Thursday, 30 June 2011

Super 4

It's JJ Abrams, how bad could it be?

It's about some kids who are trying to make a movie. Meanwhile, there's a deputy (who's also a father, but they misfire that point continually) who's trying to grow a pair. At the same time, the Cloverfield monster returns to rampage around the town.

Have to say, Moviebob nailed this one pretty good. This does read as three rather distinct plot lines that just so happen to take place in the same locale, but otherwise have little connection between each other.

Moreover, one plot line is irrelevant, and when the other two combine there is no level of disbelief suspension that will allow that to happen. At one point, I was thinking 'Scooby Doo', but even that reads as more believable, and I'm including the talking dog!

To be honest, the only reason why I might not suggest, say, illegally download a terrible quality cam of the movie is that I doubt they'll include the end credits, which contains the only moment that made me actually enjoy the movie.


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Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Turn Very Wrong

So I saw an ad on a DVD for the last of these movies, and thought it looked mildly interesting, so decided to watch the franchise. (There is a number four, it seems, which is the prequel to the series, but I don't have that.)

Wrong Turn (2003): And so it begins. A group of young men and women break down in the woods, and get attacked by inbred folk. Really. That's the premise, and it couldn't be more generic. The movie pretends there are some character moments, but they matter not a jot. It's a slasher movie, so we get to see them getting picked off one by one. Some interesting deaths, but nothing spectacular. Big stars: Desmond Harrington and Eliza Dushku.

Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007): The big change for this movie... it's a bunch of survival reality show contestants that are getting stabbed and hacked. And we get to see more of the family. Other than that... there's more whining^H^Hcharactersation of the cast, and there's actually someone competent at fighting them. Hoozah! Big stars: ..umm.. Henry Rollins, I guess.

Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead (2009): Prisoners escape in a transfer, end up in the mountains, and... slowly get killed off. Um, yeah. Some interesting deaths, some minor decent acting, otherwise... yeah. Just another entry of generic-ness. Big stars: ... ?


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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Go ahead, bake my quiche

Actually, I haven't encountered the quiche episode yet (if there is one), but there are lots of other products in The Great British Bake Off. Yes, once again I've been distracted by food series, but not Heston, nor Sue and Giles, but Sue and Mel.

There are six episodes, and we are starting with eight amateur bakers. In each episode, dedicated to a theme (eg cakes, bread, etc), they get to show off a single signature item, then they do a technical challenge of all using the same recipe (at least ingredients and idea of what should be made), then they have to create a range of things. So far, each technical challenge has been described as 'the most difficult technical challenge so far'. Really? Anyway...

The two judges are Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry. So far they've been aligned in their opinions... however, I've noticed that Paul usually opines first and Mary agrees with him. It's hard to read if she does actually think the same, or is simply going along with him. I presume she can think for herself but... take charge woman!

At the end of episode episode an announcer says "if you've been inspired then go to our website." Have to say, watching this, a word beginning with in- does occur to me, but it's not inspired.

It's not the slang-fest bitch fight of a lot of competitive shows... but I like that. Sedately British. Now excuse me, I'm thinking about a nice Chelsea bun...


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Monday, 27 June 2011


Ha, finally managed to catch the movie that's following in the footsteps of Paranormal Activity.

After a rather odd opening (I'll come back to in a bit), this movie does a very slow build of odd things happening, books falling off, strange sounds, and then people creeping about the place. However, the pinnacle is reached when the paranormal investigators turn up... and that's definitely a turning point as the movie starts pinging off the goofy meter.

And Hewey and Dewey as the paranormal techs certainly establish a rather bizarre double act, completely undercutting any and all tension raised. The movie tries to build it up again, but just can't keep itself straight.

What we end up with is a cross between Paranormal Activity, Poltergeist, (*) and about ten pounds of cheese.

And then there's the sound-track. During the opening credits, we get an excessively over the top attack of violin strings, which sets the stage of bizarre music. It flips from tension-tightening to syrupy romantic on a dime in an entirely inappropriate way. And then more violin strings. Whoever did the music had the Psycho soundtrack on as "inspiration" too often.

It was a try, but falls over not being sure what kind of movie it is...

(*)Dammit, there was another ghost horror movie I was reminded of, but can't remember what. Could easily have been an episode of an anthology series too... if I remember, I might update this.


