Get (Into) What You Paid For – Day 30 + 1: Wrap-Up & Purchase Record

Between starting this entry and finishing it, I went through the process of debating whether or not to play Ratchet And Clank 2 to its PSN Trophy-mandated Dash Completion* and actually playing it to its PSN Trophy-mandated Dash Completion. Long story short, I have in every conceivable way Got What I Paid For as far as that title is concerned.

One of my last posts on this Challenge concerned the number of games on the To-Do List, which has since dramatically reduced. I had a little go on Ratchet: Gladiator and the first level, as with nearly any game in my quick-to-cut experience, was enough to tell me that I’ve no interest in it. Similarly, Devil May Cry has been removed from my PS3 because I satisfied my nostalgia getting as far as I did (which is not very). Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles is being put onto a sort of whole-life back burner so I can play it in a big room when I live in an actual brick-and-mortar house again and with a rebought Move controller and gun attachment yoke. Bioshock Infinite I’m ready to play soon as I can figure out how to convince my console to let me to. What I’m left with at the minute is Ratchet And Clank 3 (which I intend to Platinum for the sake of completing the series ((exclusing those off-shoot gimmick games)) and the Harley Quinn’s Revenge pack for Arkham City. I’m sort of trepidatious** about that one because, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned, I’ve not played that game since it came out three-odd years ago and I’ll likely end up diving into the whole bloody thing again.

In all of the Get (Into) What You Paid For Challenge month, I didn’t read a single page of either of the two non-comic books I’ve yet to look at, nor did I glance at my 3DS for a go at that Zelda game I mentioned. This is all stuff I’d ideally like to get done before Christmas, but I did pretty well considering.

My comics backlog, which was briefly completely bare, now stands at a respectable two – the first Miller Daredevil Omnibus (which will be a re-read) and the first Iron Man Epic Collection, The Enemy Within. Two’s good. Suits for now. Next stop is either further expansion of the Deadpool library or those Akira issues I found months ago, if they’re still there, and even if they are I’ll not be able to read them ‘til I complete the series which’ll take some time. Those books are genuinely rare, rather than the sort of ‘always there but expensive’ rare you often find with out-of-print funnybooks.

I ended up selling a lot of stuff this month because the nature of the challenge ended up changing how I felt about the things I’d been holding onto. Most of my remaining Blu-Rays went, which is fine considering their general redundancy anyway, and I parted ways with my PS4 for the time being ‘til sometime next year when a genuine must-have game is released for it. With it went that strangely alienating super-HD Tomb Raider. C’est la vie.

Best of all, though, is that I’m writing again. Whatever it was that I used to have that made blogging so easy is partly obscured these days for some reason – age, motivation, who knows? – but I’m enjoying it and planning, as I always did without delivering, future articles and ideas. I’ve got one, er, ‘project’ I’ve been wanting to complete for years that I’ll be rededicating my efforts to.

Also, Tomb Of Paul Rankin. Stay tuned to that for further fanged adventures.

Anyway, this is me (Paul) signing off on the Get (Into) What You Paid For Challenge for September 2014. Despite the specifics of the Challenge discouraging the purchase of new materials, here’s what I ended up buying minus the car stero I couldn’t (be bothered to) find a picture of. See you later dudes.

*A term I coined myself, ah, it’s a whole thing – readallabouddit

**One of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s favourite words, per Mick Foley.

Tomb Of Paul Rankin – Episode 2 – A Night At Castle Rankin!

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 20.25.58At thirteen past midnight, the Witching Hour precisely, McGovern Shandling arrived at the labyrinthine door to castle Rankin. With a hearty head and a heavy heart, he took a rap upon the oversized chrome knocker of The Devil that stood upon the door’s ferocious face. It creaked open with a bang and also it was still raining.

“Yeth?”, came the reply from the bedraggled manservant who stood behind. Dressed head to toe in discarded kitchenwear, a wilting chef’s hat atop his wrecked head, Reed Abernathy enquired what Shandling wanted.

“What it it you want, mithter Shawndleng?”, he gurgled. He sounded like this because he had a slice of Rankin’s finest olive bread in his mouth at all times on threat of finger breakenment from his master, the bad bad Paul Rankin the vampire.

“What?!”, exclaimed Shandling, surprised. “How do you even know my name? Sure we’ve only JUST MET”.

“My mawthter is expecting you. He waiths in the throne room. Beware histh fury Shandling, for it thpells your doom this eve.”

“OK, Abernathy. Let me end your misery!” Shandling produced a gleaming silver revolver of some sort, and motioned it at the depressed, horrible Reed Abernathy, but was distracted by a big smash elsewhere in the castle followed by some giggling.

“I’ll be back for you, freak.” He said. Then he went.

He made his way through the castle. There was fire everywhere on the walls, because all the bulbs had popped and Paul Rankin had not bothered to replace them. “Wicked, lazy Paul Rankin”, thought McGovern Shandling. The castle was old, probably at least 50 years old, and full of bugs and torn up newspapers and old things like swords and the Bible which hung mounted upside down with “shite this book” scrawled across it in toxic green blood. Shandling shivered as he made his way to the throne room.

There he found the vile Paul Rankin, stood atop a mound of spilled copies of Paul Rankin’s Cooking With Class beside a totalled bookcase. “Ha ha ha”, did say the vampire, fresh from hell’s pit. “I really have so many copies of these that I can afford to waste a few. And I even…wha…SHANDLING!” He had noticed his intended attacker.

“Correct. You horrible basta*d, Rankin. There are kids on the street, with not enough to EAT. Who are YOU pretending not to see them weep?”, he screamed. The vampire turned up the collar on his winter cape.

