A-Ford-Able Riddle

17 04 2016

Model T Ford

I was a glorified chariot,

But with no horse.

I came mostly in black,

But did at one point have a choice.

I was one of many,

But can you guess what I am?

Ford Model T

GENEPOOL (I think I made it a bit obvious with the title, and the image).





Six Hundred Horsepower…And Leaf Springs…Are You Mad? – Love The Beast

9 03 2016

Love The Beast (Eric Bana - 2009)

I love cars. Cars are one of my big interests in my life along with other interests such as Writing, Films, Godzilla, Board Games, Cooking, Music, TV, Video Games, Technology, Trains, Dinosaurs, and Buildings. OK, so I do have a lot of other interests too that include but are not limited to the things I have just mentioned. But, I genuinely like cars. Yes, it’s been tough since the loss of Top Gear, but as a car fan I have still managed to keep up my love for the things. I may not be able to drive (yet), but I always have a keen eye out for cars when I see them out on the street (and wish I had my camera with me). I even have my fantasy car collection that includes cars produced by companies such as Lamborghini, Pagani and Jaguar (cars which I hope to drive one day providing I can get somewhere with my writing career). So with a love of Cars and Movie’s, you may think that I must love it when the two come together? Well Cars and Video Games yes, Cars and Movies though is something I have not tried until I saw Love The Beast.

LTB2

Released in 2009 and Directed by Eric Bana; Love The Beast is a documentary-film (or docu-film if you prefer) about the love affair Hollywood star Eric Bana has for his first car; a Ford XB Falcon Hardtop, which he’s named ‘The Beast’. My own personal knowledge of this film ends before I saw it. I first heard about it on an episode of Top Gear where Eric Bana was the Star in the Reasonably Priced Car. After that I did not really look into it. But then, after I started working in Barnardo’s; I found a copy of it on the shelves. After a few months passed, I finally got it out of curiosity and thought I would give it a go; which I did.

Eric Bana

Love the Beast begins with Eric Bana talking about his youth, and especially about watching Australian Motor Racing. He remembers seeing something taking place at the Bathurst motor race involving a couple of Ford Falcon’s. From that moment on he was in love with that kind of car. So much so that when he was about 15, he persuaded his Dad to buy one for him. Over the next several years, Bana and his friends work long periods to bring the car back to its original glory. Eventually, Bana and his friends enter the Falcon into the Targa Tasmania: a motor race that funnily enough happened to take place in Tasmania. Hoping to enter every year from his first appearance in 1996, fate gets the better of Bana and he becomes an international Hollywood star.

LTB1

11 Years after his first Targa, Bana decides to enter his Falcon into the 2007 race, after rebuilding his Falcon yet again. He enters with some childhood friends, one of them being his navigator. At first they struggle with the newly built vehicle, but soon they manage to pick up the pace. Things eventually lead to tragedy however, as on the 4th race of the 5 day event, they crash into a tree. Though a little shaken up, Bana has to leave the race and get back to his day job, by attending a New York movie premier and appearing on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. Upon returning to Australia, he gets to have a proper look at his badly damaged vehicle. From then on it becomes a question as where to go with it next, eventually ending with him covering it up in a sheet in his garage. The film then ends with the suggestion that he will one day return to it and fix it again.

Love the Beast is a film I find hard to really review, this could be though do it being a Documentary film rather than a fictional piece of work, a genre I have only done one other film review before. I suppose, a great place to start would be to talk about what it is. Love The Beast is a film about cars, a documentary about cars specifically. It is a film about a man’s desire to enter a car he loves into a motor race. Now if this was an ordinary man no-one had ever heard of before, it would be a different story. In this instance however it is actor Eric Bana whose movie output includes the film’s Troy and Hulk. In this case it is quite different, as it becomes a film not where he is playing a character, but more one where he is talking about his social and personal life. From the outset, the film talks about his growing up and what part of his young life the car meant to him. The film then goes in the various directions a documentary would go to cover all of its bases. It goes into talking about the Targa Tasmania, the Falcon and its appearance in the original Mad Max; it then goes into talking about Bana’s father’s love affair with his own Ford Thunderbolt. Then in the background of the film, there is a host of interviews of Car Enthusiasts and celebrities including Jeremy Clarkson, Jay Leno and Dr. Phil McGraw. It then talks about the Targa in more detail and includes the style of cars used in the race series and the difference between new super cars, and old muscle classics. It is a film that is definitely about cars and man’s love affair with them. Not in the form of them as tools driven by people who consider them nothing more as tins on wheels, but as symbols that mean something to people growing up and how they become a metaphorical camp fire for people now grown up and how they still need these symbols in order to be themselves.

