A new DVD release arrived on the door mat last week and with the Standard Grade exams over and my own work schedule having a gap in it my eldest son and I sat down to watch Batman Ninja. An eagerly anticipated anime title which I had pre-ordered. I had avoided reviews and opinions upon it. We put it on and watched…
“Batman and a cast of villains including The Joker are transported back in time to medieval Japan in this ground-breaking anime feature.”
Our own feelings upon it were that the animation was superb with backdrops much like paintings from the Edo period (Japanese history is one of my passions) and that the action sequences were very well done. The voice work was fine but the Batman character fell short of his regular brooding menace. The plot was thin but rather than use this as a negative it was actually for a reason in my opinion.
The anime was made upon of scenes. Each scene focused upon giving homage to a type of anime style and setting. Across the span of play we had ninja films, Kurosawa tribute, water colour tragedy, giant mecha fight and more. The plot simply acts to move the scenes forward.
The film can come off as strange and oddly paced if you do not have a grounding in the culture that is comes from. It is a Japanese film made for that audience and it shows in the dialogue and seemingly odd choices by characters. Overall we enjoyed it and if you want something that’s a bit different from the usual DC animated stories here’s an answer for you.
I have just finished reading 12 Rules for Life An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson. It was a truly excellent book and I also listened to it on Audible too told by the author himself. A professional clinical psychologist who has taken great time and great effort to try to explain the world and a way to live within it. It is a valuable book which I think anyone would benefit from listening to. That said the sheer hate he is subjected to by people who frankly strike me as a bit insane. ‘Hate Speech’ they call it. Well sadly for them the contents of this book are rational, incisive, provable and backed by experience and history. I could find no fault with it. It resonated with me.
If you wish to know more please go to Google and look for reviews of this book and you will see what I mean (Financial Times, Guardian etc). History will repeat itself if we are not careful. Live a good life, do good, gain in experience, be grateful, value free speech, respect the Christian tradition, raise a family well and take care of your children and parents. It is a great book and I challenge anyone to take the notion that what it says is wrong based only on a narrow ideological basis. Nihilism is a dangerous thing and must be combated just like the attempt to destroy the very foundations of the civilisation which has brought life and prosperity to all us poor apes.
Go HERE for the penguin books page on this title. It will be the best money you will spend this year.
Having gotten myself an Audible account and some credits I took a gander at the vast number of audio books in the purchasable range carried on the website. This one caught my eye. Not just as it’s title is the same as one of my good lady’s favourite ever movies but also as I was a fan of Clive Sinclair in the 1980’s…not that I knew his face or name…but I did have a ‘Speccy 48k’ and boy did I love it! So what is Tom Lean’s book about?
How did computers invade the homes and cultural life of 1980s Britain?
Remember the ZX Spectrum? Ever have a go at programming with its stretchy rubber keys? How about the BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, or Commodore 64? Did you marvel at the immense galaxies of Elite, master digital kung-fu in Way of the Exploding Fist or lose yourself in the surreal caverns of Manic Miner? For anyone who was a kid in the 1980s, these iconic computer brands are the stuff of legend. In Electronic Dreams, Tom Lean tells the story of how computers invaded British homes for the first time, as people set aside their worries of electronic brains and Big Brother and embraced the wonder-technology of the 1980s.
This book charts the history of the rise and fall of the home computer, the family of futuristic and quirky machines that took computing from the realm of science and science fiction to being a user-friendly domestic technology. It is a tale of unexpected consequences, when the machines that parents bought to help their kids with homework ended up giving birth to the video games industry, and of unrealised ambitions, like the ahead-of-its-time Prestel network that first put the British home online but failed to change the world.
Ultimately, it’s the story of the people who made the boom happen, the inventors and entrepreneurs like Clive Sinclair and Alan Sugar seeking new markets, bedroom programmers and computer hackers, and the millions of everyday folk who bought in to the electronic dream and let the computer into their lives.
I enjoyed the book and it expanded my knowledge greatly about the subject of micro computers but also of the social aspects of 1980’s Britain. If you enjoyed Elite or Jet Set Willy or any of the other ground breaking computer titles of the era then you will enjoy this book. Especially fascinating was the end of the book where the author lays out how the Raspberry Pi came into being and the Sinclair Vega too. The world turns and turns again. If anything Britain is more exciting now for computers and gaming in that manner than it was in the golden 1980’s. Of course real gaming uses miniatures and books but every now and again I enjoy a game of Joust just like the next man in his late 30’s!
If you are at all interested in the subject I recommend this book and if you have some time also the excellent BBC documentary film of a few years back ‘Micromen’ which tells part of the story in a grand way.
I began a test today with a wargame rule system I wrote back in 2005 and then re-issued in 2010 before now in September 2016 turning into a digital download. The system is DarkeStorme and it is one of my earliest stand alone titles. I am actually rather proud of it really since it has held up well. Set on the fictional world of Valon where the mighty rule system Flintloque takes place but in an earlier age of sword and sorcery it was my idea to create a ‘third age’ to replace the lack lustre earlier system ‘Dresda’ which was in a world before Flintloque. DarkeStorme focuses on warbands of a dozen or so miniatures of any fantasy race and has full rules for monsters, magic and more as well as progression and RPG elements. A lot packed into sixty pages….mainly due to this being written before I had a lot of parenting responsibilities which makes working life a tad more complex. I am not joking!
