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I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise to Scruffie for accidentally mistaking you for Ewok. I know it's hard to do, I only forgot which had which name. I'm stressed out at school. Go figure.
Ok, that done I'm going to tell you of a wonderful adventure I had.
The other weekend, I went camping near the Yorkshire coast (that's York-sher, damn yanks!) near the town of Scarborough. Now I do need to state that I am a Scout, or at least a leader-type figure, having passed through Scouts and out of the other end. You should also know that at Scouts, we term 'camping' as pretty much any form of going away, so we actually went hostelling.
Ok, so we're hostelling near Scarborough. All appears fine. We have a wonderful if sleep-deprived weekend, shouting at the annoying little shits who don't respect authority if it's only 17, drinking beer (oops, I think I'm underage. Ah well) and phoning/texting my current girly girl, finally managing to get a signal towards the end of the weekend whilst hiking along a cliff top.
I was getting ready to leave, and was in fact standing by a car waiting for the owner to come and let me get in, away from the cold. Imagine my semi-boredom if you will. The sky was grey; the grass was a dull, cold green. In the grass was something shiny. My super-powered Magpie senses tingling, I greedily walked towards the glistening silvery thing. I bent over, flexing my back, which is hard to do having slept of a wooden floor for several nights, in case you haven't tried.
The object of my gaze is a kettle lid, for one of those old metal ones that doesn't plug in. I picked it up and examined it.
It bore my name!
That's right boys and girls; I read my own name from upon its shiny surface. Crudely scrawled in black marker was "B Hall" (My name in Ben, fools!). Instantly, thoughts pulsed through me. Why did it have my name? Why was it handily nearby? Why was I drawn to it so? Is this some kind of Government plot? Has the Lilac Leprechaun, my enemy, nemesis and all round bad person finally found out my secret identity? If so, who leaked?
Or was I facing what I had read Yahtz had faced once before? A message from the future, sent back to warn me of impending doom? What possible doom could befall us that the only way to contact my former self was by kettle lid?
I did not know.
I still don't.
But it makes a vague sense - I could have laced it with pheromones only I could sense, was sufficiently shiny that my Mighty Magpie Powers could sense it, and it's weight large enough that any passing magpie would carry it off.
Or was it just that the place we stayed was called Birch Hall?
No, I like my idea better. If any of you disagrees, I'll whoop your Asses!
Oh crap, I dreamt that magpie bit too, didn't I? Damn wooden floors. Well, we can but dream.
I have to go now. I can feel the bemused glares, despite writing this several weeks in advance and only a handful of you knowing me in real life.
It's time for another delightful flowchart! This one has a Christmas theme 'cos they wouldn't let me put it up last week.
If that doesn't quite make your oceangoing vessel buoyant, I added a bit more to No Experience Necessary. I am a dutiful webmaster.
I guess you've probably heard about this batshit UFO cult that claims to have cloned a human baby, he said, speaking the word 'claims' as if forcing it through a tea strainer. A lot of people think it's a hoax and I'm enclined to agree, if only because I worry for the future of mankind if the loonies have to make all the scientific leaps. What next? Scientologists discovering nanotechnology? That would do us a lot of good, wouldn't it, he said, sarcasm dripping from his voice like grease from the face of a McDonalds employee.
Like any responsible journalist, I decided to do some research into the Raelians, as these wacky fun-lovers call themselves. They follow a chap called Rael, who some years ago felt that extracting money from the naive would be a lot more preferable to journalism. Rael, he says, was abducted by aliens who want him to save the world from itself or some shit.
According to Rael, or Ray to his friends, the aliens had a huge wealth of human knowledge and could speak every human language. If this is so, why didn't they realise that they could make themselves a little more believable if they manifested themselves to more than one person? It seems to be a mistake a lot of aliens make. If I were them, I'd kidnap the President and his entire entourage, or land in the middle of Wembley Stadium during the cup final. On second thoughts, maybe not that. Universal message of peace and love or no, football hooligans can be nasty little shits.
