Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Third Jihad

So this is a thing that is happening. The New York Police are showing The Third Jihad to new officers to scare them in the ways of Muslim. Time for me to see it then.

In this movie, we see the push of Muslim leaders of radical Islam to strike out violently and with any and all means. Within 50 years, Muslims will be in the White House. They even have evidence of a manifesto. Is radical Islam a problem? Yes. Is it to the scale implied by the movie? Not yet.

And it may not be. But it won't be going away by itself. This does show that radicals are far more active than most of us, and doing is going to trump not doing every time. And if the rest of us just sit here... then yeah, they are going to take the world. [I don't know what the tipping point will be, but that is definitely an 'if', not a 'when'.]

Really, watching this, you can see why Christians have Fatwah Envy. According to this movie, the Muslims push on anything that offends them, and society steps back saying 'sorry'. Christianity wishes it could do that so freely. And if Muslims rise to power, we'll see how quickly they stick to the 'there is no separation of church and state' line they so often quote.

But, you think the idea of Sharia Law taking over can't happen here? It's already been practiced, not with the force of law, but with the force of culture. In that case, the woman got away, but in how many cases have they not?

I don't see radical Muslims being as potent as this movie would have us believe, but radical ideology of any kind is very powerful. And a powerful enough idea will change the world while the rest of us dither.


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Monday, 30 January 2012

One Two Three vs 1 2 3

One Two Three is a movie about some bad guys taking a train carriage hostage. It becomes Garder vs Blue, but they play it smart, the characters don't take risks, and intelligence and strength of personality wins the day.

1 2 3 is a slick movie in which John Travolta rants on about different things, while Denzel Washington plays someone that has his role in the movie shifted about so he can be the hero even though it makes no sense.

Twenty-five years separates the two movies, and a lot of difference of how movies are made. One Two Three is about story and characters. 1 2 3 is about actors and fast cuts to try for a sense of excitement. There's a lot of similarities between the two movies, and you can tell where the second references the first. But there are a lot of differences in style and the motivation of the plot. As you might be able to guess, One Two Three is simply a lot better.

Hollywood has remade a fair few films. Just stop, Hollywood. Just stop.


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Sunday, 29 January 2012

Got the wrong message

I was sent (via mass email style from someone I know) a story that is supposed to bless me with god or something. It's about a boy who has potato chips and goes out to have lunch with god.

[Interestingly, some versions have him meet an old woman, some an old man. Yet for the man the smile is still described as 'pretty'. Make of that what you will.]

He meets with an old man, shares his meal with him and think he's met god. As had the old man.

The take away message is: "Have lunch with God........bring chips." Um, what?

Actually, the take away message is given in the paragraph before that: "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a
life around. People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Embrace all equally!"

That message is actually nice, and speaks to people being with people, making a connection, and how touching it can be.

So why bring religion into it? Why not just have the boy going to the park and having lunch with someone, making them smile, without thinking they are god? Is that impossible?

You don't need religion as a reason to get together. But that message never seems to be the one communicated...


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Saturday, 28 January 2012

Congratulations America, you won

The internet has now closed down, thanks to you.

So SOPA/PIPA got cancelled. And in retaliation (it's hard not to read it as causation, which is does indeed look to be), Megaupload got tackled by the Feds and shut down. (More or less.)

And recently, FileServe decided to kill all its links and kick users off. Or maybe not. Or maybe just the US people. Certainly something happened to it that pissed off a lot of people. (My account is still there, didn't have any files uploaded to it.) Whether this was all due to FS being scared or preemptively cleaning house so it can't disclose people/data to the government, who knows, and it doesn't matter.

Because, you know what... US, you win. Thanks guys. Due to "Big Entertainment"(tm), file hosts are running scared, and people who legitimately use and rely on that form of distribution to get their creations/business out there have been totally screwed. Just because the entertainment industry can't stand the idea that someone might download a copy of [insert whatever crappy movie title you like here for your own amusement]. Yes, there is a piracy problem, but this isn't the way to address it. SOPA/PIPA wasn't. ACTA isn't. Shutting down file hosts won't be.

But they think it is, and now they have won. So, congratulations. Money has brought the win again.


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Friday, 27 January 2012

Junji Ito

I like horror, and Japanese horror more than American horror, and manga is a great way to really portray weird stuff that tv just can't quite get. So when I found out that Junji Ito did horror manga, I decided to check it out.

First I read Museum of Terror, which was the collected Tomie stories. Tomie is a young girl who captivates the minds of men until they get so passionate that they kill her. And then she comes back. Some well done stories in that vein, although once you get the gimmick most of the stories are waiting for that element to come into play, and few are original takes. There looks to be a slew of movies about Tomie, so I'll see if I can get my hands on some.

