2014-10-11

It is Time of Game!

Star Wars Commander

Disney Interactive
IOS, Android

The fall has come again and that means it’s gamer season, so I thought I’d do a short review of the latest mobile platform Star Wars game from Disney Interactive: Star Wars Commander.
                       
In this Free To Play game you choose to play the Rebel Alliance, or the Evil Galactic Empire in what amounts to a Command and Conquer style RTS (real time strategy) game where you build bases, command troops and vehicular assets to attack and defend through missions and special campaigns.  Sounds great right?  In fact, this is the game I’ve been waiting for since I played the first Command and Conquer game on the PC back in 1995!  Imagine my thrill as I loaded the game on to my iPad and heard the music, sound effects, and voices (sort of, they’re sound alikes, but whatever) of my favourite vehicles and characters from the Original Trilogy rendered with a lovingly stylish and original way.

Then I played the game. 


To say Star Wars Commander is a disappointment would be a colossal understatement.  This game is a result of what I believe is the epitome of what is wrong with the video game industry these days: The Freemium Model.  For the one person in the universe still unfamiliar with the term I will explain.  One downloads the game for free, then in order to actually progress in any kind of meaningful and satisfying way within the game, you have to shell out Real World Cash for virtual in game premium currency to buy upgrades for your troops, vehicles, base, and the like.  If I had a choice, I would rather have paid $5 or $10 bucks up front for a game like this just to not be constantly harangued to plunk down cash to move forward.  The problem is that developers like Disney Interactive don’t seem to understand that gamers don’t mind spending good money on games that give us a good experience.  The overwhelming majority of us don’t mind paying $60 for a console game that, even if the first few levels contain some grinding, we still get the satisfaction of achievements, or trophies, and a fun, entertaining gaming experience.  Shitty freemium games like Star Wars Commander mercilessly steal your precious time, the battery power from your devices and offer nothing in return; no satisfaction, no entertainment, and no fun.

Pros


The sights and sounds of the Star Wars universe in a Command and Conquer style RTS.

Stylish, and original look for classic star wars characters and vehicles.

Cons


Star Wars Commander requires that you be hooked up to the internet in order to play. 

In order to save your progress, you must register through Facebook.

You do not have to choice to accept or deny who plays with you and as a result are constantly having your base destroyed and looted by random, higher-level players.

Freemium.  If you want to win, you have to pay.

You have zero control over troops when attacking, or how your turrets target when defending.  Once you start a battle, the AI just randomly does what it wants.

IN the end Star Wars Commander, and freemium games like it, are nothing more than a colossal waste of time and battery power.  It’s a shame really because the Star Wars characters, and universe as a whole, deserve a far better game than this.

1 out of 5

2014-08-17

DVBlusday

Noah


Directed by Darren Aronofsky

Russell Crowe plays the titular character, a 600-year-old “action-hero" of a madman with delusional visions of the end of the world, by way of a massive flood caused by rainstorms and all the springs of the great deep bursting forth.  According the conversations with the creator that he has in his dreams, only he and his family are worthy of being saved as only they among EVERY HUMAN ON EARTH are “righteous in this generation.”  So he builds a HUGE 750ft long boat from magically appearing cypress trees and prepares to fill it with mating pairs of EVERY ANIMAL, BIRD, and BUG on Earth, and with the help of seraphim shaped like rock golems, defend the ark against the evil cannibalistic humans led by Tubal-Cain (Ray Winstone) that wish to take the boat from him.

Ok, firstly the story of Noah in the so-called Old Testament is pretty short, pretty sketchy, lacking in any real detail and rife with contradiction.  It makes specious, even ridiculous claims that are by all logic and good sense, absolutely impossible.  It’s not history, it’s utter fantasy.  This movie is also fantasy.  But who cares!  If Aronofsky wanted to make a movie based on the biblical account, it would be a very short movie indeed, so some “padding out” was certainly required of the source material.

Yeah, so… where to begin… apparently this ancient civilization of humans has quite a modern sensibility to them.  Their clothes, though roughspun, are quite well tailored, and they also seemed to have quite a wide knowledge of metallurgy to create not only fabulous swords, daggers and spear-tips, but also welder masks, shopping carts, machinery of some kind, and oh yeah rocket launchers.  Yes rocket launchers.  I shit you not.

It does have a few good ideas however, like how Noah and his wife (Jennifer Connelly) figure out how to “drug” the animals and put them into a state of hibernation for the voyage, is a good way to explain away the obvious problem with the biblical story of how does one feed so many animals for the year or so that they reside in the ark.  It also makes sense that there would be some people (The army led by Tabul-Cain) that would find Noah, and attempt to escape the deluge with him either through cooperation, or by force.  And with the exception of a few moments of scenery chewing, and over-acting, the performances are solid, and the flick is shot beautifully thanks to the work of director of photography Matthew Libatique.

Aronofski’s flick, in its attempt to be all things to all people ends up missing the mark on all fronts.  It not only alienates Christians and Jews by dismissing their mythology as nothing more than magical fantasy, but also by making a movie that in the end amounts to nothing more than a mediocre actioner, Aronofski alienates movie fans in general.  Honestly, if I wanted to watch an overly long senseless action flick with wall-to-wall CGI, I would have watched Transformers: Age of Extinction.  It’s a bit of a shame that this wasn’t a better film because I absolutely loved Aronofski’s The Wrestler, and enjoyed his hauntingly beautiful Black Swan, and wonder if there wasn’t some studio interference in the making of Noah.

