Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

I have to say, I liked this movie right up to the big finale... that... uh... missile was completely UNREALISTIC.

Otherwise, fine movie.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Black Light by Stephen Hunter (novel)

Cover of "Black Light"Cover of Black LightBlack Light is another of Stephen Hunter's novels about Bob Lee Swaggert and his father Earl Swaggert. Both are sort of larger than life genuine American that prefers the outdoor, law, and military, and neither is afraid to do what needs to be done, even if it is killing people outside the realm of the law. In a way, this is very reminiscent of Lee Child's "Jack Reacher" novels. Both are sort of "knight errant" out to correct a few wrongs.

This book has a "bookend" dual-plot-line book where Bob Lee was enticed into looking into his father's last day on earth, and uncovers a conspiracy, which is still ongoing today. You got two tracks going, one in 1955, and one in "present day".

Earl Swaggert is a sheriff's deputy, a lawman, and while he grew up all white, he's not a racist. When a black minister asked him to look for a missing black girl, he did so... and found her body. Later that night, he's dead, supposedly died in a shootout with the most wanted felons in Arkansas. He was buried as a hero.

In the present day, Earl's son, Bob Lee Swaggert, is a retired farmer who was approached by a writer, whose father was severely wounded by a man who was the son of the man that killed Earl Swaggert (and was killed by Earl as well). The "kid" wants to write a book about how that one fateful night can have consequences down another generation. Bob Lee was initially not impressed, but later, after going through some of his father's effects, he realized there's something VERY wrong with his father's death... the evidence doesn't match the reports. Something is very wrong.

So they went digging... by going back to Arkansas, and found a conspiracy that started with his father's time... and is still active, with layers and layers of lies, from various parties. And Bob Lee gets to deal out a bit of death when his opponent decided to silence him...

The book is exciting, and the ending is oddly appropirate and surprising at the same time. If you like the idea of someone out to right wrongs this is a great book.
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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Playing "Mount & Sword"

Actually bought this game twice... once as a bargain bin special, then bought the full pack on Steam

MB is a medieval simulation here you play a guy (or girl) out to make his or her fortune and fame as adventurer / mercenary. The most interesting part is third-person real-time combat, where you need to block / parry / attack using a variety of weapons, including two-handed weapons, one-handed weapon, one-handed weapon with shield, bows and arrows, crossbows, throwing weapons (knives, rocks, javalins, etc.) and you will do fighting on  foot AND horseback (yes, shoot arrows too).

You roam this world with multiple factions, and war parties passing back and forth, bandits roam the countryside, and you need to raise a band, and later, an army, swear allegiance to a particular lord (and raid his enemies), keep your band fed, trade for supplies and equipment (and food), and when it is time, besiege enemy castles and storm them (or defend your lord's castles against invaders).

Later expansions added larger parties, better tactical controls, as well as firearms and formations.

It's a pretty weird game, as it's partly like Sid Meier's pirates (lots of random encounters, and freedom to do almost anything), but with more randomness and 3D graphics.

I will report back with progress of my campaign.
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Monday, August 8, 2011

KCR: Thunder in the Deep (novel, submarine)

U.S. Navy Sea-Air-Land (SEAL) members emerge f...Image via Wikipedia"Thunder In the Deep" is a sequel to "Deep Sound Channel"  which was reviewed earlier. It describe a nightmare scenario... a resurgent Nazi Germany, working with a new Apartheid South Africa, and their super ceramic hulled subs, armed with nuclear torpedoes. No surface ship can survive in the ocean. It is up to the American supersub, and its captain, crew, and SEAL commandos, to deal with the latest German attempt to turn the tide... another secret weapon. Except this time, the Germans know the Americans are coming...

Thunder In the Deep can get a bit thick in terminology, and it's a bit over the top with the captain going along with the SEAL team and get into gunfights, but it's interesting nonetheless. It's better to read it from the beginning of the series though.

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

KCR: Cowboys and Aliens (movie, western, scifi)

Went to see Cowboys and Aliens yesterday. It was a fun movie that is about the same as Battle: LA... looks great, but the motivations doesn't make sense, esp. for the other side. It's fun, but it's not THAT good.









