Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hating ATI

So I'm still dealing with the videocard issue with my "main" pc. I picked up a new card, an ATI HD 2400 Pro AGP because it was the only AGP card we had. I figured it would be a snap. I've installed multiple ATI cards over the years with no problems.

Yeah, not so much. The card isn't the problem, it's the software. One of the drivers locks the system up on reboot. And this is using their hotfix, running a disk clean up after uninstalling the old drivers and manually going into the directories to make sure the old ATI software got cleared out.

Grr. If I can't figure it out in a week I'll return the damned thing and get a different brand at another store. I guess it's silly to expect something to work out of the box.

Oh yeah... in Ozzistan ATI would be hammered for selling false goods. Evidently they know their AGP cards and software is jacked up.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How Fox really chose?

This comic illustrates one theory on how the heartless overfiends at Fox choose which shows live and die.

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WTF - Whedon-less Buffy?

Not satisfied with merely trashing tv shows and movies from my childhood, Hollywood has decided to start wrecking more contemporary franchises, setting their sights on Buffy.

Where's a Hellmouth when you need one?

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Green Lantern fan trailer

How is it geeks in their basements can make better stuff than Hollywood?

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Monday, May 25, 2009

V - the new BSG?

Looks good, and as an added bonus has Morena Baccarin.


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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Welsh Hobbit House

Why am I not surprised that someone in Wales built a hobbit house? Check it out. Not only is it pretty nifty, it was done to be as environmentally friendly as possible.


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Technical Issues

My workhorse PC is acting up, hence posting might be a bit sparse. I'm trying to find out if it is a video card issue (relatively easy to fix even for me... I installed the existing card) or if the computer is in its death throes. It's something like 8 years old and has been through 1 hard drive already.

If it is dying then I have to see if I can transplant its drive to this PC, my gaming computer, or if I need to just back stuff up. I've already copied the folders for my current games in case of a catastrophic failure.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes?

Monday, May 18, 2009

How Dollhouse got renewed?

Maybe this PvP Online strip explains how Dollhouse got picked up for another season.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Klingon Opera in the works

No, I'm not already drunk, there is a group actually working on putting together an opera around the legend of Kahless in the Klingon language. You can check out the actual article, found via Geek's Dream Girl.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Dollhouse renewed for second season

Woot! Dollhouse gets another season to parade Eliza Dushku around in hot outfits hook us with Whedonesque plot twists.

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The trouble with Trek

No, this isn't a geek rant against the movie (which I just saw for the third time today). I'm referring to the challenge of gaming in the Star Trek universe.

Watching the movie, there is a great deal of potential in the "new" Trek continuity. The kind that makes me consider the possibilities, especially since one of my long-term campaigns is on yellow alert.

The problem is two-fold. First of all, Star Fleet is a military organization. Anyone that has had to ride herd on a bunch of PCs knows how good they are about following orders. When my group discussed a campaign set in the Battlestar Galactica universe, the first thing I brought up was that Adama wouldn't put up with their usual crap.

Plus there's the whole command structure itself. Some characters will outrank others, even in the most mature of groups this could cause problems. While my group has worked well in Firefly with one character being the "captain" it was a lot more lax than an actual military.

Finally, it's a lot harder to run my typical "sandbox" game, where I try to give my players a fair amount of freedom and throw in some plot hooks. A Trek style game is a lot more narrative, which means more prep.

Of course, it may all be moot. I'm hoping things don't head south in my current game, and even if they did Trek might be pretty far down the list of campaigns my players would be interested in.

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Chuck and Dollhouse still maybes

It turns out that Chuck's renewal is tangled up in some asshattery between the network and the studio over a totally separate show.

Meanwhile there is still a chance Dollhouse will come back, especially since Fox makes the show and knows what kind of DVD sales Whedon tends to generate. Even without a large audience it could have a lucrative secondary market.

That and Fox should still be doing penance for canceling Firefly. Asshats.

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Ten things not to do around female gamers

I found this article while cruising the RPG Bloggers Network.

