Many-jane. Pot. The good stuff. Call it what you will, two facts remain: It is illegal. It is harmless.
The Union is a move all about it. It covers the legal history about marijuana, which is just weird, then goes on to how the prohibition against marijuana doesn't work in any way you examine it, which also doesn't make sense. And nothing about how pot is managed makes sense.
Let's name one drug worse than this. Tobacco. Okay, okay, let's go for a second. Alcohol. Seriously, these should be class 1 narcotics, not marijuana, and yet since tobacco and alcohol have been around for so long, and so prevalently, they are fine. And yet there is a huge market for pot that needs to be fed that has led to the dubious set of collections of people, called Unions, that deal into this. This extraordinary money making market that would be ruined if it was legalised and regulated.
This movie covers all this well, and presents a wide range of people, and shows actual illegal pot growing operations. I suspect being Canadian made it slightly easier to deal with certain practicalities of access than would happen in the United States. It's a decent picture, and an entertaining watch.
But don't take my word for it. Watch it for yourself on YouTube:
Monday, 31 December 2012
Many-jane. Pot. The good stuff. Call it what you will, two facts remain: It is illegal. It is harmless.
Sunday, 30 December 2012
Here's a fairly obvious statement: corporations put profits first. A lot of people would agree with that. Corporations would try to spin that. And this isn't saying that corporations are bad or good in and of themselves, just that they have this overriding incentive behind everything they do.
The Corporation is a look at what they are doing, and how they behave. Not surprisingly, corporations do not fair well. The movie starts with how corporations are people (well, they don't explain that, the movie just uses that), then shows that corporations are psychopaths. It shows that their image matters more than what they actually do. And, to be honest, there isn't a lot presented about what we could do to stop the corporations from doing what they want.
Some corporations, such as Monsanto, are picked on more than others. So yeah, it's easy to hold up examples of corporations gone bad. A lot of them, especially the larger ones, are, because that works for them. What we don't see in this is the flip-side: how do corporations work well? Can they work well? Do we need to get rid of them entirely? That is addressed... not at all.
Not an unpredictable look at corporations, but with a big focus missing.
But don't just take my word for it. They have the entire movie on YouTube:
Saturday, 29 December 2012
Have you heard of Acquisitions Incorporated? It's the D&D group run by the Penny Arcade crew, and GM'ed by Chris Perkins of WOTC himself. And it's funny. And... it also stars Wil Wheaton!
But after a few series, they weren't really able to get together for podcasts, but they now pretty much meet at PAX meetings and have two hour games... which are podcast but also videod. So you can see them...
While the 2010 session is available, I'm going to add in the 2011 session as it is somewhat more independent of what has gone before (whereas 2010 leads directly on. Certainly watch that, but if you haven't listened to the podcast yet, 2011 is easier to start with).
And continuing on from that is the 2012 session, so also check that out.
Friday, 28 December 2012
Since we are talking about Gerry Anderson (and we must right now), I'm going to bring up Terrahawks. The series most likely to be mentioned as "oh, yeah, he did that as well". (I think even The Secret Service gets higher billings!)
Anyway, we have this epic battle between evil aliens (who were ugly of course) and the attractive team of the Terrahawks, with the heroes having names like Kestral, Falconer and Hawkeye... because that's what you do when you name the series 'terrahawks'. Although of course the star of the series was really Windsor Davies as Sergeant Zero and the whole Zeroids crew, battling the Cubes... leading to the excellent series closures of the zeroids and the cubes playing naughts and crosses... and who won varied across the episodes!
Some of the more bizarre moments (give the above): actually daring to kill Ninestein, the leader. It-Star... just It-Star. And there's a live action version of SOS by Kate Kestral (sung by Moya Griffiths, the singing voice of Kate, presumably)...
This is the iconic opening:
And here are some moments from it:
And to prove that everything sounds better when a full orchestra is behind it:
Thursday, 27 December 2012
Okay, is this S07E06 or S07EX? ...okay, it looks like E06, all right then, all questions have been resolved... except perhaps of how this is the best Christmas story and yet still fails...
Lots of great little touches in this script, but nothing subtle. The Great Intelligence is hammered home (despite the Doctor not being able to 'get it' like a large part of the audience did... although to be fair a lot of the audience probably didn't get it either) [And no little golden balls! Points off for that Moffat! Just think of the decoration references you could have done!]. And yet... lots of character whittling around, but nothing really important happens. Just people talking, taking up time on screen. And the ending is a total washout in whatever way you want to looks at it.
And now Clara is "the girl who died twice"? What is it with giving people titles, Moffat? Can't you come up with actual proper characterisations that you need to give them some hook and hope people stick around because of that? Let alone Moffat looks to be going further than Rose/Doctor shipping did. Oh the fanfiction that awaits...
Still Jenna-Louise Coleman is nice to look at... although I keep getting Summer Glau moments, especially when she does her special voice [I would like to that moment in Shindig, but can't find a clip of it.]
Richard E. Grant is wasted here, and the less said about the Veiled Lady and her lackeys the better.
In all... it should be good, and yet, it wasn't.
Upcoming: Lots of returning monsters because... because!
Wednesday, 26 December 2012
Tuesday, 25 December 2012
Monday, 24 December 2012
Since I had a lazy day (first in a very long while) I had time to do whatever... including continuing playing Half-Life: Opposing Force. And, as it happens, completing it. It took me a fair few hours and yet... and this is the main point... I still enjoyed it!
I would even go as far as saying this is better than Half-Life itself. It has many of the same beats with a few set pieces, physics puzzles (some with jumping) and various battles. We get the new mechanic of getting people to follow you, which comes back in HL2. And, nicely, the alien planet is minimized.
There were a few places where I got lost. If there was a tutorial for a new melee gun, I didn't spot it (it might have been the hologram, but if so, then I didn't get that it was talking about that). And a few times I had to look up what to do next. That end boss was rather boring... and indeed the whole last level could have been better...
But still, yes, I enjoyed it. I'm not saying I'm leaping back to playing it again, but I haven't uninstalled it off my drive like I did Blue Shift...
Sunday, 23 December 2012
With money disappearing on GOG and Steam sales, it's not surprising I am in the mood for playing games. But rather than install something I just brought, what do I have already installed and ready to go? Half-Life: Opposing Force? ... Sure!
I always go through the training room area first to remind me of the mechanics and see what's new. One item that's new is the rope climbing. I hated that in Tomb Raider, and I'm not loving it here. So much so that: screw you, ropes! (And considering there are no ropes in HL2+, it seems my opinion is not the only one like this.)
However, the game itself... is actually pretty fun so far. I am Adrian Sheppard (before that Sheppard came along), one of the a-hole soldiers that came in and shot up everyone including Freeman. Only something go wrong when my team goes into the base and bam! Aliens up in this biotch!
So far, I'm only two chapters in... but yeah, I want to continue. I wasn't expecting to, but... yep, I'm in. For now.
Now obviously it's not all clear sailing. Aside from the rope, I keep getting hung-up on damn geometry. If I'm lucky, I can crouch-jump over it, but more than once I've needed to noclip my way free. Oh yeah, that's another thing. I'm cheating already. While I do like the story, I don't know if this is supposed to be an extreme hard-core game or I'm really bad at finding stashes, but I was just constantly low on health and had sod-all ammo. When a section turned up with a number of aliens suddenly popping up and more-or-less instant killing me because of my low condition, I snapped, and boom, cheats ahoy!
Unlike Blue Shift, and even unlike parts of Half-Life, I want to get back to this... let's see how long that desire lasts...
Saturday, 22 December 2012
Since I'm talking about various series I'm sort of watching / catching up with, this is one that has been going on a while, and so far... I've only seen a few episodes.
In My Drunk Kitchen Harto gets drunk. And tries to cook. Very much tries to cook. But does manage to get drunk. At least... admittedly a part of me does wonder how much of it is an act. And how much the drinking is ramped up in editing. Because... I would nearly think she would be paralytic after drinking so much. Or maybe that's just me (it's not like I have any idea about the effect of heavy drinking).
But it is quite funny. Especially the end credits. And she certainly doesn't take it seriously. It's a series I'll slowly make my way through, but it should be worth it.
Friday, 21 December 2012
I like documentaries, I think that much has been pretty well established. And, thanks to Loading Ready Run, I have established at least a peripheral interest in Magic The Gathering. So I'd like to combine the two and watch a good documentary on MTG. Only, it seems there isn't one.
The closest I've been told about is Walking the Planes, which is a series of brief videos about various MTG conventions and Pro Tour tournaments. It isn't introductory to MTG in any way, and assumes a good knowledge of what the hell is going on, but it does give a good profile of the main players in the arenas.
