2,000 hamsters can't be wrong.

11 June 2013

Am I Psychic? 

I don't know, maybe I can make things come back to life or something? After mentioning Final Fantasy Versus XIII (or FFXIII Versus, as I called it) yesterday and how it had just slunk away somewhere without anyone knowing where it had gone, Sony declared in their presentation at E3 only hours later that they had rebranded it as Final Fantasy XV and that it would definitely be released. So, what can we bring back next? The first thing that springs to mind is Firefly. Come on, browncoats! We can do it!

Today marks the centennial of Norway being the first independent country in the world to introduce universal suffrage. And at the same time, Feminist Frequency get this crap to deal with (AKA "a list of very insecure men").

Well, someone who isn't afraid to be a female gamer is Felicia Day, here with Ryon Day, who's not afraid to be Felicia Day's brother, playing Sonic 2:

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10 June 2013

E3 2013 Has Begun! And We're All SOOO Excited! 

Hi. Yep, it's back. E3. The show for us gamers where we get to drool over upcoming titles. Some of them turn out to be delayed by forever, though (I am looking at you, The Last Guardian and Final Fantasy XIII Versus!). Today's seen the Apple, Microsoft and EA showcases, and Sony's is coming up (I'll be asleep by then, probably dreaming about Plants versus Zombies: Garden Warfare).

Now, I didn't watch the Apple one, because...you know...work. And going home from work. Microsoft's I couldn't care less about, since I've never been an Xbox fan and it doesn't seem likely I'll be one in the next five or six years, either. That Xbox One thing? Looks pretty uninteresting. Like a very expensive DVR, with really expensive games, no way to play your old games, and it has to be online once a day as a minimum. Bull to that! I'll just wait for the PC versions of their games (hey, they're Microsoft, of course even the "exclusives" will end up on the PC eventually). Lately I've started buying PC versions of PS3 games I already own because I tend not to remember I have the PS3 anyway, and every time I turn it on, it has to download an update or two.

The EA showcase, however, I had to watch. Well, ok, I paused it as it started, then went into the sitting room for the weekly viewing of Vicious, which is a lot of fun and which I hope will return for a second series (by the way! The excellent Plebs will be back! Read all about it!). Or at least give Penelope her own spin-off. Maybe a Penelope and Mildred Christmas special? So, anyway, back to the gaming. There was more from EA Sports (boring!), some announcement about Star Wars Battlefront which received applause, a cool demonstration of Need for Speed Rivals (guys, I love these new racing games because they look a-maz-ing, but to be absolutely honest, my favourite is still Need for Speed Underground because of the customisation options and that it's the only NFS game where I've (more or less) aced drifting), a sneak peek of Dragon Age Inquisition (coming in the autumn of 2014), a cool demonstration of a 64-player Battlefield 4 mission (with "Commander" mode)--they're going to show a live-stream of it throughout the E3, btw--and apparently there's a new Mirror's Edge coming. At some point. "When it's ready".

Oh, and they brought on Aaron Paul because he's in the new Need for Speed film. Having binge-watched Breaking Bad lately--and I really mean binge-watched; I watched the whole thing in less than a week--this was an added bonus for me.

So far on E3 I've seen one female developer. And three female game characters. Feminist Frequency and I are pretty angry. Maybe tomorrow?


The Bangles - Going Down To Liverpool 

I'm basically just sharing this because of Leonard Nimoy doing his thing.

09 June 2013

Prism (AKA "1984") 

This whole Prism thing is very interesting. Mostly because Americans have been incredibly scared of communism and fascism for so long all the while living in a corrupt Orwellian society. But hey, it's the goddamn best country in the world, right?

Honestly, I'm not surprised by this at all. Call it cynicism, call it feeling defeated. After all, we Europeans have no rights when it comes to what the US deems necessary to "stamp out terrorism"; it may appear that they just make up new laws as they go along, and we have no vote on the matter.

And this just in: Edward Snowden, on why he is now in hiding in Hong Kong.

One day soon Minority Report will become the norm, you know.


08 June 2013

Saturday Round-up of Curiosities 

In Seattle, a 65-year-old is conducting an experiment into whether we can live only on light and air; because we're plants, right? Spoiler: we can't. Actually, she might die. Voyeurism to the extreme?

I think we all need to see something a bit more upbeat after that. How about a mash-up of TV themes and intros?

