Christmas scalpers

December 29, 2007

So we’ve been away in Rotorua (not so affectionately called Rotovegas) and we’ve been doing the tourist thing. That’s right, sue me.

For some reason I forgot it was the week between Christmas and New Year’s and we decided to go up the gondolas and ride on the luge. Woe betide, came the cry. Crowds. Queues. Hordes. Hoards. The great tide of humanity. Etc.

We went anyway and the queues weren’t too bad (I’ve been to St Lukes mall (aka the Hellmouth) on Christmas Eve: this was a walk in the park, quite literally). However at the top of the gondola I was accosted by a strange man in a hat.

Here we go, I thought.

“You want free ride on luge?” The word “free” alerted me to his real purpose – to disconnect some hard-earned cash from my wallet. Fortunately, like the queen, I never carry cash. I prepared my spiel, girded my loins and readied myself for unpleasantness.

“My group has finished and we’re heading back down but I’ve got a spare ride on the luge. Please, it’s yours. ” and with that he thrust a ticket in my hand.

“Oh, erm. Thank you,” I riposted. I shook his hand and he broke into a broad smile before waving and shouting “Merry Christmas” as he disappeared towards his group.

I took the ticket to the booth and bought three more. Yes, it was valid, and not just a rubbish dump on his part.

We had a blast on the luge – junior daughter rode down with me and number one daughter went with her hoon of a mother. The ride back up is on a chairlift which was as much fun as the ride down for the younger members. Even that queue wasn’t so bad (They were rebuilding the base area so it was a bit muddy and roped off but OK).

We had lunch and then went out for another go and another man approached me. “We’re heading back down – y’all want another ticket to ride the luge?”

This is what passes for scalping in New Zealand. People giving you free tickets because they genuinely don’t have a use for them and won’t see them go to waste. The two guys I spoke to were both foreign but I’ll claim it as a win for New Zealand.

I joined in the game, passing on our spare at the end of the day to a startled looking man with a funny hat and a large group of teens charging about the place. Then we rode all the way down on the gondola, rode back up just because we could, got off and Grandma bought us all ice creams and then we rode back down again and went home.

A Merry Christmas to all.


Dum De Doo

December 24, 2007

I’ve been rate limited by my ISP… somehow I’ve overshot my 2GB daily limit…


This is what dial-up internet is like.

Boy, it sucks. Blah.

Should be free of the shackles tomorrow and THEN watch out world. Joox, YouTube, Facebook. I will be dangerous.

Although I don’t do Facebook.

And although it’ll be Christmas so I will be somewhat occupied. Bah.

(My wife informs me that two althoughs aren’t all that funny. I’m not so sure but she may be right. Dammit. Of course, her humour is already in question).

Pixar. Again.

December 22, 2007

I can’t think of another company that’s had a string of successes in quite the way that Pixar has.

Toy Story – a great tale, well told. Toy Story II, possibly an even better story but just as good. A Bugs Life, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, (have I left anyone out?)… the list is terrific. The secret to Pixar’s success isn’t that secret I don’t think. It’s that the story is key, not the animation. Story above and beyond all else. Yes, the hairs on the Monsters look well cool. Yes, the water bubbles stream past Marlin in incredible detail, but all that wonder is secondary to the story and each story has been a killer.

I was delighted to see Pixar and Disney fall out over Toy Story III. The plot that I saw (Buzz gets recalled and the Toys go Out to Save Him) seemed tired and trite (especially after TS II – the true nature of what it is to be a toy. Top that!) and Pixar refused to have a bar of it. Disney insisted and it wasn’t until Disney had a change of leadership and ended up buying Pixar (making sure the head honchos were all on board as part of the contract) that the thaw came. First decision out of the box – cancel TS III.

Now Pixar is, in effect, what Disney was. A studio that made great stories into watchable movies. Disney itself hasn’t done that, certainly in an animated way, for decades now. The Lion King was probably the last great cartoon out of Disney – everything else has been a remake packaged as a sequel. Useless.

Pixar’s new movie not only looks great but has all the potential to be a great film. SF buffs of the world, check it out.

Interestingly, the first trailer doesn’t follow the Pixar tradition of being a stand-alone trailer that never features in the movie itself. Instead, it features a brief message from one of the creators about a meeting in a cafe towards the end of the filming of Toy Story. Interesting stuff.

Wall E looks a lot like a certain other robot (Number Five of course) but shares even more DNA with a less-remembered beastie. Mysterious Dave, five points if you name that Bot and his cohort before the end of the Christmas break (he says, knowing full well MD has gone home for the hols and doesn’t have broadband).

After many years of happy reading, being challenged, finding a weekly magazine that actually expects the readers to a: have a vocabulary and b: give a damn and has some of my favourite writers in it, I’m done. Through. You’ve lost me.

It wasn’t the new editor, although I hear tell she’s painful. It wasn’t the removal of prickly difficult staff, although clearly that happened as well. It wasn’t Joanne Black’s “Black Page” because that used to raise my blood pressure so completely on a regular basis that I’ve long since stopped reading it. It wasn’t the redesign that sees the TV pages expanded to include a myriad of pay TV pages that I don’t care about (and doesn’t Sky publish its own guide anyway? And don’t all Sky owners have an electronic programming guide as well?). It wasn’t the decision to move Russell Brown’s IT column up next door to the TV section while moving Diana Wichtel’s TV review to the front (?). It wasn’t even the decision to focus on a different disease each and every week until we’re all so sick to death of it that we skip entire tranches of the magazine desperately looking for something to read.

No, it was the caption on a graphic in this week’s issue that showed two different sets of handwriting both from a 10-year-old lad who had started taking Omega 3 fish oil supplements. Before, his writing looked like my daughter’s first attempts. Afterwards it would put mine to shame.

I’ve had enough. If I want emotional manipulation and anecdotal evidence I will watch 20:20 or Sixty Minutes. I do not want that level of coverage of important issues. I want what The Listener used to deliver – a step-by-step account of how David Bain killed his family (and why he clearly did it). I want detail, I want measured assessment, I want facts and figures.

And now I want a new subscription to a different magazine. Got any suggestions?

This’ll never happen

December 21, 2007

seriously. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me for a decade… well, that’s just silly.

This is very good news

December 20, 2007

and given my place of employment I shall say no more, but I wanted to mark the event in the appropriate manner.

See also this, this and this. And well done to Juha who uncovered this rat back in 2003 – now get out there and blog some more.

Who would have thought it?

December 20, 2007

Yay, good news. David Tennant says he’s not leaving Doctor Who after all.

From the Beeb:

“I’m doing four more specials and beyond that no one’s asked me to make any decisions and I’m quite happy to be enigmatic for as long as possible,” he said.

Love it.

Also, he gets to snog Kylie… Clearly he’s the kissing Doctor. Well, he did say he was going to be lucky after his hand grew back in the first episode.

But the best news is that Bernard Cribbins is going to be in the Christmas special. Bernard was the assistant to Peter Cushing’s Doctor in one of the original TV movies “Daleks’ invasion Earth: 2150 AD” although I don’t remember it by that name.

One of the scariest Who’s of them all.