Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween Special

First of all, it’s Halloween right, so what do I do first thing this morning whilst driving into work? Kill a bird naturally.

It wasn’t my fault, it flew straight into my car, then I’m reasonably certain, went under my tire. I couldn’t really stop to check on it as I was on a busy road at the time, but to be honest, I really do think it was a goner… I couldn’t tell exactly what type of bird it was, it look white-ish and medium sized to me. Probably a pigeon, but possibly a dove (hope not, as I’m sure that would be a bad omen). At least it wasn’t a magpie, then I’d really be panicking!

Strangely enough Roz and I also signed conditions of sale today for “the flat below”. What a bizarre day in which to sign away such a huge sum of money!

Films Watched:
As it is Halloween today and I’m out tonight, I thought I’d take the opportunity to watch a couple of horror films over the weekend instead. Both of which I’d probably consider as “light” Halloween movies, i.e. neither to gory or too scary. Not chosen for this, it just happens that I hadn’t seen these two movies for a little while.

Sleepy Hollow
Another enjoyable Tim Burton and Johnny Depp collaboration. This time based on the famous Irving Welsh novel.

What is quite unusual about this film is that the character of Icabar Crane is portrayed as someone who is more liable to faint, then take action, when faced with anything slightly perilous.

As usual for a Tim Burton film this is a grant treat to the eyes. Every single frame is a glorious gothic postcard. Also for once, Tim Burton also manages to handle action better than he has in the past. Overall a good “light” horror, with many, many decapitations.


Directed by Tobe Hopper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and written and produced by Steven Spielberg (you may have heard of him).

This was a big favourite film when I was younger, probably one of my top ten films. Time has not been too kind on the special effects, some of which seem very hokey now. This is also a film that ignores the horror rule that says that if things are hidden they are much scarier, instead, it throws everything and anything at the screen, therefore lessening any possible scare factor.

I remember reading the Spielberg was not very happy with the way that Hopper was directing this and therefore directed part of the movie himself (although this is not credited). Certain scenes do tend to seem very “Spielberg” to me, so this seems highly probably.

A very engaging story which brings back so many memories.


I also thought I’d take this opportunity, seeing how it’s Halloween, to mention that there have only ever been 2 movies ever to truly creep me out. These are “The Changeling” and “The Ring – Original Japanese version (Rungu)”. Both of these stories are abut ghosts (or vengeful spirits) and also involve dead bodies down wells. Now I have absolutely no idea why I have a fear of wells, maybe it’s something subconscious going back to my childhood? Ghosts, however, I can definitely explain. I’m 99% certain that when I was a child (probably about 7 or 8) I saw the ghost. So more than movie monsters, psycho’s or aliens, the idea of ghosts in films (if handled subtly and realistically) really creeps me out.

When I first watched The Changeling I was so freaked out that I had to stop the film roughly half way through (as the tape is being played of the séance). It’s only after I managed to find the guts to play the rest of the film that I found out that following this scene the film isn’t quite as damn scary as it was up top that point. The Changeling really is an undiscovered (by many) horror classic, which far outdoes better known films like The Exorcist and The Omen.

The Ring, is just on of the most disturbing and unnatural films I’ve ever seen. The video sequence just seems so unearthly, so eerie and bizarre. Then there’s that ending… Enough to give you nightmares for years to come...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Revolution in 06 - worldwide?

Here are some comments made by Nintendo President Satoru Iwata recently...

"I can only say that it's coming out during 2006, but it will be after the current fiscal year. We hope to make it a simultaneous worldwide release as much as it's possible."

It looks like Nintendo might be following Microsofts lead and aiming for a simultaneous worldwide launch. I've also heard rumours that this may be June 2006... But hey, I don't care, just so long as I can get hold of it by Christmas 2006 I'll be a happy man :)

Now does this mean that Sony might also aim for a simultaneous worldwide launch for the PS3? I'd say doubtful when you consider how poorly handled the PSP launch was.

I'd also like to add that it's currently October... Thats right OCTOBER! So why is it that I'm seeing so many damn Christmas adverts at the moment? Why is it that they are selling advent calendars? Why is it that shops in the high street ALREADY have Christmas trees in their windows?

It isn't even Halloween yet... Or Guy Fawkes Night... Or even the evnt of the year (namely my birthday).