If anyone knows of a good documentary on MTG, please let me know. (Or, hey, in general, a good documentary I should watch anyway.)
Thursday, 20 December 2012
Now, I have gone on record before about not liking playing the original Half-Life. (And I still haven't gotten to play Opposing Force... although considering I gave up on Blue Shift, I might never.) However, I would like to see someone else who does enjoy it playing through it. So a Let's Play really.
And I've found this. Which is sort of a Let's Play. It is more of a humourous take on what it means to be Gordon Freeman, silent protagonist. By giving him a voice. (In a way that reminds me of Static Fiend.) But, of course, he can't speak. So what do we have?
Freeman's Mind. Currently up to 44 episodes... which hasn't been updated since September, so I am wondering if it has ceased to be... or maybe just resting. Or maybe just takes long between episodes. I haven't studied the release dates, so can't say. But will soon catch up with all of them
And there one extra feature I like. Although each episode is on a separate page, making for a little more work, the episodes are available for downloading. So I can grab them and watch them offline in my own time... and at my own speed. I'm at the point where even 1.5 seems slow.
Wednesday, 19 December 2012
Did you take part in the Double Fine Amnesia Fortnight? That's the fortnight in which Double Fine stop their other work and get some games up and running to prototype stage that might develop into full games.
Miss out? Don't worry, you can still get in on it! The Humble Bundle page for it is still working, it seems, and by donating you can get the prototypes and access the documentary episodes 2Player created.
And, regardless, you can watch the videos of the creative process by going to their Twitch TV channel.
Watch live video from doublefine on www.twitch.tv
Why not get in on it?
Tuesday, 18 December 2012
I'm aware of the Continuum series. Tried to watch the pilot episode, gave up half-way through. So here's another series called Continuum.
This series is about Raegen, who wakes up on a ship in space with no memory. And very slowly little is uncovered, until the last episode in which... it actually gets interesting. I won't say what it is, but it is somewhat different (while not entirely novel, it does at the last moment enough to catch me by surprise).
You can buy or steam the entire season in one go, or watch the series in pieces on YouTube.
Monday, 17 December 2012
[This will involve spoilers for the end of the movie version of An Unexpected Journey, so I'll hide some of it from the main front page.]
I can't remember who originally noted it, but it is true that this is the second set of three movies. Created after the original set of three movies. But set before the original set of movies.
Yes, I'm saying that An Unexpected Journey is Peter Jackson's The Phantom Menace. And yes, I am saying this to troll.
But wait, there's more! We get to find out more about the history of one of the iconic characters from LOTR. And the mentor figure gets to feature more, and do more cool stuff with the aid of CGI!
And as an echo from the first movie (this bit hidden) the Azog/Thorin fight echoes the Lurtz/Boromir fight.
All with more CGI and chase sequences and changing from established history, this is everything we hoped TPM would be!
Sunday, 16 December 2012
Yep, I wents to sees it. At eight o'clock... in the morning! 'Cos no-one else (okay, not many) did the same, so it was a nice relaxed non-child-filled time. I'm also re-reading the book (and gotten past where the movie ends just before I went to see the movie), so have a better idea about what was going on than I normally would.
The main thing rereading the book taught me was... this book is a comedy! And that carries over to the movie, in a rather awkward way. You've got plenty of comedy moments with the dwarfs (such as the fight under the Misty Mountains [is there an 'actress' with... oh, yes, there is.]), but the previous movies have already established the universe as far more dark and foreboding, and Peter and co. and included a lot of extra material (sometimes from whole cloth) that fail to fit with that comedic atmosphere. There is then, understandably, a clash of tones. The movie errs on the side of serious, which makes the comedy moments stick out... like sore thumbs. Not to say they aren't amusing, but it is very much a case of 'LOOK, COMEDY!!!!'
And, of course, I saw it in 3D... in High Frame Rate. (And now have my own pair of 3D glasses). Um... I do have a few issues with it, and it reminds me of VidFIRE, in that the motion in some shots really stands out and feels off to me. Also, the images are a little too clean, like they were shot in a more sterile environment. Basically... it doesn't feel filmic. Which it is supposed to be.
A few notes on the personae: Richard Armitage pulls off serious very well. Ian Holm's voice often reminded me of John Hurt. Andy Serkis stole the scenes as expected. Sylvester McCoy was full on Sylvester McCoy. Barry Humpries was... oh, so that explains that character. The dwarfs were... on screen (where are the blue, red and yellow hoods, dammit?!).
You'll note that I haven't talked about the plot, because most of you probably already know it. There is a lot more agency given to the characters than was in the book, and there's extra material I'll leave to Tolkein scholars / DVD extras to explain.
Also, you'll have already made up your mind to see it or not, so my opinion not so much. I would like to see it again, maybe in 2D or at least non-HFR just to see the difference, but otherwise I'm happy I saw it the way I did.
There is something other I want to talk about... in tomorrow's post...
Saturday, 15 December 2012
Since all the cool kids are doing it, now that I have finished reading it, I'll talk about The TARDIS Tales Treasury.
Graham Muir made a name for himself in New Zealand Doctor Who circles (well... circle) by coming up with TARDIS Tales, a completely irreverent take on Doctor Who in cartoon form with the aid of a big chook called Saucer. You can read a lot of them, as they were published in TSV. But this collection contains all of them, and more. With a complete coverage (the original form in RTP) of the history, and some bonus strips in the appendix.
Everyone sites their favourite moment, I'm going for where Graham turned the Seventh Doctor into Ferret pudding. Why? Because he could, and because it's funny. And it didn't stop him with any continuity issues (why start now?).
The TARDIS Tales is exactly the sort of pisstake Doctor Who needs. As in actually humourous. The only question now is, why haven't you got a copy?
Friday, 14 December 2012
There aren't many shows that survive after only a season. There are a few. But this one got a movie. And, ten years later, they are still talking about it.
Firefly - Browncoats Unite from Geeks Union on Vimeo.
And yet, unless it's a cartoon or something (it totally should be a cartoon), I don't think it should be brought back. (I mainly go for a cartoon as I think that would be the best way to cheaply bring back the series for the screen.)
Thursday, 13 December 2012
[This is what happens when it is late and I get a silly idea for a post. While I'm sure Randall would be able to come up with an interesting graphic, I can't.]
Looking at the number of hits for these (complete) phrases: (sticking with the main topics as covered in secondary school)
Damn you physics: 35,700.
Damn you chemistry: 47,100.
Damn you biology: 36,600.
Damn you mathematics: 8,950.
Damn you maths: 52,400.
Damn you statistics: 57,700.
Damn you science: 134,000.
We see that 'science' is the most damned of all the sciences... Damn You Science!!!!
Wednesday, 12 December 2012
Hey, it's John Barrowman and sister Carole E. Barrowman! Together again for the first time! And it's a Torchwood book, Exodus Code. By Captain Jack Harkness himself, so it must be brilliant!
It turns out the Earth has rings in it, which Jack found out about in the early twentieth century when he nearly fell into a mountain in Peru. However he forgot about it. Then in modern day, women are becoming hysterical there are geysers coming out of the ocean, and people are on a bus about to get shot at.
There are two bad things about this novel. One is that there is a lot of jumping around, so it gets confusing quickly. There's a big fight scene near the end, and I have no idea why anyone was shooting anyone, where anyone was in relation to anyone else, if people were supposed to be good guys or not... and why I should care. Bit of a mess.
However, worse than that is that this story is just straight up boring. Being messy doesn't help, but when there are large sections when very little happens, and what does happen happens very slowly, I lose interest in what is happening, and am turning pages out of sheer bloody-mindedness. This isn't an exciting Torchwood romp. This isn't an exciting anything romp.
And don't expect lots of great insights into Captain Jack either. I'm not sure if this is because the authors didn't want to step on anything RTD might do, but there are no exciting revelations, and characters don't progress in any interesting ways.
Just give this a miss. Even with who the authors are... just give this a miss.
Tuesday, 11 December 2012
You may have heard about it in hushed tones, you may have met people who encountered it... but have you ever actually seen it?
Mr. Plinkett Reviews The Phantom Menace!
And now he's done another full review of Titanic, so now's a good a time as any to say: go watch!
Monday, 10 December 2012
There's a new three part mini-series from the BBC that looks inside Claridges. And, wow, is it an expensive place! With a lot of big name guests there! To be honest, I'm not sure I'd be allowed in the lobby, and that... is a fair call.
But what I like about this documentary series (of which only one has been screened so far) is the level of detail the staff brings. I admire that, and like to see it in others. (I will leave as an open question whether or not I embody it myself.)
