Saturday, 31 December 2011

Adventures of Tintin Abbey

You know what movie this is. The one that goes deep into the Uncanny Valley. And it certainly does. Pretty much any time there was a close up on Tintin, especially full face on, it just creeped me out. His face was too small for his head!

Anyway, in this movie they make an extraordinary meal of the comic, extending panels out to ten minute sequences. Tintin stumbles onto a clue that leads him deep into finding out the secret of the Unicorn, meeting up with Captain Haddock, yadda yadda, most of us have read the comic by now, and they mostly follow the story. By mostly, as I say, they expand it a lot to reach the 1 hour 40 minute mark. [And note I'm only referring to The Secret of the Unicorn here. There's still Red Rackham's Treasure to go.]

Performance-wise, it's decent enough. Creepiness aside, Tintin looks proper. Haddock is shorter (or Tintin taller?) than I would have thought, and looks like someone (somewhat Serkis) with a large prosthetic nose. Thompson and Thomson are more round of face than I would have expected. Nestor is pretty much spot on.

Ultimately, this is easily the start of a new franchise of Tintin portrayals, but I'm not sure I'm willing to sit through every one of them... (well, some of them definitely...)


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Friday, 30 December 2011

I Ron Druid

Recently listened to the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. Set in the present day, an urban fantasy of the last druid who is trying to get by when shit starts happening in his neighbourhood. (Three books out so far, with a fourth to come next year.)

As it is urban fantasy, the most common reference for this is The Dresden Files. Only... this isn't that good. While a lot of books could be considered self-insertion fantasy, this doesn't give any pause before jumping in that pool. The last druid is able to take down everything that comes his way, with minimal effort (this aspect does get better in later books), and by taking advantages of plot holes (aka "little known lore" and "loopholes" in continuity) to exhibit powers and abilities not displayed by other series.

And then there's the whole lot of padding, where Dresden would have had three fights and gotten messed with by three different plots in the same time.

And yet... it's still entertaining. While I was annoyed and frustrated by what was happening, I continued to listen. And, dammit, I'm glad there's a fourth book, and I do want to know what else is going to happen.

This series doesn't come out polished, but there's a nugget of decency in there.


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Thursday, 29 December 2011

Mission Ghost: Impossible Protocol

[I saw this movie in the Titan XC theatre at Readings. I'm not sure what makes it so much 'Titan XC'ly, but it looked nice.]

This is the latest Tom Cruise Production (that's the credit!), and one thing that amazed me was that this, unlike all the previous movies, is an actual team movie, in that Ethan Hunt is not the one doing everything. The other main male lead gets some action sequences, the female lead (I can't remember names) nearly gets some action, but has to leave a lot of it to the males. And Simon Pegg is the comic relief... and nearly screws that up. It's a fine line, being the comic relief, between being relief and being painful, but Pegg stays on the side of tolerable.

Anyway, in the movie, some stuff happens, people die and once again Ethan (and his team) is left alone to deal with some threat... seriously, that seems to the basic plot of all the movies. Something happens to make Ethan removed from the resources of the team... then he gets resources anyway. There are some neat sequences, but nothing really amazing. [There was one plot point with the goggles that I did like. Really, it was a little point, but it nicely pays off, and could easily have come across as too easy.] (There might be links with MI3, but haven't seen that since I saw it at the movies when it came out, I can't remember... and not that keen to re-experience it, to be honest.)

With Ethan not being the sole focus, that makes Tom Cruise far more tolerable as well. Jeremy Renner is a more generic action hero than he is. Lea Seydoux... is extremely attractive (although she reminded me of someone else, I can't remember who).

Not a brilliant movie, watchable (seems like an action moment every five minutes). Worth seeing if you can see it cheap enough.


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Wednesday, 28 December 2011


I'm in the middle of Half-Life 2: Episode 2 (part 2, chapter 2, paragraph 2...). While it seems perfectly logical that I would make my way around behind the building that contains people that want to shoot me, I don't think I've done it right.

Usually Valve are pretty good at indicating the clear way to go. A reward, or linear path, or some obvious visual cue to point the player in the right way. This time... I think I went somewhere I wasn't supposed to (at least, not yet).

Why am I thinking this? This:

That's Alyx. Standing in the middle of a stream of radioactive slime. Umm... yeah, that's not supposed to happen...


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Tuesday, 27 December 2011

DW: 7.0X (Christmas!)

Hmm... not sure about all that. It starts out being a Christmas story, but then gets sidetracked and finally ends up... something?

