Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Stuff I Like: Kyle Katarn Rocks...

Anyone remember the Jedi Knight games? I was browsing YouTube and found several of the excellent cutscenes from the first Jedi Knight game (confusingly the second Dark Forces game). These cutscenes made a better film than the Phantom Menace ever did.

Kyle Katarn rocks - he's like some weird Jedi mofo fusion between Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. The baddie, Jerec, was especially English and camp, but very, very good. The game was so quotable with great lines like...

"Dark Side? I've been there. Do your worst."

"MMMOOORRRGGAANNN KAAATTTAARRRNNN? This dead man holds the valley's location. Very intriguing."

"Excellent Katarn, you have started your journey to the Dark Side, but that is not enough!"

Here's some of his finest moments...

Like the ever-so cool intro that resembles a New Hope...



... and Kyle's first ever appearance on Nar Shadda, a city in Star Wars that needs to fire its town planning department!



... Kyle is so hard he goes up against a squad of Tie-Fighters on foot. Jan, his sidekick/love interest/first murder victim saves the day.



... and when in true Star Wars tradition Katarn avenges his father's death with the business end of a lightsabre (yes, this time what Jedi told you was true, the baddie really did kill your dad).



Especially cool was that your actions in the game determined the continuation of the above scene. If you became a light side Jedi (with cool defensive powers but no offensive powers) you just stand there. If you become a dark jedi (with offensive powers and no defensive powers leaving you vulnerable to every Dark Jedi's offensive powers) you slaughter the captured love interest for no real reason and then take on every last Dark Jedi in the game.

Here's the "official" version of Kyle's choice...



Sadly they don't have the Dark Side ending where you become Emperor of the Universe, which is how the game ended for me. Also doubly sad was how when the FMV bubble burst Kyle was recast as a bunch of pixels for Jedi Knight 2 and 3 (or Dark Forces 3 and 4).

Real updates soon.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Geek's Knight

Not much to report, I still seem to spend a lot of time larking around (sorry, I wanted to use the word larking today) when I should be continuing to work on my new gaff, but it's all good anyroads.

I got identified as King of the Geeks this weekend.

Quizmaster: "Which Monty Python provided a voice for Transformers the Movie?"

Stuart (too loudly as usual): "Pah - easy." (Incidentally it's Eric Idle who provides the voice of the Junkion leader)

Quizmaster then proceeded to identify me loudly on his microphone as a total geek, which to be fair I am. I mean I watched Merlin: The Return this weekend.

Worst. Arthurian. Film. Ever.

These guys told me never to watch it. Apparently they destroyed their video tape after watching it. But I did watch it. You know why. I didn't destroy my Sky box (though I may need it replaced as it only does Sky+ stuff after a reboot some times).

Merlin: The Return comes on Sky Movies every weekend - I've seen it on the listings without fail for over a year, like some sort of TV trap waiting to suck out your soul. As my soul is still currently remortgaged to El Diablo the Devil's Oven I risked recording and watching it especially.

So what's it about?

Arthurian stuff happened, including all the affairs and so forth. We know this because the text at the start of the film says so. Arthur went to sleep and Mordred was banished when Rik Mayall from Bottom cast a spell that cursed Mordred with immortality for 1,500 years in a Netherworld.

Never curse an enemy with immortality. It always bites you in the ass.

Lancelot and Guineveire (an attractive chick who looks like she should be in a pop video) are also trapped with Craig Sheffer... I mean Mordred... in some evil netherworld I mean Mordred and yet routinely wander around his evil realm, free. Craig's netherworld is populated with a harem of hot chicks who are willing to be sacrificed to turn into really dodgy CGI skeletons. To be honest I would rather stay with the unsacrificed chicks than escape the netherworld.

Tia Carrere (or NoCareer after this) is an evil scientist who wants to release Mordred because then he will let her do her science stuff unfettered by the mundane people. Apparently releasing 1,500 year old bad dudes is a way round the grant system.

