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October 26, 2003

Eddie in Boston

Julia, Lou, Pat, Betsy, and I made our way to Boston's theater district last night for the show. Well, they went up in the Matrix, I drove along behind in my Prius because I was heading home after rather than back to Fall River. But we had dinner together (a very unique and tasty curried swordfish at Legal Seafood), then made our way back to the theater for the show.

A very similar show to NYC, showing less variation than I had expected from looking at videos/tapes from earlier tours that he's released. Less than 10 or 15 minutes of significantly different material (and a good bit of that caused by a dropped microphone that he turned into an asset for a couple minutes of physical humor). But still, Eddie Izzard is well worth seeing any chance you can get, and much of the material in the Sexie show is strong enough to enjoy again and again. Of course, making Trojan War references (and there's a lot of them in this show... "Somebody's breaking into that island.") always work for me.

I guess now, though, I have to wait until the next DVD/CD release.

Posted by ghoul at 11:42 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 21, 2003

No, I Don't Believe It Either

This site is certified 69% GOOD by the GematriculatorThis site is certified 31% EVIL by the Gematriculator

Ahhh! I'm burning with goodness again!

(Thanks to ***Dave for the link)

Posted by ghoul at 08:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 16, 2003

Maybe We're Crazy, But We're Not Alone

To those who think going to the big Lord of the Rings complete trilogy screening on 12/16 is mad...

Well, there appear to be lots of mad people around.

Posted by ghoul at 10:29 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 14, 2003

How to Use Up Even More Time

And, as if just to re-fill the space left by not taking an exam this year, I've re-joined Dreamlyrics.

The fact that Jeanne told me there was a new Feng Shui game recruiting there helped more than a little, but I also really miss many of the nice folk there, so I'm headed back.

Posted by ghoul at 11:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 13, 2003

How to Use Up Time

So, I haven't been blogging much even since getting my login fixed... and here's a brief summary of why, given as reviews of my various distractions...

Kill Bill vol 1 - Caught this on opening night with Julia, Lou, and Pat, and got exactly what I was expecting going in. Oh, perhaps not the sharp diolague Quentin Tarantino is known for, but I knew that was unlikely given the type of film he was making here. This is a film created out of QT's love of action cinema, assembled out of bits and pieces of other films, combined with a deft touch and occasional winks toward the audience. The whole film changes flavor several times, as it moves from 70's American action movies (esp. the "blaxploitation" sort), makes a brief stop-off at the ultra-low-budget splatter work of Hershal Gordon Lewis, then jumps boldly into Japanese anime and samurai films, with all the exagerated fountains of blood those demand. The fight scenes have good flow and development (which is what this summer's Matrix sequel lacked) and the plot, even though told out of order, is quite easy to follow (unlike the incoherent Once Upon A Time In Mexico). The performances are caricatures, but that's what they should be for this sort of film. QT's usual talent with music shines through, with music that seems on the surface to be completely out of place crafted to fit perfectly into scenes. I'll be back on 2/20 for vol 2 (though, like others, I'd've been happier with just one movie). If you're a Feng Shui player like I am, you'll need to see this one... It steals from all the right places, and the result is a great new source for additional theft.

Bubba Ho-Tep - Had to travel to NYC to catch this one, but it was worth the 5 hour drive and the 40 minute parking hunt. Wow! Made on the cheap with only two real name actors (Bruce Campbell and Ossie Davis), this film tells us of two elderly men in an East Texas retirement home. Once claims to be Elvis (he traded places with an impersonator to escape the pressures of fame), the other President John F. Kennedy (the CIA dyed him black so no one would believe his death was faked). Strange things start to happen, and these two find it's because a mummy is devouring the souls of the home's residents, and so it's up to them to save the day. Despite the ludicrous set-up and a bit of R-rated material (particularly involving Elvis's physical condition), this is a film done with surprising gentleness and respect for its two main characters, filmed as if everything they believe is true... even if it probably isn't. The original short story by Joe R. Lansdale (which could be found here if it wasn't out of print) is followed with unusual loyalty, and the low-end production values don't get in the way at all. This is a film far better than it has any right to be, and deserves better distribution than it has gotten. Go to it if you have the chance!

Eddie Izzard Circle (DVD/CD) - Eddie's 2000 tour, which I saw in Boston, has been released in both video and audio formats. Both are the same NYC show, and the supplements on the DVD reveal that it was a problem-plagued night, with severe sound issues. Perhaps that is why the audience is a bit removed and Eddie's flow a bit jumpier than usual. Still, some of the material is quite good (God explaining the origins of the dinosaurs, Darth Vader ordering lunch in the Death Star canteen), and even the weaker bits are still regularly laugh-worthy.