We start following on from the prelude with a moment more ridiculous than the cricket ball, then immediately hit a bad comedic note with Madge falling off her bike. Oh, the hilarity! This story has problems shifting from poignant moments to the inane wackiness that indicates multiple personality order of different scripts stuck together than the seamless story it should have been.

Dancing chairs! Think of it until it hurts. Look, she's piloting the platform! All the souls are trying to evacuate (from being destroyed by the enemy dropping pain from above... the war imagery is about as half-formed as the story)...

But, the ending, of course, we all saw coming. Of course she saved him. We all knew he was going to get out alive. The problem of ricocheting emotional tones ruins that as well though.

Still, quite a few continuity references were shoe-horned in. And what about Bill Bailey? Eh? Eh? Well... what about him? What was the point? Could have taken those scenes out, and nothing would have been missed.

Moffat, you've done better than this...

Next time: What? No next time? Well, I suppose, it is going to be nine months or so, right?


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Monday, 26 December 2011

Best Christmas Movie Evah!

I think there's only one winner:

Bruce Willis at the start of his action career, Alan Rickman being really cool, and a fantastic soundtrack by Michael Kamen (brilliantly rescoring the Ninth Symphony to fit perfectly with the action on screen). Great stuff!

Number 2 was good... not great, but good. Not quite a Christmas movie, too much of a retread. (And William Sandler is looking damn fine at 40.)

With a Vengeance is only good because of Bruce, Samuel Jackson and lesserly Jeremy Irons. The plot is fun, but the ending falls apart a lot.

Live Free is... a movie that happens to star Bruce Willis pretending to be a character he's played before. (Check out Threevening for great stories about that movie.)

To be honest, the decline of the series is nicely paralleled by the declining versus in the Guyz Nite song...


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Sunday, 25 December 2011

Against Santa Claus

There seems to be a continual resurgence of the idea of 'do we tell kids that Santa Claus is not real?' The latest being from a minister of an Anglican Parish. Gee? Why would anyone want someone to believe there is someone monitoring them, ready to give out rewards and punishments for good/bad behaviour?

Unsurprising to anyone, my take is "Santa Claus is a real as God, and for exactly the same reasons."

[A better question is: why do we tell kids that Santa Claus exists in the first place? Why is it that? Let's bring back Saturnalia and just have it as a general mid-season festival that gathers the family together?]

I can't remember how old I was when I realised it, possibly from having hints dropped. I do remember one Christmas moment, coming out to find presents from Santa... and nothing from mum and dad...

And, you know what? I'd rather have presents from people who know and love me than from some entity that only shows up once a year to dispense random gifts if they think I'm worthy according to their criteria...

So, yes, let's get rid of Santa Claus. Because family is the reason for the season.


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Saturday, 24 December 2011

Hate that Family

In 2007, Louis Theroux produced The Most Hated Family in America about the Westboro Church and the Phelps family in particular. [I think I started watching this on TV, but couldn't get through the first ad break... and that was the last thing on TV I ever saw...]

Anyway, this is some time with the Phelps family, and Louis seems to struggle to get to a point. Something about how the family is weird and the kids are trying to be their own thing, but are coming into conflict with their own desires and the beliefs of the church... but he tries really hard to get to that point and it doesn't come out easily.

He goes back in 2011 to see The Most Hated Family in America in Crisis, briefly touching on the court case of the time, but again goes on about the lives of the kids differ from that of the adults, and how the family has broken up and trying to deny themselves being human with emotions and stuff... but again it doesn't come along clearly.

Now, the Phelps family have strange beliefs... however, they aren't really that weirder than a lot of beliefs (not just religious ones) and many sects probably look at them in envy that they have that much control and conversion of kids. I'm thinking that a lot more sects would be like them if they could get away with it...

Ultimately, they are self-defeating. They think the end is coming very very soon (I'm thinking the timeline is years, but I'm sure they'll come up with some excuse if it doesn't turn up), and refuse to let their kids associate outside the church, so the genetic pool is rapidly terminating... it's a problem that will sort itself out.

Louis Theroux is trying for a portrait of the Phelps, but they are just vocal, and aren't any more special than other sects. Ignore them, attention is what they want...


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Friday, 23 December 2011

By Lantern Light

Geoff Johns put a lot of work into reimagining Green Lantern when he did Vol 4. (I think the reboot makes it vol 5 now? Either way, that's a good point to cut off, and I'm only a few trades off finishing the vol 4 collection.)

