Reality Is The Playground Of The Unimaginative

Home Of Swords, Sorcery, Superheroes, Sonic Screwdrivers, Supernatural Scares, Star Stuff, Sci-fi, Smeg, and Silliness

Sunday, 30 September 2018

I Suspect I Might Be In The Minority Here, But I Think This Looks Quite Entertaining...

Why I Hate MyHermes And Wish People Would Stop Using Them To Send Parcels...

I've been waiting since Wednesday for MyHermes to deliver a pair of parcels to me.

It's not that they haven't got round to redelivering them yet that infuriates me, but the lies and obfuscation when I've tried to find out where the packages are.

A driver attempted to deliver the parcels to me on Wednesday and, through no fault of anyone's, managed to pick the two hours of the week I wasn't at home to take them in.

I'd been sent an email with a four-hour delivery slot that, unfortunately, I didn't see until I got home (not that there was anything I could do, anyway, as I had an appointment), and as one of the parcels required a signature they couldn't be left on my doorstep or with a neighbour.

However, a note was pushed through my letterbox saying the parcels would be delivered the following day (Thursday). They weren't - FIRST LIE.

I tried contacting MyHermes via Facebook Messenger (they don't do Twitter), and having entered all my details was told someone would contact me within a day(!). They didn't - SECOND LIE.

I also emailed them, via their website, but have heard nothing back.

I then went through their automated telephone enquiries system (both on Thursday and Friday), which told me my parcels were at the local sorting depot and would be delivered within a couple of days. So, not Thursday as the driver's note said.

Eventually, unsure what was going on with my parcels, I got in touch on Friday, via the Live Chat function on their website, with an Indian call centre.

After waiting 20 minutes to get to the head of the queue (they clearly deal with a LOT of complaints) and confirming all my details again, I was ASSURED that my parcels were actually out for delivery and would be with me by 8pm on Friday. They weren't - THIRD LIE.

On Saturday morning I returned to the Live Chat (only a six minute wait this time), only to be told that actually the status of my delivery hadn't been updated since Thursday (thus confirming the lie of Friday night's chat, or "miscommunication" as it was rebranded) and that they would need to contact the "service provider" (i.e. the delivery driver) to find out what was going on.

On Sunday, I got a couple of messages back, one from Facebook and one via email, saying, basically, they didn't know what had happened and would attempt to resolve the situation ASAP.

The email, rather disconcertingly, says:
"Unfortunately we have been unable to ascertain a full resolution from the Courier on this occasion and will need to escalate your query further.

We have made contact with the Courier Manager for information on this delivery. We will contact you via email as soon as we have an update."
I'm constantly being reminded of the "you had one job..." meme.

MyHermes' job is to deliver parcels, and they seem unable to do that.

It doesn't take very much Googling to discover I'm far from alone in being frustrated by MyHermes' cavalier attitude with the parcels they are charged with delivering. There are numerous Twitter accounts set up with the sole purpose of slagging this company off for its dreadful service.

Clearly My Hermes' slogan of "makes delivery easy" is to be read with a heavy dose of sarcasm.

If you have a parcel to send in the UK and can't use the Royal Mail, please consider any other firm before resorting to MyHermes (except possibly Yodel*, they're rather crap as well).

If Amazon and DPD can use technology to show you online exactly where your parcel is why can't these other companies?

Like I said, I'm not pissed at MyHermes for not delivering these packages yet (neither are of Earth-shattering importance, although one is a miniatures' case to help me pack my collection in), it's the fact that every avenue of enquiry as to their location has led me to a different answer.

I just want the truth about where these two parcels are, and an idea of when I might actually get my hands on them.


* Yodel tends to employ ninja-like masters of the "tap-and-run", delivery drivers who'll tippy-toe up to your door, tap ever so gently (even when there's a glaringly big doorbell button to ring) then race back to their van before you can even get to the door.

The Two Faces Of Fandom...

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Mortal Engines: Discover Your Role In The Traction City Of London...

As the publicity gears grind into life for the upcoming film adaptation of Philip Reeve's superlative Mortal Engines, the movie's website offers you the chance to discover your role in the society of the futuristic traction city of London.

