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19/4/07: Day of Judgment

I think I've already mentioned that my current day job involves entering birth certificates. I've also already mentioned that I tend to make up stories about families based on what few details are available in the data. I felt it would be worth expanding on some of the ways in which I do that. Get ready to feel judged and violated!

If the father is older than the mother, then he is obviously an evil moustachioed Victorian era-style villain who has forced an innocent flower of girlhood into marriage so that he can take advantage of her sweet mauve envelope for as long as it takes to get bored of her, at which point he will start being unfaithful, but will of course whip his wife to death if she does the same. This is unless the father is older than the mother by a really big margin, in which case he has 'mid-life crisis' stamped on his forehead and/or has married a gold digging harlot.

If the mother is older than the father then this is obviously the result of some erotic thriller folderol in which a scheming older woman has seduced a handsome young stud in order to lure him into a web of intrigue and murder. Of course these being birth certificates indicate they had a child so presumably the innocent love of the young man has helped her see the error of her ways.

If you live in Moranbah then you are a moron, because Moranbah must be where the morons live.

If the father's place of birth, mother's place of birth, place of marriage and current address are all in the same town, they are the most boring people in the world.

If the father is from a foreign country (I'm talking proper foreign, like Italy or India or something non-English speaking) and the mother is Australian, then he is clearly a greasy wag who has come over here to take our jobs and steal our women.

If the mother is foreign and the father is Australian, then this is obviously one of those marriage of convenience dealies where the evil manipulative asylum seeker is just trying to get her visa and will be out the door with a swarthy hunk on each arm the moment her new passport arrives.

If both parents are foreign, they have eloped. They will some day both be murdered by the mother's angry dad who was trying to suppress her natural feminine free spirit and force her into an arranged marriage.

If there is no father listed, then the mother is of course a huge slut. If she's under 17 then she's the main character in a bleak coming of age drama made by the BBC, as well as being a huge slut. Bonus points if there's a big fat 'given up for adoption' stamp at the bottom.

If both parents are under 18 then they must be one of those developmentally retarded teenage couples who think cling film can work just as well as a rubber johnny. If they live in Moranbah I will nod sagely to myself.

If the parents are not married, or have more than four kids, or if the father's occupation is listed as 'labourer' or 'farmhand', or if the given address is a caravan park, they're rednecks.

If they're not married and have the same surname (and it's come up a few times) then they're also rednecks and are seriously committed to the whole redneck thing.

If they have more than 10 kids (alarmingly common in rural Queensland it seems) then they are absolutely demented rednecks who need to be neutered before they do any more damage. If one or more the children is named something along the lines of 'Joe Bob' or 'Lu Ann' then it's time to carpet bomb the entire district.

If someone has the same name as a celebrity then the only possible explanation is that they really are that celebrity in hiding and the person we see on films and television masquerading as them is a lookalike persuaded to adopt the role after the original became disillusioned with a life of glamour. There's probably some kind of agency in Hollywood that sorts all this out.

If the father has a really awesome name, like John Steele or Jack Blaze, then they are a retired action hero who married their love interest. The child for whom this birth certificate is filed will one day be kidnapped by nazis.

If your name is 'Bertha', you are fat.

Seriously. You're really fat.

- Yahtzee

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11/04/07: Ice Ice Baby

How to tell if you are drowning in a frozen lake

You feel that people walk all over you

You just can't seem to keep warm no matter how many coats you put on

You feel sympathetic when professional women talk about 'the glass ceiling'

It feels like everyone you meet these days is a rescue worker shouting at you through six inches of solid ice

You don't get on well with any of your friends because they are all fish

You are not on fire

You tend to regard people who are not drowning in frozen lakes with nostalgic envy

You frequently experience breathing difficulties

You ask your best friend why he didn't invite you to his birthday party, and he replies "I kind of assumed you'd have suffocated to death by now"

You are never thirsty

You feel left out at Christmas and family gatherings

When people ask how you are you reply, "I'm drowning in a frozen lake, you bloody fool, how do you think?"

You list your address as 'a frozen lake'

You have suddenly lost all interest you had in angling

Your name is Grigori Rasputin

When people tell you that their relatives have drowned in frozen lakes you find it difficult to feel sorry for them

- Yahtzee

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3/4/07: Temperature Rising

So I'm office temping again. I'm afraid I weakened and relapsed back into an old habit. For the third time in my life I am entering data for an Australian government department. I come in at 8:30, sit at my desk and enter birth registries all day.

It's awesome.

I've forgotten how much I love data entry. The wonderful monotony of it, the musical clicking of keyboards. I love having my conscious brain deactivated by a mindless repetitive task and the rest of it drifting off into the wonderful lands of make believe. Also I like having somewhere to go during the day to get away from Sarah's new cat. And they pay me for this shit.

But you have to do something to relieve the monotony or you'd go completely insane, I guess. Firstly I can write crap like this. Secondly I can make up little stories in my head based on the details of the stuff I'm inputting.

"Ah, this 30-year-old widow married a 50-year-old farmer," I say to myself. "Clearly the loss of her first true love made her cynical and now she marries for security. Perhaps one day she will meet a randy Scandinavian stablehand who will show her how to love again."

"There was a gap of 10 years between this couple's first and second child. Obviously the passion fizzled out pretty fast but it has recently been re-awakened after they started attending swinger's parties."

"This mother has 14 kids already and just gave birth to twins. This family will either implode or get their own sitcom."

Also, if you have a silly name or there's something vaguely amusing in your details, I assure you I will show it to my colleagues and they will all laugh, and we will all think you are a twat. I'm thinking of the guy whose surname was Foreman and whose occupation was also Foreman. And then there's the woman named Cox who married a man named Box. I wonder if she ever went by both names, and in what order she put them. I wonder if it was part of what initially attracted them or if it just came out later as an amusing and eerie coincidence.

Also, did you know that Shane can be a girl's name? One family thought so!

You know that bit in American Beauty where Kevin Spacey's character starts working at McDonalds and loves it because so little is expected of him? I can totally sympathise. Like, I wouldn't want to be a pilot, because if I show up to work drunk I might fly into a mountain and kill hundreds and go down in history as the douche who killed hundreds. But the worst that might happen in my job is that the file of some woman in some database no-one ever looks at might wrongly attest that she is really a man.

Data entry is the secret to happiness. Check it out.

- Yahtzee

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21/3/07: Smoke In My Face

Australia has a serious case of nanny state going on. Have I mentioned this? Well, it bears repeating. Right now the Australian government has gotten so patronising that they might as well strap every single citizen into high chairs and bring spoonfuls of nutritious non-fattening vegetable mush to their open mouths with the accompaniment of aeroplane noises and pleasing coos. It's that bad.

Sorry, people of Australia - your elected representatives think you're all collectively a bunch of dangerous halfwits who have to be directly instructed not to mess with cutlery or will be plunging toasting forks into their beerguts the moment the metaphorical figure of authority's back is turned. This is pretty much the first thing that caught my attention when I was first absorbing Australia's culture and the sheer volume of public service announcements that flit past the TV screens. I'm OK with the one where the guy tells you to eat more fruit and vegetables, at least we can all agree that fruit and vegetables are good for you, as needless a sentiment it is to endlessly parrot. I'm less OK with the one about how men should stop slapping their wives about. It's a sensible enough cause but I'm uneasy about its unspoken implication that domestic abuse against men either doesn't exist or doesn't matter. It's this new one I've been seeing lately that makes me want to speak out.

I didn't know it was possible to be both liberal and right-wing at the same time, but that's the only way I can describe the Australian government's hatred of smoking. It marries the exaggerated coughs of the staunch anti-smoker with the mindless fury of a Klan rally. There was that law passed that banned smoking within distance of any public building, complete with accompanying ad campaign depicting healthy beaming children ring-a-roseying around a fertile green playground without the slightest hint of irony. They started ordering cigarette companies to put fucking enormous health warnings on the packet, and when the smoking public continued to not fall into their happy slave drone template, they then replaced the warnings with nauseating full-colour photographs of heavily diseased body parts, ostensibly the results of smoking, which achieved nothing but putting me off my lunch every time Sarah left her empty fag packets lying around my desk.

The people behind this seem absolutely fucking convinced that cigarette smokers somehow don't know of the possible health risks and if they could just get the poor victims of the now non-existent tobacco advertising to even glance at a fire and brimstone health warning it will be enough to cause an epiphany straight out of a Jack Chick comic. The possibility that someone might take the warnings with the healthy skepticism they deserve and continue to smoke responsibly for the benefits they feel smoking gives them as part of a rational, informed decision doesn't seem to register.

So, having decided from the tobacco industry's stubborn insistence on not going bust anytime soon that all smokers must be functionally retarded, the Australian nanny state have created a new anti-smoking ad campaign directed at the functional retard demographic. Here's the tagline.

"When you smoke, you inhale over 4000 chemicals."

This is pathetic. The break-dancing forced-smiling brightly-coloured-jumper-wearing busybodies who preach anti-smoking in school assemblies are less ridiculous than that. Okay, they might want to make you kill yourself but at least they're direct, and cheerful. This scaremongering tagline is just a very basic and obvious piece of information put through the wringer of inference and dodgy phrasing.

