internet. – I don’t see a problem with the internet itself, I see a problem with people. It’s like guns. Yes, guns are bad things and they kill people, but honestly, a gun sitting there by itself wouldn’t be that scary, but you put a pair of hands on it and WOAH it’s a problem. It’s the same thing with the internet. It’s a great way to connect things that are otherwise unable to be connected, but once you put a human behind the mouse and….
Day 28: Write about how you feel today. – I’m a bit annoyed that I spent all day watching TV and not doing some writing, but it is my rest day after all, so I should just be happy I got to rest. Next week is a tough working week, but I’ve got Pokemon Y to look forward to on Saturday!

Tried My Best To Leave This All On Your Machine

[Such Great Heights – The Postal Service]

Slightly late but here’s the documentation of my first NYE in the city, and first night in a hotel room.

Walking out to the bus stop in the morning of the 31st was hard, because the weather had already gotten to around 35-36. But after getting on the bus, it was pretty smooth sailing bar the 40 seconds’ walk from bus to train (oh nu).

Anyway, met up with Annie at Melb Central, and decided that we should spend the 3 odd hours we had to waste sitting and eating. We went to Melb Central’s upstairs foodcourt and, after some considerable hesitation, got Maccas for the first time in months, and sat down to watch Nickelodeon which was playing on the TV screens.

Nick shows are…scarily bad. And predictable. There is a formula: You have the main guy who’s cute but not hot, with a mop-top haircut. You have the socially awkward girl who’s actually really pretty, but no one realizes it. You have the guy who’s actually hot, and he’s either the love interest, or the “best friend” with sexual tension. You also have a funny witty little sibling. Then the rest of the cast is ugly and 2D. Or 1D, seeing as the main cast is 2D already.

Met up with a bunch of younger MacRob girls because I had to give one of them a disk, but the rest just followed naturally. They sat with us for a moment or two before going off to have lunch at better places than a food court.

After we finished eating, Annie and I decided to find somewhere to hang out where we won’t be told off for hogging a table. We were in Borders when, out of complete coincidence, I turned around to find Dani standing behind me.

So Annie, Dani and I sat around for a while waiting for Joshanna to call us to tell us when they’ve checked in, but they never did. In the end, it turned out they’ve already checked in and were waiting for us to call.

Walking from Parliament station to Park Hyatt in the near 40 degree weather literally was hell. It made our suite just that much more amazing – because it had aircon.

Not wanting to go outside to Hell again, we stayed in the hotel room for a few hours playing Big 2 and talking. Now, I don’t say that I’m good at Big 2, but in all the 4 games we played, I won each and every one of them. I really don’t think I’m good at Big 2, so either my hand was fantastic, or the others just sucked something awful.

Big 2 was played with stakes – loser has to do a Truth or Dare from the winner. I suck at thinking up dares or even truths (well, mostly I can think up truths but I knew these people pretty well) so I had others think up things for me. Annie lost twice, and without going into too much detail, I found out things about her that I’d only known half of for over 4 years.

Anna lost once, and her dare was to go into the bathroom (or what we called the Cone of Silence from Get Smart) and shout out a dirty word (she’s the kind to never do that). After a few minutes of silence with her just standing in the bathroom without knowing what to say, Josh prompted, “What do I say when I’m having a bad day?” “OH!” exclaimed Anna. “I KNOW! FUCK MY LIFE!”

At around 6, we deemed it timely for us to go eat dinner, to beat any rush later on. It was the hottest of the day at 6, and we had to walk from Collins to Bourke for Red Silks. Josh was, for some reason, in a longsleeve black shirt, and he was starting to feel too hot. So he went into the Cotton On right by Red Silks and snagged a singlet. Being the manly man that he is, he decided to change right outside the store. So he pulled his shirt off and tried to change into the singlet really fast to act all cool, except in his bravado, he managed to get his head and arms into the wrong holes, and spent a good 20 seconds standing outside Cotton On with his arms haywire and his chin tucked into his chest. Now, why would the rest of us help him? We stood there and laughed.

