Rare Atari Game – Starwombat
Oct24

Rare Atari Game – Starwombat

Starwombat was released for the Atari 2600 in March 1978 but was withdrawn very soon afterwards owing to two mistakes with its production run. The first issue was that the back story to the game – that of the fictional history of the titular Starwombat, its role in future space warfare, and the honour and responsibility of the people tasked with caring for these magnificent creatures from birth to death – was sadly missing; the story, originally written in Japan, was shipped across to America for translation but lost at sea (along with several thousand cartridges of the game) when the ship it was sent on disappeared. When those games that had already been distributed to America and Europe were released anyway without much in the way of explanation as to what to do the result was a confusing experience for everyone. The second issue was the now infamous Game 18, the Starwombat Vaccination game, the purpose of which was to administer a series of vaccinations through the creature’s thick pelt. Sadly, without an adequate description the game more closely resembled an early porn game as one player tried to ram a long spike into the opening of the creature controlled by player two. This led to a raft of complaints and a rapid withdrawal of the game from circulation. The Atari 2600 video game cartridge Starwombat is highly sought after by fans of the console. In 2011 a cartridge sold on eBay for over...

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Morris Men, Stealing Sheep, And An Apparition
Oct07

Morris Men, Stealing Sheep, And An Apparition

A fabulous music video for the song Apparition by Stealing Sheep featuring the Abingdon Traditional Morris Side and the Oxford City Morris Men. I’ve got some history with Abingdon Traditional Morris having photographed them on one or two occasions before (Mayor’s Day 2011, Mayor’s Day 2012, and the Abingdon Extravaganza) and from having a wife and a best friend, both of whom are cousins of one of the dancers (the bearded one you can see stepping over the broom at the start of the video). The song is great and it’s made greater by the video which is wonderfully choreographed and expertly directed by Dougal Wilson with some lovely effects and a fantastic attempt to feel like a one-take video, without actually being one. Extra points go to the band for learning some of the steps too. Stealing Sheep is Rebecca Hawley, Emily Lansley, and Lucy Mercer. Their sound in general and the sound in particular for this song fits perfectly with this video. Quirky is the...

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Movies I’ve Made My Wife Watch
Oct03

Movies I’ve Made My Wife Watch

Over twenty years ago, in the period before I met the woman who would soon move in with me and much later become my wife, I used to watch movies quite a lot. This was the golden age of VHS video and small video shops with quality making way for quantity meaning there was a neverending stream of films to rent of every genre imaginable. Some were great, some were appalling, some were both great and appalling. In the period since I met my now-wife I have introduced her to some of these films as they’ve sprung to mind or I’ve accidentally rediscovered them somehow. I love all these films for their nostalgia factor or because I genuinely think they’re fabulous. My wife does not always share my opinion despite repeated attempts to change her mind. Cry Baby My wife – being a woman with eyes – already had a bit of a thing for Johnny Depp. Thus, she had no problems at all agreeing to watch Cry Baby and there was no need for The Restraining Device. This, along with Hairspray, formed my introduction to my wife of the wonderful world of John Waters. Is there a more enigmatic film director on the planet? There is not. The film is a great 1950s-style musical with great songs and wonderful cast. “Look!” I said to my wife. “That’s Traci Lords.” “Should I know her?” she asked. “Er.” “Where do you know her from?” “Er.” Wife’s review: So good. John Waters can do no wrong. The Beastmaster My wife describes this fantastic fantasy adventure (my words; not hers) as my “Hawk the Slayer”, meaning I feel about The Beastmaster in the same way she feels about Hawk the Slayer; she has fond memories of the latter while accepting its many flaws and assumes I feel the same way about the former. I do not feel that way, though. She is wrong. It has Marc Singer, witchcraft, human sacrifice, Rip Torn, scary leathery bird things, and ferrets. That’s the sort of pedigree you won’t find anywhere else. The Beastmaster shits all over Hawk the Slayer. That’s all you need to know. Note: under no circumstances ever watch Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time. Just. Don’t. I’m not kidding. Wife’s review: It’s nice that you like it but it’s not very good. Running Scared Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines. Cops. Sick and tired of getting nowhere with the criminal elements of Chicago they decide to retire to Miami. They’ve just got to survive the homicidal tendencies of Jimmy Smits and a montage to the sound of Sweet Freedom by Michael McDonald....