'Chemical' is one of those words that means practically fuck all, but is loaded in the average person's mind with negative imagery. You think 'chemical', you think of beakers of coloured liquid and dry ice being downed by a cross between Christopher Lloyd and the current Pope who then gleefully inspects the vestigial arms suddenly growing out of his lower back. Or perhaps barrels of glow-in-the-dark goo that Captain Planet villains use as fishing floats. But 'chemical' by itself, upon examination, is utterly meaningless. It's like saying 'substance', or 'element'. Saying that a smoker inhales over 4000 chemicals is as meaningful as saying that fun runners pass over 4000 different kinds of rock, and because that rock may contain dinosaur fossils, said fun runners are at risk of velociraptor attack.

Who wants to bet that one of the 4000 phantom chemicals referred to is 'air', or 'water vapour'? Let's not even go into how the amount of smoke inhaled from one cigarette, when divided between 4000 substances, would leave such a tiny amount of each that any negative effect each substance may have on a human body would be virtually non-existent. No, let's forget all that because the advert has more carefully phrased warnings for us.

Examples are given of the chemicals we are apparently practically swigging neat every time someone has a quiet puff two doors down. "Acetone," it says, while a sick-looking woman is filmed coughing unhappily through a bluish filter, "Used in paint thinner. Cyanide. Used in rat poison."

It gets even better. Lacking something more conveniently dreadful to tell us about, like a hidden glass capsule of the ebola virus in every filter, the marketers attempt to fire a neurone in our empty minds by telling us what unsavoury characters these utterly minuscule quantities of chemical have been associating with. It's a tactic with all the credibility of smearing a political candidate by revealing that he once shook hands with a friend of Adolf Hitler's dentist. Need I remind anyone that cyanide occurs naturally in apples? By the Australian government's logic, when you eat an apple you might as well be EATING HANDFULS OF BOILING TAR.

Fuck, this is fun, let's try applying this logic somewhere else. Hey, did you know that your shampoo contains polysorbate? Well, did you also know that polysorbate derivatives are also used in Clorox floor cleaning products? Every time you wash your hair with shampoo, you might as well be DUNKING IT IN UNDILUTED BLEACH. And let me assure you that shampoo is chemically speaking a hell of a lot closer to floor cleaner than cigarettes are to paint thinner.

I'm not a smoker. I used to be, but I stopped. I had heard they were good for anxiety and I had a lot of that, but it was eating into my budget and I wasn't really observing an effect, so I packed it in. Maybe if I can get a regular income I'll give them another crack. I have friends who are smokers and I live with a smoker. I'm not saying that smoking can't cause medical problems and I'm not pretending to be an expert, but you know something, Australian government? I'd far rather be surrounded by all my smoker friends exhaling directly into my throat than listen to patronising, controlling dipshits like you. So stick that in your pipe and ban it.

PS. I saw Hot Fuzz last night and it was really good you should probably go and see it too

- Yahtzee

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9/3/07: Games Games I Love Video Games

I don't know whether anyone else has noticed - actually I doubt it immensely - but there have been an awful lot of religious-themed ads running through my Google ad presence along the left of the page. There's been a lot of sites advertised that would no doubt be of use to any passing Christians who feel they haven't informed themselves of how awesome this Jesus character was lately but this is probably a very small segment of my audience.

This influx of god squaddery is probably something to do with the word Jesus being used in a title of a recent update, the Google Ads robot brain apparently still mystified by the concept of 'context'. This, I felt, would not do. This is a site about games. Well, actually it's a site about me but I'm all about games so who cares. Thus begins Operation Find Appropriate Google Ads Right Soonish for Everyone, or FAGARSE.

The first step is to make the title of this update a completely unambiguous endorsement of gaming. The next step is to fill the rest of this update with large emboldened gaming-themed haikus. See if you can guess what games they're about.

Fucking headcrabs again
Swat them off with a crowbar
Never speaks, the douche

Lost in Blackrock Spire
Shit, my stomach really hurts
Quick, get me a sock

Slapping a fretboard
Nothing like real guitar, but
it beats jerking off

Why are the doors locked?
Who is that batey fellow
in the welding mask?

Oh no I've been killed
I'll just shoot up some red bats
Surprise! Back again

Is that a beerstein
I'll buy it at a high price
Heh heh heh, thank you

I am a white dog
Saving the world with brushwork
Whose friend won't shut up

This fog drives me mad
Hey, seen my wife anywhere?
Nice hat, by the way

Must get that S-rank
Cheerleading: a manly job
One, two, thr - fuck, missed

- Yahtzee

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24/2/07: Critic's Corner

Guys. Female guys. I've figured it out. I know how to make television not shit anymore.

Oh but yes it is shit. TV was bad when John Logie Baird was first making playful dirty gestures in front of his new invention and it's bad now. And the reason why it is bad is because of the damn ratings system.

Let me quickly explain how ratings work. A tiny percentage of houses in the country have special boxes on their TV sets and they have to record which members of the household are watching the TV at any one time, as well as the age and demographic of the viewer. Each individual under this system represents a few thousand viewers. These are all added up and sent to the TV companies and if the numbers are big they all come in their pants and if the numbers are small they all shoot themselves.

BUT this system is inherently flawed because the only people who have these magic viewer recording boxes are people who volunteer. That means that only the kinds of people who care enough about television to want to volunteer for this kind of shit are going to be represented in the figures. And let me tell you right now - people who care that much about television are greasy morons who like Eastenders and genuinely phone in to vote for their favourite Big Brother zoo exhibit. I know this because most of the television we get these days is geared towards the vital greasy moron demographic.

What's insane is that television is coloured by the TV execs' obsession with attracting audiences while their methods of identifying said audiences remain woefully inadequate. It's like trying to gauge your audience at a broadway show when only one in thirty of them are illuminated and the spotlights are all pointed at seats reserved for people with down's syndrome.

So the answer is simple. Find a better way to determine who, exactly, is watching, and TV will become better again. All those people like me and thee who just tune in for Mythbusters and Black Books every now and again who don't think that's worth getting a magic ratings box for will finally get our say.

Don't worry, though, I'm not the kind of person to just badmouth the existing system without offering any reasonable alternatives, so here's my patented idea for a better way.

The first thing we have to do is put a little camera in the face of every single member of the public. Now, a lot of people are probably going to raise objections to this system and that's why we're not going to tell them we're doing it. We'll just do it to every new baby that's born, and everyone who's already alive will get one secretly implanted next time they go to the dentist or something. Sooner or later everyone's got one.

The little camera will have some of the Nintendo Wii technology in that it only turns on when it's pointed directly at a TV. When it is turned on it beams everything it sees to the newly-built evil looming tower fortress on the plains of Scotland.

The two rather major flaws with the plan so far is that a) it'll cost a whole bunch and b) you'd need one tower fortress employee for every single member of the British public to record what they're watching. Fortunately I've figured out a way around these speed bumps, too. We'll just pick some countries randomly that aren't doing anything important (like, say, Mozambique and Canada), invade them, plunder them, murder all their children to break their morale and enslave them in the evil looming tower fortress. Actually thinking about it we could probably have each slave monitoring two or three TV viewers at a time so whoever's left over will be divided between the harem and being ground into food for the other slaves.

The liberal pussies among you are probably thinking something along the lines of how my plan to make TV good again involves turning the country into an Orwellian nightmare society, but that just shows what unhelpful naysayers liberals are.

Oh wait, fuck it, scratch all that. We should just offer all TV over bittorrent download instead of through the neolithic analog system. Then you can just keep track of who downloaded what where. I figure since everyone already bittorrent downloads all their TV anyway it wouldn't be much of a stretch. As for the enslavement we'll have to think of a way to work it in somewhere else.

- Yahtzee

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16/2/07: Rock And Regardez

I can't even remember the last time I wrote a short story, but here we are. Be advised thought that I'm only uploading it here because a magazine rejected it. Anyway, it's called the Spirit of Rock and you can click on the name to read it.

Also, I'm informed that Trilby's Notes has picked up 4 AGS awards at the recent ceremony, including Best Game of 2006, and that 1213 picked up best non-adventure game (although it is an adventure game if you think about it). Thank you indeed to everyone who voted, I am unworthy of your kindness. With this I am apparently the most prolific receiver of AGS awards and nominations for AGS awards, with somewhere in the region of 11 and 44 respectively. I've never been given the Lifetime Achievement one, though. I suspect this is because I am black.

- Yahtzee

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8/2/07: Sweet Jesus

"Praise me and donate me things you sheep! Bleat, motherfuckers! Baa!"

- The Book of Me

So, how are we doing with 6 Days A Sacrifice? Having a good time? Finished it? Having a good old think about the plot? You'll see I've already stuck it into the quick links at the top of the page. Well, the Special Edition is now available, for the usual sum of a 5 dollar donation. All the fun of 6 Days with revealing commentary, expanded ending, original soundtrack by grace of Mark Lovegrove and one or two other tidbits I threw in to make it interesting.

I've also decided to introduce a bulk discount for new special edition patrons. The scheme is called the Chzo Mythos Discount Pack. Details on the donation page, but basically it's like this: send me 15 dollars and I'll send you all 4 Chzo Mythos special editions - 5 Days, 7 Days, 6 Days and Trilby's Notes. That's right, buy three, get the fourth free. It's never been a better time to get into the 'giving me money' trend that all the cool kids are into.

What's that? No money? Well, I still have something for you. Roushi has uploaded a slightly updated version of 6 Days that addresses a couple of issues. If you have a mirror, please update it.

Let's finish up this entry with some nice fanart. Thumbnailed, click for big.

and by El_Gostro

by Alec Thompson

and by StanTheGarbageMan

by Setasouji (possible spoilers)

- Yahtzee

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