CHOGM, Resin Skulls and Stephen Fry

An update

I think I promised a blog update this weekend didn’t I?

It’s kind of difficult to keep up with the blogging at the moment because the old black dog is nipping at my heels again – quite badly as a matter of fact. A lot of the time all I want to do is sleep. I’ve actually tested that out, to see if it makes things better, but it doesn’t really – I just wake up tired and fuzzy headed with my mouth feeling like the bottom of a lion cage, so it’s down to the tried and true methods of eating right, trying to get more exercise and doing my best to get out and be social, despite the fact that I’d rather be unconscious. No doubt I’ll pull out of it sooner or later, but in the meantime it’s not much fun.

In any case for those not in the know this was CHOGM week in Perth, when the heads of the Commonwealth nations descended on the city like a horde of Elder Gods, dragging hordes of vile servitors in their wake, and the Yog Sothoth of this abominable crew, Her Majesty the Queen (and her personal Nyarlathotep, Prince Phillip) also stopped in to say hi and attend a barbecue.

We’ve been preparing for this for months, and in the end it’s all been a bit of an anticlimax. Some roads were shut down, some exclusion zones were set up, some protesters waved placards and some civil liberties were casually abused in the name of security, and then it was all over. Some interesting things were done – the laws of Royal succession were altered to favour the first born child regardless of gender for instance – and some important things argued about and ultimately ignored (such as agreeing to give Commonwealth citizens a few basic human rights) and then it was all over. Ho Hum.

The big event for we peasants was the barbecue on the foreshore yesterday. It was the typical public event thing, everyone milling around for a few hours waiting for the Monarch and Royal Consort to put in an appearance, which they eventually did for a while before leaving without so much as eating a sausage (although Prince Phillip played with some barbecue tongs). On the plus side public transport was free across the entire city all day, which I took advantage of to catch up with Rebecca and Dom and the kids at Siennas in Mount Lawley for lunch. Strangely though, despite the free transport the railway was shut down between Perth Underground and Esplanade. If you asked they’d probably say they were concerned about someone trying to pull a V for Vendetta and blow up the Gleddon Building from below, but I suspect the real reason was that they’d either bailed up the city’s homeless in the tunnel to prevent the sight of them offending the Queen, or the Mole Men were holding their own CHOGM barbecue down there. Maybe both.

But anyway, it’s all over now and CHOGM ephemera is now selling for decent bucks on eBay.

I’ve been playing around with casting this weekend. I needed some large Adeptus Mechanicus symbols for some 40k terrain I’m sporadically working on, and a search of the net indicated that no one makes them anywhere and hence they’re quite hard to come across and rather expensive when you do. So I said, to hell with you, I’ll make my own people! Or rather my own AdMech symbols. I built a master out of plywood, plasticard and the general debris that a natural hoarder such as myself invariably accumulates, made a latex mould from it and have been merrily turning out cogwheels-with-skulls willy nilly all weekend. I’m almost tempted to make some extra ones and sell them on eBay, but I suspect Games Workshop’s lawyers would come down on me like the hammer of Sigmar and I’d never be heard from again. Oh well, I have what I came for 🙂

Last weekend of course it was QI Live at the Burswood theatre. I’d assembled a small group to attend consisting of myself, Katie, Justin and Marika. I met up with Justin and Marika at the Atrium buffet before the show which, despite the fact that it was stupidly expensive and they threw us out at 7:30 (they close for half an hour on Friday and Saturday evenings – no idea why but I suppose it’s not for the likes of me to criticise the behaviour of the wealthy) was fantastic. I was particularly fond of the beef and mushroom ragout, and the desert bar was absolutely sumptuous. We then met up with Katie outside the theatre before proceeding in to our seats.

