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9/7/04: The Lion Thing

Time to return now to a feature thought long forgotten by you faithless twerps. Yes, time once again for FullyRamblomatic.com to explore the forgettable pixels of yesteryear with the return of:

Unappreciated Computer Game Character Of The Week!

With my girlfriend's tendency to hog the internet computer, conversing with her dirty little IRC friends, I have been increasingly delegated to sitting around on the beanbag endlessly playing and re-playing the only cartridge we have for our Game Boy Colour - Super Mario Land, the original and best. As good as the game is, though, I have now played it so many times that the jaunty opening theme is a sound I now associate with grim, soul-destroying ennui. And, like people who take too many recreational drugs and watch children's programming, I start thinking a little bit too much about the lives of the characters.

That's why this week's UCGCOTW is:

The Egyptian Lion Boss Thing From World One!

Is 'sad' still the current word in vogue to mean 'pathetic'? Or is it these days just used by guffawing acne beasts sitting in McDonalds restaurants, wearing leather jackets and shouting at old people? Well, moot point either way, because you need a whole new, even stronger colloquial word meaning 'pathetic' to describe the Egyptian Lion Boss Thing From World One. I'm just going to have to make one up. This thing is the most mongbotty boss I have ever brutally killed forty-seven times.

So, Mario's fought and bum-bounced his way through three terrifying levels, exterminating exploding Koopa Trooper after exploding Koopa Trooper, and now the only thing that stands in the way of him and total victory over Pseudo Egypt World is the Egyptian Lion Boss Thing.

Imagine what must be going through the Egyptian Lion Boss Thing From World One's head right now. Here's the sarky tagliatelli-scoffing Mediterranean prick who's reduced every single member of your defense force to the exact size and shape of a mangled hubcap, and now he's had the balls to come up and challenge you, a creature four times his size. How would you be feeling? You'd be fucking pissed off, wouldn't you? Any sensible, non-retard lion would no doubt pounce on him before he'd even come in the door and tear him so many new arseholes he could go to a fancy dress party as a lemon zester.

Unfortunately, Egyptian Lion Boss Thing From World One doesn't have the brain you and I take for granted, and his strategy involves hopping slowly up and down on the spot, breathing a fireball every fourteen minutes or so. He has two fireball attacks: one goes low, and can be easily foiled by jumping. The other goes high, and can be easily foiled by DOING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING AT ALL.

It's come to the point that I sometimes can't bring myself to kill him. I'll just stand there, jumping over his crappy fireballs, attempting to make him listen to reason until the batteries run out. But when I lose patience, the Egyptian Lion Boss Thing can be destroyed with five projectiles. Seriously. We only need to stand Mario next to him and remain awake for long enough to press the fire button five times in quick succession, and the big pussy's dead before he's had time to even singe the ends of Mario's facial hair. I know there's supposed to be such thing as a difficulty curve, but you'd need to lose both thumbs in a horrific industrial accident before this could even become remotely challenging.

This is so fucking sad.
According to the heiroglyphics in the background, "Bowl Eye Liquorice Allsort Church With A Steeple".

And if you don't have projectile capability, you can also defeat this monstrosity by jumping over him and hitting the self destruct button he so unwisely had installed in his living room. And jumping over someone when they're trying to kill you has got to be a slap in the face for any demon. It's like blanking someone in the street, or grabbing a chipolata from someone's plate at a buffet when they're not looking. It's the worst kind of snub.

Perhaps the shabby treatment Mario affords the Egyptian Lion Boss Thing From World One could be justified if Mario's massacre was a provoked attack. But it wasn't. You see, Mario was labouring under the misapprehension that the Egyptian Lion Boss Thing From World One was keeping his girlfriend hostage, perhaps understandably because his girlfriend is kidnapped by lonely monsters to a rather unhealthy degree, when in fact this was merely some kind of pasta-induced hallucination, and what he thought was his girlfriend was in fact a bouncing insect monster:

And so, Mario looks back upon the destruction he has wrought on the pseudo-Egyptian land, the countless happy, peaceful inhabitants he has atomised, and moves onto the next kingdom sheepishly trying to think of excuses.

