Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Big Gig, Pretty Box

Teeny-weeny with a woppin gig, that's the LaCie carte Orange USB drive. Damn I like my portable data storage, and this credit card sized puppy holds a sweet 8 gig or memory in an ultra slim-line pocket-sized case. The inevitable plug and play and a retractable USB dongle makes it all very simple (says the man with 140 gig on him right this very minute).

Also LaCie has recently released the BRICK, a Lego inspired hard drive (hat's off to them for their design, I have a desktop LaCie by Porsche that's nice but a bit 'silver') and comes in 160 to 500 gig. Stack & Play LaCie Brick Hard Drives would add colors to your Ikea computer desk (not everything should be silver) while expanding capacity.

Ya gotta love their vision.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Movie Review - X-Men 3: The Last Stand

Now, as some of you will know I regularly write DVD reviews for our North Scotland, North Devon, Hull, Lincolnshire, Scunthorpe, Stoke, Essex, Grimsby (etc., etc.) sites, and print the unedited versions here. I've never been moved to write a review independently on a current release before. This evening, after a year of fanboy expectation, I saw X-Men 3: The Last Stand. Here is my review...


Oh, my, word. The X-Men, those mutant heroes sworn to defend man and mutant in a world that hates and fears them, are back! Wooo-hoo! This time, with the help of Beast and Angel, they have to face evolution itself in the form of their former team-mate Jean Grey (Phoenix), plus Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants! And so, 10 of us assembled at the Showcase in Derby this evening, with baited breath...

Now I am an X-Geek. I've been reading X-men since I was 6, seriously since I was 14. I'm not a collector I'm a reader. Stan is my god. Claremont is the new messiah. Naturally, I was hoping for certain things. I wanted Sentinels, the Danger Room, Gambit, Skrull, a Colossus/Patch fast-ball-special, Lockheed, and a million impossible icons I knew I was never going to get. My expectation was that it was going to be pants, but that I could at least play 'spot-the-mutie', eat some popcorn, and revel in the genius of fine Shakespearian actors like Patrick Stewart (X) and Ian McKellan (homo superior himself) as Magneto.

Basically, and uncharacteristically, I was right.

Now that Ratner is directing, that certain X-factor has gone. The movie is, in short, something of an uninspiring and over plotted mess compared to the gritty world of moody atmospherics and emotional weight that Singer and his crew has already brought us.

Ratner fails to make the audience connect. Recurrent x-themes of division, alienation, responsibility, discrimination and even (dare I say) terrorisum, are lost in a blaze of throwaway CGI and star gratification. While watching, I was left with the sensation that certain cuts made it to the final edit through lack of coverage rather than preferred performance. I found I felt genuine pity for the likes of Sir Ian, forced to drag the performances of his Brotherhood, kicking and screaming, out of mediocrity. Aaron Stanford (Pyro) and Vinnie Jones (Juggernaut) are simply dreadful.

Noted additions were the performance of Ellen Page and the characterisation of Kitty Pride, who carried the roll beautifully and sympathetically. Kelsey Grammer (while undeniably Frasier Crane) was the perfect piece of casting I hoped for. He was, in all ways, Beast, and his witty asides and unexplored inner turmoil carried the theme of the piece, if ignored by the raging hodgepodge around it.

There was some beautiful CGI, when used sympathetically, truly beautiful. The score swelled across my senses as Magneto ripped the Brooklyn Bridge from its foundations and turned the planets magnetic field against these pitiful homo sapiens. Wolverine howled as the flesh was stripped down to his
Adamantium bones as he faced Phoenix, pressing forwards against the fire and pain towards the woman he loved. But, a truck load of fanboy masturbation and computer generated moments do not a quality motion picture make. It helps, but it doesn't.

Do not expect this to reflect the things you love in the X/Marvel Universe. Angel is an unaffiliated newcomer. Nice potential plot points such as Juggernauts immunity to the mutant crippling serum (due to his powers being magical in nature), Jeans love for Scott preventing her tipping over the brink, and the involvement of the Shi'ar Empire could simply not be explored in this format and so fell flat for me as long-term fan. Was I asking too much? Perhaps?

