BLOGTASTIC

30/May/2008
I got painting two figures of my own today! Pictures of these train wrecks coming soon, maybe. Probably not.


28/May/2008
I like socialising. I like creativity. Writing and drawing are common ways of socialising with creativity.
The problem is, I don't work well with writing entirely brand new on-the-spot stories, and prefer to do stuff that work in all those dinky universes I make up. Plus, actual original writing communities online don't seem to exist in approachable, welcoming communities unless they're for fan fiction. And Northern Ireland, despite being host to way too fucking many people who write about The Troubles (it's a crock of shit-spread that's gone on for way too long, you guys! Give it a rest!), I've had severe difficulty finding a creative writing group or anything. I found a creative group, sans the writing, that I talked about once that was more about awareness of the deaf and all that activist stuff, which is cool and all, but I just want to write about skeletons riding Harleys over erupting volcanoes while being chased by molemen and having people to critique it or become a writing partner, y'know.
But drawing for me is so much more casual. Doing it seriously, I vaguely excel at designs and expressions rather than posing, but light-heartedly I think it's not too bad for stupid doodles. There's entire art sites for every kind of art, and there's even a few chat rooms based around drawing, so surely I could make use of them, ey?

STOP DRAWING WELL YOU GUYS
I WANT TO MAKE SILLY DOODLES AND ALL I'M SEEING ARE DEMONSTRATIONS OF SUPERIOR AWESOMITY
STOP IIITTT
Seriously, where am I going to get a group drawing contest of the Battle of Hastings with everyone on Segways, let alone the Charge of the Light Brigade at this rate? It's for a General Writing!


27/May/2008
Iron Man. I saw it! It's very good, too!
Iron Man actually got some publicity before its release, so the entire story wasn't exactly kept secret, so spoilers, which hopefully should be minimal, likely won't hurt anyone. Unless I point those spoilers IN YOUR EYE

As with every nerd in existence, I was pumped when the trailers came out, and was beyond anticipating its release. But as the release dawned closer, my interest waned slightly. Indiana Jones had come out, and Speed Racer, which looked more like F-Zero the movie due to its ludicrous frenetic competitive racing, seemed to grab my interest more. Iron Man's a swell fellow, and makes me feel he's a cool exec with a heart of steel, but the edge had kind of lost after months of anticipation.
But I saw it, and all lost hopes were blasted away with a metaphorical repulsor ray. Iron Man kicked my ass in terms of awesomity and I begged for more!
In a nutshell, Tony Stark makes weapons of mass destruction, terrorists capture him and want those weapons, he makes the Iron Man suit, his coordinate sells the weapons to terrorists, and shit happens, but it all ends up well with some battling on a rooftop. There's very little in the way of philosophical or in-depth story, really, and for a shallow and only occasionally philosophical person such as myself, I have no complaints. The movie doesn't linger on irrelevant or unimportant elements, and always jumps to whatever expands the story or makes the audience laugh. When Pepper sees Tony trying to remove the Iron Man suit, you'd expect to see one of those typical "hey baby let me explain this improbable situation to you" moments, but we've seen those in every movie ever, so it just skips that to some more scene-setting. It's a quick, fast-paced movie, and never needs to dawdle on anything insignificant. It's great!

To sound completely uncultured and maybe bigoted to a sub-factor of whities in an almost positive but badly worded way, Tony Stark is like the dream American. He begins as the reality of defence; he makes weapons with the intentions of using them to bring justice to the world, but seeing they can be used by those disrupting that justice to unpleasant effect, that optimistic view is shattered. And thus, he becomes the dream defence. He can fly anywhere, he can identify good guy from bad guy and zap them before they even realise he's armed. He can pull terrorist leaders from behind walls, and knowing that taking care of the sicko himself would just be unsatisfactory, leaves him to the bashings of the unhappy oppressed citizens. The realistic justice may see him as a villain temporarily, and the unintentional fire fight that would ensue may break off a jet's wing and leave the pilot plummeting to the ground at a dangerous velocity, but he zips in, unjams the parachute and rescues the dude who tried to kill him. Spider-Man may be neighbourhood friendly, and have Spider Sense when something's up, but can he accurately define villain from innocent via a handy-dandy 3D GUI? I BET A NICKEL HE CAN'T
(I'm not experienced in American currency so I've no idea how much that is, actually.)

