Films

Suicide Squad was a lot of fun

I keep seeing negative reviews of the Suicide Squad, but you know what? I had fun, dammit. Suicide Squad was a lot of fun – there, I said it.

Don’t go into this film expecting much more than it is – an action-packed, romping, stomping arcade of cinema fun. Because that is what it is. I did however end up caring for most of the characters. I mean, the witch was pushing it a bit, her gyrating to a huge smoke of destruction of some machine or another was a slight downer, but I accepted it as the catalyst for a fun ride.

Harley QuinnIn regards to the world of the Suicide Squad, I went into the film having no prior knowledge to most of the characters. I knew Harley Quinn’s background with the Joker but that was about it. So I didn’t have that comic book baggage that I’ve seen people complaining about – about how Harley Quinn and The Joker’s abusive relationship has been down-played.

There’s a bit of ass going on

If you’re going to be offended by a lady bending over in hot pants then don’t watch this film. I’m not going to pretend the film’s not flaunting Harley Quinn’s ass quite a bit, it is. However it was good to see her character coming across as more than just a wiggling bum. She had a vulnerability that she masked with the fact that she is just plain mental. Plus I’ve been a fan of Margot Robbie since she played the not-quite-as-mental Donna Friedman in Neighbours.

Jared Leto was a surprise Joker for me. I actually really liked him as the Clown Prince of Darkness. His portrayal was fresh, as Heath Ledger’s was before him. Not only that but he gave a decent edge of darkness to the character. His darkness came out when dealing with the relationship between him and Harley Quinn. Their relationship is destructive and somehow beautiful at times.

The Joker and Harley Quinn in the vat

My favourite scene with them was probably The Joker holding Harley Quinn up in a vat of chemicals, during an origin scene, with paint twisting around them.

Pacing and Climax

I found myself interested all the way through the film. There was never a point at which I got bored. There were moments of annoyance as characters made stupid decisions, but I’m finding myself being less critical of a film’s short-comings nowadays. I try to enjoy the ride instead of moaning about one particular turn.

As climaxes go this film’s was okay. I mean, I wasn’t particularly bothered about the possibility of the end of the world, or the main baddies themselves, but I was bothered about the main characters. I wanted Deadshot to get home to his daughter; for Diablo to find his peace; and of course for Harley Quinn to find her Puddin’.

Games

There Is No Love In Rust – 7 Pieces Of Advice For New Players

If there is one thing I have learnt in my opening days of this game, it is that there is no love in rust. Initially I found myself getting really frustrated with the game. I would try time and again, to find a nice little home area, before getting slaughtered by someone.

With the idea of helping fellow noobs out like myself, I have shared some ideas and tips that I have picked up so far.

Start chopping and mining straight away

Start gathering rocks and wood straight away.

A big part of Rust’s game mechanics work around the concept of levelling up and earning XP currency. These two points are the only things you will retain when you die. And die you shall.

As such you should start knocking away at any trees and rock mining nodes as soon as you see them.

Don’t make the mistake I first did by walking off and looking for “The Perfect Place” for your home. You wont actually be able to make much until you go up a couple of levels any way.

So get that rock out and start hitting stuff!

You will never find the perfect place for your home

The fact that Rust is completely open, means that at some time or another someone will walk past your home. However, that being said, there are a few tips that I have picked up that have helped me so far.

  1. Try and build between rocks and foliage in order to minimise your home’s visibility.
  2. Don’t go more than one level high.
  3. Don’t build near the game’s static locations, such as Radiation Towns; Domes; Airfields etc.
  4. The smaller the better. My first home was two spaces by three spaces. Whilst not giving much floor space, it did mean I could upgrade my home’s material relatively cheaply.

My First Home In Rust

Don’t get too attached to your home base

Rust is a brutal game, as brutal on your feelings as it is when someone takes a hatchet to your face. The truth is, is that you probably will get raided at some point, if only for fun. For this reason I urge you to not get too attached to your base.

If you make your home really weak, people may just destroy it as they wander past. On the other hand if you try to really fortify it people will see that as a challenge and most likely target you. Either way you will be dying in your sleep – in the game of course.