The good news is, now that Paramount has the “rock monster” digital assets, maybe they’ll let William Shatner borrow them to so he can finally “fix” his ending to Star Trek V: The Final Frontier!

1.5 out of 5

2014-03-01

Thoughts on Star Wars Rebels



The recent pictures from New York Toy Fair have given us a glimpse of what some of the characters and space ships will look like when the new Star Wars animated series finally premieres in the fall of 2014, so I decided to give some of my thoughts on what we may or may not get out of this show.

What The Fans Want:
A five season story arc that begins some ten years after the events of Revenge of the Sith that involves Han Solo and Chewbacca in the early days of their friendship, smuggling, roaming the galaxy, meeting all manner of interesting creatures, getting in adventures and sometimes having to deal with various Imperial Entanglements.  Also having run-ins with bounty hunters like Boba Fett, and other smugglers, space pirates, and baddies.  The overall arc borrows from the Brian Daly books but isn’t a slave to them, and leaves off with Han and Chewie on Tatooine in the Mos Eisley Cantina.

What We Will Probably Get:
Obi-wan teams up with a young, pre-teen Jedi who was in hiding during Order 66, an alien sidekick of some kind, a wacky droid and a female Twilek (because Dave Filoni seems to love Twileks so much), as they travel the galaxy tracking down and rescuing the literally hundreds of Jedi that escaped The Purge.  At the same time Mon Mothma and her small group of rebel senators bemoan Palpatine’s New Order, but do nothing about it because the Rebel Alliance doesn’t actually win any battles against the Empire until right before A New Hope.   The overall story arc will most likely never be realized because Disney has an appalling track record with animated TV of late, and will most likely cancel the series after one season.


This doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to seeing what the show is about and what direction it goes, but lets just say I’m not holding my breath for the 100 episodes of awesome sauce that it could be if it was about the adventures of Han Solo and Chewbacca, but who knows, we might just get pleasantly surprised.

2014-01-18

Lond Ho Adventures


Lond Ho Adventures One Shot: Pantophobia

“My fakking head is killing me!  You guys got any Aspirin?”

Paco Villa Lobos rubbed his forehead with a tanned, paint stained hand as he stepped in from the deck and settled down on the end of the gigantic, puffy, black and tan coloured chesterfield in flat 1401 of London House apartments.  It was warm in the flat, a little too warm for June, Hunter thought, as a light breeze blew in from the open patio door, causing the plastic duck’s head wrapped in six-pack can rings that hung from the chandelier to spin lazily.  Mia Jones and her friend Charlize Townsend were still finishing their cigarettes outside so Bill decided to say nothing about Paco once again leaving the goddamn patio door wide open.  Seasons by Chris Cornell was playing on the Sanyo CD player that Hunter had recently wired into Bill’s full sized, Kenwood component stereo system, and the flat had a bit of a “pre-party” vibe to it.

“We don’t have any Aspirin.  Deal with it.”  Bill instead grumbled.

Kelli was sitting on the chesterfield, uncomfortably close to Hunter, who was just finishing tying up his 14 hole Doc Martens, in preparation for a night out at The Underground.  Hunter stood up and flopped over into his huge, caramel-coloured leather chair, as Kelli continued her story.

“Anyways, so we were out having a picnic, eating Kentucky Fried Chicken at our place in cottage country,”

Hunter interrupted, “What does that mean?  ‘Cottage country?’”

Kelli sighed, she was sure she had explained about her family’s cottage out at Muskoka before, and was pretty sure he was just interrupting for the sake of hearing his own voice.  Before she could continue however, Mia stepped into the room, with Charlize right behind, sliding the patio door shut.  This was the first time Hunter and Bill had met Charlize, and she was about as unlike Mia as one could get.  She was a full head shorter, had bleached blonde hair with the roots showing, had spotty, blotchy skin that she covered with a generous amount of foundation, and wore plastic rimmed cat’s eye glasses without lenses.  Her dress sense was also quite different, where Mia preferred pleated tartan skirts, and t-shirts, Charlize dressed on tight collared button down shirts and wore long, flowing skirts.  Hunter couldn’t be sure if he found her attractive or not, but the night was young.  Bill disliked her from the get-go, but couldn’t have said why.  It was just a feeling he had.

“Hunter, sweetheart, Cottage country is the summer holiday spot for a lot of people in southern Ontario.  My parents rented a place out there a couple of times when I was young actually.”  Mia said, picking up the half-finished bottle of Banff Ice Vodka from the heavy gauge cardboard computer box that was currently serving as a coffee table, and took a swig.

This seemed to annoy Bill, “Jesus Mia, we do have glasses in the kitchen!”

Mia dismissed the comment, “Relax Billy, I don’t have cooties.”

Bill almost said something about how much he disliked being called ‘Billy’ but bit his tongue instead.  Out of all of Hunter’s friends, he actually liked Mia, and didn’t feel like arguing with her.