Red Silks was not air-conditioned, much to our dismay, but it was too late and too hot to change our minds and go to Crown. We ordered up our iced drinks, and I had the less-than-ingenious insight to order wonton in noodle soup. Drinking hot soup definitely was too hot, but on the other hand, the sweating made me cooler. And smellier.

We ordered up a round of beers (not too much because Josh was feeling really sick and figured he shouldn’t drink), and in between using it as a cooling device, we each proposed our toasts to each other.

Having sufficiently sweated through dinner, we decided to split up. Josh was feeling too dizzy (and he was really pale) so him and Anna went back to the hotel, while Annie and I went to Crown to meet up with the Melb Uni lunch group. Crown was blissfully chilled, and the boys all decided to go to Galactic Circus and do what we did last time with the hour-long-pass.

Annie demanded that we play the zombie game I played last time with Lily, but remembering how much my arms ached afterwards, I passed the gun off to Elaine, who apparently stuck around long enough to die, and then left Annie to fend the zombies off herself.

An hour later, and all the girls had grown tired of watching the guys drive and shoot (gender roles, yes, but to be fair we did try to encourage the non-active girls to get into it). Swang was bitter after being defeated by me in a game of table-hockey where the table never registered her goals but registered mine. Fi decided that it was the perfect time to get Slurpees, so we all trekked down Clarendon (Annie was regretting wearing heels at this point) to go to a 7/11.

There was still a good 2 hours until midnight at that point, so it became a matter of where people wanted to spend that time. We couldn’t go to Hungy’s apartment because there were 18 of us, however for some reason it was okay for us to hang out in the lobby of the building. We spent an hour there playing Mafia (wherein I stuffed up the role of the narrator and revealed the Mafia’s gender), and got so many death glares from people going in and out of the building.

At 10:45, according to Asian time, it was time to go to Southbank and start waiting for midnight. Luckily we left early, because in the end we walked up so far up Southbank that by the time we found a spot that we agreed on (which wasn’t Alexandria Gardens, I don’t know why anyone thought that the Gardens would have space at that time), it was well past 11.

Then came the harder-than-it-should-have-been process of finding Mandy and her CGS friends. Communication problems aside, I was pretty sure she just didn’t know how to receive instructions. If I said to you (assuming you know Southbank) “walk on the side of Flinders Station towards Crown, we’re on the bridge that right opposite the big red steps”, you’d probably at least understand the general direction to walk, if you don’t know what I mean by the big red steps. (P.S. these are the big red steps, LEARN IT.) Yeah, no, Mandy just kept saying “we’re on a bridge” and there are 5 bridges along the Yarra in that area.

Finally agreeing to meet them under the “big angel with the swirly square head“, and talking to two other guys who were with her, we met up with Mandy and her friends, with 15 minutes to spare until midnight.

At 5 minutes to midnight (cue song), I couldn’t find Josh and Anna, who said they’d come back out to meet up (by the way, the weather had cooled down significantly and was actually really pleasant). For some reason, Josh’s number was hidden, and I couldn’t call him back, so I couldn’t find him anywhere. While I was walking around at the end of a bridge, I felt someone tackle me from behind.

Lo and behold, second time that day, Dani managed to find me under the biggest of coincidences. Granted, I’d texted her whereabouts we were (she knows what the big red steps are, WHY DON’T YOU), but still, crowd, NYE, 11:55 pm, she found me.

Brought Dani back to where we all were, and while we were sitting on the pier/dock waiting for the countdown to happen, the fireworks began. Midnight and passed and we’d all been just sitting there talking. So instead of getting a massive countdown, we all just went around hugging everyone and watching the fireworks (which weren’t ASTOUNDING but they were pretty damn good looking). We kept on yelling “refund refund!” whenever the fireworks seemed to have ended. I guess it wasn’t a bad effort considering they were just coming out of the Eureka Tower, and plus it was a total fire ban that day.

