As most of you know, Christian Bale is starring in next years newest installment of the Terminator franchise. It doesn't have a lot going for it. The previous movie was weak, the series is a child of the 80's, and the director has both Charlies Angels movies on his credit list (they were beyond awful! Sorry Brian), and it has a Rapper in it's main cast... Hmmm...
But the newest US trailer from earlier this week is frikkin' sweet!
And here's the brand new International trailer, released just yesterday. Mostly just a different edit of the same scenes, there are a small few new shots involved.
Oooh.... Don't get excited Denis! You'll only be bitterly dissapointed. Please, please, please... was that a 30 foot tall Terminator?!? Oh sweet! Frak! Wow! Awesome! I do so love my giant robotic death machines!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
As most of you know, Christian Bale is starring in next years newest installment of the Terminator franchise. It doesn't have a lot going for it. The previous movie was weak, the series is a child of the 80's, and the director has both Charlies Angels movies on his credit list (they were beyond awful! Sorry Brian), and it has a Rapper in it's main cast... Hmmm...
Not that there is any nudity or anything in the video. You don't even need any sound for it, as the comedy is all in the actions. In fact, there isn't really anything said in the video anyway. But I think you'll be hard pressed not to laugh out loud. I had tears running down my face!
Monday, December 08, 2008
Grab your shotguns! Turn up your obnoxious high pitched music! Release the flu virus across the population! But above all else, someone get Will Smith on the phone!!
The aliens are back, and this time, they're invading from the depths of our planets oceans, those clever so-and-sos.
Not a hoax, not a fake, maybe some hyperbole, lots of inaccurate assumptions on my behalf, National Geographic has the full, fact filled, non-sensationalist story, with video! But who wants that?!?
Alien-like Squid With "Elbows" Filmed at Drilling Site
Okay, so this is kinda old news by now (very old news by internet standards!), but I've been meaning to post about it for days now! Days, I tells ya!
Sunday, December 07, 2008
It's been a busy few weeks. With Christmas just around the corner, I should be decorating the house, buying Christmas presents, writing a tonnes of "Thank You" cards for all those that wished us well after our wedding (at this rate you'll get your one bundled with the "Thank You For The Baby Gift"!), organising a "Thank You" party for the friends who are waiting for their "Thank You" cards(oh yeah.... I still haven't posted the story of us getting married... hopefully I'll do that some time before 2009!), planning where to spend Christmas, deciding what to do for New Years, deciding what to do with myself in the next 12 months, and so much more.
Instead, I've been playing Xbox.
Fallout 3 has sucked up over 50 hours of my life according to the in-game clock, but that doesn't include the times I've reloaded an earlier save to redo a decision I was unhappy with, or all the time I've spent just talking about it with friends. I love how many different versions of the same events people have. "I did this and pick-pocketed him and got this!" "Really? I did this, talked to her, sneaked past him and got this!" "Wow." "That's nothing. I loaded up on shotgun shells, killed them all, and found all this!!" Stunned silence. "But... but... it was a commune of innocent old ladies..." "Bitches had bottlecaps." Awesome stuff.
I picked up Mirrors Edge cheap in a sale in town. I'm glad I did too. It's ok, but frustrating. I wish I'd started it on Easy Mode, as I have no patience for it now. I know that as soon as I get stuck in an area, I'm going to drop it and never go back to it.
In contrast, I borrowed The Force Unleashed off my brother, and started that on Easy Mode after getting sick of Fallout for a while. I thought it would be a nice diversion, running around hacking and slashing with my lightsabre, but I didn't think I'd get much value out of it. Instead, I got totally sucked into the story, pouring over each beautifully rendered cut-scene, enjoying the witty banter the Apprentice throws out, and really enjoying the game far more than I expected. I felt like I cheated myself out of some of the enjoyment by playing it on Easy. But it did mean that I got through the entire game in just a few hours, over two evenings, and got straight back into Fallout!
Thanks to Microsoft's generous offer of making online gaming free to everyone for one weekend, I also spent a lot of time playing Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 with Bob and Aidan. It was my first experience of the Live multiplayer, and we all really enjoyed it. So much so, that we're all going to start a 12 month Gold Membership within the next two weeks or so. That same weekend got me back into Burnout Paradise, and now I'm slowly pulling down the number of Wins required to get my Elite license. It sat above 100 for months, and it's now in the mid 80's... so... sometime before the Xbox 1080 is released I should have that done! Online Paradise is amazing, and loads and loads of fun either with friends I know in real life, or even just racing strangers! Crashing has never been so enjoyable.
And on top of all of those, I've been playing a little Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Tom Clancy's: EndWar. Both games are a whole lot of fun, and deserve a lot more time than I've given to them so far, but I think they're going to wait until I've wrapped up Fallout and one or two others. Claire and I have also been
enjoying playing the Xbox Arcade game Fable II Pub Games. Thankfully we don't have Fable II the game, as the town guards would be long after us at this point due to the massive debt we've accumulated! Fortunes Tower is a lot of fun, but frustrating, Spinner Box is the games own one-armed bandit, and we haven't really taken any time to learn where Keystone falls on the randomness scale. Most of our money has been won in Fortunes Tower tournaments, and lost in Fortunes Tower regular play!
Phew. I haven't played this much computer games in years. Hopefully it's just a phase, and in the New Year I can get back to being productive, doing lots of physical exercise, eating well, and writing the great Irish novel of the 21st Century.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Following last years post*;
Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up King and Parliament.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
I know what I'm watching this evening!
*- by my reconning, at this rate, another line each year, it'll take me a further 13 years to have a series of posts with the complete poem as their titles.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
In my last post I mentioned the two adventure scenarios I had worked out on the journey home from Dublin. It seems that post caught the attention of a few people, and I've been requested, much to my surprise and joy, to write a Spirit of the Century scenario for LepreCon XXX. How could I say no?
I haven't really come up with a plot yet, but discovering that the coming LepreCon is their 30th anniversary, I was suddenly hit with a lot of inspiration. Thus, so far, while I know little about the guts of the scenario as yet, I now know that it will feature the XXX Investigations (Triple-X Investigations) private detective agency, Trinity College, possibly the Library, most likely hidden demonology within the Book of Kells (have a close look at the above image) and all sorts of wacky shenanigans in 1927 Dublin.
