Top 5 Villains in Top Hats

Top 5 Villains in Top Hats

eviltophatThroughout all of history, there has been no more villainous or diabolical piece of head wear than the top hat.

A milliner’s delight and the most sombre of fashionable pieces, the top hat shows a level of both style and irascibility that represents the true villain.

In fact, it could be said that the stereotypical villain is a monocled Victorian gentleman sporting a finely twirled moustache and an enormous top hat.

Personally, I find that these Dick Dastardly types are at the very foot of the pecking order of villainy.  They are surpassed by a far higher calibre of villain and so I present to you my top 5 villains in Top Hats.

babadook_posterNumber 5: Mister Babadook

Spoiler warning – skip this entry if you haven’t seen the film titled “The Babadook”.

If it’s in a word,

or in a look,

You can’t get rid of the Babadook.

Whether you believe the Babadook to be a symptom of a mother’s grief at the loss of her spouse or a genuine supernatural creature of massively malign intent, the Babadook is a wonderfully menacing individual.

The Babadook forced its way into my list, displacing Oswald Cobblepot as my fifth favourite top hatted villain, with his attempts to convince a young Mother to throttle her irritating (and needy) son before persuading her into taking her own life.

His repeated chanting of his own name is so catchy, that I have set it as my text message alert – just to keep me on my toes.

MisterBabadook_scare_600

Like other great villains on this list, the Babadook gives off an eerie aura of east european origins.  Like a cross between Fagin and Freddy Krueger, I can imagine the Babadook nesting in a dark forested, fairytale home – amongst the bones of dead children.

I’ve been unable to determine whether Mr. Babadook is an original creation or based on actual folklore.  If you look into the mythology surrounding “shadow people” and other night terrors you can easily see a theme of long-clawed humanoid creatures wearing hats.  Take Freddy Krueger of Nightmare on Elm Street fame; my nightmares were plagued by a Freddy clone years before the film was produced.

 

lazarouNumber 4: Papa Lazarou

Whilst Papa Lazarou pre-dates Mr. Babadook, he seems born of similar east-european origins.

Part gypsy, part black and white minstrel, Lazarou’s villainy manifests in an unstoppable urge to kidnap people to add to his harem (or zoo).

You wanna buy some pegs Dave?

wpid-IMAG0999.jpgPapa Lazarou features in the British television comedy series, The League of Gentlemen, a dark piece of social satire that dredges the depths of British humour with a shading of dystopian horror and fear of the North.

Merging aspects of racism in early television, stereotyped voodoo couture and the small village fear of outsiders, Papa Lazarou is more a creature than a man.

My love for Lazarou runs deeper than all that. A true bogeyman for its generation.

Whilst villains like the Babadook carry a threat of very real harm, Papa Lazarou offers a fate far worse.  Inescapable torment and servitude to a creature of pure malevolent chaos.

 

Number 3: Old George

OldGeorgeThe Wachowski brother’s cross-generational science fantasy piece, Cloud Atlas, met with very mixed reviews when it was released.

Cloud Atlas appears to have been overly ambitious in its execution.

That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed the story it wove.

I found the concept of following the same old-souls as they enacted and re-enacted the tropes of their own lives to be fresh and inspirational.

Old George isn’t really named in the film, I had to research him to discover a name.

Played by the excellent Hugo Weaving, Old George is a persistent figment of Tom Hanks’ post apocalyptic incarnation.  Like the old Indian Chief guiding Jim Morrison through the desert, Old George plagues Hanks’s character like a promise of malice.

Clearly influenced by the next villain on my list, Old George is like a fallen guardian angel. An angel whose advice can only lead to pain and suffering.

Is Old George a kind of “Hungry Ghost”, included as a nod to the film’s eastern influences or is he merely a fragment of Tom Hanks’ psyche?

My recollection of the film left me with the impression that the latter scenario is the case… I’d like to believe otherwise however.

Number 2: The Hitcher

Hitcher

The Hitcher is a recurring villain in the collected works of The Mighty Boosh, a British comedy collective.

Do I look like a reasonable man to you, or a peppermint nightmare?

A green-skinned cockney villain who would happily slaughter his victims whilst filling them with Eels, this polo-minted fiend is actually called Baboo Yagu.

A parody of the Slavic fairytale bogeywoman, Baba Yaga, the Hitcher carries a similar supernatural taint.  He appears at a whim, when least expected and always offers violence or death.

The Hitcher shares traits with others from this list.  he is clearly the inspiration for Wachowski’s Old George and is as inescapable as Papa Lazarou.  His name even has ties to Mister Babadook.

Despite that, he is still only second on my list.

