Monday, November 13, 2006

So Excited I Might Just Wii Myself


Urg... that was terrible! But then again, when I get excited just watching people packing boxes, you know it's obsession.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Cinema

I love the magic of going to the cinema. It has never lost it's mystical air, and tonight I enjoyed it more than I have in a while.

I'm just back from seeing The Prestige, starring Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale and Michael Caine, to name but a few. In brief, the movie was awesome. Definately one of the highlights of the year so far. Beautifully and skillfully shot, with an astonishingly well crafted story that dispite a non-linear method of story-telling, numerous moments of misdirection and some neat little twists never looses the viewer. The acting is, as one might expect from such a great cast, second-to-none. Everyone plays their part with finesse and talent, further strengthening the movies impact.

[Note: Please do not read too much about the movie if you are planning on going to see it. While searching for something about it I found a review that kind of ruins one of the key elements in the story. I had not read anything, nor had I sen any trailers beforehand. I went in fresh and enjoyed it more because of it. The Prestige really is a movie that greatly benefits from not knowing what to expect right from the start. Like the illusions it is about, often knowing the trick destroys the magic.]

Tonight was, apart from preview screnenings last night, the opening shows and so we watched it in an almost full theatre. The power and energy in the room was fantastic. The crowd thrilled, laughed and gasped at all the right parts in unison. During the moments of spectacular revelations, or the pinnacle of an illusion the crowd sat in hushed silence. I especially enjoyed the gasp of dismay that met the words "Not tonight".

Recently I seemed to end up at movies that have either been out for a while, or simply did not capture the general publics interest and the numbers were low. It's just not the same. I don't like watching things alone. I enjoy other peoples reactions as much as I enjoy the flickering images on-screen. I love big crowds.

Next week is Casino Royale, Bond turns 21. Now he can legally drink in most American states. I, along with Claire, will be going to what will surely be a packed out preview screening. boy, am I looking forward to it!

[Brief edit: I am waaaaaay to tired to finish this as I really want to, as well as do a proper spell and grammer check. I'll try to get one done as soon as possible. Until then, sorry. I hate seeing them too.]

Woah. Long Break

It's been almost a month since my last post. Sorry about that. The reason has mostly been because I'm crazy busy with my work experience, which I'm still loving. In fact, it seems to get better every morning. The sucky part is the diary writing. Yawn!

Also, my life has been pretty much "wake work, write, sleep", repeat daily for a while now. I'm getting very run down, though I try not to show that in class. Even when I feel good I can tell when my body is begining to give up. I've been getting dry patches of skin, black bags under my eyes, yawning constantly and more. Oh well.

Anyway, I can't promise anything, but I'll try to update a little more often.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A Lesson in History

This is frikkin awesome.



The ending was a hilarious surprise. Though I thought it would be cool to do, I didn't think they'd actually do it!!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Big 5-0-0!

No. Not 500 posts! That's crazy talk. Though this post is my 76th, so I am 3/4s of the way to my centennial post!

Nope, I now have over 500 photos in my Flickr page! Though a lot of those are of toys rather than friends, I think over half are in fact of real people. So I'm not too embarrassed! That said, however, the actually 500th photo was indeed of an action figure!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Blogger Update

Though I doubt those of you reading will see many changes, Blogger has got into a Beta update, and I, ever the adventurous one, went along for the ride and swapped over. I can now add tags to my posts to make particular topics easier to find.

Er... so far, that's it. Oh well. If other cool stuff comes to light, I'll let my loyal fans know about it!

Back In College


So I apologise for not updating my blog lately, but I've been super busy. I started my third year work experience last week. I'm working in a preschool with children ranging from late two's to four year olds.

And I love it!

Every minute is awesome. Every tiny event is a joy to see. All the developement, all the practical examples of that boring, boring theory. I love working with the kids and the adult staff, of which there are only two others!

But, boy is it tiring. I get home, usually around 4 and go for a two hour nap. Then up and have dinner, cooked for me while I am unconscious, and I'm back in bed and out like a light before 11 most nights!

There's just no time for posting. Which is a pity, because I have to write a daily diary and I thought I could start a blog about it, so it's obvious if I fall behind. Plus, there might be a few people interested in reading it. My diary for college has to be 100% confidential, so no names of children, adults, area, school, anything. So I don't see the problem with posting it on a blog. It would allow people to make constructive observations about the theory and practice, and help me in better understanding events through a fresh pair of eyes.

Yawn... Maybe I'll start that this week... or next...

Oh For Crying Out Loud

I gave you guys the benefit of the doubt when I last complained about the PS3 and Sony, but their new advertising campaign is just ridiculous. Not only does it portray Sony as child abductors using sweet flying "3"s, but come on!! We have all agreed that the PS3 is not a childs console.

$700 people!

Seven Hundred!

And that price, evidently, is because of all those "neato" features no-one that ad is aimed at cares about.

I know the machine can do everything but make you dinner (though if the Nintendo DS cooking game really takes off, who knows!!), but children only see and want a games console. Free from Santa too. With Christmas around the corner, cost is not an issue. It's not like your parents have to pay for the damn thing.

Gaah!!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Know What You Sell

What does it take to work in a specialist store? Any kind, I’m not fussy here. I saw recently that a local bookstore was hiring, and part of the notice in the window read “Applicants should have a love of books and reading”. Seems fair to me. If you’re working in a book store, you should enjoy reading. Similarly, if you’re working in a leisure centre, you should enjoy swimming, or working out in some way. People working in a music store should have an interest in music. This all goes without saying. I thought.

I went in this week to pre-order my Wii in a local computer game specialist store. While there I spoke to the two females behind the counter about the machine and it’s possibilities. One of the two was the manager, by the way. Neither had a clue about the new console! They were surprised when I explained about the unusual controller design and the motion sensor technology. The manager of a computer game specialist store didn’t know about the new console being released for Christmas by the one of the Big Three! I was... well... amazed! I mean, the Wii has been getting more coverage over the last few months than any of the consoles, if only for its crazy, crazy risks to reach a wider customer base!

