Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Depression and Music

In April 2015 I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I've been tackling this fairly heavily over the past several months and it's largely the reason why I've been absent from the blog. I thought, as well as my other posts i'll be back to making, I should dedicate some time to talk about it. So i'll be doing a few posts about it, like today's, which looks at depression and music, specifically how music helps me cope when I get particularly worked up.

When I was first diagnosed it was because I'd noticed I wasn't eating very much, was very unmotivated and found things hard to enjoy. At first I went to the doctors, was given medication and I just coasted along, not really improving. In January of this year I switched jobs and that largely solved my anxiety (more on that in a later post me thinks) but it wasn't until the summer I started any form of therapy.

During this time I became a lot less cynical about emotional things. I stopped snorting at people who said certain albums or artists had saved their lives and I realised meditation wasn't just a bunch of idiots humming - again there may be a post on that at some stage.

So, in case you hadn't guessed by now, one of the big things I use to help stay on top of my depression is music. Specifically the music of Peter Gabriel.

Peter Gabriel and his music hold a special place in my heart. Me and my dad have a hefty amount of things we disagree on but the opinion that Peter Gabriel is one of the finest musical minds of all time is something we both agree on very strongly. When I was young my dad bought the Secret World - Live and Growing Up - Live concert films on DVD. They both feature Gabriel's greatest songs, great musicians and great stage shows. I love both (Secret World is my favourite though) and have loved Gabriel ever since.


Gabriel's songs, from his first album, up to his last album and even his newest song The Veil all have a timeless quality to them. They are emotional and catchy and inventive. They are utterly unique to him and are a true work of art, written and performed as a form of expression, not as a commercial product. Combine this with the nostalgia I have for his music and what you get is a powerful mood enhancer. If i'm feeling down I can put on some headphones and listen to a concert or album of Gabriel's and, after a few songs, I'll find my foot tapping, my ear's attuned to the amazing work of the individual musicians and my spirits will lift.


There is something inherently calming and joyous about these songs. Even the saddest moments of his ballads are amazingly life affirming. They are powerful, heartfelt, interesting. His up beat songs can be danced to, his introspective ballads are powerful songs for times of reflection and all of it can make you feel like life is worth living and is an amazing thing.


So (no pun intended) if you are looking for an album that can silence your darkest thoughts, raise you out of your lowest mood and make you realise that life is worth living and that things can be ok again, put on So. From the awe inspiring lyrics of Red Rain and Mercy Street, to the amazing rhythms of Sledgehammer and Big Time, to the awesome melodies of Don't Give Up and In Your Eyes, So is one of the finest albums of all time and the peak of Gabriel's amazing writing prowess. 

Have any of you got songs or artists who are this important to you? Have any of you used music to help with mental health, or just to help see you through hard times in your life? Let me know in the comments, also, if you're a fan of Gabriel, let me know your favourite concert or song. 

