Showing posts with label Games. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Games. Show all posts

Thursday, 28 February 2013

When I'm 64

I'm 31 on Monday. Where does the time go? Fair enough, 31 isn't exactly old (note the tenuous link to this post's title - and there's more to come further down, oh yes!) but I still feel exactly the same as I did when I was, say, 13 or something. I don't have a bad back, no creaking limbs, no wrinkles, grey hair or liver fact I still get asked for ID when I buy alcohol. Some may say this is a bit of a blessing, but I see it as a bit of a piss take - especially as most of the time I'm a good deal older than the cashier asking for said identification papers. I don't really have any answer for my relatively youthful appearance, especially when most of my contemporaries generally look pretty haggard in comparison (sorry guys, but its true), but I do know one thing - it fucks me off when I get called 'young man.'

Don't ask me why, but that moniker really grips my shit - even more so when (as above) the term is dished out by some cunt who's younger than me. It's like a put down, as if calling you 'young' means 'less worldly' or something. I know this is all a load of bullshit that I'm spouting here, and I shouldn't spend my time wondering what some random dick means when they call me 'young man,' but what winds me up even more is realising that not only am I usually older than them, but I've (probably) seen and done a hell of a lot more in my time than they could ever imagine. When somebody calls me 'young man,' I want to grab them by the sides of the face, touch foreheads and perform a goddamn mind-meld info-dump on the fucker and let them know all the shit I've been through; all the places I've been too and all the experiences and sadness and joy and strife I've been subjected to - all while they were either wondering at their first pubes sprouting or having their Findus Crispy Pancakes warmed up by mummy. Cunts.

Just wanted to get that off my chest. So yes - I'm 31 years old (young?) on Monday. I'll be celebrating this momentous milestone in true British fashion by getting well and truly ringbolted (tipsy) on Saturday night. Excellent.

I went to watch Manchester United play against Reading in the FA Cup last Monday night. It was a pretty dull game in all honesty, but on the plus side I found £5 on the pavement on my way into the stadium. We were sat up in the top tier of the Sir Alex ferguson stand, and while it was a pretty steep incline, the position offered us a sterling view of the pitch:

Other than that, there hasn't been much of interest or import happening. I've decided to start looking for alternative means of employment, as the job I was offered still hasn't started and the recruitment department are still dragging their asses over a start date etc. I've been waiting the best part of two months now and the sheer boredom of being off work is starting to drive me insane (there are only so many Archfiend/AVGN/Irate Gamer bitching Youtube videos one can stomach in one day/week/month), so I think I'm just going to have to cut my losses and look elsewhere for a way to earn a meagre crust.

Speaking of boredom and ways to quelch it (thanks Tenacious D), I recently went to my mum's house to retrieve some more of my random boxes of shit I'd been storing there.

One of these boxes contained my old Nintendo 64 and a handful of games (post title? eh? yes it's true - I'm a genius!), and I was pretty stoked at the thought of being able to hook the old girl (the N64, not my mum) up to my massive plasma TV and play Golden Eye, Mario Kart 64 and (shiver) Mission Impossible in all their anti-aliased glory. Imagine then, my world-ending disappointment when I hooked the N64 up and threw the switch only to be confronted with a blank screen. I tried all the channels and a whole host of different cables/inputs only to be met with the same 'no signal - check connection' message floating around the screen. I thought there may be something wrong with the TV so I tried it with the other, smaller Samsung LCD we have - no joy, same thing. I did a bit of Googling and discovered to my abject horror that no, the N64 will not work with most of these new flatscreen LCD/LED/Plasma screen TVs due to the maximum resolution output (or some such shit) of the N64 console. Goddamn archaic Nintendo hardware architecture! When I think about it though, the N64 looked pretty awful on the old CRT TVs of yesteryear (well, the 1990s) so blowing the lo-res crap up to HDTV proportions would make it look even worse, so its probably for the best: rose-tinted specs with lenses the depth of jam jars wouldn't have made them look any less horrible. Although, I wish I'd known that before I went and splashed out on Jet Force Gemini, World Driver Championship and Perfect Dark. Harrumph. My only option is to go and get an old portable CRT telly from somewhere, but not having a car could make that a little tricky.

Watch this SDTV space.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Failure To Launch

Hands up if you stayed up late on Wednesday night to watch the much-hyped PS4 reveal. I did, and I can't help but feel a little disappointed. I'm no Sony fanboy, but I have to admit that the prospect of the next wave of consoles being heralded by Sony kind of excited me. The last two Sony machines left me cold - the PS2 destroyed my beloved Dreamcast's chance of ever reaching maturity (who knows what kind of creativity we could have seen had Sega's last console been given a longer lifespan?); while the PS3 left me wondering how it offered anything that the 360 didn't already. But by having this super-secretive press release/reveal thing, it sent out a message that Sony were ready to really show the world something special. Not since the first screens of Super Mario 64 started appearing in magazines in the early 90s have I been as excited by a new console launch, and it made me feel like a kid again...but that was until I actually started watching the live-streamed event. I watched it via Giant Bomb so that I could also hear the views of the editorial staff, and while those guys seemed to be fairly excited by the whole event, I was just left wondering 'eh?!'

There was absolutely nothing that told me I was looking at the next generation of gaming. All of the tech demos that were shown looked pretty much like graphics look now, on the current generation. Granted, games on the PS3 and Xbox 360 still look pretty stunning and I'm not really sure how they can be improved (the improvements are most likely to come in the shape of larger game worlds etc), but I was expecting a lot more. One game shown (and it was rumoured to be actual game footage up on the big screen, rather than a mock-up),  titled Knack, looked no better than anything I've played on the current generation, yet there were gasps from the audience. Did I miss something? Here, look:

See what I mean. The rest of the stuff shown just looked like rendered mock-ups (and not very impressive ones, either), although the Capcom demo of a new IP called Deep Down piqued my interest, if only because it featured an armour-clad knight fighting a dragon, and I can dig that shit. Elsewhere, I was left completey stunned by the complete lack of any hardware on show - where was the console, Sony? Sure, they showed off the damned controller (which is basically a Dual Shock with a 'share' button and a coloured light on top) and also a bit of the social media-type stuff that the console will support, but what we really wanted (and I think I speak for most people interested in this shit) was a glimpse of the goddamned hardware. When I think 'PS2' I see the black oblong and blue highlights; when I think Wii I see the little white box up on it's side; and when I think N64 I visualize the bizarre art-deco stylings....but when I think PS4, I don't really have an image of the thing because nobody knows what it looks like! Sure, Sony probably want to keep their final design away from the prying eyes of Microsoft, and that's quite probably the reason they didn't reveal any technical specifications either...but this was billed as a 'reveal,' and surely these are the important things that people who are interested in this kind of thing need and want to know.

So what do we know about the PS4 after the event? Well, there are a few franchises that will continue on the new platform (Kill Zone for example), along with a few new ones (Driveclub was one, but it instantly conjured up images of Driving Emotion Type-S from the PS2 launch), and the joypad will have a share button. Oh, and social media will be high on the priority list and you'll be able to use your PS Vita (who even owns one of those?) as a sort of Wii U knock-off controller. Er...and apart from that, not a great deal to be honest.

Speaking of the Wii U, I almost bought one a few weeks ago, even after my complete destruction of the thing in a previous post. But then I looked at the games available for it and also the release schedule for the next few months. I kept my money in my pocket. Just a little side note for you. I almost-but-didn't buy a PS Vita for the exact same reason: no games.

It'll be interesting to see what Microsoft offer up in the form of a reaction, but I can't help but think that Sony jumped the gun a bit in order to just be 'FIRST!' when it came to showing off their next-gen machinations. On the subject of the next Xbox (or whatever they end up calling it), there are quite a few hideous rumours floating around the net at the moment, and I hope for their sake they turn out to be just that - rumours. The most worrying of these is that the new machine will not allow used games to run, so that would effectively kill the second hand games market. And as a gamer who primarily buys used games (as they're y'know, cheaper) I'd have to think long and hard about whether I was prepared to pay £50 for a new game every time I wanted to play something else. Actually, no I wouldn't - I simply would not buy the console in the first place. Think about that for a moment. Every single time you got bored of a game, you had to go and buy a brand new game to replace it. No more trade-ins, no more selling your old games on Ebay or giving them away to friends or family. A game would be locked to the first console it was used in. How fucking shit would that be?!

Another rumour is that it will need to be connected to the internet at all times, and come with a Kinect as standard, that needed to be plugged in at all times too. Now, I'm no crackpot conspiracy theorist (allegedly), but doesn't that sound a bit creepy? An 'always on' console, with a camera peering into your living room? George Orwell, eat your heart out. Fair enough, if you've got nothing to hide, then why would you have an issue with that? Well, maybe you wouldn't...but what about if the camera could identify how many people were watching a rented movie or something, and block it from playing until the allotted number of people only were in the room? That's the scary shit right there. Our own technology telling us how we get to use it. Who is playing who, exactly?! OK, so that's a bit far fetched, and I only heard about it listening to a gaming podcast, but it's a real possibility that this kind of limitation could be introduced to our next generation of games consoles. And if they do, I think I'm going to have to either find a new hobby, or just go back to playing my Dreamcast and wondering about what could have been. Hmm.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Ouya? Oh Yeah!

In recent posts I’ve looked at the new Nintendo consoles and basically poured scorn on them both. The Wii Mini looks like the most pointless thing I’ve ever seen – a Wii without internet functionality and no backwards compatibility; and the Wii U...well, my opinions of that turd are fiercely negative and I make no apologies. This week it came to light that due to some arcane European legislation, if you’re stupid enough to have bought a Wii U and wish to view/download ‘adult’ content (i.e. anything that’s rated 18 / Mature), you have to wait until between the hours of 11pm and 4am for it to be visible in the online store. And there I was thinking Nintendo were over the whole ‘green/no blood in games’ thing. 

To be fair, I don’t think this is necessarily something that Nintendo has implemented of its own accord, but both Xbox Live and the PS Network marketplaces do not impose this bizarre censorship and yet they operate in a European environment too. Way to go, Nintendo. First – bring out two new consoles, both of which are similarly titled to your existing one. Then send mixed audience messages by releasing a glut of child-friendly launch titles alongside more adult-themed ones...but then impose a kind of watershed on mature online content. Brilliant. There are two other consoles on the horizon though. And no, I’m not talking about the next offerings from Sony or Microsoft. They’re Ouya and Neo Geo X

You’d be forgiven for never having heard of either of these consoles, and in all honesty the Neo Geo X will probably be born into a cloud of apathy before vanishing into the mists of time (but not before sprouting eBay listings advertising it as ‘**RARE!!!**’); but the Ouya has the potential to be a bit of a game changer (sorry). Ouya started life as a Kickstarter project that went on to attract donations of over $8m and is in essence an indie gamer’s dream – a true modder’s console that runs a bespoke version of the Android OS, and that the creators are marketing as a console that will actively encourage homebrew creativity. So, it’s kind of like that GP2X thing that nobody bought, but in console form. 

The thing that sets Ouya apart from the other ‘modders/homebrew/indie’ consoles is that it offers so much for such a meagre price tag: It’ll apparently retail for $99 (which using the usual gaming hardware conversion techniques will no doubt equate to £99, and not the more realistic £60ish) on launch, and offer loads of cool stuff straight out of the box, such as compatibility with On Live and a fully featured app/game store. The Ouya’s creators are also quite happy for gamers to open the console itself and tinker with the actual hardware inside, which as far as I know, is completely unprecedented for a console. Fair enough, you can buy things like Raspberry Pi and you can always mod a PC...but official modding support from a console manufacturer is a new one on me. I’m not sure if I’ll buy one, but Ouya looks quite intriguing especially as the quality of Android games is improving all the time (those Modern Combat games are getting very good, even if they are blatant rip-offs of Modern Warfare...and technically I’ve only played the Blackberry OS versions, so not really Android...but fuck it. You know what I’m getting at). Ouya is out next March in the US...and a UK release date isn’t even hinted at yet (surprise). 

The other new console I mentioned is the Neo Geo X from SNK Playmore. SNK is a company that I always associated with impenetrable fighting games like King of Fighters and stupidly hard side-scrolling shooters like Metal Slug, and the original Neo Geo console (and its variants) was something I never actually played on because I didn’t know anyone who a) had one; or b) could afford one. 

There was a guy at my school who told everyone he had a Neo Geo, but when me and my brother went round one evening to have a go on it, he came out with some bullshit story that his mum had seen it in his room, not known what it was and then proceeded to throw it in the alleyway behind his house. He then went and pretended to be looking for his Neo Geo in said alley for about 20 minutes before giving up. Unimpressed by the quality (or lack thereof) of this blatant attempt to hoodwink us, my brother and I left soon after and our acquaintance never mentioned the Neo Geo again. Certainly not when either of us was in the vicinity, anyway. 

But I digress. So the Neo Geo then – a fabled and rarely seen console that boasted some (apparently) excellent 2D fighters, shooters and...well that’s it as far as I can tell. Enter the Neo Geo X – A strange hybrid console that consists of a hand held Neo Geo console that is pre-loaded with 20 of SNK’s best retro games...that fits inside a case that looks like the original Neo Geo so you can hook it up to a TV. The console comes with a gargantuan joystick/pad thing too so you can get that true 1990s import gamer nostalgia going on. Reports that it comes with a free Tango & Cash poster are unconfirmed. Oddly, the Neo Geo X doesn’t take original Neo Geo carts (mainly because the plastic case is just that – a mock up of the original AES shell without any functioning parts) as the games come on some kind of SD-like memory card that are plugged into the little handheld unit. You’d have to be a bit of an SNK nutter to shell out the $200 asking price for one of these things in my opinion, especially since most of the games available have either already been ported to other consoles or are available for free (cough) on certain (cough) websites (cough). Cough. As with the Ouya though, there isn’t a UK release date or price as yet. I’d be surprised if we ever see the Neo Geo X officially released on these shores though, especially as the original Neo Geo consoles never made an impact here and the Neo Geo Pocket Colour sold about 3 units. Saying that, if you did happen to find a Neo Geo CD system in a Moss Side alleyway in about 1995 (just up from where Maine Road used to be); could you get in touch via the comments section? I might owe an apology to an old school friend. 

I downloaded a little game last night called Braid. I’d heard lots of talk about it when it launched on Xbox Live, but I never got it because I find the whole ‘Microsoft Points’ thing a bit shit. If you could just buy things with real money out of your debit account like you can on the App Store/iTunes and the Blackberry Appworld, then I might be more inclined to do so...but I just don’t really like the way you can only buy certain amounts of Microsoft Points and then be left with a useless number of them after buying something. I’ve had 180 points in my account for about 3 years now...and 180 is just about enough to buy absolutely fuck all. However, I saw Braid on the App Store on the Mac last night for £2.99 so I bought it. And what a delightful little romp it is too. 

It’s basically a platform game with a great hand-drawn art style. The story and locations appear a little on the surreal side, as does the way you can rewind time if you fall to your death...but you also have to use this function to solve puzzles involving cannons firing clouds. Quite. I’ve looked around on the interwebs quite a bit and discovered that Braid is actually about a nuclear war or something...which just adds a bit of intrigue to the story in the textbooks you come across in-game. Only played the first two ‘worlds’ thus far, but it was definitely worth £2.99 in my opinion. You can’t even get a pint for £2.99 these days (unless you go and jostle with the alcoholics and bums in your local Wetherspoons) so money well spent. I might attempt to do a little video review some time. But then again, I might not.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Golden Joysticks

Firstly – what the fuck have they done to the Games Radar site? Jesus, talk about fucking up something that didn’t need to be fucked around with. Seriously – go there and have a look at the new layout. It didn’t look like that until yesterday; previously it was a bit like a blog where every new story would just go to the top and push the previous ones down and off the bottom of the front page onto page 2. Now it looks like Lawnmower Man has thrown up all over the screen – there doesn’t seem to be any logical arrangement to the articles...just complete random chaos. Sheesh. Think I’ll be going elsewhere for my daily gaming news until they sort that design car-crash out. Ho-hum. 

In slightly related, but not at all related news, I feel I must pay homage to the late, great Sir Patrick Moore who passed away at the weekend. Obviously, his main interest and knowledge sphere was astronomy and all things extra-terrestrial (by which I mean planets and quasars and all that malarkey), but to pretty much every gamer of a certain age, Sir Patrick was also the face of Thursday night gaming television on Channel 4: he was the Games Master. Fair enough, Dominic Diamond and Dexter Fletcher were also in there (the former much more than the latter, I know), as were several other UK-based industry types (publisher Dave Perry and developer Peter Molyneux among them), but it was the titular Games Master who set the challenges and was the main focal point of the series. 

