Friday, 30 April 2010

The Locker of Hurtfulness

Ladies and gentlemen, the word of the day is... set pieces. Some people may argue that that is two words but they would miss the point, which is that Oscar apparently equals vignettes.

Witness as the EOD team dispose of a bomb. Then of another bomb. Then see one of them buy a DVD. Then another bomb. Then they punch each other. Then another bomb... Hello? Throughline? Or better still: point? "War is a drug" is supposed to be a near tag line for this, but from watching the movie the correct phrase should be "adrenaline is a drug", which is approaching oxymoron levels of observation. War is an excuse, a way of getting the drug featured in the movie, not the drug itself.

The performances are... consistent. Which might sound like a good thing, but by this I mean that the characters are the same at the end as they are in the beginning. Yep, no character growth either. Does mean this movie could have been reordered without much effort. And yes, there are the three big names of Guy Pearce, David Morse and Ralph Fiennes (and some might throw in Evangeline Lilly for a more flavour of the month cameo), but they are blink and miss moments, which aren't that missed.

Clearly the Oscar committee knows far better than me, and they say this picture should be seen. Who am I to point out this movie isn't all that?


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Thursday, 29 April 2010

Okay, I'll bite...

I hadn't seen it before, but had heard plenty of tales. Plenty of cautionary tales. It was not something undertaken lightly, even brave souls cried...

But there comes a time in everyone's life that they will, either willingly or otherwise, watch... the Star Wars Holiday Special.

What? Why would I do that to myself? Fortunately, I didn't go it alone. I took along three people to help deaden the pain. Yes, I watched the Rifftrax version. And yet...

WHAT THE FREAKING HELL WAS THAT??? I'm sure there have been treatises on what the smeg Lucas was smoking when he came up with that, and yet it defies explanation! Just when you thought no-one would expect anyone to believe that someone would design a show around the fact that the main stars were three people in full body costumes so that no emotion could be shown and the actors couldn't even speak! Then there are the cameos! And the cartoon! (What was up with the animated Han Solo?? More animated than the actual Han Solo.) Then the great celebration that is Life Day...

Something to be seen to be disbelieved. But definitely go with this version:


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Wednesday, 28 April 2010

War on Scales 10

In the Shadowfell, we find ourselves just outside a town, the town of Umbraforge. It has an interesting feature, that of a river of lava running through it. Not that common, but here they have one. As we head in we find out that they have mercenaries, a lot of mercenaries. We ask around, and learn that they are under the control of the leader of the town, Sarshan, who is going to attack the real world. Huh. Might need to do something about that.

While also looking for Modra, we are waylaid by the Bonetooth or Bonehead or something clan who thinks we aren't ready to fight alongside them. We agree, in that we have no interest in fighting alongside them. The spectators gather we do indeed fight, with them as it happens. It lasts three... maybe four rounds? Yeah, not that much of a fight to be honest.

We hear that Modra used to hang out at the slave pits so head over there. As we near, the ground erupts with a new lava opening and creatures emerge and attack! Took a bit longer, but still not really that much of a concern, not once I get my Moment of Glory on. We haven't even been bloodied yet!

The slaves are used by Sarshan for experiments, which piques our interest. Over at the Dark Foundry they say, so we get there, find a side entrance through a wall, and inside find that Modra is hiding amongst the hobgoblins inside, slowly converting the foundry into a bomb that would take out Sarshan's keep. Sarshan who is waging war on the real world.

I think the little guy just got himself some help...


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Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The Men Who Stare @goats

Based on a book in the same way any given Hollywood reality movie was based on a napkin someone once doodled on, the opening card claims more is true in this movie that one would think. Conversely, according to the author of the actual book, more is invented in this movie than that card would hope you don't think.

The movie is partly historical, partly documentary, partly entire fiction, in that we find out about Project Jedi, the people involved, and their amazing powers. Going out on a limb here, I'm going to say that any actual powers were coincidental rather than real. (Example: the goat scene in the movie... in real life, there was a bunch of goats stared at, and the one next (or further along) from the one stared at fainted... that's it.) Then again, it's all about the male bonding... although there isn't much of that either. More about the search for something to believe in, which is apparently a good thing ('cos nothing ever bad has arisen out of believe in an ideology).

A quirky movie, light hearted and fun, but... missing anything really substantive.

