Archive for November, 2010

So, in honour of Leslie Nielsen I was going to watch Airplane! last night… only to realise that we don’t seem to own Airplane! Which I found odd since it’s one of my favourite comedies. On further research I realised that it was my Dad who owned Airplane! (and Airplane! 2, but that’s not important right now). So all in all my planned tribute to Leslie kind of failed, especially. Will have to rectify that by buying them on DVD for myself.

Not much has happened lately that’s inspired me to write, so it’ll just be a short one today. I was thinking of posting up some thoughts on Blu-ray and 3D technology, as I bought my first Blu-ray yesterday – I’ll want to flesh it out a bit first though… that, and it’s too bloody cold. In order to cut costs, I don’t have the heating on during the day as I spend most of it in the same room, so instead I wrap up in my coat and some fingerless gloves. I shit you not. Still so cold though… my office apparently is a converted out-house, so it’s only got one layer of skin and thus doesn’t retain heat too well.

Speaking of cold, watch this. I’d embed the video, but the YouTube version has disappeared so that will have to do. I loved DeadRingers… and even afterwards when John Culshaw went solo for a while. Shame he seems to have disappeared, his impressions were spot on sometimes. The great thing about DeadRingers though was their ability to remain topical. I remember this one sketch during the last election that Tony Blair won, and also during the whole supposed scandal where Labour were monitoring postal votes or something. Jon Culshaw, as Mr. Blair ended this particular sketch with “I Know where you live!” in reference. Great stuff. I can’t find that specific clip, but here’s a sample episode.

Until next time.

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As I’m sure many of you will have heard today, Leslie Nielsen has died at age 84. For those who don’t know, Leslie Nielsen was a Canadian comedian and actor best known for the films Airplane! and The Naked Gun trilogy. If you don’t know what either of those are, well, where the hell have you been? Go buy them already!

Nielsen’s death is of course very sad, but for me it also signifies a true end to an era of comedy films that disappeared years ago. Films like Scary Movie and it’s darkspawn are the modern imagination of the type of film I’m talking about, but there not nearly as good. Airplane!, Airplane! 2, The Naked Gun trilogy, Spy Hard, Hot Shots & Hot Shots part deux… these slap-stick, ever so slightly OTT yet serious parodies of established genres were in a class of their own, and are I would argue America’s answer to Monty Python. It’s films like these that fuelled my own love of comedy, as I’ve always been more interested in parodies and clever-yet-funny twits than in simply ‘being’ funny.

Have you ever heard the line “Don’t call me Shirley?” You should have… it’s got to be one of the most quoted lines from a comedy film ever – that was Leslie Nielsen in Airplane! Here:

And some more:

Ok, that one’s maybe not as funny out of context. Before this film, Nielsen was actually trying to make it as a serious actor, but his ultra-serious deadpan delivery in Airplane! propelled his career into comedy, after which he did his other ‘best known for’ work, The Naked Gun trilogy.

I don’t really  have much to say today, other than that Nielsen will be missed and that I salute him. Go read the BBC article or his wiki entry for a more detailed look at what he’s done, and if you haven’t seen it already, go buy Airplane! It’ll be the single best purchase of your life:

Until next time.

* SPOILER ALERT* In this post I’m going to talk, in detail, about Toy Story 3. If you haven’t seen it yet, I’d recommend you stop reading… and then immediately go buy it. It’s well good.

So, I recently watched Toy Story 3 for the first time. I kind of wish I’d gotten around to seeing it in the cinema, but no matter. I enjoyed it – it’s better than the second one for me, although some elements you can tell have been re-hashed. Mr. Lotso for instance was simply Stinky Pete/Prospector, SunnySide was just an expanded fat-guy apartment, etc…

Still, it was very funny, had a good story to it, and the ending… well, someone asked if I cried. There may or may not have been the slightest collection of moisture under my eyes, but obviously I can’t comment on rumour or speculation.

Someone I talked too though thought it went on too long actually, but I don’t know. I could see where they were coming from, but I enjoyed that scene. I think what probably happened is that Pixar erred on the side of caution and tried to do it ‘right’ as opposed to ‘right and quick’. It was a good scene, and a good end to the film and now that I think about it, that whole set piece has a much deeper connection for people my age (at least I think so anyway).

The original Toy Story came out in 1995, so I would have been seven or so at the time. The film’s theme of toys and that special connection you have with them, as well as the dangers of consumerism I suppose (Woody nearly getting replaced by the newer Buzz Lightyear) would have rang true to my younger self, even if not at the same intellectual level as I’m presenting now. The second film, whilst not as iconic, still had the same resonance I guess, considering it came out in 1999 where I would have been 11 or so.

Take all that in context with the third film’s themes of growing up, moving on, nostalgia (granted, they were more subtle as the majority of the film revolved around the toys escaping Sunnyside and sticking together come what may) … at 22, I can really empathise with the now 17-year old Andy. It probably doesn’t match up as well as if I’d also been going to Uni or something, so perhaps one of the younger generations will appreciate this more, but there really couldn’t have been a more apt and poignant ending to an iconic series. At least, I hope they don’t make a fourth one anyway – would definitely spoil things in my opinion.

Coming back to where the first film ‘fits’ in my personal hierarchy of which one was best… as I said, definitely better than the second one for me, and whilst it’s close to the first, the original Toy Story will always remain the funniest and most iconic for me. It’s a bit of a classic in its own right, not to mention quite an impressive feat of CGI considering when it was released. There’s a very specific reason why the first one is special to me however, and it can be summed up by watching this clip:

Incidentally, this also proves that you really can find anything on YouTube. Anyway… the scene where Woody and the other toys ‘reveal’ themselves to Cid (the nasty kid next door) for me is just such a classic moment, and something they haven’t been able to repeat in either Toy Story 2 or 3, which is a shame. It’s not surprising I guess… in the second one the only real ‘bad’ guy was Stinky Pete, and in the third film, the toddlers were more a force of nature then true villains, so again it fell to another fellow toy, Mr. Lotso, to be the bad guy. Maybe they could have worked something in where they reveal themselves to Andy or something, but I think it would have needed a ‘different’ film for that.

So yeah… just thought that this deserved a mention. I’ll try to keep the non-gaming stuff to a minimum but ultimately, I’ll blog about whatever inspires me to blog. Do you guys have any special connection with Toy Story? Is it just another kids film to you? Feel free to share your thoughts.

Until next time.

Really?

Posted: November 28, 2010 in Lifestyle/Culture, Other
Tags: , , , , ,

Just to follow on quickly from the events of Friday where I met this rather charming woman at one of my mum’s gigs.  Not sure how that’s going, actually, I still have no idea what I’m doing… Anyway, I’m not here to talk about her, but I am here to talk about something she said to me during our chat on Friday.

So, there we were sitting at the bar, doing the whole verbal touchy-feely thing where we make conversation whilst simultaneously trying to pump as much information out of each other as possible through anecdotes and stories, and the conversation turned to birthdays. I was explaining how mine was on January 6th, and so there was always a Mass that day at school, and she mentioned how hers fell on May 4th. There was a slight pause, and then Katie, we’ll just call her Katie for now… no wait, that’s her real name… anyway – Katie (sp?) said this:

Katie: I’m just waiting for the joke to come.

Me: Joke?

Katie: The Star Wars joke… or was it Star Trek? No no, definitely Star Wars.

Me: What Star Wars Joke?

Katie: May 4th? “May the Fourth be with you”?

Me: … Really?

Katie: Yeah, I get that all the time.

Me: Really?

Katie: … yeah?

Me: Oh god, that’s a terrible joke. Who would say that? I mean, I love Star Wars, I grew up on Star Wars but that’s just… on behalf of males everywhere, I apologise. Really, that’s just… wow.

I think I scored some brownie points there with that little faux-outrage routine, but the truth is that it WAS a terrible joke. I mean spend enough time around that boso there, especially when he’s in a #puntastic mood, and you get to see some real doozies. But even they are still a little bit classy in their completely naff way, and I’d like to think Marco would never say something like that. At least, not whilst he’s trying to flirt with a woman anyway.

