Thursday, 30 April 2009

Ad versus Reality

Why is this surprising? We see ads of, in this case, food, and it looks nice, even tempting. And yet when we go in and buythe actual item, how often does what we get actually match the images we are presented with. Take the KFC Famous Bowl, does the actual bowl match the carefully crafted stylised product? Of course not.

That said, some people do expect these things to match. I recall the complaint that Subway didn't create meals in the way indicated by their ads. (Although I'm not sure how happy they would be to create the subs the other way around, especially during busy times.)

(And this doesn't address the issue of the burger appearing bigger than the ad, I recall the Boss Burger needing two hands in the ad... barely fits in one hand!)

I remember seeing a documentary or similar that showed the actual process advertising agencies use to make burgers look nice. Lots of sprays and I don't think all the items used were actual food. If I could find a video I would post it, it demonstrates well that real has no hope of matching what ads can do.


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Wednesday, 29 April 2009

The Chronicles of a DM: Part IV

It's amazing how long a paranoid party can take to simply go through a party, but eventually there was a fight to go first. Finally, they get on which it, and hit the next section of the Tomb (where they encounter shoddy editing). They find a corridor that runs east to west that has the floor dropped out. The difficulty of climbing around this corridor is given for the western and eastern walls... which are the doors... huh? I think someone forgot the map was re-orientated 90 degrees!

Anyways, they climb the (southern) wall, and until Moyshanna, completely fail to find the hidden passage way. [She has the best passive perception, and yet there are calls for her to die (or at least sod off) and stop being an XP leech. Sigh.] Investigation brings them to an altar in front of a supernatural burning fire. After "search for traps/walls/loot!" they spot the skull at the base, and Kayla nicks it before lobbing it to Alrick. [Hey, an artefact! Which is very badly specified! Yay, just what I wanted to GM... and it's a magical orb, so only one character can use it, and there's no respect for it at all.]

Backing out, they enter a large empty room ("Search! Find loot!"), then head up stairs to find a room with strange writing on the floor (again to the “north and south” when it should be to the “east and west”), which fortunately they are able to read. There is an obelisk, on which is written the word ‘Shadow’. And a bunch of letters on the floor, including uniquely (after another edit) 's', 'h', 'a', 'd', 'o', 'w'. Wow, I have no idea what the solution to that is! (And for those that can’t speak draconic, these are the only letters that light up when depressed.)

There are some statues which can be manhandled onto the tiles, but when Kayla pokes one, it activates the trap! [Nothing funnier than having fire creatures attack a party that does fire damage. However, them damn rogues take out one of the nastier creatures quickly, and Alrick uses the Skull to trap the big bad for many rounds. Still, the Blazesteels don't die quickly, so the fight isn't quick, and there’s lots of room to move about and everyone is spread out. A decent fight, and we get to hear Valdour's catchphrase "I reload my crossbow" often.] Once dealt with, they move the statues, and the obelisk descends to reveal a portal to the Shadowfell.

Jumping through, they find themselves on a plain in an area Moyshanna doesn't recognise. There is a huge citadel (I won't repeat the party's descriptions), and draconic wraiths around that steal soul-sparks, and attack the party. [Auras are fun, and these ones really caused problems. Heh. At least until Reed set up zone that dealt radiant damage, bah. The dragons were insubstantial, but they also didn’t have huge hit points, so it evened out. Again the rogues were a huge help. Moyshanna suffered a lot, but Alrick advised against healing her ('cos he's evil). Admittedly the Skull was on his side, but survive she did.] They popped back through the portal to rest up, and Moyshanna kindly offered to stay back and guard the portal so they would have a way back. And so they rested.


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Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Race to Which Mountain?

I wasn't planning on seeing this, but as there wasn't much else going on, it was on at a convenient time and I had a $9 voucher, I decided, what the hey? It's a remake (never saw the original nor the follow up), and I'm sure they're already working on the sequel, but first we have to get to Witch Mountain.

Turns out that the name is a complete misnomer. While there is a Witch Mountain, there isn't a race there as such, and getting there involves little more than a cut scene, but there is a lot of other running around. It's quite the packed movie, with lots of set pieces nicely strung together to help keep the time flying past. It's impressive how well the taxi survives, but it's all in the aid of helping cute kids.