Big name roll call: Ewan McGregor, George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey, Robert Patrick... even spotted Glenn Morshower (in the military? how unusual!). The performances... matched the level of the film. No-one will be winning Oscars for this, but they weren't phoned in either.

The sort of movie to catch if you happen to be there and can't find anything better to see...


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Monday, 26 April 2010

DW 504: The Time of Angels

That's more like it!

The tale of this story is: kick things off and keep moving! Lawrence Miles would be against that, but it works for me. Once we get to the Weeping Angels, events are kicked into a whole new level with new abilities for the Angels and hiding them in plain sight. And now, we don't have to just worry about statues, we have to worry about pictures of statues!

Have to say that I wasn't looking amazing forward to the return of River Song, bit too much smugness and pretension there... and, Matt Smith is half Alex Kingston's age! There's an acting challenge! But it still works. There are a lot of questions raised (apparently there was no other adventures with the Tenth Doctor, and given she's got pictures, you'd think she'd know what that adventure was... then again, she hadn't had it yet, so... bah! Time Travel! But from all looks of things, this Doctor isn't HER Doctor either). Doctor's Wife? Eh... Wacky idea: a new regeneration of the Master!

And I have now realised what it is about the Eleventh Doctor that irks me. He's fidgety. He hasn't got Restless Leg Syndrome, he's got Restless Body Syndrome! Get the Doctor some Ritalin! I know Moffat is going for "old man in a young man's body", but that trait is working against it. Then again, he does some damn fine looks that say a lot.

Good part one, there Moffat! Keep it up, and pay it off well!

Next week: Oh noes! They all died! We'll need a new Doctor!


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Sunday, 25 April 2010

Cash of the Titans

What do you do when you are a part of the movie making industry and have no original ideas at all? You remake an old movie! (I'm just waiting for the day when remakes are only a year apart...) Strangely enough, I think I've actually seen the original (Peter, was this one of the movies you screened for us?). Certainly the call back to the original made me smile.

The basic plot, and it is basic, is that the gods decide to destroy an entire city because the queen said 'my daughter is beautiful'... and the queen was killed. I believe some sort of plea could be made that the presumption was just by one person who had paid for it, but it seems that the gods' wrath doesn't care about technicalities. The city decides that their best option is to someone who just arrived in town, who proceeds to lead a group of men to their deaths because he is a hero (as per the definition).

There is a lot of walking in this movie. And a lot of talking. You know what there isn't much of? Action. You'd think this was an action movie, certainly the trailer aids that conclusion, and yet the action moments are brief and scattered sparsely throughout the film. Whilst not boring, it does drag the movie out making it seem a lot longer that its 95 minutes runtime. (That Readings lists 110 says a lot about the credit sequence, and the ads they run before hand.)

A lot of big names are associated with this: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes (didn't recognise behind his make up), Jason Flemyng (ditto)... and some guy named Sam Worthington that hasn't been in any movie worth noticing, and is trying to (badly) sound like Ray Winstone. You can't say it's trading on the big names due to the aforementioned make up hiding them, although I'm sure they're hoping the names help. (Although I think they should have cast Lucy Lawless as Medusa...)

After watching all that... to be honest... go watch the original...


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Saturday, 24 April 2010

I already have the latest, you out of date moron!

I've had more than one site tell me "You need to upgrade to the latest version of Flash, as you are so out of date you're still making references to Metal Mickey as an up and coming thing."

Here's the deal, you plonk: I have the latest version of Flash. 10.somedrivellingnumbers... or 11.blahdeblah, whatever, the point is I'm up to date.

However, because your code was typed out by a monkey with uncontrollable urination, you are only checking the FIRST DIGIT of the Flash version, as opposed to the full NUMBER before the period. We are in an electronic age where we can count to more than one digit, so perhaps if you thought about it as opposed to hacking something together that's more prone to errors than the Y2K catastrophe, you might actually get people visiting your site instead of shaking their computer before returning to more productive activities, like posting about how Jenny McCarthy's innate medical mothering instinct, after providing such excellent advice on vaccines, is now telling people that the best way to cure AIDS is to stick bananas up your arse...


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Ode to a Bus Stop

I get up to the stop, looking to see,
If I will be lucky, more likely not,
For there is no bus there waiting for me,
Can't say I'm surprised, for that is my lot.
I spend much of my life, makes me surly,
Standing, sitting, watching time with much hate.
Tension keeps me up, hope starting to drop,
For I just missed the bus, it came early,
and wouldn't you guess, the next one came late.
My life slips away, down at the bus stop.

