Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category
My latest article for Quadrant Online:
I am not sure whether Steve Kates is simply being curmudgeonly in his review of the film of the musical Les Miserables, or really does believe it to be “a two hour and 40 minute indulgence in the worst kind of socialist idiocies.” If the latter, he is wrong.
The film has several faults. Chief among them is Russell Crowe, who employs a single facial expression throughout; surly. He does surly very well, but one expression is not enough to cover the complicated character of Inspector Javert, who struggled with the same questions as Valjean but chose differently. Also, Crowe can’t sing, or certainly not well enough to convey convincingly the drama of Javert’s righteous conviction, or at the end, his inner struggle.
Hugh Jackman, by way of contrast, employs three facial expressions; happy, sad and troubled. Troubled also covers angry. Three expressions in a single movie prove that he is an actor of great depth, so it is likely he will win a Golden Globe in 2013, or perhaps some other plastic statue.
The real surprise was Anne Hathaway, whom I have always dismissed as an airhead. Her depiction of Fantine creates some genuinely moving moments in a film otherwise painted in lavish strokes of mere sentimentality.
Read the rest at Quadrant Online.
I don’t know what else to call it.
Someone, I assumed the dimwits behind the ESL – Eurosoft ripoffs, but I am not sure, signed me up for a casual sex dating site called rudefinder.
When I got the welcome email I went to the site to see what it was. Cor!
For a start, there is page after page of young ladies, many of them in the most absurd poses, showing off their naughty bits.
Maybe it is just me, but surely the normal reaction to seeing someone with her legs in the air, using her fingers to spread her vulva so her vagina and anus are exposed, is one of revulsion. I cannot imagine why you would find photos like that of someone you do not know attractive or interesting.
Unless you are simply an animal (ie, you believe the lie that “You and me baby we ain’t nothing but mammals”), the whole point of a sexual relationship is the complete, open, trusting sharing of yourself with another person, with openness to the possibility of new life. To my mind, this can only take place in the context of marriage. Sex in any other context is always and necessarily less than it should be, and ultimately harmful to those who participate in it.
It was plain within about ten seconds that rudefinder was a scam. Amongst the first few ladies listed as possible matches for me were about twenty who claimed to live in Muston. Muston is a tiny settlement of about fifteen people, most of whom I know. Others were listed in places such as Haines and Kangaroo Head, often with claims that they enjoyed going to clubs or bars in those localities. But those places are simply rural areas with small populations and no townships whatever, the closest thing to a club being a fencepost where some of the locals gather from time to time for a chat.
Curious, I uploaded to my profile a couple of photos which I copied from another website, and sent a message to about twenty of these purported young ladies, saying I was interested, and inviting them to message me back. A few of them had already messaged me or ‘winked’ at me, so if they were real, the chances were pretty good that at least one would respond. Nope.
To check, I created another profile with my place of residence listed as Dimboola. And lo and behold, the same sex starved young ladies, same names, same pictures, who were so desperate to meet me in in Muston or Macgillivray on Kangaroo Island had all now moved to such unlikely places as Cry Melon or Pimpinio. And some of those same young ladies also immediately sent me winks and messages.
This is a very cleverly scripted scam site. Whatever your postcode, you will find dozens of lonely sex starved young ladies within a few miles. They are so desperate to meet you they will message you as soon as you join the site. All you need to do to get in touch is hand over your credit card details. Except the young ladies don’t exist, and the winks and messages are computer generated.
A google check revealed that rudefinder and justhookup are the same thing. Same profiles, same sign in credentials work on both. Both scams.
Of course, if you sign up for a site like this you are an idiot anyway. But that doesn’t mean you deserve to be ripped off.
Finally, I wonder whether there is a link between the CFS ESL Eurosoft scams and these websites. The same thinking motivates both – greed, a cold lack of regard for others, and the belief that if people sign up it is their own fault and they deserve what they get.
Also, this guy, prominent on both rudefinder and justhookup, looks vaguely familiar:
And then of course there is Larry Pickering’s talent both for smut and for stock trading and sports software scams.
A month or so ago I outlined the reasons I would never play World of Warcraft again (mainly, Blizzard’s hostile attitude to its players).
But I checked in a few days ago to see what was going on. A new expansion pack has been announced.
WoW has a billion dollar a year income stream and some of the best game designers in the business.
And this is the best the WoW team can come up with? Kung Fu Panda?
WoW is becoming a Wii game.
For anyone not familiar with online role playing games (RPGs), while it is possible to complete much of a game such as World of Warcraft or Rift on your own, players frequently form groups to win fights or complete quests which would be impossible for a single player.
People take specific roles in a group. DPS (damage per second) players are the most numerous, usually three players out of a five person group. Their job is to kill the enemy.
Healers heal other players in the group.
Support players, usually found only in larger groups, provide enhancements (buffs) to other players, increasing their strength, spell power, health, etc. DPS, healer and tank players may also have group buffs.
Tanks offer themselves as targets to enemies. Their job is to draw the enemy’s attention to keep the healer safe, and to let the dps players focus on wearing the enemy down. The healer’s job is primarily to keep the tank alive.
If the tank is doing his job well, the enemy’s attention should stay on him, and dps players should suffer little damage, except for unavoidable aoe (area of effect) attacks.
The key task of any tank is make himself the most attractive target. In an RPG this is called threat generation.
Threat generation is largely a product of how a player is specced. This means how players distribute the talent points they accumulate as they progress through the game. Rift has a maximum of 66 talent points, reached when you get level 50. Sometimes players talk about ‘build’ when they are describing how they have used their talent points.
Although any class except a mage can act as a tank in Rift, there are very few circumstances where a cleric or rogue will be as effective as a well geared and properly specced warrior.
This is especially so since the new 1.6 Ember Isle update, which gave warriors several enhancements to threat generation.
The most common complaint about a tank player is not that he is hard to keep alive, but that he cannot hold aggro. This means that the enemies keep attacking the dps players or healer rather than the tank. The reason this happens is (usually) that the tank is not generating enough threat to hold the enemy’s attention.
The number one ability a tank needs to spec for is threat.
This is a link to my endgame rift tanking build.
This is Paladin/Warlord/Reaver build.
My pre-raid HP on this build is just over 12,000. With the Paladin’s Touch of Life, this effectively means an HP of about 20K.
This build takes every possible threat enhancement except the 20 point Warlord skill Promise of Steel, because that ability gives only marginal overall threat enhancement, and reaching it would mean taking too many self-healing or block abilities out of the Paladin or Reaver trees.
The only thing besides threat a tank should be concerned about is the best possible balance of armour, endurance, self-heal and block enhancements. A tank is not primarily concerned with group buffs, hence points in Tip the Balance, a self-heal, rather than Reverent Protection, a group protection buff, in the Paladin tree.
It is worth going up the Reaver tree to get Master of the Abyss, a superb aoe damage ability that heals for 100% of damage done, and for Soul Devour, an enhancement to the self-heal ability Soul Feast.
Where a tank needs to put points into damage to reach other skills, the total damage done is more important than the tree looking tidy, hence 1 point into Wasting Away rather than another point into Planar Attunement in the Reaver tree.
This build also gives you Intercept, which enables the tank to transfer threat from another player (often the healer) to himself.
Just a couple of notes for dps players. The point of your participating a group is not so you can gloat over the size of your dps. It is to get the group safely through to the end of the raid, dungeon or rift. This means you may need to sacrifice some of your highest dps abilties if they are also high threat. If you do pull aggro, don’t automatically blame the tank. Apologise to the group – it’s a pain for the healer as well as the tank. Think about which ability you used that was high threat. If you must use that ability again, let the tank know first so he can throw a threat enhancement like the Warlord’s Imposing, or use Intercept.
And remember, it’s a game, people!
I have played World of Warcraft for nearly three years. Now I am playing Rift.
I had two WoW accounts. That was from the time when you couldn’t have characters from both factions on the same account on a PvP server.
Because I had opened the accounts in different names I was not able to combine them even after that rule was changed – despite the fact they were paid with the same credit card, and all other personal information was the same.
Both accounts were hacked. Each time that happened, the response from Blizzard was accusatory, even rude.
I bought authenticators for both accounts. But the login only asked for an authentication key about quarter of the time.
Earlier this year I got an email from Blizzard saying one of my accounts had been banned, because I had been using a ‘hack.’ That’s a mini programme that enables you to move faster, walk through walls etc.
I had two 85s on that acccount, an ele Shaman and an unholy DK, plus a few other minor toons. I enjoyed playing the Shaman, who also had top level skinning, leatherworking and cooking. I was anxious to get that account back.
I emailed Blizzard saying I had not logged into that account for several weeks, and had never used a hack. I got a curt email back saying the decision would not be reconsidered. I emailed again, asking politely for an explanation. I didn’t get a reply.
I continued to play my other account for a while – I have three 85s on that one, a Lock, a Druid and a Pally. But my heart was not in it any more.
A month ago I said goodbye to WoW forever. For the last couple of weeks I have been playing Rift. It doesn’t yet have the depth of content WoW has, but gameplay is as good or better, professions are definitely better, the dynamic content is great, and support staff seem helpful and interested.
So far I have a level 32 Champion Warrior, and a level 14 Pyro Mage.
Rift will have to work hard to match the new content in WoW, and the attractions of Star Wars: The Old Republic, which launches in December of this year.
I have a suggestion.
One of the nice things about Rift is the soul tree system, which enables players to combine talents from different streams within a single class.
A major improvement, and something no other MMORPG has, would be to allow players to combine soul trees from any class – essentially allowing them to create their own classes. So you could combine a Champion/Riftblade Warrior with the Necro stream from the Mage class, or any other combination of any trees from any class.
This could be boosted by allowing any character to wear any armour, giving for example, speed and spellpower bonuses to cloth armour, parry and strength bonuses to plate.
This would add a uniquely flexible character and combat system to an already interesting game. If new content continues to be added, I think this change would make Rift unbeatable.
I have been ambivalent about Torchwood from the beginning. The constant ‘gay is cool’ theme was annoying. Captain Jack is cool, and he has casual gay sex, which he ‘needs.’
But gay is not cool. Indulging in homosexual acts is vastly more dangerous to one’s health than smoking or obesity. Let’s see the White House or the Australian Federal Government issue health warnings on that, and then I’ll start to listen to Michelle’s food advice.
Despite that, the stories were often compelling, and raised some worthwhile issues. At the end of Children of Earth, Jack sacrifices his gransdon, and his relationship with his daughter, to save millions of others.
In Miracle Day, the gay sex has become gay porn. And the story is so agenda driven that it is tiresome.
A ‘small town mayor trying to make a name for herself’ the ‘darling of the Tea Party,’ is presented as an even more grotesquely unattractive character than a pedophile murderer.
She calls for those who should be dead but aren’t to be placed in concentration camps.
Of course, for the last century it has been left wingers who have put put people in concentration camps, from Hitler’s National Socialists, to Stalin and Mao. Those same central planning leftists are the ones who have said that lives of certain classes of people, the handicapped, the mentally deficient, children in the womb, have no value.
The Tea Party is made up of people who value individual dignity and freedom, and the right to life of every human person.
So inventing a Hitleresque petty villain and trying to convince viewers she is somehow like Sarah Palin is as far from saying anything truthful as it is possible to get. And truth is important, especially in fiction.
And you could have guessed the plotters behind the scenes of Miracle Day are a huge pharmaceutical company which is only interested in profits, and is prepared to destroy millions of lives to get them.
It’s dreary and predictable. Goodbye Torchwood.