max's eyes

Casino Heist...

The charity fiasco finally over, I made tracks into the heart of the city. I'd proposed an unprecendented team activity, and it was surprisingly wildly anticipated. This was back when my only schedule for the day had been taking charity phone calls from 6am until 10am, so making a 7.45pm booking did not seem a problem. At it happened, I made it to the booking, but only after briskly walking, and with my pockets still filled with training room supplies.

I headed into the basement bar and promptly ordered a whiskey and announced my arrival to the staff. I fell into a chair near where a bartender was assembling a game of massive Jenga. I tasted my drink - they'd served me rum by mistake - and sent an SMS to the team, Rendezvous at the downstairs bar..

The team arrived individually from their day's work and collected drinks. At our table in the bar, Angela idly placed Connect 4 pieces into the rack as Bryce recommended a strategy.

'Once we get in,' he started. 'Be aware that everything could mean something. Pay attention to everything. Everything could be a clue.' He flipped over a spare coaster from the table. It was an advertisment for the escape room experience I'd booked for us. '"The cards are stacked against you..."' he read. 'That could be a clue already. Once we go in, be on the lookout for cards.'

'And stacks,' someone else offered. When I'd made the suggestion to try an escape room, we'd browsed the scenarios online, and without much argument had decided upon a casino heist scenario. The host (an animated member of the bar staff) introduced himself to us at our table, and invited us to finish our drinks and meet him behind the bowling alleys (the venue's cheif business.) There, the host challenged 'So, you think you're the next Ocean's Eleven, huh?'

'I'll be Julia Roberts, then,' Kate said.

'I wanna be Brad Pitt,' Angela raised her hand, then looked to Bryce. 'And you can be Clooney.'

'Ah,' Paulo groaned. 'Does this mean I have to be Matt Damon?'

The team and bartender looked at me. 'Can I go old-school and be Sammy Davis Jr.?'

The host didn't disagree, but gave us a large iPad. He told us that he would soon take us to a route that could lead us to the casino's vault, but once there, the iPad would start a countdown. 'After 50 minutes, if you haven't managed to crack the safe and get out of there, the cops will arrive, and then it's all over.'

He explained that we might find barcodes which could be scanned into the iPad for clues, at the cost of a time penalty. The host lead us to a wall plastered with Polaroids, with three positioned prominently as the top-three times: a photo labelled as 'The Filo Queens' showed us a group of smiling young women who had apparently pulled off a successful heist in 19 minutes. Finally, he handed us an early 2000s era mobile phone, breaking character to tell us that we could hit the call button to contact him to forfeit the challenge and be released from the room in case of emergency. I was handed this responsibility due to my alleged penchant for antiquated tech.

We were blindfolded - it would be inappropriate to be allowed to know the route to the vault - and marched conga-style through an unknown route as the host wound us tales of the exotic casino target's splendour. The sounds of the bowling alley were eventually replaced with those of slot machines and falling coins.

'Now it's up to you,' said the host, and we heard a heavy door close. We removed the blindfolds as we'd been instructed, and found ourselves in a very small, blank room, kind of like a service elevator's loading zone, with two doors: one that we'd entered through. Under my arm, the clock on the iPad had started counting down. We burst through the other door into a private gaming lounge. A slot machine was spinning in one corner, with a Blackjack table on one side of the room, and a couple of other table games. Kate quickly identified the only other door in the room, locked with a combination lock.

We split apart naturally, each taking a different game or menu in the room to analyse. I took to the slot machine, and quickly noticed a consistant pattern to the winning spins, but had also noticed a suspicious looking score card above the Blackjack table that seemed significant. We called different numbers we'd deduced over to Kate, who tried them on the code, and the heavy door fell open. I felt proud of our performance in that first room.

We stumbled into an intimate lounge area. At the bar, six cocktail shakers were lined up, each emblazoned with the name of a top-shelf spirit, along with other tools of the bartending trade. There was a cocktail menu, and behind them all, a small safe, locked with a combination lock. A close look at the lock revealed it to have letters rather than numbers for the combination. On the opposite side of the lounge was a roulette table, also with a safe atop it, this one with a more traditional, numbered combination lock. Next to this was a table set for two, with a cryptic advertising poster above it, showing a list of precious stones. There was another door, this one locked with a key.

Kate, Angela and I tried to find some direction at the bar, while Bryce warned Paulo not to remove any of the chips from the roulette table lest they have been strategically positioned. Kate discovered numbered gaming chips inside each of the cocktail shakers, which we guessed could provide a clue to the roulette table's safe, but we couldn't figure out the order. I suggested that perhaps the chart with the stones was significant - 'Sapphire' could refer to the gin cocktail, for example - and we started trying to compare ingredients used in the cocktails listed on the menu, but couldn't come up with anything. Angela headed to the roulette table, where the others seemed to be just as stumped, though Paulo had found one of the barcodes - providing access to clues via the iPad - on the coaster underneath one of the drinks at the table. As time ticked down, Bryce's voice took on a tone of seriousness as he suggested that perhaps we should consider taking a time penalty in exchange for a clue. None of us wanted to, but we were stumped. Before we scanned the clue, Paulo flipped the other coaster on the table to find a note beneath it. 'Have you found the Roulette score cards?'

Bryce seemed changed, as he frantically scanned the room for score cards. With no sign of anything like that, he became more creative than any of us had dared to be so far, knocking on walls. He eventually found a false panel in a wall, and broke it down to find hidden score cards. Suddenly, the tide seemed to have turned, and activity flourished at the roulette table. Angela announced that she thought she had a letter for the first combination. I grabbed my notebook from my bag, and started noting down the letters as the rest of the team called them. I needed to figure out the order, and quickly realised the letters could be rearranged to spell a word. I tried the word, and opened the lock, and found a key inside the safe, along with a drinks order. I tossed the key to Kate, and she used it in the lock on the door. Rather than opening the door, a compartment built into the door fell open, revealing another keypad. I don't remember how we did it, but the drink order ruled out some of the cocktails, and gave us numbers to try on the other table's safe. Inside, we found the code for the door.

Spilling into the other room, we were immediately overwhelmed by flashing red light and the sound of an alarm. Looking down, we'd carelessly stumbled across a line on the floor reading 'Alarm will activate past this line.' Luckily, a kind of cypher appeared on the wall, and Angela and Kate took to cracking it. The walls of this room were lined with safe deposit boxes, and the door was a vault door. When we'd deactivated the alarm, we could cross to the vault door, and figured out the code to open it. Inside was a glass safe, filled with cash and jewels, and the final exit door. I found an envelope carelessly hidden behind the safe. On it was a handwritten note. Something about clubs. Bryce and Paulo discussed which card games focused on the suit of clubs, and I felt useless, since the only card game I can play well is Uno. Since the inside of the vault was otherwise bare, we backtracked. Paulo called out that he'd found something.