At around 12:15, 12:20, Annie and I decided we’d go back to the hotel. We went to look for Joshanna but since we couldn’t call them, we couldn’t find them. It was a long and painful walk/trudge back to Flinders St Station (trust me, it hurt me heaps, so it would have killed Annie’s feet), whereupon we bid goodnight to Dani who was taking the tram back, and we started walking towards Flinders Station trying to get our way back to Parliament.

The road to the station was, unsurprisingly, packed. As in, I had time to shoot off a few text messages while walking without danger, packed. Some guy in front of us threw up beer, and Annie and I had to walk around him since she was barefoot. Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream started playing over the loudspeakers (over some signs that read “NO STOPPING ON BRIDGE”) and I suppose the smallest consolation to throbbing feet and exhausted eyes was that a girl behind me did a sort of impromptu duet  of the song with me.

Finally breaking free of the station crowd stranglehold, Annie and I gritted our teeth and hurried our way up to Collins St for the tram. Miraculously, Josh and Anna were right behind us and we held the door for them to get on the tram with us (they’d fallen behind us to go to 7/11 for instant noodles and lollies. Man 7/11 is a lifesaver sometimes).

We made the final painful journey back up to our room, and collapsed onto the bed and chairs, caring not that we hadn’t showered, or that it was nearing 1 am. Josh cooked up the instant noodles which were PRETTY DAMN spicy, and since the noodles didn’t come with plastic forks, Josh and I ate ours with coffee spoons, and Anna and Annie shared one using two coffee stirrers as chopsticks.

After consuming a fiery midnight snack that had Josh swearing metaphors I really shouldn’t repeat here, Annie and I took (turns taking) a shower and changed into our PJs.

Anna was, for some reason, uber energetic. She demanded that we play I Never Never. We cut some Red Bull with vodka – but only allowed Anna Red Bull, considering it the lesser of two evils – and started the game. It wasn’t as energetic as Anna probably wanted it to be, but, once again, I found out things about my friends that I sort of didn’t want to know. Let’s just say that from now when I call a friend who’s not single, and they say they’re busy, I will be a lot more suss.

Finally at 3, when Josh and Anna were getting a bit too cuddly in the bed, we decided to call it a night. Annie was adamant to stay in the bed, because it was a King and there was really no where else for her to sleep, me having called the couch (I can’t really sleep in beds with other people save Jen, apparently, and it was too hot anyway). So, an hour after we turned off the lights and I was in the next room on the couch with a little jacket as a blanket (which probably contributed to me getting sick after sharing Josh’s drink by accident), their giggling in the bed finally died down.

I couldn’t completely sleep for most of the time, because one shoulder was sort of hitched sideways and the couch was, amazingly, too small even for me. I was more than aware of the fact that Annie started wheezing-snoring halfway through the night, and then either Annie or Anna started phonetically sneezing “atchu atchu”.

At 9, I decided it was too bright and I was too cold to sleep, so I got up, put on my jacket blanket, and put on Josh’s really awesome Dr Dre headphones to play Monster Dash with. Man those headphones were something. The Pacifier had the most satisfying WHOMP.

At 10, I saw in my peripherals Anna crawling around in her morning ritual to wake up. The others got up, which made it okay for me to be a bit noisy and brush my teeth and pack my bags. While Anna and Annie were loafing around, Josh and I watched some TV (I’m well aware I keep lumping myself with the guys), and That 70s Show came on. Collectively, we all got ready in 2 episodes’ time, and at 11 am on the dot, we left the hotel room for check-out.

The weather was a LOT colder on the 1st compared to the previous day. We went to Melbourne Central to meet up with Julia for brunch. At first we were all mmm-ing over the prospect of pancakes, but the moment Josh uttered the words “congee”, our Chinese heritage came crashing back, and we managed to persuade Anna and Julia to go to congee instead. There was a momentary lapse in decision when we were given coupons to Pancake Parlor, but a flip of the coin saw us sitting down to some Century Egg and Salty Pork Congee.

Since I’m coming in at 2400 words now, I will cut my story short and just say that we stuffed our faces full, then I went home. Got home at around 1 pm and hopped onto the computer, because I missed internet so much.

