Wednesday, March 31, 2010

You want to smell like Captain Kirk?

I saw they have started selling these on Amazon:
Yes, it's Star Trek cologne. One of the fragrances is Tiberius which allows you to "be transported to new worlds of sensual discovery" according to it's blurb.

The one named Red Shirt is hilarious:
RED SHIRT Cologne is made for the young, modern man of the galaxy who doesn't hesitate; who revels in being alive today. RED SHIRT Cologne instills confidence, showing the universe your strength, your valor, your devotion to living each day as though it could be your last. Red Shirt Cologne: Because Tomorrow May Never Come.

Priceless. But the best is Pon Farr a perfume for the ladies:
Straight from the planet Vulcan, this 50 ml container of Star Trek Pon Farr Perfume is all you need to drive your man (or men) wild. Because having is not always as pleasing as wanting! Pon Farr Perfume for women is a refreshing fragrance that's both invigorating and dramatic, with light, clean notes of citrus, blackcurrant, lotus blossom, and water lily. With base notes from sandalwood, peach, and mulberry, Pon Farr is perfect for those bright sunny days and warm summer nights spent together at the beach, around the fire, or simply watching your favorite affaire d'honneur. Sharp and aggressive, simple yet exotic, use it with care!

Sometimes I wish the stuff I post here is a joke, but this is real...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

Goodbye Ben Maxwell: Robert Culp 1930-2010

For the longest time when I thought of an "FBI agent", I'd think of Ben Maxwell on The Greatest American Hero. I used to therefore think that FBI Agents were hard-asses who constantly spoke through clenched teeth and were impossibly tanned - it wasn't until I saw Special Agent Dale Cooper in Twin Peaks that I revised my opinion which up to then was completely formulated by the legendary Robert Culp.

Culp, a Californian actor gained notoriety as Hoby Gilman in the Western TV series Trackdown from 1957 to 59 and for his many television performances including episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Shaft and for 3 years on I-Spy with Bill Cosby, a series for which he was not only nominated for an acting Emmy, but also one for writing a number of episodes.

Following his 3-season role on The Greatest American Hero in the early 80's Culp made dozens of appearances on some of the best known shows on TV such as Matlock, Jake and the Fatman, Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman, Hardcastle and McCormick, Chicago Hope and Walker: Texas Ranger. He had a recurring role on Columbo as as Dr. Keppel and portrayed Cornelius Farnsworth in Lonesome Dove: The Series.

Culp rarely strayed from television making few movies but is noted as Ens. Ross in PT-109, the story of John F. Kennedy's time as a Naval officer in WWII and in 1994 he played the U.S. President in The Pelican Brief. Culp was also noted for his voice work on Disney's Gargoyles and more recently as Dr. Wallace Breen in the Half Life 2 videogame series. In '07 he voiced a hilarious appearance reprising Ben Maxwell in a Robot Chicken spoof of The Greatest American Hero.

He completed many projects per year up until 2003 where he took on few new projects. Culp died from a fall outside his Los Angles home Wednesday. He was 79.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Just when you thought your Star Wars toy collection was complete...

Obviously this more accurately scaled AT-AT is in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - Full Review

The Call Of Duty video game franchise has surpassed EA's Medal Of Honor as the worlds foremost war simulator. In November, Activision announced that the series has exceeded $3 billion in retail sales worldwide, making it one of the biggest gaming franchises ever. "If you consider the number of hours our audiences are engaged in playing Call of Duty games, it is likely to be one of the most viewed of all entertainment experiences in modern history," said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, Inc.

The latest, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (COD:MW2 or MW2), went on to generate over 500 million in sales in its first week which is certainly phenomenal but with most of those funds being collected from advance pre-orders the game was not sold on the basis of whether it was good or not, but only on what had been done before, so while some people ended up happy, others felt burned and cheated.

It’s interesting to note that the game's popularity also reflected in the amount of unauthorized downloads it had from BitTorrent sites. There were 4.1 million recorded downloads for the PC version, in addition to 970,000 for the Xbox 360, making it 2009's most pirated game on both platforms.