Kelli was losing the room, and felt she needed to get attention back to her if she was going to finish her story.  This always happened when Mia was around, with her long legs, and bright red hair and striking good looks, she tended to dominate not only the room, but the conversation as well upon entering it, and Kelli hated her for it.

“Anyways!”  She said a little too loudly, “I was telling a story here!  Anyways, so we are eating outside on the picnic table, in front of my family’s place in Muskoka, and it was summer so there were a LOT of bees and hornets buzzing about.  Oh yeah, did I mention we were eating Kentucky Fried Chicken?”

“YES!”  Hunter, Bill and Paco grumbled at the same time, exasperated.  It seemed to them Kelli had been telling this story for hours.  Really it was only about fifteen minutes, but she had been interrupted several times…

Mia went to the tiny kitchen area and started going through the cabinets, looking for a glass, “Where do you keep your glasses?”

Hunter took the opportunity to jump up, “I’ll show you!”

Before Hunter was out of the room, Mia’s friend Charlize was across the room and taking over the huge leather chair.  This was her first night at flat 1401, and she had not yet been informed of all the rules of the apartment yet.

“I wouldn’t sit there if I were you!”  Warned Bill.

Charlize jerked her head towards Bill, “Pardon?  What do you mean?  Is it not safe?”

Kelli was fuming at yet another interruption to her story, as the music changed to Dyslexic Heart by Paul Westerberg.

Bill chuckled, “Safe?  Well I suppose that all depends on your definition of the term.”

Kelli jumped in during the pause in conversation, “So we were eating chicken, and my sister was peeling the skin off,”

Paco spoke, “Oh, but the skin is the best part!  All those herbs and spices!”

“I KNOW!”  Said Kelli, delighted that at least one person was interested in what she had to say, “So she was peeling the skin off and piling it next to her plate when this HUGE hornet, or wasp or something flew down,”

Charlize interrupted, “What was it?  A hornet or a wasp?  My mother is an entomologist, and there really is quite a difference between the two.”  She said, adjusting her fake eyeglasses.

Beyond annoyed, Kelli stared at her for a second.  Fuck her and her dark roots and stupid fake glasses!  This is my story!  She rolled her eyes behind her own, real green-coloured cat’s eye glasses.  “A hornet then.”

This seemed to satisfy Charlize, “Okay, go on,” she nodded.

Kelli raised and eyebrow, “Thanks.  Anyways, a huge HORNET, flew down and snatched up a piece of chicken skin and flew off with it!  How crazy is that?”

Battle of Evermore started playing on the stereo, and Kelli squealed, “Oh!  This is Heart isn’t it?  You know those two are distant cousins of mine!”

Bill looked confused, “I think you’re mistaken girlie,” he said grabbing the empty CD case from the table, “Yeah, see,” he handed the jewel case to Kelli, “it says The Lovemongers, not Heart.”

Kelli read the back of the case, “Oh well no matter, they’re still my cousins.”

“Well, my aunts are doctors.”  Charlize said.

“They’re the same fakking group you morons!  Heart, and the Loffmongers are Ann and Nancy Wilson!”  Paco grumbled at the room.

Just then, Mia and Hunter were returning from the kitchen, “We brought some glasses and some Coke for the voddy, and – oh my gods you’re in the chair!”  Mia said, amused.  She and known Hunter for a while, and had visited Lond Ho many times, so she knew what was coming.  She sat down on the chesterfield between Bill and Paco and started to pour herself a drink.

Charlize looked up at Hunter, who was grinning like an idiot, “Okay then Hunter, what’s the story with the chair?  Someone didn’t die in it or something did they?”

Hunter sat beside her on the thick, rectangular arm of the oversized chair, “Nothing so mundane.  Actually it’s not so much a story as an apartment rule, if you sit in the chair, you have to sleep with the person that sat in it last.  And that person was me.  Sorry, but I don’t make the rules.”  Yes he did.

Charlize seemed to think about it for a second before answering, “Do you find this approach usually works?”

“All the time.”  It didn’t.

“Because I haven’t slept with a man for a couple of years now.”

Hunter was curious now, “You’re gay?”

She shook her head, “No, but I’m in a place in my life where I prefer women.  I still like men though.”

“So you’re bi?”

“I really don’t like labels.”

“Okay…”

“Here Hunter, this ought to sharpen you up a bit for the evening’s festivities!”  Mia said, handing him a glass she just mixed with equal parts vodka and Coke.

Hunter stood up, and hesitated, “Uh, could you just put it on the table sweetheart, I uh…”

Bill rolled his eyes, “He doesn’t like being handed things.  It can get pretty ridiculous.”

“And your enochlophobia isn’t?”  Hunter shot back.

“At least it’s a real condition!”

She placed the drink on the table for him, smiling,  “I never would have pegged you for a nut-job Hunter!  You learn something new every day!”

Charlize spoke up, “My aunts are doctors and I don’t think that ‘nut-job’ is the approved scientific term for Hunter’s peccadilloes.”

“Are we going out or what?”  Kelli wanted to know.

Charlize continued, “Speaking of hornets, I remember a time when I was out visiting my aunts (did I mention they were doctors?) out at their cabin on  Hornby Island and we had a HUGE hornet problem.  Thousands of them in many nests all over the property.  It got so bad that summer that in the end I had to don a bee suit and destroy all the nests with a can of brake fluid spray.”