Not that that will stop me buying my Wii there. There are three places in Cork I would even consider buying a console. Two are specialist stores from different chains and one is part of a large toy store chain. There is also HMV and Virgin, but I don’t usually buy consoles from them as they rarely have very good opening offers. So that leaves me with the three I’ve previously mentioned. The toy store is a possibility, but they can’t guarantee an adequate supply of the machines to meet orders. The two specialist stores support two very different strategies regarding employment. The previously mentioned one employs lots of pretty girls in a “car show” kind of way, that look good selling stuff, and lonely geeks (not me, thank you very much!) like talking to them as it’s the only chance they get. The other one employs said geeks, who know just as much about computer games as the customers, and are happy to debate the pros and cons of one console versus another.

So which strategy is better? Pretty, girls who only have a cursory knowledge of the product, or people who can discuss the product with confidence and almost (sometimes only) geek-like detail? Appealing dimensions or knowing the consoles dimensions?

I shop in the first one. The one with the pretty girls. It’s a nicer, cleaner, brighter store. The offers are generally better. And yes, it has pretty girls. So sue me. I’m a red-blooded male. Though I am also one that is happily engaged, so... um... you know... don’t tell Claire!

Me And My Voice

I grew up on a steady diet of American tv from a very young age. My parents, while never resorting to the TV as a babysitter or substitute for parenting, allowed me the freedom to enjoy the box purely as an evening activity when outdoor sports were not possible.

Because of this, I don’t remember watching very many cartoons when I was very young. I didn’t get into Transformers, M.A.S.K. or GI Joe until a much later stage. I didn’t even watch Bosco, that primary source of Irish children’s television, though my younger brother developed the fascinating to watch ability to quote each line up to 3 seconds ahead of particular episodes having watched them to death! On the other hand, I do remember playing as The A-Team while I was just in play-school, putting me at only four-years old when I was watching it! That’s about the only thing I remember from that early point in my life, along with an almost Freudian love for my play-school teacher. She was amazing.

I still remember watching The A-Team, MacGyver, Knight Rider, The Fall Guy, Street Hawk and many more when they were all primetime shows on RTE. I remember sitting on the couch with my dad and mom, watching explosions and action, watching B.A. make a tank out of a few sheets of metal or MacGyver… well, macgyvering (yes, it’s a verb, they used it on Stargate) gadgets from duct-tape and rubber tubing. I remember being allowed to stay up until the very late time of 9pm just so I could watch these shows to the end. And they were all great.

As well as bestowing upon me an avid interest in action/adventure shows, the ability to use ordinary gadgets in extraordinary ways, a desire to be the hero whenever possible and the love of writing cross-over fan fiction (A-Team versus MacGyver: One Warehouse, No Way Out, Lots of Gadgets. Someone’s About to Have a Plan Come Together) watching all those American shows had an unexpected side-effect. It left me with an unusual accent that has the slightest twinge of American in it.

It comes as no surprise when Irish people ask me how long I’ve been living in Ireland. When I tell them I was born and raised here, the next question is often how long I spent in America . This inevitably leads to shock when I inform them that I’ve never set foot on American soil. I’ve never even been in one of the embassies! It all comes from too much TV as a kid.

But what is surprising is when Americans ask me the same question. This has happened twice recently, and it got me thinking. I’m not trying to say that the Americans in question were foolish for thinking I was from their side of the Atlantic. They seemed like very nice people during the short while we spoke. No. This isn’t a “look at the stoopid American” post. I quiet like Americans. This is an “I have an unusual accent” post, nothing else.

Personally, I like it. I have a very easy to understand voice with no strong accent. You might say that my voice has a “travelled” quality to it, as if I have spent a lot of time abroad. It certainly doesn’t sound like I’m a country boy that grew up on an island. But the truth is, I haven’t. I’ve rarely been outside Ireland. And even when I have been, it’s only been to England !

So is this the way of the future? A new, universal accent for all. Our children watch almost entirely American TV from a very early age. Barney, Elmo, and Bear in the Big Blue House have replaced Bosco as the primary form of preschool edutainment. Am I the first in a new wave of mixed accents? Will we see more and more Irish and European children growing up using American phrases?

Honestly, I don’t know. I just wanted to post about my unusual vocal qualities and the effect of TV on me. That last part is hardly cause for concern. All that action/adventure hasn’t caused me to go out shooting people (yet), or made me aggressive in any way. It hasn’t made me want to run off and join a secret organisation testing new super-bikes kitted out with turbo boost and lasers... actually, it has, but it turns they’re really hard to find. Unfortunately it hasn’t made me into an ace mechanic, a bomb disposal expert, a government agent, an undercover spy or even (my true desire) a qualified teacher. Oh well. Guess I just need to watch some more!

Monday, September 11, 2006

I, Robot

Just watched this movie again while I had the house to myself. I love it. I saw it twice in the cinema. It's a great action movie, with cool special effects, very nice CGI and a compelling murder mystery story.

Okay, so it's got nothing to do with Isaac Asimov's story save the 3 Laws, but it's a whole lot of fun.

And I love seeing what I like to refer to as a "Galaxy Quest Machine". This can be defined as a machine that has to be gotten at through a ridiculously designed approach that the main characters must use in order to stop the badguy/thing/whatever. The phrase comes, obviously, from the fact that the movie Galaxy Quest makes blatant fun of this principle, dispite the fact that it's been around for much longer than the movie itself.

Course, the whole time I was watching the movie, I wanted to start watching Firefly again. Alan Tudyk voices and plays Sonny, the rogue NS-5 robot of the movie and Wash in Firefly.

Interesting but useless observation: One of the assistants to the owner of USRobotics that shows up in the police station is currently the chief engineer on BattleStar Galactica.

Overheard On...

The Venture Brothers

Starting a trend here!:

Henchman 24:
Come on! They have one female servicing a large group of males. That implies a species that lays eggs.
Henchman 21: Oh my God, you're crazy! They're so obviously mammals!
Henchman 24: Please! She'd be in estrus 24/7 if she didn't lay eggs.
Henchman 21: Smurfs don't lay eggs! I won't tell you this again! Papa Smurf has a fucking beard! They're mammals!

Overheard During...

A game of Zombies:

Not sure who said what, so I'm going to take some guesses with the names. It's the conversation that matters anyhow. All I know for certain is that Noel gave us the priceless punchline.

