Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Ninety-nine days to go

Do you remember NaBloPoMo when I blogged increasingly shorter posts every day for a month? Or blog365 where I was meant to blog every day for a year, but gave up partway through March? Well Hundred Days is similar to that, except I don't have to do any writing.

What Hundred Days is Josie Long trying to improve her comedic & personal skills by vowing to write one proper joke and meet a new person every day for the next hundred days. And as usual it's a lot easier to maintain the vow if you make a public declaration of it, so the guilt of other people can keep you on track.

Josie, being kind, or wanting to spread the pressure onto other people, decided to allow others to make similar vows. These can all be read on the Hundred Days website (or on twitter). And if you squint (or look alphabetically for my name) you'll see that I've vowed to write a topical haiku a day and to do a page of my Japanese book.

I'm pretty sure that this should be achievable for me as it takes about five minutes to read one page of my Japanese book* and haikus are pretty easy to pull together.

As long as you remember how many syllables are in a haiku that is. I foolishly put my first one on Twitter and about four minutes after posting it realised I'd put one extra syllable in the middle part. If you're interested here is the correct haiku for Tuesday 1st December:

B. C. F. testing
data not ready today
so I leave early

And here's the one for Wednesday 2nd December (aka Day 2):

Died before saving
Mario and Luigi
train journey wasted

The Japanese stuff I've learnt is how to say hello and goodbye so sayonara & bis bald**!

* Although it's easy now as I'm at the beginning which I know off by heart. I'm more worried when it gets to the later stages and I'm doing buildings and stuff.

** Oh wait, that's German

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Thoughts on Thought Bubble 2009

I've done some rather geeky stuff in the past. There was the time I went to see Amber Benson in Leeds, the year straight after I left uni where I spent all my money on Buffy figurines and last month when I went to Nottingham to see some people from a podcast play chiptune music.

I'm not sure if going to the Thought Bubble Sequential Art/Comics Festival is geekier than any of these, but it comes pretty close.

This was the third year of it taking place and as usual it was being held in Leeds. Unfortunately for Freya & I Leeds was rather rainy that day, so we were rather damp when we showed up.

Going from what C-Monster had written before I was expecting a pretty spacious hall full with comicky goodness. In reality it was smaller than I imagined (although conversely Freya thought it was a lot bigger) but the goodness was still there.

It's a bit of a cop-out but there really was something for everyone with the cosplayers grouping around the princess, numerous stalls selling indie comics to people after something new and massive queues for the big names in comics who I had never heard of*.

The main thing I came for was to annoy C-Monster which I did successfully by first making him think I liked him by mentioning J Nash and Kenickie***. But then I turned on him by askin him why he didn't write Sleater-Kinney with a hyphen. So he threatened to punch me which was exactly the response I wanted! Hurrah!

We also spoke to Jamie McKelvie, and Freya told him - when C-Monster's back was turned - that she not-so-secretly preferred Suburban Glamour to Phonogram. Jamie also claimed that he was not that well off, which went against the Tescos Finest croissants that he had just bought. Aha! Foiled again McKelvie!

Marc Ellerby was sat near C-Monster and he's one of Freya's favourite comic book people, so I pushed her to the front of his table and made her talk to him. As expected he was super-nice and spoke to Freya for a long time (although that could be because she had brought (an bought) a lot of stuff to be signed). Marc's girlfriend Swedish Anna was there as well and she was super-nice as well.

As well as the stalls there were some talks going on in the curtained area. The first one we saw there was about films and comics. It was interesting, mostly due to Paul Cornell who made lots of quips and added humour to what could have been a dry talk. One bad thing was that they didn't actually talk about Scott Pilgrim which could have been intriguing, instead they preferred to complain about everyone talking about superhero films, ironically by only talking about superhero films.

The other talk was chaired by C-Monster and was about comics and games. This was made slightly weirder by the fact that C-Monster obviously recognised us from earlier and kept looking over in our direction. I can only presume he wanted me to make a J Nash style interjection by standing up and going "Oh look - it's the Goodyear blimp! No, erk, oh! (dies)". In which case he was sorely mistaken****.

I was going to stand up and ask if they were upset that games had a mainstream appeal that comics were currently lacking, and if so, would they be prepared to work on a Wii Fit comic. However I decided not to as everyone else was asking serious questions and I just wanted to do a weak joke about Wii Fit.

This panel was a bit more humorous as there was a Yorkshireman who took the piss out of almost everything anyone said. All convention panels need a Yorkshireman.

The other thing this panel had was that all five people on the panel wore glasses and had a bald/shaved head. Which made this look like a Buzzcocks-style identity parade for INSERT NAME HERE.

By this point Freya and I were getting tired so we missed out on the after party, where I understand McKelvie and C-Monster did various drunk things. As I was in bed by nine-ish, it was probably for the best that I didn't attend.

We'll certainly come again to next year's Thought Bubble though, particularly if that Cosplayer who was an X-woman wearing tight green spandex and a strawberry-blonde wig attends again*****.

* Or more accurately who I had heard of but I didn't have a clue who they were. For example, I knew Andy Diggle had worked with 2000AD but I couldn't for the life of me tell you any comics he's done**

** Except after Thought Bubble I can tell you he wrote The Losers, on which Jock was the artist.

*** Indeed I had a massive spike in visitors when C-Monster linked to my Kenickie@Reading post. Which I then ruined by not blogging for another nine months.

**** As that was a very poor J Nash impression

***** Actually the best cosplayer was the girl dressed as Luke from Professor Layton. I walked past her four times before I realised who she was******, mostly because it was pretty obvious who were the cosplayers were as they were dressed in luminous colours and had tails, whereas Luke was charmingly understated.

****** When I realised I said "Professor, I've sorved it!"

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The two best songs of the decade

I'm not sure if they are the best songs of the decade, but they're the first two I could think of where I could write around a hundred words each for.

So Simon, the ace music blogger at Sweeping The Nation, was after some people to write about the best songs of the decade. As the take up on the offer was rather low that meant I could swoop in with my meagre offerings and get published on something other than my own blog.

Everyone else seemed to be writing about the song itself, whereas I went for a mini-biography of a pop star and rabbiting on about my watabe wedding. Both posts included poor jokes.

If you're interested in this then please go to:
Spiller featuring Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Groovejet (If This Ain't Love)
Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Breathless

(Two blogs in three days? I must be doing something wrong*)

* Oh yeah, I am being made redundant** which does mean I have a bit more spare time nowadays

** And being made redundant must mean I'm doing something wrong

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

One Late Night Left

I've never been to a game festival before. Well, I remember my Dad taking me & my brother to a computer fair in Harrogate where we each had to spend one pound to get in, spent ten minutes to have a look around, realised everything was crap and left.

Not'num Game City is different. It's free.

And alright, it does hold your attention for more than ten minutes. And there are some people you'd actually want to talk to.

Live! & Derek's head!

I turned up on the Friday after loads of events had already taken place. The major discussion point was that some Japanese game designer was designing a playground for Not'num. I joked that Jonathan King was designing a similar playground for the kids of Derby, but no-one really laughed at it. Shame.

But, after checking on my Grandma in Clifton, I showed up in Market Square to go see One Life Left live. Which was almost immediately delayed as Ann Scantlebury and Simon Byron's train was delayed. I thought I saw Stels but didn't want to bother him.

Luckily by this point Down Home Kitty showed up so I wasn't on my own anymore and before too long Derek and Dbot arrived. The first place we looked at was the EA van, but we quickly left it as it was full of the kids who would usually be crowding round the game-nngh-pods at HMV.

The next place we avoided was the Crysis Live event. Partially because there was a massive queue. I also thought that because it was Crysis - but in real life - there would be too strict a person requirement to go on it*.

So the indie tent was the only alternative left. And of course being student indie games they were either games with a message and therefore absolutely no gameplay, or based on an existing game but done slightly worse. Kudos to the young tykes who were trying to hack one demo PC into showing dodgy YouTube videos. I doffed my cap to them and moved on.

The other main showing in the indie tent were the multi-multi-player games happening on the big screen. These involved about sixteen people playing altered versions of Bit Trip Beat, Jetstrike, Pirates! and reverse Base Jumpers. It all seemed great fun, if you were one of the three people who knew the controls and didn't die straight away. However, if you've got a big screen, sixteen PStwo joypads and multiple multi-taps then I highly recommend it (I agree - A Zelda Four Swords on the Gamecube owner).

Dancing! Live!

Before the fun and games had to finish and One Life Left were to do their live show. As usual with these things there was somehing to make it literally unbroadcastable. In this case it was the annoyingly uncatchy tunes from the big screen and having to play music from a broken DVD player. Despite all this it was rather jolly with special guests like Raina Karaoke Lee! Jonathan Lego Smith! Syphus Blockbusters Syphus! Martin Barber Hollis! and Student Unpaid Helper!

