News and comments from Arthur

Judge Dredd Books

 Thursday 21 Jun 2007, 12:00 AM Cover for Judge Caligula Book 2

In Arthur`s continuing comic reading frenzy, he has decided to fill in some of the gaps in his Judge Dredd collection.

A few years ago (OK actually probably closer to 10 than a few) he picked up a whole stack of the original Judge Dredd Titan graphic novels. He was in a weird book collectors emporium a few miles from his house that was in an old converted dairy farm looking for turn of the century books on illnesses and general day to day living (this may sound really dull but trust Arthur - they are hilarious! See the handy hints for life on the homepage for excerpts from such publications) when, just as he was leaving, he thought to ask if they had any Judge Dreed comics amongst their massive stock (this place was huge and filled floor to ceiling in every nook and cranny with dusty old books and it was virtually impossible to find anything).

The man behinf the counter immediately knew what Arthur was talking about and disappeared for a few minutes. When he returned covered in a new layer of dust he had a big box with at least 20 different Dredd books in at and, even though they were a bit more than Arthur was hoping to pay, he bought the lot as the odds of finding such a collection again were slimmer than an anorexic stick insect.

Now, years later, Arthur has begun the process of scouring eBay to fill in the gaps and has managed to buy 7 books in the past couple of days for between £4 and £7 including postage which is pretty good. One book (pictured) even arrived within 24 hours of Arthur winning the auction! Now that was brilliant customer service and the seller got suitably gushing feedback. Still, there are plenty more to go. Not to mention all the spin off titles like Rogue Trooper and Nemesis the Warlock...

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Before the storm

 Tuesday 19 Jun 2007, 12:00 AM

Arthur has had a busy day so far today. It started with a early rise (at least early compared to most days off work where Arthur would usually lay in until 11am) and was straight off the Farmer`s Market for the first time in ages to get some cheese and nice sausages including a new one called Welsh Dragon (Pork and leek with chilis - very spicy).

Once back he set about mowing his front and back lawns with his new rotary lawnmower he had purchased the night before. Arthur had become tired of his cheap howevrmower that left all the clippings behind (which was why the lawn was in such a poor state) so he made sure his new one collected the grass. The back lawn he left quite long to encourage the growth of all the seed he had put down a few weeks ago (and very nice and grren it looks now too) but he pretty much massacred the front lawn again and sowed some seed and fertiliser there as the back lawn had done so well.

All the seed needed watering in but, in a stroke of genius timing, the previously hot and muggy summers day turned dark and overcast and was shortly followed by an almighty downpour of rain along with thunder and lightning that is still rumbling away as Arthur types this now. Arthur`s just glad he finished BBQing his earlier sausage acquisitions before the heavens opened!

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Mouse Guard

 Friday 15 Jun 2007, 12:00 AM Cover to Mouse Guard: Fall 1152

One of the books Arthur picked up last weekend was the hardback graphic novel of the independant comic Mouse Guard. Arthur first spotted this comic on the shelves of Forbidden Planet about 6 months ago and liked ther look of it but the 6 issues of the individual comics were hard to find and sometimes expensive, so he stuck to waiting for the collected volume. The comic is the story of cute little medieval mice that live in towns and villages within tree roots, carved rocks etc.

The artwork is very nice and the charcaters are very realistic looking considering the all wear cute little cloaks and carry cute little swords (even though it all looks cute it is not at all cartoony - the mice feel right and you can imagine then being very light and fragile little creatures).

The book was very good but a bit short and left Arthur wanting more. There is another 6 issue series starting soon called Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 (the previous volume covered Autumn or Fall depending on what part of the world you are from) but the collected edition won`t be out until this time next year and Arthur doubts he can wait that long so may try and get the individual comics.

In the meantime Arthur has decided to re-read all his Usagi Yojimbo graphic novels (all 20 volumes!) this time in order, as the first time he read them he did so in the order be bought them which, as some were hard to get hold of, was not al all in chronological sequence. This time round the stories should be even more enjoyable as Usagi does have several ongoing stories that cover all the books even though it`s been 20 years (and counting) in the writing! It will be good to read these stories in order and to follow all the characters through the years.