Noel: I'm inflammable.
Dave T: I think you mean "unflammable". "Inflammable" means you burn more.
Ninja Dave: Like "infamous", meaning that you'd be "more famous".
Bob: "Infamous" implies "famous for the wrong reasons".
Ninja Dave: So "inflammable" means "flammable for the wrong reasons"?
Noel: Flammable for the wrong reasons? What? Like babies?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

More Broken Promises

But this time, they aren't from me.

Wednesday morning, at 06:40 Sony Computer Entertainment Europe announced the revised release date of March 2007 for the PlayStation 3 in European and similar PAL territories. They also announced that on release a mere 500,000 units would be split between Japan and Northern America, with only 100,000 of those going to Sony's homeland.

First off, let me say that I am not very surprised by this news. A few weeks ago we learned that the machine had yet to go into production! It hardly seems worth even feigning shock when told this most recent news.

Secondly, as I've stated before in long rambling posts, I'm a Nintendo fan. I'm not an extremist fanboy, I do own and very much enjoy playing my PS2, but I am looking forward to the Wii more than anything else. So feel free to colour this entire article with "Mario Red" tinted glasses.

Well, lets begin. This latest bombshell from the halls of Sony has got to have a massive impact on their own defences. Credibility has been taken a gut wound after promises about the release, the number of available units and the assured success of the PS3 in this very competitive market have been thrown overboard at this late stage in the war.

So how does this actually affect Sony? Stocks are certain to drop in light of the news, or at least will continue to decline as they have been since E3 this year. The sales of the PSP are certain to suffer. Plans to allow link-up features similar to what Nintendo have been promising for the DS would have boosted rapidly declining sales of this handheld. As it stands, the PSP is floundering in the shallow end of the pool, suffering desperately from a lack of ongoing support.

All because they announced a new, later release date for Europe.

But the truth is, we’re used to delays here in Europe. Many movies are still released here weeks after the American screenings, DVDs are worse, games can be delayed by months, and previous generation consoles have been over half a year after the Japan and American releases. And comics! The British Collectors Editions” of American Marvel comics are up to three years behind in the stories! No. We’re well used to delays. We sit back and savour the opportunity to compare the competition in another market, allowing us the chance to see both flaws and merits of the product in question, be it console machines, movies or fizzy drinks, before we have to worry about making our own purchase. So the delay really isn’t that big a deal. Worldwide releases for consoles are rare due to manufacturing constraints, and we all know that.

What has burned the gaming masses is the lateness of Sony’s announcement. Leaving it until it is so close to the expected date makes the news feel all the worse. Are we to believe that Sony were unaware of the problems and short supply in units until just earlier this week? Are we really expected to accept that the added difficulties of manufacturing the blue diodes only became apparent recently? Actually, no. We've known for a while now of Sony's difficulties with Blue-ray production.

In essence, it is Sony’s arrogance shining through again. The success of the PSOne and PS2 have put Sony in a position that they believe themselves invincible. And for a while they were right. Both machines were great, clearly superior to their competition in many respects. Though I never owned a PSOne, I do have a PS2 and love it dearly. I have owned every Nintendo console since the SNES, and even got a working NES recently. While I will defend them to the last, it is ultimately true that resent Nintendo consoles, specifically since the N64, have suffered from a lack of quantity in games, even if I still believe that, quality based, Nintendo is superior. Over two generations, Sony built up a dominating (and sometimes rabid) fanbase. Where parents used to use the phrase “playing Nintendo” in reference to any console of the 80’s, the parents of the 90’s and new Millenium use “playing Playstation” in the same way. “Playstation” has become the new “sellotape”, “hoover” or (one unique to us Irish) “Tayto”. True as this may be, that does not give Sony the right to treat their customers and fans in the manner they have chosen. But the delay is not the first time Sony has shown a level of superiority and egotism often associated with Hollywood megastar actors.


E3 2006 was a disaster for Sony, and began to hint at problems that have now become clear. Their keynote speech became the butt of a thousand jokes across the gaming public (Riiiiiidge Raaaaaacer!) even before it had finished, clocking in at an excessive two and a bit hours long! Where days before people predicted Sony would dominate the show with dazzling displays of the power of their new machine, now Nintendo and Microsoft were ahead in net-chat statistics. With the 360 already released, the majority assumed Microsoft’s involvement in E3 would be mute at best, silently watching as the unstoppable Sony flexed its muscle. However, a slew of new and interesting games, the announcement of add-ons such as the webcam and the HD drive and a general sense of fun pushed interest in the X-Box 360 to unexpected levels. In contrast to Sony, Nintendo’s keynote speech was packed with information and fun. Of course, things like release date and price point were absent, but the recording of the event proved to be hugely popular on Google Video and gave many their first glimpse of the Wii in action.

The problems continued as Nintendo and Microsoft put out press release after press release of new games, new partnerships and new announcements. Nintendo has built anticipation up to fever-pitch, while the X-Box 360 continues to turn heads with not only its steady flow of quality games but also it’s distinctively designer looking appearance. Many have critisised the PS3s bulky features and, rather interestingly, the controller was changed back to the PS2 style after fans slamed the original new look online. Sony seemed to be making mistake after mistake right from the start.

And what of the PSP? As sales continue to slowly spiral downwards, and the UMD market collapses in on itself, surely Sony were hoping that the connectivity between PSP and PS3 would boost sales for both machines. With a post Christmas release, will people just ignore the PSP in favour of *shock* *horror* a DS and Wii combo? Or forget about handheld fun entirely and get the stand alone power of the X-Box 360? If early rumours are to be believed and a Wii ends up costing as little as €170, a Wii/DS bundle would cost just €320 in total. Half the cost of a PS3! Crazy! Admittedly, I can’t really force myself to believe that one just yet, it’s just too good! But worse case, the Wii costs €250, making a bundle still only €400. That’s cheaper than the release price of the X-Box 360. Double crazy! And that’s with a DS Lite too. Sweet deal.