Just answer a few simple questions and you'll be allocated to a guild, which will then allow you to interact (via Facebook Messenger) with a guild representative and get a tour of the city.

In other exciting news, the release date of the film has been moved forward to December 8 in the UK.


Meet Your New Team Titans...

Sneak Peek At First Episode Of The New Series Of Doctor Who...

From The Woman Who Fell To Earth, debuting on BBC1 at 6.45pm on Sunday, October 7.

Well, I know what I'll be doing then...
We don’t get aliens in Sheffield.

In a South Yorkshire city, Ryan Sinclair, Yasmin Khan and Graham O’Brien are about to have their lives changed forever, as a mysterious woman, unable to remember her own name, falls from the night sky.

Can they believe a word she says? And can she help solve the strange events taking place across the city?

Pest Control...

An exterminator is called to investigate strange noises coming from an old woman's basement.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Daredevil: Wilson Fisk In The Spotlight...

Top Of The Pile: Heroes In Crisis #1

As someone living with PTSD (courtesy of a surprise aneurysm over a decade ago), I have been looking forward to seeing how the incredible Tom King tackles the subject in a world of superheroes in Heroes In Crisis, the new nine-part series from DC Comics.

And it comes as quite a gut punch, this first issue revolving around the discovery of a mass slaughter at Sanctuary, a safe house in the middle of nowhere for supers seeking counselling.

Sanctuary was built by Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman and it's the Trinity who are investigating the massacre, where several surprisingly big name heroes are counted among the dead.

The flow of the narrative is broken up with one-page, nine-panel, 'talking heads' scenes - familiar to anyone who has watched a reality TV show or a documentary - with characters addressing the camera.

These are where the real psychological information is imparted, as the characters reveal, either overtly or subtly, their issues and why they were at Sanctuary.

Outside of these strands, there's a two-hander between Booster Gold and Harley Quinn, bantering and fighting, and ultimately unmasking themselves as the two prime suspects for the atrocity. As ever, though, there's a twist!

Part of me wished Heroes In Crisis had been published simply as a collected graphic novel, as I came away from this issue with more questions than answers and a strong desire to know what's going on.

On the surface, this is a traditional superhero comic book, with costumed characters fighting and crimes to be looked in to, but underneath the surface there's hints of something deeper being addressed.

Beautifully complementing King's tight script is Clay Mann's impeccable artwork, coloured atmospherically by Tomeu Morey. For such a downer of a tale, Heroes In Crisis looks stunning.

Of course, in comics, dead never really means dead, but I'm still pulled in and want to follow the murder investigation through to its end.

I'm also fascinated to learn more about the work The Sanctuary has been doing and King's examination of the psychological impact of a lifestyle stereotypically portrayed as one of a continual cycle of violence.

Star Wars Resistance Is All About The Racing And The Spying...

A daring pilot embarks upon a secret mission against the First Order... with a lot of help from his friends in Star Wars Resistance. Premiering Sunday, October 7 at 10pm ET/PT on Disney Channel.

Breaking Down My Fandom Coverage...

Based on blog post tags, this chart shows the percentage of coverage I give to my main fandoms on HeroPress.

Of course, it's not very scientific because, for instance, there is no one tag for "superhero shows and movies", which sometimes reference their source comic books but more often than not are treated as an entity unto themselves.

But I think it gives a generally balanced overview of what you're likely to find here, and I'm pleased with the 30.5% roleplaying game posts, which, I reckon,  justifies calling HeroPress an "RPG blog".

#DCTV How Will The Monitor Change The Status Quo Of The Arrowverse?

This week we not only learned that December's Arrowverse crossover event would be called Elseworlds (DC's catchall name for its 'alternate reality' stories) but would feature the first live-appearance of he legendary interdimensional being The Monitor.

The character will be portrayed by Sons Of Anarchy and The Last Ship star LaMonica Garrett.

You can read more about him and his character here on the DC Comics website.

What will appearance of The Monitor mean for our heroes? Could this result in a merging of Supergirl's world with that of The Flash and Arrow? How do Superman and Batwoman factor into all this?

