Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Walking Dead

I finished watching The Walking Dead today. Turn away now, this will contain SPOILERS!

It was pretty good, but I wouldn't call it amazing. It was the writing that was lacking in some spots of the series as a whole. Mainly it was in the 5th episode when the camp is suddenly overrun with walkers (zombies). There is a technique taught in some gaming circles where if the action or story starts to get slow have two guys with guns kick in the door. Figure out who they are later. That's what it felt like when the camp was absolutely crawling with them. It felt like a plot device for the story to move but didn't fit well. Earlier in the show they'd come across one or two solo walkers that somehow wondered up the hill and that was totally within the realm of possible for this show. Other than that the last episode was a little too conveniently timed. The gang arrives the night before the whole place is set to blow. I suppose they may have accelerated the process by showering away all the hot water. But again this is television and can be forgiven. For a zombie show it showcases the situation dramatically and very realistically compared to most in this genre. Sometimes the zombies seem a little too clever. In the first or second episode (I don't recall now), it seemed like one undead lady almost recognized her house. But who knows. Their limits haven't been fully defined yet.

One spoiler I caught was that Merle (spelling) didn't show up in the 2nd half of the show which was for-shadowed with the fact that Michael Rooker's name wasn't in the credits. He always plays such a good asshole. His brother took me for a spin trying to remember where I had seen him before when it finally came to me that he was one of the Boon Dock Saints! No wonder he looked natural with a gun. I think Jeffery DeMunn is the strongest actor in the cast. His character caught me as the most real.

I read the trade paperbacks years ago and I recall it being an excellent comic. Someone reported that the first episode was almost shot for shot the first comic issue. I don't recall if that's so. Could be. Both mediums are good productions. From what I remember the show took a pretty big turn from the events of the comic. I'm sure I'll be tuning in when the 2nd season is upon us. Zombies sure seem like the in thing for a while now. Maybe this show will start to kill that fad... but naturally, the fad will rise from the dead to keep on going.............

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Christmas Carol

The Doctor Who Christmas Special has becoming a fun tradition for us. We get to it after all the important events and obligations are behind us. We can get back to our regular routine by way of a blue Police box.

There seems to be an adrenaline rush over the series ever since David Tennant handed the torch to Matt Smith. This special had that level of energy throughout the whole episode. There is also a higher level of weird with the 11th Doctor that I kind of like.

A Christmas Carol felt very much like The Girl in the Fireplace. Both stories take place over a short period of time for the Doctor and for us, but for the people in the story or in this particular situation the Doctor's interventions took place over decades, over an entire lifetime. In this story, the Doctor takes a very active role in the character's history. A deliberate intervention to directly change the outcome or steer to the Doctor's desired possible future. This is a departure from the Doctor's usual modus operandi. It almost seemed like the Doctor's meddling could be seen as a punishment for the character in question's decision.

One interesting part that I expect will cause a lot of message board commotion is a character met himself and even embraced himself and there was no paradox.

It was a good addition to the list of adventures and the previews for season 6 look as cool as ever.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Manga Bible

For $2.00 at Half Price Books. I figured I'd take a look and keep it until I found that it was deliberately contrary to it's source material or just plain poorly made with no real or true concept of the source.

The Manga Bible: From Genesis to Revelations. Published by Doubleday, concept and art by Siku and script by Akin.
I have been pleasantly surprised and impressed with the quality of the little book. This is not intended to be a literal translation of the Bible, but to tell a lite version of the basic story through the Japanese comic style known as manga. To this goal I think it succeeded well. The art is very stylized and often leans towards humorous, but also is pretty serious and sometimes a bit suggestive when the story calls for it.

The neatest thing about the book is since it is not an in-depth translation and just skims the stories, occasionally there is a tab in the corner of some of the pages that references the real verses that tell the specific Bible story.

This is a tight little production that I'm comfortable to leave laying around for anyone to pick up and page through. I hope, like the creators of the book, that it encourages people who might not usually read the Bible, to become inspired to do just that.

Siku is a comic book creator from England known for several Judge Dredd comics as well as a Megacity spin-off- Pan African Judges.

Akin served as Nickalodian's art director.

OK Go videos

This is a collection of the videos by OK Go. No reason other than they're incredibly creative and I want to further recognize the wonderful effort these lads put into their unique niche.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

TRON: Legacy

Saw TRON today. This is full of spoilers so be warned.

While I recognized scenes that probably were fantastic in 3D, I'm glad we went to a 2D version. The effects were outstanding. Through a lot of the beginning there were many references to the original TRON. It seemed that pretty much all the sets were revisited in Legacy. There were disc duels, lightcycle duels, and an added one- lightjets. These are like the cycles which leave a solid ribbon along their path, but in the form of aerial dogfight with the ribbons hanging behind the vehicles.

The movie is very much like the original film in its pacing and over all plot. Missing were separate villains such as Master Control and a Sark character which were combined into one character antagonist who has a handful of unique henchmen this time around. Mostly what is offered is updated versions of everything we've already seen. The only thing new are a new life-form manifested from the creation of a newer Grid. This supplied a suitable minority for the autocracy lead by Clu to put down and wipe out. Another idea presented was that the programs could come up and out into the real world. There were some neat flashback scenes featuring the creation of this Grid by Flynn, Clu and Tron. One disappointment, the Bit was missing from Legacy.

