Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Hear the Skeptics

If you were unable to make the Skeptics conference last weekend (and I only made the first section myself), you can now hear some of the talks, recorded by the Science Media Centre.

Is Science Just Mysticism in a Lab Coat?
Bernard Beckett

The Slippery Slope of Conspiracy Theories
Matthew Dentith (I presume this is NZDWFC's Matthew Dentith!)

Strange Occurrences: our approach to paranormal investigation
James Gilberd

Undercover for Cancer
Loretta Marron

Circumcision: a cure looking for a disease
Hugh Young

Unwarranted skepticism; disbelief in a finite world
John Robinson

Is Economics a Science or a Religion?
Brian Easton

(Note: These are imbedded audio files, not files to download.)


Read more!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Back off, I'm a Mall Cop

A recent comedy was about that classic genre that has really been under-developed: mall cops! Although, that said, he was never referred to as a "mall cop", either a "security guard", "security cop", "officer" or variants. Yes, I'm talking about Paul Blart.

Basic plot: fat guy doesn't get to be a police officer, is a mall cop, and people try to take over the mall... and hilarity ensues! With an extra helping of trying to find love, with a completely believable relationship... for a movie! It's the fact that he's a fat guy that makes us root for him... or not.

Kevin James goes full-boar at the role, seems to be having a lot of fun, and that shows on screen. Keir O'Donnell is a good second lead, although I kept focusing too much on his wanna be beard. And Jayma Mays is the entirely believable love interest, and in no way did I continually mistake her for Anna Feris.

Fun movie, to be enjoyed and not overly thought about.


Read more!

Monday, 28 September 2009

Continuing Science Fiction Education

Interesting course next month:

Victoria University Community Continuing Education presents:
As part of our programme for the rest of 2009, we are pleased to offer the following upcoming course for lovers of science fiction film....

A Journey into the Imagination

Contemporary Science Fiction Film

A bejewelled spaceship with liquid propensity soars across the retina of the screen. Within its shimmering aluminium casing, cyborgs and bug-eyed monsters debate whether they should hyper-drive through space. New, alternative and parallel worlds open up before us, and the future sounds of things not yet seen assault the senses as if one is literally, deliriously, travelling through worm holes and intergalactic corridors. We can only be in a contemporary science fiction film where humanity is on the brink of deletion...

This four-session course explores recent thematic and stylistic developments in contemporary science fiction film. It is organised around four points of interest: the awe and wonder of spectacle and special effects; the posthuman and the virtual machine; apocalyptic visions of humanity's present future; and the true meaning of what it means to time travel.

Sessions are interactive and discussion is encouraged. Film sequences are explored and the sublime, terrifying beauty of science fiction film is fully revealed.

Sean Redmond is a Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at Victoria University. He has written about the science fiction film Blade Runner, and published various articles on science fiction cinema. His first, most memorable film moment was watching Star Wars in a run-down cinema in Coventry, England.

Date: Wednesdays 14, 21 & 28 October & 4 November
Time: 5.30pm-7.30pm
Venue: Downtown venue at Pipitea campus to be advised

Fee: $88 ($79)

Early Bird fee in brackets is available if booked on or before Wednesday 30 September.

Click here to enrol or phone 04-463 6556.


Read more!

Sunday, 27 September 2009


A movie that hasn't made it out over here yet (and yet the DVD is readily available overseas) is Push. It involves a lot of people with psychic abilities, so you know there'll be a lot of CGI. The stunt players may have thrown themselves for real, but still there's a lot of enhancement.

Generally these movies take two approaches: one is the hero has psychic abilities and must battle against the humans (usually with a lot of angst about how ethically these powers should be used). Or one team of psychics end up battling against another group of psychics. This movie is in the latter realm, in that pretty much everyone you meet in the movie has some psychic ability, and, handily, no compunction about using it on anyone else.

Basically, there's sort of a story here about... something, didn't really pay attention, but there were a lot of scenes of psychic powers around the place, so that was cool. And, at the end of the day, that's all that matters, right? Given the ending, I presume the main plot was resolved, but I couldn't swear to it.

