Sunday, 20 December 2009

It's all over bar the shouting.

A historic Xmas number one was hit today. Rage against the Machine - Killing in the Name is the UK's Chart-Topper for christmas week. I just want to list the reasons this campaign was so amazing:

1) The immense feeling of camraderie that a lot of the people on the group feel. At the end of the day, there was no single release, there was no Huge hype machine.

2) This is the first EVER Xmas number one based entirely on digital downloads. That, in itself, is hugely significant.

3) We did this. Us, The People, gave the world an Unexpected Christmas number one. And that is the most significant thing of all.

I'm going to post this one last time to the Rage group. I want everyone who comes here to comment below. Make your voice heard. I want this blog post to be a record of everyone I spoke to, spammed and ranted with on those rage boards. I want this to be our names inscribed in stone. Lets be heard one last time.

Let the party begin.

-Bendana.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

An Open Letter to Simon Cowell

Dear Mr Cowell,


I, Ben Myatt, have been a fan of music for many years. I grew up listening to the sounds of Genesis and Jeff Wayne's war of the worlds. I chilled to Rick Wakeman and rocked out to Nirvana. I am the man who actually bought and B*witched album, and who listens to the mellow Punk sounds of the Bouncing Souls. I own albums by both Robbie Williams and Vanessa Mae. I even owned the So Solid Crew album.

The point of my above statement is to illustrate that I am not in opposition to you for the music you release, or for the image you project.

I am in opposition to you because you, Mr Cowell, have ruined the Christmas Number One.

I remember, as recently as 2004, the Christmas number one race was exciting. it was something to look forward to. That year, Band Aid 20 gained the number one spot. The year before, Gary Jules had beaten the Darkness with Mad World.

For the last four years, every Christmas number one has been an X Factor winner. For the last four years, A reality TV show has decided the most coveted singles number one of the year.

So Mr Cowell, I want you to understand the reasons I joined the Rage Against The Machine for Christmas number one group. And I want you to understand the reasons why, last night, I went onto 7Digital and Bought a Mp3 of "Killing in the Name of."

I need you to realise, Mr Cowell, that despite your opinion of the campaign as "cynical and Silly" this campaign is not a personal attack against you, Joe McElderry or even the X-Factor.

This is a campaign about free will. You have gone on record saying that you "Did us all a favour by Killing the Christmas number one."

You really didn't, believe me. I have been a music fan for ninety percent of my existence on this planet, and the Christmas number one has always been something special. Despite your opinion, we don't all think that every Christmas number one was great, but at least there was variety! At least, when Bob The Builder hit number one, it meant that something different was at the top of the charts.

The same cannot be said of the last four years. For the last four years we have had one weak reality-show-produced singer after another. You say that the Christmas number one isn't important.

We, the people, respectfully disagree.

Whatever the different opinions regarding the song, the fact is, that for the first time in five year, the Christmas number one battle has captured the imaginations of the country. If you don't believe me, the fact that "Killing in the Name of" has been outselling "The Climb" speaks for itself.

This campaign has been featured on News shows up and down the country, It has been featured in National newspapers. It has trended on twitter and crashed the servers at facebook. This campaign has lit up the music industry in a way the X Factor never has. As a result of this campaign, RATM's guitarist, Tom Morello, will be giving a portion of his proceeds to a UK charity

At The end of the day, even if the song doesn't get to number one, the message will have been sent. You can no longer have things your own way. We will fight for our right to party to the music we like.

Lets not make any mistakes, you profit tremendously from that “Unimportant” Christmas number one. That's fair enough. That's your job. But, despite the fact RATM are on your the same label as Joe McElderry, you'll have to forgive us if we contribute to your profits in a different way from the norm. You'll also have to forgive us for raising over £40,000 for Shelter.

At the end of the day, we wish you no ill will. But you tell us, every year with your “cynical and silly” scheduling of the X Factor to guarantee that “unimportant” Christmas number one. What to Buy, and when to buy it.

To quote a line:

Fuck You, We Won't Do As You Tell Us.

IMPORTANT LINKS:

Shelter.

The Facebook Campaign Group.

RATM Download Links:

DO NOT DOWNLOAD IT 6 OR 7 TIMES...IT'LL JUST GET ANNULLED IN THE CHART.

7DIGITAL - £1.19P - track #2
http://bit.ly/ratm-7digital

AMAZON - 29p - yes it will count
htpp://http://bit.ly/rage-amazon

TUNETRIBE - 49P - track #2 - LIVE version (yes it counts)
http://bit.ly/ratm-tunetribe

TESCO DIGITAL - 67p - track #2
http://bit.ly/ratm-tesco

HMV.COM - 79p (careful - this is track #1)
http://hmv.com/hmvweb
http://bit.ly/ratm-hmv

PLAY.COM - 70p - it's the only track on the page
http://bit.ly/ratm-play

WE7 - £1.07p - track #2
http://bit.ly/ratm-we7

iTUNES - 99p - track #2
http://bit.ly/ratm-itunes


Monday, 14 December 2009

An Electric F1 car? MADNESS.

I came up with today's rant after a talk with my Environmental-former-Greenpeace-Activist Wife. Blame her.

The Rules for Next season of Formula 1 have been announced for some time now, and key on the list is the fact that refueling has been banned for the 2010 season. Now, as seen in the previous couple of posts – and to Kimi Räikönnen's detriment – refueling can have some fairly dire results when it comes to accidents.

However, for me at least, the ban on refueling has a far more significant knock-on.

In these days of climate change, global warming and mass panic over the fact that the Earth's polar ice-caps may indeed vanish in the near future, the Ban on refueling can be taken to represent the fact that Formula 1 is finally moving towards a more environmentally friendly method of racing.

F1 has long been criticised for its environmental image. When Honda used the “EarthDreams” livery, they were criticised for 'Greenwashing' their image. Bridgestone were accused of similar crimes when they declared that the green stripes on their tires represented their support for the FIA's “Make Cars Green” campaign.

A nifty trick. In the first case, the Honda RA107 got five miles to the gallon and produced over 138 tonnes of carbon per race. In the second, Bridgestone pushed for the “two-compound” rule – forcing the cars to use multiple sets of tires per race, as opposed to 2005 when they used one set per race. The sheer amount of rubber destroyed in these tires is borderline obscene.

Although, admittedly, the RA107 livery was more of a marketing move than an attempt to make the cars more environmentally friendly, the new rules of F1 are a positive step in the right direction.

While the cars, for at least one season, may be using just as much fuel as before, the nifty trick regarding this is that, initially, the cars will have to compromise in order to carry that amount of petrol.


The knock-on effect being that the cars will have to become more fuel efficient. Through this, we could see the re-introduction of the KERS system. For those of you unfamiliar with F1, the KERS system harvested the thermal energy created by braking the car and put into a battery, this could then be used to give the car a temporary 60 BHP boost in power. Now, that system, for 2009, was abominably expensive, with all the teams dropping it for 2010. However, with fuel space at a premium – none of the teams can afford to compromise their aerodynamics for fuel – Surely it is only a matter of time until KERS makes a comeback to give those cars an edge around the track.

All of this leads to less fuel being used. Those cars have to become more fuel efficient, while staying competitive. The team that makes the most fuel-efficient car will use less fuel. That makes them able to run at lighter weights. That makes them faster.


So what we'll have is a new F1 arms war. In order to make the faster car, they have to make them better at using less fuel. So the next stage is to use less tires. The simple solution here is to go back to using only one set per race. Now the nifty thing about the slick tires the cars have gone back to using is that the pressure is more evenly distributed over their surface – meaning that they break down at a slightly slower rate than the grooved tires that were used in 2005. Of course, this all revolves around the “two-compounds” rule being revoked. Bridgestone make an awful lot of money out of that rule.

However, after 2010, Bridgestone will no longer be supplying the tires for Formula 1 Competition. So, whoever comes in has the opportunity to make a significant environmental impact.

So, what am I building up to here? Well, to illustrate, I want to introduce you to an electric car:




What...? No, not that one! That car blows!


I meant This One:



Now that Sexy beast of a car is the Lightning GT. And it is a fully electric car with a range of 188 miles. It uses KERS to keep its batteries charged up. The Lithium-Titanate batteries have a lifetime expectancy of twelve years.