There was also a Gameboy chiptune masterclass with Sabrepulse and Syphus, which actually required some musical knowledge and therefore of absolutely no use to me.

And then it was One Night Left. As official bootleg videographer I recorded Derek's performance which as usual involved a performance worthy Vegas showman at the top of their game. The Paper PlaNES remix going down particularly well.

Craig 'the Rage' McClelland then dropped his poetry on those assembled and, as can be from Mr. McClelland, there was a mixture of shock and amusment from the crowd. He was there selling his book, which I got signed to Nick Griffin.

Next were the main headliners. I felt Syphus just shaded it above Sabrepulse as his tunes were more Amiga based and hit my nostalgia gland more compared to Sabrepulse's Darkcore Rave (I think that's what it sounded like to me). Also Syphus had a keytar.

By this point I was flagging and when team OLL hit the decks I was mostly sitting down. Although I did get to talk to Martin Hollis, Jonathan Smith, Mitu Komplexsurnametospell, Charlie Miller and Craig McClelland. I also think I was the only person sad enough to have their photo taken with the award:
The new Ste?

So it was a good night. And apparently Saturday was a good day too with the supergroup of Derek, Charlie and Mazrim hitting the Lego Rock Band stage to the delight of Raina. But I was having tea with my Grandma** which was a lot more fun if I'm totally honest. Sorry everyone.

I highly recommend Game City and if I'm not in a job where I need to work that week*** I'll try to go for much longer.

* Which would probably be needing to be at least 6ft 4, to have the same memory as a Cambridge graduate and Games For Windows Live.

** Except I did go to a comic book shop which had damaged Jake and Jessie Gemini figures, thus keeping one of Wrestlecrap Radio's running jokes running on.

*** Although in a job where I can afford to book a hotel for four nights

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Swinging London

Highly illegal, which is why it'll only be up for a week, but here is the Hazy Osterwald Jet Set's Swinging London.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

The infamous Ben Halup

I think I'm a reasonably funny person. Certainly, in the office environment I can come out with a few witty comments that people smile at*. I consider myself to be someone who can say things to cheer people up, not to depress them.

So when PC Gamer asked on twitter for questions for their latest podcast I had a good think. Do I ask a question about PC Gaming (which I wouldn't have much opinion on as I can hardly play Half-Life 2 on my ageing Dell) or do I go for the amusing question?

I had noticed that the Artist Formerly Known As C-Monster and J Walker had already tweeted in amusing questions so I thought one from me would also be appreciated**. The only problem was what to ask about?

I remembered that on the last podcast they were making references to the fact (it is an undeniable fact) that Ross Atherton, gentlemanly editor, kept prostitutes in his cellar. This was the joke I could use! And inspired by Richard Herrin I sent in the following question, which was used:


Oh. Looks like Ross didn't appreciate being linked with a murderer, rapist and incestor. I now appreciate the lot of a stand-up comedian when their jokes fall totally flat. However this was offset by the giggling of 12 year-old Deputy Editor Tim Edwards who found it most amusing.

Would I do a similar joke again? Possibly as I found it very amusing, but I would probably aim it more at myself than anyone else to avoid offending them. Even though Ross deserved it for his depraved attitude towards women.

If you want to download the full podcast it can be found here.

* I was quite pleased when someone said "We don't have a fear and blame culture here" and I immediately said "And whose fault is that?"

** Especially as I was keeping One Life Left's mailbox full at the end of their last season

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A list of film directors influenced by computer games

  • Sam Rammi

  • Uwe BO-L-L

  • Alfred Hitch-Chicken

  • Michael Disk Drive Bay

  • Joss Wii-don#

  • JJ and Jeff Abrams

  • George Lucasgames (clever wording I know, cheers)

  • Francis Ford Virtua Coppola

  • David Kane & Lynch

  • David Cronenburgertime

  • The Chronicles of Ridley Scott

  • Tim BurtOni

  • Christopher 7th Guest

  • Wes Super Mario Landerson

  • Snes Craven (Freya's one is the best)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Caught Short

Sometimes I wonder if my wife really loves me. Oh sure she says it everyday & gives me a kiss as I leave far too early in the morning for work, but it's those little things (as Alisha's Attic once sung) that make me doubt her intentions are pure.

