I thought I'd try something different to what I normally do. I know some other people do some of these. Seeing as I've had the week off, I've been able to partake in a bit more media; movies, books, games and TV, and thought I'd write some quick synopses on them. Perhaps I could make this a monthly thing. Let me know what you think. I've written this over several days, so instead of changing what I had already written, I just added extra thoughts as an edit.
This is one of the most offensive and vulgar shows ever... and I love it. It is an animated show, and the premise is similar to Big Brother; a collection of cartoon characters have been 'Drawn Together' to be filmed on camera 24/7. These include Xandir, the gay video game hero out to save his girlfriend, Ling-Ling, a Japanese battle monster ala Pokemon, Foxxy Love, a scantily clad black woman from a music group (ala Josie & The Pusscats and my favourite Captain Hero, a necrophiliac closet gay who has a very perverted sense of his place in the world. Among others of course. The show pushes boundaries like no other, whether it is sexism, racism, or just plain old vulgarity. There are plenty of pop culture references, and the breaking of the fourth wall (and maybe the floor and ceiling too). Not to mention the plain ridiculousness of the stories. A recent episode had Toot (a black and white Betty Boop type who is now fat and ugly) mistaken for a talking cow and become a sacred Indian icon so she could have sex with billions of men, and then once discovered was chased by Indian women with their men on thier backs, and firing lasers from the dots on their foreheads. So, yeah. If you are easily offended, stay away! If it sounds like it might interest you, then watch the first episode. You will know instantly whether you love it or hate it. There are no illusions here.
I've just started watching this, and have only seen two episodes. I'm still not entirely sold on it yet, but I've been told it does get better, and that you build up a love/hate relationship with the characters. Set in the 50's and based an advertisement execs of the time, it is brimming with sexism from the time, all the more offensive because it is probably how it was back in the day. Where sexist remarks in the aforementioned Drawn Together are for comedy shock value, their delivery here is to show the true sexist thoughts of those that lived in the time, and not just the men. The women are also portrayed as those who 'know their place' and what is expected of them. I'm not sure if it is the main crux of the entire season or future seasons, but thus far it has focused on cigarette advertising, where health benefits could no longer be used as marketing due to research, and how advertisers were dealing with this change. The interesting part, and perhaps why I wasn't so sure about the series, is that I haven't really found a character that I really like. Most of them are douches. But I think that is part of the series allure. Speaking to someone last night who loves the show, they said you will learn to love and hate them. I will give it at least a few more episodes before I give up on this one.
UPDATE : I've since watched a couple more episodes of this, and I just can't quite get into it. I came home today and Megan had watched a couple more episodes on top of that (after I told her I wasn't interested any more) and she said she was loving it. But I'll still give it a miss.
Biggest Loser Families
I never thought I would care for this show, but Megan has got me into it. It's coming in to the end stretch now (this is the Australian version by the way), and it is amazing when they do the weigh-ins the difference ten weeks has made, with losses of over 50kg in some cases. I look at some of the challenges they do, and I cringe. They all weigh more than I do but I can't see myself doing some of what they do. As well as losing weight, they are becoming quite strong athletes as well.
I think I finished with this as of today. Playing through the game a second time in an attempt to get an 'A' ranking on the levels is a different experience. To get an 'A' ranking you need to complete the level in as few turns as possible. The first time you play a level, you need to be careful, figure out where the enemies are and set up reasonable defenses. Because you are better equipped and leveled up the second time around, the first several levels are a breeze to waltz through, though if you try and run your scouts up against shock troopers you may still be in trouble, so leveling and upgrading weapons doesn't break the inherent differences of the cIasses. You play them entirely different too, because you only need to complete the one (sometimes multiple) objective; if you leave enemies behind you that could slaughter you the following turn it doesn't matter, or if most of your team die it doesn't matter, because they will be revived for the next battle. Interestingly, the more scripted battles that are perhaps the funner ones the first time around fare worse the second time around, because you just have to wait for stuff to happen. And I think Megan might be getting sick of me saying "VEG-TA-BALLS!" whenever we eat (anyone who has played the game with Largo for a period of time will know what I'm talking about).
