Thursday, 31 December 2009

Sheerluck Holmes

After going Under the Mountain, I hung around and caught the Iron Man Prequel. Robert Downey Jr is the epitome of the hard-nosed, tight-fisted, punchiest, kickiest, hittingest man of action evah! I mean, Sherlock Holmes.

Okay, not so much with the fighting, but a lot is made of how Holmes can easily glimpse a man, plan a series of moves to completely incapacitate him (which allows us to view the fight in slow motion), then do so (so we see the fight again), but this wonderful ability isn't really paid off. He only uses it to take out minor thugs, so I'm wondering if there was a deleted scene whereby he dispatched a greater villain... but I'm not sure who that could be.

Never mind, to the plot! There's a bad man afoot, and he is going to take down society through the use of MAGIC! Only if two men can combine their forces to smack their way through minor villains, and bring the girl onto their side, can they make the final boss fight. Now, fine, Holmes has been portrayed as various different types of personalities, and this one is more physical than others, but... there isn't that much made of his superior reasoning abilities to get from one set of clues to the next (there are two scenes, one which is a rip off from the books so everyone can follow along, the other being the only really proper Holmes thinking scene), and most of the time it's simply tracking down the obvious and/or being taken to the next person. The main character is called Holmes, and his compatriot Watson, but there are only superficial similarities to the characters of fame.

Which isn't to say this isn't a good movie. Good performances by the leads, fast paced direction by Guy Ritchie, and it roars along at a great pace. And what Holmesian patina there is is quite enjoyable.

So check it out, but don't expect to see a faithful reproduction of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's works.


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Wednesday, 30 December 2009

WFRP 3e In Cincinnati!

Because we were gamer lite, we did a go at the (presumed included demo) game of Warhammer Fantasy Role Playing Game 3rd Edition. Also known as an rpg layered on top of a board game.

Now, it was fun enough, but nearly lethal! If it had been one hit more to my character, I would be dead, instead of unconscious, in the first fight. The social "combat" afterward was more fun (although that might have been biased by the fact that a) I wasn't a combat character and b) I nearly died!).

The adventure itself was straight forward, but it was just getting things happening to demo out the system. However, there is a learning curve to the game, so it needs a few go arounds in order to sort out what abilities and talents and whatnot can be used in each round. I kept noticing that I could have done such and such after my turn finished. Oh well.

Wouldn't mind another game, but there is overhead in the cards to keep track of, and reading the specialty dice. Fun, but not something to be mastered quickly.


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Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Back Under that Mountain

While all was quite, I hit the cinema for the cheap movie of the week, which was the remake of the TV Series I had recently watched. (For those taking note, although I don't remember details, I think the TV series was the more faithful reproduction.)

From the story as it was, a lot had to be compressed. The Mr Jones stuff was slimmed down, and they just had to get to one mountain instead of two. The biggest change was in the twins themselves, they were older and the focus was on an emotional break between them and them coming together over that, rather than them trying to get to grips with the stones. A better character choice for the movie, I thought. Oh, and Ricky's character arc is also changed.

Effects wise, definitely a lot of money is on screen in the form of the Wilberforces, and they look good. In that they look bad. And I wouldn't be surprised to find out some Cthulhu inspiration behind the Gargantua. The fire effects... less well integrated.

Much is made of Sam Neill being in this, being the only really big name to help promote it, but not much is made of him in the movie (aside from amusing comments of him being a "dirty, old man"). The twins, Sophie McBride and Tom Cameron, are good. And keep an eye out for a cameo by Nathaniel Lees. Not to mention the original Rachel - Kirsty Wilkinson (which I have to admit I missed).

I wasn't overly enthused about seeing this, having just watched the TV series, but its different enough for me to recommend: go check out the local talent!


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Monday, 28 December 2009

No more Eta-ing

That's something to put you off eating their peanut butter. But before I get to that...

Why Eta Peanut Butter? Because they don't add extra salt. I'm not sure why all the others feel the need to add more salt in, but I guess I'll be finding out soon when I try an alternative product. Could end up being "one bite and no more" if it's too salty, but I'll give it a go...

Because... well, first of all, take a look at this video:

Yeah, I know. But, anyway, interesting that in one shot we see an ant in the peanut butter. Hmm... that's familiar... 'cos that's what happened to me! I had ants in my peanut butter. Hey, Chuck, I got life! (Oh wait, they have an easy out of "contamination", well that's convenient.) Oh yeah, that also makes me suspicious of home made anti-ant recipes that involve peanut butter.

Thing is, this is not the first time I've had this. Last time, it was white ants, this time black ants. However, I can't remember if it was Eta or not, and it was a very long time ago. But now I'm blogging this to record it for prosperity.

And yes, I could complain to Eta/Watties, but I'm cynical so doubt anything would come of it. And they'd just say the product got contaminated after I brought it (I have eaten half the peanut butter) so I can't defend against that other than to say there are no sign of ants elsewhere.

You ever come across this?


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Sunday, 27 December 2009

DW: The End of Time

Slow... slow... slow... incrediablyfastending!

The hells was that about? From the introduction of the Master in a sequence more reminiscent of something out of Harry Potter, to him with superpowers, to the exciting sequence of hearing about Donna's tedious life, to finding out that a cyborg had cousins... frankly, none of that made any real sense, nor impact worth noting. In fact, nothing here really needed to be said, from the recapping sequence of the Ood to the thrilling moment of the Master eating chicken... take away pretty much all of that and see how much the story is impacted.

Because it's all set-up, and not just for the ending five minutes where there is a lot of running around in a pretense of excitement (which is still not present, see the scene where we have the Master basically exposit what's going on) before the big reveal of everyone is the Master, which I'm sure John Simm was enthused about filming (what happened to all the kids and babies? Did they suddenly grow bigger?).

No, it's really set-up for the next episode, which has the return of the Time Lords. With spittle problems it seems. I guess the Time War was an exceptionally important moment then, considering how it's been completely undercut now by the return of the Daleks and now the Time Lords. Seriously, what was the point of the past five years then? Oh, he's the Last of the Time Lords... until RTD gets to the end of his series, and then never mind that. The least we can hope for is that RTD clears it all away so Moffat can start with a clean slate.

Still, lovely as ever to see the lovely Bernard Cribbens. So important he gets into the title credits, yay! John Simm is still serving his Master with whole sty fills of pork, and David Tennant is ramping up his manic depressive disorder.

While this partnership of Tennant and RTD could continue on, it seems that RTD is trying to shoot it down as hard as he can.

Next Time: It doesn't look like it's getting any better...


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Friday, 25 December 2009

I believe the word is "Woot!"

I picked up a ton of mail yesterday, which reminds me that I need to put some more money on my credit card, but one thing in particular was a wonderful thing to receive.

Yay! Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space! I already had the pdfs, but now I have the physical copies! That's the (cardboard) box on the left and the player's guide on the right.

There's also a Gamemaster's book, a book of Adventures, a Quick Start guide, several characters, story point tokens and dice! (Like I needed more of those.)

One extra reason I'm happy is that... I was a playtester! Unfortunately, they don't list the playtesters, so I can't point to that to prove it, but I was! So there's a good chance I'll have more to say as I look over this and remember...


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Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Who are these people?

I've lived at my current place for... I lose track, three, four years? By myself. So there has been plenty of opportunities for other people to figure out that other people do not live here.

So why am I still getting mail for people who aren't me?

I've got a Christmas Card for "Joanne and Peter". Who? No last name given. No return address. Can't do anything about it.

And now I've got something for "Gloria ." Who? Return address is Santa's Workshop, so I'm guessing this is some kind of Christmas letter that was arranged for Gloria, but they got the address wrong.

How? It is specifically my address (I'm in the first flat so get given mail to this number). Someone things that these people are living in my flat. Somehow are here even though no-one but me has been around for three or more years...

Anyone know of a service to find out who's listed as living at my home?


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Tuesday, 22 December 2009


Yes, that's right, I've seen the latest special effects film. Let's not pretend here, that's the reason people are going to see it, nothing to with the plot, the characters, the originality, all of which are missing, but for the effects.