While Elseworlds won't feature the Legends of Tomorrow (instead concentrating on The Flash, Arrow, and Supergirl), here's a trailer for the time travellers' magical new season:

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Star Wars DVD Of The Week: Solo (2018)

Having left the cinema rather deflated by the disappointing mediocrity of The Last Jedi, Solo - A Star Wars Story became the first movie of the franchise that I chose not to see on the Big Screen when it was released earlier this year.

Having now caught up with it, upon its Blu-Ray release, I regret that decision.

Within a few scenes, it was obvious that Solo was going to be a hell of a lot more Star Wars than The Last Jedi’s smug, post-modern, subversion of the established mythology, which single-handedly reduced “Star Wars” to just another generic sci-fi franchise.

Back in '77, when I first saw Star Wars (not yet renamed A New Hope), Harrison Ford's roguish Han Solo was my man. I so wanted to model my life after him, but had to settle for a three and three-quarter inch plastic action figure instead (it was all I could afford).

It would be many years before I would come to appreciate Return of The Jedi-era Luke Skywalker and switch my allegiances to him.

Solo charts the early years of the future smuggler, here portrayed superbly by Alden Ehrenreich, from his time as a street rat on Corellia, through three years serving as a grunt for The Empire (including an off-camera stint as a pilot in the Imperial Navy), to his desertion and teaming up with a band of outlaws led by Woody Harrelson's Beckett.

Set in a world of untrustworthy individuals and multiple feuding crime syndicates, all the elements of Jonathan and Lawrence Kasdan's tight script mesh perfectly under Ron Howard's steady direction, weaving in numerous Easter Eggs that are nods to the future, from the relevance of Han's lucky gold dice (which hang in the Falcon) to several fleeting namechecks of characters and places well-established in the lore of Star Wars.

Fast-paced and witty, Solo is the film that a young Han Solo deserves, giving us stirring key moments in his backstory, such as his first meetings with Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) and Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) to the moment he first sees The Millennium Falcon and the justification of his later brag about the Kessel Run.

There are betrayals, double-crosses, and all the feats of daring-do that you would expect from an thrilling cinematic crime caper, mixed in with plenty of alien races - both old and new - and exotic alien planets.

A simply magnificent film that, if it had hit the silver screen before The Last Jedi-induced franchise fatigue, would been the global blockbuster that the name Star Wars used to guarantee.

If you love Star Wars, but shied away from Solo, do yourself a favour and see this movie as soon as possible. You won't be disappointed.

#RPG Handbooker Helper Explains Death Saves In Dungeons & Dragons...

In this week's first Fifth Edition outing for the Tuesday Knights, DM Simon opted to forego the idea of "death saves" when elf ranger Kao (Erica's character) was felled during our combat in the goblin bandit lair, instead ruling that she was simply unconscious.

Not only did it keep things moving as we were getting to grips with the system and not mean Erica would have to take a new character, but it meant we could learn about this mechanic another day.

Or now, from the most recent episode of Critical Role's Handbooker Helper.

WEEKLY WORLD NEWS: If A Story Is Worth Doing, It's Worth Doing Twice...

A medical condition that gives people a face akin to Batman's nemesis Two-Face, the enduring (supernatural?) power of Elvis, and bizarre animal attacks... all Weekly World News staples.

And all suitable fodder for the inventive gamesmaster looking for hooks to hang novel storylines from.

Let's Hope This Delivers The Movie That The Classic Comic Book Story Deserves...

In Dark Phoenix, the X-Men face their most formidable and powerful foe: one of their own, Jean Grey.

During a rescue mission in space, Jean is nearly killed when she is hit by a mysterious cosmic force.

Once she returns home, this force not only makes her infinitely more powerful, but far more unstable.

Wrestling with this entity inside her, Jean unleashes her powers in ways she can neither comprehend nor contain. With Jean spiralling out of control, and hurting the ones she loves most, she begins to unravel the very fabric that holds the X-Men together.

Now, with this family falling apart, they must find a way to unite — not only to save Jean’s soul, but to save our very planet from aliens who wish to weaponize this force and rule the galaxy.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

#RPG Chapter One: The Lost Mines of Phandelver...

Where We Were...

Last night saw the commencement of not only Simon's first stint as gamesmaster for the Tuesday Knights but also, rather surprisingly, our first actual - official - game of Dungeons & Dragons.