Kelly looked over at Charlize, who was going through her bag, looking for her cigarettes.  Did that dyed blonde bitch just try to one-up my story?  “Well unless we’re going out, I’m going!”

Mia said, “Kelli sweetie, it’s only ten past nine!  We’re not leaving ‘till at least ten-thirty!  Otherwise we’d be too early!”

Kelli was pissed off, she looked around the room, Hunter was sipping his drink and reading a magazine, Bill was fishing a pack of cigarettes out of his back pocket, Paco was moaning about his headache, and Charlize had found her lighter, but not her smokes.  The only person paying her any attention was Mia, and she was just being patronizing!  “Okay bye then!”  She turned on a heel, and stepped out the door, slamming it behind her.  Mother Love Bone was singing Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns as she stomped down the hall towards the lifts.

Hunter looked up from the copy of Starlog he was flipping through, “What was that about?”

Bill put a cigarette in his mouth, “Who knows?  I’m going for a smoke, anyone else want to come?”

Charlize said, “I will, if I can find my cigarettes.”  She dug through her bag some more.  

Paco was holding his head in his hands and moaning, “I’m not going out tonight with this fakking headache!  I need some Aspirin!”

Hunter frowned, he didn’t want to lose another member of their party, then it struck him; he did have something in his shaving kit, it wasn’t Aspirin, but would probably do.  He jumped up and in two steps was in the bathroom.

“Where’s he going?”  Charlize said to no one in particular.

Bill shrugged, “When you gotta go, you gotta go.  Come on, you can bum one off me.”

Hunter pulled his black leather shaving kit out from under the sink and dumped it out, among the shavers, several combs of various sizes and colours, (how did I get so many combs?), a travel toothbrush, and other detritus, were six two-packs of something called NonSpirin™, a cheap Aspirin knock off that Hunter had liberated from the first aid kit at work.

“Found them!”  Hunter announced, dropping the packets in a pile on the cardboard table.

“Ah!  Thank you sir!”  Paco said, relieved.  He began pouring himself a drink to take the pills with.

Bill and Charlize came back in from their smoke break, Bill sliding the screen door shut.

Paco tore open two packets of NonSpirin and downed the contents quickly with the vodka and Coke he just finished mixing.

Charlize sat back in the huge leather chair and watched as Paco opened another packet of pain relievers.  “How bads your headache?”

Paco looked up and swallowed another NonSpirin and voddy, “Shitty,” he said.

“You know, my aunts are doctors and I really don’t think you should be taking pain relievers with alcohol.”

“Well whoopdefakkingdo!”

“Hunter, can I talk to you for a second?”  Mia stood up from the chesterfield and smoothed out her short blue and green tartan skirt.

“Sure.”

“Can we go in your room?”

“Yeah,” Hunter stood up, and finished his drink, following Mia into his bedroom.  She closed the door behind him.

“What’s up kid?”

“Lets sit down.”

They sat down on the edge of Hunter’s small, rickety bed.

Mia began, “So you remember my fiancĂ© Dave?  Come on don’t roll your eyes!  Well he’s coming with me to the Con this year.  He really digs sci-fi and anime like we do and I thought it would be nice if you guys spent some time together.”

This stung Hunter a little.  Months ago he and Mia had agreed to go to the Con-Version Sci-Fi and fantasy convention together, and now here she was wanting to bring and extra guy!  Even if it was her fiancĂ©, and his relationship with Mia had never been anything but platonic, it still hurt a bit.

He shrugged, “Ah well, what are ya gonna do eh?”

“You’re okay with it?”

“Of course.  How could I not be?”

“Ah thanks Hunter, that’s swell of you!”  She gave him a kiss on the cheek and stood up to leave.

“That was it?”

“That was it.  I just wanted to axe you if it was okay.”

Hunter got up and they stepped back in to the main room, Nearly Lost You by the Screaming Trees was just ending on the stereo.

Paco was leaning back, stretched out on the giant chesterfield, snoring.

“What’s up with him?”  Hunter wanted to know.

Bill grumbled, “I dunno, he took, like six of those fucking NonSpirins then said he was feeling tired, he kicked me off the sofa and fell asleep!”

“Okay.  So we wanna get going or what?  All that cheap, shitty Underground draught isn’t gonna drink itself!”

“Yeah, lets get going,” Mia said pulling on her short waisted leather jacket.

“Okay,”  Charlize stood up and went to fetch her shoes from by the door.

“You coming Bill?”

“You guys go ahead, I’m not leaving Paco here alone in a NonSpirin coma, you guys go.  I’ll catch up later.”

“You sure?”  Hunter hesitated by the door.

“Course I am!  Get going!”  Bill said, switching the stereo off and the TV on.

“Come on Hunter!”  Mia shifted impatiently from one foot to the other.

“Okay, well later!”  Hunter stepped into the main hall and shut the door to flat 1401.

Hunter, Mia and Charlize stood waiting at the elevator bank.  The call button was lit up.  Hunter pushed it again five or six more times.

The bell went off and the doors slid open before the elevator car had fully levelled itself with the floor.  The trio entered the empty lift and Mia pushed the Lobby button, then the close door button, apparently unaware that the button was disconnected.

Apropos of nothing, Charlize spoke, “Okay I will sleep with you, but only if Mia watches.”

