Monday, 31 May 2010

DW 509: Cold Blood

[For the blog, I have some span code to hide away the spoiler text, but the rss shows all, and the buzz account shows the first few lines anyway. Can't please everyone.]

So I take it that blood is a dish best served cold?

This was pretty much a "by the numbers" episode. The Doctor tries to broker a peace, check. Ambroise kills Aleila (and it was obviously going to be Ambroise), check. Said death causes the peace negotiations to fail, check. Silurians get all killery, check. And then everything is reset and the Silurians are put back to sleep, double check with a potential for a follow up episode in a thousand years. (Although there was no sign of the Silurians in the future episodes, not in The Beast Below, for example, let alone others.) And... there you go, episode done, no-one but Silurians dying in the entire episode.

And featuring Stephen Moore! With a voice-over narration that just reminds me of Timothy Dalton. Frankly the whole peace deal bit was a complete waste of time, even at the time. We, the audience, knew it was going to fail, so it was just making time (with the same solution the Doctor already proposed, re desert areas of Earth, coming up). The only poignant reason for it was to emphasize the last few minutes with the Doctor's crack. The TARDIS explodes... only we know the Doctor will solve it, unless Moffat is really looking at shaking up the Christmas episode/next series (I presume there'll be a Christmas episode). Only a few episodes to go before we find out!

The confidential shows that Matt isn't entirely over his "why not use a gun?" phase, with pointedly pointing out that the Doctor uses the sonic screwdriver to defend them, not point it like a gun. Although clearly the confidential didn't have that much to say as it sent the episode talking about a tour that was featuring episode one!

So the second two-parter ends without any particular amazement. Still, it gave the Silurians more focus that a one-shot would have done.

Next week: another overly long trailer that gives away too much. And, it's pronounced "Van Gokhk".


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Sunday, 30 May 2010

The Losingers

[Not the best movie experience I've had. Although the trailers were fine, there was a sound problem during the movie itself that sounded like an air conditioner was on. After a Readings employee had been through, they obviously said something as the noise abated... but it was still there. Be on the watch out next time your in Cinema 7 at Readings Courtney.]

[And I can't even make a comment about how this was like the A-Team... the last trailer played before the movie was for that one!]

So, this comic book movie was well worth the translation to the screen. By which I mean this movie is another generic action movie of "wronged good guy who seeks revenge" (although in this case the 'good guy' is 'guys'). And given this is a supposed to be a team of five guys, they first thing they do is add a woman. But it's not like I've ever read the comics, so if the fans are outraged... whatever.

The plot is... well, I already described it. The Losers are wronged, when they go on a mission that they are set up on. They then go after the people responsible, with the aid of a woman who has connections they are unaware of. Add in another twist that I won't explain (which may be from the comics, don't know, haven't looked), and sprinkle liberally with set pieces of action moments. At least, set pieces involving either the team, or the white guys on the team (although to be fair it might be that the rest had too much self-respect to do the Chris Evans scene).

As this is an ensemble piece, some actors getting better roles than others. Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Chris Evans get more than Idris Elba and Columbus Short, and they all get way more than Oscar Jaenada. Zoe Saldana gets a lot of screen time as well, but then she is the token Sexy Woman.

If you are not after innovation, this is a decent movie. Just make sure you see it in a decent theatre.


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Saturday, 29 May 2010

Not Reading That

A big announcement is that Whitcoulls now has an eReader available, and is selling eBooks. The eBooks can be used on pretty much any device, so that's good, lots of flexibility there. However, due to the recent low exchange rate with England, I brought a lot of books (pile goes up to my knee!), so I'm not seeking more books any time soon.

And if I was, I'm eying the Kobe eReader doubtfully. One of its selling points is a "quilted" cover for easy holding. Nice, but when the surface is a major feature, you do have to wonder about the product itself. (On the other hand, being easy to hold is a nice thing to have in a pseudo-book.) But one thing I'm not keen on is that all it can do is read books. No sign that I could throw a cbz/cbr in there.

Which might be an indication that what I want is the iPad. However, it has the same draw back as the iPhone, in that only one application can be run at once. On the iPhone, maybe, its small, not like there's a lot of space to have many things open anyway. But on the iPad? I want to have multiple media options, dangnabit, and not have to close one application to get another running.

Which then leaves me with a tablet. Now that has the versatility I'm looking for, however tablets aren't really the mainstream item other things (like the iPad) are, and so there are lots of choices with lots of set up needed (for example, read here). I'm not sure that "off the shelf with lots of options" is available for the tablet.

And that's not even mentioning the price of all this.