Back in the first room, the gaming lounge, he'd noticed that the cards on one of the tables had been left with hands heavy with clubs. I noted the numbers in my notebook and ran them back to Angela. She spun the numbers into the safe's combination lock, and we cheered when it swung open. We sorted through the gems and wads of cash for a clue to opening the door, and quickly realised there were numbers on the stones inside. In unison, we remembered the chart in the roulette room with the precious stones, and darted back to take note of the order. We relayed the numbers from there to a team member in the final room, who pressed the numbers from the appropriate stones into the door, and it unlocked. We were back in the bowling alley.



We checked our time against the Polaroids on the wall. We hadn't beaten the Filo Queens, but did come in at second place. And held the sign the wrong way around for our own photo.
  • Current Music
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max's eyes

Cataract charity...

Terror, like charity, begins at home.
- The Whitlams - You Sound Like Louis Burdett

Several years ago, I was happy with my life. It was simple, but I quite liked it. I was glad to celebrate my birthday at bars on King Street with colleagues I considered friends. Now those colleagues are gone - as are their desks - and the bar has become a strip joint. Perhaps in an effort to regain the simpler times of call centre work, I agreed to participate in a charitable endeavour - taking calls collecting money as a part of a radiothon.

I'd been looking forward to a simple day of talking on the phone, but at the last moment, I noticed my name removed from the list of participants, and I was advised that rather than taking phone calls, I would be required to train staff for the role - exactly what I had hoped to avoid. So yesterday I attended a session with representatives from the charity in question.

The charity is discretely Christian on paper, and devotes most of the money they collect to financing surgeries to remove cataracts from the eyes of the poor the world over. The initial meeting with their representatives was overpopulated - they seemed to have sent not less than seven people to discuss the project for only an hour. The system to be used was a simple one to train, and the information provided on the organisation answered sufficiently to be deemed thorough without overlong. The scripting provided raised other concerns, making several references to God, most prominently concluding a donation transaction with the phrase, 'God bless you for your generosity.'

The team went through their intended session with the first group of volunteers, and, unsurprisingly, a question was asked of the 'Title' field. As well as the usual 'Mr.,' 'Mrs.,' 'Ms.,' and the like, there was also an option for 'Mr. & Mrs.' As if on cue, a participant asked, 'What if the couple aren't a Mr. and Mrs.?'

The facilitator agreed enthusiastically, noting that 'Some couples actually are something other than just "Mr. and Mrs." Sometimes you'll see couples who are known as "Doctor and Mrs.," "The Reverend and Mrs.," or "Seargent and Mrs.," and so on...'

She demonstrated how one could replace the stock 'Mr. and Mrs.' option with alternative couples, such as those listed. A further question arose, beyond the one I was thinking of about women with positions earning titles other than Mrs., of how one would proceed with a couple made up of a configuration other than man and woman. The facilitator didn't seem to understand. I vowed to address to inevitable question during my own session in a different fashion.

The question had not been fully addressed, but moved on from, when the 'God bless you...' scripting was raised. A couple of people raised that they weren't completely comfortable with this, which the facilitator acknowledged that she could understand this view. 'But just give it a try,' she stated. 'As you can see here,' she indicated the screen showing her presentation. 'It is listed as scripting, so you should read it as is, regardless of your view.'

I didn't think that forcing the quoting of that exact phrase was neccesary or grateful for the organisation, though did not vocally disagree, noting once again, that my training session would not focus on this slide (and, when it happened, I showed the slide in the presentation for mere seconds, without actually making mention of it.)

When it came to actually taking the calls, the day had been broken up into two batches. There was expected to be a morning rush, from 6am to 10am, when the company would be helping the charity, and another from 2pm to 8pm. Hilarity had ensued when the company requested volunteers for the two periods, and less people than anticipated (i.e., promised to the charity by the company) agreed to participate. I enjoyed watching the frantic scramble to employ temporary staff to take these calls for the evening session.

In the morning, it was, in fact, very busy. The calls came without break, and those taking calls - I managed to sneak onto the phones for a while as people needed breaks from the incessant demand - were surprised at the generosity of radio listeners. The same demand had been suggested for the evening shift, so, as well as the temporary staff who I would train in the hour before they started at 2pm, a further call was put to this company's staff to volunteer, and a few did, even returning from the 6am start to put in an extra-long shift that surely breaches workplace health and safety conventions.

After all of the needless panic in the lead up to the afternoon calls, I was delighted to witness a stark contrast to the peak of the morning's calls. It was several hours before any calls came to the temporary staff at all. When they did, there was a brief rush (evidently stemming from an announcement on air on the radio station) where they took donations and then... back to nothing. With people become restless, I prepared some of the activities used as state-change exercises in training to keep them occupied. Before long, though, a colleague who had also agreed to be involved, and who was liasing with the charity client, decided that enough was enough. He contacted a representative from the charity to propose ending the day due to lack of interest.

All the while, the organiser of the endeavour from this company was conspicuously absent, though was seen by me to be touting the exercise as an enormous success amongst various company executives.
  • Current Music
    Tigerlily - La Roux
max's eyes

Return...

I was tired, but I had a long way to go still. Rather than carry everything onto the set of the movie I'd worked on I'd thought it best to leave my luggage at the hotel in the morning when I checked out. I'd met another zombie-extra staying at the same hotel as we followed her smart phone directions across a park (and, interestingly, a cemetary) to the railyard. Ten hours later, I cut back across the park alone, this time still made up as a zombie, though I thought I had probably managed to remove all of the fake blood. To avoid incident, I tried to bypass the general public on my trek across the park and through the streets back to the hotel. I'd disposed of my bloody shirt and put on my emergency hoodie, attempting to cover my face with the hood.

When I got to the hotel, I could see a pair of women at reception, checking in, it seemed. I decided to hold back until they were finished to approach the front desk. Luckily it appeared to be the same attendant I'd met the evening prior, to whom I had explained that I was appearing in a film in town. I feigned a deep interest in the options available in the vending machine outside the reception office until the women opened the door, when I'd intended to pass by unnoticed. Unfortunately that plan was cast into turmoil when their luggage wheels caught on the step. As I reached down to assist one of the women with her case, I noticed just how boldly the blackened veins appeared through my grey-green skin. The woman had the decency not to comment, though, other than to thank me for the assistance with the luggage.

