Tuesday, May 31, 2005

I 'av been mostly playing

Beyond the Forbidden Forest: Killed demogorgan, wasted the worm (trick is not to run away, it always appears at one of the 8 cardinal points). End of childhood trauma.

Sims 2: Same as the previous game really, but with better graphics and AI. I was going to post the scary story of the serial killing McNasty Sims but they were drowned in the same pool as their victims.

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time I played the original Prince of Persia (i.e. before 3D became cool) and I recognise elements in this. It's really quite good, I spent a lot of yesterday playing it. You play a Prince who unwittingly releases an undead plague, the deadites can only be killed by the magic dagger in your possession. Oh and it lets you reverse time (only by a few seconds but enough to make me wonder why I didn't reverse time so I didn't unleash the undead plague). The main character moves like Buffy, which is just as well as stabbing the prone undead with the dagger leaves you incredibly vulnerable.

Your lives are the ability to reverse time, even after you die. Unfortunately sometimes this doesn't really help or if like me you accidentally release the button you can use 2-3 lives at a time.

Nice game though.

Hitman: Couldn't even do the tutorial. It kept saying Mission Failed after I wasted some security guard even though I had no idea what the guy was doing in the tutorial, and he shot me first!

Half-Life: Shoot-em up. Not that impressive.

I 'av been mostly watching...

Total Recall: Ahnuld at his best. Well - nearly as good as the Running Man.

Millennium: Still plodding along at snail's pace through this depressing show I am now on season 2, where things begin to lighten up a tiny fraction, but it is still for the most part suicidely depressing. Somehow Satan Got Behind Me is one of the most darkly funny episodes of a TV show I've ever seen though - 4 demons in a doughnut shop that appear as cranky old men to everyone except Frank Black.

The Hunted: Christopher Lambert versus Ninja in modern day Japan. Those ninja have no chance!

Star Wars Episode 3: See below.

Teenage Ninja Turtles: I'd like to say it came on TV, but screenselect.co.uk sent me this.

Doctor Who - The Curse of Fenric: Just what the heck was this about? I rented one of the old Doctor Who episodes with Sylvester McCoy (remember I don't like Dr. Who, at least not the old stuff). This was totally incomprehensible. The Doctor and Ace seemed to run from location to location in an old WW2 army base/village with vampires, Russian soldiers and a bottle I never quite caught the significance of. Ace manages to tell Fenric how to defeat the doctor (going to the trouble of running around said village for no real reason) but the doctor does some clever mind-fecking and wins.

Not as good as Christopher Eccleston by a long shot.

Robin And Marian: Sean Connery as an aging Robin, with Audrey Hepburn as Marion. Maybe it's me but this didn't do it for me. The Sherriff seems like a decent fellow who gets killed by Robin in a fair fight, Robin is a looney who gets what he deserves and his merry band is pretty much wiped out. Depressing.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

This has been a warm few days in Leicester. On Friday I thought I had a fever again, but it turned out it was just the humungous temperature around here and the sun. I had to switch my fan on in the office it was so humid. Of course as I walked home around 6pm (after I went to the gym - I figured if I could work out on a day like this I could work out any time I want) and thought to myself I could catch some rays in the park the sun promptly hid behind a cloud.

Saturday was quite warm, but not quite as warm. I got invited to a BBQ and met some new fun folk, which is always good, though I was feeling a little tired for some reason. Which is good because it's another long Bank Holiday weekend, not long enough to go back up north, but long enough to start talking to walls over the lack of social contact in my area.

Today was very cool, but quite nice. Did some shopping, bought some towels for ludicrously high amounts of money and discovered when it comes to buying games I'm your man, but send me to buy a pair of shorts, some towels or anything clothes related and you'd better allocate a few hours.

And I have tomorrow off... yippeee!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Message for you sir!

I came home last night to discover that a large box had been delivered to me containing those 8 books I'd bought online.

I've had 3 parcels delivered to the dump in the past month. Each and every one of them has not been delivered through my tiny-porthole that is allegedly a mailbox. Each and every one of them has said, "We're sorry you were out. We tried to deliver a parcel at "insert time I left the house + 1 hour". It's true - the first parcle came at 10:30 (I left around 9:00), the second at 11:30 (I left around 10, I was at the uni 'til 6pm though). Fortunately I picked them up at the weekend, and this latest one was left with my new neighbours who've moved in next to me. Very kind of them to save me another trip to the post depot.

Like my other neighbours I can hear them far too loudly through the paper thin English terraced house walls. It didn't take me long to discover the new additions had a baby. Humorous tangent - I was locking my door on Tuesday when I discovered a levitating baby head staring out of the adjacent doorstep, about 2 feet away. Needless to say I was a little surprised but it turned out to be the mother slowly walking out into the street holding her kid.

I digress but I should go on about my neighbours at some point, including Yorkshire Batman. But that is a post for another day.