However, next I read Uzumaki. Now... that was one of the more brilliant manga I've ever read. Any time I took a break at work, I snuck in another chapter. I just devoured it. It's about a town that gets consumed by spirals, and it has weird stuff all over the place, and I love it. The movie is more about the stories in the first volume, and it is slower than the manga. And it gets stupid weird, just avoid it really. But if you like that genre, definitely get the manga.

And I still have Gyo to read, although can't find the first volume in English for less than a truck load of money...

I'm glad I found out about him, and will see what else I can get. And if you like that, also go grab the manga of Ju-On. (The cat scene is freaky!)


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Thursday, 26 January 2012

Voynich Descript

The Voynich Manuscript is a great example of a crank text that I would have mentioned last time. It's also one of those texts you can get online, in this case as a PDF. But... what is it?

To jump to the end, I think I'm in agreement with the idea that it fits the concept of a Herbal. Basically something that said 'this plant is good for this' and 'these conditions afflict women' etc. At least, that's what it looks to looks like... (There are other interpretations.)

But what of the text? People think it's a code. It looks like it could be. However, as with being a herbal, it looks like it looks like a code. People have attempted to crack it over the years, and no-one has been successful. People have broken all sorts of codes, but you know what the difference was about those? They knew they were codes. No-one knows that this is a code. To be honest, if we go the herbal route, I question the practicality of it being a code. Yes, it would be good to hide from the authorities, but if this was a working manuscript, then you need to sit down and decypher it every time you need to look something up. That could take a long time. That just doesn't work. And if you were good enough to just read the code, then that would suggest that either the code wasn't that complicated (and no-one has broken it??), or that it was a code form of a language, or another language entirely.

And people thought that as well. Another language. However, it clearly isn't any known language, and, more importantly, it doesn't fit any language structure that we know about, and we know about a ton of them. Even before we had the Rosetta Stone, we knew something of hieroglyphics, especially that it was a language. This, not it.

Which, frankly, points to the obvious conclusion: aliens. (Yes, someone in the document on Voynich that I just watched did suggest aliens.) Okay, not aliens, but, as I said, a crank text. Possibly someone who was listening to random noise and writing it down, but more likely a purposefully constructed hoax. And one that was expected to get something out of it given the work that went into creating it. Whether it was Voynich himself, or John Dee and Edward Kelly... given the amount of work, I'd be looking for another text that they borrowed heavily from.

End of the day, hoax or not, it's an incredible effort of work. I'm surprised Voynich and later sellers couldn't get someone to buy it (although it certainly wasn't being sold cheap). It's now at the Yale University, and they aren't letting anyone near it (possibly because this would be the second hoax they were involved in). An interesting text, and I think psychology is the key to understanding it here, not linguistic or cryptographic analysis.


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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Psychosomatic Experiment

I could tell within the first five minutes that I was in trouble with this movie. It had a few shots that were suddenly "artsy" and the acting was mediocre at best. Oh boy.

The premise seems to be that some people randomly developed psychic powers (or there was an actual experiment on them, I'm not clear), and now with other people around to help amplify their powers, they suddenly break out with mass psychicness and everyone is in trouble. There are some sub plotlines about turning them into weapons, and some people are trying to uncover police corruption, or something (again, not clear and I'm not interested in working it out), but it seems to come down for an excuse for people to develop the ability for horrendous things to happen.

Despite knowing the IMDB rating was justified from the opening scene, there was one moment when I thought "nevermind, the effects are good". However, a few seconds later, I changed my mind. Nope, cheap effects for a cheap movie. Not sure why this movie was funded, but then Asylum are still in business too.

Featuring some notable actors in cameos, I note that one of the female leads (again, not interested enough to bother telling who was who) was also the main lead for Paranormal Activity. She needs to find something better to get her name attached to.

Not a great movie, not even a good movie. Although I am just a tiny wee bit tempted to check out Mel House's other movies to see if they are also just as bad.


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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Project Nim

One of the movies I missed at the festival was Project Nim, starring Nim Chimpsky!

This is a movie that recounts the Project Nim experiment, from the start of taking Nim from his mother at day 15, through to his final living at a ranch, and with a lot of talking about the actual trying to teach him speech and of the conditions he was later left to. There is a lot of discussion in academia about whether or not chimps like him and Koko really did learn something or just moved their hands in a way that pleased the humans watching them.