Embrace the true nature of the game

The true nature, and the overall goal of the game, is to survive. Whether that be from other players hell-bent on world domination, or a wandering bear in the woods. I treat every game of rust as a chance to beat my last length of time in staying alive. Don’t judge your progression on the size of your base or the strength of your weapons. This goes back to my previous point of not getting too attached to your home.

Try and think more about your survival rather than other players’ demise.

Don’t be afraid to explore

Second to the games core idea of survival, exploration is a close second in my opinion. In fact just today I found a small collection of buildings and a ladder into a hole in the ground. This ladder led into a sewer system that I had no idea was in the game. In the sewer there were many boxes to open, both medicinal and weapons.

Exploring The Dome In RustI also have a fondness for the derelict airstrips that you can sometimes find. These are huge areas of hangers, flight centre and a very long airstrip running between.

Of course these places not only hold barrels and boxes of special items, but they also attract many people to explore them.

That being said, don’t be afraid to get out there and explore the world.

Take advantage of Rust Maps

If you head over to http://playrust.io you can search for the server map for the one that you are on. Each map is unique but by running around your spawn area you can sometimes find your rough location on the map. Finding a special location like the airstrip or a dome will help in orienteering your way around.

Some of the maps even have a live location tracker for yourself built in, if you sign in with your steam account. Unfortunately procedurally generated maps don’t have this feature.

Trust no-one

As Fox Mulder once said, you should indeed “Trust No-One”. If you see a naked man with a rock running to you crouching, don’t trust him.Getting offered free weapons if you meet someone out on the road? Don’t trust them. See a guy in full armour with a gun running towards you in the distance? Definitely don’t trust them.

Almost every one in rust is out to get you. This isn’t being paranoid; it’s simply the nature of the game. Everyone is out to survive, plain and simple, and people would love to see what supplies they can salvage from you. After all, there is no love in Rust.

My Naked Rust Corpse

TV

Stranger Things Series One – A Write Up

Think of The Goonies crossed with The X-Files, with a dash of Silent Hill. This is the best one line intro I could think of for Stranger Things that I hadn’t heard before.

It is the story of a small group of friends who are investigating the disappearance of their friend, Will. Will is seen in the opening scenes, being taken by something from out of the darkness – a sort of slenderman-like figure. As the story unravels, new and interesting characters weave through, as this small town’s conspiracy unfolds.

Stranger Things Series One

I spent my pre-teenage years enjoying films like The Goonies; Ghostbusters and Halloween. And yes – Halloween scared the undying crap out of me growing up. But so did Steven King’s IT and I lost count of how many times I saw that.

These films for me evoked a feeling that I haven’t felt since those younger days. The youthful feeling of wonder; of being lost in a world that wasn’t my own, where anything was possible.

Last week I discovered a world where that feeling was re-kindled in me. That world being the small town of Hawkins, Indiana – the setting of Stranger Things.

Stranger Things, as you will no doubt read everywhere, is like a glorious combination of so many eighties film and television. I even saw it being described as “Dark Amblin” – Amblin being Steven Speilberg’s company, which is an accurate description in my opinion.

Much more than just an eighties homage

All of the reviews of Stranger Things always seem to focus on it’s proven abilities to pay homage to the eighties. To early Speilberg films; John Carpenter asthetics and soundtracks; Steven King themes. It does do this, and in spades, but Stranger Things is so much more than that.

The first thing I wanted to mention was the cast – the acting in this series is superb. The main protagonists, the four kids playing dungeons and dragons at the start, have a great rapour together. They have that kind of charisma that I remember from The Goonies, IT and Stand By Me.

Natalia Dyer, who plays Nancy, had such a great range in her character. Starting with her almost-naive innocence through to her portrayal as a weapon-weilding bad-ass. For me she was one of the most diverse, stand-out performances of the series. Along with of course Millie Bobby Brown, who plays Eleven. She played her character so well that she was even on par with the veteran actress of the show, Winona Ryder.