So anyway, these aliens told Rael that they cloned themselves to form the human race, and want to come down to share technology and meet the family. Before they do this, however, they say they want world peace and an embassy to be built in Jerusalem. And yes, let me remind you that they requested all this from a weedy French racing journalist. Aside from the fact that world peace is an optimistic fantasy dreamt up by people who don't understand basic human nature, these aliens sound like the biggest cunts in the universe. To explain why I think so, let me use the ever-useful medium of dialogue.
MUM: Hello, Clive? It's your mother. I'd like to come down and visit you sometime.
CLIVE: Er, great, mum, I'll -
MUM: But before I go down there, I want you to liberate all the political prisoners in every prison in the country.
MUM: And I'm afraid I can't come down until you build me my own beach house. Two storey. Somewhere nice. No touristy place.
CLIVE: (dial tone)
These aliens of Rael's, who have this stupid name that escapes me for the moment but sounds a bit like the name of a Winnie the Pooh character, are like those old ladies who honestly think everyone in the world has nothing better to do than accede to their demands. And let's not forget that they cloned themselves to populate a new planet. If that isn't narcissism on a grand galactic scale, then I'm a chipmunk with seven testicles. Chitter chitter.
What else do the Raelians believe in? Well, they believe in a geniocratic system of government. And if you don't know what that is, then I'm afraid you'd be a second-class citizen in it. A geniocracy is a society ruled by the intellectual elite. According to some texts I found, the Raelians want only people with above average IQ scores to be able to vote, and only people with IQs at least 50 points over the average to rule. Everyone else will no doubt be placated with more series of Big Brother and sweeties dangled in front of their eyes.
I don't know if the Raelians have considered this, but 'highly intelligent' rarely means 'virtuous'. In fact, have you ever heard anyone use the phrase 'evil retard'? No. Geniuses are far more likely to turn to the dark side. If we went with the Raelians, we'd be being bullied by military police and forced to work 24 hours a day for an evil cackling mad scientist sitting at the top of his ivory tower being fellated by dusky maidens. What's more, the Raelians want these guys to rule over the entire world as a single country. Why don't we all just paint targets on our groins and limbo in front of the jackboot of oppression?
I don't say this to many people, but the Raelians can fucking well piss off. Or pissing well fuck off. You choose.
Hey, it's New Year! You know what that means? Another opportunity to sit around and say "THIS is the year. I know it. THIS is the one." Just like you have for the last decade. Ha ha ha.
Traditionally, you're supposed to make resolutions at this point. You have to think about what you're going to do until next year. Now, some people use this opportunity to say "By next year I will be the finest swordsman in the world!" and next year, when they are the finest swordsman in the world, they say "By next year, I will be the best kick-boxer in the world!" and by the time he's twenty-five he's a dark and brooding vigilante crime fighter with biceps you can crack nuts on and a willy that causes people to mount their cameras on his head, mistaking him for a tripod.
Other people, however, use this opportunity to say "This year I resolve to eat less chocolate!" before continuing to force handfuls of Christmas chocolate novelties down their disgusting gob.
As for me? I have no illusions. I will make resolutions, and will divide them into the Three Resolution Categories.
RESOLUTIONS I ACTUALLY HAVE A CHANCE OF FULFILLING
- I resolve to get some of my work published in a physical format. Not necessarily a novel. I've decided to have a crack at selling short stories, and am in the process of writing a comic fantasy tale about an architect who is mistaken for a wizard. Ha ha ha! Just cracks me up. Incidentally if anyone knows of any good UK fantasy/sci-fi fiction magazines do drop me a line, because my handbooks are a bit crap in this regard.
- I resolve to stop whining at Nate to finish proofreading my novel, because I should really have some background in getting short stories published before I can catch the eye of a book publisher.
- I resolve that the very instant I see myself as an established professional writer with decent amounts of savings, I will get a small but distinct tattoo on my face. This way no-one would ever want to employ me, and I will never be able to get a menial workaday job even if I wanted one. It may be hard on myself, but it's for my own good.