Still there was some nice character 'bits', but they were few. Storm actually using her powers, Wolverine teaching in the Danger Room, Multiple Man playing the 1 man army, and Eric's reaction to the 'demise' of Mystique are snippets of rare joy. Keep watching too, there's a nice little bit after the credits worth hanging about for.

I have been able to forgive the breaches of X-trivia in, and thoroughly enjoyed, the previous 2 movies, but I could not find it in myself to excuse this recent attempt by a far more naive director and such a lank-lustre supporting cast. Despite some 'lovely bits'.

I was looking forward to discussing the film afterwards with a fellow x-geek who saw it with us, but on exiting the cinema she was taken physically ill and had to go home and bitch about it on the message boards of SuperHeroHype instead. I'm sure we'll catch up and weep into strong alcohol in the very near future.

X-Men: The Last Stand took in nearly $45 million on Friday to become the 2nd largest opening movie ever, just behind Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, according to FOX News. Sounds good on the surface, doesn't it? This probably means we're going to have another half dozen of them, maybe a Magneto or an Emma Frost movie, no doubt progressively worse...

Movie: 2.5 out of 5

Lets pray it was worth sacrificing Singer for a really good Superman.

Perfect Review

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

Cartoon by Dave Walker.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Warhammer Online Froth

This is an E3 presentation by a a guy called Paul Barnett, Design Manager on Warhammer Online. Nice work if ya can get it.

Fun stuff on Warhammer races compaired to the good people of England.

Cheers to Pig for the link. Made me smile.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Freebie Bonanza

Believe it or not, there's a series of websites out there that offers classic movies, vintage TV shows and ancient cartoons in their entirety, for free, and without an ad in sight.

You'll find them at
Drama.tv and Toon.tv, both offshoots of ShopStudios.tv.

Today, you can watch such old-time family favorites as
Bonanza or the original Popeye animated series, with new classics promised every week.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Exactly How I Feel Today

Click-to-Play Vids for AdWords

Okay, I'm ripping this directly from the Inside AdWords, the AdWords user group, HERE.

We're very excited to announce the release of click-to-play video ads on the content network. Here's Bismarck, from the Video Ads team, with the details on this new feature:

In the coming days, we will be adding click-to-play video ads to the line-up of text, Flash and image ad formats currently supported by the Google content network. At launch, video ads will be available to AdWords advertisers in the US, Canada and Japan - but we plan to roll them out to other regions shortly.

Now, let's talk about the details.

First, as with all AdWords ad formats, video ads will compete for placement on sites in the Google content network with other text, Flash and image ads -- and, as with our other image ad placements, you can choose to bid on a CPC or CPM basis.

Second, these ads will be supported by both site- and keyword-targeted campaigns. You can choose to serve your video ad on a specific site or on pages in our content network that relate to your product or service. As always, you have the ability to geo-target your video ads internationally, nationally, or locally.

Finally, unlike some intrusive advertising, users will have complete control. When a page loads, only a static image will be visible; the video will not start playing until the user initiates it. He or she will be able to advance the video, pause it, adjust the volume or click through to the advertiser's site, as you can see in the example below:

But, you may say, video is only for big branding oriented advertisers. We beg to differ. This feature makes video ads much more accessible to all advertisers. Now, an owner of a small bed & breakfast in Lake Tahoe can put a video tour of his beautiful chalet right next to an article that talks about skiing the epic slopes of Squaw Valley.

We hope you'll keep your eyes out for this new feature and let us know what you think.

I think I can't bloody wait. Bring it on!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Invisible Tat

Always wanted a tattoo but really your a big mincing chutney ferret that's petrified of what the boss will say?

Here's a new thingy. Using blacklight reactive ink you can now smother your skin in body art without them being any the wiser. After dark, under UV, is the only time these puppies are visible.

