TV

Be cool like Carl, and keep your hands off my science

My suit is made of SCIENCE

Carl Sagan was one of the greatest people who ever lived. Like ever. Seriously.

Not only was he a badass scientist (astrophysics, cosmology, astronomy etc) and science populariser, he was also a cannabis advocate and all around CHILL DUDE. He currently holds the world record for cheesiest yet sincere grin:

"Tee hee, science!"“I fucking LOVE science dawg”

In 1980 two great things happened. One, I was born and two, Carl Sagan started broadcasting his show Cosmos: A Personal Voyage on television. Cosmos was a thirteen part science based documentary show, chronicling science’s greatest achievements throughout the existence of the human race. Even though it’s over thirty years old it is still well worth watching today, not just for the science but also for Sagan himself. His amazingly calm and dreamy voice makes learning seem like pure pleasure and his empathy for all living things was something to be admired. He did so much for science that I can’t even begin to scratch the surface so you should go and at least read his wiki page, I guarantee that you’ll like what you read.

Carl Sagan died in 1996 and the world lost one of the greatest defenders of truth it has ever known. However just as the memory of Carl lives on today, so does his show Cosmos in a reboot of sorts being presented by one of today’s leading science populariser guys, Neil deGrasse Tyson.

ndgtThis guy. His head is just a bit smaller than Jupiter.

So far there have been three episodes of the new Cosmos that have aired, I’ve seen the first two and NDT does a brilliant job of carrying on Sagan’s legacy. You can tell he is just as excited about spreading knowledge and science as Carl was, and he pays homage to his mentor in a most respectful and touching manner in the first episode.

It’s a great programme and something that is badly needed these days; a science show about science and nothing else. But of course, you start to talk about Evolution and then BAM – the crazies come out of the woodwork:

Creationists want equal airtime on Cosmos

That’s right folks we cannot have a science based show that is just about pure science without those loveable bunch The Creationists throwing their extremely uneducated and tiresome opinions and objections into the mix. They want Cosmos to talk about the non theory that is Intelligent Design and how Creationism is a legitimate subject that should be taught as a science to children. This is idiotic. This is like watching Battlestar Galactica and complaining that there are not enough cowboys in it. It’s like listening to classical music and moaning that there is no dubstep style drop in the middle of the track.

You do no get to complain about this, fundamentalist religious people. You have entire channels, no scratch that, entire NETWORKS dedicated to god bothering. You would laugh in the face of anyone who demanded that you give Evolution equal time on one of your “Praise Jesus by giving us all your money” shows now would you?

Leave the science to the scientists and push your own silly agendas on your extremely well financed cable TV channels. Cosmos is about Science, not your false mythos. Evolution is not ‘just a theory’ and if you still cling to that belief then get a dictionary and actually look up what the term ‘theory’ means in a scientific context. The theory of Evolution is FACT, not a hypothesis. There are thousands of pieces of evidence and thousands of peer reviewed studies that prove it and refute Creationism at every turn.

Please, I know I’m not a massive fan or religion and a lot of what I say is hyperbole but I want nothing more than to accept religion as something that certain people do and get some good out of. It may not be my cup of tea but if it influences your life and the lives of those you care about in a positive manner, great – that is a good thing and you can believe whatever you want. However if your beliefs are dangerous, if you spread lies and misinformation and hatred and bigotry, you make it very hard for me to tolerate you.

jesus_and_the_dinosaursThis never happened

Cosmos is currently broadcasting on Sunday nights on FOX in the states and on Sky1 here in the UK. I highly recommend you watch it. In the meantime here is a cool little music video that features both Carl Sagan and NDT as well as a host of other important scientists (Feynman, Nye and more!).

Enjoy The Symphony Of Science – We Are All Connected (and it’s true, we are).

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Excelsior!

spend

I just finished The Stick Of Truth. It is without a doubt the funniest game I have ever played. If you are a true South Park nerd you must do whatever you can – beg, borrow, steal or murder your way to getting this game!

You will not be disappointed I guarantee it.

Congrats to Matt and Trey, you’ve outdone yourself this time.

Now if only I could get that last Chinpokomon…

South Park: The Stick Of Truth is the best licensed video game I have ever played

Let me take you back in time if I may, to a period in my life not lost in the haze of pot smoke that dominated my twenties.

I played video games in a drunken haze, I was seventeen years young. The year was 1997 and I was locked in furious battle with about seven other guys as we all scrambled to get the freshly spawned rocket launcher at the Northeast corner of the The House of Chthon.