(Check out other (better) Odes to Bus Stops.)


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Friday, 23 April 2010

Now that's sacreligious!

South Park got another boost to its ratings by showing Mohammad... in a bear outfit. The creators were warned that they might end up like Theo Van Gogh who was shown violence by Islams after showing Islams were violent [no irony meter can measure that].

I'm sure Matt and Trey were glad that that group did warn them, and that it made headlines, so everyone tuned in. (So, is this better or worse than the bleeding Mary statue, an episode I haven't seen.)

Like everyone else, I went out and caught this episode, which was actually part two, although I never saw part one. First comment: I'm not at all sorry over giving up trying to keep up with episodes of this. The humour level was severely lacking. Meh.

Second comment: Matt and Trey do not break the rules about showing Mohammad, although they do so in their own way. The bear thing was very well done.

Third comment: Danish cartoons and South Park cause headlines and riots, and yet what about Jesus and Mo?

Fourth comment: How many seconds after this came out did the term fatwa envy get thrown around?

Ultimately: Free Speech trumps the lack of right not to be offended. A lack of right that many people don't seem to realise they don't have...

(P.S. Yes, the quest for the truth about Cartman's dad was more interesting.)


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Thursday, 22 April 2010

Over 1000... or is it?

I have DVDs. A lot of DVDs. I use DVD Profiler to help me keep track of them all, and it clocks it over 1000 DVDs on the list...

But, hang on. How should DVDs be counted? By disc? Unlikely, many movies have bonus discs, so that shouldn't count. By title? But how is it listed?

In particular, TV seasons. Andromeda came in five box sets per season, so is that one DVD? Five DVDs? Ten DVDs? (I think it was two DVDs per set.) What about Buffy or Angel, which is two box sets per season, and three discs per set? A lot of seasons come in one box set now, although some are half-season packs (hello BSG!). I have them as separate box sets, so should my count be lower?

On the other hand... think about box sets. I have many of them, for example the entire set of Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies, which is seven discs... and 14 movies. I could have otherwise gotten the 14 movies on separate DVDs, so should I count one set? Seven discs? 14 movies? Given this is just an example, should my count be higher?

And I've got multiple seasons of a TV show in one box set. And more than one copy of some movies (three listings for Serenity!). And so on, and so forth.

I have over 1000 DVDs... or do I? Or do I have many many more?

Another problem is how things are listed. Some are "The Complete ...", so trying to find it in my database can be tricky. What should "Penn and Teller: Bullshit" be listed under B or P?

Annoyingly, I load DVDs by entering the barcode (really need to get a barcode scanner), but not all codes are in the database, so there are many that are loaded under the title I enter. So there's no telling what would have loaded detail-wise if it was properly listed.

How many DVDs do you have? And do you manage them?


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Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Ass Kick

Who wants to be a superhero? Moreover, who wants to be a superhero in the real world? One man is willing to step up, and get his ass soundly kicked (although does get something akin to super powers because of it).

It's somewhat strange that this movie is called Kick Ass, 'cos the main plot doesn't involve him at all, and it's only by accident that he even gets involved in it. A mob boss does some bad things, and two people go after him, with Kick Ass getting caught up in it. And while watching it I did wonder if the story of the movie was really about Hit Girl and Big Daddy? Certainly the movie seemed rather uncertain about it as well, as they were the ones that really got any development worth talking about. And yet... we are lead to believe that Kick Ass is important, with him being the narrator and the movie named after him and all... [I have the comics to read some time. I gather that the movie was "based on" them, so will be seeing just how "interpreted" the comics are.]

Given all that, there aren't any big names worth talking about (at least, none that are big yet). Aside from Adam West... I mean Nicholas Cage. And yet... it's like they all put in their performances, yet didn't quite know what the movie was on about either. They run each scene, and yet don't develop their character or anything. (And, yes, I get that 'oh, it's an eleven year old girl, look what's been done to her'... meh. I've seen worse.)

Ultimately, it was... good. Not great. But good. Could have been better.


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Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Out Copping

Bruce Willis doesn't have a great track record when it comes to comedies. I am in the minority that liked Hudson Hawk, but even I'm not a fan of The Whole Nine Yards (haven't seen the sequel). This is a Bruce Willis comedy directed by Kevin Smith, with the added talent of Tracy Morgan...

