Its been a while since my last review of any film or especially my second great love (after wargaming and well my wife, so make it third great love!) anime from the far east. So last night I perused my pile of unwatched anime and foreign language films on DVD and selected one. You might remember I picked up a pile in HMW back in February this year and only now are they reaching the top of the list to watch in the free time I have. I had planned on keeping Highlander the Search for Vengeance for watching with a friend but Friday night found me alone after being ditched by all and the sundry too; so mate less watching alone it was! So was it any good?
Well yes I enjoyed it but it has little resemblance to the seminal film of the 1980′s from which it takes its name. Its Japanese through and through and made by Yoshiaki Kawajiri of whom I am a big fan but its far from the best anime out there. The story is fairly thin concerning Colin MacLeod and his quest for vengeance against Roman general Marcus Octavius. Marcus kills Colin’s life love Moya in the 3rd century AD in Northern England and swearing revenge for this Colin is promptly killed by Marcus but lands up on Celtic holy ground where his immortal resurrection is witnessed by the ghost of a Celtic Seer, Amergan, who then accompanies Colin as he tracks Marcus through the next two millennia. Colin fails again and again to kill Marcus and the narrative ends up in post-apocalypse New York for a cyberpunk showdown. I will not spoil the ending.
The best things about this anime are firstly the voice acting which is spot on and secondly the flash back scenes to my beloved Scotland (it is Highlander after all) and to Rome and Japan during the Tokugawa period which are by far the best parts of the animation. Yoshiaki Kawajiri delivers on his Fist of the North Star style with intense action, over muscled characters, busty women (no gravity in this world!) and so on. It is far superior to the awful 1990′s Highlander TV series and as far as I know its canon. I must also mention the music which is really good and sets the scene moving from the ancient world to the near future with ease.
What lets the whole anime down is the repetition of cliché and sequences. In seems in places that the action set in the past was what the directors and animators wanted to do and the near future material was a ‘do we have to?’ bolt on later. Its also not classic stagecraft with dialogue that will make you cringe in your seat.
Overall if you are a fan of Highlander at all then seek this out and watch it. If you like sci-fi like I do then give it a try too. If you liked Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s other works then also see it. For a few pounds give it a try!
It seems not just ‘there can be only one’, there can be many…
A Great picture of Banks…nicked from Neil Gaiman’s blog!
I only learned of this sad news this morning after a rather dramatic Sunday which saw me having to rush my darling wife to Ayr Hospital’s emergency room after she fell and hit her head. A mild concussion was the result and she is fine now but it did give me rather a bad fright. Headlining newspapers here in Scotland today the news that renowned science fiction and other genre author Iain (M) Banks has died at only 59 from cancer of the gall bladder.
This is sad news indeed as it was partially this author and his book Use of Weapons which encouraged a teenage me to aspire to writing fiction in the first place. Also fifty nine is just too young in this day and age to die I lament all of the lost stories his great mind will now never produce. I also took great pride in my shared Scottish identity with this author as there are not many writers of Iain Bank’s standing in Scotland these days and I had and do hope to emulate him through my own titles. I do not have his flair for gothic humour but I we share other traits.
If you have not heard of this author’s work then I do suggest you have a look around (the given link will show you all his work) and try him out. His novels about ‘the Culture’ especially.
Its a sad but valid day today for its time for me to retire the Tabletop Wargamer blog that I had begun in an effort to show everyone my own personal efforts in wargaming at home away from work. I got a collection of Ion Age and Flintloque miniatures, I got a fine gaming buddy, I got terrain and even a spiffing table upon which to play…but… Time was not on my side.
As it happened the wargamers who provide me with a living were far more keen on me penning and testing rule systems and fiction than they were on reading about me playing! That is fine as I have to add that I have found it hard to get the time for focusing on my own efforts and I do not want my own efforts to compromise the happiness that my work brings others. Lastly exciting projects have developed that will need more of my time and involve blogging so you will all see me on another blog soon enough.
So Tabletop Wargamer is no more. Thanks to all those who contributed comments, emails and more to the fifteen thousand views it built up. If anyone wants any of the content from the blog, pictures, scenarios and such I have them but most are already on Barking Irons Online for you to read free. They are in the HOF Fire-Team and Flintloque pages on the whole.
‘I am numbers not a free man!’ To paraphrase ‘The Prisoner’.