We glimpse some of the everyday life of the Grid's city and here the movie takes a Film Noir feel like we just stepped into the Matrix as we follow the plot into an elegant bar. Other aspects have a Matrix feel as sometimes Users seem to manifest powers over and above the abilities of the native Programs.

I thought was disappointing compared to the original film was the digitizing and journey into the Grid. Here he was suddenly just there. It appeared that Sam didn't even feel the transfer.

One big difference from the first was the presence of many more females than in the first film. In a good way. I thought Quorra [Olivia Wilde] was adorable.

A small detail that bothered me was the introduction of projectile weapons. The above mentioned bar scene had a character randomly shooting a cane/rifle. It seemed very out of place suddenly to see any kind of gun weapon in the Grid. Before the only projectiles were discs or glowing spheres of various sports. The lightjets had turrets and mounted weapons that, again, seemed out of place here.

My favorite thing about TRON: Legacy was Daft Punk. They did a great job scoring the music and their cameo was hilarious and subtle. I think they didn't even alter their helmets!

I wonder how the film holds up if one had not seen the original film.

The film is left wide open for sequels probably with the hopes of a newly rebooted franchise. I don't know if this is a good thing or not. Regardless of it's possible open end, it is a nicely self contained complete  package of a movie. I liked it and I'd see it again. If only to try to catch more references to the first one.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Kokuriko-Zaka Kara and The Last Sortie

There is a new Ghibli film in the making! Kokuriko-Zaka Kara sounds like perhaps the most realistic film to be made by Ghibli along the lines of Grave of the Fireflies.

Goro Miyazaki Directing Latest Ghibli Movie 'Kokuriko-Zaka Kara'

December 16, 2010
Source: Anime News Network
by Alex Billington
Kokuriko-Zaka Kara Artwork
Gather ’round Studio Ghibli fans! It was just announced by the legendary Japanese animation studio, as reported on Anime News Network (via SlashFilm), that their newest feature-length film is an adaptation of Chizuru Takahashi and Tetsurō Sayama's manga Kokuriko-Zaka Kara (see Wikipedia). Directing will be Goro Miyazaki, son of legendary Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki, who directed their 2006 movie Tales from Earthsea (watch the trailer). Studio Ghibli is already hard at work on this and The Borrowers, as they say Kokuriko-Zaka will actually hit theaters in Japan next summer, plus the official website just went up.
The story is set in 1963, a year before the Tokyo Olympics, and follows the coming of age of an ordinary high school girl named Komatsuzaki (seen above in artwork from the website) in Yokohama, a harbor city near Tokyo. Her sailor father went missing after an accident, and her photographer mother often goes abroad for work. Her family now runs a lodging house. The manga recounts Komatsuzaki's everyday life of "laughter and tears" with two boys: a school newspaper member and the student council president. No magic wizards in this one, it sounds like. Hayao Miyazaki co-wrote the script with Keiko Niwa, also of Tales from Earthsea.
As everyone knows, I'm a huge Miyazaki/Ghibli fan and I'm always interested in their newest feature films, especially because they're some of the only beautiful hand-drawn animated films left these days. I'm looking forward to The Borrowers as well as Kokuriko-Zaka Kara (which I'm sure will get an English title soon), but we're on a delayed schedule in the US and probably won't see either of these new films for a few more years.


NOTE - The following has been updated here...
(It will not be a film, it will be a manga)

The news was also reported on Den of the Geek where they reminded us [me] that there is a sequel for Porco Rosso in the docket from Ghibli as well.

Studio Ghibli announces new animated feature

Ryan Lambie

Japanese masters of animation, Studio Ghibli, has announced its next feature, called Kokuriko-Zaka Kara…

Published on Dec 17, 2010

Called Kokuriko-Zaka Kara, the movie will be overseen by Goro Miyazaki, the son of Hayao. Perhaps the most reality-based Ghibli movie since 1988's astounding Grave Of The Fireflies, the film is set in 1963, and relates the story of a schoolgirl living in Yokohama.While we patiently await the western release of Studio Ghibli's most recent feature, The Borrower Arrietty, the Japanese animation house has announced its next project.
Goro Miyazaki's last film was Tales From Earthsea, a movie that was greeted with a mixed critical reception when it appeared in 2006, but nevertheless did plenty of business in its native Japan, even knocking Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest off its number one spot on its week of release.
Given that Ponyo On The Cliff took two years to make it to UK shores, it's fairly safe to say that we won't be seeing a subtitled incarnation of Kokuriko-Zaka Karatill approximately 2013.
Looking even further into the future, we've also got Hayao Miyazaki's Porco Rosso sequel, The Last Sortie to look forward to. Now, that's one film we'd love to see.