Yeah... it bites. Let's not beat around the bush, this is simply a bad movie.

In this movie, two cops, trough an unlikely set of circumstances, become involved in a major drug trafficking ring and hilarity ensues. This isn't breakthrough in terms of plot, and there aren't any surprises here. The only thing that marginally saves it are the characters, with the unlikely pairing of Willis and Morgan being treated completely straight and so it works. The characters have moments of realness, in between the wacky hijinks.

But this movie isn't saved by the acting. Tracy Morgan isn't Paul Hodges as much as he's Tracy Morgan. I've seen 30 Rock, and this character isn't far removed from that one. As for Bruce Willis, I don't know what the hell he was doing in this movie. He clearly wasn't engaged on any level, and looked as bored as the audience was. (Okay, there were a few laughs, but mostly just 'yeah, I see that, that's slightly amusing that is, glad I saw that'...)

I paid money for this, so now I can judge it. And my judgment is: save your own money.


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Monday, 19 April 2010

DW 503: Victory of the Daleks

Wow, that's was a short episode!

That's was a great 32 minute episode. Yeah, it got more personal towards the end, with the humanity ending of the bomb (no clue how thinking "I'm a human" stopped a mechanical device from going off...). But, on the other hand, think how bad it would have been if there had been another ten minutes! What kind of completely extraneous pointless nothing padding would we have otherwise been subjected to!

Certainly the first part was quite good, with the Mad Doctor, then the twist of the Doctor's Testimony, then the Teletubbie Daleks... the M&M Daleks? The Rainbow Daleks? You just know fandom is going to come up with some stupid term for them, so get on board quickly! Some nice design features to them, but from the side they just look hunched. (And their operators might end up that way!) Good to redesign them, but they do look... bulkier... not sure about them. But of course they get away to live again another day...

So we are left with Churchill and the 'bot. I kept thinking of Ian McNeice as Geoffrey Hughes, thinking he was going to burst out with "The Junior Mister Popplewick isn't allow to expect anyone!" (Although on watching the confidential, I'm thinking that Jim Broadbent might be a better fit look-wise!) As for Bracewell, as I said above, I'm not sure how Dorabella will bring someone back from exploding, but Bill Paterson certainly got to milk a scene at the end, just as well he was slow on the uptake or they really may have been forced to end early!

Aside from the first bit (loved the framing of the Doctor in foreground as the Dalek sweeps past in the background), didn't really get a sense from Matt Smith that the Doctor was that afraid of the Daleks. Certainly happy to hold them off with a jammy dodger (good line), but got more of a sense that they were an obstacle than a threat. While I don't want photo images back, we could do more with the idea of the Doctor as an alien, Matt at the moment coming across more as weird than as the Doctor (again the drawn out ending doesn't do anyone any favours with trying to extend characterisation beyond its due).

Makes me wonder how much of Mark Gatiss' previous episodes were really RTD!

Next time: Continuity fest!


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Saturday, 17 April 2010

I have Blu-Ray!

It was inevitable, sooner or later I would have to get a Blu-Ray movie of some kind. There was one I was planning to get as the first, but then I was in Whitcoulls, and it was there, and I brought it.

The annoying thing is that I can't watch it on my TV. Odd, you may think, but there is the obvious alternative. Both of my computers can play Blu-Ray, although I have no idea how well. Guess I'll find out. And given of my computers, my choices are my 15" laptop or my 21" widescreen monitor on my PC box... the pick is rather clear.

What I don't plan on doing is regetting my entire collection on Blu-Ray, that would take far too long, there's no guarantee the movies will be available on Blu-Ray... and, of course, it'll be hideously expensive. There are, however, some movies that I want to pick up in Blu-Ray because there are so many extra features. But must resist the urge to get too many.

Some of you may be asking at this point: what movie did I pick up? Of all the movies I could pick, I think you'll agree, I got a good one.


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Friday, 16 April 2010

Missy Saigon

At St James there is a wee musical you might have heard of, namely Miss Saigon. As you might guess from my posting about it: I went to it.

Let's be honest, cut to the chase, cite cliches, and admit this wasn't for me. The storyline just... didn't enthrall me. This was something I wouldn't naturally have gone to. I was invited along, and was willing to give it a go and see what it was like.