Christmas is in DECEMBER... Can't the shops wait even a little bit?????

Games played:
Advance Wars: Dual Strike.
I finished campaign mode the other day, but I'm still playing this (just not quite as frantically). There's plenty more to keep me busy as well as a hard campaign mode (which really is a challenge).

Have I mentioned how much I like this game? Thought so... I'll mention it again, one more time. What a fantastic game.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Lolita and Poem Collection

I have just recently added a new collection of poems on my website, this can be found here:

Poem Collection volume 2

This comprises of several poems written over the last few years… Some of which really are a little surreal, and also a couple from my not yet finished short story, Cry of Xenotaph.

Films Watched:
A Stanley Kubrick film that I had not until just now, watched.
Considering that this film was made in the early sixties, it treads around the subject matter very carefully, never really fully explaining the “relationship” between James Mason’s character and his step daughter. Although the issue of paedophilia is not to be taken lightly, this film is handles with both great tact and genuine emotion.

I must admit, I’m intrigued to know now whether the 2000 remake treated the subject matter any differently, or remained as ambiguous.

This, Just like Dr Strangelove, really shows how versatile and actor Peter Sellers really was. It’s almost a shame that he became eventually typecast as Inspector Clouseau, as he really was an outstanding dramatic as well as comic actor.


Thursday, October 20, 2005

On writing

It occurred to me the other day that it has been some time since I last added anything to the latest story that I’m writing, namely Cry of Xenotaph. The reason that this came to light was that my fees to keep my website have just come up and I need to spend some of my now limited funds to keep this going.

Part of me felt that this was a little futile as I doubt that I have many visitor to my site (to be honest I haven’t checked the number of visitors for some time now), however, it has never really been the number of visitors to my site which has motivated this. I tried and failed to get “World on Fire”, my only completed novel, published, as such I just wanted my body of work to be available in the public domain in some form, hence the website. It’s just nice to know that my stories are available for anyone to read on the internet should they wish to, even if these are seen by a small scattering of people.

My last completed story was “Dance ‘til Dawn”, which I finished earlier this year. It’s a story which I’m rather pleased with. It deviated a little from the original intent of the story, but overall the story simply is what it is, and is as complete and satisfying as I had intended it to be. Since then I have been writing Cry of Xenotaph in very short bursts, more often than not at work during my lunch hour (or should that be three quarters of an hour). I’m also aware that since starting my blog, I’ve probably written even less of Cry of Xenotaph, but hey, at least I’m writing in some form or another.

The problem really boils down to time. When I’m not working, I’m usually spending time with Roz and Elliot (which I don’t mind), this means that when I do get my own free time I usually want to do something less taxing (pun intended), namely either watching a film or playing a console game. Writing, it seems, comes further down the agenda. It just take quite a lot of effort, and by the end of the day I just don’t feel in the mood to be creative.

The funny thing is I have so many ideas for more stories, be they short stories or novels. I could give you a huge list of possible titles for ideas that I’ve had, to name a few:

The Marilyn Project
Swinging Dead
Children of Lazarus
The Love of a Stranger
First Dawn
Uriel: Genesis

For some of these I have even written a short outline, and a few I have even written the first couple of pages. There are many more that are just idea’s waiting to float to the surface. The funny thing is that to me at least, these stories have already been told, it’s just a case of putting words of the page to fully flesh them out. It’s almost as if the job of creating these stories has already been done and it’s only the laborious task of putting them on paper that awaits. To some degree this puts me offs starting to write, as it lacks excitement, but often or not the joy is weaving the extra details into these stories, the type of details that don’t occur to me until I’m writing a particular scene. Heck, I just wish I could plug my mind direct into a PC and download the stories into word, it would save one hell of a lot of time!

I very much doubt that I’ll finish Cry of Xenotaph this year, it is after all quite an ambitious and strikingly different tale when compared to my other work. I’ll likely make it a New Years resolution come December the 31st.

One other thing which I have been meaning to do for some time, is to see if I could find some sort of online forum, or links page for various writers who have published online.

On a different matter, I've seen that damn mouse (I presume it's a mouse - and not mice, i.e. multiple) on two occasions this evening. Still no luck with the traps either... Grrr...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Of Mice and Me

Just before heading to bed last night I spotted a mouse scuttle across my kitchen and disappear under the fridge.