So what does the PS3 actually have going for it after yesterday’s announcement? The motion sensor added to the controller a few months back is one in their favour. Ok, so it’s true that they are in part just copying Nintendo’s innovative ideas, but in the end it will benefit both companies. As when Nintendo released the N64 controller with a 3D stick and later the Rumble Pak, Sony’s inclusion means that game developers no longer have to worry about the cost of designing a game utilising the technology knowing that their sales can only come from one console. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Microsoft release a controller with some form of similar technology in the near future also, allowing them access to all the same games. No-one likes to get left out.

Left out. That’s what Sony is going to start to feel. Cold. Unwanted. You get the picture. But we should remember that, in the loong run, fans are ultimately hard to hurt permanently, and fanboys are even less likely to hold a grudge passed release. Once everything is released and all the good reviews start rolling in, all this will be forgotten. PS2 owners who were looking forward to the PS3 will consider turning back to familiar territory. Hardcore fans, regardless of the damage they feel now will have the PS3 prebooked long in advance, whatever the ultimate release date. But that may be it. With no Christmas season to buy for, parents are going to be reluctant to shell out for the new machine. Spoilt kids with birthdays around that time might get one, but not many. Be aware, unless Sony drastically changes release trends, the €700 pricetag is for the console alone. Parents will have to pay more for the games unless their little darling really does just want a super expensive DVD player.

Then again, the PS3 is very clearly geared toward the young professional that likes to relax at home after a long day prosecuting criminals, stitching up open chest wounds or working in the leisure industry. But even said young professional will have to put some serious thought into handing over that much cash in one go.

So what does all this mean? Angry fans, annoyed parents, upset youngsters this Christmas, some very happy Nintendo and Microsoft executives... the list goes on.

Sony need to start into some serious damage control. People need to start seeing good things coming after this. Hearing that game developers are abandoning the platform is not a good thing. They need to learn from this mistake also. Waiting this late to announce something you knew weeks, if not months ago is not clever. Staying quiet and hoping everyone will go away is equally not clever. Be a man, Sony! Next time you get a bad report card from your manufacturing team, step up and admit it early. We'll go easier on you. Promise.

Finally, Sony need to read up on their history. As the says goes "a man who does not know his history is doomed to repeat it". Sega thought they were invincible. They released a cutting edge console that failed due to lack of development support. The DreamCast is an awesome machine, with some great games, but there just wasn't enough. And the market at the time could not support three consoles, especially when one was the all consuming PS2, it's biggest advantage being a DVD drive, something Sega just barely missed out on. It's failure directly lead to Sega dropping out of the console development market. Seeing Sony limping in the open grass, away from the other Big Two may cause a hungry and revenge driven Sega to pounce.

So that's it. In the end, I don't think Sony suffer excessively from this delay. They'll get back up, dust themselves off and hopefully chalk this one up as a learning experience. Never, ever promise things you can't deliver. They have left the door wide open for Nintendo and Microsoft to make the most of, stealing as many customers as they can get away with. The PSP may well become a write-off after this, though in truth I think Sony has enough money to pump into it to keep it alive if they so desire.

Now we Europeans have to sit back and watch Japan and America scramble for all those Version 1.0 PS3's. I'm sure we'll all laugh come November 17th when it is revealed that the fan is too noisy, or the transformer overheats. And by the time it hits our shores in 2007, hopefully some of the bugs will have been worked out of the system. And think of the number of games we could get on release date! Most game developers were gearing up for a world-wide release too. Now they can have all those games due to be released from here until March released on the same day!

I'm still not getting one. Roll on the Wii. Excuse me now while I go rearrange my living room to allow for four sets of wildly swinging arms at a decent distance from my far-too-small tv. Thankfully I ungraded from a portable tv last Christmas, thanks to my girlfriend. Now I need a 48" widescreen... hmm... Christmas is happening this year, right? That hasn't been pushed back too, has it?

Additional: Please feel free to comment on any aspect of my writing style, formatting, image useage, whatever! I enjoy honest critisism, even if I blankly ignore you. What to people think of my review in general? Was I objective in my critisisms? I quantiied my bias at the start, but do you think I still showed too much bias against Sony in the article? Any comments at all, as well as just responses are welcome.

Broken Promises


Before I start, I just want to say that I hadn't put up a post about Steve Irwin before now partly because of what I said about the direction I wanted to take my blog in and partly because it still feels like a dream to me. A horrible, twisted dream. I just can't believe it. He just kinda seemed invincible. Amuse or annoy, irritate or fasinate, the man always entertained. More importantly for me, he was a great father and loving husband. My thoughts go to his family, especially his son that will never get to know him.

This is all I have to say. Everything has been said a thousand times already across the world.

We'll miss ya mate.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Hello Again

I've been a bit lax in my updates recently, both here and in my Flickr account. So I've decided to rectify the situation somewhat by posting some more reviews of stuff, random thoughts that pop into my head and my second post of Random Shinyness, something I started way back in May, but never did a follow up too.

While on the subject of increasing post-counts, I thought I'd share some hopes I have for this blog. Way back in my first post I outlined the reason for the name, and hinted at some of the stuff I wanted the blog to be for. While talking about comics, toys and movies is still all well and good, I feel I want to do more.

Back when I was in secondary school I spent a lot of time writing. Short stories, articles, reviews, personnal thoughts on stuff happening at the time, just lots of things. I never had a diary, and most of what I wrote was on random sheets of paper that were lost by the end of the week. But two things held true.

Firstly, I enjoyed writing for pleasure, and leisure. I enjoyed writing things I could re-read and smile at, and thing I had to admit sounded much better in my head. I actually enjoyed learning from my mistakes, and making those mistakes. I liked trying new things, such as scripting for movies, comics and even theatre. I once wrote a sci-fi short piece as a theatre play, carefully working out how everything would work on stage. I'd like to get back to just writing as a form of relaxation, an outlet for my imagination, or a channel for my thoughts on a subject.