For those who never saw Games Master, there were several series set over a few years and it was a show I used to watch religiously whenever it was running. The format was sort of like a game show where there was a presenter (the aforementioned Dominic Diamond, and for one series Dexter Fletcher) and contestants who would come on to take part in challenges set by the Games Master. The Games Master was basically Sir Patrick Moore’s head with various CG overlays, who spoke from a giant screen. If the contestant was successful in the challenge set, he or she would walk away with a coveted Games Master Golden Joystick. The best bit was that these challenges were usually set in games that were available to buy for the consoles of the time, and if you watch the episodes back on Youtube, you can sort of tell the era they were from by the games they were using. As well as the challenges, there were reviews and news items focusing on the latest games. Back in the early to mid nineties, gaming was still seen as a bit of a geek’s hobby (and probably still is by most people) and Games Master went some way to establishing the medium in the mainstream, certainly in this country. Obviously, the PSX had a little bit to do with it too, but I’d say that GM also had a fair part to play. 

Alongside the TV programme, there was a magazine (titled, er, Games Master Magazine) which I would get monthly as part of my regular haul of gaming mags. It was a really cool mag, and was kind of like an all-format Amiga Power-lite, in that it was written in a fairly adult tone, with lots of references to real-world happenings. The magazine is still going, but has since taken a bit of a diversion and is squarely aimed at the younger gamer these days. I suppose that’s why GamesTM and Edge now exist; filling a niche and all that jazz. But Edge is a self-important load of old toss, so we won’t mention that particular mag again. So yeah, what I’m trying to get at is that Sir Patrick Moore died at the weekend and I’m sure most people will remember him fondly for the part he played in the whole Games Master saga. 

Again, following on in this games-related diatribe, I read last week that Nintendo have re-launched the original Wii console (there it is, up there!). I say ‘relaunched’ but that’s probably taking things a little too far – they’ve pooed out the Wii Mini into Canadian stores (?). The Wii Mini is basically a stripped down original Wii, with all the internet functionality and backwards compatibility taken out, and repackaged in a rather garish looking black and red casing. The question remains: why? They’ve already confused half the casual gaming world with their Wii U, and now they’ve gone and added to the confusion further by releasing yet another ‘new’ Wii. Baffling. 

I took the Macbook to the Apple Store in Bristol on Saturday. The two people I spoke to on the phone last week said that I could have the chipped palm rest replaced in-store and even though I was slightly sceptical I still traipsed down the M5 (and discovered I had a flat rear tire on the way...which wasn’t fun) and took the Mac in to their ‘Genius bar.’ Genius?! More like Retard bar! The guy didn’t know what he was talking about for a start and then after he’d consulted his iPad for about 10 minutes just came back and told me they couldn’t do the job (even though I had been told otherwise on the phone by TWO different ‘Geniuses’). He did, however, go on to tell me at great length that there was a place in Cheltenham that would do the repair, but “it wouldn’t be cheap.” What happened to Apple replacing these palm rests for free? 

I rang the place in Cheltenham and they said the same thing – they’d have to send it off to their workshop blah fucking blah, and that it wouldn’t be free unless I called Apple and got their approval. Yes – call Apple. And get their approval for a free repair to my computer. As if that’s going to happen. I fobbed the guy off and hung up. 

Something made me go back into the Apple Store though, I don’t know what. I suppose I just wanted to have a muck about with the new Macbooks and stuff. It’s been a while since I’ve been into an Apple Store and just had a play with the sexy gear on show. And it’s amazing what you pick up just from being able to see the whole product range of a company just laid out and easily accessible. For one, I didn’t know that the Macbook Air and the new Macbook (with Retina display) don’t have DVD drives. Who the fuck thought that was a good idea?! Sure, the omission of an optical drive reduces weight...but what about being able to watch a DVD without having to lug an external drive around with you? It’s almost as if Apple and Nintendo are working together to wind people up by doing stupid things with their new hardware (the whole ‘you can’t use a USB stick on two different Wii U consoles’ thing is equally strange). That neither of those two systems (and the new iMac) have optical drives instantly makes me look elsewhere. 

And as a matter of fact, I did: at the Macbook Pro. The normal, £999, 13,” 2.5 Ghz, 4GB RAM, 500 GB HDD model to be precise. What an amazing piece of engineering. I can see why people love Apple hardware, with it's super-sleek aluminium casing and quality feel. I had a play around for a good while and instantly fell in love with it – the two-fingered mouse pad commands were something I had never come across but instantly didn’t want to live without. So I just went and bought one. Right then and there I just went up and asked for a 13” Macbook Pro and paid for it outright. And I have to say it’s the greatest purchase I’ve ever made (apart from the HS30 EXR, naturally...but they go hand in hand what with iPhoto and all the other cool Mac photo shit). It’s been two days now and I’m still fascinated by the thing and all the cool stuff it does. Not too impressed that you can’t plug normal headphone-jacked speakers into it without getting this weird buzzing noise (something to do with feedback of the current or some crap), but I’m totally blown away...and while it doesn’t have a Retina screen, it does have a DVD drive so I can watch my Warehouse 13 series one boxset when I eventually get around to it. I still have the used Macbook white sitting on a shelf, but that badboy’ll be going on Gumtree by the end of the week.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Nooks & Trannies

My book finally arrived at Waterstones and they promptly called me when it was ready for collection. Sadly, it appears that it's been used as a rugby ball. These probably sound like the ramblings of a paranoid schizophrenic, but I'm guessing the fact that I complained about the delay has played some part in this. The cover is all bent (with a massive crease down the front of the book) and the spine and back cover are scuffed to hell. Yes, I'm a little annoyed that a company as large and reputable as Waterstones can allow this sort of thing, but then again maybe it just got like this in transit. Either way, Waterstones have lost a customer in me - when you spend £20 on a book (a fucking book!), you expect to get it on time and in an acceptable condition. By God, what has happened to customer service? I've seen books on car boot sales in better condition that this supposedly new copy of House of Leaves. Bah! At least it's here though - which is the main thing.

I shall be delving into it later on this evening and imparting my thoughts on this very blog in due course. On the subject of books and bookstores though, I noticed an advert on TV t'other day for the Barnes & Noble Nook. Does this mean B&N are finally launching in the UK? If they do, they won't have to try very hard to kick Waterstones' arse judging by my recent experience - all they'll have to do is not send orders to wrong parts of the country, and then deliver said orders in a condition vaguely approaching 'new.' Oh, and maybe employ staff that don't have massive tattoos of the Batman symbol on their forearms (with matching batarang earrings) or look like Hagrid stunt doubles. Seriously, I'm all for people being individuals and shit - but at least try to make yourself look presentable whilst being 'individual.' There are certain shops where it seems to be a prerequisite that you've got bright blue hair and a luminous nose ring in order to get a job there. Gamestation is one such place. Why? I'm a gamer. I'm probably the biggest games geek I know, but it doesn't make me want to walk around wearing a ripped tablecloth and have a gravestone tattooed on my neck.

HMV is another one. Actually - wait an fucking minute, there's a trend developing here (I think). Gamestation. HMV. Waterstones. All shops I've been in recently where at least one member of staff has had black lipstick on (and their sex didn't seem to matter). Curious. There's definitely some kind of link or correlation going on here...but I really can't deduce what it is. I suppose all of these stores sell electronics of some form...maybe that's it? I don't know, but it seems to be the de rigueur for somebody whose job it is to stand around offering (usually incorrect) music or games or book advice to middle aged people in beige trousers and brown NHS spectacles.

I seem to have gone off on quite an unexpected tangent there...but speaking of the Nook, it looks like quite a nice e-reader/tablet thingy. But seeing as I've already got both a Kindle and a BlackBerry Playbook (a device which also allows you, I don't think I've got much need for one. Maybe I'll go and ask the steampunk goth working in Rumbelows for his/her advice.

I recently bought The Click Five's second album Modern Minds and Pastimes. If anyone in the UK knew who The Click Five were, I'd probably get kicked to death and then set alight, but thanks to their total lack of presence here, I'm good (for now). Basically, TCV (as they shall henceforth be referred to) are what would be produced if Rivers Cuomo ass-raped any one of McFly. They're a band who sing ever-so-catchy pseudo indie/pop and sing it fucking well. I've had their first album for ages (can't remember where I even got it from) and most of the tracks are pretty hummable, but then a few weeks ago I bought their third album off iTunes. My god - what a record. So on Monday night I paid another £7.99 for their second album...and it's easily as good. Want three albums of toe-tapping power pop? TCV should be your first port of call.

Other recent media-related good shit I've encountered: Seasick Steve (music), Moneyball (film), Warehouse 13 (TV series). Seek them all and thou shalt be rewarded.

Thursday, 27 September 2012


One of the things most car drivers take for granted is the fuel gauge on their dashboard. I don’t have one on my current bike, due to the no-frills nature of the instrument panel. All I’ve got is a speedo, a rev counter, indicators, neutral and hi-beam icons. That’s it. No fuel gauge, no oil temperature...nothing but the basics. It’ll probably come as no surprise to read then, that on Monday afternoon I ran out of petrol. On the M5. It wasn’t a particularly nice experience, especially as I was overtaking a lorry at the time. There I was, thundering along at 80mph when suddenly the bike started to lurch and grumble, lost all power and started to slow down. Luckily, the motorway was fairly quiet so I was able to indicate into the outside lane and then trundle to a halt on the hard shoulder. I wasn’t actually aware of the reason for the bike’s reluctance to start up again (I just thought it was a re-occurrence of the problems I had a few weeks ago) until I opened the fuel tank and shook the bike from side to side. Empty. Great. I was two miles from the junction I was planning on coming off at so I had no choice but to push the Suzuki up the hard shoulder and up the ramp and then negotiate a bridle path before finding a petrol station. I filled up, and she started first time. So, if you happened to see a bloke pushing a Suzuki Goose up the M5 on Monday afternoon – that was me! 

Also, let this be a lesson to you: never underestimate the power of the petrol gauge. To be fair, I’ve had the bike for a few weeks now, and the only time I’d actually put any fuel in it was when I put a fiver’s worth in...erm...a few weeks ago. So I’ve only got myself to blame really. Small engine bikes are so fuel efficient, you almost forget that they actually require fuel, and without the gauge on the dash screaming ‘put some petrol in you dick!,’ it’s easy to forget. Furthermore - Suzuki Gooses (Geese?) are heavier than they look, so pay attention to your petrol level, fellow non-gaugers.

It wasn’t all bad though – my faith in humanity was restored slightly by the number of other bikers who pulled over to ask if they could help. When I told them I was out of fuel, most of them offered to take me to the nearest petrol station...but then we realised I had no petrol can and that it would require going back down the motorway to the next junction and coming back up on the other side in order to get back to the Suzuki. So I just resided to push it. But to those helpful fellow motorcyclists, I say thank you: you just don’t get that kind of assistance when you drive a car. 

I went to see the new Judge Dredd film the other day. I had high hopes for it, seeing as I’m quite familiar with the comic-based version of Dredd. Back in my early teens, 2000AD was one of the many periodicals I would waste my mum’s child benefit money on (or, if I happened to have a paper round for that particular month, my own money), so the Dredd character is one I have a particular interest in. When I actually sit and think about it, 2000AD and the various ‘Tharg’s Future Shocks’ spin-off comics were probably my first real exposure so science fiction, so you can see why I was really rooting for this new movie to be kick ass. I love the whole setting of the franchise – the huge, dirty mega cities, the idea of a no-man’s land outside the city walls, the dystopian lifestyle depicted within said walls. It’s like Blade Runner and 1984 rolled together, but with a bit of dark humour thrown in for good measure. 

The first Dredd movie didn’t do particularly well at the box office, but I still think it’s a pretty decent film (even if Dredd/Stallone does take his helmet off). I reckon the reason for that film’s lack of success was that the whole Judge Dredd thing was/is a British comic strip and American knowledge of it in the early 1990s was pretty limited. I’m guessing most people in the US had no idea what the fuck Judge Dredd was meant to be when the Stallone version launched. What? It’s a courtroom drama? Set in the future? With Rambo in it? I’ll pass, thanks. 

So the latest take on the Dredd universe? Well, it’s pretty fucking good to be honest. I wasn’t sure what to think when I heard that Karl Urban had been cast as the main man, but his performance was outstanding. And his chin/grimace is more ‘Dredd’ than Stallone’s could ever be. The storyline is fairly basic – Dredd and a new recruit (Anderson) get called to a homicide in one of the city’s vast tower blocks (remember the ‘block wars’?) and discover a massive drug manufacturing plot. The drug lord behind the operation then locks the block down and orders her gangsters to flush the Judges out before they can shut her down. It’s a simple story, but set in this world, it’s enough to power an entire movie. I don’t know what it is about Karl Urban, but he just ‘does’ Dredd so fucking well, and the gore and slow-motion effects blend perfectly with the firefights and humour. Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a comedy, but there are a few laugh-out-loud moments along the way. 

The only slight criticisms I have of the movie are the lack of character exploration of Dredd himself and the lack of exploration of Mega City One. Remember in the previous movie how the whole thing kind of hinged on Dredd’s past – the way he was cloned, had a long-lost brother and all that shit? And then there were the sections with the flying Lawmasters that showed you more of the city? There just isn’t any of that in this new one. I suppose this just sets up the possibility of a sequel where we get to see more about Dredd’s past and more of the city, so it’s not all bad...but I was left wanting more from the storyline. Also – where was the fucking ABC warrior?! More ABC warriors in the sequel, please. 

So Dredd then. Worth a watch if you’re a fan of the subject matter, but also worth a watch if you’re a fan of the science fiction genre in general, as the pickings at the cinema are a bit thin on the ground at the moment...apart from Looper, which everyone is raving about. It looks intriguing from the trailers I’ve seen thus far...I just hope it doesn’t turn out to be Inception or The Adjustment Bureau all over again. Two films which looked fucking awesome...but turned out to be either incomprehensible bullshit (Inception), or a totally wasted opportunity (Bureau). 

I only really go to the cinema if there’s a film on that I really, really want to see (I think the last thing I saw was Prometheus The Dark Knight Rises), mainly because it’s so fucking expensive. Dredd was only showing in 3D so I had to pay for the glasses too, and even though Cineworld advertise Tuesdays as ‘bargain Tuesdays,’ I still ended up forking out nearly £9 for the pleasure. When I got into the theatre after all the fucking weirdoes watching Anna Karenina had cleared out, I found that I was pretty much on my own and had the entire cinema to pick a seat from. So I sat right in the middle so I could get the best view of the screen and optimum 3D viewing angle. No sooner had I sat down than these two fuckwits came in and sat right behind me. As soon as their asses touched the seats, they cracked open cans of coke, started rustling crisp bags and began a full-blown conversation at the tops of their voices. Fair enough, I thought – they’ll shut up as soon as the trailers start. They didn’t. They carried on talking – at full volume – right through the start of the movie and beyond. When one of them started kicking the row of chairs I was sat in, I turned around and looked at them. This was enough to shut them up...for about 5 minutes, and then they started again. I just got up and moved to another aisle, and even though I was far enough away from the pricks to enjoy the rest of the movie, I could still hear them from the other side of the auditorium during quiet moments in the film. Who does that? Who pays nearly ten quid to go to the cinema and then talk through the whole fucking movie? I was determined to find out. 

After the credits started to roll, I went outside and waited for these two fucktards to emerge from the cinema. Because of the lateness of the hour and the small number of people watching the film, I easily spotted them after about 3 minutes of loitering, and I approached. “Thanks for the running commentary,” I began, “I really enjoyed paying £9 to listen to you talk through the entire film.” One of them was quite big and I was expecting trouble, but he stepped closer to me and apologised. I didn’t want his fucking apology at that point, but I was glad I’d given them a piece of my mind, as most people today just let shit like this slide because they’re scared to open their mouths in case they get shanked. Not me. If someone threatens to shank me, I’ll shank the fucker first – in the eye. But that’s just how I roll. Anyway, this bloke started apologising whilst the other one was suddenly quiet. Turns out it was a dad with his mentally handicapped son. The son is on medication for his extreme ADHD and other mental issues and that’s why they were talking – it’s the only way to keep the son’s attention and stop him wandering off etc. I did feel a bit bad about jumping to conclusions and having a go at them without knowing the facts, but how the hell was I supposed to know? I can totally see why the guy took his son to the cinema at 9.30 if he has to talk to him through a showing...but why sit right behind the only other person in there?! Jesus. 

