Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Torchwood - has it burned out yet?

So - Torchwood, Doctor Who's answer to Angel. It's been 2 weeks now and you're wondering what the verdict was.

What I've seen of it so far is definitely on par with the last season of Doctor Who at its best. That's right - the first couple of episodes are nearly as good as... er... well, actually last season's Doctor Who wasn't that great. I guess it's nearly as good as the 2 parter not set on Earth I guess.

It's very dark. It's very adult. It's very bisexual. It's actually meant to be set on Earth every week. At times the humour seems a little immature. So it's very RTD I guess, it's a play-pen he's more used to. At times though Torchwood seems to come across as being a ludicrously Ally Macbeal sexy-people-working-in-an-office-having-affairs-and-not-doing-any-work type office environment, with RTD's teenage attitude towards sex. That kind of humour worked in Buffy, when the characters were teenagers, but in Torchwood it seems kinda odd that the Man in the Dr. Who 2-parter spent her time tittering quietly about one of her office mates seeing the other one.

I'm not sure why Captain Jack is a leader in Torchwood. A drifter from the 51st century seems an odd recruit, let alone commander, but fortunately he is a bit more interesting than he was in Doctor Who. It seemed every time he was mentioned in Doctor Who confidential RTD would say something like, "Captain Jack is an interesting character. He's from the 51st century and that means he fancies everybody. Did I mention he sleeps with anyone? Isn't that really interesting and a wonderful blueprint for the future."

Jack is still his old "interesting" self but now has the added backstory of being an immortal angsty type with a lot more backstory to develop over the 13 episodes, allowing him to be a lead character, not a sidekick. He's obviously peeved at the Doctor and has even gone so far as to collect a David-Tennant-hand-in-a-jar. Maybe he's trying to grow a Doctor?

Gwen seems okay, though I'm worried by Season 2 she'll turn into a Rose. Owen is a strange character, introduced as essentially a date-rapist (but he's a funny date-rapist so apparently that's okay) and appears more sympathetic in later episodes, while currently the tech-girl (who was a medical Doctor in Dr. Who right?) and receptionist guy are awaiting their own episodes.

Good stuff, and more sci-fi than Doctor Who at times.

Monday, October 30, 2006

I Knew There Was A Reason I'm Wearing More Black Now

You Are 40% Evil

A bit of evil lurks in your heart, but you hide it well.
In some ways, you are the most dangerous kind of evil.

So there you go. I'm edgy and dark.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Menace on the Borderlands

It's like Deliverance, but with live roleplaying.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Previously on Stu

Ok... I seem to have got quite a response on the last post, with 6 comments and umpteen emails from chaps who used to work here (who found this movie file in jig time on their own) so it seems B. sells bandwidth, and the usual jibber-jabber doesn't. I think it was nearly as well commented as the cool Young Indiana Jones thread.

I know some of you said you weren't able to follow the movie I posted last week as you have no sound, it kinda goes like this, thanks to Horton's able graphical summary:-

or his later effort:-

If that isn't enough I was sad enough to remix this MP3 track in 5 minutes at home on Audacity (nice program BTW). Now you can experience what my work is like for me when I'm listening to music (apparently for all my multitude of sins, including breathing, my foot also makes these annoying "vibrations" on the floor when I tap my feet that go over to the next desk... you get the idea).

Yes, I'm sad, what's your point?

Still... I'd rather work with this guy. He may be just as irrationally intolerant of his co-workers (and even does the whole nervous talking to himself bit), but he's fun:-

By the way if anyone can name that 80s power ballad in part 2 I'd be very grateful.
Coming soon, pirates and Torchwood.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tempers at Fever Pitch

I've been feeling a bit poorly (awww I hear you say...) since Saturday evening, I seem to have a cold and more vexingly a bit of a fever, which made lecturing on Monday and Tuesday a lot of fun. Also during my lab on Tuesday I had to take regular fresh air breaks to ensure I didn't suddenly become one with the lab floor.