It was whilst Arthur was reading the first Usagi story that he really did notice his obsession with anthropomorphic animal (and often cute) comic book characters: Mouse Guard, Ninja Turtles, Panda-Z, Usagi Yojimbo... most of Arthurs comics feature talking animals with weapons. Arthur will have to see what other titles are out there for him. Maybe it`s time to start collecting a complete set of Adolescant Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters!

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Pool and Dimsum

 Sunday 10 Jun 2007, 12:00 AM

Arthur went into London yesterday to play pool for a friends birthday. He went up a bit aerlier in the day and did some shopping including some books, in particular a nice graphics novel called Mouse Guard about some cute medieval mice, and a some new Japanese snacks from the various specialst oriental chocolate suppliers in the big city. He also found a nice set of Totoro kerrings that he had been after for gaes since he saw them whilst on holiday in Japan but, regretably, chose not to buy them at the time.

Pool was played at The Elbow Rooms near Paddington and, surprisingly for a Saturday night, wasn`t that busy. There were about 15 people there, most of whom were, like Arthur, useless at Pool, which meant that the odd person (or possibly 2) who could play had a very easy time of things and only had to look at a table to clear it in one go! Afdter a bad start Arthur eventually found his rhythm and managed to pot a reasonable number of balls in a row and even won a few games. Maybe one day he will have a house big enough to fit his own pool table in.

Arthur had a bit of food whilst there not wishing to repeat his mistake of the previous year when he left it too late and the chef had gone home for the day (he had a sausage and red onion sandwhich with spicy relish and some very greasy and sickly, but very nice in small quantities, bacon and cheese covered chips). Ironically, one the 3 hoiurs of pool games had finished, everyone ended up at a Dimsum restaurant across the road. Arthur didn`t have much there as he was already full (particularly of Spiderman birthday cake) but his chosen nibble of steamed spicy chicken dimsum wasn`t particualrly nice; they were just too sticky and gooey and their translucent quality made the look like some alien pod-people lifeform about to give birth . Arthur has made a mental note to have the fried dimsum next time he goes. The highlight of the meal was the Jasmine tea made from a dried Jasmine flower head dropped into a glsas of boiling water. As it absorbped the water it opened up to look like a lovely fresh flower. How pretty...

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The best egg in the world!

 Friday 8 Jun 2007, 12:00 AM Tripple nested Easter Egg

All though Easter has long since passed, Arthur`s brother recently returned from a holiday in Australia with a somewhat unusual gift of an Easter Egg. However, even though it was out of season, this was no ordinary egg, for it was 3 individual chocolate eggs, each one nested inside the other! The outer egg was milk chocolate, the middle one white and the smallest inner egg was dark chocolate. This was clearly a fine example of intelligent Easter Egg packaging and Arthur thinks it is a shame that such eggs are not produced in this country especially as this was a Cadburys egg (actually such things probably are available over here but not in any large quantites or from a reputable manufacter like Cadburys).

The milk chocolate tasted slightly different to UK Cadburys milk chocolate but was still very nice. And even though the egg had suffered somewhat during its trip halfway round the world in a suitcase, Arthur still enjoyed breaking each egg from its outer, encasing chocolatey egg. At last, a worthwhile interactive egg made for people with an IQ above their shoe size! Hooray!

Arthur`s other gifts were some black seed Pocky and an inflatable Pokemon (Arthur`s brother went to Austraila via Hong Kong). Whilst he has yet to sample the Pocky, the infalatble toy has come in very handy during card games to indicate the status of particular players. Hooray for oriental inflatables!

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Ouch! Burns!

 Wednesday 6 Jun 2007, 12:00 AM

Arthur has just managed to burn his hand which has unfortunately ruled out an early night, which he really needed after several pretty much sleepless nights over the past few days.

He was enjoying a nice game of DoD:Source when his breadmaker started bleeping to let him know the loaf he was cooking was done. Arthur finds that if you remove the loaf from the machine immediately after it has finished, the crust goes all nice and crispy (it becomes all soft and squishy if it gets left in there). Thus, Arthur raced off, mid-game, to remove the loaf. Unfortunately it was a clear case of more haste less speed as the protective oven gloves slipped and Arthur burnt the palm of his left hand on the hot baking tin.

