Saturday, 23 April 2011

Call Of Duty Symptoms

Call of Duty is a gaming phenomenon. It has brought gaming into the kind of arena where it can realistically challenge the hype of a movie. So much so that it has taken over people's lives. So here are the signs and symptoms of having played Call of Duty too much.

1. You see birds flying over head and think "UAV spotted".
2. Someone drops a can and you run for your life, screaming "GRENADA!"
3. When someone struggles to finish a question or find the words they want to say, you getting irritated at them "lagging".
4. You sprint 100m, get tired and wish you had the Marathon perk.
5. When someone makes a mistake, saying "Pwned" and still not thinking you're a retard for saying a word that just doesn't exist.
6. You die, yet 5 seconds later you come back to life.
7. If you stick your head in someone's tent and scream at them "I HATE CAMPERS!"
8. You finish your can of drink; you throw it in the bin 5 yards away perfectly and shout "Tango sucka!"
9. You see a plane overhead, worry that it may be a AC-130 or and instantly run indoors.
10. Someone uses a hairdryer or vacuum cleaner, which causes static on TV and you think that someone has scrambler nearby.
11. You look at tall buildings and cranes and see them as prime sniping positions.
12. Whenever you start any task, you have to say "Let's do this" in a gruff Cockney accent.
13. Someone's phone gets a text and you think you've set off a claymore.
14. You pull two girls in one night and consider it a "Double Kill".
15. Someone turns out the lights and you scream "EMP!"
16. If you pick up a laptop and are disappointed that you are not in control of a Predator missile.
17. Your eyesight now has a natural red dot.
18. Your alarm clock goes off and you don't bother getting up because you think a Tactical Nuke is on its way.
19. Your idea of a good present for your wife is a T-shirt that reads "Call of Duty Widow"
20. You jump from too high a height that you bust your ankles but you're convinced you can just walk it off.
21. And finally... you're not used to seeing another person who isn't brandishing an assault rifle. But you knife them anyway (after all, they might have Commando).

Saturday, 16 April 2011

On The Offensive

People are so touchy. Literally, you cannot say or think anything without someone publicly announcing their disgust. In fact, if something you say doesn’t get a hateful response, you’ve probably said something boring or something in private. That is someone’s right. Everyone can feel like they have been hard done by. Yet there are some things that make me wonder why people get upset. I get upset because someone decides to personally attack me, whether it be emotional or physical. It has to be really bitter and invasive.

If someone calls me fat, well, I am overweight. If I don’t like the abuse, then it should be a motivation to change. This applies to me or any Mr Tubby out there. If you hear that and you feel offended, then you know what that says? You’re fat and you don’t like it. Now if you were a real grown up, you’d hit the gym and stay away from the fridge. Exercise does not constitute shuttle runs to the pantry, heavy lifting from plate to mouth or burning off those unsightly water pounds by crying your eyes out. I only use obesity as an example. There are plenty of other examples where someone can poke fun at you. If it is something you don’t like about yourself and you can change it, then taking offence is just your petty stupidity on display.

Go on, get upset, get emotional, kick off and scream. You did it when you were 5 years old and I’m sure it worked with your parents. Oh wait, it didn’t. Yet somehow the same tactics persist among adults and suddenly their whining is given credibility. No, I don’t think so. The moaners are always the loudest. The offended cry with a mighty roar, even though their numbers are few. Well, we live in a democracy that preaches freedom of speech and that the majority is always right. So until I get three billion and one complaints about what I say, do or think, I will consider those who get upset in the minority. A negligible and expendable minority.

And what about those times people get justifiably upset? How about those people who get personally attacked by a statement? Please feel free to complain to me. After all, I’ve just made a supposedly hurtful comment about you. Your feelings and outrage must be top of my agenda and how did I suddenly relegate you to second best? I mean, you’re the centre of the universe. I should hang on your every whim. Well, remember the time when you screamed to get your way when you were a kid. Well, this is plan B… sulk.That would be the mentality that says “If I show them how upset I am, how unloved I feel, they will crumble to my demands.” Why don’t you just take someone I care about hostage, hold them at gun point and demand that I homogenise my opinions or statements? It would at least appear more grown up. More terrorist but more grown up.