There are also two of the worst child actors ever to see the light of day, Patrick Bergin (the guy from the good Robin Hood movie that came out at the same time as Prince of Thieves) as King Arthur, Adrian Paul (Highlander the TV guy) as Lancelot and Mordred's mother, who I presume is Morgan LeFey or Morgwase, whose only role is to share a disturbing snog with her son.

It's all cringeworthy. The glorious Knights of the Round Table try to take on a petrol tanker and fail miserably to either damage it or notice the driver. Merlin drops out of the sky in front of the kid's car and they go, "Oh it's just Merlin, the crazy guy that lives in our village." Characters are routinely captured and held by knights only to be inexplicably free and able to meddle in the next shot.

It's bad. Don't see it. PLEASE!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Dr Stu on... y'know *spoilers*

Finally got round to watching the Cybermen episodes. Pretty damn good actually, though the first part was relatively weak. And those ear-pods look uncomfy, I certainly wouldn't keep them on all day, much less drive a car during download time.

I had this reaction to Jackie's fate, I thought they were going to chicken out and make it all a nice and happy ending.

I'm going to miss Mickey. Of all Rose's chav-pals he was the one I identified with most (computer geek, spare part in the team etc.) though he got a terrific send-off. I don't understand why everyone was so crappy to him and I . At the moment I would rather have a Troughton-Jamie style duo than the "Doctor and Rose "I want, I want" Tyler Show".

Yes, Rose continues to grate. Now she doesn't want Mickey to leave her, she wants to save her mum from the Cybermen (yeah - screw the rest of the planet, let's make some screaming parallel-universe Chav a priority), she gets jealous because the Doctor talked to some waitress at the Tyler party. It's all me, me, me with her, as Miss Piper noted in the Dr. Who Confidential afterwards.

If anybody wants me I will be watching Tomb of the Cybermen at work. Scott Adams would be proud.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Star Wars: Betrayal

Star Wars: Betrayal - nice 'deaths' in the lightsabre matches.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

More Rings Dreadfulness

Ok, if you thought Taking the Hobbits to Isengard was bad, bad, bad... wait until you see Duelling Cloggers. Everything from 4 mins 30 seconds is pure class.

So What's on my Sky Box?

Justice League Unlimited - this is a pretty funky cartoon. Just listen to the epic theme music though I wish they'd used Hal Jordan or Kyle Rainer as Green Lantern. John Stewart, at least in the episodes I've seen, doesn't seem to have much character. I do like how they focus on B-stringers like Green Arrow (who I'm beginning to think is really cool), the Question (never even heard of him until I saw this show), Captain Marvel and so on. Naturally like all quality US TV it's just been cancelled, so if that isn't a seal of approval I don't know.

I also watched The Batman but when the Joker tried to take over Gotham by firing a giant piece of chewing gum at the police station I realised it probably wasn't for me.

Xena - ahem. I'm watching this for the historicalness of course.

Doctor Who - well you knew I watched this.

Red Dwarf - no point in paying for DVDs if it comes on UK Gold. Well actually there is, but not today...

Star Trek TNG - the sets look flimsy and plasticky now, the stories lack grit and the characters seem to lack any flaws, but it's still watchable.

Lost - I'm going to wait for this to catch up to where I was, but I'm also looking forward to the 2nd survivors group ep.

Battlestar Galactica - you guys have finally caught up so it is safe to talk about how cool the ending of Season 2 was. The last 30 minutes of the episode basically fast forwarded one year with Baltar as Prez, having settled on a barren looking planet and abandoning the search for Earth. And now the Cylons have taken over their puny little colony. Epic stuff, especially as a lot of the middle of Season Two became quite pedestrian.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Bizarre...

Archie Meets the Punisher

Previously on TFASK

- Visited Beaumont Leys to pick up a package. It's in the arse-end of Leicester.
- Saw 16 Blocks. Very good film.
- Bought loads of very cheap plastic furniture. At least it's not patio furniture.
- Now have Sky+ installed successfully. Surprisingly difficult even with a PhD in gizmos sciency stuff. It took only 3 attempts to work out how the card was inserted and 2 phone calls to Sky. And a shifty discount of £3 from the extra installation fee.
- Now at last I have my own spy satellite I feel really mature...
- Had people waving around a replica sword in my apartment after only being in it for 5 seconds. If you've seen my apartment waving anything 5' long is not a good idea.
- Had worrying observations about my place made, like, "You know, you can handcuff people to your bed."
- Learned how to play bar billiards last night.
- Bought a new computer.
- Not seen Dr. Who yet. :(

Friday, May 12, 2006

Thy Name is Karma

It seemed a regular day in the office. Someone had come in to see B. and he was nowhere to be found. We assumed he'd forgotten or simply didn't care about the meeting when the phone rang. I answered it...

B: "Huff... huff... I'm trapped in the lift."

S: "Oh, right. Err... are you ok?"

The conversation went on, and I had to inform the person he was meeting that he was stuck in the lift just outside our office. I even checked he'd phoned the proper faultline from the lift phone. His response didn't fill me with confidence, so I phoned them after I hung up. But I didn't hang up quite yet...

During our conversation I thought he was sounding somewhat panicked on the phone. He's not exactly the Fonz when it comes to keeping cool, small things like an unsorted stack of papers can send him into a frenzy of emotions. I may, I thought, have been his only lifeline to the outside world, the only thing keeping him from thinking about spending an eternity entombed in the Charles Wilson building, forever wedged between the sandwich shop on Floor 1 and the carvery in Floor 5, and tormented by the smell of fresh cooking. So I summoned up all my high school crisis counselling and kept talking conversationally...

S: "Do you have something to read?"

There was a thick silence on the other end of the phone. Thick enough to tar the potholes in the M1 with. He inhaled for a lot longer than I thought was humanly possible before continuing...

B: "No not really. Well I do have your P60."

S: "Well, don't read that!"

B: "I should go."

S: "Don't worry - they should have you out within an hour. Good job it's not lunch time just yet."

Cue laughing from behind me...

Not long after this I phoned the porters and informed them that there were people in the lifts stuck. They sprung into action, which suggested he'd not quite phoned the right people. He got out after about 20 minutes, during which we talked with his visitor about how dangerous broken lifts can be. Only then did I remember I had a camera as he disembarked... bugger.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Call of Cthulhu

For those of you who've never read Lovecraft's short stories, apparently they're on the web here.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

SHiT and Shiny Stuff

The SHiT guy came round ridiculously early this morning. He wasn't thrilled with prospect of climbing a 40 ft. building to install a satellite, and he didn't exactly speak glowingly of my comedy partner from Monday. Then he marked that there is a satellite next to one of the other flats, the one my comedy sidekick assumed was mine, and thought that was better. However, being a contractor, he was liable so refused to install until I had permission from the landlord. Which I now have as long as I don't invade the privacy of the young lady who lives in the flat above.

This begs the question about the satellite. Is this some spy satellite sending messages to SPECTRE? Is it controlling the weather patterns for the western civilization? Or is it some old dish the old tenants forgot about?

Whilst on the way back from getting approval from my landlords I made a mistake.

I fell hopelessly in love...

I went to the Bank of Scotland today to pay in my deposite cheque. As you might know this sort of thing is bad for my blood pressure. Really bad.

You see the BoS only has a business branch in Leicester. You go in, find the express pay-in, pick up the envelope to put your cheque into and then realise there is no form to accompany your cheque. In traditional BoS branches, nay in every other frickin' branch I've ever been in you can just pick one up, fill it out, put the cheque and form in the envelope, post it and leave. No need to queue. No need to talk to anyone.

In the Leicester branch there is a suspicious gap between the paperwork where the aforementioned form is supposed to sit. This then causes you to join the queue for the teller, wondering why there was an express pay-in drawer, 'cos this is certainly not proving to be "express" in any sense of the word. Not counting any forms of public transport in the Greater London area between 5pm and 6pm that use the words "express". In most cases this is pretty much on par with them.

The teller, or B.'s grandfather*, is a fellow who puts me on mind of the bank teller in the last episode of Twin Peaks in terms of haste. Despite there being a queue he subscribes to a form of Zen-Bank Telling. This usually involves him sitting in the bank offices, not at the desk. He hobbles over eventually, making you feel really sorry for every step you made him take, every bead of sweat on his forehead and every breath he is going to waste transacting with you.

You try to explain you need the form to place with the cheque into the pay-in envelope.

He explains that you should have a book of forms that were given to you when you opened your account.

You riposte by explaining that you did not open your account here. You opened yours at one of the other branches of the BoS that don't subscribe to this little known practice. You then ask politely if you can have a book of these forms for future use.

He slides past your riposte by saying that you cannot have a book of these forms because you are not opening an account.

You counter by explaining the principles of banking, whereby you give money to the bank and they invest it, make money, keep some for themselves and give you a pittance in interest. You explain it may be in the BoS's best interest that they take the cheque from you and place it in your account.

He mutters something, wanders off, comes back, brings the form and fills it in slowly, in copperplate hand-writing, refuses to let you use the Express pay-in service and does it all for you. With an average completion time of 20 minutes or so.

Today was different however.

Today I fell in love with the teller.

No - not the decrepit guy! They had a young, blond chick on the desk. One with radical notions in customer service and the need for speed that only the young get. She was even pleasant, asking what on earth the C. on my card means when it says "C. Stuart Kerrigan". I actually came out of the BoS smiling.

It's a miracle.

* It's a running joke in our office if we ever encounter anyone who offers poor customer service, is unnecessarily rude or simply makes it clear to you they consider talking to you an unfortunate part of their job that appears on their hate list way below "Scrub urinal kegs in men's toilets" we assume they're a member of B.'s extended family. For example B's father used to drive the 20 bus from the city centre to Casa Al. You could tell - he didn't consider stopping for passengers part of his job.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Dr Stu on... y'know

I still have no TV, at least until the SHiT hits the fan tomorrow, but conveniently I just happened to be packing the last of my stuff from Casa Al when Doctor Who came on. Convenient that...

Good stuff. Doctor Who seems to be going through some sort of Highlander phase at the moment with all the lost loves the Doctor seems to have suddenly popping up over the place and aging. Despite everyone getting up in arms with the Doc snogging Dr. Grace in the tragically cut short McGann hour nary an episode goes by without Tennant playing tongue-hockey with (usually) someone of the female persuasion.

Nice story, though again they need to explain the rules of time-travel. The Doctor has a tardis, why can't he use it to rescue the maiden fair or travel to another time and build a Dalek-only destroying device. He keeps mentioning something about being caught up in events already, but it doesn't make a lot of sense. As far as I can tell the Tardis is simply a vehicle to get the Doctor into the episode. He can't however time travel back to the first 5 minutes of the episodes and fix his mistakes.

Clockwork robots, not scary. Madame de Pompadour, very tasty. Mickey as a companion is good as finally there's someone on the Tardis who doesn't want to hump the doctor. I just hope they don't kill him like a punk. Overall it felt like a traditional Doctor Who story.

The Sky's Not Quite The Limit

We continue our season of (hopefully funny) rants...

I've had a lot of workmen in the flat recently but none of them have managed to do any work, which is a bit of a shame as that was the sole reason I was calling them in.

On Friday I missed out on frisbee in the park to go for a 4pm appointment with the utilities guy in my apartment. When he finally turned up at 5:15pm he literally breezed into the flat and offered the following pearl of wisdom:-

Appliance Guy: "Yeah your thermostat is bust!"

Stu: "No shit Sherlock! Isn't that what I said was a problem? Does that mean we live in one of those weird parallel universes where Stuart is right? Even just once? Man - do you have the phone number for Rod Serling?"

Appliance Guy: "Oh, I'll need to order a part."

Stu: "How totally unexpected! I'll eat microwaved slush for the next six days! Actually, take two weeks if you like, I'm off down the pub..."


That's how the conversation would've gone if I had a backbone and a temper. Clearly though the appliance guy was on some sort of meditative nirvana to make those kind of astute observations. Operating on a higher plane it would've been crass to bring him back to Earth with my vulgar cursing and swearing. So I simply said thanks and let him go. He had been here for a minute after all.