It’s kinda cool, and imagine those clandestine nocternal possibilities.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Perfect Online Haiku

My Online Girlfriend
Might be a supermodel
Or a big fat man.

c/o Geek Overlords.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

DVD Review - The Ultimate Fly Collection

Has it really been twenty years have past since Cronenberg's remake of The Fly hit the big screen?

As ever, Twentieth Century Fox have decided to celebrate by releasing a somewhat bloated anniversary box-set, this time it's all The Fly films. The Fly Ultimate Collector's Edition is a seven-disc (yes, seven-disc!) set that boasts the groundbreaking 1958 original, its sequels (including the previously unreleased Curse of The Fly), the Jeff Goldblume/Blundelfly/Cronenberg version, and all its little wizards.

The original (and in my opinion ‘best’) 1958 movie is quintessential black and white 50s horror/sci-fi. David Hedison, playing single minded inventor Andre Delambre, obsessed with his work in matter transportation. When testing the device on himself (duh!), a perfectly normal house fly gets caught in the machine and the scientist, with perfectly abnormal results. Now that’s cinema! "Man with big fly head, film at 11". Eventually, Andre’s wife Helene (Patricia Owens) and Fran├žois Delambre (the one and only, Vincent Price) discover the scientist’s secret and she must destroy the unholy mutant ‘thing’ her husband has become. Surely that parting shot of the tiny human-headed fly squealing "Help me!" from the web of a spider has to be the single most disturbingly memorable moment of 50s horror/sci-fi.

The Return of the Fly was a "son of" movie, where Vincent Price's character, Fran├žois Delambre, returns to help Andre’s son, Philippe (Brett Halsey), who naively carries on the family business of transmigration, only to befall the same fate as father (duh again!). Set fifteen years later, the story follows Philippe’s rampage as half-man, half-fly to seek an insane revenge on anything with binocular vision…

So far, so good. But here comes Curse of the Fly. Noticeably absent is the saving grace of Vincent Price. This time, three descendents of the Delambre bloodline are still trying to perfect the matter transporter, but things take a tur
n for the worse (for the audience too) when one of the trio marries a woman (who not only happens to be on the run from a neighbourhood mental institution but whose meddling uncovers a truck-load of botched human experiments) with inevitably disastrous consequences. After this film the whole Fly concept died an appropriate death, until David Cronenberg.

The basic concept for Cronenbergs new version is pretty much true to the original. Dr Brundle's relationship with Veronica (played by Geena Davis), the love of his life, is a lot stronger and the driving force behind the plot. Sometimes the plot does get a bit overshadowed by the prosthetics and model effects (but that’s Cronenberg). The film was a breakout success for Cronenberg, and justifiably so. It’s great, and the second best thing in the box-set with loads of documentaries and extras to support the movie geek in all of us.

As with the previous sequel, with a plot centred on the doomed doctor's son, The Fly II failed to effectively follow its predecessor. Controversially, I have a soft spot for it. That doesn’t make it a good movie though and it stars Eric Stoltz as the son and was directed by Chris Walas (who was responsible for The Fly's creature effects). Lets face it, few FX people make the transition to director, and know jack about working with actors, relying more the effects to carry the picture, and it shows with this movie. Stoltz could certainly have done with the support a ‘real’ director should have been able to offer.

This seven-disc set is reasonable value (with the two The Fly movies) but the rest are really just curios and fillers. It is a ‘nice’ idea to put them all together in one package (to get a historical perspective if nothing else) and there are some good extras. In honesty, unless you’re a genre or gore fiend, save some pennies and just buy the 2 ‘originals’.

Movies: 2.5 out of 5
Extras: 4.5 out of 5

Friday, May 19, 2006


Disasters is the work of NY photographer Enid Crow. A collection of self portaits generated under the common theme. Inspired.

There's some real beauties. This is reminiscent of some thing I'm working on right now and, frankly, I'm jealous I didn't think of it first :-)

No life...

...just 'The Movies'.

Uncharacteristically, Jema and I are playing a computer game.

All hail 'The Movies', a budding obsession that proves the old adage that there is a game for everyone.