Likewise, inside the reception office, the attendant at the front desk did not make reference to my appearance, thought she did appear to recognise me, and to be taken aback. Before I'd finished explaining that I was here to collect my bag that I'd left, she had rushed to bring it to me. I asked if there was a bathroom that I could use to remove the make up, and she directed me upstairs.

Once locked inside, I glanced at the mirror, but not for long. The illness that had been swelling within me since the lunch queue became overwhelming, and I lurched towards the toilet to vomit. I tried to be quick - I figured it might take a while to remove the make up and didn't want to attract further suspision from the front desk attendant.

Once I was finished, I flipped back my hood in front of the mirror, and saw that, despite my earlier efforts, there was still blood spattered on my face, particularly around my neck. I ripped off some toilet paper and was able to wet it to remove most of the blood. I likewise replaced my bloody jeans with a clean pair. My reflection in the mirror still had a deep gash on my right cheek and, though it looked cleaner than it had when I arrived, was still conspicuous. I was able to slowly rip the latex of this off, and also scratch away the bulbous pustules that are apparently the trademark of the film's zombies, though they left rings of my skintone showing their former presence. I tried to wash away the graze on my forhead, but it wasn't washing off, so I dampened some more paper to try to wash away the artificial green tint given to my skin, but it was no use. I gave up, put on my other shoes, and stowed the bloody shoes and socks in a bag. I quickly threw up again, before covering as much of my face as I could with the hood and leaving the hotel.

Thankfully darkness was falling as I started walking towards the station. I kept my head down as I passed by locals taking evening walks. At the station, I didn't have to wait long, but would have to change trains a couple of times before home. There had been another zombie-extra who had mentioned that he was taking the train in the same direction as me. I'd considered suggesting travelling together, but thought this would be inconvenient for him, since he'd have had to make the stop at the hotel too, or organise to rendezvous elsewhere. It wasn't long before the first train pulled up, and I climbed into an empty carriage. This train would only take me two stops though. When I changed stations, the second train was also quite empty, and I took a set at the rear of the carriage, facing away from other passengers. I saw my reflection in the window, and thought I looked ill.

After only a couple of stops, a man sat opposite me and put his feet onto the seat. I noticed he was looking at me, grinning, and met his gaze.

'How's it going?' he said, smiling deviously.

'I'm okay,' I replied. 'Thanks.'

'Are you meant to be a zombie?' he asked. 'Have you been at that zombie thing?'

I told him that I had been at the zombie thing, and he then asked 'What zombie thing?' and I explained that there had been a movie in production.

'I'm glad you are a zombie,' he said. 'When I got on and saw you I thought, "Fuck, it's some fuckin' street kid whose gonna hassle me the whole way!" But I'm glad it's just you.'

'Right...' I replied, hoping the conversation would be over soon. We sat in silence for a while, before the man tried to reignite our conversation.

'Could I have a cigarette?' he asked.

'I don't smoke.'

'Then could you give me ten or twenty bucks?'

'I don't have any money.'

We were close to the city, where I would change trains again, which was lucky, because I felt like I needed to vomit again. At Flinders Street I didn't have to wait too long for my final train to arrive, and managed to stick to the shadows. This was the most crowded of the trains, and it sat at the station for a while before it departed. A couple sat next to me, but moved away after a short time. Perhaps there are benefits to looking like decay. I was also feeling like it though. I could feel myself starting to sweat from trying to stave off vomiting. When I arrived at my home station, I noticed the Public Safety Officers looking sternly at me and recalled scenes of uniformed officers in combat with zombies during the filming. Oddly, a steam train rushed noisily past, going back to the railyard I'd just been filming at.
  • Current Music
    Come On Mess Me Up - Cub Sport
rion psychic

Painted Freak...

'These zombies are fast, and they're angry. These are not the shuffling, slow, Romero-style zombies. Those just aren't scary.'

I disagreed with the director's comment. When visiting the cemetary, the first zombie seen by Barbara and Johnnie in Night Of The Living Dead is made fun of, allowing him to creep up by surprise. Later, horders could be underestimated by viewers, until they surround the house, overwhelming it completely. It is terrifying in much the same way as Godzilla looming over Odo Island. But I didn't argue. It's his movie, not mine.

The statement was made as a part of a briefing during 'Zombie Training,' the precursor to fulfilling a New Year's resolution of several years ago. That resolution was actually a very specific goal that I have worked towards spasmodically since viewing a scene in a Transformers sequel several years ago, the goal to become a prominently featured extra in a feature film. Upon starting the quest, I also determined that roles such as 'corpse,' 'explosion victim,' and 'zombie' appeal to me. So when I saw a broad call out for extras in Werribee's local paper on my last visit, I immediately acted.

The extras, it was revealled through the seemingly demanding application process, would be ranked into their tiers, and the fact of my invitation to this session seemed to suggest that my application had impressed enough to see me into one of those higher tiers. The 'rehearsal' was actually just an overview of the film's plot, a gentle request for further funding, and running and falling practice - perhaps designed to weed out those who are enthusiastic, but physically ill-prepared for the role.

I was given a five.am call for the following weekend in a location kept secret until a couple of days before. Once disclosed - a vintage railyard - I booked accomodation nearby. I was vaguely annoyed when the call time was delayed until eight o'clock, as I could have saved the expense of the hotel and travelled there early in the morning, but not too much. I arrived that morning to be ushered eventually in groups of 15 from a mass of around 500 extras. In those smaller groups, we queued for a long time, guided by officials who revealled themselves to be extras from the filming the day before who had been so impressed that they'd offered more of their time. We were broken into tiers based upon a number of factors - if we had attended the previous weekend's training, physical ability, and knowledge of languages other than English. This decided it - I had made it to the tier one stage, and closer to the goal of being prominently featured but uncredited.

We were given numbered, colour-coded tickets, which we were told would be presented to the make up staff to identify which extremity of make up to apply. We waited in a less organised queue, and I started talking to a guy named Jeff, also designated the role of 'Tier 1 Zombie.' Together, we checked out the catering tent, which at this stage was only serving biscuits and bottles of weird juices. I took one of each, and the staff apologised for the lack of coffee, apparently the result of the outdoor setting not allowing electricity, and promised that some would be available once we headed into the railsheds to have make up applied. The juice, I discovered, was beetroot and celery flavour, which might have made a nice soup, but was not as successful in juice format.