Plus, there's just something fantastic about that suit. There's something human about it; which is obvious, being man-made and all. With Superman, he's from Krypton, the sun gives him all those handy-dandy abilities or whatever cobblers that is, so unless Batman donned his sun-destroyed armour and destroyed the sun, he's in no risk from losing all those great moves. Iron Man's gotta worry about that. He can fly into space, but he goes down to about 2% power and runs low on thrusters. That's a definite disadvantage and certainly unpleasant, but somehow, it makes the fact what he can do so much more satisfying. He can't fly to the moon, but the fact he can fly at all is just breathtaking. The scene where he plummets from space after his suit ices up had me in open-mouthed awe, and the way he recovered from it had that same expression except with my cheeks lit up. Poetry in motion, dare I say it!

I know everyone's hyped it enough, but seriously, go and see it. Robert Downey Jr. works fantastically in the role, the action is intense, and I just love Iron Man. Plus the toyline looks good. And SAMUEL L JACKSON IS NICK FURY OH GOD OH GOD SUGOOOOIIIII =D
Phew.
Recommended!

In other news, I've a friend who I've been buying Transformers for recently, since he's never been a big fan of eBay and lets me use my tightarse qualities to find stuff for good prices. The figures he wants me to get are for customizing purposes. He's a very good customizer. I have interest in customizing a few figures of my own.
So I did the capitalist thing and took advantage of that by asking for a favour.

CLASSICS SKYWARP IS MIIIIINE
There's an official one, but it only comes with a crappy white-Optimus-Prime Ultra Magnus and will most definitely cost me up the ass; and even so, the colours don't satisfy me. The dark purple is bright pink on the toy, and what should be grey is a really clashing bright white. Not satisfying, especially for the prices it goes for. As well, Classics Starscream is more orange than red, and that really makes him crappen a fair bit in my eyes; not to mention the Mega SCF is just really satisfying. So, a spray can of black paint later, lots of purple, silver and tin detail paint that was not painted by me no sir, and I happily say that I have a Skywarp!
Well, once the fumes dissipate. It's still in the garage, where it's likely to be eaten by mutant wasps attracted by the scent.
They always say you get better appreciation for something when you see it in action, and that's all too true for toy painting. My chum aims to make the Seeker squadron out of the Movie toyline, and has done the first three, and is aiming for Sunstorm next, and hopes to maybe find a way to sneak Skyfire in, too. Toy painting has been something I've had a lot of interest in, but having never seen the process, I always imagined SEVERE PRECISION REQUIRED. When I think paint, I think "mess." I do not know the physics of painting 2-dimensional art, and therefore I apply that to the 3D kind. My friend's work made it look incredibly simple! Sure, he's been doing it for ages, and made a very nice silver Classics Megatron, but I was awed, really. His attention to detail far surpasses mine, and seeing him try to get the best wash for all the chest and foot details that I would pay no attention to was just super.
We left the shoulders black, but added a tin stripe to them, as we weren't too sure if we were going to have the purple stripe down the middle like the original toy's wing design, but opted against it due to having no lines to follow. So we just threw in a tin line just for giggles. I think it's superb. It looks awesomer in person, the camera was four-fifths dead when I took the photos and the garage isn't exactly photo friendly.
Now all I need is a way to half-ass Thrust, Ramjet and Dirge and I can be nerdily content.


26/May/2008
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I saw it! It's very good!
Actually being polite for once, though, I'll hide the review beneath blackened text. See, this is a movie that's both new, and I'd expect it to be pretty popular, so spoiling it for people just wouldn't be on, son. Well, maybe. It's not like I cared before!

