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 May 2021

The Sandman Is Everywhere...

Published originally at a time when the mainstream was beginning to see comics as an adult art form rather than just disposable kids' fare, Neil Gaiman's The Sandman was a game-changer.

Then last year we were blown away by Audible's peerless full-cast audiobook adaptation of the first volume of Sandman tales, and now Netflix is gearing up for its live-action take on these seminal stories.

Following the earlier announcement of key cast roles, such as Morpheus himself and Lucifer (see below), Neil Gaiman, DC Comics and Netflix have dropped the names of another dozen central cast members in the show (see above).

You can read more about this announcement over at DC's website here or get creator Neil Gaiman's personal take via a Netflix blog post here.

And it looks like we'll be getting further news on The Sandman - as well as other eagerly-awaited genre shows - during Netflix's Geeked Week next month (June 7 to 11).

They Want Brains? Guess I'm Safe...

Saturday, 29 May 2021

The Clue Is In The Title: China's Giant Spider Is Not A Film For Arachnophobes...

Located in a mysterious laboratory in the desert, the experimental spider used for genetic research has mutated and turned into a giant spider-monster, and the laboratory has been reduced to a giant spider nest.

A few days later, a special operations team led by Captain Gao Qiang, escorted Quanzhi Group scientist Doctor Chen to the laboratory to rescue the trapped personnel and tried to retrieve relevant scientific research materials. However, Doctor Chen concealed the internal layout of the laboratory. The situation becomes desperate…
Unsurprisingly for a film called Giant Spider (巨蛛), this new Chinese monster flick features spiders... lots of spiders.

So, going by one of our recent gaming sessions, this will not be a movie for my friend Erica.

However, my interest has been seriously piqued by the glimpse we get in the trailer of what appears to be a scientist morphing into some kind of human-spider hybrid.

Now, I just need to track down this movie once it's released.

DVD Of The Week: The Thirteenth Floor (1999)

When genius Los Angeles-based computer scientist Hannon Fuller (Shine's Armin Mueller-Stahl) is murdered, police detective Larry McBain (24's Dennis Haysbert) suspects Fuller's long-time partner and successor in the firm, Douglas Hall (Boston Legal's Craig Bierko).

However, the transition of power is further confused by the sudden appearance of Fuller's previously unknown daughter, Jane (Boardwalk Empire and Perry Mason's Gretchen Mol).

On the thirteenth floor of his corporate tower, Fuller had been working on a highly secretive project, creating a virtual reality simulation of 1937 Los Angeles.

Somehow, Fuller had become aware that someone was after him.

Without telling his assistant Whitney (Daredevil's Vincent D'Onofrio), Fuller left a message for Hall in the simulation, but Hall - when he finally "jacks in" for the first time - is unable to find it.

Parallel to the murder investigation in 'modern day' Los Angeles, Hall has to navigate the 1930's simulation to try and recover his mentor's all-important message.

While the late 1990's ideas of "sci-fi" technology in The Thirteenth Floor already look horribly dated to modern eyes, the story itself is incredibly smart and engaging.

While it's a film I was passingly aware of, it wasn't until its praises were sung so highly in the simulation hypothesis documentary A Glitch In The Matrix (which, I have to confess, has really got under my skin of late), that I thought I'd better check it out.

Acquired for a couple of quid on eBay, The Thirteenth Floor has elements of The Matrix, Westworld, Dark City, The Truman Show and probably several other reality-challenging stories that I can't put my finger on right now.

It's very much a mystery, rather than an action movie, with the observant viewer twigging what's really going on just minutes before the protagonist does.

Even the aspects that, initially, come across as a tad clumsy - such as the romantic sub-plot - are eventually explained in the superb script from Daniel F. Galouye Ravel Centeno-Rodriguez, and director Josef Rusnak.

And I really get why the "simulation theorists" in the documentary rate this 100-minute movie, as its approach to the core theme, while superficially simplistic, is actually quite textured and fascinating.

While I'm usually an advocate for leaving old properties alone, I reckon The Thirteenth Floor is due a 21st Century remake - in the style of the HBO's Westworld reimagining of the original 1970's Westworld films and TV series.

