Saturday, 28 February 2015

World Sword Swallowing Day

So today is a glorious day, a day that the world remembers the brave and insane nutbars who decide to swallow swords for our twisted pleasure!

I kid you not ladies and gents, February 28th is World Sword Swallowing Day. So what I want to do, is give you some small facts regarding this esoteric entertainment eccentricity.
Also please, please, please do not try this at home (unless of course you are a professional sword swallower)!

What is sword swallowing?
According to most encylopedia’s:

"Sword swallowing is a magician’s trick dating back to ancient Greece and Rome, involving the swallowing of a sword without bodily injury."

However in reality, sword swallowing is not an illusion or a trick. It is a real feat of physical and mental strength.

What is considered a sword?
A sword is a weapon having various forms but typically consisting of a long straight, or slightly curved blade, sharp edged on one, or both sides with one end pointed and the other fixed in a hilt or a handle.
However the Sword Swallowers Association International (SSAI) defines a swords as:

“a weapon, with a non-folding, non-retractable solid steel or metal single-edged or double-edged blade at least 1/2 inch (1.27 cm) in width and 16 inches (40 cm) to 20 inches (50.8 cm) in length, and not recommended to exceed 24 inches (61 cm) in length except in extreme circumstances for performance purposes" 

So the SSAI define sword swallowing as:

“the act of inserting a solid metal blade at least 16 inches long into the mouth, down the oesophagus, through the oesophageal sphincter and into the stomach"

To become a member of the SSAI, one has to be at least 18 years old and can prove that they can swallow at least 18 inches of a solid sword blade (And you thought getting into a pub underage was tough!).

Friday, 27 February 2015

5 Toys I had from the Argos 1986 Catalogue

One of my cousins recently posted on facebook about her son going through an Argos catalogue for toys and games to buy for his birthday

My brother Fish1000 (follow him on twitter HERE) then posted a link to an old catalogue (which you can view HERE) (or even more HERE) and the wave of nostalgia hit me hard

Oh those were the days, going out shopping with the family and getting all excited when a new catalogue would come out, bringing it home and checking out the toy section and circling the ones I wanted to add to my collection and some possible new toy with the thought of endless possibilities of enjoyment

So I thought I would post 5 toys that I had from it

5. Gobots Porsche

It's only now that I'm doing some research for this that I find out his name is actually Baron Von Joy AND Doctor Go AND Herr Fiend. No wonder they only called him GoBots Porsche in the catalogue with that last name, how in the hell would you expect to market it to kids!?

If you didn't already know, GoBots is the poor mans Transformers. It's a really good likeness of the Porsche but the robot mode is terrible! Argos sometimes had this thing where the people taking photos wouldn't change the Transformers properly but in this case THAT is what the toy is supposed to look like!

80 Days

Gyrocopter 1
I get the train to work every day so I’ve really come to appreciate mobile games. Today I want to tell you about one of my recent favourites - 80 Days.
80 days is a mobile game for Android and iOS devices developed by inkle - it’s based on the Jules Verne novel 80 Days Around The World and is a kind of interactive choose your own adventure game.
OK, if that doesn't turn you on, don't let it turn you off either. The game is beautifully presented, incredibly entertaining and I've spent many enjoyable hours exploring the fantastical 19th century steampunk world in which it is set.
This opinionated blog may contain spoilers, consider yourself warned.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

16 Nostalgic Songs That Give Me Nostalgia Feels

It's Throwback Thursday! What better day to get a little nostalgic! And on today's nostalgia trip, take a look at some of the most memorable video game songs that remind me of my childhood. 

Music is a very personal thing. Songs often come attached with a memory, so each person's list would be different from another. For me, the sixteen songs included within this are all associated with fond memories, of times when I sat back and watched my dad play through Tomb Raider and Mario, to those collaborative gaming sessions with my brother, and first solo gaming experiences and beyond. 

16. Sonic the Hedgehog: Green Hill Zone 

I've played Sonic and this level since, but for some reason, the reason this has made it onto my list is because of what I immediately think of when I hear it. That one afternoon, watching my uncle play through Sonic the Hedgehog on his Sega Genesis, whilst I was giving his cat a cuddle. He was playing Green Hill Zone at the time, undoubtedly one of the best Sonic tracks to date.

I must have only been about 4 or 5 years old at the time when he was playing that, but for some reason, the memory is as clear as day. 

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Why the Hell do I keep buying Sonic The Hedgehog?

A game titled "Sonic the Hedgehog" has been released on various different consoles over the years and I have bought most of them and I have no idea why...

