Showing posts from February, 2007

Wackiness for a Wednesday

Bored this Wednesday afternoon?

The latest Movies in 30 Seconds with Bunnies is out. This time it's a minute+ epic tribute to James Bond, Bunnified. Great stuff!

VhailorZ made me aware of this World of Warcraft birthday cake, which is pretty awesome.

And then, who knew that there are other pfangirls out there? Well, more specifically, fangirls into comics, horror films, video games, cult TV series and any assorted dark weirdness. This is the website for online magazing Fangirl. Their slogan: "I'm not a Cosmogirl, I'm a Fangirl..."

Anyway, semi-related, there's even a Fangirl Photo Book and Documentary project underway, which sounds pretty cool, although you have to be near major North American cities to participate. Totally unfair...

Clerks 2

There really is no other way to describe Clerks II other than it’s like spending an hour and a half with good friends just messing around, debating utter crap and trying to make some sense out of your life. It’s not life altering, unforgettable stuff but you come out of the cinema with a smile on your face.

I have to admit that of all the Kevin Smith movies, the only 2 I haven’t seen are Chasing Amy and the original Clerks. So no doubt I missed out on some references to the original. Still, if you’ve seen any of the other Smith films (including Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Mallrats) you’ll spot pretty much all the familiar faces – naturally Jay and Silent Bob have a suitably prominent role in the film.

Clerks II brings audiences back into the lives of slackers Dante and Randall from the first film. When the video store/tea-room they run burns down, they ultimately settle at Mooby's, a fictional McDonald's-style fast-food outlet. While contending with strange custome…

Mission Accomplished

I did it. On my fourth week of doing kettlebell reps and reverse chin-ups twice a week, I did my first 15 proper chin-ups. That's a major accomplishment for someone who has never had any upper body strength to lift my weight before.

Now, once my scraped back heals, I can get back to learning how to effectively escape from side control. These days I seem to spend a frustrating, tear-producing amount of time with someone's shoulder and 80kg weight painfully rammed into my neck and jaw. And I am sick of the discomfort.

Anyway, back to entertainment type stuff, I'm a bit mentally out of it today, having stayed up late last night to watch the Academy Awards broadcast on MNET (Oscarwatching is an annual TV tradition in my home). There's commentary on the show all over the Internet and blogger universe, so here are just a few of my off-the-top-of-my-head thoughts:

I wish they'd scrap the whole red carpet interview thing. It's just so horribly artificial. The interviewer…

Trailer Tuesday: Pan's Labyrinth

Innocence Has A Power Evil Cannot Imagine.

Pan's Labyrinth won 3 Oscars at the Academy Awards on Sunday evening. While the Spanish language film missed out on the prestigious Best Foreign Language Film award - The Academy has always been resistant to fantasy films - Pan's Labyrinth dominated the evening's top 'technical creativity' awards, winning for Cinematography, Make-up and Art Direction.

From director Guillermo Del Toro, Pan's Labyrinth has been heralded as a magic realism masterpiece (scoring 96% at Rotten Tomatoes), and a dark fairy tale for adults. The plot synopsis:

Written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, PAN'S LABYRINTH is a thrilling, violent fairy tale set in post-Civil War Spain. Ivana Baquero stars as Ofelia, a young girl who moves with her mother, Carmen (Ariadna Gil), into the home of Captain Vidal (Sergi López), in an abandoned mill in the middle of dark, dangerous woods. Vidal is leading his team of soldiers against resistance fighters--…

Out and about this weekend

Friday afternoon at the A1 testing sessions was a very pleasant afternoon. Mostly we sat about chatting and enjoying the shade of the Nottingham Road Breweries tent. We did watch the cars going around the track for a while, but with the majority of the viewing stands positioned at corners and turns, we didn’t exactly watch the vehicles at exciting top speed.

