Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Lord of the Rings Online is Turbine's answer to World of Warcraft. I have to admit, that when it launched, I was unimpressed with it. It was difficult to play, the graphics were not very good and it seemed to be very buggy. It didn't hold a candle to World of Warcraft. It was however, the second best MMORPG that I had played at that point. Easily outpacing the dreadful Final Fantasy 11 and lackluster Warhammer Online.

At the time I had not played Age of Conan, Guildwars or Everquest 2. I've played those three now as well. Guildwars is fun, but suffers from scale problems. It's not a very large game, and its updates are few and far between unless you want to shell out for the expansions, some of which are still going for full price despite the length of time they have been out. Age of Conan suffered from simply being excruciatingly difficult once you got into the "real" world.. huge grinds against enemies who easily outclassed your pitiful character, not to mention the ever present threat of randomly being killed by assassins. Everquest 2, I played at the behest of a friend. I'd grown up during the Evercrack fear mongering, and had never given it a second thought. Not to mention, I didn't have Internet during most of the time it was out. But EQ 2 was something of a surprise, it was generally pretty fun, it just had really poor graphics for a game they expected you to pay for.

I quit playing WOW a little over a year ago, I had completed all of the quests included in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. And one day it dawned on me how silly it was to keep shelling out money to loiter in Ironforge while waiting (usually in vain) to run the same dungeon I'd already run 50 times again. So I just stopped putting coins in the machine.

But recently, Turbine, who has Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online have converted them both over to a free to play via micro transaction scheme. I had played DDO this way, and didn't think much of it, but then DDO was apparently a pretty lackluster game to begin with. But when I saw they were fixing to have a Beta for LOTRO, I jumped at it. I can't say much, as I'm pretty sure I signed away my soul when I agreed to their EULA for the BETA.. But now that the actual game has launched. I have to say, I'm impressed.

They have clearly fixed some of the annoying problems the original had, toned down the monster and quest difficulty (sometimes to the point of being silly, but still) and the fact that you have to pay to unlock various things dosen't really negatively impact the game, at least not so far anyway. You have to unlock certain questing areas, but most of them unlock pretty cheap.. and certainly cheaper than paying a monthly subscription. And it is a style of pay for play that I feel vastly improves the over all experience. I don't feel as if I have to keep playing in order to get the most for my money. If I don't want to play at all, I've not lost anything. If I wanted to play a lot and run out of stuff to do, I can pay a bit (usually about 10$ for 100 - 200 new quests) and continue to play.

I'd not say the game is as much fun as WOW is, but WOW has a sort of homey cartoony feeling that is extremely inviting. And it is marked forever as absolutely being a Blizzard game. Lord of the Rings Online, dosen't really succeed in meshing with either the books, nor the live action films. But the people who assembled it clearly know their Tolkien lore, even if they have had to invent a tremendous amount of geography in order to fill in the blank spaces. In the North Downs, you can even do a quest for Trotter. If you don't follow that reference, you need to turn in your Tolkien fan card at the door on your way out.

And they give away the soundtrack for free. It's on Fileplanet.com, and if you ever need some good background music for a D&D game, or something along those lines.. its quite good.

I plan to play Final Fantasy 14 at some point, but currently all I've been able to find are the extremely expensive Collectors Editions. And since I have to pay for it every month, I don't really want to shell out two months subscription just to get an Onion Helmet. I'll give it a shot once I can play a demo.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Time to call it a day, Mr. Jackson?

According to Theonering.net, and their various sources.. the already troubled adaption of the Hobbit has hit yet another problem. This time, due to some Minuscule new Zealand actors union.

I have very little time for Unions when it comes to anything to do with the film industry.. they aren't essential to the welfare of the Nation or planet the way that air traffic controllers or coal miners or teachers or firefighters are. And since we are still feeling the effects of the 2008 SWG strike.. in other words I hold them responsible for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.. and a sin of that sort takes a long time to atone for.

Now, Ian Mckellen, Hugo Weaving and Cate Blanchett are all making noise that they may decline to be in "The Hobbit" unless Warner Brothers/MGM and Peter Jackson agree to the demands of this Union. So no Gandalf, no Elrond, and no White Council scene.

I'm going to admit, I'm looking at this only from my perspective. I want the adaptions made, I wanted them made back in 2004, and feel that a lot of the problems the production has been beset by are Peter Jackson's Fault alone. He didn't strike while the iron was hot, he dawdled and made King Kong and the Lovely bones.. two movies which vastly underperformed when compared to the Rings adaptions. I understand that, The Lord of the Rings was an immense undertaking, it was a huge project which consumed nearly a decade of his life. But I still feel that a large chunk of the production problems rest on his shoulders.

But the financial squabbles have plagued the Tolkien adaption since Return of the King swept the Oscars. And they cannot be laid at the feet of Peter Jackson alone. No one cared when they didn't think it was going to make any money.. And yes, a lot of the actors who were in the Rings adaption were treated very shabbily from all indications. The financial problems have come from all directions, from the Tolkien Estate, from Tolkien Enterprises, from New Line, from Peter Jackson, from Warner Brothers. Not even taking into account MGM's own financial problems, which are essentially the Hobbit's financial problems because of the ridiculous Intellectual property laws at work.

But at this point, I feel that if it's going to turn into such a fiasco that they may have to move the production to eastern Europe (following in the footsteps of Voyage of the Dawn Treader) and then do without the few actors who would bring continuity to the new production from the previous films.. it simply isn't worth doing.

It's a huge screw up, and as always, the only people who truly lose out here are the fans, that and the non union people in New Zealand who would stand to make a tremendous amount of money off of the production, not to mention the upsurge in tourism.

I for one, as a fan, am tired of this constant march of good news, bad news. Every time we think something might be maybe going to happen, an actor yaps their gob or column of figures dosen't add up right and we are back to waiting.

So when is it time to throw in the towel?

Monday, September 20, 2010

but what about Robert E. Howard?

Over on www.Tor.com, they had a discussion naming off the "Top ten Lizard people".. and noticeably absent were the Serpent Men from "Shadow Kingdom".. I know they aren't technically " Lizard People ".. but they are Reptillian humanoids none the less.. and since as far as I know, apart from examples in mythology, the oldest representation.. they definitely need to be represented..

I've told them so, but so should you. You can do so, here.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

I'll admit it now, until two days ago I had never seen any of the Original Series Star Trek films all the way through.

Sure, I'd caught them in part many many times on cable, and never bothered to watch them. Maybe it was because of the commercials or maybe its because I've never really been able to sit and watch a movie all the way through. I fidget and have to take frequent breaks..I'll read while watching, or do something else.. I can't stand to just sit in one place for 2+ hours..

But netflix recently added, along with the bulk of the star trek films (I think all of them except Generations) to its instant view system.. so I decided I would make myself sit in one place and watch them all, all the way through. So starting with the first one, and with only one intermission, I finished it in the same night I began.

I didn't hate it, I didn't think it moved to slowly, and I didn't even mind that it recycled aspects of a TV episode.. I really liked the score. The thing that actually drove me nuts, were the costumes. I really disliked the white spandex.. it was not as bad as the wool sweaters from "The Cage".. but it was pretty bad.. the special effects I liked, the script I liked..

So now that I've seen it, I'm going to continue and watch what most people think to be the best star trek film ever.. "Wrath of Khan".. which is also the only one I've seen better than half of.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Red Box

I bought it last night on a lark at Barnes&Nobel. I already have the 4e books, but my group really hadn't had much fun trying to make heads nor tails of them. I think it was too much like jumping into the deep end without being able to swim.

we wound up playing through the entire boxed game last night, in record time. The extreme simplification of the game with the addition of chits and a map to move them around really seems to help. Unless you have an extremely skilled DM, I think it helps to have some visual representation to prevent people getting "lost" in their minds.

Its got a neat retro box, with nice artwork, and was a pretty solid investment for 20.00$ considering how much fun it provided for the evening. It was certainly better than the boxed game for 3.0 when I got it what seems like ages and ages ago at Toys R' us.

I'm hoping that after we run through it a few more times, using its more simplified system.. that I can then begin to ween the players off of using the cards and chits and begin to incorporate more and more detail from the full version of the game.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

And now... Time for the New Book Song.

well not really new.. but I went to goodwill today and came out with quite a haul.

The complete Elric stories in Hardcover omnibus format, and a collection of Elric pastiches being the big find. But I'm quite pleased with the rest too. I had just bought the new TPB of the Dying Earth stories from Orb too.. so I guess its off to the trade-a-book with that one.. can use it to buy a few more of my Ballantine Adult Fantasy volumes I need.

Though a bit Redundant I'd also gotten the eleventh volume of the Eternal Champion mega series.. which is the same as volume 1 of the hardcover series and Revenge of the Rose.. simply printed in chronological order. It isn't pictured, but it will go with my Kane of Old Mars book from the same series.. maybe one day I will get them all.

I wish that the Reluctant King had its dust jacket, but I'm not sure I'm going to keep it or not.. it depends on if I can get the Honourable Barbarian to match. If not, I will be content with my paperbacks for it.

And the Complete Compleat Enchanter is an upgrade, as before all I had was Compleat Enchanter.

The two Stargate volumes form sort of book ends for the film, there are a few more in the series.. but I am not really sure I care enough to hunt them down.. I've not made up my mind yet.

And last are a couple of World War II related buys, a Jack Higgins Omnibus so I can replace my tattered paperbacks.. and a nice Coffee Table book of maps about General Patton's 3rd Armoured's career in the European Theatre.

Got a couple of Book sales coming up later this month too.. so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I will score a few goodies.

From Dweomera Lagomorpha

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Sword

I'll admit to not being really knowledgeable about modern music. If it came out much after 2000 then I don't really have a clue. It could be because I have a hard time finding stuff made after that that I like.. to much Metal is just Death Growl nonsense.. or a bunch of angry Scandinavians screaming about Satan. I mean I've had a few exceptions that I've come across.. I really like the Faroese group TYR.. but its not a really common occurance..

I happened to be in one of the only local music stores remaining.. Athens Georgia has I believe three.. but I only really ever go into two of them.. Wuxtry, and School Kids.. I went in Wuxtry first but they seemed to be having some plumbing problems or something so I didn't stick around. But when I went into school kids, I came across a group called " The Sword ".. so I wound up buying two of their albums based on the cover art.. I've been quite pleased with them so far..

I think I like their first album better than the second one. And so I'm now trying to scour Youtube hoping to find some other groups similar to them. But without a whole lot of luck in that regard..

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fantastical Randroids

I've finished reading the 5th Terry Goodkind volume.. I forget exactly the title.. though thats sort of a summation of the whole series up to this point.

He gets flack a lot, and I don't always agree with it. I'm not someone who just seem to say he sucks as a blanket statement.. He may, but not so far.. His books just aren't memorable and I've been having a harder and harder time working my way through each one. He has moments that are very close to being riveting, and then ruins them with pages of completely out of place drawing room style dialogue.. but I've read much much worse, and their is a lot worse out there.

The thing though, that I think bugs them, Is that Goodkind is heavily influenced by the "philosophy" of Ayn Rand.. of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead and other such books. I'm not going to comment much on its Political implications except to say that I feel it requires a much higher caliber of human being than actually exists in order for it to work as she describes it. Beyond that I don't really have an opinion on it.

But that seems to be what Goodkind is attempting to produce, the clean cut wholesome sort of people who are so lacking in avarice and greed yet are driven and ambitious enough that they can actually live harmoniously in a world where her concepts can flourish. It isn't a world in which you work to simply get rich, but rather work to produce really good output and that all proceeds from such are rightfully yours.

You could see bits of his fascination with her ideas creeping in as far back as the first volume, Wizard's First Rule. But it was largely absent from the 2-4th volumes. But it reared its ugly head with a vengeance in Volume 5 with his transparent caricatures Bertram (Bill) and Hildemara (Hillary) Chanboor (Clinton).

So it got me thinking, I know that this particular Author (Rand) has an extremely devoted following, especially amongst college kids and reformed-via-Reaganomics Hippies like my father. Quite a few Fantasy and Sci-Fi books, lots of music, and a Government Think Tank(the Rand Corporation) that if not actually influenced or named for her, clearly share many of the same philosophical leanings instanced in their infamous concept of Game Theory on which almost all modern politics and marketing are based..

I know that Anton LeVey, the leader of the Church of Satan was inspired by her.. and also by the grotesque "Might is Right" written by the enigmatic Ragnar Redbeard (possibly Jack London in a Johnathan swift, A modest proposal sort of mood).. So I can't personally say how much of her philosophy he borrowed.

I know that quite a few early tracks by the band RUSH were heavily inspired by her.

Anyone else have any specific Examples?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Substitute Expendables

Finally got around to seeing the new Stallone film, the Expendables. I don't get to the theatre much these days, I prefer to go during the day when there are fewer people.. but a lot of theatres are making up for loss of income by not opening until later in the day.

I thought it was an alright film, not spectacular or anything, but not bad either. I enjoyed seeing some old favorites back in action like Dolph Lundgren. I rather enjoyed his "The Punisher".. It wasn't as good as Thomas Janes but it wasn't bad either. I thought Stallone was rather understated in it, not hamming it up like he perhaps rightfully could have done. But I really prefer Statham as the quiet Frank Martin of Transporter series( and a small cameo in Micheal Mann's Collateral). But I enjoyed it for what it was. I hope they make another one, and manage to get some more of the old staples for the second go around.

The obvious ones, like Seagal and Van Damme would be nice, but I'd thought of some who perhaps don't get mentioned a lot today while watching TV. I came across one of the films in the Sniper series, staring Tom Beringer.

Berringer has been a favorite of mine ever since I was about 12, when he stared as Theodore Roosevelt in John Milius's made for TV mini series "The Rough Riders".. and solidified by his role of Sgt. Barnes in Oliver Stones "Platoon". He was in "The Big Chill" also but during the 90's and into the 2000's he really hasn't done a whole lot of "Big" stuff.. But he did make the great film " The Substitute" which I feel is a good send up of films like Stand and Deliver and their type. and of course the multi installment, Sniper series. He is a bit older sure, but not any more so than Stallone.

I'd like to see maybe, Francisco Quinn. Another Platoon Alum and Rough Riders alum. He's one of those actors who has been in a lot of parts but you maybe don't know his name. but one of his more recent ones was Larry Bishops HellRide.

Keith David is a lot older now than he was back when he beat the crap out of Roddy Piper in an alley in "They Live" But he's always fun to have around.

And then some more obscure people, like Al Leong.. you might remember him as Enzo from Lethal Weapon.. and the guy who steals the candy bars during the Lobby shoot out in Die Hard. He's recently been on "24" quite a bit.

Other great options would in my opinion include people like Jean Reno, who stared in "Leon" and the Crimson Rivers series.. not to mention shoot first, ask questions later, Cop in "Wasabi".