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Future of Netflix

The Big boss over at Netflix recently revealed that in the next two years they want to increase the amount of Netflix Original content on the service so that it constitutes fifty per cent of what they offer. He claimed they were willing to pump up to one billion dollars into this effort.
I’m not sure they are thinking too clearly.
The price of Netflix recently went from £5.99 to £7.50 (two screens, HD) to facilitate their increased focus on original content. This was fine, the Marvel Series, Orange is the New Black and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt are some of my favourites on the service, and more of that type of quality content is certainly ok by me for an extra £1.51 per month. Using this figure it’s reasonable to assume that Netflix will become a £10 per month service in order to create all of this new content – the same big boss who announced the fifty per cent mark also said that they would not rely on advertising or sports to fund this. This is almost double what Amazon charge.
The other thing to consider is that the more high quality content Netflix produces, the less other companies will show their shows and films on the service. This means Netflix has to create shows that can rival The Office, The Walking Dead etc. I believe that they can do this, the Netflix shows I watch are of an incredibly high quality, the issue will lie with the films.
Currently I want to watch Tallulah and Beasts of No Nation, both marketed as Netflix Original movies and both highly rated. The rest of their movies? Meh. They have terrible Adam Sandler films and terrible Ricky Gervais films. Has-beens starring in awful movies is not going to let them contend with the likes of the X-Men movies or the likes of Twelve Years a Slave. This means Netflix will need to produce movies and lots of them, fairly rapidly. Otherwise they will find they have lots of series but no movies and that third parties don’t want to give them films because the service is taking away from their sales figures.
Can they afford to dish out the millions upon millions of dollars that this would require?
I doubt it.
Netflix Original films currently take up a very small amount of space whereas third party movies dominate. Up the Netflix Original content to 50%, largely via series as their own trends show, and you will scare off third party companies. Companies’ whose TV shows you can replace but movies you cannot. Then people will wish for the Netflix of yesteryear and will likely flock to Amazon, who offer a good balance of original content, exclusive third party content, TV shows and movies. Like Netflix currently do but likely can’t sustain in the future with this newly announced strategy.  
Perhaps I’ll be wrong, after all I’m no business mastermind and the guys behind Netflix are obviously pretty smart, but the road ahead looks rough. What do you think?

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Authority Nutrition: 6 Science Based Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet

Although the vegan diet and vegan lifestyle is primarily one of compassion and therefore being vegan for the animals and for the environmental factors is often the main reason for doing it, it is undeniable that there are numerous health benefits. You need only watch Forks over Knives and search around the internet to see that on an almost daily basis the evidence for a whole-foods, plant-based vegan diet being the healthiest option is growing.

That being said check out this great article from the good people of Authority Nutrition for 6, science based, health benefits of a vegan diet - ranging from cancer prevention to weight loss!


https://authoritynutrition.com/vegan-diet-benefits/

Friday, 23 September 2016

The Incredible Hulk TV Series

Considering that it ran in the late seventies and early eighties, I had assumed that the live action TV series, The Incredible Hulk, wouldn’t have aged too well. I recalled a couple of vague images and snippets of scenes from seeing my brother watch it on video as a child and thought I’d take a look and see how it’s done, after all it was always quite popular and is largely fondly remembered.

I’m pleased to say it’s actually aged quite well and is still a very entertaining and highly enjoyable show. The story follows David (no alliterative names here!) Banner and, after his research into amazing feats of strength leads to an accidental gamma overdose, it follows the Hulk too. David couldn’t shift his upturned car following an accident and so his wife died in its wreckage which led David to become obsessed with researching people who successfully completed such feats of strength in similarly arduous circumstances. The pilot ends with him and his research partner believed dead after a fire in their lab. Reporter Jack McGee sees the Hulk fleeing the scene and builds a career from following rumours and sightings of the Hulk across the country.

David drifts from town to town, under various aliases, seeking people and processes to undo the Hulk. You see him meet and help a variety of people, always happy to solve their problems before moving on with his own. Though it is kind of silly that in every place he visits he finds someone to take him in, give him work, and who then is in a sticky situation with some shady and often lethal characters for him to outsmart and defeat, it is a formula that ultimately works. It builds David as a morally rounded and likeable character with a tragic burden. It also provides plenty of pretty awesome Hulk action, where he gleefully tears rooms apart and tosses people around without ever doing any serious, non-TV friendly harm.

The Hulk itself is presented quite cleverly. Shots are stitched together of Lou Ferrigno, painted green, splitting his clothes apart by tensing arm, leg and back muscles. This means you only ever see individual parts of David turn into the Hulk and so don’t have to worry about terrible affects trying to show the whole transform in a body shot. It’s amazing what some crafty camera work, green paint, a wig and some green contacts can achieve. Sure it doesn’t look anywhere near as impressive as modern manifestations of the Hulk but it stands up well enough to not just be laughable. Not too shabby for a seventies show about an enormous green rage monster.

Honestly the worst aged effect is actually the transformation from Hulk to Banner. The same multi-shot approach doesn’t quite hold up as well, David gradually becomes less and less green and you can tell it’s basically a green shade imposed on top of the existing shot. It sticks out like a sore thumb and, though it does do the job, it looks pretty bad.