I like musicals (although more tend towards Lloyd Webber), but I also like being able to tell what's been sung. And also, feel free to have some actual dialogue moments, not everything needs to be sung. Not that it was at all all bad, it might be telling to say that my favourite character was the Engineer.

I did take more notice of the production side. Yes, the helicopter scene was well done, although I was more impressed with the moving scenery than the copter effect itself. The production was, overall, extremely slick, with all performers in fine form and the stage hands not showing up too much (not being as engaged I did spot the flitting forms). Certainly no trip ups of songs or anything that I noticed. Unfortunately I couldn't really see into the music pit, would have liked to see their professionalism in action.

I'm not going to offer a recommendation, as you might be able to tell that it wasn't really my cup of tea. I did pick up a brochure of upcoming events and there are some other things that do appeal to me. I see Jan Hellriegel is performing, yay! Die Fledermaus might tempt me more, musical-ly speaking. And yes, a touch of fondness for Julian Cleary. Waiting for Godot is just on the too expensive side.


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Wednesday, 14 April 2010

War on Scales 9

We entered the Happy Beggar to find a bar that consisted of... beggars and tea. Porridge was handed out while I was there, but I managed to flavour it into something more interesting. While the owner praised Pelor, I led a sermon on Melora, which proved more listenable.

While I was holding court, the monk and assassin went down to the kitchen and found a door leading to a cavern that might hold Morda. They headed down further, and fell down in a cave with some bats. The rest of us finally followed, but by the time I got there, the bats were dealt with. Well, except one which flew off. They followed, I wanted to rest (after falling down a cliff), but had to go help when I heard them fighting...

They found a shadow witch, some dark creepers and two shadow mastiffs. Lot of creatures, took a while to sort out who was doing what [long, long rounds]. Took a while, but we eventually got there. We then investigated a magic portal, which lead to a warehouse fill of illegal weapons. We turned those over to the guards. Seemed easier than setting up our own business.

However, that left another cavern with another portal. That definitely lead to somewhere in the Shadowfell. Somewhere, as it turned out, that some of us had seen before (in the crypt way back when). With military outpost and everything.

Huh. Get some rest then go investigate...


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Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The Vatican Song and Dance Show

There were two articles in the paper today that I just had to blog about now:

The Vatican are telling bishops to report abuse to actual authorities: ie the police. First of all... DUH! Why should bishops be have to be told this? Oh right, because there's been a lot of child abuse BY bishops and priests. Phew, with out this word from the Vatican, they might not have known what to do.

But the kicker is, and the emphasis is mine: "should report clerical sex abuse to police if required by law." If? IF? IF!!??!!??!! It's not like child abuse may be considered morally wrong in our society and should be reported from any kind of conscience stand, no, it only needs to be reported if it is against the law. But, hey, does that mean 'ignorance of the law' is an out? "Sorry officer, I was thinking of saying something, considering that this is bad, but, hey, it's not like I knew it was against the law or anything!" I really hope the 'if' was slack journalistic writing. I tried looking at the Vatican website, but had no idea where to find anything.

In other news... the Vatican forgives the Beatles! I'm sure this was not at all done in any attempt to hope that Beatle-mania would overwhelm any other focus currently on the Vatican. That would be extremely cynical and manipulative and it's not like the Vatican wouldn't do that... I mean would do that... yeah, that's what I mean...

And, hey, just 40 years after the band's breakup! That's quicker that Galileo's 340 years after his death! If they keep this up, the Vatican might be known as a religion that actually considers forgiveness as one of its tenets... better tread carefully guys... [And, of course, the Vatican's forgiveness is what everyone has been waiting for, considering they have such a morality stance...]


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The rise of the supernatural

Religion may be taking a bit of a hit, but there's more than that around when it comes to the mystery beyond the known. According to a survey, feeling spirits has rising from 33% to 40%. (I am wondering about the wording of the survey, and about how much people think they have felt it because it is more prevalent in the media as opposed to any actual increase... and certainly there's no actual rise in actual spirits!).

What I recalled when reading this is a comparison to elsewhere. Europe is often cited as a less religious place... but also there was a rise in the more spiritual side as well. It seems that people need something else "out there", and if religion can't provide it, they'll look elsewhere. [I do wonder if this could be cast as moving from "the religion of the masses" to "the religion of the self"?]