Words fail to describe how much I want one. And at £120,000, its about 35 times cheaper than the average F1 car as well.

Now, This gives me hope that we will see a fully electric Formula 1 car within my lifetime. And not just an electric F1 car, a competitive electric F1 car. And the first time one of those near-silent electric F1 cars wins a race, the other teams with their Gas-Guzzling cars are going to look at it and go “wait a minute...”

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is where F1 will finally make the step to not only being the worlds Premier Motorsport, but the worlds most environmentally friendly as well.

And that's just what the sport, the fans, and the world need to see.

-Bendana

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

A new Bendanarama feature.

Since I tend to trawl the internet for random clips, I figured I'd begin a new, and highly entertaining feature on this blog:

Things Racing Cars are NEVER meant to do!

THis week, I went on the internet and found these clips, illustrating that Racecars, deapite having wings, are NEVER meant to FLY.

Firstly, from the Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix, earlier this year, Wayne Boyd Shows his piloting skills. Unfortunately, he's still in a Hitech Racing F3 when he does:



And Our classic clip, from ten years ago, at the Le Mans 24 Hours, Peter Dumbreck decided to give his Mercedes-Benz CLR-GT1 a rather unorthodox mid-Track Aerodynamics test:



----

And thus, as we can see above, Racing cars are NEVER meant to fly.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

My Ultimate Racing Game.

Well, the new F1 game is out for the Wii. Seeing as I don't HAVE a Wii, I'm still playing F1 2005 (and getting absolutely trounced) on the PS2. And since I havent done a blog entry in a while - Primarily because it wasn't until earlier in the week that the Left 4 Dead 2 demo expired - I started thinking about the features I would want in my ideal racing game.

I was very Bored.

I will also note that most of these are probably impossible with todays technology. But its my fantasy, so fuck you.

---
BEN'S IDEAL RACING GAME!

1) A Race Director mode that doesnt suck.

For those of you who've played Gran Turismo 4, you'll get this one. the Race director mode is completely devoid of atmosphere, consisting of a screen with statistics. Give us an interactive pitwall. It'd be awesome! Plus, imagine the ramifications for multiplayer - You could have teams of three or four, depending on the amount of drivers, with one guy Controlling all the strategy from the pitwall, and the others driving. It would also be awesome to be able to turn around and see the pit stop go ahead in real time from the team principal's perspective. With voice comms, this would be a truly epic way to play.

2) Full race grids for online games.

Come on, this can't be that difficult, can it? I don't want to race 6 people online, I want to race 23 other cars.

3) Qualifying and practice online.

Again, while its possible to have a full enght race online - I can do it on Toca Race driver 3 - generally, there arent any qualifying or practice sessions. Why the fuck not? I guarantee you, F1 Fans dont want to be dropped on some random point on the grid, they want to try and earn pole position. Similarly, if they have to set the car up, they need to know that those settings work.

4) Fuel incidents, and realisitic damage.

Did you watch the Brazillian Grand Prix? Did you see what happened to Kimi Raikonnen? If not, allow me to refresh your memory:



A similar incident occurred to Tony Kanaan at the Indycar race in Edmonton:



Now, given the level of today's technology, surely it cant be too difficult to create fuel incidents like that? it could even be a mini game - F1-05 already features interactive pitstops. Just imagine, trying to get the fuelhose off without burning off the drivers face. And imagine if a car had a fuel leak on track. Your chasing another car. he suddenly starts to slow down, then WOOMPH. Fireball. And then you have to avoid your face getting burnt off. Fun for the whole family.

And whilst were at it, can developers please find a balance between INVINCIBLE CAR OF ADAMANTIUM and EXPLODES IF YOU BREATHE AT IT. F1 cars may be delicate, but they can take more of a beating than Toca 3 allows. Similarly, They are not so tought that you can drive them straight into a wall witbh no damage, as F1-05 allows. Now, I've looked at the fottage of recent games, and they tend to lean towards Explodey. According to most games, bigger damage is better.

No. Just stop. Realisim, please.

5) A balance between hardcore sim and arcade racer.

Admittedly, games are getting better at this, but we do need to find that balance. It needs to have some semblance of a challenge. also, AI drivers that don't stick like glue to the racing line would be great. kthnxbai.

6) AI cars that actually retire, and Safety Cars.

Please. No more yellow flags forever and no more AI cars that react like a brick wall. Have them experience some severe damage, and occasionally bow out of the race. if theres a severe pile up on lap one, have a safety car some out while the debris is cleared in real time. In fact, animate the marshalls clearing the track - it gives the more sociopathic gamers among us something to aim for.

7) Updateable cars.

Make a game with the base model cars for that current year. Then allow people to upgrade them throughout the season. let them put different things on and see what effect it would have. it would be FUCKING AWESOME.

So yeah, thats my ideal game. Its probably not physically possible.

But I'd buy it, and I'm willing to bet, with some of these features, a good portion of you would too.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Left 4 Dead 2: The Demo.

I never played Left 4 Dead. I wanted too. I even downloaded the demo. But I never got round to playing it, and unfortunately, it had a time expiration on it. I'm not that big of an online gamer, but seeing how this game is something of a phenomenon, when I saw that the demo for L4D2 had been released, I jumped at it.

And Jumped.

And carried on jumping.

Lets just say that Left 4 Dead 2 is very atmospheric. The demo runs through the first two chapters of "The Parish" Campaign - The waterfront and the park, respectively. Set in New Orleans, the Demo starts on the jetty at the docks. Apologies for the quality of screenshot, The game autmoatically selected the best settings for performance, and I don't have a high-end machine.

Anyways. After the ship's captain has dropped you off, its up to you to make your way up that ramp into New Orleans proper. And almost immediately, you encounter infected. Now, the basic level infect is pretty much cannon fodder at the start. There's a weapon spawn right at the start, and The Director - Thats the name of the AI that controls the action - saw fit to leave a shotgun and a machete right there from the off. So, on this playthrough, I had the immediate oppurtunity to start shooting some zombies in the head.
The shotgun, as was immediatley apparent, is a very satisfying weapon. A couple of shots, even glancing ones, can put Horde infected down. Heads Be a-poppin. Of course, the big weapon update for L4D2 is the inclusion of Melee weapons. Such as the machete.

I Like my Machete.
I Liked it a lot.

In fact, I like it so much, I named it Celeste. I sleep with it lying next to me. Just in case.

I've only really enountered one or two games before where Melee combat was this satisfying, and both of those games revlved around Melee combat - Dark Messiah of Might and Magic and Oblivion. But the Melee weapons in L4D2 are really satisfying to use. Theres a genuinely chunky feel to hitting the zombies with the melee weapons. Hell, on the first online playthrough I did, I fought my way out of a corner with just the machete - the Horde was upon me, and I did not have time to reload.

The waterfront section was mainly confined streets, funneling the infected towards you. Of course, theres always the odd super-infected, like the spitter. This lovely lady spits Acid. yes, Acid. She is a pain in the arse. And on the playthrough I did to get these screenshots, she was also the one I encountered the most.

Things really started heating up when I got onto the second, chapter, however, and started making my way through the park. Because who should I encounter, but a new variant of an old favourite from the first game: The Wandering Witch.

yes, she's back, ladies and gentlemen, the Bane of survivors everywhere. But now, she doesn't just sit down crying like an emo bitch waiting for her next Linkin park gig, oh no. Now, she wanders around, just asking to stumble into the crossfire of the survivors.

Like this: I took down a normal zombie with my shotgun.

Just as a witch wandered past the statue in the background.
Which resulting in this:

OH SHI-

Thankfully, I survived the attack, and got back to it, working my way through to the demo's Crescendo event: A desperate rush to a tower to shut off an alarm that was attracting every zombie within 2 square miles. My ammo was starting to runa bit low at this point.

Thankfully, Celeste came to my rescue:


...A Lot:
...Okay, I just really like hitting things with machetes, okay? Jeez. anyways, after that alarm was silenced, I made may way out to the bus shelter near the last stretch of the demo. seeing that the courtyard was full of zombies, I fired a burst from my recently acquired AK47.