First things first: I've only seen Episode I of the Star Wars prequels, but from what I've heard of the others, I can't say I've much interest in seeing them. Seeing "written by George Lucas" and the LucasArts logo before the movie did admittedly make me worry a little. But from that moment on, it was pure Indiana Jones. Maybe not the best Indiana Jones, maybe not the worst, but there was no doubting that it was some damn good Indiana Jones.
The story, in a nutshell, is Russians looking for crystal skulls which have all the knowledge in the one or some cobblers I've forgotten. These skulls are alien skulls. Aliens with elongated skulls and about ten feet tall, but otherwise perfectly hominid. It disappointed my "why can't there be more aliens with tendril eyes" portion of enjoyment, but that's not exactly important. It's mostly about uncovering the mystery of the skulls, finding where the skull goes, and what the hell's up with them. People have complained that aliens just don't go well in the Indiana Jones world, but to be honest, it seemed rather reasonable from the casual movie goer such as myself. It's not like aliens were marching out en masse from a flying saucer with flailing tentacles and 1950s ray guns while warbling "TAKE US TO YOUR LEADER" and mingling with the doctor's antics. The skull's the most you see, with one dead flesh-and-blood alien and one more you see at the end, as well as a giant flying saucer. I will admit that last one didn't seem a bit odd. Aliens are perfectly fine, but give them a flying saucer and that takes the cake. Again, it's only for a brief bit, and it's followed up by a huge amount of debris being whisked into the air and falling down again, so that makes up for it in wow factor. I was perfectly fine with the trans-dimensional portal inside the temple, so the UFO could've been excised, but hey, it's been made already.
There's surprisingly little of the actual kingdom, though. You see a bunch of the wild citizens and they let the heroes go peacefully once they see the skull, and then they all get mowed down by the Russians. Then again, it's more the search so nag nag nag!

The Last Crusade is still my favourite of the series, and primarily because the partners Indy has tagging along with him make for some excellent comic relief. Sean Connery is fantastic foil for Jones' wild ways, and that bumbling business man guy just makes things work. If there's an area Kingdom of the Crystal King were to dip in, it'd probably be here. When Theater Hopper showed the "secret weapon" of a press photo of Indy riding "bitch" on Shia's bike, I was mildly raging. Of course, in context it's rather understandable, since he's in a mild daze being chased by the FBI, so Mutt throws him on the bike and takes off, prompting a hilarious scene where they crash in the university library. Mutt makes good inexperienced foil for Indy, and the non sequitur hair combing makes for some good laughs. Marion Ravenwood returns as Mutt's mother (who happens to be Indy's son!), and to be honest, she didn't do much. She was there as the obligatory female character, but aside from some great scenes where she would bicker with Indiana and Mutt, she didn't add a whole lot. To be frank, she seemed thrown in just so they wouldn't have to make character development for a new female character. Great scenes, but wholly unimportant. The professor was just a device for the plot, though Mack, even if he did just become a partner over halfway through, proved interesting. A triple agent, a lust for money, and he's played by that dude from King Arthur who also did the voice of Mr. Beaver. What more could you ask for? It's a shame he didn't appear in more of the movie as an ally, though, because while Shia wasn't anywhere near as bad as I thought he'd be, Mack just stood out, y'know?
Villains were pretty meh. Russians, one of those women with the short hair and militaristic attitudes. Standard stuff. At the beginning Indy is on the run from the FBI, and I fear that would dominate the plot in some way, but it's thankfully forgotten about after that.

The Indiana Jones action is what I define as damn good action. Wonderfully choreographed, almost cartoon-like in nature (scrap the almost sometimes!) and plenty of great fisticuffs. And nearly twenty years on, it's still remarkably good. Car chases through the jungle with swashbuckling on top of jeeps, a fist fight around a ring of flesh-eating ants, escaping from a flooding temple, and surviving a nuclear blast. The Flying Omelette forums have a thread on the movie, and it mentioned a nuclear blast, much to my confusion, saying that it could have been excised from the movie due to its pointlessness. I can't say I'm arguing with that, as the whole scene did seem rather out of place, but damn if it wasn't great. Not the pinnacle of the movie, but certainly a great part to throw in at the beginning.
I'll admit at the first half of the movie I was worried there was going to be a severe lack of fist fighting. Those are what practically make the Indy movies for me, and the fight in the marketplace of the first movie is just the epitome of excellence in its beautiful choreography. There's lots of car chases; really good car chases, but it's only when they end do you get some good, long, dedicated punchings going on. They're not in the same frantic and cluttered environments as the previous movies, but considering the combatants are surrounded by a floor of flesh eating ants, I can barely complain!
I was a little surprised to see nothing truly "gross" about the movie, though. Temple of Doom has hearts being ripped out, monkey brains and that guy being fed to a rock crusher; Raiders of the Lost Ark had the whole face exploding ending, and The Last Crusade had your fellow rapidly aging into a skeleton. This lacked anything to that calibre. It did have the Russian lady's eyes flaming before she dissipated into particles, and flesh eating ants that completely engulf a Russian and enter his mouth, but nothing really "bleugh" level.