So while, in the future, I might get some electronic format, at the moment I'm sticking with paper. You gadgetted up yet?

Edit: ...on the other hand...


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Thursday, 27 May 2010

Zombiegeddon: 2nd Bite!

It wasn't so much as one step forwards and one step back as it was one step to the side and then one step back.

From the bakery we crept "forwards" some more, but we were only a few alleys along when we found a staff standing in the alley, and then we got attack by a wizard and some creepers. We got smacked around a lot, got ourselves bloodied, and slowly managed to take them down.

The wizard turned out to be related to a "dark sun cult", and we got a (nother) staff from him, a token stone on/off switch thingy (garage opener?), and a iTablet. The iTablet was used for connections, and with the Changelings amongst us, one switched to the wizard and activated it, connecting to a pad of someone back in the inn, a "lady of the night". Hmmm...

We rest up over the night, and see dark night creep in and swamp the light. Nasty. What's worse is that something overwhelmed me in my sleep, and I woke up with the dark sun symbol branded on my arm! Waaah! It's giving off arcane energy to... somewheres... what the...?

In the morning, we head back to the inn, and another person joins us (to be suddenly fleshed out next week), and we head up to confront the lady. [The chaos mage, also a changeling, looking like the wizard, leapt up to her and "J'accuse!" We nearly broke the GM with that. He knew we were going to do it... but didn't quite think we would. Ha!] The lady snarls and leaps into the attack...


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Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Shrek Forafter Ever

The problem with the latest in the series is that I'm wondering what happened to Shrek The Series. It's like DreamWorks have decided that they can churn out any old story and as long as it features a large green ogre, it'll make money.

Well, that's like as not to be true, Shrek has cemented itself as "movies that kids will demand to see", but note that I said "a large green ogre" and not, say, "a large green ogre and lots of jokes". Because if there's one thing missing, and one element that is nearly as core as the ogre himself, it's the humour, and the funnies are largely missing. (Not gone entirely, but every movie pretty much has some comedy moments.)

The basic idea is that Shrek isn't an ogre any more and ends up in an alternative reality where he can ogre away to his heart's content. Of course it is more complicated that this, but it's largely about Shrek coming to terms with his life, and, oh hey, wasn't that the point of the last few movies? But they do this by making the movie all serious and dark and it loses a lot of its charm. [Although be warned, it's not a proper alternative reality, there are no zeppelins, the classic alternative reality marker.]

Fortunately, we do have Rumpelstiltskin, who gets the best lines, but he's the villain so we know how that will end up. The alternative reality nature of the film allows the movie to pare down its bloated extra cast (which is really pushed in the opening scenes), but then fails to let the main cast do anything interesting.

I'm not even sure this is a movie for the kiddies. I suspect most of them will enjoy it because it's a Shrek movie, and not because it's all that good. YMMV.


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Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Ending's Game

Quite a few shows have ended in the past week, or will come to an end, mainly in American TV as the seasons finally wrap up (after continual mucking about with scheduling because America can never screen anything sensibly).

House finished season six. Doubt that ending is going to last.

The Mentalist finished season two. Yet another hint of Red John. Eh... the Jack of All Trades plotline in Profiler was more interesting (although there was a series cut-off in the middle of a cliff hanger).

Up-coming we have the finale of FlashForward. Can't say I'm sorry that series wasn't renewed. Yes, they tried something different, but completely fumbled it.

(Other series, such as Supernatural and Fringe are also ending, but since I haven't been watching them, I won't comment.)

But the two big ones are: Ashes to Ashes and Lost. I'm somewhat spoilerific, so I'll hide the rest of this post away. You have been warned...

Ashes to Ashes went all metaphorical in the end there, however left a lot of plot holes open. Oh, and I did pick who the soldier was before the final episode, but didn't take my thought far enough. Anyway, so being in a coma is enough to come to this... whatever it was? Why didn't Shaz have a more modern framework? Do only coppers get this? What about plumbers? Or pilots? Or criminals? Fine, it explained things, in that everything could be broadly handwaved away, but didn't do so well.

And as for Lost... in some ways the same kind of ending as Ashes to Ashes. But we find out the entire alt-verse version was completely irrelevant! And as for what was going on on the island... WE'VE STILL BEEN TOLD NOTHING!!! Screw you, Lost! Don't try to have emotional moments and action beats and pretend that solves anything! Screw. You.


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Monday, 24 May 2010

DW 508: The Hungry Earth

Wasn't the earth on Frontios described as hungry?