The test is to find out if the customer base of Alternative Armies wishes to purchase paid for PDF’s (digital books) as well as print books. DarkeStorme has sold over a thousand copies in its time thus far in print so it is an ideal place to try out this test. The purchase is made straight from the website using the existing shopping cart and the links are delivered on screen to download from there. Thus far we have sold a half dozen or so e-copies and it is a good start. You can visit the page HERE and read the official blog post HERE.
How do I feel about my work, often running to hundreds of hours per title, being distributed in this fashion? If you had asked me a few years ago I would have refused straight off since I have watched people being ‘pirated’ our of existence by file sharing networks in the gaming industry. That and the customers simply did not ask for PDF’s in anything but ‘bolt on’ small items and preferred printed books with their miniatures. Now though the world has turned and customers are asking for both particularly with The Ion Age title Patrol Angis. So I will wait and see what happens. My feeling is that we will be putting out more titles as digital downloads including the big books such as War in Catalucia for Flintloque. Heck, it may even result in me penning original works for digital download only. The future will tell.
This week the United Kingdom makes one of the biggest choices it will ever make by public vote. To leave the European Union or to remain in the European Union. On Thursday 23rd June 2016 voters will turn out and decide with a result which will decide the future of the nation. It has been a constant for me for months now and after all the ‘fun’ of the Scottish referendum of 2014 which lasted many months I am frankly tired of it all.
This short posting on my own personal blog is not exhaustive by any means and it is not meant to be either. The whole matter is so complex that it is virtually impossible for any mere mortal (believe me I have watched and read so much it is a joke that any normal person would subject themselves to such dry torture) to make an informed choice as to how to vote. What I know for certain is that you have to choose if you wish Westminster to be sovereign in law making, if you wish to have politicians who are accountable to be voted out if you do not like them, if you believe fundamentally that diversity is vital, if you think political expansion over all other concerns is the goal and so on. In the end do you side with a corrupt but expansive market or with a smaller corrupt but accountable one. Certainly no one in power who has a vested interest in remaining in the EU gives a toss about normal people; that has been plain to see. I think the EU has been a bain upon the normal poorer people of Britain (and other member nations) who have born the brunt of its policies in the last twenty years in many areas while the wealthier have reaped the benefits. If you are liberal and see it as all and only good then you see only half of it; which is your choice. There is room enough for all argument in a future too vague and wide to see properly. I think the Euro zone will collapse and that Turkey is a mistake which will be made by the EU. No more political or economic integration. Enough. This island is full and diverse enough. We have enough unemployed of our own and the world is not our problem. If we remain the UK will regret it…in ways too horrid to list here. Sad I had to say that but it is what I think will happen based on investigation.
For me issues of sovereignty are paramount and that is how I came down during the 2014 referendum (I voted to stay in the UK if you are interested). A political choice for me and on that basis alone I will vote Leave with my one ballot paper. I think to be able to decide things on our own is better. Better for me, for my children and better for Britain. I respect your choice if you respect mine. Don’t call me racist or xenophobic. I am not and it makes me sad you might think that for speaking my refined opinion which I am entitled to. I give to charity and I have friends all over the world. Ask anyone who knows me I am a great guy and very helpful to those who need it. It is my choice and I have made it based on months of thinking and reading. The last item here and longest to finish but well worth it to understand macro power structures like the EU…
So what will happen? I will make my prediction so that I can point back to it rightly or wrongly after the 23rd what I thought would occur openly. I think that this week the UK will vote to Leave and it will be down mainly to the bulk of the silent population being fearful of immigration and that the Westminster village has once more, as it did with the last general election, totally failed to read the mood of the nation correctly. Was I right?
Two points to finish on before I sign off. Another prediction firstly that on November 8th 2016 in the American presidential election that Donald Trump will win. He is coming to Turnberry up the road from here in Girvan to open his golf resort personally on Wednesday 22nd June and from what I know has done a lot of good for the people here in terms of jobs and pride. If Clinton wins then America is tragically racing for the cliff edge. Secondly a very sad admittance that all the politics are actually a side show to something much larger and more sinister and that is the world now. There are structural challenges in population shifts, wealth going to the 1%, climate change, religious radicalism and so on which threaten us all regardless of our geographical location….fun eh.
I prefer wargaming and writing books so normal service resumed in the next post here. I just had to make my statement.
“At the going down of the light and in the morning we shall remember them….”
It is one hundred years since the beginning of World War One and today that is most salient with me as it is Remembrance Sunday. Silence to remember those who fell in all the conflicts from that day to this in wars all over the world. I have done my part with fund raising and donating for the correct Poppies that came my way in the street from hands both young and old. Remember them, we owe them that much.
