Category: History

February 23rd, 2015 by Calvero

As I mentioned in my last post, I started my own gaming channel, Calvero Plays.  And I chose to start with my favorite series, Assassin’s Creed.

From the very beginning.

I should say that the game is violent, though not in the way that there is horror or a lot of slashing(okay, a good amount of slashing).  You only can kill who your target is (along with the target’s henchmen).  There’s penalties when you kill innocent people (one of the reasons why I like this series better than Grand Theft Auto).

Below is the first part:

(My microphone level is low,  I’m working on adjusting it.)

There also is a good dose of history throughout the series, which is one of the reasons why I love the series so much.  This first installment of the series takes place during the Third Crusade in 1191 in such places as Damascus, Acre, and Jerusalem.  The music is great (improves IMHO in AC II and Brotherhood), graphics are beautiful, and the game play is fairly good (there have been complaints about it being to repetitive, which is is, but it doesn’t bother me as much).

And this is  combination “Let’s Play” and “Walkthrough” since I have played this before and show where things like flags are, easter eggs, and how to defeat people. It’s not thorough though.  I never have found all the flags, and I’m sure there’s easter eggs that I do not know about, but there’s a bunch that I share.

How I got interested in the series

I do not fit the typical demographic for playing a game like this.  I’m female, in my 40s, and a mom.  So how did it happen?

First thing is the historical aspect.  As I say in the video, I love history.  Any era, it doesn’t matter.  I may not understand Wall Street or wrap my head around various scientific theories, but I love learning about the history of anything. Always have (I have a BA degree in it). And when I was first reading an article about the game in a gaming magazine back in ’07, I thought “Wow! That’s amazing!”  The pictures were great.  I loved that is took place in a different era that was rarely tackled by game developers.

But I was put off by the title. *Assassin’s* Creed. That sounded…well…. violent.  Too violent.

But then Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood came out. And one of my favorite vloggers, Hank Green (one half of the vlogbrothers, and of Crash Course, Sci Show, and interviewing President Obama fame), started playing it:

Then I got drawn into it.  Both the historical part, and the mystery of “The Ones Who Came Before”, the First Civilization, which added a scifi element (where is Ubisoft taking that story anyway?  Do they even know?) drew me in.

The first AC game I actually got to play (since Ubisoft didn’t make any AC games for the Nintendo Wii and it was before I got a XBox 360) was Altair’s Chronicles.  It was a great game, though a side-scroller  which is a different set-up than the 3D-ish POV of AC console games.  The ending was a bit of a let down….

And so now I have completed the first installment through III (AC, AC II, AC Brotherhood, AC Revellations, and AC III, total of 5 console games. Yeah, Ubisoft numbered them weird), didn;t finish IV Black Flag.  Have yet to start Rogue.  At some point I’ll be getting a XBox One and play Unity.  But for right now I’m replaying the first one again, this time recording it.

Come along, won’t you?  See some beautiful cities, meet some historical figures, watch for glitches (for there are bound to be some)!

 

Posted in Assassin's Creed, gaming, Hank Green, historical fiction, History, let's play, video game commentary, video games, YouTube Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

January 24th, 2015 by Calvero

A Native American, Theodore Roosevelt, a night guard, Attila the Hun, a monkey, an Egyptian Pharaoh, and the night guard’s teen aged son walk onto a bus…

A couple weeks ago I went to see Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.  I had only seen bits of the first one so I had an idea of what the series was about. And I also went because I was, in a way, paying my respects to Robin. I did not become a sobbing mess like I thought I would be when it got to the scene where Robin Williams’ Teddy says goodbye to Larry. Not going to lie though, I did get choked up.
Backtracking, it was good to see Dick Van Dyke again (another person from my childhood), though only for a couple minutes.  Mickey Rooney makes an even shorter cameo in his last (?) movie (ah, another one lost in 2014!).  Sir Ben Kingsley makes a regal appearance as the father Pharoah,  and Sir Lancealot is played by Dan Stevens (of Downton Abbey fame)

Ben Stiller returns, making an interesting straight man for a group of somewhat historical misfits.

And this was all preceded by a trailer for the upcoming Peanuts movie (seeing Snoopy fighting the Red Baron has always been one of my childhood’s fondest memories.)

Wow. So many bits of my youth all in one afternoon.

Memorable scenes: The bit with Jedediah and Octavius watching a cat video on YouTube.

Seen in the trailer where Sir Lance and Teddy introduce themselves to each other:

Sir Lancelot: Sir Lancelot, at your service.
Teddy Roosevelt: Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States of America.
Sir Lancelot: I have no idea what that means.

The bit in the MC Escher work, “Relativity” was very smartly done..

Hugh Jackman.  Was not expecting to see him in the movie. Loved when he broke into his Wolverine pose. Lance asks what is he doing. The woman says he’s doing “his Wolverine thing.”