We have new friends now, and they are very nicely rendered. Gloria Stitz, the million dollar sci-fi heroine. Dexter Manley, greying stalwart Western hero. Spongy Jackson, New Zealand schlock-horror director with a liking for beef burgers. They're so much better than real people.

I've had a casual eye to Machinima for the last year, and this has to be the ultimate tool for the job. Combined with sim-esque studio maintenance and a beautiful (nay, cinematic) look and feel and nose for detail, this is a real treat (thought not much of a stretch) on the new computer.

Okay, the interface can be a bit clunky at times, but that's easily forgiven come award time when the payoff is star status and the accolade of ones peers. Playing, and developing your studio in the game = more Machinima movie-making stuff to play with.

Wednesday nights will never be the same again.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

DVD Review - Camberwick Green

"Here is a box, a musical box, wound up and ready to play. But this box can hide a secret inside. Can you guess what is in it today?"

That’s how each episode would begin, with the black-and-red, hexagonal music box gently turning on the animators desk before up pops the star of that week's episode, one of the inhabitants of Camberwick Green, ready and able to deftly deal with some minor middle England village crisis. Guessing who the episode was about was all part of the fun of watching (in the same way that correctly picking one out of the three windows in Playschool made who a psychic god back then).

The big question here is weather it still works? Yeah, 'coarse it does…

Due to the sheer volume of repeats, this is a show that more than one generation can call their own. Even today, in an experiment worthy of Pavlov, I sat my little 8-year-old niece (hello Helena, told ya I’d say “hi”) down in front of Camberwick Green one Sunday afternoon and she was riveted to the screen for a full 13 episodes.

This programme is bordering on a national institution and if a statue of Windy Miller appeared in the centre of my hometown I would happily applaud the local council. This show is an icon of England right up there with Big Ben, fish and chips and red telephone boxes. Like some Orson Welles for pre-school generation x-ers, Brian Cant's voice is reassuringly comforting, bringing with it the feeling of there being a certain ‘rightness’ about the world so reflected in the harmless goings-on in Camberwick Green.

Friendship and post war stoicism is what binds the villagers together, with no one ever losing their temper with another (that wouldn’t be cricket). Captain Snort and the boys at Pippin Fort might get a tad bemused when their morning parade is interrupted, but they soon calm down when an explanation is forthcoming. There may be ‘a fussing’ as village gossip Mrs Honeybun (avec baby) takes a stroll between the shops on the green, but it's all going to happily come to nothing by the end of the day. Farmer Bell might be a midges annoyed when his truck runs out of petrol whilst racing Windy Miller on his trusty tricycle, but it's all settled, once again, over a glass of Windy’s home-brew Scrumpy and a cheese and pickle sandwich.

Anyone who remembers these from their childhood will probably want to buy them out of nostalgia and they might well be suprised with how much they enjoy revisiting the world of Trumptonshire and be pleasently pleased with how their own children (if they have any!) react to this classic.

Okay, so the animation (while cutting edge at the time) isn’t in the same league as the likes of Wallace and Gromit, but the series has been digitally cleaned up and regraded on video, so colours are strikingly vivid compared with the sorry state of the show’s previous video outings, and an enormous amount of film dirt has been removed.

As Helena and I waved goodbye to the character in the music box, sinking slowly back into the animators desk, we gathered our coats and headed for the old windmill at Heage. When we got back, we made our own bread for tea and (at her insistence) watched Camberwick Green all over again.

MOVIE: 4 out of 5
EXTRAS: 3 out of 5

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Road to Recovery

Good news from Southport.

Mum has come on in small, but measurable, bounds over the last week. She spoke on Saturday and, while she's still very much in ICU and very disorientated/uncomfortable, she is stable.

She is now on very little added oxygen and has had another operation to add a stent. Her kidneys are on the way to recovery and there's now some colour (other than yellow) in her cheeks. They even gave her a couple of mouthfulls of ice cream yesterday.

