Avatar Obligations

I’m a man of my word and let nobody say otherwise (unless it’s me stating I’m going to get new tyres for my car because I keep saying it and I still haven’t done it yet). It’s this simple principle that I stick to in order for people to believe and trust me as their brother, boyfriend, friend or tree surgeon.

When I recently returned home to visit family, my brother surprised me with the admission that they had been round the charity shops and my nieces had bought some video games for me. A lovely gesture, or course, and one which didn’t initially fill me with a sense of dread. It was only when I remembered the quality of video games available in charity shops that my stomach turned upside-down and inside-out: previous years FIFA games, cricket and other lame sports titles, shovelware Nintendo Wii games where the quality is the same as my arse.

I was handed four Nintendo DS titles and, boy, am I a lucky person. Four excellent condition clangers for my collection. I am not a snob, dear reader, for as the keen chef can tell the good fruit from the bad fruit I can let you know mostly what a good game is and what isn’t. This stack was given to me to review by my brother and that is exactly what I am going to do. I certainly don’t want to play them and you certainly don’t want to read what I have to say, yet this is how it’s going down.

It was either that or trade them in for 40p.

Avatar ‘Lord Winklebottom Investigates’ – mini review

Pip pip! Tip top! Absolutely, old boy. Bally tally ho!

After playing ‘Lord Winklebottom Investigates’ I can safely say that whilst I will never be a posho, I can talk like them if I need to. You may remember that back in May of last year I made a post here explaining how excited I was to play an adventure game featuring a Sherlock Holmes-esque giraffe detective. I have since purchased the game and played through it so here is my review in case you were still sitting on the fence.

It’s a great game. If you’ve ever played a point and click game then you will be very familiar with the user interface. You move the curser around the screen and it will show items of interest. You can look at the item and some you are able to pick up to place in your inventory, which appears at the bottom of the screen when the curser gets near it. Your job is to use the things around you to solve the puzzles you come across. Sometimes it’s a matter of putting two items together and sometimes it requires listening carefully to what the characters are telling you and using a bit of the ole’ imagination pipes.

The story, without spoiling too much, takes you away as Lord Winklebottom to a mysterious island to meet up with an old friend and along for the ride is his good colleague, Dr Frumple. When you arrive you unfortunately discover said friend has died under mysterious circumstances and it’s up to you to work out which of the colourful characters inhabiting his mansion were responsible. You’ll need to speak to everyone to make notes of their relationship to the deceased and their reasons for being there. There is a handy notebook which automatically records certain things that comes up in conversation so you can look back on them if needs be.

Everything about this game is ridiculous and I wouldn’t want it any other way. The dialogue is very funny at times, mainly due to Dr Frumple who is the best character in the entire thing. His innate Britishness seeps into every conversation and he never NEVER puts his cup of tea down. At one point I tried to take the toilet paper and he refused to do so on the grounds that it just wasn’t on. The graphics fit the narrative and atmosphere as you’d expect them to. You can’t half arse this kind of thing, it’s balls deep or nothing. The only part that was a little disatisfying was the music which lingered in the background not really doing much. Perhaps it was doing something however I can’t remember any of it.

It’s not the hardest game in the world. You won’t come across anything as difficult as the ‘goat puzzle’ from Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars or practically everything from Grim Fandango. There was only one part where I needed to soak up some grease from a pan (don’t ask, no spoilers) that took me a little longer than expected and even then the answer was staring me in the face the entire time. I managed to finish it in under five hours and what a five hours they were. I had to wait for a price reduction as thirty squids for a game this short wouldn’t sit well with me. If you can find it for anything under a tenner then I would say go for it, old bean!

Avatar Famous faces

We went to the theatre this week to see a musical, a big West End production of the Wizard of Oz. It was great.

I wasn’t the one who booked the tickets, so I didn’t see the list of performers until we were standing outside the theatre, where I could see all the famous names lit up across the big screens on the front of the theatre.

Just look at this all star cast!

I recognised almost all of them straight away, as I bet you did too.

  • Jason Manford is a stand-up comic who has carved out a successful musical theatre career. His voice is amazing!
  • Ashley Banjo made his name as part of dance troupe Diversity on Britain’s Got Talent.
  • Georgina Onuorah is a rising star of the West End, having transferred to this production from a run in Oklahoma! and before that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella.
  • Dianne Pilkington has been in one show after another since the late 90s and is a real star of the stage. I last saw her in a production of the 39 Steps at the Criterion.
  • Louis Gaunt makes his breakthrough performance here, having previously appeared in Bridgerton and The Larkins.
  • Christina Bianco as you already know has the most amazing voice, so I was thrilled to see her on the cast list.