I think it's coming along nicely, don't you...?
As well as that, I've spent a little time on the other two scenarios, and have come up with the final blurb for each of them.
Murder On The Cambrian Coast Express
Welcome aboard the 10:00 train from Aberystwyth, stopping at Borth, Dovey Junction, Machynlleth, Welshpool, Wolverhampton Low Level using the Shrewsbury Abbey Foregate curve, then on to Birmingham Snow Hill, and finally Leamington Spa, arriving at Paddington at 15:50. Sit back, relax, enjoy the company of the other passengers and prepare for a peaceful trip through pleasant English country-side, stress-free and without any incidences of ritual murder... Oh, who are we kidding. The title is a dead give-away!
The battle cruiser Space Defence Force Omega is the last line of defence against a possible attack against the planet Earth. As crew members of the S.D.F. Ω, you are invaluable to its continued smooth operation. Unfortunately, not many people understand the importance of your work as a D.O.O.S.E.R. (Daily Ordinary Operational Service Equipment Repair). Thankfully, you have Hyper TONK Simulator eX 2, the latest installment in the TONK Simulator game series for ViaSofts home console, the Z-1080G to pass the boring hours between boring shifts, blasting enemy clans with your Friends List in Clan Mechanauts. And tonight, you have a grudge match scheduled. Bring it on!
Now all I have to do is create characters, add NPCs, draw up maps where appropriate, read up on key subjects, plot a bullet point, step-by-step list of the scenarios for ease of reference by willing GMs, and put everything about the actual plots that is in my head onto an easy-to-read PDF!
Monday, October 27, 2008
Last year I mentioned how my trip to GaelCon XIX had greatly renewed my interest in gaming in general, but particularly in RPGs. Having just returned from GaelCon XX this evening, I find myself in a similar situation.
Since this time last year, I have ran a very successful campaign that lasted an astonishing 14 sessions, I've bought a lot more card games and board games, and I continue to look for ways to increase my time spent at this hobby, enjoying Monday Night Gaming, and trying to play board games with friends more often.
Now, I find myself contemplating the idea of maybe, possibly giving LARPing a chance, and stranger still, giving Vampire LARPing a chance!! That is not something I would have written, spoken or even thought three days ago, but GaelCon changes me, in ways that frighten and disgust me some times...
However, not everything is bad. On the drive home from Dublin to Cork, I wrote not one, but one-and-a-half once-off, convention-friendly RPG scenarios! How did I manage to write one-and-a-half? Simple. While the first one I came up with was entirely new, the second was a development on one of the sessions from my own Spirit of the Century campaign, so I already had that one worked out. I just spent some time tweaking it. Both are potentially for WarpCon 19, in January 2009. And both will be written using FATE 3.0, the Spirit of the Century system. Here are the blurbs, in reverse order, so the second one is my brand-new idea (subject to change):
Murder On The Orient Express
Welcome aboard the luxury trans-Europe train, the Orient Express. Sit back, relax, enjoy the company of the other passengers and prepare for a peaceful trip across Europe, stress-free and without any incidences of ritual murder... Oh, who are we kidding. The title is a dead give-away!
✔ The Space Defence Force Omega is the last line of defence against a possible attack by the evil alien forces of the (Insert name here) on the planet Earth.
✔ As crew members of the S.D.F. Ω, you are invaluable to the continued defence of Earth.
✘ After all, without you, who would fix the 32 coffee machines in the canteen, or ensure hot showers for the 3,200 ship's company.
✘ Who would unblock any of the 237 toilets on board, or crawl through miles of air vents to find a loose wire?
✔ Yes, as S.D.F. Ω engineers, you're pretty important crew...
✔ Luckily, you and your friends have clocked up over 1,000 hours of combat apiece in TONKs, the 12 meter tall elite combat mechs of the S.D.F.
✘ But only through Hyper TONK Simulator eX 2, the latest installment in the TONK Simulator game series for ViaSofts home console, the Z-1080G.
✔ But your clan, The Robo-Techs, is one of the top 10 in the game. And you have a game scheduled against your biggest rivals, Xentraidee, tonight.
Five ✔'s against three ✘'s. Life isn't all bad, right?
The first blurb is a proper, convention brochure style blurb. The second is far too long, but I just started having too much fun writing it. Sorry. And I know it's full of terrible, terrible gags, but I'll probably change all of them before the final draft. Probably.
I'm just back in Cork after a long and mostly enjoyable weekend in Dublin, at the 20th anniversary of GaelCon. Like last year, Claire and I decided to stay in Clontarf Castle for the weekend, saving us from nightly travel, and adding greatly to the sense of relaxation and time we could spend with friends. Also, we got to enjoy kick-ass all-you-can-eat breakfasts with everyone else that was staying.
As with last year, we played lots of card games and board games, but far less RPGs. I don't think any caught my attention, even enough to read beyond the title. Even Claire, who played in something for every slot last year, spent most of the Con just hanging out with friends, playing table-top, non-RPG games. That said, it was a heck of a lot of fun! Not only did we get to play games we know and love, but also lots that were new to us!
Both nights had us up late into the morning hours, chatting to the others that were staying in the castle. And there were a lot. About ten others from Cork alone, and then a bunch of gamers from all over that would be very good friends. Sunday night in particular found around 20 of us in the lobby until 3:30am, howling with laughter over some incredible stories and general shenanigans!
All in all, it was a good convention. Not as good as last year, possibly, but then, that was an extraordinarily good year! I'd say that while last year was my favourite convention so far, this year was my second favourite. We had to make our own fun a lot more this year, and that's a sentiment I've heard echoed quite a bit over the last hour before we left this afternoon. Everyone seemed to have fun, but only because they made their own.
There was one huge disappointment, though. Last year, I missed the table-quiz, which seemed like a blast, and this year, I was determined to stay for it and join in. Except this year, the GealCon Charity Table-Quiz was an unbelievable disgrace, with clear bias towards the Dublin crowd, an utterly unfair and non-sensical "bonus round" system, ridiculous rounds, an annoyingly ambivalent "odd-one-out round", and just a general lack of entertainment, apart from two, possibly three rounds.
