All posts by ntbadmin

Lexx 4.16 & 4.17

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Lexx 4.16 “Moss” March 1, 2002
On the run Xev, Stan and Kai are abducted by Moss (in a reincarnation from season 2), head of the AFR. Using information from them, he masquerades as Prince, and installs himself as the head of the ATF. Moss has numerous conspiracy theories involving “666”, which are totally insane, but largely correct. He then puts the crew on a show trial for being in league with Prince, where he plays all legal roles, then decides to execute them. Prince (residing in his TV set) directs Bunny to read a note to the Idaho AFR, who then ride a moth to the ATF, and shoot all the AFR.

This just a long riff on a very old Monty Python joke from ‘Life of Brian’ that doesn’t go anywhere. More stock standard army stereo-types than you could shoot in sixty seconds (2/5).

Lexx 4.17 “Dutch Treat” March 8, 2002
Lexx is convulsing with starvation, and the crew decide to abandon him, leaving 790 behind as punishment for his latest treachery. They plan to hitch a ride with the Earth ship Noah, that 790 designed. Tina discovers that Ernst Longbore has his own secret plans about who is going onto his ship, and is sniffing the histocompatibily of schoolgirls. Prince re-boards the Lexx. Priest and Bunny shoot nearly every moth breeder to get the key, and then command Lexx to destroy Earth. Lexx only has enough charge to destroy Ottawa, so he eats Holland instead. Xev gets the key from Bunny – the lesbian way.

At last, the Lexx crew’s stupidity and incompetence results in an outsider (Bunny) making a rational decision. It’s beginning to feel like the end of the series (3/5).

 

 

 

Heaven and Earth

Projekct X – Heaven and Earth (2000)

PX_HE

Adrian Belew — Guitar and additional ‘V Drumming’ on Side Window
Robert Fripp — Guitar and Soundscapes
Trey Gunn — Bass Touch Guitar and Baritone Guitar
Pat Mastelotto — Traps and Buttons

“The Business of Pleasure” – 2:45
“Hat in the Middle” – 3:44
“Side Window” – 3:09
“Maximizer” – 6:31
“Strange Ears (aging rapidly)” – 9:39
“Overhead Floor Mats Under Toe” – 5:47
“Six O’Clock” – 4:10
“Superbottomfeeder” – 8:08
“One E And” – 3:08
“Two Awkward Moments” – 1:11
“Demolition” – 7:08
“Conversation Pit” – 2:11
“Cin Alayı” – 1:58
“Heaven and Earth” – 8:19
“Belew Jay Way” – 5:02

This release is comprised of jams from The ConstruKction of Light sessions. It’s much better than Thrakattak (1996) which is just a lot of guitar wankery and silly noises.

The main reason it really works is drummer Pat Mastellotto, taking the attitude of ‘get out of the way or follow’.
The sound is cosmic and futuristic, built with an unrelenting tension from the manic electronic driving rhythm pulses.

He contrasts Bill Bruford’s cerebral attack, creating a new KC that’s has an electric energy and trippy, organic subsonic stomp. Stick player Trey Gunn, really anchors the bottom end with a snake-like prowess; winding and driving against Pat’s dominating beats.

Mastellotto’s performance is scarily propulsive and far more congruous with this style of the material than ever before. Instead of using an electronic kit to merely replicate the cymbal washes and snare pops of an acoustic kit, he uses sampled sounds to his advantage, using spontaneous studio jams to retrospectively create arrangements that embrace the dark, electronic trance pulse of the digital age, while at the same time retaining the angular improvisation.

Everyone else is just there to fill in the void.

What really makes the key difference here is a lack of any attempts at structure. As labyrinthine as the roadmaps were for previous albums, they were still roadmaps; and often laden with guitar parts recognizably descended from territory of the 1980’s lineup.

Here Fripp and Belew shed the calculated straitjackets and let roar like never before. It is a true window into the age-old Crimson manifesto of attempting to control chaos.

‘Superbottomfeeder’
Is a big blast of Pat and Trey hitting the low end while Fripp & Belew riff over it all.

“Heaven and Earth”
Is the best track, having a more composed form and structure. It begins quietly, but soon morphs into a strong groove by the rhythm section.

This a favorite album of mine because of it’s unrelenting crazy crackling energy.

 

Shades of Magic

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)
V. E. Schwab

Schwab
Read as part of the Sword and Laser March pick.

Kell is one of the last Antari, a rare magician who can travel between parallel worlds: hopping from Grey London — dirty, boring, lacking magic, and ruled by mad King George — to Red London — where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire — to White London — ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne, where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back — and back, but never Black London, because traveling to Black London is forbidden and no one speaks of it now.

The writing was good with an interesting premise. The problem was it just didn’t get very involving or exciting. It felt like a novella stretched out to novel length. The good were good and the evil did evil things. It takes too long to get to the central conflict, then everything is crammed into the last 20% of the book. Not bad, just average.