As the hero we have Chris "Johnny Storm" Evans. I believe that he indeed has the ability... to look pretty, and looks pretty a lot. Dakota Fanning is the cute girl that needs help, and Camilla Belle I haven't heard of before. Xiaolu Li makes for a fun, psychotic evil girl, and out own Cliff Curtis had a major role too!

Thinking back on it, I can't say I'm really excited about it. If you think it would engage you, go see it, but I would advise against huge expectations.


Read more!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

DW: The Taking of Chelsea 426

It's another round of Doctor Who books, again with Monster-Of-The-Week themes. Up first is The Taking of Chelsea 426 by David Llewellyn (while the name may be similar to The Taking of Pelham 123, be assured the plot isn't). Points for not giving away the monster in the title, however points deducted for slapping the Sontarans on the cover.

Oh, look, it's a Space Colony! So it isn't Earth! Except it's been made up to look like Earth. Sigh. Fortunately, aside from some flavour at the beginning, it's a story that wouldn't have worked if set on Earth (at least, not without major work, but then can say that of any story). The colony has a flower show going on, so there are lots of visitors to the place, not all of them desired (it's a very phobic colony). Certainly no-one wanted the Sontarans, but here they are, in their eternal battle with the Rutans. There is a reference to the Sontaran two-parter, but only slightly. More weight is given to the Doctor's overall beating of the Sontarans, using that as a plot device to not have the Doctor shot as soon
as the Sontarans see him. Meh.

There's not a lot to this book. People wander around, problems at the flower show, the Sontarans turn up, then it's just plodding through the Doctor beating them off and dealing with one last "surprise problem". (Note: there is one part of the book I am completely not mentioning, as it isn't given away on the cover nor in the blurb.)

The Doctor is joined by two kids, twins, who are the surrogate companions, and they don't so much get into trouble as be access points for the kiddies these books are written for. Mr Carstairs has a better role, and that's not much more than observers. The Sontarans themselves are so replaceable I couldn't even keep straight the two leaders. And the Doctor himself is written largely superficially. (I'm not sure if the character of Riley Smalls is supposed to be a reference to some other story.)

Middle of the road book, all up.

ORDER: Obvious.


Read more!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Under that mountain

Ah, classic New Zealand science fiction/fantasy! I saw (at least some of it) a long time ago, read the book, which cleared up some confusions, and have now seen the DVD release.

Certainly if you know Auckland, this is quite the travel pic, with lots of shots of the streets and mountains up there. I'm sure someone has done a shot-by-shot location guide, but to me it was largely "yep, that's Auckland. I guess".

The story itself is odd in that it is eight episodes, and the first six are a really slow build-up, until suddenly episode seven it all kicks off and then the race to the end is on. The Wilberforces and the Worms want the Earth, and some old guy and two young red-haired twins are all that stand in their way. There is some discussion about "they are trying to survive, do we have to eradicate them?" and I do give credit to that although, of course, it's going to be humans all the way, it isn't treated in a pat manner.

The twins are played by Kirsty Wilkinson and Lance Warren, and haven't they gone on to do well? Well... actually... not really, but I'm sure they've had great non-TV careers. Watch out for cameos by Billy T James and Ray Woolf. (Some went on to put in their Shortland Street dues, but I never watched that.)

Special effects were certainly "special" back then. A lot done practically, with some outline glows added, although episode eight does suffer from "good enough" effects.

Check it out, but also pick up the book, it's a good read.

(There is a movie of this coming out, but to be honest I'd rather cut this version down to movie length.)


Read more!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

HC Again

It's HC: The Survivor Series. We wake up somewhere strange, and are left to fend for ourselves, while perilous forces await for us to meet our... peril. This uses the new "survival" rules, which weren't that onerous, although making to make the rolls again and again was annoying. Still, fun overall.



Read more!