The acting, though rarely great, isn’t terrible. The core characters of each episode are usually a tad larger than life but largely well written and performed. The issues come from the more minor characters where their lines aren’t delivered in overly believable ways. It’s always passable but it does show the series’ age.

Despite a few signs of wear and tear The Incredible Hulk is a TV series that stands the test of time and is a very enjoyable show, if you’re a fan of the Hulk and are fed up of him being short changed in terms of his number of live action adaptations then I’d certainly recommend giving this a try, it does the character justice.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The Problem with TV

In the UK you need a TV licence to watch TV, so unless you use Netflix and the like, you have to pay up. This is something being given a renewed focus recently as the BBC are renewing their creative efforts and making you pay for BBC iPlayer.

Problem is, most British TV is terrible.

Take away sports and the news and the majority of TV is has been celebrities, barely competent contestants and terrible writing. The X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing, Great British Bake Off, Britain's Got Talent. Or day time TV like Loose Women and Jeremy Kyle. Then there are tired retreads like Still Open All Hours or Robot Wars. Or middle class masturbatory dramatisations of the British Empire and it's like in Victoria, Downton Abbey et al.

There is very little in the way of substance, in the way of interesting stories and compelling characters. There’s no Orange is the New Black, no Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. No Daredevil, no House of Cards, no Parks and Recreation. Even the English Office is terrible whereas the US Office is a classic example of great modern comedy.

Sits not all terrible; Doctor Who is good, Sherlock is good and the panel shows like QI are good. But Sherlock airs for three hours every two years and there's only so much one can take in terms of panel shows. Most British TV is made up of soap operas, reality shows and failed attempts at rebooting old classics. It has next to nothing to offer.

Until the likes of the BBC realise this, they will not have the young audience and, as their current audience literally dies out, they will find themselves in dire straits. Most young people want quality TV, until British TV creators give us this, we’ll stick with Netflix, Amazon and the like.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Lights Out Impressions

Lights Out was an odd experience, half good, half bad. I enjoyed seeing it but it was deeply flawed. The basic premise of the creature that appears in the dark and the design of said creature is excellent. Likewise the jump scares are great and whenever there is visible darkness in a room the tension is palpable.

The family who take on the role of victims in the film are pretty believable, well cast, well scripted and well acted. They each have their own story and it's not hard to care about them. Also the boyfriend is probably the nicest man in all of cinematic history. Seriously.

The problems come when they attempt to develop a backstory for the creature. Is she a woman with a bizarre and explainable biological condition or is she a supernatural being? It seems like they had a few ideas for her and instead of picking one and developing it they just mashed them all together.

It's a shame because, aside from one or two duff lines of script, this is the only flaw. Problem is, it's quite a big flaw and it makes the film seem a bit at odds with itself, unsure of what it wants to say or be.

The glowing eyes are a nice touch. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Humans are Herbivores, Not Omnivores.

Contrary to popular belief, humans are not omnivores. Biologically, physiologically and psychologically we are herbivores.

First of all, let's look at our jaws and teeth. Our lower jaw grinds and chomps, up and down, side to side. A meat eater’s jaw only goes up and down. Then there are the teeth, our teeth are not sharp enough to tear flesh. Ours are the teeth of a herbivore, not designed for flesh. Our tongue is short and smooth, whereas as a meat eating tongue is longer and rougher, good for stripping meat.

We lack the claws to tear flesh from an animal and we lack the intestines to digest it. Our intestines are long, designed for processing herbivorous food stuffs, not meat. If we eat meat we simply risk it rotting inside of us. Our mammary glands are also those of a herbivore, carnivorous and omnivorous animals possess more mammary glands than we do, likewise they have far greater numbers of offspring than we do.

We sweat through our whole body, where a meat eater sweats through their tongue, hence the panting.

