Sunday, 30 September 2007


It's that exciting time of the year again: daylight savings. I remember when it used to be at the end of the month, but that seems like so long ago now...

Usually I only find out that the time has changed by booting up the computer and noting the time(*), and going 'that can't be right...'. One time, when I had a Sunday shift, that was all that saved me from turning up an hour late! (Fortunately, when I noticed, I still had an hour to get ready, replacing the two I thought I had. Could have been worse...)

The main reason for this early shift is of course that some politicians thought that since people like the summer and its hours so much (because its the relative hours that define summer, of course), then why not have daylight savings for longer? Well, by that logic, we should be on daylight savings time permanently! But that would be silly, of course... but more silly than being of a different time zone for half the year? (And it is half the year now...)

(*)Congrats to Microsoft for keeping up with strange NZ daylight savings policies and updating the time of my computer for me. As I've said, it usually the only thing that makes me realise...


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Saturday, 29 September 2007

Look out, Skepticism!

From the NZ Skeptics email list:

* Plains FM Women on Air: 10 o'clock Saturday [today!] (after the news)
A long interview with Vicki Hyde (chair-entity of the NZ Skeptics) about the recent conference and scepticism. (Hopefully be available on the archive/podcast.)

* Sensing Murder critique by Silly Beliefs
Lots of you are angry/dismayed about this exploitainment programme.
Here's a detailed critique of the episode with "sceptic" Nigel Latta:

* Stuart Landsborough's $100,000 Psychic Challenge
Point any psychic this way to demonstrate their powers and win $100,000 (can be donated to charity, so don't let them wriggle out with the old "I don't do this for the money" excuse!)

* Darwin -- The most in-depth exhibition ever mounted on renowned naturalist and his theory of evolution: 29 September - 13 January, Auckland Museum


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Friday, 28 September 2007

SJA: Revenge of the Slitheen

You're looking here, when you should be looking here!

Off the bat, let me say: I enjoyed these episodes! Oh, I'll bitch about things in just a moment, but I had fun watching them. This story is very much aimed at the children, but it isn't childish. The story doesn't talk down, just gets on with it.

This story could be considered as School Reunion with the Slitheen replacing the Krillitanes. The Slitheen are a great metaphor for teachers being monsters, although, like School Reunion, the story doesn't make any real use of that. The best we get is along the lines of 'that teacher isn't a threat', but then... Instead, the story is about how the Slitheen are planning to, well, get revenge (as it happens), and just happen to be at the school where Maria and Luke happen to be - and this brings up an amazing co-incidental accident of the script. Why should this school play the pivotal role it does? Co-incidence always plays a big part in most Doctor Who adventures, but there really is no excuse for one this big this soon. The fact that the story doesn't make much use of the school aspect emphases this more.

But the story needs to be lightweight as the episodes have another role to play: re-introducing the world of Sarah Jane Adventures. This is helped by the introduction of the character of Clyde Langer (replacing Kelsey from Invasion of the Bane) who gets to ask 'what's that?' Any resemblance to one Mickey Smith is, I'm sure, purely an accident of casting. Thus we are treated to slabs of exposition which could easily explain why this story was two episodes long!

That all said, the threat are the Slitheen, whom, I have to say, are less threatening here than in Aliens of London/World War Three. We get no fast moving CGI versions, so we are treated to Paul Kasey doing his best monster lumbering, providing plenty of excuses as to how everyone outruns them (the Slitheen are supposed to be great hunters??), and their claws aren't really designed for the machines they wanted built. Still, at least they aren't doing the whole George Bush parody, and we do get a kid-friendly version, and there's tons of farting for children to chuckle at (I did wonder if the fans were in mind with the whole Clyde/Luke 'is farting funny?' runner).

Now, Doctor Who often requires a blind eye towards the accurate end of technology, but what happens here not only takes the cake, but also steals the entire kitchen! The Slitheen are stealing energy, from every source, be it electrical or heat or... and the machinery that makes this happen incidentally causes cellular decay... but humans are cellular and produce heat (and low level electricity), yet no humans are harmed by this process? The hey?? Hand-waving physics are all very well, but there are some basics that might occur to people.

I did say at the beginning that I did enjoy this adventure, and the reason for that can be easily summed up: the cast. It really is great to see Elizabeth Sladen back as Sarah Jane, but the lion's share of this episode goes to Yasmin Paige (Maria), Tommy Knight (Luke), Daniel Anthony (Clyde) and Martyn Ellis and Ian Midlane as the teachers. The cast really invest themselves in their parts, bringing a smile to the face when the rest of the story doesn't. The production team score highly here, and it'll be this group of people that have the power to make Sarah Jane Adventures a success.