But, you know what? We had fun. We bought some new stuff, played some new games, made some new friends, played some old games, hung out with some old friends and enjoyed every bit of that. We're definitely going next year, and definitely staying at the castle again. Far too much fun to miss!
Friday, October 17, 2008
I really, really want to go to the cinema tonight. I haven't been to anything here in Cork since before the Epic Holiday (TM)! That's a long time now. I really want to see Burn After Reading, a Coen Brothers movie that looks like classic Coen Brothers stuff, staring Brad Pitt, George Clooney and John Malkovich. I'm interested in Mutant Chronicles, even if only for the fact that it stars Thomas Jane, Ron Pearlman and, amazingly, John Malkovich! He's in two new releases in the same week!
But I also really, really don't want to die. And I am. And if I go out, I'll die faster.
You see, dear reader, I have a nasty, nasty head cold that I picked up from the lovely little kiddies I teach. My nose feels like a tap, my eyes are sore on the inside, my hearing is muffled, and my throat is sore from a constant, annoying cough I've developed. I sneeze without notice, and this has lead to several goo-filled hands. I cough and hack until I've broken the horrible sticky stuff lining my throat away, and then just keep on coughing some more.
So instead, I'm wrapped in my dressing gown, curled up with a warm cup of tea with honey, contemplating cooking a steaming hot pot of soup, checking to see if the heating is still on every ten minutes, and thinking warm thoughts.
Friday, October 10, 2008
This is going back a bit, but while we were in San Francisco on our Epic Holiday(TM) this summer, Claire, Karen and I discussed who should play Captain America on the way to the cinema one evening. Names got thrown around, and dream picks were made. Karen has the whole story over at her blog, so you should go read it there.
I bring it up again, as I spotted just now on a site called Major Spoilers that they have a poll running with the same question, and a number of very interesting choices! As the poll itself doesn't appear to have a dedicated page, and given time will most likely disappear from that link, here's a rundown on their choices:
From left to right:
Top Row: Adam Baldwin, Brad Pitt, Channing Tatum, Fred Savage, Hayden Christensen
Bottom Row: Leonardo Dicaprio, Matt Damon, Mike O'Hearn, Nathan Fillion, Thomas Jane
An interesting selection, and while there are a number there that we had mentioned in our conversation in San Francisco, such as Matt Damon, Brad Pitt and Hayden Christensen, there are a few odd choices as well.
Nathan Fillion? Erm... no. Sorry. I love him to bits, but not as Captain America. I adore Mal in Firefly, he's fantastic in Slither and Captain Hammer in Dr. Horrible was, simply put, out of this world! But he's not Captain America.
Fred Savage!?! Seriously? The kid from the Princess Bride? Kevin Arnold from The Wonder Years? Ok, sure, he's gone on to do lots more, including directing, and has developed a successful and prolific career beyond his years as a child actor. He is fantastic, and I have great respect for him, but he's not Captain America.
Thomas Jane would be cool, but he's already the Punisher. Mike O'Hearn certainly looks the part. No need for clever costume design to artificially bulk up that chest. Channing Tatum would be great, except for the small fact that he's already playing essentially the exact same character, without the Super-Soldier serum or the block of Arctic ice. Tatum has been busy filming one of my most anticipated movies of next year, GI Joe: Rise of Cobra, where he will be the all America hero soldier, Conrad S. Hauser, codename: Duke. (Aw, dammit. While getting those links I just learned that the damned release date is August!! I have to wait all bloody summer!) So he's out.
And that doesn't leave us with very many others. Personally, I would love to see Matt Damon in the roll. Brad Pitt could do it as well, and would certainly draw in a crowd of non-comic readers. But I think my number one choice to play Captain America would be...
A relative nobody. A fresh face. A young actor, suited to the roll, with the skills needed for the part. Blond hair, blue eyes, six foot plus, just like the Captain, the perfect Aryan. He wouldn't break the budget when they want to get everyone together for the Avengers movie either. Perfect!
It's worked in the past. Who knew Hugh Jackman before X-Men? While he had done lots of other things before it, how many people knew Eric Banas name before The Hulk? Superman Returns may be far from perfect, but Brandon Routh was incredible in the roll. And now that I've mentioned Superman, what about Christopher Reeve, whose IMDB.com listing starts and ends with the Man of Steel (Ok, technically Superman is fifth into the start of his career, but hands up who has seen the other four?). Or Tom Welling as Clark Kent in Smallville?
Go on Marvel. Create another superstar. Surprise all the gossipers and rumour mills. Assemble an Avenger from an actor whose name no-one knows, and make him a name the world loves.
The greatest Avenger ever.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
I was wrong. So very, very wrong. One quiet week does not a death knell make.
This week there were two tables of RPGs, one large table of non-collectible card games, one board-game table, and one small CCG table, way off in the corner, away from everyone else...
On top of all of this, I was doing nothing, as there were no free tables left, and two other people turned up with a bag of board games and fast card games, but left due to lack of space! I'm not complaining here, I'm just illustrating the fact that it was so busy, we didn't have room for everyone! Monday Night Gaming is not on the way out, just moving up! So I was wrong. I feared for the worst, and needed something to write about!
Last night, at rough guesstimate, there were:
- 8 non-collectible card gamers - Bang and Gloom
- 6 roleplayers - Dark Heresy
- 6 board gamers - AEGs Tomb
- 5 more roleplayers - something New World of Darkness
- 4 that arrived, hung around and wandered off
- 3 CCG players (Upper Decks Vrs System)
- 2 arrived to game, but too late to grab tables
- 2 GM's running RPGs
- 1 catching up with a lot of people he hadn't seen in a while - me
- Total: 38
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
In my last post I briefly mentioned Monday Night Gaming, the new weekly event for gamers in Cork. It's been running for four weeks now, and apart from missing the first one due to exhaustion (we had just gotten back to work after our Epic Holiday), Claire and I have been to all the rest. In just three weeks, we've seen numbers drop significantly, and if it continues, I don't see good things on the horizon for this fledgling event.