Teddy saying goodbye.  That gutted me.  Didn’t cry, but…(heavy sigh) yeah.

It went viral on tumblr.

I did expect, and laugh, when Teddy gives Larry one more scare just like he did in the first movie.

One of the reasons why I like these types of movies is that you have people from various different places on the panet, and from different historical eras, all working together. And saying things that you would not expect to hear, like Larry slapping Attila the Hun and telling him “Huns don’t hyperventilate” (another one of my favorite lines)

Some extra stuff

I came across some videos playlisted on NYT’s site containing clips of the film, interviews, and trailers.  Here’s one of them.

I read a lot of professional critics saying it wasn’t that good, but I enjoyed it. Not the best movie out there, but definitely a lot of fun. A good popcorn movie.  YouTuber movie reviewer Jeremy Jahns made a good video about his thoughts on it:

Behind the Scenes

And for those of you who like behind the scenes type stuff, Movie Bloopers & Making of uploading 3 parts of various raw clips of the making of the movie.

You can see part 2 here, and part 3 here

Recommended movie for just when you want to have a fun time, and good for kids.  I’m planning on taking my kids to see it.

Posted in classic comedy, History, movies, Nostalgia, Peanuts, Robin Williams Tagged with: , , ,

June 2nd, 2014 by Calvero

Silent Scream, parts 1 & 2
Written by Tony Lee
Illustrated by Al Davidson

A few days ago, Humble Bundle was having a major sale of dozens of digital Doctor Who comic books.with part of the sales going to charity (Sorry, so sorry, it’s over now 🙁 ).  The max payment tier was just $15 for over 80 digital issues.  I have been interested in getting the digital comic books, particularly interested in the Silver Scream issue since it first came out in 2009 (I have enjoyed the few paper DW comics that I have) but never (though close) got around to buying it.  And in the spirit of Chaplin’s 125th birthday, 100th anniversary of his films, and the excellent price, I snagged it!

At the end of series 4 episode, “Journey’s End” of Doctor Who, Donna makes a request to meet Chaplin, just as she is having a mental breakdown due to her mind melding with the Doctor’s. (And I’m just re-watching on Netflix. Oh, the feels!).  And in this issue, the Doctor “helps to finish her last wish”.

Summary (no spoilers!)
The Doctor arrives in 1926 at a Hollywood party hosted by Archie. Two things brought him here: last request by his now departed companion, Donna, and a mysterious static point in space and time.  A bunch of bad things are happening. So the Doctor can’t help but investigate it.

A Sample Page
Which is also the beginning of the story, can be found here.

So why isn’t it actually Chaplin?
So, as you can see by the cover art, it’s not exactly Chaplin. It turned out that near the end of working on the issue, IDW (comic book publisher) was not able to work our an agreement with the Chaplin estate. So they had to make some changes to the name, Archibald Maplin, and his mustache, hat, and cane.

While the artwork was pretty good in the beginning, it had some room for improvement towards the end. But there were a number of things that impressed me about the story. When I first heard about this, I was just expecting the Doctor to pop-up and share some sort of adventure. I was not expecting Mr Lee to be familiar (or well researched?) with Chaplin’s life, specifically 1926.

So how many names changed?
So due to there being no agreement between the Chaplin estate and IDW (Boo on the CE…. ((don’t hurt me!)) but they missed a great opportunity of properly introducing him to Whovians and comic book fans), a number of things had to be renamed.  Here’s all the ones I noticed, in order of appearance

  • Achibald Maplin, Esq. – The big one.  And it’s you know who C|:=)
  • Kato – Toraichi Kono. You can read more about him below in the Cameos.
  • The Great Oppressor – The Great Dictator (1940).  Chaplin’s masterful satire of Adolf Hitler.
  • Future Times – Modern Times (1936). Chaplin’s comedic social commentary on the growing machine age.
  • United Actors – United Artists.  The film company co-founded by
    Mary Pickford, D. W. Griffith, Chaplin, and Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. (all pictured left) in 1919 to give them the freedom to make movies they way they wanted.  “The inmates have taken over the asylum”
  • United Actors Studio – There was no actual “United Artists Studios” during this period, but there was Pickford and Fairbanks’ Studio, nicknamed The Lot (part of it was torn down just a couple years ago 🙁 ), and there was Charlie Chaplin’s Studios (still standing! Mostly :D)
  • The Fun Fair – The Circus (1928).  As the Doctor tells Archie this film “will be one of your best films ever.”  It certainly is.

Historical accuracy

In real life, Chaplin was making The Circus in 1926.  Just as Archie tells the Doctor, the set burned down twice, and there was a really nasty public divorce battle between him and his second wife.  It was so stressful for him, that his hair went white.

The photo to the right is one of my all-time favorite photos of Chaplin.  It’s of him with his (first? second?) burned down set.  His face says it all.