Up, up and

Oh, look, another Pixar movie, which happens to be in 3D. Go, go, 2D enjoyment!

Anyway, this is a movie about finding the wilderness is a little too wild. No, wait, it’s about how the elderly can find an effective fountain of youth by hauling a house around. Or maybe it's, yes, Virginia, dogs can talk.

Anyway, this guy's wife dies, so he decides to take a visit to the south without her, and hilarity ensues. Actually, this movie is rather darker than most, with starting out with death, some dark history to Russell, and what happens at the end (there was never the extra cut scene I was expecting about resolving that).

Not to say that it's all dark. There's the usual feel good moments and wacky humour, with something for the kiddies and the... kiddies at heart. It's Pixar, it's not like there’s going to be gory blood explosions or anything.

Standard decent production values, although definitely stylised peoples. Ed Asner is a great old man, although I think Charlton Heston would have been a better Muntz (although I acknowledge there would have been some problems with that) (or Martin Landau!).

If you haven't seen it yet... why not?


Read more!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009


More WARGS, more Shadowrun. And, surprising considering that it's Shadowrun, less combat!

We had a lot of people on our team, so we cranked up the difficulty. Our job: get to someone being held by the NYPD. As it turned out, that was the easy part of the mission! We also had to get to the sister to ensure the brother's cooperation, and that took us a while, and we talked around it a lot. Indeed, our eventual solution to getting "In and Out" was one that a) avoided and all combat, and b) was a solution the writer's never expected us to take. Fortunately, Grant is a great GM, willing to roll with whatever we came up with, so we were done sooner rather than later.

To be honest, we had a few too many people, and really only two or three people did any decent skill checking. It was fun, and we got lots of money (yay!), but we could have had more of a challenge.


Read more!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

The Re-Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

I never saw the original, so I have no idea how good or bad, in comparison, this remake is. In and of itself, it's a tense character drama masquerading as an action piece. Or possibly vice versa.

Travolta takes over a train and holds the passengers hostage for money (or does he?). Washington is the unlucky work-a-day joe who is stuck with dealing with him, without even the aid of an e-meter. The movie is, by and large, a 'two-hander' as they say, with these two playing off each other. And a bunch of other people as well, but it is basically these two taking up time chatting to each other, with the occasional threat of violence to liven things up.

John Travolta and Denzel Washington can pull this off, both fine actors. John Turturro plays a grease ball of a cop, and James Gandolfini is the mayor (now we know what happened after the end of the Sopranos). No-one else really stands out, although there is a good moment between Washington and 'wife' Aunjanue Ellis.

Not a bad movie to pass the time with, although trainspotters might get over-obsessed about a few things. Although now I want to go rewatch The Negotiator.


Read more!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Dragonball Evolved!

Meet Goku. Kid had a terrible time, hassled at school, grandparent smashes his face into the dirt, the hot girl is going out with a jerk and isn't hooking up with him. Fortunately, he has the script on his side and will undergo Dragonball Evolution!

Only seen a little of the series, don't know the characters, missed all the in-jokes, but beyond that there wasn't really anything new here. Kid has amazing abilities, needs to save the world, yawn, been there, seen that. Has a mixture of martial arts, wire work and CGI to help, and a range of secondary characters to help pretend the movie is about people and not just an excuse for another rip-off of Japanese culture.

Lots of big names, such as... um... James Masters! Under lots of prostheses so you don't recognise him. And Chow Yun-Fat, who had fun while not exactly playing an incredibly dignified role. And... some other people who no doubt have had great starts to careers and go on to do big things, presuming they don't overemphasize this part of their CV.

Lots of CGI to back up wonderful production values, and by 'wonderful' I mean that they clearly had lots of money behind them.

I presume all those Dragonball fans were excited, especially about the 5-hour shouting session of "Kamekameha!". The rest of us? Meh. If you happen to be there.


Read more!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

No-one mention 'Placebo'

Article in today's Sunday News about alternative medicine. The piece isn't that critical, nor is it really complimentary.