After some more waiting, Jeff and I were called into the shed, home to vintage steamtrain carriages. We followed the tracks in the long, darkened shed to the end of a train, where the first of an elaborate team of make up artists started working on us, first on our hands. A second artist further shaded our hands. We were then taken to a row of seats, where we had ever more elaborate facial make up applied. There were no mirrors, but I could see the progress of Jeff and the other casts' make up to get an idea of how each stage progressed my own. One of the make up artists, who appeared to be in charge, at one point dragged a guy who looked convincingly zombie-like back through the action of artists, asking him to identify the artist responsible for each stage of his make up. He seemed uncommitted to any response.

'Was it you?' the leader asked of one of the artists close to where I was having diseased veins painted into my skin. I didn't hear the response, but the outcome saw the leader raise her voice and call over all of the artists. 'Alright, girls,' she called. 'All of you, leave what you are doing. Get over here now. I want to show you how not to do face make up!'

'See this?' The leader pushed the subject's hair back at his forehead. Right at the base of his hairline, his natural skintone could be barely seen. 'What if his hair goes back when he is running on set? Everyone can see that! This is no zombie. This is just... a painted freak!' The actor looked sheepish beneath the elborate, if apparently inadequate make up.

After the interruption, those midway through the make up process were left in their seats whilst touch ups were done to others later in the process. I asked for some direction, and the artist looked at my face, telling me I looked done, and directing me further down the line. There, I reconvened with Jeff, who was gritting his teeth, now stained with make up. Through clench teeth he asked 'Is it dry yet?' I asked the tooth make up artist on his behalf, who told us the effect takes only ten seconds to dry. It was my turn next, and I quickly moved to the hair and finally dirt booth, before moving out of the rail shed into the warmth of the winter sun. It had been frightfully cold inside the shed.



Just outside, the final stage of make up was more artists applying a spatter of blood. Once again, we were left to await direction. I've worked on sets before. I know the drill. In the down time, I decided to venture back to the catering tent before we were called to shoot. I had spent over three hours having the make up applied, but the catering stand told me to return later - they said food would be served shortly. Meanwhile, a few extras cast as soldiers and refugees were called away for filming. Extras now made up as zombies were asked to pose for publicity photographs, but since the photographers were using smart phones, it seemed to be more an exercise in promoting the bulk of the cast as useful rather than as an actual productive exercise. I'd brought my copy of Trainspotting and my Gameboy, but we'd been asked to leave our belongings inside the rail shed. So I checked out the rail yard.

After a few more hours, it was announced that lunch was being served, and a line instantly formed behind a barbeque that had been set up in the catering tent. I joined, and predicted a lengthy wait. I hadn't moved at all when the line was halted by the same voice which had been calling 'painted freak!' earlier. 'Would you please hold off for a minute? My girls haven't eaten all morning!'

The queue was held back while the make up artists took their well-deserved lunch. Meanwhile, a crew member paced the queue, calling for and pulling aside Tier 1 zombies. We were led away from the catering queue around the corner to the set. It was an impressive location. A stone archway between two tall, vintage workshops divided two sets or train tracks laid into rough cobblestone roads. On the rail sidings of one set of tracks stood two diesel train engines. For the purposes of the film, a chain-link fence had been erected beyond the engines, serving as the checkpoint for a quarantine area.

We were given further directions, and asked to wait for further make up once the artists had finished their lunch. We were instructed on how the scene would pan out, and told to draw upon our inner anger. 'When I'm hungry, I get angry, so it shouldn't be hard,' commented a woman in the crowd scene. 'Maybe that was the plan all along,' commented another extra. 'Starve us until we're really ravenous zombies.'</i>

When the make up artists arrived, they came carrying a couple of buckets of blood each. They arranged the extras in rows of ten, and ordered our eyes closed. They flung blood on us, and we started to film the scene - a horde of zombies chasing soldiers ushering children through to the quarantine area as it struggles to keep the infected outside. Although the shooting confirmed that this probably won't be the kind of zombie film I liked to watch, it does seem like an exciting scene. My favourite part involved the application of 'mouth blood' by the make up artists, for the front runners to spew as they surged towards the blockade.

The scene was run throguh several times, with a few shots utilising a drone flying overhead through the arch. I pictured sweeping shots of the desperate, mindless horde below, which would look impressive with the three tiers pushing through. It didn't last long before the drone crashed, to a sigh of disappointment from the horde. We were also asked to film various detail shots to intersperse from within the chase sequence. I would have preferred to feature as the director's non-scary zombie, but I did enjoy this role.

It wasn't long before someone - a vocal producer I'd met at the rehearsal, perhaps - called that it was a wrap, to applause through the rail yard. By this time, I was eager to leave. I started to head out, but was caught first as someone I'd not seen all day was asking once more to take photographs. Someone during this called for three cheers for the crew, but I felt bitter and starved, so did not participate - though by 'crew,' I guessed they were referring specifically to film crew, and not administrative and organisational, who did seem to perform admirably. Another round of applause was also called for the expansive team of make up artists, which I did join in on enthusiastically. I'd been impressed with their efficiency and also working under a forceful manager.

At the rehearsal, we'd been promised provisions for removal of the make up, but I found this to be limited to a few WetOnes, which didn't remove much. There was no mirror in the bathroom, but I felt around and it seemed like most of the blood, at least, was gone from my face and neck.
  • Current Music
    Come Back To Me - The Superjesus
max&#39;s eyes

moneyClip...

That was weird. I woke up on Sunday feeling fine. I had no headache at all - unusual for a night when I slept without waking myself. When I started to climb out of bed though, I noticed aches throughout my body. I felt it first in my legs but it ran through my spine and into all of my joints. I moved, kind of painfully, to the kitchen and made coffee. While there, I noticed dried blood all over my hands. They didn't feel sore, but were bloody. After I'd made the coffee, I rinsed my hands, and found cuts at the sides of most of my fingers.

They were actually more like grazes, as though my hands had been dragged across asphalt. I had no recollection of how this could have happened. As soon as my mother saw my impaired gait, she asked if I was sick.

'No,' I replied. 'Just sore.'

When she asked where, I thought for a moment about just where the pain was, before replying 'My skeleton.'

She asked why, and when I said I didn't know, she stated that I had 'obviously had an epileptic seizure.' I conceded that that was possible, although I couldn't claim it as obviously as she could, because this felt different. There was no headache or sickness at all. It was different to the newType seizures I'd previously documented and discussed, and unlike the kind of seizure that was caught on tape in hospital. Also, I didn't end up dead.

So today I am still sore, but still not sick at all. This is something new. I wonder what this is.
  • Current Music
    Altruism - Oscar Key Sung
rion psychic

Leave Your Friends Behind...

Perhaps I was too quick to judge both Kate and the woman on the bus. Maybe their extreme views on safety were justified. Maybe for all of these years, I have been living life with too much of a laissez-faire attitude in regards to personal safety and that of others. In the same week that I'd been warned of safety risks, I would experience someone succumb to one with my own eyes.