While the staff don't always answer questions, and the series is careful to not name names at times, the reporter looks to be willing to at least ask the questions, so good on the BBC for that much at least.
It does make me want to make a spin off episode where a wealthy person shows up in t-shirt and shorts, tries to book a suite for a week and (if they let him get that far), makes a series of unreasonable requests just to see how far they would go. And, yes, I would like that wealthy person to be me, so that series is a while away from happening.
Anyway, interesting first episode, and I look forward to watching the next two.
Sunday, 9 December 2012
Where do you go when you want to hear the fat beatz? You might think a club, but this is the internet, we have a website for that! In particular, plug.dj.
In one of the rooms, you can hear people playing their favourite tunes, and even spin a disc yourself (or flail wildly as the animation would have it). There can either be a succession of DJs, each playing one song each before moving on (with a waitlist to get through if there are more than five), or there can be one DJ laying out their favourite playlist.
How is the playlist formed? You select the song by selecting the video from one of three sites... at least, I think three, because mostly it's just YouTube. The video plays while the song does, and people can 'Woot' or 'Meh' it, and if they 'Woot' then another animated dance plays... it's more about the music than the visuals.
I attend DJ Mumbles' room when I go there (in the rare times when I don't have a stack of other media pressing for my attention), and I have my NZ playlist set up for when I jump in the DJ crew. You can go there now if you want... although, I gather, there might just be a bot of some kind playing songs when people aren't around.
Anyway, the clubs are on the netz, so no need of that horrible physically interacting with people. Woot!
Saturday, 8 December 2012
Are you listening to the HP Podcraft (The HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast)? Which not only has gone through all of HP Lovecraft's stories (for free), but is now looking at the stories that HP himself admire (and will go on to do other things once they've finished with that).
Chad Fifer and Chris Lackey adopt a very chatty style, not taking it too seriously. And it's easy to tell them apart (important for audio media.)
And now... you can see them! They did an episode as a Google Hangout:
Friday, 7 December 2012
I have talked about OverThinkingIt before, but I want to bring up another site with similar ideas. However, while OTI often comes across as an exercise in film and literature crit regurgitation, this is more people sitting around, having a chat, and really digging into it as we might want to.
Gonzo Planet is the home site to Digital Gonzo podcast (which seems to have come from Digital Cowboys). They talk about games and movies. And whole series of movies. Like the Die Hard series. Toy Story. The Marvel movies leading up to The Avengers. Aliens, Predator, Aliens vs Predator. Harry Potter. And now Lord of the Rings. (And many others.)
And they care a lot about music in film. And touch on television. And have fun with their own version of Buzzcocks.
And they are mostly British. So just sound many degrees more cultured than other podcasts. Definitely enjoying working my way through their archives.
Thursday, 6 December 2012
Pop Up Video? Remember that? Showed a video, and popped up facts, not always related to the song. I recall watching a fair few videos and liked learning the behind the scenes information. And yet... where is that now?
I'm not sure if they were involved in this Chop Up video from Shriek If You Know What I Did, but it was very much in the style.
Of course, commentaries are not as uncommon now as back then, but even back then other shows did facts. I recall that one show had (over a few days), all of Madonna's videos, with running commentary across the bottom... I would love to see that released now on DVD (or available in some method). But haven't seen it anywhere.
Nowadays, this would require a music channel to work, and they are too busy showing reality TV shows...
Wednesday, 5 December 2012
Never mind playing the same game twice in a row, we change again! We are going back to the Edge of the Empire system, but this time playing through the DarkStryder campaign. Originally written for Star Wars D6! I remember SWD6... I have, or possibly had, the rule books for that around somewhere...
But for this campaign, we are doing something different. Namely, we are playing three different characters each, changing them out as the situation changes from scene to scene. One from the command crew, one from the named support crew, then one completely made up as we desire. Death is supposed to be a possibility in this, so we are prepared with spare character sheets.
My three are:
Lofryyhn, the Wookie who is the Chief Engineer. Because Wookies are who everyone associates with fixing ships.
Scoryn, hard ass woman who enforces security on the ship.
Nar'tar, Twi'lek scholar who is interested in getting new information more than caring about how he gets it.
Others have a similar range of characters, so... first death from interpersonal conflict next session then!
Tuesday, 4 December 2012
No, it's not me saying that, it's from the channel YourMovieSucksDOTOrg. He does a take down / analysis of a lot of big movies, and just recently he did a two part take down of the Saw series.
(Part 2 here)
I originally caught his reviews because I was looking for reviews of Birdemic, and just kept watching. M Night Shyamalan? Yep. Toy Story 3? Yep (it really is like 2 all over again...) Sucker Punch? There is backlash against that movie. And a collection of Horror movies.
While not frequent, is very amusing. Not quite Plinkett, but still entertaining. Check it out!
Monday, 3 December 2012
Yes, you might have heard of a show similar in idea to Survivor: stick a bunch of people in an isolated place and watch them be dicks, or not, to each other. Only this one is from the UK, and is with Celebrities! (Where Celebrity has a pretty loose definition, because I ain't heard of most of them...)
One Celebrity (why do I keep capatilising that?) was one Colin Baker, Actor and Former Doctor Who (as his credit ran). Why? Why would he want to be abandoned out in the outback of Australia? To suffer sleepless nights, put his hands (and other body parts) into things containing the numerous bugs and critters that are in Australia, and to never eat properly again?
To lose weight. Seriously, that was his cited reason. And, to be fair to him, after his time on the show (spoilers: he didn't last the entire three weeks), he did indeed lose weight. So... why isn't this taken up by clinics as a weight loss programme? "Come spend time in the jungle, don't eat properly, and suffer for others' amusements!" Totally winner, I'm sure.
In summary: Colin Baker was on Celebrity. That is all you need to know about it, so don't bother watching it. (And I skimmed through most of it, so I didn't watch it while watching it either.)
Sunday, 2 December 2012
Booyah! In your face... whoever you are that didn't care if I completed it or not! 100% Achievement Get! Which includes all the hats and diary pages... and completing it on Hard mode, and there are some damn hard puzzles to get past (but less that you'd think).
But... because I'm masochistic... any interest in a video Let's Play of this from me? And at what difficulty? Easy is insultingly easy. Difficult is just annoying and aside from a few really hard puzzles, not that interesting, but if you really want it... (I can't see how to uncollect hats etc, so it would just be a straight run of the game.)
[END] Read more!
Saturday, 1 December 2012
So Yatzhee Croshaw came back with another book. About an apocalypse. Involving Jam. (It's interesting in that all the peoples call it jam, although that's never an official name.)
Travis wakes up one morning and finds the city of Brisbane covered in jam. Jam that eats anything organic. And so begin the trials of him and his (to use the term loosely) "friends", as they try to cross the city (the biggest game of "the floor is lava" already), and survive encountering other groups of survivors. And yes, I know there should be a comma there, but there isn't... because that's more appropriate.
Because it seems that everyone who survives is an idiot. I'm not sure what Yatzhee is saying here about people, but I certainly got the sense that all these people only are surviving because of narrative convenience. And this extends the most to Travis, the person who conveniently manages to be present at all the plot relevant moments and find out all the things that the readers need to know. Yes, readers need to know, but I was having trouble accepting that Travis just so happened to be in the right place at the right time. And this ties in with his complete lack of personality (outside of caring about Mary). This is pointed out by other characters, which is merely hanging a lamp shade on it, and is useful for making him go alone with everyone else to find out what they are doing, but it does distance us from caring about him when he is just observing everyone else. As indicated above, when he is actively doing something, mostly involving Mary, then he is more interesting.
Anyway, have you read Mogworld, yet? This continues with one of the characters turning up here, and certainly continues that rather off-the-wall humour, so go ahead and pick up Jam as well.
Friday, 30 November 2012
There was always the fear that after Steve Carell left at the end of season seven that the series just wouldn't be the same... And I'm here to tell you those fears were entirely justified... But to continue talking about this, I'm going to put it inside a folded post for spoilers and such. Basically, it fell apart a lot.
I don't mind that Andy became the new boss. They could do things with that. But going to Talahassee was the start of the downfall of the season. Yes, Catherine Tate joined at that time, rather superfluously, but that was another symptom, not the cause.
The problem, as I see it, was that they had less focus on 'office weirdness of the episode' and more on the story arc. Yes, they always had a story arc, but each episode, from Florida onwards, was about the arc, not about the weirdness. And while I like James Spader, his character was just too odd to be believable that no-one was calling him on his stupidity, even behind his back.