Dwayne Johnson heads up the all-star cast... and by all-star cast, I mean there's him, then a bunch of other people who haven't had more than bit parts in other movies at best. Well, there is Garry Marshall, but looking at his list of credits, no wonder I never recognised him. Oh, and AnnaSophia Robb was Violet Beauregarde! Yeah, big names there...

Anyway, the point is, an enjoyable movie, more so than you would expect.


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Monday, 27 April 2009

Alien Raid!

Caught up with a straight to video sci-fi movie Alien Raiders.

Very much in the line of The Thing, this time instead of the ice, they are in a shop market. Well, that's original. And they aren't the authorities, either, although I'm not sure how scientists could have become so militarised. But, anyway, we have a bunch of people trying to find the one person who's the big bad.

The opening half hour is pretty good, but it settles down into a more tightly focused "who is it?". The ending is a bit of a let down, but mainly because writers have to so that sort of thing because it is "exciting and innovating!" (No, not really.)

The movie does take a long time in the dark, which is either supposed to help it gritty, or to help hide the alien (which helps as the make-up is not the best). There is also cam video from one of the actors, which is getting to be more of a gimmick, but isn't over used here.

As for the actors, the main point I noted was that Carlos "24" Bernard was the lead... but that was about it.

Not a bad movie to settle down with, although straight to video for a reason.

(Certainly better than the other movie I watched last night, The Love Guru. And Deepak Choprah is a loon.)


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Sunday, 26 April 2009

HC Again

(I didn't bother linking to the previous weeks game as it was part of a larger campaign I wasn't part of, and wasn't too excited by the bit I was in, so...)

However, last time, we had another GM, in the form of Travis, who usually plays Doyle. It was a game that tied into various goings-on at the KBC, and was very well done! It might have been slightly more interesting if I had been Terry, as opposed to Von Scott, but I'm glad I played either way. The Rise of Peti.


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Friday, 24 April 2009


Nothing disappears with the internet! Not even a game I played on a computer that was around before there was an internet worth talking about! I'm referring to the ZX81. Or rather, we had Timex Sinclair 1000, the difference being that the Timex had 2K base memory whereas the ZX81 only had 1K. Wow! Both had expansion packs that took them to a whopping 16K, but ours eventually failed. Which was a shame as it meant we could no longer play certain games, such as Mazogs. In which you ran through a randomly generated maze to find treasure and avoid, or kill, the creatures inside. See an exciting game below! Or play for yourself on a more upgraded version (graphics-wise).

One of the best things about our computer ended up being my dad building a new keyboard for it (him being an electrician and all) which gave us the keyboard and toggle switches we could use as a joystick, and the wiring was flexible enough that we could wire up any combination we wanted. Great piece of work, now lost in the mists of... wherever it ended up...


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Thursday, 23 April 2009


There's nothing better than seeing a movie with subtitles! While I have attended one or two English speaking movies where they had subtitles (nice that some movies have this variant for the hearing impaired), this time it was far more sensible as it was the Asian movie Sniper.

The plot is not uncommon, a cop (Lincoln) has a bad day and ends up going rogue, to be challenged by his compatriots on the force, including up and comer OJ. The conflicts lead to some interesting scenes, and as the point of the movie, as in the title, is Sniping, there was a fair amount of that going on. Fine, the shots are very nicely set up from a production viewpoint, but when caught up in the movie, who cares? They look great!

The characters were interesting (although, yes, as a stereotypical Westener, I had some early trouble working out who was who), although there are still some relationships I'm not quite sure of, and may have made more sense in the Asian culture. (That all said, I did know about the girlfriend as soon as I saw her.)

It's a very enjoyable movie, as if you like action movies, let alone Asian movies, definitely check it out!


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Wednesday, 22 April 2009

The Chronicles of a DM: Part III

Two other people turned up in the city of Vaester, Kayla (a human rogue) and Valdour (a Drow (looking like an Elf) rogue). Sir Halumoor finds they are also adventurers, and so includes them in his offer to rescue Jothan. They wander through the Gloomdeeps, following the trail of dead bodies, until they come to the Tomb of Sartine. The traps are not even slightly a problem, and after entering they meet and join up with the adventure already in progress.