Like the majority of First Person Shooters (FPS) these days, MW2 employs both a single player mode and a multiplayer mode, there’s also a co-operative mode that allows you and a friend to team up for some specially designed difficult missions. Some users purchase the game for one element or the other but many enjoy both modes. On Multiplayer overall I will say reception in console-land on either the PS3 or the Xbox 360 platform was very well received. A different story exists however for the PC. Developers Infinity Ward (IW) decided to remove the dedicated server ability from the game entirely which severely limited the PC’s ability to create specific types of online matches, disabled the ability to ban a user that was unruly or a cheating bastard and basically crippled the most popular multiplayer functionality. This drastic action by IW led to the unprecedented fall of the game from #1 to 39th place in the PC Gaming charts – a result not shared by its console cousins. Personally, I buy and play these games only for single-player as I have to shoot enough assholes in real-life without having to kill them online as well. Therefore this review will focus mainly on the single-player aspect but comments may of course be added and discussed concerning multiplayer below if you so desire.

The game once again uses a proprietary engine (no existing engine platform would ever suit IW), the IW 4.0 based loosely on licensed ID tech. It presents a unique graphical experience that can be tweaked to match every capability of your GPU. Needless to say it’s noticeably superior to the original Modern Warfare with particular attention to dust particles which may actually cause you to as a reflex put your hand in line with your eyebrows in a futile attempt to see through it.

FPS storylines are generally an assorted mess of some incredible ideas that are loosely woven together to attempt to give you some sort of reason why you find yourself in so many different environments throughout the game. The plot here is just as woeful as one might expect, full of holes, inconsistencies and pointless elements, basically like an 80’s action movie. I admit I was expecting a bit more from the writer and executive producer of NCIS, Jesse Stern who wrote the game. Most of the plot hinges on it’s “secrecy” so I’ll not delve into it here too much only to assure you that it’s simply more of the same only they’ve turned the insanity-meter up to the max, you’ll be as surprised and as shocked as much as you will laugh where you’re really not supposed to.

The gameplay features most of what you experience in Modern Warfare; slick FPS action with a stunning array of the most modern weapons and small arms known to man. And thankfully they've abolished that madness of perpetually spawning enemies to wear you down, opting for some incredibly cunning AI foes instead. The “cinematic expedience” that the entire COD series is renowned for is taken up a notch here. There are some truly magnificent scripted action set-pieces, IW have proven that they are the masters of this for many years and MW2 is no exception with easily the most stunning of them emerging at various points in this game, you may even find yourself getting shot because you’ve spent so much time looking at such incredible action and scenery around you like an idiot.

As great as these cinematic sequences, many of which you have some level of control over, are; I think that there may be just a little too many of them and not enough actual “game”. Either that or the sections of game in between these cinematic sequences can seem so rushed because of the way the level is designed and you’re really being forcibly “pushed” through them so much that it can seem like the game is there to advance the cinematic as opposed to the other way around. In some cases it can feel like you're doing nothing more than directing a fantastic Machinima which is not what you pay “above average price” for a game for. The rushing – either against the clock or chasing down a bad-guy before he escapes etc. through the levels verges on ridiculous. While you are rewarded with some of the aforementioned extraordinary cinematic sequences and literally find yourself out of breath a heaving and sweating husk in front of the PC or console, you’ll discover to your horror that you’ve finished the entire game between 5 to 7 hours depending on your chosen difficulty level and that is a crime; an unforgivable crime that will ensure a through investigation before I pay full-price, recession or none, for the inevitable Modern Warfare 3.

To add to the whole cinematic flavour that IW have mastered for their games, the developers and publisher enlisted some top names to help them craft what is essentially “interactive cinema.” The aforementioned Jesse Stern was head of the writing team and his story was brought to life through the wonderful array of characters you met throughout your adventures voiced by some top talent including Kevin Dog Soldiers McKidd, Craig Cliffhanger Fairbrass, Barry We Were Soldiers Pepper, Keith Platoon David and Glen 24 Morshower among others. One of Hollywood’s most prolific and sought-after Oscar-winning composers Hans Zimmer was enlisted to compose the main themes for Lorne Balfe’s most amazing score. The unmistakeable sounds they produced only cementing the illusion that you are inside a movie directed by both Michael Bay and Tony Scott simultaneously. Its a shame that there’s no legal requirement for Activision to display an adrenalin poisoning warning on the game box like they do for epilepsy, because I’m sure that almost happened me.