Mike and Elle from Stranger ThingsThe growing relationship between Mike and Eleven was really well done too. So much is built up between the two of them during those eight episodes, which I guess is down to great writing and great acting.

Even stranger things ahead?

At the time of writing it has been heavily suggested that a second, and possibly even more, series have been green-lit, which is awesome news. To be fair the ending was done well in that I feel it could be left there, in the same way that Twin Peaks “ended”. In some ways there are open threads, but the core of the story was told, and told really well.

Nevertheless going by how much I enjoyed Stranger Things series one, I am already eagerly awaiting the series two.

What did you think about Stranger Things?

Have you seen Stranger Things? I’d love to hear what you thought.

What are your theories on the next series?

Let me know in the comments section below.

Interviews

An Interview with Hannah Grace

One of my favourite E.Ps to come out so far has been Hannah Grace’s Mustang. Such great music – and with a good variety in its four songs. I am really looking forward to a full length album by her in the near future.

I have been lucky enough to be able to interview Hannah about herself, her origins and her influences. You can read the answers to some questions I asked her just below.

Interview with Hannah Grace

Please tell us about yourself in as many or as little words as you like.
My name is Hannah Grace, I am 23 years old and from Wales! I love singing and writing songs and I also love cats…
Growing up, who were your heroes in music?
My first hero was definitely Eva Cassidy, from as early as I can remember I just couldn’t stop listening to her. Her voice just connected with me and I have always looked up to her. She is definitely one of the main reasons I started to sing.
Growing up, who were your heroes outside of music?
My parents. I’m so lucky to have such a great parents, they introduced me to so much amazing music over the years, from Fleetwood Mac, to Joni Mitchell, Neil Young and Ella Fitzgerald. All of their encouragement and support has been crucial to my confidence and development as a musician.
What was the first album you remember buying?
Oh dear. Well I’m pretty sure it was Britney Spears or something. But the first CD I owned was a present and that was Eva Cassidy’s “Songbird”.
Was there any defining moment in your life when you knew that you wanted to write, record and perform music?
I always knew I wanted to sing, as it is something that i’ve just always done. But I felt like I really really wanted to write, record and perform my own material when I started listening to songs that I’d wish I’d written. Songs like “A case of you” by Joni, or “Songbird” by Christine McVie – I definitely had a moment of “maybe I could do that” and I’ve found as a singer when you perform your own songs with your own words it can be much more rewarding somehow.
Who is your biggest influence in how you approach what you do today?
There are so many people that influence me today. I’m still inspired by my first loves, like Eva, Joni and Ella. But I’m also influenced by artists like Hozier, Paulo Nutini and Florence and the Machine. I feel like their music is exciting and new but also real, it isn’t too contrived. I am also influenced by friends I have that also do music such as Gabrielle Aplin and Hudson Taylor. We’ve all been friends for a long time, and I admire their music and their attitude and commitment inspires me all the time.
What is the proudest moment of your career so far?
So far I would say releasing my most recent EP ‘Mustang’ has been my proudest. I’m so pleased with how it turned out and I really think that it honestly shows where I am as an artist, both as a songwriter and a singer.
What is your favourite Book?
It’s a very sad story but I love “A Thousand Splendid Suns” – it is such a powerful story – especially for women in the world we live in today. Its a story that crossed my mind a lot and helps me appreciate my own life.
What is your favourite Album?
I have so many! At the moment I am still loving Paulo Nutini’s “Caustic Love” – I love the songs and the production, it’s just amazing. I actually got the opportunity to meet Paolo recently and he was lovely!
What is your favourite Film?
Again, I have so many! I watched Notting Hill recently, and it always leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy – and the soundtrack is really great too!
What is your favourite TV Show?
It has to definitely be Friends. I have seen every episode 100 times.
Do you have a favourite film/tv/musical soundtrack?
I don’t know whether I have a favourite – lots of British films often have good soundtracks, like Notting hill and Love actually. There’s a French film called The Untouchables and the entire soundtrack was written by Ludovico Einaudi which was beautiful.