The idea is that Great White Man saves the Noble Savage... and that's about it. (Go see Overthinking for a great piece written before the film's release about why this film will suck.) So much for that. And yes, the characters are as superficial.

But at least we have lots of lovely CGI, which we haven't seen before. Oh, hang on, we have! Cameron had to wait for nearly a decade for the effects to be affordable, but in the intervening time, it's not like we haven't had CGI epics already on our screen. And before he started planning the movie as it happens. Because, no matter how good the computer created creatures (including the Navajo... I mean, Na'Vi) are... they are still computer created, and they obviously are. I'm not sure what is so innovative about this that we are supposed to go 'wooo', but it's not for the seamless way the effects blend together.

(And I would also like to complain about the evolution of the species. Major 'themes' of this picture are savage vs coloniser, religion vs science, nature vs machine, and one better hope for an intelligent designer because I'm highly skeptical they could have developed so integrated together. Oh, and adding another pair of fore-limbs does not a credible alien monster make.)

Apparently one should see this in 3D, not in 2D. Yet another reason that the point of this movie is the effects...


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Monday, 21 December 2009

Power Brokers

Episode two sees us violating the principle of the universe. How you get more powerful is by killing. But what happens when you don't kill? Or, alternatively, when you don't get the chance. (Mooks don't count. Some of them probably died, but eh...)

I finally get to show up my "I don't care about your gun" ability, but in the second fight the big scene goes to Captain Star who gets to meet his nemesis (other than the Space Nazis!). Oh, and I am basically absent from the beginning scene for in character reasons... although not necessarily silent.

The files can be downloaded as a zip from my RapidShare account (Episode 1 updated to include a similar file).


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Sunday, 20 December 2009

There and Back Again

There is a video going around at the moment that is a zoom out from Tibet to the edge of the universe and back again... and here is The Known Universe:

But this isn't the only example around. A classic video is Power of Ten, which changes a power of ten each ten seconds, and not only goes out but goes in as well.

And that's not the only one, behold the Cosmic Zoom:


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Saturday, 19 December 2009

Planetoba 51

Another company, Spanish this time, throws its hat into the animation ring with a wee piece that has been described as a "reverse ET".

The idea is an amusing one: human spaceman comes to a planet, fails to look out his window to see that it is inhabited, and goes out to have hilarious adventures! Fortunately, the planet atmosphere is the same as earth, and the aliens speak English and have exactly the same motivations as any other coming of age teen movie. Which is what it really is. So you know the guy-alien-thingy will end up with the girl-alien-thingy.

The message is about the unknown. You can tell this, because the movie comes to a screeching halt to deliver it! The unknown in this case is outer space and aliens, and the movie has many references to 1950s sci-fi paranoia, and more recent movies (I won't mention Ripley, as everyone else has).

While the plot isn't up to much, it's still a fun movie. Fortunately the named actors don't get in the way, although Jessica Biel tries to hard to comes across as (literally in this case) the girl next door. (Although John Cleese is eminently noticeable, but then he's playing the Evil Bad Guy.)

I'd say... check it out if you happen to be there, but not something to go otu of your way to watch.


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Thursday, 17 December 2009

TW: Consequences

Here we go, the biggest Torchwood book this year, no less that five authors have combined their stories to bring you... Torchwood: Consequences!

This book promised to span over Torchwood's history, and completely fails to live up to that very basic premise. The first story, The Baby Farmers by David Llewellyn, is set in Torchwood early years, where it is run by those two women, with Jack recently joined them, and a Mr Gaskell, whose notable feature is, according to the story, that he is black. None of the stories in this book can really develop due to limited size, and considering that this is in the past, it is disappointing that we don't get more than them going around and solving the situation presented... and not much more. Certainly no character development worth discussing...

So, on to the next story. Maybe with George and Harriet? Or in the 1950s? Or even, if we must, with Suzie? Nope. Kaleidoscope by Sarah Pinborough is set between series one and two, and focusses on the team without Jack. The story is a nice character piece, developing the team dynamic and the one off character Danny, but I can't help feel that the very ending is off. A point is made that Jack would have caught the human factor, but wasn't the whole point of Gwen that she brought in the human factor because the rest of the team missing it?

But never mind, as we are onto The Wrong Hands by Andrew Cartmel, who takes the bold step of having the team as they are after the last book. That's right, no more Torchwood historical teams, we're in the same setting as the previous pair of books. Sigh. And aside from a plot point at the end of this story, not much to talk about there either.

That plot point does feed into Virus by James Moran, who forgoes anything storywise to go for an Ianto action piece. Nice change of pace, but realistic? He's the coffee boy!

At the end, we have Consequences by Joseph Lidster, who goes for tying together many elements from the books, mainly in the form of Nina Rodgers. We get a little of an outsider perspective to the activities of Torchwood, but as to the explanation of what's going on... I'm sure it's supposed to be very meta, and contextual, and other things that mean much to English literature students, which I am not. So rather disappointing.



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Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Power Brokers

With Heroic Cthulhu on hiatus (no, I haven't not been posting up stuff, as there has been no stuff to post up), it was likely I would have had my Saturdays free. But Travis has stepped up and offered to GM myself and others in a new game, using the system Mutants and Masterminds.

The campaign is called Power Brokers. Ten years ago multiple realities merged, bringing many new peoples together, and unleashing powers. My character was in a normal reality, but since gained powers of strength and hitting. To make him not just a brick, he also cares about animals. Introducting: Smackdown.

Our first episode was last week, and the files are available for listening. Although I recorded and processed these, got something wrong and they are slower than normal. Use something like VLC or similar to kick it up 5%-10% and it's fine.

Lady Bug: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six.

A correctly sped version can be downloaded in a zip file from my RapidShare account. (This was done at 32 bit rate. Should still be fine quality wise.)


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Tuesday, 15 December 2009

It's a Musical... Commentary!

You remember Dr. Horrible Sing-A-Long Blog? Sure, we all do! But did you get the DVD? And listen to the commentary? And that commentary? If you didn't... check it out on Youtube! (No idea if this legal or not, but while it's around...)

That was song one, check out part two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen... or just go to the Commentary TheMusical channel.

(And here are the lyrics.)


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Monday, 14 December 2009

Headsmack! No, not a UFO...

Big news for New Zealandarians! You may have seen one of the giant spacecraft orbitting the earth!

Or maybe a rocket. It's hard to tell. "The foundation's South Island spokeswoman, Val Parker, a former Timaruvian, said "there are two versions – believe what you like"."

Yeah... two versions. One in which there are giant spacecrafts orbitting the earth, which you can take pictures of by photographing the sunset and making up images in the picture...

Or the version in which a rocket spun out of control. Which Russian Defence Ministry has admitted happened. Which the Bad Astronomer called even before they admitted it!

Which, in fact, happened again! This time with video:

Yeah... two versions... insert your own crazy joke here, they already did...


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Saturday, 12 December 2009

TW: The Undertaker's Gift

Took a while, but I got around to the second book: The Undertaker's Gift by Trevor Baxendale.

Torchwood are to blame for not taking care of the twenty-first century, and so are bestowed with the Undertaker's Gift. And that's not the only problem going on. As a story, it's mainly all action, with one thing or another getting in the way, and there's lot's of cutting between people and various menaces that have to be fought...

And hardly any character development, aside from some for some of the extras. However, given that in previous book "character development" was taken to mean "here's more badly delivered exposition about their backstory", I'm not complaining. Indeed, nice to have a book that just got on with things.

There is a mention of Risk Assessment, but understandably Baxendale ignores that ending (and would have been unlikely to deal with it unless there was a lot more collaboration between the authors). However, with the events heating up in this book, I was beginning to wonder if the style of this set of books was 'let's do what we want, never mind the TV continuity' (no idea how much of Children of Earth the authors had seen when they developed their stories). To get around his events, Baxendale gives us a very heavy handed plot device that just is too convenient to set well with the rest of the story, and instead feels like an idea he had that he wanted to use, but couldn't fit into the story properly.

Character wise, the regulars are not that deep, fitting in with the more action focused story, and we get two main extras who are given some depth. It's a fine balance between developing them and having a book with Torchwood in it, and Baxendale does get close to the edge. But I had somewhat forgotten them by the end...