The first night we were there, we discussed the lack of space and tables, and I even lamented that all the big tables had already been taken. Two RPGs and one table of board games were in full swing, and there were a few people still hanging around. There was a good crowd, and Claire got into a 4th Edition DnD once-off. I managed to start up a game of The Big Idea on a spare table (it doesn't need a whole lot of space), and got five other intrepid entrepreneurs to join me, resulting in mayhem and hilarity! A quick game of SET after that, and the night came to a close. All in all, great time, great games, great company.
Second night, we arrived a little earlier and got caught up chatting about our holiday and the wedding with a few people that we hadn't seen up to then. Claire got in on a DnD game under the 3.5 rules, and I introduced four players to the madness that is a game of Until We Sink. Once again, we wrapped up the last bit of free time with a game of SET, which almost drove everyone over the edge. The attendance was good, with a few new people, but a few missing faces from the first night as well. Despite this, the room was lively and energetic, we played some great games, and fun was had by all.
This week was much quieter. Two RPGs started up, Mage and DnD 3.5. I looked around the room, and realised I was standing by myself. Thankfully, just as I was about to start up my DS, I spotted someone else not playing in either RPG and challenged him to a card game, which he happily accepted. In no time at all, our two player game of Infernal Contraption was a four player game with two others watching with interest. Once finished (I lost), we even got in a second game with one new player (I won! Yippee!). And, once again, we ended the night with a game of SET*. I think that's becoming a requirement of my night now! How bad?!? I love the game!
So it's still fun for those that turn up, but the numbers are dwindling. What's happening? I think that there is a bit of a settling in period, as numbers shift around while new people come to see what it's all about, and others decide that this isn't for them. That's fine. Nothing wrong there. Apathy is a big factor. Lots of people don't care. We've spent ages complaining about the fact that there is no good place to go gaming, and now that there is, we couldn't be bothered. Believe me, I know this one first hand. I spent weeks rounding people up for my original Spirit of the Century game, offering places to people I really thought would enjoy it, but very few were actually interested in making an effort to attend (honestly, I got very lucky with my final group). I'm not complaining here, just making a point. I know there are tonnes of things I'd love to do, but just can't build up the interest to pursue right now (NextWave customs anyone?). Dammit... I had more. I got stuck on apathy though... Ah. Who cares?
The other big challenge for the group is it's reliance on a small number of core members to run stuff, and the effects of upcoming external events. Brian Caball has been successfully running RPGs every night we've attended, but he's not going to be there next Monday, due to an army of miniature commitments he has had painted into the schedule for months. GaelCon is swiftly approaching, and I doubt many that make the trek to Dublin will be interested in dragging their exhausted husks into gaming the night they get back! Hits like this could weaken the still young gaming night, and if it can't stand by itself before Christmas rolls around, it may not survive into the New Year.
Monday Night Gaming has been a lot of fun so far, and I for one would hate to see it go. It's been a great opportunity to game with people outside my usual group, as well as share the love of some games I know aren't available in Cork with the Cork gamers. I'll be trying my best to continue showing up, bringing along a few fun card games, or an RPG now and again.
That's if I can be bothered to write one, of course!
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Ever since I got back to Cork I've been itching to run a new RPG, using the Spirit of the Century Fate 3.0 system. My last game was a huge success, of completely unexpected levels, filled with action, combat, danger (sorta), guest stars, a growing core cast, and generally a good time for all involved. It was the very first campaign I ran that lasted more than three sessions, and by the time we got to the wrap-up, we had put in 14 episodes, which is the Fox equivalent of a great first season!
With the upcoming release of Starblazer Adventures from Cubicle 7, Brian Caball putting me on to the 1990's setting Torg, my good friend Gar's Traveller available from Mongoose, the brand new Flash Gordon comics from Ardden Entertainment, and the recently started Monday Night Gaming here in Cork, I have tonnes of inspiration, adventure ideas, story arc seeds, characters and more to play with, all swimming around in my head, all battling for center stage.
In fact, I have so much stuff, I actually have three RPG's in various stages of development. I just like the setting of Torg, but haven't come up with much of a campaign concept yet. I really, really want to run an idea I have for a deep space Traveller/ Starblazers/ Spirit of the Far Future campaign but need to flesh out a few opening adventures before I'm happy with it yet, and finally, I have my most prized campaign seed, which, I have to unfortunately admit, Brian Caball inspired/ fully created!
This third one is the campaign I most want to run right now. It's also the one I have most ideas for already, and have started detailed research on. I like my games to be fast and easy, without the requirements of too much specialised knowledge on any areas, but at the same time, I like having hard facts upon which to hang my crazy adventure story.
So off to Wikipedia I went, and there I got lost. Thankfully, I was not alone in the depths of information overload; my wife* Claire was along for the adventure, clicking links on her laptop behind me, and passing back and forth interesting facts that caught our attention. If you have ever spent time on Wikipedia, you know this story already: you search for a subject, while reading that you click on an interesting link, repeat several times until you've forgotten where you started or you're reading an article on wet t-shirt competitions.
In our case, we started researching the origin of one of the English names for this chunk or rock we live on, Earth. From there, we got on to the etymology of the word Earth**, but not really being certain of the spelling of that term (I always pronounced eN-tim-ology, which is closer to a very different area of study), I wikied "origin of words", and discovered this interesting page as the third link! The list includes the obvious, such as banshee, as well as a few that surprised me, such as phoney, slob and Tory! And you'll be surprised where the word kibosh originates from!
I love tangential learning. Leaning things that you have an interest in is so much easier than being force to learning something that you might consider boring. I guess that's why I love to research facts for RPGs. It gives me the chance to learn about so many things that I otherwise might never have looked at. And, in a weeks time, in a months time, even in a years time, I'll still remember these facts. I'll still know who the various religions and cultures that worshipped Mars are, and the names they all gave it. I'll still know where the word galore comes from (it's obvious if you think about it as an Irish phrase).
Thankfully, I don't have to explain anything about the concept of tangential learning, or why it's valuable, not only in RPGs, but for books, comics and computer games. Daniel Floyd, with the assistance of James Portnow, has created a short video explaining the benefits of this method of learning. Click play below, and hopefully you'll learn something along the way.***
Via Rock, Paper, Shotgun; via Edge Online
*- I really need to actually add the post about all that to the blog at some point! If there is anyone out there reading this that hasn't heard that I'm now a married man, I'll try to post something soon!