Given that the group was founded 10 years ago through inspiration by the release of Fourth Edition, it turns out that we wouldn't actually play the "original roleplaying game" until its Fifth Edition.

As I said yesterday, Pete was away, which is why we weren't continuing his campaign, and so Simon stepped up with this introductory adventure for the latest iteration of Dungeons & Dragons.

We had chosen pre-generated characters during the week, and so we were ready to roll as soon as the traditional games' night pizza had been consumed.

My character, Syr Edvard of House Dobbin joined Dolly Spartan (Clare's fighter), Kao the (super) elf ranger (played by Erica), and Ragar The Hill Dwarf (Kevin's character).

In the famous city of Neverwinter, we had been hired to escort a wagon of supplies to the town of Phandalin, with our bosses riding on ahead.

With Dolly driving the ox cart, me riding shotgun, Ragar sitting in the back, and Kao jogging alongside (because elf...), we set off from Neverwinter, down The High Road.

Down the road aways, we came across signs of a goblin ambush. A pair of horses - which we recognised as belonging to our bosses (whose names I don't recall) - were sprawled across the road, peppered with black, twisted arrows.

But there was no sign of the people who hired us. While we were looking for them, we were attacked by a small band of goblins that we quickly dispatched.

With their aid of our magnificent elf (Kao's fragile, but otherwise seemingly gifted in so many other useful areas), we found a track leading away, with signs of bodies being dragged down it.

It should be noted that while Syr Edvard is a natural born leader, he's not a "details guy" and there were a lot of very long, strange, and convoluted names being bandied about which weren't sticking in his head.

Our brave adventurers followed the track to a stream which lead into a cave that was obviously the goblin lair. We surprised a pair of pretty rubbish sentries and swiftly dispatched them, before venturing into the cave complex.

Avoiding some chained up wolves, we methodically made our way through the subterranean network, killing goblins as we went.

Beside a very noisy waterfall, there was a big scrap with a loud bugbear called Klarg that we thought was the leader of the bandits.

However, after we killed him and his small team of goblins, we trekked on to another room where a large goblin was holding court.

Syr Edvard organised a military strike on this group as we also spied one of our employers (Gundran?), trussed up on the floor.

Initially this went well, but then the Boss Goblin pulled up Gundran, holding a knife to his throat, and demanded parlay.

Boss Goblin seemed to be in dispute with Klarg, and wanted proof that we'd already killed the bugbear.

Dolly and Ragar went off to fetch the monster's head, but when they returned Boss Goblin tried to change the terms of our deal.

Ragar cast some kind of illumination cantrip on the Goblin's knife, surprising him, and as he reeled backwards, Dolly shot him in the head with her trusty bow and arrow (Dolly is very good with a bow and arrow).

With their Boss felled, the other goblins scarpered.

We revived Gundran, and he was able to garble something about his partner being sent to Cragmore Castle (?) and something about some lost mines. Syr Edvard's attention had wandered at that point with the word soup of fantasy names.

All he knows is that we need to get Gundram to Phandalin, then we go off hunting his partner... and this will probably involve some lost mines or something...

So, all being well, that's what we'll be doing next month.

We all seemed to get on with 5e really well. The characters appear to be surprisingly proficient at first level, with a lot of skills and abilities.

The official character sheets were really ergonomically designed, in that it was easy to find things at  a moment's notice (although I did find some of the type rather small for ageing eyes!)

And the mechanics of 5e are old school enough that it was easy for us to pick up on the fly, and the innovations (such as advantage/disadvantage) were really simple that one explanation was enough for those who were totally new to this system to grok.

I find it kind of strange (but not necessarily in a bad way) that after this single, short, adventure we all earned enough experience points to go to second level, but I understand that's de rigueur for level-based games these days.

Really looking forward to continuing this next month, although Erica is away (so no super-Kao), but Pete will be returning and we'll see which character he picks.

Daredevil: Some Men Just Want To Watch The World Burn...

Weird Wednesday...

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

I Love A Good Documentary And Miniature Wargaming: The Movie Looks Great...

