Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The Tunnel

You've heard of the movie that was distributed over the torrents in an attempt to drum up interest and to get people to pay for it afterward? Yes, that's right, this is that movie!

Set in Sydney, this movie is about tunnels under the city. The city thought about using it to store water, but the homeless are staying there. Ace reporter Natasha wants the story so she, Pete (another reporter) and crew people Steve (camera) and Tangles (sound) enter the tunnels for on site reporting.

And then it starts going wrong. The homeless aren't there anymore... because something else is...

There are two important points about this movie.

One: This movie has a great atmosphere while in the tunnels. I don't know how much tunnel they had, but with the camera shots and running around and no lighting, it builds up a real sense of 'panic!' It's so spooky that if they ran tours, no-one would sign up.

Second: The atmosphere is completely undercut by the narrative device. They are interviewing people about what happened, which implies that... so yeah, we already know where things are going. It is still eerie, but what happens to the people is less so. Shame about that.

As a distribution model, it kicks ideas of pirating in the head. And, yeah, I'm thinking about which bundle to buy...


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Monday, 30 May 2011

DW: 6.6

Um... Er... You know what, if you could miss this episode, I would recommend it. There's just nothing worth watching in it that couldn't have been folded into last week's...

What happens in this episode? They run around the monastery, the Gangers decide to kill the humans, and... hand on, that was the same as last week! They already decided that! And so why can't we have only had to go through one episode?

Okay, right, there's that bit at the end, but there was always something going on. Hmmm... Confidential is saying that this isn't the real Amy... wasn't the point of the episode that these Gangers were the same as the real people? Get on the same page people!

Really, I'm just depressed by the complete run-around with no impact that this episode was. Bah.

(BTW, didn't think the Ganger Doctor was going to be the one to die in Impossible Astronaut... no artron energy. And did they have to pay Tom Baker for the audio clip?)

Frankly, I'd rather rewatch Fear Her.

Next week: yeah, I watched the prequel, and am remembering River Song...


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Sunday, 29 May 2011

Of Steam, Steel and Murder

We sit around. Then move around. Then sit around some more. There is talking to people, finding of revelations... but otherwise not a huge advancement of plot. We really need to get organised and sort out what the hell we are wanting to do, big picture wise.

Which is the problem. I have little to no idea of what's really going on in the big picture, and this just increased that lack of knowledge. We need to do proper planning, especially where other people don't end up sitting around going 'what am I doing here?'

If nothing else, at least I can become the master of my own Marmoset army...

Listen, if you care, to Game 36. On Rapidshare and Hotfile. Warning: this does contain some really bad puns...


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DW: The Way Through The Woods

Next up, the long titled The Way Through The Woods by Una McCormack.

People have been disappearing into the woods. Lots of people, from all over time. Only now the entire town is going to disappear... actually that last bit isn't hinted at in the front or back cover, but it makes a better teaser than what is the front cover. The hint there is that there are monsters, and this book is more about the strangeness of the woodness than the ... monsterness of the monsters. In that regard, the cover is a complete fake out.

And the strangeness of the woods is interesting enough, the way Una McCormick presents it. The bizarre can be just as fascinating as the horror, and Una creates a great atmosphere that carries the book through breezily the bulk of the story. The last section stumbles slightly, but is a rare instance in the world of DW stories where... well, that would be giving things away.

Not surprisingly, considering the author is an authoress, there are a fair few women in this story, and they are very well written (although Emily comes across as rather more worldly than you would expect). If anything, the main characters, although Rory is so-so, are less well served in characterisation. The Doctor ends up sidelined for most of the adventure!

In all, far superior to a certain other book I was reading before...


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Saturday, 28 May 2011

Sticks of Joy!

A few years ago there was a triumvirate of documentaries relating to arcade games, a look back at the people who grew up during the eighties and how they are still living those times.

High Score (2006): Bill Carlton played Missile Command. A lot. A lot a lot. However, he only had the 10th highest score. This documentary is about his attempt to gain the highest score by playing the game for hours... estimating needing over two solid days of playing to get there! Now, there's dedication, but that is incredible determination! The machine has a few problems with remaining stable, however, Bill is not going to quit... Quite an interesting documentary, and Bill is very personable!

The King of Kong (2007): Along a similar theme, this one is about Steve Wiebe trying to gain the high score on Donkey Kong, contested by Billy Mitchell. When reading the details on IMBD, this movie is partially real, and partially crafted. For example, their relationship is not as antagonistic as portrayed, and it's not that they were the only people involved. Again interesting as it shows that old challenges (arcade game scores) are still taken very seriously.

Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade (2007): Featuring some of the same people as above, back in 1982 Life magazine did an article on the top arcade players of the age. This documentary sees how they have fared over time. Some well, some... consider they are doing well. Most have moved on from the arcade game business, and some are still making their living doing it. (Walter Day was a manager of an arcade game parlour back then, Twin Galaxies, and became the person responsible for tracking high scores. During the movie, he was writing a book on the history of the topic, which seemed to have inspired the documentary, and then planned to move on.) Worth a look, an offers a more comprehensive view than the above movies.


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Friday, 27 May 2011

DW: Dead of Winter

The next round of DW books kicks off with... Dead of Winter by James Goss.

Short version: it sucks. Long version: it sucks and blows.

The TARDIS crashes and Amy, Rory and the Doctor end up at a Italian health resort in 1783. There is some extremely transparent identity confusion, and it gets extremely painful to get through the first 100 pages. After that, the book becomes more streamlined, with running around and sort of avoiding monsters (in that they are sort of monsters). I will admit the final 'defeat' of the creature is the one interesting item in the entire book, but otherwise this is an annoying waste of time.

It's just that it takes so long to get nowhere. There's a lot of pages passing by, but nothing really happens, and so much that does happen is pointless and then retrod. We're ahead of the game, and treading pages for everyone else to get on with it.

And then, and this really annoyed me, there is the method of the narrative device. A lot of this story is presented as letters, or journal entries. Which relate huge chunks of dialogue. Really? No-one writes that in letters in reality. You can't remember conversations at the level of exact words. At best phrases, and topics, but not exact sentences. And then some letters are left off in the middle of a climax. "I must write to tell you that I was walking along... and then I was stabbed in the back! Your loving daughter," Again, no, it doesn't work like that. Who would write that and leave the letter there? You are clearly writing, so obviously it's not a cliffhanger. It's not like some present tense dictation of events, in which you can be interrupted, no this is clearly done after. It makes no damn sense!

In all, one interesting plot point (which I've just realised is a variant on the Explosive Overclocking trope), and a nice cover, but otherwise completely avoid this book.


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Thursday, 26 May 2011

Hare and Burke

When it comes to the matter of murder, it can either be treated with the utmost regard and due recognition of the seriousness of the matter... or it can be a comedy!

This movie is a... version of the events of two body suppliers (it wouldn't be correct to call them grave diggers, as they don't do a lot of that) as they seek to make an honest living by killing the people around them. And fall in love, of course, because there has to be a romantic story in all this.

It's all treated as a light hearted story (not so much of the laughter, but definite wry amusement), and ends in a fair bit happier way that certain realities would have you thinking. Yeah, they take lots of liberties, and seem to invent several modern contrivances along the way, but I'm willing to forgive such things as 'what's real' in the case of comedy (as long as it is funny).

One big point of the movie, the names. Check it out: Andy Sirkis, Simon Pegg, Bill Bailey, Jessica Hyne, Tom Wilkinson, Tim Curry, Ronnie Corbett, Isla Fisher... Not to mention cameos by the likes of Christopher Lee, Ray Harryhausen, Jenny Agutter, John Woodvine, and more!

Light entertainment of death, what more could you want?


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Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Watch the Death 5

So it took us half an hour or so to plan, and even then it wasn't much of a plan we ended up with. We wanted to set things on fire, set up fire barricades, and the like. In the end, we dragged out a lump of metal to be a physical barrier, and started shooting them as they ran towards us.

It went well until we used dice to determine what would happen. In particular, bugger all of our rolls worked, and nearly all of the GM's rolls were superb. As it happened, I wasn't hit at all! Yay!

However, everyone else did get hit. And sliced. And chopped up. And had their blood fountain from their bodies. Oh, it wasn't pretty.

I ran back, set off the claymore mines (hit one of seven!!!), then pulled back further to set off the [tach nuke], which took the rest of them out. However, when I went out to get out of there, I couldn't get anything to work before they were on me.

So, positive note: I was the last to die. Negative note: I died. Keeping the trend alive!

[As everyone else died, we'll probably be switching to playing some other game next time. We'll discuss it and see... Perhaps Hunter: The Vigil...]


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Tuesday, 24 May 2011

On Strange Tiders

Big surprise! Another Pie Rat movie! Bigger surprise! It's the fourth movie, and it's showing signs of wear.

This time, they are after the fountain of youth, and this involves sailing around, a couple of fights, and lots of watching Captain Jack Sparrow be Captain Jack Sparrow. ...and, there's a minor serious plot, but you wouldn't believe it. By which I mean, you wouldn't believe they bothered to insert this plot given it doesn't really fit with the rest of the movie. It's like the director thought the priest and the mermaid were the big stars of the series, and thought the audience would vitally care about whatever it was they were wittering on about...

While this isn't as bad as what MovieBob thinks, but this isn't the thrilling escapades of the previous movies. Moreover, there is a big lack in this movie. One of the more interesting parts of the prior movies were supernatural creatures. The supernatural is distinctly missing in this movie. There is some, but not in any interesting way. And one of the other interesting parts is the build up of on screen chemistry between Elizabeth and... well, about every other male lead. That's missing too, and Angelica isn't much of a replacement.