The box had a ton of WFRP books including "Death on the Reik" and "Power Behind the Throne". I sat up last night reading the latter as I'd been looking forward to it the most. PBtT has to be the single most intricate and clever scenario I have read in a while. Court intrigue, drug addictions, sordid affairs all of which ultimately threaten the stability of the empire and are all laid bare to clever PCs. It's a genius of a scheme that Emperor Palpatine would be envious of. Fall-guys for the fall-guys, puppet-mastering and so on. The only problem with the module is it relies on the heroes showing initiative and investigating something which to swordjollies isn't that interesting. In about 3 weeks I've collected all the decent parts of the Enemy Within campaign (except the one which allegedly stinks). To be honest I wish I'd done this when they were cheaper (though I got most of the books for £10 a pop except Empire in Flames).

Monday, May 23, 2005

Revenge of the Sith

I saw Revenge of the Sith at the Odeon in Leicester the other day. Best Star Wars Prequel Movie ever! At least that's my opinion so far, I will need to see how it sustains repeat viewings. I thought the Phantom Menace was cool the first time I saw it, before I exposed myself to too much Jar Jar in repeat viewings. I suggest you only view on if you don't mind spoilers or have seen it yourself!

It was a great film but the goodies get their asses handed to them, and it is very sad in places. I was amazed they managed to get through it all as George had left a lot of story to tell in Episode 3.

The Pros:

- Obi-Wan vs Vader/Skywalker - worth the price of admission alone.
- Jedi at war - it was actually cool to see the 3D map table and command centres the Jedi had constructed to fight the Clone Wars.
- The space battle at the start is amazing and somehow the whole rescue Palpatine sequence reminded me of the rescue of Han Solo in Return of the Jedi. Except Palpatine's evil and they'd all be better off if they'd all crashed Grevious's ship and died.
- Lots of lightsabre battles.
- Minimal Jar Jar content. In fact I doubt he got any real lines.
- Yoda put through the wringer in a suspiciously Empire Strikes Back fashion. All he needed to do was lose his little green right hand and it would be very similar.
- Jedi killed off in a really cool Lethal Weapon 2esque montage (remember the bit where the evil South Africans kill all of Rigg's team in various bizarre and bloody ways).
- Much darkness. And cute kids being killed to show this a no-holds barred, dark story. Why on Earth they didn't maintain this tone throughout the trilogy I don't know. It seems crazy to start a trilogy you know is going to end in almost total darkness with a Universal certificate toy commercial, but hey-ho!
- New Planets - Sith doesn't dwell on any of the old locales of the original trilogy, like Tatooine (which we could never seem to leave in Eps 1-2). Coruscant is where all the action happens. Naboo and Tatooine on the other hand are only visited briefly. We visit two new planets, a water world and a lava world (wonder what happens there!). And we see Alderaan for about 5 seconds. Simon Pegg once said in Empire magazine that the problem with the new trilogy was it shrank the universe rather than expanded it. Thankfully Sith expands it a lot, whilst feeling the most like an original trilogy movie.
- Death Star - they avoided the chance for silliness by having this only crop up at the end of the film, and Moff Tarkin was only a small cameo, 0 line part. The guy even looked like a young Peter Cushing.
- Lightsabre fights. Lots of them!
- Christopher Lee - he's a Sith Lord you know? Thanks Palps - he's also a vampire, wizard, ex-musketeer, mad-scientist. I ain't messing with him!
- R2D2 kicks some ass. He even gets a body count, or droid count.
- No politics (except extremist politics), and finally someone used the Republic Senate chamber for something that didn't send me to sleep.


- Bail Organa - A lame characterisation of a potentially interesting character. This represents a crucial misstep in the trilogy. Bail Organa, Leia's adoptive father, is totally underdeveloped in the trilogy. In the 2nd film his appearance was basically a cameo with the understanding that in Episode 3 he would have a larger part. One of my chums stated that his role in RotS is "getaway driver" and that is true. There is no references to the beginning of the Rebellion, which he is supposed to be a crucial member of and now that I think of it there is no real appearance by Mon Mothma (despite her getting an action figure and all, oh well).
- Qui Gon Jinn - Apparently we're meant to be believe Qui Gon gained the ability to cheat death and speak to Yoda. We learn this about 5 minutes before the end of the film because Yoda tells us so. Huh? Again, a misstep. I smell deleted or special edition scenes on the cutting room floor, as the book gives mention of Qui-Gon speaking to Yoda. If Liam Neeson has flown the coop they could've got the fella who did his voice in the Clone Wars since, according to the book Qui Gon can only speak, he can't appear as his body didn't disappear at the end of the Phantom Menace. Qui-Gon was about the only cool thing about the Phantom Menace in my opinion.