The pit that blocks entrance to the next part of the tomb doesn't prove a problem, and they head out to a chamber with toad statues, a crypt and some doors. Two slaughter wights attack, while a Bodak Reaver Death Knight waits with some Abyssal Ghoul Hungerers. [The Toad Statues form part of a puzzle, which is only evident that the players have to deal with after they try the Southern doors. The tactics of the creatures are such that they target those who are trying to solve the puzzle. Given that the players don't know there is a problem, and aren’t likely to try to deal with it in a fight, what's the frickin' point? The Death Knight was a problem, but the minions not even slightly. And damn rogues with backstabbing, bah!]

With the creatures out of the way, they turn to the puzzle. In the previous room they saw words in the order of "Fate, Destiny, Winter, Stark" and now find moveable disks in the order of "Destiny, Winter, Stark, Fate". [Um... so, not even slightly going to mix it up then writers? I hadn’t realised how obvious it was or I would have scrambled them more!] The doors are now safe, and they progress.

Beyond they find a simple T-junction. One way is a barred room with a scorched pattern on in. The other end is a pair of doors. Given the burn pattern, they suddenly turn paranoid. [Heh heh heh, "You can't find any traps."] Eventually, using a grapple on a rope to grasp the door hold, they stand back around the corner and pull the door open... nothing fails to kill them... Amazing!

Beyond the Doors of Non-Death, they find a large mausoleum with a large ice pool in the middle and a tempting glowing circle on the other side. The rogues sneak in to examine some side crypts... and find the hiding sword wraiths! The fight is on, and after everyone moves in, the Angel of Vengeance erupts from the ice, calling some Angel of Valor Legionnaires to its side! [The minions were a tougher fight this time, nice high defences. This did lead to a lot of pieces in play, so was a bit messy to keep track of everything. I did forget to keep regeneration going for the wraiths, and decided they didn't run away as they were the last creatures to die and doing so would have just been annoying. The big Angel should have done a bit more damage, but nothing really did huge attacks. And then there were those damn rogues! Still, the minions were fun.]

Once the beings are down, the party looks at the circle and work out it's a portal to somewhere else (not the Shadowfell), but they need a skull to use it. Oh look, there's a pit to the south with skulls in it! Rather than jump on in, they bunker down to rest up, leaving the Tomb to investigate later.


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Monday, 20 April 2009

Aliens vs Monsters

And the latest in CGI creation is... a woman! Who's a Monster! Have to admit this is a rather easy thing to do in a CGI world as they simply need to scale up the model, and not have to worry about perspective shots or anything.

This is certainly a fun movie, not surprisingly considering previous animated movies from DreamWorks. The basic concept is there in the title, there are aliens and there are monsters, and they fight each other. There is also a Dramatic Story(tm) in the form of Susan, and while obvious, doesn't overwhelm the movie, which is good when your co-stars are a cockroach, blob and amphibious creature (and a giant bug).

As it also happens in DreamWorks pictures, there are big (sic) names behind the characters: Reese Witherspoon, Kiefer Sutherland, Hugh Laurie, Stephen Colbert... some of whom had voices more disguised than others, but once I knew who was whom did enjoy their performances.

The 3D-ness of it is lost on me, and the movie is more than enjoyable without that aspect of it. If you can handle 3D, certainly check it out, and if you can't... certainly check it out anyway!


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Sunday, 19 April 2009

Coals to Newcastle

This screened during the recent Armageddon. In fact, it was made for Armageddon. It screened during the Doctor Who talk, after Mark, and before Peter. Saturday they showed Time Crash, and Sunday was this.

This is definitely a higher end NZ fan production. Some parts are... sagging, but it does provide amusement! Just check out the Security Cam segment! And then there's the sexual tension! Take a gander...


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Saturday, 18 April 2009


(Warning, this does contain spoilers, but I doubt anyone is seriously going to avoid Green Lantern spoilers…)

Took them long enough! I’ve been waiting for a Green Lantern movie for ages! While not the biggest name in DC’s group, Green Lantern is a major player and has been in many large scale events.

But the obvious question is, which one? Mostly likely either Hal Jordan or Kyle Rayner. John Stewart is also a possibility given his appearance in the animated JLA adventures, but as this film is live action, and the current rumoured star is Chris Pine, I’m thinking not. Guy Gardner isn’t known enough to be movie material, and Alan Scott is a little too Golden Age. And I’m not even going to mention the alien Green Lanterns...