New look Silurians!... right, let's get this out of the way. I get these are NuSilurians, but... where's the third eye, dammit? Even though they glowed when the Silurian spoke in Warriors of the Deep, at least they had them! (It's made worse in the Confidential, which shows old series Silurians, and nearly every shot has them using their third eyes... and they don't even mention it in the behind-the-scenes bit!) That and the entire face mask gave them a nice weird monster look. These ones just look like people wearing stupid helmets [cf the Vinvocci], although having the 'original' face as the mask is a nice touch, is a little Ice Warrior-y. Basically, I'm not that impressed.

Anyway, over to the story. Back in Wales, in the future, and there's a mining operation, and the Silurians are involved and... dear gods, this seems familiar. The dead bodies going missing are slightly more interesting (taken for dissection), but that plot point disappeared quickly [may come back in]. [Speaking of plots cropping up, I'm sure the engagement ring in the box put into some part of the console will have no relevance to anything what so ever.]

The small cast might be to help keep the money down, but does help add to the threat of a very small community in danger. Recognised Meera Syal without knowing exactly who she was. Didn't recognise Stephen Moore (I might have more luck next week when he's actually in the episode). Can't say this is the best produced episode.

Not a brilliant Chris Chibnall script... in other words a Chris Chibnall script. Meh.

Next week: Fight! Fight! Fight!


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Sunday, 23 May 2010

Of Steam, Steel and Murder

Way-hey! Combat! Gavin proves more effective that I suspected (he's not a combat character), and does his part to fend off the enemy. Quite well, and gets in some key shots, if I do say so myself.

As we uncover more plot, there is an interesting point (this is not the first game this has come up in) of the PCs doing things versus getting better equipped and more specificially skiled NPCs/groups of NPCs doing things instead of us. We do some key things, but then hand the information over to others for them to deal with, because it makes sense ingame to do so. There was potentially the option of a PC going undercover, but this could take them out of the game for a while, so not something I favour. Still, we are successful in forwarding the uber-plot!

Check out game 14.


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Saturday, 22 May 2010

K9... but why?

Everyone knows K9, the greatest companion ever! (Well, for those that consider K9 the best companion ever.) But he was very popular with the kiddies, if not always the actors, and of course had to be resurrected in the NuSeries.

But then he was resurrected for Disney. A new production of K9 has been created, shooting in Australia, which changes the metal dog to a new upgraded model which can fly, be in CGI and otherwise bear little resemblance to the original. But then, that's the point of this writing.

The show itself is very much a kids show, with a cast of youngsters, a professor, some corporate authority types and, of course, K9. It is set in a future, totalitarian London which cyber-cops and occasional alien incursions. Episodes sometimes have those alien incursions, or are up against the authorities, etc., etc., in a very kid friendly way. Which is nice in an of itself. Indeed, watching the series as a separate series from anything else, it's not bad and, although cheesy, is quite watchable...

But what does this have to do with Doctor Who? The series is in a future never seen in the parent series. Features aliens never mentioned in the parent series. And K9 himself isn't as he was in the parent series. So what's the point? Why not invent a whole new series? Is this just feeding off the fame of the parent series?

[Well... yes. And for rights reasons they can't exactly have the Doctor turn up. But still...]

Still, at least this spin-off worked better than Nation's launch of the Daleks in America. But I can't help thinking that the concept of it being linked to DW is overshadowing any sense of it being taken seriously by itself.


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Thursday, 20 May 2010

Zombiegeddon: 1st Bite!

[New D&D Campaign - I am a human psion by the name of Sir Julius Blackmoor. Two Changelings, a Bard named Kerlan, and a wild mage named Dox. A Human Revenant Fighter named Fig completes the set.]

We recently left Llorkh for the city of Loudwater after falling afoul of the authorities (although I knows others were involved in my expulsion), and settled in to an inn to rethink our lives, when a blast rippled through the town, knocking people over. And by 'knocking people over', I mean 'turning them into zombies'!

Yep, the Zombie apocalypse started, and we're in an inn. Not a bad start. While we fight the zombies that crop up in the inn, I shut the down on the outside ones and cut off that source of stupidity. Although that just leaves the entire city with roaming packs of zombies. The innkeeper has no interest in leaving, and although the zombies are no threat of getting in soon, there is the question of food.

We, being the brave band of heroes, or, alternatively, the group that doesn't want to get stuck in the inn, decide to head for the source of the wave, the mages' Spire across the river. Fortunately the river the is close. Unfortunately the nearby rowing boat is small and we can't get across that way. Fortunately there is a bridge. Unfortunately there are zombies and burning buildings between us and them. Fortunately... well, no, there's just more unfortunately, we can't quite make our way there, and need to retreat back into town while we plan, currently stuck in a bakery.