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Sunday, 26 June 2011

Of Steam, Steel and Murder

Back to Stormhaven Island, we spend some time wandering about the island, consider various forms of grave robbing... oh, and finding out we can't trust anyone! Also, Gavin's past makes a surprising appearance...

Bert catches us with another plot, that we barely manage to engage with properly. Oh, and our paranoia is really getting in our way more than helping...

Listen, if you might, to Game 38. On Rapidshare and Hotfile.


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I've seen Quarantine. And [REC]. And [REC]2. So why wouldn't I want to see this movie?

Oh, so many reasons...

A group of people are in a building... I mean, on a plane. And then a virus infects people and they start turning into zombies and attacking each other. And the people not infected run around trying not to get infected, and failing in many ways.

Um, yeah... so, this direct to discount bin movie is a redo of the original. In [REC]2, they worked into the story of [REC] and developed it in a weird way that worked for them. For this, Quarantine happened, and now this happens over here. Because... yeah, because... yeah, this so easily could have been a 'zombies on a plane' movie that could have been a stand alone, but instead they decide to hook into the Quarantine 'franchise'.

Another big sign this movie is totally worth seeing... I mean not. I haven't heard of any of the actors. Usually there's some minor star, or noted tv personality, but this has... no-one. And I wouldn't be shocked that the no-one's it does have don't want to be someones due to this movie.

This should have been a movie people wanted to see. Nope. Now, let's just hope no-one sees this and decides 'this needs to inspire Q3!'.


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Saturday, 25 June 2011

Projecting Lantern's Light

You know how I suggested that there should be a decent continuity of non-comic Green Lantern? Well, it's unlikely to be the movie... 39% really? I know it isn't the best movie ever, but... really? 26%??? Sigh, I guess there won't be a sequel after all...

But there will be something. An animated series!

Have to say, with that voice, I was expecting a silhouetted Lantern to come out in a 30s suit, brandishing a gun and putting a bullet through the camera lens...

Anyway, yay for cartoon series. Depending on who the writers are, this could be decent. (Not that I have any idea who decent writers would be for the cartoon series... Not even sure I'd want Geoff Johns to be associated with it...)


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Friday, 24 June 2011

Loosely Fast

A new (well, beginning of the year) show from the BBC is Fast and Loose. An improv show very much in the style of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, this has six comedians (none of whom I had heard of before, aside from Wayne Brady from the American version of Whose Line) doing lots of different quick thinking skits, hosted by Hugh Dennis.

...However, to be honest, aside from one-liner moments, the longer bits generally aren't that funny. Except for one section, Interpretive Dance. David Armand (yes, that Johann Lippowitz does mime to various songs, and two of them have to guess what the song is (they're wearing headphones so can't hear the song). Have a go with this one... although considering the song is in the clip name, it's not hard. But try without the sound first anyway, and see how well you can follow along what's being sung, and then go to the sound version.

There are eight episodes, and lots of clips on youtube, and it looks like most the Interpretive Dance clips are there. Enjoy those ones and give the rest a miss.


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Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Vigil the Huntering

[We're starting a new game of Hunter: The Vigil, and spent the first session character creationing. Since it's useful to fill out one's background, there is this post. (I'm not worried about any of the other players seeing this...)]

I was born Chris Tarrant, in 1954 in an average family in Utah. [Yeah, okay, so I just got that from James Morrison's bio, but I totally see Chris as being played by James.] I grew up middle class, went to high school, but then recruited into the army in my final year.

That's what really defined me. The military gave me skills, taught me about firearms, taught me to survive. I gained experience will all kinds of guns, and even became one of the guys that looked after the weapons. And that ability has stood me in good stead.

While in the military, I picked up the name Slash. Some punk kid in Vietnam got with a knife, right across the face. Left a permanent scar. Can't say people like it, makes it hard to get to know people. Only one person ever made the effort, Meredith. She got passed the scar, got past all my defenses. Damn lovely women.

I ended up in Philadelphia for her, she had a brother there. Not that I speak that much to him any more. Not after...

Together, we brought Phyllis into the world. Lovely, beautiful little girl. The three of us had sixteen wonderful years together, but then... they said it was cancer. All I know is I saw Meredith withering away before my eyes. It was only because of Phylly that I was able to cope...

I nearly didn't. Not when, not long after her 21st, she went missing. They say she ran away, she wouldn't do that. You hear things about this city, there's something in the night. And that something took her. I'm going to find out exactly what that was and drag it kicking and screaming into the light...