A decent run-around, and a good escapist read.


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Friday, 11 December 2009

It's happening here, too

Currently the main picture story over on Stuff: 'No God' campaign arrives.

This has been making headlines overseas. The simple idea: bus slogan reads "There is probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life." What could be wrong with that? Free speech and all that.

It's amazing how many religion groups (other places where this advert screened) complained, basically, "hey, they can't say that! They can only say our religious message!" Most of the comments that I've skimmed are supportive of this, as a free speech issue. We don't have the hardcore religosity that other countries have. Although no doubt Destiny Church might get asked. Oh, and Bob McCoskrie too.

[As you might suspect, I'd prefer a stronger term than "probably", although one can't prove the negative that there is no god anywhere...]

Other interesting reactions are complains to advertising authorities, pushing legislation, and some bus drivers refusing to drive a bus where this slogan is promoted.

To get your chance at helping this outrage, go over to and donate.


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Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Rogue Trading 3

While repairing our ship at Footfall, some of our crew stirred up trouble in the local population, which caused us grief. Finding the perpetrator wasn't too much of a problem for our Seneshal, leaving us only with the option of what to do with him. Death quick and easy? Long and painful? Eventually, we decided to garner favour with the locals by handing him over to them for their justice. The little tick should be glad we didn't do worse to him.

With the ship repaired, we continued out to our destination of Magoros, and found there two planets, one icy, one desert, and a ring of asteroids. Visiting the ice planet first, we found the remains on an ork ship crashed into xeno-archaic ruins, and in those ruins the remains of a power grid that was beaming remnants of power to the other planet.

Switching planets, we tracked the beam to the north pole, but couldn't land there due to turbulent air, so settled down and had to walk in (not a particularly pleasent experience for me). Nearing the goal, some kind of ruin, we came across the woman who had attempted to steal from us earlier, now caught up in a squabble with some orks. We were tempted to leave her to it, but then decided it would be good for her to owe us a favour.

There were, however, very many orks. While others took pot shots, I tried to go in an intimidate them with my mighty Navigator-ness [go Lidless stare]. I did quite well with a first glaring, that I tried to do it again... but over-exerted myself and passed out. However, I was only the first of many to do so, with one of my shipmates doing so instead of dying [bye-bye Fate Point]. And, indeed, the woman we came to rescue ended up no more. With all but one of us down for the count, the one remainder drew the orks away, leaving us to be scooped up by the Teleportarium...

[That fight was rather unbalanced. Indeed, the whole adventure hasn't been that good. It's an example adventure, designed to show off various parts of the system. So far it's called for a lore skill none of us have (and can only be gotten if you happen to pick the right background option). It's put us in ship-to-ship combat that nearly destroyed us (with some initial excellent rolls from the GM). And then it put us up against twelve armoured, unnaturally tough creatures. Frankly, TPK was well possible... I hate to see what the final fight/scene will be!]

[But I will say that having now seen the Critical Hit tables, they are very amusing, and remind me of the Rolemaster ones...]


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Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Wanting to Want to Believe

No, it doesn't take me weeks to read the next Torchwood book. Instead, I've been distracted by reading a tome by Robert Shearman. All about his opinions of the X-Files.

This isn't a discontinuity guide of any kind. There are episode synopses, written by Lars Pearson, but the point of the book is an opinion piece by Shearman for every X-Files episode. And every Millennium episode. And every Lone Gunman episode. All as a lead to review The X-Files: I Want To Believe movie.

This makes for very entertaining reading. Shearman is good at writing reviews, and could easily produce many volumes of his reviews for Doctor Who. (A small sampling of those were published in previous TSVs.) Hopefully, the full set will see the light of day some time...

As every, with reviews, I don't agree with everything he says, but he does make many insightful comments, and certainly you'll see many episodes in a new light. Not that, admittedly, I'm wanting to rewatch the series again, but if I ever do...

Definitely a book to pick up if you want to read reasoned thinking about every episode of a groundbreaking series.


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Monday, 7 December 2009


Since this was recommended during my science fiction movie education, I finally got around to checking out The Prestige. The premise? Wolverine and Batman face off in the grudge match fight of the century we've all been waiting for. [Now, there's slash fiction I don't want to know about!]

Well, maybe not those two characters, but certainly it's Hugh Jackman versus Christopher Bale, as two magicians who snipe at each other after one of them leads to the death of the wife of the other. (And, while watching it, it is pretty clear what those circumstances were.) The back and forth goes on, as they try to one-up each other magically, finally leading to the greatest trick of all of going in one door and out the other.

(To be honest, it wasn't that hard to work out what was going on. Certainly, I picked up on it pretty early on, and far before the final "reveal" which told me nothing new.)

The problem I had with this movie was that neither of the two leads were likable, so I wasn't rooting for one of them to win out over the other. The movie gets pretty obvious as to who the hero is supposed to be by the end, but I'm not accepting it. Frankly both men got their hands dirty, so there is definitely no moral ground to be had, and it's only because of one of them having a familial connection that we are meant to take that connection as the win.

In all, the movie takes far too long to get to the big revelation, which the audience is already ahead of, and the ending leaves a bad taste in the mouth anyway. Watch with caution.


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Sunday, 6 December 2009

Would I Lie To You?

A world where no-one lies does give rise to some interesting possibilities. We do get a lot of social interactions which are amusing as people spend most of their time with facial observations, but it's really typified by the television. Ads are truthful, but there are no programs which are not documentaries, most of which are presented by someone reading the information (as there can be no actors pretending to be people they are not).

But I do wonder how humanity could have reached basically the present age like that. Mating rituals can't have developed into dating, and people know immediately if there is a chance or not, and given the number of arguments people get into anyway when the truth is involved, people would have to have been far more forgiving that given here.

However, given this world, we get the one chap who can lie. ("Invention"? Or "discovery"? Or "development"? Or "The genetic aberration that leads to the ability"... but that one might be a bit long.) What we get is, given this is only a 90 minute movie, some quick indications of what might happen. More interesting television for one. And more social lubricant along the lines of platitudes... which leads to a different take on religion.

Ultimately, this is still a movie that is a romantic comedy, so we have to see the two leads get together. However, there is a huge flaw with this movie, in that "truthness" is associated with "stupidity", and so the only rounded character is Mark (Ricky Gervais) and everyone else seems like a moron, including the lead Anna (Jennifer Garner), so that anyone would want to be with her other than for physical reasons (and the truth talking people do indicate that is the only reason to want her) is an ask too much. Thus, the basic template falls.

Ricky Gervais movies tend to be a bit of a struggle to get into, and while they can be enjoyed superficially, there is a lack of ultimate depth. This one is no exception.


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Friday, 4 December 2009

Target Australia: 2025

Have you seen the work the Taskforce 2025 has come up with? They are looking at closing the GDP gap between us and Australia (ranking wise) by the year 2025.

They have a number of recommendations, which can be found in summary in their Summary Report. The basic idea is: less taxes, but commensurately less spending by the Government.

Highlights include:

* Cuts to health, including cuts to subsidizing doctor visits and prescription drugs.
* Cuts to subsides in education.
* Pushing out New Zealand Superannuation.

* All tax rates (personal, company, trust) to 20%.

* Government to sell off services if they are in a competitive market.

* The 90 Day probationary period for new employees to be pushed out to 12 months.

Really? This might be what we need to do, but is this a good thing from the "average Joe" perspective? More costs to education and doctors. More chance for the private sector to price hike. More chance for the private sector to use disposable people...

To be honest, if some of these are implemented, I'm thinking "political suicide". But take a look at the documents and decide for yourselves.


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Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Imagine Doctor Parnassus

Big fan of Terry Gilliam, so definitely had to check out his latest pic. Love Brazil, but have to admit not much love for The Adventures of Baron Munchhausen. And, unfortunately, this movie is more the latter than the former.

The concept of the movie is that the Master came to Logopolis and silenced all the Logopolitans. (Seriously, this is totally the same plot.) In this case, the Monitor goes on to have many rematches against the Master, and finally ends up with a kid that he makes a final bargain over to save her from him (much like Nyssa!). The bet involves creating Block Transfer Computation realities and seeing if people can see their way through the recursive occlusions. Or something like that.