Onto the little nags that other people made: CGI. CGI cars being thrown from explosions, a CGI fridge falling from a nuclear explosion, and CGI gophers. Of course, I'd like all those things to be real, but considering the main meat of the meal, the car chasing, fist fighting and all that is about as real as Hollywood gets, then I can hardly complain. The CGI gophers were mentioned so much that I thought it would be a case of the CGI babies in Revenge of the Sith, but they're just there for a few gags. Those CGI babies were A MAJOR PLOT POINT FOR THE FOLLOWING THREE MOVIES. Of course, I haven't actually seen the CGI babies, but still. The gophers are fine.

It's a marvellously swell package, I must say. For twenty years on, it makes a better attempt at emulating the feel of the original movies than Star Wars, and it certainly wasn't as disappointed as internet faggotry lead me to believe. It would've been nicer for him to have more engaging partners, especially after the greatness in The Last Crusade, but for what it is, it's pretty damn good. I recommend greatly.

In summary, it's pretty darn awesome. It's got car chases, fist fights, wacky plot twists and surprisingly good input from Shia LaBouf. Plus Harrison Ford is still as man-sexy as he ever was. Definitely worth the 5 ticket that I didn't pay for!


24/May/2008

The wheel. Electricity. Man on the moon. Democracy.
And you'd think trivial flaws like this would be things we could get past. I will not allow humans to consider themselves progressing when a person can not shower for a few days and not get a private pep talk about hygiene and attempting to impress people via superficial means!
Not that it's happened to me in that manner, just one of those activist thoughts, y'know.


22/May/2008
After working for three or four years on a 118GB computer that could barely open MySpace without slowing to a grinding halt, I've gotten me a brand new computer!

And it's bloody huge. 465GB, as big as a TV, some kind of media centre that can be operated with a remote control, and of all things, it reads the news. Not too shabby!
It also took two days to get all my programs back thanks to the internet being cocked up, but things are super swell now. I'd like to say with a machine this powerful, I could almost attempt trying some next-generation games or something, but none of them support gamepads so screw that. I'll stick to Halo.
Which I accidentally left in my old computer. Which now refuses to operate. Power clearly gets sent to it, but it won't boot up or extend the disc tray. Whoops! Looks like it's Aliens vs. Predator 2 or Kawaks until that gets sorted.


It does tie the room together, though.
(I seriously need a bigger shelf. Frickin' Marvel Legends and their clogging of my desk space!)


16/May/2008
Obesity contributes to global warming.
By using fuel.
It really looks like like they're pulling at straws, now. Those funerals where lots of cars drive very slowly down a road or two uses more fuel than necessary when it could be on a bus, or even just walking. Why aren't they enemies to society?
You'd think that quake in China would supply the world with enough news to prevent it getting slow, but apparently not.


13/May/2008
There is no better sensation in the world than slipping a pair of brand new, just-out-of-the-packet, extra comfortable socks. My old pairs had gotten more holes that I could count and were practically worn down to slipping tubes with no real mass over my feet, so I got a new pair and daaaaaaamn why didn't I do that earlier. If I had to pick a favourite sensation, it'd be putting on fresh new socks. Mm-mm-mm!
Everyone else would probably choose sex as their favourite. See, I'm original.
Today's observation: Those Romans are crazy!
Today's other observation: "You so juicy and delicious, like a whopper" is a valid compliment regarding a woman's attractiveness. At least on the internet. On MySpace. Suddenly the "quarter pounder with cheese" discussion in Pulp Fiction sounds so different. A bit.