Then let’s look at our instincts, we have no instinct for hunting and killing animals. We don’t pull over at the side of a road and chase after a wild animal, only to tear it apart with our teeth and hands and eat its raw, dead flesh. In fact we don’t generally eat raw flesh, doing so makes us ill. We treat our meat and prepare it specially so that we can handle it and even then the quantity which we consume has been shown time and again to cause illness.

There’s also the baby test. Place a baby in a cot with a rabbit and an apple. It will play with the rabbit and eat the apple. It doesn't have the instincts, nor the body, to eat the rabbit.

And yet, because moments like the ice age caused our survival instinct to make us eat meat, we consumed meat. The problem is we never switched back and now big industries and institutions tell us we need to eat meat and animal products to be healthy, no matter how frequently this is disproved and no matter how cruel doing so is. I get it, there is a tonne of money to be made through animal consumption. But we aren’t animal consumers, we aren’t designed that way, it doesn’t make sense that we do it.

Not convinced? Check out the Humans are Herbivores essay on Adaptt.org:


And watch this superb video:




Monday, 5 September 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - Retro!

Night Terrors - ARG Survival Horror - Pokemon Go Meets Horror

Pokemon Go's time in the spotlight was fun but, now that the dust has settled, its clear that there is painfully little to the game and that, as such, it is dying off. Fortunately it has sparked massive interest in the AR genre, something that Night Terrors, the recently funded mobile game that fills your world with nightmares instead of Pokemon, can hopefully cash in on. 

Seriously this game looks awesome, take a look!

Saturday, 3 September 2016

The Guardian Says NHS Should Take Aim at Meat Eaters as Well as Smokers

The Guardian, in my opinion the finest newspaper available in the UK, has published an article in response to news that the NHS is to take aim at smokers - restricting and delaying surgery - and has called on them to also take aim at meat, since meat also causes cancer.

Though not strictly speaking a vegan article it is great that such an anti-meat message is being discussed in such a quality paper. Take a look at the link for all of the details and let me know what you think!

https://www.theguardian.com/healthcare-network/2016/sep/03/nhs-ban-cigarettes-yet-promote-meat-cause-cancer?CMP=fb_gu

The West Records

If you enjoyed Marble Hornets, or are just generally a fan of horror, I strongly suggest you check this YouTube series out. I'm eight entries in after finishing Marble Hornets and I love it. 

Scarlett's Way Out

Oak Tree

The bird bath was just over a metre high, with a wide, shallow basin, filled to the brim. The robin dipped its head in, eagerly lapping at the cool, still water. Jay sat underneath the oak tree, resting her head against its bark, gazing up at the gnarled branches that stretched out before her. She ran a hand through her grey hair, from the thick end at the roots down to the thin, split ends draped across her narrow shoulders. She smiled as the robin, content with its drink, looked up at her and took flight to land on the end of one of the branches she could see.

The sun was out, obscured only occasionally by a passing white cloud, full and fluffy. The grass beneath her was soft and cool, long but not wild. The small stream on the other side of the bird bath made a soft trickling sound as its waters broke over the stones that were scattered throughout it. Accompanying it its steady rhythm was the soothing sound of the leaves on the oak branches rustling as they brushed past one another, disturbed only by a sharper rustle as the robin decided to swoop up or down, from one branch to another, chasing the gaps of sun that shone through its thick covering of leaves.

Listening to the sounds of the stream, the sounds of the leaves, the sounds of the robin, basking in the warm glow of the sun, Jay slowly relaxed her muscles, let her head roll softly to one side and drifted into a summer nap.

“Jay!” Short, sharp. Distant.

“Jay!?” A bark, closer.

“Jesus, Jay! Wake up!” Closer, footsteps, heavy, quicker than walking but not a run. Panting. Jay’s head snapped up, her hair moving sharply. She blinked her eyes open to see Roy, half running, half walking, with the redheaded girl, collapsed, in his arms. “Roy.” She said it with a mix of realisation and urgency. She stood and walked swiftly towards him, together they slowly, gently lowered the girl into the soft grass under the shade of the oak tree. The girl's eyes were closed, Jay touched her forehead, listened to the rhythm of her breathing, checked the strength of her pulse. “What happened?”