But more than that, this movie is really about the humans involved, from the first mother he had, to the researchers, and the animal carers. To be honest, this project, although a "scientific experiment" was pretty much a failure from the beginning. They tried, but couldn't really get the science part of it right. The human side came up far too often. While people really did care for Nim, it's hard to see him not being just something that was used for other agendas with no interest in how Nim would fair.

Which, as it happens, is the conclusion the movie comes to. I've always said about science "if it can be done, it will be done" and this is a good example of that. While we do need to learn more about our primate brethren, this does not provide a good template of how to do that.


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Monday, 23 January 2012

I went to the zoo, zoo, zoo

I became a member of the Zoo, in an effort to get out more, and spent some time there yesterday (before it started raining...).

With (photo) camera and (video) camera in hand, I wandered around, camera'ing things. With the weather not that great, some animals didn't bother to put in an appearance (I guess the Malayan Sun Bears weren't Malayan Cloudy Bears! Eh? Eh? ...never mind), and there were a few areas with "Future Zoo" on it. So I guess I will definitely be going back just to get more Zoo experience.

Anyway, behold the videos and photos of animals not paying attention to me!

On the video front, we have Baboons, Birds 1, Birds 2, Cheetahs, Chimps, Emu, Giraffes, Lions, Meerkats, Monkey 1, Monkey 2, Monkey 3, Monkey 4, Otters, Pelican, Red Panda, The Roost (a bird area), and a Tuatara. (Some videos may contain other animals.) And special treat, part of a Larikeet Endoscopy!

And here is the photo set. Well... actually, I lie. Turns out the memory card got corrupted or something, so I got no pictures at all. :( (And Photobucket is already pleading for love.) [Note to self: get a new memory card or two...]

And since we need to engage with the cute, here are those Meerkats!


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Sunday, 22 January 2012

Bonus Video: Top of Coromandel Street

Drive up to the top of the street... or do you?


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Behind the Mask

[This was a Movie Bob recommendation.]

Well, we have serial killers, especially those that keep returned after they are supposedly killed. Such greats as Freddy, Jason, Michael... so why not make a documentary about one? Involving actually following them around as they go about their business of terrorising students and setting up a house for them to be killed in?

Which is what this movie does. It so wants to be a movie deconstructing slasher movies, and it also wants to eat its cake as well. Which is where the problem sets in. Aside from not being that brilliant a dissection of slasher pics, it switches over to actually being a slasher pic... and goes extremely traditionally, even when it's trying not to be. You end up doing something else waiting for the movie to run its course.

The main stars are... people I haven't heard of before. But we do get cameos from Robert Englund and Zelda Rubinstein! And it's not surprising that Kate Lang Johnson is also in a bunch of other movies, being so pretty and all. And Angela Goethals is also in a lot of other productions, although I can't remember who Maya Driscoll in 24 was... (but it was a long time ago).

It looks like there's a prequel in the works, but to be honest, Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006) isn't that watchable.


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Saturday, 21 January 2012

Bonus Video: 360 from Mt Victoria


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The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra

[This was a Movie Bob recommendation.]

Beyond the terror that dares to speaks its name! You too will come to fear the terrifying walking of the walking terror! What one man must do, another man must also do!

Dr Paul Armstrong is a Scientist, doing Science! Which brings him and his wife out into the hills where there is Atmosphereum! But there is also Dr. Roger Fleming who wants the Atmosphereum to raise the... Lost Skeleton of Cadavra! And beware the ways of the aliens from Marva, which is not Earth, and so they seem like aliens to us!

Yes, this is straight out of the 1950s and the movie is extremely aware of this. Too aware, it feels to me. The characters act and say things because they know that's what happens in 1950 movies, and so they need to check it off the list. About the only original thing in this is the Skeleton (and that might just be a reference to something I don't know), and so much of it doesn't make it past the 'ha ha, isn't this thing that 1950 movies do funny?' stage.

Can't say there are any recognised names in this, but they look to be part of a company that produces this sort of movie, and I might check out their other works.

From 2001, we have The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, and it's good!

(Note: this trailer uses a lot of footage from the last twenty minutes of the film...)


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Friday, 20 January 2012

Black Dynamite

[This was a Movie Bob recommendation.]

This cat is is one mean muther, and when his brother is taken out, then it his turn to lay the smack down on those jive turkeys! (Okay, I don't speak Jive.) With his brother dead, and drug dealers letting drugs loose on the streets, Black Dynamite goes into action to deal out justice, Black Dynamite style (which involves hitting them a lot, which might use his kung fu). And then he and his allies start tracking down who is dealing out the drugs and who is controlling them and who is controlling them and who...