Last bit of overly geeky horse shit: I’ve finally discovered why I can’t play original Xbox games in my 360: the hard drive. You see, my 360 is one of the slim ones, but it’s the matte black 4GB version. I discovered, much to my dismay mere weeks after I’d bought it, that 4GBs of memory simply aren’t enough if you want to install games and demos etc on your system. So off I went to eBay and I got an unbranded HDD for peanuts, whacked it in, and hey presto – more space than I’m ever likely to fill! Winner! Alas, I’ve since discovered that due to the lack of a partition for the saving of original Xbox game files, this unofficial hard drive renders the console unable to load original Xbox no Halo 2 or Outrun 2 unless I go and give Microsoft even more of my hard-earned for an official hard drive. And to that I stick two fingers up. 

It’s the Bristol half marathon this Sunday and I’ve already got my race number and timing tag etc. This’ll be the first race I’ve taken part in this year where I haven’t been totally smashed the night before, so I’ll be sure to divulge on here how I get on. Bearing in mind that all of the previous post night-out races have resulted in either personal bests (Sturminster Newton ½ Marathon) or podium finishes (Puddletown 3rd and East Manchester 2nd), I reckon it’ll be interesting to see how I get on.

Thursday, 25 August 2011


Whenever I try to ring anyone on my mobile, I find myself having to dangle by my feet out of the fucking window in order to get a signal. Either that, or go outside so the GoldenEye satellite can get a fix on me and triangulate my Nokia. And that, my friends, is because the mobile phone network in this country is utter dogshit. You may recall that a few weeks ago I was spunking all over my new 'non O2' network Giffgaff, and waxing about how good it was. And to be honest, my opinion hasn't changed. It's outstanding value for money. The only downside is that it still runs on the O2 network...a network that, in all honesty, is about as reliable as an Alfa Romeo without an engine. So, you can imagine my interest when the BBC released a network map of the UK that details the coverage of the 3G signal.

Where I currently reside (and in the vast majority of rural locales I find myself in), you can count yourself lucky if you can get two bars of 2G signal, let alone 3G so all these people with smart phones and other devices that rely on a high-capacity data connection in order to function - forget it. And yet the major networks are all getting giddy about the impending 4G standard that should start rolling out in the next few years.

Now, I'm by no means a telecommunications expert, but here's an idea O2, T Mobile, Vodafone and the rest of you cunts: how about sorting out the 3G coverage before you start looking at moving to 4G? Just an idea. Oh, and while you're at it, how about extending it beyond the boundaries of London? How fucking brazen can you get: I was listening to Talksport the other day - a national radio station - and I heard an advert for Vodafone that was boasting about how good their signal was in London. London! Fucking great! What about the rest of the country you douchebags?! I realise that a lot of people who reside in our nation's capital are probably oblivious to the fact, but there are other places that exist outside of the boundary of London y'know. Sheesh.

But I'm digressing. The crux of what I'm bitching about is this: what's the point of trying to improve the data capacity of the mobile network in this country if the current one is still a pile of festering arse? Surely it'd be cheaper and more useful to improve the 3G coverage as more people currently own compatible handsets. The mind, my friends, boggles.

Other news: Steve Jobs has finally stepped down as the head honcho at the world's most pretentious company. Thinking of sending him a farewell card with a note asking for the reimbursement of the money I wasted on multimple iPods over the years before I realised they were SHIT and stopped buying them. As I've mentioned here in thepast, I've cracked my way through several iPods in my time simply because they stop working for various reasons. Batteries stop holding a charge, chargers break, buttons stop working...I could go on. Anyway, on the subject of mp3 players, my last one (a Phillips GoGear Vibe) died earlier this week and so I needed a replacement to use while running. I headed to Tesco and found this thing for a mere £9.50:

Yes, it looks like something Miley Cyrus might shit out, but I'm quite impressed with it. It's a Samsung Tictoc, and it's clearly aimed at teenage girls, but I'm open-minded. And tight as fuck too, so the £9.50 price-tag was a deal-breaker for me. It's quite an odd contraption - there's only one button but it takes on multiple functions depending on how you orientate the device. Press the button while it's facing upwards and it increases the volume, press it while it's facing the floor and the volume decreases. Press the button while holding the thing horizontally and it skips tracks etc etc etc. It's a bit like a Wii, but in mp3 form. Without a shit-load of rubbish games. Or the layer of dust as it sits under the TV unused since the last strained dinner party with your wife's work friends. Or the stench of the death of Nintendo as a proper games company wafting through the room.

I'm digressing again. So I'll stop.

Friday, 17 June 2011

A Retrospective

I’ve been playing Aliens Vs Predator recently. I remember all the fuss when it was about to come out, and then the slightly poor reviews it received, and as I didn’t have an Xbox or PS3 back then, it kinda just passed me by. However, I picked a copy up for about a fiver a few weeks back and I have to say that I’m very impressed with it. As a ma-hussive fan of the sci-fi genre and of the Alien franchise in particular (c’mon, I’ve got a Weyland Yutani jacket), I feel that I am qualified enough to say that it’s the best game set in the Alien universe that I’ve yet to play. And I’ve played a few – including the gash 8 and 16-bit era ones, Alien Trilogy, Alien Resurrection (which I’ve still got for the PS1), and even the previous iterations of the AvP license. And yes, I even had the Jaguar version back in the day. None of them though, match the atmosphere and feel of the dank and gloomy colony like this new AvP does. The sound samples of the weapons and Alien screeches are spot on; and the franticness of the marine missions is perfectly pitched whilst the Alien missions capture the experience of actually being on the other side of the battle. I must, however, admit that I haven’t touched the Predator missions at the time of writing. I’ll get round to them, but I much prefer the other two characters.

I’ve re-read some of the reviews that appeared upon AvP’s release and I can’t help but feel that a lot of them are just a little harsh. The graphics are actually really good and the aforementioned sound effects are straight out of the movies. Sure, the Alien’s controls do get a little confusing in the heat of the moment, but they’re nothing a fully dextrous, sober (cough) human can't handle. Basically, what I’m saying is that if you’re a fan of the Alien films and/or canon, then you have to get hold of a copy of this game as it is the most authentic way to fully immerse yourself in the xenomorph mythos. Fuck the reviews, come get some. Furthermore, on the basis of AvP, I have spectacularly high hopes for Aliens: Colonial Marines, which I believe is out later this year. But don’t quote me. I’m often wrong, and this is no different.

Remaking or rebooting old games seems to be the ‘in’ thing at the moment though, and I have to say that the subject is one that definitely interests this particular gamer. I’ve just been looking at comparison shots of the new Ocarina of Time for the 3DS and the original game on the N64. Saying that the new shots look amazing is an understatement – the level of detail lavished upon familiar and well-trodden low-res haunts is heart-warming, and may even sway me towards actually investing in a 3DS. It looks that good, in my opinion. Another retro-ish game getting the upgrade treatment is Halo. It was the first thing I ever played on the Xbox and it was a truly great game. Having it re-mastered for the current console is a masterstroke. Screaming around that little tropical island on a Warthog blowing the fuck out of Covenenant grunts in full HD glory will be nothing short of orgasmic, you mark my words. Obviously, rebooting an old favourite doesn’t always go well, as we have seen with the recent release of the new Duke Nukem game. So, it’s not technically a reboot as it’s a whole new game, but I see that the reviews have been a little harsh on the Duke. To be fair, a lot of the critics have lambasted the game simply because they view the central character as an archaic womanising asshole rather than because it’s a poor game. Erm, wasn’t the original reason Duke shot to fame because he was an archaic womanising asshole?! If Duke Nukem Forever had been set in a sanitised suburbia and featured a suit-wearing family man in the title role, I’m sure the same hacks would be complaining about the dullness of it all. Pricks.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

(Half) Marathon Man

Took delivery of my latest piece of running-based tech yesterday - a Garmin Forerunner 110 GPS watch. You may recall that I previously owned a Garmin Forerunner 405 (or you may not. In which case – I did.), but had to sell it in order to pay my rent when I lived in that fucking weird house-share last year. Anyway, I got my new Garmin 110 yesterday and went for my first trial run with it (13.6 miles, just in case you wondered), and the verdict is thus: It’s every bit as good as the Forerunner 405, and happily (in my humble opinion) omits the slightly fiddly touch-sensitive bezel and questionable water resistance.