Christopher Plummer spends a lot of time hidden behind his false beard, Andrew Garfield hasn't heard of subtlety, Verne Troyer has fun, Lily Cole has a rather thankless role to act, but Tom Waits steals every scene (even ones he's not in!).

Okay, let's talk Heath Ledger. Not that impressed by his performance, prefer his previous role. And as for the other Heath Ledgers, Johnny Depp is good, Colin Firth is all right, but Jude Law is the least Heath Ledger of them all.

But what we really want to see are gloriously hugely imagined set pieces, and the movie takes far too long to get there and doesn't have enough of them. Frankly, I want more Gilliam here, but don't think I got enough.

Definitely have to see this on the big screen, but I'm not going to rate this as the best Gilliam movie ever. (That's stil Brazil.)


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Tuesday, 1 December 2009

That Was It

Work was over, it was cheap, had a good review, so I popped by the cinema to check out the last ever Michael Jackson work This is It.

And this is as close as I'll ever get to an MJ concert. Basically, it is the rehearsal footage, edited together with the filmed sequences, to replicate a filmed concert experience of the intended concert. In that regards, it works. It also has scattered about various brief clips of the various performers saying how excited they are to be working with MJ.

Say what you like (and his nose did keep distracting me), the man knew how to put on a concert. And had a lot of energy, keeping up with various other performer who were likely half his age. (That said, he's not the only 50 something putting on concerts with younger dancers.)

It would definitely have been an impressive performance, with various classic pieces, including a tribute to the Jackson 5, and a nice slowed down remix of "The Way You Make Me Feel".

If you like MJ, or at least don't mind him, or want to see a concert come together, this is an entertaining way to spend two hours.


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Monday, 30 November 2009

A tale of the sea!

Finally woke up to a clear blue sky last morning, so I took advantage of the weather to head out on the semi-open sea. By which I mean, I took a habour trip on the East by West ferry. Ah, the smell of the ocean sea... overwhelmed by the smell of the boat. The fresh sea water... sprayed into one's face... bliss...

Wellington certainly looks different out on the waves. For example, small and far away.

(More pics after the jump.)

Head around Oriental Bay...

Then out around Mount Crawford... [huh, no Wiki page]

Head into Seatoun...

(Avoid the open sea!)

(That's Seatoun on the right, and Pencarrow Head [known for its lighthouse] on the left.)

Then past Marako/Ward Island...

To Day's Bay... [next to Eastbourne]

Then over to Somes' Island / Matui...

(That's Mokopuna Island on the right.)

Pop over to Petone...

Then back to Wellington...

Hey, I can see my work from here! (It's in there, honest.)


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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Rogue Trading 2

[Something I should point out: this is the adventure that's in the main RPG book, so read on only if you don't want spoilers for that.]

So we had this map, but not sure where it was. We tried looking up in the ship's library. Fail. We go looking for map makers. Fail. We check with people on the ship. Fail. We go looking for people with knowledge. After a fail... not fail.

We find out we are heading for Winterscale's Realm, and a particular area therein. First task: get to the general area. This involves going through... The Maw...

Starts well by encountering a warp eddy, which we drive straight into. [Man, we suck. As first level characters, there are very few roles we are successfully making.] However, most of us are fine, and any ill effects pass.

We stop at several way stations, until we hit the Battleground, where we hear a trap... I mean, "salvation beacon". Yeah, it's not a trap. Honest. So we head out there and set off the trap... I mean, the... no wait, it is a trap!

We meet two raiders and a limpet mine coming for us. They get in some lucky early shots and nearly blow us away [only not so by being confused by the rules]. We fails to blow them up, and decide to run away and pretend to be dead. This seems to work, and we limp to the end of the Maw, and get to Footfall. And, for now, we stay there to repair our ship and recrew, although it is slow going. [Sigh, crappy, crappy low skills...]


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Tuesday, 24 November 2009

SJA: The Gift

Hang on, I've seen this before. The Claws of Axos... or The Seeds of Death. Or...

The Blathereen are back, and they are the good guys! Hang on, no they aren't, as they haven't been whenever they've previously appeared, including on previous SJA episodes!

And in no way did they act suspiciously, saying that if SJA and co were going to scan the plant to do so immediately, and that it would turn Earth into a rich and fertile land... for them!

It's just... so obvious. Is this a first time script from Rupert Laight? Has he never seen a previous SJA episode? Has he never seen any Doctor Who episodes? It's just... so unimaginative!

Even the cast isn't bringing anything new to the table. And, to be honest, the Slitheen outfits are so overexposed, they really do not work. Them moving about is bad enough, but now eating too...

Then, we finally get to the ending, and... Elizabeth? Why did you agree to that? Seriously, you are above that...

The series enders have previously aspired to something better. There is no hint of aspiration to anything here.

Next time: Nope, no more SJA this year. Now we have to wait a whole month until the next DW! (Not counting Dreamland...)


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Monday, 23 November 2009

Pick your montage!

I found three!


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Sunday, 22 November 2009

TW: Risk Assessment

James Goss returns to writing Torchwood with a book by the name of Risk Assessment. He obviously liked the story far more than I did.

We are introduced to a new member of Torchwood, that of Miss Agnes Havershim, an assessor who is awakened when Torchwood faces an epic crisis to assess how well it is operating. Mention is made of the end of Torchwood One, but the arrival of Abaddon was nothing...

Which is one big problem that this book has. James clearly has this big idea about Agnes playing an important role, and there are many flashbacks trying to establish her character, but if she was really that important, she would have been around before, instead of this shoe-horned continuity. And it doesn't help that her character isn't likable. She's always smirking or smiling at odd times, a rather inappropriate reaction to the situations they face, which just make her stand out as an authorial creation that is forced to work.

And the situations are odd too. We start with something small, and the Vam crops up and looks to be the important menace of the book. Except that at the 70% mark, the story changes. Given that we aren't invested in this new character, and it revolves around her, it undercuts any sense that the character was credible as there is an attempt at a character as well as story shift. Neither works well. Then the resolution is just silly.

But then we get to the ending... the hell is up with that? It would make sense if the book is being continued, but it's not. At least, not as far as I am aware. Pretty conclusive ending, actually, in all regards, so I have no idea what either James or the book series editors were thinking letting it go through. Hopefully there is some explanation in The Undertaker's Gift, but I'm not expecting it.

Not a book I would readily recommend.


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Saturday, 21 November 2009

Paranormia Activity

American horror movies come in two variates. One is "really bad". The other is "good because it is ultimately a remark of a foreign film". Thus, you can colour me surprised when I found a film that fits into a third category: "good and actually American!"

Although it has been released into mainstream cinemas, Paranormal Activity was originally screened at a 2007 film festival. With a different ending. I don't want to give away the ending, and I haven't seen the retake, but I did like the original ending. It was very dark.

In fact, I liked the entire movie. It is, in a word, creepy. This movie is INCREDIBLY effective at building atmosphere. It is a very slow build, but it is very well done. And, note, it doesn't use background music. I know that can help, but I have an admiration for a story that can work without it (which is one reason I like The Krotons).

The plot is that there is a couple, and strange activities are going on in the house. Turns out that she's been experiencing them off and on over the years, and there is a certain feeling to the story that makes this read as a redo of The Exorcist, but it is distinct enough. We're not talking huge booms here, the effects are subtle, but very well done.

One word of caution: don't watch this right before going to bed. It's creepy enough in the middle of the day, and unsettling enough when watched then to make you jumpy at night, so as for watching it immediately before... that's a scare tactic, right there.

Definitely see this movie. Not sure how well the new ending plays, but also try to catch the original.


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Friday, 20 November 2009

2,012 Apocalypses

Yes, I finally saw the latest in disaster porn. Although the epic disaster we all wanted to see is interrupted Every Ten Minutes by the need for a Family Moment! Every! Ten!! Minutes!!!

Really, I went along to see things blow up, and smash, and crash and lots of deaths on a planet wide scale... and yet there was continual cutting to various families in order to drive home the humanity of the end of the world. I get that there is the intention to make it a more personal story, but that isn't why we went to the story. And yes, we were bored during the non-icing bits in Day After Tomorrow, and no-one cared about the non-aliens in Independence Day.