I was advised this morning the Sky guy would be round from 9:30-11:30. Nice vagueness there, but I decided to wait until 10am and then go to work if he hadn't shown up.

If the demonstrating gig ever gets boring, if I ever snap and try to insert a bookshelf up my co-worker's rectum, this Sky guy and I could clean up on the stand-up comic circuit. Seriously, the banter was fantastic. Morcambe and Wise, Two Ronnies, Monty Python, move over. Stu and Sky-Guy are the new act.

I mean with repartee like this, how could we fail?

Sky Guy: "You sir are the most fucking lucky person on the planet! You are so unbelievably fucking lucky! If I didn't have both hands full with this ladder I would shake your hand."

Stu: "Why's that?"

Sky Guy: "You might be the only flat on your fucking block to be able to get fucking Sky."

Stu: "Really, that's good, because with everything else like broadband or cable I've been ridiculously unlucky."

Sky Guy: "Yes, in fact if I climb up here and hold the dish in place I can see if you're getting a fucking signal you fucking lucky son of a gun!"

Stu: "That's not my flat."

Sky Guy: "That's ok, you're getting no signal anyway."

Stu: "Arse! What if you point it over there where there's no buildings?"

Sky Guy: "Nah, I have to point it right at the building for some reason."


And that's pretty much how it happened. Almost verbatim. I think the Sky guy swore a few more times in a hilarious and whacky way.

The upshot is that I can't get Sky at my elevation so they will have to get in the Special HeIght Team (which doesn't hold much hope for me as it abbreviates to SHiT). On the other hand if I were to invite the installation guy around every evening after work I wouldn't need TV as I'd be very, very amused.

I think I'll be getting NTL although I might wake up Wednesday morning and find that a SWAT... sorry SHiT team are sliding onto the roof with ninja stealth. But I doubt it. Do you think they'll climb this building on a ladder? And put a dish on the right-most chimney?



Other than that I've been in the pub a lot this weekend. Or off replacing broken things in the flat, like the iron without a stopper to prevent water spilling out of it.

Or my computer, which has decided to take more memory dumps in one day during games/mp3 playing than I take regular dumps in a week. I started to write my amazing novel (which I think is going to be one long rant) until I got half-way through page 1 and the computer blue-screened of death me, claiming the memory core needed dumping. Personally I took it as a sign my novel should never be written.

I think after four years the old girl needs to be taken round the back and shot under an unworking Sky dish pointing the wrong way. Anyone recommend a decent cheap base unit?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Taking the Heat

It is the start of the blistering warm season in Leicester. Without warning the temperature has shot up, the sun came out to party and my central heating decided to continue to belch out heat despite being below told to output nothing. This is one of the joys of storage heating - you have to predict tomorrow's weather and set accordingly.

I've been trying to ignore El Diablo in all this excitement. I fear that if I were to open the oven I'd find Monday's experiments coupled with this extreme heat have generated enough energy to form a small sun complete with microscopic solar system within the oven, inhabited by little people made from charred roast lamb who now worship me as their creator and are, even as we speak, embarking on a holy war between the Orthodox faction who think my name is spelt "Stuart" and the newfangled revisionists who spell it "Stewart".

Anyway...

This weather makes walking into work very pleasant, as London Road is shaded by a large amount of local fauna, and the park along from the university seems to have suddenly sprung to life with students.

Things have been interesting acclimatising to my new surroundings. Thanks to my boss I've sampled some of the local ales and takeouts on Queens Road. Incidentally the portions of chips in Leicester are staggering no matter where you go, but most of you know that from previous posts.

Yesterday lunchtime I found myself in the beer garden of the local free house known as the Old Horse (did I mention I like that pub?) eating one of their blue burgers (the cheese on the burger is blue, not the actual burger itself, that would be wrong). Their beer garden has a very smelly rabbit, some owls and a Tardis, much like the one in Buchanan Street in Glasgow. I'll have to take some photos on my next visit.