As you may be able to guess from the numbers in the title of the device, the 110 is marketed as a ‘lite’ version of the 405, and as such it boasts fewer features (for one, it doesn’t support wireless data transfer to the PC software suite that collects your activity records), but to be fair I never used the advanced features of the 405 anyway. For me, the important factors of any run are covered: time taken, distance covered and speed. Don’t personally need any more than that to be fair. I’ve not updated this blog for a while (well, prior to last week) so you won’t know (or care) that I’ve been keeping on top of my running and even took part in last month’s Plymouth half marathon. According to the official timing website, I completed the 13 mile course in 1 hour and 31 mins, coming in 200th out of about 6000 runners. Which suits me fine, considering it was my first competitive run/race. I think the actual winner did it in 1 hour 5 mins, so I’m more than happy with my time. I can see why people get so addicted to doing those kind of events though, as even though I’ve done much longer road runs on my own, the sense of achievement when you cross the finish with a large crowd cheering is amazing. As a result, I’m also doing the Bristol half marathon in September and there are a few 10k runs I’m looking at entering between now and then.

On a slightly different note, last night I looked at the records from when I had the Forerunner 405. I only owned the thing for 5 months, but I appear to have run, jogged and staggered a grand total of 741 miles during that period. No wonder I fucked my leg up...

In other news: Wii U. Why? I know I said the same thing about the iPad when it came out, but for fuck sake Nintendo - who exactly is the Wii U meant to be aimed at? They're taking a console that alienated the hardcore Nintendo fans and then complicating it. I don't know about anyone else, but when I saw the promo videos for it, it just looked like too much hard work. What, by the way, is wrong with just having a normal console with a normal joypad that connects to your TV? Pfft. I already know I won't be bothering with the Wii U and it's not even out for another year or so.

Call me a morbid, depressing, nay-saying cunt-hole if you want, but the Wii U just looks like a gimmicky waste of time that'll be fun for a few days and then just end up sat under the telly collecting dust. Like most of the Wiis various mates own.

Right. I'm off for a run. Or a brew. Probably a brew. Knackered.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Books and Boredom

Hello there. Me again. Finished my book yesterday - Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell. And what a book it is/was. It's an account of the trials and tribulations faced by the author as he tries to eek out a meagre living whilst looking for work in Paris, and then later living as a tramp in London in the late 1920s. Reading it, you'd be forgiven for thinking the book is a factual account of Orwell's personal experiences (indeed, I though it was), but upon researching the book on the net and looking at Orwell's biography, it appears that the tale is a work of fiction. Fiction based in fact, but fiction nonetheless. Which was a bit surprising considering the amount of detail Orwell goes in to when describing his various situations throughout the story. Fact or not though, the book is a fantastic read and you'd never guess it was Orwell's first proper novel if no-one told you. I was a little sad when I finished it - kind of like how I felt when I completed Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I played that fucker from start to finish in about 2 weeks whilst I was in the first year of my A Levels, and when I finally restored the land of Hyrule to it's former glory, I was gutted. Gutted because in the back of my mind a little voice was saying "now what?!"

So, while the various inhabitants of Kokiri Village and Hyrule Castle were engaging in an eternal dance of victory, muggins here was sat there wondering how the fuck he was going to continue to fill his evenings. And good as it was, I'm not the kind of person who completes a game, only to start again and repeat it. What's the point in that? You've already seen everything so why do it again? OK, so I didn't catch a massive fish in the hut on the shores of Lake Hylia...but who gives a fuck? Reminds me of Metal Gear Solid on the PSX. Yeah - it was a fucking incredible game...but do I really want to replay the entire thing just because Snake is now wearing a tuxedo? I think not.

But going back to Down and Out in Paris and London, I feel that it was such an amazing book and painted such vivid images in my head that I don't think I can read anything else for a few days. Just need to get over it's brilliance before I start on The Road to Wigan Pier. I've also got Animal Farm (as mentioned t'other day) and The Clergyman's Daughter to read, but I've never heard of the latter so may read that last. It seems that I've become slightly obsessed with George Orwell in recent months, but I suppose an obsession with a dead author and his work is more desirable and less destructive than an obsession with drugs, booze, prostitution, crime or vandalism...right?!

I also managed to get hold of some second hand HP Lovecraft short story collections when I was in Bath (love that place) a few weeks back, and I've already smashed through some of them. Slight deviation from Orwell, being horror and all, but they're very good. Noticed severe over use of the term 'waning' when describing the moon...but who am I to argue with the creator of Cthulu (pictured above, yesterday)?!

On a different note, I've started road running again. Went on a few lengthy runs at the start of last week whilst I was up in Manchester, but running through a city like that is fraught with perils - namely busy roads and bus stops crammed with people who simply refuse to get out of your way even though they can see you coming a mile away with your luminous yellow top on. Running in Somerset is somewhat more enjoyable (if running can be described thus) due to the quiet lanes, stunning scenery and over-powering stench of cow shit that wafts like a wraith across hill and dale. Well, maybe not the last point, but you get the idea. Been for three Somerset runs this week and will be embarking on my fourth today. I'll be doing it at dinner time just so I can get off this godawful base for an hour or so. Small pleasures.

Been thinking about my future over the past few weeks. Well, my employment future. I'm quite unhappy with my current job and can't decide whether to put my notice in or not. I really miss city life and wouldn't mind leaving the navy and going to live somewhere like Bristol and just working in an office or a shop or something. Sounds a bit dull, I know, but I really miss having some kind of stability in my life. As it is, I never know where I'm going to be from one month to the next - even now I have no idea how long I'm based in my current location so I simply can't make any plans or think about my future on a personal level. It's quite unsettling not to know where you're going to be in a year's time...which may be great if you're 19 and have no worries in the world...but when you're almost 30 and it's a little worrying. I've got no home, is what I'm getting at, and it's an awful feeling knowing that there's nowhere you can retreat to when things get a little stressful. Hmmm. Leaving the relative security of the services right now just because I don't like my current position may seem a little hasty, but that's just how I feel. My next draft may be fucking awesome and actually live up to everything I thought being in the navy would mean...but so far, I'm decidedly unimpressed with the lifestyle and the levels of abject boredom I'm privy to. Wouldn't mind working on an oil rig or something to be honest, but where does one start when trying to transfer into a career like that?! Something to think about, for sure.

Until next time, bitches!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Nights into Dreams

Something is wrong. I finished my shift at 0630 this morning and only managed to get about 2 and a half hours sleep before I had to get up again...and I've been up since then (and been to the gym. And Tesco. And Gamestation), but yet I don't feel even slightly tired. True, I've had about 15 cups of coffee today, but still - I should surely be feeling some kind of lethargy. Maybe it'll kick in at 3am and I'll get court-martialled for falling asleep on duty. Ah well.

As I mentioned just a few sentences ago, this afternoon saw me venture to Gamestation with all of my 360 games with a view to swapping them for something I'll actually play. Previous hopes of getting a good trade-in value for Modern Warfare 2 didn't come to fruition though, as the cunts would only give me £18.50 for six (yes - SIX) games. They were: Fifa 09, Fifa 10, Modern Warfare 2, Red Faction: Guerrilla and Project Gotham 3. I left with Lost Planet 2 and Project Gotham 4. Doesn't really add up thet - especially considering that I also had to pay an extra fiver. But hey. Fresh games come at a price.

Not played PGR 4 yet, but Lost Planet 2 appears to be quite a good shooter in which you get to run around a jungle shooting massive aliens with massive guns. I'll post more in-depth thoughts on it when I've played more than the first few chapters, but initial impressions are positive.

Speaking of jungles, guns and aliens - I went to see Predators last week. Wish I hadn't bothered. That's because it's a nonsensical load of old bilge. Sure - it's better than both of the AvP movies (fuck, eating dog shit is more enjoyable than either of those celluloid carbuncles), but there are so many "eh?!" moments peppered throughout the film that I left with more questions than answers as to what the fuck was going on. OK - I get the basic premise: humans are dropped onto an alien world and then hunted by the Predators...but why is that other Predator strung up on that totem pole thing? And why do the 'dog' things disappear halfway through? And why is Lawrence Fishburn a big fat cunt if he's been living off the land and fighting Predators for so long? And what's with all the half-assed pseudo references to the first film? See where I'm going with this? Basically, I didn't like it. It wasn't a complete disaster (see AvP Requiem for that), but it was well below par in my humble opinion. I just hope the rumoured Aliens prequels end up being semi-decent, or I'm giving up on both franchises.