Eddie Izzard Sexxie (NYC) - Now this was much more Eddie, in my opinion. The venue (City Center) is large, but Jeanne and I had seats in the front row of the top balcony, so once we got over the vertigo, we had a great view. Eddie gave us an evening with a wide range of material, moving from how much fun it can be to have breasts to the aspirations of ditch-dwellers, veering through the Trojan War and the discovery of fire, letting us know how hard it can be to travel with a passport identifying you as being from Yemen in the post-911 world, and asking just what it was that happened on November 9th anyway. That he could get away with 911 jokes (albeit fairly mild ones) in NYC shows how well he can read and capture an audience. He didn't get much into the history and religion material that filled Dress to Kill and Circle, though the same sensibility filled this show. I'm looking forward to seeing how different it will be in Boston on 10/25...

Alias (Season One DVD set) - I didn't watch this show originally, except for the two part Quentin Tarantino guest appearance about halfway through this season, but I kept hearing good things about it. And those things were VERY much deserved. This is quite a show, with some very nice action spy style missions (particularly for a TV budget) and some even better behind-the-scenes cross and double-cross goings-on. It's a dense show, with lots of complicated backstory, but it's worth the time and the DVD sets (the 2nd season comes out on December) make catching up quite possible.

Neverwhere (BBC TV, DVD set) - Gaiman wrote it, and as with almost everything he has done, I loved the book, which was written after this series was made. Low BBC production values fail to quite manage the wonder of this series, which imagines a fantastic world running in parallel to the London Underground and peopled with beings who take their name from the stops (from the Black Friars to the Angel Islington). The production is quite well done for its obvious budget and time constraints, and the strength and creativity of the story manage through. Highly recommended.

Two Plays for Voices (CD) - Gaiman translates two of his short stories to audio plays, the Sci Fi channel and Seeing Ear Theater get Bebe Neuwirth and Brian Dennehy to star, and the result is an astonishing two hours. Snow Glass Apples gives us a perspective on a familiar tale Walt Disney would not approve of. Murder Mysteries offers us the tale of the first murder investigation. Both are imaginative, bold, and creative. Both are performed and produced beautifully. And aren't I lucky to have a two hour drive that I make quite regularly?

Monstrous Regiment - The newest Discworld book from Terry Pratchett, and still going on quite strong. Well, perhaps not as strongly as the last few (The Wee Free Men, Night Watch and The Last Hero were all spectacularly good), but still very enjoyable. We follow Polly, a strong-willed and clever girl who decides she needs to join the army in order to find and rescue her brother. So, she cuts her hair, tries to manage walking and spitting properly, and gets some critical advice on using socks to create the necessary illusion. From there, it's on to join a unit made up of the last few folk left to recruit as her land struggles with admitting the war is lost. Not a good first book, as it features many other Discworld characters (from The Truth and the numerous Guards books) and many jokes that work only because they were set up in previous books. But certainly not a dud, and some very interesting new ideas to keep the Discworld fresh, including a god who's gotten so old and faded that his commandments are starting to read like crank letters to the local paper.

Quicksilver - The first book of Neil Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, which threatens to be 3000 pages when it's all done. This book is nearly 1000 on its own, but reads along at a brisk pace and keeps you wanting more. Connected more than a little to the spectacular Cryptonomicon, this book is set (mostly) in the mid to late 1600s and deals with the scientific, social, and political revolutions of that era, as observed by the Waterhouses and Shaftoes of this earlier era. Newton and Liebniz create calculus while we watch (and, as he managed to make modular arithmatic and cryptanalysis approachable in Cryptonomicon, Stephenson manages to summarize the essential nature and usefulness of this discovery so anyone can follow it), the crowns of Europe strugle for dominance while we watch, and more than a few surprises are slipped in. There are a few anacronisms (some quite humorous, others annoying), a few odd affectations (particularly in spelling certain words... why fancied should be phant'sied while other words that have changed since the 17th century are unaffected I don't know... and I don't think ninnyhammer was ever spelled "ninehammer"), and a very incomplete tale... But I'm very much looking forward to the next ~1000 pages (The Confusion) come April!

Illium - Another opening chapter that left me hanging. Dan Simmons is back to his science fiction roots after a period writing crime fiction, and Illium is as dense and intreguing as Hyperion, plus adds tons of Trojan War material. I'm a real sucker for Homeric material (far moreso than I am a fan of the Caucer and Yates material that inspired Hyperion), and this is as good a work with that source as I've seen, keeping me happy even where it tries to be revisionist. Take a re-staged Trojan War being watched by nanotechnology-empowered "gods", add a post-technological Eloi-like population left behind on Earth, mix in two literature-obsessed robots designed to explore Jovian space, and sprinkle with inexplicable (at least so far) references to Shakespear's The Tempest, mix together in frequently unexpected ways and add a cliffhanger that promises even cooler stuff to come and you've got Illium. I expect more than a year until it picks up again with Olympos, and I'm not going to manage it well.