And after reading the comic, now we know the *real* reason why he was having all those problems! As with the Great Fire of Rome (64 AD) and London (1666), the baddies were trying to take over and the Doctor had to stop them.  And fires broke out.

“They named a pub after you in the Elephant and Castle though. No, wait, That was for the other guy. The one in the bowler hat” – The only time Chaplin himself is referred to.  And yes, there is a pub in Elephant & Castle named after him.  I’ve been there quite some time ago (but that’s another story).  Even Chaplin had visited it.

Mentions

Mentioned were the Keystone Kops, Rudolph ValentinoHarold Lloyd (as well recreating Lloyd’s famous stunt as the Doctor and baddie hanging off a giant clock), and Douglas Fairbanks who was a big silent film star and Chaplin’s best friend.

Cameos
For these pictures, I found photos that were very close to how the real counterparts looked like around the time of the story.

      • Toraichi Kono (renamed Kato, you can see him on that sample page) who was Chaplin’s chauffeur/secretary/ bodyguard/confidant.  Kono immigrated from Japan to the US and after being in the US for a few years, applied to be a driver unknowing for Chaplin in 1916.  He became in the close circle of Chaplin’s associates. It got to the point where if you wanted to communicate with Chaplin, you went through Kono. Image to the right is of Kono and Chaplin, circa 1932.  Interesting info about a documentary of him here.
  • Buster Keaton (using his real name!), one Chaplin’s major comedic (friendly) rivals and, to many fans, his equal..  Just as he and his cameraman witness the Doctor yank Archie into the cutout window of a falling front of a house which inspires Keaton this famous bit from Steamboat Bill Jr (and,no, it’s not a stuntman, that really is Buster):
  • Laurel and Hardy (maybe?).  In the footage that
    Keaton shoots (cleverly drawn in black and white, with subtitles), we see  the Doctor and Archie chasing the baddie on a motorcycle, and they encounter two gentlemen who closely resemble Stan and Ollie, with goatees, carrying a ladder.  They would later appear in an actual episode of Doctor Who, series 6, “The Impossible Astronaut”. The three of them dance 🙂

My brief review
Pros – The Doctor and a Chaplinesque character! Good story (I always liked it when the Doctor arrives in Earth history), great nods to not only Chaplin but silent comedy in general. Fun cameos (KEATON!)

  • ConsIT’S NOT CHAPLIN! I mean, seriously?!? (but they did give it a honest go at it). Could have done away with the stereotypical person tied to the train tracks. Ahh well. Drawing was a bit off in the second issue. IT’S NOT CHAPLIN! (did I mention that already? I did?)
  • Orverall — Despite the major flaw, I really liked it. I might just get it in it’s physical form!

Where to get it?
Amazon currently has issue one for the Kindle and Kindle app, as well as the full volume of Fugitive (includes the 2 parter Silver Scream as well as following 4 issues)  The Fugitive is the first in 3 volumes (I am in the middle of the second volume, Tesseract),a big story arc involveing Emily Winter and Matthew .  If you check out the Fugitive on Amazon’s site, you can get a sneak peak at several of pages.

And of course, I put links for The Circus DVD and also Streaming on Amazon or Hulu Plus. The music, BTW, is composed and opening song sung by him :).


Extra Links
Just a few places (of many) to go for more info

Doctor Who
Official site
Tardis Data Core
a Doctor Who Wiki that also has a chat, forum, videos, episode list, etc.  Also where I found out about the Humble Bundle package!
Doctor Who Online
 – Huge fan site that provides news, information, apps, forum, and more.
Gallifrey Base – biggest fan forum (you need to register to view it) and wonderful News page
Radio Free Skaro – excellent podcast discussing all things Who
Blogtor Who – excellent blog containing news about the show

Charlie Chaplin
Official
Chaplin Then and Now – long running site that show locations that Chaplin shot at and what they look like now (or, in many cases, a few years ago)
Discovering Chaplin – wonderful blog of photos
Charlie Chaplin Is For The Ages – great tumblr blog sharing photos of Chaplin

Silent movies/comedy
Silent Era – One of the longest running sites dedicated to the silent film era
Movies, Silently – awesome blog containing review and information, and provides great info for those just getting interested in silent movies.
Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more) – similar to Chaplin Then and Now, shows present day locations of Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Harold Lloyd films.
The Silent Clown Film Series – If you are in the New York City area, this group play silent comedies at various time of the year. Admission is free!
Nitrateville – Forums discussing both silent and talkies.
Silent Comedy Mafia – active forum focusing on silent comedy
Golden Silents – info on famous stars of that era, and a messageboard

Bonus trivia:
William Hartnell (most famous for playing the first Doctor), became inspired to become an actor after watching Chaplin.

Bonus image:
The original cover artwork for the issue, before things had to change around

Posted in Charlie Chaplin, comic books/graphic novels, Doctor Who, History Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

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