I mean, I DO Love the Sonic games, even the mediocre ones have some unique gameplay that makes them worth playing a little bit (apart from one...).

And I do really like Sonic The Hedgehog, it just isn't the best Sonic game in my opinion.

I'm gonna have a look at each version and see why I keep buying it:

Master System (1991)

The first actual Sonic game I had. This had completely different levels to the Megadrive version, the best one was the Jungle Zone.

The second stage called "Bridge Zone" was annoying as hell as it was an auto scroll level, why even put that in a Sonic game?

It made up for it by sounding like a Janet Jackson song:

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Book Review: Red Plus Zone

Quiet down everyone, its review time.

Today we look at Red Plus Zone by Andrew Ritchie.

Red Plus Zone, was published on 12th January of 2015, by Indie Publishers and consists of 308 pages.

I became aware of Andy’s project when he approached me to give him advice on some aspects of forensic science. So after talking to Andy for a while he asked me to act as an advisor for his up and coming book project. I have to admit, I did not read the final edition until it was in print so it was good to see the final edit. I will also admit acting as a researcher for him was rather enjoyable.

I for one massively enjoyed this book. Imagine if you will, the lovechild of a gritty British crime drama and an apocalyptic sci-fi; this is Red Plus Zone.

Red Plus Zone takes place in a world affected by ‘The Shattering’. Time has fractured globally, and the world is littered with areas (known as zones in the book) where time may pass at increased and decreased rates. These are colour rated based on their severity. DCI Sam McCall is called to a murder scene where the body has been greatly affected by one of these time zones and to solve this murder he has to confront some of his past demons, as well as some new ones waiting around the corner.

Andy has really succeeded in painting his post-apocalyptic world; I feel that not only do you get a clear understanding of what happened during the shattering, but you also get a feel of the world’s slow recovery and the hardships that people face in this time. Also, as the book is set in Britain, there is that touch of British melancholy to it.

Now as stated in the statistics, the book itself is not long; at a casual 308 pages, it’s about the size of an average holiday novel. However, unlike a lot of holiday novels, I feel that the world is mesmerising and the characters seem really human, not the usual fare for fiction. What Andy has attempted to do is to merge two rather different genres, genres that have a large amount of work associated with them already.

I feel that this merge was a success! In all seriousness, if you enjoy a different take on either the crime or sci-fi genre, or in fact just something which is a little different then I would seriously recommend Red Plus Zone. It is currently available in paperback from Amazon for £9.99. It is also a best seller! It is currently ranked as #14 in Amazon's Post-Apocalyptic Sub-Genre (Books - Fiction - Science Fiction - Post Apocalyptic).

Andy also has authored a trilogy of sci-fi e-books (The Book They Don’t Want You To Read), which are also available on Amazon.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

30 Years of The Breakfast Club

Three years before I was born, The Breakfast Club was released to cinemas in 1985. Whilst I may not have been around for the initial release, it soon became one of my favourite 80s films after I first saw it as a teenager. 

So join me as I count down some of the most memorable moments from the film that brought us a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess and a criminal.

Dancing in the Library

No 80s film is complete without some form of montage, and The Breakfast Club is no exception. Step forward the memorable dance montage in the library.

Undoubtedly one of the most iconic scenes in the film, the scene kicks off when Brian rigs up the record player in the office to play Karla DeVito's "We Are Not Alone." From here, each character gets down to boogie in their own way (my personal favourite is the Madness-esque walk performed by Bender, Brian and Andrew). 

Scene trivia: 
Director John Hughes originally intended for Molly Ringwald (the sophisticated and pretty redhead Claire in the film) to shoot the dance scene alone. However, the actress did not consider herself a good dancer, and had doubts about the scene being effective. So Hughes made a quick revision and included the rest of the cast to allow Ringwald to feel more comfortable. 

The last minute change was a welcome one, effectively showing the transition from a group of teenagers begrudgingly sharing the same room for a morning, to a unlikely but downright fitting group of friends. 


Thursday, 19 February 2015

My First Con: Part 1

According to Wikipedia, a convention is:

“A convention, in the sense of a meeting, is a gathering of individuals who meet at an arranged place and time in order to discuss or engage in some common interest. The most common conventions are based upon industry, profession, and fandom. Trade conventions typically focus on a particular industry or industry segment, and feature keynote speakers, vendor displays, and other information and activities of interest to the event organizers and attendees.”