One important paragraph: "Despite a wealth of available information, there is little or no strong scientific evidence and very little regulation about who and what is safe."

It is this lack of regulation that is an issue. So often people turn to these treatments when they provide no power to actually cure. Not that that is what is being really sold.

"Many alternative therapy successes are based on believing it will work a walnut in the pyjama pocket for leg cramps apparently does"

Belief is mentioned as the most important factor in these treatments, and that is true. In that if you think this will make you feel better, you probably will, regardless of actual levels of pain (which is hard to measure objectively).

The key word never mentioned is, if you can guess from the title, Placebo. The "little or no strong evidence" is entirely in the placebo camp, in that, for example, acupuncture as a form of pain relief works whether or not you place the needles in the right place, or even use the proper needles! It's the placebo effect at work.

The best I would give is: don't use alternative medicines. The author gives good runner up advice: "Any therapy can cure or fail some of the people some of the time, so a mix of traditional medicine and alternative therapies may work very well together. But bear in mind that anything that sounds too good to be true probably is."


Read more!

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Dance, Flick, Dance

Haven't seen Step Up, nor Step Up 2 The Streets. Not sure how much Fame I saw. Did see Footloose and Flashdance, long time ago... So, with that background, I checked out the latest "comedy" on Dance Flicks.

Basic concept is: white girl learns how to dance. I think. With these movies, anything resembling a plot is a distance second to set pieces of humour. And often scenes are lifted wholesale from the original movies, so it's not like there's any real effort here to tell a story beyond simplistic ideas to string the scenes together. Certainly no exception here, just careen from one set of jokes to the next, with nothing coherent to bother anyone.

Not to say that it isn't amusing, but there's nothing really that hilarious to check out.

And then there's the Wayans. There's tons up of them up in here. Aside from Wayans Jr in the lead, there's the full catalogue of Wayans filling out every role they can. Not sure who's playing the part? Probably a Wayans. (Except for the role given to David Alan Grier). Shoshana Bush should probably be lucky she got the main female lead, and it wasn't Marlon in a wig (not that we didn't get Marlon in a wig anyway). I went in knowing this was a vehicle for them, but still, how many are there?

Then there is the dancing. Aside from obvious jokes, not bad, although I'm not really one for judging these things. A credible attempt at a wide range of moves, although no-one busted out the Robot (probably for the best).

Not a laugh riot, but, surprisingly, nothing that offensive either. Something to watch if you missed going to a better movie.


Read more!

Friday, 18 September 2009


In my continuing attempt to catch up with all those movies I meant to see at the time, I finally got around to watching Bolt. You too will believe that, once again, all animals are capable of talking to each other.

Basic premise: evil overlord kidnaps young girl, and only superdog can save her. How many times have we seen that? Only, the superdog only thinks he's a superdog. It is set up very nicely, but the concept was already spoiled (and now I'm spoiling it for you, ha!) so the trick was one I was waiting to move on. Still, the 'on screen' moments did make me think a Marvel/Disney match up might not be as killing as possible. Yes, there is the predictably cute ending, but this is Disney after all. Not even Marvel would be able to counter that.

Inevitably big names are involved: Miley Cyrus, John Travolta, Malcolm McDowell, James Lipton... A rather understated performance from Mr Travolta, it has to be said. No particular big stunt casting to speak of (outside of those already mentioned), making a change from other Disney animated adventures.

Although these CGI pics take a while, they seem to be churned out fairly rapidly. And ongoing 3D-ness of them as well. It's becoming a rare event that a CGI isn't 3D. Not helping me, of course, but this movie works well enough in 2D.

Anyway, a nice pic, not going to shock the world, but works nicely as a kids movie.


Read more!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The Chronicles of Risan: Part the Thirty-Second

Turns out that the Dracolich had in fact been biting a god, and so had a shard of a god in it. That was what we got back, and what we needed to enter the mad god place.

