Monday, March 27, 2006


Neverwinter Knights

This weekend, after a LONG intermission, part of our old group was able to start a new Neverwinter Nights campaign, with one member (thanks to the miracle of the internets) logging on from Kosovo where his National Guard unit is currently deployed. We're currently running Oslan Legacy, a wilderness module. I had a bit of a hard time adjusting to NWN controls, which now seem kind of clunky in comparison to WoW or CoH.

A few things I learned the hard way:

1) when in danger or in doubt, do NOT run in circles, scream and shout;
2) badgers, contrary to appearances, are actually mean mother-fuckers;
3) While a loin cloth (or more accurately a breech-clout) may LOOK cool, it has little practical value in combat;
4) Wolves do not care that your culture honors their spirits;
5) Pixies, contrary to appearances, are actually mean mother-fuckers;
6) Always use the buddy system. In particular, do not strand your buddy in the wilderness surrounded by a horde of ravening badgers while he is levelling-up;
7) Remember your Boy Scout training: if you find yourself dead in the forest, stay where you are and wait for help;
8) Contrary to negative representations in the Mainstream Media, most medieval villages are actually quite advanced and progressive and have "community centers."
9) When attempting to have fallen colleagues Raised from the Dead, as always, caveat emptor. Shop around and get figures from several clerics and ask for references before deciding on the priest (or priestess) that is right for you;
10) Print out these handy tips and tape them to your Bag of Holding to increase your enjoyment of wilderness adventures.


Thursday, March 23, 2006


Doctor Say What?

Just caught a couple of episodes of the new Doctor Who on the Sci-Fi Channel. I have to say, it's nice to see the spirit of the series kept up, not to mention a vast improvement in production values. My only real complaint, and it's pretty petty, is Christopher Eccleston. His accent is, at times, impenetrable. There were points when I literally had no idea what the hell he was saying. The Doctor I grew up with, Tom Baker, had a BBC English accent and ennunciated like a Shakespearean actor. Baker's voice was, in 2005, voted the fourth most recognized in England, after the Queen, Tony Blair, and Margaret Thatcher. Maybe David Tennant will be better.


Great Hera!

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Recent Comics I Have Read

Teen Titans #32: As if I didn't get enough "Superboy Gone Wild" in Infinite Crisis #4! Now I get to read the exact same story, only from a different camera angle. And, surprisingly, it's just as ludicrous. Thank Kirby the Infinitely Pointless Crisis is over!

Ultimates 2 #10: "Axis of Evil." An evil liberal army led by Russia, Syria, North Korea and Red China invades America, with Ultimate versions of Abomination, Perun (how many people remember the regular version?), and Crimson Dynamo. Things are obviously being set up for a major battle between the Ultimates and the Liberators nexy issue, so this is primarily filler. My only problem with the whole concept is: if superhumans are THIS easy and quick to make (both SHIELD and the Evil Liberal Army have bazillions of them) why isn't the planet literally crawling with them by now? Why don't we have (as in Ultimate Fantastic Four #27) the "Planet of the Capes"?

Young Avengers #9: The first time I saw this book, I passed on it. Seemed too silly, like a very obvious Marvel attempt to create the Teen Titans. However, I may have been too hasty in my judgment. The concept (teen sidekicks who were never really sidekicks) is presented well and the writing and art are good. The angst and emo aren't allowed to get out of control. In this issue, the team has been disbanded on orders of Captain America, so they never even appear in uniform. It's still a good story as they deal with the consequences of their breakup and fight the always ridiculous Super-Skrull.

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V for Vendetta

Remember, remember the fifth of November; gunpowder, treason and plot; I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.

Just saw the movie, never read the graphic novel, though I am a big Alan Moore fan. Moore's name, incidentally, appears nowhere in the film. Characteristically, he has repudiated it.
Visually, I thought the film was very appealing. London in 2020 has the dreary, impersonal look of an Eastern Bloc state before the fall of communism. There were some homages to other films, like John Hurt (as the High Chancellor) always appearing on a gigantic Big Brother style video screen, and large ubiquitous PA systems located everywhere for broadcasting propaganda. Moore's original 1980's screed against Thatcherite Britain has been updated by the Wachowski Brothers to include references to Iraq, "America's War" and anti-Muslim bigotry (even owning a copy of the Koran is a capital offense). The limited nuclear war of the graphic novel has been replaced by bio-terrorism. It's enough of an update that conservatives see it as an attack on Our Dear Leader.
Oddly, there is no apparent racism in this fascist state (a major theme in the graphic novel), even though the governing party has the Aryan-sounding name Norsefire, but homosexuals are still rounded up and sent off to concentration camps. Maybe anti-homophobia is more popular in Hollywood than anti-racism these days. There's also some interesting philosophy as well: are there really no such things as coincidences? Is one man's terrorist another man's freedom fighter? Is order without freedom (tyranny) really the only alternative to freedom without responsibility (licentiousness)?
There are problems, of course; in some parts of the film, it's hard to tell if we are watching reality or some fantastic vision. Two characters who die earlier in the film (one of them on-screen) inexplicably return at the end. Also, I'm not sure I can buy the idea of the notoriously agnostic Brits being taken in by a dictatorship of the Religious Right. Overall, though, I thought it was an excellent film, weighed on its own merits.

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