Movie starts with the hero wakes up in the middle of the desert with almost no memory, wound, almost no cloths, but a very good survival instincts... when set upon by 3 brothers. There's this mysterious bracer on his left wrist. He went into town, was helped by the preacher, met a mysterious woman, and was arrested for being a wanted outlaw who robbed a stagecoach belonging to the local rich man... oh, and he pissed off the rich guy's spoiled brat.

As he's about to be transported to Santa Fe, the rich guy arrived with his "mob"... they want the guy... and the son... then the flying aliens attacked, and roped off a lot of people. The stranger, who we now know is "Jake", found his bracer activated into a weapon system, and shot down one of the flyers.

Now it's a battle. How will Jake find out who he is, what happened to him, and who is that woman in his dreams or visions? And what horrible things had he done that he can't remember?

When you examine the plot a bit closer, there's a ton of problems.

1) How would an alien weapon/bracer just happen to fit a human wrist, and be activated by it?

2) Why would an alien weapon/bracer react to other aliens, when they are hunting HUMANS?

3) Why kidnap all those humans any way? There's too many of them needed for "experimentation".

4) Mining for gold... doesn't make sense at all. They could have found far more precious metals and such out in the asteroid belt. They have plenty of technology. Why come to Earth at all?

5) There is only ONE of those bracers?!  Others have those big rifles, but haven't seen more than a handful of them. Most of the aliens do hand-to-hand only.

Told you, doesn't make that much sense.
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Sunday, July 31, 2011

KCR: Shaolin (2011, Movie, Martial Arts, China)

Shaolin monasteryImage by inspbylife via FlickrShaolin, i.e. "New Shaolin Temple" is a 2011 movie starring Andy Lau as a man who seeks redemption. As a deputy of one of the warlords, he holds absolute power over all in the city... in the land next to the Shaolin Temple. He has the guns, he has the soldiers. When he tried to kill his boss, his subordinate decided to kill them both. He barely escaped, but his daughter died, and after a bit of self exploration, he chose to become a monk and trained as Shaolin. When his subordinate, now "general", decided to steal Chinese treasure and sell them to some foreigners for weapons. Can the Shaolin monks save the population, and defeat the evil warlord?

The movie is heavy on redemption, and the meaning of zen and all that. There are some funny moments, as you know when Jackie Chan's involved. Who knew cooking can be used as kung fu? There's a ton of sacrifice, tons of backstabbing, and so on. Evil is truly evil... but there is redemption. Really.

Shaolin vs. guns? There will be a lot of death, but the Shaolin give more than they get, that's for sure. Still, bring knives and sticks to a gunfight? Hmmm...

Still, it's worth watching. Really.

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KCR: The Lost Bladesman (movie, China)

A Guan Yu idol holding the guandao in the righ...Image via WikipediaThe Lost Bladesman is a movie about the ancient China's top bladesman Guan Yu, who simply had too much honor for his time, and therefore is sometimes had his honor used against him by the likes of Cao Cao. This movie gave a very interesting portrayal of this ligendary figure, who did not exactly die a good death, but he did die in battle, and was honored forever, as a part of Chinese legend.

The movie... is interesting, as Guan Yu (who is also known as Guan Gong, or Guan Yun Chang) is usually not given much detail, other than he is a VERY good martial artist with his signature weapon, the blade that now bears his name, the Guan Dao. It is basically a staff with a hard point on one end and a very sharp blade on the other end. It is a heavy weapon that requires a real master to wield well.

The plot itself gave a lot of insights into this legend's life... fictional of course. It claims he may be a secret admirer of his godbrother's wife, and again, he was used by Cao Cao for his purposes.

The movie starts with a huge state burial... of Guan Yu. That's right, this is a bookend beginning and ending. In the middle is his life... starting with him as a prisoner of Cao Cao, and ends with his... sort of... hmmm. let's just say... permanent retirement. In between, he's... too good for himself. Either he's on their side, or he's someone too dangerous to be kept alive. It's basically escaping from one ambush to another, and some wars in between. It's a tragedy of a great guy who gets used by others.


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