Mad Max (Village Roadshow Pictures - 1979)

That is what the film is trying to present, well aims to achieve, because on the whole it has a lot of issues. Love The Beast has narration off-screen frequently throughout, but from the start this comes with a level of near boredom. Bana himself I felt is not all that good a narrator, or at least not yet. As he spoke from the beginning away from the camera, it was like he was reading from a pre-prepared script written by someone else. It was not like he was telling a story, nor like he was informing the audience about his past experience. When he is in front of the camera, being in the scene and talking normally/casually with everyone else, his soul and passion for what he loves comes out to the full, but as a voice over it is not really all that believable and can be pretty boring. Bana presents himself as a more straight-up kind of guy; but the way he narrates this neither suggests nor promotes his love and interest for his car.

Ford XB Falcon Hardtop 2

When I first started to watch this film I was constantly near blacking out, like there was not much going on. I like cars, love them in fact. Before lasts years consequences ended it for good; Top Gear was my Favourite show. My Favourite car for many years now has been the Pagani Zonda F. I like cars, but this, a film about cars, is something I am finding hard to like in the least bit. It’s a real case of the Marmite belief. Marmite, some kind of ingredient/spread that you can do edible stuff with has always had the moniker of either you love it or hate it. Well, Love The Beast is something like that, and I myself am not too sure on where I personally stand with it. As a film, it’s more of an informative piece. Something you would watch on an afternoon if there was nothing good on tele, not on a Friday or Saturday evening.

But then, when you reach the 40/50 minutes in marker everything changes. It goes from a half attempted documentary on entering a racing series to an understanding of what this car means to Bana. It’s a different yet interesting point of view of a well-known person in the public light. Instead of gossiping on every element of his personal life with subjects like food, weight, clothes, relationships and all the other garbage gossip; Love The Beast becomes a deep and moving insight into a true passion of his, his car. Up till now it has been a basic documentary with nothing much really to focus on. No theme for the documentary to follow or look into specifically, but then as it finally begins to gain pace, we discover that for Bana, the car is less a tin on wheels tool/contraption for the masses; but an icon of his youth and an important part of his history. It provides him with personal drive (pun not intended). This passion ultimately leads however to tragedy, as while everything was going well at first; in a heartbeat it ends in a collision which brings the star to a halt as fast as the crash itself. At first I thought this sounded like it was planned, but to this though comes the films real story and eventual meaning.

LTB3

The film, the events, the interviews; it’s not about Bana learning about the car or its place in automotive history, nor is it about a man entering a race in the hope of achieving sporting glory. You realise that all along from the beginning, that what it’s all really been about is this titan of Hollywood coming to terms with the crash and the damage sustained to his beloved Ford XB Falcon Hardtop. Something that is more of a childhood friend severely injured/disfigured rather than it simply being a gash to a tin with wheels on it. From the moment he sees it in proper in a garage, it changes him, and he goes and talks to the celebrities to talk to them and ask them for some form of guidance or hoping that they may shed light on what has happened and why it has happened. For Bana, it’s less a documentary or film, it’s actually therapy. This is the moment where the film goes from its original aim to a personal struggle. This is true reality and one that is felt deeply. Love The Beast’s true meaning therefore is one of how much symbols and icon’s mean to us personally in our lives from a young age and how these things can hurt when they take a hit…..no matter how old we are.

Ford XB Falcon Hardtop

Ok, I can see I may have gone off track (pun not intended again) with this film as a whole, but in effect, that’s what this film is about, one man’s passion for his car and what it means to him. Now that is not to say the film did not have its issues, but from these issues comes a film (in a similar style to the BMW M5 review on Top Gear) that provides something different. I like documentary films. I really do, and while this one did struggle to begin with from this mediocre/weak start; it became a really passionate story. Add to this the inclusion of top car personalities like Clarkson in particular, and you get this really interesting creation. Yes, there are better things to watch on a Friday and Saturday night slumped in front of the TV, but if you love cars as much as me, and carry a passion for the true monsters of automotive design and engineering; then you will want to see this film.

GENEPOOL





Top 5 F-Zero Cars/Racers/Vehicles

3 02 2016

F-Zero GX Race

I love F-Zero. My introduction to the series began very early into my ownership of a Nintendo 64 when my Mam treated me to a game, for which I chose F-Zero X. To begin with I was alright, and wanted to be a bit sillier than play it to the full, but when I really got into it, I really enjoyed it. Definitely one of the standout games for me on that console. I then followed it up with F-Zero GX on the GameCube, which also happened to be my favourite game on that console. It’s a game I continue to play and enjoy to this day.