God, it's a good thing this is all make-believe, isn't it? It's a good thing we don't live in a world where people make up stories about how underdeveloped nations have something they shouldn't have, invade them, blow the whole place to smithereens, find they didn't have it after all and then pretend it was the right thing to do all along, isn't it?! Ha ha ha ha ha! Isn't that a good thing?

So, Egyptian Pussy Boss Thing From World One, I'm not really ragging on you. You were probably a wise and strong ruler to your people. It's just that your people are all apparently made of eggshells and string, and being the strongest of them all is like being the special school pupil who drools the least. Just for being the most inoffensive boss monster in any Mario game, you get to hold the prestigious title of Unappreciated Computer Game Character Of The Week, which I'm sure will be a great comfort to you when you're lying around the scenery in four thousand bloody chunks.

- Yahtzee

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6/7/04: Collector's Item

Just a quick update here. My attention has been drawn to colonpipe.com, the site of my Underdogs messageboard chum Datazoid. Old DZ has taken upon himself to immortalise me in 3d-rendered limited-edition collectible. I'm not sure what bizarre compulsion he was seized by to make it, but since my ego finds it delicious, I'll just say "Thank you, Datazoid, you fantastically bizarre person."

- Yahtzee

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5/7/04: An Open Letter

Dear Sam Raimi,

You don't know me, but rest assured we have never met ever in our entire lives. In fact, if you remember a young man hiding in your bushes taking pictures of you as you came out to get the paper, that totally totally wasn't me. No, I'm just some complete stranger who wanted to remind you, as you have no doubt been reminded often lately, that Spider-man 2 fucking kicked arse.

I remember hearing some early reports that Arnold Schwarzeneggar was being considered to play Doctor Octopus, and I confess being a bit ticked off, Sam, mate. I did that thing where I roll my eyes and make that irritating clicking sound with my tongue. It sounded like exactly the sort of thing a big studio with no conscience, shame or soul would do. But you rejected such crapitude! You damn well went and got the lesser-known Alfred Molina who was perhaps pretty well perfect for the part. Everyone knows Arnold Schwarzeneggar has the acting talent of a broken biscuit, and that everyone is too scared to say so in case he duffs them up. And not a good biscuit, like a jammy dodger. He's barely a custard cream.

Let's face it, Famous Director Sam Raimi - you had a job on your hands with the Spider-man franchise. You had to find a way to appeal to all the Stan Lee fans (and let's be fair to him: he's a hammy old twat), as well as all your own long-term fans, and the new generation of cinemagoers. And you pulled it off very well. Although you took the piss out of it every now and again, you clearly have genuine affection for the subject matter. Oh, if only the same could be said for whoever was given the job of making a film out of the John Constantine comics, and who decided Keanu Reeves would be the best choice for the title role. Let me tell you something: you could dress an elephant seal in a party hat and have it play Oskar Schindler, and it still wouldn't have been as big a mistake as casting Keanu Reeves as John Constantine.

But let's move on. Actually, let's not. Keanu fucking Reeves, man! Keanu Reeves has played one role well in his entire life, and that was Ted from the Bill & Ted movies. I don't call that any ringing endorsement of his ability.

But let's move on. Your film was the tops. You've shown you can do big Hollywood blockbusters without sacrificing your own inimitable style. Bruce Campbell's usual cameo wasn't blatantly crowbarred in, and gave him the chance to shine like the big ol' shining diamond that he is. I'm assured Ted Raimi was in it, too, but I didn't recognise him, because every time I've seen him in your films he's underneath about fifty tonnes of make up. Tell me, do Bruce Campbell and Ted Raimi have something incriminating on you that leaves you forced to find them jobs all the time? Like, do they have a photo of a time you drank piss in your college dorm, or something?

So, all in all, champion flick, as we used to say in the ghetto. I'm going to do something for you now, Famous Director Sam Raimi, and I want you to know that I have never done this for anyone else and probably never will again. I'm going to grant you a boon.

Here's how the Yahtzee boon system works. I will commit one crime, of any level of seriousness, on your behalf. Should I be caught, I will accept full responsibility. That's right, Sam Raimi; you have the chance to commit by proxy the crime of your dreams! Window cleaner missed a spot? He's fucking dead! Got your eye on a fabulous rare emerald? It's nicked! Annoying teenage girls in the shopping mall? I'll blow the whole fucking place up! Just print out the card below, laminate it, and when you've decided how to spend your boon, send it and the completed form back to me:

- Yahtzee

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30/6/04: Five Finger Love

"Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Ah. Oh. Oh. Oh. Yes. Oh. Yes. Oh. Oh. Oh. Ah. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Ooh. Ah. Yes. Oh. Ah. Oh. Oh. Baby. Oh. Yes. Oh."

- Shannon Tweed, Every Film She's Ever Been In

Long-term readers of the site will of course know that I have an academic interest in films which fall into the genre known as 'Erotic Thriller'. You can recognise them easily, because they're just like normal thrillers, except the acting, direction and production values are all ten times worse and they throw in masses of sex in the hope that you won't notice. Even more long term readers will realise that when I said I had an academic interest, this was a complete lie, and in truth I watch them because I like looking at lady boobs jiggling up and down.

Please don't confuse erotic thrillers with porn. If there were some kind of scale for acceptability, wherein raping corpses is at the bottom and sticking out your pinky to drink tea is at the top, porn would be about two-thirds of the way down and erotic thrillers would be around the middle. It's borderline acceptable. People who watch porn have crossed the line; they have no more shame. They'll openly tell you what porn they've rented recently and show you the heavily stained notebook detailing how many times they masturbated to orgasm during the viewing.

Erotic thriller patrons are still on the borderline. Go to any IMDb messageboard for an erotic thriller and you'll find threads discussing the story, the burgeoning acting skills of the leads, and how it was an improvement on the director's previous works. What you won't find is a thread along the lines of "I wish the sex scenes didn't end so suddenly, 'cos I found myself wanking to an establishing shot of the lead character's mother's house." And yet, every single one of the people on the board would probably agree.

You can recognise an erotic thriller in the video store pretty easily. They've generally got titles like "Lethal Seduction" or "Night Dangers" or "Fucking In Peril". There'll be a scantily-clad woman on the front and a big juicy "R-18" symbol on the side. And sometimes, for the kind of person who isn't allowed to cross the road on their own, it'll even say 'EROTIC THRILLER' on the spine. Just to make absolutely certain, watch the body language of the cashier as you bring the box up to the counter. If they glance from you to the box cover for a few seconds, then commence the checking out process with a sort of "I'm not forming an opinion, oh dear me no" attitude, then you've struck gold there, my friend.

The conundrum which struck me recently, and which got me onto this subject, is this. What, exactly, is the legal definition of a sex scene?

I'm sure all of us have been in the same position at some point. We watch a film because the appallingly sexy-voiced continuity announcer warned us beforehand that we could expect sex scenes. Then we sit through two boring hours only to see two people rub against each other, fully clothed, in the horizontal position for two minutes.

So, I say again, what's the legal definition? There has to be one, because everything does. There has to be a legal definition for everything in case some parent decides to sue because their innocent young 'un accidentally caught a glimpse of too many inches of thigh and was consequently so corrupted that it took three SWAT teams to end his reign of terror. So what is it? That's what we're here to work out. Where's the borderline? When does innocent romance cross over into MA-15 territory?

Let's take the usual cinematic example. Man A and Woman B start doing what my school used to call 'snogging'. There's some minor, perfunctory doffing of garments. Then, just as your hand is snaking towards your zipper, it mixes suddenly to A and B in bed, presumably nude, staring at the ceiling and lying under the Amazing L-Shaped Bedsheet (comes up to the woman's neck, exposes the man's whole chest). Is that a sex scene? Probably not, since then they'd have to say that EVERY FUCKING FILM EVER MADE has sex in it. And anyway, there's no evidence that they did shag. Certainly they generally look about as post-coital as Pope John Paul II. Everyone knows, after the old whoop-de-doo, you're sweaty, you're sticky, you're a mess. These actors with their unruffled hair and smooth skin might as well have just gotten into bed with no clothes on and played 20 Questions all night.