Sub-Zero VS Scorpion (a Mortal Kombat fan film by Chris .R. Notarile)

Long ago, two men from rival clans met, and fought in a bitter battle to the death. Now, finally learn what caused these legendary ninjas to engage in their deadly duel.
Underwhelmed by the recent big budget Mortal Kombat?

Have no fear, prodigious fan film creator Chris .R. Notarile brings you his take on Sub-Zero vs Scorpion.

Chris said:
"I've wanted to do a Sub-Zero VS Scorpion fight for years, dating all the way back to my time in NYC. But for many reasons, I was never able to make it happen. But it never left my "wish list" of things to make. Then randomly one day, I got a friend request from Gary Choi, who graciously offered me his skills and stunt team. It had been years since I had a true stunt team at my disposal, and there was no way I was gonna pass up the offer.

Gary had asked me what I would want to make, and the first thing that came to mind was Sub-Zero VS Scorpion. We geeked out about it for a while as we discussed how to make it happen. I told him I wanted it to be as authentic and representative as possible. I wanted Japanese and Chinese actors for Hanzo and Bi-Han respectively, and more than anything, I didn't want them speaking English.

Believe it or not, I'm actually a fan of kung fu movies, and I have a lot of respect for the time, effort and skill that goes into every epic fight. One of my biggest goals with making this short, was to be able to replicate that style and feel. I didn't want rapidly edited quick cuts. I didn't want shaky shots. I wanted smooth, steady, wide shots that did one thing and one thing only- showed off the fight in all its glory.

We filmed in Griffith park in Hollywood. It was a real pain having to shoot in between children and louder hikers playing and or passing by, but we made it work. Kevin Chambers and Leon Sheen gave it their all and completely out did themselves in this epic fight. It was brutal and emotional. I can't tell you the pure joy I had getting to film Scorpion and Sub-Zero beating the stuffing out of each other. It was just so damn cool!

Friday, 28 May 2021

Flying My Geek Flag Proudly Around Every Corner of Our Forever Home...

The Office

As we hopefully come out the other side of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions are easing, it means Rachel's parents can pop round more and help us get our "forever home" more shipshape.

Part of that has involved hanging more pictures that we never got round to pre-Coronavirus.

I'm particularly pleased with how the office wall (adjacent to one of my shelves of semi-organised comic books and graphic novels) has turned out.

Complementing the original framed comic book covers of Zot! (the greatest comic nobody talks about now) and a particularly striking Conan The Barbarian cover from Jim Zub's current run on the title, we now have

A new, signed, Karen Allen picture also went up in the gamesroom, along with a signed Louise Jameson-as-Leela in Doctor Who shot, but otherwise the gamesroom is pretty much done and dusted.

However, I am in the middle of trying to have a massive clear-out of my back catalogue of gaming material that I strongly doubt I will ever look at again (which does mean stacks of books on the floor, cartons of miniatures on the table, and a tower of empty Amazon boxes, waiting to be put to use).

Down the garden, in our "craft room" (ie. the garden room), which also doubles as "the gym" (as it's home to our running machine), we've also hung some pictures there, including a couple of signed photos of "inspirational, powerful women" (which is how I sold them to Rachel, although I don't think she was convinced): namely Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman and Lucy Lawless as Xena, Warrior Princess.

Be Inspired!

Sands Of Time Running Out For Those Trapped On Tropical Beach...

This summer, visionary filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan unveils a chilling, mysterious new thriller about a family on a tropical holiday who discover that the secluded beach where they are relaxing for a few hours is somehow causing them to age rapidly … reducing their entire lives into a single day.

The film stars an impressive international cast including Golden Globe winner Gael García Bernal (Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle), Vicky Krieps (Phantom Thread), Rufus Sewell (Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle), Ken Leung (Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens), Nikki Amuka-Bird (Jupiter Ascending), Abbey Lee (HBO’s Lovecraft Country), Aaron Pierre (Syfy’s Krypton), Alex Wolff (Hereditary), Embeth Davidtz (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Eliza Scanlen (Little Women), Emun Elliott (Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens), Kathleen Chalfant (Showtime’s The Affair) and Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit).
Right, then, who's got a theory? I reckon it's something to do with the sand in an hourglass and the sand of the beach... they're all trapped in God's egg timer!

