Steal Gear – 1930 – Past & Present

February 28, 2009

The Family Gear:

Copper Copper

Clock Work

Clock Play

Time Piece

Mantell Piece

A Head of Babbage

Steel Gear

The Steam House:

Stone Punk

Sandal Punk

Hidden Kingdom

Rail Rocket

Turbinding

Chained Reaction

Steam Punk

Steam Gear Merger:

Lock Picker

Steal Gear

Rail Run Gun

Mecha Nick

IT Girl

BIT Girl

Byte D Apple

Bytten

Ghost in the Machine

God in the Machine

Steam Cybered Punk

Over Clocked Work

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Mid Weak Review

February 26, 2009

Reading:

‘Five Great Novels of Philip K Dick’ – “The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch”, “The Martian Time Slip”, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, “Ubik” and “A Scanner Darkly”.

Have read first three of five.

Preliminary; Dick writes about drugs, schizophrenia, a UN dominated Mars, replicas being interchangeable with fakes and originals, and very in-depth illusions & hallucinations. Like Heinlein – very much a writer both of his time and the time he imagined.

More on that story later.

Film:

My Super Ex Girlfriend;

When reviewing Hancock earlier on this blog, I made the point that the most annoying thing about films like these is te fact that they effectively block a much, much better film being made on this concept for the forseeable future. The difference between My Super Ex Girlfriend and Hancock was that at least Hancock was good for the first part of the film – MSEGF was not.

The film derails from the start, being neither romantic or comedic. Seriously. I mean, I understand it can’t be all things to all people, but it could at least attempt to be one or the other. The ‘romance’ is confined to scenes of ridiculous sexual entendres on the ‘woman of steel, man of tissue’, the comedy to banal genital concepts.

I really did try to like it. I did like the concept that ‘G-Girl’ (a name I did not like) is a frazzled nutcase, the eventual end of a realistic Clark Kent. I did like the joint origin story. I even liked the fact that G-girl has ten different costumes (if you’re the only superhero in your world, you don’t need to brand – if someone kicks a nuke into orbit, they know it was you.)

But it stopped me liking it at every turn. The protagonist’s love story was lukewarm at best, at no point helped by his ‘funny’ friend, whose innuendos on the face of fighting were jarring. What’s the resolve? The Lex Luthor guy gets to gets together with the Superman girl – both of whom are sociopathically insane – in the happy ending.

Ah, but there is the rub. The Lex Luthor guy? Professor Bedlam, (a name I did like) played by Eddie Izzard. A vitamin awesome in an otherwise palsied film. He has the best lines, and I greatly suspect that that is due to no small amount of Ad-libbing (like the few good gags in Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy being improvised on the day by The League of Gentlemen).

Matt Saunders: I’m not going to help you kill her!
Professor Bedlam: Kill? I didn’t say “kill”! I said “neutralize”! It’s a neutral word. Its Switzerland!

Essentially, there was a good sci-fi film in here at one point, as you would expect from the guy who made Ghostbusters, but it . . . died. On the operating table. Nothing we could do. We were able to transplant some of its concept organs into Dr Horrible though, awesome, so there is some happiness from the death of MSEGF.

And that is 500.


Valentiny: Tiny Truthes & Strange Lies

February 14, 2009

Read:

100 Bullets: First Shot, Last Call;

Imagine your life is bad. Really bad. Dad dead, Mom married to uncle, bethrothed dead, etc . . .

Then a man approaches you. Knows you. Your life.

You don’t know him of course. He is a suit. An Agent Smith, a Noah ‘HRG’ Bennet, an Agent K.

But you don’t focus on him. You focus on the picture he has just handed you, of the person he claims just ruined your life. Maybe you don’t recognise the photo – maybe the person in it wouldn’t recognise you. However he has a suitcase filled with nondescript brown envelopes, filled with evidence that is, apparently, undeniable.

A torture? Apparently not. He gives you a gun, and one hundred bullets. He states it as such: shoot someone with this gun and these bullets, and they can never be traced back to you. Whether these bullets are fundamentally untraceable, or whether the police know the score when one of these bullets turns up on their crime scenes to shutdown or misdirect the investigation.

And he doesn’t say you have to kill the guy/girl/etc.

This leads to neat little Twilight Zone variations on each character. It could be very interesting.