Now, I haven't seen a lot of Blaxplotation films, but this pretty much hits all the spots I've come to learn is associated with them. This is a well done movie, although the plot in the last third goes off the rails a bit and it starts to wear a little. Still, it's very watchable.

There's a fair few names associated with this. Michael Jai White (voice of a Green Lantern!) is Black Dynamite. Salli Richardson-Whitfield is the main female lead, Gloria (and it took me a while to remember that she's in Eureka). Tucker Smallwood has a cameo role. Mike Starr phones it in. And, hey, Arsenio Hall!

BTW, this movie was made in 2009, and entirely takes the piss. Check it out! [OMG, just seen that there's an animated series coming out this year.]


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Thursday, 19 January 2012


So, this SOPA thing seems to be happening. (It was stopped for a while, but then the next day they were like 'psych!')

What is SOPA? Well, the easiest way to find out is to go to Wikipaedia. Anywhere in Wikipaedia, it won't matter, as that's all you'll see for now. [I would black out my site except... I'm not sure how, and I doubt it'll really send a message that would worry the big names in America...]

And yes, if SOPA happens, it'll kill off a lot of my blog. Videos I link to, probably even movies I "review", and I talk a lot about movies, all gone! (And my precious LPs I like to watch and refer to, gone too!)

On the other hand... if this does happen... it would make for a fascinating sociological experiment. Something will happen to bypass it all, or people will come to realise that they don't need the internet or... something, and, yes, sooner or later people would become used to it... but it would be an interesting shift to see.

That all said... Fuck off, SOPA!

Something that can be done:


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Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Vigil the Huntering

We know there are creatures like vampires around. With knowledge like this, what do you do? How do you face the world?

We decide to go on the offensive. Actually tracking down the vampires and dealing with them as they should be dealt with. To that end, Robert spent a long time in the library, and found that over the last ten years there is pattern of women going missing. I kept an ear on the police scanner and am slowing building up a profile map of where places might be to keep an eye on. Dr Jack Cottage checked his patients more thoroughly, and found a number of women that look like they have been drained on, well, blood.
[We also have a lead on a killer called The Calculator... which treads into No Brainer territory for me... I think it is a module I ran for Heroic Cthulhu...]

Eventually, we isolate the likely target area to some nightclubs, and Jane volunteers to use herself as bait in order to trap the vampire. After some nights where it doesn't work, finally she is approached by someone in a pub... and she wants to visit his place, yes, she does...

We follow as he leads her into his apartment. JB heads to the roof to look on her, and lets down the ladder for the rest of us to follow up there. At this point, the rest of us have some trouble getting up, while the creature directly attacks Jane. JB drops down through the skylight to her rescue, and Jane finally gets to try out her improvised flamethrower, and her holy water. [Which actually seems to do something, what the?] JB axes him to stop moving, and the creature obliges. By the time the rest of us get there, it's all over.

We can't find anything of interest in the room, so we bundle the creature up and take off (after, badly, placating the neighbour). More holy water disintegrates the body, leaving only bones, then sunlight disintegrates those. Wow, easy cleaning!

With a lot of luck, we have a decided success. Watch out creatures of Philadelphia, we are coming up [and if I find out any of you had anything to do with Phyllis, I will end you personally].


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Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Bye-bye Ben

And so Blanket Man has acquired his final garment. I was in town a few weeks ago in the morning, and saw him, and smiled at his ever presence in his ever present blanket. Very much an icon of the town.

Although not everyone was happy by his presence, especially if you read through the comments. I can't say I ever saw bad behaviour, I didn't bother him, he didn't bother me... but I'm not surprised that he could have done that. He wasn't mentally well.

Which gets to one particular statement: She believed Mr Hana had begun to believe in his "iconic status" as Blanket Man, and felt he belonged on the street. "It gave him an identity ... he latched on to that whole notion of a public persona, and that became more important to him than being well."

After some bad incidents in life, he dealt with it by living in the city clad in a blanket. (Most of the time) he just sat there, content to just be there. Considering other things people do, that isn't so bad. But when you start turning up because others expect you to, even despite health considerations, well... there's probably many people around are in that situation in some way and could use help. General lack of support all around.

Anyway, he was the 'local character', and no he won't be bothering anyone any more. But a lot of us will remember the man in the blanket, and give a fond smile of remembrance.


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Monday, 16 January 2012

The Devil's Own Bible

There is such a thing, the Codex Gigas. Supposedly crafted by a monk after he made a deal with the devil. More recently, the subject of a National Geographic documentary.

First off, I like how modern technology has brought these amazingly crafted documents into the era of world-wide accessibility. You want to view the thing? Go do so!