“Cretin. You are a terrible bore. I see you’ve risen to meet my challenge. Well, your life ENDS here, here, amidst the many spilled copies of Rankin’s Cooking With Class! Ha ha ha ha. RIGHT HERE.”

Shandling stepped back. The vampire approached, licking his lips and mouthing “get you” with them.

“Time for my secret weapon, Dracu…Paul Rankin. See how you like it then”. Then, Shandling produced from his own collar a necklace of the holy cross, of purest fool’s gold.

“Arrrrrggggghhhhhh”, said Paul Rankin. He hated jewelry. “Take it awaaayyyyy”.

“No I will not”, refused Shandling. The vampire did a double somersault on the spot, landing sort of facing away, and dashed to the side to recover.

“You complete bloody imbecile. You’ve landed in it now, your own pool of fool DEATH I mean. Allow me to introduce my OWN secret weapon!”

And at that moment, a new eighth hand, from a total pair of four seen so far, took the necklace from Shandling’s hand and threw it down the bog. Shandling turned to face his new oppressor and stood afroze in white total terror.

“T…Tex Shandling?”

And Paul Rankin laughed the laugh of purest evil, and it was heard that night in all five rooms of Castle Rankin and not forgot for at least thirty, forty minutes.

IS IT TRUE? Tex Shandling…Alive and well???

HOW WILL our hero deal with this development???

IF AT all???

I’LL TELL YOU how…On the next Tomb Of…PAUL RANKIN.

That’s when.

Tomb Of Paul Rankin – Episode 1 – Run Afoul Of The Count!

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 20.25.58The wind is fierce and the sky black and dark and lightless on the night McGovern Shandling sets out on his fateful quest to rid the world of the great vampire Paul Rankin. Seriously crazy crazy weather. Like you’d read about in a story or something. It is MENTAL weather. Please try and picture this. Thank you.

Now, use your mind and I guess your eyes (as through years of use you will surely have become adept at picturing things with a combination of the two) to picture the winding stony road leading to Castle Rankin as Shandling, in bell bottom jeans and a green top, winds his way further up the crumbling winding path, his Wolverine backpack shredded by the wind and his wooden stake ready at the hip of his body.

“I shall get you this night, foul Paul Rankin. For though my brother lies long dead at your accursed whim, his legacy and memories and things are still strong in my life and I shall avenge his spirit with violence to lay upon your wretched being”.

Said McGovern Shandling.

“Ha ha ha fool”.

It was Paul Rankin, stood atop a tree to Shandling’s immediate southeast.

“I am not even in my castle. I am here, in this very tree. Ha ha ha, you FOOL”.

He was really pushing McGovern Shandling’s buttons. The vampire hunter was furious at being called a fool twice. He then said:

“It is you who are a fool, wicked Paul Rankin. I am here to get you, and get you good. Tonight you DIE, Paul Rankin!” He said.

“Hold your weesht, human fool”, Paul Rankin spat, thrice branding Shandling a fool to his bubbling ire.

“This here is my castle area, and this my tree. Know ye not the rules about vampires and castle areas and their trees?”

McGovern Shandling did not.

“I do not”, he said.

“Well, listen up, scum. Here, I can turn into a fox, a bat and a rat and an owl, all at once (after each other). You’ll never see it coming, fool.”

“I will now”, shot back Shandling, “sure you’ve just told me yourself Rankin, you blasted beast.”

Paul Rankin recoiled in fury, his chef’s apron slung over his shoulder as he hissed at McGovern Shandling.

“Arggghhh, Shandling. You may have won this round, but much like I snuffed short the light of your brother, Tex Shandling, I shall this night or the next have my revenge. Meet me at my castle, if you dare, fool Shandling, and we shall see whose is this night.” Said Paul Rankin the vampire.

With that, he vanished into a puff of plain flour. McGovern Shandling sheathed his stake and made off for the castle, and muttered under his breath.

“Ah ha, hell’s Paul Rankin, but you shall never expect my secret weapon, shall you? No! Ah ha ha ha ha!”

WHAT is McGovern Shandling’s secret weapon?

HOW does Reed Abernathy, manservant of Rankin, fit into proceedings?

WHEN precisely will you get the answers to these and many more questions you may have yourself about this first early adventure?

NEXT TIME! On… TOMB OF PAUL RANKIN!

Get (Into) What You Paid For – Day 23 – The Expansion Of The To-Do List

There are a number of games on my To-Do List (new, official name to be hereafter abbreviated as TDL). In fact, even as it stood at the start of the month when I decided I was going to stop buying things so’s I could make use of existing purchases and before I worked my way through my comics library to completion, I still had more games than anything else. Here’s an expanded list of games I feel I owe some more attention to, and the ways in which the titles on it are considered ‘undone’.

ON PS3:

Ratchet And Clank 2 – Here because I’ve not played it. I did own it on PS2 once, but it was about two years after I bought a PS3 and I couldn’t really get it to look good on my TV. The is the first of many games on this list that I actually bought on disc for PS3 and sold to upgrade to a digital version as soon as it went into a sale.

Ratchet And Clank 3 – Same as above.

Guacamelee – See, this is different, because I’ve finished Guacamelee a few times already on PS3 and PS4. It’s one of favourite games ever, and the most recent entry onto that barely-defined mental list. In fact, it’s going to be the subject of my next Ten Things article, as soon as I get around to writing it.  The reason it’s on here is because I’ve only one trophy left to collect in it to get a 100% rating (see: Platinum Trophy) by finishing it again on hard mode, but it’s kinda something you have to chip away at because it IS hard. So, so hard.