We rejoined with Reed and acolytes, and he used the shard to open the portal to the mad god realm... which looked not so much like a portal as a spiral stairway. With angels flying around. We ascended, while angels attacked us, as angels seemed to be wont to do when near us. I landed a few good blows, but again I was a melee fighter in a range fighter fight. Sigh. We got to the top before the stairway evaporated and entered through a golden archway into a golden holding room. Nice place for a rest, but not somewhere we could stay indefinitely.

We ventured on through, and found a room which contained a death knight. And some other undead creatures. Undead creatures are really annoying. Reed and myself focused on the death knight, although its attack on me pushed me into the field of tentacles Alrick set up. Fortunately (?!), one of his attacks hit me and pushed me out of the way before the tentacles got their chance to do anything to me, indeed pushed me back to the knight. We spent a bit of time beating up on that, while the others dealt with the undead critters. Eventually the death knight was put down, and then the fight was basically over as Reed was able to turn his radiant powers on the rest of the undead.

Still, we creep on, not resting properly as there is something else lurking around here, we are sure of it...


Read more!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

HC Again

On the Friday: we had two relatively new people with us, so we got them to demonstrate how good they were at tracking down something simple. This involved things getting out of hand as they had to deal with the Antonio Banderas Doll.

Then everyone handled a CSI type mod. By everyone, I mean everyone who wasn't me, and by CSI I mean 'Mentalist' which I had seen, leading to the first part of this statement. Que cera cera. Honor redoux.

Got in on Saturday's game again. First up was a mod run by another player turned GM, Sanskrt who lives in the Czech Republic. The first part of the recording, before I got there, was lost. Due to events in the part I was there for this mod was called Dirty Dirty Homeless People Sex.

We then dealt with a standard mythos case involves a couple of books going missing and showing compassion towards the homeless. I'm not sure if we did good or not. Change?


Read more!

Friday, 11 September 2009

Tough Crowd

Little bit of stand up humour for the Lost crowd:


Read more!

Thursday, 10 September 2009


I wasn't sure if I was watching CGI or stop motion, the work on Coraline was that good (btw: it was all stop motion, the longest such film to date).

It's about a girl that finds a strange world insider her own house, a better world, a world of buttons. Have to say that the buttons make it really creepy. Still, it is based on a book by Neil Gaiman, so that is to be expected. (And yes, I am now interested in reading the book.)

Dakota Fanning puts in a good vocal performance as Coraline, fitting the character well (or should that be having the character fit her?). Teri Hatcher isn't that recognisable, and has a decent amount of movie. Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders make a good double act in Forcible and Spink. And Ian McShane does a great Bobinsky.

Definitely check out the production side of the movie. They put a lot of effort into it, and it certainly shows on screen. That would have taken a lot of time to get right, and it is appreciated.

This is a cute, yet dark, movie. Certainly one I recommend to check out.


Read more!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Ijjer's Tale, Story Seven

Trapped in a wagon, good moment of my life. Trapped with weird people, surrounded by weird creatures, oh woe is me. We down near Qualinesti when there is Elf attack on the forces around us. Forin talked gully dwarf into giving him a battle axe and Blackwind smashed us out of wagon.

Although I am without staff, I is awesome and am blasting all those around me [am pseudo-controller]. Unfortunately, I is also attacked. [First time ever I get to use Goblin tactics, usually because I'm either range attacking, or not missed by a melee attack.] Still, unleashing my tempest proves very effective at cleaning up those around us. [Minions can be annoying, but any damage and they are down, and my tempest deals unavoidable damage.] It's not until the end of the fight that I am able to reclaim my staff, but then we gather ourselves and our compatriots from the wagon, and away we run.

We make our way to Qualinesti and talk to the elves about getting help. We want to enter Paktharos and free some fellow slaves. The elves agree to give us some information, but otherwise want to run away from the fight. Bah, elves. We do also get a chance to go shopping, but can't find much in our price range.

As we prepare to leave, we encounter a kidnapping of elven princess, and Toad on a wyvern [which looks like a disgruntled chicked in 4e] escapes while we deal with more draconian enemies. Not sure I managed to hit anything. Extra incentive to get into Paktharos mayhaps?