- Christopher Lee - not enough of him. He turns up, says a few cool lines and is unceremonially killed off. Grevious on the other hand was a much weaker (and CG) character.
- Grevious - I wasn't that taken with him. He could wield 4 lightsabers at a time but Obi-Wan made short work of him. In the Clone Wars cartoon he took down 3 Jedi at once on 2 occasions. Also his wheezing and coughing didn't exactly make him seem threatening. I also wondered all the way through Clone Wars why, given he was a droid or cyborg that the Jedi didn't force push him around or force grab his lightsabres out of his hands. Obviously they couldn't have Obi-Wan kill Dooku as that'd get in the way of mirroring the Vader-Luke fight in Return of the Jedi with Anakin and Dooku and needed an extra villain.
- Chewbacca - didn't do anything. Extended cameo really, though thankfully the scene with young Han Solo (being raised by Chewie) hit the cutting room floor.
- Padme - her role in this film seemed to be to get pregnant, give birth and die. And give Anakin an excuse to turn to the dark side. Now I'm not fond of overtly strong women (I'm reading the Authority ATM and I don't like Jenny Sparks much) but she had no action in this film at all. Mind you if Lucas had done his job she'd have been preggers by the end of Episode 2 in my book!
- The Exile - To me at least it didn't make much sense that Yoda and Obi-Wan would go into exile for 20 years. They didn't do too badly in fighting the Emperor (at least compared to Luke's effort in Empire Strikes Back) that a repeat try a few months or years later would be worth trying.
Basically it goes Obi-Wan vs Anakin and Yoda vs Emperor. Yoda loses, but isn't killed, while Obi-Wan wins but doesn't kill Anakin. Not bad - if they struck while the iron was hot and Vader was still being built they could gang up on Darth Sidious... after all nowhere is it said that the kids are absolutely crucial.
There should've been a better reason given (other than the fact it needs to segue with A New Hope).
- A few unwrapped up plot-lines - Who ordered the Clones? Well apparently it was Dooku, but you only find this out in one of the books in the Expanded Universe. A little line during the Order 66 sequence with, "I am the one who ordered my apprentice to have you cloned. Now I activate your secret programming" or something would be pretty cool. Also - why do the Sith want revenge on the Jedi? Because they're evvvuulll I guess.. And Jar Jar is still out there, mocking us with his possible appearance on Naboo in Revenge of the Sith.
- Probably the most cheesy bit of the film was when Vader learns of Padme's death. James Earl Jones doesn't do a convincing, "Nooooooooo..."

I'd heard rumours that Anakin's fall was really dumb. Some of it did smack of, "I must become Darth Vader in spite of all your good advice because the script requires me to", but not on the same level as the Padme-Anakin romance in Clones.

On the other hand it does smack a lot of, "Betray my life long family? Turn on everything I believe. Sure why not!" but it made the events regarding Anakin's mother in Attack of the Clones make sense - Anakin's desire to keep Padme safe drove him over the edge and into Palpatine's camp.

Mind you Annie was a little dense to note that Chancellor Palps, the chap who cares about the plight of his missus, was all too eager to leave Obi-Wan Kenobi behind on the Separatist ship at the start, and that if he thought about it the Sith were behind the whole attack on Padme in Episode 1. By the end of the film Vader is in the presence of Palpatine when he orders the Trade Federation droid armies disbanded as they are no longer needed. He even effectively admits to Skywalker that he killed his master, Darth Palegius. Is this the kind of guy you'd trust to keep your chick alive? Really gents?

The montage of Anakin waiting in the Jedi Council while Windu deals with Palpatine is pretty cool. However I got the impression he wasn't totally irredeemable until after he killed Padme. Despite killing the Yonglings. Mind you after the cutesy bit in Ep2 who can blame him?

To be honest part of the tragedy in this film is that the whole turning of Anakin to the dark side could've been avoided if certain characters had said the right things at the right time. If the Jedi had respected Anakin a little more and let him in on their plans and suspicions in full instead of acting as they did. Or if Obi-Wan had made it a little clear he had duped Padme into helping him at the end of the film.

Anakin had Obi-Wan as his buddy, while Luke had Han, who was not some distant and unemotional cripple. Don't get me wrong - Obi-Wan is the most badass Jedi in all 6 movies, but despite his name "The Negotiator" (and where did that come from?) he can't teach the Jedi for shit. Same with Yoda. At one point in the film a conversation is as follows:-

Anakin: Master Yoda - I'm worried about er... someone. I've been having dreams they will die.
Yoda: Are you close to this someone?
Anakin: Er... maybe.
Yoda: Fear of losing someone close to you leads to the darkside... let go of that fear.
Anakin: Gee thanks.

So basically Yoda is saying if you are worried your spouse/brother/best-friend/barber is going to be chainsawed to death don't worry about it. At least that's how it sounded - perhaps Yoda could've instructed Anakin a little more constructively, "Don't let the future spoil the present" or summik. I dunno - he's the wise one.

There's also a few missteps in the story. For instance Obi-Wan and Yoda are sneaking (I use the word generously) into the Jedi Temple in Coruscant and in the meantime Palpatine declares himself Emperor (despite the fact the war against the Separatists is over). Next we flip back to the Jedi Temple where Obi-Wan is referring to Palpatine as Emperor. How on Coruscant did they learn that he was being crowned? Were they chatting to Bail the Get-Away-Driver?