Our seats were in the very back row of the ground floor and, surprisingly, turned out to be excellent. Sure, we were about as far from the stage as it was possible to get, but our view was completely unobstructed. We could also listen in to the chatter of the stage-management guys just across the aisle, which was most amusing when one of the guests’ microphones failed and they had to improvise a solution. We also heard the final scores a few second before everyone else, for what it was worth 🙂

The show was excellent. Entertaining and informative in equal measure. It was a bit shambolic, what with being the very first QI Live ever, but that was part of the fun. Stephen Fry regaled us with tales of his first visit to Perth (the phrase “eastern states or overseas” will never sound the same again) and Alan Davies hammed it up for the crowd, despite being seriously ill (or at least claiming that he was seriously ill, there was a lot of mention of ‘slurry’). The guests were Colin Lane, Denise Scott and some guy who I’ve never heard of, but who did a decent enough job despite being the victim of the aforementioned microphone failure.

If there was one problem it was that it did drag on a bit. The show didn’t finish until just before 11:00, and Justin even fell asleep in his sear despite the regular klaxon whenever Alan Davies tried to answer a question (he had been up since 4:00 though so it’s quite understandable). I imagine they’ll get the hang of balancing amusing blather with keeping things moving in future performances, but it was a small price to pay for the privilege of being there for the show’s first outing.

Once it was all over we dumped our plan of going somewhere for drinks (Justin was just about dead on his feet and I wasn’t far behind) and Katie and I wandered around what seemed like all of Burswood looking for a taxi before stumbling over one who’s driver was just as lost looking for the taxi rank as we were.

So, a good night was had by all, despite being informed that the first European to discover Australia recommended that it be named “New Zealand” 😉

Hmmm, that’s all I’ve got to say. There’s cleaning I have to do, and after that I’m tempted to see if that sleep thing might finally work 🙂

Just the End of the World Again

Yeah, like they’d take *me*

Just realised, it’s the 21st! It’s the end of the world! Again!

I’m kind of disappointed there’s no media frenzy like there was the last time. We all had so much fun waiting for earthquakes, angels and tsunamis to sweep across the globe. This time people don’t seem to care at all. Such a shame.

Wonder what old Harold will do if (when) nothing happens? You’ve got to feel a bit sorry for the poor bastard really.

In other news I’m off to see Stephen Fry and Alan Davies in the live version of QI tonight. Should be awesome – assuming I’m not swept up in the rapture first ;D

Tropes on the Ropes

In the grim darkness of the future there are only wiki edits

TV Tropes, was there ever a a better website for losing yourself in? You start at 9:00 in the morning reading up about your favourite movie and the next time you glance at the clock it’s 11:00 at night and you realise you’ve been absent mindedly been chewing on your own arm for sustenance while reading about Brian Blessed.

(Sorry. BRIAN BLESSED!!)

For quite some time one of my (and my friends’) favourite TV Tropes pages has been the one about Warhammer 40k, which does a fantastic job of explaining exactly what the setting is all about, all the time being side-achingly hilarious. So I went to check up on it the other day…

Oh the Horror!!

What was so great about the old page was that it was hilarious, accurate and subtle. A number of ridiculously insane things were discussed in an even, meaured, calm tone, sort of like Stephen Fry lecturing you on the complete works of Stan Deyo. Now it’s like a raving lunatic (or for that matter Stan Deyo) running up and screaming in your face about the complete works of Stan Deyo. It’s informative, sure, but nowhere near as enjoyable.

Or maybe it’s like the difference between a glass of well aged scotch by the fireplace in a well stocked library versus a vodka UDL by the toilets in a high octane nightclub.

Now I tried accessing the history of the page to try and recover my preferred version of the text, but the wiki software used by TV Tropes is strange and confusing to me. So rather than engage in further faffing about I decided to use my extraordinarily powerful memory to try and reconstruct it. So, here it goes, the classic version of TV Tropes’ Warhammer 40k page…

(Well, the important bit anyway)

Thirty-eight thousand years in the future, the mighty Imperium of Man has expanded across the galaxy… to discover that the galaxy is a Hell that would make Hieronymous Bosch crap himself in terror, and it has a Hell. From without, the Imperium is besieged by innumerable hordes of alien monsters from the farthest abysses of space, soulless death-machines and nightmare daemons (as well as nightmare death-machines and soulless daemons, and the occasional nightmare daemon in a soulless death machine); from within, treachery, heresy, plain ignorance and the festering infectious taint that is Chaos threaten to rip it into uncountable pieces.