Even though my group loses female players to real-world obligations rather than stereotypical male-gamer-geek behavior, I thought the article should be shared.

Another piece of advice I'll add for guys... if you play a female character, don't play her as a stereotypical bitchy slut. If a female player thinks that's the way you think of women, she's not likely to want to be around you. And remember, "role-playing" is not an excuse to be an asshat.


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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Star Trek Mentos

More Star Wars vs. Star Trek

Death Star vs. Enterprise

Okay, it wasn't a fair comparison... in space the Death Star would have a hell of a time trying to get a bead on a warp capable ship. While the Death Star may have an advantage in sheer mass and firepower, you can't discount the Enterprise's crews ability to improvise. How many unbeatable foes have they beaten in the past?

The NCC-1701 could probably fly through the Death Star's shields and beam a couple of photon torpedoes into the station near one of the super-laser emitters. That or travel back in time and cheat.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Star Trek - Warp Factor Win

Star Trek is a movie that both I and my friend Marik looked forward to seeing. We are both long-time fans who have been disappointed as the franchise sputtered out. When it was announced that the next movie was going to be a reboot instead of trying to milk another story out of the aging cast of TNG, a lot of Trekkies lost their shit. Then again, these were probably the same basement dwellers that freaked out over making Starbuck a woman.

Personally, I was ready to give JJ Abrams a chance. While I didn't watch Lost, I'd heard enough good things about it and liked his work making Cloverfield to think he could do a good job with Trek. What some purists didn't get was that the choice was reboot the franchise or let it fade into the sunset. And rebooting meant change.

I read a lot of reviews before going to the newest Star Trek offering. This newest incarnation is offered by acclaimed director JJ Abrams who’s brought us such offerings as Lost, a personal favorite series of mine Fringe, and movies Mission Impossible and Cloverfied. Abrams rarely misfires and when I heard he was doing the newest attempt to breath life into the Trek franchise I sat up and took notice. When reading all those reviews, I ran them through the standard SF Haters filter I use whenever the mainstream media reviews a movie and was further impressed. So when I got a chance to jet back to Kentucky and catch a late show with my family, I didn’t pass the chance. As the movie started to play out on the screen, I quickly realized this was more than an attempt to ‘breath life’ into Trek, it was also not anything as simple as a ‘reimagining’ that many have dubbed it. This is nothing short of a wipe the slate clean, add cool slickness, and mass appeal to something that was all but on life support. Let’s admit it, we all have a few dozen favorite episodes of one or another Trek series, and maybe a favorite movie or two, but I’m somewhat an unbiased opinion. I followed TNG from beginning to somewhat disappointing end, watched two seasons of DS9 before it got stale and formulaic, never caught on with Voyager (until I could watch them back to back, lately watched the whole series and found it better than I expected), and then watched Enterprise with glee. Here in the Scott Bakula staring series was a chance to bring Trek back to life, and instead old school Trek producers slapped on some spackle and tried to tinker around the edges with Cannon and maybe interest a few new fans. Sad really, because it was some damn good writing in places. The two part episodes Through a Mirror Darkly comes close to being the best Trek TV episodes ever, right along with Mirror Mirror (ST:Tos), and Yesterdays Enterprise (ST:TNG). As for the earlier movies, ST : The wrath of Khan was good and Voyage Home was amusing. The rest basically sucked in various levels from dust buster to industrial strength hoover.

It's obvious that Abrams has a great deal of respect for the source material and the fans. This movie is much more like Batman Begins or Casino Royale than Battlestar Galactica. However, unlike all of those reboots, it doesn't ignore four decades of stories, but it does it without becoming shackled and burdened by it either.

There are a lot of small touches and sly winks to fans to make them feel welcome in this new Trek. But I think more importantly than that, the heart of the movie evokes what was best about Trek. It's hard to say more on that point without crossing the neutral zone into spoiler territory, but a Spock line says it best: "I always have been, and always shall be your friend."