Secondly, and arguably the one that affected me the most, I was told more than once that I had a real knack for natural writing by my secondary school English teacher, a great man that I still respect and admire, though I haven't seen him since I closed that chapter of my life. He talked to me regularly outside of class about the various essays I handed in, and gave me pointers on each one. He was always more impressed with my "editorials", essays about things around me and how I saw them. I will always remember my five page essay on why I was looking forward to seeing the (then just starting on British tv) Teletubbies (Warning: knock of your speakers before clicking that link, especially if you're at work!)for the first time, and why Fireman Sam is still so much fun to watch. He gave me very high marks for it, showing amusement at my interest in kids tv, but never mocking me. Or the time I wrote a sci-fi piece about being on board the first manned mission to Mars. He was impressed with it up until the end, telling me I used a clichéd tool, and should have just let it play out. (In the story, I slipped on the last step to the planet only to find myself lying on my bedroom floor, realising it was "all just a dream". Like the man said, clichéd!) He really didn't like one I wrote about a billionaire inventor named Max Cannon. Man... he really hated that one.

So. I want to start writing again. As such, expect to see the afore mentioned editorials, as well as possibly one or two short stories.

I'd rather get away from "recent deaths", "back to college" and "From London to Fota, or How I Learned to Relax and Enjoy my Summer". However, it is now 00:34 by my clock, so I'm off to bed!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Yikes!

Dispite being very excited about the prospect of returning to college, I did not intentionally post that four times! I was having minor problems with Blogger, which kept telling me the post had failed to upload and eventually told me to get lost and try again in a few hours.

Three of the four have been deleted now, so that looks much cleaner.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Victory

Today I received a letter from UCC confirming that I have been accepted back into college. Yay! Now that I've gotten this, I realise just how nervous I am about the upcoming year. I really don't know what to expect, even though I've been through all of it already. I just have to work hard and pass everything this time around. Umm... brain not working. Want to write more, but can't. Later.

Friday, August 18, 2006

R.I.P. Tony Jay

Anyone that's played a few computer games or watched Disney cartoons should know his voice. Tony Jay was a great voice actor, and I got to know him mainly through his computer game work. He was the voice for Magneto in X-Men: Legends, The Elder God in the Legacy of Kain series and the narrator for World of Warcraft, to name but a few. His cartoon work includes voicing Shere Khan in the Jungle Book spin-off Tale Spin, Galactus on Fantastic Four, Sul-Van, Jor-Els father-in-law on Superman: The Animated Series, Chairface Chippendale in The Tick and Dr. Lipshitz in Rugrats. He made appearances in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Twin Peaks and Matlock.

Even if you didn't recognise the name, you probably recognise the voice.

He passed away on August 13 at the age of 73, after failing to recover from micro surgery for a non-cancerous tumor in his lungs. May he rest in peace.

Just Wow

From America's Got Talent. Previously I'd only seen rubbish and joke acts from this show. This clip proves that not everything is bad.


Wow.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Fota Wildlife Park And After

Making use of the bank holiday Monday as only a dysfuntional family unit like ours can, Claire, Bob, Sinead, Noel, Jp, Dave, Hazel, Mark and I all went to Fota for the day. Though Mark arrived seperately later, the rest of us all packed into the train and headed out at 1pm.

Once again, it was great. This is my third time there in a year, and I love it. It's just so much fun. It was a bit too crowded for my liking today, but that had to be expected.

The sun was shining, there was a cooling breeze and the animals, particularly the monkeys were in a very active mood. We even got to see the staff feeding the animals before we left. The monkeys were quiet critical of what was offered them, but the penguins were happy with everything they got. Those guys just love to show off for the cameras every time I've been there. It's insane how obvious it is that they seem to play-up to the cameras and all the attention.

After we all got home everyone hung out at our place for the evening, just chatting, playing PS2 and late even a game of StarCraft. God, I suck at that game. I got wiped in both games. Without Bobs help it would have been an instant victory for the enemy. I am so bad. But it's still a great game to play.

A great way to spend a great day. And not too expensive either. Woo! Bonus!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

London In July: Day 3 of 3

Note: The entire day is summarised at the end with just the highlights. These might get long.

Because we wanted to make the most of our last day in London, as well as get to the Eye before the queues got crazy, we were up super early on Sunday. As we'd seen the sights on Saturday, we took the underground into the centre and walked to the Eye. Claire headed of into the city to meet up with some of the Warcraft guys again while Karen, Jp and I joined the much shorter queue for the oversized Ferris wheel. We were in a pod in about 15 minutes, while the ride itself last about half an hour for just one revolution. It was great fun, if a little expensive at £13, about €20.

After the Eye the party was split again. Karen wanted to go see Camden Market while Jp and myself headed for Picadilly Square and Hamleys Toy store. We got there before noon and the store had yet to open. Two staff in pirate gear were outside with bubble guns entertaining the children, both young and old.

At noon the store opened and in we went. Starting in the basement we worked our way up through all the floors, each one having a different focus. The basement was computer games and gadgets. Four consoles were set up to play a variety of games including a PS2 with two guitars for Guitar Hero.

We avoided the Girls Toys and Preschool floors and skipped right to the Boys Toys section, including radio controlled cars and miniatures. The very top floor was entirely action figures.

After wandering the store for over an hour and a half Jp bought some stuff but I resisted the urge. By this point in the weekend I was all but broke, even owing Karen £20 already.

We texted the others and decided to all meet back at Trafalgar Square. When we got there an anti-war rally was in full swing, so we waited for Claire to show up before heading to a nearby pub for a snack. We headed back to Trafalgar Square after to meet up with Karen, who I'm sure only left Camden because she was running out of money. We sat out in the sun under Nelsons column for a while before Karen reappeared, gushing over how awesome Camden was. I would have loved to go, but there was no way we could all have done everything. Maybe next time.

Grabbing the underground back to Victoria Cross we got some food in a Japanese restaurant. It was one of those ones with the plate all moving around on the counter-top and you just grabbed what looked nice. At the end of your meal the bill was totalled based on the colours of the plates you have left! Very cool.

Next it was on to Gatwick by train and into the airport. I took a nap on the train journey and felt much better afterwards for doing so. Check-in was painless and departures was huge, filled with all kinds of store, from Boots to Dixons. Upstairs there was even a food court and a small arcade! Once our flight was eventually assigned a gate it took us about 10 minutes to walk from the main departure area to the gate itself. A very short wait and we were onboard the flight home. Once again I enjoyed a window seat, this time beside the engine. We lifted off around 9:30 and including a quick cab ride, were back in our own homes by 11ish.