Of course, I'd failed to take into account that, from a distance, the Wandering Witch looks like a regular zombie stumbling around.
MOTHER FUC-

In terms of whether or not I'll be getting this game: Yes. Even though my computer can't really do it justice, I loved every minute of this game. The Director really gave the game an edge over the competition: Every time I played through the demo, it went differently. At one point I even just camped in position for a while - and the AI started sending super-infected after super-infected after me. The charger is especially a pain - as the name suggests, it charges you into the wall and then pounds you on the floor. The Jockey is more irritating than dangerous, although in big-horde situations it can cause problems. The most tactical one - thinking ahead to the Versus mode in the full release - is probably going to be the spitter. The acid caused genuine problems for me throughout the demo, and the spread area is an utter git in choke points and narrow confines.

My steam ID is Bmyatt_uk. Feel free to join me.

-Bendanarama

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

ROFL.

To the guy who turned up on my blog looking for "porno hiht horse:"

Guess you were REALLY looking in the wrong place, huh?

Monday, 5 October 2009

Jenson Button - Champion in waiting?

Okay, so I don't often do sports analysis, but I wanted to point out some things after listening and reading last weeks buildup to the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

Last week was a good example of how NOT to be influenced by the media hype surrounding Jenson Button at the moment. A huge amount of the media focus last week was focussed on how button, by gaining five points more than his teammate Rubens Barrichello.

Now, that sounds like an easy task, but in truth it wasn't so, and for several of the following reasons:

1) The BGP-001 was never going to be the strongest car at Suzuka. It's a low downforce circuit, and a much colder circuits than those white-and-green cars like. A brief explanation on the cold: F1 cars are all about grip. you can have the best engine and aerodynamics package in the world, but if you can't put all that power and aero performance through those four pieces of rubber on the track it doesn't mean a thing. And one of the things that affects that is tyre temperature. The warmer your tyres are, the more grip you have.

And the Brawn GP cars very much like the warmer weather. The car itself is very easy on the tyres - its why they were so strong on the circuits in hugely hot weather - but when they're on a circuit where they need to get the heat into those tyres by force, they just cant seem to do it.

What this adds up to is a huge drop of pace on the initial part of the race. It wasn't until much later on when Button began to equal the pace of the race leaders - and in a sport where the spread between the racing pack's lap times is three-and-a-half seconds, that isn't nearly enough.

2) Five points is a very big gap to maintain. Given that Button and Barrichello - the two main championship runners (even after Vettel took a chunk out of button this week) are driving the same car, it's an incredibly difficult task for Button to Gain five points over Barrichello. Only in couple of races have the cars been more than 2 places apart. With Barrichello on a resurgence since the European Grand Prix in Valencia, beating him out by five points was going to be near impossible. As it was, Button Prevented Rubens from getting more than a point over him.

3) The Red Bulls were going to be strong at Suzuka. Its the kind of circuit the RB5 excels on, and with Vettel setting pole on qualifying, the one worry is that he's put himself into a championship position that Button and Rubens both need to defend.

All of this, combined with a poor start off the line, led to Jenson Button NOT winning the title in Japan. But what it made much more likely was Button, like Lewis Hamilton last year, winning the title at the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Here's my thoughts on this:

1) Brazil is a Hot circuit. Barring the patchy rain we saw in the season finale last year - which handed Hamilton the title, as Timo Glock forgot to chenge his Toyota's tyres to the Intermediate weather tyres - the weather will be somewhere in the 30 degree mark in full sunshine, with 18 degrees or so for clouds. Wet weather changes any formula one race, but lets go with the theory of it being dry for now. all this equals - yes, you guessed it - Higher tyre temperatures.

2) The track is smooth - making it a faster circuit for those, like Button, who are easier on the tyres.

3) The RB5, though arguably the best track in the field, has suffered from reliability problems on hotter tracks all season. if Vettel struggles with eavena fraction of these, it makes it a two horse race between Button and Barrichello.

4) Button is currently 14 points ahead of Barrichello and 16 ahead of Vettel. At Suzuka, to become champion, Button had to GAIN five points over Barrichello. at Interlagos, all Button neds to do is remain WITHIN four points of Barrichello and within six points of Vettel.

If Jenson goes into the last race with a ten point lead, then he is the champion, because all either Barrichello or Vettel can do is tie on points with him. And if that Happens, it comes down to the amount of Grand Prix's won this season. Thanks to Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen's resurgences, Rubens has won two Grand Prix with two left, Vettel has won Three.

Even if they tie on points, Jenson Button has won six Grand Prix with two left to take. Neither of the other contenders can win on Race Titles. They HAVE to outscore Button, and if Button has proved anything this season, its that he can defend that lead.

I just watched the replay of the F1 forum on BBC online, and Martin Brundle just pointed out that all Button needs to do is finish fourth at Brazil and he is guaranteed the championship.

He may not even have to do that.

---
-Bendana.
---

On a similar note, Congratulations to Colin Turkington on Winning the BTCC Championship.

Monday, 28 September 2009

A Genuine Rant.

Watching tv this evening, I see an advert for a product.

"But Ben," I hear you cry, "Tv is the natural place for advertising, unless you were watching the BBC, in which case it would be something for an oddity."

Yes, I fully appreciate that TV is the place for advertising, invisible blog reader people, but is TV really the place for advertising this?

Look. Be shocked.

Are.

You.

FUCKING.

HAVING.

A.

LAUGH.

HONEST TO GOD, WHAT KIND OF UTTER MORON DO YOU HAVE TO BE TO BUY CALORIE FUCKING FREE WATER?

Seriously, are you taking the fucking piss?

For God's sake.

I swear, if this company acheives success with this shit, the world will be over. It's all gone. You blew it up, you madmen!

Monday, 21 September 2009

The Rise and Fall of CGI.

I picked Batman Begins at Asda at the weekend, and as I was watching it on Saturday night, I remembered a story that Michael Caine related about the films development. He was watching a panoramic shot circling Batman, who was standing high on a gargoyle near the top of a skyscraper. He turned to CHris Nolan - the director - and said "How did you get CGI that good?"

To which Nolan replied:

"It's not CGI. We've got a stuntman standing up on the building while a helicopter circles him."

Now, the purpose of this story is not to relate the sheer coolness of the Batman Begins franchise - although its succeeded in making Batman cool again after Joel Shumacher's debacles.

The purpose of this little anecdote is to illustrate the attitude towards CGI in the film industry today. Where once CGI was a novelty, it quickly became a crutch.

Probably the origin of the CGI boom can be traced back to 1996's Independence Day. Whilst CGI had certainly been used before this point, the sheer scale of its usage began to really take hold after this film. After all, who needs deep plots when you can blow up the white house on a weekly basis? Not to say I didn't enjoy ID4 - its a great film, and still holds its own today. But it set a trend where rather than merely using CGI to enhance a film, filmmakers started basing their films around CGI.

More followed. The disasterous 1998 Godzilla remake made the legendary king of the monsters into a Tuna Eating CGI Iguana.

More and more, the marketing of films seemed to revolve around the special effects rather than any actualy plot content. As I previously stated, CGI became a crutch to lean on rather than a tool to be used.

-Yes, I know I'm not giving many examples. Its been a long day.

And somewhere along the line, it began to lose the sheen it had gained from ID4. When you start seeing cities destroyed in every mother movie, soon enough it begains to wear thin. Gradually, CGI fell out of fashion with filmmakers - the notable exception being comic book movies, which, due to their nature, had to rely on the technological breakthroughs that CGI had brought.

Another contribution to CGI's fall was the more smooth integration of CGI into the movie. As it became more difficult to distinguish the computer generated elements from the film, its rapidly began to lose its allure. Its use was assumed, as illustrated by Caine's story, but it was no longer the focus. Gradually movies began to feature less about the special effects.

In some cases it became anathema to even point them out - more marketing effort was put into the fact that films weren't using CGI than those that were.

Perhaps CGI has finally ound its role as a filmmaking tool rather than the focus of movies.

---
This pointless rant bought to you by:
-Bendana
---

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Creative Commons Music Week - The Finale.

So, kiddies, what have we learned this week?

Well, I suppose the basic lesson is that theres a hell of a lot of good music out there - 4 out of 5 positive albums cant be wrong, and given that all of them were chosen completely at random, its a good sign of a trend.