Ratchet: Gladiator – A weird one. I actually got this game for free from Sony for playing a demo of one of the weird non-proper mid-period PS3 Ratchet And Clank games. It was one of those download the full game and buy an unlock code if you want to play it demos, rather than the standard ‘one level’ demos, but I guess it registered as a purchase for them because months later they sent me a voucher code for this. Hell, I didn’t even know Gladiator was coming out on PS3. Forever paired in my mind to the similarly titled Jak X, another game starring one half of a popular platforming duo.

Devil May Cry HD Collection – I once owned Devil May Cry on PS2 and really enjoyed it, but I could never beat the last boss. As I remember it, it was an occasionally beautiful game with fucking excellent music and loads of cool crazy things like those neon floating giant skulls that bite you underwater and lava spiders and junk that was really hard because I never bothered to learn how to appreciate its combat system. I’ve tried playing it recently and am charmed by the same exact factors, only it’s still really hard and the FIRST boss took me ages to beat. I don’t know if I’m going to play any more at this one, having adequately satisfied my nostalgia, but I might, so it stays on the hard drive for the time being. I feel no obligation to the second a third games and won’t be glancing at them.

God Of War Ascension – On here simply because I bought it (physical), sold it, bought it again (digital) and haven’t played it since. The worst of the GOW games because of a misguided story, it is nonetheless massively impressive in the usual ways. I wrote a *cough* professional *cough* review of it last summer, if you care to check it out here.

Batman: Arkham Asylum – On here because I never played the Harley Quinn’s Revenge DLC, or hell, even the main game for a second time, and I fucking loved it, so it’s well overdue a playthrough.

Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles – I downloaded this last summer and even bought the official Playstation Move system and big machine gun controller adapter thing for it, but I couldn’t get comfortable playing it. I think you kinda need to do so standing up, like in an arcade. Also, I would have been better off with the smaller handgun attachment. Still, of what I played of this game on Wii (where I also never finished it) I really enjoyed it. Chalk that up to being a big Resident Evil 0 fan. Anyway, I plan on getting around to it sooner or later.

Kula World – The PSOne beach ball classic. Never finished it, so it’s on here. Honestly though, I never will, but I’m happy to spend 10-15 minutes with its lovely ambiance now and then.

Street Fighter Alpha 2 – Downloaded this because I like 90s Capcom in general and wanted to see what it was like. Finished Arcade Mode a few times, and still dabble with it.

Final Fantasy VII – Downloaded this for a potential article for Blast Process. Still aspire to someday write it but I understand all too well how not having played something iconic at the time it first came out can be a barrier to enjoyment.

Klonoa: Door To Phantomile – Loved the demo back in the day but couldn’t find it, so bought the full game. Charming, bonkers, and I’ll never finish it.

Grand Theft Auto 3 – Not fully played since I rebought it on PSN. Still one of my most cherished videogaming experiences and the foundation of a top five Christmas regardless.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City – As above, BUT I never finished it, to my shame. I owe it that courtesy because it’s a great game. I just wish that Rockstar had got around to releasing their HD ports that they made for fucking telephones on, y’know, game consoles.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – Confession – I never played it. I know, I know. But still, I downloaded the soundtrack and it significantly expanded my musical horizons, and it has a great reputation. Some day?

Bioshock Infinite – A free title to PSN Plus subscribers and something my trusted advisor KCP has suggested I try. Curiously, it’s currently marked as “Expired” on my games list, despite my Plus subscription being active.

ON 3DS:

The Legend Of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – Came free with the Gold Triforce XL console I upgraded to. I’m looking forward to playing it, but on reflection the only Zelda games I’ve really enjoyed are Wind Waker (again, maybe my favourite game ever), Twilight Princess and parts of Ocarina of Time, so I’m not a hardcore enough fan to just love it because it’s Zelda.

Sonic The Hedgehog 3D – A curiosity purchase, and there’s no doubt, it’s really cool. It’s a playable version of a game I fucking HATE (Readallabouddit) but I’ve not finished it, because, you know, it’s Sonic 1.

Super Hang On 3D – Similar to above, only I love Super Hang On. Not played enough, but dabbled with.

Streets Of Rage 3D – As with Super Hang On.

Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 – I’ve not finished this on 3DS, though I MAY have finished it on Game Boy back in the day. It’s sort of a mythical game for me, to be romantic about it, and part of its appeal to me is the “did I ever?” factor. Excellent gameplay and score.

This list is not exhaustive, but that’s to do with weird mental factors. For example, Resident Evil: Revelations, a great game, isn’t on this list, even though LIKE God Of War Ascension I’ve only played it once and it’s the same age give or take a month. Similarly, I’ve not played Infamous, Infamous 2, any of the older GOW titles, the Uncharteds and a host of others since I sold the discs to fund the downloads. So I dunno. I hate thinking about all this stuff but am unable not to.

Anyway, the next task on the TDL is Ratchet And Clank 2, because I loved the first one on playing it last summer and I’ve just got back from seeing Guardians Of The Galaxy again and the futuristic cityscapes, space travel and weapon-toting furry animal really put me in the mood for it. I’ll be in touch.

Music Consolidation Day

Lying in bed and I remember something.

I forgot that I promised (literally one person, and in a fucking text message, not on their deathbed or in a chapel or anything) that I’d write a little bit about the tradition of Music Consolidation Day and how I’ve recently invoked the ceremonial rights in order to proceed with getting all three of my primary listening devices (or five, if you count my ears HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) synced up with each other.