**- Turns out, no-one knows!! Hah!
***- See what I did there? Yeah. I hate me too...
Thursday, September 18, 2008
As most of you know, we've actually been back in Cork now for two weeks, so this is a very late post! In fact, the only reason you're getting it at all was because I'm sitting here waiting for the DownLoadable Content (DLC) for Burnout Paradise to finish downloading so I can crash some motorbikes! The Mercenaries 2 and Fracture demos are up as well, and they're queued right after the Burnout DLC.
Oop! There's the bing. I'm outta here already. More updates, with actual content, soon!
Edit: AAAAAAAHHHHH!! Through no fault of anyones, my copy of Burnout is in a friends house still after the holiday. Am I upset? Heh. No. Not really. I find it kinda funny, actually. I've been to his place since we got back, he's been to mine as well. It just never came up. I guarantee that he hasn't even played it much in the last few weeks. Oh well. Bikes tomorrow. Blogging now.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
So despite my distinct lack of posts during our visit to this fine city, after a packed ten days of fun and games, including an incredible weekend at PAX, tomorrow morning around noon we're leaving on a jet plane, not knowing when we'll be back again... hey. That's catchy. I should use it as the basis for a song or something....
Seattle has been incredible. We have so much to post about when we get home and have nothing to do in the evening. I'll be writing blog posts about our Epic Holiday for the next year!! Well, hopefully not.
But we did get to eat in the revolving restaurant at the top of the Space Needle. We got to see the Sci-Fi Museum and the Experience Music Center. We shopped in the Pike Place Markets and Pioneer Square. We ate in tonnes of great places, with a world of different styles, from French baguettes, to Thai noodles, to Italian pizza.
And we got countless amounts of free swag at PAX.
However, after six whole weeks in the US, filled to bursting with stunning experiences that just "couldn't get any better", and then did, we are coming home. I'll miss this crazy, messed up, amazing, sunny, warm place.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I just found a few muppet videos that are worth sharing with all of you! It seems that the Henson Company very recently (July '08) went and did a few videos featuring the muppets for YouTube! Nice.
"The Blue Danube Waltz" by Gonzo and the Perfectly Pitched Poultry
"Ode To Joy" by Beaker
"Habanera" by Swedish Chef and Beaker, with the assistance of Animal
"Stars & Stripes FOREVER!" by Sam The Eagle and Company
All of the above have a short piece with Statler and Waldorf at the end, but everyones favourite hecklers get four of their own short videos as well, including the one embedded above.
And of course, no Muppet show would be complete without some bloopers, so here's one of the best.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Our first day in Seattle went well. Cian brought Claire and myself down into the heart of the city and through the market area. We wandered and shopped, bought more trinkets, more junk, more stuff.
But we stayed indoors as much as possible. This is because it was raining. Lots.
When we did decide to wander home, we got soaked. As soon as we hit the apartment, we changed clothes and made a fresh pot of tea. Just like being home.
So, in closing; thank you Seattle.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
We arrived late last night into the city of Seattle. Getting here was a bit of an adventure. Originally we planned on booking the train, but that turned out to be rather expensive, at $360 for the both of us. Plus, the trip was going to be 22 hours long! Not something either of us really wanted to look forward to. So we tried some alternatives. Renting a car in San Francisco and dropping it back in Seattle was going to be $360 as well, plus the cost of gas on top of that. And it would mean driving for 12 hours for Claire, again, not an ideal situation. The bus was a 20 hour journey, was cheaper, but we'd be stuck in our seat for the whole time.
And then Claire, being the genius that she is, checked out the obvious alternative.
Thanks to the simply wonderful Alaska Airlines, we flew San Francisco to Seattle in under three hours, had comfy seating, loads of leg room, free beverages and snacks, excellent staff, spectacular views and an all-round pleasant and relaxing trip north.
Leaving San Francisco was tough. Leaving San Diego was tough, but we were heading to Vegas in a Corvette, so that lessened the impact some-what! Leaving Vegas wasn't too bad. It had been fun, but we had another long drive in the Corvette to look forward to, and far more importantly, we were on our way to Karen's! But leaving San Francisco... leaving Karen and her friends that we met. Leaving a great city, packed with places we had yet to see. That was tough.
But now we're with Cian in Seattle! We have time to explore yet another new city, and have PAX to look forward to! We have a good length of time left in our Epic Holiday(TM). But we are also in the closing stretch, heading for home.
And even with six weeks here, home has come too early.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Here's the problem. Most of my regular readers, of which there are but a handful to begin with, are Irish. This movie will not be getting an Irish cinema general release. It's a straight-to-DVD-er. How do I guess as much?? Because I've seen it. It was in a tiny cinema on it's opening night because no-one else was screening it, but I've seen it. And, boy! Are you gonna be missing something special!!
The trailer has everything you need to know about this movie. Big guns, ridiculous explosions between cars, a threadbare plot (at best), and Jason Statham. That's it. Expect more, and be bitterly disappointed. Expect this, and it's awesome. Even more awesome is the trailer for yet another Statham movie right at the start! You can't get enough of that wonderful actor.
Death Race, for those who do not know, is a remake of a 1975 movie, Death Race 2000 produced by Roger Corman. The Roger Corman. Which Roger Corman?? This one. Unbelievably, he serves as producer on the remake as well!!
All that aside, Death Race is awesome. I can't stop saying that. Because it is! It just is. So much violence. So much death. So much fun.
Edit: Oh boy!! Not only do I suspect that this might have a slim chance of getting into Irish cinemas (if it shows up near you, go see it!), but I just discovered Tom Cruise was a producer as well! Tom and Roger. Nice.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
One of the very, very cool things that was happening during our trip to San Francisco was a zombie mob. Karen asked if we were interested in going, and of course, we jumped at the chance. This is one of those things that we've heard about before, but never thought we'd get to see ourselves. Things like this don't happen in Ireland.