Revenge of the Slitheen was as much a second pilot to SJA as anything else, borrowing on the Slitheen threat to make an impact and introducing the new cast and themes that'll no doubt play out over the year (one definite arc is that involving 'family'). As long as the actors are buoyant, they'll make up for any downfall in story, making SJA a very watchable series.


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Thursday, 27 September 2007

Frakkin' cool

When I read about this, I just thought it was amazing. For a start, just the sheer scale human ingenuity flash-of-brilliance to take a cheap CD player and convert it into a scanner like that just gives one a wonderful feeling, a sense of a 'can-do' spirit that will make anything work.

And then there's the plot device capability of it. I can already see crime shows now having lab scanners in cars etc... and actually have it based on real technology as opposed to pure plot device 'get to bit of information x' that currently drives it. Yes, okay, there's a big gap between getting information from a crime scene and putting it in a usable format on a CD that can be read by the player, but these kinds of details doesn't stop a writer.

Never let the lack of flashy and expensive equipment stop you from jerry-rigging a quick and easy fix, that's a great human trait. :)


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Wednesday, 26 September 2007

That's what I want

I'm now on the GoDaddy mailing list, and they send out frequent newsletters with their "latest deals", which I usually don't bother with. But in their latest, they made big claims.

Tired of 'huge' sales that only include the products nobody wants? That's not what you'll find at! We're offering deep discounts on our most popular, top-selling products, including domain names, site builders, web hosting and more! But hurry, this offer expires October 10, 2007.

Oh, really? Well, tell me quickly, I want products that everyone wants. And their first big item was:

Register, transfer or renew your .MOBI domain for just $9.99* and save on your key to the mobile Internet! Plus, grab your own .BIZ domain for just $6.99*! Best of all, every Go Daddy(R) domain includes over $96** in FREE extras: email, hosting with Web site builder, blogcast, photo album & much more! No quantity limit.


Name anyone that wants a .mobi or .biz address! Certainly not at the top of my wishlist. I really should unsubscribe some time, but I do hold out some hope that one day, maybe, they might just discount something that I might just actually want...


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Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Just to be clear

I don't care.

Although I did make a big computer-related purchase this week: 1GB DDR memory for my laptop! Woo! Yeah! ...livin' la vida loco...


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Monday, 24 September 2007

Observation on human nature

Tops off for cancer cure

'nuff said.


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Sunday, 23 September 2007

Noooooo! Dammit!

In a month, I'll be at Armageddon (got all my tickets now so I'm committed) because Adam West will be there. Adam freaking West, people!

And yet, when I checked today: "Due to circumstances beyond our control the following guests cannot make the event Adam West, Julie Newmar and Matt Wood."


However, "Adam west and Julie newmar send their regrets, however they will be attending the October 2008 events." So I guess I'll be going next year as well...

Oh well, just have to satisfy myself with Billy West, Joe Flanigan, Ellen Muth, Elizabeth Rohm, Peter Woodward...


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Saturday, 22 September 2007

Best! Comedy! EVAH!

(Okay, instant qualification: best live action American sit-com evah!)

Before the hundreds of unfunny shows bolstering up the careers of failed stand-up comics, before the cavalcade of whimsy that was the hilarity whitewash that was Friends, there was a comedy show that was actually worth watching!

The premise was remarkedly simple in many ways, and yet it was really only used for brief comedy bits in other shows: what if we saw inside the mind of one of the characters on the show? And from that, we present a damn fine intelligent comedy:

Herman's Head!

It only lasted three seasons (damn it!), and starred the fantastic talents of William Ragsdale, Hank Azaria, Jane Sibbett (as an extremely hot blonde), Yeardley Smith (which explains the HH references on the Simpsons, with a few Simpsons references on HH), Molly Hagen, Ken Hudson Campbell, Rick Lawless, Peter MacKenzie and the late, great Jason Bernard.

Unfortunately, because Fox sucks, not only was it cancelled after three seasons (if they had gone one more season, the show would have had enough episodes to go into syndication and would have been far more known), but also they haven't released them on DVD. This is why when I was contacted about getting some off-air copies... I went Yay!

We're talking getting 53 of the 72 episodes! The quality isn't the best, but, hey, episodes! If you want to get your own copies, check out the details on my HH page. And before you cry foul, I hereby promise that if the DVDs ever do come out, I will get a copy, so there is no money lost here. I WANT THEM ALL!

This was a fantastic, intelligent series, and should be required watching for all.