Warhammer 40,000 is not a happy place. Rather than just being Darker and Edgier, it soaks itself in light-absorbing paint, straps on a jetpack and hurls itself over the edge, screaming IN THE GRIM DARKNESS OF FAR FUTURE THERE IS ONLY WARRRRRRGH! The Imperium of Man is a totalitarian, oppressive, stark, and downright sucky place to live where, for far too many people, living isn’t something to do till you die, but something to suffer through till something comes around and kills you in an unbelievably horrible way, while torturing your soul and melting down your body for biomass – and it’s quite probably something on your own side. The Messiah has been locked up on life support for the past ten millennia, laid low by his most beloved son, and an incomprehensibly vast Church Militant commits hourly atrocities in his name.

The problem is, as bad as the Imperium is, they’re not quite as bad as many of the other factions. Death is about the best you can hope for against the vast majority of the other major players in the battlefields of the 41st Millennium. The basic premise of 40k, insofar as it can be summed up, is that of an eternal, impossibly vast conflict between a number of absurdly powerful genocidal, xenocidal, and (in one case) omnicidal factions, with every single weapon, ideology and creative piece of nastiness imaginable turned up to eleven. The 40k universe is a spectacularly brutal playground of tropes and horrible things taken to their absolute extreme, and in some cases, beyond. Entire planets with populations of billions are lost due to rounding errors in tax returns. Orders a million strong of capricious, fanatical, genetically engineered Super Soldier Knights Templar serve as the Imperium’s special forces, while the trillions of soldiers in its regular armies take disregard for human life to new and interesting extremes. A futuristic space Inquisition ruthlessly hunts down anyone with even a hint of the taint of the heretic, the mutant, or the alien, and is backed up by legions of psychic daemonhunting elite super-soldiers and fanatical pyromaniac power-armoured battle nuns. The standard-issue sidearm of a Space Marine is a fully automatic armour-piercing rocket-propelled grenade launcher. The Astronomican, a navigation aid has the souls of thousands of psychic humans sacrificed to it every day, dying to feed the machine. The faster than light travel used by most factions carries with it a good chance of being eaten by daemons. The ancient and mysterious manipulator-race contrive wars that see billions dead so that small handfuls of their own may survive, while their depraved cousins literally cannot endure the agony of a life not spent torturing numberless innocents to death in ingeniously horrific ways. There are several vast Bug Swarms trying to eat every organic thing in the galaxy, light-years-wide holes in reality through which countless daemons and corrupted daemon-powered super-soldiers periodically attempt to destroy the universe, and an entire civilization of undying omnicidal maniacs serving their star-god masters’ desire to exterminate all living creatures, down to the last bacterium. There’s a genetically-engineered survivor warrior species infesting every corner of the galaxy and cheerfully trying to kill everything (including each other if nothing better presents itself) because it’s literally hard-wired into their genetic code to do so and because it’s fun. The closest thing to the “good guys” you can find in this setting is a tiny alien empire sandwiched between all the other factions – and they may or may not have a thing for forcing new subjects into their empire through orbital bombardment and concentration camps, but at least they’ll offer you admittance into their club. Everywhere there are chainsaw swords, BFG’s, armored gloves that crush tanks, mountain-sized daemonic walking battle cathedrals, tanks the size of city blocks and warships that level continents, if not simply obliterating all life on an entire planet just to be sure. And sometimes even that doesn’t work. There is no time for peace, no respite, no forgiveness; there is only war.

There. that’s much better!

(The version of the Warhammer 40,000 text above is of course licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. In other words it  came from TV Tropes and you can do what you like with it as long as you let everyone else do the same.)