JJ Abrams takes a tact I would never have expected from the Paramount. No matter how badly they’ve jacked with the history lines of Trek, they always seem to loose their nerve at the last second and go “ha ha, just kidding!” and fix it all in the end. Any serious Trek follower knows what I’m talking about. It is not easy to total up all the times the Trek universe has been jacked up, and then repaired by the end of the episode. ST:TOS started it with the episode City at the Edge of Forever, and the Guardian of Forever who let the crew of the enterprise basically wipe their entire time line from history, then fix it. Common plot line. This new movie had me constantly going; “okay, okay, when’s it going to happen?” The answer is never. I was stunned speechless, and I don’t mean in a bad way. What they did to Trek was nothing short of a master stroke that is liable to be a resurrection of monumental proportions.

The movie itself is well paced, and the effect outstanding. I saw it in digital (a hard drive, no film), and loved it. The casting was superb as well, my only complaint being Anton Yelchin as Chekov. He’s genuinely Russian born, which is nice, but his looks just don’t seem to fit. Stand outs are Zachary Quinto as Spock (took a few minutes to get used to that Sylar as Spock, but it works), John Cho as Sulu (awesome folding Katana scene!), and Simon Pegg as Scotty. And Pegg is awesome, capturing the late Doohan beautifully. Karl Urban as Bones deserves honorable mention too, very funny. Chris Pine as Kirk is okay. I think he’ll take a movie or two for him to grow into this one, but he was acceptable.

I've seen it twice, once on IMAX. And yes, the visuals are worth it. On it's own, Star Trek is a solid action movie that will appeal to the uninitiated. It deservedly broke the records for midnight showings and IMAX openings and hopefully the box office results will mean that Paramount will continue the franchise.

The cast is very solid and worked very hard to invoke their "originals". Chris Pine's Kirk may have been a touch over the top with the ladies' man routine and Chekov's accent bordered on a speech impediment (nuclear wessels). Zachary Quinto made a great Spock and Karl Urban *was* Bones, probably doing the best of the cast at recreating the original character. It was also nice to see Uhura get to do more than answer the phone. Simon Pegg's Scotty was mostly comic relief, his character probably straying most from the original, though to be fair that was mostly due to writing than his portrayal.

t’s the kind of movie that leaves you talking. As a Trek-virgin, you’ll probably love the visuals and a story that isn’t so full of Trekish junk that you’re left scratching your head (expect “Red Matter”, WTF?, and transwarp transporting someone on a moving ship lightyears away without even know where the ship is!). As a Trek fan you’ll probably love it for the faithfulness. In some ways it’s more faithful that the TV series Enterprise was, including the old TOS phaser sounds from the bridge, “whoosh” as doors open, and a cool retro looking transporter effect. At one point Chekov runs down to the transporter room to manually target someone to be beamed aboard. Not nearly as woosh-bang as the TNG era, and well done. My wife and I, both long time fans, literally spent an hour or so at breakfast the next day just talking about the implications of this new movie. Something I don’t remember doing in years about any flick. Even my soon to be eleven year old was deeply engaged. I saw more than one person leaving in tears, they were so overwhelmed.

As a fan of the TV series, I have only one complaint. How dare they do that to Porthos! That was completely uncalled for. I was not the only fan crying fowl after the movie!

Despite all of my praise, the movie wasn't perfect, and the problems fall on the shoulders of the writers. Some of the issues I had would probably not be noticed by non-Trekkies. The reason Kirk ends up on the ice planet we see in the previews is too contrived and merely serves to bring a couple of the characters into the story and provide us with a CGI monster chase scene. The whole transwarp beaming mechanic had me going "no, wait, that doesn't make sense", but to an average movie goer they'll just accept that the transporters are magic and not notice. And once again major Federation planets have no defenses and in fact don't notice that a giant mining ship is boring into the planet's crust.