TV's Pennyworth Earns Alfred His First Solo Comic Book ... As A Cold War Spy!

Pennyworth - the surprisingly successful TV show recounting a version of the formative years of Batman's faithful butler Alfred in a twisted alternative reality - is making the jump to comic books in August.

He may be Bruce Wayne's oldest ally, and a father figure to the Caped Crusader since the Golden Age, but this will be Alfred's first comic book outing as a headline act.

Spanning the years between the hit TV show and today, Pennyworth tells the continuing adventures of Alfred Pennyworth as an MI6 counterintelligence agent - this time in Cold War-era Soviet Russia.
When Alfred and his partner receive intelligence that nuclear weapons are being manufactured near the Arctic Circle, they're off to infiltrate the remote military base to learn more.
But things don't go exactly as planned, and the ramifications of this mission may be more far-reaching than anyone could have guessed, as our present-day butler gets dragged back into his past...

Issue one of the new seven-issue mini-series Pennyworth, written by Scott Bryan Wilson with art from Juan Gedeon, is due out on August 10.

Clearly this is a sign of DC's current drive to abandon the concept of continuity and embrace "everything" it has produced as equally important because as much as I enjoy Pennyworth it clearly has no connection to 'real world history' or even the generally-accepted history of the Batman comics most of us grew up reading.

The Leverage Crew Are Back In Action...

In this new iteration, and new world, the Leverage crew have watched as the rich and powerful continue to take what they want without consequence.

Grifter Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman), thief Parker (Beth Riesgraf), hitter Eliot Spencer (Christian Kane), and hacker Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge) have watched the world change over the last eight years.

Since their last job, it’s become easier - and sometimes legal - for the rich to become richer and the powerful to squash anyone who gets in their way.

To address the changes in the world around them, the team finds new blood in Harry Wilson (Noah Wyle), a corporate lawyer who is looking for redemption after realizing he’d been sitting on the wrong side of the table for his entire career, and Breanna Casey (Aleyse Shannon), Hardison’s foster sister who has a knack for computers, robotics, and getting into trouble

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Book Your Ticket For A Wild Jungle Cruise...

This summer, join Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt on the adventure of a lifetime. 🚢 Watch the new trailer for Disney’s Jungle Cruise and see the movie in theaters or order it on Disney+ with Premier Access July 30 (Additional Fee Required).

Inspired by the famous Disneyland theme park ride, Disney’s Jungle Cruise is an adventure-filled, rollicking thrill-ride down the Amazon with wisecracking skipper Frank Wolff and intrepid researcher Dr. Lily Houghton.

Lily travels from London, England to the Amazon jungle and enlists Frank’s questionable services to guide her downriver on La Quila - his ramshackle but-charming boat.

Lily is determined to uncover an ancient tree with unparalleled healing abilities - possessing the power to change the future of medicine.

Thrust on this epic quest together, the unlikely duo encounters innumerable dangers and supernatural forces, all lurking in the deceptive beauty of the lush rainforest. But as the secrets of the lost tree unfold, the stakes reach even higher for Lily and Frank and their fate - and mankind’s - hangs in the balance.

Jaume Collet-Serra directs the film, which stars Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Edgar Ramírez and Jack Whitehall, with Jesse Plemons, and Paul Giamatti.
Jungle Cruise looks like it'll be a great addition to the action=packed pulp oeuvre of Tales of The Gold Monkey, Brendan Fraser's The Mummy, Indiana Jones, the Hollow Earth Expedition roleplayng game etc

I strongly suspect I'll be buying a ticket for this ride (care of Premier Access, of course).

#RPG Okay, I Got Distracted...

Have no fear, gentle readers, my main gaming focus remains Knight City and the wonderful Amazing Heroes rules system, but as my new game buying days are drawing to a close I thought I should check out Jonathan Hicks' Those Dark Places.

Having trumpeted its release first on my now-mothballed Alien-themed blog, Game Over, Man! Game Over!, and then on HeroPress, I felt it was my civic duty to support a British games writer.

Everything I've read about this game meshes with my new-found love for mechanical simplicity.

