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Transformers: War for Cybertron, part one of three – Siege

Howdy folks,

There’s and all new Transformers animated series, in a nifty anime style, on Netflix, called, if you didn’t read the title of the post, “Transformers: War for Cybertron”. It’s part of a trilogy of six episode miniseries with the first called Siege.

It’s all about the Autobots trying to escape Megatron’s Cybertron, while he tries to bring about their total annihilation.

I’ll be honest, it’s the same origin story that has been done to death about the Transformers but its well done, the animation is pretty cool, the synth soundtrack is kicking and it’s actually a lot of fun. And Ultra Magnus is in it. And Jetfire too. 🙂 And few other characters who it was good, and unexpected, to see.

The next two chapters of the trilogy aren’t out yet but if you gain any joy out of giant robot space opera, then I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

I’m looking forward to the next parts already.

Now, on to something new…

Ghostland – NaNoWriMo 2020

Howdy, folks.

In recent years I’ve been dodging NaNoWriMo as I’ve not really seen its worth, or not worthwhile for me, at least. (NaNoWriMo, for those who don’t know, is National Novel Writing Month. A challenge to write a 50,000 word novel, or 50k words of a novel, through the month of November. I successfully finished it, I think, in 2008.) And that was my intention for 2020.

But, as is the case sometimes, I have a story idea that I just can’t shift.

It came as a title.

Ghostland.

I think, if I remember correctly, that I was looking at ghost story novels and collections, and the title popped into my head. I had no inkling that it was going to be a working title of anything. That happened over the course of a few days.

And then I thought to myself, “Maybe I should try NaNoWriMo this year?”

So, there we are. 🙂

And the tinkering with story ideas and doing some writing fits nicely with 356 Days Of Writing. More on that later.

Links:
NaNoWriMo

365 Days of Writing – Day Two

It was my 45th birthday yesterday. And I set myself a mad, unattainable goal for the full 365 days that I’ll be 45. I’ll write something every day, to keep my hand in, and make myself a bit more focused.

Lockdown has been easing in Scotland, and the ladies of Casa Desertofzin are back at work/school so the days are a lot more peaceful. I have time, is what I’m saying, for an small daily project until I’m back at work.

I didn’t post yesterday but Day One had me writing some notes on a story for a Black Library submission window. It’s for the Warhammer Horror imprint, a few novels and short story collections of which I’ve read and been really impressed by.

So, that was yesterday, typing out some ideas, a character or two, and trying to get the feel of it down.

Today, Day Two, I’m building on that. Trying to get a more solid foundation for the story to sit on. If I’m happy with my progress I might try to throw down actual words.

Managing Expectations…

So, this happened…

Then, this happened…

Initially scunnered, I’m now sitting at my desk with broken tanks, glue and a sense of peace and acceptance.

J.U.L.I.A.: Among the Stars

I bought the game yesterday because it was both on sale on Steam and had been on my wish list for a few years now.

And also because I fancied playing a point and click adventure, and J.U.L.I.A. was well reviewed.

I bought the game yesterday, played it on and off all day and finished it about 10 minutes ago. Perhaps that’s the review / recommendation all there, in a nutshell. I just couldn’t let it go.

The backgrounds are beautiful, the puzzles are tricky without being hair-pulling and the story is really good. When I look back at it, the story fits together nicely.

Only things that are a bother are, the sassy ship AI gets annoying sometimes and I’m sure I’ve missed the complete explanation why the protagonist is alone on the ship to begin with.

I did rattle through it at some pace though, so there’s a chance that a few details have slipped through the net.

So, 9 out of 10? Much fun, Steam sale price-point, well crafted. A good way to spend a day in Covid-19 lock down.

Oh, and I might have missed something but what does J.U.L.I.A. stand for?

(also posted as a review on Steam)

Some happy memories, and Headswim

I’m up late tonight, scribbling down some notes for the novel, and I’ve got some Headswim playing in the background.

Headswim you say? One of the best bands you’ve never hear of.

Pardon me for getting all introspective here.

I first saw Headswim at the Cathouse in Glasgow, when the Cathouse was at it’s previous location. If it remember correctly, and I probably don’t, they were on a three band bill with Tool headlining and, for reasons I can’t remember either, they couldn’t play that night.

It ended up that there was barely a dozen folk there that night to see the other two bands. My friends and I stuck it out and, after the gig when everyone decanted to the open club downstairs, we hung out with Headswim. They were really great guys, and it was a great night.

I’m not sure if this is the “Lockdown” talking but I miss things, like going to a gig and hanging with the band after. Getting drunk with pals and acting like a bit of an idiot. I understand that being a husband and father means that I have to adopt a responsible attitude but it’s not like Ruth doesn’t champion any social thing I get around to doing.

And something odd seems to be happening to my social anxiety at the moment. I’ll ponder and update you later. Thanks for listening, internet.

Chess? Oh, Go On Then

This evening I’ve been learning to play chess.

I’ve played before with Ruth but what happened is that she taught me to play, I beat her twice and we haven’t played since. Now, I’m not saying that as a boast. I prefer playing tactical games more than she does.

Anyway.

That was years ago and, while I can still remember the moves that each piece makes, the finer methods of play are beyond my experience.

What happened was, I was talking to some rando online when they challenged me to a game of chess. I created my account on chess.com and was roundly beaten three times. Since then I’ve been reading up on the finer points of the game.

Strategy and the like. I can’t say I’m any better now, because how much can one man improve in 4 hours but I don’t think I’m quite so sucky at it.

Time will tell, I’m sure.

Tomorrow I’ll try against a computer opponent before I feel confident enough for playing against a fleshy one.

Doctor Who : The Sensorites

It’s a muddled affair.