One big change is that the universe came from light, which became seven colours (conveniently the colours of the spectrum we know). Each colour is associated with its own corps... and each colour is the emotion which drives that corps. Now, as I said, Geoff did good work and wove it well into Lantern history, however there are a few issues I have with it, mainly that they aren't emotions. Mostly. Let's look. And, because I'm communicating, let's use "I feel" statements. (And see how people feel these emotions with google searches, using quotes to get exact statements.)

"I feel rage." (727K searches) Okay, that works as an emotion. ("I feel anger" gives over 2 million hits.)

"I feel avarice." (2,770 searches) Hmm... not really an emotion. "I feel greedy" gives 345K searches.

"I feel fear." (3+ million) Fear, emotion no doubt. This is yellow, btw, which does ties in very nicely with Lantern mythos.

"I feel hope." (2.5+ million) Yep, another emotion.

"I feel compassion." (534K) Yeah, okay... 'compassionate' is only 116K searches. This is supposed to be one of the rarer emotions, so that works.

"I feel love." (4.8+ million) Love, big emotion. Retconned to work with Star Sapphire, who originally dressed in red (now rage), but slid towards violet.

And lastly, the emotion that drives the Green Lanterns themselves...

"I feel will." (...hard to search for given its usage of "this I feel will..." style) Yep, will is an emotion... according to Geoff. Not buying it, which is a shame.

And happiness and sadness doesn't make the cut as significant emotions? Or other emotions? ...not sure how effective the Apathy Corps would be...


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Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Episode 1

The idea behind the Episodes for Half-Life 2 was shorter stories, more frequently. Yep, that worked.

But yeah, four hours later, I've finished it. Maybe I need to go back and grab Half-Life itself (now 50% off!), but do these things always involve a Deus Ex Machina? And then you can tell we are in the puzzle section for a while, because we don't get a weapon until later (and then lose it, boo!).

My main take-away from this game: Valve doesn't trust the player enough to do what needs to be done, so they have Alex basically hold your hand for the entire game (aside from a few sequences). Just makes it feel rather more linear than usual (and it is a linear game anyway, but this way you are at the visible mercy of an NPC to continue).

There are also a fair few arena fights that feel more like 'resource management' issues than enjoyable combat. It becomes more 'switch to something with ammo, damn pushed the wrong button causing the flashlight/gravity gun to come up, damn I have low health... and I died again.' This is even more so during the damn 'get the citizens to safety' sequence which goes on too long. Surprising considering that Valve seems to test the hell out of the game and streamline things, but I was just annoyed at how often I had to go get more. [And as for the 'get all out alive' badge, hah! Never had a chance...]

Will go back for the Developer Commentary first, but then Episode 2 awaits!


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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

I was nearly there

There were a series of lectures not that long ago:
The Royal Society Science 2011 Lecture Series Inside Out: the chemistry of food, sex and ageing, in association with Radio New Zealand

One lecture was at Te Papa, and I was booked in to go... but was unable to go on the day. Pity.

But you (and me) can hear what I missed out on, and the other lectures to, because they are online!

Talking Heads

I'd also like to recommend the E = mc2 Lectures, from 2005. Very interesting talks.

Amazing what they archive on the net these days...


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Monday, 19 December 2011

18 Apollos Mooning

From the makers of Paranormal Activity... actually, I have no idea if there's a connection between PA and this movie. Possible PA2, it's that bad, but this is the PA of moon landing movies.

Only a few missions went to the moon. Apollo 17 was the last... or was it? Using footage that was uploaded to a website, this documentary about the 18th mission was created and now you know the truth. There is something on the moon...

You know, it's tough to buy into the "this is real" disbelief when right after announcing that, they cut to the guy from Sanctuary. And how many cameras did they have? How many were in the lander? Why did they keep filming? ... How did they get the footage without more missions? (I know for a fact that they don't waste weight, and all those cameras would have been unnecessary weight.) They get a moon landing nearly right, but it all breaks down if you think slightly hard about it...

Then there's the actual thing of what's on the moon. That's pretty stupid too. It's like the episode Blink. Makes you go 'what if that basic thing wasn't really what you thought it was...', but no, it really is what you think it is.

A low budget movie, and it shows. Is anyone fooled by this at all?


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Sunday, 18 December 2011

Of Steam, Steel and Murder

War has been declared, so what do we do? Bicker amoungst ourselves, mostly. We did manage to talk to people, but aside from revealing some secrets, not a lot else.

