Angsty emo pish – hooray!

Been thinking about life recently and I think I’ve realised what my greatest fear is.

Basically, my greatest fear is wasting time by doing things that are finite.

My life has developed in such a way that if I do something now I feel anxious if it doesn’t have a lasting effect, even if that’s something as simple as acknowledgment that it happened.

If I watch a movie, I feel like I have to write a review of it, almost to commit it to a record as proof that I saw it, that this happened in my life.

If I play a game, and I can’t write about it, I only get real satisfaction from it if it has an achievement system. I convince myself it’s because I like building my Gamerscore but in reality it’s because it stores a (hopefully) permanent record of what I’ve done: again, as proof that I played it.

This has gotten worse over the years and I think it’s a consequence of the nine years I spent as a games journalist, primarily the six years at ONM, where I reviewed a massive number of DS, Wii and 3DS games.

I was reviewing so many games at ONM that I was barely playing games just for fun any more – the review almost felt like a part of the game-playing process. Now when I play a game and I’m not writing a review of it at the end I have an empty feeling, like I’ve just wasted my time. It’s as if it didn’t happen.

If a tree plays Picross in the forest and there’s nobody around to see it finish a puzzle, did it even play it?

I’m pretty sure it all stems from a desire to be remembered. I’m terrified that when I die (hopefully not for a while yet) the things I’ll have done won’t have a lasting impact.

I’ll always have my reviews in ONM, and I’m so grateful to have that you have no idea. And I’m constantly proud of my 260+ film reviews on That Was A Bit Mental because it’s almost like a little archive of my free time: proof that the time I spent indulging in entertainment wasn’t wasted because I wrote about it and people read what I wrote.

But recently a massive chunk of the last three years of my life – all my work on the Nintendo Gamer site and everything I ever wrote for CVG – has been wiped off the face of the internet, and that has devastated me.

I have been in a massive emotional slump for the past couple of months now. Not because I don’t have a job: I’ll get a job eventually and I have plenty of money to keep me going for a long while so that doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

I’ve been in a slump because three years of my work – thousands and thousands of hours of work – has essentially disappeared. Everything I’ve done between the ages of 28 and 31 is gone. Three years of my life – the creative aspect of it, at least – no longer exists.

Now I spend almost all of my time writing reviews on That Was A Bit Mental, writing articles for Tired Old Hack and playing games with achievements.

I feel anxious any time I watch a film without writing about it, or play a game without an achievement system, or even go outside and see people if there’s no permanent record of it (even just a Facebook post or a Tweet saying I was there).

I was there. These three words are taking over my life and I need to get over it. I’ve spent nine years of my life chronicling the games I’ve played and now I need to re-learn the real point of them: to have fun.

I was there.

March 22, 2015 at 1:46 pm Leave a comment

A message to all Scots today

Whatever your plans are today, and whatever side of the debate you fall on, please take the time to vote.

Continue Reading September 18, 2014 at 7:20 am Leave a comment

A Novel Idea

I’ve decided to write a novel in my spare time but since I don’t read many novels and I don’t do much creative writing I’ve honestly got no idea if I’m any good or I’m just being delusional. So here’s a little teaser of the sort of story I have in mind – please let me know if it’s any good or if I should give up now and not waste months writing a load of shite.

You’ve been shot. The when, why and how aren’t important, but the where is. It wasn’t in the head, which means you’re still conscious and you still have time to think. Your instant reaction is panic, and the belief that you only have a few precious seconds left before the rest of your body catches up to what your brain knows – that something isn’t quite right and it’s probably best to give up.

As you lie in a helpless heap waiting for the end to your all-too-short life, you slowly come to the realisation it’s taking a lot longer than you were led to believe. You think of that infinite body count of cowboys, soldiers and terrorists that’s stacked up in front of your eyes in movies and video games all your life – an endless supply of cannon fodder, almost all of whom died instantly – yet it’s been more than five minutes now and you’re still here. You’re in a great deal of pain, granted, but you’re still here.