 

samedi2Number 1: Baron Samedi

There can be no greater top-hatted villain than Baron Saturday.

Propelled into popular culture through my favourite Bond movie, Live and Let Die, Baron Samedi is a voodoo Loa – a kind of spirit entity that operates between our world and that of the divine.

In the original story behind Live and Let Die, Baron Samedi is a role believed to be adopted by the villain-de-jour, Mr. Big.  The rumour spread amongst the West Indian underground is that Mr. Big is Baron Samedi. Mr Big maintains this rumour to maintain an atmosphere of terror amongst his people.

In the film, we see that this is simply not the case.  Mr Big (the actual villain of the story). Baron Samedi steals the limelight however.  We are left without a doubt to the Baron’s supernatural nature.

samediFrom the moment he is left as cracked porcelain shards to the final scene of the movie, we are shown that Baron Samedi is beyond death.  I’ve always interpreted this as the Baron being the influence behind Mr. Big.

In the book, Ian Fleming writes Mr. Big as working on behalf of SMERSH; I prefer to believe he was working at the influence of a greater villain.

So there you have it, the top 5 villains in top hats.

Notable top-hatted villains that didn’t make this list include Dick Dastardly, The Penguin, Raffles the Gentleman Thug and Mr. Hyde from the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Fixing the Start Menu When Adding Windows 10 to a Domain

windows-10If I were a stick of rock and you’d cut me, many years ago, you’d have found the word Microsoft running through me to the core.

I game on XBOX, I develop software using Microsoft tools and I even used to (foolishly) adopt Microsoft products early.

The Armaitus of today is less of a Microsoft fan-boy or apologist and more of jaded ex-lover.

Whilst I upgraded to Windows 10 at home, for research purposes, I have resisted at work. Which is only a problem when you consider that I’m an IT Manager responsible for an estate of over 50 workstations.

Over the last day or so I have been trying to get a brand new Windows 10 laptop (Lenovo Thinkpad) onto our domain and working.

Thanks to to my decision to upgrade to Windows 10 at home, I was able to easily navigate through the various stages of adding the laptop to our domain.  That side of the process was pretty much as you would expect and not really that much different as for Windows 8.

The problems started once I logged in as the domain user that would be accessing the laptop.

Neither the start menu, nor the Edge would start.  Cortana remained silent.

A quick Google showed that I was not alone. From early this year to now, hundreds of Windows 10 users were suffering the same issue.  Worse, there were a myriad of possible causes and solutions to the problem.

I’m writing this 24 hours later, solution in place and satisfied at a job well done.  I’m also pretty annoyed that something so simple hasn’t been fixed by Microsoft yet.

My particular problems weren’t caused by a Group Policy we had in put in place – I’d list the cause as Microsoft not defaulting enough permissions throughout the system.

Microsoft would probably disagree and lay the blame at my not using a Group policy to manage my user’s system access to a granular level.

This link to Microsoft support, lists all the permissions required by the All Application Packages (ALL_APP_PACKAGES) system entity.

By ensuring that these permissions were granted on the laptop, the start menu became accessible once again.

 

Electile Dysfunction – GE 2015

Electile Dysfunction – GE 2015

ObeyI think I’m in shock

I don’t remember being this disenfranchised 5 years ago when the party I had supported for years entered into an ill-advised coalition with the Conservatives.

As a supporter of a working system of Proportional Representation, I’ve never really been happy with the British electoral system.  At best first past the post is a pseudo-democracy and at worst it is a form of dictatorship to those who do not support the leading party.

Last night, as I followed the frighteningly accurate Exit Polls, a sense of deep dystopic foreboding filled me.

Refusing to be sucked into a night of tooth-gnashing angst, I tried to sleep.

My dreams were riddled with allegories: Caledonian warriors defecting from union armies and assisting the enemy in subjugating the masses – that kind of thing.

I woke around 3am, something that seems to be happening more and more these days, and the results were still too early to call.  Conservative, Labour and SNP all at a similar level.

When I rose again, later that morning, the Conservatives were on a clear path to victory.  With only a handful of seats to tally, the outcome was touted as being pretty much a done deal – and that is when the shock set in.

This is my fifth General Election, I was a year and a bit too young when John Major won a Tory victory back in 1992.

Today, more than any other post-polling day, I feel like my voice has been discarded.

The party I support have a small percentage of the vote, a similar percentage to another party.

At this stage in the tally, my party have a single seat and yet the other has over 50; how is that fair and democratic?

Worse than that, I have a genuine sense of being lied to.

I appreciate that my social circle are predominantly liberal/socialist and so my world view is coloured a kind of orangey-green but are there really that many Conservative voters out there?