Johnny Depp and especially Geoffry Rush are phoning performances in. Ian McShane is trying hard to be impressive, but is outclassing the movie. And Penelope Cruz is there to look pretty and be fiery and exotic. Meh.

Not a brilliant movie, so when you do go see it, go on a cheap day.


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Monday, 23 May 2011

DW: 6.5

When you start watching it, and you wonder "where do I know him from?" the answer is Life on Mars. Bugged me for a moment before I remembered. Then again, this episode was authored by Matthew Graham, who wrote Life on Mars. May have influenced the casting. (In a "I wrote this with him in mind, can we get him?" way rather than a "Haha! I demand we hire him!" way.) Or it could just be a coincidence.

This so should have been a 'new take on the Autons' story. It could still be, with the 'new technology' line still to be explained, but unless they throw in some time travel, not likely.

This also could have resulted in an interesting philosophical discussion about identity and memory and continuity of consciousness, but instead we need a monster show, so monster attack it is.

Also get the feeling that the whole church setting was supposed to be really, really significant, moreso than the "where else to create life?" line. Which sounded like a late insert justification for filming in a church.

(BTW: The card stack? Changes between set ups. Continuity error! Ha, knew it would happen. And the arm also had problems.)

Better than Fear Her? Yes, but that wasn't much of a bar.

Next week: So, lots of tension over the fate of the TARDIS then...


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Sunday, 22 May 2011

Team Xero #007, #008

Catching up with my Xero issues. (Don't know if I ever mentioned it, but these are based on the High Concept Challenges over on rec.arts.comics.creative )

#7: There's trouble in the city. One man is on a mission... a mission that involves silver skulls!

#8: What makes a man a broccoli... I mean, a superhero? Can he, should he, take time out? Oh, the agony of being him...


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Friday, 20 May 2011

Death (in) Bugs Me

Have you seen Bugs? It's a wanna-be British action series from the late '90s that features the team at Gizmos dealing with computer security, electronics of all kinds, hacking, and a lot of running around and shooting people.

Not 'shooting at people', which is typical of action sequences, but actually shooting people. And people dying. This is a series in which death at the hands of the main characters is very possible.

And, not to mention, callous. While it's not super gritty, it's also not light hearted. Jokes aren't thrown around every minute to a laugh track, but there is the last minute 'end on what broadly could be called humour by the extremely generous' moment. But it definitely doesn't earn the coldness it has.

Spoiler here. In the first episode, they are after something called Scrotum or something that controls satellites. Very important, people want to nick it. They get into a car chase at the end, with the bad guys in front with Scrotum in the back, The good guys don't want to damage it, very important. Then the bad guys, being stupid in this last scene, drive off an unfinished express way, and suddenly the car is full of altitude activated gas canisters, or something, and explodes for no readily apparent reason. The reaction of the good guys... note: the good guys... "guess we don't get Scrotum then". That's it. While looking at the burning wreckage. Then turn around, fade from scene, then up on the last second joke.

The hell?

Death is just such a minor thing. There's a fair few of it, sometimes quite ridiculous, as if the series would love to be The Avengers or something, but it isn't.

I'm still watching (there's only 40 episodes), but this is a bizarre disconnect in the series...


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Thursday, 19 May 2011

Why Watch Movies on the Computer

[I could be talking about legally downloaded movies... I could be talking about DVDs... I could be talking about pirating... it's for the courts to decide.]

So why watch a movie via the computer instead of seeing it on the big screen? There are so many reasons.

1) Comfort. A lot of cinemas have decent seating... but a lot don't. Why be in an uncomfortable seat when you can relax in your chair at home? (Okay, you might not have a fantastic chair at home, but most computer people have a decent chair, as they sit in it all the time).

2) Toilet. When you need to, you can take a break without missing the action. For some of us, this is a very important reason.

3) Food. Aside from over-priced snacks, what about full meals? Or hot food? Or food you want to eat but the cinema doesn't generally have available? (Such as a cheese platter... outside of the expensive seats at some cinemas.)

4) Email. Or anything else if the movie isn't that interesting. And I can do this without interrupting other people. Like how things used to be before teenagers decided that texting in the middle of a movie was a socially accepted practice...

5) Fast-forward. Movie not moving fast enough? Or just long talking sequences? When watching via VLC (which can view DVDs as well as files), bump up the rate to 1.5x, or whatever I want. I have better things to do with my time.

6) No cinematics. Okay, not exactly a positive, but when a movie is hyped as "you need to go see this in 3D to experience the visuals" without any other reason to go see it, that's something that could take say... 15 minutes. Not something I want to waste three hours of my life dealing with, thank you very much Avatar!