One thing about this city. It's a rat-hole now, but you always need protection. So that's why I'm not doing too badly. At least physically. A gun shop is always popular, at least with the customers. And my ex-military buddies. But, the kids in the 'hood say I'm a weirdo, the scar scares them. I'm doing well enough, but that just gives me what I need to find what happened to Phyllis.

But it's hard. All these people around, I see men and women, couples with kids. I had that, but not any more. Now I see them, and they are throwing it in my face. I see them... and I want that. I want that so much, but I can't have it...

One day, when I've gained justice for Phyllis, I'm going to get out of this crap hole. Find a quiet place where I can live out the rest of my days. Maybe... just maybe... even try for a family again...


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Tuesday, 21 June 2011


So I finally got The Orange Box... from a certain site I'm not going to mention(*) nor link to, but if you're guessing, think of some animal like, say, a fish and where it might be, like, say, a pond, and you might get the site in mind.

I ordered it... oh, a while ago. Now, it was cheap. CDWOW is does have it cheaper now, and in stock, but at the time, that site had it cheap. And no shipping cost. Good-o, gimme gimme gimme...

The site reports 'we need to get this from overseas, give us between two to four weeks...', so I do, it can't be that bad, right?

...four weeks later...

And no, it hasn't arrived, the site now says 'it's late, we're going to get someone to look into this', and says 'give us another week'. Well, it must be almost here, right? And it does come fairly quickly.

So it tries to charge me. But because it's been storing my old credit cards, it fails. I update new details, and wait for it to try again (it's automated, I can't say 'I've updated it, go!').

And then it fails again. What? So I enter it in completely fresh, and wait... and it stays on 'processing'. If it wasn't for the fact that it thought that it would be available the following Monday, I'm not sure it would have kicked out of it. And even then, it went back to 'we'll get staff to check on this'. Which, apparently, no-one did. For several days.

Finally, I'm charged. It's in stock, so... it's now "On Order"??? The hell? But it's in stock! The order is there!

The system finally automatically assigns a copy to me, and it does get into the mail...

And so, I get it. 40 days later. Yep, a month and a frickin' half!

Screw you, I'm never shopping there again...

(*)I know about Google Alerts...


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Monday, 20 June 2011

Dirt of Truth

Okay, so it's a retake/reimaging/redo of an older movie, and both based on the book, but I haven't seen/read that, so can only talk about Coen version of this western.

A young girl's father dies, and she decides to get some justice for herself. Because not many other people are interested. It's really about her, and Cogburn, and LeBoeuf, and this movie doesn't go the easy route. There are a lot of hard moments for Mattie, which is entirely appropriate for the time, and it's nice to see a movie keeping to the truth of the time. Although the ending is rather odd. Not entirely out of keeping, just... odd...

So, from this, big ups to Hailee Steinfeld, for playing Mattie. I would have thought they would have cast an older actress, but she would have been thirteen/fourteen at time of filming. And she does a fantastic job living up to Mattie's hard life. Really, her name should have been on the poster, and not Josh Brolin, who gets hardly anything to do. Certainly Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon (actually looking old for a change) get solid roles, and show off fine acting skills.

Westerns are not the first genre I turn to, but this is a damn fine film, and definitely recommended.


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Sunday, 19 June 2011

Emerald Ki-nig-its

So, the other Green Lantern movie at the movie is another animated movie. This is in a Green Lantern continuity, not the GL continuity, and as such bears no real connection with First Flight. Which is a damn shame. Why can't Warners start building up movie links like Marvel are doing? And animated is a lot easier than live action! Instead, every movie is separate. And, moreover, usually based on an existing comic as opposed to being something new. Really? No-one there is capable of doing, say, a linked trilogy? *sigh*

Anyway, back to this. Krona is returning to this universe (don't ask, they barely bother to explain), so while waiting for the big fight, the GLs relate past stories about other GLs. Some stories are a little predictable, in that you can spot the ending from the minute they start, others take a little time to unfold before you go 'oh, that'll be the ending'. Yeah, so I wasn't that impressed with the stories. It's nice to have more GL stories (most of which were based on already published stories), but if you've read Tales of the Green Lantern Corps issues, you know there are far more entertaining stories to hear.

I would like to pick up my GL enthusiasm again, but things like this don't make it easy...


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Saturday, 18 June 2011

Your Not-So-Funny-Ness

Oh look, a fantasy movie where the comedy is that the main character swears and the woman fights! Ooh, original!

