Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Christmas Movies

I saw a couple of films over the holidays.

National Treasure


I saw the trailers for this in Florida and thought it looked extremely cheesy, as with any Bruckenheimer film. But it's actually not too bad. The plot is ridiculous (modern day treasure hunt around some American landmarks) but it comes off alright. I was surprised to see it get a PG rating but no one dies so I guess it's justified.

House of Flying Daggers
The follow up to Hero with some great martial arts action, visually stunning but suffers from that awful drumming soundtrack, which I just don't like. The plot in this is a little weaker than Hero, concentrating on a love story rather than an epic tale.

So 2 films that were just OK

Monday, December 27, 2004

Christmas

Once again my family and friends spoiled me.
I got

A digital camera
Various tops
Lord of the Rings DVD (The 3rd bit)
Little Britain DVD
New Boots
Various Toiletries
A cool book on 1000 movies to see before you die (that's quite an undertaking).
A weird diary that sets you a task each day of the year, if I followed it religiously I'd have emigrated to New Zealand (Jan 5th) and pretended to be the Messiah (Jan 2nd). That's just the first week.

I also got some cash that I used to buy some ipod accessories. I'm also thinking of joining the NFT, which will allow me to see some of the earlier movies in that book.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Hooters

Last but by no means least the most frequented eating establishment in all of Orlando, well by us anyway. We went there so many times the staff (mmmmmmmm the staff) recognised us and remembered our orders. The place has a pre-conception of being sleazy but it's unwarranted, there were couples, families and parties being catered for. We read that a rival chain was being taken to court for stealing the concept and the Orlando residents were definitely behind Hooters which says a lot for it.

IAAPA

This is the big convention that takes place every year and where anyone interested with the industry meets for some back slapping and shmoosing. As I'm not interested in that I was a little disappointed with it to be honest. There was only the one ride to go on, called a DiskO which was pretty good but felt a bit odd because you sit facing outwards unlike a frisbee where you can see everyone else riding. In previous years there had been more. You do get to see what rides may be coming up and get the opportunity to collect brochures from the major players. There's also food vendors demonstrating their new ranges that you can sample (some nice slush puppie variants). But all in all, we spent half a day there then never went back.

Skull Kingdom

This is a haunted attraction which we ignored (the guy in there was well creepy), however parked outside it was a new S&S swing which is starting to be bought by parks. Thorpe Park is getting a version of it this year. We got a free ride on it because we'd been at the convention and had our passes (the perks!). The ride itself is alright, swinging above the horizontal scares you a little bit but it is a little short in duration. It'll be a good addition to any park that buys it though.

Wet and Wild

The main water park in Orlando and although I'd been to others, I hadn't been to one with so many different rides. It's a nice escape from the theme parks, just don't go when it's too hot.
Whilst there I managed to try one of the near vertical drops that always look too scary to go on.
It was fine, the only problem I had was at the end the speed causes your shorts to rip shreds out of your arse. I came off quite sore.

There's also a strange ride where you sit back to back with another person and swing using a water cannon that you take turns to open up. This got really scary and because you don't have full control and are quite exposed you really think you're going to fall out, well I did. At a couple of points I had to slow us down because I really thought I was going to fall out. Afterwards I think I realised why, the harness hadn't been checked by the ride operator and was way too loose.

Kissimee Old Town

This was an evening jaunt away from Orlando. The area has a couple of thrill rides and is just a place to hang out. When we got there it was biker night with the main road inundated with some stunning looking Harleys and Superbikes. A little odd to see both types there, I didn't think the crowds mixed.

Skycoaster
I've ridden one of these things before but not on the scale of this. You get dropped from 300 feet and come throught he swing at 70 miles an hour. I ended up doing it on my own (one had done it before and the other didn't even want to try). When you're hanging at the top its deathly quiet and pretty scary but once you've done a full swing you relax and it becomes better.
I was too scared to even scream.

G Force Dragster Race
This was a new concept of ride which is basically a shot tower dropped on it's side that launches dragster cars along a racetrack. This is officially the fastest non-coaster ride in the world and the acceleration is immense. Its also fun because they've put 2 side by side and you start the car when the start lights tell you. We spoke to the designers of the ride (who got us on for free!) and they were telling us that the footprint is stopping parks from buying it which is a shame because it's a great ride.

Windstormer
At the end of the main street was this ropey little coaster which cost way too much to ride.
Needless to say we only did it the once.

Busch Gardens

So it was out to Tampa to get to this park which turned out to have the best coaster in Florida.
They're in the process of building a new one which is going to be a definite reason to go back out there, but this year I had to make do with the great coasters it already has.

Montu
This was the best coaster of the holiday. It's an inverter like Nemesis but on a much bigger scale and because they'd turned some of the trim brakes off made it more intense than it should have been. I'd also heard bad things about the ride operations at this park but saw no problem. We were allowed to stay on the ride if there was no queue, and for most of the morning, there wasn't.

Scorpion
This was an old Schwarzkopf coaster (Old German guy who designed some great rides). Not bad but not great, especially as there were other better coasters in the park. This probably explained why there was no queue on this ride whatsoever.

