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Topics - TordelBack

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News / Warlord Stront game!
« on: 14 December, 2016, 03:50:45 PM »
From the main site: https://www.2000adonline.com/post/1183.

Warlord do some lovely professional minis stuff.  I've been playing with their Napoleonic Black Powder rules this year and they are user-friendly and very relaxed.  Excited to see how this turns out. 

Off Topic / I see robots. I see big robots.
« on: 25 November, 2016, 02:15:48 PM »
So the One Big Thing on the Christmas agenda for Tordeltowers is robots, or more precisely, robotics kits.  Any of you brainy types know anything about starter robotics kits for a 10 year old?

Of relevance, the Boy has done basic Arduino IDE programming (a very cut-down form of C+) and simple circuit wiring, some more advanced Scratch games stuff (plus the usual HTML, CSS and a whiff of Java, but no Python yet).  Current Coderdojo project is programming Christmas light sequences with punch cards!

Because this is Educational and It Will Help With His Homework (and he's stuck enthusiastically at Coderdojo for a year now, and thus this is not a mere whim) I understand that Santa is prepared to push the sleigh out on this one way, way further than usual.

The kits I'm favouring currently are the Makeblock Starter Robot and the robot-arm add-on for same, versus their Ultimate 10-in-1 Robot kit, which with free shipping and Black Friday discounts works out about €50 more, but seems a lot more complicated.

Against this is Lego Mindstorms EV3, which Tordelback himself has craved like techno-heroin since first he clapped eyes on its earliest iterations, but which he knows the the Boy isn't so keen on, having developed an irrational belief that Lego is just a bit babyish (oh the folly of self-conscious youth!), and that Real Robots such as you might wish to be seen in public with involve metal and bolts and such. 

For myself, I know that having access to a mound of existing Lego harvested from 3 generations of this family will make a big difference to future expansion, and Starwarsification of projects.  It is however another €50 more expensive again (at least), may lead to initial disappointment, and lacks the native Scratch and Arduino Bluetooth interfaces offered by MakeBlock in favour of some in-house tablet-based drag-and-drop, and an option for some C on a computer.

Thoughts, oh cybernetic-hivemind?

Thanks to a lucky glance at the 'in' pile of my favourite secondhand book shop and a wee bit of negotiating, I managed to get all three Books of Invasion volumes for €20.  I've been looking for these at a decent price since I finished Lord of Beasts, and had almost resigned myself to wait for a distant omnibus reprint, but joy!  I haven't read these stories since they first ran (or the Christmas re-read of their respective years at least), and I had mixed memories of them: a salmon-leap in quality from the dismal The Secret Commonwealth, versus still-lingering distaste with the fridging of Niamh, and its manner.

I'm still working my way through them (there's a lot of pages!), and so far my feelings remaining mixed, but I thought I might jot down my reactions here as I go rather than try and fail to do it all at once.

By way of preamble, I am of course a massive fan of Sláine, it was the 2000AD strip of my teens and probably still is, and of Pat Mills, who along with counterpoint and sometime counterpart Wagner, essentially is 2000AD for me: a powerhouse of characters, ideas, imagery, factoid-of-the-week, bad puns and bald-faced socio-political tubthumping. 

However, both Sláine and Mills drive me up the flipping wall at times, for reasons that will be exposed in excruciating detail as we go on.

Anyway, first impressions (Take 2):

These books look magnificent.  Cover to cover, these are lavish, intricate, vibrant, dense, intriguing volumes.  I'm sure it's intentional, but the resemblance to a computer-age quasi-fumetti Book of Kells really is striking, for all that Langley largely eschews the kind of obvious homage to scrollwork and page layout that other artists have attempted.  Instead, it's the insane, almost irrational level of detail, of every corner of every frame being packed with ever-smaller elements, of the reader being unable to look at a single page without wondering just how ridiculously long it took to produce.  Even the cover galleries at the back form a series of gorgeous, luscious character portraits. 

And then, just to spoil the whole marvelous hypnotic effect, suddenly there's Clint's Lemmy-lookalike mate gurning out at me, or an action scene where any attempt to convey movement has been handed over to a bad PS blur effect.  Why Clint, whyyyy?

A question I'll be asking a lot.

Next:  Book I: Moloch.