Kokuriko-Zaka Kara sounds fine, but it's The Last Sortie that I'm looking forward to. Wow! Ghibli doing a sequel and to choose Porco Rosso to make one for! We can't ask for more than that.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Les Miserables

My 2010 New Years Resolution was this- To [at least] start the Victor Hugo novel- Les Misérables. This book is immense! I've seen various screen adaptations and the musical (twice!) so I come into it pretty familiar with the main story. It's the details I'm interested in now. To fall in love with the characters and story. And that I did. What I wasn't prepared for was all the tangents Hugo takes away from the story. For example, Bishop Myriel- this character has a small part in the movie and the musical. He's the guy that Jean Valjean tries to steal silver flatware and dishes from but Bishop Myriel forgives him and has Jean Valjean take the silver candlesticks, too. Wonderful character and we don't see him ever again in said productions. In the novel we read about every single detail about this man before that scene after we read about every single detail about Jean Vanjean. It's very extensive and well done and the scene takes a much more meaningful tone with all the back ground knowledge on hand.

"Forget not, never forget that you have promised me to use this silver to become an honest man.... Jean Valjean, my brother: you belong no longer to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I am buying for you. I withdraw it from dark thoughts and from the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God!"

I must confess that I'm not actually reading the book proper. I'm listening to it in audio book form. This takes place about four times a day on my commutes to and from work (with a split shift). And it's been working fabulously. I look forward to my commutes. At one point our protagonist is making tracks across the countryside on foot and comes across the battlefield of Waterloo or something like that because all of a sudden we're studying that battle from every possible facet, much like we did with Jean Valjean and Bishop Myriel. But the story takes place decades after this battle. But here it is, in every detail... why!? I thought for a while that I may have somehow been listening to the wrong audio book. Like some digital files got mixed up with a military history book or something. But as suddenly as we left, we were back on track with the story.

My momentum has started to wane. My plan was to make it to where the movie/musical jump ahead ten or so years, after Cosette is rescued from the Thénardiers. I've shelved the book for now. Hugo has started another major tangent, this one about religious orders and nuns and such. A good time to set the book down and get back into some Sherlock Holmes.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Doctor Who Scene

This is a scene that fits right in between the 11th Doctor's first episode ending and the beginning of the 2nd episode.

And here's the very next moment which is the first several seconds of the 2nd episode. Unforgettable imagery.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mr. Spock quoted by Texas Court

In Texas, they're quoting Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in a Supreme Court case.

Star Trek cited by Texas Supreme Court

The Texas Supreme Court when writing their opinion in Robinson v. Crown Cork and Seal cited Mr. Spock, effectively making him a legal authority for interpreting the Texas Constitution.
Appropriately weighty principles guide our course. First, we recognize that police power draws from the credo that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Second, while this maxim rings utilitarian and Dickensian (not to mention Vulcan21), it is cabined by something contrarian and Texan: distrust of intrusive government and a belief that police power is justified only by urgency, not expediency.
See STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (Paramount Pictures 1982). The film references several works of classic literature, none more prominently than A Tale of Two Cities. Spock gives Admiral Kirk an antique copy as a birthday present, and the film itself is bookended with the book’s opening and closing passages. Most memorable, of course, is Spock’s famous line from his moment of sacrifice: “Don’t grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The needs of the many outweigh . . .” to which Kirk replies, “the needs of the few.”
"... or the needs of the one", Spock returns. This is almost as cool as the UN Galactica panel.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Blood & Chrome

More Battlestar Galactica is in the making. Syfy (I hate that name) has greenlit a pilot for a prequel series- Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome. This will be about young William Adama in the first Cylon War.
art by JbobW 

SYFY GREENLIGHTS BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: BLOOD & CHROME 2-Hour Pilot Chronicles Young William Adama's Adventures in First Cylon War

New York, NY - October 22, 2010 - Syfy is readying an exciting all-new chapter in the Battlestar Galactica saga with a greenlight for Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome from Executive Producer David Eick, it was announced today by Mark Stern, Executive Vice President of Original Programming, Syfy and Co-Head of Content for Universal Cable Productions. Universal Cable Productions will produce the 2-hour pilot with Syfy utilizing cutting edge CGI and virtual technology.
Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome takes place in the 10th year of the first Cylon war. As the battle between humans and their creation, a sentient robotic race, rages across the 12 colonial worlds, a brash rookie viper pilot enters the fray. Ensign William Adama, barely in his 20's and a recent Academy graduate, finds himself assigned to the newest battlestar in the Colonial fleet... the Galactica. The talented but hot-headed risk-taker soon finds himself leading a dangerous top secret mission that, if successful, will turn the tide of the decade long war in favor of the desperate fleet.
"The 'Galactica' universe as re-imagined by Ron Moore and David Eick is rich with possibilities and backstory," said Mark Stern. "We jumped at the chance to revisit the William Adama character and explore this exciting chapter in the BSG narrative which falls between the events of the original series and the prequel, 'Caprica,' currently airing on Syfy."
"While maintaining the themes of politics, social propaganda, and the timeless question: what does it mean to be human? - 'Blood & Chrome' will also return us to the authentic, relentless depiction of combat and the agony and ecstasy of human-Cylon war, which was the hallmark of 'Battlestar Galactica's' early seasons," said David Eick.
Michael Taylor wrote the teleplay from a story by Eick, Taylor and Bradley Thompson & David Weddle.