Thank you Hannah

A big thank you to Hannah for taking the time out to answer those quesitons and to give us an insight into herself and where she has gained her musical roots and inspirations. Like I said before I am really looking forward to her debut album, and I’m sure anybody else who listens to “Mustang” will be to.

Games

My Second Day In Firewatch – A Write Up

Despite having my sheets stolen and my window smashed, I somehow managed to sleep last night.

My Second Day In Firewatch

I woke that morning feeling uneasy from the previous night’s events. This was followed by Delilah giving me the task of investigating the knocked-out communications that had been reported.

Once I was dressed and awake, I set off towards the cave entrance I found during the previous day. From here I continued north until I found the cables overhead. Following the cables up a mountain incline at Beartooth Point, past some discarded beer cans, I came to the top of the hill – and to where the communication wire had been cut clean.

I was sure that it was these bloody girls from yesterday who were responsible for cutting the wire. On continuing my investigation, I found their previous campsite abandoned. That is if you ignore the discarded beer cans about the floor. Continuing forward I came across a lone rucksack hanging from a tree, inside which I found a disposable camera and enough rope to last me a while.

My Second Day In FirewatchI moved forward down the only trail I hadn’t yet investigated and came across a chain-linked fence, warning people to keep out. I wonder what could be on the other side? Onward I travelled on through a beautiful area known as Five Mile Creek. I followed the trail to the south west till I found the girls’ new campsite. This new site was also abandoned, only this time in a way that seems to have been violent in nature. The tent and discarded clothes had been torn and spread about the ground; the area was a state.

Just where could these girls have now got to?

In Conclusion

During my second day in Firewatch I managed to uncover more of my surrounding countryside. Some side areas may have been missed but I will go back and find them shortly. I am loving the sound design of this game – how the trees rustling in the breeze seem to be treated as part of the score. I love how the music is using sparingly and to great effect when it is. The isolation is a comfortable one at the moment, but I am expecting things to get darker pretty soon.

Games

My First Day in Firewatch – A Write Up

Earlier on today I bought Firewatch for P.C. after hearing great reviews about it. Those reviews so far seem to be spot on.

My first day in Firewatch was an interesting one. The opening intersects a multiple-choice backstory for the main character with his trekking to his new place of work. The telling of this backstory was perfectly melancholic, piling on the loneliness and atmosphere of the great big empty wilderness.

The game is split into days, from what I’ve seen – having completed “Day One” so far. This seems like a really interesting way to approach this narrative. I can imagine the isolation of the game really kicking in once I get through the many days to come.

Day one consisted of my meeting a lady coworker – albeit on the radio. We exchanged witty banty, which was followed with my being given my first task – investigate nearby fireworks.

My First Day in Firewatch

I was told to head down to a nearby lake to investigate the nearby fireworks, which I found after negotiating the winding descent from my new place of work. On arrival I was greeted by discarded clothes, some rucksacks and the near-distant sound of music.

Following the sound into the woods I came to a clearing where I found the stereo next to me, and two girls – the culprits – over in the middle of the lake skinny-dipping. After I threw the stereo into the water they soon ran off, shouting obscenities, leaving me to negotiate my way back to home base.

The typewriter was lying at the foot of the watchtower’s steps on my return. The inside of the watchtower had been vandalised and the window had been smashed. I had my second feeling of fear in the game at this point. The first time came earlier but I don’t want to spoil that for anybody.

I assumed it was vandalised by the girls from before, but I doubt they could get back to their clothes, dress, and get back to the tower to trash it before I retured.

I guess time will reveal what happened.

First Impressions

My first day in Firewatch was very engrossing – it drew me into its wonderful isolation with ease and the occasional mild fright. The atmosphere is just the right side of isolation. It has a creepiness to it and I’m not actually sure yet if this is a horror game or not. I really hope not, ’cause it’ll be scaring the hell out of me soon if it is.

Journal

My taste in music and how it’s grown over the years

In the beginning

Growing up with great parents, I took a lot of my early tastes in music from them – my Dad specifically. But through growing up and exploring new styles, my taste in music has grown significantly.

I started by hearing bands like Fleetwood Mac; Supertramp; Meat Loaf; Whitesnake; to name a few, and I still have a place for them. In fact just this week I have been listening to Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell 2 again.

Jim Steinman is a composer mostly known for his work with Meat Loaf
Jim Steinman is a composer mostly known for his work with Meat Loaf

One of my favourite songwriters of all time is Jim Steinman – the composer behind Meat Loaf’s early music as well as many other theatre shows, films and varying other bands.

On leaving school and going to work in London I was about 18 years old and was getting into heavy metal and gothic rock. Bands like Marilyn Manson; Korn; Slipknot; Linkin Park often did the rounds on my little CD player – much to the annoyance of my co-workers.

Later on at college I would find myself being introduced to more rock bands – this time older bands like Iron Maiden; Judas Priest; Ozzy Osbourne.

Leaving Home

When I moved out of my parents’ house I moved in with a friend and her then-boyfriend, who was a DJ and producer. I would often hear him playing dance music and, although it never grew on me that much, still found it interesting to hear this new style. Alhtough saying that I did once go with him and some other friends to hear James Zabiela live, which was fucking insane. Also I did get introduced to Aphex Twin through him. He did also play older, more indie types of music too – like The Stone Roses and The Smiths which then turned me on to that style.

Aphex Twin is an experimental electronic musician
Aphex Twin is an experimental electronic musician

When I first moved out of my parents was also when I started teaching myself to play guitar. Because of this I inevitably started listening to more guitar orientated music. My taste in music grew to include Joe Satriani; Steve Vai; Paul Gilbert; and Buckethead big time. In fact I was pretty obsessed with these guys. I would also learn finger-picking folk music too. Artists like Joan Baez; Janis Ian; and Lindsey Buckingham were very inspiring to my learning.

Recent Years

Ladyhawke is an Australian multi-instrumentalist.
Ladyhawke is an Australian multi-instrumentalist.

When I was first learning the guitar and was looking for inspiring artists I became a bit of a music snob. If someone had suggested Taylor Swift back then I’d have laughed in their face. But things do change. I have since gotten into lots of female-led artists/bands. One of my all-time favourite artists now is Lana Del Rey. I also love people like Ladyhawke; Grimes; and yes, even Taylor Swift.

Also in recent years, in fact in the past 12 months or so, I have gotten really into Grime music – rap music mainly out of London, although it can be performed anywhere. Artists like JME; Big Narstie; Kano; Giggs. All these guys I love listening to. And often enjoy watching the BBC Radio One Fire In The Booth and the 60 Minute Takeovers.

The Future

As I go forwards I’ll continue to try and widen my taste in music. I probably wont like it all, but you don’t know until you explore. What I can say is that this past week I have been getting heavily into this whole Retro New Wave genre I’m hearing. I re-emergence of 80’s-inspired music. But the good, synth-led music; none of that bloody Culture Club stuff.

 

Journal

I just made my first penny on Google Adsense

At the bottom of my sidebar I’ve got a little Adsense advert, which I’m not proud of, but you know what? I’d like to make a bit of extra money from my site.

I just logged into my Adsense account and found that I’ve made £0.01 – yep; that’s a penny.

Even though it’s the smallest denomination possible in British currency, it has actually made me want to write more. If I can keep doubling that amount as time goes on, who knows where I could have it earning in a few years?

But just to say this – I’m not writing to make money; extra money would just be a nice added extra on top of my new hobby of regular blogging.

Thanks, Dave.

 

Journal

On the train again

I’ve just started up my train direct debit again. I already know how terrible the trains are for my journey but I’m going to give it another shot in the interest of saving money on the petrol I’m currently spending.

I’ll probably get annoyed after day one but we’ll soon see.

They never even checked the tickets that often when I used to get it so there’s probably nothing stopping me from just getting on the train without paying.

However I just know I’ll be fretting all the way, unable to concentrate on reading / writing or whatever it is I end up doing each day. So the £60 versus my current £140ish is a smaller price to pay for the peace of mind.