Monthly Archives: November 2010

THIS IS THE NEWS

Did you see the news? DID YOU SEE THE NEWS? I quite literally couldn’t literally literally believe it – literally. Today started off so normal, but once this news was released my day – nay, my life was changed forever. Today will go down forever as having made an indelible mark on very soul. I shouldn’t have the repeat the NEWS now, but I will just to be sure: Apple announced The Beatles’ albums will be available for purchase on iTunes.

Now just let that sink in for a while. Even if you had already heard the news, you’ll probably need a few minutes, at least, to let it all re-sink in. I know I do. Just re-reading that sentence has got me all-a-flutter.

I understand some may claim that other issues – budget concerns, massive cuts to major services across the country, the failing state of Ireland – might be the only thing we should be really talking about, I for one am glad the news media has seen fit to give The Beatles being on iTunes reasonably major billing on their outlets.

I actually overheard some moron earlier whining that this was “glorified advertising”. No. See, I happen to know a thing or two about advertising, and this certainly isn’t advertising. Why? Because it’s news. It’s as simple as that. Granted, it’s free column inches for a company making the public aware of a product they sell, but that’s not advertising. It’s Apple, for fuck’s sake! They’re news in their own right, as we all know.

I am glad this was in the news today. It has really perked me up something spectacular.

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Reasons to be enthusiastic, part one

I have had one of the nerdiest/saddest days of my life today, and therefore one of the most enthusiastic/satisfying days. Granted the whole day didn’t involve doing these things, it was actually only two rather brief moments of Monday, but still. I AM WELL COOL.

Earlier in the day I found myself seriously, genuinely enthusing about the cases used on PlayStation games. I don’t just mean I said “they were ace”, I mean I was talking about it at Jon for a good few minutes. I could go into it more here if I wanted to bore you, so I might. Well, no, I’ll just mention what I was on about. See, in the early PS days there weren’t enough single-disc cases to go around, so a lot of single-disc games were released in multi-disc cases. This was quite an endearing feature of the PlayStation and is something that provides warm memories about certain games.

So fucking what? You people like the X-Factor. I have weird things I like too. STOP JUDGING ME.

The other thing – person – I was enthusiastic about was John Carmack. After he Tweeted something characteristically nerdy, I started gushing at Anna (not like that you FOUL people), speaking of how great he is. He’s a fantastic programmer, taught himself to be a rocket scientist in his spare time (a NASA award-winning one, no less) and is a massive proponent of open source. i.e. he supports giving shit away and doesn’t just SUE SUE SUE when people have the temerity to do something with software they’re not meant to do.

Also he’s a massive nerd. More so than me, seeing as I have none of the skills he does.

So yes – two things today that characterise who I am, and two things I will happily keep on being enthusiastic about. It’s good to know there are still some things that make me happy in this world: CD cases and the bloke who made Doom.

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Ruining TV, one show at a time

Here follows an important public service announcement. You would do well to pay close attention to this PSA. Your very soul may depend on it. Either that or half an hour of your enjoyment could be ruined. Anyway.

The last series of Scrubs starts on British TV this week (I think). E4, I believe. If you like Scrubs, like I do (schmaltz is good sometimes) then you may well want to steer well clear of this. If you value your sanity in any way then just avoid it. It’s really, really shit. You may not have liked it before – it is an easy target to dislike – but now you’d really fucking hate it. If you did like it – even though it is an easy target to dislike – this will kill it for you.

At this point I intended to go into some detail as to exactly why it’s shit, but I can’t concentrate or be bothered. It’s too painful. Or something. Rest easy in the knowledge that if I’d bothered to write it it would have been the very best paragraph of this entry – if not the very best of this whole week. Maybe even ever. Who knows? Not me, because I’m not writing it. Anyway.

I am basing this entirely on seeing one episode, I should point out, but I think the judgement is entirely valid. Mainly because I’m always right, but also because it’s clear for all to see from one episode that the whole formula has been shat in. The series has needed to die off for quite a few years now, but it didn’t deserve to go out like this.

Sigh.

