Temple's Neat Stuff Thread

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Temple's Neat Stuff Thread

Postby temple » Mon Mar 28, 2011 1:52 am

Thought I'd start a thread so that everyone can chip in and pimp something they think is... well, neat. Books, comics, music, movies, TV, games, anything like that. If you've really enjoyed something and think that other people should check it out, post it here!

I'll go first, with the Kvothe books by Patrick Rothfuss. The Name of the Wind, the first book in a proposed trilogy, was out a couple of years ago and plenty of people were raving about it then. The second book, The Wise Man's Fear, is finally out and is just as spiffy.
For those that haven't heard anything abouth them, the books are about a legendary figure called Kvothe, known throughout t'land as a master sorcerer, an expert swordsman, a genius beyond compare... as well as a renegade regicide and dangerous loose cannon. Anyway, Kvothe's vanished some time before the first book starts, presumed dead or lost. The actual plot concerns a travelling chronicler coming across the man himself running a small inn, and Kvothe telling the man his life story... his REAL life story. Turns out Kvothe's not quite the figure he cuts in the stories... he's something far better.
It's hard to sum up the sheer magnificence of Rothfuss' writing here; suffice to say, the prose is beautiful, the story is well told, and the main character is one of the most interesting I've read in a long time. Give 'em a read!
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Postby temple » Tue Mar 29, 2011 11:52 am

Okay, how about a game next? Seems apropos seein' as the sequel's out later this year, so... Batman: Arkham Asylum.

I loved this baby; L-O-V-E-D it. The plot, for those who haven't heard anything about it; Bats, having defeated the Joker yet again, drags him back to Arkham Asylum, where he finds that the inmates of the nearby prison have been temporarily housed there due to a fire. Before you can say 'all part of the plan,' the Joker has broken free and taken control of the whole island, leaving Batman and a dwindling number of asylum staff to suffer a VERY long night...

Cue an awesome action-fest as you trek around the asylum and its environs, dispensing summary booted justice to the sundry evildoers. Much of the time, this consists of building beat-em-up combos as you punch, counter, stun and dodge the crims. However, when you run into armed enemies, you have to get a little smarter, and this is where the game shines; they can't hit what they can't see...

There's no better feeling than striking out of the shadows and picking off bad guys one by one; and what an array of ways you can do it in! Tiptoe up behind them and choke them, yank them over railings, crash through ceilings onto them, burst out of the floor, lay explosive traps, grab them from overhead and leave them tied upside down (and for extra yuks, wait for one of the others to investigate, then cut the rope with a Batarang and dump one goon atop another)... the list goes on.

The characters are brilliantly portrayed as well, the best of every Bat-universe, from the designs poised betwixt comics and movies, to the brilliant voice actors from the Animated Series. Joker, Harley, Bane, Killer Croc, Scarecrow, Ivy... all perfectly used within a great little story.

That's not even going into all the optional stuff to find, the collectibles and audio tapes, or the riddles to solve, or the equipment upgrades to get. Let me put it this way; if you are in any way shape or form fond of the pointy-cowled one, or just of great games in general, you OWE it to yourself to play this.
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Postby temple » Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:13 pm

Back to books, back to fantasy, and back to a pretty mammoth time investment. Today I'm pimping The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson.

Recently completed, it's a ten-book sequence (and all ten are weighty enough to beat a Frenchman to death with) concerning a magic-heavy world, the empire that currently spreads across half of it, and a big ol' threat that doesn't even get introduced until the third book.

Erikson's a trained anthropologist, and he invests all his skill into portraying a myriad of societies and cultures (all the way back into the world's prehistory) that feel real, despite their sorcerous trappings.

These aren't books for the faint-hearted, nor the easily distracted. Erikson drops you into a story already in midflow (in the manner of all good histories) and expects you to catch up. Subplots spawn and multiply with feverish rapidity, and an endless procession of protagonists, enemies, bystanders and legendary figures fill the pages; the penultimate book juggled 244 characters, many of them newly introduced. The author himself admits that readers will know if they love or hate the books a third of the way through the first volume. I urge you to give that first volume a try (Gardens of the Moon); if you find yourself able to withstand the story's heady cornucopia, you will enjoy a tale like no other.
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Postby Soundwave » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:08 pm

temple wrote:Back to books, back to fantasy, and back to a pretty mammoth time investment. Today I'm pimping The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson.