When I campaigned for the Liberal Democrats 5 years ago, the general doorstep feedback was pro-Labour but my constituency remains a solid blue.

For the security of the voter, voting is anonymous but how, then, do I know that the votes tallied are genuine?

For all I know the figures were set well in advance of the election; exit polls could just as easily be rigged as they retain the same anonymity.

I’m not saying that I 100% support this theory of electoral conspiracy but I find it difficult to push the possibility from the front of my mind.

So here I am, on the first day of the New Dystopia, shackled with the illusion of a free and democratic society, ready for another 5 years of tyrannical rule.

So long NHS, I’ll miss the Insulin more than you might think.

God I Love Being a Turtle (Fan)

MikeyI would like to share my thoughts on Michael Bay‘s Ninja Turtles movie.  I am attempting to do so in such a manner as to avoid spoiling the movie for those who have not seen it.

My introduction to the Turtles came at some point in the eighties through some kind of unplanned Pincer Strike.

On the one side there was a censored (and retitled) cartoon series and on the other there was Palladium Books‘ tabletop role-playing game based on the original comic series by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.

The turtles were (nay, are) iconic and played a key part of my personal development through childhood to early adulthood.

Mocked at the time for being such a far fetched concept, many of the Turtles’ critics didn’t really get the message that the story held for others.

Eastman and Laird’s work parodied themes that were prevalent in comics at the time and yet portrayed strong heroic (and anti-heroic) character archetypes.

I’ve been a fan ever since and I’ve seen the Turtles evolve over the years, adapting to each new generation whilst still keeping to what they stand for.

From cartoon and action figure to previous live action movies. I’ve run tabletop role-playing sessions with the turtles and even seen them inspire a form of the lesser banishing pentagram ritual.

When I heard that Michael Bay was making a movie, I panicked a little. Having already ridden roughshod over another staple from my childhood, the man who twisted the Transformers into a mess of grinding girders now had his hands on the Turtles.

Last night, I finally plucked up the courage to go see Bay’s movie.

I’m almost ashamed to say it but I can often be “That Guy”. You know… the one who’s read the book before the film or seen the original before the reboot. So the chance was very high that I was going to spend the entire viewing criticizing and gnashing my teeth.

Surprisingly, I enjoyed it.

I feel I had just cause to be cautious. I had heard rumours that the liberties had been taken with the origin story and Megan Fox clearly isn’t red haired enough to play April… but actually, she did a good job and the revised origin made sense within the confines of Bay’s plot.

The only real complaint I had about the movie came with the inclusion of Mecha-Shredder.

Yes, Shredder is meant to rely on his barbed and bladed armour to give him the edge in combat but the I-Can’t-Believe-It-Doesn’t-Turn-Into-A-Fighter-Jet power armour that Shredder wore led to the kind of girder grinding battles that I hated in Transformers.

That being said, the origin story change wasn’t as bad as it could have been and by and large the characters were true to their archetypes.

No matter who your favourite turtle is, there’s something in there for every Turtles fan… except maybe fans of Casey Jones who doesn’t appear at all.

Most importantly, I left the cinema happy and not, as I expected to be, full of rage.

Elite: Lave – Revolution – A Blast from the Past

Lave: RevoloutionLike many gamers from my generation, I remember spending hours in front of my Father‘s BBC Micro, racking up credits and saving up for a Docking Computer or a better set of lasers on my Cobra Mk III in the vector space trading game Elite.

A lifetime later and Allen Stroud takes us back to those halcyon days with this cracking piece of science fiction.

I know Allen through LRP; he played a formative part in my understanding of much of the early game world of the Lorien Trust‘s system here in the UK.

He is also, in my opinion, a thoroughly nice chap.

Set in the systems neighbouring Lave, Elite: Lave Revolution (Elite: Dangerous) tells of the cosmo-political transition that Lave takes. From the Lave of my childhood to the Lave of the forthcoming (and long awaited) reboot of the Elite game. Elite – Dangerous.

Far form being “just another game tie-in”, Lave: Revolution is as gripping as it is cunning. The tale follows a number of characters through a maze of galactic conspiracy, deception and ultimately – planetary revolution.

The story is decorated with historical transcripts and technical factoids that add to the world in which Allen is weaving the tale but this only serves to add icing to what is already a well garnished tale.

After reading this in one sitting I am left thirsty for more – I’ll have to make do with the Elite – Dangerous beta and wait for Allen to write more.

When the Going Gets Tough…

mudderA couple of years ago a good friend of mine discovered that he had Cancer.

I’ve had a couple of scares in my life (who hasn’t?) but his story really struck home – similar age, life style and outlook on life, my friend had been struck with the big “C”.

Since then, my friend has recovered and has used turned the experience on its head, using it to drive his life in a positive manner.