So, the moral of this rather short post is simple: Stop it. Really, just… no. Hang your head in shame and walk away.

Or, if you happen to be athletic and  at least marginally good looking, keep doing it so that you annoy girls so much they won’t want to talk to you – less competition for me and I could really use the handicap.

Until next time.

A few days ago Marco was tweeting about what people remembered about their first game and stuff, and I realised that I didn’t really know what my literal ‘first’ gaming experience was. As I hinted at in ‘Perspective’, gaming’s only ever really been a hobby for me up until very recently. Oh by the way, apologies… when searching for videos to help illustrate something, I kind of got carried away so there’s a bit of a trailergasm at the end.

I vaguely remember us having a SNES and I think a Commodore 64, or at least some kind of machine that used tapes. I know this at least because I tried putting one of my audio story-tapes in once, just to see what would happen – nothing did. The only games I remember on that were this weird Santa game where I had to fight my way through the level, and some kind of text-RPG based on The Hobbit. On the SNES, we had some Super Mario games, a Zelda game that I remember… but it’s all a little fuzzy. Again, I didn’t really have an emotional connection with that machine.

No… the first game I really remember was Warcraft II: Tide of Darkness… and I’m not entirely sure why. I think it was the first game I saw in the shop and asked for, and possibly the first videogame my Dad ever bought me. I wish I could remember, as it was one of the main games I played growing up. Starcraft as well, but I can’t for the life of me remember when I picked that up. Diablo I had also picked up at some point, and I got Diablo II almost as soon as it game out. (I also picked up Shogun: Total War sometime after it went into the classic collection). But it was mainly Warcraft II, Diablo and Starcraft that I remember keeping me company during the early 90’s, and then when the Nintendo 64 came out in 96′, I became part of the Goldeneye generation and then was more of a true gamer from then on.

Actually, now that I think about it, there were games like Dark Forces, and a few other Star Wars games as well that I played… and of course we can’t forget the legends that were Tie-fighter and X-wing (And later X-wing vs. Tie-Fighter, but I didn’t play that as much). But we’ll leave it there as I’m in danger of coming off on a tangent now.

What I really remember most of Warcraft II was of course the opening cinematic. I don’t know what it was about Blizzard back in the day, but they did some really good opening scenes for their games. Nowadays, even though they’ve got better tech and graphics, they still lack a certain panache those early trailers had. Here’s Warcraft II‘s:

( I did eventually pick up the first Warcraft and play that, but I didn’t enjoy it as much.)

And then of course there was Diablo II‘s, which I think is one of my favourite trailers to date. Not sure why, it’s just so damn… atmosphericDiablo II Intro.

Incidentally, the guy who voices the old man in that trailer also voices the narrator in the original Warcraft III Trailer. I liked Warcraft III, don’t get me wrong, but I guess I’d grown up on the whole Orcs v Humans thing… wasn’t really as interested in The Burning Legion as I probably should have been. So for me personally, that Trailer was more exciting than the game itself. Multiplayer was good mind…

Starcraft II’s Opening Cinematic is alright, although it’s just a re-hash of the announcement trailer with some additional voice-over work. There’s actually this one piece of music on the soundtrack called ‘Wings of Liberty’ that’s quite immense though. The thing that gets me about this trailer is the bit at the end:

“Make no mistake. War is coming, with all its glory… and all its horror. Mr. Findlay… your ‘freedom’, awaits.”

As you’ll also find out soon enough, I have a thing for quotes and quotable lines too. I’ll probably leave that for another post though.

Until next time.

I… I pulled a number. An honest to god number from a real life woman. Granted, she was quite drunk at the time but I PULLED A NUMBER. AHHHHH.

What do I do? How long do I leave it? What do I say!? There’s nothing in my manual about this! I’m NOT PREPARED FOR THIS! Interwebs! HELP ME!!!!

Oh wait, this has nothing to do about gaming. Nevermind.