I was a college student, ‘studying’ some crappy IT qualification, although instead of doing work my friends and I were playing Quake multiplayer over the college LAN. We did this regularly, whenever we could find a computer room that was free of lecturers or other staff. We ran the Killer Quake mod which introduced a host of new features to the game including the awesome Morning Star that doubled as both an effective mace type weapon and a grappling hook.

The House of  Chthon was one of our favourite maps because it was a non stop gib fest. It was the first boss level in the singleplayer campaign but was also available for deathmatches. It was a rather small map consisting of a rectangular two tier walkway on either side of a giant lava pit in the centre. There were various weapons dotted around the arena but the most prized was the (almost) one shot kill rocket launcher that spawned in the northeast corner on the upper tier. In the picture below I’m on the northwest side, the RPG would spawn on the opposite side to my left.

cthon“And my axe!”

The small size and simple geometry of the map made hiding impossible. This was a deathmatch where only the strong survived, and if you tried to run and hide you would soon feel the warm explodey feeling in the backseat of your pants as a rocket violated you in a most unsatisfying way. This was fun cubed, and we spent hours and hours running around like mad blowing each other up.

What has this got to do with South Park? I’m getting to it.

After one such heated battle on a lazy Friday afternoon in September (we had already been to the pub and got quite drunk before we had started playing) I decided to abuse the free internet access the college provided for IT students and surf the infant web. Who else remembers when websites used to warn you “We support FRAMES and ANIMATED GIFS! make sure your browser can handle it!”. Ah the halcyon days of Geocities and The-Park.com, how I miss them. But anyway on with the story. I was surfing the web with no particular target in mind when I stumbled across a site that offered various soundboard type downloads. If you don’t know what a soundboard is then Welcome to the Internet! it’s good you could join us! A soundboard, simply put is just a program or a flash movie or part of a website that has buttons you can push which will play a sound clip or quote from famous characters in movies/games/TV shows etc. On the site I found one called ‘CartmanSays.exe’, which had a crude drawing of a small overweight child on it. I downloaded the executable with the AWESOME POWER OF ISDN and loaded it up.

I had no idea who or what a Cartman was, but as I started clicking buttons on the small window that had appeared on-screen I found myself smirking, then giggling, then outright balling with laughter at the various quips and jibes coming from this foul mouthed eight year old. After annoying everyone else in the room by repeatedly hitting the “OW My ass!” clip I decided to try and find out what this Cartman guy was from. It was clearly a cartoon of some sort but one that I had never heard of, and with good reason, it had only started airing in the US the month before.

That was how I discovered South Park, and from then on it has been my favourite animated show of all time. The crude humour, biting satire & social commentary coupled with unforgettable characters and the creative genius of Trey Parker and Matt Stone make South Park one of the greatest things to ever have been created in the entire history of the human race. That is not hyperbole, I genuinely believe this.

A lot of people write off South Park because they are easily offended or don’t understand satire and if you are one of those people then stop right now, shut your mouth and read this to understand why you are wrong.

Whilst the show itself is a shining beacon of comedy, licensed video game spin-offs based on the show have always been pretty poor. OK the South Park tower defence style game on Xbox Live Arcade was OK, but still nothing to write home about. This is usually the case with TV and movie games, they are rushed out to make a profit based on the popularity of the show (I’m looking at you Game of Thrones RPG) and rarely live up to the quality of whatever they are based on. That is until now.

South-Park-The-Stick-of-TruthIf you do not buy this game I will come to your house and poke you in the shoulder until you do

South Park: The Stick of Truth is a phenomenal achievement in that not only does it faithfully recreate the show on your PC or console of choice, but it also succeeds at being a really, really good video game that could stand on its own even if the show didn’t exist. This isn’t a review, I’ve linked to one just above plus I haven’t finished the game yet and I don’t believe in reviewing a product unless I’ve experienced it in its entirety and I don’t want to spoil it for any of my friends who read this, but I just had to write something about it.

It’s been a long time since I connected emotionally with anything, especially video games which I’ve felt slipping away from me these past few months. After thirty minutes of playing TSOT I had to pause and take a break because my fucking ribs were crying out in agony from laughing so hard. This game IS South Park. It’s as if you have been transported in to the town itself, like you are living inside an episode, and it is glorious.