Recently completed, it's a ten-book sequence (and all ten are weighty enough to beat a Frenchman to death with) concerning a magic-heavy world, the empire that currently spreads across half of it, and a big ol' threat that doesn't even get introduced until the third book.

Erikson's a trained anthropologist, and he invests all his skill into portraying a myriad of societies and cultures (all the way back into the world's prehistory) that feel real, despite their sorcerous trappings.

These aren't books for the faint-hearted, nor the easily distracted. Erikson drops you into a story already in midflow (in the manner of all good histories) and expects you to catch up. Subplots spawn and multiply with feverish rapidity, and an endless procession of protagonists, enemies, bystanders and legendary figures fill the pages; the penultimate book juggled 244 characters, many of them newly introduced. The author himself admits that readers will know if they love or hate the books a third of the way through the first volume. I urge you to give that first volume a try (Gardens of the Moon); if you find yourself able to withstand the story's heady cornucopia, you will enjoy a tale like no other.


hmm 10 books eh? I love a long story. The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind was my last venture...

Currently reading Eugenisis on line... :wink:
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Postby Sprite » Mon Apr 11, 2011 3:23 pm

Over the past few weeks I've picked up a bunch of Faber-Castell pens at various places - brush pens and the like. Black ones and greyscale ones... Yum! They don't sell them over here, I picked them up in England and in Brussels, when I was there. They're wonderful to work with!

What? I'm an artist! Things like these are like drugs to me! :D

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Postby HdE » Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:29 pm

This thread's for talkinga bout neat stuff? Okay, I got one...

In my downtime over the last week, I've been dipping in and out of Tokyopop's Starcraft: Ghost Academy manga.

Now, this trio of books follows on from the quartet of Starcraft: Frontline books they released beforehand (which included a couple of stories from some Simon Furman guy... I dunno if folks like him ;) ) and meshes in witht he mythology of the popular Starcraft games.

Now, I can't stress enough: Tokyopop may be known for putting out manga, and this series may be styled as manga, but it's actually more of a western effort. The whole thing's written by David Gerrold, and the interior art has a kind of faux-manga style.

The story picks up a sub plot that ran through the Frontline books, and concentrates on a group of trainee soldiers who are being prepared for life as 'ghosts', psionic soldiers on the front line of mankind's war with.. uh, just about everybody.

Now, these books suffer a pretty heavy dollop of cliche characters, and the storyline is a bit predictable, but it's all pulled off with such brio that you can't help but enjoy it while it lasts. I'm impressed at how gnarly the whole thing is, being surprisingly gruesome in places. Gerrold isn't afraid to write the characters with some real sincerity and maturity, too - it's not a book that's written down to anybody.

Very enjoyable, and worth a punt if you can nab all three volumes.

And while I'm extolling the virtues of the Starcraft manga, I'll say a few brief words about the Frontline books as well. Very simply, they contain two of the most pleasant surprises I've had from Tokyopop recently. Simon Furman's short story 'Creep' is a masterful affair (you can find it in Frontline volume 2) while the third volume contains 'Last Call', a story that's about as leftfield as you could ask considering it's part of a video game tie in.

Really great stuff. Excellent tie-ins, excellent comics.
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Postby temple » Tue Apr 12, 2011 1:45 pm

Soundwave wrote:hmm 10 books eh? I love a long story.


Long, but not a word is wasted. And now that they're all out, you don't have to wait over a decade for the ending, like I had to do. :lol:
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Postby HdE » Wed Apr 13, 2011 6:12 am

Okay - possibly (no, almost certainly) this will fall outside the remit for this thread, but here goes:

Yesterday, I rediscovered a favourite dish of mine.

Scampi and chips. Oh yes! Delicious with a little bit of side salad, a generous splattering of vinegar on the chips an maybe, if you're feeling adventurous, some dressing on the salad.

But the part that really sells it is the lemon. You CAN'T have this dish without lemon! Quarter a nice, fat zesty one and juice that sucka over the scampi, and your taste buds will thank you for it.

Delicious when served with a steaming hot cup of tea. And I don't generally like seafood.

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Postby temple » Wed May 04, 2011 10:58 am

Not actually the best thing ever, but just because I saw it last week an' it's fresh in my mind: the Thor movie.

I've been consistently impressed with the Avengersverse movies; they're four for four, in my opinion. Kenny Branagh does a fine job of creating an action flick that doesn't overstay its welcome, doesn't take itself too seriously (I found this a VERY funny movie) and remains faithful to the comics while not alienating newbie moviegoers.

Great cast, too. Chris Hemsworth manages a fine turn as the initially insufferably arrogant thunder god (as well as sportin' a physique that made my ladyfriends squeal), and Tom Hiddleston has a grand time portraying Loki without ever resorting to "for teh evulz". Hopkins resists hamming it up TOO much as Odin, Idris Elba drips badass as Heimdall, and Sif and the Warriors Three are, all four, constructed of awesome.

It's a movie that dares to have its central character NOT be a superhero for the central and longest act, yet still manages some massive setpieces; props to the early Jotunheim sequence, Thor's assault on a SHIELD station and the Destroyer scene. All this, and a Hawkeye cameo, too! Huzzah!

...oh, and we had the Cap trailer before the movie, too, which if anything looks even more awesome. Weedy, polio-stricken Steve Rogers! The Red Skull wearing a Hugo Weaving mask! THE HOWLING COMMANDOS!
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Postby ultramagnus1 » Fri May 06, 2011 5:13 am

Hmmm

this is a great thread. Where do I start?

Massive fan of the following Tv series which will seriously date me.

1 Matt Houston which starred Lee Horsley

2 The Incrredible Hulk starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno

3 The fall Guy starring Lee Majors

4 Simon & Simon which starred Gerald McRaney

5 Manimal which starred Simon McCorkindale

Any books written by David Gemmell. The Troy trilogy being his best.

Love The Socom video games, The Grand Theft Auto games and The Syphon Filter Games for the psp

And how about this classic Doom. Brilliant for its day

Im sure ill post more neat stuff as I remember them lol
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Postby Sprite » Wed Jul 13, 2011 6:20 am

I'm getting a lot of neat stuff atm that isn't media-related... For one thing, turned out that not only my kitchen - as in the room itself - needed to be overhauled, but the apparatus too - I needed a new oven, a sink (didn't have one), the works. All but a fridge (and I probably could use that one replaced as well). Gonna look quite fancy when it's all done.

Then there's bookcases... With the weird beam running straight through my room gone, I can now fill up those walls with bookcases to the ceiling so I'm gonna purcharge myself some new ones, fitted to my needs. Gonna be all Lundia - looks good, is quite sturdy and lasts forever. Also you can put as many shelves in as you want and adjust them as required - perfect if you have a lot of pocket books (which I do).

Let's see, what else is new? I'm thinking of getting a new bed - with box springs - but that'll have to wait until my funds replenish themselves...
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Postby HdE » Thu Jul 14, 2011 2:43 pm

Alrighty - here's something cool:

GURREN LAGANN!

I got my box set of this hyperactive, superwowfabgroovy anime just last week, and I've been burning through it at a rate of knots. Love, LOVE LOVE this show!

I'm about halfway through, and so far, I've already witnessed the mosdt unexpected character death EVER, as well as the funniest bath house episode I've ever seen in anime (and that would be a lot, folks).

This show has been delightful so far, full of crazy action and humour. Probably a bit of a risk my saying anything about it before I've finished it, but then again...