Other have not been so lucky.

It’s probably my age but as I approach the big four-oh I lose more and more loved ones to Cancer: a good friend’s Father, a fellow LARPer… but still more fight Cancer and rely on charities like Macmillan to help them carry on the fight to survive.

At the back end of last year, my friend announced that he would be doing Tough Mudder, to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.  He also asked if any of his friends would be up to the challenge with him.

Macmillan helped my friend out as he went through his cancer battle and I know many other people with similar stories of the support that Macmillan provide to people in need.

Naturally, I said “Hell yes!” to my  friend’s request and will be taking the Tough Mudder challenge with friends on September 13th 2014 in Cheshire.

Please support us by visiting our Just Giving page (De La Luna Tough Mudders) and making a donation.

 

Egged While Walking

eggfaceLast Monday I was assaulted, in a way that both literally and figuratively left me with egg on my face.

After successfully shedding over four stones last year, I have decided to carry over into 2014 in the same vein. So, Monday night I decided to try a new route.

My usual winter evening route has reached its expansion limits, at best I can make 6 miles on a night without straying too far into urbanity but to do more than 6 miles would mean looping over territory already covered and that would become a little too repetitive for me.

The new route takes me down into my local village and then the opposite way to my usual route. A good 7 miles minimum at first estimate.

My plan is a simple one, start 2014 at 5 – 7 miles of mixed walking and sprinting every other night and build up a mile a month until I can comfortably cover 12 miles without too much of a struggle.

Fitness wasn’t the only drive to change routes, I’ve recently started playing the augmented reality game Ingress and the only vulnerable enemy portals near me are on the new route.

So Monday night I started Endomondo and set out, down into Lindley, farming enemy portals in Ingress.

It was a nice start, despite having been relatively idle over the festive break, my fitness levels hadn’t dropped and I made a good pace through the village and up towards the M62.

3.5 miles in I cross the M62 and head on to my planned turning point, a church on route – co-incidentally the last of the enemy portals in Ingress.

The road up from the bridge over the M62 is poorly lit, poorly paved and poorly travelled. The occasional car speeds past on its way towards Rochdale but it’s my preferred walking environment – lonely and isolated.

I’d estimated that a turn around there would result in my returning home at the 7 mile mark – a circuit that could be expanded upon by moving the turning point forward by half a mile in future,

I hacked the Ingress portal and made the turn to start home, checking my progress in Endomondo to make sure I wasn’t short changing myself on distance.

I was suddenly struck in the face, throat and chest by what I took to be a hard snowball – an ice ball even.

Cold, hard and wet, I was knocked back by the blow.

Uttering an expletive, the realisation dawned that we have not had any snow yet this winter; I looked around to check as I wiped, what I thought was snow, away.

My hand came away with a mix of albumen, yolk, blood and shell.

I had been egged.

I think the embarrassment negated the rage and shock somewhat, although the anger seeped back in as my hand came away a second time doused in blood.

I could tell there was a wound, of sorts, bleeding profusely from my chin – and my throat and chest felt bruised.

The egg had hit at a fair speed. My memory, catching up with me, associated the impact with the passing by of a speeding car.

I had been egged from a passing car.

A third wipe and I determined that I was still bleeding.

One hand pressed against my chin and throat to stop the bleeding, whilst the other struggled with my, now egg-bound, phone.

The camera wouldn’t activate and so I decided to make my way back towards home (2 miles away) or hospital – (4 miles away – if needed).

The blood kept streaming, so I stopped at a local takeaway that had just closed for the night. The gentlemen inside let me in but didn’t have a mirror or first aid kit.

They let me stay there until the bleeding stopped and gave me paper towels to stop the flow.

As helpful as they were, the chaps in the takeaway couldn’t really help me identify the severity of the source of the bleeding, so I decided to set out again whilst phoning my other half for help.

When I finally got the phone free of blood and yolk, I managed to take the photograph above and realised that actually I wasn’t badly cut at all.

A swollen chin, minor cuts on the chin and in the mouth; and a chest full of egg.

In the aftermath I called 111 to go through a medical check-list and then 101 to inform the local police – although there is nothing they can do with no description of the assailant or the assailant’s vehicle.

Four days on and I have already made sure that I get out again, albeit on a third route. I did find myself flinching as cars passed but that didn’t last long.

It does seem that I am not alone, this kind of assault appears to be surprisingly common.

I’ve heard of walkers, runners, cyclists and equestrians being pelted with eggs, stones, bottles and cans; even being shot with pellet guns in more extreme cases.

I just count myself lucky that I was not hit in the eye and that I haven’t come across this activity before – hopefully it is quite rare.