This was really a game where we discussed where to from here. In fact, the last hour is us talking about the longer view, and how the game will continue from here. Useful discussion, but I am wondering if Marlow will still be around...

Hear us talk in Game 47. Rapidshare. Hotfile.


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I Stole The Film

Since the NZ Government thinks we are all pirates / kowtows to America thinking we are all pirates, I watched a film about pirating, Steal This Film. You won't see this in the theatres, or video stores. You will see this if you download it directly. Or torrent that. That's rather the point.

In Part I (2006), pirating is introduced. Pirate Bay is set up, and raided. And is still around. Torrenting is here to stay, under the nicer name of "media sharing". In Part II (2007), they talk about how pirating in one form or another has gone on through time, and people adapt to it. And so do companies. Movie industries refuse to (so far), because it would be the end of them...

Fine. Let's try that as a thought experiment: torrenting becomes rampant, it's a common everything day, what happens? Hollywood disappears! Well, not really. It's one thing to watch a movie on your computer or big screen TV, but there's still the giant movie screen. And with no sign of 3D TVs being any good, those films will still have a market. (And IMAX films.) And not everyone will be torrenting anyway. And some people will want the BluRay version with tons of extra features they can't be hassled downloading. Hollywood isn't disappearing immediately.

But let's say it does collapse enough to only be one company left. What of all the people there? Will the unemployment rate suddenly jump up? Again... no. I can see the theatre sector suddenly gaining a lot more people. And it's not like the movie industry will go away, already we have people making movies and relying on torrents, etc., to get the word out so people want to see it. They rely on donations and DVD sales to cover themselves, but they aren't forcing to not copy and distribute it for free.

Even if that fails to happen, people have found new opportunities. Those people that destroyed the movie industries won't be getting entertainment any more, and will still want to be entertained, so there's an opening. The industrial revolution didn't destroy civilisation (although some might differ) but gave new tools to use. This might not be that extensive, but torrenting is a tool, and ways to use it will be found and/or something completely different to movies will arise.

Ultimately, it is here to stay, so the movie sector will have to adapt to it. Some people will never pay, only get things for free, no matter what. But that's always true of any area. A new model will arise, and money will be found in other ways, some balance between "no copying" and "total information freedom".

For as long as there are profits to be had, there will be a way found to get them.


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Saturday, 17 December 2011

Lost the Coast

I sprinted through Half Life 2 again (on Hard Mode... with God Mode on), to remind myself of the story, and not at all because there's a hint of HL3. (Really, not.) Because I actually want to move on to the other games in the series and wanted to remember what had gone before.

So, to start with, there's the missing level Lost Coast. Well, not really a level. More of a vignette. Although brief, it manages to encompass resource management in a gauntlet run (limited guns and ammo storming the castle), puzzles (didn't believe that would work... and yet!), and defense against an incoming attack. The basic elements of the game distilled into one brief sequence. This is why people line up to give money to Valve... (a pity you can't go visit the city, though.)

And it is the start of the Commentary nodes. The hunt to find them all, and then try to play them in order, or try to remember which ones you've listened to if you get them out of order. Just such a shame that HL2 doesn't have commentary in it, it's considered such a core of gaming development that would would be fantastic. (Has it been modded into happening? People mod that thing for everything.)

It doesn't look like Lost Coast is available separately. Pity, that'd be a great way to get people in to play their games.


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Friday, 16 December 2011

Do you want my business?

There's some craft items I want to get. I tried local, they decided not to actually stock what I want (although they don't tell me until after I order, and then mail me when most places would use email).

I then go overseas. There's a site in America, probably where the local store gets it from (wouldn't be surprised). I place the order, then wait for it to be delivered...

They do contact me by email to say "we couldn't calculate the postage correctly" (I'm assuming because I'm living in a country they haven't heard of, which could be any country outside of America) "so we need to charge you more." I email back about the matter... and hear nothing.

I go to their site to where the order is... oh, there's a form there, I use that to contact them... and hear nothing.

So now I've emailed them again... still nothing.

I get that it's getting near Christmas, but it's not like this is the festival craft shop or anything. I can only presume that they don't have have any interesting in running their business, because it's not like they are acting in any way that would want to make me use their services again. And I'm not wanting to try elsewhere because then the order will suddenly go through and I'll be charged for it, yadda yadda.

Good to see the principles of incompetence are alive and well...


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Thursday, 15 December 2011

No Impact, Man

When you hear that the documentary is called No Impact Man, you are likely to jump to the idea that it deals with the environment, and having 'no impact'. And you'd be right.

This movie follows the year of the life of a family that is trying to have no impact on the environment. This means creating no garbage, not producing carbon (walking/biking everywhere), no toilet paper, and, ultimately, no electricity. Not to say that everyone should do that (because that ain't gonna happen), but to show that it can be done.

And they manage it... more or less. The wife is less enthused about the project that the husband (as it was his idea), but she goes along with it with the hope that he'll go along with her idea... another child. I'm not entirely sure why they included that thread in the movie, even the wife says it is a loose thread narratively and could have easily been left out entirely... but it is a human interest piece amidst a human interest story, so no movie maker is gonna skip that easy heartstring pluck. But that does help underline one problem with this movie in that there really isn't a cohesive narrative structure to the whole piece. It's more like random bits and pieces as they try to have no impact, intermingled with them having soap opera moments... and then it ends.

The easy joke is that the movie didn't have an impact on me... but that is the fault of the movie makers, as this is a good example of what we could do if we really wanted to.


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Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Vigil the Huntering

After the (not at all entirely incompetent) dealing with the motel situation, we decided to lie low for a while. Which comprised of the doctor ordering in medical equipment, Jane going to church, Robert going to the library, JD going out stabbing things, and me going to my shop. [Yeah, we are incredibly subtle.]

One thing that Robert finds is that there is a core agreement about vampires and things they don't like. Looks like the movies got some things right, but most people don't like being burned or having wood thrust into them. With that in mind, we get together for a bit of a chat and come up with the idea that maybe we could get a piece of wood, then find a vampire, some hold him down, someone points to the heart, and then someone thrusts said piece of wood into indicated heart. Yeah, we're so brilliant, no-one has ever come up with that plan before. [Kind of odd that to first use a tactic, we got to come up with a plan of what to do. Because there are no movies about staking vampires that we've seen? Still, I rolled exceptionally, so I helped!]

We're still being tracked by people, and while we're out practicing this idea, Stitch (who has joined me to help running my gun shop) lets me know the police are still poking around, but he told them I was "out of town". Since then, I've come up with the cover story of "gun convention", that should work.

Aside from getting some idea of how to stake someone [hey, hey, finally a chance to bring along my Buffy stake prop!], more investigation continues, with Robert using the laptop we got to access a virtual network to find out about the email address Karl had. However, someone was monitoring the network enough to lock out Robert before the computer locked up.

After JD and I grab a car to use for hauling around our weapons, he and the others head to the museum to check out the display the pendent was a part of. They find a distinct vampire theme. They also spot Heinrich Koenig, creepy museum guy that talked to me. After a lot of kerfluffle, they investigate his office and nick his Rolodex. Hopefully that will reveal some leads, but nothing incriminating immediately.

And around that time, we find that the police following us have decided we aren't the suspects we clearly are. For now, we are free...

[During this time I had a dream. Stitch tells me I woke up screaming about Phyllis and a horse. I can't remember all the details, but... that wasn't a dream, it was a nightmare. I recall some old man told me something about that... It's time to track him down, and if he knows anything...]

End of story one.


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Tuesday, 13 December 2011

I've Been Watching...

[Well, not the missing episodes, only clips available of those...]

Several years ago I was in Australia for a conference, and on TV at the time they were showing episodes of Doctor Who. I caught the end of The Sea Devils, and the first episode of The Mutants. Which meant I never found out what happened to Ky and Varan... until now! [I had seen it many, many, many years ago, but like I remember that!]

So at last I get to find out that... pretty much everyone dies. Certainly most of the Solonians do. Consider that most of them mutate, and most of those end up in the cave and gassed to death. Those that are on the Sky Base are all shot. Ky only survives by becoming Super Ky. Presumably there are whole tribes of them on the planet, but you wouldn't think so. Not to mention the number of Sky Base personnel that die (one at the hands of the Doctor himself!). [Notably, amid all the race focus of this episode [it was focus enough for one of the extra disc items to be about it] the black guy survives!]

Although it is six episode, it doesn't feel padded. There's enough change of scene and progressing of information that nothing immediately feels like it should have been cut out. (No doubt you could trim the episodes down, but you could do that for any story.) Looking back on it now, it's amazing how the whole planet was subjugated by a fat guy and a handful of guards. And yet, it all works out nicely. [I'm glad they got rid of the clone plot, no idea what that would have been about.]