09/May/2008
I like the Flying Omelette forums. It's pretty much the perfect community I've always wanted; close-knit, not afraid to speak honest feelings towards others, and all very chummy. Of course, I'm simply a terrible person for message boards, take like two hours to proofread a message so no tiny word sends out a difference subtext, barely post personal opinions, and act as one of those lurky types that do nothing of real significance, so yeah, I just read message boards these days and don't participate. I'd like to, but not with these fatal attitude flaws!
Crawl and 1000 frequently posts his opinions there, and although I do admit sometimes it strikes me as a little humourous just how much he has to say on insigificant subjects (at least, subjects me and my culturual philistine style mind believe are insignificant, hurf), they're good reading, if not just for the sake that they're long, actually talky-talk posts with meaning rather than just spouting off memes. Like Sonic Vegemite's forums now. It was once a close-knit community like six years ago, and now it's just everyone going YEAH THE INTERNET IS COOL THE INTERNET ROCKS YOU ALL SUCK LET'S ALL BE THE INTERNET TL;DR SHOOP DA WHOOP LICK DICKS and I hope they fall into flame-belching ovens.
I read this and really, really liked it. It's precisely the sort of thing that's been bugging me for years, but me being me, never really decided to speak out against it. It's... it's hard for me to really speak my words out in praise of it, my creative juices currently sapped and all (don't expect anything other than blog entires this month, fellas!), but it's just great. I like it. It's a topic that's been bugging me and it's addressed really well!

What I can talk about in more detail is what I consider an extension of the subject, though me being me and unlikely to know what I'm talking about half the time, it's probably got very little resemblance: Telling someone to go back to what they normally do.
I loathe that.
It's understandable via channeling the mind of a very shallow and picky person - probably me - but it's just something that pickles my egg, you know? For instance, the Brothers Chaps are generally met with "go back to sbemails" when updating Homestar Runner with anything remotely different. To be frank, although I still find the stuff pretty good, the newer emails haven't really gripped me as much as they used to, and I've actually preferred more of the stuff that tried something different. In entertainment, saying "stick with what works best," to me, just seems very defeatist. Isn't entertainment meant to be about progress? Well, entertaining audiences is priority one, yes, but if we stuck with "what worked best" we'd still be in the slapstick silent era of bops on the noggin and damsels tied to train tracks. Of course, I probably wouldn't be complaining. Sure beats the crap you see on TV nowadays! (I'm topical)
There was a documentary type thingy on TV a few years back, 'Whatever Happened to the British Sitcom?' or something among those lines, which, in a nutshell, really was pointing the blame on various things for the demise of your very, very typical sitcom of a married couple living in a simple house and getting into wacky antics. It wasn't talking about the death of sitcoms, it was talking about the death of traditional sitcoms. It pointed the blame on outlandish shows like The Young Ones, the new territory approach of Red Dwarf, and even the life lesson style moments of One Foot in the Grave, and to me, it just seemed rather pathetic. It pointed the blame on reality-type shows like Airport, too, for Christ's sake! It was basically an hour of whining "why isn't everything the same?" and disowning television for daring to move on. Had it presented itself differently, like 'Why is there no basic sitcom to balance out the more outlandish and experimental shows?' then it wouldn't be so bad, perhaps, but it really was dreadful. Then again, I haven't seen it since that time years ago so I could be remembering it wrong.
Likewise, actors, writers and whatnot get abused for both trying new things and doing the same old, which, admittedly, is a little more understandable half the time. Actors who were primarily action dudes in their younger days have gone on to work in more down-to-earth roles as they age, which does make an interesting change, but at the same time, seeing Harrison Ford and whats-his-face from Die Hard still kicking ass and taking names when they're getting on in their years is awesome in its own right. On the other hand, people lamented Pierce Brosnan dropping the role of James Bond, but he hasn't seemed to be doing anything other than those type of roles in his career after that, so aside from the change of scenery, it's not like much has changed. Which I'm a little disappointed in.
(Totally off-topic, but golly does Pierce look good with facial hair!)
Video games, on the other hand, I'm sure could be pretty swell with advancing, but I'm just not interested. Some companies want to truly advance, while others just turn those advancements into lazy, shoddily inserted gimmicks, so there never seems to be true dedication to moving on. I'm pretty content with 2D platformers, really. Make more of those, guys.

tl;dr - People in the creative industry should do whatever they want. It's not like we're forced to care!