And, this being Africa, a hole opened up on the track (gotta love our well-maintained roads!), damaging the suspension of the Italian car. After that, test runs were cancelled for the rest of the day as organisers began a patch-it job to hold the road together for 2 more days of intensive racing.

So, nope, I haven’t been converted to a motorsport fan.

On Saturday, Paul and I headed down to uShaka’s Wet ‘n Wild for the first time. Of course, what’s a trip to a waterpark without me injuring myself? I went to Durban’s old Waterworld only once – when I was 5, and I split my eyebrow open on a supertube.

These days my spine juts out a li…

The 2007 Academy Awards

Well, the 2007 Academy Awards have just wrapped in the last hour or so. Mad South African film buffs may have actually been watching the ceremony live on DSTV, which meant getting up at - or staying up until - 3am. More rational movie fans, put off by the trials of time difference, may be watching the delayed broadcast of the ceremony tonight at 8pm on MNET.

I've included this year's Oscar results below, but out of respect for those iron-willed individuals who will spend the whole day avoiding the winners' lists in the media, the results are in white.

All in all, with the exception of 'The Biggie', Best Picture, it was a pretty dull year with no real surprises, particularly if you've been following the award season build-up.

Best Picture: The Departed
Best Director: Martin Scorsese, The Departed
Best Actor: Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland
Best Actress: Helen Mirren
Best Editing: The Departed
Best Original Song - I Need to Wake Up, Inconvenient Truth
Best Ori…

Plans for the weekend

Well, technically my weekend starts at around 1pm today, with the whole company heading down to watch test runs at the A1 Grand Prix - the main race happens on Sunday. Now I’m not a motor racing fan at all. I just can’t see the excitement about speeding around on the same 2km piece of track for several hours. The only thing that piques my interest is accidents, and frankly, that’s sick. However, it will be an interesting first-time experience, seeing, hearing (I’ve got earplugs) and smelling the vehicles in action, up close. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll find a reason that excuses all the traffic chaos that A1 preparations have caused in Durban this last month.

Otherwise, Paul and I are going to give the big Black Knight boss battle in the Family Guy video game another bash. My fingers have been itching lately as well to replay God Of War, considering the jaw droppingly positive reviews the sequel has been receiving. I need to be back ‘in the zone’ for a game that has been receiving universa…

Family friendly cartoons

I admit that I haven’t grown out of my fondness for cartoons – hell, for a long period in my childhood I wanted to be an animator. I still see most animated movies at the cinema, and have an especial never-miss fondness for ‘mature’ cartoon series like South Park, Family Guy, American Dad and The Simpsons (I’ve never seen Aqua Teen Hunger Force or Capdog’s suggestion of Monkey Dust).

Anyway, this post isn’t so much about these cartoons, specially designed for adults. Rather it’s about good, wholesome animated entertainment for the whole family. Because, frankly, a scan over the kids’ TV timeslots reveals a desperate shortage. Gone are the days of enertaining wholesome Disney series like Ducktales, Rescue Rangers and the Gummi Bears. Today, if the series aren’t live action (*yawn*), they’re typically horrible, largely incomprehensible anime series based on always changing card games (‘I choose YOU’), or involving weird busty, big eyed girls who sprout tails and feelers and have somethin…

Entertainment updates for Wednesday

Some bits and pieces of entertainment news for this Ash Wednesday (last night I made way too many pancakes and consumed way too much vetkoek at a church function):

300 received a spontaneous standing ovation at its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival. Who would have ever though that would happen (in Europe especially) for a film based on a graphic novel? The film opens in North America on 9 March, and in South Africa on 30 March.

Speaking of 300, the site for the film's soundtrack by Tyler Bates is now online. It mixes classical orchestral with heavy contemporary rock. I'm definitely getting hold of this one!