A waste of skin becomes a hero! Well, more or less, this movie is trying to be at least semi-original by not entirely completing the usual hero journey [they say that in a comedy, a lot of the comedy comes from one of the main characters not changing and reacting in the same way to all situations they come across. This movie treads that line as much as actually trying to give a character arc]. Anyway, in the midst of a typical quest, we have a slob finding out he can be a hero. In so far as comedic narrative will allow.

The main problem with this movie is that there is a decent plot line in there, but there is a layer of "hey, look, we're being funny by being adult and swearing" that drives it into annoying irritation. I did enjoy parts of it, but there was a lot that just went too far in the "woo! Adults! Look, a dick!" comedy that just hammered on any real depth this movie could have achieved.

Danny McBride is generic as the comedic lead, and James Franco is general as the hero lead. The Dream Lord... I mean Toby Jones steals a lot of scenes, and Justin Theroux actually knows how to have fun with his part. And, of course, there's Natalie Portman as the 'hot warrior woman' and Zooey Deschanel as the more typical 'unable to do anything' fantasy woman. No-one's really going to list this as a stellar moment on their CV.

This could have been a better movie, so if you do watch, make sure you're ready for the 'adult' humour...


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Friday, 17 June 2011

Conspiracy... or Conspiracy?

The other day, I was sent this link to 11 Conspiracy Theories That Just Won't Die. Well, no, not if you keep talking about them. Why do you want us to stop talking about them? Do you know something about them you don't want us to know? Are you implying some of them are real? Are you? Are you trying to sneak in real ones to make us think they are fake by listing them with stupid ones?

I'll agree with most of that list, that they are indeed conspiracies that won't go away. Although some of them I hadn't heard of. (The 2004 tsunami was due to an Indian nuclear experience by the Israeli and Americans?) On the other hand, I think they are missing some, such as Big Pharma (are they working for Big Pharma and trying to distract us from thinking about it?)

But there's something else to note. While I like being informed about the conspiracies out there, so I know what the government is trying to cover up, I see that this is on a site that let's you find out about online degrees. (No, not a site that sells them.) Really? Bring us in with reasonable sounding conspiracies, then try to onsell us education? Dammit, don't know you that conspiracies can't survive actually learning about things?

What are they really trying to do...?


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Thursday, 16 June 2011

Aquamarine Torch!

Yes! Yes! I have seen it! Bask in my glow! Moreover, I saw it in 3D... my first 3D film... ow, my eyes hurt... I might talk about that more at some later date...

Short version: not the bestest thing ever, but still pretty damn good!

This is another origin story for Hal Jordan. Abin Sur loses a fight, lands on earth, Hal Jorden gets picked, and then he has to prove himself worthy of being a Green Lantern. (While not the story line of Emerald Dawn, it does follow the emotional story of it.) Yes, there are some continuity references, but there is a lot of continuity differences too. But that's going to happen. There's a nice contained tie in of stories that so didn't happen in the comics, and yes there can be sequels, although there are some elements that do seem to be cut off now (I'll simply say 'Sapphire')... but I'm sure that wouldn't still WB from coming up with some way of cashing in on it.

While I still haven't decided who will be in my cast of Green Lantern, Ryan Reynolds does make a good Hal Jordan. I am more used to an older Hal from the more recent comics, so need to keep reminded myself he is supposed to be younger here. Blake Lively plays Carol well, making her really strong, although she is not the focus at all. Peter Sarsgaard I'm not sold on as Hector, and the make up is not helping. And yay Mark Strong as Sinestro, although I kept focusing on his teeth... (And NZ actors represent!)

Speaking of effects, yeah, a lot of those. There is CGI all over the place here, and a lot of eye candy. Animation is working well, with motion capture capturing everything. The 3D is nice, but not essential. I would have liked a cleaner ring design, but not in this grim and gritty world that all movies seem to inhabit...

So, yeah, Green Lantern. I've seen it. ...I might see it again, not sure... but join us, won't we?


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Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Gotter-GAMMA-rung - 8

[Reminder: this is running from the Gamma World rule books. This part of the adventure is from the first expansion book.]

In the name of the Iron King, we head to Far-Go in East Dahkohtah. While they are normally a rich productive place, they've been having problems, so we've been sent in to sort it out, gain the love of the people, and in turn bring them under the wing of the Iron King. Well, that's the plan, and we are under command of a nightmare spider to make sure we stick to it.

Getting closer, we see crop fields that seem to be failing, and, closer, come across a vineyard with large orange grapes with grey insides. Huh. Not that tasty. Inside, we find some humans who gabber about plant creatures rampaging through the town and killing people. As if.

Nearer the centre of town, we encounter plant/fungi creatures, and they are controlling plant zombies. Hmm... The zombies aren't much, but the flying fungi things are more annoying. They make us blind, so there is some trouble pinning them down before slaying them.

Moving on, we hear the cries of someone up ahead, trapped in a car... surrounded by more, different, plant creatures. Now these ones are even more annoying. When they die, they throw out spores to infect others, and then those others spawn more plant creatures! And the bigger ones are extremely dodgy. Now that fight took a while longer to deal with them. The threat of spawning plants caused hasty decisions to help each other, even that spider...

With them out of the way, we can free the old man in the car and now for his story...


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Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Passion (on film)

So I finally got my DVD of Pianomania. Yay! As well as the movie, there are a fair few whack of deleted scenes as well. Hooray!

Watching it again, I got to re-see the reason I liked it so much. The sheer passion they have for the subject, in this case making the piano the best instrument it can be for the pianist, captured on film. The care Stefan Knupfer takes, making sure each note is tuned and each hammerhead is positioned exactly right and each key is depressed with just the right weight...

I was reminded of another film that captured passion and puts it on screen. Cinemania. (What is it with me and '-mania' films then?) Ever seen that? This is a fantastic movie not about movies, but about the people who go to movies. About their passion to watch every film that is shown in a theatre somewhere.

And there are some really odd balls we see, people who are now either independently wealthy (just) or on a benefit or whatever, they have to go out and watch films. It's an intense driving force they have that makes this a marvelous film to watch.

Now I might have to grab that DVD out again and rewatch the watchers once more...


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Monday, 13 June 2011


I've never been a fan of vampire movies, so when this movie started in on them, I was initially 'meh'.

In this movie the Church finally becomes the ultimate plutocracy it's always wanted to be. To question the Church is to be out of line and, thus, wrong. So when they say there are no vampires, they really mean it. Okay. Don't question them. Their militant super powered ass-kickers, known as Priests, killed them all. So when the lover of the niece of one of them comes to say that the family have been killed by vampires, and the niece has been taken, then clearly the Priest is not to go chasing after her. Right. Right?

It took me about half the film to actually start enjoying it. Which sounds bad, but when the movie is less than 90 minutes, not too much. And it wasn't like I was actively disliking it, just didn't care that much. But it did get a lot better.

Paul Bettany and Karl Urban both play their Priests in the same way, ie with action stunts and extremely low and gravelly voices. You'd think their voices had been treated in post production to get them that deep. Maggie Q doesn't do that, at least. No gravel there, just pitched really low. I mean, seriously? What? Cam Gigandet plays the closest this movie gets to a comedy sidekick (in that he doesn't get the best action stunts) and no low voice, so I am wondering just how over the top these people think they are supposed to be. Still, they can all act with well crafted digital vampires, so it's all for the best.

Very light on religious themes (more about authority that religion) and then there's the set up for the sequel, but a better movie that I originally thought.


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Sunday, 12 June 2011

Trialing Trailing - Of Cthulhu

Joined in a playtest of a mod from Trail of Cthulhu. It's a varient of Cthulhu which has a different mechanic behind it, but tries to capture the feel of Cthulhu. The mod we did had some very interesting aspects to it... although we didn't manage to get to those, faffing about too much in the beginning (but having fun!).

This is The Brick Kiln (from Unspeakable Oath 19), and we discuss the reveals at the end of the recording, so if you don't want to be spoiled on that...

Can listen to what we got through from Rapidshare or Hotfile.


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Of Steam, Steel and Murder

We launch new and exciting plans! We pick up the doctor from the airport, wow! We watch someone get driven around, shock! We drive through traffic, keep an eye out for the police, gasp!

Well, we try to launch plans. Note to selves: make sure the people who are rolling have chips to spend on bad rolls. Oops.

Check out Game 37. Rapidshare. Hotfile.


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Team Xero #009

Silver Skull comes up with a cunning plan that takes advantage of the popular love of the Olympics...

A note on the voices. There are basically three adult male voices (one American, two English) and five adult female voices (two American, three English) available before I need to start dealing with making things sound sensible in other accents (which isn't to say that I don't have enough problems with English). So voices are assigned on what I need, not who should sound like they did last time...