The creative commons movement is a triumph for freedom of music. In the past week, I've downloaded five albums, completely legally, without having to worry about the government knocking on my flat door and telling me I've been naughty.

What Jamendo, as a site, proves is that there is a way to challenge the monopoly that the music houses have over the industry. If more and more people show that they're willing to listen to free music, it'll mean that eventually, the music houses will be forced to cater to our tastes.

By supporting - and voluntarily donating to - creative commons bands, you can make them successful completely independently of the major music publishers.

Is this a pipe dream? Ten years ago, I wuld have said so. But ten years ago, wehadn't yet had the advent of the Mp3. These days, music shits just as much digitally as it does on CDs. iTunes is one of the biggest music retailers on the planet.

For the sake of struggling artists everywhere, we need to show that we wont just listen to the music they tell us to listen to. Lady Gaga? no thanks, I'll take Steven Dunston. Good Charlotte? I'd talk Talco over them any day.

There are plenty of good bands out there. Take the time to look. Downloading doesnt have to mean you're getting your music illegally.

Jamendo.com. Enjoy.

Creative commons Music: The Dark Symphony

Belated review is Belated.

OKay, newage instrumental is DEEPLY not my gig. Never interested me. but in the process of picking a random album, I decided to download Roger Subirana's The Dark Symphony, and I wound up being pleasantly surprised.

Thankfully, instrumental music doesnt have any language barriers, so I was free to enjoy this spanish entry without having to worry about those issues, but to be honest, the album didnt have a particularly spanish flavour to it. It's most definitely newage.

One of the things you'll find in Tourist attractions in the UK - specifically their giftshops - are wooden cabinets full of newage music. normaly, these have Twee titles like "Whale song" and "Earth Magic."

Which is probably why a title like The Dark Symphony caught my eye in the first place. It does have a distinctly different feel to it than most other new age music Largely piano based, with hints of pan-pipes, the elements of standard newage are certainly there, but the general tone of the album sets it apart from the usual tourist attraction crap.

On an entirely irrelevant note, at one point my sister was convinced those cabinets were the start of an alien invasion - followed by their more successful weapon of Sudoku puzzles.

Back to the music, Dark Symphony is thoroughly entertaining music. While its perfectly nice to relax to, Tracks like Ancestral Voices also have a good beat to them that makes that worth the effort of getting past your prejudices.

Its good chillout music, and thankfully, a highpoint to end my creative commons music week on.

Download Roger Subirana: The Dark Symphony.

Roger Subirana's Website.

---
-Bendanan
---

Friday, 11 September 2009

blllllaaaaaaaarrrrrgggghhhhh....

Haven't had a chance to listen to Friday's album yet. review will be posted tomorrow. Sorryz.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Creative Commons Music: Unfinished Business

Well, I suppose the run couldn't last forever. After three days of excellent albums that at least kept me vaguely interested, I finally came across one that did precisely nothing for me.

The shock really comes from the fact that Unfinished Business by the band of the same name is a band that splits itself between Lisbon and England, thus meaning that the music was at least in my native language.

I'm not saying that the music is bad. Technically its at least accomplished, and the blues sound is at least bearable.

But then thats the problem. Unfinished Business Isn't bad. It's merely Indifferent. With this album, its like the band decided it was going to lump every generic sound of 80's rock onto and album and let it go at that. Theres no real flavour to this music, no real verve. In the end its just... unintersting.

The lead singer sounds like he's trying to be Sting. The music sounds like its trying to be Genesis. The whole album comes across as the generic soundtrack of every eighties detective show you remember.

Every song sounds like something you've heard before - and not in a good way.

Download Unfinished Business.

The band's site.

---
-Bendana
---

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Creative Commons music: Combat Circus

Well, The more I download from Jamendo, the more I notice that the music I'm downloading is starting to take on very distinctively mediterranean flavour. Today's entry is one coming from the sunny reaches of Italy - Where the F1 heads this weekend for the Monza Grand Prix, incidentally - and is straying back into my more favoured tastes of Ska-punk.

Talco's entry to the Arena, Combat Circus, draws on some very familiar ground as its basis. Ska has been around for a long time, really, and its a very good mould to follow.

I have to admit, it was with some trepidation that I settled in to listen to an all-Italian album. This is something a lot of people will probably be familiar with - its very difficult to listen to music, even music styles you like, if they arent in a language you don't understand. That said, after the first couple of tracks, I felt firmly like I was in familiar territory. The sound of Brass instruments and shredding guitars greeted me like a warm fire in a log cabin.

A log cabin that was steadily burning to the ground, amidst the tattered remains of a nuclear stricken world...

...Okay, that metaphor was stretched a bit, but that fact that Combat Circus is a fairly comfortable listen for anyone into punk is something that deserves saying, even if the language barrier is in the way. After reading the reviews, I found that the Album apparently has an Anti-Fascist lean to it.

Whilst I didn't get that listening to the songs the first time round, with the tone of songs like Testamento Di Un Buffone and the cover of the Anti-Fascist classic Bella Ciao mena that once you know its there the sentiment comes across pretty clearly.

End of the day, the language barrier on the songs is somethign that can be broken down witha bit of concentration, and what you're left with is a very good punk album, That's definitley staying on my music files for a long time.

Download Talco: Combat Circus

Talco's Band site.

---
-Bendana
---

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Creative Commons Music: The Ugly Army.

I hereby declare this week Bendanarama's Creative Commons Music week! A new Album review every day!

I'll admit something now - I try not to read the genres that are listed when I download a full album from Jamendo. Its difficult, since they're fairly prominent, but it means that I can generally form my own opinions.

Of course, sometimes I cant help it, and when I saw Fresh Body Shop's The Ugly Army describe as "Punk Rock Electro", I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this French rock act.

The initial impression wasn't that great, but I warmed to the album fairly quickly. any trepidation I felt was purely due to the fact that it wasn't like any of the music I usually listen to, and thats something that required me to step out of my brit-indie-US-punk comfort zone.

The Ugly Army has a hell of a beat to it. ANd it's also a hell of an individualistic beat. In terms of Genre, I wouldn't have described it as Punk Rock Electro. I would have gone with "Punk Jazz Fusion" or alternatively, "Hyperspace Wizard Rock."

But then, I'm a bit wierd.

I have to admit, to me personally, some of the songs are a little hit and miss. Ones like Never end up like this and Anythign But You are ones I really enjoyed, but the more Electro sounding ones like My Artificial Sun didn't really do all that much for me.

If I'm honest, I enjoyed most of the album, but the odd couple of tracks that didn't really push my buttons left it feeling a little flat. But, if you like something a little different, its a nice little album, with a very distinctive French flavour to it.

Download Fresh Body Shop: The Ugly Army

Fresh Body Shop's Blogsite.

---
-Bendana
---

Monday, 7 September 2009

Creative Commons music: Hymns about her

One of the wonders of using Frostwire is the (relatively) recently added Frostclick feature, that gives you access to tones of free music, completely legally, under the creative commons licensing system.

Generally, I have ignored most of the splash ads that have come up but for some reason, I decided to click on the album cover for Steven Dunston's Hymns about her.

Never have I less regretted a decision. Steven Dunston's album is exactly the kind of Jazzy Piano music I tend to listen for relaxation, and in this case, it is exceptionally good Jazzy piano. Dunston handles both the strings, piano and vocals, and gives a virtuoso performance.

But what you shouldn;t assume is that this a one-note performance. Whilst songs like Tonic and Gin - my personal favourite - and Northern Star are accomplished love songs, others like Lyle Love Song and California have a more poppy, cigarette-dangling-from-the-mouth feel.

But despite this, it is defintely the traditional jazz feel that benefits more from Dunston's vocal style. Whilst Lyle Love Song isn't bad, its more country-ish air doesn't take as much from the vocal style as the slower, more jazzy numbers. Particularly good examples include "When I was with you" and Man of faith.

If you like, even occasionally, to relax to music, then this album is for you. its an isntant calmer - valium, in music form, if you will. Sit back and chill. As I said, my personal favourite is Tonic and Gin. The album also caters to one of my favourite tastes in music - songs that tell a story. The is Pour-yourself-a-drink-and-chill music at its finest.

Get it now.