The game has come under some harsh criticism and has caused a stir amongst many politicians who together with the press have highlighted some of the controversies. Some folk have taken it upon themselves to create an entire Wikipedia page based solely on Modern Warfare 2’s issues and you may read it at your leisure here. On the main issues I’ll only say – The multiplayer problems hold little concern but it’s a pity that IW seem to have forgotten that without the PC or multiplayer as it was on the PC there’d have been no Call Of Duty (1) back in 2003. Additionally this is not the place to discuss my opinion of the “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy of the US Military so we’ll leave that go. Of the Russian Airport level, I’ll admit that while I played it [I did pay for it], I did not enjoy it, I found it in bad taste and completely unnecessary to the plot – a plot that certainly wouldn’t have suffered any more detrimental effects from simply mentioning the “result” of the level rather than having you play it.

Still, credit where it is due, I must applaud Infinity Ward for what is certainly [from my point of view] one of the most polished, bug free, graphically and aurally rich FPS combat experiences I’ve ever had in a video game. It’s always a shame when a developer overlooks something, no matter how infinitesimal that breaks the illusion of reality and reminds you that you’re playing a game, but that doesn't happen here. It’s very noticeable – but obviously only after playing, that nothing happened during the game that broke this “bubble of fantasy” that surrounds you [with the exception of reloading after you die, but that’ll always be reasonable]. It’s a shame that such terrible controversy has marred it’s reception [if not it’s sales figures] and that that the main experience [for me] is only a few very short hours. If you’re not an avid multiplayer I suggest you wait a good while for this to come down in price, it’s certainly worth playing, just not right now.

Colonel Creedon Rating: ****

Some information sourced from: Infinity Ward / Gamestop / Wikipedia /IGN

Monday, March 22, 2010

McChrystal's new SOF directive

General Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said most of the U.S. Special Operations forces there now are under his direct control. He said the decision was made in response to high civilian casualties and reports the Special Forces troops were operating as "cowboys", The New York Times reported Tuesday. "What happens is, sometimes at cross-purposes, you got one hand doing one thing and one hand doing the other, both trying to do the right thing but working without a good outcome," McChrystal said.

Afghan officials, human rights workers and some field commanders of conventional U.S. forces have criticized Special Ops troops, saying they have been responsible for large number of casualties among Afghan civilians and strike out on their own.. Previously, Special Operations forces followed a separate chain of command.

Maj. Gen. Zahir Azimi, Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman, said McChrystal told Afghan officials he was taking action because of concern that some U.S. troops weren't following his order to make limiting civilian casualties a priority. "These special forces were not accountable to anyone in the country, but General McChrystal and we carried the burden of the guilt for the mistakes they committed," Azimi said. "Whenever there was some problem with the special forces, we didn't know who to go to. It was muddled and unclear who was in charge."

Colonel "Whopper" Creedon, whom as recently as February conducted special operations in Afghanistan was irate "What the hell? McChrystal was formerly the JSOC Commander who controlled most of the Special Operations Forces operating in Iraq and Afghanistan and they achieved great success but now they're "cowboys"? Uh-uh, no way, these are the elite of the elite battle hardened, highly trained and highly skilled operators, not cowboys! Well.. OK maybe one-in-ten is a loose cannon, but that comes with the pressure. Dammit!, we now have SOCOM because conventional ground commanders have always wanted SOF teams split up. Look, I agree that McChrystal should have communication with SOF but through SOCCENT, not direct command over the assets - I do not like the smell of this."