I note they've left it open for the TV show to follow the adventures of more Jedi post-Sith as it is made deliberately ambigious if any more Jedi escaped the massacres of the Clone Wars. Rumours say Bail Organa could feature, possibly even with some characterisation. I personally hope it doesn't turn into a huge epic where tons of Jedi escaped. I doubt we'll see Ewan McGregor cameoing (I expect he's probably glad all 3 films are over now), but Yoda could conceivably feature in a bridge-gap series as he's a CG character and the film didn't show him going to Dagobah (that scene was also cut). Obviously Vader'll be really easy to use as a character given every fan-film can feature someone who sounds like him. We can only hope Jar Jar figures prominently! As a dismembered corpse. Or we watch him disintegrated...

So the Jedi get wiped out because they're asses. It's true. When I was a kid I thought the Jedi must've been truly great, but if you play Knights of the Old Republic 2: Sith Lords you encounter the ultimate Jedi-wanker, Master Vrook (also in KOTOR1 but not as annoying).

Stu's PC (cue dramatic music): "I have fought against the Sith, they have begun to reveal themselves to me. I have healed my connection to the force and chosen the path of the light side. I am now a Jedi Master. I have united all of you surviving Jedi Master. Now is the time we must stand against the Sith and strike back."
Jedi Master Vrook: "No. We must wait and watch as we always have done."
Stu: "Gee thanks."
Vrook: "You are a danger - we must strip you of your force powers."
Stu: "Er... I think not!"

Sometimes they have it coming you know...

Friday, May 20, 2005

Dammit Gym!

"So - where's the changing room?"

These are the words I uttered as I entered Leicester University's gym, aka Greenhouse 2 in Yuppy-speak. Looking around I saw rowing machines, cycles and various other torture apparatus but nary a sign saying "Changing Rooms". Something you might think is relatively common place in a gym, in fact wiser men than I might debate is essential.

Boy are they wrong.

The fellow at the counter looked at me in confusion, trying to hear me over the excessive decibels of MTV. Guessing from my confusion that I was new to the gym he said that I couldn't use the gym until I'd been inducted for insurance purposes.

That was yesterday. I've just returned from my 6pm induction. Lots of nodding, mmm hmming and sarcastically thinking, "So that's how a bike works" whilst straining to hear the imparted wisdom on weight training over MTV's dull clatter. The induction didn't involve me actually doing anything so I could completely misuse all the equipment out of ignorance and the instructor wouldn't know given I noted his propensity for surfing ebay on his computer.

What was more amusing was the Italian chick who was also on the induction with me. She was even more obvious in her, "Why am I here? I know how to work a bike!" and spent most of the time chatting up the instructor afterwards.

Gyms not bad apart from the obvious lack of changing facilities. You walk from the main building I work in to the gym, which is great in sunny weather but if it rains or snows it'll be a bit of a problem. The other problem is they left the door open and its next to the field where they cut the grass, so my hayfever is acting up for now. Time to go home, take some hay-fever remedy and have some food.

I'm off to see Revenge of the Sith this weekend but I'd better finish off the Clone Wars soon. Expect intelligent commentary (on Star Wars) by Monday.

Dark Dungeons

Dark Dungeons - a scary, right-wing Christian anti-roleplaying comic, available here. I'm lucky enough to have a coyp someone gave me at a con. What a laugh.

It's also worth seeing Dork Dungeons - and the numerous other websites that "alter" the classic original.

Didn't expect to see on IMDB

Adolf Hitler has his own IMDB page here. I suppose he's made enough post-1945 appearances to justify it, and he commissioned a lot of films apparently. I suspect we all can guess at their subject matter.

Friday's Link: Diary of a Monster

My name is... Darth.

Also in other news, proof that people actually read this blog.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Warhammer Burning a Hole In My Pocket

Warning: Rated high for geek content. And poor financial management.

Ok - I cracked. After I bought Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay v2.0 in the shops I went to Nottingham and bought Part 1 of the Enemy Within campaign. I liked it. I have to run it. Usually with campaigns I have so little time I do a really detailed first part to the campaign and by the time ten to twenty weeks later the PCs have completed it I never have enough time to give Part 2 any justice due to terms, papers or an addiction to Sims 2/Knights of the Old Republic and so forth.

My "Crimson Ascendant" Greyhawk campaign was an example of this - Part 1 was tightly plotted up until the end of it, where it descended into a shambles. Part 2 was horrible and in the end I folded it after a session where I had a fight with a player (though everyone agrees he was asking for it, and he later apologised in what was that most humble apology I've ever seen). What really sunk it was when I realised I was rerunning portions an old, retired and frankly crap core Living Greyhawk module to buy me more time to prep a tightly plotted story.

The Enemy Within on the other hand is tightly plotted all the way through. And bits of it are by Carl Sargent, the patron saint of post-Ashes Greyhawk and dark gritty fantasy. It was voted best published campaign ever by the French, the first part reads like a Cthulu scenario. It was reprinted oodles of times. In short it looks like a lot of fun.