Hellboy: Wake the Devil;

Second Volume of Hellboy. Interesting.

In summation; Defrosted crazy Nazis! More dispersion of German wartime resources in secret, secret bases and technology in line with an Indiana Jones idea of history. Indiana Jones here is the returning Hellboy, who has the one-liners of the above and all out destructive capability of Lara Croft, and more awesome than either.

The best part is a landscape and mindscape strangely liberated from pre-emptive character development. Hellboy is not entirely dissimilar to Col. O’Neill from Stargate; gruff rebuffs and hilarity – then he proves who is by what he does, like tearing his own horns out in the face of diabolik prediction. The villains get more character development, but, you’re still fairly happy Abe shot Rasputin with a harpoon gun in Book 1.

Art style simply unique – characters oscillate in scale and shadow in their chaotic world.

All in all, a good read, and Alan Moore approved.

Read Revelations:

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

Previous to this week, I had been unaware that the scripted, and indeed originally filmed ending for this film was that the Average Joe team lost. Apparently the director felt it to be the ‘right’ end. There was also apparently something else in the script about Steve the Pirate winning a saving throw fortune at Vegas’ Treasure Island, but I don’t know if that made its way into the original film. Call me idealistic, but I feel I prefer what made it into the cinema. Though I would have preferred if the ex-airport employee had gotten more character development.

Previous to this week, I had been unaware that after the credits of X3 – Last Stand, its implied that Professor Xavier has been ‘reincarnated’. I really hadn’t heard about it. All I heard since it came out was the implications of Magneto’s chess piece manipulation. Xavier’s reincarnation would be a weird little story: Hey, I’m back, I’m young, have a full head of hair, out of the wheelchair and kicking ass! Muhahahaha! MU-hahahaha! MU-HA-HA-HA-HA!

What a downer.

Yeah, the only ‘up’ points this week were the appointment of Hillary Rodham Clinton to secretary of state, the passing of the economic re-invigoration bill in both the democrat dominated Congress AND the conservative dominated Senate, and the conclusion of the ”Terry Pratchett’s First Year with Alzheimer’s” documentary on a very realistic, but ultimately, positive note.

But these are merely reality, after all.  🙂


Spoilers – Movies, Books, Manliness.

February 7, 2009

Bride Wars:
I would not recommend this movie, as my one reader would not be a fan of it. Technically, I shouldn’t and am not either. It is curious to watch though.

Essentially, the gender polarities have been subtly changed. This not new, but I like to see the subtlies diverge. As in Sex and the City, Men in Trees and Monster in Law, the hetero male characters are either oblivious princes or mouthy evilmen, with the occassional, ‘not bad but trying to be good’ in between, just as in male-centric media the hetero female characters are either delusional princesses or vitriolic witches, with the occassional ‘not bad but trying to be good’ in between. I really have no objection to this. Really. When it is gender centric plot it is good when a specific choice is made by the writer to do so, rather than trying to prop up a b-plot. Given my druthers, I take well-rounded ensemble any day, but its really apples and oranges.

The plot: due to a misunderstanding, the friends Kate Hudson & Anne Hathaway have weddings on the same day. Hilarity ensues, much along the lines of the opening scenes of the Parent Trap. Horribly dyed hair, too long on the sunbed – prank behaviour, with their prospective spouses getting on fine in the background.

Hathaway plays her usual crouching-mouse, hidden-badass role that we’ve seen before: (Princess Diaries 1&2, Ella Enchanted, The Devil Wears Prada, Becoming Jane Austen etc.) and hey, she plays to her strengths. If you’re going to get type cast it should be to those strengths, and Hathaway has a trick of smiling huge, looking at her shoes and delivering the most heart-breaking line in the film. Then starts a lap-dance rap battle at a strip bar. Marvelous.

Hudson, similarly, plays her usual of Hardass-With-A-Heart of gold. (How To Lose A Guy in Ten Days), and she too can play to her strengths, declaring war on the outside, abhorring it on the inside. To see Kate Hudson cry is to see the tears of an angel, the kind of angel you see in the Bible, principally in the Revelations, holding a sword.