Hal Jordan would be the most obvious choice, as he has been Green Lantern for the longest, and has a movie origin story ready in the form of Emerald Dawn. Actually, why am I guessing? This is the internet! We have Wikipaedia! Google, and..

Hal Jordan in Emerald Dawn it is! (At least, at the moment...) It is a great story, but exactly how some of the characters will be realised, and what in the story gets compressed, we'll have to wait and see. (Prosthetics for some characters, obviously, but dubious CGI will need to be implemented for others.)

I am glad they are going with classic tales and not the modern lot. I gave up on the comics during the 2005 reboot (aka volume 4). I wasn't enthralled by the storyline during Kyle and suddenly they went pear-shaped with it. If nothing from 1990 onwards is referenced, I won’t be sad.

I'm in no way in the nub of movie news, don't even read Ain't It Cool, so if anyone hits more Green Lantern movie news, can you throw me a link? Cheers!


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Friday, 17 April 2009

Is it a bird? Is it a plane?

Of course I have to talk about. Who wouldn't want to talk about a Tokoroa UFO sighting?

The host does make some excellent points. Yes, it is an "unidentified flying object" as it is an object that is flying and is unidentified. At no point does he go for any kind of alien connection. Even better, when Bruce Simpson suggests Rods, he immediately shuts that idea down.

Two far more rational ideas are an insect or a golf ball. The insect seems to disappear in the clouds, but that's just because it's hard to see in the first place, and very quickly moving. I didn't even see whatever it was when they screened it, and only when they slowed it right down did I finally spot the moving blur. Interestingly, Bruce says he didn't see the UFO until they watched the tape. That's a good indication there that there was nothing particularly noteworthy going on at the time.

The other idea of a golf ball is possible (although it would also "disappear"). More interesting I noted was that after the golf ball idea came up, the host said "yes, I can see it as a golf ball now". Once we have a filter that we can see, we see it definitely. Like hearing backwards lyrics once they have been pointed out. We are suggestible, which is one reason behind ufo proliferation.

Anyway, another great example of the lack of alien aircraft our many video camera users are failing to capture...


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Thursday, 16 April 2009

Return to Red Dwarf

Not only did we get a new Doctor Who episode this Easter, we were also treated to brand new episodes of Red Dwarf. Yay! And by ‘yay!’ I mean ‘I don’t like the stuff written by Doug Naylor without Rob Grant, oh dear’.

Oh dear indeed, dear readers. The first episode was very much ‘classic Dwarf’, with a run-around with a weird monster. The second episode goes all surreal, and very metaphysical. And the third episode… what the hell just happened? Not only was the middle just plain bad, the ending completely undercut everything, tried to make it all ‘Dwarfy’ and just fails.

Which isn’t to say it isn’t nice to see the boys from the Dwarf back, but this really cements that the era is over. Give it up, Doug, move on to something else. Or get Rob back, please. Certainly there could be another series set in that universe, but the actors are getting on with their own lives and definitely what happened to Chloe Arnett?

I’m sure all hardcore Dwarfers will be checking this out, but to be honest, check out the Reception section of the Wiki entry. Pretty much says it all.


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Wednesday, 15 April 2009

HC Again

Due to Easter, was able to get in more gaming than usual.

On Good Friday, got in and headed into the Cubical Jungle. Sherlock and Terry had this long-standing issue of finding the Library of Skulls. So that was the mission. Nice and simple, nothing exciting to happen (aside from the death of the Sleestak. Didn't expect to fall over a major plot point. Heroic Cthulhu The Genocide Edition.

On the Saturday, events continued as we ended on a cliff hanger. Did a bit of poking at the problem and found something... not that exciting really. KBC Fish Tank.

Then we decided that someone we didn't like had to die. Logan said he wasn't in the country and wasn't coming back any time soon. Then sounded surprised when we said 'okay, we go to him'. Didn't quite work out as we had planned. Hot Swedish Babes.


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12 Rounds of AK-SHUN!

Having now seen the latest action flick that was ground out without thought, I am now able to comment more than I was last time.

Basically, it’s an action run-around, lot of stunts and a motive that gets revealed that… hey, wait a minute! This movie is Die Hard 3! By and large the same plot, although McCain isn’t trying to save his girlfriend (still not sure if she is his wife or not). And no Samuel Jackson, unfortunately.