But what really put a sour topper on everything was the final episode. Which, basically, was a huge reset button for the entire season. Aside from one or two character moments, the entire season could be excised and nothing changes for the office crew. What the hell up with that?
One more season and it is the end... which is should have been last season. I'll watch it, but with a sense of dread.
Thursday, 29 November 2012
Damn you Pixar and your excellent story telling!
Why'd it take so long for a female story? Merida is a princess that doesn't want to be (a Disney Princess?), and rebels to take destiny into her own hands, and change her mum in ways that... well, although I didn't watch many trailers, I definitely didn't know that was going to happen, so I won't reveal it here.
(Speaking of trailers, this movie had trailers for the girls and trailers for the boys... just a shame they felt they had to do that. Good storytelling, which this is, doesn't care who you are, it grabs you and makes you tear... I mean care! No tear at all [hurriedly wipes something away].)
Some big names here, the main notable one being (say it down in a gasping wheeze) Billeh Conneleh! But Kelly Macdonald gives a great performance (aided with Pixar's team of animators) as Merida, and carries the bulk of the movie (although with a companion I don't want to mention).
Another fine Pixar movie...
Wednesday, 28 November 2012
This is a model movie... in so many ways!
Norman can speak with the dead... but isn't as hung up on it as Haley was. Anyway, because he can, his uncle needs him to do one job: read a book at the proper grave site so that the witch's curse is stopped for another year and the dead aren't brought back to life... and guess what happens.
This is an amazingly good script. There are some cliches, but there is also subversions of the cliches, and, for me at least, it's layered in appropriately so that twists aren't too shocking and you can see them coming if you are thinking about it. And the ending... they are definitely not talking down to children here!
The big name that is associated with this is John Goodman, but he's not in it much (but suitably so). It's about the kids, so we get a lot of kid actors, who aren't annoying because their characters are well written, and the director (who is the writer) knows what he wants. He brings everything together excellently.
Certainly go see this movie. It's better than you would expect.
Tuesday, 27 November 2012
50 years eh... and it's come to this.
M screws up, and Bond has to step in to help her out. By lots of extended chase scenes and really boring fights.
Seriously, this has some of the blandest fight sequences I've seen. The last act is incredibly tedious, like two punch drunk boxers barely able to get enough energy up to swing at each other. (The bad guy even makes a comment to this end at one point.)
Not to say it's all terrible. There are some nice nods towards the series history, but... actually, I'll just leave it at 'but'.
Actor-wise, mediocre performance from Daniel Craig. Great performance from Dame Judy Dench. Great performance from Javier Bardem. And although I'm sure Ben Whishaw wasn't trying to act like Matt Smith crossed with David Tennant, I got an off-key Doctor-vibe from him anyway.
The experience wasn't helped by 20 minutes of ads/trailers before hand, nor the incident on the bus afterwards. But I was not impressed by the latest Bond.
Monday, 26 November 2012
As I said, I would continue... and I did. Finding a new thing to hate on each level... But I did complete it after five hours! And...
Now, I'm going to reveal spoilers but since I hate the game, I'm not hiding them. You have been warned.
So, we have Cybermen, the Silurians and Silence, human guards and finally Daleks. Because you need to have a game with Daleks in it. And the last fight was incredibly annoying, especially when it wasn't clear what I was supposed to be doing. The Doctor does mini-puzzles while River shoots... yeah, that's fun... isn't it?
And yes, I got all four pieces of the Clock... and yes, the game says there is more to come... however... that's where it ends! Yeah, on a cliff-hanger! W T Fuck??? What the hell is up with that? One last mini-puzzle and that's the end? That didn't feel epic! That felt frustrating and annoying and other angry words!!!
If you want another game, fine, but don't leave a cliff-hanger to force it! Try making an actually good game, and people will clamour for more!
(Collectibles, and there are some - the Doctor's hats and pages of River's Diary, I didn't get all of them... but I don't care that much. Maybe one day, but not today.)
So, no... do not play this game. It will not reward you...
Sunday, 25 November 2012
I, rather obviously, am a Doctor Who fan... so of course I'm going to get the latest Doctor Who game, The Eternity Clock.
What a horrible, horrible game.
Originally this was a console game on PlayStation, but now it is on the PC. I'm not sure if this was designed as both console and PC or was a port... but I sort of hope it was a port because that would somewhat explain how bad it is... although it was bad on the PSN, so maybe not.
So far, I have only managed... I'm guessing a fifth of the game (collected first of four parts and there would be something to do with them). And sunk over two hours into it. The set up so far is that... oh, I can't remember now. Some stupid time thing brought the Doctor to present day London where there is a Cybermen invasion. River is roped in to help, and so the two of them run around defeating them.
First problem: bad controls. You only move left and right, with your item (sonic screwdriver or blaster) controlled with the mouse. And one button to use everything. Which is the start of the frustration. The one button is context sensitive, which means, in a very tight section, pressing it helps the other people to get up, and also uses the other person's help to get up. Only if you press it to early, you bend down to help, then need to unbend so you can grab their hand... it's more irritating that I can express right now.
As well as running about, there are puzzles. Small mini-games which are not intuitive, and quite a few of them I solve more by luck that design. Because timing is VERY crucial. The rest of the level doesn't stop for you to solve it. And, more stupidly, it doesn't stop while you look at the tutorial.
And then there is the AI. While running, the companion might leap to save time, or climb down, or go the wrong way entirely.
This all culminates in one section, which stopped me for a while and made me go away (and stopped someone else entirely) where you need to run and jump and solve a puzzle. In a very limited time frame. And the puzzle is at the beginning. If you take too long to solve it, you can't get to the other end in time, only you only know you don't have enough time once you've gotten there. And this combines with AI pathing and context sensitive buttons, to make this one of the most screamingly awful examples of game play I have ever had to suffer through.
(I don't know what the two player mode is like. I'm thinking either you watch the other player when only one character is doing something, or if you see what you are doing while they see their section. Either way, this is time spent not doing things with the other person, which seems antithetical to the co-operative play this game is wanting to promote. And it only looks to be local, not over network. Hey, another missed opportunity for co-operative fun! And I'm not sure how there is enough screen to see both buttons in some cases.)
And finally, the game crashes, and Steam won't register any achievements.
I still want to continue, out of sheer bloody-minded-ness, but I'm not enjoying it.
Saturday, 24 November 2012
For some reason BBC decided to allow a story for a previous Doctor to get released, and so we get The Wheel of Ice by Stephen Baxter, starring the Second Doctor, Jamie and Zoe.
Out around Saturn is a new mining colony, and they encounter strange Blue Dolls due to something buried in a moon... something that may be the reason for them to be at Saturn, and possibly for the human race to exist...
In many ways, this is standard fare. Human base, things attacking it, the Doctor getting mixed up in trying to solve some underlying mystery... and if you don't spot the connections, don't worry, because Stephen Baxter drops numerous references to previous adventures where they say 'this is like that time when...'. In some ways, you would expect people to remember what they have been through... but in other ways, it does seem gratuitous as it never really happened on the telly.
The worst aspect of this book is the main bad
guy lady, Florian Hart. She is so two dimensional, she is one dimensional. The Doctor tries to give some lines to pretend she has more than one dimension, but she behaves in such a predictable heavy handed way, she's there to be the bad guy and give the book a protagonist especially at the end, that there is nothing that can be done (certainly Stephen Baxter didn't try to) to save her character. And the whole sub plot with Jamie is entirely irrelevant and seems to be there just to give an excuse for action scenes.
Not a wonderful book, but not terrible either. But on the eh side of blah.
Friday, 23 November 2012
Thursday, 22 November 2012
Wednesday, 21 November 2012
Tuesday, 20 November 2012
Monday, 19 November 2012
Sunday, 18 November 2012
Saturday, 17 November 2012
Friday, 16 November 2012
When I first started watching Hustle, I thought it was the setup up of: what if the police got a bunch of crims on their side to help take down the bad guys? It wasn't that series...
But White Collar is close. Neal Caffrey is a fraudster, caught and sent to jail by Agent Peter Burke. He got out after his girlfriend left him, but was caught again by Burke. But instead of going back to prison, he arranged to help Burke solve a case, and then that arrangement continues. And so, each week is "fraud of the week" and these two run around solving through a mixture of legal and not-so-legal means. And there's also a running arc of Neal trying to get back with his girlfriend. (At least in Season One. I haven't watched the others yet.)
It's a nice light drama series, and it caught my interest. It was talking a fine line between trying to make Neal a hero and an anti-hero, and not presenting Burke as an idiot that lets Neal get away with everything. It does this pretty successfully, although... my main bugbear about this series is the issue of trust. In that no-one seems to have it. Neal is running deals behind Burke's back, Burke is getting information on what Neal is doing and using that to keep on top of him... they don't talk to each other, and it's obvious that's causing problems. Fine, the creators need to keep tension and drama, but this is giving weight to the 'they are all idiots' side that they need to keep away from.