About Universal Cable Productions
Universal Cable Productions creates quality content across multiple media platforms for USA, Syfy and other networks. A leader in innovative and critically acclaimed programming, UCP is the studio behind USA's Royal Pains, Law & Order :Criminal IntentPsychIn Plain Sight, Covert Affairs and Fairly Legal, along with Syfy's Eureka,Warehouse 13 and Caprica. The studio also produced both long-running series Monkand Battlestar Galactica. UCP is a division of NBC Universal.
About Syfy
Syfy is a media destination for imagination-based entertainment. With year round acclaimed original series, events, blockbuster movies, classic science fiction and fantasy programming, a dynamic Web site (, and a portfolio of adjacent business (Syfy Ventures), Syfy is a passport to limitless possibilities. Originally launched in 1992 as SCI FI Channel, and currently in more than 98 million homes, Syfy is a network of NBC Universal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Trader of Stories: Bell's Heart

Found an very nice game on the web this weekend. It's a relatively easy point-and-click escape game. These are usually relaxed graphical and somewhat interactive narratives. They tend to be hunt and click mixed with some puzzles. This one was much higher than most in it's presentation. The artist, Marek Rudowski, clearly is experienced in sequential storytelling and has a very classic style of art. This story appears to be one small part of perhaps a series, but also of some comic anthologies. Unfortunately for English speaking fans, a lot of this work appears to be in Polish. I hope we get to see more of the world of The Big Old Tree that Dreamed.

The Trader of Stories: Bell’s Heart – Flash Games – Overview
Play the role of Myosotis who is a trader of stories in this The Trader of Stories: Bell’s Heart adventure flash game. Myosotis is trading stories in hopes of finding her own story and name one day as she has forgotten them. The story starts when her cart broke down and she seeks help in a village.

Please check it out...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Week of Khan

Last weekend I watched Star Trek the Motion Picture. Naturally, the next film would be Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. I realized that I had never seen the original series episode that set up the foundation back story for the second film. So before I continued with the films I watched Star Trek: Space Seed....

Watched it Tuesday morning before work (while I had my breakfast).

A fantastic episode. Often considered one of the best.

I found it to be Star Trek's almost echo of Buck Rogers. Buck was a man of the 20th Century frozen or whatever for 500 years and revived. Khan was a genetically superior human who shipped out in cryogenically frozen sleep in 1996. Revived in the 23rd Century. That was 14 years ago. He's one of us. A bad Buck Rogers of sorts.

Wednesday morning I started watching Star Trek II (during breakfast) and enjoying it from a different perspective now having seen the back story.

Then, Thursday I make my way to The Source to take a look at what new comics came out and I see on the new release shelf - Star Trek: Khan Ruling in Hell issue 1 of 4, I believe. I had no intention of buying a Star Trek comic. I had considered it, true, as it obviously is currently on my obsession radar. But, come on! Khan?! Now?! I honestly had no idea that this comic was coming out. This week, none-the-less!

The story shows Khan and his people being set up and left by the Enterprise and her crew as per Kirk's decision in the TOS episode and they two parties part on rather good terms. The issue covers and highlights some of the main difficulties throughout the first six months of Khan's exile. Marla McGivers, former Lieutenant aboard the Enterprise was also exiled with Khan's people for betraying her crew (also in the episode) and Khan takes her as his wife. She burns her Starfleet uniform after the Enterprise leaves.

Six months pass and the end of the issue shows the Ceti Alpha VI blow up knocking the very lush Ceti Alpha V closer to the sun making it a desolate desert planet. This is portraying what Khan explained to Commander Chekov and Captain Terrel just before putting the awful worms in their ears. Very nicely made comic.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

David Tennant and Doctor Who

I really liked Matt Smith's Doctor. But I fell in love with Doctor Who while it was on David Tennant's watch. What he brought to the character was all good. The level of quality through him is what is making Smith's Doctor hard to accept. Here is how David feels about leaving the role behind...

David Tennant on leaving Doctor Who behind

Simon Brew

The former Time Lord, David Tennant, talks about watching his last episode of Doctor Who, his thoughts on leaving the role, and what he thinks of Matt Smith…

Published on Oct 6, 2010

In the piece, Tennant says, "It felt right to pass the baton on and for it to continue to thrive." Specifically chatting about the transmission of The End Of Time Part II at the start of the year, he added, "I was at home in London on New Year's Day when I watched my last episode. It felt emotional, a weird mixture of emotions, but above all I was proud to be going out with a bang."There's an interesting interview in the latest issue of the Radio Times in which David Tennant looks back on leaving Doctor Who, and insists that he has no regrets about doing so.
While conceding that there's a downside to leaving such a role behind, Tennant did say that "It created many, many more opportunities than it closed down. My life and career are in a very different place to where they were before Doctor Who and that is 90 percent positive."
And what's more, he's a fan of his successor, Matt Smith, too. "I've loved every second. It's a thrill to be watching as a viewer again. I knew Matt was going to be fantastic and he is. He's a great choice and he's knocked it out of the park," Tennant said.
The actor can currently be seen in the BBC drama Single Father, and you can read the full interview in this week's Radio Times. It's well worth picking up.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Stephen Fry is Mycroft

