Sunday, January 31, 2016

Game: The Witness

Braid, which came out years ago was a quite brilliant platformer and the designer Jonathon Blow has used the money from that to spend the last half decade to work on this project: The Witness. It's a first person puzzle game which has you taking on a number of logic and environmental puzzles in a small island map, with some sort of sinister back story.

The graphics are beautiful and the puzzles are clever and tough. I've not played a game in ages where I've needed a notebook to scribble on as I worked on the puzzle solutions (it's a nice way to kill the commute).

I'd completed it in 2 weeks but that's not a reflection of how short it is, more how much I was playing it. I did have some marathon weekend sessions on it, it was that addictive. Reading forums there are rumours and conspiracy theories that there is a lot more that has been missed, such is the interest in the world that Jonathon has created.

Highly recommended. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Film: Dangerous Men

A film that took 20+ years to make, features some of the most terrible acting ever committed to celluloid, a story line that makes no sense, a credit roll that features the same person doing most of the roles and an ending that comes from nowhere as if the money just ran out. What's not to like?

If you like bad cinema then this is a must-see. Thanks as ever to the amazing PCC for showing it.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Show: Cirque du Soleil - Amaluna

Amaluna is a show I first saw a few years ago in Seattle but with it coming to the UK for the first time I had to see it again. When initially released it made a big deal of it being mostly made by and starring women, this claim seems to have been downplayed now as there are a number of male acts featured.

It was also good to revisit anyway as the show has evolved and a number of acts are new, replacing others that have now gone. I'm pleased to say the Balance Goddess routine which totally blew me away the first time I saw it, is still included in the show and based on tweets that I get daily it looks to be the stand out performance of the show.

The show runs until March before heading back to the continent for a run of shows there.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Graffiti: Phlegm @ Herne Hill

As part of an MC Escher exhibition, Phlegm has done a piece, inspired by his work, on the side of a building near Herne Hill station. I pass this every day on my commute and it's nice to see.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Sightseeing: Madrid

My last day and with blisters on my blisters I decided to spend the morning on the tourist bus, doing the lazy way to see the city.

and being on the open-top bus just happened to be on the coldest day of the year, which only the severely stupid bothered riding on the top deck.

A cool statue on the top of the Metropolis building. 

The Basilica

The bear and tree again, this time in the Playa del Sol.

Playa del Sol is another big square in the city. Unlike Plaza Mayor this one is much more open and a more popular gathering place.

Atocha station again. It looks like everything, whether it be bus, metro or train, comes here.
A giant frog for no reason.

Why did someone stick their keys here?

The Palacio del Comunicaciones is a large administrative building

The Alacala Gate photos better from the bus than on the street. It was quickly becoming apparent that the tour bus was visiting all the same sights I'd hit on foot the day before.

In the Plaza del Colon is a nice statue of Christobel Colon, who we know in the UK as Christopher Columbus. 

More cool buildings, this is on the Grand Avenue which is the main road through the heart of the city on which the theatres reside.

The remains of the city's Christmas celebrations and decorations still existed.

Some nice old shool graff.

The only attraction I saw on the bus that I missed on foot and I had researched and forgotten about was the Egyptian Tomb. It was so cold the water had frozen over.

A far off shot of Abismo way off in the distance. Yay for zoom lenses.

The tour finished at Playa del Sol where some "artists" had now appeared to make some cash off the tourists. I have to admit the guy on the bike was a novel twist on the floating Romanian Yoda that we have in London.

So it was good to do the bus tour but a little disappointing to have done most of it on foot the day before. I'm sure that's more a reflection of how much walking I do when I'm away and not casting dispersions on the bus company.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Park: Parque de Atracciones de Madrid

Whilst in walking mode I decided to walk to the main theme park in the City. It's located in the west of the city, a lengthy walk out of the old town. I know this because I did it.

As I got close I was able to walk around Tornado but there were no signs of it operating, confirmed at the ticket office on the sign that said it was down today along with a bunch of other rides, fortunately none of the other coasters. I was lucky that the one that wasn't running was the one I had done on a previous visit.

I came here as part of a Spanish tour with the ECC in 2003 but the park had undergone quite a lot of change since then, offering me 5 new coasters. The biggest park is Parque Warner, a train ride south but I wasn't interested in going there with just one new coaster for me to ride. I didn't want to do too much coaster activity on this trip but I had always planned on doing this one.

It was fair to say the park was very very quiet.

The biggest coaster is Abismo, a modified sky loop. This didn't look to be running either. Boooooo!!!

First coaster that I did get to ride and one I knew was running as I saw it on the way to the park entrance is Tarntula, a cool spinning coaster ride. 

It was pretty good, not amazing but not dull. The 3 in our car did get a decent spin so can't complain.

The top of Abismo which is the main draw in this park. Still no sign of it running.

This is a Walking Dead walkthrough attraction, closed as it was too cold for zombies.

Second coaster was Vertigo, a mouse coaster which offered nothing out of the ordinary other than the output of the kid in front who decided to spit midway around. A stern look was enough for him to apologise, despite the fact he missed me.

The park has a famous old carousel, and it's not just horses.

The park's mine train coaster was closed too, a conversation with the staff indicated it would likely open later in the day. It was a bit cold to open it up. I sat outside and had lunch whilst watching countless groups of people entering the castle and being turned away almost immediately.

To kill time I negotiated my way onto the two kiddy coasters, Vagones Locos 

and Padrinos Voladores which wasn't embarrassing one little bit.

A conversation with the mine train staff revealed that Abismo was running but the park's policy states to only send a car out when there are enough people to fill it. So I went over where a small gathering of people were waiting in the cold, joining the queue and we were quickly on board and riding.

and I wished I hadn't. The restraints were a real squeeze and the park were being quite insistent on getting the restraints down further than I'm used to. I'd obviously put on quite a bit of weight over the second half of last year which hadn't helped. I was alright up until the airtime hill coming out of the loop, that hurt!

Time to lose some weight Malcolm...

With Abismo done I headed back to the mine train and continued watching the crowds being turned away only to find after 10 minutes the crowds weren't coming back out. A quick check had revealed that the ride had opened and was taking passengers. Yay!

So a nice few hours at the park but a warning that as well as coming to Spain in January, I really needed to work on some other resolutions ;)

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