Most likely they hunt by heat. And fire, which is all around, gives off heat. Maybe we could use that...


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Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Boi E

Now this is a piece of kiwiana! I haven't seen Once Were Warriors, but I'm thinking this is nothing like that. Boy is a coming-of-age story that's a bit different. It's nothing amazing, simply an ordinary tale, about an ordinary kid that goes through something that speaks to all of us. (Can't say my childhood was anything like this, but I can recognise it.)

Boy is living with his family when his father turns up, who is not the best role-model. He loves his father, wants to be like him, but sees the truth of his father in a rather painful way. In some ways this is a rather painful coming-of-age moment, but it's a truthful one.

This movie has a lot of laughs, but there is a moment where the movie turns (the ice block scene), and from then on the laughs are less but the reality is more. The film has the standard 'this film is fictional' etc., but I'm thinking there's a fair bit of autobiography in there.

I doubt this will ever turn up outside New Zealand, but if it does, it's a good catch. And in honour of the Christmas charts:


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Monday, 17 May 2010

DW 507: Amy's Choice

This is it! Will she or won't she?

That was a lot better than I was expecting. Given standard 'dream' realities, usually we spend half the time in the wrong reality before finding out it is a dream reality. This time, we find out, right at the beginning. Although, we, as the audience, already have some idea which one is the real one, and a lot of work needs to be invested in making us believe the '5 years later' one is real. They gave that a good shot, but... the sheer amount of deaths just made that improbable. (They killed children! Gasp! Can't be real!)

But it really came down to the focal point of the episode, were they disagreeing or competing? That's the key, isn't it? And yet... what is the Doctor competing for? He's already expressed a lack of interest in being with Amy on other than a friend level... or was he overcompenstating to hide something? The answer is inbetween, they each thought their reality was right, but they also wanted Amy to agree with them. And then the moment when Amy knows which reality is wrong and why... that's a heart rending moment that is! Brilliantly done! Still having trouble seeing Rory as more than 'prat companion' although he is sticking around longer than I thought.

And as for the Dream Lord, I'm also of the idea of the Valeyard, although I doubt Moffat and co will give that explanation, wanting to stake out a different ground to the old series. The comparison is unavoidable though.

Decent character episode, keep it up!

Next week: I know what those are because of standard ZB practices.


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Sunday, 16 May 2010

Yep. That's F'd up!

Human Centipede is one of those movies you hear about but can hardly believe. This surgeon sticks people together mouth to ass. Yeah... yeah, I have to see that...

And I did! The idea is amazingly screwed up... but I'm not sure what the point was beyond "hey look at this weird idea!" 'cos there isn't much that happens outside of getting to and showing that off. I'm not sure what Tom Six was wanting the audience to feel, but it's pretty one-note. Still, it's a great performance by Dieter Laser. There's a man doomed to be typecast as the bad guy!

But this is just the "First Sequence" (should have been 'first segment' ;) ). There's the second part coming next year!

Watch the trailer, if you dare:


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Saturday, 15 May 2010

Deal or No Deal?

In this consumer driven world of ours, we tend to buy products. Myself, I buy too many books and DVDs and the like. Moreover, with the internet at our fingertips, we can get pretty much anything we want online. (And when it comes to books, I'd be insane to go anywhere other than the Book Depository, especially with the current exchange rate!)

Also, we can look around, find and compare prices, and pick and choose where get something from. However... then there's the rest of the deal.

Say we find a cheap book or DVD we want (or, more likely, get spammed about from the various sites we've signed up to and haven't bothered to switch the newsletters off from), so we take advantage of the deal to grab that item. But then... if we spend, say, $50, we get free shipping.

(Both Mighty Ape and Fishpond have a deal like this. I'm not 100% certain they are different companies...)

Then we face the consumer-struggle. Do we pay for shipping? Or do we buy more stuff? Even if we decide to buy more stuff, can we find enough from that particular website that we want to get? Let alone, is there really more stuff that we want in the first place? And just how long do we spend browsing trying to find that one or two items that will put us over the limit without going too extravagant.

This just happened with me finding a good cheap DVD that I wanted, then hunting for other things to get the free shipping deal. As I mention above, no point looking at books, but there aren't any more DVDs I want/need (until I found out there's Grudge 3!...which looks like it went straight to DVD.).

Anyway, I filled my trolley up with stuff, so got free shipping... but was it worth it? Will I ever get time to watch the DVDs I just got? Is this just consumer madness/uncontrollable impulse buying?