Read more!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Google = God

According to some people, we are in the presence of a new deity: Google, its holy self. There are nine reasons listed, not sure about them myself.

1. Omniscient - well it gives answers, yes.
2. Omnipresent - as long as you have an internet connection, so not really.
3. Answers prayers - see point 1.
4. Immortal - wouldn't say so, aside from "may exist as a piece of software stored somewhere", but then that would apply to programs on floopy discs that most people would consider gone.
5. Infinite - Aside from endlessly repeating information, no. 'sides, there's always a last page to the search list.
6. Remember all - Not everything is cached.
7. Do no evil - Omnibenevolent? Wouldn't say so, see their answer to point 3.
8. Results are believed - well, only in that we 'believe' Google found those pages. As, even in more generous allowance of 'the results are believed', about as much as Wikipeadia.
9. Evidence of Google - well, yes. Eg Google.

We can test the godliness with the The Do-It-Yourself Deity test. Onmipotent, Omnibenevolent, Omniscient, Eternally Existing, all check. Not the Creator, nor Sustainer. Not Perfectly Free (does what we tell it to), and one cannot have a personal relationship with it (aside from some unusual sexual considerations). Plausibiliy: 0.6. Better chance of existing that some deities.


Read more!

Monday, 7 September 2009

HC Again Again

Posted too quickly for this weekend. I got in on the Saturday game, and by 'got in' I mean I was awake when they started at 12pm... which was 4am for me. Why? Although it did take me 20 minutes to get around to actually joining. But, anyway, in I got.

First up, a mission to help find a missing child. Not that hard (wasn't 'prestige'), but did involve me reading a book and becoming MORE POWERFUL! (Finally got the Guard Eyesight spell I really wanted.) Happy Families.

Then we headed out to a haunted hotel. Once again, like a recent mission, getting to the climax was a much bigger problem than the climax itself. Meh. The Travesty.

Then Shawn took over GMing, for the first time for me. We find our place somewhere very nearby, and yet unknowably strange. Just as well as I had my alibi ready! Ulman's Blue Period. (Also after game chat not worth listening to.)


Read more!

Making an Impact

Epic disaster movies and tv series have always been with us, with an extreme example coming up (about the Mayan calender flipping the page), and the most recent example was a two-parter called Impact. The moon is impacted, it draws nearer the earth, and Strange Things(tm) happen.

Now, they do obvious tropes of "families in danger" who must cross vast distances to be reunited, etc, etc., and so on and so forth, but we must have this. Apparently. It's the "Human angle". Bah. But... that's nothing compared to another trope:

TV SCIENCE! Which has absolutely no bearing with actual, real, reality-based science. Gravity doesn't work like that. Objects don't react to impacts like that. Science doesn't work like that! "But it's more visual!" The actual science can be incredibly visual too, possibly not on a tv timeframe though. We need an impending clock! And if something like this did happen in this time scale, there's nothing we'd be able to do about it in time.

Check out Bad Astronomy for more. Phil Plait wrote about this after seeing the trailer, it wasn't well received. As he wrote about what really would happen in something like this in Death From The Skies! Movie science doesn't stand a chance.

But it's all about the people. Natasha Henstridge is a beautiful scientist that early on is presented as an atheist (to Chang Lee... I mean Yee Jee Tso's faith believer). You just know she'll be a believer by the end. We have the Dad With Kids whom will get his kids. And the Guy With Fiancee, a variation on a theme that we still know the outcome of.

As ever, at the end, we come back to one basic question: if we must have disaster porn, why can't we can good disaster porn?


Read more!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Yes, Virginia, Bees do Fly!

I was watching The Bee Movie (which was more a 'C' or even a 'D'), and it opens by saying that according to science, a bee is unable to fly, but bees don't know this and fly anyway.