See, it’s pretty easy to get an iPod and an iTunes Library synced up because they’re designed to be compatible with each other and communicate without being told to and all manner of creepy shit EXCEPT when your iPod is always in your car and your iTunes Library is always on your laptop which is never in your car. Take my most listened-to album of the past month as an illustrative example. Opeth’s Pale Communion – which is a meandering selection of moments that occasionally really shines but not as much as Mikael Akerfeldt likely thinks it does – has been playing on CD in my car since I bought it, but only because I’ve not update my iPod to reflect whatever the most recent spate of acquisitions and dispatches entailed (like today’s removal of “Baby Got Back”, for example).

Factor thereinto the third device – the PS3, which has zero compatibility with the autosychronisational functionality of the aforementioned Apple products – and the sheer honest-to-goodness necessity of Music Consolidation Day becomes apparent.

See, at the very latest point before it occurs to me to consolidate the PS3 music library with that of the capital-l iTunes Library, it is potentially months behind on tracks that have come or gone, and my efforts at pruning said Library are flung back at my ears when the likes of something I’ve deliberately excised comes up on shuffle when I’m cleaning up or some such. This is because the PS3’s music library must be maintained manually, in a relatively time-consuming manner to be detailed RIGHT NOW.

To begin with, and because I’ve done this a few times, I sought measures that would make the process less arduous. See, unlike with a typical computer interface, deleting things from a PS3’s hard disks takes time. The only way to make sure the music library is as up-to-date as possible is to delete every track before replacing it with what’s been taken from iTunes (more on which later). Now, to delete every track through the “Select All > Delete” option is to task the poor console with deleting (in my case a modest) 3,000+ tracks at once and because it has a little trouble with units over a thousand (per an article I read once) that’s not the way to go about it, particularly as it’s prone to going into the “Deleting…please wait…” display and never coming out of it until you’ve reset the console.

No, the best way to do it is by category and one at a time, and the best way to do that is to determine which category (of category) you have the least of. For example, you’ll probably have more Track Names beginning with A than you will Album Names, and the same again for Band Names and Release Years. If you’re a good friend of mine, and you know who you are because you’re the only one still reading, Genre is NOT the way to go because you’ll be lumbered with manually highlighting and deleting an ungodly number of groups of songs, but for me that ended up being the best way to go, as there wasn’t much beyond the meager selection of Metal, Game, Score, Pop and a few others.

BUT, I thought, what if there was a quicker method still? After all, the Genre tab in iTunes is of literally no use to me as I’m never really in the mood for just a specific type of music. The only option for division I’d prefer to have is the separation of tracks with vocals and tracks without so that I can have a playlist of less distracting music for backgrounding (like the one I’m listening to now). So that’s what I did – two Genres (per iTunes), with one for what was formerly music from films, television, games and wrestling renamed “Irreglar” and the rest, typically standard band-based recordings with vocals, becoming “Reglar”, and a third separate entry for comedy named simply “Comedy”.

This way, when updating the contents of the Library onto the PS3, I only have to click “Copy” three times which means less time spent waiting on much smaller installments to transfer as a means of not wasting time out of the room when I could be clicking, clicking, clicking.

Three. Simple as, right?

As Stone Cold would say, EH EH. Wow. That’s impossible to spell accurately.

See, ol’ PS3 has that trouble we talked about with transferring huge amounts of songs, so first thing that needs to be done is all the tracks need to be dragged out of the iTunes window (because if you drag them from your iTunes folder you’re liable to get straggler tracks that weren’t correctly deleted and such) into a folder on the desktop which needs to be divided into several smaller folders so that there’s never too much going onto the console at once lest it freeze up on ya.

With me?

Then simply plug, locate, transfer x3, and enjoy. By the end of the day, all three devices should be ready to play the same stuff. It’s worth doing every couple of months to clear out all that gunk I’ve got sick of hearing and make sure that new stuff I’ve forgotten to manually ‘port over gets a fair listenin’.

And so another of my obsessively detailed (just south of a thousand words and counting) idiosyncratic practices is rendered unto common knowledge. Maybe now I can get some fucking sleep.

Get (Into) What You Paid For – Day 19 – Night Of The Living Dead ’90 & Deadpool Minibus

As my list of bought-but-not-consumed media ever dwindles, I find I’ve more time to do things without the mental tug of “but you paid for that – do that first“, so I pulled out (pffttt…I downloaded it) Tom Savini’s great little 1990 remake of Night (dundundundundun) of The Living Dead* and watched it last night with Deborah. I’ll tell you, the only thing I don’t like about this movie is the music, which is real late 80s-into early 90s TV movie bollix, cheap crappy keyboards with no musical themes or motifs that just sort of wanders. An afterthought. The library music that was used to score the original film is killer, and really, really spooky. So that’s a shame.

But everything else about it is great. I love Pat Tallman as the inverted, kickass Barbara who’s all about running past the zombies because they’re so slow. Tallman, a stuntwoman, may not be the greatest actress but it kinda helps with the character. Barbara, too, is out of her depth, but only just. Plus, Tallman has really great features. There’s a couple of shots where the structure of her face is lit by the moonlight and it just looks fantastic. Tom Towles is fucking fantastic as Harry Cooper, too. Deborah was cussing him out the whole length of the thing. There’s a great scene where Ben’s giving him grief for carrying the television around, and he yells “I wasn’t taking it downstairs. You can’t get any reception in the basement, dickhead!” The kid playing Tom is really likeable, man, it’s very well cast, is what I’m saying. Good gags with the zombies and generally solid filmmaking all round. It’s one of those rare remakes with a worthy motivation, too, what with Romero and co. trying to make a little money off the name seeing as they had no copyright claim on the original. Might watch the original tonight maybe.