Hunter grinned, “Really?”

Mia shook her head, “Not.  Happening.”

Hunter’s face fell, “Curses!!  Foiled again!”  He mumbled like the baddie in a Scooby Doo cartoon.

Charlize shrugged, “Oh well,” as the lift shook, and jerked to a stop at the lobby.








2013-12-14

Lond Ho Adventures

The Feast of Stephen Part 2


“Boys!  You made it!”

Doris the thirty-something cougar of a Building Manager turned from the conversation she was having with the Mexican from the fifth floor.  They both had small white with blue trimmed fabric “Atco” stickers affixed to their shirts that had their individual flat numbers written on them in black Jiffy Marker™.  Doris immediately stepped over to Hunter and Bill as they stepped out of the elevator, and as quickly as she could in her three-inch heels, spirited them over to a table near the front entrance that was covered in similar nametag stickers.

“You’re looking good tonight boys,” she purred, putting down her glass of white wine and searching for their flat number, “Ah here they are.”  She handed one to Hunter, who stuck his on upside down over his heart.  Doris slowly peeled the backing from Bill’s tag and gently pressed it on to his shirt, gently massaging it to make sure it stuck.

“So how’s it hanging tonight boys?”  She gave Bill a lascivious grin, still rubbing the tag onto his chest.  Hunter felt a pang of jealousy at the attention Bill was getting, and was quite sure the sticker was fine, but apparently Doris believed otherwise.

“Like a brontosaurus!  As always!”  Bill said in answer to Doris’s somewhat personal, and perhaps inappropriate inquiry. 

Hunter has other concerns, “Right then, bring on the free hootch!”

Bill nodded, gently removing Doris’s hand from his barrel chest.

She picked up her drink, “Right this way boys,” she said, leading them to another table covered with several big bottles of what a bartender might call “well spirits,” the cheapest brands of the cheapest booze in the biggest bottles money could buy, along with no-name soda in regular and diet varieties, topped off with a couple cartons of Egg Nog and a cooler full of cans of Molson Canadian.  None of this mattered to Hunter or Bill however, as free booze, was after all free booze, and one never looked a gift-horse in the mouth.  Doris excused herself as another group of party-goers appeared from out the main lift car.  A singer Bill and Hunter didn’t recognize started belting out, “Run, Run Rudolph!” from a banged up old Sony stereo cassette blaster in the far corner of the lobby.

Hunter reached for a beer.

“I wouldn’t.”  Bill said.

Hunter looked over at him, “Whadda you mean?”

“Beer before liquor, never sicker.  Liquor before beer, free and clear, which is why I’m starting things off with a double dark and dirty.  Should I prepare one for yourself as well?”

Hunter shrugged, “Sure, whatever.  Hey is that Rachael over there?”

Rachael was standing stiffly in the corner near the corridor leading to the “Dirty Deli”

Bill glanced over his shoulder, his hands deftly mixing two drinks at once in white plastic party cups, “Yup, that’s her alright.  I thought you told me she wasn’t coming?”

“She said she wasn’t, which is why-“

Bill finished his thought, “Which is why you invited that blonde girl you met at the Underground last month-“

“Yeah, the Witchy looking girl with the nose-ring and the long bouncy ringlets.  Ami.  We’ve been sorta seeing each other for a couple weeks now.”

Bill was finishing off the drinks with a slice of lime, “Yeah, Ami… the girl that looks like Kate.”

“What?  No she doesn’t, not even a little!”

“Whatever you say, pal no one's ever accused you of not having a 'type.'  Here”  Bill handed Hunter his drink.

Hunter spied the lime wedge, “What’s with the fruit salad?”

“You don’t want to get scurvy do you?”

“I’m not a pirate!”

“But you might be someday.”

Hunter looked over at Rachael, who hadn’t seemed to have noticed him yet, “I better go talk to her.”

Bill nodded, “Ha!  Ya think?”

Hunter took a deep drink from his cup and winced, Bill mixed him a strong drink here.  He would have to pace himself.  Or at the very least get some of the chips and sausage rolls he spotted on the other table into him, but first…

“Rachael!  You’re here!  I thought you couldn’t make it!”

She looked at Hunter with her icy-blue eyes, “Hello!  Yeah no It turns out I could come, so here I am!”  She tugged off her multi-coloured crochet toque and her silky, chestnut coloured hair flowed down to her shoulders, framing her face.

Hunter was stuck for a moment, locked in her gaze, “Well there’s a coat rack over here,” he pointed to portable chrome rack with a couple of jackets already hanging on wire hangers.

“Oh, no thanks, I’ll hold on to it.”

“Ah, well… lets get you a drink then.”

“Oh, yes lets.  That sounds like fun!”  She looped her arm around Hunter’s and they made a bee line for the drinks table.   Half-way there, Hunter noticed that Bill seemed to have taken up residence behind the table, and was currently mixing drinks for a group of people standing before him.

Hunter pounded back the remainder of his drink, all thoughts of pacing himself vanished from his mind. 

“Oh, Hunter sweetie, your tag seems to be on upside down!”  Doris commented as they brushed past her. 

Hunter looked down at the tag on his golf shirt, “Nope, I can read it just fine!”

“Who’s that?”  Rachael wanted to know.