I'd been called to Werribee to deliver training on job application and interview skills. It turned out to be an interesting topic. I was surprised at how many people insist that a resume must include a photograph, or even a video clip. I had been completely unprepared for the sessions, having originally arrived to deliver a different course, but the reception seemed fine. It made me feel like applying for jobs myself with my newly-trained skills.

Since construction work commenced on the Frankston train line, I've been taking the Dandenong line. I must have been engrossed in my Gameboy game, because I looked up just in time to see my train pulling up to the stop. I hastily stashed it in my bag and headed to the train's door. I was last in a trail of commuters trailing out of the carriage, and as I was stepping out, a young lady, clutching a smart phone to her face, ran up the ramp towards the carriage. As she headed towards the door I was stepping through, she crashed into another passenger leaving the train and stumbled.

She followed the trajectory towards the carriage she'd started on, and for a moment, it seemed she would skirt past me successfully into the train. Instead, she just missed, and slipped into the narrow space between the edge of the platform and the train carriage. I was a little surprised at how easily and completely she seemed to have fallen down. In one fluid action, she'd gone from upright and about my height to partially obscured beneath the platform and trapped. I wouldn't have even imagined it to have been possible - the gap is such a small one, and she wasn't a remarkably thin woman. She was slim, but not unusually so. It seems like it would be hard to guide a smaller object to fall into the narrow space, yet this girl had fallen in without trying.

She sank beneath the platform to her elbows, which had slammed with a painful-sounding crack into the carriage floor, and now seemed to be all that was supporting her. I'd grabbed her shoulder, but only seemed to be holding a piece of the flimsy fabric of her shirt. She was still holding the phone.

I tried to clutch the girl's shoulder, but couldn't hold on in a way which seemed helpful. She wasn't moving a lot. I had assumed that she would lift herself with her elbows, but she didn't do so, and I wondered if she was unable to move in the gap at all. Instead, I stepped back into the carriage and fumbled to grip the girl's shoulders from a frontal position. When I failed to lift her from this position, I took a more awkward one. Crouched in front of her, I put my arms underneath hers and then returned to a standing position, lifting her up out of the gap with me. It must have looked awkward to the bystanders crowded around.  Once I'd brought her up, she stumbled forward into a chair as tone rang indicating the doors would close, and I quickly stepped back.

As I left the station, with the train doors closing, I noticed the station's transit police running in my direction. I hoped they weren't prompted by my inappropriate grasp of the girl's body, though they did seem to be pointedly running in my direction. I quickened my pace toward the underpass exiting the station, putting dawdling commuters between us. By the time I'd left the underpass, I couldn't see the officers when I checked quickly over my shoulder.

I rushed to my car. I had to get home quickly. I'd left my game of Secret Files: Tunguska running on my Gameboy in my bag, and had to save it or risk losing my progress.
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max&#39;s eyes

Safety Dance...

Today I caught a bus. It isn't an unprecedented event, but for the last decade has not been a common one. I create this entry based upon my interaction with someone I perceived to be a regular passenger, though this is not to be a commentary on 'the great unwashed' aboard public transport that is often penned by infrequent travellers. This shall be an observation of a trend towards alarmist safety precautions.

'Omigosh!' Kate had cried earlier at work, without provocation. 'I just realised that I'm eating peanut butter!'

'Okay...' said Andrew, seeming to be uncertain of the significance of the exclamation, as I too must have appeared as I searched between the two for hints of some running joke I'd missed the genesis of whilst relegated to training rooms. But no laughter came.

'I mean,' Kate started. 'I didn't ask everyone if it's okay.'

'It's fine...?' answered Andrew, the tone of uncertainty prevailing to the point that Kate further clarified.

'I mean, I didn't check first if anyone on our level is allergic to peanuts.'

Andrew and I laughed, and Kate asked what was funny.

'You're just going to eat the peanut butter though, right?' I confirmed.

'You weren't going to smear it all over people's faces, were you?' Andrew continued.

'Obviously not,' Kate rolled her eyes. 'But some people are extremely allergic.' By now she had packed away the offending condiment. 'And I don't have an EpiPen.'

The apparent neglect over, I went back to work, and thought to myself that it would never occur to me to go to such extreme lengths in the interest of public safety. I am also the first to admit that I am not the most civic-minded of people, probably. I encountered someone else later that very day just as interested in public safety. It was on the aforementioned bus.

I'd taken my car to have its roof replaced that morning (it was damaged by criminals in December in a crime almost identical to one five years earlier.) Due to staff at the repair shop being absent, the car wasn't ready as planned this afternoon, so I'll pick it up tomorrow. In the meantime, I sought alternate transport, and ended up on a bus.

I took a seat at the rear of the bus, but noticed a woman already at the front speaking loudly to the driver, who was paying her little attention. I paid her equally as much attention and continued to read. I did look up, however, as she raised her voice significantly each time the bus started drawing to a halt before upcoming stops to let passengers on and off. Each time a passenger rose from their seat, she would shout at them to sit down until the bus stopped moving, and would also loudly advise the driver that she had warned the passengers of such. As far as I could see, the driver did not respond.

'Watch out!' she shouted at a woman with a shopping cart, then, to the driver, 'Aren't you going to do something about that?'

I couldn't tell exactly what she was talking about.

'Oh!' she seemed distressed. 'It's still happening!'

I wondered if she was less cogent than I had originally thought.

'Why aren't you doing anything?' I heard her ask the driver again. 'What will it take? Does someone have to be injured? Does someone need to be killed?'

As the bus stopped to let more passengers alight, the woman crept carefully from her front seat to one more centrally located. Her distress continued in her new position though, and she continued warning passengers to the unseen danger she had identified, to little response. She sounded almost defeated as she wailed 'Why won't something be done?'

Before long, the bus drew near my stop, and I pressed the button to inform the driver. As I rose to leave the bus, I was, predictably, screamed at.

'Watch out!' the woman wailed at me.

'For what?' I asked.

She pointed to the floor of the bus, and I looked to see an empty Coca-Cola bottle rolling on the floor.

'Watch out for the bottle?' I asked.

'Someone could trip!' she confirmed. 'Someone could be killed! And the driver doesn't care!'

I took the bottle with me when I left the bus, and put it in my recycle bin at home. It was the first time I have seen such commotion in regards to a plastic bottle and peanut butter in the one day.
haw flake

finalList 2015...