“She just collapsed! The birds...the birds were fighting, she was on her swings and looked scared. I, I went over to reassure her, touched her arm and then this.”

“Jesus Roy. You didn’t even bring him back did you?” Jay glowered at him, the harsh, stern, judging eyes that only years of marriage can seek to justify. Roy didn’t respond but he did look away from Jay and the girl. “Go and find him.” He didn’t move and again he didn’t respond. “Now.” Her tone was stone cold, dead and serious, her eyes fixed on him. Roy stood and turned, rubbing dirt from his elbows as he did so. He walked off without making eye contact or uttering a single word. Jay turned back to look at the girl, running a hand, affectionately, through her soft, red curls.

“Oh you poor, sweet girl.” Jay stood and went to the bird bath, the robin, perched on a branch above, followed her movements closely. She took off her cardigan and folded it into a small, flannel like bundle before thinking better of the idea and heading to the stream. She knelt and, with one hand steadying herself on the bank, soaked the cardigan in the water, feeling the cool of it flow over her submerged hand. She stood and returned to the girl, gently placing the wet cardigan on her forehead, careful to brush any stray red strands of hair aside.

Jay could tell the girl was dreaming, she could see her eyelids twitching. Jay made a shushing sound with her mouth and gently lifted the girl, carrying her over to the base of the oak tree and sitting her against its wide trunk. The blue sky was growing darker, a thick band of white cloud had moved in but was being followed by grey cloud, growing darker as it moved overhead. The robin, upon seeing the sky, took flight from its bird bath, taking one last look at its haven amongst the branches before flying to the edge of the cloud, towards blue sky and out of sight.  

Looking down from the darkening sky Jay could see Roy stomping alongside the banks of the stream, making his way back towards her. Before his face came fully into view she could tell he was nervous. He walked with sunken shoulders and kept his head fixed on his walking feet. He did not look up to the sky, not even for a brief glance. He had not found his bird, his raven, the one that had been fighting as the girl collapsed.

He looked up up at her as he drew nearer. His eyes said it all.

He had not found his raven.

It started to rain.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Batman: Arkham Origins - Deathstroke vs. Batman

Elephant

I am an elephant sat on a shelf
In the corner of the room, looking out
At the world as time passes by.

People walk and talk and live and die
As I shelter in the quiet peace
Of pages and the friendly loneliness
Of imagination and isolation.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Marble Hornets

I know hundreds of thousands, perhaps even a million or more, have heard of and/or watched Marble Hornets; the YouTube series which aided in putting Slender Man, and the idea of YouTube based horror, on the map. I also know I can’t be the only one who only heard of it recently. I started watching it earlier this month and finished it yesterday.
I loved every second.
Marble Hornets covers the making of a student film called, you guessed it, Marble Hornets. It follows Alex, Tim, Jay and some others on a journey into mystery, paranoia and just a sprinkling of death. It’s filmed on handheld and chest mounted cameras in a found footage style that works perfectly on YouTube. The acting can occasionally be a bit amateurish but for the most part this is a very well executed series with simple but brilliant effects.
The story lasts for over a hundred videos and several hours but it never gets dull. It starts off relatively simple but develops into a web of paranoid delusions and betrayal. The story constantly makes you ask questions, seldom giving you answers, but the pacing is such that it never becomes frustrating. It’s hard not to binge through it as you and the characters edge ever closer to the truth.
For me it’s also noteworthy for making me understand the Slender Man. Prior to watching this I found him to be a laughable concept. A skinny white dude in a suit who wasn’t remotely scary outside of one or two jump scares. Now I understand his capabilities, I understand why he has become such a phenomenon and he frightens me.
It’s a fantastic series and, thanks to it being on YouTube, is totally free so if you like horror I highly recommend you check this out.

Looking at this makes me want to watch it again. 