Now, let me add an important point. Persist statements that breed hatred towards someone or a group are not acceptable. When they go from banter to doctrine, they become pugnacious and toxic. I abhor any prejudice because it is steeped in no reason, logic or rationale of any acceptable nature. Racists hate black people but why? There is no good reason for that. You can’t hate a group of people because they are better at sprinting or dancing. Anti-Semitics hate Jews? Why? You think that the economics woes of the world are because a religious group knows how to save? I could go on but you get the point. There is no place for hatred but there is place for poking fun.

Those who take offence tend to forget that they willingly poke fun when it suits them. They will hide behind a veneer that what they say is not that hurtful. That they are quick to apologise, that makes whatever they say more acceptable. No, it makes you hypocrites.

Or maybe, you are the worst kind of offended person. The one who actually wants the power. You want to take control. You are going to make your protest by standing your ground. You know what, you’re not the 300 Spartans, making a metaphorical stand at Thermopylae. So if you are one of those who sits in a movie or gig and decides that it is offensive, then leave. If you don’t like what someone is saying, don’t talk to them, don’t associate with them. If they value your friendship, they will apologise and change. If they don’t, then why are you even friends with them?! I don’t want a friend whose goal it is to change me. I want friends who accept me for who I am.

So do not expect me to be defensive in what I say. I will speak my mind. Sure, that might be offensive to some but you know what, it is better than some lowlife scumbag, who takes offence and then slags other people off behind their backs. And consider this… when you take offence, you have chosen to do so. That means my actions control your emotions. That makes the offended the weak pathetic fools of this world.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Hunted - A preview of my first novel

Here is a preview of the novel I am working on...


I just ran.  I mean, I had no idea where I was running to.  You never do when you’ve been what I had just been through.  You’re scared, you have no idea where you are but when under threat, running seems like a great idea.  It has very little thought behind it but at the time, it did offer the benefit of helping me stay alive, which is always a plus!

The problem was my legs would barely carry me as it was.  They were like jelly.  My ears were ringing, my head was buzzing and my arm was bleeding a fair bit.  That bitch had cut me pretty deep in my shoulder.  I wasn’t going to bleed to death anytime soon but it had a burning sensation around where the blood was seeping out.  I applied pressure to it anyway.  The pain seemed to be less when I held it tight.

You know, I’m sure I probably thought to myself “Why me?” at the time but I can’t remember thinking all that much.  Adrenaline pumping through my system was causing my actions to be purely instinctive, not logical at this point.  I didn’t even care if she was dead or alive, although she seemed to still be breathing when I ran off.

I really did need to stop and take a breather but I just kept going.  Stupid idea really.  I went to slump against a metal link fence, only to fall straight through a hole in the damn thing.  It was dark but anyone with their wits about them would have spotted that!  I rolled down the dew-covered grassy slope on to a load of gravel and what felt like planks of wood and metal bars.  I just lay there exhausted.

All of a sudden, it hit me.  Here I was, a very normal man, with a load of people trying to kill me.  I started to shake with the enormity of it all.  I broke down and cried.  Normally I would be ashamed to admit such a thing but in light of the circumstances, I think plenty of other guys would have done the same.

As I looked up at the clear night sky, I started to ask some questions in my mind about what had just happened.  Who the hell was she really?  Why did they want to kill me?  There was nothing special about me.  I wasn’t a government agent or spy.  I wasn’t a man worth holding for ransom, never mind killing.  My job was of no significance, in fact, my entire life was of no significance.  What was so special about me that somebody would have gone to these lengths?

The questions rattled around in my mind, as the inevitable grogginess set in.  A human body and mind isn’t supposed to go through such trauma.  A bright light appeared in front of me.  I slowly eased myself up, resting on my right elbow.  I worried that it was them, having hunted me down and that they were pulling up in their car.  I needn’t have worried about that.  They weren’t going to get a car down there, well, not easily anyway.