Of course, the main conceit of the movie is that the Mayans predicted the end of the world. No they didn't. It ends up with neutrinos mutating (no, they can't) and microwaving the inside of the planet (microwaves don't work like that). Which leads to multiple earthquakes, and rising tides that make one think of a certain Biblical story. Basically, yeah, the story is complete bollocks, and is merely an excuse for the kablooms. Certainly shouldn't be thought about or it will cause pain.

You've seen the trailer, you know what to expect, although you may get bored during the talky scenes...


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Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Ijjer's Tale, Story Ten

Venturing upstairs in tower, we see some corridors and doors. I send my newly acquired imp to look around, and we find large steel doors with two hobgoblin guards. We approach them, but instead of beating them up, tell them we are sent to replace them. For some reason, they believe us [go natural 1s to detect our lies!]. They take off, and we follow. When they get to the tower entrance and get reinforcements, then we attack. [Definitely need some better planning there.]

The battle goes on a while as we can't seem to hit very well (although I hit fine and deal out lots of damage). Eventually, we whittle them down to one guard, that surrenders. He tell us that Verminard (who runs the place and rides a dragon) is in discussion with Fewmaster Toad in nearby room, and his chambers are next to that. Also, there is another tower with women prisoners, children prisoners are in this tower and men are in mines. There is a mechanism that will protect the city by placing large rocks and stuff in the way of the main gates.

Somehow, we realise that our plan should be to rescue the women and children, get the already rescued children, and then head to the men, triggering the rocks so that the armies coming through this place are slowed down. Or something. I wasn't paying attention, too busy talking to Imp-y-celyn [no-one got the reference. sigh].

Anyways, we go back to investigate the chambers, find some tapestries, some priceless items in a buffet [the cabinet, not the food spread], and some maps. And a trap that I completely fail to disarm. Ow.

Then we go after children. Which, on second thought, we should have done after getting other women out of other tower first. Oops. So we run into more draconians. Not that bad a fight [although a lot of misses]. For some reason, my compatriots annoyed when I kill one and as it explodes it hits them. Even though I in radius, I not hit, so don't know what they complaining about.

Unfortunately, one got away and called out to Flamestriker. Which seems to be name of old dragon guarding children. Guess we fighting him now...


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Tuesday, 17 November 2009

DW: The Waters of Mars

I really hope the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre do a take on this... Excessive spoilers below.

So, did the Doctor win? Have to say, getting the TARDIS to save them was an obvious move, so long as people thought that they all died on Mars. But then he had to be nice...

As a base under siege, there's a lot of time not being under siege, even while under siege. The threat of the water creatures is really low key, and it isn't until they get on top of the base there's really a credible risk at all. In many ways, the water creatures aren't the point of the story, just something set up to look scary for "good television". Instead, it's about how this is a fixed point in time, and about the Doctor becoming the Time Lord Victorious. Any danger would have met that criteria. And I do wonder how comfortable that prosthetic was to wear, will have to see what the Confidential reveals.

In that regard, Adelaide Brooke isn't so much a companion as a cipher for the Doctor's need to rescue someone. While she's a typical Rusty "strong woman" figure, there isn't much else she's there for than to inspire others. And that bit with the Dalek was silly, in that the Daleks were there to wipe out all creation, what's that going to do with preserving a future fixed time point? And as for her ending... that was stupid, really undercut the character. So she's mad at the Doctor, but what's done is done, and her killing herself is going to fix anything? Lindsay Duncan may be a good actress, and gets a good "humanity is great" speech near the beginning, but that was a terrible part.

Tennant shifts into a different gear as he tries to stick to preserving the time line, and ultimately gives it the finger. I might have been reading too many comics recently, but the whole Time Lord Victorious thing does smack of a "big event" to help sell issues... I mean get in viewers. The regeneration doesn't have to be epic, but Rusty's clearly decided to go out in a big issue celebration.

Any power The Waters of Mars has a scary story is destroyed by the sudden looming plot thread that takes over at the end. Had that aspect been toned down, this would have been better, but instead it is reduced to serving as a prologue to the coming two-parter.

Next time: really bad hair!


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Monday, 16 November 2009

SJA: Mona Lisa's Revenge

Depressingly not very good.

The Mona Lisa is alive, and it's up to the three kids, and their dog, to save the day! Never have we had an episode that is so basically a Scooby Doo script as this one. Just lucky, I suppose, that it didn't turn out to be Old Man Hadders in disguise!

Was Elizabeth Sladen off filming something else better? Or was SJS just not needed for this story? (Clearly not.) Did she lament a thin script, or was she glad that she wasn't in this disaster?

A lot hinged on getting Mona Lisa right, and Suranne Jones didn't. Not sure if it was the direction, a bad actress, or the lack of eyebrows, but at no time was I enjoying any scenes she was in. And as for the Abomination, there's a problem that was dealt with sooner than it was introduced.

Bad, bad script all round. Frankly, skip past it, and you won't regret it.

Next time: The Slitheen? Or possibly Blatheen, whatever. Meh.


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Sunday, 15 November 2009

I Get Spam

As before, I've been getting weird spam. This one is out there.

Who doesn't like Princess Diana? Moreover, who doesn't want to get money from her? Or from her memorial foundation? Oh, me! Fortunately, I can, because I'm a UK resident. Woo! (Again, some part of the email tucked away.

Date: Thu, 12 Nov 2009 00:29:56 -0500 (COT)
From: Diana Grant Award UK
To: [this address not to be harvested, unlike the one above]
Subject: Princess Diana Grant Award Beneficiary-/.

Attention: Grant Beneficiary

This is to bring to your information that your email has been randomly selected and approved as a charity grant beneficiary of THE DIANA MEMORIAL FOUNDATION in commiseration of 10th anniversary of the demise of the Princess Of Wales. You are awarded a grant sum of 3,550,000.00 GBP (Three Million Five Hundred And Fifty Thousand Great Britain Pounds) and for further instructions on how you are to put claim to your grant, you are to FORWARD a copy of this notice to our International Grants Officer as well as give him a call via contact details below:

Mr. James McArthur.
Tel: +44 703 184 3661
Fax: +44 871 263 9807

Congratulations once again from all staff of THE DIANA MEMORIAL FOUNDATION and it
is our hope that you will appreciate our gesture and that you be more involved
in charitable acts

Miss Helen Jones,


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Saturday, 14 November 2009

Capital-ism - A Wuv Story

The other day I caught the latest Michael Moore propaganda-piece, about how trying to earn a dis-honest buck is considered a bad thing, but at least we are switching to socialism now.

This story is told by extreme close up shots on people as they start crying, and short clips from old short educational films. This is journalism in action!

Okay, so maybe the entire movie isn't told in this fashion, but a few personal stories are used to tell the entire tale of how capitalism is wrong. It's not that simple... which is the point, for me. All these stories are interesting, but it comes down to that nothing is that simple.

The CEOs did lots of "bad things" to get more money, at the expense of other people, but it's not that simple. Legislation was pushed through to benefit the few instead of the many, but it's not that simple. President Obama has made many changes that are not favourable to those people, and the power is somewhat returning to the people, but it's not that simple.

With over two hours, Moore can't really get into details, and needs to show it as relatively simple (although there is a very amusing moment where people are attemping to explain derivatives).

It's worth watching, but does make you wonder how America manages to continue to survive as a major power...


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Friday, 13 November 2009

I Get Spam

Have to say that my email spam has been getting more creative of late. I thought I would share one with you, although "you are hereby warned not to communicate or duplicate this message to him for any reason what so ever as the U.S. Secret service is already on trace of the other criminals." Oooh...

That said, I'm not a US citizen, so not that inspired to obey the message. But have to give credit for sounding "reasonable" for citing the UN, refering to specific numbers and not directly asking for cash to be sent to them (not to mention repeating "€900,000 Euros"). Instead, we send contact details for methods of payment and "I shall feed you with further modalities as soon as I hear from you." Feed us indeed... and note the interesting spelling and such that all such UN agencies have... (Most of the email hidden on the main page, click for full email.)