Something’s wrong. It’s not supposed to happen like this. And yet, it is. Because the stark reality, obvious as it seems, is that those movies and video games you used as subconscious education throughout your seemingly not-over-yet life were just entertainment. They were never really supposed to be replacements for medical textbooks. But since you haven’t seen many people being shot in real life they’re the examples your mind jumps to for quick reference. You don’t realise it at that point in time but the cold, hard fact in real life is that as long as you’re still alive by the time you get medical attention, the survival rate of most non-head gunshot wounds is 95%.

And so, as the ambulance pulls up next to your fallen frame and you’re told everything’s going to be okay as you’re carefully lifted into the back, you’d be forgiven for thinking that some miraculous intervention had taken place, that for some magical reason it wasn’t your time and there was a reason for all this. That somehow, you still have a purpose in life. In truth though, it was just science.

It actually happens all the time, we just never hear about it. After all, the news is driven by impact, and there isn’t much impact in telling a captive audience that “a man was shot today but he’ll be alright”. So it’s not your fault that the moment you realised a bullet had entered your body you instantly decided it had sealed your fate – you’re just a normal person. Gunshots aren’t the sort of thing you’re expected to encounter in your life, and so it’s not your job to know what happens when one thunks itself into your body.

It’s not your job to know. But it is mine. It’s my job to research this sort of thing, to find out the exact physics and science behind gunshots and stabbings and explosions. It’s my job to learn all this and then completely ignore it. Because you know those video games your mind foolishly used as a frame of reference as you lay there expecting to meet the Reaper? I make them for a living.

May 16, 2012 at 9:41 pm 4 comments

About Last Night’s Dream

They say that when you dream it usually means something, that the seemingly abstract ideas you think of actually translate to something ongoing in your real life. With that said, I’d gladly invite any amateur dream psychologist to figure out what the fuck my dream last night meant.

I dreamt I was watching TV. It was a chat show a bit like Friday Night With Jonathan Ross, because he was presenting it, but it was a completely different set. He was talking to Ace Of Base, which I don’t really understand because they haven’t been relevant for well over a decade. Anyway, after a chat (which I remember none of, unfortunately) they went to the stage to play a song or two.

They started singing a song, but it wasn’t one of their hits, even though it sounded very similar. It would appear that my subconscious created a brand new Ace Of Base song with lyrics and everything (sorry if you’re reading this Ace Of Base, I can’t remember it that well so I can’t sell you it, and even if I could have my asking price would be a startling TWENTY POUNDS STERLING).

On the stage, behind them, was a wine red couch. This wasn’t part of the chat show, this was their own scenery, a prop they were using for their performance. Maybe the song was about a couch or something, I’m not sure. For all I know it could have been an IKEA reference because I think they’re Swedish. Regardless, for whatever reason there was a couch there, sitting at the back of the stage.

About a minute into the song a midget woman wearing her hair up and wearing a black party dress walks onto the stage behind them. This isn’t her but it was the closest photo I could find. Imagine this without the tattoos.

Anyway, this midget woman walks onto the stage, slowly climbs up onto the couch and starts jumping up and down on it as if it was a trampoline.

At this point the studio audience becomes LIVID and starts screaming obscenities at the midget – “get off that couch you fucking midget”, “you’ll ruin that couch you midget prick”, “she hasn’t even taken her little shoes off, the bitch” – that sort of thing. All the while Ace Of Base continue to play, clearly aware of the situation but sticking to the old adage that the show must go on.

After about thirty seconds the midget climbs down off the couch and runs away. The crowd cheers and quietly resumes enjoying the Ace Of Base performance.