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Friday, 21 September 2007

Oh, fer frak's sake!

It's bad enough that one can host a TV show when they don't even know if the Earth is flat or what...

We've got Alicia Silverstone naked (which isn't bad itself), but she's supporting PETA! Call me biased but, just look at this Bullshit!

And then, and then... this idiot gets a TV deal? I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Either a brilliant move by executives, or one of the saddest signs of our times... (or both...)


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Thursday, 20 September 2007

Too much TV?

So, I hear about these meteorites, and read the description:

Around midday Saturday, villagers were startled by an explosion and a fireball that many were convinced was a plane crashing near their remote village, in the high Andes department of Puno in the Desaguadero region, near the border with Bolivia.


"Boiling water started coming out of the crater and particles of rock and cinders were found nearby. Residents are very concerned," he said.

People seem to be jumping to Zombies. Am I the only one that immediately went to El Chupacabra?


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Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Looks like an interesting place...

Have to say "good on ya, Tourism NZ" for at least giving it a go. The interwebtubules are the happening place to spread viral memes and YouTube is one of the biggest site for people to stop by and just vege out at, so why not use it? As Tourism NZ have done by getting themselves on the homepage and their own channel.

Just one small wee problem I forsee... the promo ad is much movie like, especially with the Weta graphics and all, and it's got this announcement track of "this is the youngest country to be inhabited" or some such (which I have my doubts about), but... it's too movie like.

Now, call this an unfair gross over-simplification if you like, but, well... I am wondering how many people won't realise this isn't a movie and think "wow, nice effects, looks like some good action in there, must check it out at the theatre some time" (or rather "download it via torrent"). Yes, this is thinking that a lot of YouTube watchers are incompetent boobs who don't realise that New Zealand is a real country but... um... yeah, I've got my reasons for that...

This does however mean we might be "land that was improbably fished from the sea" rather than "that place with all the sheep"...


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Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Cyber me!

As I am on


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Monday, 17 September 2007

The economical choice?

I'm a big fan of Green Lantern and want to collect the entire Hal Jordan run that started in the sixties and went to the eighties. (I have the later run that started in the ninties... but I gave up when it underwent the latest reboot, split into too many titles, cost far too much and didn't give much reading time... bah!)

Fortunately, DC are putting out archives, collected volumes. And in two formats. One set is the Green Lantern Archives, which collects nine volumes into a hardback book, costing $US33. The other set is Showcase Presents: Green Lantern, which is around 20 issues in a softcover, costing $US10.

Which choice is the better one?

However, another factor: GLA is in colour, Showcase isn't. I want the colour versions. Which means I am facing huge cost for a very long time.

If they continue the nine issue per rate (and as the comics go on, I think they get shorter, so it might possibly increase), then there are 25 volumes of GLA to get. Bloomin' heck! Now, I have about every issue from around #150 on so I could stop then, but this is a more robust to aging format (and some of my comics are indeed falling apart),... and there's no sign they are putting these out frequently (nine months between GLA #5 and #6...but no sign of #7) so I'm not breaking the bank just yet...

...still sucks to think about the money they're trying to screw out of me...


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Sunday, 16 September 2007

Watch out!

What's easier that linking to YouTube videos? Linking to other people who link to YouTube videos!

The first is a Pharyngula entry which links to a Horizon documentary on the Dover Trial over intelligent design. Goes into the details of id more than the full trial, lots of background, some simplification of the facts, but quite interesting. I've read the transcripts and the judgment may be simply stated as "Judge Jones pwned intelligent design".

Another is a Bad Astronomy entry on Kent Hovind and the Rational Response Squad. As we all know "not copyrighted" means that you can use material however you wish... unless you wish to point out that the original material is basically WRONG and show what the truth is. Which is what the RRS did to Hovind's NOT COPYRIGHTED material via YouTube. To which Hovind responded by getting YouTube to pull the videos for use copyrighted material that was NOT COPYRIGHTED! The videos linked here are the RRS pointing out just how inane that is.

The third is an entry on Richard Dawkins' site, linking to a three hour live interview with Christopher Hitchens. That is one extremely intelligent man.


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Saturday, 15 September 2007

My afternoon with Tom Baker

Ah, memories. Specifically, in this case, my memory of meeting Tom Baker up in Auckland. Back in 1997, Tom Baker came to New Zealand to make advertisements, such as this one, this one and this one. And also to talk to NZ fans.