This day holds significance for me as I make my living from ‘war’. Not real war. But the kind of pretend conflict where when the sun sets everyone stands up and returns home. This life of mine is only possible in part due to the sacrifices made by soldiers of days now long gone and more recent. They ensured our freedom. You can disagree with the motives of war of the goals of war but for the men who leave and never return there should only ever be respect. So let this life of pretend war of mine bring excitement and joy to thousands across the world but for today let it be tempered with the horrid reality of battle.
I have now lived in the town of Girvan, South Ayrshire, Scotland for ten years exactly. This anniversary kind of crept up on me really since I had kind of forgotten how long I had been here but since I was reminded of it by my lovely wife I decided a short blog post was in order to celebrate. So ten years. What does that mean to me?
I came to Girvan knowing nothing of it. Not even a name on a map. A total unknown. I came with no expectations of the place more than the purchase of a place to live. In the time that has passed since then the town has changed and I have changed and do you know what we have both had problems and triumphs and I feel that we fit together well. The town is friendly and the people hardy and industrious too. Crime has not touched me and the summers have warmed me and the skies and seas nourished my children. To know the names of many people you pass in the street is wonderful and to have the chance to assist the community is great too.
My work keeps to tied to a computer screen almost all the time and I have done well and achieved much in the environment that this little town has given me. I am happy here. I have brought people here from the rest of the UK and Europe as well as North America and further afield as guests and they have all enjoyed their time in Girvan. Admittedly those who came in the summer enjoyed it more!
I will not get into politics or problems as this post is about my ten years a resident and I am sure some people reading this will disagree with them and point out issues. Issues like the Swimming Pool and empty shop units for example but those are by the side for me. All places have issues and I much prefer being here rather than in any city. Eyes bright and cheeks rosy.
So ten years in Girvan…here is to ten more years from this man who was once a son of ‘Maither Glasgow’.
I was going to do a blog post this evening about how the build of the mighty new Alternative Armies website is now complete and that preparation to move over to the new site will begin soon. I was going to do a blog post about it being only 100 Days until Scotland must choose to be in this union or become an independent nation once more. I was going to do a blog post about the great success of the latest Ion Age early supporter offer or about the great reception to the re-mastered Sabre Jet Flyer for Laserburn or even about the massive efforts we have been going to for project Darkhelm. But no. I little piece of my world died this afternoon for my comedy hero of my entire remembered life is dead. Rest in Peace Rik Mayall aged only 56.
Its not a big tribute. Its just what I feel. On the odd occasion where it has gotten a little dark for me in life the comedy programme of Rik kept me going. I know literally all the lines of Bottom dialogue off by heart. I own four copies of Guest House Paradiso in an effort to support him. I have seen him live on tour. I own all the Young Ones, all of The New Statesmen, the movie Drop Dead Fred and even the little known Filthy Rich and Catflap and the Dangerous Brothers. Since the 1980’s and boyhood I have adored Rik Mayall. Hell in the last blog post I put up there was a still of Ade Edmondson leading it, that is how much its on my mind most weeks. I had hoped for another series of Bottom, of another Tour. Really anything but no chance of that now.
I do not yet know what happened to Rik but it must have been quick and that is something. Time will tell. My thoughts are with his wife and three children. Enjoy these video links:
No more work for me today. Email will have to wait this evening and instead its going to be a DVD and a few beers. Anarchic comedy one last time before it becomes legend.
The new Alternative Armies website build is progressing well and its on track. Functionality will be greatly improved and options to buy single miniatures from all codes will be there too. All in all its a lot of work but I am enjoying it. Another update in a week or so. What I have noticed is that the deep architecture of Flintloque does indeed go back to the middle of the 1990’s and it brings back a lot of memories of that time when I used to just play the game rather than be in charge of it. Actually Flintloque has been ‘GBS’ longer now that it was overseen by anyone else.
As an aside latest news today makes me rhyme the title of this little blog post once more (Boak being the good Scots work for being sick). The news is HERE. Simply sickening, simply wrong. Simply understandable from people like that and any child will sing and say anything when you point a gun at them. The power of conversion eh. Enough said.
There will not be many posts on this blog for a while. I am currently involved in several big projects the main one of which for now is the building of the new all singing and all dancing Alternative Armies website. This is a big task and I am seeing to it personally as it involves a lot of thinking and checking and product knowledge and no one knows the fictional worlds of the website like I do. So off the back of a rather unpleasant encounter I had a while back in Ayrshire (no names as I avoid to give offence when the same was not extended to me) while out with my children I give you ‘Fictioning while Website building’.
This unpleasant encounter I will not go into details of but sufficient to say like many things in the world that creates hate it was about a book. Not taking no for an answer I was forced to verbally bludgeon a fellow that would not quit assailing me about my own lack of belief in his brand of ancient nonsense. Scared children and raised blood pressure later it set me thinking. I create fiction for a living, I create worlds and characters and motivations and desires. I place them in books and hope to profit by them. Much like the subject of the above video which puts what I know from my own reading eloquently and better than I can about a book that fills the minds of men with other fiction. Enjoy and more over…think.
More on the Alternative Armies website and other projects as they come nearer fruition.