We've got the usual commentary (seven people mixing it up this time, this is how you fill out a six part story, not just miss episodes), and production subtitles, with the overlap of information as usual. [Yes, Paul, I know it's entirely accidental.] The second disc has extra stuff on it... but I'm hard pressed to be excited about it to consider it worthy of needing a second disc. There's the usual behind the scenes talking heads bit, but the rest of it could easily have been missed or allocated to a four-parter needing more filling out. (And that Blue Peter segment was amazingly irrelevant, short and containing no episode specific creatures!)

You don't need to be seeing the colonial angle to be enjoying this story!


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Monday, 12 December 2011

Metal Gear - Solid Video

Okay, so in no way is this original, but, hey, I haven't commented on it, so... As I've mentioned before, I watch Let's Play of computer games, and just finished working through Metal Gear Solid 2.

That's a lot of watching that I've done. Several hours. The thing is... that's a lot of video watching for the person playing too! Just how much cut scenes does a game need? It certainly feels like more cut scene than game play. There were definitely moments where the player moves about two steps then hits another cut scene. Seriously? There is a discussion of the role of cut scenes in games, but this game doesn't help with the 'only as needed' side, and certainly lends credence to the 'game maker only wanted to make a movie and grudgingly decided to allow the player a chance to do a little something within tightly controlled boundaries'.

And then there's the actual story. It starts out relatively not-insane, but... near the end, revelations were revealed and... what the hell? How many plans were there in action? What was really going on? Did anything explained at the end make any sense to any one? (No, not really.) Comments in the LP suggest that MGS2 is one of the worse ones, story wise, and I have others to watch (2 and 3 were available for download before, 1 and 4 are only now just become available).

As I said, these are hardly original comments, but it's one of those things whereby you don't really believe it until you experience it for yourself. Reputation well earned, I say. Reputation well earned...


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Sunday, 11 December 2011

Death Valley

[I might have blogged about this already, but if so I can't find it...]

I checked out seven episodes of the series Death Valley. The basic concept is that zombies, vampires and werewolves turned up in Los Angeles, and this series is a mockumentary about the cops that are dealing with them.

First problem, the cops are incredibly incompetent. Like so much that the only reason they get through each episode is because of more than stupid good luck. They are 'only protected by the script' stupid. In anything more like reality, they'd be dead or otherwise removed based on the number of people who die just because they are so useless, let alone getting themselves killed.

Second problem, this is supposedly 'reality series', so camera men and sound guys are on screen. Or rather, one sound guy, which is all they seem to have despite having three groups in any given episode. Let alone a lot of the camera angles can't come from documentary makers. [Yes, The Office also had this problem, but far less, and they tried harder to cover it properly.]

Third problem, and this is the big one which could have otherwise forgiven the first two, but it doesn't... it's not funny. This is an MTV series, so clearly aimed at people who aren't me, but I'm not even recognising this as humour. Is the MTV audience supposed to be stoned when they watch this, or something, because unless we are supposed to be laughing at the show (instead of with it) (and I'm not even doing that), there's nothing redeeming here.

Big shocker: it wasn't picked up for a second season. There's a surprise...


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Saturday, 10 December 2011

A meandering through NZ 90s music

Not quite sure how it started, for some reason it was in my mind, so started with:
Violent by Stellar*, then, as you do with youtube, I moved onto
Alright by Tadpole, and stuck with them to get to
Nothing New by Tadpole and
No Man by Tadpole, before going to one of their bigger hits
Blind by Tadpole and one more
For Me by Tadpole then moved on to
Run Run Run by Goldenhorse, was then annoyed there's no video for Fur Patrol's Man in a Box, then switched over to
Calling On by Weta, then popped back to
Out of the Moon by Goldenhorse, before trying to find a Fiona McDonald song (still can't) and got sidetracked by
George by Headless Chickens, annoyed again at no video for Body Blow, before finishing with the sister of the lead of the opening act
Something Good by Bic Runga.


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Friday, 9 December 2011

Collection or Single?

I did something I said I wouldn't do. I didn't intend to, but... it was just too tempting, so I gave it.

I started rereading Green Lantern. (Although with the reboot happening this year, I'll probably stop again when I reach that point.)

How I have done this is pick up the collected trades (usually the paperback versions, relatively cheaply through Amazon), and read my way through those, trying to keep them in order. Not that straight forward, as I have Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps. Fortunately while they are going on concurrently, they aren't crossing over that much, so reading them in the collected chunks is working more or less well. (A little trouble around the Sinestro Corp Wars and the GLC story skipping issues for some reason, but have that sorted out now.)