Then that evening for variety I found myself back at the Old Horse (good job I like that pub innit?)

I think a quiet weekend is called for to finally get my house in order so to speak. And a return to the gym. I have about 1 years worth of DVDs to watch including six seasons of Hercules I bought as a guilty pleasure dirt cheap from the States. I just find watching 21st century values in ancient Greece a laugh but was never quite taken with Xena. I've also got a ton of Cadfael mysteries, Sherlock Holmes, Family Guy and a hankering to rewatch Firefly.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

El Diablo - the Devil's Oven

What follows is not so much a story as a rant. And a sequel to the exploding fridge story.

With the last of my furniture assembled last night I decided to relax with a ready meal I had bought whilst out shopping for furniture, before retiring to the pub. Over the past few days I'd been relatively lax in important areas like eating, so I still have a completely empty fridge apart from this one ready meal. I decided this would give me an excellent chance to test out the new oven and reading the instructions prepared to put it in the oven for 40 minutes.

About 25 minutes in I realised I had accidentally put the oven on defrost mode, not proper fan assisted mod. The meal was still perched there on the shelf looking decidely frozen. So I switched to fan assisted cooking at about 180 degrees.

About 15 minutes later I was somewhat surprised by the fact my oven smelt of burning. I was also somewhat surprised when I opened the oven to see the melted plastic tray containing the ready meal. My sanity took somewhat of a turn when I stared at the heater element, all round, red and malevolent looking, much like the Eye of Sauron only more scary as it was very real, very tangible and the fan was blowing immense quantities of heat into my face. I began to wonder if the dirt on the oven I had cleaned two days ago was in fact the charred remains of the previous tenants who had made the mistake of doing a 2 hour pot-roast. What really worried me was when the aforementioned tray now caught fire, using the extra oxygen my witless self had just provided it with by opening the door.

After a manly session of fire-extinguishing (and wishing I had a key for the padlock on the window in the kitchen) I gingerly scooped up the charred remnants of my meal and assumed I had been witless enough to select grill instead of fan. After all, the two options look so alike (!). I certainly didn't have enough evidence to blame the oven... yet.

What followed was an inexplicable desire to repeat the experiment with the oven. Maybe burning my roast turkey dinner and setting it alight in under half the regulation cooking time awakened some primal instinct in me that had lay dormant since the dawn of time. Maybe it was male stubborness, a desire to conquer the oven, to bend the Eye of Sauron to my will. Maybe I was damn hungry and didn't want to eat even more takeaway food.

I don't really why I set out on May Bank Holiday, I just remember cursing my luck in looking for groceries on the day where all of England grinds to a halt, where society ceases to function for 24 hours. However I and my noble steed, the Stu Mobile opted out of the quest for the Holy Grail in favour of the more difficult quest for a replacement ready meal. My search, at 8pm, took me to the far off countries of King Asdas, who sadly was closed, to Lord Sainsburys, also closed. At this point my steed was tired and I was weary with hunger and exhaustion. The grail, no the ready meal, seemed far from my grasp until I realised with great excitement that Sainsbury's petrol depot was still open. I secured myself a truly appetising (and overpriced) vegetable lasagne and some other necessaries.

Returning to the laboratory I read the packaging and decided to put it in for 30 minutes at 150 degrees, instead of the suggested 200 degrees. Pre-heating the oven didn't seem to work, after 20 minutes the temperature gauge had still not clicked off. None the less I pressed on my experiment, for I felt my doctorate, nay my very life would be at stake if I did not.

Checking on it at 5 minutes I fought for my soul as I stared into the evil eye of what I named El Diablo, a name that comes to me unbidden in the night now. By willpower and wiping the sweat from my brow I pulled the oven shut before the overwhelming heat overcame me. At 15 minutes I was forced to remove the oven tray as the lasagne looked decidely overcooked. At this point the oven was worryingly warm to the touch on the outside.

I can only conclude, dear readers, that either my oven is possessed, or that the thermostat is bust. Other than that all is well. I shall be favouring my microwave for now.