 F-Zero GX

For anybody currently wondering what on earth I am talking about, well, F-Zero is a futuristic video game series from Nintendo. It involves anti-gravity vehicles racing around futuristic locations. The series was a big hit from the start, spawning numerous sequels and was a base inspiration for the Wipeout series on PlayStation. The reason for me doing a post on it is due to me just finding out about Fast Racing Neo, a new video game for the Wii U, which from first glance to me looks a lot like F-Zero. Instead of going into it and trying to find similarities, I thought I would do a post on my favourite vehicles from the game series. This list is mostly based on GX (just thought I should point that out), but that is the one where I have the most experience of the vehicles and the series. Anyway, here are my Top 5 Favourite Vehicles/Cars/Racers from F-Zero (GX).

Wild Goose

5. Wild Goose (Pico) – When I first played F-Zero X, Wildgoose stood out to me for one big reason, because it was Green. Upon realising that cars can change colour, I discovered other Green Cars, however I always had an affinity with Wild Goose for that reason. Upon beginning GX, and having to start from scratch unlocking new vehicles; while the magazines (such as CUBE) suggested using Fire Stingray, I went back to Wild Goose, and for most of the time when I was racing to earn points to unlock cars, I would pretty much always use Wild Goose. Since then the affinity I have had with this vehicle has made it one of my favourites…..and also because it’s a very reliable and easy to control machine…most of the time.

Magic Seagull

4. Magic Seagull (Spade) – When I began to unlock new vehicles and try out new things, I always liked to try out vehicles that had a certain look. The look of something streamlined, and from pure looks looked fast; Vehicles that looked like Planes (or mostly) Jet Fighters. I just thought at the time that in a game where all the cars float off the ground, that something that looks more like it was designed for flying might be an advantage (as such this is one of at least two vehicles in this list that fall into it for that reasoning). Anyway, one of the ones I kept returning to was Magic Seagull. It has this sleek-looking design, with pointed out front wings, and three boosters out the back. It’s maybe not the coolest looking vehicles, or maybe the most beautiful, but it is one of the sleekest, and one of the coolest when under power. It’s also very easy to control, especially on maps that involved curved rounds, and by that I don’t mean they have turns in them.

Rainbow Phoenix

3. Rainbow Phoenix (Phoenix) – One of the most beautiful racers in the game by far. Rainbow phoenix is as true to its name more than any other vehicle (ok Magic Seagull does look a lot like a Seagull). The charm and love for this vehicle comes in what it can do. When changing colours, the shading is not necessarily mat or plain, but rather elegant and bright. The colouring of the vehicle is as it says, a rainbow, and they are nice and bright and very beautiful. While black may be unavailable, a bright Green, Blue, Yellow and Red more than make up for that, even surpassing it. The other side to the vehicle is in its look and one additional feature. The body is shaped like a bird, much like a phoenix, and has two booster engines at the back, like fleet of flames when passing bystanders (although you don’t get to see that). But the additional thing is something no other vehicle has in the game. When you initiate a boost (something all vehicles can do), the wings on the side of the vehicle sprout out. That is as in the fold out from an angular position to a more horizontal position with the bird like wings. It’s a nice additional feature that makes this racer stand out more than others.

Hyper Speeder

2. Hyper Speeder (Beastman) – Upon deciding that Airplane/Jet Fighter based aircraft might have an advantage over others, I immediately started using Hyper Speeder, because if it’s a Jet Fighter you want, what not better than the vehicle that best resembles one (even though it has no wings)? Hyper Speeder is as its name suggests a very fast car. With most vehicles it more comes down to the skill of the driver than the performance of the vehicle, and Hyper Speeder can be a hard one to control due to its enormous length. Time turns can become perilous, however, when driven to near perfection, it is one of the best. I especially look forward to sections of track which are like flying through the air, because then there is a certain level of actually feeling like I am flying a jet fighter. Apart from all those things though, it is a very cool vehicle to look at and race with.

Green Panther

1. Green Panther (Antonio Guster) – Out of all the vehicles I have played with, I think I have used Green Panther the most. It is a very cool car. It’s easy to control, and doesn’t lose control all that easy, it is very durable and can take quite a few big hits before getting into trouble, its fast either from simple acceleration or boost speed, and it has this rather cool paint job, a military camouflage like colouring, which even comes in a cool purple configuration. It’s hard to say why exactly I prefer this one, other than in a race, it is the best one I have used, and continue to use due to how easy it is to control, and how reliable it is. No matter Win or Lose, it always performs, and is always both cool to look at and fun to play with.

GENEPOOL





“It’s A Fix!”

28 10 2015

Mario Kart: Double Dash‼ (Nintendo - 2003)

Recently I have been getting back into racing games. Well, I say getting back into racing games; I mean I have just been playing racing games recently after a while of not playing them. Anyway, I have been getting back into racing games. So far I have played F-Zero GX (which is also my favourite GameCube game), Trackmania 2: Stadium on the PC and Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (back on the GameCube). It’s been a lot of fun playing these games again. So far I have still yet to complete all Grand Prix difficulties on F-Zero, have yet to get all Gold on Mario Kart, and while Trackmania doesn’t work like that, it’s fun to go up the European ranks. For this post though, the game that I want to concentrate on is Double Dash.