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Saturday, 11 June 2011

The Socialist Network

Very interesting movie about how America is moving to a new system of goods distribution that will give everyone what they need... or maybe I'm thinking of something else.

So, anyone, some douche invents a way for people to wave at each other and makes millions. And then, like seemingly every other computer-related company which is driven by someone who is either brilliant or a psychopath, or both, people get screwed over, and then there's lots of bitching about who gets all the money. The buckets and wheelbarrows and dumpster trucks of money... sigh wish I had that kind of money...

Anyway, I was surprised by just how watchable this movie was. I went in expecting not to even lasting ten minutes, but I just got so caught up by what was happening that I just had to find out what happened next [I've been catching up with a few movies, and many of them didn't hold my interest that long]. So credit to Aaron Sorkin for crafting a fantastic script (not surprising he won an award!). That said, I'm not sure how 100% accurate it is, although it does seem to be closer than some 'based on real life' stories.

Also thumbs up to Jesse Eisenburg for great acting as Mark Zuckerberg. And Armie Hammer as the Winklevii was hilarious! Andrew Garfield gave good Eduardo Saverin, and Timberlake was tolerable.

Now, all this praise is conditional on how much you like the topic being discussed. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who don't care about Facebook, and have no interest in this movie. However, I like me some computer-history so definitely if you like that, you'll like this.


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Friday, 10 June 2011

Those Classy Men d'X

Hey, another superhero movie! They are becoming more common. Now it's just a question of quality.

In this one, Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr team up to become the wackiest cops this side of Danson and Highsmith! Hijinks ensue when Erik cripples Charles with ten minutes of hilarious beatings with a baseball bat, and then Charles makes Erik do the chicken dance!

Well, something like that. There are rounding up of some mutants to be on the side of 'good', and some bad guys, and there are big fights and January Jones (Emma Frost) spends a lot of time in lingerie (although not much in acting). And Jennifer Lawrence (Raven/Mystique) just gets in various different weird relationships with everyone...

James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender do great work as Charles and Erik. Kevin Bacon is playing Kevin Bacon. Rose Byrne does a fine job as Moira, but since she's human, she doesn't fare well in the movie. And everyone else turns up for various roles or amusing cameos.

Decent movie, worth the watching.


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Thursday, 9 June 2011

DW: Hunter's Moon

Third book in the current set is Hunter's Moon by Paul Finch.

Hey, an actual story not on Earth! For the most part at least. There's a hunt going on, and guess who's on the running block? If you said 'random humans', you'd be correct. And it's up to the Doctor, Rory and Amy to stop them from dying. You know, after Rory joins them to run away from the hunters, and Amy is captured, and the Doctor is threatening to shoot them all... same old, same old.

While the basic concept isn't that original, Paul Finch does do a lot of work setting up a new civilisation and creates a decent atmosphere, and has a lot of action set pieces, so thumbs up for that. However, there is one disastrous things he does. Ahem...

Krauzzen, Krelbin, Konzalar...
Xaaael, Xorax, Xelos...
Zarbotan, Zubedai, Zalu...

Yep, all the alien names begin with K, X or Z. Which makes keeping track of who's whom near impossible. Certainly there were many times I didn't know which random collection of letters was talking. Now, we can recognise and differentiate English names, but even so having a Chester, Charles and Chuckie is just begging for trouble. Make 'em weird, but make 'em unique!

Aside from that, it's a decent enough book, that I rate higher than Dead of Winter, and lower than The Way Through The Woods.


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Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Crusading Castles

[As a one off or so, we played a session of Castles and Crusades, a D&D style that is supposed to be rules light. Wouldn't say that they are that lite...]

Me, Calliforth Bushfoot, and some other guys went to the town of Malforten because we had heard that there was a gnoll that was causing problems. (The other guys are a gnome wizard, a gnome ranger and a dwarf paladin. And I am a halfling druid. We are the short stuff adventurers are made of.) We arrived and found out that the gnoll sends in a group of goblins to get tribute from the town around once a month. We found out that the gang would be coming in in a week. Aha! An ambush!

At least that was the idea. Very rough one, relying on the wizard to send those goblins to sleep. Brilliant! However, they were faster than us. But eventually the wizard did his thing. Small problem, they only went to sleep for a little while [1 turn per level, and we are level one!] Oops.

Fortunately, some of them ran away. And we did manage to kill the others, although they nearly put half of our own team out of action. Still, we rallied back, and now we will be after them to find out where they are going, where the gnoll is, and then probably charge in and die.