So while timing is the most cited reason for people to go to their computers to get a file of someone else's camera watching the movie (and complaining about those would be a whole other post), there are plenty of other reasons I'm not handing my money over to the local big screen.

(Not that piracy is the worst thing ever...)


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Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Gotter-GAMMA-rung - 7

After taking out the robots, we... should have rested, but we pressed on, and found a pit of lasers. And hoops and robots on the other side shooting at us. We did manage to take out the robots without needing to worry about the lasers, but I manned up and crossed the room... without any problems on the sloped surface, and without being hit by the lasers. But not without then getting hit by the hoops.

Me and the others managed to put them down before I helped to disable the lasers. And by 'help', I mean, 'make matters worse'. Fortunately, Jester was already blinded by the lasers so didn't see them trying to hit him more. Anyway, we disabled them and so we move on.

To the big room where the Iron King was, with some other hoops and more robots. To the attack! Gank the Iron King! ... well, we failed that, and got grenaded for our troubles. Then 1 of 0 hit me, and that's the last I remember. (Although I was later told that the others were also put down... except for 1 of 0 that got dunked in the goop and never seen again.)

When we awoke, we found ourselves facing a large spider, who said the Iron King had turned us over to him. So now we are working for the Iron King. And have these funky 'will explode if we do the wrong thing' collars around our necks to prove it. ... Yay! ... Apparently he wants us to go get some town to start providing him with foodstuffs. Joy...


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Tuesday, 17 May 2011


So, I finally finished Arcanum. Although by the last session, it was pretty much 'check walkthrough, and do that', 'cos I was ready for it to be over. Whether my interest has waned, or it just goes on too long, I can't say, but I won't be replaying it any time soon(*)

So what do I think of it? The basic story line is interesting enough, there are twists and surprises to be had. Although there were also many times when I was being told the twists and surprises that my eyes were glazing, and I was just cruising through the walls of text (again, the walkthrough helped to keep me up with what I was doing). I would say I got my worth out of the game in terms of cost vs time played (go GOG!), and there is some replay value in trying out different character paths, but I'm thinking you'll need to be really invested for that.

And I did get easily annoyed by bugs. Virgil was a problem, once I got him back, in that he kept disappearing from my group and causing my game to crash. Eventually threw him out on his ear. And some locations I couldn't access until soem arbitary thing had been done (I have no idea why I could suddenly access Tulla when I couldn't before - no reason I couldn't have gone in earlier even if I couldn't do the big plot related bits).

The ending was also a wall of text. I'm not sure I'm entirely happy with the ending, but then what would I want to see as an end sequence? Dancing cheerleaders? (Okay, maybe that.) Instead, we get 'this is what happened to y', and in one case I was told 'this place died'... because you didn't give me the quest option, damn game! Don't blame that on me! And speaking of options, according to the walkthough, if I took that guy, I should get a talking option at the end... I took the guy but didn't get a talking option! Instead I had to use violence... which was in keeping with my general approach, but the talking options are fun to do as a variant...

Would I recommend it? If you like fantasy rpg, this is a good one. If you don't... depends on your tolerance for games...

(*) Okay, one proviso on that. If I can cheat to over power myself, then maybe so I can check out some of the other options, but certainly don't plan on a straight play through any time soon.


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Monday, 16 May 2011

DW: 6.4

Not sure about that title. Sets up certain expectations that aren't entirely delivered by the episode. Technically correct in a way, but... so, was that Neil or Steven who came up with it?

Would be interested to know how much Neil came up the ideas, and how much Steven inserted. Certainly Neil's Babylon 5 script was linked in heavily with the rest of the series... although, again, how much influenced by JMS? While I'm sure Neil was more than slightly interested in Doctor Who, enough to shove in the babble about outside the universe? Use an Ood? Certainly the idea of making a human being type of thing out of the TARDIS isn't an entirely original idea (I had it!), but clearly Neil does his own thing with it. (And there is certainly Steven inserted moments, with that reference to a river (or rather River?) in the forest...)

Anyway, thinking of the episode itself... the Doctor is trapped and someone nicks the TARDIS... huh... Neil spins that out to an episode in a fantastic way that eats up time before you realise (although the last few minutes slow down a lot). And we finally see the inside of the TARDIS, and it's... a small stretch of corridor that's shoot again and again and again... um... not that exciting. We get tempted with 'delete those rooms', but what rooms? The closest we've seen to another room was in a computer game! And several moments in the trailer finally come to fruition, but as they are from the end of the episode, kinds spoils it if you remember them.

Michael Sheen has a lovely voice, doesn't he? And Suranne Jones gives a wonderful performance as Helena Bonham Carter. Her and Matt give an amazingly moving performance at the end (although the Doctor should have totally called her 'sexy' one last time). It says a lot for Rory that Arthur Darvill only really gets something to act to when doing his 'old man' bit.