Also blazed through the Deadpool Minibus, collecting Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe, Deadpool Killustrated, Deadpool Kills Deadpool, Deadpool Vs. Carnage and Night Of The Living Deadpool. The first of those series is the worst, but it quickly sets up a central meta riff on the nature of fiction that’s played to its conclusion by the third part of the book. The Carnage and Night… miniseries aren’t connected but are just as fun to breeze through, and it was a great reading experience with fun art and great dialogue.

Also, ‘mind how I said at the start of the month that Smyths’ annual 20% off sale was likely to cut in on my monetary celibacy? It did. I’ll show you why at Christmas.

*Specific reference that rewards a familiarity with the original movie’s deadly trailer.

Get (Into) What You Paid For – Day 18 – On Classic Spider-Man

I’m back, baybay!

Yesterday I read issues #7 through 38 of Amazing Spider-Man, as well as the series’ first (awesome) and second (less so) annuals in a mammoth done-in-one-and-a-day devourment of that bloody huge Omnibus that’s been on my shelf for nearly a year. Matter a fact, I’m going to check just when I bought that book, actually.

Order placed 7th June ’13, book delivered approx. 13th September ’13. Wow, so just over a year before I actually cracked it open (it was encased in concrete, you see) and re-read that material.

But here’s the thing!

Or rather, not. See, reading that Fantastic Four Omnibus (THE THING IS IN THE FANTASTIC FOUR, THAT WAS MY JOKE SEE?) earlier this week really soured me on Silver Age (read: 1960s) Marvel books, and I wasn’t looking forward to reading this Spider-Man collection at all, even though I’ve read the material before and enjoyed it. Frankly, it was unfair of me to judge the Lee/Ditko collaboration by the same token as the Lee/Kirby efforts, because those first 40 issues of Spider-Man are AWESOME. Completely awesome.

For a start, there’s a major difference in the development of, well, everything. Peter physically changes throughout the issues – he loses his glasses in #8 and never replaces them, and his change in attire can be visually traced to his change in attitude as he gets more and more confident. There are soap-opera sub-plots right from the get-go, with the ongoing drama of Pete’s courtship with Betty Brant getting in the way of Liz Allan’s affections for him while Jonah Jameson barks away in the background. He graduates high school, heads off to college on a scholarship and meets a whole host of new characters each as important to the overall canon as the earliest ones. Mystery plots are introduced, left for a while, and brought back when you’ve forgotten about them. Continuity is air-tight.

More importantly, there’s so much about the way Peter’s written that’s different from everything that came before. He’s crippled with guilt, and his superheroics often wind up spoiling his relationships with people as Peter Parker. He’s flat broke, can’t catch a break, has to repair his own costume…there’s just so much flavour to it, and it’s all there right from the start.

Maybe it’s not fair to use Fantastic Four, which is my second-favourite Marvel property by the way, as a benchmark seeing as it was literally the first of its kind in many ways and that those first 30 issues I read really don’t represent the peak of its creative history, but there’s just something better about Spider-Man. There was no development in the FF issues, and their Rogues Gallery is comprised of a few heavy hitters (Doom, Namor, Mole Man) and a host of forgettable, goofy 50s sci-fi aliens (plus The Impossible Man, who I fucking love despite Stan Lee’s insistence that contemporary audiences hated him). Spidey’s rogues, though, as introduced in that book? All classics. Doctor Octopus, Chameleon, Kraven, Green Goblin… They were knocking it out of the park just about every issue. The closest thing to filler in that book is a pair of issues starring a sort of fucked-up circus troupe as villains, but the rest of it’s all solid. Plus, there’s mobsters! The Big Man, Crime Master, fucking The Enforcers! All that good, down-to-earth stuff. Spidey fights aliens in issue #2, and after that the lesson is learned – keep things normal and New York-based with this one. Hell, once Roger Stern took over writing in the 80s, he even retroactively explained that they weren’t EVEN aliens, so technically this book is all just guys in suits clobbering each other. Fuck, the Vulture is an OLD FUCKING MAN flying around stealing diamonds. He even leaves one of his victims a note reading “I WILL STEAL THE DIAMONDS RIGHT FROM UNDER YOUR NOSES! – The Vulture” like two minutes before doing so.

It’s so, so good. I’ve never read that much Silver Age at once before, because it can be exhausting, but Spider-Man’s fully formed right from the get-go, and is so much more relatable than the FF in their stable and established adult lives (minus The HUMAN JOHNNY of course).

I didn’t take any notes or grabs for this book, except one:

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 18.21.59I forgot to mention the book is occasionally out-loud hilarious. I chuckled for about ten minutes at the credits on one issue, which were phrased something like “Gloriously written by Stan Lee, Lavishly illustrated by Steve Ditko, Recently lettered by Artie Simek”. Ha!

So here’s the update – I can now say with total honestly that everything in my bookcases, that is specifically every book that’s in those bookcases, has been physically read since it was bought. That portion of the challenge is done.

Also, I found some other things that deserve to be added to the challenge, because I overlooked them, but I’m not sure how seriously I take them. I bought Evil Dead 2 (possibly my favourite film) on Blu-Ray last June for a new transfer and extras, and forgot about it til I found it a few days ago. I also have Simon Munnery’s latest DVD Fylm-Makker somewhere, and haven’t looked at it. I bought Hot Fuzz for its Quentin Tarantino commentary track and never listened to it. I also have a pretty long list of backlogged games on my PS3 that I never played, including Ratchet And Clank 2, 3 and Gladiator, Devil May Cry (which came bundled with 2 and 3, though I’ve no intention of playing those), the Harley Quinn’s Revenge expansion for Arkham City (which to my shame I’ve only ever played once) and a few others. Because games take a lot more time to get through than comics, films and albums, I’m hereby discounting them from inclusion in the list, with a view to eventually getting round to them. Shouldn’t be so bad though, as the PS4 version of GTA V is the only game I’m planning on buying between now and ChristmAS SHIT I FORGOT ABOUT LEGO BATMAN 3 so yeah whatever I’ll play them some day.

OTHER THINGS I DID

I got around to watching the classic Power Rangers 5-parter Green With Evil again, which is still one of my favourite ways to spend a hundred minutes, and downloaded a bunch of other old episodes for potential future viewing. I also watched the sixth episode of The Monday Night War, which is increasingly becoming a series about how good WWF was in the 90s without nearly enough discussion about how bad WCW was. That shouldn’t be implied, it should be shown.

Anyway, next time I’ll have more reports on stuff and things. BE THERE! (here)

Get (Into)What You Paid For – Day 17 – Fatigyoo (Plus Bonus Film Criticism!)

1730919One of my favourite cartoons is Transylvania 6-5000, in which Bugs Bunny travels into darkest Europe and encounters a vampire and all sorts of shapeshifting hijinks summarily ensue. Upon his arrival at the castle, Bugs remarks that he is “fatigyooed” – fatigued, to you and me. I’m a big fan of wacky pronunciation as a shortcut to comedy. On one of Chris Jericho’s podcasts last week he pronounced the word ‘page’ as ‘pa-jay’ and it just made me think of Nick “Salem” Bakay in Angry Beavers and how much of that show’s appeal to me was animals saying fings rong.

Relevance? I’ve been suffering a little challenge fatigue. As discussed before, I’m already over the things I’ve to get through this month, despite not having started some of them. Take my second readthrough of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s first 31 issues of (The) Fantastic Four. It near killed me altogether. There’s some pretty good issues in there, but no really good issues and a lot of goofyass shit with aliens and nowhere near enough character development or world building or any of the sort of stuff that even the first FOUR issues of Amazing Spider-Man has. No, frankly, the book was a chore to get through (both times), and if I wasn’t such a sucker for comics history and if there weren’t a few pretty entertaining issues in there, I’d offload that thing. Still, I’ve paid for it, and got (into) it, so off the list it goes. I’d originally planned to bombard you with screengrabs, but I don’t think I can be bothered gong through the digital files and covering the issues again so, just, I dunno, if you ever see me in person I’ll run some good stuff by you.

I’ve also crossed The World’s End off the list, having watched the film twice (with and without commentary) and just about all of its extras. It’s confirmed for me another half-notion I’d had burgeoning recently, which is that I’m not quite as into DVD extras as I used to be. When Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz came out on home video, I devoured every aspect of those discs, watching both films four times in a day to make sure I’d heard all the commentary tracks. I felt I owed The World’s End the same courtesy – in fact, I feel indebted to the Pegg/ Wright/ Frost team in general, having gotten into Spaced at an age too early to appreciate how important and different it was but not too early to appreciate, simply, the way it was – so it became the first movie Blu-Ray I bought possibly since I sold my collection. Thing is, it felt a little chore-ish working through those, as well, which is a shame. As for the film, there’s no doubt it’s probably the most accomplished thing any of the key figures have ever been involved in. It’s very tightly scripted and the density of its jokes never distracts from the central darkness of its self-destructive premise. It rewards repeat viewings too, beyond the trivialty of minor aesthetic features appearing in the various locations and that – there’s a nuance to the performances of each of its six leads that rewards a focused viewing, and I’ll watch it again, maybe with the other two commentary tracks – but I’ll not be buying another Blu just for extras any time in a hurry.

TANGENT!

Simon Pegg defiantly rejects the appeal of the Apatow school of moviemaking on the extras, without dropping names, saying he doesn’t believe in “pointing a camera at a bunch of funny people and having them improvise, then putting it all together and releasing it as a comedy film”, and I think that’s why this thematic trilogy is destined to be remembered for its achievement while pretty much everything the US crowd has done since Knocked Up and Superbad has just been increasingly obnoxious. Those films reached their natural conclusion with last year’s This Is The End, which released around the same time as The World’s End and covers similar ground, albeit sophomorically, but this year’s (Bad) Neighbo(u)rs has suggested that Seth Rogen and other familiar players seem content to just….keep going. I mean, it ended. It was even the name of the film. They all played themselves, they addressed everything, the legacy, the criticism, and they wrapped it up. It was brave and funny and although the novelty of seeing actors send themselves up is long gone, it was a worthy exercise and statement, spoiled by its contributors’ failure to knowledge it as a perfect excuse to move on. With the success of 21 Jump Street and its sequel, or stuff like the Paul Rudd/ Amy Poehler vehicle They Came Together, or all the other types of comedy films that continue to be made and do well, seeing Seth Rogen continue to play the hairy arrested development jerk with the hot wife is much like watching Pegg as Gary King in The World’s End, unable to progress beyond comparable glory while friends move on, eyebrows raised and heads shaken.

Sorry.

freeway-hedaya
You fucker! You killed my grandma!