I'm going to continue watching, but I hope they stop the needless forced character separation.
Thursday, 15 November 2012
Okay, I admit I thought the Propellerheads were a one-hit wonder. (I certainly don't recall hearing anything from them other than History Repeating). But it seems they were quite the group, and originally made it big with a remix of James Bond, in particular OHMSS. And, I have to, it is pretty much "the funk" (I believe that's how it is said).
Wednesday, 14 November 2012
Mix together Doctor Strange, Hulk, Machine Man, Rogue and Deadpool, and what do you have? Our adventure in the land of the Marvel Superheroes RPG! As it was basically just four rounds of combat (and we went for four hours!), I won't bother to narrate the game. Some villains got out of prison, and we fought them.
Not well, it has to be said, as indicated by the fact that we went four rounds and we got more beat up than they did. But we were eventually getting somewhere... but the prospect was not good.
This is a more narrative game than others, with more generic power descriptions and lots of flavour text to hook into. But the main mechanic seemed to be the Plot Points, which came and went very easily, and seemed to build up far more easily for the GM than for the players. It felt like we were on the backfoot for that aspect for most of the game.
The basic way to form the dice pool came easily enough, but remembering all the whizzy bits to add on and take into account needs more getting used to. And as rounds took a while, it did feel like a lot of sitting there watching what was happening.
Not convinced about it yet, but clearly familiarity will help a lot.
Due to the GM leaving the country, we've got one more shot at this.
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Monday, 12 November 2012
So the Bradford players played through the Horror on the Orient Express... so what could be more natural from that than to novelise their adventure? (This isn't completely out-from-nowhere. Violet Davenport, one of the characters, kept a diary in game, so this is the story as told through several diaries.)
Caught up in a friend's request for helping to get rid of a dangerous artefact, Mrs Betty Sunderland and others are on the trail of the Sedefkar Simulacrum... and the places they go on happen to lie on the route of the Orient Express. At several cities, they must uncover the trail, and contend with other people... or things... being interested in obtaining the Simulacrum for their own desires...
Having heard the audio adventures, it was extremely easy for me to hear the players' voices, which shows how well Nick Marsh captured them... although having also heard the podcast, I was remembering what they went through, as well as remembering a lot of adventures that aren't covered in the book (because there's only so much space)... and, in fact, I might get those audios out again... [I have them on the DVD special they released, as well as the original files. However, that DVD isn't available any more, and I think the only way to get them is to become a patron.]
This is a good read, I would say even for those who haven't heard the audios (although some of the reasons might not be that clear... motivation in the Call of Cthulhu game is dubious at best). Pick it up!
Sunday, 11 November 2012
It's hard to get a script turned into a movie. In fact, there is no reason they ever get made into movies other than sheer dumb luck. Nothing to do with hard work, sweat and graft... just be in the right place at the right time, and bam! This is the lesson from Tales from the Script.
This documentary talks to numerous script writers about getting into Hollywood, and the process of what happened to your scripts, and such. It claims to be tales from the script writers themselves, but this is really them talking about the process, and only very little about actual anecdotes from them about what they've gone through and who they've worked with.
There are many a writer here with big credits to their names. I can't say I knew they were script writers before seeing this, but it amusing to have them introduced with a different credit each time to highlight their range of work (John Carpenter gets interview segments often... all with a different credit).
While an interesting insight into what being a script writer means, this is less than what the tagline would suggest.
Saturday, 10 November 2012
What's the best thing to do in any debate? Shut down the opposition of course! Who needs to engage in dialogue when you can completely dismiss what the other person is saying, no matter what it is?
Which is basically where the phrase "Haters gotta hate" comes into it. With those three words, anything negative the other person has to say can be completely disregarded as merely the deliberately contrary stance of, what can be strawman over-simplified as, a troll.
Fine, yes, some trolls are out there, definitely hating just to rile the pundits and get a reaction, in which case they need to be identified. But with any basic algorithm, there are false positives, either accidental or, more likely, deliberate.
But while there are trolls, not every negative position comes from that mindset. Some of us (and yes, here is where I admit this has been levelled at me) have a genuine reason for not liking... whatever it is, and yet... bam, three words later, nothing I have to say has any audience because... a glib saying.
Thanks a lot... you aren't worth talking to anyway...
Friday, 9 November 2012
I've been skimming a lot of new shows recently, and most of them aren't interesting. But one that did manage to hook me, and I'm surprised by this, is The Newsroom. This is the new drama by Aaron Sorkin, and one gimmick is that the news stories it refers to are actual news stories. This does mean that the show can react far more intelligently than actual news programs do, which makes this show far more fantasy than reality. In many ways, this is fiction, in that no actual news show would even try for this, just go for the base level appeal all the time (I might be biased), but it's nice to think that this is something the news programs could aspire to... although they won't...
Anyway, Jeff Daniels is a news anchor that's been having trouble, so old-girlfriend Emily Morimer is brought in to straighten him out. And they make a big deal about finally actually presenting actual news. And, because this is drama, we get a collection of characters with lots of interpersonal conflict and such that I was skimming through near the beginning, but watched more of as the series (just 10 episodes in the first season!) went on. It caught me up in it! There's an arc, and character movement...
But the main thing, of course, is the news items. The one about the Egypt riots I thought was the most interesting. It's easy to get caught out when you suddenly realise what story they are talking about (they typically don't reveal the date until the news story unfolds). "Oh, they'll tackle that." Next season Sorkin said he'll tackle the 2012 election, although I'm wondering if it will be a near two parter with a certain storm crashing in just before...
So, it's a series that grabs you. It makes me want to go back and watch The West Wing (which I never saw), but I'm not sure I want to get into that, nor that it will resonate as strongly given the not-so-real stories it deals with and the time since the show was on. But definitely looking forward to the next season of this show.
Thursday, 8 November 2012
I'm not sure if this movie was trying to be a horror movie, or a slasher movie, or... (note "good" is not an option.)
There's an abandoned mental hospital (of course), which is being renovated... but this movie isn't about that. Teen idiots crash the place... but the movie isn't about them. One of them tells about a 'ghost hunting' show that came here... and that, finally, is who the movie is about. And, it seems, there are ghosts a-plenty, and they are just eager to get on screen! I don't know why ghost hunting is so hard! The crew doesn't seem that surprised by this, so why are they getting bad ratings? Are ghosts just a thing in that universe? But then people start getting killed... and the movie doesn't even pretend to have any plot beyond that.
Featuring such actors as Ms H Duff.... that's right, Haylie Duff is in this! (Older sister is she.) An actual actor in this is Michael Rooker... for some reason listed on IMBD as Donut Shop Employee... was someone trolling when they added him?? But for a low budget, there is quite the cast of people. A lot of friends must have been called in.
But the biggest question I have is: where is there a nearby huge abandoned building I can shoot my crappy movie in?
Yep, another movie to ignore.
Wednesday, 7 November 2012
What to do when your lead actress dies, but you still have the opportunity to do a children's series? Keep the same production team, get a new cast of kids, write a thin and ridiculous premise, and go for it again!
In WvsA, the new series from Russell Davies and Phil Ford, there are Wizards. Because there are. And there are aliens. Because there are. And aliens like to eat magic (because that's a thing). And so you have the epic battle that will be played out on our screens... which so far involves about three aliens and two kids... and of course the aliens are incredibly stupid, and overly incompetent. And, for some reason (and there is a reason, it's just not a good one, but remember that RTD doesn't give a rat's ass about actual plot explanations, just hand waves everything, and seems even antagonistic towards science here), wizards can only cast three spells a day... Oh, and the aliens are led by Boss Nass. (Seriously, the obvious puppet looks like Boss Nass, and is voiced by Brian Blessed, so yeah).
Interestingly, unlike in SJA, there are just two male kids, played by Scott Haran and Percelle Ascott. The main female presence is the grandmother played by Annette Badland. Dan Starkey is also present, as the hilarious hobgoblin, hob hob. The two lead aliens are played by Jefferson Hall and Gwendoline Christie (a bit of a change I suspect to be under all that latex after her role on Game of Thrones). And as the production team is the same (I'm guessing) the look of the series is exactly the same as SJA.
Can't say that I'm impressed, but I might just keep my eye on it...
Tuesday, 6 November 2012
Wow, that's actually a rather creepy kids movie... although I would have more respect for it if it wasn't for that ending... but they had to have that ending in a kids movie of course...