When asked if it was possible that his own unit may have been responsible for the civilian casualties McChrystal mentioned, Creedon replied "Look! There are always casualties in war. Otherwise it's just a nasty argument. We only ever fired upon 'confirmed threats' but if these cowards would stop hiding amongst civilians, the casualty rate would drop. This goes back to what I can smell - there is constant outrage in the Muslim community about civilians getting killed by U.S. and coalition forces, yet sweet-F-A of same when the insurgents hide behind civilians. When you're too much of a chickenshit to stand and fight it out like a real man but instead have to hide behind women, old folk, and kids, anyone who supports you is just as guilty and doesn't deserve be even referred to as 'collateral damage'. This new directive won't cover Delta, the S.E.A.L.s or any unit I'm commanding but I hope the future effectiveness of the remaining 'quiet professionals' won't be hamstrung for some good PR. I'll only let this go if someone can provide proof that this 'large number' of civilian casualties is as a direct result of SOF actions."

Source: / other various

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Conan to really be Foxy?

TMZ is a particularly trashy and reprehensible website.... but - they do seem to be able to scoop all the major news networks time and time again and rarely does their stuff turn out to be false. On this basis I'm excited about one of their reports this week that Fox is putting pressure on its affiliates to clear the 11PM slot for a potential new show for Conan O'Brien!

According to TMZ: Fox has been in touch with some affiliates, "applying pressure" to put Conan on the air between 11 and 12. A clear sign that he's going to Fox. TMZ's sources say Fox execs and Conan's reps have been "seriously talking," though no deal has been made yet but execs at several major Fox affiliates are saying a deal is "imminent."

Some of the affiliates have been resistant to running a Conan show, because they make more money with the sitcom reruns at that time. Several affiliate execs are saying they have felt the pressure from Fox to take Conan's show.

Read more here.

Source: TMZ

The Expendables Poster

It's rare a movie poster gives me goosebumps... :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Woman relieved of command - but no-one will cry

The contribution of women to the US Military throughout history must never be ignored. The names of such pioneering members of the fairer sex, especially those who broke barriers should never be forgotten. Margaret Corbin fought with her husband at Fort Washington in the Revolutionary decade. Dr. Mary E. Walker, a surgeon during the Civil War was the first [and only] female recipient of the Medal Of Honor. Annie G. Fox earned the first Purple Heart bestowed on a woman for injuries sustained at Hickam Field, Pearl Harbor, Dec 7 1941. Lt. Kara Hultgreen, the Navy's first fully qualified female fighter pilot, was sadly also the first woman combat pilot to die in service. In 1995 Lt Kelly Flinn USAF became the first woman B-52 Bomber Pilot. In 1990 Cmdr. Darlene Iskra became the first woman to command a U.S. Navy ship - the U.S.S. Opportune. I covered the pending promotion of Gen. Ann Dunwoody in June 2008 myself here. All impressive achievements, but what about Holly Graf?

Captain Holly Graf, US Navy, was relieved of her command of the Ticonderoga class Aegis guided missile cruiser U.S.S. Cowpens [CG-63] by the admiralty in January. The just-released Inspector General's report concludes that Graf "repeatedly verbally abused her crew and committed assault" and accuses her of using her position as commander "for personal gain." According to 29 of the 36 crew members who were questioned for the Navy's report, Graf repeatedly dropped F bombs on them. "Take your goddam attitude and shove it up your fuckin' ass and leave it there," she allegedly told an officer during a stressful maneuver aboard the 567-ft., 10,000-ton vessel.

Junior officers seeking her guidance were rebuffed. "This is one of the reasons I hate you," she allegedly told one who was seeking her help. When another officer visited her quarters to discuss an earlier heated discussion, her response was terse: "Get the fuck out of my stateroom." She allegedly told a male officer, "The only words I want to hear out of your mouth are 'Yes ma'am' or 'You're correct, ma'am'." She also allegedly put a respected master chief petty officer in "time out" — standing in the ship's key control room doing nothing in front of other personnel of all ranks.

While most of the witness statements in the report didn't specify if the testimony is from a male or female, the IG asked at least two female officers whether they viewed Graf as a role model. A younger woman recalled going to Graf to seek her help. "'Don't come to me with your problems,' " she said, quoting Graf. "'You're a fucking department head.'" The officer also said that Graf once told her, "I can't express how mad you make me without getting violent." A second female officer told the IG that Graf was a "terrible role model for women in the Navy," alleging that Graf once told her and a fellow officer on the bridge, "You two are fucking unbelievable. I would fire you if I could, but I can't."