Ep1 :

Someone steals the Tardis lock. And traps us on a spaceship that itself is trapped in Sensorite space. Christ, it’s not the best. Hartnell is struggling with his lines, which is fine as I’m struggling with the whole script.

But just wait until you meet John. He’s the most charismatic person in space.

Ep2 :

The Sensorite’s planet is made of Molybdenum. Molybdenum? Oh, my!

But in all seriousness, I am enjoying the Sensorite’s facial hair.

Ah, so previous humans have been dicks to the Sensorites. Classic humans.

Ep3 :

Susan, going down to the Sensorite planet? Surely not. It can’t be allowed!

In all seriousness, the story has picked up. While episode one was a duffer, from two onward it picked up considerably.

And there’s some really good character development with Susan, and the poor John who is just a victim of Sensorite mind control.

And a final point, never trust an administrator with a disintegrator.

Ep4 :

Chesterton!!!

Could it be… the water? Let’s pretend it is, and see if we’re right.

Also, is the administrator evil or just incompetent?

Ooh, Doctor, now what is down the aqueduct? And I can only hope that was your tummy rumbling.

Ep5 :

The Doctor is in a fighting mood. I’m hoping he’s going to kick some ass.

And John has been returned to us!

And so has Barbara. To be honest, in all the excitement, I had kinda forgotten all about her… Oops.

Ep6 :

What’s happened to the space lady? Will the Doctor and Ian find who is poisoning the aqueduct? Will the City Administrator finally get kicked in the nuts?

Verdict :

A dodgy start but it gets much better.

The crazy humans at the end are brilliant and let the story turn full circle.

Also, the Tardis crew are just excellent. I was never much of a Hartnell era fan before but I’m really feeling it now.

40k : astra militarum and alpha legion vs. tau (750+750vs1500)

Tonight’s game was a three player, two vs one, game of Warhammer 40000, Games Workshop’s futuristic military tabletop miniatures game.

I brought 750 points of Astra Militarum.

This isn’t a battle report of any kind but a wee breakdown of how my army performed, unit by unit, especially as I brought some things to battle for the first time. Let’s begin.

Company Commander
+ laspistol
+ frag grenades

Company Commander
+ laspistol
+ frag grenades

These guys are order generators, and to pay the H.Q. tax. Low points and a basic loadout, they’re not used for actual combat.

Infantry Squad
+ lasgun / 9
+ frag grenades
+ laspistol / sergeant

Infantry Squad
+ lasgun / 9
+ frag grenades
+ laspistol / sergeant

Infantry Squad
+ lasgun / 9
+ frag grenades
+ laspistol / sergeant

One squad for minding the Basilisk with a Company Commander. The other two, with a CC, for objective sitting.

Bullgryns
+ Bullgryn maul / 3
+ frag bombs
+ slabshield

A first time unit. I wanted to see how useful they’d be for hitting and smashing. They took on a Tau Commander and lost. To be fair, I rolled badly. Adding a Ministorum Priest would have given the unit an extra 3 attacks. The slabshield was worth the points, though. It kept my guys alive for another turn.

Hellhound
+ heavy flamer
+ inferno cannon

Armoured Sentinel
+ heavy flamer
+ Sentinel chainsaw

Armoured Sentinel
+ heavy flamer
+ Sentinel chainsaw

The Hellhound was a new unit. The inferno cannon is a beast. 2D6 auto hits at strength 6. It all but wiped out a unit of Tau Fire Warriors. The Sentinels I used to accompany the Hellhound. They did an okay job, but swapping them out for a second HH seems a better use of the points.

I DO like Sentinels though.

Basilisk
+ Earthshaker cannon
+ Heavy bolter

The Basilisk needs a pal. One isn’t enough to do serious damage now that weapon templates aren’t a thing. I can churn out a good amount of damage to single units, but only D6 hits (rolling two D6’s and choosing the highest) a turn. I should have used it for picking apart battlesuits but I wasted it on squads of cheap infantry.

Valkyrie
+ multi-laser
+ two multiple rocket pods
+ two heavy bolters

For delivering the Bullgryns and annoying the enemy. It was okay but didn’t do as well as in the past.

For a next game, at that points level, I’d add a second Hellhound, drop the Valkyrie and Basilisk and maybe add some Heavy Weapon Teams. And maybe a Chimera transport for the infantry, for objective camping.

A good fun game though. 🙂

the substitute (a tom berenger classic…)

Okay, this might seem like I’m pouring venom on it straight away, with a shady title like that, but let’s not forget that Berenger, at the height of his powers, was a very watchable actor.

And 1996’s The Substitute is showing those powers in the ascendant.

Here’s the deal; Jonathan Shale (Berenger) is a mercenary whose fortunes have turned. His team have returned to the U.S. after a botched mission in Cuba. Anyway, his girlfriend teaches at an incredibly rough high school in Miami, she’s pissed off the gang who runs wild in the school. She gets badly beaten up and Shale manages to set himself up as the substitute teacher of the title.

It’s a brilliant action / thriller with high quality performances from everyone. It’s brilliant. Brilliant.

The sequel, The Substitute 2: School’s Out, isn’t. It’s direct to video trash, despite being led by Treat Williams. Treat Williams is always watchable, but not even he can save the sequel.

(I mean, really, it sucks so hard from the first moment. It is the absence of subtlety in movie form. I’ve rarely seen a film so bad, and I’l watched a LOAD of shitty films. And there’s even a third and fourth film. What?)

Back to the first film, Ernie Hudson is the school principal, Luiz Guzman is one of Shale’s mercs, and the rest of the cast – none of whom I recognize – are reasonably above-average.

I know that the “white man rescuing the inner city school from itself” film isn’t a new genre, but The Substitute is still worth a watch.