Friday, 29 August 2008

Don’t be pansy; let’s Fifa 09!

Fifa 09 'Let's Fifa 09,' is the catchphrase EA Sports is adopting for its upcoming video game, Fifa 09, the nth title in the Fifa football simulation series. Last year's effort, Fifa 08, was the beginning of the end of an era foolishness that saw EA churn out dreadful Fifa games one after the other. I think they finally realised that footy fans wanted a proper footy game, given the upsurge in sales of Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) series, a.k.a Fifa's arch-nemesis.

In those days it was unheard-of for PES to oust Fifa from the number 1 spot on any platform chart. I guess when that started happening recently EA got scared and decided it was time to turn a new leaf ... time to take their fans more seriously.

If you are a long time fan of the series you'll be glad to know that Fifa 09 is looking and playing better than ever.

As for me, I have pledged no allegiance to either franchise, nor will I ever. Instead, I'll buy whichever is the best; I'm not going to pay 40 quid for a Sensible Soccer copycat.

On the subject of the Fifa 09's slogan, I like it. It's quite catchy, like last year's ('can you Fifa 08?'). Here's to hoping Fifa 09 lives up to the hype.

Midnight Sun leaks

Twilight Apparently a different version of the Stephenie Meyer hit, Twilight, has been in the works for some time now, titled Midnight Sun. While Twilight tells Edward and Bella's soggy love-tale through Bella's eyes, Midnight Sun does the same thing through Edward's eyes.

If you don't know anything about Twilight (and I don't know how you wouldn't, except ... please refer to my previous post on this subject) then let me take the pain to elucidate: Edward is a vampire, sexy, super fast, super strong, and smart. Bella is a human girl, mundane-looking compared to Edward, maladroit (the book does mention that she trips a lot), delicate, and ... smart. Both fall in love and stuff happens (read the book to discover more).

Twilight was an okay book by all standards. It started really slow and dragged on for hundreds of pages until James (a psychopathic vampire who takes great pleasure in videoing his victims before offing them) and his nomadic vampire mates popped into the scene at the very end. That's when things got very interesting. I suspect the reason for this was experiencing the world of Twilight through Bella's eyes. Yes, that's right – she's not a very appealing character, to say the least.

Edward was the gem of Twilight (along with his vampire family), so it would be nice and exciting to observe everything from his point of view.

Unfortunately, it seems that won't be happening any time soon. It appears that the first twelve chapters of Midnight Sun leaked a couple of weeks ago (or months, I don't know) and Meyer isn't pleased about it. Thus she has put the release of Midnight Sun on hold ... indefinitely. Or maybe ad infinitum, though I hope not, because I do want to see what it's like being Edward ... being a vampire with superpowers.

In her public statement, Stephenie Meyer mentioned that she had a good idea of how the leak happened. Turns out she gave away copies of Midnight Sun's incomplete manuscript to certain "trusted individuals for a good purpose".

Perhaps this is lesson to learn from, Ms Meyer. You don't write a book, shatter records (Breaking Dawn sold a reported 1.3 million copies in one day. Wow) and mail out copies of your series' prequel to anyone but your editors or publishers. I'm not a published author (yet) and I don't allow people to read my works, complete or incomplete, except my closest, most trusted friend who acts as my editor. So why, Stephenie, should you?

I know it hurts; I'd be in a fit of spleen if one chapter of my book(s) leaked (not to talk of twelve), but what's done is done, Stephenie. Relax for a few weeks, get over it and get writing. There's no need to punish your entire fan base for your mistake.

Will this leak affect Midnight Sun's sales? Nope. It wouldn't even put a dent in it. Knowing Stephenie Meyer, this book will probably end up being fifty chapters and 900 pages long, so twelve giveaway chapters is a nonentity, really.

I'm still reading Breaking Dawn, and ... I won't say anything until I'm finished. But it is everything I expected it would be: slow-paced plot and awfully verbose, all packaged into one neat, gigantic 754-paged hardcover book. Only time will tell if the book's size is practical or pointless.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Twilight series attacks!

HP 7 Harry Potter will live on forever. Don't even, for one split second, doubt that. So please, let us pay homage to one of the greatest, yet overrated piece of literature in history by taking a moment of silence.

[Count from 1 to 50 here].

[Now recite the letters of the English alphabet seven times. Do the same for the French alphabet nine times].

Moving on, lads.

I can only fathom out four solid reasons why you may never have heard of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga.

Reason number one: you don't read books, in which case I feel utterly sorry for you, you poor, poor thing.

Reason number two: you read books but you live under an enormous rock ... in Antarctica. I understand. No Waterstones. No Barnes & Noble. No Canadian hockey team. Even the things closest to a book that you read over there are written in scrolls similar to the ones found in the Dead Sea caves.

Reason number three: you live in a third world country, so although you read so much that you somehow gain the preternatural ability to read, hence a first class entry ticket into Professor Charles Xavier's school for the gifted, and finally a prestigious invitation to join the X-men so you can use your powers to read alien books, your chances of hearing of the Twilight saga is as good as Mugabe's odds on seeing the gates of heaven.