Interestingly, Danny does make a lot of use of the police and the FBI, unlike other action movies where the hero tries to go it alone, even against his law abiding employers. But what’s really amazing is that somehow the movie proper (after the very long set-up) starts in the morning, the villain gives Danny twenty minutes, seven minutes, etc., and yet they end up in the middle of the night by the end of the movie. What is this, a two hour day?

As for my previous predictions, I give myself 1 1/2 marks out of three. One prediction was spot on, another was so-so, and the third was very much off-screen and could be argued away to not be an issue.

And for the acting, nothing impressive. Everyone is by and large generic, and there’s no character development (although to be honest, when these movies do try that, it always feels bolted on).

Nothing brilliant here, but if you must past the time with something to distract your attention, could do worse than this.


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Tuesday, 14 April 2009

The Chronicles of a DM: Part II

Journeying through the caves continued until they reached the entrance to the Tomb of Sartine. However, before they could get inside they spot some statues and instigate an attack against them first [although the badly worded set-up implies that they might have been able to stealth their way past without even having a fight!]. Two stone golems come to life, as do two gargoyles and… a gibbering abomination!

[I have to say I rolled amazingly that fight, rolling a lot of very high numbers and many, many crits. Unfortunately, there were different auras keyed off different conditions, so I kept going “wait, this… no, hang on, no it doesn’t”. Bah! Still, drained them of a lot of healing surges.]

After the battle, they search around and discover 147 platinum in the pools, of which the PCs graciously give seven pieces to their NPC ally, Moyshanna. Yeah, real generous there guys. However, she is a bit on the shy side, and is more interested in getting back her friend Jothan than money.

There is a large trap in front of the door, but they simply disable the one square right in front of the door, then open it with the key they picked up last time (surprised they remembered that).

After a short corridor, they enter the tomb proper, and encounter a room with two obelisks, a mound of skulls, a large pit and a boneclaw! Woo! [This was a very annoying and rather stupid fight. The PCs were pretty much dazed every round, due to an aura, and the monsters’ powers affected each other. The obelisks zapped them if they were nearby, so it ended up with one monster in the middle of the PCs, with them all clustered in a corner. I couldn’t be bothered lowering the power of the fight, although there were only three characters, so meant that though the rounds sped past the fight was drawn out.]

After getting the monsters out of the way, they notice that the obelisks have lots of writing on them, including the words “Fate”, “Destiny”, “Winter”, “Stark”. I’m sure that won’t be important. They also fine 153 pp, and Moyshanna got an entire three! Go team!

With a pit ahead of them, followed by another chamber that will probably kick their asses, they hunker down for another period of rest.


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Monday, 13 April 2009

DW: Planet of the Dead

For a brief moment in this Doctor Who rested year, we get a tantalising glimpse of our favourite Time Lord... but for all he's done, I can't say I'll be sad to see Rusty go...

A bus! In the desert! ... okay, I was getting Greatest Show in the Galaxy flashbacks from the trailer, but that didn't hold up for a moment. This is very much "ordinary people put into extraordinary circumstances", but fortunately they have the Doctor. And Lara Croft, but that comparison is far too obvious.

But it really is about the Doctor and Christina, as the others don't go anywhere aside from the bus, do stuff off-screen, and otherwise are there just to give the Doctor someone to "oh, you're special" over. D&C however manage to run all over the desert in moments, come across an alien spaceship and otherwise show themselves up to be a perfect Doctor/companion team. Have to say I'm glad Christina didn't stick around, as she was too easy a good companion and would have shown up the Doctor. (But at the end she becomes Iris Wildthyme!) It's all very "aren't we brilliant", but doesn't have any substance.

Speaking of the aliens, I sighed when we had those teaser shots. The concept of the episode sounded interesting, but then we get some stupid simple costume aliens behind it all. Fortunately I was wrong, and they turned out better, even though they were very conveniently dealt with.

Then there's Malcolm. I don't know Lee Evans, but was rather thinking of Colin Weatherby of The Brittas Empire. And good to see another UNIT commander.

Ultimately, this episode is filler, a place holder special before we hit the end of the year. It's decent enough, but not exactly brilliant.

Next time: Base under attack! Never had that before! Still, the water angle looks interesting.


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Sunday, 12 April 2009

Empty or Not Even There?