JUST WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK I AM?!
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Postby Sprite » Wed Jul 27, 2011 6:19 am

I got myself a 3DS on a whim (well, would have gotten it anyway once Kingdom Hearts 3D hit the streets, so not that much of a whim... just got it earlier than anticipated). It's a nice shiny blue (and when I mean shiny I mean shiny). Apart from using it to play games, you can make 3D photos too! Doubt they'll still be 3D if I download them to the computer though...
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Postby HdE » Thu Mar 01, 2012 6:49 pm

Bumping this thread. Coz, y'know, if ever a thread deserved to be bumped...

Finished watching an absolutely SUPERB show tonight. Regular readers will know I'm a champion of anime in the West, and recently I've been watching a few shows to unwind of an evening.

The show in question, though, is YUKIKAZE, a real jin-yoo-wine one-off if ever there was one.

It's a curious beast, being based on the Japanese sci-fi novel 'Good Luck, Battle Fairy Yukikaze'. Now, you may not know this, but Japan does sci-fi on such a grand and high-quality scale that it might as well be a national export, and as such this show is a BIG deal.

The story centres around a hush-hush war being fought off-world between humanity and a mysterious enemy known only as The Jam. Mankind has established a forward base on the Jam's homeworld, the planet Fairy.

-- okay - let's do this now. The evil aliens are called The Jam, and they live on planet Fairy. Go ahead. Giggle. Laugh. Guffaw till milk blows outta yer noses. Get it out of your systems. Done that? Good. I'll carry on. --

ANYWAY - stationed on Fairy are war buddies James Bukhar and Ray Fukai. James spends his time making boomerangs and doing command level stuff on the base, in between his violent fits of moping emo-ism. Ray, on the other hand, is the pilot of the Yukikaze, an artificially intelligent fighter jet. As the story progresses, the war with The Jam enters its final phase, and The Jam step up their efforts to undermine and destroy the human forces from within. It all gets a bit wibbly wobbly!

So what is this show? Is it all action? Suspense? Sci fi? A war story? Well, the great thing about Yukikaze is, it works on all these levels and pulls those threads together into one cohesive, tightly paced and plotted story.

The depiction of war (mostly aerial combat) on an alien planet is quite unusual in its execution, and the various dogfights between the Fairy Air Force and The Jam are excitingly staged. Visually, it's fair to say that the animation is a step below some fo the more popular CG anime movies like Appleseed and Tekken Blood Vengeance, but still, this is a good looking show. When we're in the thick of it, there are some quite startling explosions and vertiginous camera angles that convey a real sense of air combat. When we're back on terra firma, and the cel animation takes over, things are still really well handled. There are some very sophisticated cuts, camera angles and establishing scenes that punt the visual storytelling into the upper realms of what's possible with animation. Thankfully, the mesh between CG and cel is really good for the most part.

But best of all, the whole show feels very mature and sophisticated in its execution. There's some classy, understated but very welcome exploration of the bonds that exist between Ray and James, and indeed ray and the Yukikaze itself (which is very much present as a third leading character). We're also treated to an alien menace that feels TRULY alien - a rare thing in sci-fi of an form these days.

Notably, there are almost none of the well worn traditional anime tropes that seem to put non-fans off the art form, and the unusual 5 episode format means that the story is, by necessity, quite concisely told. A few aspects of the novel's back-story get swept under the carpet, unfortunately but, nevertheless, there's lots here to enjoy. The visual spectacle of the Banshee airborne carriers, for example, along with the final battle between the FAF and The Jam (replete with an apocalyptic number of missile contrails) as well as those awesome, awesome dogfights will remain in the memory long after watching.

Sadly, it's a tough show to find now. Bandai, who distributed the show in North America, aren't producing anime in the West anymore, and I do believe the DVD box set is out of print. If you see it and you're remotely interested, snap it up, is my advice. It's easily one of my favourite short OVA series - and I own TONNES of this stuff. Oh yeah!

Remember kids - HdE knows good anime, and isn't afraid to write about it.

...

The planet is called 'Fairy'! Tee hee!
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Postby temple » Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:56 pm

Avengers Lego.

That is all.

8)
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