Links:

Get the Album: Steven Dunston - Hymns about her.

Steven Dunston's Site and Blog.

---
-Bendana.
---

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Ben Watches the Watchmen. Perv.

Watchmen was always, in fairness, going the be an incredibly difficult comic to film. It wasn't exactly built for it, from the start. The comic itself is incredibly slowly paced - to its advantage - which, even with a three hour film, was going to be exceptionally difficult to translate.

To Watchmen's credit, it works very well. combining almost graphic-for-graphic images from the comics with the film. It's also carried by very strong performances from the actors. For a guy whose face you rarely see, Jackie Earle Haley gives an amazing performance as Rorschach. His vocal style and different levels of physical acting made the character come across as a personality of its own.

It was definitely a good idea of Zack Snyder to cast relative unknowns for the parts - it allowed the characters to speak for themselves. Personally I didn't like 300, Snyder's previous effort. I thought that it was vastly overdone, and in all fairness, would have been all of ten minutes long if it hadn't been filmed almost entirely in slomo.

But in reproducing most of the comment almost shot for shot in Watchmen, Snyder manages to retain most of the Atmosphere from the comics. Admittedly he has to change some of the plot elements - the Cthulhu-esque monster from the end of the book would have just looked stupid come the end of the movie.

...The books been out for 23 years. If you claim I'm spoiling it, fuck yourself. Sideways.

There are other elements of the story different from the Books. The overall tone of the ending is a lot... happier. For lack of a better term.

The Problem with reviewing it, is that theres no way to detail any of the plot without really spoiling anything else. So I'll stick to what I know...

See Beginner's rule handbook #2: "Why Re-invent the Wheel."

...Ze Action in Watchmen, It be fucking awesome. you do get a good amount of Gunplay in some scenes - primarily flashbacks to the days of the Comedian - But the Hand to hand scenes are utterly fantastic. If you read my "Top-Ten Fight scenes" from a few entries back, you'll have noticed that I have a bit of a thing for realistic fight scenes. Watchmen somehow manages to do bigger-than-real fightscenes without actually losing the realism of the movie. Its also illustrated by the fact that each character has a very distinctive individual style, from Nite Owl II's more heavy handed kickboxing/bodyblock style to Ozymandias' uniquely defensive counter-fighting technique, it contrives to give each fight a very individual flavour and makes for very compelling fights - something 300 distinctly lacked.

Watchmen Is, truth be told, one of the best superhero movies I've seen, even when all the characters are substantially less than super.

Until World War 3, I remain,

-Bendana.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

My take on the NHS-USA Debate.

So, American Republicans...

You believe that a system where peple have to pay through the nose for life saving operations, where if they cant pay, they cant afford to have a baby and where people spend years paying off the result of injuries because the insurance companies who have been taking their money suddenly refuse to pay and where peple are chucked out of hospitals simply because their insurance wont sustain them staying any longer...

is superior to a system where...

I can get medication with no insurance for my damaged achilles tendon for a flat fee of £7.00, my wife can get her monthly doses of medication for her asthma on a flat fee of £100 a year, and where, whilst there are some waiting times, they are not months and months for life-saving operations (and no, dickheads, we dont have death panels either) and where, If i'm in hospital, I can stay for as long as I need to without worrying that I'm suddenly not going to be able to pay for it.

...



...on a personal note, I have a friend in the states who struggles to afford her Asthma inhaler because unlike over here, where my wife gets hers mostly for free, it costs her $300 an inhaler. If Barack Obama does nothing else, establishing this health system is what the USA needs.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Harry Potter And the Grim Grim Dark Grimness.

So, after a few days of my wifes nagging, We finally went to see Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince.

And you know what? I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now, this may seem rather insignificant to you, but as my wife could probably tell you, I've always been rather indifferent to the Harry Potter movies. Not that I dont enjoy them, I've just never been particularly bothered about actually seeing them. I liked Order of the Phoenix, but again, I was very indifferent to actually going out and watching them. The same again was something I felt for Half-Blood Prince.

Now, the Book of the film was the only one in the series I found truly problematic. it wasnt bad, but It felt as if the entire thing was merely a setup for Deathly Hallows. To be honest, the last few books felt a little flabby compared to the rest, with multiple chapters of Harry being a whiny little bitch.

Daniel Radcliffe's performance in the film, however, takes a slightly different tone. After the rather miserable opening of Order of the Phoenix, admittedly, leading from the death of Cederic in Goblet of fire set the tone for the whole movie, leading up to the death of Sirius at the end of the movie.

...Look, the book came out in 2003, and the film in 2007. If you claim I'm spoiling it for you, fuck yourself. Seriously.

Anyways, Radcliffe's performance is the true sign that this young actor has truly ound his feet in the part. In the first few movies I was genuinely underwhelmed with his performances - even making allowance for his age - but in Half-Blood Prince he genuinely makes the part his own, bringing a certain zest to the performance that he previously lacked. And it really worked. His personality leapt off the screen in this film, bringing fantastic life to the movie. Similarly, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson have matured into their roles, allowing the chemistry that the three have shown in interviews to finally come through on screen. Given that the film is far more concerned with the relationships between the characters than those that have come previously, it was just what they needed.

But thats not to say there isn't plenty of action. There is, but it's far mor subtle than in the film's predecessors. There are no really huge shootouts, no extended battles, which is good because there isnt any way this film could have done those sequences without either looking tame next to the last film or overshadowing the climax of the next (two?) films. The attempted attacks on Dumbeldore - especially the scene when a cursed Necklace takes hold, are fairly nerve-wracking.

And all of lends to the general feeling of darkness about this movie. This is not Shiney-Happy Potter. This is the culmination of all the grim imagery thats influenced the last three films, and its all a buildup to the Final sunrise of the last Film. It's a genuine credit to JK Rowling that most of the imagery in the film can be lifted directly from the book. Her Novels are incredibly visual in their writing, and that's one of the things that makes this film what it is: an amazing visual experience.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

I love the 2009 formula one cars...

I'm a pretty big fan of Formula One. I'm a fan of motorsport in general, but Formula one has a special place in my heart - its one of the first sports that my wife and I truly love to watch together. We even watch the Qualifying on the Saturday before the actual race - sometimes we even find it more exciting than the actual race!

From the moment Fleetwood Mac's Bassline from The Chain starts to play, I'm hooked. I've always been a fan of Jenson Button, and the fact that his season is going so well is awesome to me.

So recently, I started following a dedicated Formula One blog, F1 Fanatic. This place seems to cotton onto a lot of the big news first, and is a lot easier to digest than my other source of F1 news, the BBC sports site.

I glanced on today, and noticed that a new article was up. The site had recently held a poll, asking what F1 cars readers felt were the best looking. I voted for the 2009 Iterations of the cars. I love the look of the new F1 cars - Unlike the technology infested things of recent years, that looked more like stubby fighter aircraft than cars, the new generation look like Racers.

Yet the fanbase have voted, overwhelmingly that the 2009 cars are the ugliest cars they've ever seen.

Seriously? I call bullshit. While I agree with a lot of what the article says - the problem of getting the cars to actually, y'know, race still hasn't been solved - I think those new cars are absolutely gorgeous. Seriously, look at the BGP-001:



Now, that is one good looking car. It looks like it can race, rather than looking like a Picasso painting has vomited all over an IndyCar. in opposition to that, the cars that were voted the best looking were the cars from the 2000's. Most notably, the cars from 2007 were prminently featured as examples:



Seriously? I mean, Jesus, nostalgia is one thing, but that car is beyond fucking ugly. I know it was an excellent piece of engineering, but aesthetically, it's far from pleasing. Even as recently as 2008, the cars were so squat and ugly that they just looked like insects to me. The latest Generation of F1 cars look like cars.

But, at the end of the day, Aesthetics isn't really the point of F1, (I really wanted to give those 2009 cars some love though) and as I said, the problems of making the cars race against each other is still there. at the highers speeds, the only place F1 seems to become a passing race sport is at the back of the grid - where the cars are so bad they have to fight for every position.

It still makes me giggle that the world Champion is in one of those poor cars. I think it will be good for Hamilton, who seemed to have the world at his feet far too quickly. In the meantime, the German Grand Prix at the Legendary Nurburgring is a week on Sunday, and once again, I'm in work for qualifying.