Reason number four: you're dead. Can't you help there, mate. Sorry.

If you are reading this blog and one of these reasons applies to you (though if yours is reason number four...) then now you know about the Twilight saga.

Latterly the American media has been making some heretic comparisons between J.K Rowling and Stephenie Meyer due to the Twilight saga's popularity and the manner in which Meyer shot to fame.

Thus, is Stephenie Meyer the next J.K Rowling? Honestly, that's a chimera, a flitting dream so pale it's not fit to be called a dream anymore but a lousy afterthought. The thought of the possibility is not in any way as bold or real as my fantasies of Kate Winslet, Jessica Alba and I ... fishing in the sunset. The media and the rest of the world needs to understand that it can never happen (not the part about Kate, Jessica and I – that's definitely going to happen very soon, you watch). Rowling has set a standard so high that even she may never surpass.

Twilight To give you a quick synopsis, Twilight (the first book in the saga) centres on a teenage girl, Bella, who moves to the town of Forks in Washington and falls in love with a very sexy vampire, Edward Cullen. Edward, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to rip Bella's throat and drain her blood to the last ounce. But there's a catch: before Edward can bring his gory fantasy into fruition he falls in love with Bella.

Stephenie Meyer never fails to be monotonous when describing Edward, almost to the extent of making the book interminable. I swear I lost count of the number of times Stephenie told me, the reader, that Edward was sexy. What's worse is I'm a bloke and I had to swallow all her narratives of Edward's hard, lean muscles; contoured surfboard stomach; strong, pointy nipples... What the -? Come on! The first few pages of Edward taking off his tight top, I took like a brave soldier. I took it all. But then she just kept going on and on and on and on and on about Edward's sex appeal. It was really disturbing for me, I tell you. I had nightmares. Instead of dreaming of my sunset fishing escapades with Jessica Alba and Kate Winslet, I found Edward sitting next to me, shirtless, a bottle of baby lotion in hand... YIKES!

When I finished Twilight I couldn't help but see it as a female's guide to fantastic sexual fantasies. So why did I read it? Simple: the vampires.

Now, these vampires are not your ordinary vampires. Forget about Angel or those clowns in Buffy. Edward and his entourage are simply something else, out of this world. They make Anne Rice's vampires timid, like little school girls about to get bullied in the playground.

Firstly, Edward and co won't burn to ashes when they step into the sun. They will ... glitter like irresistible diamonds.

Okay, I admit, that part is lame (glitter? What?). But, seriously, what really got me hooked was that Meyer's vampires (not all of them) have supernatural abilities. Edward, for example, can read the minds of everyone, vampires and humans alike (except Bella's, which is in fact the major, causative reason for his fierce love and enthralment for her and her unique, byzantine mind). Then there's Alice Hale, Edward's adoptive sister and also a vampire, who can see the future. So you can imagine what it's like when Edward and Alice engage each other in a calculated game of chess: Edward reads her mind to see her next move and Alice peers into the future to see his next move (this happens in the book). Here, ladies and gentlemen, is an example of an unremitting chess game.

Jasper Hale, Edward's adoptive brother and Alice's lover (no, it's not incest), has a degree of empathy far above normal – he can feel/share your emotions and manipulate them. To be exact, if you're really pissed off, he can you make you the happiest person on earth. Likewise, if you're happy, he can make you angry, sad, lonely, depressed, and that.

Secondly, Edward and co have very low body temperature and rock-hard bodies. And I mean rock-hard. They're like living, breathing, indissoluble statues, which means bullets, knives and nuclear weapons can't destroy them. By now you must have understood why I said earlier that Angel and Buffy's vampire villains are clowns, and Anne Rice's vampires are school girls. But I'm not done yet.

Thirdly, Edward and co can run faster than Clark Kent/Superman and Flash put together.

Fourthly, Edward and co do not sleep in coffins, or transform into bats or fear wooden crosses and holy water or do any of that ludicrous stuff you heard of or read in those vampire novels you own.

Fifthly, Edward and co do not have fangs.

Talk about revitalising and giving new meaning to the vampire genre. What Stephenie Meyer has done is introduce her own unique brand of vampires, and they are the coolest that ever existed in literature, hands down.

Other vampires related to Edward are Carlisle Cullen (his adoptive father), Esme Cullen (his adoptive mother), Rosalie Hale (his adoptive sister), and Emmett Cullen (his adoptive brother and my favourite of the bunch). These ones don't have any powers, but don't worry, they're not boring.

Another interesting fact about Edward and his family is that they don't feed on human blood (they can still daydream about it). They hunt animals instead, earning them the moniker: vegetarian vampires. Need I say more?

Despite its palpable setbacks (namely Bella's implausible imperfection, Edward's too perfect character, his nipples ... YIKES) Twilight is a good read for boys and a must read for girls. Nevertheless, it has got nothing on Harry Potter, so I would appreciate it if people stopped talking about both books as though they equal in magnificence, brilliance and glory.

New Moon New Moon comes after Twilight. I'm not going to discuss this one extensively. Suffice to say, it shares the same over-descriptiveness and other drawbacks as Twilight (although less Edward), and in addition it's the most depressing book I have ever read. Look at it this way: have you ever been inside the head of a broken-hearted girl? Get the picture? Good.

Perhaps New Moon's redeeming factor is the introduction of the Volturi, an organised coven of vampires who see themselves as the royal family and rule enforcers of the vampire world, and rightly so; if you thought Edward, Alice and Jasper were cool, wait till you read about the zany (and super-cool) abilities the Volturi vampires are packing. Every good series needs a fantastic and grotesque set of villains: Harry Potter had Voldemort and his death eaters; the Bartimaeus Trilogy had – well – every magician; and so Twilight has the Volturi.


Eclipse Eclipse follows, and with it, more talk of Edward's nipples and his nine-pack. Indeed, I think since Edward scarcely made an appearance in New Moon, Stephenie thought it best to push him into my face and subsequently stuff him into my mouth for good measure (by that I mean she told me over and over and over again that Edward was the sexiest being ever to walk the earth). If you read Twilight and New Moon and could stand Meyer's prose, which can be heavy and tedious in places, you won't have a problem with Eclipse. In my honest opinion the previous books in the saga don't stack up to it; it's the best in the series in terms of everything – action, romance, intrigue, and fun. But that's just my opinion.



Breaking Dawn There is a fourth book, Breaking Dawn. I haven't finished reading it so I won't mention anything about it now, but rest assured I will post my review when I'm done.


Twilight: ¤¤¤¤ (4 Stars) [8/10]. Great!

New Moon: ¤¤¤ (3 Stars) [6.5/10]. Good.

Eclipse: ¤¤¤¤ (4 Stars) [8.5/10]. Great!

Buy the books: Twilight (US/UK); New Moon (US/UK); Eclipse (US/UK).

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Welcome, Glen Akin

Since there's no one to congratulate me (shake my hand, pop a bottle of champagne, etc) on successfully creating my first blog, I'll do it myself: congratulations Glen Akin, you have done me proud.

I cannot say it was an easy task. The first bit was rather effortless (creating the blog on Blogger), but truth be told I created this blog only because I really wanted to try out the feature in WORD 2007 that gives bloggers the ability to publish write-ups from WORD itself (rather than from the online blog publisher) ... and that's where my train of problems began its journey with one mission in mind: to drive me mad.

I must admit, the initial fault was mine; somehow I had forgotten my password and couldn't seem to register my blog with WORD, but as soon as I realised I was the idiot slowing me down everything was smooth sailing.

Until my ship crashed on a gigantic iceberg and sank faster than the titanic; that is to say, I encountered another maddening crisis – I couldn't upload pictures from WORD to Blogger! I spent the next hour or so raking the internet for a solution and was even more frustrated when I found zilch. Nada. Nothing. One thing I did discover was that this problem has been in existence long before I even knew what blogging was. So my question is why hasn't Microsoft or Google done anything about this?

I was miffed. I even considered abandoning Blogger for Word Press. Pay attention please. The analogy here would be: so, after crashing on that iceberg and sinking my ship to the bottomless ocean of sub-zero doom, I'm freezing my bum off and trying to swim for safety. I see a ship in the distance (that ship is Word Press). I scream as loud as I can – with difficulty, of course – 'Help! Help me!' The sailor aboard the ship spots me. He manoeuvres and approaches. Nearer. Closer.

A meteor drops from the sky and obliterates the ship and her crew right before my eyes (Word Press isn't free – I have to bloody pay to use it!).

Okay, maybe I am being overly dramatic (paying to host a site these days is really cheap, or so I've heard) but I'm a newbie at this! I can't pay now! What if I get bored of blogging? Listen, I don't care if it costs £0.09 to host a blog; it's still money spent, and I spend money wisely. So, there!

Moving on.

I decided to concentrate my efforts on Blogger. Although a lot of bloggers have testified that Blogger is easier to use and a far better choice than Word Press for beginners (such as myself), I still think they (the developers) need to sort out this inability-to-upload-pictures-with-WORD problem, because I'm still swimming around aimlessly in the icy water waiting to be rescued. And my bum is freezing. Trust me when I say it's nothing to write home about. The sooner I get out of this blasted water, the better.

So my plan is this; I'll do my typing in WORD and put up any necessary pictures through Blogger (that's right – all of this, everything you're reading, was typed and published from WORD 2007). And probably in the future (that is if I keep blogging) I'll create different blogs for different stuff: blog for movies, another for books, and then another for sex, etc.

Now, if you'd be so kind to excuse me I'm off to down the champagne bottle sweating buckets of water on my desk and hopefully I'll get drunk, because I never get drunk. I think it's a genetic disorder. Damn my father.