While I can't speak for the rest of them, I slept like a baby that night!

In Brief:

Got up early, went to Eye, had a blast. Went to Hamleys, hung out in Trafalgar Square, got Japanese food in Victoria Cross. Took train to airport, flew home safely, slept for 10 hours straight.

Read London In July: Day 1 of 3
Read London In July: Day 2 of 3

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

London In July: Day 2 of 3

Note: The entire day is summarised at the end with just the highlights. These might get long.

Saturday started early. A quick shower to freshen up and then a beautiful walk into London's centre. We passed Buckingham Palace, through a gorgeous park, stopped to enjoy an almost pigeon-free Trafalgar Square and reached Leister Square around 12. We hung out in China town for a bit and had a snack in a delicious Japanese place called Samurai Sushi. We picked up the tickets for Avenue Q from the theatre before we split up the group a bit. Claire had organised to meet with a huge group of people she games with on World of Warcraft, so we dropped her off at the pub she was looking for before the rest of us started into a busy day.

Karen, Jp and I immediately headed in the direction of the London Eye, an attraction all of us were interested in doing, except Claire who is nervous about heights, so this was a great time to do it. Along the path to the Eye we saw a bunch of Living Statues, so we took our time. They were great to see, with some looking better than others, but all entertaining. There was a tin man that offered a cup of imaginary tea when I gave him some change and this incredible bronze looking statue that had us debating the state of his eyes. I still say they were closed and painted to look open.

We got to the Eye around 1:30 and the queue was just crazy. In fact, there was a queue to get tickets that allowed you to join the queue that was queueing to get into the queue to get on the Eye! Too complex for us, so we decided to come back early on Sunday. While walking around I saw loads of Stormbreaker posters and banners everywhere, as the Eye features in the big finale. Since then, I've really, really wanted to see the movie. Probably go see it this weekend.

With the Eye now relegated to Sunday morning, we headed off to the British Museum and spent some time educating ourselves. The central reading room was our first stop just inside the main door. It was awe-inspiring to see, and while the rest of the museum proved to be full of the hustle and bustle of tourists and scholars discussing the artifacts on show, this area was refreshingly peaceful. Continuing into the rest of the museum we got to see the Rosstta Stone, something I've wanted to see for years but never realised it was kept so close. Other highlights included the rather creepy mummy exhibit and a cool Japanese and Asian cultures exhibit, though the majority of the Japanese section had yet to open.

After spending a few hours in the museum our group split again. Karen continued on to the British Library to oogle some more old books while Jp and I headed to our own library, the Forbidden Planet comic store. Thankfully, we didn't spend to much in there.

Karen met us outside Forbidden Planet and the three of us headed back to China town to pick up Claire. We all got a great meal in a nearby Chinese restaurant (what else!) before going down to the Noel Coward Theatre for the show.

Avenue Q is the first show in the theatre since its refurbishment. The theatre was amazing, with comfortable seating and great air-conditioning. The lighting, sound and effects throughout the performance were great. The only thing about it was there was no legroom what-so-ever, thought that's probably mainly because we got the cheapest seats in the house! Whatever. We didn't mind, or even notice once the show started. Because we booked so far in advance we got the best seats in our section, front row, dead centre.

The show was astounding. Better than I ever could have expected. It was funnier than all heck, and the performers were simply amazing. The voices for the puppets were very close to the ones I heard months ago on the original cast recordings, even though these were a different set of performers entirely. The effects were superb and unexpected. As this was my first taste of any theatre on this scale, I was blown away by some of the pieces. The giant head of Kate Monster looming over the building was inspired and had me rolling with laughter. The TVs showing Sesame Street style animations were ingenious and a great touch.

There isn't much more I want to say about the show. I'm not going to describe any of it, as this is definitely something you have to see for yourself. It is incredible. I want to go see it again before it leaves the theatre, but I doubt I'll get the chance. I picked up a "I'm not wearing underwear today" t-shirt which has become my prized possession for a while. Ironically, I also picked up a pair of boxers that say "I can make you feel special", another Avenue Q quote.

Despite all the other cool stuff we did in London this still stands as the unparalleled highlight of the weekend. Heck, this stands as possibly the highlight of my year! I still get emotional thinking about it, especially the fact that I may never get to see it again.

After the show we just went back to the hotel and crashed. Saturday had been a busy day and we wanted to get going extra early to cram everything we could into our last day in London.

In Brief:
Walked into city centre. Claire went to meet WOW friends. Karen, Jp and me went to British Museum. Karen went on to British Library while we went to Forbidden Planet. Met up again to get food. Saw amazing, incredible, stunning and awesome Avenue Q. Collapse into bed once back in hotel.

Read London In July: Day 1 of 3
Read London In July: Day 3 of 3

London In July: Day 1 of 3

Note: The entire day is summarised at the end with just the highlights. These might get long.

Last Friday my darling Claire, my not-quiet-as-darling friend Karen and my totally-not-darling-in-any-way friend Jp and myself all went to London for the weekend. Our main goal was to see the excellent Broadway production Avenue Q, but we packed in a lot more besides.

The weekend started Friday evening with the flight from Cork to Gatwick. While the others had all recently flown and spent the trip reading I had not been flying since I was 14 or 15. Because of this I was fascinated with everything! It was such a thrill feeling the power of the engines, the sudden acceleration and the take off, as well as the landing. Claire and I were in the front row and the two stewards at the front of the plane got a kick out of seeing my face on take-off. I was like a baby! It was awesome.

We arrived in Gatwick after a 45 minute to an hour flight and got a train into Victoria Cross. Due to a mistake entirely my fault we ended up getting the underground from there further into the city only to realise that the hotel we were in was back near Victoria station. We got a taxi back to the hotel, passing the station on the way. Once we got checked in we popped out briefly for food and brought it back to the room to eat. Tired and full we collapsed into the beds, with Jp taking the sleeping bag and none of us stirred until the alarm clocks rang the next morning.

In Brief:
Flight from Cork to Gatwick was great. Got to hotel after a minor misadventure, had food and slept.