I also watched Matthew Bright’s Freeway for the first time since seeing it on late-night TV maybe more than ten years ago. As I remember it, I originally watched it for Kiefer Sutherland, being such a big fan of 24, but I remembered it all these years because of Reese motherfucking Witherspoon, and second viewing confirmed it was a performance worth remembering. As bonafide trailer trash, she is all over dialogue like “what, you’re gonna do sex to me when I’m dead?” and “He had this disease, called, um, Wisenheimers, I think. You know, where your brain cells run out into your pee” with this innocent charm that switches into full-on coal black comedy crazy chick chic halfway through the movie. It’s a pretty typical mid-90s movie – a hipster spin on the Red Riding Hood story with bizarre Danny Elfman music and a little social commentary, but that’s not to its detriment, it’s really very good. It put me in the mood for more half-remembered 90s fare, so I gave SFW (So Fucking What?), another Witherspoon vehicle though I hadn’t remembered it, a second try. Sadly, I wasn’t able to get past five minutes of Joey Lauren Adams once she turned up so this one’s consigned to memory for the forseeable future.

What’s on the horizon, challenge-wise? Well, Deborah was kind enough to buy me that Deadpool Minibus collection (honest injun’), so with that and my foulup Iron Man purchase from last week I’ve a little bit to tide me over after I finish the Spider-Man Omnibus I just started. Since I’ve been off work this week, I’ve not been driving so much, so I’ve not been listening to much music. As usual, much wrestling is being consumed either consciously or in the background of reading. Nothing else to report, I guess. I’ll fill ya in after a few days if I watch any more movies for the first time in years.

The Postman Cometh – Bandai S.H. Figuarts Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Green Ranger (Whew…)

So this was the first official (of a recorded three) slips in my don’t-buy-anything-this-month challenge, but the one that I justified by having won the auction in August and only left payment ’til September.

Anyway, these Figuarts figures, imported from Japan (by Italians) and Italy (by me), are somethin’ else. You’ve been around this blog, then you know I like action figures, but these cats are putting everyone else to shame. Speaking of shame, it’s one (awkward phrasing) that these aren’t cheaper, but what can you do? I mean, a trip to Japan  just to steal some wouldn’t really save any money in the long run.

Note – this is the version of the figure based on the Japanese progenitor of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, identical to the MMPR version except for its packaging and its inclusion of two extra accessories which appeared in an episode of the show that satirised the American adaptation. Meow. Catty.

Anyway.

20140908_182505
Fresh outta the post
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And sans Mac Thumb Of Approval
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Left side of box
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Excellent nonsensical translation including OPTION PARTS
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Right side of box
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Alongside an old friend for comparison. Note the variation in colour and EVERYTHING ELSE
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And, for no appropriate reason, the classic “Immortal Pose”

Get (Into) What You Paid For – Day Thirteen (…The Witching Hour!) inc. Skyward Sword, Moaning etc.

I have observed a flaw in my elected challenge: so much of my to-do is stuff I’m already partways familiar with. Let’s have a look at that list again, as it first appeared.

COMICS

Daredevil by Bendis, Maleev and Hollingsworth Volumes 2-6

Fantastic Four by Lee and Kirby Omnibus Volume 1

Iron Man by Michelinie, Layton and Romita Jr. Volume 1

The Amazing Spider-Man by Lee and Ditko Omnibus Volume 1

BOOKS

Total Recall – Arnold Schwarzenegger

Supergods – Grant Morrison

BLU-RAY

The World’s End (and extras)

GAMES

Tomb Raider (PS4)

The Legend Of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)

The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)

New Super Luigi U (Wii U)

OK, by category, 3/4 of the comics I’ve read before, I’ve not read either of the books, I’ve seen The World’s End in the cinema and played Tomb Raider on PS3. That leaves us with the two Zelda games, the Luigi DLC and the books to tide me over ’til the end of the month, discounting things that I’ve already… wait for it… GOT WHAT I PAID FOR OUT OF!

BUTWAITTHERE’SMORE!

Here’s the thing about Skyward Sword. I’ve felt beholden to it since November 2011, when it was first released and I unloaded a serious amount of games to pay for it at a time when I absolutely as literally as you can understand it could not have afforded it otherwise. I tried to play it in the spacious living room of my Crewe apartment, and I couldn’t get past the awkwardness of the controls and, though I’m ashamed to admit it, the quality of its two-gens-ago graphics. I soon sold it (again – poverty!), and later rebought it with some leftover exchange credit, and again it sat for over a year, unplayed because I knew, I knew, that I didn’t want to play it.

Still, I recovered my Wii U today from the paws of my Mario Kart-addicted brar earlier today and as I’m accustomed to doing decided to give the game another chance, as I’m often too decisively critical of things and was prepared to really try at it. I even, hand to God, booked a week off work with playing this game as a major reason for doing so. As I loaded the fresh batteries into the still-snazzy golden Zelda Wiimote, I was hopeful, despite the fact that the room I currently play games in is about a sixth of the size of the one I had in Crewe and the game demanding a modicum more space thanks to its 1:1 control scheme.

Skip from now to then and the game’s on Ebay. I tells ya, this month’s really seen me cut loose from this bizarre sense of obligation I have towards inanimate material objects. Fuck Skyward Sword for two perfectly good reasons – it looks awful on an HD television and the controls feel terrible. I’m so glad the Wii U’s presence on the Nintendo Innovation Scale is closer to the Gamecube (just having small discs) than the Wii’s awful enfucked motion-sensing controls, because I swear being able to relax when playing games on the Wii only ever came to me by a total fluke. Caveat – Resident Evil 4 played the best on Wii, but all that really entailed was pointing. The pair of Mario Galaxy games – my favourite two, by the way – also saw restrained use of the Wiimote’s abilities, and when they did use it, it was ruinous. Remember those tilt-the-ball screamfests, chums? Then, as the console’s last hurrah, they figured ‘let’s go the WHOLE OTHER WAY’ and build the game around a total and absolute gimmick. If it was so important to their remit, where did it go when the Wii U – which has the same name as their previous console – debuted? Simple. They realised just how many people it put off playing what more dedicated fans were apparently able to appreciate as one of the best Zelda titles ever.