Many officers who served with Graf over the years were not surprised by the IG's findings. Paul Coco, a 2002 Naval Academy graduate, served as a gunnery officer under Graf aboard the destroyer U.S.S. Winston S. Churchill from 2002 to 2004. "She would throw coffee cups at officers — ceramic, not foam," he recalls, "spit in one officer's face, throw binders and paperwork at people, slam doors." The hostile work environment led to a gallows humor among the crew. "We all would joke that after Bush liberated Iraq, he would next liberate Churchill," he says. That day finally came in January 2004, when Commander Todd Leavitt arrived to replace Graf. "As soon as Commander Leavitt said 'I relieve you' to Commander Graf, the whole ship, at attention, roared in cheers," he says.

Prior to the IG probe's release, the Navy had tapped Graf for a top job at the Pentagon following her Cowpens command. Now she's being shuffled off to a Navy weapons lab outside the capital. "Her career," an admiral says, "is over."

Read the rest of this fascinating information on but of Capt. Graf I can only say that while men of all ranks in every service should and must obey the orders of their female superiors - should that female superior take a leaf out of Captain Ramsey's book, the knives will come out. Because no man will ever, should ever tolerate that kind of attitude from a woman [unless he's married to her].

Source: / TIME

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Joe Biden's St. Patrick's Day gaffe!

One has to love the "harmless" Joe Biden who easilly fills the political-humour void in U.S. politics left by George W. Watch for yourself - I'll bet Brian Cowan got a shock yesterday!

The 82nd Oscars

The 82nd Oscar’s were held during my absence. As last year's ceremony was exceptional I took it upon my self to watch it again this year. I didn’t see the recording of the event until my return, so now I can share my thoughts.

Firstly, I thought Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin's hosting was pretty good - but not as good as Hugh Jackman's last year. Strangely they didn't do their own opening number, this was instead provided by Neil Patrick Harris, which while adequate, also fell short of Jackman's effort last year. Martin and Baldwin's hand offs and jibes against each other were funny but it seemed a lot more subtle and controlled than usual, something was lacking...

There were a couple of good presentation moments, Tina Fey reprising her "role" from last year, but now partnered with the equally amusing Robert Downey Jr. to read paragraphs from and present the Oscar for screenwriting. However even their performance was overshadowed by Ben Stiller's appearance which delivered whoops of laughter from the audience. Last year you'll recall his "Joaquin Phoenix" bit, but this year he presented himself in full make-up as a Na'vi. When the initial laughter had died down, he delivered a paragraph in the Na'vi language and was generally Ben Stiller shaming himself until he presented those responsible for the Make-Up effects on Star Trek with their well deserved award. Watch the full 4.5 min bit on Youtube.

As for the awards themselves; it was very nice to see Jeff Bridges to finally get an Oscar after 4 previous nominations [but was he a little drunk, stoned or both? See his speech about 8:16 into this from Youtube]. It was also nice to see Sandra Bullock get her first Oscar especially considering her fellow nominees included Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep.

I mentioned Christopher Waltz' stellar performance in my Inglorious Basterds review. While nominated for some other awards – only Waltz really deserved an Oscar for that movie and thankfully the Academy ultimately recognised that..

Micheal Giacchino, a popular video game music composer who turned to TV and later - the silver screen was up against some intense competition from both Hans Zimmer and James Horner this year but the Star Trek movie and Lost TV show composer earned his first Oscar [following a recent BAFTA win] for his enchanting score to the animated movie Up.

The big news of the evening was of course the battle between The Hurt Locker and Avatar. I gave both movies 5 stars but clearly the Academy felt that Kathryn Bigelow's numerous military-related mistakes which I pointed out to them in Hurt Locker were less than the grave error James Cameron made by not including a script with Avatar, and let’s be honest here: they’re right.

In the end, The Hurt Locker took 6 Oscars for it's Screenplay, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Editing, Director and of course the most coveted Best Picture award. Avatar's 3 awards were mainly technical for Cinematography, Art Direction and Visual Effects which were all deserved as Avatar is indeed the greatest cinematic technology demo of all time.