Another minute or two passes and as Ace Of Base finish their second chorus, the midget sneaks back onto the stage, climbs back onto the couch and starts bouncing up and down again. The crowd are even angrier than before, they’re absolutely FURIOUS. “That tiny cow’s on the couch again!” “Get fucking OFF!” “Stop ruining it you little SLUT” etc. At one point a man from the audience actually tries to storm the stage and attack her but he’s wrestled down to the ground by a security guard and pinned to the floor, screaming “I’ll KILL the bitch” at the top of his lungs. It’s anarchy.

As the song nears the end, the midget gets off the couch again, waves at the audience then scampers off backstage. Ace Of Base then finish their song and everyone cheers, than the lead singer woman says “thank you. Sorry about the midget”.

Then I woke up.

April 14, 2011 at 1:04 pm Leave a comment

Rebecca Black’s “Friday” – A Lyrical Analysis

If you’ve been anywhere near the internet for the past week you’ll probably have heard of young Rebecca Black and her (s)hit song “Friday”. While the song has mostly been mocked by online trolls who didn’t get the message Rebecca was putting across in her song, for others (like me) the lyrics provided a biting commentary on today’s society.

With this in mind I thought I would give my interpretation of the song’s lyrics, then suggest an alternative set of lyrics that may help make Miss Black’s message less ambiguous.

Firstly, here’s the song for those who haven’t heard it yet:

Here, then, is my analysis of the song’s lyrics.

(Yeah, Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ark)
Oo-ooh-ooh, hoo yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah

While to the common listener these monosyllabic  sounds have merely been added to introduce Miss Black’s voice to the song earlier than the verse intends, in reality her commentary has already begun. By making these simple noises (in particular the “ah ah ah” and “ooh ooh ooh” sounds) she’s comparing herself to Neanderthal man.

By doing so she warns us that the scenario she’s about to describe to us may be the makings of a so-called “advanced” society, but in reality we are no better off than our socially inept ancestry.

7am, waking up in the morning

By setting the scene in this manner Miss Black is pointing out the banality of modern life. She always wakes up at 7am regardless of her situation. She’s telling us that her life is a constant repetition and that, in her eyes, while we all dream about making something of ourselves, in reality we live a repetitive existence until the grave.

Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs

Modern society accepts nothing less than perfection from the moment the day begins, so Miss Black refuses to even go downstairs and join her family for breakfast before she is “fresh”, lest she risk judgment on her appearance. The concept of going “downstairs” is also a metaphor for her life’s constant downward progression.

Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal

Possession is nine tenths of the law, and possessions are also what drives today’s society. Rebecca isn’t content with having her breakfast in any old bowl, it has to be her own personal bowl because it somehow is more comforting to her to use something marked as hers.

Meanwhile, her insistence on having cereal is a byproduct of the power of persuasive television advertising. For years western audiences have been told that cereal is “part of a nutritious breakfast” and as a result many of us have become dependent on it.

Seein’ everything, the time is goin’
Tickin’ on and on, everybody’s rushin’

We are living in a society where many different media and are vying for our attention. We only have a finite number of hours on this planet and whether it’s the news, social networking, video games, music, movies, books or the like, our attention is divided by all these different sources. As a result, we are constantly rushing from medium to medium, eager to soak up as much as we can until our time inevitably runs out.

Gotta get down to the bus stop
Gotta catch my bus, I see my friends

Today’s public transportation system leaves a lot to be desired. A lack of frequent buses means that if someone misses a bus they’re unlikely to catch another for a long time. As a result, the outlook for Rebecca’s morning is essentially controlled by the efficiency of her local bus service.

Upon spotting her friends, however, Rebecca realises that she doesn’t necessarily have to be restricted by the shackles of her daily commute, and instead can gain more freedom (of sorts) by riding in her friends’ car instead.

Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Gotta make my mind up
Which seat can I take?

The common misconception here is that by “kickin”, Miss Black is referring to the common youth slang for having a fun time. In reality, the scene she sets is somewhat more literal. She is referring to the practice of sitting in a seat and literally kicking the seat of the person in front of her, causing them discomfort. This is a practice which occurs often in cinemas, and often the victim of the seat kicking is too scared to confront the aggressor.

By describing this scenario and then posing her question – which seat should she take – Miss Black is explaining that life is full of winners and losers and only she is in control of her own destiny. Will she be the person who gets her seat kicked, or will she be the one doing the kicking?

It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday

Again, the term “get down” does not in fact refer to partying. Instead, it’s a suggestion that regardless of the fact that Friday is the last working day of the week, employees are still expect to get their heads down and work hard until working hours are over. This lyric, therefore, is a criticism of the oppressive nature of upper-level management in many businesses.

Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend

Due to the nature of the working environment, we are all living with the mindset of ever looking forward to two out of seven days in the week. Miss Black is clearly not happy with this and feels the negative share of each week far outweighs the positive.

Friday, Friday
Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

The repetition of this mantra simply reinforces the point that this is a perpetual process which happens week in, week out.

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend

Rebecca is bored with her peers’ constant fixation with the need to go out and party when the long-awaited weekend is finally with them. Her constant repetition of the word “partyin” suggests that it’s all they ever think about and all they ever do. Her friends, oblivious to her concerns, gleefully shout “YEAH” in delirium.

7:45, we’re drivin’ on the highway
Cruisin’ so fast, I want time to fly

Having stated her previous concerns that there isn’t enough time in the day to digest the many forms of media vying for our attention, Rebecca shows her defiance to this system by encouraging the time to pass by. Simple pleasures such as driving a car are more important to her than being brainwashed by the media.

Fun, fun, think about fun
You know what it is

Life these days is a fairly miserable existence, and in order to have enjoy life one must constantly remind themselves to do so. “Fun, fun, think about fun” refers to the thought process many of us are going through as we continue to seek happiness. And though we may “know what it is”, we don’t necessarily know how to get it.

I got this, you got this

This is a call back to Rebecca’s concerns about our obsession with possessions. People are constantly comparing what they have with what others have, and Rebecca does not approve.

My friend is by my right

Rebecca’s friend is a right-wing racist.

I got this, you got this
Now you know it

Rebecca repeats her concerns on our need for material possessions, and implies that by hearing these concerns you may now share a similar viewpoint.

Yesterday was Thursday, Thursday
Today i-is Friday, Friday

The repetition of the words suggests that since working days are so similar and mindless in nature, it’s sometimes necessary to keep reminding oneself what day it currently is. We are becoming mindless automatons, incapable of retaining information without our smartphones or diaries.

We-we-we so excited
We so excited

This is perhaps the most controversial lyric in the whole song. Rebecca is clearly unhappy with the western media’s handling of the tragic, horrendous events that have followed the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, in particular the ongoing saga of the nuclear power plant in Fukushima. She believes that the media is covering the Fukushima incident in such a sensationalist way that they almost want something bad to happen so they can make more money off the huge news. Her use of stereotypical mock Japanese sentence structure with the phrase “we so excited”  is a criticism of both the western world’s ignorance to Japanese culture, and the western media’s excitement at the tragic events ongoing.

We gonna have a ball today

By avoiding the dull, repetitive act of taking the school bus and instead travelling by car with her friends, the world is now Rebecca’s oyster and she feels she is far more likely to enjoy herself

Tomorrow is Saturday
And Sunday comes afterwards
I don’t want this weekend to end

Even during the weekend, this period of enjoyment and relaxation, there is still a lingering feeling in the back of our minds that after Friday there is Saturday, then Sunday, and then we are back into the grind of the working week. We are slaves to the corporate machine, and we are destined to live our lives in this way until retirement or death.

And that, my friends, is my analysis. Yes, there’s some rapping in there too but that’s just rapping, it doesn’t mean anything.