Across from DJ's house is a house... a house that eats people! And after he kills the guy living there, it's up to him, his fat friend, and love interest he just met, to deal with it.
Not a complicated story line, but it works. There's a lot happening, with the babysitter, and the cops, venturing into the house, and then the house is alive! All that with overtones of actual death, it's a rather dark picture to enthral the kiddies with.
Most of the recognisable voices are the adults, with Steve Buscemi, Fred Willard and Maggie Gyllenhall lending their voices. The bulk of the work is by Mitchel Musso, Sam Lerner and Spencer Locke, and they are not irritating.
Good movie all up, with a decent story line to carry you through.
Monday, 5 November 2012
Puppet animation movie! Since I'm also watching Robot Chicken at the moment, this was entirely coincidental.
This movie relates the true tale of how Germany invaded England during World War II, and took over London. Churchill is forced to flee to the Land of the Scots, a savage place. Fortunately, the hero of the movie, a man named Chris, manages to unite the peoples against the Nazi menace...
Yeah, slightly satirical. As ever, the humour is a little strained at times to get the satire in, and I probably missed some. Still, everyone gets smacked at, English, Scottish, Indian, German, French and American. The funniest moment was the introduction of Braveheart, but other than that it was mildly amusing.
Voice wise, we tick off Ewan McGregor, Rosamund Pike, Richard E. Grant, Timothy Spall... so some decent names here. The puppetry is good as well, with some decent mouth music considering the most known British puppetry is from Gerry Anderson.
So, funny-ish, but not brilliant.
Sunday, 4 November 2012
I got the Tintin Collection a while ago, and have just finished reading through them all. And... wow... they (more so the earlier one) are incredibly racist. Yes, prevailing thought of the time, modern eyes, etc... but by modern eyes, incredibly racists. Particularly towards black people, but anyone in a foreign country was up for being made fools of.
The first book in The Land of the Soviets is interesting in that no only are the Soviet military made out to be complete idiots, but every page is filled with coincidence and violence to fuel the plot, and Tintin is more of a fighter here than in later stories. (Interestingly, although he is a reporter, we never, in any story, ever see him report anything, and any newspaper feature related to him is about his exploits, not about any article he is writing.) Then in The Congo... well... yeah, modern audience... but also here we see Tintin being able to over come any problem, and pretty much single handedly clean up an entire country on his own. In America, he gets to take out Capone in the first ten pages, although this isn't believed by the police (nor us really), and spends the rest of the book recapturing the gang.
Herge definitely likes his repeat villains, with plenty of the early enemies turning up in later books. Although I'll take the footnotes' word for it that they are indeed the person from the story. But lots of continuity for those who like it.
Certainly not helped by the movie is the idea that Haddock turns up in Secret of the Unicorn, when in fact he first appears in Crab with the Golden Claws. And the friendship is slow in blossoming, although we start in early with the Captain's attempted to give up the booze... or at least appear to...
And we end on Alph-Art. Which isn't complete, but it does have the script of what's there, and a copy of the initial page sketches. This also shows up another tendency of Herge to have lots of random events happening. In one page, the only panel is the top one of Tintin driving along on a scooter, and the next page has him encounter the bad guys. No doubt there would be some hilarious escapade of him running into something, or swerving into a ditch, or cut to Snowy getting away for a few panels... I wondered why we get these panels, and they look to be opportunities for mild amusements... or padding. Either way, they do break up the more linear story, if only momentarily.
This is one of those sets of books that people come to time and again. And it's easy to see why... and it's also easy to see that most people only go for the core known books. Give the others a go, even if just to round out your knowledge.
Saturday, 3 November 2012
It's Australian, so you know it's going to... meh, stick your own completion here. This is a telemovie based on a book, and... well... it has problems.
So, this dude, like, gets killed in a cab (this is set in Melbourne in 1886), and it's totally bogus. The obvious dude is obvious, but, of course, you know he totally didn't do it. It's all about the wealthy class doing things and getting away with it because they are wealthy, and there's this lower class woman who is completely the one we are supposed to root for to get somewhere, and everything hinges on her, and finally the mystery is revealed all over the place...
And if it seems like that recap is rushed, it's because the story is rushed. It's supposed to be this big depiction of the social class divide, but there is one token representation of the bottom class (a doss house, I think) and the upper class people have their house and dresses... and that's about it. A lot of the other class cliches are brushed over quickly, and the plot stampedes on, regardless of how believable some elements are. (The audience is left to assume a lot of what happens between scenes.) While this might be considered good in some ways, such as not wasting time, but since it already sweeping on to the next scene, even when the people are explaining things, there are a unsaid explanations people have to work out.
Actors... decent performances. No-one I recognised, but they might be popular Australian actors. Decent costumes too, but I'm not sure why the picture was in period colour, in that everything was basically in sepia tones (perhaps the picture I had was just badly coloured?). Made everything very drab.
I haven't read the book (never even heard of it before this), but can only imagine it comes across better than this adaptation does.
Friday, 2 November 2012
The BBC continues to throw out the odd story, this one being The Dalek Project graphic novel, written by Justin Richards and art by Mike Collins. And I'm very surprised this story got told.
It's the first World War, and the Doctor lands near a house and soon talks to a few people about odd goings on, and ends up talking with the master of the house, and find out he is helping to create Daleks. Thinking that he is going to help end the war, and - wait... what?
While not a repeat, given how many similar stories get turned down, how did this pass the check again Victory of the Daleks? And this doesn't even have the new Dalek design. Were they working on this for several years so that they started before Series 5 and were allowed to continue? And partly because of that, and partly because this isn't Justin Richards in good mode, this is not a great story. Just repeated running around, fighting the Daleks, running away from the Daleks, then fighting the Daleks again. Sigh. It basically goes on too long.
The art is mostly decent, although there are a few pages (such as page 38) with weird designs. Once the Daleks are in full fray, we get some great splash pages and interesting new looks to them (although, as said, it's odd not seeing the big booty models).
On the whole, a rather low grade Dalek story.
Thursday, 1 November 2012
While I have no interest in Paul Magrs work in general, I decided to check out his Iris Wildthyme novel... which I'm guessing is part of the reason he wrote it, to get people in from the Doctor Who side. (Still don't want to read his other books.) The book in general mixes in The Blue Angel, with Mad Dogs and Englishmen, and liberally sprinkles in The Scarlet Empress... which is really making me suspicious that this is a cash grab for Doctor Who fans as that reads as a Greatest Hits... but I would think that Paul Magrs would be better than that...
The plot of this is...not a hell of a lot, now that I think about it. Marvelle gets the damn Pinking Shears (because we needed to be reminded of those) and then it's a chase sequence as they head towards Hyspero. It's mainly about character interaction, which is quite good. Marvelle is suitably smug, Simon is just this side of wet, Barbra is just tolerable, although Panda could do with a rethink (but still classic Magrs). We get Jenny and ever and continual references to her getting runs when travelling through time (is that funny, Magrs, that we need it so constantly?). And Iris herself is in full Katy Manning form. [Fortunately, no harping on about how the Doctor is her love...]
But then there is the full on Magrs camp. We have the Pinking Shears and the Very Fabrix, the Objet D'Oom, the Dreadful Flap, I'm sure Dii h'anno Doors is a reference to something... [and there is tons of references to his previous works, it seems]. That really does not chime with me, and why I never like his books.
That said, I will probably read the next one, partly because of the tangential Doctor Who link, partly because it continues the story. But that's the only reasons...
Wednesday, 31 October 2012
[Obligation continues to be a little odd. If the group has a high enough obligation, then you are more or less permanently at a penalty to Strain... and then it doesn't really mean much, it's just a penalty that is there, and doesn't have an impact. It could get worse, but it just feels meh.]
Flying away from the moon, towards the planet, we soon pick up a tail in the form of two ships that aren't interested in letting us get away. I try to avoid them by listing lazily to the left. The gunner shoots them, missing but managing to disable each gun as he fired it [damn threat dice!]. Meanwhile, the agro guys threaten to space the leader... which makes them back off. Aided by the mechanic making the shields look stronger than they are [yay triumph dice!]. [While I am the pilot, aside from making some manoeuvres I didn't really get to do anything. And didn't ever have to make a roll at any point. What was the point of all that? I would have wanted to do some tricky flying, but the best option was evasive action... which just impacts other people's rolls. Meh.]
We land easily, and then get us some cash for our troubles... [And that ends the first campaign/story. Another one next time.]
[Since we still had time, we played the X-Wing game. Myself and Chong were X-wings, the others were Tie Fighters... I died pretty much immediately, Chong lasted a little longer... and there were no Tie Fighter casualties at all... sigh...]