My Monday triple lecture yo-yo was a bit harder than the four I did last week, but I got through it, although I think I preferred it when only 6 students turned up to my middle lecture, not 50 or so all with mobile phones beeping left, right and centre.

Tuesday as I've said was also difficult and I felt worse, not better. However all the labs and lectures kept me out the office until about 1:30pm, and meant I had a relatively humorous story about one of the other lecturers walking off with the microphone still attached to his shirt, and ripping it out of the podium fixtures. Since I'd not seen A. for most of the day I thought I'd have a chat with him over a sandwich at my office. Sadly it was not to be... thanks to good old loony B. and his new policy on not only not allowing students in the office, but no talking in the office, even during lunch hours, even if it is (loosely) about work.

Here's a 12 second snippet of my attempts to talk to A. over being told to SHUT UP. The actual outburst took about 5-10 minutes, so I only really got a little snapshot. This particular bit is punctuated with A. trying to reason with B. and a good view of my shoes (£6 from Brantano's, very fetching blue and good at picking up grime and tree leaves BTW) in an attempt to prevent our local loonie from noticing, grabbing my phone camera off me and tossing it out the window in a rage.

Enjoy this unique insight into my office, and please, save your sympathy for A. He's worked here longest!

Anyroads, it's fair to say after this outburst both of us victims were slightly miffed, and we left work as soon as was humanly possible. A. decided to go to his gym and find a punchbag, I on the other hand decided to solve my problems with alcohol and go drinking with some pirates. Find out more in Part 2 of our two part story.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Robin Hood - is it good?

So - Robin Hood 2006. Is it good?

Well, it's alright. Above average. Say 5.5/10, maybe 6 or 7 when it's cooking with gas. I'm going to try to avoid comparing it with the awesomeness of Robin of Sherwood, but I'm also going to fail in that endeavour.

Robin Hood 2006 is too modern in its post-9/11 sensibilities for my opinion. We seem to be moving into 1984 territory in that every movie or show needs to have a hidden message that is relevant to today's society. I personally would much rather have a show about times of yore when men were men and so on.

However in Robin Hood 2006 the war in Iraq... sorry... Crusades are naturally a bad thing, no shades of grey there (the Sheriff is the most vociferous supporter and it's pretty clear the taxes he's collecting are to fuel Richard's war), while "enemies of the State" are being put in secret camps without any rights (read: Guantanamo Bay) and the heroes are shocked that enemies of the state are executed without an appeal which seems jarringly modern for medieval times where you were at the whim of local lords and bizarre laws, and for example it was considered perfectly reasonable and legal to shoot a Scotsman approaching York's walls.

The acting on the whole is good. I still say Robin looks more like a hobbit than a master archer, seems to have qualms about killing and uses his archery skills to fire a lot of silly CGI shots and warning shots. It also appears he is very much a lady's man - in the first episode he snogs a young lady and earns the ire of her sword-wielding peasant father (who looked roughly the same age as her, but hey-ho).

Much on the other hand seems to carry the show, driving the plot as he is Robin's right-hand man. He keeps it light-hearted. So far he's funny at times and yet almost ridiculously inept for a veteran of the Crusades. His comic relief might be tiresome after 13 episodes - he needs to show some sort of survival skills, and he shouldn't be sidelined in favour of Little John or Will now he's been so prominent. Maid Marian so far has yet to appear sympathetic - she clearly has a chip on her shoulder with regards Rob, and constantly berates him for not playing the long term game like her and her father, but on the other hand has yet to actually accomplish anything other than knifing a guard with her one of her two matching hair pieces (which strangely went unnoticed by the Sheriff). As for the Sheriff - he's been watching Alan Rickman's performance, which is no bad thing, but Robin of Sherwood's Sheriff had a much darker edge, throwing his lot in with basically a Satan worshipper in the first episodes.