RESOLUTIONS I FULFILL ALL THE TIME ANYWAY
- I resolve to continue updating my much-loved humour site/blog every single darn day. I will not leave my readership behind when literary glory awaits! My every step on the stairway to fame will be diligently documented here, so that my contemporaries may follow my example and someday perhaps sit alongside me on a discussion board at a science fiction convention.
- I resolve to continue living most of my life in a blind optimistic fantasy. I once drew a picture of myself in the future as a pretentious poloneck-wearing arty novelist type, and now I sometimes get the urge to sit and stare at it for hours.
RESOLUTIONS I WILL FULFILL FOR ABOUT A WEEK BEFORE PACKING IN
- I resolve to do twenty press-ups every day, no matter how often the bones in my weak and pencil-thin arms shatter painfully into gravel. Even if a splintered tibia is poking out of my agonized flesh, and I still have three press-ups to go, I will do those press-ups before I even think about calling an ambulance. In reality I'm just going to stop after four and spend the rest of the day whining about how my arms hurt.
- I resolve to cut down on the junk food, because I think I have something distressingly paunchish developing below my ribcage. My superior height has ensured so far that all my body fat is stretched too thin to be obvious, but there's obviously only so much I can take.
- I resolve to stop writing inane updates.
Since my lunatic mainframe wouldn't let me post this last week, I guess I'm posting it now. And if anyone has a problem with that, then please step forward so I might express my contempt for you with the medium of the fist.
I was in a coffee shop the other day and I saw a little sign saying 'Merry Christmas to all of you, from everyone at [name of coffee shop]'. And it occurred to me that if you're going to be that impersonal you might as well not have a card at all. If it was that easy, we could close down all the greetings cards shops and just have one big card, say about three storeys high, in the town centre, reading 'Merry Christmas to everyone, from everyone else'. Then we could faze out all the card-exchanging tedium that Christmas brings every year. Holy shit I'm a genius.
I'd like to talk to you about traditional Christmas gifts. I'm not talking about gold, frankincense or myrrh here (I'm almost certain the last one is a made-up word anyway), but the gifts that everyone gets every year whether they want them or not.
The obvious one. Everyone gets socks at Christmas. Whether it be a four-pack of plain black ones bought at the last minute to fill a conspicuous gap under the tree, or the pair of Simpsons musical ones that are worn proudly for seventeen seconds before majority vote casts them to the back of the drawer forever. It's got to the point that no-one buys socks at any other time in the year, even if they need them, 'cos they know they're just going to get some for Christmas. Bear in mind that following this philosophy is the only sure-fire way to not get any socks at all.
No really, I actually think this is a nice idea. My family obviously did. This year they bought me one and my girlfriend two. The trouble with diaries is that the only people who really need to keep them are scientists, explorers and celebrities hoping to bag serialisation rights in the Daily Mail. Anyone else just fills up the pages avidly for about three days before packing the whole thing in, maybe guiltily filling in entries whenever they remember, each one usually about a couple of months apart. Sometimes writers like me have the great idea of filling in a diary as a fictional character, but then we sober up and get back to writing silly website updates.
Nobody ever specifically asks for a singing and dancing Father Christmas. I have rarely seen a shop that sells singing and dancing Father Christmases. Singing and dancing Father Christmases have the least entertainment value of any other thing in the world (measuring a mere 0.4 Lee Evans*). But every single year, without fail, someone always buys someone else a singing and dancing Father Christmas, which is used precisely once and then violently destroyed. This is one of the greatest mysteries of the universe.
* The Lee Evans is the internationally recognised unit of entertainment. Specifically, it is the amount of time in seconds it takes for something to stop being funny and start irritating the fuck out of you. Here's a handy reference guide.
When Forrest Gump said 'Life is like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're gonna get' he was still ignorant of the existence of inlay cards. He also missed a golden opportunity to continue his confectionery-themed analogy for existence with the following. 'Life treats you like a Christmas chocolate novelty item. Sometimes it can spend hours just licking you fondly, then without warning suddenly bite off your head'.