I set traps last night, but had no luck catching the little blighter. About a year ago I thought I saw a mouse, but was not 100% convinced… Now I am certain that it was a rodent this time around. I guess this is just one disadvantage of living so close to a field (along with the gigantic spiders which have on occasion have sought refuge in our house).

I shall lay the traps over the next few days to see if I have any luck.

Films Watched:
The Virgin Suicides
The Debut film by Sophia Coppola (Lost in Translation).

It’s obvious from watching this that Sophia has the potential to become as talented a director as her father. Both films made by her have been slightly offbeat and yet intriguing. I preferred this film over Lost in Translation, but neither has been exactly spectacular.

The Virgin Suicides started off very well, but seemed to lose direction two thirds of the way through the film. The ending also, whilst expected, did not feel particularly conclusive. Good performance by a younger Kirsten Dunst as Lux the most rebellious of the five suicidal sisters.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Once Upon a Time in the West

Films watched:
Once Upon a Time in the West
It has been many years now since I last watched this film. I brought this copy in a sale in HMV in Canada earlier this year and had not got around to watching it until now. To my surprise, I think that I much prefer it now than I did several years ago.

This really is an epic western from Sergio Leone in every sense. The surroundings are gorgeous, the music (from Ennio Morricone) is haunting and the four lead actors mesmerising. I would say that it is probably my favourite western, although I am yet to see For a Few Dollars More and The Good the Bad and the Ugly (these films are on my Birthday/Christmas list as part of the Spaghetti Western boxset, so hopefully I’ll be able to watch these soonish).

This is also a film that runs at it’s own pace, at close to three hours long this is quite a length for a western and at times it does drag a little, but generally you’re too taken in by the absolute beauty of the film to notice. It really has to be one of the most cinematic films out there, every scene is a picture postcard which is only enhanced by the fantastic score.

I could go on endlessly about how amazing Charles Bronson (yes that’s right), Peter Fonda, Jason Robards and Claudia Cardinale are in the film, but I won’t. I will however, mention that Claudia Cardinale is simply drop dead gorgeous as Mrs McBain. A sexy and strong woman, something rarely seen in westerns.


I must also add that one of my absolute favourite films of all time Once Upon a Time in America was the last film directed by Sergio Leone and style wise follows this film very closely (hence the similar title). Also the music whilst different is very similar o Once Upon a Time in the West. Together they form a beautiful picture of two strikingly different periods of American history and complement each other perfectly.

On thing that I did notice during the film was that the lip synching was slightly out at certain times. This is something that I notice on a few other occasions whilst watching films or even occasionally TV. At first I thought that this was a problem with my plasma screen. I have since come to the conclusion that this isn’t my plasma, it’s just that this is significantly more noticeable on a 50” screen than it would be on a 28” or 32” set.

Just one of the minor downsides of owning a bloody big TV. It make all the imperfections of a film, be they audio or visual, that more apparent.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Smith and Half Life Completed...

Films Watched:
Mr Smith Goes to Washington
I ordered this from Amazon a few weeks back as A) I'm a big fan of James Steawart, B) It's also happens to be a "classic" movie that I've never gotten round to watching.

I think to fully appreciate this film, you really need to be American. The patriotic angle and love for ones country is really is lost to anyone outside the US. That isn't to say that I didn't enjoy the film it's just that I think that some of it's charm was lost on me. It certainly didn't have the sparkle and appeal of It's a Wonderful Life (another classic Stewart and Capra collaboration).

The best thing about this film really has to be a young James Stewart in such a fish out of water role.


Games Played:
Half Life 2
Well I've just completed this game.

It's interesting that I was reading an article in Edge the other day about games adapted into movies (an how often or not how utter rubbish they automatically become). If any producer had an ounce of sense, he'd look at Half Life 2 and just film it, taking the set pieces, storyline and everything that is in the games and translating it perfectly for the cinema. What a film that would make.

This is definately the best PC game I've played in countless years, and also one of my favourite games of this year. I just hope that Half Life 2: Aftermath (and the Lost Coast) won't need a more powerful PC to run them... We'll see idc.

Just need to work on Killer 7 now...

Friday, October 14, 2005

The names Craig, Daniel Craig and the ULTIMATE JOKER?

Well Daniel Craig has been official been announced by Sony as the next James Bond (the 6th to take on the role). What amused me most is that shortly before the official announcement, this was common knowledge anyway, the reason… Daniel Craigs Mum, God bless her…


Daniel Craig's mother appears to have confirmed that he is the next James Bond today, amid feverish speculation that the actor is the sixth official 007.

""We are thrilled to bits. He could bring something very interesting to the part. It will be life-changing," she told the Liverpool Daily Post.

My thoughts on the matter? I would have still have preferred Clive Owen in the role, but what I have seen of Daniel Craig, he seems like a fine actor. His appearance is a tad more rugged than I would expect for Bond, not to mention a tad blonder than I would expect. However, if they are aiming for a grittier more hard hitting Bond, reminiscent od the early Connery years, I think that Daniel Craig could very well cary that off.

Another rumour surfaced on the internet yesterday suggesting that Michael Keaton is being considered for the role of the Joker in the sequel to Batman Begins. Now, other than the fact that it would bee cool to have the ex-Batman in the new Batman movies, I think that this is a fantastic idea. Now ignore your current perception of Michael Keaton and cast your mind back to Beetlejuice … this is practically as close to the Joker as you could possibly get and Michael Keaton total blew me away as Beetlejuice! Please, please let this rumour come to fruition, I honestly can’t think of anyone better suited to the role (although I have always thought that Dennis Quaid has the Joker smile).

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

December the 8th

December the 8th… That’s the date Roz and I will be buying the flat below…

I’m filled with a mixed sense of fear and excitement.

All we have to do now is find a tenant!

Games played:
Advance Wars: Dual Strike
Okay, I’m pretty addicted to this (Roz can vouch for this – as there is hardly a free moment that goes by that I’m not playing this). This is just the perfect type of game for a handheld, i.e. something that you can play in short bursts, but still holds your attention.

The reason why it’s such a fantastic game? Quite simply it’s the balance you need to strike between the right forces you choose, the placement of troops and the attack strategy used. It’s all about tipping the balance of power on a map in your favour, be this a strategic area or the number of properties taken over, then using this to your advantage.

Half Life 2
Roz commented the other day that I seem to have bought a fair few games lately and not completed any. This is quite true (although I don’t think you can “complete” Harvest Moon as such. So I thought I’d try my best to finish Half Life 2, as I suspect I’m nearing the end of the game.

Also with my birthday and Christmas coming up, the chances are I may have a couple more games coming my way idc. (fingers crossed)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Serenity - the review

First off I want to have a little rant in respect of our local cinema. I’ve noticed that the last 2 films I’ve seen on a certain screen (screen 3), that the sound balance is not correct. This has meant that when I have seen both Land of the Dead and Serenity, I have been straining to make out the dialogue when there is a great deal of background noise. This was especially evident during the beginning of serenity during the bank heist scene, and annoyed me no end.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… Someone in Guernsey, build us a decent cinema!

Also still suffering from a cold at the moment (as has Roz and Elliot). It meant that I had to miss out on a friends stag night (sorry Mark), which was a disappointment. Then agian I really wouldn't have enjoyed myself and Mark sounds like he had a good time, which after all is the most important thing.

Films Watched:
Now this has been one of my most anticipated films this year (alongside Batman Begins and Sin City). Well how did it rank. I’d have to say that it was just as good as the best episodes of Firefly, in other words, very damn good (or “shiny” for Firefly fans).

The film seemed quite a bit darker than the serious, Mal in particular seemed a lot more bitter and uncompassionate than previously, but maybe that could be attributed to the lack of Inara from the crew. All of the original cast were in the film, including Inara and Book (although to a lesser degree), and each had a moment to shine. Some characters obviously had more prominence, namely Mal and River, but this is to be expected given the nature of the story.

There were a couple of surprising shocks in the story, and I won’t mention them here. Although at one stage near the end of the film, I exchanged a glance with another Firefly friend of mine (Nig) as if to say “No, they can’t do that”. Not in disappointment, just surprise.

My only other concern was that for Non-Firely fans they may find it all a tad confusing, although another friend (Mark) still enjoyed the film and gave it a 8/10, so I guess it can play to fans and non-fans alike.

Overall, just as good as I’d hoped for and a good way to end a fantastic, if short lived, series.