This is an episode that will be very re-watchable, although I think more for the fans than the 'norms'.

Next week: looks like it might start explaining some of the arc elements...


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Sunday, 15 May 2011

Of Steam, Steel and Murder

On the run from Dare, we... take a little time out and get to know a little more about Tesla. More than we wanted to know, in some ways, but information none the less. Now we need to find the secret secret secret lab...

Some problems with this game, in that Bert spent an hour trying to get Skype (with the new Microsoft inspired update!) to record in some program before we switched over to using Mumble. I am now appearantly audible. And then we finished early due to thunder and lightning and Bert caring about his precious computer...

So, Game 35. On RapidShare and Hotfile.


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13 Assassins

You want a sword fight scene? You got a sword fight scene! One that lasts half the movie at that!

The set up is that Lord Naritsugu is completely off his rocker, but being a big powerful figure is "eccentric" rather than "bat screamingly insane". However, he murders one peasant too many (or rather, one peasant village too many), so the local Shogun official decides that matters must be taken care of! Although... on the down low, of course. And so, he recruits the... one assassin! (Given that they are samurai, is the Japanese title '13 Assassins' or '13 Samurai'?) And that one assassin recruits... some others! Number 13 turns up later, and indeed might not be all that he appears to be... certainly no samurai, so 'assassin' is safer in that it encapsulates his role as well. Anyway, the assassins head off Lord Wacky at the pass, and then it's swords and body parts a flying! Nameless samurai die (okay, not nameless, but certainly not exactly fleshed out fully developed characters either), but so do nameless other samurai, so that's all right. In the end, it was a game of two halves, and what mattered was everyone participating.

This seems to be the first film of Takashi Miike I've seen, but I'm certainly aware of his reputation. This isn't a movie that goes lightly. There are a few light moments, but there are more than enough moments of darkness (that woman in the beginning, for example) to make this movie grim and gritty. Not in an emo way, and you are certainly rooting for the assassins, but you are more likely to nod in grim determination at the end than whoop and cheer.

A solid and decent movie, although not for everyone...


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Saturday, 14 May 2011

I'm Tho Thore

The Marvel Juggernaut rolls on with the next installment in its universe. A lot of people (okay, MovieBob) has gone on about how this movie brings "magic to the Marvel universe" which has otherwise been science-based. (Albeit science where one guy can make a flying suit of armour...) Can't say that I saw a lot of magic in this movie (as opposed to people with weapons kicking one another's asses), and it all gets hand-waved away with Clark's Law. Similarly, don't worry Christians, this isn't about actual gods, which might threaten your tenuous ideas about there being only the one sky daddy, and instead goes with 'powerful race of aliens' to cover that one.

Anyway, in the movie, Chris Hemworth takes off his shirt, poses around, and looks damn fine doing so. Damn, that man is sexy! There's something also about him being sent to earth, and Natalie Portman giving him morals, while Tom Hiddleston steals most of the steals with his excellent moments of being Loki, but the plot isn't trying to hard. (People have wondered about why this movie is so popular with kids. Perhaps because it's a superhero movie with action and not emo?) The movie's function is to help set up Avengers, and based on the post-credit's scene, I now have an idea... (technically the link could be spoilers, although I have no idea if it is correct or not, so click on it at your own risk.)

While Chris is there for his good looks, and Natalie is there to simper at him, Anthony Hopkins is there to be Anthony Hopkins, bitch! Stellan Skarsgard tries actually acting, which makes him out of place in this movie. Idris Elba is fine as Heimdall (people get upset over the smallest things). And Jaimie Alexander gets the credit as the sexiest woman in the movie.

Aside from some sweeping vistas, there isn't much point in 3D for this movie (not that I saw it in 3D). If you're watching the Marvel movies, of course you're going to watch this. If you aren't... take it or leave it.


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Friday, 13 May 2011

Books you should read... and other books

There are some books that have come out recently that are similar... yet completely different.

The first two books in the Laundry series, by Charles Stross, The Atrocity Archives and The Jennifer Morgue. They feature Bob Howard, a smug arrogant white guy who has toys to help him fight the Cthulhu menace. He works for an entire government department dedicated to stop this menace. The stories are about some nameless horror, and happen to feature people. I read the first two books... and although there are more, I'm done.

The first two books in the Peter Grant series, by Ben Aaronovitch, Rivers of London(*) and Moon Over Soho. They feature Peter Grant, a flawed black guy that is just learning how to use magic. He works under Nightingale, the one other copper who is the entire police response to the supernatural menace. The stories are about people, and happen to feature supernatural creatures. I've read the first two books... and I want more!

You might be able to guess which series I prefer. Shoving in Cthulhu doesn't make something readable. Here, the talent will out, and I'm going with Ben.

(*) Also known as Midnight Riot, which unless you know you might end up with basically two copies of the first book. Grrr!


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Thursday, 12 May 2011

The Kato Movie

Okay, like everyone else, I'm going to ask the obvious question: why isn't Kato the star? Everything is due to him, it's just that Reid is an arrogant pratt and Kato let's him get away with it.

So, the plot is that Brett Reid is a pratt and his father dies and he remains a pratt and Kato kicks everyone's arse, and Brett remains a pratt at the end of the movie. And there's fighting and cars and no-one gets shot by bullets and hardly anyone dies... although those that do do get killed off very efficiently (one nameless thug dies by car landing on him, complete with brief shot of his splatted body, yeah)...

Seth Rogan is completely miscast for this. Stick with comedy mate, it's what you were trying to do in this movie, but it didn't work. Really. There are lots of moments when, if this was trying to be a comedy, it would have done brilliantly. But it wasn't, so it didn't. Jay Chou is a total star from beginning to end, no wonder he's a star in Asia. Christoph Waltz should get his own movie as well, deserves better than what he's given in this. And even Cameron Diaz wasn't too annoying.

Bit of a mis-fire of a movie, but could have been worse.


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Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Yeah... Portal...

So, yes, Portal... it's what everyone is talking about, so I finally gave in and experienced it. Not by anything so crass as actually playing it myself(*), but through the experience of other people playing it. A fair few 'let's play' style videos on Youtube, so I'll link to the ones I used.

Portal as played by ... huh... can't find the video series now. I'll link to JX23's instead then! Don't have subtitles on at the beginning, not sure how it works as a series...

Portal 2 as played by Kevin. Can't remember when he switches the subtitles on. I think this is a play through from scratch (ie not played before), although he seems to know the story. 13 parts in (maybe 14 when this posts), and still not at the end.

Portal 2 Co-Op as played by Simon and Lewis (the Yogscast'ers). Quite amusing as they fumble their way through the levels. They don't switch on the subtitles until around part 7. Haven't watched all the videos, so don't know if they have a complete series available yet.

Do have to say that the voice casting is brilliant, worth playing for that alone. Decent enough story, although it's all about the puzzles. Some easy, some quite tricky. And, yes, very addictive it would seem...

(*) Although I have now brought the Orange Box.

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Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Watch the Death 4

After returning from the big dragon fight, we take a moment to revitalise ourselves, and check out the video footage. Every few days a cartload of Aurans are taken out, and not brought back... hmmm...

We meet again with the Caele, who now is willing to explain to us that a nearby city became infested with gene-stealers, creatures of the Tyranids... mutant filth that must be eliminated. While they have walled off the city and keep a ring of fire around it, we cannot be certain that nothing has escaped. Indeed, we scan the Caele, his guard (and ourselves) just to be sure.

Heading out to the city, we stop off with the guards around the closed off city, and observe the city in the smoke. We find out that the creatures inside make occasional breaks for freedom, but are cut down. One party went inside, and there was only one survivor (not suspicious at all). However, there is only one thing we can do. We are dropped off inside for the up close and personal touch.

When inside, we spot something metallic, and find a base constructed into the side of the ravine where the city is located. Inside looks like a base for observing the outside, however we do find shackles that indicate they had a gene-stealer captive... clearly not captive enough.

There was one section set up with a web of light to stop us, however a charge and slash with the chain sword put paid to that. And indeed helped us to kill the gene-tainted hybrids that hid beyond. There was a passage into the caves below, and my battle brother saw that there was one gene-stealer track unaccounted for. As we went along the tight tunnels, it found it. It was a harsh battle, with it being quick. But not sturdy. Fortunately, we put paid to it quickly or it could easily have been the end of us in those tight quarters.

One gene-stealer filth down... many, many more to go...

[Another session over and I didn't die! That makes 'death', 'not', 'death', 'not'... oh dear...]


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Monday, 9 May 2011

DW: 6.3

Anyone else think this is Stephen Thompson living out his pirate fantasy? Easily one of the more forgettable filler episodes, and one with many, many problems...

Who are these people? We don't get the usual 'this is Bob, this is Dave' scene, so all of a sudden we have characters refer to others by name and we have no idea who they are. I thought the captain was going to be a big reveal of some notable pirate figure, but no, we just didn't hear anyone say his name for most of the episode until the Doctor casually calls him "Henry Avery". And the kid is suddenly called Toby, and then there's Mulligan... but who any of the others are, who knows? Not that anyone seems to care about them either, the other characters are perfectly happy to sit back and let them get touched by the Siren... (and indeed, when they disappear in the middle of a scene, no-one notices.)

And how exactly did that black spot thing work? I can't remember if there was technobabble to explain that, but a minor scratch and instantly spot? Or some kind of illness? If we are talking alien perspective, there are billions of bacteria and microscopic organs in our bodies that make us appear riddled with diseases from child birth. Let alone if the ship was scanning for the major lifeform, and it was in the ocean, it's highly unlikely human will be picked as the ones to care about.