But now I am up to Blackest Night. Which, even just the core trades, is about half a dozen. And the question becomes: do I read each trade in one go, with whatever spoilers for other trades as they happen, or do I read each issue in the proscribed reading order?

On the one hand, I get the full story in one go (reading the full trade at once), on the other I get to experience the story more or less as it was published. But that does involve flipping back and forth through several trades (and I don't have every single one). I'm early in it, so it's not bad yet... and very definitely mean 'yet' as it's about to start flipping all over the place.

I'm tempted to read the full trades, just to make it easy on myself. But let's see how far I get putting up with switching around...

[Yes, I haven't talked about the story itself... maybe another post some time...]


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Thursday, 8 December 2011

Soul Eater

I've just finished watching the 51 episode run of (the first season? of) Soul Eater, based on the manga. (Hmmm... I was trying to find a good, representative trailer for it - can't do it.)

This is about a group of kids at the Death Weapon Meister Academy. In each pair, one is a Meister, the weapon master, and the other is the weapon... and these humans actually transform into weapons, either guns or scythes or... (it seems to be due to something a witch did 800 years ago). Anyway, we follow three pairs as they train and fight the monsters in order to defeat the wicked witches and ultimate the Kenshin that will drive everyone mad.

And, of course, have a lot of fun. In that while this does contain serious moments, it is a comedy. Death (remember Death weapons here) is a rather goofy figure (he was more serious in the past), and the sun and moon are... just plain weird. Yet, cool. As usual for these types of shows (battle style), the main opponents are really themselves as they fight to become better fighters. And the witches and Kenshin too. Will they overcome all odds?

I haven't been watching anime like I used to, and rarely have the patience to start a new series, but this hooked me after only a few episodes, so that I had to watch it to the end. So I can give this one a thumbs up!


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Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Because Apple won't unclench

I have an iPod Touch. Quite useful, definitely like the ability to listen to podcasts at 2x speed. Wish the normal music tracks had that feature. And the feature of skipping back 30seconds. (Because by 'music tracks' I generally mean other podcasts/rpg game sessions that I don't download via iTunes.)

And iOS v5.0.1 is out. While I don't necessarily need to, I could update my iPod to that. Just to make sure everything is running at top efficiency...

The problem is is that when I got the iPod, it came with movie files on it. (YES, legally. It was part of a thing this website was doing.) But, iTunes doesn't want to have anything to do with them. If I tell iTunes to 'sync', it wants to delete any files on the iPod to load on ones it does know about.

And... of course... and this is the problem, it's not like any other software is letting me easily access the iPod. (At least none that look to be free that I would trust.)

But, and this is the kicker, if I want to update to the latest iOS, it warns me that all apps and media will be deleted. (It doesn't acknowledge that the computer I'm connected to is the one that I sync with, so it can't backup the files on the device.) I don't want to delete the files. I don't have copies anywhere else. So... I can't update the device.

Really, Apple? Is it so hard to let other people manage files that go off or on the device? Am I forced to consider jailbreaking the thing just to back up my perfectly legal files?

Does anyone else out there know what the solution is? Is there free software that can copy all the files off? Or is there some setting I'm missing that stops iTunes from deleting everything I haven't given money to Apple for...


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Monday, 5 December 2011


This is a stunning looking movie, when you can see it in the darkness. This is certainly a film to see... any other sense however...

In this movie, the gods are immortals from long ago )you can spot them because they wear ridiculous helmets), and they imprisoned some other immortals. Hyperion seeks a plot key to free the immortals. On the other hand, we have Theseus, an outsider with Mad Fighting Skillz(tm). And... you can exactly guess what's going to happen as well as anyone. (Although at one point when they get the plot key I went 'what? no fetch quest?' then I realised 'did I want a fetch quest? no... so good then!')

That is the problem I had with this movie. There was no real plot, you could guess everything that was coming... so what was the point of it again? To look pretty? I want more than that... although from looking at the profits for it, I'm thinking I'm in the minority... no doubt we'll see a sequel soon...

No-one really stood out, acting wise, and since most of the movie was dark and everyone was grubby, it got to be hard to tell who was whom (not that they were amazingly distinctualised people anyway...). Mickey Rourke was there being Mickey Rourke's new personality (big and brash) and it was nice to hear the voice of John Hurt (even if I did keep expecting him to say 'Merlin!').

While a movie to see for the visuals, it won't satisfy otherwise.