I might go and watch Inception next week as it's one film I've been looking forward to for some time. That, and Di Caprio's movies are generally quite good. In fact, most of the films I've seen with him in have been pretty damn decent: The Aviator, The Beach, The Departed, Catch Me If You Can...the list goes on. Hopefully Inception will be added to that list, and if the reviews are anything to go by, it won't disappoint. The only slight issue I have with the concept of the movie is thus: all of the 'dream' clips I've seen tend to be set in real-word locations like cities or hotel corridors etc. How often do actual dreams resemble anything like real life? Sure, some do, but the vast majority of my dreams (well, the ones I can remember) seem to take place either in completely unrealistic places or just 'nowhere' and don't actually have a narrative or logical sequence of events. OK- maybe having dream sequences in a film where a frying pan just floats about in front of a rainbow wouldn't actually lend itself to any kind of decent or coherent storyline, but Hollywood always makes 'dreams' out to be totally legible things - not just a load of completely random bollocks...which is what the vast majority of mine are. Just thinking out loud, people.

Anyway. I'm off to heat up some ASDA Smart Price soup in the microwave. Now that's the stuff of dreams. Or is it nightmares?

Perplexions of a Dangerous Mind

Howdy. Been off for the past week and couldn't be arsed writing owt. That, and it's been quite sunny so I've had no inclination to sit indoors on my laptop writing arse just for no fucker to read. But now I'm back for another week of the dreaded night shift, so blog away I will!

Just read on the BBC News website that PC Zone magazine is closing down in September. Seems that a lot of mags are being wound down at the moment because no-one is buying them. I'm not particularly fussed about PC Zone shutting it's doors as I've probably only read it once or twice (I've always been more of a PC Gamer kinda guy), but it's still sad that yet another mag is going to the wall. During my teenage years, my whole life was gaming - buying/swapping games, talking about games, arguing about games, fighting - yes, fighting - about games and reading/writing about games. I was obsessed with games and more to the point, games mags. I regularly bought about 3 or 4 of the things a month and still have the vast majority of them stacked up in a bedroom at my dad's gaff. There are hundreds of them and if someone with a sadder life than mine actually wanted to arrange them in date order (requests via email, peeps), you could probably see which console I had at the time due to the leanings in the purchased content.

I used to get CVG and Gamesmaster every month anyway, but along with those I bought stuff like Mean Machines Sega, Saturn Power, Official Saturn Mag, N64 Magazine, DC-UK, Dreamcast Magazine etc. Because of the mags, It soon came about that I started to think that maybe I could become a games journalist and began writing reviews for a local newspaper (South Manchester Area News...anyone know if it's still going?!). I did that for about 2 years all in all and got paid £20 per article...which was a fair old bit for a tramp like me back then. As usual, this isn't going anywhere - I just thought I'd regale you with a tale of Tomleecee of yore. A trampy, skint cunt who played too many computer games and wanted to write about them for a living. It didn't work out as I planned - I'm in the navy now. But who knows where I'll be in 20 years. I could be the editor of Edge by then. And if I am, I'll sack the whole editorial team and reform the team from Amiga Power circa 1994 and turn it into a decent, fun and entertaining periodical. Edge: taking the fun out of gaming since time began.

So yeah, PC Zone is no more. Which is sad. Sort of.

Did some volunteering last week. I've not suddenly become some kind of charitable avenger of justice - I just did it to avert my attention from the boredom of living in Hades (Somerset). The week before, I signed up with a volunteering website and then someone from the Council rang me a few days later...and viola - the following week I was building a gate in a field. Oh, and removing some graffiti from a fence. And pulling up weeds. It was a pretty good day to be honest and quite a good laugh. I may go back and help out again next week - it certainly beats walking around the town centre on my Jack Jones looking at crap in shops that I don't really want or need but am buying because my life is dull and void of interesting shit. Although, speaking of interesting shit - I'm going to Paris in September with my ladyfriend. Actually quite excited as I've never been to France before - hell, I've never organised a holiday before - so it's a whole new (grown-up(ish)) experience for me. Me - doing 'grown-up' shit. There's an oxymoron right there. Hmmm.

The hotel I've booked is pretty basic (and has received some horrendous reviews), but to be fair - I don't give a flying toss. I spent the early part of my life living in battered wives refuges and homeless families hostels so I'm sure I can handle sleeping in a basic-looking hotel for a week. Furthermore, I'm not going to be sitting in the fucking hotel 24 hours a day - I'm going to be out and about and revelling in the culture and hustle bustle of a 24-hour continental capital city. It's going to be about as far removed from fucking Yeovil as you can possibly get. And for that, I am truly, truly thankful. That's because - and I make no apologies whatsoever for the following statement - Yeovil is a boring cess-hole. But I digress.

Completed the single player campaign on Modern Warfare 2 today. I'm a bit perplexed. Y'see - I was just getting in to it...and then it ended. What a goddamn joke! And what a crap final scene! Sure - I'm happy to take back my previous comments about the game, but the ending is such an anti-climax. Bah! And what's all that shit with the museum thing at the end?! Bizarre. I'm going to take it to Gamestation this week and swap it for Alan Wake or Lost Planet 2. Hopefully they'll give me a decent trade-in amount for it as they've bumped the price of a new copy back up to £44.99...aaaand here I am talking about swapping games again. Old habits die hard, evidently.

I've got more stuff to write about, but I'm going to try and stretch it across the week. Because it gives me something to do when I'm at work, to be honest. Bye bye, me hearties.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Living and Learning

Well. How the devil art thou? It's been a long time since I updated this little baby hasn't it? A month and a day if I'm not mistaken, and rather shockingly, quite a bit has happened in my social-wraith-like existence.

Went camping in South Wales during the second weekend of May. I went with my better half to the idyllic, shining beacon of industry known as Swansea...and it rained. It wasn't actually Swansea town centre that we camped in - it was a place called Clyne, a bit further down the coast, and had it been as sunny as it was when I decided to book the campsite, I wager it would have been a pretty spectacular weekend away. As it was, we got there on the Friday evening and had a little BBQ in the brief spell of sunshine that the Gods granted us...before the heavens opened and unleashed Dante's vision of Hell upon the campsite. And there said vision presided - through the night, into the Saturday and then on into Saturday night. The weather was, happily, the only shite thing about our little excursion. We had a nice walk into the town centre, ate a fucking enormous meal in a pub, and walked around some ornamental gardens. All in all, a rather enjoyable weekend. Shame the tent was fucking tiny and the rain came through in one corner, but you can't have it all.

Which is pretty fucking weird, considering the weather has been pretty damn fine throughout most of the rest of the month. Ah well. Speaking of the fine weather, I have made the most of it by resuming my running. My knee has finally decided to stop pissing me about and sorted it's act out. So no more ridiculous pains and no more painful feet when out pounding pavement. I, as previously documented at great length, had reverted to using a cross-trainer to get my exercise done whilst my knee was out of action, but in recent weeks it seems to have fully recovered and as such I'm back out in the wilderness again. Not to the excessive levels I was previously, you understand, but out there nonetheless. As such, last week I bought some new running trainers: Saucony are back in my life.

Saucony are, without a shadow of a doubt, the best running trainers I have ever used. I was previously wearing Nike, and the physio I was seeing advised that I get some dedicated running footwear in order to lessen the effects of my injury. Alas, I couldn't afford any new trainers at the time and that's where my love affair with the cross-trainer began. Last week though, I pooped into the new TK Maxx store in Weymouth and spotted a pair of (gasp!) size 9 Saucony Grid running trainers for the meagre sum of £29.99 wedged in between the hideous bright blue pairs of Converse basketball shoes (who the fuck buys those?!). As soon as I spotted them, I knew they had to be I handed over the card and purchased them. And as predicted, they are every bit as comfortable as both of my previous pairs - the first of which fell apart after so much use; and the second which shrank after I washed them and tried to dry them on the radiator (as previously documented here, on this very blog folks).

Also been doing a bit of reading. After the marvellous Frankenstein, I have acquired a copy of Bram Stoker's Dracula, and it is superb. Far better than the film adaptation, but then that's to be expected these days. Not finished it yet, but getting there.

Remember how I was going on a few months ago about trying to find somewhere to live and then deliberating about how I was thinking of moving out? Well, the decision was made for me earlier this week by my landlord: I was evicted via text message. Seriously. The reasons are still a little cloudy, but the story leading up to the aforementioned text message are as follows.