Aaron "Thank you for Smoking; The Core" Eckhart is playing Harvey Dent/Two-Face in Batman Begins sequel, The Dark Knight. He joins Heath Ledger, who is playing the Joker as the 2nd of the film's villains. This said, it's unclear whether Dent will give into his suppressed rage and actually become the coin-flipping, duality-obsessed Two-Face, or wheth…

Trailer Tuesday: Sunshine

I only learnt about this one a few weeks back. Sunshine is the latest from Trainspotting, 28 Days Later and Shallow Grave director Danny Boyle, and features a impressive cast of 'up-and-comers' and borderline A-listers, including Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Michelle Yeoh, Mark Strong and Rose Byrne.

The plot:
Fifty years in the future, the sun is dying, and the earth and its inhabitants are dying with it. Seven years have passed since several crewmembers on board the “Icarus” disappeared without a trace while on a mission to save the planet. Eight scientists on board the “Icarus II,” some from America, the rest from China, represent the earth’s final hope. They are carrying a massive bomb, the size of Kansas, which will be used to reignite a part of the dying sun. Deep into their journey, with radio contact far out of reach, the group begins to make critical mistakes. Their voyage becomes even stranger when they pick up a distress signal from the original “Icarus.” Suddenly, t…

The Weekend

Well, apart from slicing my finger open with a freshly-sharpened paring knife on Friday, the weekend was a good one.

Paul and I spent a good portion of every evening playing the Family Guy video game. We’re right near the end now but completely stuck when it comes to battling Peter’s old nemesis, the Black Knight. Once the knight’s health is low enough, the battle slips into ‘key combo’ mode where you have to tap buttons in a certain order to defeat the knight. We can’t string a single combo together – the knight just pushes Peter away.

And we can’t figure out what we’re doing wrong. Are we just too slow? Are we supposed to hold the button down until the next button is show, or just tap it once? I know it’s an off-chance that anyone here has played the game and will be able to comment, but if anyone has any ideas how to defeat the Black Knight, please comment. Online FAQs and message boards have proved useless so far, although apparently the Black Knight battle is a common frustration.

First things first...

As you may have noticed, this blog has a new graphical header. Thanks to Paul for helping me decipher the HTML and upload it. I haven't decided whether or not to keep this header - it was something of a impromptu decision. Maybe you have some better design ideas?

Also, I see for the first time that I've reached Number 4 in the Entertainment category of SA Blog Top Sites. Things are reset on a Monday though, so chances are by the time you read this I'll have dropped down a few positions. But hits are definitely on the increase (for the first time ever I've broken the 400 unique hits mark), so thanks to all my 'readers', even if you are the silent lurker type.

February GEAR column

From GEAR's RPG-focused issue.

Gamer gazing in 2007

Here we are, a full month already into the new year. Chances are that you’re working on trimming away that festive season flab, or at least contemplating it as you sit slack-limbed back in the office, lecture theatre or classroom.

We have a whole new year ahead of us, and in terms of gaming, the radar is jammed with upcoming titles.

The problem with gaming, though, is that it’s very easy to grow jaded. Whether you’re a casual player, or prone to more serious gaming analyses, over time you can become bored. In a market stuffed with sequels and unfulfilled promises of revolutionary gameplay, truly original games are lacking.

So we substitute our boredom with a permanent state of superficial, sweaty excitement. We just bounce our enthusiasm from one game to another. No sooner is a title released than we’ve lost interest. Sometimes we don’t even play what we’ve been heralding for months. We’re already off seeking a new fix.

I’m attempting …

Rocky Balboa

Lots of people rolled their eyes when a post-60 Sylvester Stallone picked up boxing gloves yet again for the 6th in the Rocky series. But surprisingly, Rocky Balboa is a very satisfying concluding chapter for probably the greatest cinematic underdog story ever.

But perhaps I’m biased. As a child of the 80’s I grew up watching, and thoroughly enjoying, the Rocky movies. Clearly I wasn’t alone – the average age of the cinema audience I saw the film with was about 20-22.