Now about Sherlock Holmes 2. We talking Mycroft. Here is what Bleeding Cool said about it:

This morning’s Danny Baker show on the BBC’s 5 Live was solid radio gold. Joining Baker for some “Highbrow, above the eyebrow chat” was Stephen Fry, British national treasure and the pop cultural embodiment of esoteric erudition.
Amongst the many topics discussed (the conversation was as nimble as a conger eel) came Stephen Fry’s acting work. Here’s how he announced his casting in Guy Ritchie’s about-to-shoot Sherlock Holmes 2, and compared it to a more satisfying part he’s already played:
I’m playing Mycroft in the sequel to the Sherlock Holmes film Guy Ritchie directed with Robert Downey Jr., and that sort of part is fun, but just once in a while to play a genuine all round sort of lead figure with complexity and tragedy and wit and all the sort of things that Oscar [Wilde] had was a once in a lifeftime thrill.
Of course he’s fully aware how much of a pantomime this Holmes film will be.
Moffat and Gatiss definitely have the better Sherlock, but it seems that Ritchie will have the better Mycroft. It’s down to the wire for a Moriarty showdown. Could Ritchie possibly cast somebody more odd and unsettling than Moffat and co. did?
My dream casting for Moriarty? Derren Brown.

For the next seven days, you’ll be able listen the whole conversation between Baker and Fry – indeed, the whole show – via the BBC iPlayer. You might also want to subscribe to the show’s weekly podcast.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Star Wars - The Thrawn Trilogy

I finished reading the Thrawn Trilogy in comic book form, today. I enjoyed the comics more than my lasts attempt at reading the novels. I remember enjoying the novels a great deal when they first came out... new Star Wars after all! I tried re-reading them within the last few years and enjoyed them to the extent that they were Star Wars novels. Beyond that I don't think they were very well written. Timothy Zahn's version of the Star Wars characters seemed to be too good. There seemed like nothing they couldn't do. The films portrayed them as able and good, but almost just barely so, which was an element that added to the enjoyment of the films. In the books, they seemed like almost super-heroes. This kind of turned me off of Zahn's books for a long time.

As comics, however, I felt that the stories held up rather well. There were points in the plot that felt as though there was too much material to properly adapt as a comic and having not been familiar with the story already, it may have been confusing. But for the most part, the adaptation was rather good. Each book is broken into 6 individual issues. As mentioned above, the pacing for the most part was good. There were a few confusing parts where it felt like more dialog would further and clearly explain exactly what's going on, but such are the limits of comics and especially comic adaptations. There are different art teams for each 'book' in the trilogy. While all of the art was nice, there were great differences between each book. All of the artists did a rather good job of portraying the actors and familiar objects. Another nice part of having this series in individual issues is the cover art of each issue is rather outstanding. Very reminiscent of the Drew Struzan art posters. Dark Horse has almost always had a very nice presentation.

As an added bonus, the ending of The Last Command was somehow a complete surprise to me. I'm not sure if I ever finished the novels back when they were first published.

I think this series would make a wonderful film trilogy in the same format at the current Clone Wars series. That's just wishful thinking.

I enjoyed this recent read so much that I've started looking at the Star Wars Omnibus series that have been out for a while now.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The D6 System

My latest gaming thing has been all about the D6 System. We go way back, D6 and I. A version of this is the game system that powered the original Star Wars RPG by West End Games back in 1987. One of the first games I ran for a motley group of gamers.

My brother and I keep discussing a one-on-one game that we'll get to play someday. As we try to narrow down what the game will be about, I've been trying to decide what game system to use. At first I was thinking one of the many stripped down d20 systems, but realized I just don't like the d20 system in any form (not even True20, which I really tried to like). Then I thought about using GURPS which I ended up really really liking, but the style of game that comes from GURPS didn't fit my vision of what I am hoping for for our game. And it's a bit daunting trying to wrap my own head around the system and character creation, let alone teaching it to a virtual gaming noob. I finally decided- the heck with it. Lets just go back to the system we played back in the day- Star War's D6 system.

This lead me to start to seek out the generic core books that were published after West End Games no longer had the Star Wars product license. I'd always been curious about them and then acquiered the free PDF versions when they went open. It was interesting to see how similar the D6 System is with the GURPS system beyond the obvious six-sided dice system. They're really almost the same with the resolution mechanics flip-flopped.

Coincidently, there also seems to be a resurgence in the D6 fan-base community. All the core rule books, location books and bestiaries recently became open license products. This has caused many discussions about system reference documents and online, as well as print, magazines, over at the West End Games Fan forums.

I started working on my own system reference document using the web service.

This is an attempt to make the D6 System's own SRD like the Hypertext SRD for the d20 system which I quite often used to use. Its not finished yet, but it is coming along.