Six Word Story 5

The axe lay there, silent, menacing.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Underrated Action Heroes

With the sheer number of members in the Action Hero Pantheon of the Gods (official name) your have thought there couldn't possibly be any overlooked characters. Sadly my friends this is not the case, time has not treated all action heroes fairly and some have, tragically, fallen by the wayside.

What I'm trying to say is, here's a list of some underrated action heroes. Some you may hate me for.

Raiden

The laughing stock of the MGS series but also an insanely gifted badass. Even after his childhood days as Jack the Ripper and before his time as an inexplicable cyborg ninja (I'm talking about his awkward MGS 2 years) Raiden was an absolute nutter! He takes out dozens of Rays, survives Fortune, drowns Vamp, slaughters Fatman and wins a sword fight against a man in a suit with tentacle cannons. 'Nuff said.

Ray Tango & Gabriel Cash

Between Tango's standing in front of a speeding truck and bringing it to a halt inches before it hits him and Cash's progressive English teaching style, these two are not a pair to be taken lightly. Cash's laser sighted hand cannon alone is enough to warrant the two of them a spot on this list!

The Demolition Man


'Phoeniiiixxxxxxxx!' The tale of the clash between John Spartan and Simon Phoenix is a timeless meditation on the essence of good and evil and the often blurred lines of morality and the brutality of the authorities. Its also two hours of Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes beating the snot out of each, with Stallone earning John Spartan a nice little spot on this list.


Anyways these are just a few that spring to mind, I’m sure this list could go on and on with the amount of action films, games etc. that are churned out each year. What about you, have any that you would add?


Monday, 29 August 2016

Free - Be My Friend Live at Isle Of Wight

In keeping with the Isle of Wight theme, what with my Saturday visit there you can read about a couple of posts down, I thought I'd share one of my favourite performances of one of my favourite songs. 

Free are undoubtedly one of the finest bands of all time, with Andy Fraser and Simon Kirke providing the perfect rhythm section for the finest living singer and my all time favourite guitarist. 

Sunday, 28 August 2016

8 Awesome Deleted Scenes From The Original Star Wars Trilogy

I just watched this and you should too, it's fantastic!

My Visit to the Isle of Wight - August 27th

Yesterday I took a ferry over and spent the day on the Isle of Wight. I've been there a few times before, when I was younger my family would go over there for holidays, staying at a hotel we liked there, we even celebrated my Dad's 50th there one New Year. I haven't been since though and my memory is pretty hazy in terms of where I visited when we first went.


We visited Ventnor, sitting on the beach, building a castle, burying Amy's feet etc. etc. It's a great little seaside town and looks quite European.

See what I mean?
We also checked out Yarmouth, where we got the ferry to and from, and spent a good deal of time exploring Ryde. Ryde seemed to be the busiest and largest town, with plenty of shops and a very sociable atmosphere. After that we headed over to the Needles where my friend got some of the coloured sand and we watched the glass blowing (amazing!). 

Yarmouth has this rather fetching church. 
The highlight though was the Garlic Farm, they were incredibly accommodating of our vegan requirements and the food was superb. We had a tour around the farm, including a visit to a historical site with archaeological finds dating back about 6000 years. Unfortunately it wasn't until after the tour we were made aware they also raise cows for slaughter, a real shame seeing as their cafe is great proof that vegan food is all you need. Once they end this though it would be a place I'd highly recommend visiting. 

I met these two awesome creatures. 


Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The Overwhelming Impulse to do a Northern Accent

Sometimes I do a mock, and very poor, Northern accent, I don’t know how it started, when it started or why it started but I do it and I amuse myself, greatly. 

I enjoy doing a lot of bad accents. I do Russian, Italian, Chav, Londoner – I do all of them purely to exasperate my friends, you know, ‘cause I’m nice like that.

The problem is my partner’s Uncle has a northern accent, being that he’s from England’s northerly direction and I’m constantly paranoid he’ll think I’m mocking him, but I can’t help myself!