But then, they are, and, as said, a minor scratch is enough... fine, Rory and Toby might have severe issues that stop them from being easily taken off that ship, but all the rest of the others are scratches and stuff that won't stop them walking off the ship if woken. So why are they kidnapped then? Is Henry just a complete douche to take them with him? Although why is Henry able to move around? He, Amy and the Doctor got scratched, so why weren't they strapped to a bed?

Then there's that whole problem of still water/reflection. The ocean wasn't calm in the wide shots (enough to be a decent reflective surface), and the Siren disturbed the water coming through, so, it doesn't need to stay a reflection? There's 'ignore my previous theories' and then there is 'let's change everything and talk quickly, and hope no-one notices'...

And again, another hint that this is all a dream by Amy and none of it real. (Although, if we are being generous, we can say that her dreams are what she is remembering, and so she is just dreaming her memories rather than inventing stories wholesale, and we merely are taking a different perspective on being told these tales.)

Okay, complain, complain, complain... but did I like this? Um, no, not really. Not because it was bad, more because it just wasn't good. Lily Cole is certainly an unusual looker (link NSFW). Ultimately this is a studio-bound episode(*) that if you blink and miss it... you won't miss it...

(*)That it wasn't a studio set just makes it worse...

Next week: More dodgy relationships between the Doctor and women?


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Sunday, 8 May 2011

The King's Peach

A feel good movie about a historical figure that is against the Nazis? No wonder this won an Oscar!

The plot is... you know what? Go read a history book. Although David Seidler had to craft this into a two hour movie, this is just hitting the beats that history already knows. Boy meets boy, boy becomes king, boy still needs boy... it is, as I said, a 'feel good' movie.

The reason that the movie works as well as it does is due to the actors. Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helen Bonham Carter are superb in this, bringing the characters to life in a way fitting for the characters but also being able to make them connectable with the audience.

Basically, more watchable than you might think...


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Friday, 6 May 2011

Inheritance of Wind

Having watched Jon Stewart debate David Burton on The Daily Show, I decided that it was time to take in that movie based on the ol' Scopes Monkey Trial.

And a damn fine movie it is! Spencer Tracy, Gene Kelly, Dick York, Harry Morgan, lots of big name stars here. And extremely fantastic acting! Some scenes were just so brilliant, you had to applaud them. This was an excellently made movie.

Although, of course, I'm biased about the subject matter. There are some liberties, as you would assume for a movie, taken with the story. Scopes knew what he was getting into, indeed went ahead with teaching evolution because it would lead to a trial that would bring the 'no teaching evolution' law into the court. And, yes, he was found guilty, because he was. No getting around that he did indeed break the law. And the judge fined him $100. And the intention was to take the case to a higher level... however, the judge wasn't allowed to fine that high ($25 was the limit he could assign), so the case was thrown out, and instead of being any kind of test for evolution, all that happened was that schools shied away completely from the topic for many years... no win there...

Not that the movie is presenting a huge intended win for evolution either. The outcome is more grim than that. There is a brilliant speech about man as a thinking animal, however they are up against a very fundamentalist version of Christianity, and that can easily be made to look foolish (although there are still many staunch believers of that version causing just as much trouble today). Theistic evolution wouldn't see this as a problem... *sigh* if only theistic evolutionists weren't promoting creationism in school boards...

So while what this movie presents isn't over by any means, this is still a great picture, that should be seen as a worthy production aside from the content. Definitely check it out.


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Thursday, 5 May 2011

Osama Who?

You might have heard some news from America in the past few days about something they did. Let's see if anyone is still interested...

Stuff: let's see... one story... oh, wait, there's another. So two stories are about Osama. Huh. Well, we're just a small country. Let's check...

BBC: ...one story. And, to be fair, nothing about the royals either. If it isn't in the past two minutes, they aren't interested. So I guess no-one is. If I go to...

CNN: holy frak! half the page is about Osama! Which simply makes the point that America cares a lot more about this that anyone else. On the other hand, the whole Osama affair is largely a political game in America anyway, no-one else is trying to score points with it. America has been partying in the streets in a manner entirely unlike other places dancing the streets after certain other events. Well, at least there's no irony there...

CCN has a page on "World reacts". From this, I'm guessing the world reacts with "...and?"


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Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Gotter-GAMMA-rung - 6

We woke up to find ourselves in the care of a blind badder called Fazer. Or Fader. Fanner? Anyway, he was taking care of us, and wasn't best pleased when he found out that we'd killed his fellow badder guards (whom were acting under the command of the terrible porkers). We talked him into accepting that we weren't as terrible as we were, and convinced him his warren would still exist, once we killed all the porkers and the robots.