Yes, it's one of those old jokes, we know about it, apparently from way back in 1934. This is about applying the model of fixed-wing aircraft to bees and this implied that bees shouldn't be able to fly.

That's right, they can't. According to that model. Thing is, that's the wrong model. Using a mobile wing model... way-hey, bees fly! They flap their wings fast. Really, really fast. Don't believe me? Just look at the video below.

The important point is: People know this. It was explained a while ago, and certainly way before Bee Movie was ever considered. Yes, I'm complaining about this in a movie in which there are talking bees, but considering the science behind the creation of this computer generated movie, I would have hoped they might have at least thought for a moment about presenting correct science. But, then again, where's the money in that?


Read more!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

HC Again

Once more unto the breach, this time with me in the lead. Pete, who plays a higher paygrade person that me, was off sick. Richard joined us, with a character that again is higher than mine, but was on a 'no brainer' so couldn't lead.

Not that I had many people to lead. One person, who had signed up, didn't turn up. And someone else had pulled out, with a new guy taking that spot. Fortunately, the new guy turned up, so basically it was him and me.

Fine, I might not have lead us to victory, but... I lead!

Handbag Redoux.


Read more!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

The Chronicles of Risan: Part the Thirty-First

There were two things we needed to know to progress further. One: we needed the Focus of the Gods, so we could channel powers appropriately. Two: the Gateway of the Gods, so we could get to the big bad thing to do something nasty to it. We managed to track down the location to a general area, and found out that the focus was the bones of some dead lichy thing. We girded our loins and set off. [The Endurance skill check I suggested really paid off!]

We head in, and go to find the focus while Reed secures the Gateway. The area aorund the focus is corrupted, and when we pass into the area of corruption we are immediately set upon by some creatures. We owned the fight pretty well, with sound thrashings handed out to all and sundry. [The GM is mainly picking on monsters from Monster Manual 2, which are more balanced than in 1, so it was a fiar fight all around.]

Further in, we see a glow at the heart of the area, but first need to deal with the guardians of the area, angels! I find out that some of them aren't as tough as they seem, although they knock us for a loop whenever we knock them down. This fight takes a while longer, and our tentacly Warlord has to actually be a Warlord, which comes as a surprise to all of us. An Angel of Strength (I think) decided to pick on me, but a careful shot by me put him out of my misery. Once he was down, the others didn't take long. [Annoying flying things, I'm a melee striker, dammit!]

And then we entered the golden glow, and found a large gold dragon sitting on a dias surrounded by great piles of loot, bathed in radiance. However, when it stepped forwards to not be bathed, it revealed itself to be a Dracolich! The fight was on! [And I couldn't roll worth a damn! No change there then.] Unfortunately the dracolich had a little problem getting its breath back [no recharge for the GM], so it wasn't the most fair of fights. Not that we're complaining, mind. Ultimately, as expected, the four of us beat it to a bony pulp.

After loot haulage, we're off to the Gateway...


Read more!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Fin vs Tentacle

After the culture of yesterday's post, an effective counter is a movie that screened on the SyFy (don't ask) network: Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus !!!(*)

This movie features... wait for it... a shark... and an octopus!!! Frozen back in the the history of time, they are released and immediately set about destroying various things such as an oil rig and an air plane(*). If only there were Scientists(tm) who could deal with these creatures.

Fortunately, we have Debbie Gibson (yes, the singer) as one of a trio of scientists, who turn from eco-friendly to eco-terrorists without so much as a character arc (which wasn't the only thing missing from this movie). You can tell they are scientists because they wear white lab coats and pour coloured liquid from one test tube into a beaker and so forth. Science! At least we don't need to worry about any dramatic "oh, I must save my child/family/drama point" as the movie doesn't bother with any of that.

Just like it doesn't bother with such things as decent editing (cut weirdly to indicate action, and insert white flashes randomly!) and any kind of direction. Or proper special effects. Or continuity. And the end fight was LAME! AS!

Basically... it's as bad as you expect. Also check out PZ's commentary on this movie as he watched it. Very apropos.



Read more!