The atmosphere Jonathan is seeking to emulate with the game is certainly one I'd be more than happy to bring to the table for the Tuesday Knights (even though it's totally counter to the foul-colour Silver Age zaniness that I picture as a distinct possibility in my superhero campaign). 

I've only had time to skim through the book, and I'm already getting Traveller-meets-Alien vibes from it, which - unsurprisingly - piques my interest no end and gets the old gears whirring in my noggin.

I aim to properly dive in to this lovely-looking little hardback (from Osprey Publishing, purveyors of fine historical text books as well as gaming products) in due course and report back.

The publisher already has a good bit of free downloadable support material for Those Dark Places, including a gamesmaster's booklet from Jonathan, available here.

Jonathan has also released a new PDF adventure for the system as well: The Ana-Sin-Emid Report.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Weird Wednesday...

#RPG Episode Eight: Descent Into Hell


Previously On The Theoretical Science Foundation:

Our heroes plunge into the depths of an abandoned mine, facing assault from enormous arachnids and mutated insects, to rescue their errant colleague.

Having returned Jeff to the farm house and broken to him the sad news about the demise of both his assistant, Jimmy, and his sister, Jill, we grabbed some shut eye to recuperate from the ordeal of the battle with the strange giant insects... little knowing what the next day would hold for us.

Come the morning, Jeff, having regained his senses, was super-excited about his discoveries and insisted on showing us a photograph (at top) of Jimmy in a new cave system that had been opened up by the recent tectonic shifts.

He pointed out the existence of series of man-made steps in the cave and convinced us that we should accompany him on a fresh expedition.

We loaded up with caving equipment and set off into the snowy wilderness.

Jeff led us to the entrance, just up a ridge from the old mine we have visited the day before.

Our guide told us he had been exploring this new cave when he'd been grabbed by the "mantis creatures" and carried back into the mine, but then he believed a subsequent rock fall had cut off the connection between the two subterranean systems.

Descending into the cave, through the hole in the ceiling, we spied ancient paintings on the walls, depicting primitive men hunting creatures that resembled large buffalo and mammoths, but also worshipping the fires of a volcano.

Freya (Clare's photojournalist) began snapping pictures to document our journey.

Following the ancient steps, Buck (my explorer) and Jeff both noted the odd cleanness of the lava tubes that formed a network of tunnels stretching down from this first cave further into the belly of the Earth.

With an eye to an easy escape route, we struck out in a generally northwards direction, slowly picking our way through the labyrinthine tunnels.

At one point, Jeff spotted a piece of worked gold in some rubble at the side of the path. It appeared to be part of a small hoop, so we held onto it for later examination.

As with the mine, the further we went the hotter the air became, and that's probably what dulled our senses a bit and made us prod at a large pile of rocks.

This turned out to be a pair of enormous vicious rock crabs, their shells about a metre wide, their pincers able to inflict some serious damage.

When it became obvious that we couldn't really hurt them, we turned and ran down the passageway, while Dick (Kevin's G-man) guarded our rear. 

One of the creatures had slipped by him which now meant it was between Dick and the rest of us, so Dick heroically leaped on its back, pressing his pistol at the base of the creature's eyestalks, pulling the trigger and giving the beast a massive headache.

Artist's impression of Dick on back of giant rock crab

The befuddled creature turned away from the rest of us, deciding it was time to return to its mate, so Dick sprung off and re-joined his fellow spelunkers.

Having found an unbearably hot tunnel leading to an underground lava river, we backtracked and came upon the nest of an inconceivably large lizard creature (which Freya identified as an enormous, poisonous, fire salamander).

As the creature advanced on us down the narrow tunnel, we, once again, decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and fled as best we could... but the monster caught up with us easily.

And it would have devoured us all as if we were flies, except for Onyx (Erica's cat burglar) tossing a couple of lit sticks of dynamite under it, blowing off a leg and its tail.

The creature was still pulling itself towards us as we reached the end of the corridor, turned as one and those of us with firearms - everyone, bar Fr. Ned (Simon's priest) - let loose a volley of bullets that finally slayed the beast.