If I take the Wikipedia definition to be correct then yes; I have been to conventions before.
However the conventions I had visited in the past were normally showcasing items and discussions about things such as forensics, (my university studies), defence protocols or new tech (previous job roles) and while they had a lovely atmosphere as everyone (including myself) were dressed in a proper respectable fashion, and everyone was polite to each other; there was no life, or excitement to them. I mean the subject matter of these cons were interesting but apart from that it only really got exciting when you got a new business card to look at (and feel envy about how poor yours looked) or the tray of nibbles passed within your reach (no tray was safe).

What I am talking about in this particular post is a Geek Con, a Fandom Con. Call them whatever your will but I am talking about the cons where you get rather large number of geeks from all walks of life, with a massive sliding scale of social awkwardness and cram them into a hotel or expo centre together. Now that ladies, gentleman and others is where things get really exciting.

What I aim to do in this post series is walk you through my experiences of my first con!


Con Name: DragonCon
Location: Atlanta, US
Date of Visit: 29/08/2014-01/09/2014
Fandom’s Covered: All.

DragonCon has been in operation for nearly thirty years, it was first opened in 1987. It showcased to about 1200 fans and included Guest of Honour Michael Moorcock attending his first U.S. convention appearance in twelve years, Robert Asprin and Lynn Abbey, Robert Adams, Richard “Lord British” Garriott, the creator of Ultima, and Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons.

From that one successful day DragonCon grew with each subsequent year as did its fan base with records showing attendee count of 13000 in the year 2000. After the millennium the amount of people attending grew at an astonishing rate with records showing in 2012 over 52000 people graced DragonCon. Numbers have not been published for 2013, 14 or 15.

As the years progressed DragonCon evolved and spread over 3 major hotels based in downtown Atlanta, all within 5 minutes walking distance from each other. It also added in multiple tracks to its original showcase of gaming, and comics to include Gothic/Horror, Robotics, Costuming, Science Fiction Classics, Independent Film, and Young Adult Literature
A full history of DragonCon can be found here:

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Rossteffer's First Take

I often find myself retreating into a world of superheroes and make believe. There anything can happen; hatred can be overcome, the underdog can come out victorious, and even the most unlikely of person, be they a young orphan or a mild mannered reporter can be a hero / a symbol / a beacon of hope.

A lot of the time I wish that I could live in a world like that where superhero's were not just on printed pages and in TV and film. A world filled with people striving to make sure what's just and good in the world doesn't fade into nothingness. People fighting not for the wants and needs of politicians and governments to help them get what they need or think they need, but for what is right! Don't get me wrong, I respect the military and police forces for what they do. It's just to me what this world really needs is a hero. Someone to unite us as a planet.. a person that can rally everyone together, transcending gender, religion, colour and creed.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Brads Top 10's - Spidey Costumes

Hey Brad hereWith the recent news that Spider-Man is crossing over into the Marvel Cinematic Universe there has been speculation on how he will appear costume wise and whether it's Peter Parker appearing in the costume or the Ultimate Universe Miles Morales
I thought I would put my thinking cap on and think of my favourite costumes that Spidey has appeared in

10. Ricochet


Norman Osborn and Peter Parker have a long history, with Ol' Gobby causing the death of Gwen Stacy and he himself supposedly died impaled by his own glider.

Years later he was resurrected and managed to deem himself an innocent man and caught Spider-Man on tape assaulting him. Norman put out a massive bounty on Spidey's head, so Peter decides to don the persona of four different heroes that he makes up - Hornet, Dusk, Prodigy and Ricochet.

These four costumes were stolen and given to 4 youngsters to use later on in the superb Slingers series

I loved this story so much I decided to use his name in the first half of my online moniker - Rico2099

Will we see it in the film?

Highly unlikely, it's essentially putting in 4 origin stories at once AND having a ton of villians

Would be cool as an animated cartoon though


In the not too distant future technology will make a sudden leap, this will lead to great commercial benefits for many companies they will grow into huge sprawling corporations that will have more power than the governments of the world.

The People on the street will become enamoured with this new technology become drones who spend all their time plugged into brain-dances (movies where you experience it from one of the characters perspectives receiving sensory data as if you were there) or surfing the world wide net as a giant virtual reality space (actually not that unlikely).

But in the ever growing sprawling urban wasteland of the world there are those that are not drones these men and women are the howling the rockers trying to warn the human herd of the evil of the corporations, the Nomads who never stay in the same place and will never be owned by anyone and the powerful hackers, gods of the internet space manipulating the information of the world for their own needs and wants.

This is a really simplified view of the game Cyberpunk 2020 one of  my favourite RPG games ever, it steps away from the classic high fantasy that is so prevalent in RPG games and creates something that is more gritty modern science fiction.

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