Also, unlike the awesome Robin of Sherwood there's a distinct lack of grime and muck, in an almost Hercules: The Legendary Journeys way. I also spotted that Little John's missus has a horse, which surely means she can't be that poor as horses were for noblemen and fetched a pretty penny (hence why horse-rustling was a death sentence).

In terms of production values, it's very good. Nottingham looks a little too much like Minas Tirith for my liking, but that is a compliment as well as a criticism. In terms of derring-do on a Saturday it's worth a look. Also - watch Episodes 1 & 2 back-to-back, I suspect that was how they were intended to be broadcast.

Next on the agenda - Torchwood.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

An Experimental Mood

I've been experimenting with myspace lately (mostly to work out what the point is to it, which at the moment unless you're a band I don't know). Myspace seems to be a site for musicians/celebrities to promote themselves, so I'm not quite sure what it's point is for the common man like me.

Anyroads if you're on myspace, add me to your friends list, because I only have 2 at the moment (sob), otherwise get on it and then do the previous step.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Chad Vader Episode 4

The End? I hope not...

Merlin and the Sword

I finally had the evening to myself. With a series of going out, house guests, the Monday pub quiz (woefully unattended because Katie wasn't there to tell us to turn up) and work I really hadn't felt like I'd had an evening to myself in ages.

Over a light repasse I watched the cinematic treat "Merlin and the Sword" because it was on Sky Movies and because Bradley told me not to see it. When the King of Bad Movies tells you it's a bad movie you expect bad badness. And not in a Michael Jackson BAD way.

I personally didn't think it was that bad - in fact it is the most Pendragon-like movie I've seen in a while, with magic, pig-faces princesses who turn into babes when kissed at their wedding and Malcom Macdowell hamming it up as Arthur for 85 minutes only to inexplicably killed off in a most unheroic and budget saving way. Only one thing ruined it - the annoying American tourist, Whipper from Ally Macbeal*, who just happened to fall into Merlin's cave at the start and get him to tell the whole story in the magic of a flashback.

So, Merlin: The Return is worse. Merlin and the Sword is good in the same way Hawk the Slayer is good.

This got me thinking - forget Robin Hood 2006 (which I'll comment on soon) - why doesn't someone make a TV show on the Legends of the Round Table? Think about it - it only needs a recurring cast (Arthur isn't going to be particularly prominent in a 3 part Gawain and the Green Knight arc is he?). Reading Mallory there's enough scope in adventures that the minor knights get up to for more than 6 years of TV, and if an actor quits you just tell another kniggit's story. Because only movies have been made the minor knights get short shrift in favour of Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot and Merlin, and often main characters are merged together (most notably Margwase and Morgana LaFey).

Also, alluding to my forthcoming review of Robin Hood 2006 please don't feel the need to update the legends for "post-911 Britain".

* The managment would like to point out I don't watch this show.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Lectures of Doom

This weekend, aside from scaring my boss by turning up 20 minutes later than I'd said for the open day (they wouldn't let me park in the Uni which ballsed up my ETA), I seemed to have little time to myself with a combination of blocked drains (again), parties, shopping for Monday and fencing. However I started fencing epee, as I figure I should get points for all those off-target hits I accrue with foil. Discovered when a person undergoes 4 hours of fencing without a drink it is not a good idea. Discovered when a person undergoes 4 hours of drinking with a drink it is not a good idea, neither is deciding to push another chap's car home when he is both sobre and has enough petrol to get home on his own.

And now on with our star attraction

The Four Lectures of Doom

In which our hero gives four lectures... of doom.

Lecture 1, which could've gone better - I slept into 8:30 this morning as I set the alarm for 8pm tonight. I charged across Victoria Park in a manner not too dissimilar from Lancelot in Monty Python and the Holy Grail and burst into the lecture hall at 9:25am, somehow five minutes early. Also there was quite a bit of admin but one of the lecturers was on hand to handle this. This gave me a time to clean up and drink something with caffeine in it. The lecture ran under time, but it seemed to go okay, and most of the students would be back for Lecture 3 in two hours time.