Tuesday, 30 October 2012
There's a documentary about what it's like at Comic-Con that looks at it from the fans point of view, as well as talking to a few retailers. So that con looks about as massive as I'd expect...
During this documentary we meet people who are trying to become artists, and this documentary isn't all about rosy endings. We meet a comics retailer that isn't happy with the fact that the comic con isn't about comics any more (and while I can see his point, one also has to acknowledge that the people running the con are business people like he is, and if LucasFilm are giving them lots of moniez for the loading dock, then the loading dock they will have!). We meet a costumer who, with her team, did an amazing Mass Effect costume outfit of Shepard, Tali and Grunt. And we meet two lovers, one of whom is trying to set up a proposal to the other, but can't get away to get the ring, and dude, she's like really clingy, are you sure you want to marry her? (Yes, yes he does.)
We also get a lot of basically talking heads with big names to say how amazing Comic Con is... and I wonder if we'd get the same responses from them if they were at DragonCon or ... I don't know, what are other big sci-fi cons out there? There're like a bajillion of them... Certainly makes Armageddon look like the little expo that could...
Anyway, as a slice of life type documentary, it's interesting, but I can't say I particularly want to go to Comic Con after seeing it. It is, loosely, Armageddon on a huger scale, and I don't go to that!
Monday, 29 October 2012
Not many people would boast of not completing a game... and while I'm not boasting, I certainly think talking about why not to play a game is something worth talking about. There are many discussions about games needing to be "fun", which, to be honest, is not the same thing as entertaining nor enjoyable, which non-fun games should be. But certainly they should have some reason for the person to continue playing the game, or to come back to it.
I didn't like Half-Life, so it shouldn't be that much of a surprise I didn't enjoy Half-Life: Blue Shift, in which you play as the guard Barney. (Oddly, there's a big thing in HL2 about the friendship he and Gordon have, and the time they spent at Black Mesa together, but Gordon never meets him, and they certainly don't have any time at Black Mesa before "shit goes down", so I have no idea where that mythology came from...) Anyway, this game features more of random shooting and extremely annoying jumping/physics puzzles. And no story. Well, a very small story. Mainly just running through corridors shooting things, then running through corridors pressing buttons. It wasn't fun, not enjoyable, nor entertaining. I didn't get far before I gave up on that.
The other one that I just gave up on, and this will probably surprise a few people, is Psychonauts. The combination of controls I didn't like, and endlessly having to do things over again in order to jump in just the right way, just put me over the edge of wanting to continue. (It didn't help that I spent so long between sessions that I forgot the controls.) And the story is interesting. But there's a lot of backtracking and fernickity jumping and dodging in later levels that I am more than glad I didn't partake of. And a complete 100% run would drive me insane. Shame, really, and I haven't deleted the game yet... but let's face it, I'm not likely to get back to it.
But I am interested in the story side of these games, which is why I watch the Let's Plays of them (which is what I know what does happen). And that would be cheaper than pouring the money into buying them that I do. And yet... I do want to play games... I just don't have the patience for playing games.
Sunday, 28 October 2012
Kickstarter pays off in fits and starts. One project that has (mostly) paid off so far (with probably some updates to come) is tremulus, a horror based rpg. (And with Halloween coming up, why not?) From Reality Blurs.
And it's not just for me, it's also for you! In particular, their playbooks are freely available for anyone who wants one (just click on that link for my copy of it). These are a collection of characters for use in the tremulus system.
Now, obviously you will need the system, but hey, they can have interesting character ideas. I haven't look at the system enough to know if there is a simple conversion to other systems (eg BRP), but that won't stop people from either doing it, or just freewheeling from the concept.
Anyway, they want this distributed far and wide to promote their game... so go check it out!
(Other free rpgs might also be available right now...)
Saturday, 27 October 2012
Yes, once again it's time to milk that cash cow, and considering it's already gotten over five times its budget from the box office, I'm sure someone's already filming for number five... (I won't insult anyone by saying they are writing a script.)
The kid from the second movie (although I completely don't remember that ending) is back, and now with another family, and so scary shit starts happening to them, oh so slowly. Except for the last ten minutes when everything is ramped up so there can be deaths galore!
There are moments when this movie still has a good atmosphere, particularly, yes, the night scenes and the slow creeping of something that shouldn't be there... but then the story is complete pants, there's a token gesture towards explaining what is going on (only not really), and by this point the scares are cheap and it's a case of checking to make sure they painted out the wires properly.
Kathryn Newton is Alex, the kid we are supposed to side with as she realises something weird is going on. And yet she isn't sure, so we have to wait, knowing she's in this horror movie, so inevitably when she does finally get around to doing something, it's too late. And there are a bunch of other people, but since there isn't a story, what the hell...
Can't say I recommend seeing this in a darkened theatre, but in a smaller room, in the darkness, with this as the only thing to get your attention... then you might start wanting to have a light source nearby for comfort...
Friday, 26 October 2012
"It was a children's magazine type show that had a large fuzzy worm thing that ran around the studio...." And with that, a friend was able to tell I was talking about Vision On. Which I saw, as a child, so many years ago. [Which technically means I probably saw Sylveste(r) McCoy before he was the Doctor, but I don't remember the presenters.]
Here is a ten minute collection of segments... don't worry about the French opening title. The point of the show was that it was visual/language fairly independent. And the written jokes are in English for some reason...
But what I really did remember was the closing music. So catchy. And here it is, Java:
Thursday, 25 October 2012
The other day I went to the Carter Observatory... and have to say I was kinda disappointed. But rather than just say that, let's break down what I wasn't impressed by... and what I would like to see.
First off, let's acknowledge that there were school trips there, and there was a lot of focus on them. And that they don't have a truck of money, nor miles of space to install things. Still... The cost of $18.50 is rather over the top. It's $10 for the exhibition area, and $8.50 for the show, but that's still a lot. (And throw in $6 for the Cable Car... sure was cheaper when I was a student.)
The film they showed was what Astronauts go through to become astronauts. Interesting (if not entirely new information for me), aimed more at the kids. (Is there another movie they show to non-schools?) And yet, not riveting. Afterwards we did a wee tour of the sky and some of the planets. I would have liked more of that... and more on that below. It did last nearly an hour, so pitched well there.
The exhibition itself reminded me a lot of Te Papa's Discover Space... but with far less things to look at. Wall displays of information, and a few videos to watch... there is the telescope area (not that you could look through it), and a kids room and mini-theatre... and then the shop is rather depressing...
So what would I have liked? Given the astronaut movie, perhaps an interactive display of "Here's a pack that weighs the same as what the astronauts carry, can you lift it?" or a space helmet to try on... [There is totally room for someone to set up an experience of wearing a full on suit underwater and doing stuff.]
Also, with the Mars Curiosity rover, there could be far more about Mars. A Mars room to let us walk around on the "surface"? Drive a rover? Ooh, here's what a rock weighs on Earth, here's the same rock on Mars, here's the rock on the Moon...
But what I really want to see, and the raison d'etre of the observatory, is the night sky. An interactive display that let's us browse around the sky, pointing at things. A mini-version of what we get in the show room. And a telescope to look through, we have the technology to show anything through it, so be a good way for people to get used to what they would see. Would this really be so hard to do?
So, yeah... not sure I'd head back any time soon. But they are in trouble, and having been, can't say I'm shocked.
Wednesday, 24 October 2012
I think the point of this documentary is that we are producing too much food, but then distributing it in the wrong way to people who don't need it as much as others. That seems to be the gist of it, but it ranges over the finer points and has a little trouble getting to a clear message.
We see several examples of various areas of food production, such as fishing, agriculture and poultry farming, and see that industrialisation is taking a toll. Various people claim that the organic, or the hybrid approach is best (depending on their particular stance), but certainly a lot of food is being produced, and the poorer countries are being bent over to make profits for large companies.
This isn't exactly news to me, having seen several documentaries along this line over the years. This one happens to be Austrian, so perhaps a different crowd will see this than those who saw the other ones. And yet... I still don't hold out any hope for things changing for the better. As this film points out, companies are running this, and companies are in this to make money. Everything else can go hang. Until someone either steps up with a big pile of cash to help out poorer counties, or companies see profit in helping them themselves, these documentaries will still be valid for many years to come.
I think I'm inured to these by now. I feel like I should feel depressed and wanting to do something, but it isn't there. So too goes the world?
Tuesday, 23 October 2012
Another movie made by redoing a foreign film (I thought I was watching the foreign version, but nope, in English). This is a tense near horror thriller that turns very dark (which is saying something).