I think D6 will be a good fit for our game when it does happen. It tends to be more cinematic than realistic. It's very easy to understand and explain. I look forward to getting used to it for use when my kids are ready to roll the dice.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Terra Nova

Terra Nova just came across my radar.

The show is set in the year 2149 when all life on the planet Earth is being threatened with extinction. Scientists have opened a door allowing people to travel back to prehistoric times. The Shannon family (father Jim, his wife Elisabeth, and their children Josh and Maddy) join the tenth pilgrimage of settlers to Terra Nova, the first human colony on the other side of the temporal doorway. However, they did not realize that they placed it in the middle of a group of carnivores. 


Looks like it could be interesting. The reason it came to my attention is that the villain in the James Cameron blockbuster, AVATAR, - Stephen Lang, may have a big role in Terra Nova.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sherlock over The Hobbit

Martin Freeman chooses the role of Dr. John Watson over the role of Bilbo Baggins. Very nice choices to have to choose from...


There have been persistent rumors for a while now that Martin Freeman (Sherlock‘s Dr John Watson) was on the short list of actors to play Bilbo Baggins in Guillermo del ToroPeter Jackson’s much-beleaguered and much-delayed two-part adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit. A role performed by Ian Holm in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Bilbo of The Hobbit is much younger, and thus the producers have been searching for a new actor for this, the starring role.
Well, it now turns out that rumor was apparently true. Digitalspy and others are reporting that Martin Freeman was recently offered the role, but turned it down… in favor of Sherlock:
“It was one of the most difficult decisions of his career,” a source told the paper. “MGM, who are making the film, only got a formal offer over in the last couple of weeks.”
No one’s gone on the record yet, and we’re unclear of the timing of this; was an offer on the table to him before Sherlock aired in July and August? Was Freeman waiting for the BBC to recommission Sherlock before he decided? Was his contract for the first series Sherlockstructured in such a way that he was contractually obligated to be in another series ofSherlock? No clue. Digitalspy reports that this news came from The Sun, whose rumors we tend not to pass along, but this is being widely enough reported, we succumbed. Apologies to all hopeful LotR fans, but we’re clearly happy that he made this choice (if, in fact, this is true).
From the sound of this report, filming for the second series of Sherlock will be at around 20 weeks — again, no clue if this is in line with the first series’ production schedule, but it’s the first we’ve heard of any concrete numbers. And, hopefully, will dispel the myth that the producers of Sherlock need to be making a 12 or 13 episode series. Making each of these sets of three films clearly takes time, people!
[Picture at the top originally from; and, no, we don't think Jackson's film will be auf Deutsch].

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sherlock Holmes

Finally watched the 2009 Sherlock Holmes film. It was wonderful and most things that I read about it were accurate in that it was more loyal to the original novels than many filmed portrayals have been over the last several decades. There was action for a change. And this did come up in a few of Conan Doyle's novels, too. The boxing was definitely there. However, I feel that there may have been too much action which could've taken away from more of getting inside Sherlock. A couple of points in the film everything stopped and we see Sherlock work out exactly how to take down his opponent in the fight he was currently involved in. I would have liked to see more of that with some more general detective work type scenes. It kind of felt like the film might have squandered that effort on the fight scenes where it may have been just as cool to see that technique in Holme's general investigations. I'm also a sucker for the scenes where Sherlock analyzes a person to prove he can do it. We had a good one at the dinner with Mary Morstan.

Irene Addler front and center to the story did take some of the mystery out of her character. But it did make for a neat team, the three of them. If I wasn't already familiar with the literature I feel I would have missed a lot going on there. Jude Law's John Watson was great. What was lacking, in my opinion, were some scenes of just the two of them enjoying each other's company. This film portrayed Watson as angry almost all of his screen time. The two are no longer roommates as the film opens and this says there are A LOT of adventures we missed between them. An interesting choice for setting the film. I love the 'origin' story of the pair from A Study in Scarlet telling when the two meet. Most stories after that show Watson's adoration for his dear friend Holmes. And the balance is Holmes lets Watson in. Confides in no one else. I didn't feel that in this film.

I'll be surprised if they don't continue the franchise. It would be very cool if they ended a trilogy with Reichenbach Falls and the whole bit. To see Ritchie's Moriarty and Mycroft.

As much as I liked it, I still like the new modernized version of Sherlock from BBC more. I feel it is still closer to the original novels than even this film. Or maybe as my brother would say- its because its from the BBC. Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes is a very fine film and is well deserved to sit on my shelf. I look forward to more Robert Downey Jr. Holmes films.

Judge Dredd

What is Judge Dredd?
Before it was a forgettable mediocre Sylvester Stallone sci-fi film, it was one of the biggest comic book series and characters out of the UK.

Judge Dredd is Dirty Harry, Mad Max, Bladerunner and Die Hard all rolled up into one in a dark future.
Judge, Jury, and Executioner in one law enforcement personal unit on the streets of Mega City 1.

Here is another reason to watch this movie when it comes out... when it comes out... Olivia Thirlby (of Juno) will be cast as Judge Dredd's sidekick, Judge Anderson!