I went up by train (won't be doing that again!), stayed with me cousin, brought a ton of stuff, went and had an afternoon, and finally caught the train back. Phew! At the time, for me, that was a fairly major mission, but I had to go see an ACTUAL DOCTOR! Heady stuff, got him to sign the script for Shada (which I had brought with me) with a special "To Jamas the first from Tom Baker the fourth" (my name being rather unusual, certainly he had never heard it before), the Telos script for Talons (which I had brought that day, and even shook his hand!!! (Cool!) Not to mention getting to meet other DW fans.

And all this was brought back by working on TSV #50, in particular the articles on Tom's visit, mainly the transcript... which is not complete (in that there were bits deliberately left out). I do have the tape, but hopefully there might be a special DVD release some time. On the other hand, when they cut to the audience, I'm right there, in the middle of the screen, sprawled out... not a sight for any eyes...

Alden comments on other stuff, Paul will detail his views... and might be candid about Tom's visit. I gather it might not be all wonderful from his perspective, behind-the-scenes never being as pretty as what is out front, but I really enjoyed my time and consider that memory as one of the better ones...


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Friday, 14 September 2007


The news finally made it to our shores about the biggest, most offensive, hate-filled speech ever said by anyone in the history of the ENTIRE WORLD!!!!

Over-the-top? Maybe, but so's this reaction to Kathy Griffin's Emmy speech. But what is more interesting is the American take, which refers to an "off-colour remark", which will never be screened again. Well, to contribute to the fuel the righteous anger needs, I will now quote the most horrendous hate-speech ever:

"Suck it, Jesus."

She was making a point about how everyone was praising God and Jesus for their award, and she refused to do that. And yet... this is offensive? And the American Press aren't even willing to repeat that? Just how cowed is America by religion?????


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Thursday, 13 September 2007

Nice idea, but...

The latest Logically Critical is about using computers. This is a very interesting rant about what computers should be doing to make the typical user's life easier.

This is some good stuff here, and I hope programmers hear it, but... I would guess that he knows this is highly unlikely to ever happen. Programs are written by humans who are working a job, with deadlines, managers complaining about giving the stockholders more money, and screwing the customer out of as much money as possible so programs should be as buggy as possible so they have to continually shell out to get patched versions that don't work any better... (Not that I read Dilbert or anything.)

Great ideas are... well... great. But practical ideas rarely are...


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Wednesday, 12 September 2007

There's a movie worth seeing...

At the moment, I'm watching... "MEGA SNAKE"! Oooh, scary...

As for why... you might recall me mentioning "Who Wants To Be A Superhero?" The main prize of which was that the winning hero got to be in an original Sci-Fi (as in the TV company) movie. And guess the movie... (I did get Season One on DVD, and know who won, but I won't reveal that here.)

But the movie is about a giant snake. Yeah, 'cos we haven't had enough of those! And it stars Michael Shanks (of Stargate SG-1 fame)! I'm willing to bet that he was forced into doing this because of some contract he had with Sci-Fi. Certainly no sign of anything dignity worth in the movie so far (only seen 15 mins as yet...).

Oh, and the hero, who's movie this is supposed to be, hasn't turned up yet...

Can you say "piece of <bleep> that got thrown together and had a hero crowbarred into it"? I thought you could.


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Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Filmed in "nausea vision"

So, last night, I'm watching The Bourne Ultimatum, wondering why I'm feeling a little queasy. And then I realise, I'm seeing a rather shocking example of a trend that is starting to become common across movies (Transformers, I'm look at you also!).

A lot of technology was put towards creating cameras that could be stationary, even if the person holding it was moving around, but now we are seeing a deliberate turn to the opposite as directors, presumedly, want to go for something different: Unsteady Cam!

This isn't a "bold and daring move", something to keep the eye interested during all those talky shots: this is, plain and simple, DAMN ANNOYING!!!

Please, directors, leave off the "visually exciting" and just leave us with something "non-seasickeningly watchable".


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Monday, 10 September 2007

Mission Accomplished!

Time to reveal the answers to last week's quiz. Do you recognise this clip?

It's from Minuet in Hell, and we claimed that it was a "Polonaise by Chopin", being the best information we had at the time. Bzzzt! The correct answer is: "Minuet in A Major" by Luigi Boccherini.

As for the Muppet connection, Season 2 just came out, and during the Rudolf Nureyev episode, the Electric Mayhem play "Minuet in G Major"... only they don't. Fortunately, one wiki got it right, and so I was finally able to track down the correct answer.

These are the moments when one becomes a proud geek. :)


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Sunday, 9 September 2007

Family friendly pizza

Hell has split from its advertisers. Can't say I blame them, considering the latter said they didn't want to publicise anything...