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Routinely complacent

It’s difficult to realise that you’ve become complacent – if only a little – when you do the same thing day in, day out. My job is ace, as I may have mentioned ten billion times on here*, but there is routine at points. With routine comes similar actions, and when those actions involve writing, a distinct style develops.

Now a lot of people like distinct styles – I like them in other people – but when it’s you personally doing it, it just doesn’t sit right. At least, that’s how I feel. I didn’t even know I felt like this until I stepped out of my comfort zone today – if only slightly – in writing about a film. Aside from a few blogs here and the odd forum post, I’ve never really written down my thoughts on a film before.

Granted, I only did 300 words on one today, but it was enough to both make me feel refreshed and make me realise I could do with putting a bit more effort and thought into the sentences I tend to churn out in the day job. That’s not to say I don’t make effort, as I clearly do, but like I said – routine sinks in.

Maybe it’ll have an effect on how I write here, too. Or maybe it won’t, and I’ll actually just end up with the exact same setup/pull back and reveal tripe I’ve been churning out for however many months it is now. Yeah, routine is more comfortable, after all. I think I’ll just stay here.

*No, I don’t have anything else to talk about. I lead a shockingly boring life.

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I give up. I really do.

I have just seen an advert for the worst thing ever. It’s not the Flash ONE FOR ALL (Muskehounds edition) with its blatant rip-off of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’s music*, oh no. No, this was an advert for a board game.

Yes, it’s November, which means the Christmas adverts have started. Surprisingly I’m not a fan of that – I bet you expected otherwise. YOU REALLY DID. But I can handle it. I don’t watch TV too much, though I have found myself turning it on more often since I got the new telly with its actual ability to receive TV signals. Anyway, I digress.

Right, on message: I saw an advert for a board game, and I’ve forgotten what it was called because it’s taken me so long to get here, but it was something imaginative like The Logos Game. And it is… well, it just is that. It’s a game about logos. It’s a game that makes sure you know logos of products. It’s a test to make sure the families of today are suitably indoctrinated enough to know and realise the bright, colourful identifying images associated with brands. Of products. Of stuff you buy. Things that only exist to be sold to you and serve no other purpose.

This is a game.

This is a game you are expected to buy.

To buy so you can sit around remembering logos of products.

Remembering the logos of products that only exist to be sold to you, to make more money from you.

To make more money from you after you’ve already spent money buying this board game in the first place.

No hope. No hope.

*I am well aware the music is actually free, stock music for anyone to use, pretty much. I am not that stupid.

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The Twitter joke trial, or: How I learned to stop worrying and hate my country

Where to start? Well, today has been a weird one for events in the world. Or, more aptly, an event in Britain. In short: a bloke made a flippant comment on Twitter after learning his flight from Doncaster airport (I’m not calling it Robin Hood) had been delayed, in which he said he was going to blow the airport up. It was clearly a joke. He was arrested for it and charged with some bullshit. He appealed on the grounds that don’t be fucking stupid, it was clearly a joke, but today that appeal was completely rejected (read it in better words here).

Brilliant. Fantastic. I don’t know the guy in question, and for all I know he could be a complete knob. But that’s irrelevant. A man has been fined (heavily, when £2,600 costs are taken into account) and had his life pretty much ruined because he made a throwaway comment. He did what we all do in airports, where we make jokes about having bombs or drugs when we’re going through security. Except his joke was a bit different and published semi-publically on his Twitter feed.

Great. Wonderful. Joking is now outlawed. The ability for justice to discern between all-out seriousness and a frustrated, untruthful joke apparently does not exist. If you speak your mind, it had better be pure thoughts that spew forth. In fact, don’t think anything naughty either – at least, nothing that could threaten our Very Way Of Life.