Anyway, investigation was about who created such a thing? If one person, it would be the work of most of a lifetime. If a group, they had remarkable consistency.

One page in particular is of interest to most, that of a large scale picture of Satan. There is a dark shadow on the page... mark of evil possession? Evidence from being nearly destroyed in the fire in the 17th century? But why only that page and the one opposite? The document makes you wait a few minutes, building up the suspension of... suspension, before revealing the answer that occured to me after only a few seconds thought: most people would find the image fascinating and have the book open to that page, leading to light damage and explaining the dark shadows. Boom, human psychology!

Moreover, that basically explains the entire book. Spoiler: they do decide it is the work of one person and it took decades, and suppose it is one monk in a monestary sealing himself away to work on this with a passion. There's a more simple answer (which includes that one), one crank did this. Cranks do a lot of things, with a passion that drives them to create large works that look epic for the times. [The only difference for most is that they produce stuff accepted by the times.]

Nowadays, it's even easier to produce works. Check out Crank.Net. People do lots of things in for they believe in. This bible is just one more example.


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Sunday, 15 January 2012

Of Steam, Steel and Murder

Talk to the spy. He's got a lot of information, so we sit around and drag it out of him. And learn about aircraft. And locations of aircraft.

We spend most of the time dealing with the spy. I'm thinking that could have... not gone quicker, so much, as we could have been more organised about the information gathering. Not a lot of time passes as we sit around and talk.

Listen to us do so in Game 49. Rapidshare. Hotfile.


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To the Cave!

To start with, on a sunny Wellington day, I go somewhere deep into the suburbs... what will I find? WHERE AM I??

Wandering and talking. All the best exploration videos work this way. [Yes, I got permission.]

And, because I can, here's some of the Weta stuff I've gotten over time.


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Saturday, 14 January 2012

Not the Next Top

Season two of Face Off has just begun, and, of course, they have a whole batch of new people. Which raises an issue about more than one season of this sort of show. Presumably, in season one, they found the best person for the role evah! So... who's in season one?

Better than Season One: they found a lot of even better people this time! Moreover, this means that the person who is kicked out at the end of the first episode is better than every single person in season one. Really?

Worse than Season One: This is the best of what's left. And, conversely, even the winner of this season is worse than the the person who was kicked out in the first episode of season one. Really?

Newbies: These people weren't around to be selected in season one. Considering that a lot of them have had jobs in this industry for years, that doesn't hold water either.

No matter how you cut it, someone ends up with egg on their face when there's a second season. [Although not, of course, the executives that rake the cash in for making cheap shows...]


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Friday, 13 January 2012

No Game of the Year for Me

Let's name a really great game... Skyrim! No, not that one, I mean from a previous year. Batman: Arkham Asylum! Exactly. B:AA was really well received, people rave about it. And because of that, I even picked up the Collector's Edition version (in an excellent sale, I will add). And I might just play it some time soon... No, wait, hang on... from some poking around, I don't think I will ever play it.

Games for Windows Live: The CE version uses this. I already have Steam on my computer, I do not want another gaming system. This may seem a minor thing to others, but I already have Microsoft cluttering up my computer (I run Windows after all), so I don't want another layer of crap in there for this. I thought I'd look at the Steam version, yes I'd even consider buying it again just to avoid GFWL. However, then I saw something else.

SecuROM: No. Fucking. Way. I have a few other games that I would like to play, but I will never let SecuROM onto my computer. I don't care how transparent and easy to fool others into thinking it's nice it has become, I will not have it on my computer. [I will admit that it might already be on there due to other games, but I doubt it. Certainly nothing has ever alerted itself as installing SecuROM.] And this is on the Steam version. Not interested.

Moreover, according to the Steam forum thread, not only does it use SecuROM but also you still need GFWL connection! What? As others have pointed out, three layers of DRM? Fuck off.

Reclaim Your Game rated B:AA at 42%: "Unacceptable".

Indeed. Rocksteady, get your act together. You already have my money, but you've also taken my enjoyment.

(If I could be bothered to, this is why I would pirate games, ones which I already own!)


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Thursday, 12 January 2012

Everything but playing Halo

I've started listening to the Halo audio books. They are fairly good, although it's clear the change in style of the different authors. But I can actually put up with all the military stuff, so that's something I'm enjoying.

This is making me want to watch an LP of the series. Which I will do.

And of course, watching Red vs Blue, set in the Halo-verse. But not playing it.

