Thursday, 25 February 2010
"Thirty-eight thousand years in the future, the mighty Imperium of Man has spread across the galaxy, to discover that the galaxy is a hell that would make Hieronymous Bosch shit himself in terror, and that it has a hell. From without, the Imperium is assailed by alien monsters from the depths of space, nightmare death-machines and soulless daemons (as well as soulless death-machines and nightmare daemons); from within, treachery, heresy, mindless incompetence and the festering taint of Chaos threaten to tear it apart.
Warhammer 40,000 is not a happy place. Rather than just being Darker And Edgier, it paints itself black and hurls itself over the edge. The Imperium of Man is an oppressive, stark, and downright miserable place to live in where, for far too many people, living isn't something to do until you die, but something to do until something comes around and kills you in an unbelievably horrible way - quite probably someone on your own side. The Messiah has been locked up on life support for the past ten millennia, laid low by his most beloved son, and an incomprehensibly vast Church Militant commits hourly atrocities in his name.
The problem is, as bad as the Imperium is, the other forces in the galaxy are generally far, far worse. Death is about the best you can hope for against the vast majority of the other major players in the battlefields of the 41st Millennium. The basic premise of 40k, insofar as it can be summed up, is that of an eternal, impossibly vast conflict between a number of absurdly powerful genocidal, xenocidal and in one case omnicidal factions, with every single weapon, ideology and creative piece of nastiness imaginable turned up to eleven. The basic sidearm of a Space Marine is a fully automatic armour-piercing rocket-propelled grenade launcher. The Astronomican, a navigation aid, has the souls of thousands of psychic humans sacrificed to it every day, dying by inches to feed the machine. The faster-than-light travel used by most factions carries with it a good chance of being eaten by daemons. There are also chainsaw swords, gloves that crush tanks, mountain-sized daemonic walking battle cathedrals, tanks the size of small cities and warships that level continents, if not simply obliterating all life on an entire planet just to be sure.
There is no time for peace, no respite, no forgiveness; there is only war.
The 40k universe is a spectacularly brutal playground of tropes and horrible things taken to their absolute extreme. Entire planets with populations of billions are lost due to rounding errors in tax returns. Orders of capricious, fanatical, genetically engineered Super Soldier Knights Templar serve as the Imperium's special forces, while the trillions of soldiers in its regular armies take disregard for human life further than most people could believe possible. A futuristic space Inquisition ruthlessly hunts down anyone with even a hint of the taint of the heretic, the mutant, or the alien, and is backed up by legions of supercharged daemonhunting super soldiers and fanatical power-armoured battle nuns. The ancient and debased manipulator-race contrive wars that see billions dead; their depraved cousins cannot live without torturing numberless innocents to death in unimaginably horrible ways. There's a Bug Swarm trying to eat everything in the galaxy, a light-years wide hole in reality through which countless daemons and corrupted daemon-powered super-soldiers periodically attempt to destroy the universe, and an entire civilisation of undying Omnicidal Maniacs serving their star-god masters' desire to exterminate all living creatures, down to the last bacterium. There's a genetically-engineered survivor warrior species infesting every corner of the galaxy and cheerfully trying to kill everything else in the galaxy because it's literally hard-wired into their genetic code. The closest thing to the good guys you can find in this setting is a tiny alien empire sandwiched between all the other factions, and they have a thing for forcing new subjects into their empire through orbital bombardment, sterilisation, and concentration camps".
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
Monday, 15 February 2010
Lloyds Banking Group, as it is now known, is to hand out millions of pounds in bonuses to five executive directors irrespective of their performance last year, (their buying of HBOS, a move which brought the group to its knees and one that cost the tax payer millions of pounds, for example). The bitterest pill to swallow? Top director for the Lloyds Banking Group, one Eric Daniels, could be paid as much as 10 million pounds in bonuses. 10 MILLION POUNDS!
One question: Why don’t I get a massive bonus when I royally balls things up?
Oh and the Government’s stance? Well, they’re keeping a low profile about the whole issue. Surprise, surprise.