If TV Shows Had Different Theme Songs - watch more funny videos

Or maybe you'd just like to see something which is guaranteed to calm you down? (After watching that video, you may automatically have been mentally transported back to last week's episode of Game of Thrones and felt upset...)

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Pinter! In the West End! 

Thursday night we went to Trafalgar Studios to see The Hothouse by Harold Pinter. The pace was impressive and the set design well-done, definitely in line with the time period during which this play was written. Written, but not staged. Turns out Pinter didn't feel comfortable with it being set up until 21 years had passed, so the first production took place in 1979.

I had gone in there with no prejudice and no expectations other than that we were about to see a great cast in action. The marketing led me to believe this was a play starring only two people, but in these days of commercial theatre they always market whatever stars they can muster; in this case Simon Russell Beale and John Simm. Geeks will be pleased to know that out of the seven-strong cast, there were three Doctor Who guest actors and one from the Harry Potter films (and, as an added bonus just for my friend and I, we were sitting right behind no less than River Song herself). Having no knowledge of the play, I didn't know whether it was supposed to be a comedy or a drama. I soon got that question answered, when the first laughs spread across the auditorium. I would call it an uneasy comedy, though; torture is most definitely a dark subject matter to make funny, but the acting and directing were superb and the comedy timing so good that you wouldn't be able to stay straight-faced for long even if you wanted to. The sound and lighting designs were excellent; on more than one occasion did they make us jump in our seats.

Now to the tastiest morsel of the lot. During the Q&A after the show (arranged by Whatsonstage in this case, but there are going to be several Q&A sessions throughout the run), we learnt something very interesting about Pinter. Jamie Lloyd, the director, had been working with Pinter himself on a few occasions and had actually been discussing the infamous "Pinter pause" with him, about which the playwright said "bollocks to the pause". It turns out that one of his most treasured/revered/fear-inducing trademarks came to life out of necessity. When Pinter was young, he would appear in repertory theatre, and to make it easier for everyone to learn the text quickly he clearly marked pauses in the script. Basically, they're not really needed and he never meant them to be that profound, either. In the current production of The Hothouse, they've managed to cut down the running time by as much as 45 minutes, partly because of the frantic pace in many places (it does sound a bit like radio dramas from the 40s and 50s), partly because they got rid of many of the Pinter pauses. Personally, I think that information is worthy of a mention on QI, don't you?

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28 May 2013

John de Lancie - because why not? (playlist) 

Because it had to pop up at some point. 32 hours of de Lancie loveliness; something for trekkers, bronies and general geeks. I spent about five hours setting this up. Hoovering is a waste of time, anyway.

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10 May 2013

The Sci-Fi Adventure Continues 

Funny, isn't it, how the last post I published on here happened to be about Star Trek: The Next Generation, and half a year later I get this urge to post about that show again. Why? Just my latest obsession. Q, of course. I believe I mentioned him last time. I finished ST: TNG last week and I found the ending to be a good wrap-up (at least it got a proper ending, as opposed to so many US shows). What I found the most surprising about the whole series was that the writing was very good throughout, and the series improved a lot once the second series was under way and the characters had been established. Imagine if it hadn't been in first-run syndication; the network would probably have cancelled the series halfway through the first series.

The show was made even better by the inclusion of Q, though.

I enjoy the notion of John de Lancie doing what he can with the material given to him by the writers (without feeling the wrath of the censors/producers), and 3-4 days into production being told by the producers that they would like to have him back later in the series. Q appeared in no fewer than eight ST: TNG episodes, then moved on to both ST: Deep Space Nine and ST: Voyager, plus the ST: Borg "game". Good going by someone who was only ever supposed to appear in one episode. Remind me* to cast John de Lancie in my next stage production (if he's not too busy being a Brony on a sail boat somewhere).

Slightly misleading photo no. 1

The problem with getting so obsessed with a series which ended almost 20 years ago, is that my enthusiastic tweets are met with exactly no responses from fans (they've kind of been there, done that a while ago), and if I look for articles, most of them are from the mid-90s at the latest. However, the cast have been popping up at conventions for a few decades now and there are plenty of videos from Q&A sessions etc. Phew! I was getting a bit disorientated by reading articles in the .txt format posted on alt.scifi.q forums and Compuserve and AOL and whatnot. At one point I actually had to look up and check the date. It was still Stardate -310355.02.