In between Lecture 1 and 2 I had the luxury of a one-hour break, where I went back to the office and eventually reminded B. to open up the office for the students at 11am. He did so, but rather than manning the desk we have practically contractually bound him to man, he went back to work. Feeling somewhat disgusted I left our part-time TA and went downstairs to have a glass of water before I ran off to...

Lecture 2, which could've gone better - I ran out of material after 30 minutes. Fortunately years of appearing to sit on my backside guzzling pizza and fizzy drinks while claiming to be roleplaying have taught me how to wing things when they don't go to plan, so I improvised enough question and answer stuff that I essentially gave the lecture twice and used the full lecture slot. This meant I was barely on time for...

Lecture 3, which could've gone better - the students could've turned up. Only seven or so, who'd been at Lecture 1 and were actually in our department, were in the theatre. Add to that the lecturer who normally does the first five minutes of admin was out of his office and not in my lecture and I began to slowly suspect I'd been told the wrong room. Nonetheless, after I checked all the lecture halls for lecturerless lectures (trying saying that fast sportsfans) I decided to email the boss and carry on with the lecture. The worst that could happen was that I'd discover, through no fault of my own, I'd been directed to the wrong room.

What it turned out was that the lecturer was busy moving house and thought I could handle things, and that the remaining 40 or so students from the Management Department had only been told about our labs, not our lectures. The upshot is I offered to repeat the lecture next week for these wayward souls. I really am too nice for my own good.

Also, the twenty or so minutes I waited for the missing 90% of my class to turn up meant I wound up running over the 5 minute margin to get to other classes, and running into our part-time TA, who was upset because B. had told him to shut up when he was chatting about work with A. in the office. All these factors meant I was a couple of minutes late for...

Lecture 4 - which could've gone better, but only in that I could've not been the last person in the lecture hall. By the time I got to the building I was practically sweating blood as I passed Claudia in the corridor. However I made it in time to prevent the old Glasgow University phantom lecture rule from taking its toll on my first day and using the same improv technique and trying to get the audience to participate meant I easily filled my slot and I think most of the students understood what a function was.

It was 2:30pm. I was hungry. I was tired. But I was through my first day of lecturing, and never again would I have to do 4 lectures in one day. Next week it would only be 2... no make that 3. Yippee.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Happy Birthday Steve

Or Horton Carew definitely not of this parish/diocese/orthodoxy/religion/faith/existence. As I'm not around to buy you a pint, I figure this is the next best thing:-

Favours and Breakdowns

I'm favoured out this fortnight. For I am pulling the ultimate favour this weekend - I'm coming into work on Saturday for a few hours to run an Open Day as our regular Open Day guru is seriously, seriously unwell. This is the culmination (hopefully) of what I am dubbing "Season of the Favours", where I've been doing lots of favours (not that kind!) for people. On the other hand I now have a large selection of chocolate at home and don't need to buy myself a pint for a couple of weeks. Plus karma-wise I should be in good stead until at least Xmas.

Meanwhile - you can now tell the students are back. B. is well on the way to either having a nervous breakdown or driving one of us to one. I'm not sure which one he's working on exactly, and neither does he I'm sure.

You see since Thursday afternoon we've been doing various induction lessons. I had the choice of working with B. on one, or doing one myself. Guess what I chose. No go on, guess.

So while I was safely doing my own lab the others had been working quite hard to rewrite B.'s lab material into something different (read into that what you like). Also when I left the office around 10:15am B. was yelling in a Prima Donna fashion about how he was going to refuse to do the lab. Apparently midway through the lab he then decided to replace A. and sysadmin's revised file with his earlier file as he didn't like/understand (delete as applicable) that version.

The upshot is we had 2 groups of students with different lab sheets, being rather cnofused. B. also apparently had a big argument with A. and had one of the lecturer's ask A. not to teach the lab anymore.