“Building manager.  She lives down the hall from us.”

“Ah!  So that’s the one that Bill likes to fuck!  You told me about her!”

“Uh, yeah… maybe... I don’t know if he exactly likes to, he just sort of does… on occasion.”

“What can I get you,” Bill said, without looking up, “Oh it’s you Hunter!  You can pour your own damn drinks!  What can I pour you Rache?”

“Oh, I’ll have a gin and tonic please!”

Hunter poured himself another dark rum, this time sans lime, took a sip, then almost spat it out.  Ami had just crossed his vision as she walked past the long, plate glass window at the front of the lobby!

“Oh shit!  Uh, hey Rachael, I gotta show you something, uh… this way!”

Bill handed Rachael her drink just as Hunter spun her around and rushed her towards the corridor leading to the mailbox room and the Manager’s Office.

Rachael took a hurried sip of her g and t, “Oh!  Where are we going?”

They rushed through the growing crowd of revellers, Hunter nearly spilling his drink twice, before ducking around the corner and into the mailbox room.  The door was propped open with a rubber wedge that Hunter kicked loose, and out into the corridor.

“Oh!  This is nice,” Rachael said, “In my building the mailboxes are all out in the open.  This is cosy.”

“Sorry tootz, but I’ll be right back.”

“Okay…”

Hunter shut the door and jammed the wedge back under the door, then walked quickly back to the lobby.

Ami was standing by the “bar” talking to Bill, who was serving drinks with speed and flair.  Tom Cruise in Cocktail was a clumsy amateur with Parkinson’s next to Bill tonight.  Ami was wearing a black corset under a black men’s sport jacket, a long tie-dyed skirt and a pair if short, 8 hole Doc Martens.

“Who was that girl with Hunter?”

“Who said what now?”  Bill was pouring a couple of rye and gingers for the elderly gay couple from the 15th floor.

“That girl with Hunter!  Who was she?”

Bill looked down at the short girl with the flowing ringlettes of golden hair as if seeing her for the first time, then thought up a lie, and he thought it up quick,  “Oh hey Ami, that was, uh, Sally from the tenth floor…” his eyes rolled up to the left,  “she was having trouble with her mail key, so Hunter was going to show her a little trick we use to help jimmy the mailbox open.”

“Okay, do you know if he’s going to be long, because-“

“Hey Ami-chan!”  Hunter was suddenly standing right next to her.

“Oh, hey Hunter!”

Bill handed Ami a vodka and tonic with a twist of lemon, “I was just telling Ami about how you were helping Tenth Floor Sally with her mailbox.”

Hunter was silent for a second, “Oh, yeah those things are sticking all the time…”

Ami wasn’t interested, “Look, I just came by to tell you I can’t stay long, I’ve got a family thing to go to tonight, could we maybe talk upstairs?”

“Up in the flat you mean?  Yeah sure, okay.”  Hunter turned to Bill, “We’ll be right back.”

“Don’t rush on my account!”

*                                                           *                                                           *

Hunter and Ami were kissing and clawing at each other on the Giant Sofa.  After a few minutes they came up for air.  She tasted of honey and lemons, her hair smelled of strawberries.

Ami put her hands over Hunter’s and licked her lips, they tasted like rum and cheap cola, with just a hint of lime, “Hunter, I’ve been thinking and I would like us to be exclusive.”

Hunter was surprised, but not unhappy by this news, “Oh!  Okay, that sounds good to me.”

She put a finger over his lips, then moved in close and whispered in his ear, “I’d also like for tonight to be the night for us to finally… you know.”

He did.  And he wasn’t one that had to be told twice,  He smiled, looked into her green eyes, and moved in for a kiss.

In the lobby, everyone who wanted a drink had one, Madonna was on the stereo squeaking away her rendition of “Santa Baby.” And Bill finally had time to grab another drink for himself.  He pulled a can of Canadian from the cooler at his feet.  He had no sooner opened it when Doris suddenly appeared beside him as if through some kind of dark magic.

“Billy!”

Bill choked on his beer, nearly sending it cascading through his nostrils.  “Oh, hey there darlin’ what can I do you for?”

“Oh Billy sweetie, could you give me a hand with something?”  She was swishing around a half a glass of white wine that Bill knew for a fact was not her first, or her fifth.

“Sure, Ms Ehm, what do you need?”  He took a proper swig of beer, and this time spilled nothing.

“You know you can call me Doris, and it’s easier if I show you, come with me to my office will you?”  She took his hand and they walked across the stone tiled floor, past the small, sparsely decorated Christmas tree near the corridor, past the mailbox room and to the Manager’s Office. 

Bill had no illusions about what was going to happen next, and normally he would have protested, at least a little, but he was still pissed at Sara for standing him up.  It wasn’t even as if they were actually seeing each other, not would that ever be the case according to her.  Bill just thought it would be fun for them to hang out, and the idea of free booze and snacks didn’t hurt either.  Oh well, he thought, that ship has sailed…

Once they were inside, Doris shut the door and reached out, taking hold of Bill’s skinny black tie, “Come here you, I’d like to thank you personally for taking over the bartender duties tonight.”  She reached down with her free hand and ran it over Bill’s fly to find he was already hard.