There has been a lot of grumbling and disappointment on various Firefly sites as the film has only performed modestly. I’d say that it’s likely to make a profit, but it is not the stellar smash that some people were hoping for. The main reason for this hope is if it was significantly successful then the likelihood of more films, or even the chance of returning to a series would be a possibility. As it stands, I’m not certain that this will happen and while this is a tad disappointing (even in the cinema I felt myself get a little chocked up near the end, knowing that this would likely be the last I’d see of the Firefly crew), I think that we should be grateful that Joss Whedon has taken the time to make a film which gives a natural end to the series.

As it stands, I’d watch the film again in a heartbeat (just not in cinema 3 of the Mallard if I can help it).

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Cold and Wars

Been suffering with a cold the last few days - so generally not been feeling my best :(

I hope to feel better soon as I have a friends stag night to attend on Friday night and Serenity to go and see at the local cinema on Saturday.

Games played:
Advance Wars: Duel Strike
My parents-in-law gave me a gift the other day to say a "thank you" for doing all the driving on our Jersey trip. The gift was a copy of Advance Wars: Duel Strike for the DS. It was really very generous and kind of them, as I never expecting a gift at all.

Anyway, what I have played of the game so far has confirmed that it is equally as good as Advance Wars on the GBA. The quality of the graphics are far from spectacular, instead they are functional, but that really syuits this type of game best. I can tell that this will be one game that I will be playing for a long, long time. My only wish is that someday in the not too distant future that Nintendo bring out a wifi online version of the game, as I'd imagine that this would be fantastic played against real opponents around the globe.

There is a great review of this game at Eurogamer that really does explain the appeal very well:


Saturday, October 01, 2005

Films, Gaming and … properties!

Right, first off, quick micro reviews of a few films I’ve watched:

I am Sam
One of Roz’s films, not really normally my cup of tea (a tad chick flickish), but still quite enjoyable none the less.

Both Sean Penn and Dakota Fanning really steal the show. For such a young girl, Fanning really does seem to have cracked acting spectacularly. It was also nice to see a new film with Michelle Pfeiffer in, it seems like quite some time since she has starred in a decent film.

Overall, while the story was very touching, it was also a little predicable. It reminded me in some respects of Rainman, but not quite up to this league.

Duel and Jurrasic Park
Watched Jurassic Park shortly after rewatching duel. Spielberg certainly knows how to direct suspense and tension, and after watching the documentary on Duel, I can see that he looks to Hitchcock for guidance in this respect.

Both great movies, Jurassic Park especially is almost the pinnacle of summer blockbusters.
Duel 6.5/10
Jurassic Park 8/10

True Romance
Just rewatched this before. I have to say that there are 2 scenes in particular that really make this movie for me.

The first is the conversation between Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper, in which Dennis Hopper explains coolly and calmly the origins of the people of Sicily, knowing that what he will say will lead to a quick execution.

The second the conversation between James Gandolfini (he of Sopranon’s fame) and Patricia Arquette in which James Gandolfini explains how easy killing becomes after the third “hit”… Here’s the quote in full:

“Now the first time you kill somebody, that's the hardest. I don't give a shit if you're fuckin' Wyatt Earp or Jack the Ripper. Remember that guy in Texas? The guy up in that fuckin' tower that killed all them people? I'll bet you green money that first little black dot he took a bead on, that was the bitch of the bunch. First one is tough, no fuckin' foolin'. The second one... the second one ain't no fuckin' Mardis Gras either, but it's better than the first one 'cause you still feel the same thing, y'know... except it's more diluted, y'know it's... it's better. I threw up on the first one, you believe that? Then the third one... the third one is easy, you level right off. It's no problem. Now... shit... now I do it just to watch their fuckin' expression change.”

Good film, great direction by Tony Scott and a great scripy by Quentin Tarantino

On the Gaming front I’m still enjoying Killer 7 and have also just found out that a new update for Half Life 2 has been posted. The game now seems to be running just as smoothly as it did previously. Phew! Now I have the conundrum of which game to continue playing, Half Life 2 or Killer 7!

On the property front, we have been given the go ahead for our mortgages and the surveys have come out fine, so it’s just a case of our neighbour finding a property that she likes before we own not one, but two properties! On top of that, we become landlords. All very frightening stuff.

To be continued!