God... Damn.



...Tell me that shit don't look good.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

My Top ten fight scenes of all time... thus far.

well, after whining like a little emo bitch for the better part of the day, I thought I'd try writing something constructive.

of course, I cant really be arsed, so what you're getting is a list of my top ten movie fight scenes instead.

Now, The ground rules:

1) I have to have suffered through the entire movie at some point, not just the fight in question.

2) you may notice that the Rocky fights are not included. in this case, i decided it has to be combat fights rather than sporting fights. and the one from Rocky five sucks donkey balls.

3) These must be fist fights. Minimal Weaponry (or in the case of some, weaponry in the main context of the fights) onyl allowed.

LET US PROCEED.

-----------------------------

NUMBER 10: Cloud vs Kadaj, Final Fantasy VII Advent Children.

---
It may surprise you that I prefer this fight to the one immediately following it, The Cloud vs Sephiroth fight that makes up the film's proverbial "Main event." Theres one very simple reason for that: the Cloud vs Kadaj fight is the fight the film has been building towards for the entire run. Kadaj has been the main antagonist, tormenting Cloud at every turn. While Sephiroth is a legend, the Sephy-CLoud fight feels more like fanservice than an actual fight with any build to it. On top of that, The Kadaj fight feels much more realistic than the Sephiroth fight. More sword fighting, and less DBZ style flying through the air.
---

NUMBER 9: Asuka vs the MP Evas, End of Evangelion.

---

An odd choice, but one that gets me every time. In the buildup to this fight, I genuinely shed tears as Asuka cowers in her Evangelion-02 at the bottom of the Lake, chanting "I dont want to die" over and over. In the background, her mothers voice starts to speak, telling her she isnt alone, and when she realizes, it all breaks loose, leading to Eva-02 taking out 10 or so Mass production Evas. It's a controlled piece of Brutality on the part of the Evangelion animators, and amazingly effective as Eva-02's battery finally dies and the MP-Evas take their gory revenge.

---

NUMBER 8: Iron Man vs Iron Monger. Iron Man.

---

Another one of my favourite fight scenes, and one that for the the type of film it is, is far more realistic than it should be. The Movie battle between Iron man and Iron Monger most certainly has its roots in the comics, but in terms of the capabilities that have been set in the films for both suits, this is a good, uneven fight that Iron Man wins by grit and Determination alone.

---
NUMBER 7: Neo vs Agent Smith, The Matrix
---

Possibly a controversial choice at this stage, this fight was revolutionary in its time, with the use of wirework and bullet time making this a never before spectacle of Kung-Fu action. add to that the clear amount of actual fight time both Keanu Reeves and Hugo Weaving get, and you get a brilliant cinematic fight that has, unfortunately, been diluted by time and imitation.

---
NUMBER 6: Obi-Wan vs Darth Vader, Revenge of the Sith.
---

In terms of Jedi Battles, up until this point the Star Wars Prequels has been noticeably lacking. Sure, we had Yoda vs Dooku in Attack of the clones, but that came across more as a comedy fight than an epic moment. But this, the batle we had all been waiting for, Vader and Kenobi in their primes, was an end to end lightsaber duel across the molten lava surface of the planet, Mustapha. Even the ending meets with Approval from me, as Kenobi remains a teacher telling Anakin not to violate a basic combat principle and attack the high ground.

---
NUMBER 5: The Bride vs O-Ren Ishii, Kill bill Part one.
---

Before this scene came about in cinema, very few people outside the select clique of fans had seen a true samurai style duel on the big screen. The two former deadly vipers have a dramatic duel in the snow outside the house of blue leaves. the scene is also a crutial one of redemption for Thurman's Bride, as her skill is mocked by O-Ren for her perceived lack of skill, and apologises as she realises she has been outclassed. I remember sitting with a couple of guys who didnt get shy she did this until it was pointed out to them, and both suddenly grinned and nodded their heads in agreement, despite having previously thought it was a bit stupid. The fight itself is, very simp,ly, a triumph of substance over style.

---
NUMBER 4: Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds vs The Operative, Serenity.
---

Okay, I'll be the first to admit, this one is pure Browncoat-Bias on my part. I love Firefly, I love Serenity, and I have honest-to-god Man love for Malcolm Reynolds. that said, none of this takes away from the fact that this is a singularly brutal, dramatic fight on the edge of a precipice in the depths of Mr Universe's planet, as Mal tries to transmit the message that shows the alliance to be guilty of creating the deadly Reavers. Mal eventually wins the fight via an incapacitating move and stroke of luck - The cluster of Nerves the operative attacks to paralyse his victims had been torn out during the unification wars.

---
NUMBER 3: Daniel vs Chozen, The Karate Kid Part two.


---

Now, I bet you're looking at this one in a spot of disbelief, arent you? But in terms of Drama towards a climactic fight, the first two Karate Kid films were masterclasses in Building up a battle. The mo-holds-barred Karate fight between the Delinquent, Villainous Chozen and Daniel is the perfect synchronisation of light and dark with back and forth action giving the battle an excellent atmosphere. unlike the restrained atmosphere of the All-Valley championship fight in the first movie, this is the first fight where you genuinely feel Daniel is threatened by an opponent, as Chozen genuinely tries to kill him through the battle. All in all, the return to the Tournament style in the third movie felt like a severe letdown after this brutal challenge.

---
NUMBER 2: Jake vs Ryan, Never Back Down.

---

I know, you guys have got to be scared that Never Back Down is making it this high onto, well, any list ever. But if there is one thing that this movie does, its fighting, and the final battle betweem Jake Tyler and Ryan McCarthy is no Exception. More importantly, in a cinematic world where films are increasingly relying on wirework and CGI to create a fight, this is a brilliant piece of MMA choreography that breaks the mould of what films are currently doing. While Never Back Down itself hasn't necessarily beena great hit, the minimal use of CGI and the various fight styles shown - the fight moves from stand up, to ground based submission and Strikes to Wrestling and back to stand up again - make this a compelling and brutal battle, and probably the first time ever a mid-fight epiphany has come whilst the hero is locked in a guillotine choke.

Fun fact: Cam Gigandet has won the Fight of the Year award two years running: firstly for this fight, and secondly for the piece-of-shit fight at the End of the abomination before Literature and Filmmaking that is Twilight.

---
BEFORE NUMBER ONE! SOME NOTABLE MENTIONS!

These are the ones that didn't make it into the main list due to various reasons:

Spike Spiegel vs Vincent Volaju - Cowboy Bebop the movie: A classic MArtial arts battle, in animated form!

Sean Thornton vs Will Danaher - The Quiet Man: John Wayne and Victor Mclagen make this fight a supreme work of Comedy and Action.

Aragorn vs Lurtz - The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring: One of the best none-samurai sword films committed to film, spoiled only by the short length.

Balian vs Guy - Kingdom of Heaven: an excellent sword fight, omitted from this list because for some unknown reason, the fight onyl appears on the fucking special edition. good call on this one, Hollywood Studio Heads. Really.

Douchebags.

---
AND NOW, THE MOMENT YOU'VE ALL BE WAITING FOR:

NUMBER ONE:

Riggs vs Mr Joshua: Lethal Weapon.



---

If Never Back Down Broke the mould for modern Cinematic fights, Lethal Weapon took a Sledgehammer to the Clay they made the Mould out of. Riggs vs Joshua was a cinema MMA fight before Hollywood even knew what the fuck MMA Was, combining stand up grappling and clinch boxing with brutal ground and pound, an attempted drowning and finally a choke-out victory via traingle choke for Riggs. Bearing in mind that the first UFC event, which really brought Mixed Martial Arts to the fore, wasn't even a twinkle in Helio Gracie's eye at this point - it occured six years later - the use of Jiu-Jitsu to finish a cinema fight was practically unheard of, and the brutal beating both men suffer under the spray of a busted fire hydrant is why I've chosen this as my number-one cinema fight.

But dont believe me? watch for yourself.

----

Dont agree with my choices? Have your own favourite fights list? comment and let me know! For now, I remain,

-Bendana.

An Update.

it looks like my HTC is completely fucked. Its not even turning on now. but on the upside, I have £20 birthday money in my pocket from work and half a cake in the fridge!