So then we headed further into the caves. Ahead, we found a large cavern with a grid, some robots and some porkers. To be honest, that fight was a bit of a push over, only Zebrox really getting scratched at all [the dice were really on our side tonight! Actually hitting them and not being hit ourselves so much! Huzzah!] We found some more amazing items on their bodies, but otherwise, were left with a large door and some control thingy.

When the others opened the door, I looked inside to see a large techy room with robots. Which came for us, me in particular as I was right beside the door. Again, we managed to thrash them more than they did us in (I actually got hurt that fight), and while it lasted longer, we still had a fairly easy victory over them. More huzzah!

Now, we have more robot den ahead of us. Let's hope this winning streak continues!


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Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Giles and Sue Faff About

After Supersize-ing themselves, Giles Coren and Sue Perkins have gone on to lark about in other ways.

Giles and Sue Live the Good Life: In honour of 35 years since The Good Life, Giles and Sue attempted to live their own Good life and see if self-sufficiency is possible in 2010 like it was in 1975. As with the Supersizers, this involves them dabbling a bit, getting other people in to help out, and only partially taking it serious. Which meant a lot of not taking it seriously. Now, that does lead to some hilarious moments, although that did undercut the moments when they were trying to express a deeper point. Worth watching if you have a spare four hours (three episodes, plus Christmas special).

Giles and Sue's Royal Wedding: In honour of a certain event that has now just past, Giles and Sue look at royal weddings past, as well as more recent affairs (recent being, say, the 80s). Although broadcast before last Friday, it would have been interesting to see how the latest event ranked up against those historic ones. And, as usual for them, ending with a Royal Breakfast feast. This is about as interested in the royal wedding as I got, and could easily have been longer than the one-shot it was.

It's good to see their goofiness continue, although the point of them does seem to be more the goofiness, than what they are goofing about...


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Monday, 2 May 2011

DW: 6.2

That was an... episode. Yep, it was an episode all right. Huh... need to sit and have a think about that for a while...

The bulk of the story isn't that interesting. The Doctor finds a way to defeat the Silence, ho hum, just as clever as flicking a switch, use them against themselves, yadda yadda. The whole post-hypnotic suggestion is neat and tidy... but, as I feared, does undercut the threat of the Silence in one fell swoop. Big build up last series, they have this amazing ability to delete themselves out of memories, and then... oh look, they're defeated and shot and even the Doctor is happy with their mass slaughter. Um... okay... why bother?

However, it's the rest of it that's really interesting. That little girl... okay, who here leapt to the obvious conclusion of "Amy's daughter"? Although... regeneration? Um... the Doctor's proper daughter then? Or did the TARDIS change the baby? It does look like the Amy/Rory connection is more established, however...

And just what is the deal with River Song? Can we get on with that, please, and stop with the teasing? Just reveal the big surprise... although the kiss does cut out some options (unless they have a very unusual relationship...).

More questions than answers. And what of the 'she's just dreaming' moment? Anyone no longer trust anything they are seeing? Steven, you've created a fascinating arc, just pay it off properly...

Next time: Oh, she's a swordfighter now, is she? Convenient Companion strikes again.


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Sunday, 1 May 2011

Of Steam, Steel and Murder

This time, we finally get to the Election! Who will win? Who's a dark horse? When will the attack come? Have we prepared enough for it?

Rather exposition heavy, but this is all about the voting.

Note: I recently got a wireless headset which is quieter in the recording, which is why last time was bad. I tried using a different recording software today, and boosted my audio, so we'll see if that works.

Listen, if you dare, to Game 34. On RapidShare and Hotfile.


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Doctor Who: 2 in 1 . 2

Another twin book, this one being System Wide/The Good, the Bad and the Alien by Oli Smith/Colin Brake. Maybe it's just me having already gotten used to it, however this read, as a book, a lot better than the previous one.

System Wipe by Oli Smith features a virtual reality computer game, in the future! I'm not saying he rips on World of Warcraft, it is more generic than that, but it is definitely a fantasy fighter reality game. In that world, and in the real world with Rory and Amy, the world is being destroyed, so this needs to be stopped. The plot is very direct, the peoples go to point A, get information, then go to point B and stop what's going on. There are some character revelations, but basically Oli Smith relies on switching from one 'surprise' to another to keep things going. It is quite readable, although not spectacular.

The Good, the Bad and the Alien by Colin Brake features the Wild West, with aliens! The aliens aren't at all surprising, at least for the few humans that see them. Colin Brake does a few tricks to avoid humans seeing aliens, but mostly he keeps the action outside of town. The aliens are here hunting for a 'device', and... there's lot of riding around trying to track it down. That's the book, really. If it wasn't for the fact that people, including the aliens, had different names, not sure I would have been able to tell them apart. The pace keeps up enough to be enjoyable, although it's pretty light all the way through.

Both books, moderately good, so 1.5/2.


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