Although the above isn't entirely true. There was one time, I was away at a hotel, with a friend, and we decided to experiment... He brought his X-Box with him, so I gave Halo a go. Unsurprisingly I wasn't that good, took a few goes to get past each level, but I wasn't enthralled with it. I watched him play some other time, and... he backtracked a lot to get ammo. And I mean a lot. Minutes went by with him just traversing old areas just to get one gun with some ammo in it. I suppose I should have been impressed with how much of the level you could visit compared with other game consoles, but no, his gameplay just annoyed me.

But yeah, these books are making me discover Halo a bit more. Quite the in-depth world building there Bungie! Congratu-well done!


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Wednesday, 11 January 2012


As a supporter of Kiva, I am rather biased about the role of microfunding. I want to know that I'm spending my money on suitable things. And, of course, if I honest, there's a chance I'm putting it in entirely the wrong place. I'm helping to "shovel haystacks off the deck of the Lusitania" as a wise man once said.

So I'm eyeing carefully this article about microlending, and am reading through slowly this series of articles about Kiva in particular. There look to be two main issues here.

One, the money I submit is not the money used to give the loan to the people that I'm nominally funding. Kiva (and associated lenders) 'pre-distribute' funds, because the loanees shouldn't have to wait around to be judged by other well-off people around the world if their particular situation is worth the money they are asking for. Thus the money I'm giving is really going to the lenders to use for other lending situations. (I admit I prefer to fund some ventures over others, so hopefully the money is going for similar projects to what got my money, but I have no control over that.) Ultimately, though, I'm giving money and money is being lent to people who need it, so that's good.

Or is it? Point two is that there is discussion, such as in that link above, about whether or not those lenders are actually benefiting societies, and helping them. Yes, individual people, but are the collective people better off? The discussion seems... not entirely resolved on it. On one side, there are better places to fund, we should be focusing on helping people save, society needs helping not people..., on the other they are still helping poor people...

For now, I'll continual to support Kiva... but I'm going to read those articles, and would like a more clear cut answer to this issue.


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Tuesday, 10 January 2012


It's the movie that has that classic character Smiley... and it took me half an hour to think of the DS9 reference...

I'm now thinking that "thriller" is the word used to describe movies that should otherwise be action movies, but are too slow for the action audience. Thus it is now a slow paced "thriller", with 'dramatic character action'... without containing any actual 'action'.

In this movie, there's some mole in some British government and Smiley ferrets that person out while undergoing several flashbacks and... something else seems to happen, but I just couldn't pay attention enough to follow the story more. This does make me slightly inclined towards reading the book, there needing to be more context to scenes that the movie clearly wouldn't be able to portray, but it's not at the top of my reading list any time soon.

I will give that there are some great performances by the actors involved. Gary Oldman, of course, owns all the scenes he is in, and there's too little John Hurt. The rest give strong performances, so much so that there isn't really a leader, because they are all good.

This is a movie to watch if you have two hours to kill and don't plan on paying too attention. Or that might just be me.


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Monday, 9 January 2012

Team Xero #15

Yet another pit of lava has opened up. What's with them these days? But as Brassica goes to investigate, he ends up with a very large problem on his hands...

The criteria this time was a 24 minute limit to story creation. Since it can take that long just to get a scene to work, I placed the limit of 24 minutes on script writing. And that's what got converted, with no extra word tweaks or extra body language that wasn't already in there, nothing else. Shows what does get added...


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Sunday, 8 January 2012


It's the Walter Movie! Starring Walter, and featuring... Walter!

Yes, that's right! Walter grew up in Smalltown, with his brother Gary, and not growing up (he is a Muppet after all), he fell in love with the Muppets and when Gary and Mary go to Hollywood, Gary generously takes Walter along... and then Walter hijacks the trip and makes it all about him, and nothing can happen unless Walter is involved!

Oh, and there's some Muppets there as well, but it's all about Walter.

Okay, so it's really about the Muppets, with a thinly veiled plot to get them on screen, and when we get to the show, it's wonderful, wallowing deep in nostalgia... but the feeling in somewhat ruined when they return to the Walter story because, he's just not that interesting. Even Gary and Mary are far more interesting than him, and yet the camera is all about the Walter. Gah!

When the writer is also the lead star, that's a bad sign, aside from a very few actors. Jason Segel is not one of those actors, and maybe should have stepped aside for someone else? Amy Adams is great, however, and dances her little socks off (unlike Jason). There are a bunch of cameos (and having just finished The Big Bang Theory season 4, I got a very surreal moment at one point).

Interestingly, Frank Oz was supposed to direct, but stepped down, unhappy with the script. So is this really a suitable Muppet movie? And, to be honest... there is a point in the movie about the Muppets not being of the current generation, and that isn't entirely without justification. I was nostalgic, deep in memories as the cast was, and yet... I'm not sure that this would really be the movie to speak to new kids. Parents will drag them along as they are also nostalgic, but will the kids enjoy it? I don't know...