Take yesterday (when I should've written this blog). It was a sunny day, and Freya told me that it was rather warm and as I get headaches when it's hot I was advised to wear shorts and a t-shirt.

Except it turned out it was also very windy so I got chilly about two minutes into our trip into town. This meant we then had to try to walk in the sun and out of the shade so that I would complain as little as possible.

Of course now I'm writing this blog I think it's pretty obvious that that tactic failed. I reckon she does love me really, but is bad at taking wind chill into account. I guess I should have put that in my wedding vows. I'll remember this next time I get married.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Commuter Love

I've tried to keep my stories of my fellow commuters at a minimum, but something that happened the other day made me realise at how rude some people could be.

When I first started commuting last July there were a few people that I recognised every few journeys. There was the girl with pixie hair, the guy with the indie feather cut and a few people I recognised from my old job who had also taken up jobs in the industrial hotbed of Leeds. But by about September these people had disappeared to be replaced by incidental behind men that I couldn't pick out of a police line up if I tried.

I have no idea where the previous people went. Was I just getting different trains to them? Quite likely as I realised if I got the 17.28 train it would take longer to get back to York, but I would have the advantage of a guaranteed seat and wouldn't have to go over the bridge to leave York station. Or did they get annoyed with seeing me on the train & decided to change their schedule to avoid seeing me? Either suggestion sounds likely.

However, in the past few weeks I've started seeing some faces again and again. There's the woman with the fold up bike and subtle nose piercing, the guy who wears running gear to the station, gets changed in the train toilets and then changes his contact lenses on the train floor (rather grim), the woman with really blonde hair who if you squint looks like Brea Grant and the girl with really flattened hair.

And then there's the guy who seems to think he's in a race with me to get to the train in the morning. I don't know why but he thinks he has to cross the road before the actual crossing part & is almost speed walking. I think you would class him as an alpha male, which would also mean you would class him as a tit.

Particularly as when he strode past me whilst hugging the edge of the pavement despite there being the whole rest of the pavement to walk down. But, who's this coming in the other direction? It's another a.m/t who is also hugging the edge of the pavement! One of them is going to have to move to the side, or perhaps both will, laugh, say sorry to each other (even though there's nothing to apologise for) and then carry on to their workplace laughing at the slightly amusing thing that just happened.

Or they could both be consumed with their own self importance, assume that the other person will move out of the way, then walk into each other then turn round to call each other an 'arsehole' or an 'idiot'. Yes, that could be a likely outcome.

I'm only ashamed that I was so in shock at the event of both a.m/ts getting so angry at each other (in order to prevent themselves realising that their lives have become so petty to get angry at someone walking into them) that I didn't laugh out loud. Ah well, I'm sure it will happen again at some point.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sofa's Edge

According to Karen Chu, British Gas have been inspired by Little Big Planet for their latest set of adverts. Unfortunately this wasn't mentioned as an inspiration by the advertising in the away day that we recently held (as part of my role in a well known British based Gas company). That doesn't necessarily mean it wasn't an inspiration, just that advertising man didn't want to incriminate himself.

In his defence, the British Gas doesn't totally steal from LBP. Whilst parts of it evoke the feel of the game, it doesn't look exactly like it. It also doesn't have an annoyingly floaty jump.

CSL sofas don't really have the 'inspired by' defence.  It's entirely stolen from the first level of Mirror's Edge that made everyone fall in love with it (and then fall out with it because the combat was not intuitive).

The problem is I don't see how a distopian future on the roofs of high rise buildings makes you think 'Sofas'.  If anyone can answer this for me I would be most appreciative.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Street life

I was in Nottingham today going to see my Grandma, and to waste some time I went to Lee Rosy's to see if the FME and DHK approved waitress was as hott as I was led to believe.

Unfortunately as I got there before 10am, it was shut and I felt it would have been rude to stare through the window so just glanced in and saw a dark-haired girl. I had no idea if she was hott, but the place did look very nice.

And all the time I was walking around I knew I was in Nottingham. Which sounds silly, but everyone else says all high streets are the same due to homogenised shops and health 'n' safety* causing anything original to be removed.

But even if Selectadisc closed**, and the Brian Clough statue was removed I'd know exactly where I was. And if I was dumped in York, Mansfield, Manchester, Swinging London or Scarborough I would know immediately where I was. And then run towards the Police Station to inform them I had been kidnapped.