We know sex doesn't mean nudity, 'cos nudity is classified separately by the sexily-voiced continuity announcer. Never watch a film that has nudity but no sex if you're after jerk material, because it's certainly going to be nudity in a rather off-putting context (Current holder of 'Non-Sexual Nude Scene Most Likely To Put Off Masturbators Halfway Through' award: Old Woman, Stanley Kubrick's The Shining).

Okay, okay. Let's take it from the ground up. Let's start with, say, a woman in some office environment, bending down to pick up a piece of paper. While she does so, a man squeezes past her to get to the photocopier, and in doing so his crotch brushes against her delectable peach-like bum. Sex scene? 'Course not. Let's go up a notch. Let's say, while in that position, he grabs her and does some pretend humping in a jolly, platonic manner, to the amusement of all. Is that a sex scene? Grey area. There's clearly implied sexuality, but not actual penetration. This would probably come under the heading of "scenes of a sexual nature".

Okay, up another notch. We take away all their clothes. Is that sex now? Well, they're not actually having sex, are they? They're just playing a jolly game, and are naked for entirely unrelated reasons. Maybe the office has casual Fridays. Now, while this is no more overtly sexual than the last one, I think this would gain the film a sex scene warning. But that fucks everything up 'cos we know nudity isn't supposed to be a factor.

Perhaps I should just make some kind of diagram to illustrate where I reckon the borderline between sex in a film and not lies:

- Yahtzee

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25/6/04: Kickarse Light Sabre Showcase Week, Conclusion

Kickarse Light Sabre Showcase Week is behind us, relegated gratefully to an archive page, and all that remains is the tawdry business of picking my favourite three from the entries I was given. I'd like to say that it's been fun and every submission was a winner in its own way, but I'm afraid we all know that would be a total lie.

Since nothing scored more than 8 points on my scale, the order of the best three will be decided on a whim. Before we get started on those, I'd just like to list off the honourable mentions. Ropes put a lot of effort into his/her entry, and it may have deserved less of a ripping, but I was kind of in a mood at that point. AngeloGM's axe was fantastically drawn, but it seems he got his addresses mixed up and sent his light sabre design to the 'design a morphing halberd' competition. Dave Cohen's Fopsabre at least made me laugh. And Sean Kennedy submitted an impressive entry, but that was after the deadline, and it would have been unfair on others. I'll just let you look at it. Rest assured it would have gone high on the aesthetics score.

Now, let's get on with it. At number 3, it's Amelia Q:

Amelia's submission was and still is the best-looking design. Just a couple of steps further, just a little bit more decoration, and it would have been written off as garish, but as it stands it's a monument to good taste. It's just a shame that it lacked functionality. A couple more ways to turn your opponent into a pile of sizzling cartilage could have seen a real improvement on the score.

Number two goes to your friend and mine Jane Sherwood.

A blade that looks like Nerf aside, Jane's design maintained a simple elegance and managed to juggle a lot of the prerequisite decadent extras, too. It was just a few matters of non-lethal takedown utilities that keeps this one at number 2. To understand why I think so, you know that bit in Evil Dead 2 where the monster head is going "I'll swallow your soul! I'll swallow your soul!" and Ash aims his gun and goes "Swallow THIS," and blows the head into a million tiny bits? Consider how much less kickarse it would have been if he'd just fired a tranquilliser at it.

And finally, at number one, it's 'kjgfds esdf'!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha (snort) ha ha ha.

But seriously, at number one, it's Morc Arnie Polski!

The judges (i.e. me) all agreed that this deserved the top spot. I made a complaint at the time that the plug should have been specified as retractable, but now it has been pointed out to me that it indeed was. I'm so sorry about that, my eyesight has been damaged by frequent and frenzied masturbation. But I digress. It's an aesthetically-pleasing green horny design, combined with some delightfully decadent gadgets to really get the show on the road. Congratulations, you fellow with your spectacularly weird name!

I'm sorry, I can't remember if you specified a celebrity you'd like to see decapitated with your entry, so if you'd like to drop me a line, we can get that sorted out.

Thanks to everyone who took part. Except those wankers who sent shit. You people can all go to hell!

- Yahtzee

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