There’s another bloke listed up there as well but I can’t recall seeing his name anywhere before. Maybe he’s new or something? Anyway, I don’t remember seeing him in the show.

Avatar Hitting the Corny B’s

A while ago, Ian “Mac Mac Mac Mac” McIver took a voyage to foreign lands and returned with a gift beyond compare: a selection of five Czech cereal bars of various colours and flavours. What better introduction could there be to Central European cuisine?

We’ve been so excited to try them that we’ve actually spent quite some time waiting for the perfect opportunity to stage a Tasting Ceremony. You know the kind of thing: a full, formal occasion where the participants ritually dress in the colour of the food they are Ceremonially Tasting, bring similarly coloured gifts and offerings, and solemnly share in the sublime pleasure of sampling new foods. Between courses, a discussion is held about the food that has been enjoyed, and prayers are said.

Anyway, we finally managed to clear a day in our diary, and I’m pleased to present to you the full results of our first ever Corny Big feast.

Read More: Hitting the Corny B’s »

Avatar Strong words

Reviews are very useful when deciding if the thing that you think that you want is actually the thing that you want. Human beings are idiots, we want everything. See that patch of grass? You want that. I want it too. Let’s have a fight about it to decide who gets to have it. Whilst we’re fighting, someone comes along and takes it. They measure up the merits of the patch and review it on grasspatches.com. I read the review over your shoulder, holding a bag of frozen peas on my black eye and decide perhaps that wasn’t the right grass patch for me.

Everything gets reviewed these days from people and services to goods and refreshments. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a one star review of me somewhere with the words “could have done better but I did like his soft hair” painted around a picture of myself looking confused.

Some days I’m very interested in reading reviews and researching before deciding to purchase and other days I’m straight in there, balls deep, putting my card details straight away like a mega boss. I’m buying games and films, I’m not purchasing helicopters and hovercrafts like Kev. Those you have to take your time with because you don’t want to end up with a hovercraft that doesn’t hover or a helicopter that smells of wee.

This review made me laugh so much I had to take a screenshot and keep it for posterity. It’s for a Nintendo Wii U game called ‘Game and Wario’, a collection of strange and funny minigames that nobody really bought (because it was on a bobbins console) so now it’s commands a tall price. I’m not sure what the person thought they were doing but it was approved by the website and not only have three people confirmed it as ‘helpful’ but it’s also top of the list of ‘most relevant’ in the ten reviews the game has.

Further proof that the human race has completely lost the plot.

Avatar Seagull food review

I’ve got all my posts for August still to go if I want to earn a bean. I’m going to do them all this week while I’m on nights. Four nights. Four posts. Let’s go.

Here we see a seagull enjoying some lunch. On our right, we can see a falafel wrap with extra garlic sauce. On the left is a pot of hummus. Note how the seagull is having some of the wrap, and then dipping in to the hummus as an accompaniment. The seagull is a sophisticated diner who understands Middle Eastern cuisine.

The seagull finds the wrap delightful, with a crispy bite to the freshly made falafel and a good crunchy salad that adds texture and freshness. The pickles are sharp and bring out the other flavours, but never overpower them. The wrap comes with chilli sauce and garlic sauce, but for him an extra shake of garlic is what’s needed to round out the flavours.

The seagull is also enjoying the hummus, but was slightly let down when he found that this side dish was literally just a bowl of hummus without crudités or bread for dipping. The dip itself is enjoyable but is very heavy on the tahini and would benefit from stronger seasoning. He can tell it was made with a quality olive oil.

Overall the seagull is pleased with his lunch, and at £7.50 plus drinks he finds it hard to complain about either the food or the service in this fast-moving street eatery. He awards it four stars. He then flies away to see if he can crap on some tourists.

Avatar Film Reviews – Mr. Majestyk

Imagine Jason Statham, buff almost A but still a little B-Movie action hero, working in the 1970’s. Imagine he is given the script of film where he still gets to be a buff action hero movie star but it’s in such a bizarre setting that everything about the film makes your eyes pop out in astonishment.