 

Lexx 4.14 & 4.15

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Lexx 4.14 “Prime Ridge” February 15, 2002
The crew buy a house in Prime Ridge, using money from ATMs that 790 rigs for them. Xev’s cooking is atrocious, Kai doesn’t like his new fridge, and after a day they get bored of TV. Xev gets a job at CJD Meat Products as a counsellor (as a way to get sex), where she meets Cleesby. Stan reckons he’s got a chance to get it on with the realtor, and her daughter Picolina gets in on the action. Kai starts running out of protoblood, gives druggies all the money, and starts acting as high as they are. Everyone is a gun wielding psycho, and the episode ends in a massive shootout; S.W.A.T ruins the lawn, bullet holes line the walls, Cleesby and Picolina decide sex is better than shooting each other, and the druggies take off in the moth, leaving the gang no option but to use the neighbor’s car for a getaway. Features Britt Ekland as the realtor, “Dulcibella Sternflanks”.

This satire of American domestic life may be funny, mainly due to the over -the-top blood soaked ending (3/5)

 

Lexx 4.15 “Mort” February 22, 2002
Derived from Bride of Re-animator. Fleeing from the authorities, with exhausted Kai in a shopping trolly, Xev and Stan shelter in a funeral parlour run by Mort. Mort is assembling his “unofficial” girlfriend, Deedee, from spare parts. He rejects Xev’s breasts only on blood type, and becomes fascinated by Kai’s protoblood, which Kai readily donates. Xev and Stan show their supreme insensitivity whilst escorting mourners to coffins. On Lexx, 790 will not cooperate because Kai cannot speak. Meanwhile Xev fends off deputy Festus with promises of sex, but she gives him re-animated Deedee instead. Deedee then kills Mort in the name of His Divine Shadow.

Another un-funny attempt at satire (1/5).

Lexx 4.12 & 4.13

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Lexx 4.12 “Bad Carrot” October 31, 2001
The carrot probes invade US supermarkets, and leading scientists analyse how the carrots penetrate their hosts. The Whitehouse is overcome, so Prince, Priest and Bunny flee to the Lexx, accidentally taking a carrot with them. 790 sides with the carrot to eliminate everyone but Kai. Prince teaches him Chess, and offers a wager. Kai demonstrates his increasing cynicism about 790 and works out what is going on.

The president act’s like he is in a bad sex farce. Prince is getting cooler as the evil being. However the toilet ‘humour’ of the episode is not appropriate for science fiction. (2/5)

Lexx 4.13  “769”  February 8, 2002
On Lexx, Xev and Stan threaten to kill Prince, but they can’t do it, and Kai runs out of protoblood. 790 has the agenda of obtaining a body, so he helps Prince and Priest strangle half the moth breeders to get the key to the Lexx. Back on Earth he is attached to the body of a moth breeder, and he selects a penis from one of America’s finest. Bunny is given orders to kill the crew of the Lexx, but she can’t do it. Prince returns to Lexx, and almost kills Stan and Xev. Bunny loses the key to the Lexx by having sex with Priest. Prince is killed for the first time.

This one tries (and fails) to offend the  French, Native Indians, Military and anyone with half a brain (1/5).

 

The Trials

The Trials (The Red #2)
by Linda Nagata

TheTrials

Lieutenant James Shelley and his squad of US Army soldiers were on a quest for justice when they carried out the unauthorized mission known as First Light. They returned home to America to face a court-martial, determined to expose the corruption in the chain of command that compelled their actions. But in a country still reeling from the nuclear terrorism of Coma Day, the courtroom is only one battlefield. A new cycle of violence ignites when rumors of the elusive, rogue AI known as the Red go public—and Shelley is, once again, pulled into the fray.

Challenged by his enemies, driven by ideals, Shelley feels compelled to act—but are the harrowing choices he makes really his own, or are they made for him, by the Red? With millions of lives at stake in a game of nuclear cat-and-mouse, does it even matter?

The second in the series is a bit slower than the first. It starts with a trial and possibly that’s the whole story. Fortunately that’s finished with in a few chapters then it’s on with the plot. The rest of the book in unpredictable, not using military genre tropes. The ending is less of a big action piece then the previous book, but still an interesting end and setup for the third and final book. (4/5)

 

 

First Light

The Red: First Light (The Red #1)
by Linda Nagata

Nagata

Lieutenant James Shelley commands a high-tech squad of soldiers in a rural district within the African Sahel. They hunt insurgents each night on a harrowing patrol, guided by three simple goals: protect civilians, kill the enemy, and stay alive—because in a for-profit war manufactured by the defense industry there can be no cause worth dying for. To keep his soldiers safe, Shelley uses every high-tech asset available to him—but his best weapon is a flawless sense of imminent danger…as if God is with him, whispering warnings in his ear.

This is the third of the sword and laser book picks for June I have read. The first two I didn’t finish. But it’s third time lucky. This is military science fiction about tech-enhanced soldiers in the future. The closest to this I have read is Timothy Zahn’s first Cobra series. Fortunately this is hard-SciFi, the story is heavily dependent on the tech and it drives the story forward. That’s not to say that the characters are badly written, they may be a bit stereotypical, but come across a fully rounded characters. The only disappointment was the ‘villain’ of book. There is little explanation of the villain’s motivations and not much to understand. The story is told in first person and keeps going at a good pace. There isn’t too much internal monologue that can slow the story. This is the first of a trilogy, so next is the sequel, ‘The Trials’. Recommended.
 

Dark Eye

The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav
Game By Daedalic Entertainment (2012)

DarkEye

For centuries the kingdom of Andergast has been at odds with neighboring Nostria, but now first steps are being undertaken toward a lasting peace. But a plague of crows troubles the king, for the birds are acting with unusual aggressiveness, even attacking humans. As the belligerent creatures infiltrate even the castle itself, the king seeks a skilled bird catcher – an opportunity for young Geron to prove that the reputation for ill luck that has followed him since childhood is undeserved. However, the task will prove much more difficult than he expects, leading him on an adventure that will take him to the borders of the charted lands of Aventuria and beyond.

The best thing about the game is the graphics and game-play. The  hand-drawn artworks is good, with a dark fantasy atmosphere.

The game-play is easy, everything is done with the cursor that acts as look and use.

The problem is that the story isn’t engaging, it’s about a bird-catcher that has to rescue a kingdom from ravens. Throughout the game characters will dump large amounts of info that turns out to be not relevant to the story.

The story is very linear and a lot of the puzzles are not that obvious or logical. Without a walk-through I would not  have completed this game. Also, the central character Geron is not very sympathetic or relatable. The face does not match the voice acting.

In total it took 9 hours to complete the game (2/5)

 

Lexx 4.10 & 4.11

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Lexx 4.10 “Magic Baby” September 28, 2001
After escaping from the clutches of the asylum, the crew meet Uther, who gives them a lift to the space shuttle. Back on Lexx, Uther works his magic on Xev, only to be interrupted by Vlad coming out of the cryo unit. Uther is converted to a slave, and Xev is executed. Vlad proceeds to suck the life out of Kai, and then Stan gets up the courage to kill Vlad using the druid’s staff. Stan then patches up Xev’s body the best he can.

Surprisingly bland, given the episode has the end of the villain. (2/5)

 

Lexx 4.11 “A Midsummer’s Nightmare” October 24, 2001
Loosely based upon A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Stan and Kai take Xev’s beautiful corpse down to the feast of Morgath because Uther vaguely promised that the dead could be risen. There, Oberon recognises the Red Fool, and The Dark man, and dominates the proceedings; attempting to marry Xev for 1500 years. Kai is turned into a joyful singing tree. Xev refuses Oberon, so he turns to Stan, who also refuses him after he realizes that Oberon wants 1500 years of back door sex. Titania saves them by tricking Oberon into marrying her/him for eternity.

Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night wasn’t amusing, neither was this. The sets look cheap and the acting even cheaper. The only thing of note is the beginning and end, taking place at Battersea Power Station,  used on the cover of Pink Floyd’s Animals (1/5)

 

Lexx 4.08 & 4.09

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Lexx 4.08  “Vlad” September 7, 2001
Stan gets an urge to revisit Transylvania. As their slave, he takes the goth sisters back to Lexx, where they steal all Kai’s protoblood for Vlad. 790 removes the parablood from Stan, and Kai goes back to Earth to face the divine executioner. Their fight ends up back on Lexx, where Vlad bites Xev and Stan. However, Xev is not affected by parablood and successfully pushes Vlad into the cryo unit.

A much better episode thanks to Vlad the villain. There is more threat and danger to the crew with no obvious and easy remedies. Obviously they win against a stronger foe, but only by working together (4/5)

Lexx 4.09  “Fluff Daddy” September 14, 2001
Prince lures the crew down to Earth. Bunny is told to have sex with Stan. On Bunny’s porn video, Stan notices Lyekka (Loo Loo), and tries to get close to her by being the new fluffer. Prince shows Xev the mortal Kai, who is an actor who really suffers for his art, injecting staples into his feet and sleeping on the stage. He wants celibacy until his show has run (2 – 6 months). Xev eats him anyway, in a fit of cluster lizard hormones. Stan uses Prince and the ATF to access Lyekka. Using her movie “Oval Orifice” as a way to steal the key from Stanley, both Loo Loo and her director go to the Lexx, and releases Vlad. Stan is arrested for theft, and sent to a loony bin..

Another descent into silliness and characters making stupid decisions (especially Stan). Only alleviated by a  surprising ending. (2/5)