Do you do things like that?


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Friday, 14 May 2010

For your consideration

As a Doctor Who fan, I haven't been that interested in getting the merchandise (aside from the books)... but there are just such neat toys out there!

A while ago, I picked up the blue sonic screwdriver, and had lots of fun buzzing things. Seen (badly) pictured here:

Note that three fingers cover about half the length.

Then I got the green sonic screwdriver. Seen pictured here:

This time three fingers are about a third the length.

Something you'd like to tell us, New Boy, hmm...?


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Thursday, 13 May 2010

War on Scales 12

With the team split and on the verge of killing each other, nature intervened with things blowing up! Sarshin was distracted by the lava flowing and the tower collapsing and stuff, so left his second in charge to take care of us, and left him to it.

At which point, he attacked up, with his panthers. Even those that sided with Sarshin, claiming that he couldn't trust them. To be fair, no, he couldn't, and they, especially the assassin, were, like as not, planning on killing him and taking his place at the earliest opportunity.

However, we found ourselves largely outmatched [not helped at all by some really crappy rolling], and barely able to stand up to them. As time went on more of us were bloodied than not.

Oh yeah, and did I mention the tower collapsing? During the fight I went over to the portal and stabilised it, but still couldn't open it. Needed the key the assassin had for that. Eventually, with the tower in the process of falling over, he got it open and we jumped through, leaving the second in command behind us to... well...

We ported to near where came in and went back to the city to find ourselves surrounded by guards, ready to close the portal. We got back in time to be on the right side when that happened. While we have probably dealt with Modra, this does leave Sarshin to deal with at some point...

[This was the end of that particular module. We were potentially going to start another game, but not everyone was ready. Instead, we had two rounds of Family Business. Fun game, although I didn't win either game.]


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Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Doing whatever a Spiderman can!

Wow, yet another blast from the past! I'm sure I remember watching this as a kid, but can't say I entirely recognise the episodes I've seen so far.

Watch and be amazed as a man scales a building... with merely the aid of a crane! Watch him climb walls, by being superimposed on a photographic plate! You too will believe he can accurately throw webs, by simply reversing the film! A precognitive ability that can see into different rooms! The hair styles! The flares!

A truly spectacular time!


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Tuesday, 11 May 2010

But they could be making more money!

Since I've been looking into BluRay, I've heard information that makes it more annoying everything time I hear more. The discs have keys that get updated, so if you have a player, you need to update the firmware, until it stops being supported so you need to buy a new player. And on the computer, you need commercial software. It sounds like a huge money sink, but... they are missing out on a trick.

In general, you get a computer with hardware and software, and there are drivers for the hardware, which hopefully work, and everything ticks along. (I'm going to ignore Microsoft's tendency to depreciate Windows.) As long as you don't change anything, and aren't interesting in updating, you could keep going on and on...

But how is that making money for the corporations?

What they need is a way to force money out of people, even if they do nothing! How about... device drivers that expire? That way you need to update, even if you don't want to get any new items, until eventually the corporations stop supporting, and then you have to upgrade everything...

But, wait, then things might be able to be cracked! (As far as I can recall, I don't have any cracked software or hardware on my computers.) We can delay that if we look at how the gaming system is handling piracy. The computer needs to talk to the main server (as long as it isn't down, or the company hasn't gone bust, etc.) before you can use a particular device.

Or... how about we log into a computer that's housed elsewhere that we can set up and stuff, and pay money for the priviledge?

Yep, we're back to the terminal/server model.

But at least corporations would be making money.


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Monday, 10 May 2010

DW 506: The Vampires of Venice

That was a lot better than I thought it would be. Matt Smith should get an award for the opening teaser alone!

The very, very basic plot is as standard as it gets. Someone's relative is in a school/institution and now they are getting worried, and something else is going on behind the closed doors. I was struck by that when we saw the father (name escapes me) asking for Isabella and the Doctor saw this, and I thought "that's as basic a hook as you get".

Aside from that, vampires that aren't vampires. Does make it more interesting! Vampires have been overdone, in Doctor Who and elsewhere, so bit of a twist added that extra hint of freshness. As for Venice, kept flashing back to Stones of..., especially when she wanted to sink it. Is there something about Venice that suggests to people that it should become overly waterlogged?

But the plot doesn't matter, 'cos the characters were great, especially the Doctor, Amy and Rory. I wonder how much of this was Toby, and how much was a Moffat polish. It does seem like Rory being a "typical male companion", ie useless. Although the Doctor was more keen that usual to keep him around (how much of that is so Amy would affectinate up Rory and not the Doctor...). Haven't read up, but I suspect that Rory is only going to be in a few episodes, so not sure how the whole wedding plotline will be resolved (beyond going badly).

