All Things in Moderation

Monday, January 5 2009 at 01:23 (Books, Daily Life, Rants, Reviews, Theorems)

Or not, as the last couple of days have proved. For some reason I have seen it fit to stay up until at least past 2AM and get up past noon, mainly due to doing far too much of one activity.
Delights include:

  • Playing Mario Kart
  • Playing Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure (more on that in a minute)
  • Watching various films
  • Reading the Cherub series by Robert Muchamore

And several other things. I also intend to review my New Year’s resolutions from last year. Fortunately they are preserved here, in my previous blog, but I shall list them again anyway for the sake of ease.

1. Don’t die or get killed. (I’ve already had one death threat so far this year!)
2. Get invited to a party held by one of my peers.
3. Don’t ruin anybody’s life.
4. Do well in various GCSEs
5. Keep my little Christmas tree alive until next year.
6. Do something radical and interesting. (What could that be?)

Well. I think I’ve covered most of those.

  1. I’m not dead. I forget who the death threat was FROM, though…
  2. I got invited to THREE actual parties, as I recall, but I only went to two. They weren’t THAT brilliant.
  3. Hm. This one is a bit harder. I don’t think anyone really cares about me enough that I could ruin their lives anyway, to be honest. I can’t say.
  4. A* A* A* A* A A A sounds pretty good to me. I think I get that one.
  5. Ah. Now the Christmas tree is technically still alive, but it might not be for long. It’s a bit droopy around the edges.
  6. I’m not sure about this one at all. I’ve lots of stuff, but as for whether it was radical or interesting enough is a moot point. Not exactly sure why it’s a moot point, but I just wanted to say it.

Continuing the annoying use of numbered lists, I’m now going to have to put my new New Year’s resolutions. Sorry.

  1. Read at least one book a month. I’ve been getting seriously lax in my reading, and as a result my vocabulary has suffered. Currently lined up I have The Amulet of Samarkand.
  2. Try and go to more social events outside of school.
  3. Ask someone to the year 11 prom.
  4. Play less videogames. Not give them up, but try and be less dependent on them for escapism and entertainment. In addition, find other forms of entertainment. Listen to the radio.
  5. Rather conversely, get Portal to work on a computer I own. This either means getting a new laptop (which would be nice; my current one, much as I love it, is dying) or stripping apart my old one and doing thoroughly dangerous things.
  6. Do something more radical, and more exciting than last year.

It’s been, somehow, a good few days. Really quite awesome, in fact. Let me break it down.

New Year’s Eve was fun. Every year our family has a themed pary with a family from across the road, and it’s always interesting when people are in their costumes. We’ve had James Bond, space and aliens (for the millennium), Caribbean and several other themes since the tradition began in (I believe) around 1998.
This year was 1920s.
In some ways I wish I had a picture of how stupid I looked, but in others I’m glad that I don’t. Really glad. So we talked for ages and then we had the countdown, and then we celebrated and all ended up sitting in the living room talking about old children’s television programmes.  I decided to call it a day after the husband of the other family asked, quite sincerely, who Andy Pandy’s ‘bitch’ was. His wife replied that Looby Loo was Andy Pandy’s ‘bitch’. These are respectable people, normally.

On NY’sD it was Nico Webster’s birthday, so I went into Norwich with him to have some birthday frolicking. We went around GAME and HMV for a bit, and I bought Zack and Wiki and he got Assassin’s Creed, because apparently cartoon pirates aren’t manly. Then we ate something and went to the cinema (getting completely lost on the way) to see Twilight. Oh boy.

I’m not sure what I can say about this.
Is it good? My answer would have to be no.
Is it bad then? Not entirely that, either.
It’s sort of a bit of a meh. Although you can find a great extremely negative review of Twilight here (skip to about 5:45 in), I rather disagree. It’s not totally awfully bad, but I can tell you right now that it ain’t getting my recommendation.
For those of you unfamiliar with the story, a girl (Bella) moves into a town where her dad lives, meets a guy who at first ignores, her, THEN she finds out its because he’s lusting for her blood and everything gets all gooey for a bit, then some ”’bad”’ (triple inverted commas for emphasis) vampires (The ‘good’ ones only drink animal blood, and it’s real hard for them. Look how much this film makes me not care.) show up and one of them happens to get the urge to hunt Bella to the edges of the earth and suck her dry. Not in that sense. In vampiric terms.
Anyway, there’s a yawnworthy climax where, wow, Bella is saved by her ”’dashingly handsome”’ vampire boyfriend Edward, there’s a ”’daring act”’ and then its over and it all takes far too long to wrap up before one can enter out into the sunlight again. Despite all this, I still can’t exactly hate the film. It might be an attachment to the books, which actually made me feel some emotions, but I can’t totally flaw the film, even though it is the emotional equivalent of giving one’s brain cardboard to eat.
There were also some questionable moments. In the scene where Edward and Bella finally decide to be ”’dangerous”’ and make out in her bedroom, she’s wearing trousers at the beginning of the scene, but even though the two only make out for about ten seconds before Edward cries that he wants to remain pure (or words to that effect; he doesn’t want to bite her even though she’s gagging for it) and suddenly she has no trousers on. I might have imagined it, but if not I think that Edward has been severely misusing his speed and strength vampire powers.
In conclusion, it had everything I expected, right down to a Stephanie Meyer cameo, which I easily spotted, but nothing more. It’s not the best film ever, but it’s not the worst.