Miniature Wargaming: The Movie dives into the heart of the wargaming industry and reveals the impact it has on peoples lives. The film follows four individuals as they unveil how wargaming affects their lifes in different ways. Andy Bryant, a British war veteran who turns to wargaming as an escape, Chris Nicholls, owner of a small business fighting to secure his family's future, and two young gamers Matt & Adam who travel across Europe in a bid to fulfil their dream of competing in an international tournament.

Finally uncover the true story behind this incredible hobby with best-selling author Henry Hyde who reveals how this hobby came to past.

With never before scene footage with, Sir Peter Jackson (director of The Lord of The Rings), and interviews with Rick Priestley (creator of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000), legendary sculptors Alan and Michael Perry, Warlord Games co-founders Paul Sawyer and John Stallard plus many more.

Directed by Joseph Piddington from Devon, England, this film took over three years to complete and was the founding film for Ocean View Studios.

#RPG We Have Come Here To Chew Bubblegum And Kick Ass...

The Squad: Syr Edvard, Dolly Spartan, Kao, and Ragar

Pete's away on business, which scuppers our plans to continue his Top Secret/FREELancers campaign this evening, however Simon has heroically stepped up and offered to run us a game of Dungeons & Dragons 5e.

We're going to be playing through the introductory adventure, Lost Mines of Phandelver, with pre-generated characters.

Over the last week, the Tuesday Knights have all chosen characters from the list Simon provided and appear to have opted for a very martial group.

I'm playing a noble human fighter, Syr Edvard of House Dobbin.

Clare will be potty-mouthed Dolly Spartan, former dockworker turned folk hero; another human fighter.

Erica is Kao, the wood elf ranger.

And Kevin is Ragar the Hill Dwarf, a soldier and a cleric.

At the weekend, Simon asked me to dig out some figures for our game and everyone seems satisfied with the ones I chose (see above).

I know my fighter - according to the write-up we were given - is supposed to have an axe, but as soon as I spotted that figure in the remnants of my collection (those not yet put in storage during our major house sprucing-up) it said 'Syr Edvard' to me.

Meanwhile, Clare's character is based off this picture (right) that popped up on Facebook the other day (of country and western legend Dolly Parton as a Spartan warrior) and I definitely don't have any figures that even come close to that.

Really excited for this new game.

It's Simon's first time gamesmastering for us, so who knows, maybe THIS will become our next epic campaign...

Monday, 24 September 2018

Musical Monday: Time Is Up (Poppy, featuring Diplo)

The Franchise That Just Won't Die...

On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld), on the cusp of turning 18 and trying to find her place in the world, discovers Bumblebee, battle-scarred and broken. When Charlie revives him, she quickly learns this is no ordinary, yellow VW bug.
I, honestly, never thought we'd see another Transformers film - the previous ones generally being an enormous wreck - but I guess there are people out there still wanting their 'robots in disguise'.

Map-A-Monday: Gotham City Subway...

click to embiggen

Map of Gotham City's subway system, from the set of the upcoming Joker origin story movie.

There are Easter Eggs to be found!

Musical Monday: See Emily Play (Pink Floyd)

See Emily Play was the second single released by Pink Floyd. Published in 1967, it was initially thought to be a non-album single but was later included on the U.S. debut album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

I Realise It's Probably Sacrilege, But Margot Robbie Is My Harley...

Unlike a lot of you, being a Brit, I didn't grow up with Batman: The Animated Series and, again for me, originally in the comics, Harley was always very much a second-string villain in Batman's Rogue's Gallery (a sidekick to The Joker).

It was only really with Margot Robbie's iconic performance in Suicide Squad that I truly started to grok Harley Quinn.

The Power Of The Written Word...

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Halloween Has Horror Heritage...

I can't remember if I've confessed this before, but the original Halloween did nothing for me, I'm afraid, despite its pivotal role in defining the slasher genre.

For me, Michael was always the least interesting of that generation's top tier Trinity of monsters: Freddy, Jason, and Michael.

However, this new sequel looks brilliant... especially for the way it builds on the original. If I end up enjoying the 2018 film as much as I think I will, I guess I'll have to revisit the original and see how it stacks up now with the added mythology.

Have You Picked A Side? I Know I Have...

The Inner Circle have Polaris and The Frost Sisters, it's no contest - I know who I'm siding with!

Thor: Love & Thunder (2022) + Dr Who (2022)


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