I think there were three battles that I didn't get an 'A' ranking on, but I finished it on my second playthrough and then started a new clear data save... which means that the story resets. I could load an older save that is closer to the end of the game to replay those levels for their 'A' rank, but I don't think it is worth it. I don't think it unlocks any other guns or other benefits. For anyone who has played it and hasn't finished it twice, there is an epilogue after the second playthrough. Just video, not an extra level. So you could look it up on youtube I suppose if you are done with the actual gameplay.
Ratchet & Clank : Quest For Booty
I loved Tools of Destruction, so I was keen to get back in to this game. It is still as pretty as the previous version. There is a new grabbing maneouvre with the Omniwrench, but I'm not sure I really like the addition. Basically it is used like a lasso to latch on to and extend bridges, or to tilt platforms. I think what puts me off most is that it takes two buttons. I know that sounds whiny, but I've only played a couple of levels so far, and it seems to be getting a bit of use, so having it mapped to a single button would have made more sense. After a first level which gives you a few of the weapons from the first game, it strips you of them shortly thereafter and I'm now gunless which is slightly annoying. I've done one 'on rails' section where you jump from rail to rail, and I found it hard to figure it out and died a number of times, I don't remember the visuals getting in the way this much last time, or falling off a rail if you don't land squarely on it after swinging. Still I expect I will warm up to it pretty quickly.
UPDATE : I finished it, as it really isn't that long. I knew it was more like an expansion pack, but I reckon it was only about 4 hours tops. So just when I was getting into the swing of things, it rips it out from under you. But in true Ratchet & Clank form, it makes fun of it with the ending sequence. It seems a bit more combat heavy this time, though it throws a couple of other things in to the mix. You are able to pick up a few objects with your wrench, and probably the most inventive addition are light grubs which you need to pick up and carry around or throw in some dark caves to clear out bat-type things that are afraid of the light. If you don't they knock you off of high perches. I don't think it was quite as good as Tools of Destruction (it was missing some features like upgrading your weapons, though I think when it gave you back a selection of your weapons it gives you fully souped up ones anyway) and I think Crack In Time is going to be better for taking a different gameplay track than Quest For Booty.
Dungeon Hunter : Alliance
I've been playing this co-op around a mates house. Much as I enjoy these games, I just haven't really played any for quite a while. Probably Marvel : Ultimate Alliance was the last. While this is a downloadable title, it is still quite playable and engrossing. I've gone the mage, and I'm still toying around with how I want my build to work. I'm tending to play the long range, with a long range splash damage spell to complement my staff, but I've also got a freeze aura that damages and slows anyone who gets close to me, while my friend lays into them with the warrior cIass A quite effective combination is to freeze them, use my shock damage which reduces their armour, and then both of them wail on whats left. My character is weak though and can't wear any decent armour, so now that we are getting a bit into it, my character dies pretty quickly if he gets too close or surrounded. Furthermore whenever I'm firing my staff (regular weapon) I have to stand still. This can be problematic in boss battles where some of them simply move fast and are difficult or impossible to avoid, necessitating quaffing down healing potions like there is no tomorrow. Having to keep drinking healing potions feels like a bit of a cop out to me. Still, I enjoy this game a lot, and if we ever get truly stuck then we can just wander around and level up our dudes some.
There are probably better games out there of its ilk, and I should probably play those. Like Diablo!
It's taken a while for me to watch this film. At least I think I watched it. Maybe I was dreaming? I found it quite enjoyable. From the trailers I knew it must be trippy, but I didn't understand that it was about hijacking dreams until I watched it. I thought it was quite clever, though I suspect if I thought about it long enough I'd find some holes, but I don't really want to find them. I'm happy to suspend belief. The way all the dreams simply tie together was quite amazing. I knew that despite having a well written story, that they would just have to go and throw a twist in, though it was really a cliffhanger rather than a twist ending, leaving you wondering. I won't explain any more as I don't want to spoil it for anyone. If you haven't seen it, I recommend watching this film.
Probably a lesser known film, this stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Chris, a man who went through a tragic accident, killing two of his friends and giving him a mental disability. He can't remember things, or sequence them very well, and needs notes around his house or writing things in his notepad to remember. He lives with a blind friend, Lewis, played by Jeff Daniels. While blind, he is pretty self-sufficient, and is there to help Chris and make sure no one takes advantage of him. Chris works as a cleaner in a small town bank, and he becomes the target of a group of local thugs who want to rob the bank. The leader plays to Chris insecurities, and Chris can't help but think it is a good idea. To the outsider watching, it is obvious that Chris is being set up to take the fall, but something goes wrong during the heist. The plot isn't overly convoluted compared to similar movies, and it is all the better for it. A recommended watch.