It's still a shock to me however that the Academy choose to recognise Kathryn Bigalow, the first woman to win Best Director over Tarantino, Up's Reitman, "King" Cameron himself and also for only the second time in history, an African American - Lee Daniels. I was full sure that Cameron had it in the bag, but I'm thrilled that Bigalow won it for a brutal war-movie and not some "wishy-washy" tear-jerker, historical epic, true story or costume drama.

Overall I was shocked in a way by the trouncing that The Hurt Locker gave Avatar – don’t get me wrong - I agree with the awards and Hurt Locker was clearly deserving of all it got but I didn’t expect the Academy to actually deliver the respect to the movie it clearly deserved. It was refreshing to see people from so many movies actually worthy of Oscars than those normally nominated, namely: The Hurt Locker, Avatar, District 9, Star Trek, Sherlock Holmes and Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen. Long may this trend of recognising "real" movies continue.

I think I've seen everything worthy of my own accolades from 2009 myself now so I'll soon deliver the 5th Whopper Awards and a special The Whoppers Of The Decade soon enough.

The Colonel Returns from the U.S.

I'm back folks! You'll be pleased to know that I have returned from my travels alive and well rested. I had a very different vacation when compared to my last one to the U.S., this time choosing to spend my days in the quiet forest area of Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio.

But it wasn't all R&R. I discovered to my horror upon my arrival that most of the countryside was covered with snow and ice! But it was March! The snow was over a foot in some places and even waterfalls had frozen solid, their cascading waters halted by sub-freezing temperatures. This had to be more than the idiocy of Al Gore who swears the planet is getting hotter...

My investigation led to an area near Old Man's Cave, a popular tourist destination for visitors of the area. There I discovered a live Frostobulekker, an ice-dwelling alien entity that I had encountered some 15 years ago in the Antarctic.

While back then we needed phosphorous grenades and napalm to destroy the one in the freezing conditions of the South Pole, it was easy to see this one was too weak in the relative warmth of the Midwestern United States to put up any sort of fight.

As it seemed most unwilling to communicate...

...I destroyed it with a stick.

Peace and tranquility broke out all across the land as the sun's power was then enough to melt the remaining snow and ice.

You're welcome America!

Now it's time for me to get back to work so bear with me while I sort through all the usual news you must know!

Friday, March 05, 2010

"The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated"

-Mark Twain 1897.

Not that my obituary was published anywhere obviously, but still I know my legions of loyal fans were worried. While the circumstances of my illness must remain classified by the Pentagon for reasons of international security; I can tell you that I am indeed alive and well.

On Doctor's orders, I am to relax and recuperate as far from the hustle and bustle of both city and military life as possible amongst the pine trees and woodland creatures of zipcode OH 43152.

Please reply here, with any news items of interest or E-mail me same and I will begin to address the important issues upon my return on or about March 15th.

Ciao for now.


Max Brooks pens new G.I.Joe book

It has been announced that bestselling, World War Z author Max Brooks is writing a grittier interpretation of some G.I.Joe heroes and villains in a new 5-issue comic book mini-series due in May.

Full Press Release From IDW Publishing:

The award-winning Max Brooks crafts a G.I. JOE series for an America at war, starkly contrasting intensely brutal portrayals of the dark side of the human condition with the light of hope in the most unlikely places.

"I tried to write a series as harsh and complicated as the times we're living in," said Brooks.

Exploring the effects of real-world war on the individual, every issue of G.I. JOE: Hearts & Minds features two chapters, each spotlighting a different G.I. JOE or COBRA character. Brooks pulls no punches from the very beginning, starting the series with chapters on MAJOR BLUDD and SPIRIT.

"This is the G.I. JOE book that isn't about action figures. It's about people like you and me," said IDW G.I. JOE editor Andy Schmidt. "And that makes it even more chilling than any zombie novel could be, because this one isn't about a plague—this one is about us."

Brooks's dark stories are masterfully brought to life by artists Howard Chaykin and Antonio Fuso, who will each also provide covers.

Source: Bruce Russell, io9, IDW