Olivia Thirlby Cast As Sidekick In Judge Dredd
 By Mike Mariani: 2010-09-03 13:24:25

Olivia Thirlby Cast As Sidekick In Judge DreddIn what could be called a maverick casting move, if you were desperate to call it something, Olivia Thirlby has just been recruited to play sidekick to Karl Urban in the remake of Judge Dredd. As reported by Variety, Thirlby will play Judge Cassandra Anderson, a telepathic rookie taking to the streets alongside Dredd.

Again, if you were desperate to characterize the new Dredd as something besides a feature-length amateur hour, you could hope for an edgy movie with a bunch of players that have something to prove. Karl Urban hasn't quite capitalized on the cult following he built for his charismatic turns in the Lord of the Rings movies and Star Trek, and this will be his first chance to anchor a big-time release. Dredd's director, Pete Travis, has only Vantage Point on his resume, which doesn't add up to much. And that leaves Thirlby, the unconventionally pretty face from Juno and The Wackness. Let's just hope they don't bury her unique look behind a helmet and a bunch of action sequences. 


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Look at the Sherlock Adaption

Sherlock has been a very satisfying adaption of the wonderful king of mysteries- Sherlock Holmes. This series came out smack-dab in the middle of a fantastic Sherlock Holmes kick for me. So when it aired I was very fresh for the inlaid references to the original stories made throughout the three 90 minute episodes. It's my opinion that Moffatt and Gatiss did a remarkable job telling truly Conan Doyle-ish stories with modern versions of the characters. With what Moffatt has done with Doctor Who, it seems Sherlock is in very capable hands as laid out in the following article...

Adapting Sherlock

Gem Wheeler

Moffat and Gatiss had to update the world's only 'consulting detective' while somehow paying homage to all that had gone before.

With Sherlock, Steven Moffatt and Mark Gatiss successfully adapted an iconic Victorian detective for a modern audience. Here, Gem looks at how Holmes and Watson were updated for the 21st century...