[And, spam bots, feel free to harvest his addresses...]

Date: Wed, 11 Nov 2009 05:59:17 +0800
Subject: N/A

SCAMMED VICTIM/521 BENEFICIARIES REF/PAYMENTS CODE: 06654 €900,000.00 Euros ONLY This is to bring to your notice that I am a delegate from the United Nations to The IMF (International Monetary Fund) West Africa Regional Payment Office to pay 521 scam victims ?900,000 Euros (Nine Hundred Thousand Euros only) each.

You are listed and approved for this payment as one of the scammed victims to be paid this amount,get back to me as soon as possible for the immediate payments of your €900,000.00 Euros compensations funds.On this faithful recommendations, I want you to know that during the last U.N. meetings held at Madrid, Spain, it was alarmed so much by the world in the meetings on the lost of funds by various individual to scam artist operating in syndicates all over the world today.

In other to compensate these victims, the U.N Body is now paying 521 victims of this operators €900,000.00 Euros each in accordance with the U.N.recommendations.the payments are to be paid by UN officials sitting at IMF (International Monetary Fund) European Regional Payment Office as corresponding payment centre under funding assistance by United Nation body.

According to the number of applicants at hand, 284 Beneficiaries has been paid, all of the victims are from the United States, and we still have more 237 left to be paid the compensations of €900,000.00 Euros each. Your particulars was mentioned by one of the Syndicates who was arrested as one of their victims of the operations, you are hereby warned not to communicate or duplicate this message to him for any reason what so ever as the U.S. Secret service is already on trace of the other criminals. So keep it secret till they are all apprehended.

Other victims who have not been Contacted can submit their application as well for scrutiny and possible consideration. You can receive your compensations payments via.


Indicate your option and send your full Name and telephone number/your correct mailing address where you want us to send the compensation to.

To UN Representative: Dr Juan Marcus
Phone: +34-634025-345

I shall feed you with further modalities as soon as I hear from you.
Yours faithfully,
United Nation Representative.


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Thursday, 12 November 2009


As part of her Celebration, Madonna also had a second new single on the album. A "Revolver" featuring a Mr. Lil Wayne.

This video comes with lyrics although a few are suspect. Got up in the lobaright?

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Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Ijjer's Tale, Story Nine

We continued searching the undergrounds and came across a large crypt like area. Which was obviously full of zombies (as they attacked us). Although there were many, they weren't that impressive, and I killed most of them without really trying. (One tough one fell to a particularly excellent use of my command over the air [4ed has a rule of, for the lower zombies, a crit auto-kills them, useful for non-minions].)

Looking around afterwards, there was no loot (sad), but we did find secret door, which took us into a long passage that linked to where we had been before. Continuing around, the main door into the place shut, trapping us in with a gargoyle. A really annoying gargoyle, which, after I beat it down, turned into a statue so we couldn't damage it. We went back out the secret door and left it to its own devices.

Going out through the main doors of the crypt, we found another place with more secret door, and eventually to a large room with a chain in the middle of it. Lukan climbed up somewhat, but it didn't look interesting, so we ignored it.

Going on, we found another secret door, but then the gargoyle from before found us! It handed the bard's arse to him, but again it was me that killed it. [Very high AC. Very low reflex. Guess which I target. ;)]

Beyond secret door was cellar, and another door which we heard someone talk about a female and there were slapping sounds. [Go us and our maturity!] Realising it was the kidnapped Liana, we opened the door and starting dealing with the dragon-beasts beyond. Our job a lot easier when their own forces took them out. Heh. Two nearly got away, but I swooped in myself and Lukan, although then killed them myself. Go me.

We freed Liana, and other women prisoners. Found out we were in basement, that men prisoners working mine, and children with old dragon. Also room of Gully Dwarves, but we ignore them. After making sure women safe, we set out to free the men...


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Tuesday, 10 November 2009

HC Again

Been a while since I posted.

A few weeks ago we did a mod that was mostly lost when Logan's computer crashed. It was a CSI type case (based on Castle actually) and we totally solved it. Hear what remains of Fountain Redoux.

Then, as recently mentioned, we went on a Haunted House mod, because it was Halloween! Although, yes, it was haunted, it mainly consisted of it wandering around and getting semi-attacked by spirits and getting absolutely nowhere at all. So no surprise it was just Cold Spot Part 1 of 2.

Thus, last weekend, we continued with Part 2. Although it looked like we would continue to spin it out into a Part 3, we failed to do so by actually doing something that could broadly be interpreted as solving the mission. Not helped by me being distracted by Flash Games. Cold Spot Part 2 of 2.


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Monday, 9 November 2009

SJA: The Eternity Trap

Basically... I enjoyed that!

SJS and co go to a haunted house... spooky! Although there are no such things as ghosts... not that the scientific explanation wasn't much more than hand waving anyway, and may as well have said 'ghosts' for all the explaining it did. Still, there are no ghosts in the Doctor Who Universe (fortunately, we can ignore the Ghosts of N-Space) and I'm sure that final obligatory shot was nothing more than a residual imprint from the stone tape (which got namechecked).

Haunted houses are always fun, and this reminded me of the haunted house mod I had just done the day before in my roleplaying (am tempted to turn this into a mod, but there are some parts that would not translate well). It was scary in concept, but not so much in execution (possibly to not scare the kiddies too much). Nicely done, without getting too ghastly. Clyde's continual bad jokes helped stop the tension building too high, and I mean that in a good way, this is supposed to be a light series not a horror/thriller show.

A lighter cast this time, with no Luke (had to do his GSCEs). Toby Silverman was an interesting character, although I'm not sure he'd survive in a larger role. Callum Blue was largely hidden behind a long wig, so much so that I completely failed to recognise him (otherwise seen in Dead Like Me and Secret Diary of a Call Girl). Donald Sumpter was a nice cast choice, but didn't really seem to get into the part.

On the whole, a good pair of episodes. While not brilliant, a cut above the general fare.

Next week: back to generic looking episode...


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Sunday, 8 November 2009

Singing Sparkly Vampires

What could possibly make Twilight bearable? Making it into a musical! Part 1 sets things up, but it isn't until Part 2 that we get Edward.

Go check out the installments of Twilight - The Musical!


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Saturday, 7 November 2009

The Internet is for... you know

You've all seen it, who hasn't? It's hilarious! Those WOW characters telling us what the internet is for...

But have you seen the original? It's from the musical Avenue Q.

Why not take some time out of your day and find out that Everyone's A Little Bit Racist. Or that If You Were Gay. And that It Sucks To Be Me. Or more!


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Thursday, 5 November 2009

Still Hungry?

One documentary I just caught was Food, Inc. It's a detailed look at where food comes from in America, looking at cattle, pork, chickens, corn, soybeans, and how corporate America has taken over and controlled it all, brought in a processing like mentality and dictates pretty much how everyone eats, regardless of buying fast food or from the supermarket.

Now, what I was watching, I applied the first rule of documentaries: not everything you see is the truth. Parts of it are undoubtedly true, but I'm not taking anything I saw at face value.

That said, it's a pretty ugly view of the food industry... for the people involved. For the corporations, where money is everything, everything is working fine. It's not nice, but this is how capitalism works, and if people vote with their dollars, it will change. But only if people care enough.

I emphasized America above as it isn't exactly the same here in New Zealand. Now, I'm no food expert, and have only what I bothered to google to find out, but we don't have a heavily subsidized corn industry here. We don't corn-feed cattle (we grass feed!). We... well, we probably do use pesticides as much, and have an organic industry relatively as strong as over there. What else we do or don't have I'll let enthused commentators post on.

(On the organic front, I don't listen to their 'anti-pesticide', etc, diatribes. We've been cultivating so much food ourselves that the food in the organic farmers hand is just as modified from "natural" as genetically modified food, just that GM'ed food is more direct about it.)

Interesting documentary, although not quite as impactful here. And, afterward, I went out and had chicken for dinner.


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Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Rogue Trading 1

[As threatened, we have started a Rogue Trader campaign, which I have no knowledge of. Since none of us had a manual, we spent the first few hours generating our character. Yay us!