I have had Double Dash on my GameCube since the Christmas it first came out, I have had a lot of fun on it, and while it has been a few years since I last played on it, playing it again in the last few weeks has been a lot of fun, except for when I have been on one particular mode. One option the game has as a special unlock is the opportunity to compete for the chance to win a trophy where you race on all 16 tracks across its four cups; otherwise known as World/All Cup Tour. It’s a nice fun idea, if a long one as even on the fastest mode it can take more than 40 minutes to complete. But still it can be fun, but recently when I have been playing on it I have noticed something rather unfair.

King Boo and Petey Piranha

The winning two teams in every race I have done while playing both at 150cc and Mirror Mode are teams that include the tandem of Petey Piranha and King Boo. During neither games of that mode were the two characters in the same car despite being the same team when listed in the menu and having cars of roughly the same design. No matter how hard I raced, even if I came in 2nd at best, one of those teams would be in first and the other third. It became obvious that in the first game I was not going to catch up, and in the mirror mode game I just couldn’t be bothered.

King Boo

The issue with these two beyond most things is that they can use any special ability usually given to no more than 2 characters. Most of the time I am not too bothered by this, but when something like I have mentioned above does, something just doesn’t make sense. Also, why is it that there is no real randomness or other races giving a surprising win, it’s like the minute the first race is up, the winning team has been announced. Ok, one problem relating to this is the fact that whatever order the previous race was won, is the order the next race starts. So if you are last, you are at the back. There is some randomness to the AI in later races, but it’s just usually mid way up, no surprise wins. It’s not like F-Zero GX where if you win the previous race yo go to the back. It’s a bit more even Steven’s.

MKDD!!

Ok, Double Dash is more a family game than a serious racer, but when you play alone, it just doesn’t seem right that the races seem fixed from the moment they start. I will probably get round this as the game’s progress, but it would be nice that even if I don’t win, I don’t lose to the same AI characters. Maybe lose to my favourites: Koopa Troopa and Paratroopa.

Koopa and Paratroopa

GENEPOOL





Behind The Wheel

5 08 2015

Steering Wheel

Last week, I took my first step into doing something I have always wanted to do, but so far as yet had not. I had my first sitting behind the wheel of a car.

Ford Fiesta

For the past several weeks, I have been trudging around several employment websites looking for work, and am as yet unsuccessful in finding something. When I do find something promising, or that I like the look of, I will read about it and if still interested would apply for it. One issue that I have found is that many jobs ask for a current driving licence. Not too big a thing unless you don’t have one, and need the income to learn to drive in the first place. Well, a few weeks ago I started looking into Intensive Driving courses in the hope I could learn quickly and receive a driving licence as quickly as possible to allow me to apply for those kinds of jobs with ease. A couple of weeks later, my Mam informs me that a friend of hers at work, knows some people who offer driving experiences to allow the people the option to just have a little driving lesson and see how they feel. The experience is only really offered to 14-16 year olds, not people over the age of 20. However, I was able to get a slot to have a little go behind the wheel of a car.

Traffic Cones

I was booked in, and went to the Truck Haven near Carnforth last week where a section of car park was roped off. I was rather scared and worried as I had no idea how the car was going to react, or if I was going to like it or not. I had little worries going through my head. I met my instructor there and he had me take a seat in the front of the car behind the wheel. Getting in was hard due to my height, but he took me through the basics, such as pushing the seat back, heightening and lowering the back rest, adjusting the mirrors, the order of pedals including which foot to use best for which pedal, everything to the point of turning the car on for the first time. He then instructed me about the ‘biting point’ and how to start the car up into it moving for the first time. To begin with it was only in first gear, and I only drove round the area once before coming to a stop. But I really enjoyed it; it felt so amazing to drive the car round. We then did it again, I was a bit harder on the brakes that time, but I was beginning to enjoy it more.

Test Drive Unlimited 2 (Eden Games - 2011)

And it didn’t stop there. He took me through braking for a corner (something I was worried about given my experience in Test Drive Unlimited 2) and how to change-up and down a gear. I really did enjoy it, and felt a little bit sad when my slot time was up. I had a brief talk with the instructor and my Mam, and the hope now is that I will be proceeding with learning how to drive. I am still a little scared to be going out on the road with real drivers to learn, but I am kind of excited to finally learn how to drive a car. Then all I will need to do is get a job to pay for my own once I pass my driving test.

Pagani Huayra

GENEPOOL (I very much doubt that my first car will be a Pagani Huayra).








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