But the big excitements is from the Family First group, who will now happily buy that pizza, so it can be enjoyed by all the family... as long as it's a family they agree with.

2. We affirm the natural family to be the union of a man and a woman through marriage for the purposes of sharing love and joy, raising children, providing their moral education, building a vital home economy, offering security in times of trouble, and binding the generations.

They admit the idea of a single parent household, but there's no mention on their FAQ page of that most horrid of ideas: a same-sex household! Oh no! I could go on about their "emphasis on the Judeo-Christian values which have benefited New Zealand for generations", and then there's this...

9. We affirm that the world is abundant in resources. The breakdown of the natural family and the consequential moral and political failure, not human "overpopulation," account for poverty, starvation, and environmental decay.

O.o least we can agree on good pizza...


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Saturday, 8 September 2007

It's the buying that counts.

In case you haven't heard, or, alternatively, don't care, there is a new edition of D&D being released. In honour, sung by Isis, graphiced by Hal:


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Thursday, 6 September 2007

Look over here, there's nothing to see!

That new organisation, UFOCUS, has been putting went learnt lessons into practice. The paper has a story about a weird "cloud", unlike anything these people had seen before. (mmm...must be a UFO!!!!) Not to long ago, there was an article about a wee blurry pixilated image. (UFO, honest, guv!)

In both of these, Ufocus has been speaking their opinion. Nice of the papers to contact them... or was it the other way around? Call me cynical, but I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Ufocus pitched these articles to the papers as easy "here, we've written these stories for you, and the 'weirdness' angle will get readers in" pieces.

Why? Well, I won't comment on that, because it's the obvious motive.

Now if only the New Zealand Skeptics would get together enough to do stuff like this.


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Pictures galore!

Still got a few pictures left, so here are some more! From pages 18, 25 and 34.


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Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Say Sarah Sarah

I see that they are really pushing the merchandise, which is good in a way in that I don't usually feel the need to buy any of this stuff, but now they are putting out stuff I do normally get!

In particular, I'm talking about here the Sarah Jane Adventures. Doctor Who and Torchwood have their books, and now so does SJA.

There is, of course, the Invasion of the Bane, and the other books are Eye of the Gorgon, Story 2 (classic title there!) and Warriors of the Kudlak.

But that's not all! There are also "exclusive audios", the Thirteenth Stone and the Glittering Storm, as read by Elizabeth Sladen.

Toys I can ignore, but these I want!


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Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Your mission

This may seem like a gratuitous link to a YouTube video that shows a neat old record player, but the real task I set you is to explain why I sought out Boccherini's Minuet in A Major, why I've put it in the Doctor Who label, why this answers a long standing question, and bonus marks for the Muppet Show connection that gave me the clue.


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Monday, 3 September 2007

See the Pulzar!

So I'm working on TSV, listening to the beats of DJ Pulzar, thinking about the blog, thinking about opting, yet again, for the easy out of YouTube videos, when these thoughts coalesce into looking on YouTube for Pulzar videos. While it turns out that there aren't any mixes of his sets (not that surprised) I do find out that... well... read the blurb for yourself:

In July 2007, DJ Andy Pulzar flew to Thailand to get Lasik surgery performed on his eyes. He did this because it was cheaper than getting it performed in NZ ($5800 in NZ, $2800 in Thailand), and he got a holiday in Thailand & Singapore thrown in for good measure. Of course, being insane he travelled to Thailand by himself, with no one to watch out for him. Would he lose a kidney, a testicle or some other body part? Who knew. Here are his own blog's about the experience.

They are short clips, linked to below (the rest are below the fold).

Part One.

Part Two.
Part Three.
Part Four.
Part Five.
Part Six.
Part Seven.
Part Eight.
Part Nine.


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Sunday, 2 September 2007

Moon over Wellington

While I didn't manage to get any pictures of the bloody moon last week, Foo and a colleague did, and since Foo refuses to have his own blog, I get to present an exclusive set of eclipsed moon pictures! (Click for larger versions.)


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Saturday, 1 September 2007

I'm scared of the night!

Or, at least, I will be, in two months!

As the nightmare that is Halloween approaches, I'm taking part in an RPG event the weekend before: Fright Night!

Two rounds, four games in each round (although, of course you only get to be in one round per game): 20 people go in, and only... 20 people come out!

I wouldn't immediately say I got my first pick of the games... still, Cabin Fever looks like it will be a lot of fun, and I can't wait for Truckstop.

And, as I write, there are still two places open. It's only $20, so if you're in Wellington then, come along!


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