Published on Aug 31, 2010

Working with fellow Who alumnus Mark Gatiss, Moffat's task was to make the modernised Sherlock stand out from the current vast crowd of police procedurals. Oh, and House, which has already taken the core of the Holmes myth right back to its origins in Arthur Conan Doyle's time at medical school.Brave man, Steven Moffat. First he takes on Doctor Who, with all that that entails in terms of a devoted fanbase and years of labyrinthine backstory. Then he tackles another iconic figure in the shape of everyone's favourite pipe-smoking, deerstalker hat-wearing, angular Victorian detective.
As if all that isn't enough, there are the many interlocking segments of Holmesian lore to contend with, accumulated over years of successful previous adaptations. Basil Rathbone built on Sidney Paget's drawings of Holmes for the Strand magazine to create the iconic image in no less than fourteen films, while Jeremy Brett highlighted the manic streak in the detective's character in the popular ITV adaptation. Moffat and Gatiss had to update the world's only 'consulting detective' while somehow paying homage to all that had gone before.
Their efforts have certainly paid off. Sherlock is everything an adaptation should be, a fresh, exhilarating take on the great detective's story that manages to retain every bit of the original's atmosphere. No mean feat, considering that Moffat and Gatiss have lifted Holmes and Watson out of the smog-shrouded, gaslit Victoriana so heavily linked to Conan Doyle's work, and seamlessly grafted them onto the present day.
Oddly enough, though the ubiquitous hansom cabs have been replaced by taxis and the telegram by text message, nothing about the transition feels jarring. As in Doyle's original stories, Watson's just left the army after having been wounded while serving in Afghanistan, a conflict as resonant in nineteenth century England as, depressingly, it is today.  He also still serves as a chronicler of his friend's adventures, something that Sherlock, true to form, evidently finds both annoying and rather satisfying.
This Watson, however, has an online presence, and Holmes sarcastically asks how he could ever manage without "my blogger". Doyle's detective had asked the same of his 'Boswell', a reference to the close friend and biographer of the eighteenth century man of letters, Dr Johnson. It's a smart update, reminding us that, regardless of the medium, a fascination with gossip is one thing we definitely share with our ancestors.
Of course, any version of the Holmes myth stands or falls on its leading man. Does he fit our mental picture of the great detective? Luckily for this adaptation, Benedict Cumberbatch offers us a portrayal of Holmes that is pretty much definitive. Okay, so the accoutrements aren't what we've come to expect. Instead of the deerstalker and the cape, we get sharp tailoring and a rather fabulous coat, and why not?
We never actually find Holmes wearing his distinctive headgear until Rathbone donned the deerstalker cap for the films, which goes to show how much our impressions of a literary character are blurred by later representations that end up becoming part of the 'canon'.
Cumberbatch's Sherlock is wonderfully true to the spirit of Doyle's character. The angular, distinctive profile, the manic energy alternating with brooding listlessness, the killer sarcasm, the drug habit and, yes, that last one is no modern innovation.
If anything, Sherlock's addictions have been toned down for this version, although a strong hint was dropped when he let slip to Watson that a drugs bust in his flat was actually quite likely to turn up something incriminating. One of my favourite moments was when Sherlock revealed that a particularly taxing mystery was a "three-patch problem", pulling up his sleeve to reveal the sources of his nicotine fix. Swap 'three-patch' for 'three-pipe' and you're right back to Doyle's character.
As for his self-diagnosis as a "high-functioning sociopath", it would certainly explain a lot, though we've definitely had one or two glimpses of a heart hidden somewhere beneath that wonderfully acerbic exterior.
As for his companion, Martin Freeman's John Watson is an interesting take on the erstwhile doctor, choosing to highlight the steadfast, no-nonsense side of Sherlock's trusty sidekick rather than the permanently overawed buffoon we've sometimes seen in later adaptations. Here, Watson's a straight-talking military man who provides his socially inept friend with the moral compass and sensitivity gauge he so often needs.
Sherlock's narrow circle of acquaintances extends to his landlady, Mrs Hudson (a delightfully batty expansion of a minor role by Una Stubbs) who provides tea, sympathy and a distinctly skewed worldview as she soothingly tells our hero that what he really needs is to cheer him up is a "nice murder".
The watchful presence of his brother, the all-powerful civil servant Mycroft (played by Gatiss) is, again, pleasingly fleshed out, with the addition of a hilarious rivalry between the all too similar siblings.
Sherlock's occasional 'colleagues' at Scotland Yard are a mixed bunch. Inspector Lestrade (Rupert Graves) is, like Watson, closer to Doyle's creation: professional, tenacious and torn between antagonism and affection when it comes to Sherlock. The other policemen who help, or, more often, hinder Holmes in the original stories haven't yet made their appearance, although there are glimpses of them in some characters we have met.
The ambitious DI Dimmock could reflect Lestrade's bitter rival, Inspector Gregson, while the snidely resentful Inspector Donovan is more of a composite of every petty official Doyle forced Holmes to endure.
As for Moriarty, whom we briefly met in the dramatic cliffhanger to episode three, the change from a sinister professor to a dapper, youthful psychopath is certainly audacious, and seems to have divided opinion. It's going to be interesting to see how these changes play out in the promised second series.
The question is, where will they go from here? If this brief run is anything to go by, we can expect an exhilarating mixture of elements drawn from various Doyle stories and woven together with new twists. The magnificent opener, A Study In Pink, referenced more than the title of Doyle's first Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet. The story of Holmes and Watson's first meeting through a friend at St Bart's was almost identical to Doyle's version, albeit with some lovely updated touches. Here, Holmes deduces Watson's life story from his mobile rather than his fob watch.
The serial murder case takes only the method (poisoned tablets offered to the victims as part of a Russian roulette-style gamble) from the original. However, Sherlock's inspection of the first crime scene contains one fantastic in-joke. In A Study in Scarlet, the word ‘Rache' is scrawled in blood upon a wall. Lestrade pompously insists that it's an attempt at the name ‘Rachel', but Holmes corrects him. It's actually the German for ‘revenge'.
Moffat and Gatiss wrongfoot us by switching the comments around, so that the message scratched into the floor by a dying woman is, after all, the name of the victim's daughter. This sets the tone for the series, The writers clearly love their source material, but far too much to be overly reverential.
The second episode, The Blind Banker, united plot elements from two Doyle stories, the novel The Sign Of The Four and The Adventure Of The Dancing Men, by blending a locked room mystery, sinister secret codes, and Watson's meeting with a future love interest.
Best of all, perhaps, was the finale. The Great Game adapted the plot of The Bruce-Partington Plans, in which the discovery of a murdered civil servant leads the discovery of a plot to sell sensitive details of a defence project, and wove it into a complex tale in which Moriarty, keen to become Sherlock's nemesis, set the detective challenge after challenge to solve against the clock with an innocent victim's life in the balance.
The countdown was announced with a sequence of ‘pips' sent through a mobile phone, a clear reference to the eponymous coded message of Doyle's story The Five Orange Pips.
Finally, in the cheekiest nod of all, Holmes came face to face with his enemy at a deserted swimming pool, an encounter culminating in a deadly impasse. With laser sights from several hidden snipers trained on him, Holmes pointed his gun at an explosive vest next to Moriarty, leaving us clueless as to whether he was preparing to sacrifice his own life to take down the kingpin of organised crime.
The concept of hero and villain locked in a struggle to the death was lifted straight from The Adventure Of The Final Problem, where Holmes apparently met his death as he and Moriarty tumbled over the edge of the Reichenbach Falls. It's still a cliffhanger, only without the, well, cliff.
Public opinion has won us a guarantee of a second series, just as Doyle was prevailed upon to miraculously bring his hero back from a watery grave over a century ago. Now all that remains is to wonder which elements Moffat and Gatiss will go on to pick out, and which they'll discard.
Will we see a crafty Irene Adler, the one woman ever to truly pique Sherlock's interest? Deadly snakes summoned by nefarious stepfathers? A really, really big, scary dog? It's all up for grabs. The game's afoot...

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