Sunday, 14 February 2010
Rich was a studio painter for Gamesworkshop who I came to know and became good friends with during my time in the Gloucester GW store. Working in the studio alongside some of the best mini painters around at the time, Rich finely tuned his own skills as painter and modeller and without his guidance I would, as he would often say, "still be painting miniatures with my feet..."
The above mini, (like a lot of Richard's work), has been heavily modded using a mixture of other models and green stuff, (the modelling putty predominantly used in mini sculpting), and won him a note of commendation at GW's anual Golden Demon painting competition.
Rich actually worked on a lot of this mini at my old flat in Gloucester, (inbetween bouts of Goldeneye and my ever lasting bottle of 'White Lightening' cider).
Bizarrely this Ghoul has a 'brown stain' on the rear where its bowls have apparently empted from being somewhat dead. At least that was Richie's explanation....
Richard predominantly paints, mods and builds Transformers these days, of which you can see via the link to his Deviant Art page on the left. Well worth a look, even if you're just curious.
Saturday, 13 February 2010
Thursday, 11 February 2010
From the BBC:
A primary school in Weston-super-Mare has been criticised for banning Valentine cards to save pupils the "emotional trauma" of being rejected.
Children at Ashcombe Primary School were stopped from exchanging cards because the head teacher said they were not emotionally mature enough to cope.
Peter Turner told parents of the 430 pupils that cards would be confiscated.
One pupil's mother said: "I think it's outrageous. They're just children. Why spoil their fun?"
The woman, whose son attends the school, said: "It's comical really. I couldn't believe it when I saw the newsletter".
"My son is six and he's had a little girlfriend since nursery. They say they're going to get married, but we don't read anything into it."
Mr Turner said in the newsletter that children get upset when they are "dumped" which interrupts their learning.
He said children should wait until they are mature enough emotionally and socially to understand the commitment in having a boyfriend or girlfriend.
A woman who has a seven-year-old at the school said: "I think it's absolutely ridiculous".
Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe also criticised the move.
She said: "It's only a bit of fun once a year and it doesn't mean anything to kids that age.
"I just think it is rather silly. Haven't they anything better to worry about at that school?"
A spokesman for North Somerset Council said the head teacher was happy to discuss the issue with any parents who have concerns.
He said: "Ashcombe is a primary school and they believe that children under the age of 11 are still emotionally and socially developing and therefore cards declaring love can be confusing.
"Any families wishing to send cards are asked to send them in the post or deliver to home addresses by hand".
Just another example of the ridculous, over protective, mummy coddling society that has come about under a Labour Government. When will this nonsense end?
Monday, 8 February 2010
Using some impressive visual techniques and the kind of oppressive, foreboding atmosphere found in many a modern, psychological horror movie currently being produced in Japan, Project Zero is a genuinely frightening experience and is arguably the most terrifying video game of all time.
Certainly scared the crap out of me, so much so that I’ve never gotten around to finishing it!
Sunday, 7 February 2010
"As a matter of fact, we're almost certain that ghouls and werewolves occupy high positions at City Hall."
Naturally Sam is dubious, but after he begins to notice that his older brother Michael, (Jason Patric), has adopted some very uncharacteristic habits; sleeping all day, sensitive to sunlight and an episode of bloodlust, Sam contacts The Frog Brothers.
Amusingly enough, for all they’re eccentricities and macho posturing it transpires that they [The Frog Brothers] were right all the time; Santa Carla is in fact host to a plague of vampires. While The Lost Boys is a highly entertaining and amusing film throughout with great writing, direction and acting, (particularly from bike gang leader/vampire, Kiefer Sutherland -aka Jack Bauer), ultimately it’s The Frog Brothers that steal the show. A couple of bumbling, but incredibly brave would-be-heroes, Edgar and Alan Frog are one of the best comedy film duo’s to come out of the 1980’s.
"WHAT IS THAT SMELL?"
Saturday, 6 February 2010
Thursday, 4 February 2010
Yay for the Veronicas! *cough* Sorry.
Set in a Big Brother styled reality TV show it tells the tale of how ratings rocket when one of the housemates is murdered. The catch? There are no witnesses to the murder, a murder that took place in house full of cameras and watched live by millions of viewers.