In short, Rebecca Black is a visionary, a social commentator of the same ilk as Rage Against The Machine, U2 and Sinead O’Connor. Except her friends look like idiots.

Here, then, are my alternative lyrics to the song:

(Yeah, Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ark)
Oo-ooh-ooh, hoo yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
We are no different to neanderthals

Waking up at the same time every day
Society demands I look my best
Possessions and breakfast are important to me
The media’s tryin’ to get my attention
But there’s no time to see everythin’
Public transport is poor at best
So I might take my friends’ car instead

Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Am I the kicker
Or am I the kickee?

It’s Friday, Friday
But regardless, we have to work
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to just two days
Friday, Friday
Workin’ hard on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to just two days

I hate partying all the time (we love it)
I hate partying all the time (we love it)
Dance, dance, dance, dance
That’s all we do during the weekend

I’d rather go driving with my friends
Than check Facebook or watch the news
We have to keep reminding ourselves to have fun
But we don’t always have it
The things I own are better than the things you own
My friend is a racist
The things I own are better than the things you own
Now I’ve repeated this, you should understand it now

Kickin’ in the front seat
Sittin’ in the back seat
Am I the kicker
Or am I the kickee?

It’s Friday, Friday
But regardless, we have to work
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to just two days
Friday, Friday
Workin’ hard on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to just two days

I hate partying all the time (we love it)
I hate partying all the time (we love it)
Dance, dance, dance, dance
That’s all we do during the weekend

Yesterday was boring, boring
Today is boring too, too
The media’s coverage of Japan is sensationalist
It’s so sensationalist
Stick your bus, I’m in a car bitch

Tomorrow is a day off
And another one comes afterwards
But I’m still think about work on Monday


It’s Friday, Friday
But regardless, we have to work
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to just two days
Friday, Friday
Workin’ hard on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to just two days

I hate partying all the time (we love it)
I hate partying all the time (we love it)
Dance, dance, dance, dance
That’s all we do during the weekend

It’s Friday, Friday
But regardless, we have to work
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to just two days
Friday, Friday
Workin’ hard on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to just two days

I hate partying all the time (we love it)
I hate partying all the time (we love it)
Dance, dance, dance, dance
That’s all we do during the weekend

March 21, 2011 at 11:43 pm 6 comments

It’s Mister Nasty Time

I’m a huge fan of horror films and have been since I was about fifteen. Other than my obvious main love (my girlfriend), horror films are one of my other three favourite things (along with video games and Celtic Football Club). If you’re curious about the difference in visual style between Fulci and Argento or want to hear about the little-known difference between the UK VHS and US theatrical versions of the jail scene in A Nightmare On Elm Street, I’m your man (in case you were wondering, a line was cut out so it looks like Nancy suspects Rod. That’s the sort of knowledge that makes me the life and soul of any party, assuming said party takes place in an empty room).

Some may find it odd, but I don’t actually watch horror films to be scared. While there are definitely exceptions (like .REC and the original version of The Eye) I don’t really jump in my seat or squirm in terror much when I watch films. Besides, given how many slasher films I’ve seen over the years I can usually read the timing of the jump anyway.

No, the reason I like horror is because it’s easily the most imaginative genre in cinema. Whether you’re watching weird and wonderful deaths in the Friday The 13th series, bizarre head-messing dream sequences in A Nightmare On Elm Street or eerie ghostly imagery in Asian films like Ringu or Dark Water, there are some things you’ll see in horror that you just won’t see anywhere else.

While there are a whole heap of different sub-genres within horror, my favourite types of movies are the cheap and cheesy slasher and monster movies of the late 1970’s and 1980’s. This was the perfect time for horror in my opinion, because it came after the introduction of gory movies (with Blood Feast in the late 1960s) but before the advent of CGI, which I reckon ruins many horror effects.