While trying to move the giant corpse carefully out of the passage, Dick came in contact with the lizard's skin, accidentally poisoning himself. 

After the body was moved, Dick collapsed, wracked with muscle spasms that none of us knew how to stop, although Oynx - the only one of us with any medical skills - was confident it would soon pass.

Meanwhile, we explored the salamander's nest and found a pool of warm water, in which floated a number of football-sized eggs, and a pile of lizard faeces, containing human bones, rusted mining equipment, and the remains of a broken, golden crown that slotted into the part we had found earlier.

Pieced back together, it became obvious that the crown had strange markings on it.

Free-thinker Buck, obsessed with finding a passage to the Hollow Earth, believes this crown could be some magical artefact from a lost civilization and that it could be the clue he has been looking for all his life.

To Be Continued...

The Theoretical Science Foundation - The Cast:
  • Buck Hannigan - played by me
  • Dick Tate - played by Kevin
  • Father Timothy 'Ned' O’Flaherty - played by Simon
  • Freya Larson - played by Clare 
  • Onyx Jones - played by Erica (absent)
Showrunner - Pete

Missed an episode? Catch up with this hot new show right here.  

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Karen Gillan Kicking Butt! Is It My Birthday?

In her turbulent life as a professional assassin, Scarlet was cruelly forced to abandon her daughter Sam and go on the run. Years later, despite the estrangement, Sam has also grown up into a cold blooded hitwoman. After a high-stake mission spins out of control, putting an innocent eight-year-old girl in the middle of the gang war she has unleashed, Sam has no choice but to go rogue. This ultimately leads her back to her mother and her former hitwomen sidekicks, who all join forces in an avenging war against those who took everything from them.

Another Anya Taylor-Joy Horror Flick? Thank You Very Much...

Celebrate Geek Pride by Time Traveling Back To The Early Days of The UK's RPG Scene...

Games Workshop’s Albie Fiore dungeonmastering in 1980

Broadcast this day in 1980, wallow in the nostalgic majesty of the BBC's Heart of the Matter clip about the early days of fantasy role-playing games.

This is a snapshot of my formative gaming years, with this London gaming emporium (probably Games Workshop's Hammersmith branch) reminding me vividly of Tunbridge Wells' Dark Tower.

As was typical of mainstream media coverage of gaming in those days, it's all a bit jumbled, with images conflating board war games with roleplaying games, and Steve Jackson (of Games Workshop and Fighting Fantasy fame) innocently suggesting that players can die in the game, rather than their characters!

Thank God, Dungeons & Dragons was largely just ignored and dismissed in this country in my youth - imagine the ill-informed chaos the idiotic Satanic Panic brigade could have sown with that quote back in the day.


A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

Fly your geek flag high today!

Not only is it Star Wars DayTowel Day (in recognition of Douglas Adams and Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy), Glorious 25 May (a Discworld celebration), and the 42st anniversary of the arrival of Alien.

Oh, and it also happens to be our fourteenth wedding anniversary!

Rachel and I were married in a Star Wars-themed wedding on the anniversary of the day the original film made its debut in 1977.

The hubbub around May The 4th as Star Wars Day grows every year, especially since the arrival of Disney+, and I'm not adverse to any excuse to celebrate all things Star Wars, but, ultimately, I'm an old school, orthodox, Jedi who will always mark May 25 as his Star Wars Day.

Rachel and I tied the knot at Salomons in Southborough (between Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge), where the guests' tables were all named after planets from the Star Wars Universe.

Rachel's arrival music was the Imperial March (still her personalised ringtone on my phone... which always makes me giggle when she rings!), and Darth Vader was our ring-bearer.

It was such an amazing day.

And the adventure continues... thanks to the love of my incredibly tolerant and understanding wife.

The Force is strong in Rachel, she supports most of my geeky whims and copes incredibly with the dramatic swings of my unpredictably variable physical and mental health..

Some of you are probably aware that a couple of years ago our lives entered a bold new chapter with a purchase of our incredible "forever home".

Since then, we've been striving (aided heavily by Rachel's father and a crew of amazing gardeners) to turn an already gorgeous house into our dream home.

Although these plans were somewhat stymied by the Covid-19 pandemic, we've carried on as best we can and are this close to declaring mission: accomplished.