One book I am currently reading is The Empty Tomb. It's an analysis of whether or not there was an empty tomb in the first place after Jesus was raised, or if there were naturalistic reasons for the tomb being empty. (Obviously this is a rather more skeptical view than a literal acceptance of the Bible stories.)

It's a collection of essays, some of which are more convincing than others (the ones that rely on statistics, logic and probability are the least persuasive). More interestingly, it demonstrates that there is no real consensus on the actual explanation.

Richard Carrier has a few essays, one of which says the tomb story was fiction as Paul meant that Jesus would leave his human body and take on a spiritual one and there is no tomb. In another, he discusses how Jesus' body was prepared and that it would end up in a mass grave site for those condemned by Jewish law (after being stored for a night in Joseph of Arimathea's tomb, aka the relocation hypothesis - which others also argue for), and in another he discusses the possibility of the body being stolen.

The point of all these ideas are: is the resurrection hypothesis more likely than any other hypothesis? And is it more likely than any other explanation? Obviously Christians accept it as given, but there are many other possibilities which explain more than the resurrection hypothesis. This isn't to say the Christians aren't right, just that it isn't the most likely answer.

But the point is, even if the resurrection hypothesis isn't correct, there isn't any real weighty alternative that skeptical sources have. There is so much information missing, that a definite answer isn't going to turn up any time soon. On the other hand, no-one can say the skeptics are presenting a united face. Discussion and argument is flowing well even for this one point.


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Saturday, 11 April 2009

At which point?

Breaking news! There's been a bastardization of Easter! A one kilogram Easter egg is the tipping point, it seems. It's one commercialisation excess too far.

Really? Easter, in our Western society, has always had a strong commercial presence involving eggs and chocolate, and obviously more chocolate is better. So that there is a 1kg egg should surprise no-one. In fact, I'm wondering where the 2kg solid Easter eggs are...

And yes, of course they are unhealthy. Chocolate is unhealthy. Just look at those ingredients, fat and sugar and... lots of unpronounceable chemicals. No-one in their right mind would think that sitting down and consuming one of these in one go is a good idea.

Doesn't stop anyone from doing it, of course. No-one said people made entirely rational decisions when it came to eating chocolate.

But to start complaining about it now reeks of screaming after the horse has bolted the barn. In the interests of the profit margin, we are only going to see worse and worse (from a health perspective) products become available. Because people will buy them. It's the result of a free market economy.

Where was the complaining when Cadbury Easter cream eggs came out? Or marshmallow eggs? Or chocolate buttons?

By all means bring attention to important health aspect, but I don't see this newspaper article changing the way we eat. (And there's nothing from Browning King as to what exactly Easter is and what a bastardization would not be.)

(Notice how I refrained from pointing out that Christianity bastardized a pagan ritual...)


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Friday, 10 April 2009

Computer, Take II

After laptop woes (and win!), I was eying my tower for replacement as well. After a recent upgrade of something (not sure if it was Windows itself or some other software), the system basically crashed, barely running and taking an age even to boot. Yeah, a clean wipe of the drive would probably be all it really needs, but it is old, so this was a good a moment as any to upgrade.

Since I already had monitor and everything else I only needed a base system, and so went to a preassembled system from Paradigm PCs. Annoyingly, it was $100 less only a month or so ago, damn recession.

One small wrinkle. When they built the machine, the people putting it together either decided to save money or didn't care or something (a separate supplier to PP themselves), and didn't screw in the graphics card. Thus, when I got it, it was suffering a wee technical mishap known as "card fell out of the slot and was banging around the inside". Fine, I plugged it back in, and it runs, but then I had to use a screw from the case to fix it. And the computer says some graphics driver thing isn't installed properly, which I should take a look at, but as I said, it runs.

And from the lack of screws, I was able to deduce the existence of this, from pure logic. Neat!

This does mean that both my computers are now Vista :(, and I had to fight to get Windows Activation activated (took me a while to find the product number). I tried to find a new Activation key online, went for a wander through Microsoft's site, and others, gazed at cracks (didn't trust them), before finally seeing different sticker types and going "oh, I have one of those ones...". Surprised I couldn't find a place to give them money.

One embarrassing note: I got a new keyboard, a USB one because my PS2 one wasn't working. And when I plugged the new one in, I found out why. I hadn't actually plugged the PS2 keyboard in! (Thought I had, but too many damn plugs...)