In the mailbox room, Rachael slipped out of her coat, and let it fall to the floor.  Where the hell had Hunter gotten to?

Up in flat 1401, Ami and Hunter were laying in various state of undress, staring at each other from opposite ends of the chesterfield.  Ami was smoking a More Menthol and blowing the smoke out the open patio door.

“I only dream in the wintertime…”

“Where’s that from?”  Ami inquired, her already large green eyes wide with curiosity.

Hunter hadn’t even realized he said it out loud, “It’s from me.  It’s from the book I’m trying to write.”

“What is it?  A title?”  She took another deep drag on her cigarette.

“Yeah, actually one of a few I’m kicking around right now.”

“What about the other ones?”

“ ‘I Sing the Equator’ and ‘No Ticket.’ “

Ami butted out her cigarette in the “Pied Pickle” ashtray on the floor beside the couch, “ ‘No Ticket’ for sure.  It’s like that funny scene in The Last Crusade!  So what is this book about?”

The door buzzer interrupted them. 

“Should get that,” Hunter stood up, pulling his ripped, black jeans on, and walked to the intercom.

Ami was tucking her milky white breasts back into her corset, “It’s prolly my dad…”

Bill’s voice crackled over the tinny speaker, “It’s me!  There’s a guy here who say’s he’s Ami’s dad?”

“We’ll be right down,”  Hunter said.

*                                                           *                                                           *

Hunter watched from the glass vestibule as Ami got into her dad’s black Mercedes ML350.  She gave him a quick smile and a wave and was off.

Bill met him with a beer.  Hunter opened it and took a long draught.  Someday, he thought, someone is going to make the holes on these cans bigger…

Bill was dishevelled, his long, dark hair pulled free of it’s ponytail, his shirt was un-tucked and the tie askew.

“Party’s startin’ to break up,” he looked up at Bill and did a double take, ”What happened to you?”

“Doris.”

Hunter began to laugh.

Bill spoke, “That’s right, laugh it up fuzzball!  I have a question for you though; where’s Rachael?”

Hunter blanched, “Oh for fuck sakes!”

Hunter kicked the rubber wedge from the door to the mailbox room and stepped inside, “Geeze Rachael, I’m so sorry I-“

“Oh!  Hi!  You’re back, lets get to it then.”  She began unbuttoning her blouse.

“Ok…”  Hunter was a little confused, but still of a reasonable enough state of mind to pull the door shut, and twist the lock to the closed position.

Rachael dropped her shiny, white bra to the floor, then unzipped her bright green denim pants.

As she stepped out of her pants, Hunter noticed she had come to the party commando.   Well Hunter thought, I guess she means business.  He un-tucked his golf shirt.

*                                                              *                                                *

A warm, westerly wind was whipping around through the trenches of inner city buildings as Bill and Hunter sat out on the “Jimmy Hoffa” sofa on the concrete patio of flat 1401.

Hunter was a third of the way through the Cuban Montecristo #4 Tubo he had been saving in the freezer for the last three months.  It burned fast and seemed a little dry to him, though he had no idea why.  It would be years before he learned to properly care for, and keep cigars properly.  He blew out a cloud of smoke as Bill to a swig of Drummond Dry.

Bill lit up another cigarette, and took a long drag, “So you know that stuff I said back in the spring about Rachael?”

Hunter was swallowing a mouthful of lager, “What?  That she was a high functioning MRF?  How could I forget!”

Bill was smiling a crooked smile, “Yeah, I was just pulling your dick.”

Hunter looked over at Bill, “What?”

Bill was shaking his head and almost laughing now, “I was just joshing you, she's actually not retarded.  She’s just a little odd is all.”

This was actually a huge relief to Hunter, who had been secretly sleeping with her for the past couple of months, and was just too embarrassed to admit to it.  He had long suspected that Bill might be lying to him about her, but had no proof until now.

Hunter shook his head, “You are such a fucking asshole.”

Bill took another drag, chuckled then said in his best impersonation of their friend Paco Villa-Lobos, “Yeah, well whadareyagonnado?”

Hunter rolled his eyes, “Yeah, thanks Paco.”

Bill took another swig of lager, finishing his tinnie, “Shit.  Isn’t that just like a beer to run out of itself in the middle of being consumed.”  He looked up at the sky, straining to see what might be beyond the light pollution, and past the cloud cover that enveloped the city at night.  “How long do you think this’ll last?”  He asked, almost to himself.

Hunter blew out another cloud of fine cigar smoke, “What, the Chinook winds?  A couple more days I think the weatherman said.”

Bill shook his head, “No, not the westerly, I mean all of this,”  He waved his hands in an all-encompassing gesture, “Lond Ho, us living here.  I mean are we gonna still be sitting here in twenty years, smoking and drinking on the deck, fighting off pigeons…”

“Who knows man.  I don’t know about you, but I love this place.  I could live at Lond Ho forever.”

Bill looked down at the cigarette he was holding in his hand, “I don’t doubt that you could.  Anyway, who the fuck cares!”  He grabbed another tin of Drummond Dry from the small lunch cooler that sat on the sofa between them.  “It’s the holidays!  More than enough time to think about this shit in the New Year!  Chin chin!”

They touched cans.

Hunter took a swig, “December 26th.  The wheel of the season is turning.  We’re now half-way out of the darkness…”

“If you say so,” Bill said, and lit up another smoke.










2013-12-08

50 Years of Doctor Who

Reflections on 50 or “How I Learned to Relax and Love the Omni-Rumour”


It was June of this year that I got my first sniff of the so-called Doctor Who “Missing Episodes Omni-Rumour,” when a twitterer calling himself “Rogue Cyberman” offered a pile of cash for information leading to the recovery of any of the missing believed wiped episodes of 1960’s Doctor Who.  Indeed, he claimed to be in contact with someone who had most of the missing stories in his possession and was planning viewing parties.  Ultimately, Rogue turned out to be a hoaxer, but through him I discovered the missing episodes forum on Gallifrey Base, a place I would lurk almost every day, and occasionally even write a post!  

But wait, lets go back a bit, to a better time.  A time before the internet, before DVD, before rumours could spread around the world in a matter of minutes, a time when I first learned about a quaint little British science fiction programme called Doctor Who, lets go back to the early 1980’s…



The long, winding path weaved through the dark, gloomy, shadow mottled park, that I walked everyday on my way to and from school.  On one of these protracted hikes I was joined by a school chum who told me about a TV show he had just discovered, a “cool science fiction show from England on PBS.”  He waxed eloquently , or as eloquently as was possible for a seventh grader, about this curly haired alien with his crazy-long, multi-coloured scarf who travelled through space and time in his blue police box.  I was intrigued.  I always enjoyed science fiction, and back in the 1980’s this was not something one usually mentioned out-loud, as the “geek-chic” revolution was still a good twenty years away.  To say you were a sci-fi fan in the ‘80’s was like giving the assholes and bullies an open invitation to ridicule and attack, and I already had my hand’s full at that school from the bullies, (and even one particular teacher) as I was the “new kid from the States,” and didn’t need to give them another excuse to hate and assault me.  

The rest of the walk home I found myself thinking about it, determined to catch an episode that very night if I could.  That evening I raced through my homework, and when the time came I pushed in the chrome power button on the 1970’s era Zenith colour television.  I twisted the knob to channel 2 and sat back.  From the creepy opening theme, to the final musical sting of the cliff-hanger, I was hooked.  I wanted more, and more I would get.

Over the last 50 years (as of 23 November 2013) there have been 799 episodes of Doctor Who produced for television and of them there are currently 97 episodes missing from the BBC archives.  During this 50th anniversary year, from Nov. 2012 to Nov. 2013 I have tried my best to watch every story, skipping serials that exist only as audio recordings, and tele-snap recons, but it was still a daunting task indeed.  Like any long running TV series it’s had it’s ups and downs, you don’t get to nearly 800 episodes without having a few stinkers in the pile, and it’s certainly not my intention to review every story I sat through, that would be insane, I will however over the next few weeks, give my “expert” opinion of the highlights and lowlights of each incarnation of the good Doctor.  Next week begins with a review of the William Hartnell era, which brings us back to something fandom has dubbed “The Omni-Rumour.”

Back in July I found myself lurking on the Gallifrey Base forums and I found the “Missing Episodes Megathread” which at the time was 11 parts long (it’s now well into its 36th part).  The buzz on this tread was the rumour that 90 previously missing episodes of 1960’s Doctor Who had been found.  The rumour stated at the time that all missing William Hartnell stories and most missing Patrick Troughton stories were now complete.  To a fan like myself, who had long since accepted the fact there were some Doctor Who stories I was just never going to see, this news was absolutely mind blowing.  It was too good to be true.  Which was why, after the initial shock, and excitement had worn off, I didn’t believe it.  I mean how could I?  Nearly every episode of ‘60’s Doctor Who back in the archives?  At worst someone was playing a massive, cruel hoax, at best maybe someone got the wrong end of the stick.  But slowly, and surely the more I read, the more cautiously optimistic I became, especially about the part of the rumour that seemed the most consistent; that Marco Polo, The Enemy of the World, and The Web of Fear, the missing believed wiped 4th, 40th, and 41st serials respectively, had been not only recovered, but were being prepared for a DVD release before the end of the year!  I checked the thread every day, obsessively for any scrap of information about when these stories might be in my hot little hands, but the more I read, the less I believed.  The amount of real information was few and far between, and the amount of anger, back biting and geek on geek violence seemed to be at an all time high when I finally gave up and abandoned the Missing Episodes thread lurking, for the sake of my own sanity.  If real information was coming, I would sit back and let it come to me.  At last I could relax.  This was the beginning of October.   Less than two weeks later the BBC announced that the previously missing stories, The Enemy of the World and The Web of Fear (sadly still missing it’s 3rd episode), had been returned to the BBC archives and would be released exclusively on iTunes that very week.  Suddenly it was real, rumour was fact, and that very weekend I found myself watching something I never thought I’d ever get a chance to see. 

The Region 1 Limited Edition DVD Release
So what does this mean for the rest of the Omni-Rumour?  Is it true?  False?  A hoax?  A massive misunderstanding?  Who knows!  However right this minute Doctor Who fans have nine more episodes to enjoy that they did at the beginning of the 50th anniversary year, and that in itself has made this a very good year for fandom indeed.


  






I still would love to see me some Marco Polo though…But i suppose time will tell, it always does.