Whether you’re a fan of reality television or not, Dead Famous is a fantastic read. A hilarious and sometimes disturbing look at our obsession with Reality TV and the lengths people will go to in order to garner those five minutes of fame. Highly recommended
The first is from a new range of minis I've recently come across for a mini-combat game called "Anima Tactics".
The second, (at the slighty larger size of 54mm compared to the standard 28-30mm for miniatures), is Alice from classic fantasy tale "Alice in Wonderland".
Wednesday, 3 February 2010
‘Queen of the Damned’ is the follow up to the 1994 film, ‘Interview with the Vampire’, (both of which are based on Anne Rice’s hugely popular Vampire Chronicle novels), and continues the exploits of the vampire Lestat. Recently awoken from a lengthy slumber, Lestat, (Stuart Townsend), finds himself in a new and exciting modern day America where he embarks on a journey to become the world’s most popular rock star with his band ‘The Vampire Lestat’. Along the way he bumps into a few old friends and rivals whilst also attracting the attention of the mother of all vampires, Akasha, (played by Rn’B star Aaliyah who tragically passed away six months before the films release). Once all the playing pieces have been set during the films opening twenty minutes it’s here that holes start to appear and both the film and the script fall apart.
The official follow up to ‘Interview with the Vampire’, (with regards to the books), was ‘The Vampire Lestat’, but was later considered too broad and episodic for a two-hour feature film and so a re-write of the plot was put forward with the larger part of the sequel being based on the third book, ‘Queen of the Damned’. The result, unfortunately, is a film that makes little to no sense at all what with whole sections of story that were integral to the plot being absent. Most importantly the story of the twin sisters and there involvement in how Akasha came to be the first Vampire was nowhere to be found in the movie. In turn, chapters taken from the two books that were included (like Lestat’s birth as a vampire and why Akasha and her husband King Enkil must never be awoken), are watered down to the point that its not only left the story confusing and shallow, but the cast bereft of any real character.
In ‘Queen of the Damned’, Lestat is nothing more than a two dimensional sexual predator and while it may be argued that essentially that’s all a vampire is it’s because Anne’ Rice’s vampire Lestat was so much more than your bog standard blood drinker-a cold, methodic killer but with an arrogance and charm that’s impossible not be attracted too,(something Tom Cruise captured magnificently in the first film directed by Neil Jordan)-one has to wonder if both writer and director actually read the novels or just pick chapters at random. As it transpired Anne Rice had no part to play in the screenplay, something which is painfully clear throughout. Gone has the cold, charming sophistication that made Ms Rice’s vampires so appealing. Gone has the rich and fabulous world in which they live out their immortal lives only to be replaced by something more akin to an MTV music video for sexually angst ridden teenagers who at the weekend pretend they’re vampires with severe depression and a longing to just ‘fit in’. While that may be a sweeping generalization of some of todays teenagers, ( I don’t actually think it myself, most kids who dress up like vampires at the weekend are actually quite friendly and very sociable), it’s clear who both writer and director ‘thought’ they were aiming ‘Queen of the Damned’ at.
The story jumps back and forth from one disjointed scene to the next with Lestat becoming more of an unbearable ass with each passing moment and Akasha’s wanton path of destruction offering very little in way of explanation as the film drags itself to its ridiculous happy ending where Lestat and girlfriend walk off into the, err, moonlight. Not even the presence of seasoned British actor, Paul McGann, (“will you stop saying that Withnail, of course he’s the fu*king farmer!”*), can lift this film beyond the realms of mediocrity.
If ‘Queen of the Damned’ should teach the film industry anything then it’s that some stories were never meant to be lifted from the pages on which they were first written as they’ll often end up being a sorry and embarrassing mess. Anne Rice’s ‘Queen of the Damned’ is one such tale, as director Michael Rymer has proven here.
*“will you stop saying that Withnail, of course he’s the fu*king farmer!” Is from a truly brilliant, British film called 'Withnail & I' starring Paul McGann and Richard E. Grant. A film I imagine many of you reading this will have seen and immensely enjoyed many times. If not, then bloody well get it sorted!