So in the space of two weeks I've found someone selling parts 2 and 3 along with a few other books. I bought them for about £12 a book, but bought about 8 books off him. Then I bought the sourcebook over Ebay for £20. Then about 5 mins I found the ever-so-rare, not really reprinted Part 5, The Empire in Flames for £25 and bought it right away. Naturally every stall at Gen Con UK this year will have it on sale for £15. :)

Annoyingly Part 5 was, when being reprinted, due for a complete rewrite as the original does not accord with established Warhammer canon (the Emperor dies and is replaced with a new one, but this ending is dropped as he wasn't inline with Games Workshop's epic hero who contributes to miniature sales) and it doesn't really wrap up the Enemy Within storylines at all. Unfortunately the reprint company folded and the author/CEO had lost all the data in a computer crash. But the original still sounds like a really good standalone adventure for ridiculously powerful PCs. Plus it was written by Carl Sargent so it can't be that terrible!

With me spending a ridiculous amount (£150) on WFRP stuff in the past 3 weeks (though to be honest that's only £50 per week of my self-made spending allowance and there's not a lot else I plan on spending my spare cash on at the moment). Usually I have problems dreaming up what to spend cash on.

Anyroads I need to find some victims to inflict this epic on. And I suppose I should buy Part 4 at some point, but it doesn't sound that impressive anyroads.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

More Popular than Porn

Star Wars is a more popular keyword on Google than the phrase porn. Check it out for yourself here.

Get your crushed dreams over here!

I can relate to this auction. Little punk probably had it coming.

Store Wars

More entertainment from the Organic movement. Check out Store Wars I know I will!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Another Acme Idea

Beer is bad. Beer gives me ideas, and this particular idea came to me on the cusp of my third pint on Friday night in the Gateway, Leicester.

The Lovebike

Working to bring love in tandem with you.

A new variant on the speed dating craze - 10 bikes, 20 people, 10 male, 10 female. 60 minute cycle in the country - 6 minutes with each potential partner.

Sad thing - everyone agreed this idea would probably make money.

You saw it here first. (c) me and if you use it I will sue for money as I'm too lazy to implement this idea.

No Place Like My Old Flat

Went and looked at a potential house share today. The chap was very friendly, we talked about sci-fi and games for about 45 mins and rent stuff for about 15 mins. We got on so well he's given me a tenancy form to look over and consider. The house was in a nice area of Leicester, a short drive from the uni.

The rent was £320 including council tax, playstation 2 (must buy him an eye toy for that), broadband, sky digital, DVD recorder for said digital TV, fully furnished, working shower, garden. This is totally unlike the one I have which you switch on and goes from scaling to freezing (you have to pick your moments to avoid burns). I should point out the rent for "The Dump" is £300 and includes er... the exorcist model shower/flesh burner, some old 2nd hand furniture and an antique TV.

Gee - should I move?

Saturday, May 14, 2005

A Rare Saturday Post

Ah, the joys of flat hunting. I phoned up my first possible the other night, who sounded really nice until we discussed when I could view the place. Every time I suggested she was either working, meeting colleagues etc. Then when I told her I was paid up in my existing place until the 31st of June (which I'd originally mentioned in my module) she quite cheerfully told me that this was a problem as she had other interested parties, but I could just pay her the rent for June and move in at the end of that month. I thought I'd discuss this with her when I meet her, but I summarised my thoughts when I hung up and said, "Bollocks to that" given I have over a month to plan my next move and this is the first place I've considered properly.

The other person sounds a lot more promising. Given it is £320 a month for a room in a fully furnished flat, all bills paid including Sky digital and broadband I am very tempted and this person actually read my initial email enquiring about the place.

In other news my mobile phone is now fixed. Of course I had no messages on it from people outside of Leicester (feel the love, sniff sniff). I now have the joy of owning two mobile phones, the one I own and the one my parents gave me to get cheaper call rates darn sarth.

Anyway I'm off to play D&D now, like all cool dudes should on a Saturday night.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Why Ep2 is better than Ep1

Star Wars Episode 1 was dire, while in my opinion Star Wars Episode 2 was ok if you ignore the romance plotline and the fact Amidala must change clothes 3 times a day in an attempt not to seduce Annie. Here's my reasoning:-

Darth Maul - what kind of villain is he? He does nothing evil at all, he says nothing and just turns up to kill and be killed at the end. Dooku did some evil goatee twiddling stuff, Vader killed his minions and hell, even the really minor villain in Knights of the Old Republic, Darth Badon, electrocutes a minion for bumping into him on the bridge of his ship. The least Maul could've done was obliterated a few 'helpful' Sand People or cantina-full of dudes.

The podrace in Ep1 took forever and to be honest it was so obvious that Annie was going to win it. In Ep2 however if they'd failed to catch the shapechanging chick the movie could've continued onwards, so there was some actual tension in the speeder chase.

Ep1 had a nicer lightsabre fight but they forgot about dialogue, which made the fights in Ep4-6 fantastic (especially Ep4 which is not exactly an amazing fight but has some truly, deeply inspired dialogue). Ep2 had two lightsabre fights IIRC and they all had dialogue.

Ep2 had a decent "Star War" as opposed to being about some pishy little system under threat by some Japanese aliens and their army of kiddy-friendly droids.

Ep2 had less Jar Jar and no other Gungans. Enough said.