Cheetah Chase
This was their new coaster for the year, actually it was taken from another park. It's just one of those mouse coasters which wasn't themed and saw had nothing to do with Cheetah's whatsoever.

Kumba
This is another Floorless coaster, like Kraken at Seaworld. This however is much older and as a result, rougher. However I did have a few more goes on it but I was finding myself riding Montu a lot more.

Python
An old arrow coaster, like the Corkscrew at Alton. It was also very very short and climbing the lift hill took longer than the rest of the ride. One to ride just the once.

Haunted Lighthouse
This was their 4D movie which I found to be a bit long in length but was alright. I think it's finding it's way to Thorpe Park in 2005. You do get wet more often than normal.

Gwazi
Another disappointment of the holiday. How can you have a duelling coaster if you only run one side of it? The track was a little rough and you came off a little jarred. I didn't mind that too much though, there are rougher coasters out there.

Rhino Rapids
Part Safari Tour part boat ride, however the surprise is given away by the map which shows a jeep on the water. It's quite good, and being the only one of it kind makes it worth seeing.


Disney Magic Kingdom

This was by far the busiest park of the holiday but it should have been expected after all it is Disney.

Space Mountain
I absolutely hated the version of this ride in Paris. My head came more bashed than a Tyson opponent (when he was in his heyday). This however, even though it was 20 years older, was great - really simple and enjoyable with some nice flybys as you pass the opposing train.
Coming off the ride you travel on what feels like a sponge travelator, very odd indeed.

Big Thunder Railroad
When we got to this ride, it had just been reopened following a "technical problem" and when we finally got on it found all the lights on which to some enthusiasts would be a dream come true, but to me just showed how bad some of the effects really are. Having ridden it a second time, with the lights off, found it to be a pretty good ride although the Paris version is much better, albeit newer.

Splash Mountain
Although I don't know the Briar Rabbit tale on which this is based, the ride is still ok with some good drops which pleasingly didn't get me as wet as the cali one did (given that there were 4 of us in excess of 14 stones each on that occasion, it's no surprise we got soaked)

Stitch's Great Escape
This was the new attraction for this year and I was fortunate enough to get a preview showing of it. A nice touch that on its official opening day they'd themed the park to the extent of having the main castle covered in toilet paper. The attraction was pretty good with some great animatronics and the grossest smell effect I think I've ever endured.

Philarmagica
Now I almost walked past this and I'm so glad I didn't because it was the best attraction on the holiday by a long long way. Take the 4D concept and let the disney imagineers work their magic and you have the best 4D attraction ever. I was really blown away by this attraction and unlike Spiderman was just as good on subsequent viewings. This is the one attraction I will recommend as a must see.

Pirates of the Caribbean
This was the 3rd version of the attraction I'd seen having ridden the ones in Cali and Paris.
This version was the weakest and ended very abruptly. It's only saving grace that it had a great looking girl in its gift shop. Hi Jessica (like she'll ever read this).

Haunted Mansion
This is one of their older rides, and has dated a bit but it's one of those attractions that has to be done. There's a clever animated gravestone in the queue that people often overlooked, which I've not seen before. The rest of the ride is much the same as in the other parks.

Buzz Lightyear
Similar to Men in Black in that you shoot targets through the ride. Unlike that ride, the guns were bolted down, making shooting tricky. But it's designed for the kids, not the shooting purists, so does the trick.

Tiki Rooms
This used to be an atrocious ride which had clearly dated, I think it first opened in the 60s.
It's had a bit of a spruce, introducing some animals from more recent Disney shows. It's actually alright and makes fun of the fact it used to be so bad, which again is different for Disney.

Disney Animal Kingdom

At the centre of the park is a huge tree with over 350 animals carved into it. This alone is absolutely stunning and when you're queueing for rides you're often walking amongst the roots and trying to spot all the creatures. At one end of the park they're building Everest which I think opens in 2005. This looks massive and should be a good addition to the park, when it opens. It's nothing but a tease in its current state.

Dinosaur
This is apparently the same ride as Indiana Jones in Cali but themed around a time traveling journey. The ride itself is OK but Indiana is a lot more enjoyable. I didn't want to see the dinosaurs more than once but would instantly run back into Indiana Jones having ridden that.

Primeval Whirl
This does not look right in a park synonymous with great theming. It's supposed to be themed around a tacky version of the dinosaur ride and looks just like it. Also disappointing to find that half the ride wasn't working on the day we were there. I didn't think Disney was that bad.

Safari Tour
This was actually quite impressive once I'd got through the 40 minute queue having a woman bash her pushchair into my ankles repeatedly. Better than the walkthrough tour where most of the animals were asleep, at least here they were up milling around.

Rapids
They were closed due to "technical difficulties". Disney doing their best Six Flags impression there....

It's a Bug's Life
Another 4D show and the same as the one in California, some really annoying music in the waiting area (think kazoos) leads to what was my favourite show with stinkbugs, an army of ants and a ton of great effects. However it's now second best to the newer Disney one.

Disney Movie Studios

The first of the Disney Parks that we went to and the one we spent less time in.
Most of this park is tailored at the little kids.