Other people struggle with relationships, debt, social interaction difficulties caused by class, gender, race or religion, for me the hardest thing is my daily struggle against being a complete arse and bombarding people with dodgy accents. #TheStruggleIsReal – as the cool kids would say.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

No Man's Sky Review

No Man’s Sky presents a truly vast universe of procedurally generated planets with seamless surface to surface travel. You can explore irradiated waste lands, lush forests, maze like cave networks, floating islands, outposts - variety is No Man’s Sky strong suit and exploring and discovering is constantly rewarding. Experiencing the sights, the wildlife, the plant varieties. It truly is amazing.

It’s just a shame that this isn’t backed up by an enjoyable game.

You see whilst you hop from planet to planet, moon to moon, the reason for doing so is to mine materials - by bashing or lasering things - in order to upgrade your ship, your suit and your multi-tool. All of this is done to aid you on your journey to the center of the universe. That's it though. There is no real story, you do encounter other races and it is nifty that, through bargaining with them and locating things you have to learn their language, but you only interact with them in a way that allows for more resources to be gained. They are essentially trading posts dressed up as lifeforms.

And don’t think the wildlife or the sentinels (the guardians scattered throughout the planets of the universe) make for much better company. When not scanning and discovering wildlife you fight them. This consists of running around firing your multi-tool at them. It is clunky and repetitive and dull. There is some variety in that you can add new things to your gun but it really makes little difference. Oh and if you run out of ammo and need more you have to open your inventory, rendering you motionless without pausing the game and allowing you to be slaughtered. The sentinels aren’t much better, uninspired floating objects, easily provoked, who fire lasers at you. You can fight or just run away for about thirty seconds and they should give up. Thrilling.

Resource gathering isn’t much better, though games like Minecraft and Terraria are filled with resource gathering the rewards they provide are immense due to the freedom and creativity given to the player. Here you just get an upgrade and, honestly, aside from the warp ability most upgrades feel painfully incremental. This is made worse by one of the clunkiest UIs I have ever experienced. You use the sticks to control a mouse-like cursor to select items to upgrade. What's worse is they stick with this UI for everything, even conversation choices with aliens.
A good deal of features shown in previews aren't included. Faction based alliances and battles? Nope. Attacking space stations? Nope. Fleet battles? Nope. Freighters that move and fight? Nope. Also there are seemingly no desert planets.


Many people I know would be willing to brush this all aside. They would be happy just to explore the universe, meet other players out in the stars, trade with them, explore with them. Good luck with that. In numerous tests even when players found each other they couldn’t see each other. Multiplayer essentially boils down to the incredibly small chance you might stumble across a planet named Pooptopia and wonder who named it. It’s a real shame.

Then there’s the graphics. Whilst the variety is amazing the performance is not. The frame rate stutters all too often, dropping below thirty frames per second in a very noticeable way. The pop in is atrocious, especially when flying over a planet's surface, which is often necessary due to their size. Whilst this can be forgiven somewhat due to the lack of loading times and the thrill of seamless exploration, it is still not acceptable in this day and age.

Ultimately No Man’s Sky feels hollow. The procedural generation and exploration side of things feels great, fleshed out and highly enjoyable. The rest of it feels half baked. Maybe with another year or two of development a truly great game could have been released - something to truly usher in the current generation, to show the way forward for AAA gaming. Sadly what we have is a truly underwhelming game, a woeful disappointment. Even if you ignored the hype and hyperbole, this game promised to be truly unique, truly special and to really outshine all the other so-called ‘next gen’ games. It doesn’t even come close.


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Monday, 8 August 2016

Suicide Squad Impressions

Suicide Squad – Don’t believe the critics!

This is going to be a brief rundown of my impressions of the film, I know critics have slated it but I urge to go in with an open mind – you may be pleasantly surprised. 

First of all, the bad:

There are some jarring tonal shifts where one liners and poor quality gags have been shoehorned in to scenes where they don’t belong – this may be after the reshoot caused by the backlash against Batman vs. Superman. 