Because the high street is more than the shops that it contains. It's the buildings that they're in, with the clocks that have been outside them for ages. It's the little hill you have to go up before seeing that Lee Rosy's is shut. It's the little alleyways and snickets you know you can cut through before you get to Cube hairdressers. It's that they're not all set in blocks like in America (or at least, what I think of America - please inform me if I'm wrong former colonialists!). It's the trams in Manchester going towards Altringham.

Although the fact that they all seem to have big wheels is very silly.

* The a and n were removed in case a kid fell and bumped their head on them

** Which it is. I bought my Olivia Tremor Control album there, along with the cool see through Sleater-Kinney single (I think it was You're No Rock And Roll Fun). Bye bye Selectadisc, you were a girl record store

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Witness the fitness

As befits someone who recently got married I have let myself go a bit.  Whereas I was previously a slim, weak man with a bit of a pot belly I am now a slim, weak man with a bit of a pot belly and a beard.  This obviously makes a huge difference to my lifestyle, which consists of sitting around playing videogames and eating chicken goujons with reggae reggae sauce.

I think my body works fine from the waist down as I walk to work (excluding the 25 minute train I catch in between walking to and from the stations) and don't get out of breath.  Sometimes I do get a little sweaty, but that's mostly due to me wearing a big coat in anticipation of cold weather & the Sun deciding to boil me slightly.

No, it's always been my arms & belly that require the most work.  My belly seems to attract all the spare weight I have, but my arms get thinner and thinner in comparison.

So I got the Wii Fit board out of storage and decided to give it a go.  After being gently chided for not going on it for over 100 days I started playing the put-the-balls-in-the-holes game as a warm up.

Then I did some squat thrusts which weren't too bad, so I decided to do some jacknifes to work on my belly.  Easy peasy.  At least for the first few jacks, then for some weird reason my lardy belly thought that it didn't like doing this & it started to hurt.  Lots.  The worst thing was that the gym trainer lady was late for the session due to sleeping in too late and seemed to be taking it out on me.  "Keep at it.  I may be hungover, but seeing you in pain is making me feel lots better."

I hate that woman.  She never cuts you any slack.  Much like a trainer in a real gym.

I decided to finish with a press up session.  Now I really hate the Wii Fit press ups.  Not only do they make you do it really slowly, but they also make you move onto one arm in an attempt to prolong the agony.  So I gave up.

The woman gave me some grief, but I didn't really care as I could see her do the press ups and noticed that her top was really scary.  You could see her cleavage, but it was perfectly covered by her top.  Not like it was a lycra top, but more like it was painted over like those women they occasionally have in Sports Illustrated issues.

The gym lady scares me.  I would choose the man, but he is also scarier and I worry about what I will see when I do the squat thrusts.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Shake baby shake

I need a car.  Actually scratch that, I need a method of transportation that's cheap and doesn't require two weeks of planning before I can use it.  Which essentially means a car.

It doesn't matter that I haven't been behind a wheel since I passed my test* in 2002, a car would be really useful.  It would mean that I wouldn't have to get a first class ticket to travel down at 7am to see my Grandma** as there were no cheaper tickets that would get me there before 12.

We could also go and visit Freya's relatives who live too far away for us to decide to see at a short notice and therefore hardly see as much as she would like.  The last time we saw her Father & Step-Mother was at our wedding and nine months*** is too long to have not seen your parents.

I'd quite look forward to being able to drive around Yorkshire and see places that don't have a train station near them.  I hear there's some rather nice village pubs nearby and as I'm (sob) nearly 30 I reckon I should be going towards that direction.

Also going by car would remove the most hateful thing about getting public transport.  Which is the public.  They are such whining, childish hatemongerers .  Honestly, while I've not been blogging I've been storing up anecdotes about the idiotic things my fellow commuters have done.  And the really annoying thing is I'm sure I've done exactly the same thing to them.

* Other than when I revved my Mum's car so that my Dad's car got jump started.

** Although I'm actually interested in seeing how good first class is.

*** Erk.  I've been married for nine months.  We've already lasted longer than Peaches Geldof.  In your face!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Putting second in perspective

Right, I realise I haven't really blogged on here.  And I haven't filled in the 'about' sections that I appear to have.

But humour me for a moment.  I'm trying to work out if what I've written makes sense.

Momopeche twittered 'crap, i have to write my SXSW bio and have no idea to write it in first person or third'.  My reply was 'He always prefers to write in the second person'.

Does this make sense from any viewpoint?  I'm really unsure if it does or not.