(BTW, I'm assuming most British viewers are going "Woo! Helen McCrory is Rosanna Calvierri!" I have no idea who she is, so I'm not.)

Anyway, good episode! And longer than normal! Yay!

Next week: They are inside the TARDIS. Or are they? To be honest, I'd like the trailers shorter. Just a hint, don't give anything away.


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Sunday, 9 May 2010

Of Steam, Steel and Murder

Another game (in our usual fortnight slot), although we still have technical problems, with my skype crashing at one point.

The game itself was two murders. And a complicated plot. A really complicated plot. Although we get to the end, we are no wiser as to what was going on, but Bert reveals all.

And the coolest thing I do? Drive a truck. ;)

Listen to Game 13. (I upped my mic volume, so hopefully fractionally louder.)


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The Future of Documentation

If I knew how to make money of this idea...

I know what the next step in documentation is! Or, at least, should be!

Now, you are working on a Spreadsheet and need to write some documentation up about it. But writing it in the spreadsheet itself is annoying and limited functionality, so you load up a text document. Oh, and you also need to work up a presentation, so third application is started...

And then you can't find one of the files, and can't remember exactly what you wrote, and now the whole lot's useless. Right?

Why? Why should it be like this? Why do we have different applications for this stuff? Why not...

OmniDoc! I see this as akin to a Spreadsheet, but in each tab you can have any type of document. Text document is good for the first tab, write the report up. Next few tabs are spreadsheets, containing all the numbers. Then a presentation in the end tab to show to others. Full functionality in each part, with the flexibility of the right tool (text, spreadsheet, presentation) for the right job. One application for the whole lot, just change the options depending on which document type you are in.

One document. Everything relevant is contained, can't lose part of it now. (Can still lose the whole thing, but there's only so much help you can give people.)

OmniDoc... why don't we have this already? We are already so close with everything having the same look and feel, so... where is my OmniDoc!?


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Saturday, 8 May 2010

Doctor Who Running

Someone on a list I'm on commented that the current series of Doctor Who has shorter episodes that previous series... that sounds like something to test! I used the Doctor Who Reference Guide for running times for Series 1-4, and got Series 5 from the episodes themselves.

Series One: Average running time is 43'51". Shortest: 41'45" (The Empty Child). Longest: 45'29" (Parting of the Ways). There are no particular longer than normal episodes to worry about. This is shortest running time of all series.

Series Two: Without Christmas Invasion, average is 45'02". With, average is 46'04". Shortest: 43'18" (Army of Ghosts). Longest (ignoring Christmas): 47'11" (The Satan Pit).

Series Three: Without Runaway Bride, 45'26". Without Runaway or Last of the Time Lords, 44'56". With both, 46'29". Shortest: 42'55" (Family of Blood). Longest (ignoring Runaway, Last): 46'52" (Daleks in Manhatten).

Series Four: Partners in Crime to Journey's End: 46'53". Without Journey's End: 45'31". With Voyage of the Damned: 48'42". The Next Doctor to The End of Time, Part Two: 62'49". All: 52'25". Shortest: 42'57" (Silence in the Library). Longest (ignoring obvious): 49'23" (Turn Left).

Series Five: Average so far: 46'28". Average without The Eleventh Hour: 41'58". Shortest so far: 41'45" (Victory of the Daleks). Longest (ignoring 11th): 42'37" (Flesh and Stone). So... yeah, looks like these episodes are shorter. Read a comment that this may be for more ad friendly markets (eg US).

On the other hand, I note that two of the shortest episodes are Moffat's. Maybe he writes short episodes? Average of his episodes for Series One to Four is 43'40". With Series Five it is 45'10", or 43'01" without 11th. This is shorter than Series One average! So while the Doctor Who production office might be eying ad markets, the Moffat effect of short episodes is clearly not without power itself.

(To get the average, I translated minutes+seconds into seconds, averaged that, and converted back to minutes+seconds. And I have this in an OpenOffice spreadsheet, so may revisit this later.)


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Friday, 7 May 2010

How to be famous 101: Suicide!

It's weird the songs you hear on early morning radio before the DJs come on...


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Thursday, 6 May 2010


When I saw this sequel was out, I brought it without hesitation. The first one was a decent take on the zombie idea, was redone by Americans, and this one picked up right (indeed before) the previous one finishes. However...