Harley Quinn is far too sexualised and her character is not as faithful to the comics as some want. That said her crazy side and love for the Joker is handled superbly by Margot Robbie.  

Ben Afleck is not given the right script or scenes (again) and so Batman seems incompetent and lacking the whole ‘World’s Greatest Detective’ thing.

The score is pretty underwhelming, I can’t honestly recall any standout moments from it and I saw it less than twenty four hours ago. 

Not enough Joker!

And now the good:

Jared Leto is superb as the Joker, he is a perfect blend of Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger and gives us a fresh take on the character. He commands every scene he is in and his laugh is superb. 

Will Smith adds a certain gravitas to the role and makes Deadshot a surprisingly likeable and relatable character – he keeps the film grounded and level headed despite it’s over the top plot and characters. 

The supernatural elements added in to the film really add a nice sense of mythology to the DC cinematic universe and help to differentiate it from Marvel’s. 

David Ayer’s direction is really spot on, the action scenes are thrilling and the balance of the character’s and their back stories is perfectly handled. Characters feel developed enough in relation to their roles and it feels like a team movie as opposed to a Joker movie with a few other characters. 

All in all it’s a good film that goes a long way in restoring my faith in Warner and DC being able to build a compelling universe. Something I sorely needed to happen after the debacle that was Batman vs. Superman. We know have three DCU movies, two good, one bad, and Justice League and Wonder Woman look promising so I am optimistic. 

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Italy, 2016 Vlog

My partner (Amy MacTavish) made a vlog of our trip to Italy and uploaded it today - we'd be really grateful if you'd take a look, like, subscribe and share!

Thanks!

Friday, 29 July 2016

Authority Nutrition - What is a Vegan and What do Vegans Eat?

Ever wondered what veganism is and why people go vegan? Then read this fantastic article that explains exactly that! 

https://authoritynutrition.com/what-is-a-vegan/

It lists the main reasons for going vegan - ethical, health and environmental - and takes a look at the motives and ideas behind each. It breaks down different types of vegan diets- raw, whole foods etc. - and takes a look at what food groups a vegan eats. 


It manages to be comprehensive without being judgemental, aggressive or overly dense in terms of facts and figures. It's a great introduction to veganism and I'd urge you all to take a look. I will also add it to my Vegan Resources page for easy reference. 


A lot of people haven't had a great deal of exposure to veganism, they may only have a warped and negative view of it. A piece like this on such a large site is great for showing veganism for what it really is and for showing people how beneficial it can be on a variety of levels. 


I myself do it for ethical reasons and I see these reasons as the most crucial aspect of veganism and the main reason why everyone should be vegan, but if you like what you hear about health and environmental benefits then go for it! You'll find plenty of help here and on my resources page. 

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Wonder Woman Trailer


Justice League Trailer


Beautiful You - Chuck Palahniuk

I recently finished Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk, it's a novel about a young woman who falls in love with a billionaire sex toy maker who later uses her to develop sex toys to enslave the female population. Like Palahniuk's best work it starts with a simple premise - feminism - and takes it to its most ridiculous extreme. As evidenced by my above summary. 

I'd been worried about Palahniuk's work in recent years, he had done a few books that I found to be Palahniuk by the numbers (Snuff, Haunted) but now, with Doomed and Damned and this, he seems to have regained his footing. 

Beautiful, You deals with the idea of feminism and the modern woman - a woman in a stereo-typically male role, for example lawyer or CEO, in control of her own sex life and her own destiny. Palahniuk ruthlessly tears into this idea, old women used to be housewives, new women are businesswomen. The point is, both are trapped by criteria placed on them, with no choice, by others. Sexism is still prevalent, women are still not seen as free or equal.

The book is witty and funny and the satire is suitably cutting. The villain, Maxwell, seems largely underdeveloped until the final dozen or so pages and the ending twist doesn't make sense within the context of the story but the overall message isn't hampered by this in any way and so it is still an enjoyable read. If you're a Palahniuk fan then this is an enjoyable book, not one of his best but far from his worst.