Now I’m sick, and I’ve been sick for a few days. It had to happen, though, because I haven’t been proper sick for almost 10 months.

Alex.

P.S. I actually started writing this post on the 2nd but I went to shower, saved the draft, and promptly forgot about it til now. OOPS!

P.P.S. I also made a new friend in the last few days. Oh my god 2500 words okay I’m stopping.

I Can Count On You Like 4-3-2

[Count On Me – Bruno Mars]

I think I can hit 15 posts a month this month! WOW! It shouldn’t have been so hard but oh boy…

Yesterday I caught up with Cathy and what I’ve come to associate as “Cathy’s Group” for a joint birthday picnic. I went into the city early because my parents offered to drop me off at the station. I took the opportunity to stroll from Flinders to Melb Central – though, with the number of people in the city yesterday, it was a slow walk – and bumped into Mo- and Bon along the way. There was a moment of slight stalkerism when I did a double take to get Mo-‘s attention, but because they responded to my call, I think I was redeemed.

Spent quite a lot of time trying to buy a present. I think, from now on, if I decide to buy feminine jewelery, I’m going to try to dress more appropriately for the store, because I walked into Diva and it felt like I had neon arrows pointing at me with the label “DOES NOT BELONG HERE”.

I did manage to find presents for both Cathy and Anna – a rather cute bracelet for Anna, and a rape whistle for Cathy (it looked really cool and had real leather for the strap and I felt like it could see Cathy through her Europe Trip) – and then walked around Borders trying to find one more overdue birthday gift, only to realize I had no more money on me for such purposes, so I started wandering back to the clock where everyone was meant to meet.

Almost had to use the rape whistle when Pearl tried to hug me from behind to surprise me. Her and Sheina had gotten to the city early, and they’d just arrived at the clock as well. There was a Diet Coke retail therapy sort of area near the clock, with couches, so the three of us did some “free advertising” for them by sitting there and drinking their free hand-outs and looking like we were having a good time. It turned out to be a blessed rest, because Cathy and Carey took over half an hour to finally arrive.

After they’ve arrived, followed shortly by Jalex, it was nearly 4 pm. Cathy mentioned that she wanted to go to the Fitzroy Gardens, and that she “had a general idea” where it was. Unfortunately, her general idea included walking around the entire Parliament house instead of cutting through Parliament Square. It wasn’t that hot yesterday, but the walk was long enough for complaints to be warranted.

So we finally found the park, and a lovely shaded spot to have our picnic (which wouldn’t have been complete without an exploding bottle of coke). Halfway through, Jack mentioned that he needed the bathroom, and completely missed the fact that when we pointed vaguely into the park saying “there, there, there”, we were actually pointing at various trees he could go behind. After a few minutes of him looking aimlessly past the trees, he wandered off in the opposite direction to find an actual toilet building.

Perhaps 5 or 10 minutes later, he came wandering back, and the first words that escaped from his mouth were, “Okay, don’t go to the boys’ bathroom. There was a beat going on in there.”

His twin, Alex, responded immediately, “Oh my god, really? What happened?”

It turned out that there is actually a word for when males solicit sex in the toilets: BEAT, and poor Jack had walked in on one such male waiting for a client. His harrowing experience thus led to a full explanation of glory-holes – I learned something yesterday, and I’m not sure if I wanted to learn it. (Especially certain things about MHS.)

With the time nearing 6pm, and the winds picking up strong enough for us to be cold, we packed up our little picnic and decided to head back for Melb Central to meet up with Angie. On the way back to Parliament station, we passed the Hyatt (which was convenient because I actually was worrying about finding it on Friday but now I know where it is), and Alex said he wanted to use the bathroom (and none of us wanted to use the park bathroom after what we were told). We were worried that we couldn’t just waltz into the freaking Hyatt and use the bathroom, but Alex did anyway, and he came out full of praises about how extravagant the place was. At his words, the girls (Cathy, Sheina, Pearl and I) and Jack decided that we’d go as well – if anything just to see what it’s like inside. (Needless to say, it was obviously very glamorous and high-class, but that’s not my story yet.)