I had the idea I wanted to be a Navigator. From there, I worked out, using the matrix, the rest of my character path, namely that I am from an Imperial World, am a Savant, am Chosen by Destiny, had a Dark Voyage, and am seeking Prestige.

However, then I find out that Nagivators are Mutants. And I am from a Renegade House, which is extra Mutant! Turns out I have a bloated form and membranous growths. Lovely...

Characters are:
Darius, a Rogue Trader
Sebastian, Navigator [Me!]
Juron(?), Arch-Militant
(can't recall), an Explorator

And then we started the adventure...]

We docked at Port Wanderer, on the edge of the Koronus Expanse, and receive word that someone that worked for our Rogue Trader's family was here and wanting to talk to us, meeting us in the market area. We head in, with the gun guy looking for a new pistol. He does find something useful for him, and we find our contact.

He had an item handed down from the grandfather of Darius, which he handed over to Darius, which promptly opened up revealing an astropath stone that I could use to find some lost ship of booty he told us about (I didn't pay much attention). However, as he did that, a bird that belonged to a woman that was following us swooped in and grabbed the stone. The indecency!

Everyone else responded with guns, but I tracked the bird, which dropped the stone (it being too much for its delicate body). Not that I got there first, mind you, but I was the one that grabbed the stone... and got a vision of a starfield for my trouble. Not that I know where it was. That would be something we could track down after we left the area, along with everything else. Our future adventure awaits!


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Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The Fourth Destination

Part of my science fiction education is about learning about the intent of the story. The bulk, however, it about the spectacle. While it's not science fiction in any interesting sense, The Final Destination (aka Final Destination 4) is certainly spectacle over anything else.

Certainly the plot is nothing original. Some people die, only they didn't due to someone getting a premonition, then they are killed off one-by-one in weird ways in the order they should have died. And they seem to escape, until...

Frankly, that could have been any of the movies. So let's talk interesting deaths instead! The scene is set with the opening titles showing (in x-ray vision) various deaths from earlier movies (which I recognised, sad to say), and then the new death kicks off at a car rally. To be honest, when seeing these gruesome moments, there is only really one reaction: laughter. It is so over the top, clearly so, that just give in a chuckle it up. When someone dies by a spinning tire knocking their head off, why not smile?

That said, this movie, like the prior ones, does push some deaths out too far. And by too far I mean boring. What happens to Hunt? Meh. And what happens to the mum is just a "get on with it!" scene. Sigh. So much death, so jaded.

Oh, yeah, and this is 3D as well. Can see some moments, but didn't do much for me.

This is definitely one of the shorter movies around at the moment. Amusing, if you like spectacle, but look for no substance here.


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Monday, 2 November 2009

SJA: The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith

My main issue with this story isn't Tennant, but the other recurring role...

Hey, it's the guy that was missing from last week! Yes, it's the Trickster. Note: that's pronounced. "Yes, it's <heavy sigh, continue in despondent voice> The Trickster."

But, this is the Wedding of Sarah Jane, so we should be happy for her. And Nigel Havers is a heck of a catch. But, to be honest, I think Clyde was on to a more interesting story if it turned out he was a con man. But this is SJA, so there are monsters involved. Moreover, this is the middle story so the Trickster is involved.

Really? I think we're done with him. If there is a series four, please, no Trickster. Please. Pretty please?

But, hey, at least there's the Doctor. Erm... yes... it was Tennant's last recorded acting as the Doctor, and I wouldn't say he phoned it in. But I might say he shouted it in through a megaphone while passing by in a car. Not his most valued portrayal, and, of course, he can't overshadow SJ and the kids.

Ah, well, let us bask in the presence of Nigel Havers. Good casting choice there.

Next Week: Oh, look, SJA meets The Stone Tape!


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Friday, 30 October 2009


Taking classes on science fiction mean that I now can't watch a movie without thinking about deeper meanings. Dammit. I want my shallow reading back! Case in point, last week we learnt about how science fiction questions "what does it mean to be human?" and then I've just watched Surrogates.

The main problem I have now is: what message was this movie trying to convey? The basic plot is fairly straightforward: everyone has a Surrogate, a robot they can plug into and go around their lives in. Someone has a gun that can destroy these machines, and the people running them. Who? And what will become of it?

And, as I intimated, what do Surrogates tell us about being human? The obvious conclusion there is: we don't want to face the world, which can hurt us, so hide behind Surrogates so we can be protected. Which doesn't take away the pain, just helps us hide from it. This is exemplified by the "arc" of Tom (Bruce Willis) and Maggie (Rosamund Pike) who are hiding from the death of their son. This point is made well in a "show don't tell" way, but this does mean the rest of the movie gets in the way.

And it isn't quite clear what the rest of the movie is supposed to be. James Cromwell is the creator of the Surrogates, although is split from the company now, but I kept flashing back to I, Robot in which he was one of the robot creators and also trying to get humanity away from them. Very similar theme here and there. It's not that the Surrogates are bad, but they need to be dealt with, so we can return to our humanity.

After that point is made, the rest of the movie gets in the way, and just pads it out. I'm not one to denigrate action sequences, but they didn't add much to the narrative. It's not even ninety minutes, but in some ways it could have been even shorter (don't know how the comic plays out).

An adequate movie with a message that could have been delivered quicker.


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Wednesday, 28 October 2009

The Chronicles of Risan: Part the Thirty-Fourth

We looked out at the huge area, facing a god in chains and a myriad of creatures trying to get through those chains to free it. Three chains had already been ripped out, and it was up to us to close those tears (well, it was up to Reed to close those tears, and up to us to protect Reed so he could close those tears).

There were medium creatures. There were large creatures. There were even huge creatures. Two Eldritch Giants, to be precise. The only thing we could do was big our first tear, and go for it. With the warlock/wizard blocking our rears, we moved in, and initially seemed to do well. Then one creature laid down a zone [oh, there were so many zones], and all of a sudden we could do sod all. Obviously it had to die. Fortunately, I was the one that smacked its arse. Aside from one flying creature continually picking me up and dropping me from a great height, this part of the battle was over.

Two tears closed, one to go, and then three nasty demony things turned up, two of which were Aspects of Orcus. As a follower of the Raven Queen, I'm not in favour of Orcus, so they were my preferred targets. That said, it was the other creature we focused on, with its two-headed-ness. Not fun, and took a while, but we concentrated and smacked it down.

(Some time during that Reed closed the last tear and was transformed by the god he was channeling. Guess that will happen.)

After that fight, we found ourselves left in the chaining room, with no obvious way out. Well, except for the rituals two of us knew, and my new ability to walk us anywhere (and I mean anywhere).

I wonder what next Fate has for us?

[We'll be taking a break from these characters for a while to play some Rogue Trader. We will come back some time to finish off getting to level 30, but for now we'll rest from that...]


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Monday, 26 October 2009

Gorgeous Game

Check it out! From the makers of Samorost comes a new game, full blown, with 30 levels of puzzles to get though. Have a look at this.

Go check out: Machinarium!


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Sunday, 25 October 2009

SJA: The Mad Woman in the Attic

That's just... such a better script that Prisoner of the Judoon. Was that really Joseph Lidster?

In series one, the Trickster changed the past. In series two, the Trickster changed the past. In series three... what? No the Trickster? Instead we are in the future and Rani has managed to wipe out everyone else. But how? How?? HOW???

This is, it has to be said, a great script! It is centred on Rani and she is integral to the story and it's a very human thing that leads to the problem. I'm not sure how well the kiddies will deal with it (the first part is rather darker than typical), but it was very well done and the second part was amazingly positive. (Again? This is from Joseph Lidster? Really?)

The positiveness continues with happy performances, especially from Eleanor Tomlinson as Eve (this is one episode I would like to see the behind-the-scenes material). Souad Faress is a terrific Old Rani, picking up on small traits that Anjli Mohindra has put into her character. Also liked Brian Miller as Harry.

Amazingly impressed with how much this has lifted from the opener. Hopefully this quality will continue with the next episode and its specialty...

NEXT WEEK: He is coming...


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Saturday, 24 October 2009

Steve Berry Bah!