The article is rather critical, which is nice to see. Marika Hill takes a financial look at psychics and mediums, and there is a lot of money to be made there. More interesting, the comments aren't exactly pleading for special treatment of those people either. Usually there's many people claiming that there are ghosts, etc., but not many here. Not exactly a properly representative sample, but I like to think there's a trend here.

Now, if we can actually bring the power of some place like the Serious Fraud Office to bear...


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Monday, 12 April 2010

DW 5.02: The Beast Below

I wanted to like this episode... however... not as strong as last week.

Anyone else reminded of The Long Game? Obviously in reverse. Although, as much as this might be painful to admit, TLG had a better plot structure that TBB. The plot seemed all over the place, little scenes happening, without any decent connection between them [and let's not talk about the continuity nightmare that is their clothes and hair after they got vomitted up, no way that works]. And what plot there is is very easily gotten. How quickly does Liz Ten turn up? How easily do they move about this huge space craft? (Which made be think 'Brit-Cit in Space'.)

The one shining moment is when Amy puts it all together. Lovely moment of snatching victory that even the Doctor doesn't see... and then we are hammered with Doctor/Space Whale comparisons every other line. We get it, move on already. [Speaking of Amy, anyone creeped out about the fact that the Doctor was staring up her nightie in the opening?]

Performance wise, Karen Gillan is still strong, although Matt Smith's seems to have toned down a little. Got a bit less of the "old man in a young man's body" feel, and what we did get was more "tell don't show". This should have been a better moment to show off how alone the Doctor is, but the focus wasn't quite there. And Sophie Okonedo has traded (up? down?) from companion to guest star, pity the role wasn't worth it.

In the end, rather weak from Stephen Moffat, who was clearly putting his energy elsewhere. Rather telling that the script needed to bring in something from next week to pad it out...

Next week: Daleks! Cos we haven't seen them before... on the other hand, flashbacks to Manhatten Daleks in Evolution.


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Sunday, 11 April 2010

Of Steam, Steel and Murder

Gavin had a challenge this episode: get some passports to some people and get them out of the city. At his disposal was... one man (and another PC he hadn't met yet). And he couldn't even be there to see the plan go down. And if things went bad, he might never be seen again...

Oh yeah, no pressure...

Some skype problems, so not sure how well Game 11 turned out. We might be changing to another system in the future, and if so I probably won't be recording them.


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Those Glourious Basterds

Merely seven months late, I have now seen Quentin Taratino's latest. To be honest, I wasn't all that enthusiastic about it. The trailer seemed to suggest that it was going to be more black and white about who was good and evil. And not that subtle about it. Meh, wasn't drawn in.

I stand correctly. Brilliant movie! Although it's an odd thing to say about a movie set in a parallel universe, and done in an over the top style, it was realistic. In terms of the characters that is. I liked the bar/basement scene, that had some of the best characterisations of the people involved of the whole film. Some Americans were good, some where bad. Some Germans were good, some were bad. Nicely done.

And the whole film was entertaining in the standard Taratino way of having seemingly small pieces mixed in with more bloody extravaganzas. The movie is over two hours, but I wasn't paying any attention to time while watching it.

The plot, I don't need to tell you, is Americans vs Nazis, although there's a mix of everyone. (Although the French don't come off too well, what is it with everyone that they are down on the French?) Not an indepth plot by any means, but it is more about the characters.

Who are a wide mix from over the top (Hi Brad!) to more natural (nod to Diane) to subtle and brilliant (take a bow Melanie(*)), with lots of little cameos to amuse the sharp eyed.

You've already seen it, no doubt, but if you haven't, add my recommendations to the others you've heard.

(*) With all the people submitting trivia, you'd think someone would notice that Melanie's role and actor credit are swapped...


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Saturday, 10 April 2010

Perhaps there's a course that would help...?

It's hard paying people money, it seems. I while ago I signed up for a course, and paid, as one does, over the intertubes, using my credit card.

Then, a month ago, got a phone call, on a Thursday (the day is important), saying that the charge never went through. "Sometimes digits get dropped off." So we checked the number, they had it right, and told them to re-charge it and email if there are any problems. Never heard from them, everything is all right, of course...

Then, on Thursday, I got a call on my answering machine to say the charge never went through and could I call them to make arrangements. Sigh. However, they are at the bus station, where I catch a bus, so went there on the way home on Friday (again, day is important). Even took cash.

They offered to charge my card. Which they already had done, so I had no reason to think would work again. But even if that was possible, they couldn't process it until Monday.