Aerosmith Rock n Roller Coaster
This was nicely themed and having ridden the version in Paris I found this ride to be much much better although I preferred the lighting at the European Park. The cars are themed as stretch limos taking you across California to get to an awards ceremony. Going through the O of the hollywood sign (I can't remember which o) was pretty cool. The only coaster in the park

Tower of Terror
This was the biggest disappointment of the holiday. I was expecting an amazing shot drop tower but instead got something that just went up and down, the acceleration wasn't that great.
There was also quite a lot of queuing for the ride which put me off especially considering the short queues at the Universal Parks. You can't knock the theming of the building though.

Muppet 4D
Another 4D show which was identical to the one in Cali.
It's alright but Shrek was a lot better and this is now showing it's age a bit.

EPCOT

The technology park in the Disney World, there aren't any coasters here but there are some pretty decent attractions. We also walked the world fair which was a little cheesy but for the beer drinkers amongst you the only place to get a proper pint, although you have to spend a small fortune for the privilige.

Mission Space
This is their new ride, a centrifugal G-Force ride that simulates a flight to Mars. The one thing you notice about queueing up is the amount of warnings you get about not riding if you suffer from....
Definitely not Disney at all, they've even added sick bags to the cabins When the ride starts up you soon realise why, the forces are pretty intense and sustained, which is probably what does people in. At a couple of points you have to press a couple of buttons which adds a minimal level of interactivity (they don't actually do anything).

Test Track
This is quite an old ride but still pretty cool. You sit inside a car and a taken through a few temperature rooms, practice skidding and then go out to reach speeds of 100km/h on the main part of the ride. We rode it a few times and I like the noise it makes from a distance, like a small Superman @ Magic Mountain.

Turtle Talk
This opened on our second visit, the same day as Stitch so we didn't really know what we were letting ourselves into. After a short wait we were ushered in and sat down in front of a small screen showing what appeared to be an aquarium. Kids were invited to sit down in front and then Crush from Finding Nemo swam in. So we thought it was just a small movie, but we should have realised that Disney would take it a bit further. When the turtle described a person in the audience we realised that what we were getting was a fully interactive experience with the turtle answering questions fielded by the audience. Another genuine surprise of the holiday as I knew nothing of it.

Seaworld

This was the "local park" as it was only 5 minutes away from the apartment.
Its starting to attract the theme park crowds installing some fairly decent attractions
The star of the park however is Shamu which packs the crowds and is worth seeing (once!)

Kraken
A massive B&M floorless coaster (that makes me sound like such a geek). It's eerily quiet though as to stop the locals complaining about the noise they filled it with sand (that makes me sound like a bigger geek). I think this was my favourite coaster in Orlando, especially when ridden in the front. It was also well run with very little waiting time.

Journey to Atlantis
The other big attraction in the park, is this very well themed boat ride. The only problem I had with this is that the big huge drop didn't get me wet but a 1ft drop onto the lift hill got me soaked. A nice attraction for the park though.

Penguin Enclosure
A big travelator takes you along the penguin enclosure which is quite impressive. You're then taken along a second where they explain that puffins are the northern hemisphere equivalent and have them on display. So hearing Americans say "look at the funny penguins" clearly indicates that they don't they read the signs?

Shamu Show
The big killer whale leaps out of the water and makes a big splash and the dolphins do tricks with the trainers.

Shamu Rocks America
The big killer whale leaps out of the water and makes a big splash and the dolphins do tricks with the trainers, all to rock music.

Citywalk

Not a park as such but the downtown area that joins the 2 Universal Parks together.
It's here that you can enjoy nightlife or go to restaurants for meals.

Orlando Beer Festival
Whilst we were there Orlando had it's Beer Festival which was just an excuse for Americans to get pissed on weak lager and Europeans to drink whilst watching the locals get drunk.
Being on holiday I decided to try some of the beer on offer and wasn't surprised to find them as nasty as the stuff back home. A Jamaican Honey Beer was particularly nasty and quickly found it's way into a plantpot. The best drinks turned out to be the vodka variants with crowds queueing to try the drinks on offer. I'm sure it had absolutely nothing to do with the hot looking women serving them.

Margaritas
I wasn't sure about this place. It's something to do with a guy called Jimmy who sings lots of songs about drinking Margaritas. I guess he's a local celeb because lots of people were singing along to his music. The restaurant has a volcano within it that you have to pray to, when you do it erupts and margarita flows from it into a large glass. Yep, as weird as it sounded.

Cinnabun
This place makes really really nice hot cinnamon rolls and being a cinnamon fan was a good enough reason for me to go. However I was even more surprised by their slush puppies which unlike the ones here, don't lose their colour when you drink them.


Universal Studios

The sister park to Islands with some great attractions but I came away thinking that the park in Hollywood was a little better in places. This however is the best place for a milkshake. Try the diner. It was so thick that it didn't spill over but continued holding it's shape like thick icecream.
Just don't try drinking it through a straw.

Revenge of the Mummy
This was the new ride for the park in 2004. I had intended this ride to be a complete surprise and so intentionally ignored any press articles or reviews of it (not easy to do in the internet era I tell thee). The ride itself is alright with some a nice mix of effects, coaster ride and animatronics. However the first time I came off the ride I expected more. The second time I rode it, I got more because all of the effects were working. I guess they were still having teething troubles with the ride.