[To be continued... some time...]


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Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Two "classics"

You hear about them, and everyone cites then and stuff, but you never get around to seeing them... until now.

The Usual Suspects: Yes, okay, this is a great movie. Nice story build up, good action sequences, the plot actually works. And then there's the reveal... although that was slightly ruined for me, 'cos I thought the picture looked like Kobayashi. Some stunning performances, and once again Kevin Spacey once again demonstrates he is in movies that are worth watching. And remember, in the words of Dwight Schrute, Keyser Soze is the one you most medium suspect.

Reservoir Dogs: ... meh. It's a Quentin Taratino script, so lots of action and 'strong language', but... meh. It just wasn't that interesting. People yelling at each other for 90 minutes doesn't contain enough excitement. I've seen it now... but I'd rather rewatch Kaante.


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Monday, 6 June 2011

DW: 6.7

Um... okay, I'm going to ask. I'm not sure if this will end up being a popular question, or just draw looks of "you aren't actually a fan are you?", but... what was the point of this episode?

Seriously, what exactly happened? There was build up, build up, build up, the Doctor then shows up... and wins, then... everyone stands around talking for a while, then it turns out he lost and the episode ends with the crappy leaked rumour being true. I hate to label this as such, but as a mid series episode, and supposed cliff hanger (at least, I am supposing this episode was supposed to make us want to see the rest of the series when it returns), this episode strikes me simply as 'filler'.

So let's talk Melody Pond/River Song. Really? That was the idea all along? Certainly there was the link with the name from the beginning of Amy's joining, but... how many of us are going to go back and watch the fifth/sixth series episodes with that relationship in mind... fine, we know they kissed, but seriously Moffat has presented a dodgy connection all around. (And at which point does a Time Lord tell someone their name?) Melody as the daughter would suggest a daddy/daughter relationship with the Doctor, but 'my love'? Um... yeah... Oh, and River ends up in Stormcage because she killed the Doctor as a child? Although, we never did see who was in the suit at that point...

As for the rest, Lorna is the only interesting character. The rest are just there for 'oh, look, a get together RTD would be proud of, with far less justification/result'. However, Lorna is who Amy could have been, the girl who waited but the Doctor didn't return for. One of the many he doesn't remember. But her character is subsumed in the wider 'going to war' story. (Not that it was much of a war.)

In all, a bit of a fizzle, really. And it's a shame that the Good Man wasn't Rory.

Next time: Bwahahahahahaha!


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Sunday, 5 June 2011

The Asylum's Schlock Doh'lmes!

Just so you have some inkling of what I subjected myself to:

Now you too will be asking yourself "Did I just see that?"

With the good comes the bad. And this isn't the good. The plot derails quickly, and then quickly becomes absurd. The writer has decided to bring in Sherlock's family, but... why? In fact, you'll be asking yourself at lot that, especially nearer the end. Why? What possible reason is there for that? And it hints at a lot more history, which is really important and vital to understanding the plot, but it's never explained.

Instead, there are more interesting sequences to have. Such as five minutes of Watson climbing down a cliff then back up again, with absolutely nothing of consequence. Actually, worse that nothing, something seems to happen, but is studiously never mentioned again! And be careful on your morning constitutional not to wander into the thick lush choked jungle that is just outside 221B Baker Street. The hells? Then there are binoculars with inbuilt plot devicium that enable them to see key moments as if they were a camera positioned in the scene!

Presuming you can see anything. Often the camera has the 'brown' lens on, rendering everything in colours of rust, beige and mud. To compare to other sequences in which other colours are allowed. It's rather disconcerting.

Let's talk CGI. The fire effects are, frankly, rubbish. It's clear the effect was layered on the image afterwards. And as for the creature effects... actually, they are surprisingly good. Comparable to The Mill and the like. Fine, the sight of a dinosaur in Victorian London does take you out of the picture, but Primeval are about to do that themselves, so I can't complain about it too much. However, the interaction is more than dodgy. If you must have a room of CGI creatures, tell the actors were to look or they will think the room is full of stuff to look at rather than, as the audience sees, extremely empty.

However, this is a Sherlock Holmes movie (so it claims), so let's talk characters. Ben Syder is Holmes (in his action persona) and Gareth David-Lloyd is Watson (whom seems to be the hero of the movie at times). And... to be honest, they have some great character moments between them. Unfortunately hampered by having to deal with the plot, but they and the music are good points about this movie. William Huw as Lestrade is a complete waste of inclusion (as in Lestrade is a waste putting him in, not Huw). And as Dominic Keating as... well, if he was any more arch, he'd have fornication. Oi...

As this was Victorian horrendous (as opposed to, say, horror) I did remember War of the Worlds. And at least this isn't that.

There are some good moments in this, but few and far between.


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Saturday, 4 June 2011

Aussie kicking US ass

...assets, that is! In particular, monetary assets. Just take a look at this picture:

And now I will explain this picture.

What this is, is the exchange rates of the NZ dollar versus AUS and USD (as provided by x-rates). More specifically, it's how much NZD you need to buy a single AUS or USD. For example, in the middle of March (17th), you'd need NZ$1.38 to buy a US$1, but only NZ$1.36 to buy AUS$1.

But then, at that point on... the Aussie dollar, which has been cresting the US dollar before then, takes off as the US dollar plummets. And as at now (2nd June) while you need NZ$1.31 to buy AUS$1, you only need NZ$1.23 to buy US$1... the Aussie dollar is stronger!

Which all adds up to... it's cheaper to buy from the far distant States than the local country across the ditch. (Well, I say 'cheaper', that does assume the product costs the same figure in different currencies and not really taking postal charges into account...) To be honest, I've often looked at US sources *cough*Amazon*cough* because the range is better, so not a huge change...

But now it's definitely worth the Aussies looking at importing as well. It probably won't last (or, alternatively, we're seeking the US crash), so grab while you can.

(This probably also means something for those that trade currencies, but I'm not in the financial markets, so hopefully someone else will comment on how to make a killing there...)


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Friday, 3 June 2011

Portal 2-ish

So, I've actually been playing Portal 2. Racked up about 10 hours so far, played it through once, then again with the developer's commentary (which wasn't that amazing to tell the truth). Got most of the solo play achievements, some of them are right tricky to get.

However, my take on it is slightly different to most players. If you recall, I watched others play Portal 2 first. Why? I think mostly because I didn't think I would be playing it myself. I don't play a lot of games, and certainly didn't intend to play it... and yet, having watched it, I did want to play it. (Still waiting for Portal to turn up.) [This probably says something psychological about me, but I'll leave that for my therapist.]

What this does mean is that I don't get the high from finally working out a puzzle for myself, because I know what the secret is. (Well, not for all rooms, some I still had to work out because I either partially or totally forgot about it. And I get to explore the areas and alternative paths myself instead of yelling at the screen for others to do it.) Alternatively, I don't get the lows of frustration of being stuck for many hours staring at the portals wondering what to do (well, aside from those rooms I had forgotten which did stump me for a while). And those lows help make the highs higher.

That all said, I have picked up games because I have seen them in action, and so know they are something I'd like to play. And that's the main thing. There's a lot of games out there I'm not interested in, and I'm not that interested in speculating. Especially for games that aren't that cheap. (Which is why I'm willing to speculate more with games on GOG. I get those cheap!) While I might not get the same level of excitement, I do get some from doing it my own way.

So, in short, Portal 2, I liked it! Now to find someone to co-op with...


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Thursday, 2 June 2011


The creators of Smallville tried to off-shoot a new series based on a popular episode of that show. The result: Aquaman.

You'll be forgiven for not having heard of this before, as the series never went further than a pilot. In some ways, I am surprised. In other ways, not at all.

The set up here is that Aqua's mother was lost years ago when he was a kid, in a plane crash in the sea, so he now lives with his adoptive father. He's basically an eco-friendly young man, out to help the ocean life, and although he has abilities, he has no idea of his destiny as a member of the royalty of Atlantis. The pilot explains some of this, and has him fight a siren, but it is a decent enough set up that a series could easily have been spun off from this.

On the positive: actually has Aquaman as a rather credible person, as opposed to merely "the last guy attached to the Justice League". And a lot of mystery is set up around others having been to Atlantis, giving tantalizing hints of a greater mythology to explore.

On the negative: Aqua could easily end up being emo about the ocean, and does tread near those waters (sic). Also, if you read his powers in the wiki description, you could be thinking "hang on, that's Man From Atlantis!" And some of the characters are fairly flat, although I could see them being developed over a series.

There are worst series that could have been made (and other worse series have been made), and given the name power of the creators, it is odd that this wasn't made... on the other hand, it didn't have a chance to devolve into a Smallville clone, so close escape there.


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