Thus I had cash. $80. The course was $79. They could take the money, but they couldn't process it. Not until Monday. They could take it, give me a written receipt but not an electronic one (until Monday). Moreover, they couldn't even give me a dollar change.

Really? Not even grab one out of their wallets and get it back next week when suddenly processing is possible while it isn't on Friday? Let them have the dollar.

But... some tips:

Don't call people on Thursday if you can't process anything for them on a Friday. You're just going to annoy people with the thought they could actually do something.

Have cash. If you don't have business cash, in this case, use personal cash. It's a wee thing that comes under such wacky ideas as good business practices.

Ultimately, although I'd like to, I'm not seeing me take any more courses. Not until they take a competency one...


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Friday, 9 April 2010

Actions vs Words

When we heard that Blizzard was bringing out plush toys, we all saw them, thought them cute, and said we wanted one.

But how many of us manned up and actually brought them? I bring you...

The kicker... I don't even play World of Warcraft!


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Thursday, 8 April 2010

It's White Out There

Who would have thought? A straight to DVD movie featuring Kate Beckinsale! At least, I only saw it advertised at a local rental store, certainly don't recall seeing it anywhere near the theatre...

And, having watched it, have to say that was a wise choice of the production company, 'cos this movie blows. With a lot of snow, but even without it. Thrill as we watch them try to get a clip off a line and onto another one, not just once, but many, many, many times! Watch as Kate suffers a plot driven flashback every five minutes! No-one will be seated during the last twenty minutes after the movie ends! (By which, I mean the movie ends, but keeps going for twenty minutes with nothing happening! I know Lord of the Rings set the record, but no need to try to outdo it.)

The plot is that something happened and then we spend an hour finding out it wasn't worth noticing and some people die. The exciting thing is that it is set at the South Pole so it's got them trapped by snow every other scene and tension rises as the bad guy has magic 'get out of any trap' powers. Did that sound incoherent enough, 'cos the movie just wasn't interesting enough to bother keeping track of what was happening.

Actors worth noting... well, there's Kate, and yes she does strip down, but otherwise is wrapped up in heavy coats so no skin tight leather for her. Tom Skerritt also turns up, but isn't on screen enough. And... meh...

I think you might be able to guess, but I do not recommend this film. Just plain dull.


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Wednesday, 7 April 2010

War on Scales 8

We are in the town of Overtown, and meet up with some compatriots I have encountered before, a mercenary who is a Genasi swordmage, and a fellow Melora follower Mafic the Shifter Monk. While we are relaxing, we are rudely yanked out to face the courts and the charge that we stole the Warforged, which is clearly the property of some conglomeration or another. Clearly we are not, and epouse our views to this regard. The judges agree, and we are free to go, and I'm sure that plot will never come back to haunt us.

While we are traipsing back from that, we are set upon by some thugs who want some key we found back in the Vents. We tell them we have no idea what they are talking about as we proceed to beat the crap out them. Well, actually, the rest of the party beat the crap out of them as the bad guys beat the crap out of me! Still, we prevail and have a hostage for our troubles. A hostage that has apparently been in this situation before and says we can return him for 1000 gold... sold! Although the gold ain't turning up quickly...

We decide to look into this thug, Mordo or something, a dark creepling beastie, and spend the next few days looking for information about him. And slowly uncovering it. By Melora's leafy twigs, that's a long time... [Actual role playing! Well, close to it, a big skill challenge, but one that drags on and on, and we get information that we either don't care about or reiterates the same point over and over. Arms dealings. Morty. Active bad guy (at least, active until the previous adventure where we kyboshed his plans). Oi.] We eventually track him into the area of the Nine Bells and a tavern where he used to stay. Sighing at the lengths to get to this point, we head on in...


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Tuesday, 6 April 2010

DW: Code of the Krillitanes

Before Tennant disappeared, they tried to keep his memory alive by providing one more book: Code of the Krillitanes by Justin Richards.

This is one of the Quick Reads, and this was a quick read. In fact, it was a re-read in some ways. Krillitane oil infused chips... I mean crisps. Did Justin just give us the novelisation of School Reunion? Well, no, believe it or not School Reunion had more plot than this. We get the crisps, we get the home of the crisps, and we get a final showdown or two... and we're done! Definitely plot-lite-lite here.