Also, I just watched Back to the Future. I’d forgotten just how amazingly awesome that film was.

Ooh. The next bit might include some minor videogame ranting. Ye be warned.
Zack And Wiki. This game is awesome. Really. Let me set the scene.
You’re a young aspiring pirate boy with an awesome hat who’s best friend is a flying golden monkey who can be shaken like a bell to turn enemies into items that you can then use to do various things. Your arch nemesis is a pirate girl in a miniskirt. There’s enormous gold treasure chests. And the gameplay is pretty good too.
Erm. Well. It’s a point and click adventure game with plenty of puzzles, and even if some of them are vastly complicated and occasionally frustrating there’s a bit where a giant squid attacks your ship and you get to fight it by dropping depth charges that you transform from tuna before shooting it through the head with the remains of your mast from a giant crossbow. and that more than makes up for everything. There’s a ton of Capcom fan service, like collecting Mega Man and Bionic Commando sprites and the currency they use is Zenny. I frigging love Zenny. I wasn’t sure when I first saw the Z symbol, but when someone called it by its name, I nearly punched the ceiling. Yasee, Zenny is pretty much a standard Capcom currency, but the game I remember it being in most was Breath of Fire III, which I grew up with. So Zenny are close to my heart indeed. I played it for ten hours straight and never got bored.

Now, the CHERUB series by Robert Muchamore is an interesting specimen. A faux stamp on the back of it boldly declares ‘NOT FOR YOUNGER READERS’. The boy in it starts out at 11 but quickly turns 12 and then thirteen in the middle of the second book, but still seems to get action with at least four girls and talks about urinating and sex ALL the time. It’s trying to be different; it succeeds. At first I was comparing the series to Alex Rider due to the similar ‘children as spies’ setup, but I eventually realised that because of the whole ‘school’ setup, its actually panders more to the Harry Potter side of things. Despite this, it doesn’t really capture the cinematic aspect of the Alex Rider series OR the wholesome schoollife-while-something-goes-on-in-the-background Potter trend, and I’m sometimes at a loss as to just what it wants to be.
It definitely tries to appeal to a teenage demographic, mentioning Grand Theft Auto on the first page and going on about Playstations all the time. It even references Gran Turismo 4 as GT4 without saying what it stands for. Normally the characters talk ‘normally’ but occasionally someone throws in a bit of slang and it just doesn’t quite fit. Does anyone you know say ‘I’m busting for a pee’ these days? Hm?  I don’t know what it is. It’s like the opposite of when I read Andy McNab’s Boy Soldier, which tried to use correct SAS vocab at every instance; it even had the cheek to include a glossary. In this even the mission briefings, usually consisting of a chapter’s worth of italic print, seem to be written only slightly formally. This might work in the context of teenage spies understanding it, but dammit, these children are meant to be getting the best education in the country on their super-campus. It just weakens the suspense of my disbelief, is all. As for the plot, I spent the first two books that I have waiting for the two mains to hook up, and they finally did that at the end of the second book. But this means, because there are at least eight books, that
a) The girl is going to die at some point or b) They’re going to split up and have some bitchy Ross and Rachel relationship before they finally get back together in the last book. And we’ve already had the revelation that one guy is gay. The kids in these books seem much more like 14-15 year-olds than just over ten.
One thing that I do like is how at the end of each book there are ‘profiles’ for each of the minor characters, indicating what happened after the story. This is good because I hate loose ends, although some of it does limit the ability for characters to recur in later books.
I’m going to get the rest of the CHERUB books out of the library, but I ain’t gonna buy them just yet.

Eeesh. Sorry. Over 1800 words. I didn’t realise that three reviews and resolutions could pile up into that much. Well, anyway. That should keep me safe from the wrath of Chris for a few more days.

I did have some really good theorems, but I’ve totally forgotten them.

Ooh! If a man follows a dream, and he dreams of accomplishing that dream, does that make the actual task of the dream immaterial?



  1. Max said,

    Heh, your determination to get Portal to work amuses me. Oh, and thanks for not boring us all with your theorems. 😀

  2. Chris said,

    But he still bored us with that last line O.o
    Hmmm where to start really? Zack & Wiki! From what I have heard the same repetitive grunts could turn a sane man INSANE in the Mainframe! And that the bits where you have to make the movements…. are a bit unresponsive.
    Also, those books… yeah they do sound MUCH more like teens than 12 year olds…. I mean, if they were like just over 10 I could understand them saying “pee” but the fact that they seem more like they are teens who have had about 3 STIs…. I think the word “Piss” would work better….. I think putting in slang would work…. to show they are kids…. Just… if there is minimal slang and you just get the odd word pop-up… it will make it seem…. odd and unusual…. But if there was more but not too much that the book comes with a hundred page glossary due to the amount of slang… then I think that is too much….
    I think I had something else to say…. but nut sacks to that!

  3. joethearachnid said,

    Can you never have a positive opinion on ANY game I like?

  4. Chris said,

    I dunno… Chrono Trigger is pretty sexy? Portal is good… you know, the good games….

  5. joethearachnid said,

    Help if I PLAY Portal without my computer breaking – Cue Max to gloat, which he then won’t because I’ve asked him to now.

  6. Yeah! I Did It! « I,Blog said,

    […] to get out three others. These are -’Man vs. Beast’ by Robert Muchamore (part of the CHERUB series) -’Knife Edge’ by Malorie Blackman (part of the Noughts and Crosses trilogy) – […]

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