Soccer, D&D, Wonderland and Sookie Stackhouse

I had an excellent, if occasionally nervous, and definitely sleep challenged, weekend - including getting up at 3:30AM this morning (Monday) to watch the Oscars live. After all the day of the Academy Awards is like Christmas to many movie fans around the world, and the ceremony is Midnight Mass, especially for those of us who live in vastly different timezones. *Yawn*


Anyway, in terms of my pop culture and entertainment exposure this past week or so, it's been a very mixed bag.

Out and About:

On Wednesday evening I went to my first ever professional soccer match, an international friendly between South Africa and Namibia. Honestly I was there less for the game (which South Africa was only able to draw despite being the vastly superior team in terms of footwork and overall technical performance) than I was to experience the atmosphere in the new Moses Mabhida Stadium. My tweets from the evening, with their focus on goings-on around the stadium, and player uniform colour, probably reflect this. Ahem.


As it is I currently don't have tickets to any of the World Cup football games to be played in the new stadium - in fact I don't even know where I'll be in the world come June and July - so paying just R40 for a similar experience right now was a fantastic opportunity. And a bargain to boot! And as an added bonus, my friends and I passed the evening with our hearing intact - none of the spectators around us had vukuzelas, or some other strange horn that I'm unable to identify but which sounds like a cross between a howling newborn and a traumatised duck.

Anyway, I've always been a bit cynical about the news that after the World Cup, the local authorities are going to force rugby games to be played in Moses Mabhida, as opposed to the decades-old rugby stadium next door. However, having experienced a sporting event in the new stadium, I am a newly converted supporter of the decision. Kings Park is a dank cave in comparison to the new stadium. Also, at the new stadium you tend to view the action on the field from an almost parallel perspective, as opposed to King's Park where you're typically looking down on events from the very high, vertigo-inducing stands. Overall, the experience is much better... although the new stadium could do with another big screen, or at least a giant clock to track game time.


Gaming:

On Thursday I experienced Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition tabletop role-playing for the very first time. We decided to play a 2 session game based on a pre-generated campaign, using pre-generated characters - the same in fact that the Penny Arcade guys used for their popular podcasted first campaign.

We didn't have enough players so we each ended up managing 2 characters. One of mine was a dragonborn warlord and the other - since I'm planning on playing either a warlock or sorceress in our proper 4th Edition campaign - a human wizard.

Really the biggest changes to the game are during combat, where combat turns are far more strategic, consisting of multiple "action" parts every time - free actions, minor actions and major actions. These multiple options lead to a much more interesting experience for the player, canceling out the situation in older versions of the game where certain classes were tediously only able to do one or two things every fight.

For example, a paladin, regardless of his selection of spells, typically just runs up to a opponent and tries to hit it as hard as possible, causing as much damage as possible. Now 4th Edition paladins have abilities that, when they successfully strike, can affect their opponent's movements, or trigger an ability-boosting area effect for example.

Of course when you are just beginning to play 4th Edition it is all very confusing, and combat takes forever due to the continual consultation of character sheets and ability explanations. Once you've been playing with a character for a while though, I imagine it becomes a lot easier because you will automatically know your powers without needing to check.

Film:

I visited the cinema for the first time in a few weeks on Saturday, going to watch Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland in 3D. My full review will be up on this blog bright and early on Wednesday morning, but I'll say now that the film is a mixed bag. Visually it's a treat, and I absolutely adored the CGI-beasties (especially the Cheshire Cat, Caterpillar and Jabberwocky), but the whole project seems very derivative - more in the mold of a Narnia action-adventure than a faithful adaptation of Lewis Carroll's wacky writings.



Reading:

Speaking of faithful adaptations, I'm in the process of reading Dead Until Dark, the first in the series of Sookie Stackhouse mysteries by Charlaine Harris. Dead Until Dark is of course what the first season of massively popular TV series True Blood is based on. Now there are some obvious differences between the book and the show - and I know for a fact that season 2 takes many more creative liberties with its literary source material (Living Dead in Dallas) - but the degree of fidelity is quite striking at times.

It seriously looks like television has become the storytelling medium of choice in the onscreen entertainment industry, particularly when it comes to filming gratifying adaptations of novels.

Comments

Dante said…
Going to watch Alice tomorrow night with the Girlfriend. Wish me luck! :D
Pfangirl said…
Good luck. I'm guessing from your Wednesday comment you didn't like it much? ;)

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