I don't know what the hell happened last week. I was trying to write an update when my supercomputer just shut down all my hardware. I figured it was just a bit of glitch, but it turned out this was the start of some very strange behaviour on his part. When I finally got the system back up, he wouldn't let me go online, and wouldn't let me play any game which involved murdering fellow life-forms. What's more, I woke up one morning to find my mainframe trying to hump my leg.
I cleaned up my hard drive, and it seems to be back to normal now. I had to delete a couple of mysterious files I found, CHRISTMASSPIRIT.EXE and COMPASSIONTOWARDSLIFEFORMS.EXE, and soon enough he was back to his old self, addressing me as 'a bag of mostly water' and leaving explosive devices under my computer chair.
Not being able to play violent games or write updates I quickly became bored, and my thoughts turned towards writing my own games. Oh sure, I've been there and done that, but only on a very limited basis.
For a while some time ago I was trying to make Total Conversions for almost every 3D shooter I bought that came with editing programmes. Duke 3D, Quake, Half-Life, Thief... I was driven by the urge to create my very own game. Okay, so I had the level design skills of a monkey with a vagina for a face. Okay, so I had to record all the voices myself, and there's only so many ways I can disguise it. Nevertheless, I tried.
It occurred to me recently that I shouldn't seek to become a jack-of-all-trades. I have some talent as a writer and novelist. If I am a useless level designer or programmer, I shouldn't let this worry me; my strengths simply lie elsewhere. Which is why it hit upon me the other day that, while I couldn't write an amazing blockbuster FPS game on my own, I could eat fifteen bananas in one session and throw up.
Then a slightly more sensible thought occurred to me - I could write a script for my ideal FPS game! Just describe what it would be like and what would happen. Perfect! So I immediately sat down to eat fifteen bananas in one session and throw up. Then I began working on my game script. To my surprise, it felt rather fulfilling - I could picture the whole thing in my head even if I couldn't play it. And just like what happened with Rob Blanc, I re-used one of my old novel attempts to formulate the plot.
The main strength of my game is that my main character, Richard DeFoe, is a weedy unfit couch potato who can't fire a gun to save his life. Gamers essentially spend their whole lives in one big fantasy existence, and the closer that fantasy is to their own life, the more hooked they become. Henceforth, weedy unfit couch potato Richard DeFoe begins the game in a crummy bachelor pad watching TV. Then he gets contacted by a mysterious international organisation who want to offer him a job as a secret agent.
Admittedly, that is a bit of a leap. Now, since this is my ideal first person shooter, it goes without saying that some factors will appear to have been stolen from my favourite other games. Here's a handy guide to everything I've nicked.
Yellow text denotes stuff nicked from Half-Life
Richard is hired by a secret international peacekeeping organisation who train him to use a special protective suit that makes him stronger and faster. He is assigned several missions where he must sneak into various buildings and complete certain objectives. He has many gadgets at his disposal: a selection of hypos that serve a whole legion of functions, tazer guns, knockout gas and flashbombs and oh so much more. He even has a little gadget on his interface that shows how visible he's being, and a communication device that allows him to be in constant audio contact with other characters.
Richard himself never speaks and the game takes place entirely through his eyes, never cutting away. After a few missions, he becomes aware of a terrorist organisation battling the company he works for, and eventually joins them.
This is, of course, to say nothing of last bit of the story which involves a virus the company intends to infect the whole planet with. It doesn't kill people, mind, just turns them into evil zombies. In my defence, the game doesn't have much in the way of RPG elements, 'cos I think they're boring. So when my girlfriend took one look at it and said "Why don't you just write 'Deus Ex' on a big piece of paper?" she was being very unfair.
Anyway, enough of this. If you want to see my script so far, I uploaded it to here. I may add more to it if I can be arsed. If you happen to run a games development company then feel free to use it, as long as you give me a job and/or pay me gobs of money.
material not otherwise credited by Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw