Desert Of Zin

The occasional blog of Alistair Bain – Writer, Husband, Father and Chief Techno-Arcanologist at the Institute of Giant Robots, Spaceships and Wizards. None of these positions pay well.

Happiness is…

Peace and quiet, despite being on a 8am to 8pm shift, and Sailor On the Seas Of Fate by Michael Moorcock.


And a couple of notebooks for scribbling my ill advised attempts and fiction. And a kindle. And my bottle of water.

Happiness. Without being anywhere other than work, I reckon things could be worse.

December 22, 2015 at 7:07 pm | General, Reading, Writing | Tags: , , , | No comment

So, there’s this film called Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I went to see this film this afternoon. I’ve managed to avoid spoilers over the weekend and although I’m taking Aurora on her birthday to see it at the IMAX at the science centre on Sunday it was an idea to get a sneaky viewing before I have to sit and answer two hours of “who is he/she?”, “what’s that?” and others of a similar flavour.

In other words I wanted to enjoy the film before daughter and her friend get in the way.

First things first.  This is no Phantom Menace. It’s actually a good, fun, exciting movie. And it has a Star Wars feel to it, something I feel the prequel trilogy lacked. (And I’m not a complete frothing fanboy. I quite liked Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Phamton Menace though. Damn.  That was unforgivable.)

And it didn’t look like the whole film was done on a blue screen.  It looked tangible. Does that make sense?

The new cast are really good. And it was good to see a film that had a strong female lead.

This is all really vague, isn’t it? Well, I’m sure that of the three people who read this intermittent blog at lease two of you haven’t seen this film yet.

My advice is to give it a go.  It’s just over two hours long and I very enjoyed almost every second. And if people tell you that it’s the same story as the first Star Wars? Yeah. It kinda is. And who cares? Not me. They were both great fun.

December 21, 2015 at 7:31 pm | Watching | Tags: , | 1 comment

Night and other Lost Themes

I’m a big John Carpenter fan. You know, John Carpenter. Halloween, The Thing, Big Trouble In Little China, Escape From New York, They Live, Prince Of Darkness, In The Mouth Of Madness.

You know. John Carpenter.

Well, I was in Fopp in Union Street today for a bit of a browse and I saw an album called Lost Themes by the very same John Carpenter. Although I was tempted to invest a few quid on what was obviously a masterpiece, I thought I’d at least check the interwebs first.

Here’s the music video for Night from the Lost Themes album.

This is exactly the kind of electronic madness I can get behind.

September 10, 2015 at 4:42 pm | Listening, Watching | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No comment

Playing with Aurora, or Massacre In Squinkie Town…

The other morning Aurora and I were playing. She has these things called Squinkies (which couldn’t be more cheap, plastic or crap) and she wanted me to play with them with her.

That’s fine. I like some quality time with the wee one. Especially as it’s only a matter time before she’s too big to spend time with her old dad, with such things as boys and underage drinking to occupy her time in the years to come.

So, she had set up her team…


And I was given mine, with what was left. I may have supplemented my team with a Inquisitor from the ever popular tabletop war game Warhammer 40,000.


At one point I had left the room only to return and find this…


“Only absolute faith in the God-Emperor of Mankind saved the turtle during the inquisitorial purge of Squinkie Town.”

July 19, 2015 at 11:22 pm | Gaming | Tags: , , | No comment

Just when I thought I couldn’t get more excited…

Not so much a new trailer for Star Wars but a behind the scenes feature giving you a wee flash of Episode 7. Excited for the full thing? Of course I am.

July 11, 2015 at 9:15 pm | Watching | Tags: , | No comment

Aww, man.

Christopher Lee died today. He reached the grand old age of 93.

Tonight I’ll watch what is by far the best film he ever starred in: The Devil Rides Out. (and after that, if I have time, The Wicker Man. Just, you know, because.)

June 11, 2015 at 4:45 pm | General, Watching | Tags: , , | No comment

A quick point on Mechs and Muppets

I’ve mentioned Mechwarrior: Dark Age #1: Ghost War in passing before. While I’m in the frame of mind to enthuse about Battletech/Mechwarrior you really have to read the afore mentioned Ghost War by Michael A. Stackpole. Stackpole crafts the story so well that you don’t have to have any grounding in the Battletech universe. And I’m sure if he took all the BT references out it would still be a kickass piece of Sci-Fi.

Also, with Muppets Most Wanted on, a quick point. I never thought I’d ever in my life see a musical number with Tina Fey, Ray Liotta and Danny Trejo. Wow.

May 2, 2015 at 6:06 pm | Gaming, Watching | Tags: , , , , , , , | No comment

I Like Pancakes

Pancakes and robots to be fair. But not on the same plate as that’s just weird.

Pancakes and jam are what I’m shovelling into my oversized gullet, while browsing Battletech on the interwebs. Now this is just about the best way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Shortly this sense of peace will be threatened by having a family film time foisted upon me. (It’s not that bad. Muppets Most Wanted is the film of choice and it’ll keep my darling daughter happy for the rest of the afternoon ’til bedtime. I can always browse giant robots behind their back…)

Battletech is a old favourite of mine. Catalyst Game Labs, the company of ex-FASA employees who are keeping the mechwarrior dreams alive, released a new edition of the boxed starter game. I have to admit that I’ve been eyeing it eagerly and, once my new job starts and the house move has settled, I’ll be spending time and finances on a box of my own. I had an old version of the starter game, with cardboard mech counters rather than actual plastic miniatures, and it was my favourite game ever. Ever.

Of course, Games Workshop are a week away from releasing their range of Imperial Robots and they have a new Imperial Knight Titan heading for Hobby Store shelves.

First thing first. Battletech. I’ll aim to get a copy by the end of the month. Then the unboxing and a few test games. And it doesn’t hurt that I already have a copy of Total Warfare (the core rules) and the TechManual (the core construction rules), so by the time it arrives I should have already re-immersed myself in the rules. 🙂

May 2, 2015 at 5:24 pm | Gaming | Tags: , , , , , , | No comment

Michael Sheen speaks on protecting the NHS…

Not been online much recently but this is something I watched yesterday and felt compelled to share. I know the idea of Universal Healthcare isn’t universally popular but I do love my NHS and the knowledge that it is under threat sends a chill through me.

March 4, 2015 at 11:56 am | Watching | Tags: , | No comment

I do love a good partwork

Especially when that partwork is going to be 100 issues in total, running to just under 900 quid and will leave me with a large but beautifully detailed model of the Millennium Falcon. Yeah, internet. That’s right. And only for £900. Money well spent there.

I’ve dabbled in partworks in the past. A few editions of the Marvel Graphic Novels Collection. Bits and pieces of the Star Wars and Star Trek Fact Files. Comic books. My Doctor Who dvds.

I’ve bought the first issue, for the bargain price of £2.99, and not because I intend to go any further with it. I’m a sucker for a big poster of a spaceship.

But £900 is a step too far. I could get a Forge World Imperial Reaver & Warhound Titan for that.

Hmmm… Titans…

January 9, 2015 at 11:53 am | Gaming, Reading | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No comment