It’s one thing to keep us constantly checking behind us for The Terrorists; to make us question the actions of our neighbours, run scared from the foreign/brown people or to strip us of our dignity when all we want to do is get on a fucking aeroplane. But Jesus H tapdancing Christ who the fuck are you people to set this precedent? Frivolity, jokes, sarcarsm, lies we pass off as ‘humour’ – what now for them? Are we allowed to take the piss? Can I call anyone in any official capacity a name and remain un-arrested? We already know if I run for the Tube I’ll be Menezes’d – does this mean if I make a quip while waiting for a train I’ll be immediately sent to an internment camp? What next? ‘Smiling is suspicious – pay a fine’? ‘You made someone you don’t know laugh – you are exiled’? ‘You had the temerity to make a joke about something we’re all supposed to be DEFINITELY TERRIFIED OF ALL THE TIME that definitely isn’t just a way to keep people fearful and docile – pay a fine while we fuck your life up’?

Nah, the last one couldn’t possibly happen. OH WAIT.

One thing I genuinely want to know the answer to though. Seeing as this Tweet could have been taken as a genuine threat, at least according to the judges in the original case and the appeal case, what does this mean for the exclamation marks in it? See:

“Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!”

I would take the double exclamation marks at the end to indicate impotent frustration at a situation. I would take them to highlight the acknowledged silliness of the statement – to show it wasn’t, in fact, serious. But seeing as that doesn’t seem to be the case – the judges told us so – does that mean the IRA would write bomb threats thusly:

“There’s a bomb in a car in London! Better evacuate!!”

When Al-Qaeda own up to some atrocity, do they send this standard, templated announcement?

“It was we who blew up your Twin Towers! And we’d do it again, except now you don’t have any to blow up!!”

ETA?

“We’re well Basque, la! We’re going to blow up some trains!!”

And so on. I genuinely cannot see a terrorist group using exclamation marks. It undermines a message. It makes it seem less serious. Surely a warning or admission of carrying out an attack/bombing etc should be something approached seriously by the group sending the message? They want credibility in what they are saying – the threat can’t be dismissed as a hoax, and they want to seem professional and like their cause has grounding in reality, not like they’re a bunch of lunatics on a pointless crusade. As such, they wouldn’t use exclamation marks. It may seem like a small thing, but it’s really irked me. Surely anyone with any modicum of sense can see that a genuine terrorist threat would a) not be done via Twitter and directed at an individual, or b) have fucking exclamation marks in it.

I could go on, but I’m going to stop. I’m very, very angry at this shit.

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Patronising idiocy relating to video games in newspaper “shocker”

Some of you may have seen this article on the Torygraph today, where writer Harry DeQuetteville tests the shocking argument that video games aren’t just for kids. Now, I’m not about to tear into this like so many others will in far better fashions. I’m not going to question the logic of a 35-year-old being so hopelessly out of touch with reality it makes him seem 30 years older than he is. Nor am I going to highlight how he utterly misses the point of why LittleBigPlanet was a step forward. I’m not going to blindly comment on these things, because I’m not the same as him, basically.

I don’t claim to take the path of most resistance and always put a shitload of research into everything I write – especially here – but I know enough to not make lazy commentaries on things, relying on ancient stereotypes to back up my points. Even if I do also like Heavy Rain. This isn’t my point, anyway. I’ve got bogged down.

What I do take issue with is how DeQuetteville seems to make Call Of Duty: Black Ops out to be the shining example of video game glory. He appears to, at least, use the reasoning that it sells millions of copies and makes billions of dollars (“it” being the COD series, in this case) and is therefore the best example of the medium.

Now, would he or any other writer really take that point of view when it comes to other media? Would you write an article about how Avatar grossed a shitload of money and is therefore the best example of the genre? Does Dan Brown set the standard for authors across the world, purely because millions buy his books? Matchbox Twenty sold 20 million-plus records, does that mean they’re in the top few bands ever to grace this earth? I think you see my point.

I understand the ignorance. I accept it. There are many things I am ignorant of, hard as that may be to believe. But wilful ignorance? Nah. Surely it’s basic, irrefutable logic that just because something sells a lot that doesn’t make it the best example of the thing? Surely that’s just basic smarts?

Though I suppose that wouldn’t fit into the whole “we all still secretly think games are for idiots and kids” thing the whole article gives off, even with its “I learned my life lesson” ending. And to think, I once said the Torygraph has decent games coverage.

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