Having read and (broadly speaking) enjoyed Dan Brown, I thought I would give Steve Berry a go. The local library had three of his books, including his latest "The Alexandria Link", which I'd seen advertised on the back of buses, so they seemed to be the goer.

Oh dear. Dan Brown he ain't. He does have some puzzles and mysteries and connecting many ancient world object but he also tries to mix in action and doesn't manage to pull it off.

The first one I read was The Third Secret. It's about how one man goes on a journey to find out a secret, unraveling clues, until he comes across something that will shake the very foundations of Christianity. At the same time, there's a power play for an institution (the Papacy in this case) of a clearly bad man trying to get to the top.

The second one I read was The Templar Legacy. It's about how one man goes on a journey to find out a secret, unraveling clues, until he comes across something that will shake the very foundations of Christianity. At the same time, there's a power play for an institution (the Templars in this case) of a clearly bad man trying to get to the top.

See what I did there? Yep, they are basically the same book. The second one introduces his hero du author of Cotton Malone. However, there was a problem which started in the first book, and got worse in the second. I got bored. By the end of the first book I was scanning pages. By the second I was skimming them.

The third book was The Alexandria Link, which was about Cotton Malone finding out something that will shake the very foundations of Christianity. And there was also a power play. At least, I think so. I really wasn't paying too much attention as I flipped the pages. Never has a book been read so fast, and by 'read' I meant 'had the pages flipped while pretending to take it in'.

He looks to be a very popular author, with much acclaim and many books to his name, but can't say I'm waiting for his next blockbuster...


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Thursday, 22 October 2009


Another month, another WARGS, another Shadowrun mission! Not as many people playing as last time, although quite a few people did turn up, but those board games were just too popular.

In the mission, we had the hard task of helping someone deliver a truck. Woo! Although we did start with combat, which took ages... just too many people doing lots of things, with lots and lots of dice rolling. Hey-ho. Not too much from me as I don't do combat.

Anyway, back to the truck, it seemed so simple. It was a truck. There was grain. And there was someone else who wanted it. And people who didn't. At least there was some cybercombat this time, before it ended rather abruptly.

Not too hard, and not too much monies either. Sigh.


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Tuesday, 20 October 2009

SJA: Prisoner of the Judoon

The Sarah Jane Adventures are back, and this time in a slap-stick run around with Paul Kasey in a large bulky costume... which isn't necessarily a unique descriptor...

A Judoon crash lands while escorting a prisoner, and now they all have to hunt the prisoner down. But not before it displays some remarkable powers and turns Sarah Jane into her evil twin. Or, at least, her twin with a bad rictus grin.

I doubt I'll make friends when I say: Elizabeth Sladen can't do evil. It just comes across as creepy, and not in a good way. Bad creepy just makes her seem like she doesn't know how to act the part. That said, she could do with turning down the endearing side a notch, but going into the dark side didn't work either.

The rest of the cast are their usual good selves, with the parents getting into absolute hilarity as they run around the building!... oh wait, that's not necessarily a good thing. And Paul Kasey didn't come across as 100% comfortable lugging that outfit around. Also we have guest star Terence Maynard, whom I know I've seen in something else, but can't remember what (maybe Revolver? Doubted I remembered that much of it.).

SJA is back, and not with an amazing episode, but one that is typical.

NEXT TIME: Oh, a bad wish episode. Ho hum.


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Monday, 19 October 2009

HC Again

More HC. Due to Pete having problems, I'm in charge, and this time I can do what I want, as it concerns the building. I put the new guys through the riddles, but they don't do to well. And then I get to advance my own agenda, although with a minor modification. Don't get that much successfully done, though. Building Fun.

Then we go into a normal mission, where two of us (including me) are on a No Brainer. (What can I say? I enjoy The Mentalist!) I don't pay that much attention, although still manage to work out who was responsible (although whether it was because I remembered, or did work it out, I can't say), but didn't say anything. Burn the Witch Redoux.


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Moon shot

It was screened during the film festival, then went on to an extended screening at The Paramount. Which I'm glad, as it gave me a chance to see Moon. I've heard good things about it from other sources, so was looking forward to catching it some time.

It's about a guy, on the Moon, who is the sole person crewing a station that extracts energy (in the form of H3) from the dark side and sends it back to Earth. He suffers and accident and only he can save himself. (I don't want to reveal more.)

It has to be said that it is very well shot, but again I don't want to go into details. We've come a long way, baby, in terms of effects.

While it's definitely science fiction, it's not what I was expecting (not that I knew too much about what the movie was about). There is an interesting backstory that plays out, although some elements of the story were obvious (I'm not sure how much they were supposed to be obvious, but some were). Didn't make the story less enjoyable though, just minorly irritating over points that the characters were slow on picking up on.

Sam Rockwell has the lead as Sam Bell, and he has a lot of work to do, and does it very well. I had a problem with Gerty the robot, in that I didn't hear Gerty's voice so much as heard Kevin Spacey as Gerty's voice, if you can get the difference. (It's an issue I sometimes have with voice overs by big name actors.) The other main lead was also well played.

Definitely take the opportunity if you have it and see this movie.


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Friday, 16 October 2009

The FAQs about Time Travel

Very interesting movie came out earlier this year, and it's British, so you know it's got an actual story. Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel is about... well... time travel. And having a pint in a pub.

In particular, three guys find themselves having a few problems with time, and the story gets more convoluted from there. The best thing about this movie is that it shows that if you plan things properly, you can get away with many moments of crossing ones own timeline, which happens more than once. This seems to the Jamie Mathieson's first film (according to IMDB), and it's something any of us would like. By us, I mean us sci-fi (it's "science fiction") fans, but it's light hearted, not an angsty "how can I let this happen?" pic.

Stars are Chris O'Dowd (IT Crowd), Dean Lennox Kelly ("Banished like a tinker's cuss, I say to thee...") and Anna Feris. (Very amusing line "Little bit weird, but ummm... turns out everybody in the future, American.")

Should definitely be checked out!


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Thursday, 15 October 2009

First Flight of Green Lantern

Finally got around to watching the WB Animation's take on Green Lantern: First Flight. It's Hal's origin story, and has some elements from the actual comics, but by and large is a 'retake' on most of it. (It isn't the first story, nor is it Emerald Dawn (still have to see the live action movie to see how well they do that).)

Hal gets the ring, is taken to Oa, and has to help Sinestro deal with the threat of the yellow element. With that set up, those in the know can tell where it's going, but still not the standard take on Qward by any means. Have to say, it's not really that ambitious, in that the plot is rather obvious and it's largely a matter of waiting for it to play out and the final fight to happen. It's still enjoyable, but they don't do that much with Sinestro unlike, say, Emerald Dawn II.

Speaking of things they don't do: the rings are all powered off the central battery, so there is no "recharge eery 24 hours off the local battery" moments. This means the oath is missing, although they still find a great moment at the end to recite it. Also while there is the "yellow impurity", it isn't the show stopper it is in the comics. It makes the Lanterns a little more vulnerable, but nothing like "cannot affect anything yellow". Meh. Kinda undercuts the power of getting control of the yellow element.

The production is standard, in that the characters are drawn with a wide brush, and everything is well produced. Some big names, such as Tricia Helfer as Brodika, and Michael Madsen (as soon as I saw the name, I thought 'he'd be a good Kilowog') as Kilowog. Didn't recognise the main actors, but their voices worked well. (Also a cameo by Olivia d'Abo as Carol Ferris.)

I picked up the two-disc version. On disc one are 10 minute bits about other movies (would have liked to see the same for this movie). On disc two are some other Green Lantern bits, mainly about the current comic arcs (which I am completely not paying attention to), and some special Green Lantern related cartoons. One is a two-parter from Justice League Unlimited, with a very over-bulked John Stewart (although there is an amusing moment where Hal Jordan shows up). The other is a Duck Dodgers cartoon, the Green Loontern, which, I have to say, as a 22-minute cartoon, is a more enjoyable take on Green Lantern that the movie was! Certainly written by someone who knew the comics, it hits all the high points and has many, many, many recognisable Lanterns. Neat. :)

If you aren't wanting to pick up a copy, Armageddon (in a few weeks time) will be screening it, so check it out there.


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