Such is the case for ‘Mr. Majestyk’, an utterly bewildering idea for entertainment, that when Big Dave started chuntering on about it, as some kind of brief aside at a family gathering, we all thought he had finally lost his marbles. “Do you remember that film about Charles Bronson who looks after the mangoes?” he said.

Blank looks on everyone’s, and I do mean everyone’s, faces.

“You mean you’ve never seen it? It was amazing. He was a mango farmer and these guys come after him.”

Cue an outbreak of laughing and worried looks until my brother Googles it and finds that it’s a real thing.

That is, a real thing where my dad has got some of the details wrong. Charles Bronson plays a melon farmer, a farmer who also straddles the typical types of war veteran and ex-con. All he cares about is successfully getting his melon crop to the supplier so he can get paid and think about next year. Interwoven throughout the narrative is various references to how much Bronson needs to get back to his crop of melons, how much he has to get back to harvest his melons. In fact a reference to this crops up about every twenty minutes and each time it made me laugh out loud. Here’s a precis of the story:

‘Bronson hires a bus of people to help bring his crop in. Some punk tries to muscle in on the action with his own bus. Bronson steals his rifle, strikes the punk in the balls and sends him on his way. The punk gets the cops involved and Bronson is arrested. In the clink he meets this other-worldly grim reaper of a man called Frank, who’s a mafia hitman. As they are being transported somewhere his mafia friends try to break him free, only for Bronson and Frank to go on the run but not for very long. Why? Because Bronson has to get back to his melons. Frank offers him $25,000.00 to not hand him back to the cops, Bronson refuses and almost dies when the mafia’s girlfriend turns up, narrowly escaping by jumping through the rear window of a car. Frank becomes obsessed, refusing to leave until he gets his revenge over this simple melon farmer. He chases away the hired help and then, hilariously, orders his middle-aged henchmen to fire multiple rounds in his melon harvest. If you’ve ever wanted to see several minutes of people shooting at fruit then this is definitely the film for you.

Now at the end of his tether, Bronson goes on the offence, killing all the henchmen (including another laugh out loud moment when his truck gently nudges a car full of henchies off the edge of a hill and it explodes as though it’s packed full of dynamite). The final confrontation is such a letdown too: the girlfriend gives up and leaves, the punk decides that Frank is a nutter and runs away, leaving only Frank in his hideout. Bronson jumps through the window, shoots Frank and that’s it. It’s the biggest anti-climax I have witnessed in a long while. Bronson goes home, despite the fact that almost all of his melons are messed up and his best-friend had both his legs broken in the ensuing chaos.’

I mean, where to start? Charles Bronson does a good job of playing the part only at the time the film was released he was 53 years old. The love interest, not tacked on in the slightest, who is one of the migrant workers helping to harvest the melons, is about 20 years younger than him (this is a full decade before Roger Moore starred in ‘A View To A Kill’ romancing a then 30 year old Tanya Roberts at the ripe age of 58). She is inexplicably drawn to him because he does the gruff man thing of ‘sending her away so she doesn’t get hurt’ despite the fact she tells him, in no uncertain terms, that where she grew up she was repeatedly subjected to violence or albeit the threat thereof. The henchmen were the least threatening cronies I have ever seen. One looked as though he was in his sixties, definitely older than Bronson, yet still seemed to swagger around with the same menace as Genghis Khan.

The back of the DVD box is also a riot. It reads as follows:

“Bronson stars as Majestyk, an ex-con and Vietnam vet whose efforts to run a farm are thwarted by narrow-minded locals and corrupt cop.s But hwne a Mafia hitman destroys Majestyk’s crop, the farmer’s fuse is finally blown. With his rifle in hand and his girlfriend (a bit of an overstatement, because they’re refusing to the love interest; they throw some words at each other, go for a beer and that makes them a couple?) at the wheel, he goes after the syndicate assassin. And from high-speed back-road chases (I must have missed those) to an explosive backwoods confrontation (the aforementioned anti-climax), mobster and maverick stalk each other: two of a kind, antagonists to the death.”

Whoever wrote that either deserves an award for the biggest stack of lies since Boris Johnson opened his mouth or was looking at the wrong film. It wasn’t bad in the sense that it’s an awful film only that there is very little to recommend about it bar Bronson’s and Frank, the mafia guy, Al Lettieri’s. performances. FYI, Lettieri looks as though he would knock you out for checking your back pocket for change and remains one of the few convincing things in the entire production.

I’d give it a “Lesley Pipes” – watchable but average.