Twister
A nice simulation of a twister which can be quite wet if you're in the wrong place (I'm not going to tell you where the wet areas are). There is a nice transition where they move the twister from screen to stage which I thought was cool. The high point for me was the cow though. I promise to explain why on a later post.

Men In Black
A pretty fun shooting attraction. I was rubbish at it but still wanted to reride it. I'd heard rumours that if you scored high enough you got to experience a 2nd level but I don't see how this could be and suspect it's a rumour.

Shrek 4D
This was the other new attraction for the park this year, along with the Mummy.
This is one of those 4D cinemas where you watch a 3D movie and get wet and thrown around.
I found this quite enjoyable with some good use of 3D however the hydraulics in the seats were very loud and detracted from the experience.

Jimmy Neutron
Another motion simulator ride, similar to Shrek but not 3D. However I enjoyed this much more than Shrek for the dancing sequence at the end of the film. The only downside to this attraction was that I wasn't familiar with all the Nickelodeon shows in it. I know who Spongebob is but I don't think I've ever seen it.

T2
A smaller arena than the Californian one but still a good show. Apparently it caught fire the day after we saw it, that would have been much more exciting.

Earthquake
One of the older attractions but still quite good. I'm sure everyone has seen this. There is some weird crowd interaction as it's pre-show which didn't really go with the rest of the attraction.

Jaws
Universal's version of Disney's Jungle Cruise attraction. Some nice effects and I preferred this to the California version (which is a small part of the backlot tour).

Back to the Future
They need to send this back to the rubbish bin because it's so dated now.


Islands of Adventure

Probably the best park in Orlando (sorry Carlsberg) which we visited pretty much every day.
Some great theming, amazing food and just a great place to kill the day!

Hulk
The first coaster of the trip. Very large, very green and like the character it's based on has 2 sides to it. It starts out great with a superb launch and first few elements, complete with water splash. However the second half is a bit rough and I got beat up on it, so although I rerode it, there were better coasters out there. As with Spiderman (see next) skipping the pre-show means you won't know what the hell is going on. The throughput on this was superb with I think the longest queue being 10 minutes, for the front row.

Spiderman
I never understood from people's reviews how this actually worked so was quite looking forward to it. Needless to say I wasn't disappointed, it has a great mix of 4D cinema and motion ride with some great interaction between what is on the screens and the scenery you move through. However it didn't seem to have a huge re-ride factor and I wasn't as amazed after the 15th ride. Also a down side to having small queues is that you miss the pre-show and so don't really get what's going on if you walk straight on.

Duelling Dragons
Probably the best queue line I've ever seen as you're taken deeper and deeper into the castle and it's dungeons. I really like the animated stain glass windows which I blindly ignored for the first few weeks before realising they told a story. Of the two coasters I preferred the fire dragon, just for the airtime hill which I don't remember seeing on any other coaster. Ice is alright but not as good however both coasters have to be ridden in the front row to get the best scare of any coaster. Throughput on this ride was poor compared to Hulk because they were only running a single car on each side.

Popeye Rapids
One word sums this ride up - WET!! We got soaked on the first turn and the ride did not relent.
By far the best rapid attraction I've ever come across, even the lift hill that returns you into the station (or does it??) has more water cannons on it than you're likely to see anywhere else.

Dudley Doright Flume
Another great themed water ride which although it doesn't get you as wet as the rapids is still wetter than most rides. I particularly liked the "inappropriate theming" sign which offers a view of the back end of the park which you're not supposed to see. I was however confused by the side by side drop which only allows one to be used at any one time. The final water cannons are particularly brutal too (especially number 5).

Jurassic Park
The third water ride in the park and very disappointing having ridden the one in California.
The biggest difference is that the T-Rex has no water curtain to burst through and you can see it coming from a distance. Also the dinosaur that knocks you off course failed to emerge from the water, a broken effect I guess. Finally there was a huge rat floating dead in the water which clearly wasn't part of the theming.

Flying Unicorn
This was the park's kiddy coaster which unlike the pteranodon fliers, we were allowed to ride on. It was OK but not great. The staff member at Skull Kingdom rates this as his favourite coaster in the park (we knew he was a bit weird, this confirmed it).

Dr Doom's Freefall.
This is their drop tower ride, which is similar to anyother tower attraction.
One nice touch is that having been assimilated (the theme) as you leave the ride, it plays the sound of a marching army.

Poseidon's Fury
This is one of their walk through shows which isn't too bad. The main attraction is a room that suddenly turns into Poseidon's palace. However due to a mistiming in the effects we got to see how it worked. The ride is excellently themed outside though.

Florida is over!

Well I'm back from my trip to Florida and I had a blast. It was my first time out there and a place I'd been wanting to go to for a while. I was blown away by the scale of Disney. I knew it was big but didn't realise they had their own freeway and a huge amount of land to still build on.

Universal impressed me with it's range of rides, including some very hi-tech ones. There was also an amusement park and attraction convention there that we visited.

Here's my report which I've kept brief because I don't like writing at length and doubt anyone will actually read this. I'll break it down by into bite-sized chunks..

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Hero


I finally got around to seeing this last night. Whilst it's a visually stunning film the soundtrack was sending me to sleep so I've come away thinking it was just "ok". It's the same fault I had with Crouching Tiger although being a fan of Ninjas as a kid, I tolerated the soundtrack.
The follow up comes out in December, I know they won't replace the drumming with some angst filled synth rock, which is what you'd get in an American equivalent, but I can wait in hope!

Saw is still my favourite film this year..

Monday, October 04, 2004

Flat is tidy!

Got one of those phone calls that I dread getting.

"hello, it's the estate agents. is it OK to pop around tomorrow as someone would like to view the flat"

For those that don't know, I'm trying to buy a new place and my current landlord is selling the place I'm in currently. This means I have people coming around looking at my stuff. A couple of weeks ago an old couple wanted to view the flat and I said that the place wasn't presentable and could they do tomorrow. However they were indignant so I backed down. They then went on to comment about the state of the flat and made some pretty shitty comments about me indirectly. So now I don't let the agents come around unless I've been given 24 hours notice. That way I can get the place decent for them to see, and I won't get annoyed by more crappy comments.

I'm not a slob, nowhere near it but I don't like criticism like that.

So, the flat has been tidied this evening and the agent can do what he wants tomorrow.

B-Boy Championships are over...

...and what a superb weekend it was.

Saturday was the singles battles and featured a B-Boy battle and for the first time a Popping battle. For me the latter was the better contest, and the final came down to French guys; Salah and Sally Sly. I'd seen Salah before and knew he was really good but here he was in his element and he totally blew all the opposition away, to say he was in another league would be an understatement. However for reasons that no-one can figure out, the judges gave it to Sly. The crowd went mad when the announcement was made. Sly left and Salah stayed and gave another performance. You can tell that this guy has a background in mime and he brings that to his popping. I can't find any footage to show you how good he is, if I do I'll post it. Oh and in the b-boy battle it ended up with two Koreans in the final; Hong 10 and Physics. This final was really close but Physics won it with 8 spins on his elbow, some shit that blew away Crazy Legs, so it must have been good.

Sunday was the team battle and this ended up with a Korean / American final - Project Seoul vs Massive Monkeys. This was really close, both teams having some great routines. I personally thought the Americans had it but the judges gave it to the Koreans. The team battles for me are what the whole weekend are about, and the crowd was well up for seeing these. The move of the night involved a french kid running into 2 team mates and then being launched backwards up into the air towards the rest of the crew who'd built a tower to catch him. Crazy!!!!

The only downside to the weekend was a live act called Breakestra. If there was a musical equivalent to dying on stage then they did it. Unfortunately they played a continual set so had no opportunity to stop and gauge the audience reaction. It got so bad that people just started doing their own battles in the crowd for entertainment.

Not me though, I just watched...

Roll on next year which I hope will be something special given it's the 10th anniversary.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

The Machine

Whilst at the B-Boy championships, Afrika Islam (who was hosting with Crazy Legs) made reference to his new band, called the Machine. When you see the line up you should see that this is something special.

Chuck D (Public Enemy)
Melle Mel (Furious Five)
Afrika Bambaataa (Zulu Nation)
Afrika Islam (Zulu Nation)
Ice T (Body Count)
Ernie C (Body Count)
Chad (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails)
Axel Hilgenstoehler (Thumb) **OK, I don't know this one either**

Pretty good huh? I thought this was made up as Islam does say a lot of shit on stage. However it does appear to be true, apparently they played their first gig in Germany a few days prior to the battles. The link to a review of that is here .

(If you can't read German it basically says they sound very heavy - rap with industrial overtones and that Ice T never showed up which is a bit bad for a premiere, although he did appear via video link)

Friday, October 01, 2004

Def Jam Vendetta - Fight for New York


The new Def Jam game came out today and I bought a copy on the way home, a complete impulse purchase. For whatever reason I also bought the Star Wars boxset but that's another story!

Anyway, the game is pretty good, nice solid graphics with some sick moves, especially those that involve the crowd. The moves appear a bit limited but that could be because my character hasn't developed yet. It also has Henry Rollins in it, which is enough reason to get it I think. Unfortunately I've not unlocked him yet.

In terms of fighting hip hop celebrities, I've so far destroyed Ice T, O.E. and Sean Paul (Took much delight in the last one). I wish there were more games where you can beat seven shades of crap out of celebrities.

Saw


This is a film that came out today and which I caught after work. It's probably the best film I've seen this year, although to be honest there hasn't been much stand out stuff (Big Fish springs to mind though).

Anyway, if you liked Se7en, with it's dark visuals and non-hollywood ending, then this is more of the same, but much more sadistic. The guy that wrote this needs to be looked at closely as there is a very evil streak in his personality. Instead of having a serial killer, this goes one better by having the baddie put his captors in situations where they end up killing themselves. Much more inventive.

Just about every horror movie, that has come out in the last couple of years, have been marketed as being "the scariest thing since...... and the vast majority of them have been very disappointing and not scary at all. This however really lives up to any hype (and there hasn't been much) that has been thrown at it. Women were screaming in the cinema, and blokes were doing that styled out laughing they do when they don't want to be seen screaming.