This does also have the negative aspect of everyone needing to behave in stupid ways in order to keep things moving along. The bad guys need to exposit their motivation, and the answer needs to be quick and simple, as we are basically presented with "tell don't show".

Frankly, if you miss this book, you won't miss this book.


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Monday, 5 April 2010

DW 501: The Eleventh Hour

Boo-yah! Now that's an opening episode! Go Matt Smith! Some Moffatisms we could have avoided... but, it's back!

Lots of wonderful moments here. We saw that Amy Pool will be a police officer... but the expectation is turned on its head! Not a standard companion introduction, but did we ONCE AGAIN need to have the Doctor visit a young girl and then come back into her life while she's fetishised him during the intervening time? At least she didn't stick her tongue down her throat, but from the looks of some of the trailers that isn't far off.

Amy Pool is a good companion, willing to stand for herself and take charge, even if she isn't a police officer (I'm sure I'm not the only who wanted to see her in the other outfits she had). On the other hand, the men in her life seem rather wet, so being the dominant one wouldn't have been hard. As for who she was marrying... hopefully someone else as the obvious choice of Rory is just a depressing nobody of a person.

The plot wasn't that substantial, but it didn't need to be, this was all about the Doctor and Amy. Lots of action, running around, simple monster to battle against, and the Doctor is being too new to properly function. (Not sure how much I want to see that "focus... focus... focus..." sequence again.) And yet, notice that no-one died? Most unusual. Oh, and we have an arc! Definitely want to see what happens with that!

Still, Matt Smith, instantly wonderful. So easily able to accept him as the Doctor, he just takes the lead in any scene he is in. There's still some gelling to his character to come, but I like what I saw and want to see more. However, I do see Moffat making him more god-like, as feared by Lawrence Miles. He's already got the door clicker installed.

Things that will be mocked: The colonoscopey time tunnel and the dildo time rotor.

Verdict: Brilliant!

Coming up: Lots and lots of good stuff! I haven't examined the episode order, so next week... no specific idea!


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Sunday, 4 April 2010

Getting my Ar-McGann-On

Armageddon rolled around again, bringing with it a special Doctor Who guest: Paul McGann!

Asked a few duff questions in regards to his Doctor Who episode, but asked about some other shows as well. He knows Matt Smith and would be more than happy to come back (to be honest, don't really see it happening). Nice chap!

Next up: The John and Bonny Show!

Lots of fun to be had here, they spark off each other very well. Some fans got them stuck in a particular schtick which wasn't as funny, but fortunately enough other people had questions that ranged across both of them to keep things moving.

Last pairing: Marion and Michael be honest, while some funny moments, you didn't miss anything...

Afterwards, in the pub, conversation ranged from Doctor Who to James Bond to Shakespeare to... well, back to Doctor Who. Good chatting with good friends!


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Saturday, 3 April 2010

Like what?

Okay, what now? I can't believe I just saw this article. Abuse furore 'like anti-Semitism'. You mean like how the abusees are the Jews and the pedophile priests are preying Nazis?

Oh, wait, the person was defending the church. Yes, how dare we accuse the pope of being complicit in covering up the activities of priests under his control that are morally outrageous, that's exactly like how people are accusing Jews of... what? Being in control of the money? Erm... how?

One particular quote: "The use of stereotypes, the passing from personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt remind me of the more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism." Really? Reminds me of standard tactics of religion that ascribe olden times activities to current day. Original Sin anyone? Blaming current Germans for the activities of the Nazis? The sins of the fathers are entirely considered as done by the sons.

Even aside from the children, there are what happens to the women...

We've brought other organisations to task for their activities. The church should not be exempt.


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Thursday, 1 April 2010

Since you asked... no

Currently there's an article circulating asking "Is this the face of Jesus?" Ooh, I can answer that one!

The face has been created from the shroud of Turin, and therein lies our answer. Basically... the shroud is a fake. Well, I should qualify that as: all scientific evidence points to the shroud being a fake. Most likely a pious fraud, although I have read claims that it was the work of Leonardo di Vinci... but no-one takes those claims seriously.

It was most likely created by covering a person in particular powders, then pressing cloth onto them. This has been replicated and shown to be most probable. And it was done in the 15th century... a little late for Jesus. Let alone that burial practices would not have involved a shroud in this manner.

Anyway, to get back to the question at hand "is this the face of Jesus?" No... no it isn't. It might be the face of the model the artist used, but that's about it.


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