Unfortunately, we had no idea just how awesome it was going to be, and being cautious, when Karen asked if we wanted to dress up for it, we decided not to, instead just going along to observe. Knowing what I know now, I really wish I'd worn old clothes and duct tape.
Instead, realising how much fun this was, I started to make my own fun, and ensure I stayed in the middle of the mob. I began to film little reports using my digital camera, along with taking a bunch of photographs. These can be now found on my YouTube page and Flickr page, respectively. The videos need editing together and cleaning up somewhat, but for now, they are available raw. Better than nothing, right?
Check out EatBrains.Com for more about this extraordinary event.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Driving the Space Shuttle, by Claire Ryan
I expect the first thing I'll be asked when we get home is "What was it like to drive the Corvette?" Well, as I am ever ready to anticipate the needs of my fans, I've asked Denis to let me do a guest post all about it.
The Corvette is about 12 feet long and barely comes up to my waist. It has only two bucket seats and a small, limited space just behind that serves as the boot - this is not a vehicle for serious touring, unless you fancy doing it at 200mph and you're traveling light. It's an automatic, naturally, and has a sport mode for extra acceleration. The air conditioning and satnav are essentials in America, this being the land of blistering heat and an Escher-esque road system. Everything in this car is either adjustable or motorised, which was pretty cool; I especially liked the little switch that moved the seats forward and back. On the outside, it's yellow with a black racing stripe, has four exhausts, and looks like it's about to take off at any moment.
So - there is a single button to start the engine. Press it, and you are rewarded with a growl like a mildly annoyed Siberian tiger.
I am not kidding. Go annoy a Siberian tiger, record the sound, and compare it to a Corvette.
But what is it like to drive? The answer is simple - it's like driving a $60,000 sports car that can get from zero to sixty in the time it takes me to blow my nose. All comparisons break down. You might as well ask what it's like to drive the Space Shuttle - there's nothing like them and we don't have any in Ireland anyway. But if I must try to describe it... it's an amazingly smooth ride, more like you're flying instead of driving. In sport mode, the acceleration and response is nothing short of terrifying - I haven't tested it, but I'm sure I could make it turn on a dime. Even when you're just cruising along a street, the power of the V8 engine is scary. It feels like it's just waiting to take off like a rocket, and only your foot on the pedals are holding it back. I did not once put my foot all the way down; this car is a beast, and you do not want to just let it go.
That said, I did get up to some serious speed on the freeway - and that's when you can really appreciate the price tag of this thing. Get to sixty, seventy miles an hour and it just purrs away, but push it up over a hundred... You'll feel the big V8 suddenly shift to sixth, and be rewarded with a sudden surge of acceleration that'll carry you up to a hundred and twenty and beyond. The first time I did it was just pure gold - I remember laughing like an idiot, it was so incredible. And it roars like nothing on earth.
Having the opportunity to drive this car has been one of the best and easily the most terrifying experience of this trip. By this stage, I expect that Denis has put up that video of the first few moments of my driving the Corvette (I haven't, but it's coming- Ed.), which should give you some insight of how it feels to sit behind the wheel of such a car. The power and style of this machine is beyond anything I have ever driven; no car in Ireland will ever measure up to it, which leaves me in the unfortunate position of having to save all my pennies and possibly changing the motor laws so I can get one imported.
If you're planning to rent a vehicle in America anytime soon, go to the nearest Hertz place and just pay whatever they ask for this car. It's worth every second of pure awesomeness that you will spend behind the wheel.
Well, after driving for six hours from Vegas to San Diego, then taking a combination of bus and train all the way to Oakland, we've arrived at the next leg of our journey, Oakland and San Francisco city.
We had two full days enjoying the city, as well as enjoying two days doing stuff with Karen and her friends, and I already have loads of stuff to write about. Of course, I also have more to write about from San Diego and Vegas, though most of you probably already know the big news out of Vegas. So there's so much to write, and so little time to do it.
Plus, I've been uploading photos from San Diego, which takes a lot of time. I'm still not through the SDCC sets!
More to come soon.
Monday, August 04, 2008
I still have lots to say about San Diego, but our time here is nearly up. I still need to blog about the zoo and SeaWorld, both of which as ace attractions, and reason enough for visiting San Diego.
But tomorrow we hire our rent-a-car and head out into the scorching desert sun, toward the jewel of the Nevada desert, Las Vegas. We'll be spending four nights sweating buckets in our hotel room by day, and then out and about on the Strip, still sweating buckets. Vegas at night is, by all accounts, no cooler than Vegas by day.
I think our hotel has free wifi as well, so we should have no problem sending mails and updating bogs. I might even get some time during the day to write the longer blogs that the zoo and SeaWorld require.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
While walking or shopping in San Diego, Claire and I noticed a few things that Americans do differently to the Irish.
- Pharmacies not only sell all the stuff our chemist sells, but also groceries and, wait for it... alcohol!! Seriously. A full section devoted to it. Weird!
- You can continue driving through a red light as long as you are turning right, and the way is clear.
- The bus and tram system is spotlessly clean! No-one litters or defaces the seats. Nice. And they are generally bang on time. Also, the tram system is called trolleys here.
- Starbucks coffee is yummy, but their tea is not.
- While most "Irish" pubs are hilarious, The Field on 5th Street is actually ok! It has a great "Ulster Breakfast", which consists of egg, scrambled or fried, rashers, sausage, pudding, roaster potato, Heinz beans and tomato, though I asked for no tomato. And it has ok tea as well! Not bad.
- San Diego people love their sushi. I wish Cork people did as well, but I understand the difference between fresh caught fish in beautiful Mission Bay, and fresh caught fish in Cork harbor. Euck!
- Toilet bowels are full of water and empty when you flush.
- They use a weird powder called creamer in tea and coffee instead of milk far too often!!
- They put all sorts of wierd stuff on pretzles, including mustard!!
After Mummy 2, I thought the franchise was dead. I really disliked the over-use of CGI effects, particularly during the final scenes versus the Scorpion King. I still can't understand why they didn't do an awesome fight between Brendan Fraiser and The Rock! That would have been cheaper to do than the atrocious fight we got instead.