Film & TV / IZombie
« on: 25 January, 2016, 10:45:22 PM »
Anyone watching this? Two episodes in and I think it's actually rather fun in an Angel sort of way. High concept exposition is remarkably, almost shockingly, brisk, dialogue is occasionally sharp and Rose McIver and Malcolm Goodwin are a good pairing as 'Cagney and Pasty'. I could handle a little less introspective musing VO, but there's still a lot to like, not least Mike Allred's credit sequence.

I read the comic for a while and mildly enjoyed that too, and there seems to be quite a bit of divergence (although I like 'Gewn's punnish new moniker: Liv Moore). That said, elements are introduced so rapidly that it may get round to the wider supernatural tone later.

Website and Forum / Chaaaange, horrible chaaaaange...
« on: 19 October, 2015, 03:04:48 PM »
...only I can't work out if anything has actually changed.

Off Topic / Sprogs on YouTube
« on: 30 July, 2015, 06:47:00 PM »
Bit of advice sought from other caregiver units here.

My eldest lad is 9, and seems to be under continual pressure from his mates to film/appear in YouTube videos. 'Everyone does it', we are told - and indeed several of his friends have unrestricted smartphones. I've put a blanket ban on it (seeing as you can't even have an account until 13, and that's with parental permission).  The boy is playing ball (for now), but he's always loved the Star Wars Lego homemade animations and various Minecraft channels, and I'm starting to feel I'm making him into an outsider. I've tried redirecting his energies into making animations and games in Scratch, but the urge to film his mates falling off skateboards is stronger.

 I just see permanent records of childish stupidity and an open door into the depressive horrors of seeking validation from the cesspit of YouTube commenters and their foul hateful utterances. I know I can't shield him from the internet forever, but he's only 9, FFS!

Am I being a total Conservative Dad spoilsport from a bygone age? What have other parental units here done?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Off Topic / Pokemon, ochón ochón.
« on: 17 October, 2014, 08:41:25 PM »
Well, it finally arrived, that day every father dreads.  My son has started hanging around with those kids - you know the ones, furtive, pallid, odd rectangular shapes concealed in their trackie pockets.  I mean, the soft version is one thing, the odd lost weekend spent alone in his bedroom, one ball after another, always wanting more.  But now the virtual isn't enough: he wants the hard gear.  And that means money.

So, does anyone here know about Pokemon cards?  He picked up a themed Pangoro (fight/dark) deck going cheap in the toy shop, and we've split that deck 30/30 for a few learning games, but obviously that doesn't really work when we're both playing half a theme.  So tomorrow, weather permitting, we're going looking for enough cards to have a real game.  What should we go for, assuming we want to play each other at home out of the one pool, and then he wants to play his mates at school?  Are there any particular starter sets, should we buy another themed deck, or just a handful of random boosters?  Are there any incompatibilities?

And one last question: why me?

Help! / Tha's the matter wi' Glesga, some bampot's blown in doon...
« on: 05 October, 2014, 05:26:37 PM »
As I know far more of you than is reasonable are afflicted with some form of Scottishness, and some of those with the Glasgow variant of the condition, I have a request to make of your local -cough- wisdom.  I have a good friend who has just landed a multi-year contract in Glasgow, and is looking for somewhere to lay his head for a few months while he finds his bearings. So far he's finding online and employer resources... uncooperative.  Ideally a house-share with non-students, fairly accessible/transport linked to the Gilmourhill campus of the U of G, and equally ideally somewhere he isn't going to get beaten up too often for being Irish (I added that last bit).

In the unlikely event that anyone knows of such a paradise, that's great please let me know, but more practically does anyone have any advice about likely areas, local accommodation resources etc.?  As I say, this is for a good mate who has been a long time looking for a decent job, so I'm trying to assist as best I can.  Many thanks!

Off Topic / Best tiff ever
« on: 08 May, 2014, 07:48:23 AM »
Lactose-based iPod repairs, or The Days of Thin Ice, you decide.

Off Topic / CBR Forums Purge
« on: 01 May, 2014, 01:00:35 PM »
CBR earning a great deal of respect from me both for this move, and for the tone of the apology:


Good job everyone here is a fine upstanding citizen, eh?

The estimable Padraig O Mealoid brings us these words of wisdom and art from the only facial-hair wearer that rivals Chris Hadfield in my unnatural affections:  http://slovobooks.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/last-alan-moore-interview/

I'll stand by my man this time. 

If I had gone on to say, as I have on other occasions, that modern superheroes seem to mainly function as cowardice compensators for a number of their conflict-averse creators and readers, or that the origin of capes and masks as ubiquitous superhero accessories can be deduced from a close viewing of D.W. Griffiths’ Birth of a Nation, then I hate to think what I might have been accused of.

(Not representative of the theme of the piece, just one more example of crystalised wit and precision prose).

Moore should be cloned, biochipped, frozen or transcribed into a Tron-like state so that his towering articulate brilliance is available to smack down future eras.

Off Topic / Christmas salutations
« on: 25 December, 2013, 12:04:30 AM »
A Mighty Thargmas to you all!  Hope boarders and their families have the best day possible, and many thanks to all for your pseudo-company over the past year: it's been helpful and enjoyable  Now if I can only get this last bit of sanding and painting done and get some sleep before the Oh Jovus O'Clock wakeup stampede...

Film & TV / Thargmas Film Recommendations 2013
« on: 08 December, 2013, 09:36:22 AM »
I love Christmas, me, but I also love distracting the kids from me and me from the kids.  Save me the trouble of thinking for myself, recommend me your favourite Christmas movies, in two categories:  kid-friendly and kid-unfriendly.  Obviously I include films that occur at Christmas in this (Die Hard, Home Alone, Gremlins etc.) in addition to ones that have Christmas as a core subject.

My ultimate Christmas movie remains Bad Santa, a film that combines the worst and best of humanity and the season in a simple film full of career-best flinch-inducing performances, topped off with a great soundtrack and a wonderfully happy ending.  But I'm not sharing that one with the kids.

In the family-friendly category it's Nightmare Before Christmas (sorry Steev) and Muppet Christmas Carol.  I also have a huge soft-spot for the original Miracle on 34th Street

Convince me to broaden my horizons.

Classifieds / WANTED in Ireland: Progs 1750-1763
« on: 07 October, 2013, 04:39:23 PM »
Having completed a fantastically enjoyable re-read up to the point where I was briefly forced to drop the Prog in late 2011, I've come to the conclusion that I can't live without these 14 missing weeks.  I've contemplated digital fills, but it just wouldn't be the same.

Given the ever-increasing horrors of international postage I'm really only looking to source them somewhere on the island of Ireland, where we could either arrange delivery or collection.  I'll try to stretch to a fair price.

Alternatively if anyone knows of shops or market stalls that have recentish Progs in abundance, please let me know!

General / A Damnation Station primer: Cho-ra for the memories...
« on: 20 September, 2013, 04:16:54 PM »
It's catch-up time again. 

Going back to the progstash to re-read Damnation Station proved disastrous.  It ran alongside Talented Mayor Ambrose, Mega-City Justice, Ichabod Azrael, Heroes be Damned, Zombo 2, Savage, Life and Death of Johnny Alpha... you get the picture.  Almost impossible to dip in to that lot for just one story, even one as good as this, so it took longer than it should have to write this. 

So, apologies for the delay, apologies for the length, and TOTAL SPOILERS AHOY, so for goodness' sake read the progs instead if you can get hold of 'em: it's a brilliant, brilliant series on every level.  If you can't be arsed reading my clumsy ramblings, just skip ahead to the TL;DR paragraph at the end.

Preamble thing:
In an interview published in Prog 1692 at the end of the 2010 run, Al Ewing reveals that his original pitch was 'Foreign Legion in space' with a European flavour, and a large cast who might die at any minute, inspired by the Peter Gillis' classic Strikeforce Morituri.  He also observes that the issues of propaganda and the political use of immigrants and refugees are to the fore, making it more serious than his usual stuff.  Along with the Legion Commander's frequent use of French, the diverse aliens in the story all speak a kind of faux esperanto, which is fun to attempt to translate and gives a terrific texure to the whole thing.

Unusually for the 2000AD these days, the 14 episode run is made up of a series of stories of varying length, something we've been discussing vigorously elsewhere.  For the record, it works.
To the dark and empty skies. (Progs 1677-1680, Al Ewing, Simon B Davis and Ellie deVille)
Looking to escape a Hollywood blacklist, Brett Grayle, the handsome gay Jewish American star of the 'Blake Bang' movies, becomes the first celebrity to embark on a 2 year tour of duty with the Host Auxiliary Legion on Earth Station One, known to its inhabitants as 'Damnation Station'. 

The Legion is a volunteer force that serves the Hosts, the 'rightful owners of our galaxy since before humans existed' as the government-controlled media has it, a time worryingly stated as being 'more than 6,000 years' ago, who take humanity's help in resisting 'invaders', immigrants from other galaxies, in lieu of rent for their tenancy of Earth.

On arrival at ES1 Brett is greeted by admin officer June Akiwara, and Grand-Pere, the grey-bearded bloodshot-eyed commander who imparts the Legion's Code of loyalty, to be broken on pain of death.  Brett is horrifed when deputy squad leader Joe Nowhere reveals that his 'Comm team' posting is not in fact to a cushy Communications post – but rather to a seven-man Commando team. 

Commando Team Four is made up of a five-man unit of Grand-Pere, black balding goateed Joe Nowhere, gung-ho hispanic Tura Vasquez, bearded gun-nut Reymont and now Brett, with shaggy-haired hippy Jim Bradbury (medic) and pink-haired asian June Akiwara (admin) remaining in support on their shuttle.

As team commander, Grand-Pere meets with the Host Supervisor of ES1, a typically horrid SBD-drawn humanoid head with too many teeth, attached to huge bulbous organic mass of sacks and tubes suspended from the roof, to voice concerns about plans for his team's next mission. 

The Host explains that humans are guests in the Hosts' galaxy, which under their laws of hospitality means they have incurred the debt of chu-ro, which they must repay with cho-ra, fighting against those aliens who are not guests.  The debt cycle of chu-ro and cho-ra is what ensures humanity's staus as guests and thus their survival, and the Hosts' technological and strategic assistance.  To refuse even a suicidal mission, as this one appears to be, would be for the Commander to incur a terrible debt of chu-ro.  Grand-Pere secures a scheduling adjustment to the mission to improve his team's chances, but at what cost?

Meanwhile on the target world, Recon-team member Estevez has been captured by the 30 or so alien immigrants camped there, and made to reveal the strike plans.  Dropping from orbit the commando team are met by missiles, and Brett finds himself splashing down alone in a swamp, where he panics and shoots and kills an alien, which turns out to have been a child of the species.  Captured by the child's parents, he is rescued by Reymont and a flippant Tura, but a jammed gun gets Reymont killed.  Grand-Pere sets explosives around the aliens' camp, who are revealed to be refugee families fleeing some galactic catastrophe to settle on an otherwise empty fertile world.  As the aliens and their children are blown-up and the surviving commandos head for home, Brett  realises why Earth Station One is called 'Damnation'. 

The feelings that you lack. (Prog 1681, Ewing, Boo Cook and EdV)
Reymont's Host-selected replacement is the sociopathic Jaeger, a Swiss member of the racist People's Party, initially assigned by Grand-Pere to a solo sweep of an airless moon in Quadrant 10 to keep him out of the way, where he nonetheless finds and executes a surrendering alien crash survivor.  Grand-Pere protests his appointment to the Host Supervisor, but is told that no action can be taken unless Jaeger breaks the Code of the Legion.  Meanwhile, medic Jim Bradbury is caring for Grand-Pere's predecessor, Commander Braddock, whose mind is somehow completely gone.  Bradbury warns Brett that these are the dangers of command in the Legion.

The sun always shines.  (Progs 1682-1684, Ewing, Boo and EdV)
Brett, Nowhere and Bradbury patrol a desert planet with multiple suns, searching for alien immigrants, while June and Jaeger monitor from the orbitting shuttle.  Fabulously-designed armadilloesque aliens ambush the patrol's hovercar, and Jaeger secretly closes off the ship's comms and ignores the groundteam's calls for help.  Brett is badly injured, and Joe Nowhere demonstrates extraordinary marksmanship before collapsing and playing dead with what he claims is the old (Johnny Alpha trademarked) slowed-heart trick, despatching the unwary aliens with a surprise attack from the rear.  Back at ES1, Brett is hospitalised, while a distraught June takes responsibility for the closed comms, and seeing herself as having broken the Code of the Legion cuts off her own finger in recompense, and Jaeger's deception appears to remain undetected.  Boo's art for this story is simply extraordinary.

A bone to be chewed. (Progs 1686-1687, Ewing, SBD and Annie Parkhouse)
The Host Supervisor berates Grand-Pere for leaving Jaeger (who G-P describes as 'un chien enrage', a mad dog) on the bench while Brett and June are out of action, and reveals that previous unit commander Braddock's mental state is a result of incurring to much chu-ro debt.   The team are to undertake a sweep of a Class 7 water world, where a single aquatic alien is believed to have taken up illegal residence.  Bradbury notes that they are now chasing a lone alien, when not too long ago they were tackling large camps.  Have they perhaps succeeded in clearing out the immigrants?

Grand-Pere, Nowhere and Jaegar take a hovercar to the storm-lashed world, where Jaeger pulls a gun on them, intending to kill the commander and his deputy and assume command of Team Four, so that he can work with the Hosts directly, rather than with the degenerates he sees the other Legionnaires as. 

Openly laughing at his insane wish to be Commander, Nowhere reveals that he knows that the objectionable Jaeger is being used by the Hosts to manipulate Grand-Pere into chu-ro debt, and has taken the precaution of disabling his gun.  Jeager draws a knife just as the alien leviathan attacks the hovercar, he stabs Grand-Pere, but G-P uses a grenade to blow them both up, along with the alien fish.  Bradbury in the shuttle picks up the now-Commander Nowhere.  SBD's depiction of the water world and the giant leech-mouthed alien fish is nothing short of spectacular.

Fellas, it's been good to know you. (Prog 1689, Ewing, Willsher, Blythe and Parkhouse)
Commander Nowhere reads from Baudelaire's poem 'The Man and the Sea” at Grand-Pere's funeral, and we learn that June has returned to duty, her breakdown caused by her failure at the desert world dredging up feelings of responsibility for the death of her own child, her original reason for her joining the legion.  Bradbury and Brett have become lovers, and as they lie in Brett's bed in the infirmary Bradbury outlines his theory that the Hosts use the Legion to select exceptional individuals to serve as Commanders,  who they can manipulate into chu-ro debt in order protect their Legionaire's lives, and then somehow feed off them in cho-ra repayment. Damned if you do, damned if you don't: Damnation Station.

Even heroes fail. (Progs 1690-1692, Ewing, SBD and EdV)
The fleet of Recon ships return to Earth Station One, bringing with them the hope that an absence of any detected aliens means it could all be over by Christmas.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, the ships turn out to be captured Trojan horses, and an alien suicide-bomber kills June and cripples the docking bay.  In the canteen Nowhere and Tura are eating with the commanders of Teams 2 and 3, when heavily armed alien squads start working through the station, killing Nowhere and the other commanders almost immediately, apparently making Tura the new Commander of Team 4: however despite being shot twice right in the heart, Nowhere somehow survives and recovers. 

Bradbury and Brett are still shacked up together the infirmary, where an alien incinerates former Commander Craddock in his bed, before Bradbury tells Brett that he's in love with him and positions himself between Brett and the invader.  Tura saves them at the last moment, and hands Bradbury the half-eaten burger she brought from the canteen.  Brett starts to tell Bradbury that he's only using him for sex, but in the middle of this confession Bradbury chokes on the secondhand burger and dies while the distraught bed-ridden Brett unable to help him, calling for help in a now deserted station. 

Newly 'promoted' Commander Crane of Team 1 reports to the Hosts.  All the station's admin and engineering staff are dead and Team 2 has been wiped out.  The Host Supervisor claims the aliens owe a 'black chu-ro', a terrible debt for abuse of their hospitality, and the fight must now be taken to the aliens' home galaxy.  Crane is enthusiastic about this new policy, but harbours doubts about Nowhere's support for it.

Meanwhile, a spookily black-eyed Joe Nowhere is bandaging two virtually bloodless bullet holes in the centre of his chest,  remarking 'that's right where their hearts are'. 

Quick wrap-up TL;DR bit:
As the first run ends, the only survivors of Commando Team Four are apparent undercover alien Commander Joe Nowhere, his nonchalantly violent deputy Tura Vasquez and the traumatised former movie star Brett Grayle.  The persecution organised by the Hosts has pushed the immigrant alien populations into making a strike against their exterminators, and with cho-ra on their side Earth Station One and its Legionnaires are now obliged to begin a retaliatory invasion of other galaxies, which appears to have been the Hosts' plan all along... 

When this is all done, I will be buying the TPB.

(With thanks to RAC for saving my bacon)

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