Custard - We Are The Parents (Our Parents Warned Us About)
A$AP Rocky - Holy Ghost {Ft. Joe Fox}
Elliphant - Love Me Badder
Blur - Go Out
Dream On Dreamer - Don't Lose Your Heart
Rubens, The - Hoops
Sarah Blasko - I'd Be Lost
Ratatat - Abrasive
Wombats, The - Emoticons
Ben Folds - Capable Of Anything
rion psychic

shortList 2015...

A Night In Texas - The God Delusion
A Tribe Called Quest - Bonita Applebum (Pharrell Wiiliams Remix)
A.D.K.O.B. - Glue
A$AP Rocky - Everyday {Ft. Rod Stewart/Miguel/Mark Ronson}
A$AP Rocky - Excuse Me
A$AP Rocky - Holy Ghost {Ft. Joe Fox}
A$AP Rocky - Jukebox Joints {Ft. Joe Fox & Kanye West}
A$AP Rocky - L$D
ABRA - Roses
Action Bronson - Actin Crazy {Prod. By 40}
Aerials - Restless
Ainslie Wills - Drive
Akroyd Smart - Different
Alex G - Salt
Alison Wonderland - Back It Up {Alison Wonderland x AWE}
All That Remains - This Probably Won't End Well
Ally Brown - Suburbia
Alpine - Cigarettes Will Kill You {triple j Like A Version}
Alpine - Damn Baby
Alyx Dennison - Jewels Are Just Lumps
Amity Affliction, The - Shine On
Amity Affliction, The - Skeletons
Anderson .Paak - Am I Wrong {Ft. ScHoolboy Q}
Angry Seas - Fish & Chips
Anna O - Close My Eyes {Ft. Angus Dawson}
Ansah Brothers, The - Never Learn
Anti-Flag - Sky Is Falling
Arcade Fire - Soft Power
Art Of Sleeping - Hotline Bling {triple j Like A Version}
Art Of Sleeping - Voodoo
Art vs Science - In This Together
Ash Grunwald - River
Asta - I Wanna Dance With Somebody {triple j Like A Version}
Au.Ra - Talk Show
August Burns Red - Identity
Auguste - Slow Motion
AURORA - Running With The Wolves
Ayla - When The World Ends
Bad//Dreems - Hiding To Nothing
BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah - Six Degrees {Ft. Danny Brown}
Baio - Sister Of Pearl
Banff - All Again
Baroness - Chlorine & Wine
Basenji - Petals {Ft. Scenic}
Beach Slang - Noisy Heaven
Beck - Dreams
Belle & Sebastian - Enter Sylvia Plath
Belle Haven - The Looking Glass
Belligerents, The - Looking At You
Ben Folds - Capable Of Anything
Ben Wright Smith - No One
Bennies, The - (He'll Never Be An) Ol' Man River {triple j Like A Version}
Best Coast - Feeling Ok
Best Coast - Heaven Sent
Billy Fox - Lights
Birds Of Tokyo - Anchor
Birds Of Tokyo - I'd Go With You Anywhere
Bloc Party - The Love Within
Blur - Go Out
Blur - I Broadcast
Bob Moses - Tearing Me Up
Bootleg Rascal - Asleep In The Machine
Born Lion - Good Dogs Play Dead
Boy & Bear - Limit Of Love
Boy & Bear - Walk The Wire
Brawlers - Drink & Dial
Bring Me The Horizon - Doomed
Bring Me The Horizon - Oh No
Bring Me The Horizon - Throne
Bring Me The Horizon - True Friends
British India - Blame It All On Me
British India - Suddenly
Bugs - Best Friend
Bully - Trying
Cage The Elephant - Mess Around
Cage The Elephant - Trouble
Canary - Here We Go
Caravana Sun - Ashes
Cat Empire, The - Wolves
Chance The Rapper - Wanna Be Cool {Ft. Big Sean/Kyle/Jeremih}
Chase & Status - Funny B2069{Ft. Frisco}
Cheatahs - Murasaki
Chemical Brothers, The - Go {Ft. Q-Tip}
Chemical Brothers, The - Wide Open {Ft. Beck}
Chvrches - Clearest Blue
Chvrches - Never Ending Circles
Circa Waves - T-Shirt Weather
City Calm Down - Son
Claptone - Dear Life {Ft. Jaw}
Claptone - Puppet Theatre {Ft. Peter Bjorn & John}
Courtney Barnett - Aqua Profunda!
Courtney Barnett - Nobody Really Cares If You Don't Go To The Party
Cousin Tony's Brand New Firebird - Queen Of Hearts
Cradle of Filth - Right Wing of The Garden Triptych
Crepes - Size Of Your Town
Cub Sport - Only Friend
Custard - We Are The Parents (Our Parents Warned Us About)
D'Angelo And The Vanguard - Sugah Daddy
Dan Deacon - Feel The Lightning
Daniel Johns - Preach
Dead Letter Circus - In Plain Sight
Dead Letter Circus - Silence
Deafheaven - Gifts For The Earth
Deerhunter - Snakeskin
DENNI - Blink {Ft. Aphir}
Dilly Dally - Desire
Districts, The - Peaches
Django Django - First Light
Django Django - Shake And Tremble
DMA's - Lay Down
Doe Paoro - The Wind {Ft. Adam Rhodes}
Doom Mountain - I'm Just A Man
Dorsal Fins - Cut The Wire
Dr. Colossus - Stupid Sexy Flanders
Dr. Dre - Talking To My Diary
Drake - Hotline Bling
Drake - No Tellin'
Drapht - Dancin' John Doe
Dream On Dreamer - Don't Lose Your Heart
Dreller - One Night Stand
Duke Dumont - Ocean Drive
DZ Deathrays - Addicted To Bass {triple j Like A Version}
East Journey - Emu {Ft. Yothu Yindi}
Ecca Vandal - Battle Royal
EL VY - Return To The Moon
Elliphant - Love Me Badder
Endless Heights - Haunt Me
Everything Everything - Regret
Eves The Behavior - Electrical
Ezra Furman - Lousy Connection
Fake Problems - Holy Attitude
Father John Misty - Strange Encounter
Fences - Sunburns
FIDLAR - 40oz. On Repeat
FIDLAR - Sober
Fifth Dawn - Turbulence
Florence And The Machine - Queen Of Peace
Fox & Fowl - Eliza
Gay Paris - The Sackcloth Saint Of The Cornfield
Gengahr - Heroine
Ghost - Cirice
Glass Animals - Gold Lime
GodWolf - Resist
Golden Rules - Auntie Pearl's House
Gooch Palms, The - Tiny Insight
Grenadiers - Summer
Grimes - California
Grimes - Flesh Without Blood
Grimes - Scream {Ft. Aristophanes}
Gunslingers - Interstellar
Gypsy & The Cat - Lost Control
GZA - The Mexican {Ft. Tom Morello}
Half Moon Run - Trust
Half Moon Run - Warmest Regards
Halsey - Castle
Hands Like Houses - New Romantics
Harts - All Rise (Play It Cool)
Hellions - Nottingham
Hermitude - Through The Roof {Ft. Young Tapz}
Hermitude - Ukiyo (OK Sure Remix)
High-tails - Information
Highasakite - Keep That Letter Safe
HINDS - Garden
Hockey Dad - Can't Have Them
Holy Holy - You Cannot Call For Love Like A Dog
Hooton Tennis Club - Kathleen Sat On The Arm Of Her Favourite Chair
Houndmouth - Sedona
Hudson Mohawke - Scud Books
I, Valiance - The Pillars Of Ruin
In Hearts Wake - Breakaway
In Hearts Wake - Erase
In Hearts Wake - Wildfire
Infinity Broke - Famine Of Words
Internet, The - Something's Missing
J Motor - Jungle Daze
Jack Garratt - Weathered
Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders - To Keep And Be Kept
Jamie Woon - Sharpness
Jamie xx - Stranger In A Room {Ft. Oliver Sim}
Japanese Wallpaper - Forces {Ft. Airling}
Jarryd James - Do You Remember
Jarryd James - Regardless {Ft. Julia Stone}
Jarryd James - This Time (Serious Symptoms, Simple Solutions)
Jenny Broke The Window - Black Skeleton
Jess Kent - Get Down
Jesse Davidson - Laika
Jinja Safari - Accident
Joanna Newsom - Leaving The City
Joey Bada$$ - No. 99
Jones Jnr. - Perfume
Joni In The Moon - War And Porn
Josef Salvat - Night Swim
Josh Pyke - Songlines
Julia Holter - Sea Calls Me Home
Jungle Giants, The - Every Kind Of Way
Jungle Giants, The - Kooky Eyes
Kagu - Human
Kate Boy - Northern Lights
Kendrick Lamar - King Kunta
Kill The Noise - Mine {Ft. Bryn Christopher}
Kilter - Ice Cream {Ft. Ngaiire} {triple j Like A Version}
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - God Is In The Rhythm
Kita Alexander - My Own Way
Kuren - Achillies
L-FRESH The LION - Get Mine {Ft. Parvyn Kaur Singh}
Lana Del Rey - High By The Beach
Lana Del Rey - Music To Watch Boys To
Lanks - Aurelia
Lapsley - Hurt Me
Le Pie - Josephine
Le1f - Koi
Life is Better Blonde - Mine
Little May - Home
Little Simz - Dead Body
Loon Lake - Surfin'
Low - No Comprende
LOW LUX - Ruin
Loyle Carner - Ain't Nothing Changed
Luca Brasi - Aeroplane
Lurch & Chief - Breathe Out
Lusts - Temptation
M83 - Holes In the Sky {Ft. HAIM}
Maccabees, The - Kamakura
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - DOWNTOWN {Ft. Eric Nally/Melle Mel/Kool Moe Dee/Grandmaster Caz}
Magic Bones - Danger I Am
Mailer Daemon - Let's See {Ft. Sage}
Majical Cloudz - Are You Alone
Major Lazer - Be Together {Ft. Wild Belle}
Major Lazer - Too Original {Ft. Elliphant/Jovi Rockwell}
Majora - Iridescent
Make Them Suffer - Requiem
Mansionair - Speak Easy
Maples - Into My Arms
Mark Ronson - I Sat By The Ocean {triple j Like A Version}
Martin Courtney - Northern Highway
Matt Corby - Monday
Meat Wave - Delusion Moon
Medics, The - Wake Up
Meeting Tree, The - I Pay My Tax (I Hate Myself) {Ft. Janet English}
Meg Mac - Never Be
Metric - Fortunes
Metric - The Shade
Miguel - Coffee
Mini Mansions - Fantasy
Missy Elliott - WTF (Where They From) {Ft. Pharrell Williams}
Modest Mouse - Coyotes
Modest Mouse - Lampshades On Fire
Modest Mouse - Sugar Boats
Monkey Safari - Cranes
Moonbase Commander x Cakes Da Killa - Serve It Up
Morgan Bain - Why Don't You Stay
Morning Harvey - Lights Camera Gina
Motion City Soundtrack - Lose Control
MS MR - Criminals
MS MR - Painted
Mumford & Sons - Snake Eyes
Mumford & Sons - The Wolf
Muscles - Unicorns
Muse - Mercy
Muse - Reapers
My Own Pet Radio - No Great Mystery
N.E.R.D. - Squeeze Me
Nadia Reid - Reaching Through
Nick Catchdubs - Run {Ft. MNDR}
NOIRE - Baby Blue
Northlane - Let It Happen
Northlane - Soma
Northlane - Weightless
Nothing But Thieves - Trip Switch
Of Monsters And Men - Human
Oliver Sol - After Dark
Olympia - Tourists
Other Lives - Reconfiguration
Our Man In Berlin - Spirit Down
Owen Rabbit - Holy Holy
Palace - Can't Stop {Ft. Godwolf}
Panama - Jungle
Paper Kites, The - Electric Indigo
Parking Lot Experiments - Live Long
Parkway Drive - Writings On The Wall
Patrick Watson - Places You Will Go
Paul Conrad - Records
Peaches - Close Up {Ft. Kim Gordon}
Pearls - Albion
Perch Creek - Mama Sings
PERIPHERY - Alpha
Polish Club - Beeping
Pond - Holding Out For You
Pro Vita - Julia
Purity Ring - Begin Again
Puscifer - The Arsonist
RAC - Back Of The Car {Ft. Nate Hendricks}
Ratatat - Abrasive
Ratatat - Cream On Chrome
Raury - Devil's Whisper
Red Jezebel - Outer Dodge
Refused - Francafrique
Robert DeLong - Don't Wait Up
Rosie Lowe - Who's That Girl
Rubens, The - Hallelujah
Rubens, The - Hoops
Rubens, The - The Fool
Ryan Hemsworth - Afterglow
SAFIA - Counting Sheep
SAFIA - Embracing Me
Samuel Dobson - Who You Run With
San Cisco - Bitter Winter
San Cisco - Too Much Time Together
Sarah Blasko - I'd Be Lost
Sarah Blasko - Maybe This Time
School Of Seven Bells - Open Your Eyes
Seth Sentry - Hell Boy
Sia - Alive
Sia - Bird Set Free
Sizarr - Scooter Accident
Skaters - Mental Case
Skegss - Eat It
Skepta - Shutdown
Sleater-Kinney - Price Tag
Slow Turismo - I Sit Down As Soon As I Get Up
Snakehips - All My Friends {Ft. Tinashe/Chance The Rapper}
Society - Protocol
Soko - Who Wears The Pants??
Sons Of Rico - What Am I Doing Here?
Sophie Lowe - Pink Flowers
Spector - All The Sad Young Men
Speedy Ortiz - Raising The Skate
Split Feed - Vanilla
Steven A. Clark - Can't Have
Sticky Fingers - Delete {triple j Like A Version}
Sticky Fingers - Ghost Town
Strypes, The - Get Into It
Sufjan Stevens - No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross
Summer Camp - Bad Love
Surahn - Wanted To Fly
Tame Impala - Confide In Me {triple j Like A Version}
Tame Impala - Let It Happen
Tame Impala - The Less I Know The Better
Them Bruins - Heading For The Harrows
Timothy Nelson & The Infidels - My Luck
Tiny Little Houses - Easy
Tired Lion - I Don't Think You Like Me
Tobias Jesso Jr. - How Could You Babe
Toro y Moi - Empty Nesters
TORRES - Strange Hellos
Tove Styrke - Ain't Got No...
TroldHaugen - Viva Loa Vegas
Tuka - Right By You
Twin Haus - I Used To Think
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Multi-Love
Urban Cone - Weekends
UV boi - LUV {Ft. Fionn Richards/Brasstracks}
Vaccines, The - Minimal Affection
Vance Joy - Fake Plastic Trees {triple j Like A Version}
VANT - Parking Lot
Very Best, The - Let Go
Walking Who, The - My Future Wife
Wavves - My Head Hurts
Wavves - Way Too Much
Waza - Tell Me How
Weeknd, The - Can't Feel My Face
Weeknd, The - Losers {Ft. Labrinth}
Weezer - Thank God For Girls
Will Butler - Anna
Wolf Alice - Lisbon
Wolf Alice - You're A Germ
Wombats, The - Be Your Shadow
Wombats, The - Emoticons
YACHT - I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler
Young Fathers - Rain Or Shine
Yum Yum - Do You Really? {Ft. The Brass Knuckle Brass Band}
Zane Francis - Acclimate
Zefereli - Withdrawals
ZHU x Bone Thugs-N-Harmony x Trombone Shorty - Hold Up, Wait A Minute
rion psychic