The first part are soldiers go in, with someone from the Ministry of Health, to find the source of the virus. Then we get a second part in which some kids go in to find out what's going on, which is basically a restart on the movie until the two threads combine, and then one thread is quickly dropped. So.. what was the point of the middle then? Just padding? Putting people in jeopardy for no reason? All right then...

The big revelation here is the origin of the virus. Ummm... (I won't give it away) it's an interesting idea, and one that works for the culture, and raises some intriguing ideas... but I'm not sure about the context of it given the final scene. Is that really how it works? Something else might have worked... then again, any reason for zombie movies is largely secondary to the fact that it is a zombie movie!

Manuela Velasco makes a come back for this movie, although somewhat lesser performance. Jonathon Mellor kept reminding me of someone else (Colin Ferral? Jason Flemyng?). And the rest didn't really stand out.

If you liked [REC], you'll probably get this, but I wouldn't recommend seeing this without having seen that. Or you could wait for the inevitable American version which will probably end up being entirely unrelated to the original...

Nothing special on the DVD, just a photo-gallery and a trailer for Storm Warriors. Hmm... might pick that up. The first one had a behind the scenes, would have been interesting to see that for this.


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Wednesday, 5 May 2010

War on Scales 11

We were still at the Foundry, watching Modra and co set up the place to explode and take out the tower. Watching him, we worked out what he was doing and knew we could do it ourselves... then our desire to kick his ass overwhelmed our vague interest in watching him, and so we set about him with all due kick-a-tude. Unfortunately, we failed to kill him in the surprise round, so it was on!

And then he unleashed the two headed beastie. Yowsa! (The picture [(c)Wizards of the Coast] gives an idea of the fight... yes that is a two-headed death boar.) And the others grouped around us and started pounding away. I got trapped between two of them and proceeded to get pounded (fortunately minions only do set damage). We concentrated on Modra where possible, but it wasn't easy. It took all my abilities to keep the rest of the team on their feet (the assassin went down AGAIN), and I was nearly dead myself!

We knocked Modra unconscious and another guard that was surprisingly resilient and was about to set off the explosion... when we found a secret passage to the tower. Greed getting the better of us, we decided to raid the tower then blow it up on the way out.

The tower had various guards, but we mowed through them [the GM ran them as 'combat skill challenges'. Far quicker and more fun than standard fights]. Then the guards entered and cornered us by a portal we couldn't use. Through which came Sarshan. He offered us jobs. The assassin and the sword mage accepted. The warden and I didn't. Sarshan took up their offer and told his guards to kill the two of us...

...we so should have blown up the foundry when we had the chance...


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Tuesday, 4 May 2010

I, Ron Man Again

Epic Super Hero Movie? Why wouldn't I see it? Great characterisation, terrific special effects sequences, a plot that hides all its secrets... none of those are reasons to see this!

Tony Stark is back and is dying, in an amazing short span of time you wonder how he lasted the six month gap between movies. What he needs is an amazing plot point that is handed to him without effort (indeed the entire audience is ahead of him in guessing the secret so we wonder why he needs anything handed to him at all and can't just see what's right there), so that isn't worth anything. And then there are the cut-rate villains... People (aka rabid fans) have been disappointed in bringing in Whiplash, but they do tie him into Stark's background in interesting ways, and in comic book movie terms, that's enough for me to be happy he's involved. Pity about the fight...

Special effects took a pounding as well, but I don't have high standards. I certainly couldn't tell what was practical/what was CGI, so that's a thumbs up. In general the production was solid if uninspiring.

Robert Downey Jr. continues to make the part of Tony Stark his, and Don Cheadle is a passable Terrance Howard. Gwyenth Paltrow doesn't get much to do, Sam Rockwell is clearly enjoying himself regardless of the role, Mickey Rourke does a decent turn, Scarlett Johansson doesn't stand out as Natasha, and Samuel L. Jackson plays Samuel L. Jackson.

If you're taking in the Marvel Epic Movie Arc, leading up to Avengers, definitely catch this. If you want a decent enough sci-fi movie, catch this. If you are looking for an in-depth romantic drama with tearful moments... why are you even reading this review?

Once again, stay past the credits!


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Monday, 3 May 2010

DW 505: Flesh and Stone

Yes, it was good, but that ending...

Trying to walk through a forest while not able to open your eyes, interesting. Finding out that the crack in time is rewriting everything, interesting. Hearing a long back and forth between River and the Doctor in which nothing is revealed, now that's annoying! Pandorika better be the best thing ever, 'cos the episode already ended (rather abruptly) when we were subjected the that scene. (I was reminded of the end of Forest of the Dead in that the big villain is suddenly gotten rid of with no problem despite a big build up. Disappointing.)