See, there’s something more appealing about seeing a real, physical special effect, no matter how fake it looks. I’m not interested in seeing a CGI skeleton chasing someone or a rendered werewolf mauling some poor chap. Give me a rubbish rubber snake with Freddy Krueger’s face on it or one of Tom Savini’s elaborate prosthetic fake body stabbings any day. Back then they relied on real creative talent rather than just some mouse clicks.

By now you may be frantically searching for the point, so here it is.  There’s a notorious list of 72 films that were banned in the UK in April 1983 (the month I was born). This list was created by the Director of Public Prosecutions as a reaction to a frenzy sparked by the media regarding the rental of horror films to minors. A bit like this:

Rather than imposing a BBFC-style certificate system right away and letting people decide for themselves what they wanted to watch, the government decided to get banning the worst offenders, and so the ‘Video Nasty’ list was born. Anyone found selling any of the 72 films on the ‘Section 2’ list could be prosecuted and jailed for up to three years.

My New Year’s resolution, then, is to watch all 72 of these video nasties and review them on a new film review blog I’m setting up. I’ve already seen 25 or so of them (I covered the media reaction to video nasties in my university dissertation), but I’ll be re-watching them as part of this. The conditions are:

– I need to watch all 72 films
– Each of the films needs to be fully uncut, so they’re seen as they were originally released before they were banned
– I need to write a full review and rate each film out of 5
– When these reviews are finished, I’ll start to review the films in the DPP’s “Section 3” list (aka the list of films that were still banned but could only be confiscated by the police and couldn’t result in their sellers getting jail sentences)
– There’s no set time limit

In case you’re interested, then, here’s the full list of films. Wish me luck!


December 29, 2010 at 2:37 am Leave a comment

I Can Stop War In Korea

I have a friend back home who I’ve been mates with ever since we started primary school together. At various points in the years that have since passed we’ve had physical contact at one time or another – be it through fights, accidentally bumping into each other in the hallway, or back in the WWF days when I pretended to be Razor Ramon and he was the Repo Man. My point is, I’ve made physical contact with him on numerous occasions (and it’s all been above board).

Back in 2001, my friend was at Celtic Park and saw Neil Lennon, who had just joined Celtic the year previously. He asked for a photo with him, and Neil kindly obliged. My mate put his arm over his shoulder and the photo was taken. Physical contact was made.

It is now 2010 and Neil Lennon is now the manager of Celtic. In his 29-man squad are players of all nationalities: a Mexican, a German, a Norwegian, a Dutchman… there are even a couple of Scots in there. Among these players are Cha Du-Ri and Ki Sun-Yeung. Both players are from South Korea. When Celtic win matches Neil Lennon often runs onto the pitch and embraces his players as a sign of appreciation of their efforts. Again, physical contact is made.

Both Ki and Cha are due to return to Korea early in 2011 to take part in the Asian Cup. Being in Group C and Group D, if South Korea and North Korea both progress past the group stages there’s a chance they’ll end up playing against each other, and there’s a very good chance either Cha or Ki will play. Football being football, and given the two countries’ current hostility, it’s inevitable that over the course of 90 minutes Cha or Ki will make physical contact with a North Korean player.

When the North Korean team are eventually knocked out of the competition they will return back to North Korea and get a bollocking from Kim Jong-Il, the mack daddy of North Korea. He’ll probably give them a clip round the ear, a kick in the testicles… the detail isn’t important but what’s certain is that physical contact will be made.

The reason for this elaborate tale of connections is that via the childhood physics of “electricity” this means I will have made physical contact with Kim Jong-Il, via a chain of contact that includes myself, my friend from school, Neil Lennon, Ki Sun-Yeung or Cha Du-Ri, a North Korean player and the big man himself. It’ll mean we’re essentially brothers.

So if someone could give me his phone number I’ll give him a call and ask him to pack it in. Problem solved.

A happy Kim Jong-Il

"No problem Chris, I suppose I WAS a bit of a tit"

December 23, 2010 at 12:58 pm Leave a comment

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