But the trailer for the new installment, M3:TofDE, actually looked very, very interesting. It had action, humour, cool effects, a neat twist on the concept, a great cast and what appeared to be an interesting plot.
The opening 30 minutes are very boring. A good chunk of this is Rick O'Connell and the new chick playing Evey, who I really dislike, just being boring and very not funny in a "look how funny we are" kinda way. They make an awful joke at the start regarding the change in actress for Evey, and it went downhill fast from there for her. She delivered many of her lines with little flair, and seemed uncomfortable in the role. I really liked how Rachel Weisz managed to play the rough and tough, clumsy damsel, and make it enjoyable to watch. I was really hoping that this new Evie would be used as an example of how bad-ass the Emperor was and get killed. Early. On screen. With no chance for return. I would actually have preferred if Evey's character had not appeared in the movie at all, instead explaining her absence with a signing tour for her new book, or something. Her character did little in the movie to justify her presence anyway!!
But once Jet Li was brought back, things got exciting! The action kicked the movie into high gear, and it was a lot of fun. True, there were still far too many cringe-worthy, soppy moments, and it did get silly a few times. And once again, the CGI was in far too great a supply, but thus is the difficulty of bigger budgets. And the snow in the scenes in the Himalayas was terribly fake looking, particularly if anyone had to run through it, or step in it, or just interact in any way with it. It was clearly a non-sticky, non-melting, non-liquid based powdery stuff. And baddies were, while not quite immortal, ridiculously difficult to kill!
But despite all this, over-all, not a bad movie. It really was fun. I laughed out loud at a few scenes, and it was sufficiently pulp. I won't be rushing out to buy the DVD, and I might even recommend people to wait and watch it on DVD. Mummy 3: Rise of the Dragon Emperor is better than the previous movie in the trilogy, but not as good as the first one, and better than Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but still not as good as the trailer suggests. Pity. And there are just a few changes that could have made it much better! But that's a story for another time, as it requires talking about plot details and the finale.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
I've mentioned that we went to a baseball game twice now, but haven't actually talked about it. You might be thinking that that is because we didn't have a good time, but you would be wrong.
After arriving at USA Hostel, we discovered that the Monday night event was to go see the home baseball team, the Padres, playing in the local statium, Petco Park. So Claire and I signed up, and tagged along with 11 others from the Hostel, including some staff, to enjoy the game. The Padres were playing against the Arizona Dimondbacks, and so far, their season has been pretty poor, according to those that knew anything about the game.
We all had a blast! The group was sitting across two rows, covering six in one row, and seven directly behnd them, so we were all close together, having a god laugh. The game started slow, but we got to see a few homeruns, the bases were loaded twice and, in the end, the Padres won! This caused a lot of excitement, and really added to a great night.
But more than just the game, we had a lot of fun. I got asked to warn the guy sitting in front of me when I was about to make a smart comment, as my "Put him down like a $10 hooker" comment almost caused him to spray a mouthful of beer on the row in front of him.
And July was $1 coke and hotdogs!! So Claire and I had ourselves a feast for four bucks!
We experienced the "7th Inning Stretch", where everyone gets upand stretches and dances to "Shake It up, Baby". We threw ourselves about for the "Dance For The Cam" in an attempt to get on the JumboTron. We hurled (mock) insults at the opposing team, and cheered on a great game from the home side. In general, we had an incedible night!
Claire and I bought Padres shirts today (expensive, but worth it!), and plan on going to the game either Friday, when the old mascot, the chicken makes a long awaited return, or Saturday for free t-shirts!! Not sure which we want more. Which would you guys go to?
First thing we did Monday morning after SDCC was move accommodation to the USA Hostel on 5th Street. That's where we started meeting new people and got to see our first ever baseball game, which was great.
But before that, we went out shopping! This pretty much consisted of heading out to an escher-esk mall near the hostel, Horton Plaza. It's really worth seeing. Stairs and escalators criss-crossing each other, needing to go up to get down, seeing places you want to get to across the plaza, but not immediately seeing how to get to them, all sorts of crazy! But there are, like most American malls I imagine, a lot to see and do within it's boundaries, which covers the best part of two whole blocks.
In fact, it's pretty crazy. There was a Panda Express and Panda Restaurant, and two GameStops that I could see! Panda, by the way is a chain of Chinese food places, and the restaurant in Horton Plaza is really nice, with great, friendly staff.
Anyway, we spent a while shopping and eating. I picked up some nice t-shirts in Hot Topic, a store I've heard about many times, but never seen. Claire spent some time in Macy's. But generally, we just hung around and wasted time until we headed back to the hostel, where we ended up meeting three Irish guys, and joining a group for a baseball game!
*Although the image accompanying this post shows me drinking coffee, it is taken inside Horton Plaza, thus the relevance! It is also the first cup of Starbucks I ever drank. A moment worth capturing... sorta...
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
There really isn't much point in trying to describe what an amazing time we had at Comic Con International, San Diego, 2008. It's difficult to describe, and would take far too long to type. Besides, most of the stories will go up on my Flickr account as the photos go up. When it comes to the guests and people lining places like Artists Alley, lets just leave it at "Incredible, unbelievable, nice, friendly and warm" and move on. They'll get their time in the spotlight as the photos go up.
Instead, I want to talk about our fellow attendees. Over the course of the four days we met literally hundreds of people, either at the con, or on the trolly's or buses to and from the event. All of them were amazing, nice people who shared our enjoyment of the weekend and loved to exchange stories and tips with others. We had a lovely time meeting them all, and if any of them happen to ever find this blog, Claire and I want to thank them.
I especially liked meeting Daniel and his family, who we bumped into not once, but an unbelievable three times over two days! In an event with 125,000 attendees, this was astonishing. We also had a great time talking to Ryan and Taleya at the Adult Swim party. We were sharing a table, and ended up sharing some really great moments. Plus, it turns out that Ryan is a sculptor, and will be working for Hasbro in the near future! How awesome is that?!?