Then there's the Amy sex scene... now this is where Moffat's Coupling experience comes out, but is it appropriate for Doctor Who? Casual sex is a rather odd topic to bring up... on the other hand, compare with the end of Dying Days. There's more discussion around that to be had.

What of the Angels themselves? If they think someone is looking at them, they are quantum locked? It's not them that turn into statues, it's a factor of their biology. And why, when they are not locked, they suddenly move with the sound of grinding stones? Never heard that before that scene. And being quantum locked into being a statue doesn't stop them from using Bob's brain to communicate? Fortunately throwing them into a crack in time doesn't cause any problems.

Most of the episode was good, with some great performances from Matt and Karen, but that ending? Not convinced about that at all.

Next week: That's a rather long trailer (once again needing to pad out an episode?)... I am wondering what surprises are left to find out!


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Sunday, 2 May 2010

Of Steam, Steel and Murder

We didn't game last week when we should have due to too many people not there. Today we went with just three, although it was going to be five at one point! But, from chatting with Bert last week, I knew a mental hospital was involved...

Which meant that when we hit this crime scene, I jumped to immediate conclusions that were obvious given that clue. However, I tried to proceed naturally and not give it away too easily. Moreover, following up on leads, we hit extra bonus options!

And yes, we did end up at a mental hospital. And that, as the kids say, is when "this shit just got real".

Listen to Game 12. (Yeah, I know I'm quiet, I have no idea how to get PowerGramo Standard to record my voice at normal levels.)


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On the other, other, other hand...

So, turns out that my computers can't play Blu-Ray. So, now I need to get myself a Blu-Ray player at some time. (My collection has risen to five... or possible eight titles... what do the Doctor Who Specials count as? Fortunately, everything I have is Region B, are there multi-regional players?)

But even then it's not that simple. My TV is HD Ready... as it ever will be. By which, I mean it isn't ready at all. So not only do I need a player, I need a new TV now. The depressing fact is that any new TV I get now will be half the price I paid for my current TV back then. Sigh. (If a trade-in deal happens, bam! Otherwise, I'll have a 40" plasma TV sitting around doing nothing... can only go so far with TradeMe.)

Back to the player, I could get a straight BluRay player... or... I could get a PlayStation 3. No only could I play discs, I could also play games. Yay! Except for the fact that I have computer games I'm not playing now, so I'm not sure I'll be seeing a lot of potential from that aspect. It would be nice to have that ability should I want to take advantage of it... but if I'm never going to, what's the point? (Yet again, I'm not seeing a lot of current cheaper straight players having a USB connection. Some do, but they tend to be the same price as PS3, in which case...)

Totaling up... looking just under two grand for that (counting in warantees, etc.). Fine, I paid that for the laptop I'm currently typing this on, although I did need to upgrade my laptop, and I use it all the time... but it doesn't have a BluRay player! Gyp!

Obviously, since I have discs, I need to get some kind of player, but TV/PS3? Get a new drive for my computers? Wait five years and reget everything on laser crystal?


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Saturday, 1 May 2010

Tim Minchin sings about the Pope

I wasn't going to post this, since it already hit common sites like Skepchick and Pharyngula, however since we want this to go viral...

Note: not even slightly safe for work.


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Social Not-working

I don't bother with most forms of social networking. Fine, I have a blog, and I'm now hooked up to Google Buzz (so you can follow me that way if you so like, there's a button on the main page). But for other forms...

I'm not a twitterer. There seem to be two basic tweeters (aside from those that are simply pointing to posts on other places): those that post like once a month and those that post once an hour or more. I have no interest in following the infrequent ones, and I don't have time to keep up with the overactive ones. (I have to work, you know, I can't keep checking my twittering feeds.) And I certainly have nothing to say that I must tweet it.

Then there's Facebook (and all the rest). I'm not on Facebook either. I have no interest in being on Facebook. Another account to keep track of, something else to try to keep up to date (if I'm not tweeting, why would I care about my Facebook status), and, frankly... what's the point of Facebook? To hear about amazing groups like this?

Or to join groups to express my distaste about some topic? 'Cos whenever there's a debate about anything, there're a lot of Facebook groups all proposing to be rallying points. Many many rallying points. Which basically splits the groups rather than organising anything. And, tell me, has any opinion ever been changed by the existence of a group on Facebook?

And then there's the aspect of who owns the information posted on the various sites...

So, in short, social networking is useless, follow me on Google Buzz!

Where do you socially network?


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