Its been two weeks since I last made a post on this site. Have I been away, been abroad, been missing in action? No. Not really. I was here all the while but I was trying out a ‘working break’ that is an effort to cut my workload down while still being at work. How to do this you ask…well its not complex.
Essentially I wanted time to spend with my children and my wife as the weather here in Scotland finally and I do mean finally began to heat up and it meant time down the beach in Girvan and trips out and about. I work long hours and answer many hundreds of emails a week along with organising several projects and a dozen other tasks a day. On top of the wargaming company workload I have this website and a blog and the Notables Yahoo Group too along with other online profiles to update and interact with. To have a ‘working break’ I organised two weeks where I continued to do the office work but not the additional tasks such as this website. Call it working to rule instead of working on rules if you like.
In the last two weeks I have attended two large outdoor events, the Mauchline Holy Fair and the Girvan Lowland Gathering. I have had guests to stay, helped a long term and dear friend and her friend move house, written about ten thousand words of fiction, read four novels, watched half a dozen anime movies and listened to several new and older albums. I have spent quality time with the greatest lady in the world (my wife!) where she reminded me why she is still my number one after sixteen years together and I had the pleasure of learning that my middle son came third in his sports day at school and my eldest son came first at his (hence the image above).
What has been most interesting though is the concern from several wargamers and others for me. Why have I been so quiet, am I all right and so on. Let me say I am fine and what I have been working on will be happening later this summer. Thank you for your concern one and all!
Lastly I have decided that I can no longer keep up efforts to maintain my tabletop wargamer blog. So instead of putting it on hiatus I am going to end it totally. This will be in another post shortly.
I boldly went last Saturday night…to the cinema…to see Star Trek into Darkness. My recent trips to the cinema have been a sad, sad disappointment really. Poor equipment, over priced (very), lack luster films and a feeling of regret that I wasted thirty pounds and a rare evening off work on them. But not this time! Into Darkness has had mixed reviews which if you have not seen it you should NOT read. I avoided every ruddy advert, critic and everything else as I really wanted to see this movie and did not want anything spoiling it. So was it any good?
YES it was. I really enjoyed it. The plot was thin in places but hey for a blockbuster it was fine, the 3D effect actually WORKED (that is a first for me). It was superbly shot and rendered and the action sequences were very good. Star of the film no doubt was Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan, he was excellent as Sherlock and excellent again leaving the other actors way behind. But for me it was the last thirty minutes of the movie that made it superb and not for anything you would expect. I have always been a fan of Chris Foss the sci-fi artist and it seemed to me that the film lifted his view of the universe and plonked it down wholesale on the Earth of the future, cars, buildings, fire and rescue vehicles. From art to a moving reality. Brilliant.
Should you go and see it. If you want a good film for science fiction fans that is about more than the USS Enterprise then yes. A die hard Star Trek fan…not so sure.
I heard on the news today that UKIP leader Nigel Farage was rather brutally heckled in a pub in Edinburgh. As I said when I began the new ‘18.09.14‘ thread on my blog I would be posting up the occasional thing to do with Scotland and the referendum for independence as and when something came up. Well its been quiet but this little nugget got my interest today.
A short while ago UKIP seemingly astounded English voters as they took a significant share of the total vote in the local elections across England. While they did not get a great deal of seats they did establish themselves as a party to be interviewed, asked, taken seriously and so on. It was really only a matter of time before Mr Farage came to Scotland and ‘something’ happened to him. Reading into the news story on the BBC it seems that another protest group were on the scene at the same time. I will not comment on the actual events as I was not there and accurate information is not forthcoming on the BBC for the fine details but it is worth noting.
It is true that there is a tiny minority of people in Scotland who ‘hate’ the English, it is true that there are a tiny minority who also believe the world is flat, who will beat you to a bloody pulp for not supporting their favourite team of over paid ball dribblers and so on. My point is that I hope no one watching the BBC thinks all Scots are like this. You can find a small group of lunatics to support any cause you like if you turn over enough stones. Mr Farage appealing to the First Minister Alex Salmond to ‘root out hatred, watch out for those who will burn the Union Jack’ and so on. I looked up the interview from this morning on Good Morning Scotland where Mr Farage hung up mid interview..he did seem a little distressed. Comedy if not so serious.
Not much to do with the Referendum but if you have ten minutes have a read on the link supplied and watch the clips too.