And then there's the fan fiction... I sincerely hope no actors or writers EVER read ANY fan fiction. It'll screw up their minds, easily. But for a show in the Star Trek universe you basically have to go the route of fanfic if you want to read the real stories. The producers frequently put their collective foot down, but the writers and certainly the cast managed to wrangle their own sub-text into the scenes and dialogues. And then the fanfic writers saw, took and ran away with it, to do with it as they (and we) pleased. I didn't exactly need to read fanfic to discover the HoYay between Picard and Q, and I was very happy to hear both actors and at least one writer were totally on board with that. Not entirely sure they would have appreciated the two fanfic novels His Beloved Pet and Love Reign Over Me, but I spent a whole day reading those two. Minding One's P's and Q's is also a very interesting interpretation of the interactions in that vast universe (actually the whole Genders OnLine site has fascinating and though-provoking papers).

Slightly misleading photo no. 2

I was kind of thinking "imagine if the series had been produced only ten years later; we would have seen The Puppy Episode in Ellen and had the world of television changed for the better overnight (give or take a decade or so...)", but considering the Star Trek series following The Next Generation (perhaps with the exception of Enterprise), it wouldn't have made the slightest difference. Oh well, thankfully there are actors daring to do something about it (notice how they often have theatre backgrounds? Hmm...)

*) I don't really need reminding.

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02 November 2012

The Final Frontier, Outer Limits...Hang On...Is the Universe Finite or Not? 

I have been completely hooked on space and sci-fi lately. It began with XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and then I finally returned to Star Trek: The Next Generation a couple of weeks ago. XCOM is brilliant. Played the original and first sequel a lot about a decade ago (and intermittently ever since), and I really like the new version. I decided to name all of my soldiers after musicians and actors I quite like, and my crack team of all colonels have done very well indeed. I must admit it came as a shock to me that Andy Bell (of Erasure) would turn out to be the biggest bad-ass in the squad, followed by his band mate Vince Clarke as the toughest Heavy out there.

It took me seven months to watch through the first series of ST:TNG, but so far only two weeks for series two, and I started series three earlier today. I also watched all four ST:TNG-era films across two nights (tip: don't watch Star Trek: Nemesis before you've actually watched the whole series; you'll thank me--or maybe that is just the way to watch the whole thing. Start with the first series, then the four films, then go back to series 2-7). Anyway, Q FTW! I'm also of the opinion that Brent Spiner should appear in everything on telly. He was excellent in Warehouse 13.

Oh, actually, that reminds me; this probably started a bit earlier. After all, I watched series 4.5 of Eureka, two series of Warehouse 13, then the fourth series of Fringe, before going back to ST:TNG. I have been sci-fi'd for about two months now. I'm also looking forward to the rest of the "new" Star Trek shows, starting with DS9. I just have to watch the whole of Stargate SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis, Stargate Universe, Battlestar Galactica.

I've been missing out on a lot of sci-fi stuff, can you tell? I blame not having all the right TV channels.

And then, while watching all this and beamed down photos from the Curiosity Rover, I find myself thinking this enormous universe we're part of is absolutely mind-blowing. It's ridiculous that some people think we're alone out here, but we will probably not find any real proof within my lifetime, which is annoying, to say the least.

So I guess I'll just keep dreaming, together with Cpt. Picard, Maj. Carter, Cmdr Shepard, Adm. Adama and the rest.

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20 May 2012

Oh, Those Observer Readers... 

That would include me. However, the newspaper is actually above my pay grade. Yes, I can afford the paper itself (once a month or so), but hardly anything featured in it. This is like porn for young professionals and middle-aged, middle-class, country-living gourmet food aficionados (and they would know how to pronounce that properly). The Observer Magazine is both inspiring and depressing to me. It's also something to point at laugh at, when you discover that very often the interviewees will feature with a caption recognising their stylist or preferred fashion designer.

I wonder what mine would read. "Sweater: H&M, £15, now only available in charity shops; Jeans: Levi's bought off the back of a lorry via eBay at knock-down price, quite worn; Shoes: Skechers, bought in Amazon's Black Friday sale and meant to last several seasons; Hair: Blob of Garnier Fructis hair gel applied in a hurry and then styled naturally by the wind."


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