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Sunday, 4 December 2011


The subtitle of this movie is "Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism". It would be more fair (ha!) to say "How Fox Spins the News" would be a more accurate subtitle as this isn't about Murdoch (at least not directly) but more a documentary for how Fox News tactics work to spin the news how they want to, and the impact they have on actual news (what they do is not 'news' by any definition that relates to 'imparting new information').

Biased? Yes, but so is Fox News. At least, it is as portrayed in this movie from 2004, right before the "reelection of George Bush" as they called it. In many ways this was a serious documentary version of many swipes at Fox done by Daily Show.

But, to be fair to Daily Show, they do attack more than just Fox News. In this movie, we don't get to see that other networks are better, nor is there an official take from Fox itself (although one can easily imagine what the response would be... and take a look at the Wikipedia entry to see if you are right).

The last few minutes (practically) of the movie is a call to action against biased media. Certainly a stance to take, and this movie is a good call for that. Just make sure it's more than just the obvious targets that are examined.

Definitely worth a look to see how Fox operates... and then wonder how many other stations looked at this and thought "so that's what we should be doing"...


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Saturday, 3 December 2011

DW: Sightseeing in Space

Book 4 of the double stories is Sightseeing in Space. We get Steve Lyons and David Bailey delivering us entertainment.

First up Terminal of Despair by Steve Lyons. And since the main monsters cause despair, they are called Desponds. (To be fair, they are named by humans, so yeah, they weren't creative.) Anyway, on an intergalatic airport, monsters have caused it to go into quarantine for five months and everyone's still alive after that... um, sure. Food can last that long and everyone can survive, why not? Just as well the Doctor, Amy and Rory turn up when they do to resolve matters. A decent enough tale, but there is a lot of padding of irrelevant plot points, and I hope you like reading scenes of people being attacked by monsters, because it happens many, many, many times with nothing new to add. In some ways, this could have been a black comedy, but the idea isn't sustained enough for that.

Second is The Web in Space by David Bailey. It's about a Web. That is, yes, in Space. Actually, that's a lie. It's really about a bunch of robot pirates taking over a ship that happens to have as a backdrop the ship stuck on a web of a giant space spider. Most of the story is them traveling around the ship which is having problems (being stuck and all), very minorly about them interacting with pirates, and hardly at all about the spider. But, to make up for it, there's a lot of exclamation marks! Because it must be exciting if there are exclamation marks!!!

A book that has stories that zip pass... for whatever good or bad that means...


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Friday, 2 December 2011

Room to Panic

For some reason I've had this itching to see Panic Room. Not sure why. Even less sure now that I've seen it.

The set up is basic. Jodie Foster and kid are in a house. Bad guys come into the house. Jodie and kid gets in the room. And that's about it for the rest of the movie. Sure, the bad guys want into the room, Jodie needs to get safe, but if you've seen one Base Under Siege movie...

The problem of this movie is one of tone. Jodie Foster and Forest Whitaker are playing this as the thriller/drama this movie is billing itself as. The problem is first we have Jared Leto, and whenever he's on screen he's so hammy the movie becomes a farce. And then it gets to be Dwight Yoakam's turn to go Over The Top and drop the movie into inanity. Not good, David Fincher, not good at all.

A movie with some decent performances, but not an amazing feast for the brain...


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Thursday, 1 December 2011

Th' Thang!

Is it a sequel? Is is a prequel? Is it a remake? Is it just cashing in on the fame of the original? Either way, it fails to feature Kurt Russell!

There's a thing. It's in the ice. It gets dug up. And that where everything goes wrong. (When we saw the Thing in the ice, my mind when back to a similar scene in The Ice Warriors... which came out before either of these movies.) From that point on, it's all about killing them one by one in ways that feature typical effects of the time. (Yeah, the actual plot, with character arcs and such, are completely secondary if not entirely absent, but who cares?)

There is flak sent in the direction of this movie for overly relying on CGI and not being as good as the puppets from the original. Y'know what... I like the CGI effects! The original puppets were good, yes, but these things are flying all about the placed and are doing unnatural things in an entertain way no non-astronomical puppet budget is going to achieve. Yes, there are clearly creations that are entirely due to the computer, but... they still work, so thumbs up.

As for the humans... most of them are large, not-overly-descript men, so I didn't keep track of who was who. Even Mary is rather generic as 'pretty woman who gets screen time and psuedo-scientific dialogue to attempt to movie this vehicle along'. Whatever, they don't matter.

So, yeah, enjoyable movie... but now I want to watch the original again...


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