Jason and the Argonauts Seventh Voyage of Sinbad and Clash of the Titans to name a few famous ones. All films made fantastic by the stop motion work of Ray Harryhausen who died peacefully yesterday.
Harryhausen was a legend among fantasy and science fiction movie fans and I see at least five of his films a year during festive or other holidays. In fact I know some of them off by heart. What makes it even more sad is that his good friend Ray Bradbury died not that long ago. An age really is ending. Its going to be CGI over substance all the more. Something akin to parts of the wargaming industry but that is not for now.
You Looking at me!
You can read a full obituary here and check out the clip above. Its old, its creaky but man it’s still awesome!
It was the annual Girvan Folk Festival at the weekend and by all accounts a good time was had all around. While I did not attend any of the two dozen or so events I do live in the very heart of the town of Girvan and this meant I was within earshot of most of the pubs and hotels which hosted the groups and bands playing their music and teaching others the skills of folk. This was the thirty ninth festival, tinged with a hint of sadness as the instigator of the festivals Bobby Robb died last year.
While it is no secret that Girvan has suffered in the current recession I was proud of the way that the town managed to bring in a couple of thousand visitors over a weekend and take good care of them. This despite the diminishing in facilities in the town (don’t get me started on politics!) and weather that was thankfully mild but dull and rainy. Listening to the music gave me free entertainment and some joy too. It is always good to hear people having fun (my neighbours got married at the weekend too) and while I got little sleep on Saturday night I lay awake with a smile on my face while the guitars played away the wee hours.
I have heard a rumour that some people complained about the charge for a weekend in secure parking and camping in the town. This charge being to turn away those not interested in the festival and for security, including a police presence, to keep families and others safe. I personally think that about 35.00GBP for a family of four for a weekend pitch during an event is perfectly fine but some did not. The security was needed after the activities of some ‘people’ (and I use the term loosely…cretins would be more accurate) last year and some property damage. There was no trouble this year that I am aware of.
If you have an interest in Folk Music check out the website for the festival and even if you don’t do it anyway as it is worth five minutes to see all the pictures.
Perhaps my schedule will allow me to attend some of the gigs next year for the big fortieth festival in 2014.
May Day is one of those days in the year when things seem more possible than not. What do I mean by this? Well simply put that on this day depending on what you believe its time to:
Smash the Capitalistic System
Go on Strike
Celebrate a Pagan God or two
Dance around a Maypole
Lick the dew from the morning grass
Run about kissing random people
While I may have done some of these things (not telling you!) it did put all me in the mind to suggest a ‘free postage’ weekend at Alternative Armies and 15mm.co.uk. Its a holiday weekend in the UK so I think across four days, Friday to Monday, it will do a lot of bored and itchy wargamers good to know they can cash in on my ‘urge to splurge’. It will be interesting to see the results.
As for the image in this posting, that is what will be on the two websites and associated email campaigns too. I knocked it up…like it? I am no artist, not like Mr Jackson or Mr Croes but I like it plenty. Its like me…blunt! :-)
As I noted in my Salute 2013 posting last week upon my return to Girvan I managed to buy some furniture which I had been after for some time. While none of you will be interested in the three piece suite or such you might well be keen on the above. A lovely and believe me bloody strong and heavy table. Its not quite six feet by four but it is ideal for office work and for wargaming too. Sitting atop its four solid wood legs is a solid wood top, weighing in at over 75kgs for the whole piece.
I know its a little egotistical to have put all of my own writing and published titles on the table along with my Flintloque miniatures but hey, its my table after all. It will see a lot of use in times to come and it has a lot of potential for underside storage too which I think is vital for wargaming terrain and all the other needed materials therein. The room I work in is nearing its capacity for storage of books and other materials. ’Table of Babel’ well a play on words but also with a more serious intent…who knows just what gaming will be created or taking place on its solid surface. The peoples of a thousands worlds and dimensions many, creatures and robots, Dragons and Orcs.
Also before I am asked, and I will be asked, what price such a table fit for the gods of gaming? Well….let’s say a copy of Slaughterloo is the same price. Bargain!
I am the Creative Manager of Alternative Armies and its sister brand 15mm.co.uk. While my role involves many tasks its primary one is the creation of new titles in the Wargame hobby market and the development of existing titles. Having been doing this for ten years I like to think that I have managed this rather well....
Read all about what I have been doing recently from my postings.