Anyway I really like this film. I'm thinking on going to go and see it again, if only to spot the clues to the ending which I'm not going to give away here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

This week's support

I've been on second line this week which means that someone else fields the calls and I'm their back up. So far I've had absolutely no calls this week.

which is nice!

B-Boy Championships


This weekend sees me at the 9th B-Boy Championships for a weekend of hip hop, spinning, MCing, more spinning, Scratching and more spinning.

Saturday is the single battles and they have popping for the first time this year. I'm looking forward to the latter more than the breakdancing.

Sunday is the team battles which are the highpoint as long as the rules aren't too strict.
The battles in 2002 featured skateboards, chairs, costumes amongst other things. Last year there was none of that which didn't make it all that entertaining.

If I don't seem the sort of person to spend all weekend at an event like this then I'm glad I'm surprised you. I've not missed an event in the 8 years it's been running so far, and don't intend to anytime soon.

the official site

Burnout 3 update

Well I've completed what I thought was the final grand prix only to be offered a 4 race series with formula 1 cars. This is proving to be too tricky for me. I'm only able to get points in one of the races. If you crash then that's pretty much it as the other cars leave you for dust.

I'll keep at it though.


The other site...

...is almost complete. I'm exactly 200/268ths of the way through and should hopefully have it finished in the next day or two. Now if I could just stop allowing distractions to get in the way.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Dentist's Again

Round 2 with the Dentist today - fillings and cleaning

The fillings were not too bad at all, the drilling was OK, the only problem was the nurse was a crap aim with the sucker thing and ended up attempting to vaccuum my tongue on more than one occasion.

It was the cleaning that was painful though. Some sort of ultrasonic brush which when put close to my gum line was more painful than any of the tattoos I've had done. I've been told that the new ultrasonic brushes you can buy are nothing like this. I'm glad of that, but will not be buying one anytime soon. I'm not that masochistic.

And the cost of all this enjoyment? £165 if you please.

I have one more round to go, in 2 weeks time.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Working elsewhere

I've not put much stuff on the site over the weekend because I've been working on another site, listing the coasters I've ridden.

I'll link it to this upon completion.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

New Michel Gondry Video

Michel Gondry is one of my favourite music directors. He's the guy that did the Chemical Brother's video with the scenery passing the train window in time to the music. He has also done a couple of movies, the most recent of which was "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind".

Occasionally he dips back to music videos, the one below is for a track called "Behind" by a French act called "Lacquer". Whilst the track isn't all that great, the concept of the video is superb - a time lapse recording of a road trip from L.A. to New York.

Enjoy!

Behind video

Party Ben Sixx Mixx


This chap Ben has a radio show in San Fransisco and plays some superb mixed sets. Whereas most mixes are clubbing tune based, these are a mix of Indy, 80s & rap. So if want to hear Franz Ferdinand mixed with Faithless mixed with The Beasties then try here.

SixxMixx

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Force and Styles

Listening to "All over the UK" tonight and reminiscing. How good were Force and Styles back in the day? Why on earth did they go and hand over the rights to all their tracks to Flip and Fill (who've only gone and ruined everything they ever did).


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Back From Belgium

Another great weekend, no beer, but plenty of chocolate and waffles.
Bobbejaanland and Six Flags Belgium are both great theme parks, the latter will be better when they lose the Six Flags label.

Like the green aliens in Futurama, Corporate firms can really suck the life out of a park.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Away for the weekend

This weekend I'm off with the ECC to Belgium for a weekend of roller coasters, chocolate and alcohol.

Having never been to Belgium before, it'll be another place I can say I've been to.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Bootleg Music

Currently my favourite music download site is http://boomselection.info/ . If you like bootlegs and mash ups then this is probably the best place to go (that I've found so far).

Remember the old days of hip hop when rappers would battle rivals on their tracks. Well it looks like it's the turn of the ladies. The site has a Lady Sovereign track for downloading where she's absolutely ripping into Jenita, who I've never heard of.

The site also has some full length mixes for downloading, which take forever to download on my ickle ol' dial up connection. So why don't I upgrade to broadband? Two reasons.

1) I am hoping to move soon into my new home, if the stupid freeholder pulls his finger out and stops stalling the process (I'll moan about this in another post).
2) If I had broadband I'd not go out at all, and I'm supposed to be going to the gym more often.

So for now I'm persevering with what I have.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

New Orange Commerical

Telecommunications company Orange are sponsoring cinema in the UK and every month or so they show a vignette before the film starts. In it a well known movie star is trying to pitch a new movie idea to a bunch of Orange Executives who take their concept and twist them to suit their mobile phone products.

To date we've had..

Roy Scheider
"The Columbian Connection", a piece shot as "Film Noir", is changed to "Film OrĂ¡nge".

Carrie Fisher
19th Century period drama where 2 characters write to each other via letter is moved to the 21st century and they communicate via text messages.

Spike Lee
"Black and Blue", a movie based on the Boston basketball team and about colour is moved to Orange County and the team is changed to the Giants, who play in Orange.

Alan Cumming
Guy lost in Vietnam is rescued after sending text messages for help.

Sean Astin
Concept for a film set in New York becomes the fourth film in the trilogy, "Lord of the Ringtones - Return of the text message".