Ep2 had Obi-Wan Kenobi actually involved in the plot, not twiddling his thumbs only to save the day at about 1h 40 mins into the film.

Ep2 had someone who could almost act play Anakin. Ep1 had that kid who sounded like he was reading off a cue-card. "Sandstorms are very very... uh... dangerous."

Ep1 should've kicked off the Clone Wars, perhaps with about 15 mins at the start of Palpatine becoming Chancellor, the Jedi finding young Anakin etc. and then forwarding to when he's a sulky teenager. Ep2 should've handled the Clone Wars cartoon stuff and some of the stuff in the comics too (really cool, dark gritty battle scenes with padawans turning to the dark side with WW1 equivalent horrors of war stuff etc.), Anakin becoming a Jedi, his marriage at the end of AotC, and Ep3 should be pretty much as it is.

My main problem with the prequels is they jump around too much. Ep4-6 had an identifiable villain in Vader (with Sidious in the background). Ep1-3 should've had Dooku as the Vader equivalent unit all throughout the trilogy. Instead we have Darth Maul in Ep1, Dooku in Ep2, Grevious in Ep3 capped off with the Emperor and Vader at the end.

The Man in the Hat

Proof that despite the fact I've been asked to help run a graphic's course in Leicester all my pals are better at doctoring images. The following continues from the Young Indiana Jones thread:-

The Young Stuart Kerrigan Chronicles Contd...

Mare proudly present the poster for

Episode 22.5: Spring Adventure

Young Stuart Kerrigan and his chums were arrested by Mexicans, escaped from a penal colony on a boat and discovered they were in fact bound for Cuba. Fortunately Fidel Castro was on hand to discuss the finer points of Communism and in return for us respecting his personal beliefs the group is given a personal pardon for him and sent to Miami where we run foul of the vice squad and are asked to act as consultants on the set of Miami Vice. Edward James Olmos co-stars.

It's a Frickin' Great Big Worm Man!

Ok - here's the heart warming story of one man's battle against his childhood fears.

I play computer games. Probably too much. I always have done, except until recently when I was either to busy or had a life. Now I play computer games a lot more.

I own a PC now. I used to own a Commodore 64 and then a Commodore Amiga. I played games on my C64. One of them was "Beyond the Forbidden Forest". You played an archer who had to run through a 3D forest shooting bad guys (not bad, 3D in a game in the early 1980s). It was the sequel to Forbidden Forest, which you did pretty much the same thing in, but in 2D.

The only difference is that Beyond the Forbidden Forest had really scary monsters and gory death scenes.

Like a fricking massive scorpion that just appears without warning!

Or, what really did my nerves in, a fricking massive worm that came out the ground and ate you (not pictured above but it's out there somewhere dammit!)

And Demogorgon appeared in it too, but I never got that far. I was like 9 man. Massive worms appearing out the ground and devouring you while the music changed like in a horror flick and really scare a guy and I think they've left deep-rooted scars.

Anyway couple of weeks ago I picked up a C64 emulator CD with BTFF on it. I'm amazed how scary it is, I frequently start to boot it up and during the slow and accurate emulation of it loading feel a bit nervous and decide to boot up another more kiddy-friendly game like Outrun, which is stupid considering I play games like Resident Evil, Doom 3 etc. that are infinitely more scary.

It's official - I'm a wuss! But tonight I venture into the pixelized Forbidden Forest to kill demogorgon - or play Outrun.

News Update

So what have I been doing lately?

- Been invited to a wedding in Leicester (not a typical one either as it isn't formal gear apparently).
- Continued to have a fight with my co-worker when he decided to do yet another reassignment of the workload (can you say compulsive disorder?).
- Managed to drive my car three times now without some Ned feeling the need to create a near-death accident situation.
- Started looking for a new flat once I'm kicked out the dump at the end of June. This time I'm looking for a flatmate to keep me sane however. I've a couple of possibles to investigate this weekend.
- Bought £80 worth of old books online.
- Filled my freezer completely with food.
- Learned that grilled beef is very tasty.
- Actually done 30 minutes prep work for my viva.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Free Comic Book Day

Bored with Leicester's shops I decided to take a day-trip to Nottingham on Saturday, but in true Leicester: The Most Dangerous Driving on Earth fashion and to fulfill the need for the typical obligatory "nearly had a car accident on Saturday post" as I tried to pull out of my parking spot some wifie came whizzing past at about 20 mph and nearly took my wing mirror off. Once again I'd made the mistake of looking in my mirror, taking a brief second to decide what to do, and then do the manouever. This wifie took a good few seconds to break, reversed back and looked at me, decided I'd made a face at her and thought she'd chastise me for making faces, not signalling (oddly enough I hadn't because the road was empty when I'd checked) and generally being a bad egg.

I went off to Nottingham feeling somewhat restless due to this incident and wasn't cheered up much when a group of Neds decided to overtake me in the slow lane, doing a mere 100 mph with their rap music blazing out at a ridiculous volume that somehow was louder than my own CD player. Such people seem to be everywhere in Leicester and Nottingham, riding around aimlessly in cars. But despite this I made it with no more mishaps and spent about 30 minutes looking for the local roleplaying shop only to discover it nests on the 1st floor of a Gamestation shop.