There are other inconsistencies, such as during the attack on the Kelvin it's announced that the weapons are off-line and the next scene shows them blazing away. In fact the off-line weapons pick out torpedoes in flight with no one at the controls later. If it's a crisis why are they taking the time to shuttle up instead of beaming? (The answer is so we can get a beauty shot of the Enterprise). And whomever designed the Federation ships looks like they were given a selection basic parts and told to go to town. And what was up with the anime-eyed nurse? Couldn't they have made her a bumpy-head without using the distracting fake-looking CGI?

But a lot of these are quibbles.

Anyway, that’s probably more than enough. 4.9 out of a possible 5 phaser wielding, folding katana carrying falcons on this one. If you don’t see it, you’re crazy.

I'm a little less generous, mostly for the sloppily contrived writing in a couple of spots. But overall it's a great flick and definitely worth seeing on the big screen. I give it 4 of 5 pointy-eared time-travelling flying monkeys.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Pine and Quinto defend new Trek

Honest, I'll get my (and Marik's) review up soon.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Deadpool movie announced

*spoiler warning... links contain spoilers*

True to the easter eggs following the credits in XMO: Wolverine, Fox announced there would be a Deadpool movie.

I'm still waiting to find footage of the Deadpool ending.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

New Trek too fun, too accessible

Friday, May 01, 2009

XMO: Wolverine movie review

So I went to see X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The reviews I've read have been all over the board. What follows is my take on the movie. Fair warning, I'm a Wolverine fan, so my judgment may not be 100% objective.

The best part of the movie was the beginning, which shows Logan and Victor Creed's progression fighting besides each other in war after war, going from the Civil War to WW I and II and finally Nam. This short bit is very telling as you see the differences that develop between the two brothers. Victor becomes more and more blood thirsty while Logan tries to reign him in. The sequence ends with Creed killing a commanding officer and Logan trying to intervene, fighting by Victor's side, ostensibly to protect his brother but I think really to protect the arresting troops from Victor. They get sentenced to death by firing squad, which isn't very effective against mutants with healing factors.

The next stage begins adding characters, namely Team X which includes the likes of Wade Wilson (Deadpool) and John Wraith. I really wish we could have seen more of this team in action instead of just establishing demonstrations where each character goes into action one at a time so that we can see what they do. However, the abundance of characters in the movie is also a flaw. Too many fan pleasing appearances, not enough story or time to do the justice.

This problem continues as they add Gambit, mainly for the sake of adding Gambit. Not that the character isn't cool or that the actor doesn't do a good job, he just wasn't needed.

Of course, like all of the X movies, the writers take liberty with canon, throwing in Emma Frost with her diamond-skin mutation just because fans like her. Scott Summers makes an appearance, but at least we understand why in the first X-Men movie he didn't recognize Logan. However, his eye beams are more like lasers than kinetic blasts.

Since it's a comic book movie we have a lot of stuff that doesn't make sense. Granted, it's a comic book action movie, so any relationship with reality is going to be a casual one. Not only are Wolverine's claws too big, another character has an even more unlikely set of weapons. Seriously, wtf was someone smoking? There are some other divorces from the real world in the final fight that come down to a combination of lazy writing and "oh! That would look cool!" bullshit.

Finally, Colonel Stryker, the chief bad guy, is stupid and/or insane. A couple of times he just lets Logan wander away, and he also seems surprised when his obvious bad guy schemes fail to get people to do what we want. "No, honest, you can believe me this time."

That's not to say I didn't enjoy the movie. The action is better than the X-Men movies (though the Nightcrawler invading the Oval Office sequence in XM2 was frakkin' awesome). The interaction between the characters, especially Logan and Creed is great. Obviously Hugh Jackman has Wolverine down pat. Liev Schreiber is great as Sabretooth, turning a throw away thug into a bad guy with menace and wit. Ryan Reynolds makes a perfect Wade Wilson and might even get his own movie.

There's a lot of good moments in between big action pieces. Maybe we'll get to see more of them when the DVD comes out, including all of the post-credit easter eggs.

My rating: 3.5 metal-clawed wound-healing flying-monkeys (but remember, Wolverine fan, your mileage may vary).

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