The latest one features Verne Troyer trying to sell a film about a man who has to overcome challenges in his life and includes references to "frickin'" and "1 million pounds" complete with little-finger-in-mouth pose. I think this has been the funniest one yet.

One reason why I think these ads work is that they don't outstay their shelf life, unlike most of the adverts shown in cinemas (the twenty year old thieving snake springs to mind). They're kept fresh.

Unfortunately I can't find any transcripts or downloads for those who can't get to a British cinema. Maybe in time Orange will correct this.

Supersize Me


Whilst I was down in Camden I thought I'd get out of the rain and go and see "Supersize Me". I'm sure there's no need to explain the film; every media outlet is currently reporting on it at the moment.

The film puts together a strong case for not believing everything McDs tell you about how good their food is, and is extremely educational and insightful. If I was Health Minister I'd ensure this documentary was shown to every school kid in the country. In fact I'd do my utmost to have it shown on prime time TV.

Whereas Fahrenheit 411 was excessively schmaltzy and a questionable view of it's clearly biased director, this was much more factual and there was a smaller argument for saying that the report was manipulated and one-sided. I mean how much clearer can you get than showing how much the size of the portions have changed over time than putting the cups alongside each other (a normal cup a few years ago is now a kid's size etc.). The only bit which I think is open to question is the experiment with the kids recognising pictures of famous people, naming Ronald McDonald but not Jesus. If you edit the footage to only show the "don't know" responses you can easily add weight to your argument.

Another interesting thing to note is that McDonalds have paid to show a commerical before the film which advertises a website saying what aspects of the film they agree and disagree. Given the impact this film had in the States, where they no longer sell super size portions, I doubt many people will be interested in seeing their argument. They've already lost!

For the record, I ceased eating McDonalds 3 years ago after reading "Fast Food Nation", although a few weeks ago I did have a Quorn Burger, but only because I was drunk and hungry at 2 in the morning following the Comedy Club on Thursday night. Yes, I agree I must have been drunk to have ordered the Quorn Burger of all things.

Halloween Mission - The Boiler Suit

I have an invite to a Halloween Party that my best friend is organising for next month, and as she's insisting on it being a fancy dress affair, I've started looking for my costume.

The plan is to go as Jason Voorhees, the ice-hockey masked killer from the Friday 13th movies. The costume itself should be pretty straightforward; a blue boiler suit, big boots, the aforementioned mask and a machete. I have some ideas for extra effects to make the costume a bit better but that can come later.

So, today was supposed to be the first attempt at getting the costume. I have the boots already, and I thought I'd go for the boiler suit today whilst down at Camden Market.

Now for those who don't know about Camden Market, it's the biggest alternative market in the UK and it takes place every Saturday and Sunday. I think a few hundred thousand people visit it each weekend, it's that big. It's as diverse as you'll get in London, with a mixture of Goths, Skaters, Punks and toursits (lots of those). You can buy pretty much everything, except as it turns out all-in-one navy boiler suits. I couldn't find one anywhere, in fact, I couldn't find anything close. Some old all in one ski suits was the nearest I could find.

I did however see some Guantanamo convict outfits, well the shirts at least. If I don't have much success on the Jason outfit then I'll consider that as a back up plan, although I'd have to figure out a way to dance in shackles.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Burnout 3

This game came out in the UK on Friday and I picked up a copy on the way home. Now it's been taking over most of my weekend. It's a great game and is insanely fast. It's very easy to play it for so long that you just fall into a "zone" and before you know it hours have passed.

An amazing game that is sure to gain major accolades.

The only downside? I'm now left with a copy of Burnout 2 that I'm unlikely to ever play. One for the charity shop I think.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Bar 242 Comedy Night

OK, my first plug for something.

Once a month a local bar, near where I work, has a comedy night. It has had them in place for a number of months now (they used to be twice a week) but the attendance of the public has been pretty shocking. The place does advertise but people don't come.

Last night, the evening was headlined by Tim Vine who was throwing jokes out faster than you could keep up with, something he's well known for doing. There were 3 others before him, who varied from pretty diabolical to pretty funny. From an audience point of view I think there were around 20 people there and its a shame as the event deserves more.

So, if you're at a loose end on the first Thursday of each month get yourself to Bar 242 on the SE corner of Blackfriar's Road and Southwark Street.

Best Joke.
(paraphrased). "I went up to Scotland with Easy Jet" and was going to fly back with BA but he didn't want to fly with me. Kept going on, "I aint flyin' on no plane, crazy fool".

Best Heckle (Tied)
"I apologise, I said you look Jewish and you're not"
"You look funny but you're not".

"Anyone got any questions" (He was dying at this point)
"Do you know any jokes?"

Something else that tends to happen at these nights, is that I always seem to end up quite pissed; I suspect something to do with the amount of wine our group gets through. On this particular occasion, I staggered home at 3 a.m. having just missed the hourly night bus that takes me home. The downside is that it takes me forever to get home on the night bus as I live at the final stop, the good side is that I can fall asleep and be woken up by the driver when he gets there.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Monday, September 06, 2004

Bouncy Castle Tricks


I discovered the following at this weekend's trip to Southport.