It's great to see her awake, it's a pity I had to come back. Dad and I have had very little sleep all weekend, and I'd imagine it'll be the same for him throughout this week. I'm very tired and might have to take the day off to do some catching up tomorrow...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Need Sinister in Ascii?

Cheers to Dave C for this 'nice image to b&w/colour ascii/block app' from
t.y.p.o.r.g.a.n.i.s.m : ASCII-O-Matic

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Seth McFarlane as Palpatine?

I laughed out load in the office like a tit, and everyone stared at me. Some much needed light relief, from the Robot Chicken.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Back at Pemberley

I'm back at the house after a few very sobering days.

I am writing this here so people don't keep asking me. I'm sorry, I don't want to appear rude, but I don't want to talk about what has happened in the last week and, while your kind words and thought are appreciated, I don't want to keep going over what's going on with people at work or with casual friends.

Mum is stable. Holding in there like the trooper she is. She's stronger than most people will ever know. She's not conscious, and won't be for a long time. They are keeping her heavily sedated.

They have removed most of her gall bladder. Being (as a quadruple by-pass patient) an angina sufferer, she didn't think the symptoms of
gall stones as anything too out of the ordinary until it was too late. The sepsis has badly poisoned most of her internal organs and has rendered the likes of her kidneys, useless. For a frail lady, as I recently commented, this is incredibly serious. The gall stone itself was, literally, the largest that any of the staff at Southport hospital have ever seen and something of a curiosity.

Dad and I have spent the last few days sat by her bedside, holding her hand and talking to her in the hope she gets some comfort from this in her brief moments of half consciousness. Her breathing, heart rate, dialysis, feeding and general bodily functions are all controlled by pumps, drugs and machines.

I'm home because, in the grand scheme of things, she is stable and unlikely to change until next weekend; when we are told they will probably perform a tracheotomy and raise her level of consciousness so that she is hopefully more able to breathe on her own. Small steps.

The staff and facilities at
Southport could not be better. I can't praise the nurses and doctors enough. Dad, naturally, is lost without her. He can't eat and is sleeping badly. It was his birthday today, but he hadn't even remembered 'till I mentioned it.

I'm shattered. A big thanks to Big Morris, Juno, Leslie and Captain Depper for diving in and keeping an eye on the menagerie.
Jema has been occupied in Wales, supporting her sister though her wedding, but has been a tower of strength and a massive comfort.

I've slept on a sofa all week, I need a Jamesons and some proper rest.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Serious News

As days go, this is not one of the best.

My mum was taken into hospital on the weekend, has had a very serious operation, and is now in intensive care where things are, quite literally, touch-and-go.

It's hard to write stuff for the blog when things in life happen like this. I don't want to somehow lessen the seriousness of what's been going on or how I feel by feeling obliged to type my usual rubbish.

She is very, very ill and I must be with my dad in Southport.

I probably won't be writing my blog for a while. ' Happy Star Wars Day' for tomorrow...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Fast Ball Special and Sentinels!

There's a clip on YouTube this morning, from the new X-Men movie.

It's made my week. Only 25 days to go :-)

Also, check HERE for the latest X3 TV spot, which appeared over the weekend, and did ya catch the
well funny Mags/Sentinel X-Men Minimates Dark Tide Trailer and the Sentinel-mungus X-Men: Legends - TV spot?

YouTube have also got all the X-Men Evolution stuff right now if you're interested, and shed loads of the old 80's animated.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Damn it's Eyes

So I put the new computer together today and, inevitably, it just sat their beeping at me. Oh it was all happy go lucky and smiles 'till then.

The world has come on a pace since I used to fiddle with my 486. After diagnostics and reasoning worth of the pages of Conan Doyle, it looks like the graphics card is a turkey and will have to go back.

Total soddin' waste of a deliberatly empty bank holiday; and now I'm gonna be hangin' 'round the whole of next week, when the Mrs is away, when I was going to do 'the big install'. I am well hacked off.

Thanks to Big Morris, Jon W and Choppa for all the tech support. Bloody computers.