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Wednesday, 8 April 2009

The people that you meet

The guests are one thing, and the other is the stores. Lots and lots of stuff. I brought some DVDs, and some puzzles, and saw the first public appearance of Retrospace. See Rochelle and Paul hard at work!

Quite a lot was sold! There was a lot less merchandise returning than came down.

On the evening of the first day was a pub meet, where I got to catch up with many a people in the Doctor Who scene, a lot of them from Auckland. This isn't everyone who turned up, but those who were there when I took the photo. (And now we know who photographs the photographers!)

We had the biggest snug, and snug was definitely the right term. Conversations flowed around many topics, including Doctor Who (strange that), Star Wars, Matrix, Battlestar Galatica, and more Doctor Who. We found that Paul had been proposed to, Chris liked Sol (probably because it was plentiful and cheap) and Dave had his pink script signed. It went on for four hours, and longer, but that's when I left. Good times all round...

And for those who saw Wellington has no culture, I came across this free performance in Civic Square on the way to the meet. No idea who they were, but, hey, free!

Note: there was only around a dozen people watching. Culture, yes. Popular...


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Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Also seeing

There were, of course, other guests at Armageddon. Such as... Michael Winslow!

Extremely entertaining stuff. The first day he took questions, although didn't really answer them as use them as an excuse to slip into various sounds. Have to admit really enjoyed the Fifth Element Chris Tucker bit.

On the second day it was more performance, although he did repeat a lot of the previous day's stuff. People got a chance to make their own noises, some of them quite well! He did his Robert Plant, Jimi Hendrix and Louis Armstrong bit, but didn't make it to Bob Marley.

Also appearing was Kevin Sorbo and Michael Hirst. They didn't last the whole hour as questions were thin on the ground. Well, it was a while since Hercules was on, and Andromeda was only worth talking about for the first two seasons.


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Monday, 6 April 2009

I see a Doctor

And a companion. At... Armageddon! Went both days, and saw Peter Davison and Mark Strickson. (And others... but that'll be other posts.) More pictures below the fold.

Despite the pictures, not a lot of that exciting information was revealed. I now know what their favourite episodes are (Hint: Caves of Androzani and Mawdryn Undead), their favourite enemies (Cybermen and Daleks), and that Peter had no control over the celery and Mark had to dye his hair.

Some more interesting tidbits do include that Peter is no fan of Torchwood. Also, he's met with Matt Smith, who is apparently too young to remember Doctor Who and asked such questions as "Why does the Doctor let them go and not kill them?" (Because he's the Doctor!)

Mark is currently working in Dunedin doing nature programs for New Zealand TV. He would only return to the series if he could have the lead (as it's a better role!). His funniest moment from the series is from The Five Doctors, and involves the Dalek unable to stop moving ahead, and the voice overs going "Shit! Missed the buggers!"


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Sunday, 5 April 2009

12 rounds of ideas

I have seen the movie 12 Rounds. By which I mean I haven't seen that movie, but I have seen enough to know exactly what happens. By which I mean I have seen the trailer, and have some idea of how these movies play out. I present the trailer and then my ideas, but I'll hide it away from the main page at least.

Right. First off, we have the hero (and I use the term dubiously, see later point) doing the villain's bidding. Not entirely new ground there. And so I predict there will be a moment where the hero says (or rather, thinks, because he doesn't want the bad guy to know) "I will take this no more, and will do something more active to find the person responsible and do my own thing."

I also see him jumping out of the helicopter with his girlfriend. This is clearly at the end of the movie, the big finish, where he has to save his girlfriend (or maybe wife, I have no idea, wasn't paying enough attention) by jumping into the copter then back out again with his SO right before it blows up, taking, I'm guessing, the bad guy with him. Skip the rest of the movie, it comes down to that.

And as for the hero, he got into trouble because the killer's girlfriend (wife?) died by accident. Thus the hero's girlfriend will suffer. And to get her back, to save her one life, the hero will kill around... oh, say... a thousand people in accidents and such. But, hey, it's in the name of love, and none of them will have faces (except for the fat guy in the elevator, which looks to be the only death that will matter). What's a little collateral damage compared to that.

Thus, from the trailer, we know the set-up, some of the set pieces that will give the hero ANGUISH and DRAMA and CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, before the final explosion in which he will save the day (and his girlfriend, if not the other poor fools who were going about their lives). Well, saves time to do it this way, I suppose.