I'd seen this before, but Megan hadn't seen it. For those that haven't, it shares some similiarities with Training Day. Keanue Reeves plays a cop who is part of a squad that plays by their own rules. He is willing to do what it takes to get the job done; shoot first and plant drugs if the situation calls for it, to make sure it gets the bad guys out of the neighbourhood. Things turn sour when Internal Affairs start looking in to him, as one of his ex partners has snitched on him. But all isn't as it seems; when he goes to confront his accuser against his captains orders, he witnesses him being gunned down, and the web of deceit gets thicker as people around him appear to be covering his back. A solid film.
Shards of a Broken Crown - Raymond E. Feist
Feist is one of my favourite authors. I've been writing fantasy since my teens really, but it wasn't until I read Feist that I realised how terrible everything I had written truly was, and this gave me something to shoot for. I've recently gone back to read the majority of his books, and this is the fourth and final book in the SerpentWar Saga. Two of the elements I enjoy most about Feists writing are the mortality of the characters, and the division between the magical/supernatural and the regular population. Throughout his books main characters die, unlike some fantasy books where all the heroes survive without a scratch on them. It creates a sense of continuity; that life does still go on without them. The first book set in this world by Feist, Magician, focuses a reasonable amount on the magician Pug, and his boyhood friend Tomas who rises in power due to donning some magical armour left behind by an old race, and they still exist are integral to this story, but I enjoy how there are two relatively separate worlds; the wars fought by mortal men, and those that are pursued by the likes of Pug and Tomas. The conflicts of men are usually spurred on by dark forces more than a simple greedy ruler, but the more magically minded do not often get involved until those sources are revealed, as the general running of the Kingdom are of little concern to them. There are some great struggles, either internally or between characters. Pug often clashes with Prince Patrick; Pug is an honorary Duke of the Kingdom, and Patrick views him like a weapon that he can unleash, something that Pug certainly does not appreciate. Dash also fights an internal struggle, being the son of the Duke of Krondor, as to whether he wishes to serve the Crown, something that he has never been asked whether he wants to do, simply being born into service.
It's the last book I've read of Feists before I stopped reading for a few years. I own the first book of the next series, Talon of The Silverhawk, but I haven't read it yet. I will read a few other books first.
Hitchikers Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams
I've never read this book. As a semi-geek this is somewhat surprising. I have watched the film though, which I did enjoy. I smashed this in a couple of days beause it is so short. What a ridiculous and entertaining book. It is a real page turner, because I always wanted to not only find out what astonishing thing would happen next, but also to find out how it would be delivered or explained. Douglas Adams mastery of the word is amazing. Probably the best character of all is Marvin, the depressed robot, who mopes around and doesn't want anyone to talk to him, and complains about anything and everything. I don't even know how to really explain this book, but I highly recommend it. It does end a bit abruptly, but I suspect that has something to do with this being adapted from a radio series, and I think the followup is Restauraunt at the End Of The World, which is hinted at at the end of the book. Makes me want to watch the movie again, and see if his other written works hold up as well as this.
The Cure For Death By Lightning - Gail Anderson-Dargatz
I asked Megan to suggest a book to me, and this is something she picked up while backpacking overseas. Normally she says you are supposed to swap books when you go to different hostels, but she loved this so much that she had to keep it. I'm five chapters in, and thus far I don't know if it is really my thing, but that is part of why I had Megan suggest a book for me, to break out of what I would normally read. It is a drama set in America in the 50's, and there are a lot of references to after the war, such as rationing of certain goods. It is set on a farmstead, and focuses on a 15 year old girl. It seems all the characters have flaws, her dad in particular who has some sort of head trauma, and gets all angry at some visitors, but then often forgets about it. The whole setting seems a bit morose at the moment, no-one seems to be happy about anything, and the girl has just been asked to bury some cats that her dad has drowned like it is some regular chore, unbeknownst to him that she was trying to save them from that fate. I couldn't say I'm really enjoying it so far, but I am going to stick with it.
Aliens : Sacrifice
Comics Greatest World
See my first post below for Aliens : Sacrifice and Comics Greatest World. I went over the character limit, so perhaps this one is a bit long!