Rocky Balboa (written and directed by Stallone himself) is a throwback to the first 2 films in the series, stripping out the macho silliness of the 3rd and 4th movies, as well as the depressing events that marred the 5th film.

What’s great about Rocky is that he is such a vintage hero – a simple guy, he follows a strict moral code, helping people, encouraging self-respect in those around him and carrying a torch for his now deceased wife, Adrian. He’s a hero focused not on winning, but rather on ‘going the distance’, provi…

More graphic novel movies on the horizon

Following the success of Sin City and (presumably) the coming success of 300, another Frank Miller graphic novel is being primed for a cinematic treatment. Ronin is a hard-hitting tale that mixes samurai with sci-fi:

Ronin begins in feudal Japan, when a samurai's master is killed by Agat, the demon who has been his archenemy for years. Forced to become a disgraced ronin to avenge his master's death, the samurai finally confronts and slays the demon, but at a terrible price.

Leap to the 21st century, where the Aquarius Project and its biotechnological wonders are the last saving grace for a New York that has become a festering corpse. A telepath named Billy Callas becomes the focal point for the renewed battle between the ronin and the demon, a battle which will take on horrific proportions as the violence and corruption brought on by the enemies' resurrection spreads. Who will survive?

It all sounds very Samurai Jack-ish to me, although Ronin is no doubt far more gritty and …

My Funny Valentine

Makin’ Whoopee! I thought I better take advantage of my “pfangirl” moniker and post a scene from one of my favourite ever, saucy, mush-free romances.

The holiday may be a lot of rubbish but it’s got its amusement value – like last night spotting 20 men queuing outside a florist on a normally pedestrian-free Musgrave Road after dark.

Anyway, I encourage everyone to spend some quality time today with someone special, or doing special to you (show some love for yourself). Myself, I’ll be swapping an evening spent with my sweaty legs wrapped around multiple strange men for an evening with one strange man in particular;)

Movie release dates

Although they are always subject to change, here are the South African release dates for some highly anticipated movies, including the absolute BIGGIE...

300 - 30 March!

Here are the others:

The Oscar-nominated quadrilogy that is:
The Pursuit of Happyness - 16 February
The Last King of Scotland - 23 February
Babel - 23 February
Notes on a Scandal - 2 March

Music And Lyrics - 2 March
Marie Antoinette - 16 March
Mr Bean's Holiday - 30 March
Hannibal Rising - 20 April
Spider-Man 3 - 4 May
Oceans 13 - 15 June
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - 13 July

Trailer Tuesday: Hot Fuzz

Big cops. Small town. Moderate violence.

There are many fans out there of Shaun of the Dead, the zombie comedy with a delicious British flavour. Now from the same team (Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg) comes Hot Fuzz, which promises to poke fun at all those Sleepy English Town Murder Mysteries that you can't escape on BBC Prime or Hallmark.

Here's the plot synopsis, as well as the link to the official Hot Fuzz site:

Top London cop, Police Constable Nicholas Angel, finds himself reassigned to the sleepy West Country village of Sandford. With garden fetes and neighbourhood watch meetings replacing the action of the city, Angel struggles to adapt to his situation and finds himself partnered with Danny Butterman, an oafish but well meaning young Constable. Just as all seems lost, a series of grisly accidents motivates Angel into action. Convinced of foul play, Angel realises that Sandford may not be as idyllic as it seems.

I actually hadn't even heard about this film until last week. …

Otherwise, this weekend…

Apart from watching Apocalypto this weekend, it was a weekend of money-spending. I think my credit card is still steaming…

For one thing Paul and I went clothes shopping. Paul was by far the big spender (why are guys’ clothes so much more expensive than girls?); I contented myself with some bargains I found on the surf stores on Stanford Hill Road. I finally managed to pick up new, more comfortable branded baggies for R100. Oh, and yet again, I found myself trapped in a half wetsuit. Paul had to pry the stupid thing over my sweaty, cloth-suctioning shoulder blades.