I squinted at the brightness of the light and held my hand up to help me decipher the source of the light.  A loud bellowing sound echoed around.  It made me snap out of the groggy state I was in.  For a second, I thought that maybe this was it.  The bright light that people see when they die had come to call me.  This was the end.

It wasn’t the end.  It was just the beginning.  I thought I had rolled down into some scrap yard.  The wood and metal I had landed on were train tracks.  And that light wasn’t heaven.  It was a train and it was headed straight for me…

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Shows I Watched As A Kid

Major TV stations are now deciding that there is no longer a market for children’s TV. They say it is because children are not watching anymore because they have other distractions, like specialist channels and the Internet. Personally I think the quality of children’s TV has dipped so much, that children don’t want to watch the rubbish being provided. It makes me sound old, being a child of the 80’s and 90’s, but things were so much better in our day. We had that early phase of cheap rubbish but then the shows got inventive enough to hide some of the truly terrible bits.

For example, there were many poor art shows until Art Attack came along. Neil Buchanan has to go down as a children’s TV legend. Kids around the nation would suddenly see a load of gardening tools and some plastic sheeting and think of how they could use it to make a 30 foot picture of a tractor. Not only did he inspire kids but I’m pretty sure he kept the PVA glue industry going single handed. Everything he did required you to finish up, and then take a cocktail of 1 part water, 2 parts PVA glue, smothering the art work and then leaving it over night until it was shiny and hard. The only disappointment was The Head made me wonder if any of the statues at a museum would start talking and when I realised that it wouldn’t happen, well I was gutted.

Cartoons these days lack imagination. I remember Danger Mouse, a truly legendary show that was exciting for the younger viewer but had the comedy for the older viewer, which was on a par with any other sit com of the day. Captain Planet and the Planeteers actually made fighting against climate change cool before politicians ruined it. Although thinking of all the powers of the Planeteers, how gutted would you have been to have got the ‘Heart’ ring? Your colleagues can shoot fire, cause earthquakes, call on tidal waves and start a tornado. What can you do? Talk to the animals. Oh dear, aren’t you special?! And of course, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, the essential viewing! Suddenly everyone wanted to be a ninja and eat copious amounts of pizza. They were just better than what the kids have today.  

Even the game shows were better. Back then, the adults had to be content with Krypton Factor and Play Your Cards Right.  However, we had a ruck of top notch game shows. The Legend Neil Buchanan brought us Finders Keepers, with the instruction to “raid the room” and of course the contestants would then have to ransack the place. Half the time they wouldn't have needed to because it would promptly explode with ribbons, glitter and balls you get from dodgy ball pools. And the item was always in the wash basket. Why was there a wash basket in the lounge, kitchen and every bedroom? We had Fun House, where no one thought that Pat Sharpe’s mullet was ridiculous and every event was some kind of basic challenge that involved 4 gallons of gunge. And of course, the twins. No one knew their names but us boys didn't care; they introduced us to the finer side of puberty.

And of course, there was my personal favourite. Knightmare! That must have been an interesting pitch meeting to sell that idea. Put a kid in a horned helmet and get his three mates to guide him through rooms, picking up random objects (which if they had any sense, they would always pick up the key and leave the ruby behind) and somehow they would always find an apple just as their life force was about to run out. It was essential Friday afternoon viewing. I would be screaming at the screen for them to use the spell or just to run before those goblins actually caught up with them. So much homework didn’t get done until last minute and we are thankful to Knightmare for that because seeing if the team could get to level 3 was more important than trigonometry and Shakespeare.

I had a glut of good shows in my childhood. It carried on to my teenage years but that seems to be tailing off rapidly. I was part of the chosen children's generation of top TV shows, when stuff was adventurous, ridiculous but utterly compulsive viewing. If there is any kind of show that needs resurrecting, it is some of the shows I watched as a kid.