And that’s what annoyed me. There was enough in my brief encounter with Skyward Sword to enjoy, particularly as someone who counts The Wind Waker amongst my top, say, three games. The music is there, the local weirdos are there. But better than that, Zelda is really fucking cool in it. I cared about her. I wanted to make sure she was alright, and not because it might mean the end of the world if I didn’t. She wasted no time in diving off that plateau for me, after all. And she played the harp and wasn’t so much this WOW A PRINCESS as just my cool childhood friend.

And I can’t play it because my poor brain is just set to “no” when it comes to everything about how it plays. Mentally, I’m just constantly pushing at it. Apparently, Nintendo considered adapting it for Wii U before settling on Wind Waker, and if it ever does get the HD treatment I’ll give it a third try, but that’s IT, Nintendo! Last shot!

On a related front, I’ve also been dabbling with Tomb Raider on PS4 and I’ve a bone to pick with that title, too – what the fuck happened to Lara? On PS3, she was an unremarkably-pretty teenage girl dropped into this enormous, terrifying adventure, and as someone who’s never been able to ‘get’ Tomb Raider before I was immediately and totally on her side the whole way through. PS4 Lara, though, is fuller of cheek (both counts) and brighter of eye, and she looks less like a person – with thoughts, fears etc. –  than just a character in a videogame. It’s a lot harder digging Tomb Raider on PS4 because its Lara feels a lot more like the Lara that you used to see on posters and in lads’ mags and all that shit. Other than that, the game looks and plays amazing, but every time an FMV rolls around, yechhh. No.

Also, I tried playing the first two levels of Super Luigi U, and I suck at it (even though I 100%-ed New Super Mario U in no time), so I’m discounting it from the list because I simply don’t fancy the challenge. Give me harder levels as Mario and I’d be down for it, but I just have no time for that Luigi control scheme.

So here’s the list as it remains following this cathartic THAT’S-why-not-ening:

COMICS

Fantastic Four by Lee and Kirby Omnibus Volume 1 IN PROGRESS

The Amazing Spider-Man by Lee and Ditko Omnibus Volume 1*

BOOKS

Total Recall – Arnold Schwarzenegger IN PROGRESS

Supergods – Grant Morrison

BLU-RAY

The World’s End (and extras)*

GAMES

Tomb Raider (PS4)* IN PROGRESS

The Legend Of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)

I figure it’s also worth mentioning I have some unwatched digital content which I’m working through but didn’t exactly pay for (in the same way that if I still had my Netflix subscription, I wouldn’t feel like I had to watch everything on it because of G(I)WYPF.)

How this is organised – just for sharesies! – is that it is first downloaded via my laptop and immediately renamed. Here, it goes into a transfer-to-the-PS3-folder as well as its respective folder on my 2TB external if it’s the sort of thing I want to have to watch again. Then it’s transferred to the PS3 and deleted from the transfer-to folder. Once it’s been watched from the PS3, it’s deleted from there, but remains on the hard drive, out of sight.

Whew…

Here’s a breakdown of my naming habits -

FILMS – Films are the simplest with just the film and its year, like: Star Wars (1977). Some files are larger than the PS3 can handle and need split in two, in which case they are suffixed with letters from the alphabet post-parentheses, ie: Star Wars (1977) a.

TV – All TV is divided into one of two overall folders – Television and Cartoons. A television episode works like [NAME OF SERIES] – [SEASON NUMBER, single digit].[EPISODE NUMBER, double digits] – [EPISODE NAME] – (YEAR OF BROADCAST), so the first episode of Batman looks like: Batman – 1.01 – On Leather Wings (1992). Each season is in its own folder, and season-specific extra features are in a sub-folder therein.

Wrestling – Wrestling is trickier because of the formats, but the easiest way to organise it is by date, like [NAME OF COMPANY] – [DATE IN YYYY.MM.DD FORMAT] – [NAME OF SHOW], so that an April ’99 Raw will look like: WWE – 1999.04.01 – Raw and that month’s PPV would be: WWE – 1999.04.30 – Backlash. Documentaries work like [TITLE OF PRODUCT] – [DISC NUMBER] (YEAR), so: Ladies And Gentlemen, My Name Is Paul Heyman – Disc 1 (2014). Each year is divided into its own folder within the company folder, and other types of files (wrestler profiles and compilations) are in their own folders.

Standup and music I haven’t quite figured out yet. For music, I’d like to include date of performance and venue but that gets cloudy with those 90s-style compilation tapes. Standup I have so little of I’m not sure why I haven’t done it yet. Documentaries are treated identically to films, but in their own folder.

Man, that felt like researching proper referencing for my dissertation.

The current list includes the last two seasons of 30 Rock and Futurama, the first of Digimon, a number of films (including Mama, which I’m too afraid to watch EVER but still haven’t deleted), all of Justice League (in HD!), the first season of The Twilight Zone (which I’m considering re-buying on Blu just to rip myself) and a handful of Power Rangers episodes (Green With EVIL!) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ones.

And that, friends, is what a fuckload of fuckin’ words looks like!

READ SWEET TOOTH!