When we were done and about to leave the bathroom, Sheina mentioned that we should do the obligatory bathroom shot, especially since we were in a bathroom in the Hyatt, where there were vases. I was holding the door open, saying that we should just leave, when Jack showed up and saw that we were trying to take photos. I don’t know what he was thinking, or if he was thinking at all, but he stepped into the girls’ bathroom, grabbed the camera, and while just on the threshold of the bathroom, started taking photos of the other girls while I hid behind a door, disbelieving.

In that exact moment, a complete stranger walked into the bathroom, and I could only imagine what she was thinking as she saw Jack standing there with a camera, pointing into the bathroom. Cathy and I hauled ass as fast as we could – I just really didn’t want to get blacklisted before Friday – and managed to hold our laughs in until outside the hotel.

When we made it back to Melb Central, the Diet Coke retail therapy had been cordoned off, but because all the seats around the clock were taken, they decided to sit in there anyway. We caught up with Jackie O (oh I like writing it like that), who I haven’t seen since the first time I met her, and waited there for Angie to show up. When she finally did, she did so in the most fashionable way (late, and incredibly well dressed in her Forever New outfit because she worked there and had to leave her job at Myer and ergh what a successful girl) with Richard (i.e. Exclamation Mark guy from Pearl’s Flare performance). I was surprised to hear that they all knew and wanted to go to Giraffe cafe, and after having Jalex yell at her about how adorable the place is, Angie and Cathy thought they would check it out.

Since the last time I was at Giraffe wasn’t exactly the happiest of times, I was determined to have some fun this time around. It turned out to be pretty damn easy to do it – we started off with a game of Jenga, and my GOD that game is intense! Everyone starts breathing in sync and I’m pretty sure I was telepathically linked to my fellow game-mates Jackie and Pearl for a while there. In the end, it was Jackie’s gusto that led to her demise, as the tower came crashing down on her otherwise fluid extractions.

After Jackie left, the drinks and foods started arriving. When they’ve been adequately consumed (but not wholly), one of the waitresses brought out the birthday brownies for Cathy. Poor girl didn’t light the candles up when she brought it in, instigating some sighs from Alex. And when she tried to light it at the table, her lighter failed on her.

Another round of Jenga ensued, but this time we noticed that a table behind us were creating architecturally radical designs, and that prompted Carey to do the same. Things became ridiculous when pieces were stacked vertically on top, or on a slant. When the tower fell, a piece fell into Cathy’s ice cream. This prompted Jack to say, “Are you still going to eat that now that woody’s been in it?”

The day was finished off with a more than jovial ticket barrier lady at Melb Central. Cathy’s ticket got eaten by the machine, and so the lady stood there and had a chat with us about what we could possibly do to get the ticket back out. When the ticket finally came out, the lady took a look at it and tsked, “well, here’s your problem it’s expired.” Off Cathy’s startled shriek, she broke into a grin, “Just kidding! Have a happy new year!”

I think all staff should be like that. Enjoying their job and not putting other people down.

WELL, over 1500 words! It was a long, eventful and HILARIOUS day! There were many stories I didn’t put down for the sake of Sheina’s privacy (oops?), but maybe that sentence will at least jog my own memory.

Happy New Year, everyone, I won’t be writing in here until after we hit 2011. (I will queue up a post for midnight, though!) Have a safe few days, and may 2011 be better than 2010 if you had a shit 2010, or be better than 2010 even if you had a good 2010.

Alex.

I’ll Find Deep Inside Me I Can Be The One

[Your Guardian Angel – The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus]

I don’t know if 2 years in a row makes it a yearly thing, but yesterday was Whitty and Yeleng’s birthday party – again.

It wasn’t as hot as last year – in fact it was much colder, windier and wetter.

Managed to persuade Lily into making a more than 1 hour journey to East side, and then another 20 minute bus ride to Rowville. We did some grocery shopping for the games we were meant to play – meant to because, in the end, we played 2 of them. So I guess Whitty just gets a bunch of random food like Aeros and Nandos sauce.