So much care and attention has been put in to this game that I am glad it was delayed (originally meant to be released last year) as they obviously used the extra time to make it as good as it could be. Obsidian, the game’s developers are known for producing high quality titles (Fallout: NV, KOTOR 2 etc) and they have seriously delivered this time around.

fireJust look at those farticle effects

The aesthetic look of the show is perfectly reproduced in the game and it genuinely does feel like you are a character inside an episode made just about you (you play the new kid in town who may or may not be some kind of chosen one). The writing and humour are just as good as any of the most popular episodes and great care has been taken to accurately reproduce the shows canon at every step of the way.

crab-peopleIt was Crab People, all along

The game is an action RPG that uses classic turn based mechanics to fight battles with various denizens of the town. It’s similar to the Penny Arcade: On The Rainslick games although much more fleshed out. There are mini games, side quests, everything you would expect from an action orientated RPG and the game is fun as hell to play. I spent three hours just wandering around the town, ignoring the initial main quest because I was having too much of a good time interacting with well-known residents and spotting all the nice touches that only true fans of the show would notice. I won’t spoil it but check out the descriptions for the various junk items you can sell to vendors in-game, the space cash one had me in fits.

wheelYou select weapons and abilities from a radial dial when fighting foes

I am seriously digging TSOT and my hat goes off to Obsidian and South Park Digital Studios for finally delivering the South Park video game that we the fans all deserve. And yes, I picked the Jew class.

classselectWhen else would you get the chance to do THIS in a video game?

South Park: The Stick Of Truth is the best licensed video game I have ever played and is available to buy now on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC in all regions. I highly recommend fans of the show to pick this up. If not, then you’re a dirty Jew and we can never be friends.

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This thing of ours (Or, That’s how you end a TV show!)

“Yar there be spoilers ahead matey!” Tony Soprano is now a pirate.

I just finished watching The Sopranos, like seven years after it finished airing on TV. I’ve done that a lot lately, catching up on older shows since apathy = more TV and movie times.

I watched The Wire first, at the insistence of my brother. I had tried to watch the pilot episode twice before and fallen asleep due to a combination of weed and weed. Eventually though I bore through and made it to the end, then watched like four more episodes in a row. That show is tits, you guys. I’m seriously. Tits.

The writing, acting, production design, cinematography is all extremely well put together and makes for gripping television. Fucking brutal in its honest portrayal of life on the streets, in the city bureaucracy, corrupt police departments, and public school systems.  I burned through all five seasons in about two months.

But back to the subject at hand, The Sopranos finale.

I don’t know how I did it but I’ve managed to completely avoid all spoilers for the whole show since it aired. I think partially because I was never interested in it before, although I do like mafia style movies, the idea of a TV show about them never appealed to me. I didn’t think they would have enough material for season after season of stereotypical Cosa Nostra antics. Hey guess what folks, I WAS WRAAANG.

It’s hard to describe The Sopranos and I want to try and do so without coming off as some pretentious critic, which I ain’t, I just watch a lot of movies and tv shows. With a lot of weed.

It’s a show that divided opinions and broke conventions with its mental tangent destroying sub plots. There is for example, an episode that has like a twenty-minute dream sequence in Tony’s head that feels like a goddamned David Lynch movie. It’s ok David you cool, but you know what I mean, your films are whack.

It mindfucked its audience, hard, and threw you curveballs like you wouldn’t believe. It’s violent, it’s raw, and it has characters that I’m never going to be able to forget (Silvio Dante was a dude, well except for all that bad murder he did). It was a great show, and I know the ending disappointed a lot of people but in my opinion it was perfect, and an artistic stroke of genius.

For those aware of the final scene (and those not this is your last spoiler warning), if you are clinging to some belief that life goes on for our friend Tony and that the ending is open to interpretation well I’m sorry but that’s

falseYou know you are wrong.

It is not open at all. He is dead boys and girls. It’s sad but inevitable in his line of work I’m afraid, and the straight cut to black is proof. He has received a bullet to the brain, so we see what he sees, just like we had been all the way throughout that final scene. It’s totally not what you expect to happen, just like the entire rest of the goddamn series. Brilliant.

Gah, for me to speak any more about it would not do it justice because I suck at trying to describe things. Instead, if you’ve seen the ending and were left lacking, read this excellent article from some guy at Den of Geek who might bring you some closure. You poor dears.

You should also read it if you liked the ending, because it’s interesting and well written and was the first thing I hit when I googled ‘sopranos ending wtf’.

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