And who knows what the future will hold?

All I do know I have the best co-pilot since Chewbacca at my side!

Because of the whole lockdown thing this year, we went ultra-romantic with our gifts to each other again this year, essentially just granting each other a set sum to buy our own presents.

As this routine is now old hat, we didn't even bother with synching the gift purchasing to the date of our anniversary.

Once again, Rachel treated herself to tiny little (but expensive) trinkets for her latest dolls house project while I acquired a couple of geeky treats: a graphic novel of The Spider and a Shang-Chi action figure.

Monday, 24 May 2021

Musical Monday: Call me Cruella (Florence + The Machine)

Marvel Studios Goes Down Ancient Aliens Rabbit Hole With First Eternals Trailer...

"Throughout the years we have never interfered, until now." Watch the brand new teaser trailer for Marvel Studios' Eternals and experience it in theaters this November.
I'll be honest, until this trailer I was slightly concerned that Eternals could simply be a rehash of the dire attempt to bring The Inhumans to live-action.

But now I see that it's fully-embracing its Jack Kirby/Ancient Aliens roots, I'm very excited for Eternals.

Musical Monday: Eurovision 2021...

The annual Eurovision Song Contest is one of my favourite events of the year, although as a statistics tart I must confess generally the latter part of the show, as the results are coming in, is usually the highlight for me.

After a pandemic-enforced break for a year, the contest returned on Saturday night with the strongest array of talent I've seen in ages.

Even though quite a few of the acts were the ones originally scheduled to appear for their countries in 2020 (such as Azerbaijan's Efendi), they had to perform different songs to ones they were previously slated to.

After watching the semi-finals during the week, my favourite track (but there were so many to choose from) was Portugal's Love is On My Side, from The Black Mamba, an outsider, but still a beautiful track.

But come the finals, and getting to hear all the performers (the "Big Five" - England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain - who contribute the most financially to the contest are guaranteed a slot in the final and so don't take part in the semis), I fell in love with France's Voilà, sung by Barbara Pravi.

Once the scores started to pour in, it was a close battle At the top of the leader board between France and some dreary Swiss song.

However, the moment the audience votes were added to the professional judges' votes, Italian rockers Måneskin jumped into first place and stole the trophy out of Barbara's hands.

Can't you picture yourself in a smoky Parisian café listening to Barbara belt that out?

As is becoming an unfortunate 'tradition', the UK scored an impressive zero points from both the judges of all the countries and all the audiences.

Ultimately, this has little to do with our song (it was okay, but nothing particularly memorable) and more to do with the fact that nobody likes our pompous, little, isolationist country at the moment, strutting around on the world stage like we're cock of the walk, when really we stumble from one embarrassment to another.

Does it matter that we continually come last in a delightfully camp singing contest? Of course not, but it clearly demonstrates how we are disliked by the populations of other nations.

My only slight concern is that someone in this country (I guess at the BBC) might get in a huff, take our ball home, and pull us out of the contest... which would simultaneously be a massive blow to entertainment and a confirmation of the UK's current deluded impression of its own self-importance.

Anyway, enough politics. Here's some more of my other favourite tunes from Saturday's quality event:

Sunday, 23 May 2021

An Exhausting Day Of Celebrations for Our Eternally-Young Seven-Year-Old Puppy...

DOGraze Birthday Gift Box for Alice

 As already mentioned, yesterday was Alice's seventh birthday (or 44th in 'human years'!). 

To mark the occasion, Rachel had got her some meaty birthday treats from etsy creator DOGraze, that Alice just went nuts for. The smell of the treats clearly worked their magic on her as she tried to eat through the box before I could even open them.

We're now trying to ration them out like normal treats. Given her way, Alice would devour the entire contents of the box in a single meal.

Nom, nom, nom!

After "presents", we loaded up the car and headed out to Rachel's parents.

Our first family trip in well over a year.

They were all prepared for Alice's birthday as well, with decorations around the house and a hot dog in her bowl (Alice, of course, has her own bowls at Rachel's parent's house).

After energetically greeting "granny and grandad", she raced through their house to the kitchen where she scarfed down the hot dog in no time at all.

She may, technically, now be classed as a "senior", but Alice still has the energy of a puppy.

After a bit more running around, she wanted to go out in the garden to race about even more - checking every corner, every blade of grass, to see what had changed since she'd been there last.

You could tell Alice was so excited to be revisting her second home again after such a long break - after all, 15 months for us is almost a decade in dog years!

Some of the decorations Rachel's parents put up for Alice
Alice delighted to finally be able to revisit her second home

Eventually, she wore herself out and come the evening, back home and watching Eurovision, she snoozed.

Birthdays are exhausting!

Ambassador, With This Third Rick and Morty Trailer You Are Spoiling Us...

Living The Dream...

Saturday, 22 May 2021



I can't believe another year has passed and our beloved fur-baby, Alice, is celebrating another birthday.

She's seven-years-old today, which, according to some websites means she's a "senior"... but she still has the energy and mischievousness of puppy.

When she was younger, the various different "dog age to human age" equivalency calculators varied quite widely, but seven seems to be a sweet spot for a small breed like the Havanese, and almost everyone agrees that today is her - in human terms - 44th birthday!  

As someone a good 10 years older than that, I kind of baulk, therefore, at the idea of calling her a "senior".

Given that I'm still recuperating from the system shock of my second vaccination jab, I'll report back later if we got up to any particular hijinks to mark the pupster's big day.

In the meantime, here are some recent cure pictures of her!

Saw: The Complete History of Jigsaw (2021)

Zac Morris of CZsWorld writes:
John Kramer is the engineering mastermind known as Jigsaw, who was responsible for the loss of at least 57 victims. How did Kramer's past turn him into one of the most feared horror villains?

Born in 1954, John Kramer would eventually become the most iconic serial criminal that the Metropolitan Police Department would ever come up against.
Although he is rarely the one to physically harm his victims, Kramer exhibits the behavior of a psychopath.
The name Jigsaw derives from cutting Jigsaw pieces from the flesh of his failed victims as a symbol for the missing piece of their survival instinct.
Looking through his entire 52 year history, we can start to put together some of the puzzle that makes up the life of Jigsaw.
The obscure details of his early life and his fascination with developing a religion or cult are just a few of the many pieces necessary to understand how the main antagonist of the Saw franchise came to be.
In this video, I'll be analyzing the entire life of John Kramer, including his marriage to Jill Tuck, the creation of his games, the disciples he raised to carry on his legacy, and his ultimate downfall.
We'll also be looking at the traps, from the iconic reverse bear trap, to John's personal favorite: the rack and more!
For my analysis, I'll only using the canon material (the Saw films and short films: Full Disclosure Report and The Scott Tibbs Documentary).
The other material, like the comic, Saw: Rebirth, and the video games, Saw and Saw II: Flesh and Blood, aren't considered canon, but there are certain non-contradictory clues we can use from them to make inferences about John's story. 
I'll even use the Saw soundtracks for part of my analysis. I believe this may be the most accurate timeline of the Saw universe on the internet!

Friday, 21 May 2021

Pride Cometh Before A Fall...

You were warned that there could be side effects!

So, I might have been a bit cocky declaring an absence of side effects from my second jab on Wednesday

They hit hard yesterday when I awoke with a really painful arm and flu-level fatigue and chills.

By today, these have eased slightly. Nothing hurts or aches as bad as it did, but I'm still pretty washed out.

I had material already drafted for HeroPress yesterday, but I'm thinking of taking the weekend off, to be get my head together.

I know it'll pass and it's all in a good cause, but these side effects are a buggering nuisance.

See you on the other side!

Thursday, 20 May 2021

In New Mini-Series, Dr Strange Is Calling On The Defenders To Help Save Reality...

Although the end is nigh for The Immortal Hulk, ace scribe Al Ewing isn't resting on his laurels, instead he is turning his attention to Marvel's infamous 'non-team' The Defenders for a five-issue mini-series, featuring artwork by Javier Rodríguez.
When existence itself faces extraordinary threats, it needs an extraordinary defense! That’s when you call…the Defenders!
Doctor Strange and the Masked Raider take a non-team of Marvel’s weirdest, wildest heroes on a mission that will uncover the hidden architecture of reality itself!
This cosmos was not the first to exist…but if the Defenders can’t track Marvel’s oldest villain through the deepest trenches of time — it might be the last!
As well as Doctor Strange and the Masked Raider, this latest iteration of The Defenders also includes Silver Surfer, Red Harpy, and Cloud.

The first issue is scheduled to arrive on August 11.

Knowing There's More To Come Makes Your Investment in The Nevers Worthwhile...

Set an alternate steampunk Victorian London - where certain people (The Touched) have special abilities - the first six episodes of The Nevers are now available via Sky Atlantic.

Created by Joss Whedon, this was to be his "big return" to television, but his past caught up with him and he stepped away from the project, hopefully only leaving his fingerprints on these first half-a-dozen episodes.

Overall, the show was better than I was expecting, but it's still a bit of a shambles, jumbled and uneven, never quite equalling the sum of its parts.

It's also, on a surface level, not that original.

The Touched are created by an alien space craft shedding a cloud of spores over London (which is very similar to the backstory of George RR Martin's shared universe of Wild Card novels, that are also due to be turned into a live-action HBO show at some point) and then they are offered shelter in an "orphanage", run by Amalia True (Laura Donnelly), which is, for all intents and purposes, Professor Xavier's school from The X-Men comics and movies.

Don't forget, in the early 2000s, Whedon had a lauded run on Astonishing X-Men, so he didn't have to look too far for inspiration.

But before we throw the baby out with the bathwater, we cannot forget that there were many other writers, directors, producers etc involved behind the scenes of The Nevers, as well as a huge cast of performers.

In fact, there's probably a surfeit of characters (again, I cite The X-Men comics) and interweaving plotlines that may add an air of real life verisimilitude but also makes it difficult to get attached to anyone beyond Amalia and her best friend, Penance Adair (Ann Skelly), an inventor and the source of much of the serial's steampunkery.

Then we get the whole 'big reveal' in the sixth episode of where the alien ship came from and Amalia's connection to it, that, at first, almost feels like a bait-and-switch, but I'm hoping that actually won't play too big a part in the show going forward.

The Morlocks to Amalia's X-Men are a group of superpowered villains fronted by serial killer Maladie (Amy Manson) and includes the perception-manipulating Colonel (Mark Benton) and pyrokinetic 'Bonfire' Annie (Rochelle Neil) in their ranks.

Echoing Wild Cards, the extent of The Touched's abilities vary greatly, one girl is just 10 foot tall, but appears to have no other special talent, and Penance's ability is to "see electricity" (or something, it's a bit vague), but really she could have just been said to be supersmart.

But then you have a woman who can turn things to glass by breathing on them, another who can cause objects to shatter at her touch etc

Most of these "turns", as they're termed, are quite interesting and often unique, for every one ripped from the pages of The X-Men you'll come across something you've never seen before.

A point is made from the get-go - and it's a very Whedonesque one - that majority of The Touched are women, but then it quickly turns that around by introducing, either directly or indirectly, an increasing number of men who also have these gifts.

As an HBO show, expect gratuitous female nudity and an oddly exponential growth in f-bombs as the season progresses.

It's not exactly Game of Thrones yet, but has that potential to tell a sprawling, even globetrotting, epic if allowed to shift focus in that maner.

Ultimately, six episodes isn't really long enough to judge this kind of serialised storytelling.

By the end of the mid-season finale, we'd learned a lot more about the origin of all these minor superpowers, and the backstories of a few of the central characters, but more questions have been posed in the process.

The Nevers
is expected to return later this year with the remainder of the season, which should - all being well - have considerably less Joss Whedon involvement.

If I wasn't certain that the season was definitely continuing, these six episodes alone would have been frustratingly obtuse and not worth anyone's time.

As it is, I think the show has potential and has a future, perhaps with steadier hands on the tiller.

And, unless I missed something, I have yet to figure out why it's called The Nevers.

In the meantime, you can learn more about the many characters and the excellent world-building by perusing the comprehensive fan-generated Nevers Wiki here.

One of My Favourites: 'Bonfire' Annie Carbey (Rochelle Neil)

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


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