I relieved them of all their 1st Edition books of my new craze, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and then discovered the wonders of Free Comic Book Day. So what's that then?

This is basically a day when comic book publishers release a number of er... free comics to promote their new and existing titles. Typically this is Issue 0, which cleverly comes before Issue 1 but isn't necessary to read Issue 1. The comic book shop puts these on a table and you help yourself to what you're interested in (or if you're like me, take everything).

Now this is my first such day as in Scotland it turns out most comic shop owners I know turn "Free Comic Book Day" into "Mildly Less Expensive Comic Book Day". For example I was talking to a guy about Conan Issue 0 last year, which I'd bought in a comic store in Edinburgh for 25p only to be told by this guy it was supposed to be a free comic.

The Black Hole in Dundee is a similar offender - in fact unsurprisingly the world's worst and most expensive comic store doesn't even run a Free Comic Day. It wouldn't surprise me if they ordered the stuff in and put a price tag on it. Mind you I've never forgiven the owner for telling me to leave when I picked up a Spiderman issue, got too involved in reading it and read a whole 3 pages of it.

Some of the free comics were very good. A Samurai story called Ronin Hood (very apt for Nottingham), a free Spiderman comic, a free Batman comic and some miscellanious crap for jobbing comic book artists seeking publishers.

On Sunday I made my first trip to Leicester's overpriced Odeon to see Kingdom of Heaven. Not bad - historically inaccurate, with all the Christians either being eviiilll or more or less agnostic, whilst the Muslims are portrayed as pretty moderate. Normally this can sink a blockbuster (imagine Braveheart with good Englishmen in it), with Druids being a good example of how a balanced portrayal of both sides can wreck a film.

Basically the overall message of the picture is that fanatacism is bad as it just leads to pointless deaths, but for the most part the only fanatics we see in the film are the Knights Templar, with the Muslims being displayed as moderate. This film seems to follow the worrying tradition in Hollywood now of making Christians fair game for making into evil-doers and whatnot, but negative portrayals Jews, Muslims etc. are all no-nos mainly because they write the scripts or have better representation respectively. :)

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Dark Sci-Fi Better

Watching Firefly this week has made me think - science fiction seems to be going through some changes in the early 21st century. In the 70s-90s era science fiction was all squeaky clean Jedi, starship captains of "the finest ship/crew in the fleet" and so forth. Then by the 1990s things got a little darker - the Star Trek Federation actually had warships, Babylon 5 had religion, religious wars and invented mainstream sci-fi characters that had shades of grey.

Now we have shows like Firefly and BSG '03 that are very dark. Both are in the mainstream (BSG in particular, Firefly having done some weird phoenix thing by coming back after being cancelled at the 14 episode mark). Curiously Star Trek Enterprise and Star Wars both seem to be in trouble (though Episode 3 is going to be pretty dark and may redeem Star Wars if you believe Mr. Kevin Smith and it'll make money anyway).

Let's take Firefly as an example of darker sci-fi. The basic premise of the show is that the Millenium Falconesque ship Serenity goes from week to week going around space looking for jobs, legal or otherwise. It's a bit like someone made a TV series of the old computer game Elite in that respect.

The main character, Captain Malcolm Reynolds is a bit of a Han Solo type - brash, arrogant and frequently biting off more than he can chew he turns out to be one of those loveable scoundrels that'll rob you blind but never kills an enemy with a speaking part (not that Firefly lacked any recurring villains). He hangs out with his first officer Zoe, her husband the pilot, and a host of whacky sidekicks.

Or Battlestar Galactica '03 - a bunch of military nuts on a big boat with a bunch of civvies pretending they're in charge, with a bunch of sexy evil humanoid robots chasing them. Much politicing - much darkness.

By contrast Star Wars Episode 1-2 - a bunch of Jedi and Senators fighting to protect diplomacy and generally being polite to one another. No Han Solo type character to do the whole witty banter, only Ewan McGregor's Obi Wan Kenobi.

Enterprise - a rehash of the 60s Star Trek, missing the opportunity to use the grittyness of First Contact by making everything shiny and Star Trekky. The first episode showed promise, the second involved a nebula - surely a first in Star Trek - and I haven't watched another Enterprise show since then.

Work Thought for the Month

I am in serious danger of losing what little and diminishing respect I have for one of my co-workers.

2 Discoveries

I was off ill yesterday and spent most of the day pottering around the flat. I made two discoveries:-

1. Firefly rocks.
2. Being ill when you live alone sucks. No-one brings you chicken soup.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

This week I 'av been mostly watching...

Firefly: I've only watched the first 6 episodes or so, but this is pretty darn good. It's a Sci-Fi Western with a Han Solo type captain, Joss Whedon's great one liners and as far as I can tell a decent potential for an arc plot. Naturally it was cancelled. But it's coming back as a movie, which is unusual.

Millennium: X-Files spinoff with Lance Henrikson as a criminal profiler. Originally I assumed this was going somewhere with an arc relating to the Millennium prophecies and a count down to 2000. Instead it has the usual but it turns out it was cancelled in 1999 with a rushed finale in an X-Files 7th Season episode (conveniently packaged with the 3rd Season boxed set). Not cheery watching.

Best of Monty Python: Thanks to screenselect.co.uk I have been watching the classic episodes of Monty Python. Brilliant. I think my neighbours heard me singing the lumberjack song.

Meet the Parents: Saw Meet the Fockers a while back and I couldn't remember some of the finer points of its prequel. Not bad, not hilarious though.

Doctor Who: Nice Dalek episode. Hyped up to be something it wasn't, but it was pretty darn good.


Sunday I awoke with a terrible flu, which I was convinced was a combo of the lack of sleep and hay-fever from being in the park yesterday. After taking a hay-fever tablet I checked on my miraculously unscratched Stu Mobile. After more Sims 2 I decided another trip to the shops was in order. The evening was spent watching films and deciding that I did indeed have a flu, not hay-fever.

Monday was equally dull - I wandered down the market place as the mobile guy had said the part I'd ordered would be in on Monday. I was a little cynical myself, given Monday was a bank holiday. Obviously it wasn't a Market Holiday, or so I thought. I was wrong.

Dawn of the Drunk

Saturday night was poker night at a chum's place, so I went over and promptly managed to lose £5, reminding me never to bend my policy on gambling for money again. On the plus I managed to last 3 hours in the game and won my fair share of hands despite misremembering the rules.

More interestingly the game finished at 1am, and saw me driving back home. Getting into my car I saw a lone figure staggering down the street, moaning and walking in a distinct zombie-fashion. Some wifie had obviously had a skinful and seeing a car with its lights on at 1am assumed it was a taxi.

Now, if you've been paying attention to my photo blog you will notice that a lot of the residential areas of Leicester include narrow streets, some of which open out onto the main road, some of which don't. This one didn't and the only option was to somehow get past this wifie. Which involved reversing. Unfortunately when she was me reversing she tried to get behind me, which is nice and dangerous. When I went forward she tried to get collapse in front of the hood. When I tried to turn she was banging on whichever door was nearest. I even tried lowering the window and telling her to move it, which she took as an invitation to try to get into the passenger seat, which I had thankfully locked when I saw the way the wind was blowing.

Eventually I had to resist the temptation to go through her, knocking her down if need be and go all the way down the dead end, wait for her to catch me up and reverse at a ridiculous speed back up the road, turn, and zoom off, leaving her stood in the middle of the road.

However this had obviously vexed me, and affected my concetration as I nearly plowed straight into a taxi when I tried to do a U-Turn past the speed cameras in the left lane of a dual-carriageway. The taxi appeared from nowhere on the brow of a rise doing 50 mph (reasoning that past the speed cameras its fair game to drive at ridiculous speeds) while I was doing a mere 10-15 mph. It was kind of a check the mirror, slow down as I angst over whether I want to do a U-Turn or wait for a roundabout, decide there's no chance in hell of a roundabout because I am looking for one, remember the road was deserted 3 seconds ago so it's ok to full lock without a signal, have minor heart attack whilst thinking where the hell did that come from?!!

Personally I consider a miracle the car was not damaged, much less me.

I don't even remember swerving out the way of the taxi - I did feel a jolt as the wind generated by this errant and excessively fast taxi nearly blew my car over whilst I cursed having my steering wheel on full-lock to the right as this thing flew past me in the right lane.

Basically it felt like a forcefield went round my car and absorbed the impact, but I think more than likely I was just tired.

I went to bed, lay awake thinking about a near-death experience and convinced at the very least all the paint work on the car was gone. To add to the general pleasant atmosphere I was rudely awakened in the wee hours of the morning by a lightning storm. The bright flashing lightning really cheered me up.

So there you go - a story of conversing with the dead and nearly joining their ranks due to my tiredness and someone else's hurry to get their next fair. Joy... and the story of my 3 day weekend ain't over yet.

Mayday, Mayday!

I had a long 3 day weekend off this week, in keeping with the University's apparent policy of giving me a holiday every week I work in this place.

Saturday afternoon was a lovely day, probably the best I've seen since I arrived. I discovered I live minutes away from Leicester Castle and Castle Gardens. Dragging my backside away from Sims 2 I went to the park where the May Day festival was in full swing by 2pm. It seemed every Goth, Pagan and Gandalf-look-alike had turned up for the festival, and I wandered around, listened to the folk music, mused on missing the maypole dance and chilled for half an hour. Not much was happening, so I decided after spotting several Frodo Baggins-alikes to wander off into town. I should point out that as a stupid fool I forgot to bring my camera as I could've taken some interesting photographs.

Thankfully there wasn't a wicker man in sight so I snuck off into town and relieved myself of some hard-earned cash by buying more Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay books, namely the Bestiary and a compilation of adventures. I'm supposed to be buying myself the Sandstorm supplement to work on a Greyhawk arc, but I can't seem to find the will to invest the £25 when I could be investing it in stuff I actually want.