Where the money spending really happened was that Paul and I took the plunge and bought our Golden Circle tickets for the My Coke Fest concert happening in Johannesburg on 27 April. Top lining the 12 hour music festival are Guns ‘n’ Roses, Evanescence and Hoobastank, with other international and local artists still to be announced. I couldn’t really care about Axle and co (apart from Welcome to the Jungle), but Evanescence …


Mel Gibson is not the most subtle of film makers. But the flipside of that is that he knows how to captivate the audience with archetypes and striking imagery. Apocalypto plays out like a cinematic nightmare. Not that the film is bad– far from it. It’s just that much of Apocalypto has the quality of a bad dream: watching your village destroyed, your wife raped, lingering shots of decadent evil ‘city’ Mayans laughing at your misfortune, plague, fields of decapitated corpses, beating hearts ripped from bodies and relentless pursuit by armed enemies.

It’s all the stuff of nightmares. And it’s an effective, appropriate approach as nightmarish incidents are exactly what happen to lead character Jaguar Paw, a hunter who leads a contented life in the jungle with his pregnant wife, son and the rest of his tribe.

This peaceful existence is shattered when a band of slave traders raid Jaguar Paw’s home and he, and many of the other villagers, are dragged back to the ‘place built of stone’, the de…

The Prestige

I suppose one of my biggest complaints about Batman Begins was that it was just so bloody conventional. Not at all what you’d expect from director Christopher Nolan, who knows how to make bloody good twisty movies that play with audience’s minds as much as the minds of filmic characters.

I loved the Alaskan set serial killer thriller Insomnia, and I was totally blown away last night by Nolan’s latest, The Prestige. It was just such a refreshing movie, and I was engrossed for the full 2 hour 40 minutes running time.

Essentially The Prestige is a film about obsession, and competition that spirals out of control into destruction. Set against the competitive, secrecy-fuelled magic scene in London of the late 1800s (an unusual, interesting setting), Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are friends turned bitter rivals who set out to top each other’s stage show, even if it means increasingly dirty sabotage.

Jackman, here, proves himself to have Ewan McGregor-like diversity, as the showman of the t…

Admin and plans for the weekend

In case you haven’t noticed it in the menu bar, you can now browse this blog by subject. I’ve assigned categories to all my posts of 2007. Now to get to work on a custom header….

Anyway, in terms of plans for the weekend, I’m planning to take it easy. Paul is working late tonight so I thought I might throw constructive activities out the window and take some time to veg – it’s been a long week with activities every evening depriving me of my 8 hours of sleep.

I think I’ll FINALLY make a start on Heroes (I’ve got a few ‘dealers’ lined up for my post-Episode 11 fix), or play either Titan Quest or No One Lives Forever 2, which I borrowed from Mark.

Other than that, I’d like to continue my quest (now at Gateway or Stanfordhill Road) for a new pair of baggies – with muscle-building exercise I’ve resolved myself to the fact that I need bigger-size comfort more than the mental gratification of squeezing into a Size 32 . Oh, and I’ll be dragging Paul to Apocalypto.

And I’m sure I’ll come in for…

Action-RPG all the way!

I'm not a big RPG (Role-Plating Game) fan because my gaming has fallen into bite-size digestible chunks of an hour or so, typically on a weekend. So I don't feel like I can contribute the time needed to really advance in something like free-roaming Oblivion, for example. And spending that hour just walking from Point A to Point B does not provide the gaming gratification I need.

The Action-RPG, however, is an awesome little sub-genre that keeps me mentally absorbed and my character on a killing-and-treasure-hunting spree for that full hour. Blizzard's Diablo games set the trend, spawning a number of imitators. What's interesting now though is that the imitators are really coming into their own, adding their own flavour to the genre (even if it is only stunning 3D graphics). There are a number of Action-RPGs on the horizon, and given my boredom with traditional elf and orc fantasy, it's refreshing to see that these forthcoming games are set against 'different'…

Survivor: Exile Island

I dipped in and out of the most recent series of Survivor screened in South Africa – the 3 hour finale was broadcast on SABC3 last night. Mostly I was made uncomfortable in the early stages of the game, when divisions according to age and gender saw a lot of the older women being unfairly eliminated for being perceived as ‘weak and uncontributive’.