Read London In July: Day 2 of 3
Read London In July: Day 3 of 3

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Of Chins & Fishbowls

So I read a rumour today that has me very excited. Bruce "The Chin" Campbell is being named around the internet as the fourth villian to appear in Spider-Man 3. And who will he be playing? Mysterio! Of course fans of Ultimate Spider-Man will know that Bruce has long been tipped to portray the special effects powered wrong-doer.

As an aside, the three confirmed villains are Harry Osborn as the new Green Goblin, Sandman and Venom. The first image of Venom was released at San Diego Comic Con. Rumours of who the fourth villian could be leaned havily on Black Cat, though I always suspected that it was going to be a "cameo villain", such as an opening action scene to get things going with a bang.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Eureka

It's a town that doesn't exist. It doesn't appear on any maps, and no-one ever talks about it outside of the white picket fences and idilic homes that make up this cosy little hide-away. At first glance it may look perfectly normal, but look closer.

Small town. Big secret.

Eureka is Sci-Fi Channels newest offering for the fall line-up, though it started last week, so perhaps that's a "late summer line-up". The channel that brought us the all-new BattleStar Galactica, StarGate SG-1 and... um ECW (?!?) brings us a new take on sci-fi in the form of a quirky drama.

Set in the town of Eureka the series follows Jack Carter, a US Marshal who accidentally ends up there after taking a wrong turn one dark and stormy night. Turns out the entire town in populated by genius' of various degrees (ba-dum pish!). Even a few of the kids are super smart, one can do theoretical physics in his head, so long as it's in chalk and on a horizonal surface. And the local garage mechanic is revealed to be an ex-Nasa shuttle engineer, a certified coroner and practicing preacher, all while working on an anti-gravity generator in his shed. Oh, and he's Miles Dyson from Terminator 2. No seriously. See for yourself.

Having seen the pilot and the second episode, I have high hopes for this series. It's hilariously funnny, without being silly. Jack, the Marshal-turned-town-sheriff has a moody house. Portable fission reactors are stored under the bed. The greatest animal to ever be hunted is a dog ("a local hazard"). The character reactions to situations are more than believable, especially Jacks reactions to all the crazy stuff that others take are the daily norm. You know the writers are on the mark when you listen to an explaination of something, think to yourself "Yeah, right. Like he's gonna believe that" only to hear Jack turn and say "Yeah, right. You expect be to believe that?"

The stories so far have been far less about sci-fi and more about the characters. Tech merely supports the location, and reinforces how this town is far from normal, but the core of the pilot and second episode lies in the interactions of the characters rather than any special effect plot device. Though the tech is definately present. There are better ways of identifying someone than DNA checks, and there is a form for "undeadening someone", because, you know... it happens that often in this town.

Speaking of forms, the show does a great job of creating a believable lived-in, super-secret town, and it's the little things that make this special. Jack has to sign forms to guarantee his silence once the others trust him enough to let him in on more of Eureka. In the pilot, the local diner is taking bets on where the next "anomaly" will hit. It's the little things that count.

Not so little is the additional advertising going into the series. Made In Eureka is a website showcasing some of the more important advances created in the town. Almost like viral advertising, but I always got the impression that viral adverts should be very subtle as to what they are actually for. This is linked from the Sci-Fi website. Not very viral, but still cool.

Also on the Sci-Fi.com website are some made-for-the-net webisodes. Interesting extra stories that show a care and desire to ensure the success of the series outside of just how well it does on tv.

I'm enjoying this show, and hope to see it continue for some time. Great acting, great writing, great effects when needed.

Oh, and you think I spoiled anything by telling you the town is full of super-genius'? Hehehe. Anyone can enter the small town of Eureka. The big secret goes deeper.

My Week Without Claire

Claire was in Turkey all last week. It's the single longest time we've spent apart since we started going out together. It's also the furthest apart we've been in all that time.

I thought it would kill me. But it didn't. I think it was good for us. Some time apart to be ourselves. Or at least I could be myself. Claire had to put up with family! I enjoyed the peace and quiet. I cleaned the house, though it's hard to tell already. I was a little bored and lonely at some times, but that's cause either I had work early in the morning, so I couldn't have anyone over, or I got out of work late and others had work early in the morning. Whatever. It was hardly a big deal.

And I got to catch up on some stuff I've been wanting to see. Which leads nicely into my next post...

Monday, July 17, 2006

Heroes

Heroes is a new NBC series about a group of people around the world that being to discover they have super-powers of some sort or another. They all think they are alone at first, and indeed, by the end of the episode, very few of them know there are others like them and none know what is causing this (then again, neither do we). One character evens asks her mom who her "real parents were". Hehehe...

And it's amazing.

Very funny, and well acted with a very likeable cast. The writing is excellent. I was on the edge of my seat for the entire last twenty minutes. The whole thing reminds me of Rising Stars, the 24 part comic by Babylon 5 creator, J. Michael Straczynski. In fact, I thought it was based on the comic, but all the people with powers are different ages, so that throws that out.

There is one Japanese character who is convinced he can break the space/time continuity, and explains everything in Star Trek or comics references. At one point he's explaining to his friend how time is thought of as a line, but is actually more like a circle. When his pal asks him where he learnt this he replies "X-Men number 143, when Kitty Pride time travels". I almost exploded on the spot. I was rocking with laughter.

I hope this show proves to be as good as the pilot. The trailer has at least one more character in it that doesn't appear in the pilot, a mind-reading cop played by the pilot from Lost, Greg Grunberg.

In fact, now that I think of it, this could be my "Lost". I never really got into Lost myself, but this looks far more like my kinda thing.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Superman Saves Summer

Ok, ok. Maybe that's a bit unfair. Pirates of the Caribbean was stunning, and really lived up to the title of "summer blockbuster hit". Mission Impossible 3 was great too, and opened the summer on a high note. X-Men 3 sucked. Which brings me to tonight.

I've just gotten back from seeing Superman Returns, a movie I've been raving about long before I started this blog, and numerous times since. So now that I've seen it, does it really live up to the hype that I've let myself be sucked into? Was it worth waiting to see in the cinema when I could have downloaded it if I wished two weeks ago? As a Marvel fanboy, can I admit to myself that a DC character that I'm none too fond of could kick the crap out of Marvels primary offering this year? Will I go see it again in the cinema? Will I buy it on DVD? And did I actually attend the screening in my Superman hoodie, like the good hyped-up fanboy we all know I am?