Yeah... I've kept busy.

Posted by ghoul at 03:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 08, 2003

Very Enjoyable Puzzle Game

Thanks to ***Dave for linking to this very slick and entertaining puzzle game.

I couldn't stop playing last night long enough to put up a link.

UPDATE: Bulletproofbaby.com is rearranging itself, but the game can still be found here.

Posted by ghoul at 07:32 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 04, 2003

Quick Movie Review: Once Upon A Time In Mexico

Odds are, if you plan to see this you already have, so this probably comes too late...

But despite being a fan of action movies in general and the first two films of this loose trilogy in particular, I found this one to be a disapointment. Oh, the action scenes are nicely imagined (though too many are edited until their flow vanishes); Johnny Depp follows up his Cap'n Jack Sparrow from early this summer with a sharp performance as CIA Agent Sands, a man of rather distinctly unique methods; and the look is quite good (particularly knowing that it was filmed on video).

But the story is incoherent. Too many characters crowd the story, many of whom serve no apparent purpose except to crowd the story. Characters change sides before we even figure out what side they were on, and long before we care. Major set pieces exist just for themselves, advancing the plot not one tiny bit. While I'm pretty sure I know what happened, I'm quite sure I don't understand what half the characters were trying to do.

I've made more sense out of Hong Kong action movies watched in Cantonese without subtitles (and no, I don't speak a word of Cantonese).

It's fun to watch, and the action scenes are well worth ripping off for Feng Shui play... But I like there to be just a bit more effort taken to tell me a story, not just wow me with visuals.

And there wasn't nearly enough Salma Hayek.

Posted by ghoul at 07:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

ACN 2003 Observations

It's been a couple of weeks, but the blog was out then, so here's my main observations from ACN 2003...

First off, thanks to all who attended! We weren't anywhere near our best numbers this year, but that didn't seem to dampen the energy or the quality. Great fun was had, I hope, by all!

My new game, Tall Tales of Pattern and Shadow, which combined Amber characters with the improvisational storytelling style of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen was quite a success, a game full of uncontrollable giggling and very odd storytelling twists. All recognition for that must go to my players, who were universally clever and creative, particularly in picking up loose threads left by earlier storytellers. Jenn gathered a few pages of quotes, but I fear many work far less well without a long set-up... In many ways, the whole game was set-up for quotes. This one will certainly be run again!

ShadowWorld brought with it many of its usual elements, including the still-odd feeling of finding Starchild, probably the least authoritarian PC I have, in charge of a field mission. Edwin tells me she's now racked up more missions than all but one or two other PC strike team leaders, yet I still find her feeling very alien to the role. A significant loose end was left from this mission that strikes at her personally, and I'm planning to recruit some other PCs for an online exploration of that, as time allows.

ShadowWorld WWII was a bit more familiar now, its distinctions from the mainline setting becoming more visible. For one, the distinct danger of being alone behind German lines makes subtlety far more critical than it is in standard mainline Circle missions. Also, there's a lot less "grey area" in the morality of fighting Nazis via extreme measures. Success was still a hard-won thing, but that's part of Edwin's strength as a GM.

My final gaming experience was enjoying an Amber/Nobilis cross that, while just an introductory, rather cursory pass on what could be done, still showed some of the distinct differences that come from these two separate approaches to diceless roleplay.

Between and after games, the conversation was, as always, wonderful! Thanks to all who hung out in the con suite and kept me up all night!

Dining in Toronto was, as always, a great experience. Fried baby octopus was enjoyed in the post-con dinner, a tradition that seems to be contagious.

I didn't manage to step back from hands-on management at the con itself, mostly because Ian was moved off to LA just before the con began and Craig was trapped with an unavoidable work project that kept him away for just less than half of the con slots.

All-in-all, a very successful con! Here's hoping that 2004 will see some restoration in our numbers and a bit better organization on the part of the staff (we all contributed to this year's rampant chaos and deadline-slippage)!

Posted by ghoul at 10:08 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 03, 2003

Well, Yeah... I'm In!

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Screenings

And more than one are close enough... I think I'll be joining Julia in RI...

Posted by ghoul at 03:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 01, 2003

October is Eddie Month

Having decided to take a brief break from actuarial exams (a year, or at most two), I think I can safely say the main events of this month focus on the very funny Eddie Izzard.

I have his new DVD, the CD is on the way, and, as mentioned earlier (when the October exam was still looming), I have tickets to two different performances of his current tour, in NYC and in Boston.

All of which will likely result in even more very cryptic quips that will cause some people to giggle uncontrollably and others to wonder what is wrong with the first bunch.

To which I say "spider gravy".

Posted by ghoul at 07:51 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack