Farcebook

I haven’t touched this blog in like a couple of months, and even before then it’s been a rare thing. Basically, NaNoWriMo, Christmas, college and the panic that comes with applying for university kept me busy, as well as a few other personal projects.

That and I feel like I’m all out of shit to say for a number of reasons. Largely because things have pissed me off more than cheered me up (and I really don’t want to fill this blog up with endless rants – dammin, Jim, I’m 28, not 82), and a lot of what I have had to say of late tends to fit “comfortably” within a couple of Tweets. Oh, yeah, and I’m currently under a feature block on Facebook right now, and I don’t know the full extent of that, but the extent of Facebook’s hypocrisy. See, as far as I can tell, the block may have been a result of a comment I left on a post made by Real Radio North East, in which they asked their listeners to write three words that summed up the prior 24 hours. My contribution was “Stupid mouse broke” because, well, my stupid mouse broke that day. Overpriced piece of crap that it was. That comment had since disappeared, and I also found that the station has also blocked me on Twitter.

It was either that or the station is taking it out on me because I called them out, when they tried to claim someone else’s image as their own by slapping their shitty logo over the original.

The original image is actually a user card from someecards.

The original image is actually a user card from someecards. And yes, I was understandably pissed that they pulled that shit. They quietly took the post down an hour or two later and then tried to pretend it never happened.

In any case, it’s looking to be the case that I’m going to be stuck in that feature block for a whole month, possibly more, and I don’t even know if this post will go through to my page, or if I am even able to comment on my own page (never really had that opportunity, to be quite honest). Either for doing the right thing or posting something that was about as offensive as breathing. Which might cause a few eye rolls, but let’s face it, if you’re offended by the act of calling an inanimate human interface device stupid, you might want give your life, and your priorities some long hard reconsideration.

And yet, while I am being penalised for the most moronic of possible reasons, others continue to get away with personally attacking someone and calling them the C-word for the “crime” of “failing” to post a link and spouting transphobic shit, to name but a few examples of the bullshit I’ve reported, only to be told that no action had been taken because none of them had been in violation of their community “standards”. Seriously, Facebook? Fucking hypocrites. I wouldn’t be surprised, at this point, if the site’s support “team” was nothing but an army of robotic bros, given this and their history of allowing pages promoting domestic abuse to go unpunished for months.

So, yeah, I went off on a rant. Again. On a lighter note, I’m going to try and give this blog a little more love. I have a few ideas which I might be posting over the next few weeks. So, erm, stay tuned?

Star Trollin’

 

Um. No. While I don’t consider myself a Trekkie, I in no way feel lucky or thankful for seeing Star Trek reduced to headache-inducing lens flare, dumbed-down space battles and massive genderfails. Granted, the original timeline had moments of questionableness (was Seven of Nine’s outfit really necessary?), but holy Cthulhu on a stick, the way the new movies’ TWO named female main characters (Not sure Amanda Grayson counts since she was offed so quickly in the first movie. Or Gaila, for that matter.) thus far have been manhandled is an Hobus-sized insult to Gene Roddenberry’s original baby.

There must be a ton of different ways Orci and Abrams could have revitalised Star Trek. Aside from Sulu getting his badass acting captain on early in Into Darkness, they really dropped the warp core with the franchise.

So no, I should not be thanking Roberto Orci and JJ Abrams for the new movies. I should be more inclined to tell them to fuck off instead.

Why News?

Dear Sky News,

Why the fuck is the One Direction “movie” even news?

Why do you insist on reporting on this bullshit like it bears the same level of importance to Britain, if not greater, as something like the shit currently being hosed into the nearest fan in Egypt, the bullshit intimidation tactics our own government is employing in the wake of Edward fucking Snowden’s leaks, or the massive dump Russia is taking on its LGBT population?

Who, with even a hint of a sodding clue, gives a toss about this movie? It’s not even a proper movie, not even in the sense of feature-length documentaries like March of the Penguins. It’s a bunch of camcorder footage that might as well have been edited together by an unpaid intern, yet somehow, people are stupid enough to buy a full-price ticket for it. It has nothing on the likes of Spice World or S Club’s Seeing Double, which is saying something considering both movies are still considered crap. At least someone put some effort into writing them and directing them. At least those bands tried to act.

One Direction themselves are an insult to boy bands. Their “music” is monotonous, detrimental to logical thought, and has probably inflicted aneurysms upon a few people. Whenever I hear this shit on the radio, or have it inflicted upon me by way of a pre-video YouTube ad, I feel inclined to hunt down stuff by the likes of N*SYNC or Five just to flush that shit out. 1D’s music is not good music. If you can even call it music.

So kindly knock off with reporting on unimportant crap like this, especially after it damn near bordered on the level of idiocy that surrounded the Royal Baby yesterday. Focus on what really fucking matters right now.

 

Rant over.

Fourteen Days of Shite

I’ve tried twice already to blog about some of the shit I’ve seen that’s gotten me down of late. Each time, I’ve run out of steam and into so many blocks that I abandoned them for a later date. Third time’s the charm, I guess. I’m going to try and keep things brief and to the point, and keep my stupid-shit opinion out of it as much as possible until I’m awake enough to actually process what the crap I witnessed over the past couple of weeks.

A week or two ago, Microsoft showed off their Xbox One, or – as I like to call it since I’m more than a little miffed about it – the Xbollox One. The games announced for the system disinterest me something awful and frankly confirm, for the most part, this Tweet I made just a few days prior:

Meanwhile, Feminist Frequency owner-host Anita Sarkeesian expressed her disappointment that none of the titles announce featured a female protagonist.

It’s a fair point, really. Look at any the shelves in your nearest game store. Count the boxes with moody stubbly blokes on the front. Now count the ones with female heroes on the box. The ratio’s a bit shit, to be frank about it. Unfortunately, quite a few men, understatement as it is, begged to differ. With venom and bizarre logic. I won’t go into detail as my thoughts on that logic here. Maybe a later post.

More recently, it had been discovered that some arsehole had set up a Kickstarter campaign to fund his book. You’re probably wondering why that might be a problem. Well, because it’s a guide to sexual assault, sugar-coated as “being awesome with women.”

More like being an arsehole with women. Kickstarter let it slip them by, despite the campaign being brought to their attention before the thing was funded. You read that right. It got funded. Several. Times. Over its goal. Kickstarter’s excuse: their policies dictated that they piss about over it for a couple of weeks. Um, sorry. but some things warrant throwing policy out of the window and getting that shit nerfed pronto. This campaign was one of them.

Those two incidents alone make me ashamed to be male right now.

Meanwhile, Penny Arcade’s Mike Krahulik, aka Gabe, managed to make a complete arse of himself on Twitter. In response to a Kotaku article a couple of weeks ago, whose author stated that “not all women have vaginas(NSFW, BTW) and later rather nicely rebutted someone who asked her what planet she was living on, Gabe spouted on Twitter that he believed men have penises and woman have vaginas.

I cannot say I am surprised that people called him out for that. What was surprising was that instead of getting a clue, and learning from his error, when the subject was brought up again a couple of days ago he reiterated those beliefs and then continued to get increasingly on the derpfensive, going on to announce that he would disregard anyone who used the term “cis” (it means non-trans), among other incredibly dumb announcements and retorts. I mean DUMB. To express the level of stupidity there would require me to actually put my SoundCloud account to use, but I don’t think anyone would appreciate me screaming “DUMB DUMB DUMB” down a mic for up to that site’s file length limit. Tangent. Anyway. Ugh. You’d think that someone in his position would have known better. You would think someone who is essentially a public figure would learn from his mistakes.

Last, but not least, there was the story of indie game developer Chloe Sagal and her series of unfortunate events. I’m not going to try and summarise it. I don’t think I can. I don’t think I can condense all those guts she spilled into the short sentences that will satisfy those who find it to be “TL;DR”. Instead I recommend you take a few minutes of your time to make the effort and read it properly (NOTE: It’s the orange link that reads “The Full Story”). Some advance warning, though: reading it made me feel ill. At the end of the day, she recognises she made a mistake, acknowledged it in that post, and voiced her reasons for doing so. If you ask me, a little forgiveness for something that seems to have been the product of multiple problems and issues that have compounded into a force that has, and likely still is, driving her to destruction, is not out of the order. It’s probably inadvisable to ask me about anything. I know less than Jon Snow about many things.

Still, what’s irritating is that there are a vocal few that beg to differ. In the opinion of these commenters, that post did not constitute a proper apology. Apparently, one of those is where you just admit you did wrong and you regret it and you’ll never do it again and let that be the end of it, no excuses. If I’m honest, what people think constitutes a “proper” apology can be a crock of shit sometimes, and risks masking legitimate issues that are better addressed, well, just left to boil over unnoticed until it’s too late.

In any case, she has a friend who’s trying to get her own surgery funded. She needs $13,000 but so far, she’s only managed $2,762 as I type this. If you’re feeling generous, there’s a jar you can drop a few notes in. It’s sad, really, the snail’s pace that meter’s creeping up. If 2,600 working individuals set aside $5 out of their weekly wages to fund stuff like this each week, the world might just be a more awesome happy place. Not to oversimplify things, of course, OR to sound like an Oxfam ad.

So, there you have it. The shit that’s left me disappointed and annoyed with humanity as a whole this past couple of weeks, condensed into just a smidgen over nine hundred words. I… am going to step away from the post editor for a bit and hope that I haven’t stepped on anyone’s toes as I was venting.

Knowing my luck, I have done so nearly a thousand times over.

Trekked Out

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve seen Star Trek Into Darkness (Look, Ma, no colon!) and, while I enjoyed the the first of J.J. Abrams’ new-timeline movies, I walked away from this one feeling a little meh about it. The trailer seemed to promise a deadly game of wits, but for the most part, the Enterprise got the shit beaten out of it so much that the crew’s inevitable victory felt like they lucked out through the whole ordeal.

A couple of weeks later, now that the 3D lens flare-induce headache is out of my system, I have some thoughts about the movie, and all the criticisms levelled towards it. Bear in mind that I’m no Trekkie. I haven’t seen every single episode of every series, especially the original. Also,  spoiler alert, so it’s all after the jump.

Continue reading

Short Story: Shortest. Job. Ever.

Tina rifled through the photographs in her hand, all of the same person: a young girl, couldn’t have been older than fifteen. Not what many societies would consider pretty, but the residents of Windermere had learned to discard such bullshit long before they’d found the system of verdant moons that came to be dubbed the Lake District.

“My fee is three hundred crowns daily.” Tina finally said, breaking the few minutes of silence that pervaded as she memorised each photo carefully. She looked up to her client, an elderly man with three prongs of neatly trimmed and shaped facial hair that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Earth’s Old West.

The man, resting his chin against interlocked hands, arched one brow. “Three hundred daily? I’ve had cheaper offers.”

“I could have sworn you said my reputation preceded me just a few minutes ago.” she sighed. “And if that’s true, Mr. Clark, you’d know that I get the job done quicker than most of the cut-price slackers that call themselves hunters in this system.”

Clark nodded, a silent sign that he conceded that point. “Very well. Three hundred crowns daily. Plus expenses. Deal?”

Tina smirked, and the two shook hands. “Deal. And it just so happens that I’ve already found your daughter.”

“What?” Clark barked. He tried to pull his hand away, but to call the newly-hired hunter’s grip iron was the ultimate understatement. It was titanium. Behind her, the door swung open, lashing out at a decorative table playing host to a vase of false daffodils. The vase became the first casualty of the job. “What’s the meaning of this?”

Tina glanced behind her, offering a curt nod to her partner as she stepped through the open doorway. Molly Clark, the girl in the photos, wrapped her arms around the other hunter’s neck as if letting go would be the last mistake of her life, all the while staring the sharpest of daggers at her father.

“Basement, Bette?” she asked.

Bette smirked. “Just like you said, boss. A bit distraught, but otherwise unharmed.”

Tina returned her attention to Mr. Clark and tightened her augmented grip on the man’s arm. Though he didn’t scream, his agony was written all over his face.

“Well, this might just be the shortest job I’ve ever taken.” the hunter grinned as her eyes began to glow a demonic red. “But sending me on a wild goose chase, which I’m assuming was a plot to tarnish my reputation, is also going to prove your most costly mistake.”

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This short story is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Slippery Soap

I don’t get soaps. I don’t understand their appeal. I mean, I’ve caught a few episodes of Emmerdale and Coronation Street in the past, usually when my mum is trying in vain to catch up (I think the former alone dominates the Sky+ box’s hard drive right now).

For the most part, all I’ve seen of either is endless plotting, scheming, family breakdowns,  mental breakdowns, outright verbal venom, fights in the middle of the street, other forms of suffering and the odd death. DEATH seems to be an major draw to these things, because it apparently warrants every TV and soap magazine in the bloody country going out of their way to spoil it, splashing mugshots of the likely victims on the cover and asking, in big, bold type: WHO WILL DIE?

(And the media likes to accuse video games of trying to turn us into mass murderers…)

YET! At the same time it’s practically been spoiled long BEFORE that with the announcement of actor leaving for whatever reason, and most of the time they put a character on a bus, it winds up crashing off-screen. I don’t get why people get so excited about something you know is going to happen anyway. In my opinion, good fiction slaps you with the unexpected, makes you scream “OH WHAT THE CRAP JUST HAPPENED?” at your TV screen when it happens, and a lot of the time, it is not always a train a dropping on a character’s head or something equally drastic. There’s no sense in making your big events as expected as you can.

And then there’s everything else. As much as my mum believes these soaps are a good depiction of current issues (she also blew her stack at an episode of Harry’s Law that wasn’t exactly close to her heart, so there’s an indication of her fiction judgement), I find it hard to believe that so much crap can befall one street or small village, even taking into account some of the crap that has occurred where I once lived and live now. It is a lot of crap that does befall a village the size of a small housing estate, after all.

A lot of that crap is often rehashed. How many times can Gail Platt* get herself in a relationship with the worst possible man ever? How many more affairs could possibly occur without it getting old hat? And why on earth does it have to be dragged on for longer than the average DragonBall Z arc?

I really do not get soaps at all.

* Actually, this may be true for a large portion of female characters in soaps. It seems to be always the same: she gets a guy, the guy turns out to be a scheming/abusive/murderous bastard and, because she’s blinded by love or some other lame excuse, it takes her half a year for her to learn the truth the hard way, at which point, her life is probably over or in immediate mortal danger. Denial of warnings from friends or family seems to also be a plug-in plot element for this crap. Outside of one recent story arc in Corrie, I don’t think I’ve really seen a reversal of roles.

Still, either way, it’s a shining example of lazy writing that it gets repeated so bloody often, and one that baffles me because viewers lap it up regardless.

Short Story: Pulling a Fast One

He was getting tired now. The fighter’s strength was diminishing by the second, and he could feel the drain on every swing of his greatsword. His self-healing abilities were all used up and too far away from fully recharging in time to save him. In spite of this, however, he pressed on, hacking away at the small army of critters that had surrounded him at all sides, determined to end this increasingly hopeless battle in his favour. There were only a few left, he noted. Victory was fast becoming within reach.

The fighter hefted his weapon high above his head and brought it down upon the crab-like monster before him, splitting the accursed thing in half like a hot knife through butter. A second crab charged him with alarming haste, only to run straight into the heel of his tarnished steel boot, a blow which knocked it back onto a nearby fire that had been kindled some time before the hero’s arrival. He turned to the third monster, realising all too late that it had crept up on him unchecked. Obsidian pincers snapped at the mail protecting his lower torso and tore it apart like wet parchment, as it did the flesh beneath. Undeterred by the new wound, even as his once-silvery leggings turned a glistening red, the fighter hopped back to bring himself alongside the greatsword he had embedded in his first foe and, grabbing the hilt, yanked it from the corpse and lifted it above his head again.

Just as he was about to strike, however, a blue flash caught his eye. Both man and monster halted on the spot to observe another human, draped in muddied robes befitting a field mage, fleeing with the speed of a cheetah. Soon they both discovered what he was running from: another herd of crab-like creatures rushing by in hot pursuit before finally giving up the chase. They turned, as if ready to return to the natural routine they observed before the wizard had disturbed them, but soon laid what passed for eyes upon the fighter. Man and monster alike watched one another for a brief moment before the grim realisation of his situation finally dawned upon the hero: he wasn’t getting out of this alive.

The hero respawned at a nearby checkpoint, just at the mouth of the cave where he met his demise. He took a moment to check his equipment, which sustained a little damage in his fall and, as a result, had lost some of its effectiveness. Determining that the loss was no reason to return to town for repairs, he headed back into its deep dark depths again. The mage rushed by him once more, followed by yet another group of infuriated crabs.

She was getting tired now. The fighter’s strength was diminishing by the second, and she could feel the drain on every swing of her axe. Her self-healing abilities were all used up and too far away from fully recharging in time to save her. In spite of this, however, she pressed on, hacking away at the small army of critters that had surrounded her at all sides, determined to end this increasingly hopeless battle in her favour. There were only a few left, she noted. Victory was fast becoming within reach.

The fighter lifted her axe above her head, but before she could bring it down upon the crab-like monster before her, a voice from the distant darkness unleashed an almighty string of profane language that echoed across the cavern, distracting the hero just long enough for her foes to strike before she could realise the fatal error.

Whoever that bastard was, she thought to herself as she returned to the respawn point, he was so getting the repair bill.

Author’s note: Just something that’s been sitting in my head after a few dumb experiences in Guild Wars 2. It’s probably better suited to a webcomic, but I barely have the patience to draw a sloppy bar chart these days.

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This short story is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Shaken and Disturbed

Am I the only one that finds the whole Harlem Shake fad a bit… shit?

Actually, that’s an understatement. I consider it a stain on YouTube and the Internet, so much so that every time I see someone post a link to a new version of it, I feel myself wishing I had the godlike power to drop an asteroid onto the faces of the original’s creators with such force that not even their Red Power Ranger helmet will spare them.

Seriously, it’s stupid. Not funny stupid. Just stupid. I can’t even see why the original video was considered funny to begin with. It’s a bunch of pillocks in morph suits performing faux-spasms and pelvic thrusts on the spot to a “tune” that sounds like someone attempted to cover “Dooms Night” by recording seals bonking each other and playing it back at a various levels of pitch.

Yet despite this, it has been copycatted more times than is good for my brain activity, with people managing to get themselves arrested or sacked for doing it at a WWII memorial or in a sodding mine.

And no, I am not knocking it because it’s popular. Gangnam Style was popular. I loved it, and still do, but that people actually tried to compare Harlem Shake to Gangnam Style should be considered the Ultimate Insult to Psy. One is awesomely absurd. The other is just nonsensical in the worst possible way. Learn the difference.

Oh, and did I mention that they’re not even doing the real Harlem Shake?

Just STAHP. Let this “meme” die already so that some actual creativity can return to the YouTube home page. Rant over.

Fail to the King

I wanted to avoid firing up a PC or laptop today, but some things are unavoidable, aren’t they?

Today, and for much of last night, I’ve worked up the willpower to fire up the 360 once again and, after one long-arsed update that did flip knows what (have Microsoft started posting update notes yet?), fired up a couple of classics: Doom and Duke Nukem 3D. Blasts from the past, but also a slap in the face as to what my gaming life was like back in the day.

So before I continue, let me make a confession: Not once have I ever finished these two titles. Not. Once. Not even on their easiest difficulties. Such is my shame. In the case of Doom I have half an excuse: When I (well, my dad) got a Windows PC, Final Doom was one of the titles we were able to order for free, by that time on a budget label. Little did I know it was just a couple of commercialised level packs at the time. Of course, when I finally got hold of a full Doom compilation further down the line (about right before Doom 3 came out), I should have gotten that bugger finished. But I didn’t. Duke Nukem? An even worse offense. Unlike Doom, that was one of the games we got free with the system. I had tons of opportunity to finish that game before we got right of it (for some reason), again when I managed to find a second-hand copy for pennies, along with a third-party map disc, and again when I nabbed in on the cheap as part of a bundle at GOG.com.

Know my shame, people, know my shame.

Returning to the present, though, I’ve been playing these two games from the comfort(ish) of my bed, controller in hand (heresy!), on my TV. And I’ve been enjoying both games long enough to at least get past the first episode of each game so far and maintain the desire to keep on playing. Which is probably more than can be said for most of the recent additions to my game collection. Mind you, it says a lot about my gaming skill when I somehow manage to overlook a couple of important doors, thinking they’re just walls. Cue twenty minutes of “WHERE DO I GO NOW, FFS?”

Oops.

I’m not sure why either game, along with a couple of renewed stabs at Outrun Online Arcade, seems to have grabbed my attention so much now while I lose focus on today’s offerings so easily. Well, I probably do, but for some reason I don’t know how to explain it.

Maybe when the next generation rolls over I should trade in my current consoles for a SNES. I dunno.

Another thing I’ve been thinking about is their engines. I can’t help but wonder what games could have been achieved with either engine, or at least their released code (Doom‘s was released under the GPL, Duke Nukem‘s BUILD engine was opened up for non-commercial use). I mean, take a look at the Unreal Engine. That was made with first-person shooters in mind, and while a lot of shooters have used it, of course, more creative developers have used it for platformers, MMOs, fighting games, strategy games and even a Zumba title. It’s a pretty versatile engine by the looks of it.

Doom and BUILD, however… well, any search I try for games using either just brings up lists of shooter after shooter after shooter after map pack after map pack after map pack, plus an attempted at a Sonic The Hedgehog fan game. What has been made of the released code? Little more than ports of the engine to other operating systems or newer iterations of Windows with new shiny bells and whistles, it seems. I’m not sure people have really sat down and thought about what they could have done with either, nor do I suspect there has been any reason to do so with any engine until recently. I get it, they’re old, they have their limits and flaws, but I’ll be amazed and disappointed if someone hasn’t risen to the challenges they may offer.

Shame, really. Many developers today seem to trip over themselves to use the likes of Unity and Unreal, but older engines, despite being continually tarted up for modern systems, don’t seem to get a first thought. Of course, there is the fact that most of them are looking to profit from their work coupled with the obstacles of the GPL for Doom and BUILD’s non-commercial license.