Post to Post
Person A leans against the left hand post facing the post opposite.
Persons B & C then run at full speed from the left hand side of the castle to the right and throw all their weight into the wall.

Result - Person A is launched across the entrance way of the castle face first into the post opposite.


Through the wall
Person A leans against the right hand wall.
Persons B & C then run at full speed from outside the bouncy castle into the side of it.

Result - Person A is launched unexpectedly across the castle into the opposite wall.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

The European Coaster Club

A few years ago, I decided that I got fed up with beach holidaying and wanted to do something different. I've always liked theme parks and would visit Alton Towers every year, so I decided to see if there were any holiday companies that specialised in theme park holidays.

Other than Virgin holidays to Florida I couldn't find anything but I did come across a couple of Coaster Clubs which arranged trips abroad. Bingo! So they'd do all the work and I'd pay and go along.

There are 2 main clubs in the UK, the Roller Coaster Club of Great Britain and the European Coaster Club. I wrote to the first and got no reply, not the best start. Then I saw the chairman of that club on a documentary and to put it bluntly he played up to the camera and looked like a dick. He's the guy who wears a suit with a coaster design and has a "coaster-handshake". So I was turned off this club.

Coincidentally, the other club was touring Scandinavia as I was looking to join and I was reading the reports which were being posted daily to their website and I decided that this looked like the better club to join up to.

This was 3 years ago. Since joining I've been to France, Germany, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Spain and all over the American West Coast. I've also been to most of the parks in the UK.

Along the way I've made some great friends too!

Anyway the point of this post is to say that I'll be away this weekend to Southport to visit a couple of parks up there that I've not been to before.

The European Coaster Club

Work today

Not the best day today. Spent the afternoon with the client and discovered that they were wanting to put some changes in for the weekend without running them past the team first.

They wouldn't have worked, so I had to remain in the office to rewrite the pages to help them out.

I won't be in the office tomorrow to see the work through (see next post for reasons why) so someone else is going to have to pick it up.

Now this wasn't an interesting post to read really, was it?

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Dentists

A workmate had brought some chocolates back from Florida for us all to eat. I bit into one and heard a crunch, it turned out I'd broken my tooth. So a quick call, and I was off to the dentists to get it patched up.

100 pounds later, it's fixed and not surprisingly there is more work to do in my mouth, so I need 2 more visits.

Fortunately, the dentist wanted to do some root canal work which would have set me back another 300 pounds, however he couldn't find the nerve to work on as it had retreated. Hurrah for my natural defences. I saved myself a small fortune there.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Porno Fruit!

Ananova - Fruity sweet wrappers spark complaint

Now how would anyone spot this unless they had a fetish for having sex with fruit themselves?

The joy of out of hour support

I work for a big I.T. consultancy. I won't put their name on here as they aren't worth the bytes. In my current role I'm in a team that looks after a client's home shopping website. It's an interesting job and I work with a great bunch of people but the politics and red tape that surrounds the company really puts me off it. Complacency has always been a failure of mine, I doubt I'd ever leave.

Part of my job sees me providing out of hours support, keeping the website up and running for those poor souls who go online at 2 in the morning. I always seem to draw the short straw when it comes to Bank Holidays, actually I schedule myself in especially so that when it comes to Christmas & New Year I have a strong case for not doing it.

So I've been spending the weekend dialled in checking the systems out. Not the best way to spend the August Bank Holiday Weekend. I would have much preferred being at the Reading Festival showing 50 cents the middle finger as apparently happened haha!

This also explains why I'm posting so early in the day. One of the stores just called in with some issues and I've had to go and check things out.

I have another couple of nights to go, then it's someone elses turn.

Monday, August 30, 2004

C

C is a friend that I've made online over the last couple of years. She made it clear from the get go that we she had no intention of meeting, which is quite cool.

Since the initial chat, she has gotten herself married, written off her best mate, moved more times than I can recall and had a little baby girl. Nothing like the woman I started chatting to.

Anyway, we had a little falling out a few weeks ago when I told her I was uninterested in her views on healthy eating. I should have picked my words better perhaps as she took it very personally..

After some discussion tonight, I think we sorted things out and we're talking again which is cool as I do value the friendship we have even if sometimes I don't make that clear to her.

Bank Holiday Television

Usually I don't watch much TV, especially on Bank Holidays when the major channels just recycle old specials in a cheap way to attract viewer figures.

However this morning BBC1 showed the McGyver movie, truly crap but being a fan of the TV show, when it was on years ago, I thought I'd watch it again. It's all filmed in London, even the Baltic state scenes which were actually filmed in the empty shell of Battersea Power Station (you could see the towers in a couple of shots). Richard Dean Anderson sports a superb mullet and Brian Blessed runs around shouting, because he can't talk at a normal volume.

Truly trashy but it killed 90 minutes today and now I know how to escape from a prison cell using a cigarette lighter and a lightbulb.

What music do I listen to?

I've recently joined the audioscrobbler website. It's quite cool, you download a plugin for your media player and it logs all that tracks that you play on it onto their servers. Overtime you can see your prefered tracks and the site will then highlight people with similar tastes as yours and inform you of tracks that you might like.

My page is shown at the link below. Feel free to judge me on my musical tastes.
Audioscrobbler

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