Beyond that, there are just far too many to name that we met on buses and trolleys, or indeed, while queuing for stuff. We spent over an hour chatting to various people while in line to meet Hideo Kojima, and while meeting him was cool, meeting those fellow con attendees was actually far cooler. We got chatting with people from all over the world, including a large group from Ireland that were working at the con as event staff. We met a great person on the way in to the con on the first morning that walked us to the door and gave us loads of tips and recommendations. She was so incredibly helpful, and we can't thank her enough for helping two very lost looking Irish holiday-ers. Or the couple from New York that we got talking to on the way back from the con on Saturday, only to realise they were getting off at the same stop, then discovering they were staying in the same hotel, and they were in 206, while we had 207!! And the nice person on the bus on Sunday morning that took us to a Borders to buy me a new sketch book. She was great fun, and Claire and her swapped email address'. Also, she recognised my Jamie Madrox Multiple Man t-shirt, so that was cool!!
And then today we arrived in USA Hostel and ended up in a room with two guys from Dublin, Gary and Niall!! We ended up going to a baseball game with a big group from the hostel and having a great night!! I only wish we could have spent more time in the hostel during the con, but we have six more days ahead of us to meet and make new friends.
Looking good so far!
Monday, July 28, 2008
This is just a bit too close to fiction to be fact, but you never know:
Warp Drive Engine Would Travel Faster Than Light
It is possible to travel faster than light. You just wouldn't travel faster than light.
Seems strange, but by manipulating extra dimensions with astronomical amounts of energy, two Baylor University physicists have outlined how a faster-than-light engine, or warp drive, could be created that would bend but not break the laws of physics.
"We think we can create an effective warp drive, based on general relatively and string theory," said Gerald Cleaver, coauthor of the paper that recently appeared on the preprint server ArXiv.org
The warp engine is based on a design first proposed in1994 by Michael Alcubierre. The Alcubierre drive, as it's known, involves expanding the fabric of space behind a ship into a bubble and shrinking space-time in front of the ship. The ship would rest in between the expanding and shrinking space-time, essentially surfing down the side of the bubble.
The tricky part is that the ship wouldn't actually move; space itself would move underneath the stationary spacecraft. A beam of light next to the ship would still zoom away, same as it always does, but a beam of light far from the ship would be left behind.
That means that the ship would arrive at its destination faster than a beam of light traveling the same distance, but without violating Einstein's relativity, which says that it would take an infinite amount of energy to accelerate an object with mass to the speed of light, since the ship itself isn't actually moving.
Read more at the Discovery Channel new site:
One of the big events we booked months in advance was Video Games Live, a full symphony orchestra and choir playing video game music. Because we booked and paid for the tickets well in advance, I splashed out and got the best tickets available, which turned out to be pretty damned good!! Front row, dead centre! We got dinner served, and free drinks! Amazing.
But nothing on the music itself. This trip has been incredible already for Claire and I, and it seems that there is some greater force ensuring things just... work out in our favour. We spend all Thursday meeting the nicest people, getting amazing sketches, spending real time talking to people I only ever dreamed of meeting before, and then, Thursday evening, VGL seemed to choose it's pieces and guests only for Claire and I.
Here's how te night went:
- Opening Medley
- Metal Gear Solid- Incredible! An amazing piece to kick the show off with! And everyone loved the guard and box wandering around on-stage. The box stayed on=stage for the whole piece, and the following one, before revealing VGL creator Tommy Tallarico, who joked that he was the only one short enough to fit inside!
- Metroid Medley- They covered the entire series, but got the biggest reaction to the Super Metroid piece.
- Civilisation IV- Beautiful and powerful.
- Tron- Got a huge reaction! Great piece.
- Legend of Zelda Medley- as with Metroid, they covered the entire series, but as soon as Ocarina of Time appeared onscreen, the crowd went wild! This was introduced via recorded video by the original composer of the Mario and Zelda themes, Koji Kondo.
- Kingdom Hearts- I was blown away! Disney kindly allowed the video playing to use the cartoon footage instead of game footage. It was spectacular.
- World of WarCraft- Seriously. Playing just for us! Claire nearly died. And they had the original composers on-stage... who we knew we could meet later, as we had back-stage passes! You can only image how Claire felt about this.
- StarCraft II- The perfect follow-up to the WarCraft stuff. They played a new piece, introduced by it's composer, as well as playing the piece used in the trailer, while the trailer played! Nice. I loved this one.
- Super Mario Brothers Medley- This started with Martin Leung playing the Mario Brothers theme on piano, blindfolded!! Awe-inspiring stuff.
- Guitar Hero Competition- Before the show there had been a Guitar Hero competition, and the winner was brought up on stage to play Sweet Emotion on the game, with the symphony backing him, and Tommy Tallarico on guitar assisting. It was incredible. The guy was amazing, and when we met him back-stage later, he told us that he doesn't own Guitar Hero, and had never played Sweet Emotion before! Regardless, he managed to play it on Expert, and score over 200,000 points, winning a tonne of stuff!
- Halo- The crowd went ballistic! Everyone loved this. A girl in Cortana costume came on-stage to do some of the voice bits, and they played my favourite Halo piece, the teaser for Halo 3. As the piece ended and Cortana said "This is the way the world ends", Master Chief arrived on-stage!
- Final Fantasy VII: Sephiroths Theme- Halo was the final piece, with this standing as the encore. Once again, the choir blew everyone away with the power and beauty.
- Castlevania- I don't know if they always do a two song encore, but they did for us, wrapping up the night with this. What a way to end!
But it wasn't the end for Claire and I. We got to then head back to the VIP Area and meet Jason Hayes, composer of World of WarCraft, Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall themselves, Martin Leung, and some of the special guests, including the girl dressed as Cortana! We also talked to the guy that played Guitar Hero, who was visibly shaking still, some 30 minutes after his performance! Nice guy. And, we got to meet Dee Baker!! He had been up on-stage earlier and did a live voicing of the monster for Gears of War, the blind one that you have to orbital strike. He voiced it in-game, and recreated and matched the scenes as the game played! But more importantly for us, he voiced Appa and Momo in Avatar: The Last Airbender, and it was a real honor and pleasure to meet and talk to him. While wandering the VIP area, we even got a copy of the just released Video Games Live CD!! Woo!!
After all that, we grabbed a taxi and headed home. This was our first day at SCDD, and we thought it couldn't get any better. We were wrong. So very, very wrong.