So, in the end, Mousy realises that maybe she has grown apart from who her groom thought she was, while Hardass realises only how much more she needs her future spouse, not everybody marries who they originally intended to. This actually describes more complexity to the male characters than described in the outline above, which is nice, and reason why I actually admit to seeing this film. Also the guy who played Jean Grey’s love interest in Xmen (rejected), and Lois Lane’s love interest in Superman Returns (rejected), finally gets married here. Which is nice. Metaphysically.

As for how qualified I, as a man, am to review ‘chick flicks’; its debatable. For instance: A female friend of mine said the Twlight series is great, but that I, a guy, wouldn’t like it. I read a chapter online once – I didn’t like it. Not that I can’t see how people would like it, but at a basic conceptual and mechanical level, I dislike it. However, I trace this dislike to my cerebellum, not my Y chromosome. Still, I felt somewhat villified on this topic when two female friends shared with me that they shared my dislike of Twilight.

Therefore, my qualifications: The trailer that came up before Bride Wars was for a film called ‘Maybe he is just not that into you’. Not only did I, like the female relative I went to see Bride Wars with, know this title was a quote from Sex and the City, I also could remember the episode. I have since read the advice book it was based on, which was written by the guy who came up with the title line, and have found it a good general advice tome on any type of a relationship with misdirective elements.

I know – I just lost all my man cards.

But – its a best selling advice book for women, written by a guy. And it works beyond relationships.

And that is when Data’s head exploded.

Ultimately, I like things that are well-written, acted and thought out, with or without gender emphasis of any kind. I did Anthropology for a year, and it essentially filed the serial numbers of all my weapons of perception, and left me open to all the media I enjoy, particularly the strange juxtapositions I search, a media plate equivalent of custard and anthracite. A dream team selection of media, (when I have time), (be it audio, visual or both), switches from adult ensemble, female-centric, male-centric, kid-orientated, documentary, mockumentary, dramatisation, space opera, RL with a touch of the fantastic, and so on.

Also, I don’t know if all guys realise this, but the media of women is fairly pornographic. Whether its the magazines in the hairdressers, the corsetted period novels or Sex and the City (its right in the title), shoujo manga Emma (naked, naked, Germans – right when you don’t expect it). Similarly, I don’t like Desperate Housewives because it became mystery-theater action time. (Brie Hobbes pulls me in the odd episode, as does Tom Scavo, but I didn’t really ‘feel’ the whole five years on business.)

So, in summary, Bride Wars is passable and my manliness is strong.

Slumdog Millionaire

Oh yes. It is as you heard. This film is the retelling of a young man who has won ‘India’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’, and the flashbacks which justify his knowing the answer to each question as he goes along. Tension?

(a) He is retelling this to the fraud squad.

(b) He hasn’t won the ten million ruppee mark as the questioning is going on – He’ll still have to finish it, even if he is cleared by the fraud squad. And either you win everything on this version, or lose everything – you can bow out, but there are no save points.

(c) From the first flashback, we know that all the money in the world isn’t going to fix all the problems of his life.

(d) The fraud squad’s opening interrogation technique uses a car battery.

The story tells us of the death of Jamal’s (protaganist) and Salim’s mother at the hands of religious rioters, their mutual association with the girl Latka (love interest) in the aftermath, the incorporation of all three into a band of beggars, Jamal and Salim’s midnight escape the handlers of those beggars (who were forcibly mutilating their charges), the boys life as train riders, later tour guides, with a return to the city, the rescue of Latka from the risk of prostitution (and the murder of the handler of the band of beggars), the separation of Jamal from Latka and Salim when Salim asserts his manhood, in the face of Jamal’s childishness, Salim becomes a lead enforcer in the gang rivalling that of the man he murdered, the only way to garner protection for all three of them, and they are separated.

And now all three are grown up, with Latka married to and mauled by the rival gang leader, Salim his lead enforcer, and Jamal a teaboy in an outsourced mobile call centre, knowing more about Eastenders than I do. And this game is for all the marbles.

It is a striking film of absurdly, beautifully naive hopes and love doing an everyday business with immodest deception and adultified morals. Its awesome. Set to a soundtrack all its own, set to a background only half-seen previously in Western cinema, and themes of brotherhood and love so old they are in Westerns, Slumdog Millionaire gives me film-based hope for 2009. It let me face up to the trailer of Pink Panther 2, to see beyond to the Star Trek trailer and the Watchmen standies in my local cinema.

And then they all dance at the end. It is written, thus it shall be.