Well, you may be happy to know that the answer to the entire set of questions in the last paragraph is a resounding, "YES!"

The movie, not to exaggerate anything, was nigh on perfect. If I was to critisise anything in the film, it would be a few of the CGI effects. Luthors boat in particular was iffy at times. Never bad, mind you. Just a little too obvious that it was an effect, rather than a model or, in an ideal "we don't care about money or the lives of our stunt performers" world, an actual boat in an actual crazy storm. But that's it. Seriously.

Everything else: Perfect! A beautiful opening shot, oddly reminicsent of the shot from the opening of X-Men: The Movie, but instead of travelling through a genetic strand, we're left travelling across a vast cosmos, filled with wonderous beauty. The fact that this opening is still so clearly engraved in my mind dispite an onslaught of imagery for two and a half more hours indicates that it was indeed "awe-inspiring".

The story telling was touching. I loved the moments between Clark and Martha. They aptly set the stage for an unexpected rollercoaster of emotions in what turned out to be a very emotionally-charged movie. Bryan Singer once again proves that a huge action flick can have depth, emotion and an all-round gentler side. He's my hero.

Ok. The action. Stunning. Incredible. Cinematic. Gut-wrenching at times, always spectacular. Some of the set pieces brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes because they were so freaking comic fanboy perfect, and sometimes because... well... for other reasons. I'd spoil stuff if I went into detail, so just accept that they're awesome too, just in an "Inigo Montoya getting a rapier to the gut" kinda way. You know, like where you get all worried, but you know the hero will win out in the end. Right? Because Bryan Singer would never kill off a major character from a comic series... oh crap.

Also, this is the first time that I've actually felt like I was watching "Superman". In this movie, we get to see Kal-El do truely super things, like zipping around the world at "near light speed", saving thousands of people, from things as big as major disasters and as small as corner shop robberies. And we get to see him do even more crazy super things in the big action sequence involving all of Metropolis, that I'm not going to go into here as I'd just spoil huge chunks of movie by geeking out over every detail.

Christopher Reeve will always be remembered for teaching us that a man could fly. Bryan Singer has taught us that a man can be Super.

Dialogue was great. Never forced, even when it was refering to the original movies. Well delivered, with conviction and class. Even the kid does good.

Which brings me to the cast themselves and the representations of the characters they protray. Spacey as Luthor was great, even from the trailers. He was the perfect balance of genius, madman and cold-hearted villain. His cronies were fun to watch, never veering into the dangerous waters of incompetance, but still present mostly for comic relief.

Brandon Routh. This guy took some getting used to over the last few months, but DC and Warner Bros. did a good job of getting me used to seeing him in costume, without having me get sick of seeing him in costume. Also, dispite the fact that I had indeed seen the costume, seeing it in the movie for the first time was still a thrill. Anyway, I love Routh. He makes a great Kal-El and Clark Kent. It was a great touch introducing us to him as Clark first. It reinforced the idea that he was Clark with the Superman alter-ego, rather than the other way around.

Bosworth is a very different Lois. She's great. I loved watching her on-screen, but off all the characters carried over from the original movies, Lois is changed the most. That said, they are changes for the better, required by changes in the times we live in. Kidders Lois may have been tough-nosed and strong-willed in the original, but I don't think she'd come across as well today. There was something fake about her. Like it was just a male character portrayed by a female actress. Bosworth plays Lois as a hard-edged reporter who has also become a mom, and with that, her priorities have somewhat changed. Still doesn't stop her getting into trouble though.

Bryan Singer must love James Marsden. After casting him as Cyclops in X-Men, he's in Superman Returns as Perry Whites nephew, Lois' fianceé as well as the father of Lois' son, Jason. Richard White is thankfully treated better than Cyclops was in X-Men 3. By that I mean he isn't killed in the first 15 minutes. Kidding. In fact, Richard is a great character, and one I hope to see again in later movies. Marsden is great as always, and pulls off all the emotions his character is forced through with flare. I only wish he got a chance to shine like this as Cyclops.

Frank Langella as Perry White, Sam Huntington as Jimmy Olsen and Tristan Lake Leabu as Lois' son Jason all put in sterling performances. Sam as Jimmy was a particular joy to watch, capturing all the boyish enthusiasm of the character. Tristan was incredible as Jason, particularly when he meets Kal-El face to face for the first time. Arg! Have to be careful of spoilers.

Anyway. That's my review of Superman Returns. Going by my tried and trusted rating system, this rates as a "Will buy the Special Edition DVD version on day of release", the highest honour I can give. Some time soon, I'll put up the full list of this rating system.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Poster And Teaser

I've been a busy boy again! Not only do I have a poster for the video diary to show you, but I even have a teaser to wet your appetite too! Enjoy. Click on the poster to see a bigger, clearer version. Also, feel free to comment on both poster and clip.


Teaser clip: Cat vrs Dog

Edit: I just realised that I haven't put audio on the clip yet, so I'm just gonna pop some place-holder music over it for the time being. It'll be up soon. It's up, but remember, the music is just a place-holder. It's from Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I'm Back

Wow! What a weekend. Bonfires, comedy troupes, Beer Pong, music, burgers, pancakes, late nights, later mornings, rain, cat, dogs and drunk humans. It had it all. Some highlights included:

  • The picture to the left here.


  • Flames arcing 15 feet up into the sky from a stack of sticks and stuff 8 feet high!


  • The food. The lovely, lovely food. So much meat!


  • The awesome performance of the truely great Snatch comedy group. They were incredible, and kept us laughing even after the show. I was very glad to see them really get into the groove of things after the show and mix well with the crowd. Joining in, and even winning a few rounds of Beer Pong (or Saliva Ball as it grew to be know... don't ask) and adding their own art to the wall. Great.


  • And of course far too much more to mention them all here. But you'll get a bit of everything from the video diary I'm putting together. I'll post highlights here once it's done.

    I'm tired now. And I have so many pictures to post to Flickr. More later!