Anyway, the party was predominantly Whitty’s Swinburne friends, with the next majority being Monash people. Then, we had 3 Melbourne people, and then we had Lily. (Hahaha…) So at the start there were some group division but as the night went on, people started warming up to each other, and the vodka.

I was in Whitty’s room with Lily trying to play some guitar, and in conversation I’d mentioned that Whitty has a cat as well as Penny the dog – Penny was a bit TOO friendly with Lily when we first arrived. I mean I’ve heard of bitches being forward but this was ridiculous – and we wondered where the cat was. Halfway through trying to play a Bruno Mars song, a black creature suddenly leaped out of Whitty’s closet and streaked out of the bedroom, drawing screams from Lily. At the same time, Whitty’s Swinburne friends decided to arrive, and I was pretty sure their first impression of Lily was a screaming ball of panic, and their first impression of me was a less than sympathetic friend laughing her spleen to waste.

Swin, Yeleng and I were managing the games, and the first one we played was the one we’d played the previous year, which was to eat ice-cream off of kitchen utensils, most of which were definitely not spoon-like. After watching people try to lick ice cream off egg-beaters, and getting brain freeze, the Monash team lost, and as punishment Lois and Andrew had to lick Nutella of different sides of a cling-wrap…at the same time. This punishment made Lois not want to play any more games at the risk of having to, God forbid, be close to her boyfriend again, but the videos and pictures were well worth it.

The second game included one person being blindfolded and feeding the other person jelly with straws like chopsticks. I don’t know why but the jelly didn’t set properly, so it became a matter of who could shovel the lime flavored goo into the other person’s mouth faster.

At the end of the night, the party more or less dissolved into people just crashing on all the couches watching people play video games or watching TV. The Swinburne kids enthusiastically took pictures any time they could, and I wasn’t so tired as to not try to photobomb one or two of them.

At around past 11, most of the people had started leaving, so Aymee, being the cooler P-plater that she is, drove me home. I was pretty damn jealous not only of the fact that she has her Ps, but because she’d also gotten her own brand new car. My fear of a friend driving me to death has been quietened, too.

And now, I have to go watch some DVDs that dad brought home, and then get ready to go out tonight to see my Melb Uni crew.

Alex.

My Lungs Refuse To Breathe The Air Without You Here

[Without You Here – Pensive]

Hello Winter! Hello another 3 months of song titles.

Yesterday I went to dinner with April, Simon, Oli- (April and Soph’s older bro) Soph, Erh-, Kud, Andrew and DANI!!! (Left the best part ’til last.) Yep, Dani was in Melbourne, so we all went to dinner.

We went to Sante’s at Crown, which I realized upon getting there that I’d actually gone there before, for Gina’s birthday back in Yr 9 or 10. I was immediately relieved that my starving myself earlier in the day paid off because Sante’s is an all-you-can-eat buffet!

Dani gave me this really really awesome book which is titled The Ants Are My Friends, by Martin Toseland. It’s about “misheard lyrics, malapropisms, eggcorns and other linguistic gaffes”.

And we laughed and laughed and laughed at just about everything. Dani, Andrew and Kud were finding it hard to eat their fill because they had a huge lunch.

April ate food!

I had a huge plate (with lots of coleslaw haha) and then I ate a 2nd serving…OF PRAWN CRACKERS! Let me tell you now, Prawn Crackers with mint sauce is a-may-zing.

Also, I discovered crackling pork through Soph. I like it, but I think it’s really fatty so I didn’t have more.

On the train home, I introduced Wutinie to Fruit Ninja and suffice to say, they are hooked. Dani and I (unsuccessfully) tried out hand at Sudoku and Crossword. I used to think I get words fast at the Word Scramble, but that was before I had to go head-to-head with April. Crazy April.

So far I’ve finished 2 out of my 4 subjects. Now I have to start on my two 2000-word-essays. I dread it.

I hope to visit Canberra this winter. Hope. Hooooope.

Alex.