31 May

Films

I have recently watched a big wodge of movies as I travel Europe. Oh the joys of laptops and mpeg decryption and PayTV in hotels. I watched Fun with Dick and Jane last night which was okay-ish, nothing wrong with it but nothing to get very excited about. I then watched Alien Autopsy which proved that Ant and Dec can still act, and that the quirky Brit. comedy still has legs. On the other hand it also didn’t set the world on fire, so so-so. I am now on a train watching Night At The Museum which, from the cast list, could be great.. or dire. Let’s all pause and wait until I watch it and tell you in the next sentence..

It was pretty good. CGI family fun. Great to see Dick van Dyke as the baddie. Stiller still never convinces me in a straight role. Rick Gervais is dull, Steve Coogan and Owen Wilson have a lot of fun as Roman and Cowboy.

27 May

Warsaw

I have been travelling a lot recently. I was in Warsaw all last week organising and running a conference. It was the first time I had stayed in Warsaw as opposed to passing through en route to elsewhere in Poland. Our hosts were great and the hospitality was forthcoming. My view of Warsaw was that it has a lot of old 1960s concrete flats in the ‘Corbusier‘ ‘machines for living’ aesthetic we have seen across the whole of Europe, with a great deal of building in the post war period and the 1960s and 1970s. [[Those from Eastern Europe think these are Communist buidlings, I often have to explaoin to them that we in the West built them too with similarly depressing consequences.]] This are scattered and intermixed with the newer glass and steel towers we see worldwide for business and retail. There seems, and the locals confirm, that there has been very little (sensible) town planning and that the city lacks a centre, a retail circuit or a logical area for nightlife. It is fairly higgly-piggledy, but at the centre is a huge skyscraper, the Palace of Science and Culture (PKiN), built by the Russians as a gift from Stalin. Now I am told the citizens love-hate the tower, but I found no-one who didn’t hate it or was indifferent. I thought it was kind of impressive and definitely worth keeping, but I am a Brit who hasn’t been opporessed by the Russians for hundreds of years, and I think it is not the style, it is not the Communist origins, it is the fact that it is Russian that makes the locals dislike it. How can I comment, I don’t come from this history and culture and yet I do hope they bear with it, it’ll be fascinating to Poles in a hundred years. Given that that demolished a huge Russian Orthodox Cathedral in the centre of Warsaw on reaching independence after the First World War, I suspect that it may not survive. Interestingingly the Czechs have a similar tower, it is now the Hotel Intercontinental!

21 May

Agon, the Greek Heroic rpg

I read Agon, an indie Heroic Age Greek rpg! I now understand gspearing‘s silence. A great recreation of one of the ways to play a game like D&D, but do you want to play that kind of island hopping monster killing, buddy competing fun?

AGON is a competitive RPG set in a fantastic version of ancient Greece similar to that of the Illiad and the Odyssey. The heroes work together against the enemies and obstacles created by the Antagonist, but the players compete to win the most glory for their heroes.The player who earns the most glory wins the game.

I think I would enjoy it as a game, but I am not sure if I would want to give it priority over another Greek game that was more story telling, or perhaps a Savaged one that was faster, since I suspect that the combat system (whilst cunningly put together) could take a long while to resolve.

I admire this game greatly. It recreates the competitive style of play that many of us have played and, even if we don’t choose to do it that often, the author John Harper has created a simple, well balanced and elegant game. I’m not sure I’d run it.

09 May

Various

Hooray! Chaosium have announced the long awaited definitive edition of their long loved Basic Roleplaying game. http://www.chaosium.com/article.php?story_id=246

I went to Brussels for a meeting held by DG TREN on their forthcoming Logistics Action Plan, which was fascinating and the best such event I have been to in years.

I have a stack of work to do since I spent most of last week helping finalise and submit FP7 proposals.

Matt’s first GCSE exam is in 7 days, Ann and I are more wound up about it than us. We make him do 2 hours revision a night as well as being at school, but I wish he’d play less World of Warcraft! Mind you, he is doing his revision and next week he’s at home all day every day so the really concentrated stuff will start then. I held a History revision day for him and 2 mates on Bank Holiday Monday and that went well.