This is the first Muppet movie I actually saw at the movies, and if you like the Muppets, then definitely check it out... but be prepared to put up with Walter.

[There was also a short Toy Story Toon, which was a basic set up for introducing a particular set of wacky toys... aside from that, it was rather meaningless.]


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Saturday, 7 January 2012

Rub Lovingly

Due to a short time of walking in jandals, I now have sore feet. Yay for that. Thus, on the advice of my podiatrist, I got Anti-Flamme. A rather expensive wee pot of goop.

The problem with goop is that when you start rubbing it in, it doesn't exactly get immediately absorbed, and so you are left with goop on your hands and, due to the application, goop on your feet. Where are you supposed to put your feet once you've finished rubbing goop on them? On the carpet? Who knows what fluff and stuff will be sticking to your foot then.

And you do need to put your foot down, because you need to rub goop into both feet, and unless you are a yoga master, you can't have both feet off the ground at once.

And after all that, you have goop on your hands still and goop other places, because the goop just gets everywhere!

But, the best part about all this are the instructions. I will now quote the best part: "Take a liberal amount and rub lovingly."

When applying medication, nothing like that medically precise instruction to "rub lovingly." Go forth and "rub lovingly" everyone!


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Friday, 6 January 2012

Sherlockian Shadow Game

The "bromance" continues. (Seriously, there were moments where it could have been entirely in that moment for them to kiss.)

In this movie, it has to be Sherlock vs Moriarty, so there is some contrived plot about some gypsy woman who is the key to the world going to war... or something. It wasn't really that clear, as it was all just a backdrop to, as I said, Sherlock vs Moriarty. Because of this, we get Sherlock in drag, Mycroft being cheeky and lots of big guns being fired. There are more moments of Sherlock-vision, and I think we were supposed to care about some extras so when they die we feel bad, but...

One problem was that this movie was in sepia vision, everything seemed to be brown toned. This make it hard to work out who was who, and when we were told about twins, I went "there were twins in this?".

Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law are the main reason to watch this, of course. I kept thinking Jared Harris was modelling himself on Mark Gatiss. The rest of them didn't impress me. (In some ways, I'm thinking I'm becoming too impatient for anything taking longer than an hour to get through...)

Not the fantastic movie we were hoping for. Perhaps too rushed into existence?


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Thursday, 5 January 2012

The Innkeepers

This was one of a few (okay, quite a few) films I didn't see at the festival. The Innkeepers is a slow-build ghost story.

This is the last few days of the Yankee Pedlar, and the two innkeepers are ghost hunters, here to try to find evidence that the haunting here is real. And run a hotel, badly (towels keep disappearing). This is, as I say, a slow build movie. Don't expect ghosts up front... or in the middle. There are a few moments, but this movie concentrates more on atmosphere than scares. Which is good, the better movies do this (eg PA1, as opposed to PA2 and PA3).

However... this makes the third Act 'excitement' really come out of nowhere. Why now? And what exactly is going on? A lot is left unsaid (for example, are the towels related to the haunting... or just bad hotel management?), and... it's a bit unsatisfying that it does go so strange without explanation. Fine, not everything needs to be explained to the audience, but random scares work better when you understand what is going on.

A decent try at a ghost movie, could do with more grounding in coherence.


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Wednesday, 4 January 2012


It's the film that isn't Transporter, while still making everything think it is. I noted that it had pink opening titles, reminiscent of Dirty Dancing, and it wasn't until the soundtrack kicked in that I worked out why. This is a film that was made in the 80s. 80s car, 80s music, 80s characters. With current day gore and splatter effects (of which there are a few).

The film starts with us meeting this guy. We follow him around for a while, while he talks to his neighbour. Then after an hour, something nearly happens, but then nothing does.

Really. This film takes a while to get going, but then doesn't go anywhere. I continued to watch it because I was doing something else at the time, and I hoped something might happen, as this is supposed to be something of a semi-action story. And yet... even when the action happened, there was still nothing happening.

Ryan Gosling is the nothing main lead. Carey Mulligan looks like she's about to cry in every scene. And a bunch of other people fill up the roles of other people in the movie.

People may rate this is a low budget indie pic, or something. I dunno. End of the day, it just wasn't very good.


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Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Episode 2

I did return to Half-Life 2: Episode 2, and reloaded an old game... and found out that I did indeed go the wrong way. (Then Valve shouldn't have let me go that way... it's all their fault.)