Sarah and her dad are clearing out an old house in the middle of nowhere for selling. Only there is someone else in the house, and he doesn't want to leave... and I won't say more than that (partially because for most of the movie, there isn't more, and then there is the bit where everything would be spoiled if I said more).
There was one continuity error in particular that really bugged me, that happened right near the beginning of the film. When the revelations started happening, I thought that maybe this was a part of it, but then... I'm not really sure now what we saw and what we didn't see happen. Very annoying. Still, this is not a subject matter lightly treated, and I wonder how much Laura Lau brought to it.
With only six cast members, there's a lot of room for people to shin, and Elisabeth Olsen gets the lion share, and does a decent job, although there is a lot of weeping and crying involved. The central conceit of the movie is that it is filmed in one take. And indeed, it looks that way... unless you know where there might be cuts, and if they didn't get the continuity of the blood on the shirt wrong, in which case 'there's a cut... and there's one... and there...'. Mostly well done for all that, and leading to some nice in camera effects.
Nicely atmospheric build up, which we do not get often, so check it out for that, but there are trigger warnings here.
Monday, 22 October 2012
From the title, I was expecting this is to be more a thriller a la Da Vinci Code, where a secret that combines science and religion is being suppressed... oh, if only...
Two college kids connect as one interviews the other. He is more science based, she is a good Christian girl, but do they have anything in common? Well, yes, but Genesis stops him from giving in to god... oh, no, what will happen? Not to spoil anything, but fortunately there is a compromise as science completely gives in and proves Christianity right, and he is rewarded for turning to god, as indeed he should...
Yeah, I didn't expect anything different once I realised this was a drama. But the worst part is a thirty minute presentation that explains that science can now explain Genesis, by using relativity to explain that god saw the universe evolving in shortening day lengths, and the history of Genesis can be hand waved into scientifically known periods... despite that a) Genesis 1 contradicts Genesis 2, and ii) either way gets the history of everything wrong anyway. It's an impressive glib presentation, but basically it is bad science and bad religion. Also aided by bad quote-mining, and strawmen.
Ignoring that, this is a decent enough examination of troubled times in the leads' lives, even if everything is resolved by 'religion is the only way' due to bad characterisation in other people. For some reason, Louise Fletcher, Ernest Borgnine and Lance Henriksen show up in this. They don't do that much, but they are indeed in it. And apparently the first director was fired, and another one was brought in to finish the movie.
As with all didactic movies, it isn't likely to change anyone's mind. And at over two hours, I suggest you find a better use of your time.
Sunday, 21 October 2012
More Zoo talks! The first one is of the kiwi Tahi (and the Tuatara). Due to the low light needed for kiwis, quality is lower. (The photos are even worse as I was using my off hand. Although I did also get pictures of the Sun Bear sign.)
And if you want something clearer, there is the Tiger Talk, in which I using blocking... in that I seem to have positioned myself to block the tiger with the zookeeper's body...
Saturday, 20 October 2012
So does this count as two Bruce Willis movies for the price of one? Or just twice as much Bruce Willis in one movie? Because Joseph Gordon-Levitt is totally Bruce Willis. Yep. Nothing unconvincing about that.
It's a time travel movie, so the plot is screwed before you begin, however Joe kills people from the future, except his past self gets away. Fortunately they have a discussion about how time travel memories work, so then it's all about Old Joe killing Hitler before Hitler becomes Hitler, and everything unravels...
(There's also a plot point about telekinetic abilities, which is, to borrow an expression, "overegging the pudding". It doesn't help and could easily have been written in another way.)
It's hard to tell if this is a 'let's kill Hitler' story, or a 'look at what your life has become and change it' story, or a 'love will transform you' story, because the movie tries to have it several ways, only none of them fully realised. And then the ending contradicts the logic itself set up, and you're left with a 'that doesn't work' taste in your mouth.
Bruce Willis is one-note in this, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt does, in some shots, look like Bruce with the aid of the make-up, but not really. Emily Blunt looks familiar, but possibly in an Olivia Wilde kind of way. And Jeff Daniels is surprisingly still alive!
A movie that is wanting to be about more than it is, and one that will just annoy time travel fans in years to come.
Friday, 19 October 2012
This reminds me, in style, of current Doctor Who. Let's take a great figure of history, that is great in and of themselves... then shove monsters into it. Because you need to have monsters, or you wouldn't have anything to hook the audience with, who clearly can't stand learning anything about history unless there is an epic CGI battle or similar... (Speaking of history, and the terrible American education system, how many people now think that Lincoln really did fight vampires?)
The plot, if I need to iterate it, is Abraham Lincoln had a moment in his childhood where vampires happened, and so he grew up as a vampire hunter... and that's about it. There are some flowery speeches, because this is the Olden Days(tm) (which, for America, is about any time period before iPods...), but basically this is just like any other monster hunter movie.
Benjamin Walker does a good Liam Neeson lookalike. Initially when we first saw older Lincoln, I did wonder if they got in another actor... but then I wondered who did the old age makeup? [Too much Face Off.] Jimmi Simpson has a fine career ahead as Larry Drake. And Mary Elizabeth Winstead seems to be able to be whatever age she wants.
Still, considering I'm now in a Savage Worlds: Deadlands game, this is excellent inspirational material.
Thursday, 18 October 2012
Finally, ever since it was first created on the page, we've needed a movie, and now we have one! Just a shame he never takes off his helmet...
Dredd gets himself a new rookie, and introduces her to life on the streets in the form of a homicide investigation that turns into a drug bust that goes bad... [and yet never once do we get a call for Ricochet... foul!]
Yeah, okay, first gripe (of many). This is a drug bust movie. Yes, I did think Raid, but then that movie was hitting on the drug bust trope as well. It's been done, and there's nothing particularly Dredd about it. Now, I wouldn't leap in with the Dark Judges or anything, but couldn't we have gotten something more Dredd-ish than this?
Second grip: Megacity. It's too open! People are in normal street clothes with iPhones and such. No, that isn't Megacity! Now, fine, you could say this is early Megacity... but why? Because cheaper, I assume, but it's not iconic. And then the movie spends most of its time in a brown block.
But enough of that. Karl Urban does a fine job as Dredd, and although he attempts the permanent downturned mouth, there are moments when you go 'yep, that's Karl, that is'. Olivia Thirlby is also good as Anderson, and gets her own obvious moment of 'female empowerment'. Lena Headey doesn't quite pull Ma-Ma off, but then the character is rather one note.
This is a good enough first movie, now for the sequels. Because it made more than it cost, right? ...oh...
For a different take, by someone who knows far more about Dredd than I do...
Wednesday, 17 October 2012
[Obligation is a thing whereby each session, the GM randomly picks someone's obligation and that person is feeling the stress of their obligation. Which mechanically means they lose points off their strain total. While roleplaying can also use this... that isn't really much mechanically for this important seeming character creation step. tonight was my turn. I did think of how I might be feeling the pressure, but otherwise it can easily be a minor annoyance, easily ignored.]
We get to where Sinasu is supposed to be, and find a temporary living area. We are greeted by a droid, who lets us know we can deliver our cargo here. At this point, wanting to make sure Sinasu was knowing I was dealing with this, and this wasn't just someone saying 'yes, give us whatever this is', we did get confirmation of what the package was. After that, we headed back to our ship then brought it, and the cargo, to this location.
And just after unloading them, the bounty hunters hit. Triggering a lot of combat [which lasted for the rest of the session]. Our tame hired gun when nuts on one of the guys with the jetpack, and was lucky not be taken out. Our mechanic was taken out [of the fight until he was stim-packed back up]! I got the ship ready to leave [which took a few goes], while others headed for the ship guns with variable success.
[This was our full longer combat. The first person downed one, nearly two, of our side. I continued my trend of barely making, at best, rolls. There were two main one-on-one combats. The cinematic nature of it all... it didn't really flow that well for me to get a good sense of that, although the GM certainly liked what we did.
Two big things are: one, initiative. Instead of saying 'person X goes here', we say 'someone on this side gets to go'. While that does make for an interesting switch up to initiative, this does lead to more time being used up deciding who goes next. The other issue is that each roll can generate advantages and disadvantages, and until we really get a better sense of what we are doing with them (and there is a two week gap between each game.. and the game is being revised continually), that is going to slow us down. For now, this isn't fast combat. Also an issue of deciding what I was doing each round, not being directly in combat, and that is more knowing what can be done.]
Eventually we did get away, with us, Sinasu, the jet pack guy leader, a mook, and we even got the damn crates back that Sinasu wanted. He's got to like us for that. And with some fancy flying from me, we're off the moon... with only a minor issue of being chased by other ships...