Now Arthur can`t play any games at all (with the possible exception of minesweeper) as he has to keep his left hand submerged in a bucket of water - he is currently typing this message one handed, which is a slow and painful process.

Even in the water it hurts; out of the water hurts lots. Getting any sleep at all tonight is going to be rather difficult, especially as the sensation of submerging his hand in cold water leaves Arthur wanting the toilet every five minutes...

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Digital Pirates

 Tuesday 5 Jun 2007, 12:00 AM

Last night Arthur went to see Pirates of the Caribbean 3 in digital projection at his local cinema, mainly to see what their digital projection facilities were like as the projector had only recently been installed.

The auditorium was an average size, seating about 250 people, but the screen itself was quite big; it was one of those that actually got wider to show cinemascope films rather than just reduce in height. Arthur was sat right in the middle, which for a wide but not very deep auditorium was quite close to the screen itself.

Arthur found that on very bright, white scenes, he could just about make out the pixels. Bright scenes with plenty of detail looked nice and crisp but dark scenes, especially thise with lots of mist or swirling smoke, looked very grainy or full of video noise.

Probably most annoying was the fact the sound balance was off; it wasn`t loud enough and there just was much "ooomph" to it. Overall, for the latest in cinema technology it was a bit disappointing. Arthur suspects that sitting a bit further back will help but also feels that maybe it takes films shot digitally to bring out the best from digital presentation. Also not all digital prjectors are equal, with different resolutions (2k and 4k as Arthur recalls) - certainly the previous few occasions Arthur has watched digital projection films, they have looked great. Arthur will go again but will stick to his favourite big screen for most of the big new films he wants to see.

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Last minute bidding on eBay

 Sunday 3 Jun 2007, 12:00 AM

Arthur was up late last night bidding on some item on eBay. He discovered someone selling off a load of Japanese Studio Ghibli cinema programs and, best of all, they had all the ones Arthur was missing from his collection including a couple of rare ones he`d never seen before! This, despite the fact the autions finished at 2:30am (the seller was in the US), he stayed up late to make sure he got the ones he wanted. Unfortunately all did not go to pal as he was outbid at the last second on the Totoro one (which wasn`t too bad as Arthur already a different version from later re-releae of the film) but the same thing happened for the program for My Neighbours the Yamadas which was very annoying as Arthur had never seen the program for sale before.

But then fortune tutned in Arthur`s favour as he won the Castle of Cagliostro and Whisper of the Heart programs, again both of which he`d never seen before. And, as an added bonus, Arthur decided to search for "Yamadas" and to his surprise found a Japanese seller offering a copy of the porgram he had just lost out on! Having waited a year to find a copy, 2 turned up at once! Hooray!

Now Arthur just has to hope they arrive safely from overseas - althoiugh he has enever had any probelms in the past (the worst incident being sellers not shiping out in a timely fashion) Arthur is sure something will go missing one day and will be unable to get an compensation for his loss.

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Digital projection comes to town

 Saturday 2 Jun 2007, 12:00 AM

Arthur confirmed some good news today; his local Vue cinema does inded have a shiny new digital projector and will be showing films in the format whenever possible. The projector has been installed in a reasonable sized screen whioch deos present a bit of a dilmea; does Arthur go and see a new film on the biggest screen using traditioanl old film or a smaller screen using shiny, modern digital projection? He is going to go and see Pirates 3 again sometime in the week (he would have gone again this evenong but it was pretty much sold out) to see what it is like as this is the first big film that the cinema are showing in digital.

The slight downside is that they aren`t advertising which showings are digital projection on their website although this information is appearing in their newpaper adverts and prionted flyers. At least the website is now showing screen numbers again so Arthur at least knows if the fil he wants to see is even playing in the right screen.

One thing that anmused Arthur when he was enquiring about the projector withthe manager at the cinema was that the manager did not know that they had been given it via a UK film council grant for showing small, independant films! It`s a bit of a sad state of affaris when a customer knows more about the running of a business than the people who supposedly run it...

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