Continuing on, I got up to the last boss fight... and paused. I could tell it was the last boss fight, and didn't feel like completing it then. Nor indeed, was I in any hurry to go back to it...

Unlike all the other boss fights (all three of them), this one... annoyed me. I could see what they were doing, instead of a one-on-one, they would have what was basically a running gun battle. However, I just wasn't that keen. It didn't really fit with the style of fight they had had up to that point. Before they were mostly contained fights, you had ammo stashed nearby, and it was pretty much just you. Now there were lots of people around (who didn't help that much) and it was ranging over a wide area, and ammo was not exactly plentiful. By the time I completed it, I was nearly out of ammo on all guns (and, of course, I was on easy mode). It felt like a drag.

And the new mechanic of how to defeat the Striders didn't help either. They should have been able to be used against the Hunters as well. And it made it a more complicated process to kill the Striders. And... then basically became 'kill the Hunters, then the Striders... and repeat'. Basically, it just wasn't that enjoyable.

Odd for Valve, considering that they test games extensively, and revise to help players. Maybe just an unusual experience that only I had?

Anyway, around again for commentary, and only got half the achievements... but I'm not rushing back to it...


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Monday, 2 January 2012

Of Steam, Steel and Murder

Metapol is sitting outside the war, it seems. Not a lot of it happening here. (It seems to have quietened down over in Europe too.) That doesn't explain why British agent Leonard Maltin is being watched. Nor why a German watchmaker has been taken. We find spies, but they are not like us. [They are competent!]

Yeah, nothing worse than competent NPCs and Bert has lots of them. I'm not sure if the two events above are connected or not. I can see why they would take the watchmaker, not sure what Maltin is going to give them. But already they look to be outclassing us. Guess we'll have to Bull in a China Shop it as usual...

Take a listen to Game 48. Rapidshare. Hotfile. [There was a connection problem after 3 hours, see if you can spot it!]


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Challenged by Winnie the Pooh!

Recently I picked up a PlayStation 2. (Yes, a PS2. I am aware that there is the PS3, there was a particular game I wanted to play (which is available for the PS3) which was PS2, and that, plus the PS2, plus a bunch of other games, was far cheaper than a PS3, thus...)

Anyway, since this was my first ever controller based game station, I went for the nice and easy Winnie the Pooh's Rumbly Tumbly Adventure.

Considering that this is more aimed at kids, there is quite a bit of story to it (five different adventures, and they take a while). Lots of wandering around, things to collect, and you get to meet various characters (including Gopher... surely everyone remembers Gopher, best character ever... ???).

But they also have enemies, the Huffalumps and Wozzles, and so there is a fight mechanic. Which proved a problem in two ways. First, while running around, if you change direction by more than 45 degrees, you do this scampering motion before moving, loosing time. And, if you play as Piglet, you have a Quick Time Event. Yes, QTEs even in this. And consider this was the first time I was using the damn controller, I'm not used to where things are, so 'Square Triangle Circle' took me a while to get used to. And there were also timed puzzles which were more luck than skill to complete. Basically, could have been some more game design thought there. [Worse of all, when you are Tigger... you aren't bouncing! The whole point of being Tigger is to bounce, dammit!]

Anyway, plenty of more games to play yet, as I have another source of distraction. While I did complete this game, I clearly have a long way to go before I become proficient... or even competent...


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Sunday, 1 January 2012

I've Been Watching...

Should be watching this in April (I guess), but since it was only four episodes, I sat through The Sun Makers.

Do you get that this story is a take on the tax system? Did you? Huh? Huh? Did you get that? I know, it's subtle, but if you pay attention, and look carefully, it's there... And rather superfluous. It's more background colour, giving context to why the Doctor is helping the rebels overthrow the government, and allows for certain tax-based humour, but this is still a generic 'help the revels overthrow those in power' story otherwise. And can be enjoyed as such. Kids, I'm sure, failed to get certain obscure references, yet, hey, bad guys, good guys (because the Doctor says so / sides with them), so yay for that!

Which helps if, like me, you aren't that invested in knowing the ins and outs of the tax system. Although given that the bad guys just want your money, and the good guys are threatening to kill you if you don't help them (and throw people off roofs), you really will have to take the story's word for it that the planet is better off with this happening as it did.

The extras on this are a little odd. Yes, it's an outtake from a scene in the story, but it's not that funny, especially the third and fourth time! And as for the Dudley Simpson bit... yes, he did do the music for this story, but he doesn't even talk about the Sun Makers during the segment! The commentary is more rambly than usual, and even the info-text is having trouble finding things to talk about.

This story means more to Robert Holmes to the main audience, and beyond that, it's fairly generic.


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