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Close Encounters And Other Movie Title Translations
Sep03

Close Encounters And Other Movie Title Translations

I happened upon an old Japanese poster for the science fiction movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind recently (pictured below) and was pleased to see it contained the title that the film was released under in Japan. If you’re not familiar with the Japanese language then it roughly says “The aliens who keep stealing our stuff are back” which, I think you’ll agree, is a much more descriptive title for the immensely flawed (yet enjoyable) film. Close Encounters isn’t the only film with a better title in a foreign market release. Here are a few others you might already know: 1972’s science fiction movie Silent Running was known in Iceland as Crazy Space Gardener. The distributors of 1980’s Caddyshack in Portugal knew they’d get better attendance with a film called Disruptive Golf Course Rodent. Also from 1980, the comedy 9 To 5 became known in Saudi Arabia as This Is Why Women Should Not Work In Offices. Fantastic Voyage was given a 1966 release in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) as Very Small Donald Pleasence Movie. It was the same reverence for the actor that also saw Upper Volta give a 1980 release for The Pumaman as Donald Pleasence Versus The Flying Man And The Giant. The excellent 1982 Steve Martin movie Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid has a wonderfully surreal title in English but in Nepalese it makes far more sense as Monochromatic Film With Most Amusing Coffee-Making Scene. In 1989 the modern classic Road House was released and the following year saw the film make an appearance in Honduras as Incompetent Doorman Keeps Getting Employed. The distributors of Afghanistan were obviously a little confused with Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris in 1972, hence the title of its limited release, Not Entirely Certain What Is Happening Outer Space Film. Of course, you can’t have a list of oddly-translated movie titles without including (and finishing off with) 1977’s surprise hit, Star Wars. In Lesotho: The Princess In The Sky Ball. In Tonga: Colourful Sword Warriors In Space. In Czechoslovakia: Gold Robot And White Robot In Robot Story. And, finally, in Guyana, demonstrating that sometimes cinema distributors just use the posters as guidelines: White Couple Erotic Adventures In The Great Black...

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Far East Honeymoon Videos
Aug16

Far East Honeymoon Videos

Let’s get this straight right now: these aren’t those sorts of honeymoon videos. If you’re here for those sorts of honeymoon videos you’re going to be disappointed. If you’re not here for those sorts of honeymoon videos then you’ll probably still be disappointed but for completely different reasons. Way, way back in 2008 I got married and went on a trip to the Far East with my wife, cruising around the South China seas on the Diamond Princess and taking in a number of stops too: China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, and Thailand. Not long after that I wrote about our general experience of cruising, specifically as it applied to Princess Cruises in this article: Your First Princess Cruise. But what I didn’t do on this website was go into the details of the trip, share pictures, or upload video. In the lattermost case the reason for that was quite simple; I neglected to upload any videos until very, very recently. I figure seven years is a reasonable time to wait for these things. By way of getting back into the habit of occasionally updating this site and justifying its hosting costs I thought I’d take advantage of the recent video uploading spree on YouTube and share some of the filmed experiences of my honeymoon. The entire set of videos can be found in this playlist – Honeymoon, November 2008 – and it’s mostly in the right sequence except for a few at the end which had stupid dates on the files and YouTube doesn’t really make it easy to rearrange the playlist order. Some “highlights”: Short pan from on the Great Wall of China showing some of the surrounding hills and large number of tourists, mostly from China, making some form of ascent. This was part of a trip lasting just a few hours and we only had a short time on the wall itself. Bizarrely, some people who came long with us seemed more content to do some shopping at the gift shop near the base rather than engage in any climbing. Not us, though. We made the most of our time by hiking up as much as we could before needing to turn around and return to the coach. We stopped often as we ascended. It was very steep in parts. And we were very unfit. We’re still very unfit. Tiananmen Square. Very large and while we were there it filled up quite quickly with tourists, again mostly from China. Now, you would think that tourists going to Tiananmen Square might want to queue up at the mausoleum or take in the sights and, generally,...

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Ode To Hubble Space Telescope
Mar14

Ode To Hubble Space Telescope

The European Space Agency are currently running a competition to celebrate 25 years of astronomical photography from the Hubble Space Telescope. The Ode to Hubble competition is for those creative people who want to produce a video in honour of the orbiting scientific marvel and it just so happens that a friend of mine has submitted an entry. Shown below, it’s a short animation complete with original music and I’ve made sure to vote for it on the appropriate voting page...

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