On Sunday last, my dad and cousin ventured down from Manchester to visit me in my shared house for a few days. I had previously asked the (live-in) landlord if this was OK, and he was quite enthusiastic and had said it was fine - they could use the spare room. He even went to the trouble of making up beds etc. Which was very good of him. When my guests arrived on Sunday evening, I had already arranged a bit of a BBQ for them and a few beers in the extensive garden, and also strategically arranged the seating etc in an area as far away from the occupied bedroom windows as I could in order to a) prevent smoke going into open windows from the BBQ; and b) prevent anyone being bothered by noise. Furthermore, I invited several of my housemates to come and join us. None of them did, but the landlord and his partner (he's gay) came out to chat with us for a while. It was all fine, up until half eleven that night when the previously jovial landlord came storming out of the house in his dressing gown to tell us, quite abruptly to shut up and keep the noise down. It was news to us that we had been making an inordinate amount of noise, but with that we decided to call it a night and went to bed after tidying up our mess. The next morning, I spoke to him (the landlord) and apologised for the 'noise' and that was the end of it...or so I thought.

That same night, after being out of the house all day showing my old man and cousin around the town and the beaches etc, we went back to the house end ended up sat outside again, as we had the previous evening. Not long after we had got back, one of my housemates appeared with his girlfriend, a crate of Budweiser and a bottle of vodka. Cue much merry making, but in greatly hushed tones due to the previous night's chastisement. We finally retired at around 2am, making sure as not to disturb any of the other people in the house. And so the night was done. Until the following morning, at about 8am when the landlord decided to boot my bedroom door open (while I was still asleep and thus waking me up), and go into a raving tantrum about how we'd kept him up all night with our 'yapping' and how we'd left the garden looking like we'd had a 'festival.' Don't know how many festivals the tit has been to, but if any of them looked like how we'd left the garden, they must've been pretty shit.

I got up, went downstairs and tidied up the beer bottles and ashtrays that had been left on the table. It was done in under 3 minutes - just to illustrate the scale of the debris. Landlord then flounced off to work. After this (and after also, unbeknown to me, being rude to my dad and cousin), neither of my guests wanted to stay in the house and cut short their visit by a day. I avoided the landlord for a further two evenings by staying one night in my room and then the next night at my girlfriend's house. By this time, it was Thursday morning and I still hadn't seen or heard from the melodramatic twat. I decided to try to clear the air by sending a text message to him asking if we could sort it out. He responded by saying he thought it would be best if I moved out by the middle of June!

For a bit of fucking noise!

I'm actually working for most of June, and won't be at the house very much, so decided to move out there and then, humping all my worldly possessions back to my previous residence at the military base I sometimes (but once again, exclusively) called home. In some ways, I'm a bit disgruntled because there are some people living in that house share who have done some pretty shocking things whilst lodging (one guy held a fucking knife up the throat of a previous resident, for example...but still happily resides there); but in others I'm quite happy to be out of the place as I no longer have to give a chunk of my wage away just to live a lonely existence in a town where I know nobody whilst sleeping in a room the size of a shoebox. Silver linings and all that.

Other events that have littered May are: a cricket match that turned into a piss-up that nearly turned into me pissing in my girlfriend's wardrobe; a visit to a tapas bar that, again, turned into a piss-up; a day's temp work on a building site that saw me dig a ditch around a building with a pick-axe; nearly getting citizens arrested by a Community Support Officer (a fake cop, basically - with no real powers of arrest) for riding my bike along a coastal path that didn't have any signs stating that I wasn't allowed. At 7am. When said path was deserted (what the fuck was the jobsworth doing down there at that time anyway?!); being recognised by somebody watching a Navy recruiting video; meeting my girlfriend's parents (I was shitting myself, but it turned out to be a great day); and then, at the death of the month, having a bit of a fall out with the aforementioned lady in my life. Not a great end to May if I'm honest, as both that and the eviction episode occurred in the same week, but we live and learn don't we. Well, most of us do.

Lastly, yesterday I purchased a used copy of the much-hyped Modern Warfare 2 for my 360. Got it home and popped it into the drive to be confronted with the 'disc unreadable' message. Upon closer inspection, it appears that the disc is cracked in 3 places. Which means I've got to drag my ass back to the shop and get an exchange. Not impressed, CEX. The moral of the story is to check your game discs before you leave the shop, folks.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Misadventures in Perpetual Skintness

Hello. Suppose I'd better update. I've been off work for the last two weeks, and it's been nice and sunny...ergo I've been spending a lot of my time beyond the veil. Well, outdoors in the garden. To be honest though, I haven't really been up to much of real interest owing to the fact that I'm still monumentally borassic. So last week I went for a walk down some coastal paths (where I was attacked by a particularly large bee), went for a bike ride around the villages and hamlets of south Dorset, and went for a look at Lulwoth Cove and Durdle Door. For those who don't know, Durdle Door is a bit of rock that sticks out into the sea...and has a natural archway in it. All very quaint, I'm sure you'll agree. The best bit about all of these activities, though, was that they were all completely and utterly free. And being a broke-ass motherfucker, they suited me just fine.

I did, however, partake in a few activities that involved the exchange of currency - the most notable being my return to the enchanting world of the carboot sale. Back in the mists of time, before I joined the navy, I frequented car boot sales pretty much every weekend. The result of this activity was the assembly of a rather magnificent collection of retro games consoles and software. Said collection was hardly a treasure trove of rare and collectible items: Megadrive, MegaCD, 32X, Atari Jaguar, Sega Saturn, SNES, Game Boy,, Game Gear, Nintendo64, Nes...but I did have a shitload of games for them all. Regrettably, I was forced to flog the lot to Computer Exchange (or CEX, or Entertainment Exchange, or whatever they're calling themselves today) when I graduated from uni because I was massively skint (never!) and jobless. I think I got about £300 or thereabouts for the haul. But I digress.

So, I went to a carboot at the weekend. It took me right back to the 'good' old days. I wasn't looking for anything in particular (although my fair accomplice was hell-bent on finding a picnic hamper, fuelled only by intense and burning jealousy that her housemate has one), but my eyes lit up like beacons when I spotted a MINT condition (Dual Shock) PlayStation on a table...for a fucking FIVER! And by 'mint,' I mean that it had all the wires, two joypads without cheese or rotting flesh stuck between the buttons, and the console itself looked like it had never even been out of the! It all came flooding back: the heart palpitations; the cold sweat; the overwhelming JOY of finding a retro (ish) console for a knock-down price at a carboot! After some discussion about whether I should buy it, and the pooling of several pockets' (and a purse) worth of change...the deal was done. I also managed to blag boxed copies of Ridge Racer Type 4, Rayman and Colin McRae (RIP) Rally for a quid each. So yeah. I'm now the proud owner of PlayStation. For a total cost of £8, which is pretty cool considering that when they came out, they sold for about £300. Which leads me to remember how much N64s were when they launched in the UK - and the fights outside HMV on Manchester's Market Street when people queueing for one found out that there weren't going to be enough consoles to go around. Fucking idiots.

I was secretly hoping to find an 'as new,' still-sealed copy of Rez or Project Justice for the Dreamcast on an old lady's table and selling for 50p...but alas there wasn't even a whiff of anything DC related. Damned heathens.

Thinking about games for the moment, though - they've played a pretty big part in my life. I can recall any era in my past by thinking about the console that I had at the time. Sounds pretty sad, I know, but they are the one constant thing that I've always owned. No matter what else was going on in my life, be it school, college, university, various jobs or family feuds...I can pretty much remember which console I had at the time. Probably because said bit of plastic was my only real source of fun and entertainment at the time. My only friend. Sniff. Just to be straight - that last bit was what's called 'poetic license.' Just so you know, yeah?

It's payday on Friday. Not that it's much cause for celebration. Pretty much my entire wage packet is already earmarked for some dreary activity - my overdraft, car tax, rent or loan repayments. Due to this, my love (hate) affair with ASDA Smart Price foodstuffs will not be abated this month...and will probably continue into June and beyond. It's not all bad - I'll just be giving the Noodle Snacks and 2% lager a wide berth. And on the subject of's almost BBQ season again. Had two BBQs in the past fortnight, both of which were superb...and involved chicken breast! When I was a lad, the sole preserve of a BBQ was a packet of Farmfoods hoof & arsehole sausages and a box of economy burgers with added onion and rusk. Usually sold in a box of 48 for 99p. Thinking back, this is probably because the main purchaser of the BBQ fodder was a very, very...almost perpetually skint man. My dad.

Like father, like son eh?