I am having an Utter Shitter of a day.

and its not even 9am yet!

So, last night, my beloved HTC touch decided it didnt like being violated by its phone charger anymore, and refused to charge to it. Now, I thought I had an extra Tenner in my account, so I found a place on Ebay that does desktop chargers for the batteries for £2.95.

Unfortunately, as it turns out, that tenner I had was an uncleared payment to something else, so Bye-Bye charger, until at least friday.

which means I'm stuck using our Backup mobile.

Which is a pink clamshell Alcatel.

Yeah, this is going well.

oh, and I was off sick yesterday. the chinese I had for my Birthday dinner gave me food poisoning.

and we just got a £91 bill for the sky.

And my wife's away until thursday.

I'll post something constructive when life doesn't suck.

Friday, 26 June 2009

A bit of a ramble.

I hate to be a buzzkill...

But surely, there is some other news in the goddamn world than Michael Jackson dying? I respect the guy for the media Icon that he is, but I honestly beleive that if Iran dropped a nuke right now it would only appear in the tick bar at the bottom of the screen.

anyways, I'm not going to do a rant about Michael Jackson, because frankly, its uncalled for.

----

I've been working on my novel for about a year now, and to be honest, its been a real struggle at times. Writing a novel is a long, difficult process for me, especially a fantasy novel. to be honest, I bounce between bouts of loving writing so much I cant wait to get home and do the next page and weeks of staring at the screen, unable to think of anything to write.

My target is 300 pages - slightly longer than the first novel of my Idol, David Eddings. I'm just about up to thirty.

but as I said, its a slow process for me.

---

If, like me, you're a bit of a classic game fan, the site goodoldgames.com is absolutely fantastic. I picked up Freespace 2 for about £3. today, as a birthday presnt, I picked up Comanche Vs Havok and The Guild Gold Edition for less than a tenner.

seriously, check this shit out.

http://www.goodoldgames.com

---

New online Game Addiction!

http://batracer.com/

Online Race Team management for the win!

also, if you play the Half Life 2 Mod Insurgency:



come give me a bullet or two to the head on the 24/7 ins_sinjar server. its all good.

-Bendanarama

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Dun Dun Duuuuuuuuuuuuun....

My Mum got me a singularly awesome present for my birthday this year:



Is that a martian fighting machine, or are you just pleased to see me?

yeah, I got to go see The War of the Worlds at the Echo Arena, and it was fucking IMMENSE!

Friday, 10 April 2009

erm.....psyche?

didnt get to go see dragonball after all. sorry, no review. possibly wednesday.

-Bendana

Thursday, 9 April 2009

We all knew it was going to happen.

Tomorrow, me and the missus are going to go and see Dragonball Evolution. After which, I will post the first of what will undoubtedly be many shite film reviews.

-Bendana.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Epic Value.

If you like epic movies, and you've got a spare fiver, get yo' ass down to Asda. The Wife and I picked up the 4-disc boxset of Kindom Of Heaven for a fiver.
And its the good version - the directors cut. Y'know, with characterisation.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Riding my High Horse till it drops.

In the background to this post, my Wife is watching "The Sex Education Show vs Pornography."

And its pissing me right the fuck off.

Now, its very difficult to get on your high horse in defense of Porn. Just ask Jacqui Smith. So I'm not going to try. The reason this show is pissing me off is the pure and simple Soapbox anti-sex attitude of the presenter, Anna Richardson.

Now, I'm all for having a frank discussion with teenagers about the fantasy stylings of Porn vs the realities of sexual relationships. However, Ms Richardson seems more concerned with an out and out indictment of anyone who seems to actually want to enoy their sex life.

To Illustrate: at the moment she is going around a high street, seeing how many sexual products she can find. The implication she seems to be making is that it's easy for teenagers to walk in and buy a Cock ring or Lube.

Her exact words:

"Ooh look, a cock ring, in between the Milk and the Crumpets."

...I have to do this.



Now, I've worked retail. Back in my Halcyon Livejournal days, I used to rant extensively about my time working in a One-Stop (a small brand owned by Tescos.)

Now, we weren't high street exactly, but we certainly were a point of contact for people doing their shopping. One of my favourite stories of the place is from when a guy came in to return a pornographic magazine he'd purchased. His big issue was that the free DVD wasn't in the package. He had waited until I, the Male member of staff, was alone on the counter to try and return it. Unfortunately for him, being a lowly customer assistant, I didnt have the authorisation to retake the magazine. I had to call Zoe, the shift manager, to come and do it. Cue embarrassment and giggles.

(on a side not, my wife just pointed out that while Ms Richardson is commenting on how the oversized Penises in porn damages boys self esteem, she just happilly humiliated a boy whose voice hadnt broken in the audience.)

Anyways, the point of the One-stop story is not that porn is freely available and able to be viewed, by anyone on the high street, because it isnt. These days, every single porn mag in any chain shop comes in a sealed plastic silver packet, that hides all the content on the cover except the title.

The same applies to cock rings, lube, and hell, even condoms. These days, its easier for a kid to go to their school nurse to get condoms than it is to get them at the shop. As for toys and sex aids, You have to be over eighteen to buy these products. given the level of security at most supermarkets these days, a fourteen year isnt simply going to go in, pick up a cock ring and walk out again. It simply is not going to happen.

These toys are for consenting adults. Ms Richardson seems to think that people should still have to go into seedy little sex shops in order to get something to liven up their intimate time.

She really goes out of her way to make the Ann Summers chain look seedier than it is. I've been inside an Ann Summers shop. Its actually a pretty nice, Sterile atmosphere. Ms Richardson tries to give the impression that the instant you walk in you Are surrounded by Sex Toys.

Again, this isnt the case. From experience, you have to walk to the back of the shop, to an area enclosed in such a way that any items it contains cannot be seen from the front of the store. Hell, even in "Seedy Sex Shops", the glass at the front is completely Opaque, and covered in warnings about the content contained within. It certainly isnt as simple as Ms Richardson makes it out.

On another note as to why this show annoys me: There is a clear bias over where the shows discussions of sex with the teenagers are going. All of the boys are portrayed as horny little bastards who just want to be pornstars - any time a myth Ms Richardson wants to debunk is shown, its always a boy making the comment. Whenever a talking head of one of the girls has been shown, it is purely to indict the boys of their proverbial crimes. All this to illustrate "How Porn is Damaging our kids!"

The third note is her little campaign against the internet. Yes, the Internet is a hive of porn. It IS ridiculously easy for children to find porn on the internet. Hell, at the age of 14, I ran up a £200 bill by downloading porn Dialers on my laptop.

However, the solution is NOT going to PC World and demanding they have the Internet Filters enabled on their computers from the off. Sorry, like, I'm an adult male - if I buy a new PC, why should I have to prove I'm over 18 in order to view any site I want?

The Solution is NOT going to BT and demanding why they arent preventing the evil Internets from having porn on them.

The Solution is The Parents who are oh-so-shocked by this material pulling their fingers out of their backsides and ACTIVATING the Filters. It should be noted that PC worlds PCs do come installed with parental controls - that the parents have to then set up. BT's Broadband services DOES come with parental controls and password security to prevent your little darlings getting their grubby little mitts on material they shouldn't.

But as Parents, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure they are active. So Mr Dad, hows about you put down Beer number four and go have a chat with little Bobby about the material they might find and about sex in general. Mrs Mum, hows about you drag yourself away from Eastenders or the latest issue of OK magazine and set the goddamn password on the internet to something only YOU know. Activate those parental filters whilst your at it, and make sure that even if your kids are in the internet, you know they can't access this material.

And if you're seriously so worried about internet porn, hows about you make sure your children DONT HAVE UNSUPERVISED ACCESS TO THE INTERNET.

And yes. It simply is possible.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Robin Hood and TNA Impact!

I entered into watching last nights TV with a certain amount of trepidation. The Two major shows I was watching for the evening were Robin Hood and TNA Impact. In the case of Robin Hood, I was worried because at the end of the last series, they killed off Lady Marian out in the Holy land, and to be honest, how can you have Robin without Marian?