I missed all this. Sadly this year I'm just not going to be in my office as much as I used to be. Ah, bless.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Chad Vader Delayed?

Actually I'm pretty sure it'll be out in less time than they took on Episode 3.

Monday, October 02, 2006

They're Back...

All the signs were there this morning that the students were back. I woke up sneezing, it felt 5 degrees colder somehow*, the walk into work seemed quite dark and everywhere the campus seemed to be alive with the sound of grubbiness.

This being the first week it's excessively crowded on campus as numerous students try to register and discover that the new automatic registration process is not quite as automatic as the designer's thought it was, and that it doesn't register you. But it is new. I know this because I went to a talk on it a few weeks back, and because the kids are all doing it next door, thinking they're supposed to come here to register (and ignoring the vast preponderance of signs that have been put up telling them not to come to us).

Outside the union the various societies are attempting to vie for their cash and attention. Some eejit keeps tooting a horn outside the window, and the crowd is replete with sporty types, gamers, ethnic groups, cheerleaders and viking warrior women attempting to woo you into giving them spool (actually it's not all bad thinking about cheerleaders and viking warrior women). Fees for joining fencing have gone up for staff apparently and I wasn't allowed to use the nice coffee bar this morning as I don't have an NUS card, so Leicester's Student Union remains as staff-friendly as ever.

I have however prepped 2 lectures, cleaned my desk, invented a new system for propping the window open involving a roll of sticky tape, registered 2 students and decided to reschedule my Stuart Kerrigan: My Life So Far lecture for the nascent departmental club (I kid you not) until Semester 2. Apparently people want to hear about my research. So it's been a busy day.

* Actually I think I have discovered a cure for global warming. Simply move all the Universities to the polar ice caps.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Stuart Kerrigan's (Several) Days Off

Before the madness begins I swung a few days off, no doubt having to sacrifice my soul to the altar of whinging and poutiness on Monday. However it was time well spent - Thursday and Friday I was in various pubs and mercifully I spent most of Saturday in town, browsing at the various things I've been promising myself to buy for the last 6 months:-

  • A DVD Recorder

  • A Bike to start cycling to work

  • Proper chest of drawers for bedroom

  • Mini-Freezer Unit for the kitchen

  • Something else which is nagging me, but can't be that important

I've somehow managed to avoid doing the massive pile of ironing, hoovering the car out of all the debris left from when I er... moved in to my flat, but on the other hand I've had to contend with stinky sink blockages, squelchy bathroom floors and this morning I discovered I needed a new bath mat unless watersliding and developing oneness with the bathroom walls and floors were two things I had no problems with.

A lot of walking has allowed me to catch up on my 8th Doctor audios, and I've heard a couple Twilight Kingdom (which was actually pretty neat although it burnt me out 6 months ago listening to it), Faith Stealer (which is great and nearly as witty as Shada) and I'm listening to the Last (which is pretty creepy) and I plan on someday posting a comprehensive review of the whole run.

Also - everywhere I go images of this new Robin Hood show are following me. I'm a bit worried about all the nonsense I've heard surrounding it - modernising Robin, basing him around contemporary heroes like Jamie Oliver (?!). Add to this the fact he looks like Pippin from Lost with a bow and the fact his costume looks decidedly modern at times, some pictures have him wearing a hoodie or what looks basically like a t-shirt, and you'll see my concern.

What next? The Sheriff of Nottingham gives Robin an ASBO? Robin summons the Merry Men to aid him by using his mobile phone ringtone of a hunting horn? Probably not but I am concerned they're going to "Doctor Who" it and make it "mainstream". I shall tune in of course, it might be the next Robin of Sherwood and even if it isn't you'll still get my opinion - which with £80 will get you a train ticket to Dundee from Leicester.

Still even if Robin Hood is disturbingly bad it can't sink as low as Screech from Saved by the Bell.

Random Thought: Whoever invented Fileplanet.com should be shot.