06/May/2008
As you're probably aware, I have lots of stupid opinions. Those stupid opinions are frequently exaggerated for the sake of interesting reading, as if this blog were actually about my life and not things in my life that I deem of vague interest to at least someone that isn't my microscopic ego, then I'm certain nobody would care. For example, my new computer arrived today. I haven't got it set up, and since all I can do is look at it or spout off technical jargon that makes no sense to me, that's not interesting reading. Who would care?
However, the following ramble is totally and completely serious.
You know how I mentioned Microsoft Office 2007 being a major pain in the ass for me? I got it because it had a complete version of Microsoft Access that my old one, for whatever reason, did not have. And thus, I have to deal with the 2007 version of everything; Word, Excel, PowerPoint; everything except FrontPage, thankfully.
And every time I have to use them, I CRINGE.
I noticeably shudder and dread the thought of having to work with these absolutely mind-bogglingly dreadful interfaces.
In my opinions, I've probably said things like "I'd rather saw off my eyeball than play Final Fantasy VII for more than twenty minutes," but at least for matters like that it's only something insignificant like a video game. All pain I suffer I inflict upon myself by bothering with it, and the only automatic casualty is simple disinterest.
Office 2007? I have to work with this shit. Frustrating fun is little more than frustration with no consequence. Frustrating work is SOUL SHATTERING.
I am trying to find the goddamned bulletpoint tool here.
I have no idea where it is.
I can click these seven tabs time and time again, but I don't want to, because doing so is accomplishing nothing.
What could be ludicrously simple - and was ludicrously simple - is made SOUL SHATTERING.
It is making me want to AVOID the program. Or, more accurately, ABOLISH IT FROM EXISTANCE.
Ugh.

In other news, I'm getting fined £50 for having my dog foul in a park.
Even though the litter warden confronted me when it happened, found out I had the necessary equipment to pick up and dispose of the excrement but that I simply wasn't aware my dog had excreted, so no further charges would be pressed.
And now I'm getting fined.
Contradicting what I was explicitly told.
Somehow, this makes me less agitated. I guess I have less faith in the government than I do in convenient software interfaces.
I am a fickle man.


04/May/2008
Now, I absolutely adore the art of modifying toys to make new ones, and hope to at least give it a shot some time when I try and do something about my shoddy painting skills. However, sometimes it feels like products and kitbashes have been explicitly made to make you sad.

Like this. This... is just awesome. The Cybertron Soundwave figure never really caught my interest, but somehow making the colour scheme bright and cheery and slapping on a new head makes me want it so very much. But being a kitbash, it's not mass-produced, and the most anyone can do is stare in nerdish awe.

And this is what we're getting for reals. It's obvious that without spending a horseload of budget they wouldn't be able to get all those lavish little details, but still, less black and a new head could go a long way.
Oh well. At least the Roadbuster repaint looks good, even if it looks more fit for Springer than Springer's actual figure.


03/May/2008
How about that Microsoft Office 2007, eh?

Sure has a ludicrously unwieldly and cumbersome layout that proves all too competent in baffling me silly, am I right?
Seriously.
See that swirly Microsoft icon in the top left corner? That's the new File menu.
It doesn't say File, or anything that would actually indicate you need to click it to get such minor features as OPENING A FILE or PRINTING A DOCUMENT.
I wonder why I even bother with new computer software sometimes.


02/May/2008
Dear unknown parent in the neighbourhood,
I would kindly appreciate it if take care of your seemingly grievously injured child once he or she starts BAWLING THEIR GODDAMNED HEAD OFF IN AGONY.
Yeah, it's finally getting Spring-like and therefore it's A-OK to let your offspring traipse about in the yard unsupervised without getting frostbite or something, but when said offspring BEGINS WAILING FOR A SOLID QUARTER OF AN HOUR DEMANDING MEDICAL ATTENTION FROM THEIR MOTHER it may be deemed wise to actually heed their calls.
I specifically ask for the parent to heed these calls. There are no dangerous individuals in the neighbourhood (to my knowledge!), so your child is in no danger of abduction or death if one lets someone else do it, but it doesn't exactly create a very good image for yourself, y'know.
Plus I'm trying to relax here, man. I'm really stressed! I don't want to hear your child undergoing a near death experience and sound like a hideous banshee when I'm trying to get over BEING A STRESSED MOTHERTRUCK.
Yours sincerely and having withheld the urge to embed an axe in your child's skull somehow,
Ragey.