Fortunately, in the first episode, this wasnt even a factor. The Anger both Guy of Gisbourne - who had also loved Marian and consequently murdered her for her love of Robin - and Robin feel towards each other spilled over into utter hatred, leading to an Awesome brawl/duel at the start of the episode.

The whole theme of the episode was Robin re-discovering his purpose as Robin Hood - aided by Friar tuck, who apparently knows kung fu.

Hey, works for me. The whole episode pretty much revolved around action. admittedly it had the same old "Merry man/men gets captured, tortured then rescued by Robin" plot, but it was still pretty fucking entertaining, and a good mindless opener to a good, mindless series.

TNA however, still has its share of problems. that said, last nights episode was pretty damn good. Generally, the wrestling tends to be Overbooked on a TNA show, with too much interference and too little quality, however last night worked really well. admittedly, the Suicide/Kiyoshi X-Division Title match was way too short, as you just KNOW these two could go like the clappers if they had the time. The other lower card match was The Beautiful People vs Awesome Kong and Raisha Saeed. I'm getting the impression that TNA is trying to turn Kong Face, given that since Gail Kim left they simply dont have that top women's babyface they so desperately need. Taylor Wilde tried, bless her, but in a division full of Generic Blondes, she was just a Generic Blonde with a Title Belt.

The main event, however, which went for about 40 minutes was just Excellent, the cage-match Gauntlet had action from End to end - the only real downside being that there were far too many eliminations that you didnt actually see due to commercial Brakes. My wife felt that Kurt Angle's Dominance in the match was annoying, but to be honest I liked it for the sheer fact it was pushing the story forward that Angle and the Main Event Mafia wanted to Dominate and set up their win for the Lethal Lockdown captaincy. The fact that Jeff Jarret didn't win it set up the ending perfectly, when Samoa Joe - with his new "Kill every motherfucking thing that moves" persona, came down and dropped Kurt with a Muscle Buster for the pin.

All In All, it was an excellent show, and to be honest at the moment I'm far more excited about TNA Lockdown than I am about WWE Wrestlemania 25.

-Bendana

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Nothin' But the Rain... (SPOILER WARNING)

Well, Its all over.

I've dipped in and out of Battlestar Galactica for the whole of its four year run, and after the final episode played in the UK last night, Epic is pretty much the only way to describe the series. Even after reading up on the backstory, the fact that the show knew when to bow out on a high says lots about the way it was written.

And it was absolutely fantastic.

Right from the off, the Finale set the pace, interspersing flashbacks with the current events of the show. The Battle of the colony was fantastic in its sheer realism, with the crew of Galactica desperately trying to keep the Cylons from blowing them all to hell.

In a way though, the episode is going to leave me with a lot of bittersweet feelings. To be honest, even though I knew it was written out of the series, I was always after a true Apollo-Starbuck hookup and when Kara dissapeared at the end of the episode it left me sad, but not disatissfied. The mysticism that permeated the series - the sense of the higher power being involved - was one of the things that took the series away from the campiness of the original.

The most heartwrenching moment for me though wasnt any of the character dissapearances or deaths - Even though Roslin's death was fantastically and passionately done, in no small part because of James Edward Olmos's incredibly passionate acting in the scene - The Moment that broke my heart was when Galactica makes its final FTL jump to Earth. when the ships frame bucks and heaves after the jump, it looks like a creature in physical pain, and when Tigh announces that her back is broken, you feel for the ship itself, that carried its crew so far and fought so hard to protect them. When Sam Anders guided the ship into the sun, as the colonial anthem - the original series theme tune - played in the background, it was an absolutely beautiful moment.

In the end, the series bowed out at a perfect time. Rather than push itself too far, like Heroes or Lost, Galactica told its story perfectly from End to End, keeping its momentume without sacrificing its style.

And boy, am I gonna be investing in the complete series DVD set when it comes out. no competition.

-Bendana

Thursday, 19 March 2009

caught a bit of TNA Destination X Last night.

Don West is infinitely more entertaining as a heel. Seriously.

In movie news: If you are a certain age, then you will probably have read certain books as a kid. This may have been one of them:

Where the Wild Things Are.

Now, its easy to presume that once again they are going to rape your childhood memories. But that is disregarding one simple fact:

That poster looks motherfucking AWESOME.

Oh, and Iron Man 2 and Green Lantern are set to start filming. Yeah.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Mini-Rant of doom.

1) The Simpsons is currently trying way to hard to be like family guys. random jokes do no fit its style, as illustrated by the st patricks day episode that aired last night.

2) I likes my "Town called Eureka." I does not likes it when sky pre-empts it for "Shane Richie - Make me Irish."

3) Please, Please, God can we get Joey Styles back as the play-by-play man on ECW. Him and Matt striker would be frigging AWESOME.

-Bendana.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Prince of persia, Blood the Last vampire, and Dragonball.

seems I never really use this blog anymore. oh well, time to break the habit, as it were.

I'm at home after a week of work at my new job - yes, in a move that will surprise the three people who read this blog, I've moved away from door to dooring - and although I've acutally been at the job for about six weeks its still taking a little getting used to. basically, I work in the cal centre for the criminal records bureau. to answer the first two questions out of your mouth:

1) no, I cant look up your criminal record. I dont have access to it, and even if I did I'd get sacked for doing it.

2) I cant make the checks go any faster. I work in the frigging call centre.

anyways, the wife (oh yeah... got married two weeks ago as well. probably should have mentioned that...) has been away for the night so I decided to have a wander around the dingy back alleys of the internet. in doing so, I came upon these little gems:

PRINCE OF PERSIA.

Prince of Persia Images

so... yeah. I'm a big fan of the Prince of Persia games - even if I suck at them... but Jake Gyllenhaal? Mr Jake "Whitiest White Boy On the Block" Gyllenhaal?



seriously, I'm even a big fan of JG's work. hell, the guy was one of the very feww redeeming features of "The Day after tomorrow" but seriously, JAKE FUCKING GYLLENHAAL? AS THE PRINCE OF PERSIA? much as I admire the guys acting, he really isnt a dude I picture jumping off of walls with a sword and slashing up sand demons, y'know? Hell, I'd buy Shea LaBouef more than Jake Gyllenhaal.

and to be honest, its another part of an already mildly dodgy trend. There are talented Arabic actors out there. Last time I checked Jake Gyllenhaal wasnt the biggest box office Draw on the planet so precisely why has he been given this role?

A friend of mine recently had a rant on her livejournal about how the live action film of Avatar: The Last Airbender had, despite featuring a character group consisting primarily of asian people, has been casted featuring almost entirely caucasian actors. Prince of Persia seems to be following a similar trend. As I Said, Dodgy.

Blood, The Last Vampire.

The International Trailer

Before I get into any real rants about this one, I fucking LOVE Blood the last vampire. I still have my original edition VHS of the original anime.

However, there is one rather significant issue with making a feature length live action version:

Blood: The last vampire was essentially a showreel for Production I.G.

The whole point of this movie is to show of the animation techniques of the studio. And they think this is a good one to adapt for a US Audience? although that said, at least they're keeping the characters as Japanese.

Not sure how this will go down. there isnt exactly a lot of plot to keep the popcorn munching crowd away, and the potential for pleanty of stylis action as the trailer shows, but we'll see. There is going to have to be a hell of a lot of padding though, since the original is only 48 minutes long.

Moving on...

Dragonball Evolution.

Dragonball Evolution main site and Trailer.

I have to admit, unlike most people, who seem to be having something resembling a universal brainfart over this movie, I'm actually really looking forward to it.

The Reason? I'm not so fucking dumb that I'm going to take fucking DRAGONBALL seriously.

I mean, come on. This is the series where for entire episodes that characters squatted and went "HRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA" whilst glowing yellow.

And the fans think that a live action movie could possibly ruin this concept?

you know, I hate to reuse and image, but...



you may be noting that I'm not repeating the previous rant about character-Racial elements simply because no issue of race was ever made in Dragonball as a series. but seriously, this film looks MOTHERFUCKING AWESOME. It has all the elements that ever attracted me to Dragonball are here: Martial arts, fantasy action, scifi action and Energy blasts.

To Butcher a quote, The Had me at "KameHameHa."

So yeah. I'm gonna use this thing a bit more often from now on. theres too many movies I like the look of for me not to.

-Bendana.