Laggard...

When I complete market research surveys, I often find that questions designed to determine my likelihood to use a company's technological innovations don't really have a response in their multiple choice range to suit me. None of the following options describes me well:

Whilst I am known to have been slow to take up some popular technology, I've also eagerly awaited and praised others. I bought one of the first of the lower price range GPS navigators, and was listening to an MP3 player before one could simply connect and upload songs via USB (because USB didn't exist yet - mine connected via the printer port) while others were still excited with their Discman and the progressive were showing off MiniDisc players. Conversely, my late entry into the smart phone game was the cause of frustration to many. Friends exhibited annoyance at my tardy response to social media meeting requests, and a manager from my work was dumbfounded when I couldn't access a boarding pass he'd sent me via email from the back of a taxi en-route to the airport. I have even been accused of deliberately rebelling against trends (oddly by my brother, who as far as I am aware, is still using the non-smart mobile phone that I gave him in 2000.)
I did upgrade to a smart phone earlier this year, after growing impatient with my previous mobile phone's limitations - namely the row of buttons which had stopped working when after I'd dropped the device in the snow 18 months earlier. I'm not trying to rebel against smart telephony but so far I haven't found a lot of improved functionality between the new and old phone (other than this phone's ability to dial numbers containing the digits 3, 6, or 9 again.) In fact, simple tasks like finding stored numbers or sending an SMS are now time-consuming ordeals. Beyond that is the simple fact that smart phones are massive when compared to previous technology. I became accustomed to small phones - their primary feature - with my last phone, and the one I'd used before that (a pinnacle of style and design,) though no one would have ever described the phone I'd used before those two, my first, as small (but it was also a classic of design.)

A colleague recently laughed at me. Shocked to see me using a smart phone, he asked how many apps I had. When I guessed 'Maybe seven?' he looked at the phone screen and immediately started striking them out.

'SMS doesn't count as an app,' he ruled. 'Phone calls isn't an app. Settings isn't an app...'

In the end he decided that I have two apps. I'd tried a couple of GPS apps and left one on there that seemed okay, and also a second programme that I'd downloaded after remembering thinking it was cool when Lee had used it, a kind of catalogue of the night sky that sees to work via a combination of GPS, the phone's accelerometer and the phone's camera to identify astral bodies. I haven't used either of these more than a couple of times, though.

Whilst smart phones - or this one, at least - advertise what seems an impressive list of inclusions and functions, the main draw card seems to be the convenience of several appliances in a single unit. In theory, this could be amazing. In practice, none of these features functions to a level to warrant the exclusion of the dedicated device from my arsenal of technology. The GPS has been handy on a couple of occasions to generate a map of my current position to take me from whatever unfamiliar train station I've found myself at to the nearest bar, but tracks movement too slowly to give reliable live directions (even when compared to my old GPS, Penelope, who is close to 15 years old, and like Odi from Real Humans, now relies on external power to stay alive.) The lack of optical zoom in the phone's camera makes it unsuitable for my fairly modest requirements, so I still need to carry my digital camera. It has been suggested that I could use the phone to make updates to Twitter while I am away from a computer, which is true and something I've kept in mind, but so far have not had a need to publish anything so urgently that it couldn't wait until I get home. Games have been suggested, but none are as imaginative or engaging as those on my Gameboy DS.

One thing I have tried and have been engaging in is podcasts. There are certainly several that exist that I think I could enjoy, and am using these as the model higher purpose for my bulky smart phone. I've been engrossed with a show called Welcome To Night Vale. Although based around a silly premise, the production is of a high quality, and the combination of paranormal themes and new music seems designed for me, even if I would have approached it differently. Once I am up to date with the series, I might look for other podcasts.

I have even downloaded and might listen to Serial. How does that fit with diagnoses of rebelling against trends?

Interestingly, the offered multiple choice options from a coffee company also do not provide a response that matches my needs. After an image of George Clooney, and a question asking if I recognise the actor, I am asked to respond as to whether my opinion of the coffee is higher, the same, or less upon knowing that he is endorsing it. There is, however, no question for the opposite scenario, which is actually impacted by his appearance in advertising - my opinion of George Clooney is higher, with the knowledge that we apparently enjoy the same coffee.