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Saturday, 4 April 2009

Underworld: Lycan Rising

I'm sure it sounded like a good idea to someone to continue the franchise with another Underworld movie. But at which point did they go "No Kate Beckinsale in tight leather/latex... boffo, a good one!" Rhona Mitra could be mistaken for her (although apparently the original Sonja was a blonde...), but it's not the same.

Speaking of not the same, while the previous movies had no idea where their plot was going, in this one we have the title "Rise of the Lycans" and are presented with Lucian, a Lycan, who is a slave. Oh yeah, no-one would be able to see that ending coming. And so we get a very unoriginal Romeo and Juliet story that completely fails to compel.

Fortunately, Bill Nighy is a great choice for a vampire, although he still seems to be channeling Davy Jones from the Pirates movies, but even he can't save this movie from dragging on. Although there are "exciting action sequences", they are finely interspersed the dramatic story that never goes anywhere and produces tragic moments we are waiting for. (I really can't get into liking anyone here. Yes, the Lycans are slaves, but... THEY ARE MONSTERS. THE VAMPIRES ARE MONSTERS. THE WEREWOLVES ARE MONSTERS. THEY ALL KILL HUMANS. SOD THEM.)

And then there's the darkness. I don't mean emotional darkness. I mean I can't see a frigging thing as there's no light on the screen. The vampires abhour the sun, so the best we get is moonlight (which seems to be a full moon for about a week solid). Given that the vampires wear dark clothes and the werewolves have dark fur, it's near impossible to make anything out. Kinda defeats the purpose of having a monster fight movie if you can't see it.

Unless you are a big fan of the series, there isn't much worth seeing here. Excellent Bill Nighy, mediocre everything else.


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Friday, 3 April 2009

Putting the 'con' in Conflicker

So, apparently the world didn't end the other day due to Conflicker.C. Huh, how about that? A lot of people did think it had been patched and disinfected and stuff, and yet there was still a lot of concern when April 1 hit.

The response to this threat? Big corporations, like Microsoft and Symantec, brought up domain names so Conflicker couldn't access them. And at least one anti-virus vendor was kind enough to put out an anti-Conflicker tool.

Although I note that when I ran that tool, after telling me I didn't have it, it wanted to access some problems, including Firefox (most likely to say "hey, look at our website") but also something else. Um. Why? What are you trying to run? And I already know about your website as that's where I got the program from. So, just what were you trying to access then?

Not to mention that there are many domain names that I would now need to negotiate with the big boys around if I wanted to use them.

So... not only has Conflicker not done anything, several corporations are now in a position that weren't in before...

I'm not saying Conflicker is not a threat, nor am I saying the big corporations are involved in it, but they aren't suffering that badly...

EDIT: This was written before I read this article. "The fears of an attack, however, may have been a windfall for anti-virus software makers, who warned consumers about the worm, industry analysts say." Ha!


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Thursday, 2 April 2009

Coke Zero: The real... what?

Have you seen this ad?

Now, I'm not going to complain about the male sex fantasy version of how this goes, and that the marketers probably lost a lot of their potential buyers.

Nope, what concerns me is the implication that simply one sip of this stuff can suddenly make you delusional and out of step with reality. What are they putting in there anyway?


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Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Transporter the Third

Is it possible to be typecast as a driver? If it is, Jason Statham is doing in. Most of his movies at the moment involve him behind the wheel, and, of course with no surprise to anyone, Transporter 3 is no exception.

And yet... there's nothing really that impressive in this movie that hasn't been elsewhere. Okay, fine, I haven't seen Jason Statham on a child's bike before, and that was amusing, but otherwise it's racing the car interspersed with "emotional moments" that are supposed to make us connect with the characters.

Not that they are worth connecting to. Frank Martin is emotionally closed off, drives around and hits people. Valentina is a spoiled rich girl that isn't brought down to earth by what happens to her. Johnston is a "bad guy", with hair that wants to be a mohawk. Inspector Tarconi... is the only likable character in the movie, and that's largely because he's comic relief. None of them are people I want to invest my caring into.

That does leave the effects to distract. There are a lot of pretty ones, but there were also moments when I went "yeah, that can't happen outside of special effects". I really did not get immersed in this movie at all.

See this if you like the action movies, but nothing worthy of actual attention here.


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