Survivor certainly gives a weird perception of American society: it’s like the high school cliques of the cool and uncool kids are never escaped. Then there are the stereotypes: macho middle aged men who are born leaders, directionless and lazy young people with the weirdest jobs imaginable (I remember a mechanical bull operator in one season), black men who steal food, and bitchy or villainous gays.

As for last night, thank God Terry didn’t win! I can’t stand people who dominate, particularly bossy middle aged men who impose their value systems on others and insist on their way, or it’s the highway (even when they are wrong). It brought ba…

Something special for Durbanites

We went out for dinner last night in celebration of my sister's birthday and parents' anniversary.We went to the Upper Deck at uShaka Marine World for the buffet.

It cost about R80 each, but you can eat as much as you want, and there's surprisingly variety in terms of the food available: seafood, curries, stews, lasagne, SA braai meat, assorted salads and roast veggies. And the desserts rock as well.

What's even cooler though is that the buffet includes night time entry into the aquarium. It's a completely different experience after dark (I've been twice during the day). The aquarium is completely deserted, you can hear all the creepy sound effects, and with the exception of the turtles, the fish seem far more alert and responsive. It was highly enjoyable, and something different to do for a birthday celebration.

What's more important to note is that in February, there's a special offer in place if you didn't know about it. Every Saturday and Sunday, t…

Trailer Tuesday: Blood and Chocolate

Dante alerted me to this one:

From the producers of Underworld comes werewolf flick, Blood and Chocolate, based on the bestselling gothic romance novel by Annette Curtis Klause.

Here's the plot synopsis:

"Blood and Chocolate" stars Agnes Bruckner ("24"), Hugh Dancy ("Basic Instinct 2,") and Olivier Martinez ("Taking Lives") and is directed by German independent film director Katja von Garnier ("Bandits"). The story takes place in modern day Bucharest and tells the tale of nineteen year old Vivian Gandillon (Bruckner), who has spent her life on the run from the truth.... that she is a werewolf. When her affections for a visiting American artist threaten to expose her family's secret society, she must choose between her love for an outsider and betraying the secret vows of her family.

I can't say I'm overwhelmed by any of this, particularly after watching the trailer. 'From the producers of Underworld' is hardly a se…

Surprise, surprise...

As you may have guessed this blog is going through a bit of a re-design. However, seeing as HTML and I have a complicated hate-annoy relationship, it may take a while for this blog to escape its current generic look.

Please be patient while it is dragged kicking and screaming into surgery for its 2007 extreme make-over.

The Weekend’s Activities

Let’s see, this weekend was a pleasant one although we would have liked to cram in more pop culture activities than we did. We just ran out of time.

On Friday evening, Paul and I continued our treasure hunting in Titan Quest. That is what the game has become for us – a frenzied quest for Epic items, which we became obsessed with after seeing what was available at the GameBanshee site. We’re now both now sitting at Level 42.

Although this is more suitable for my single player character, a necromancer-cross-Earth mage, my multiplayer character, an Earth battlemage is now using the following:

Summoner's Rod
80 Base Fire Damage
Speed: Slow

93-117 Burn Damage Over 3 Seconds
+33% Fire Damage
+18 Intelligence
+80 Health
+1.5 Energy Regeneration/Second
-20 Reserved Energy Cost
+41 Defensive Ability
+2 to Summon Core Dweller
+2 to Summon Liche King

Required Intelligence: 362

With his low stats, my new little Core Dweller acts more like a mobile shield and distraction than any kind of effective damage dea…