Tag Archive: Wii


A wii fest

So after getting cheery from Risk Legacy on Monday, I dug out the Wii in a fit of gaming pique as I just had to do a Death Star Trench Run on Rogue Squadron 2. Had to – there was no two ways about it. Then forward to a raid on Bespin, refighting the Battle of Hoth and a quick skirmish over the forest moon of Endor. Ah – memories. Then last night – Rogue Squadron 3 (just too short a game imho), Star Trek Conquests and Star Wars Bounty Hunter. A small nostalgia fest for me, really. But man, I miss customising controls, particularly manipulation of camera axes. Whilst the Gamecube let you do the Y axis no probs, few games gave you x-axis manipulation.

Was noch? I finally got around to buying Nina Bunjevac’s Fatherland last night – an autobiography in the format of a graphic novel which I’ve had my eye on for some time. Tito’s Yugoslavia has been a minor interest of mine for some years and when I first saw the book in Waterstone’s on Piccadilly, my interest was piqued. But as per usual, my fiscal caution kicked in and has been doing so for a while. Saw it in FP so picked it up and took it to the cash desk before I changed my mind. Not gotten around to reading it yet, that’s a pleasure I’m saving for the weekend. I did however, browse the Star Wars comic books now under Marvel’s awful care. Saw what direction they’re clearly going to be going in so put them down in disgust but reassured by the fact that I made the right decision in not wanting to resume my purchasing.

There are eight days left of my current tenancy and we STILL have yet to receive the paperwork sorting out the new lease, despite paying the renewal fee back in what…November? Working in the public sector is a real annoyance at times – if I were to deliver at that level of pace, I’d be crucified and buried up to my neck in effluent whilst forced to listen to R n B “music” (it’s not a legit genre IMHO and I don’t care if you disagree). But be in the private sector and you can do whatever the ferque you like.

This weekend, there’s not much going on I’m pleased to report. Potential for board games on Saturday but for the most part it’s clear. Probably the last clear weekend until…late March? Now I know how Joey feels. Though I still need to put the damn pictures up in the house even though it’s been a year. As I bought the Polyfilla the other week to effect repairs in the bathroom to where the loo-roll holder fell off the wall, it’s now achievable. Bare walls aren’t so bad but then again, white space is a concept I get on with. Here’s to the continuing dry and not too-cold weather.

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Regent’s Bridge Gardens

Second weekend living in Vauxhall is coming up; I only hope there won’t be a repeat of Sunday morning where at 5.30, I was woken up by the sound of what I thought was a drunken hen party clamouring down the road picking up parked cars whilst screeching loudly. Turns out that there’s reasonably open parking available nearby to which some of the party-goers take advantage of.

All moved, all unpacked and as of yesterday evening, there are no further outstanding tasks to undertake after I bought a free-standing clothes rail. I hope, sincerely hope that this is my last move in a long while. If I have to pack my stuff up into crates and boxes one more time…newsreaders around the world will conclude their reports with “before turning the gun on himself” (thank-you season 5 of Roseanne).

The flat is quite nice though full to capacity – no more serious purchases without operating on a strict one-in, one-out basis; books, clothes and electricals. I’ve used the swimming pool twice now but not yet the gymnasium as I don’t have appropriate footwear and I ain’t doing it barefoot. Andy S was my first guest though not for long as Papa John don’t deliver to Regent’s Bridge Gardens and Team Science are coming over for some hot gaming action on Sunday. I had a couple of days off last week to help with the whole moving in thing though it wasn’t as nice as having a full week off as I was back in on the Thursday.

The birthday – that was obviously last Saturday and it was a very quiet affair, busier than being 30 but very little happening in terms of productivity. First order of the day was to put together my bag and headed straight out for breakfast at Parma though it was 11am by the time I ate so it was effectively brunch. Had the mixed vegetarian grill with a stack of toast whilst reading my book; good stuff. I then went out to try and sort out the sale of my old desktop PC. After multiple delays in CeX’s testing, I found out after all that my PC was not worth selling and so I prowled the backstreets of Fitzrovia before finding a skip in which to dump the damn thing. But I was able to sell my old monitor so took the cash from that sale and treated myself to some new games.

I also hit the heavy highs of buying myself a new fitted sheet for my bed – it’s two single divans pushed together which is Superking, apparently (and I thought that was a cigarette). Massive but the seam in the middle is an annoyance. Still, my king sized duvet barely covers it and I’m not willing to spend more cash on appropriately sized bedding. I also swung by Forbidden Planet, picked up the usual titles and treated myself to a Pirate Munchkin set. Also wandered past the Apple Covent Garden Store but resisted going in brandishing the credit card. Went home after shopping, opened my cards, read my comic books, had a late dinner, watched a DVD and went to bed just after midnight.

I know, not the most exciting day and I would have been pleased had someone arranged a dinner or something but alas it was not to be. However, I haven’t ruled out marking the day later in the year, perhaps when the weather is more than a little favourable and do something then, perhaps after the usual crop of March and April birthdays are over.

Had to go up to Camden for some daft reason on Sunday – possibly buying more games (that was part of it), cannot remember why and walked back home to Vauxhall (in my nasty brown, feet deforming shoes as my Merrells were still wet from Friday) calling in Wasabi on the way home for a Tofu Curry. That was last weekend in a pinch. This weekend is birthday heavy (other people this time) starting with tonight.

Video Game catch up – I purchased three Lego games on the Xbox (dirt cheap) and the Simpsons game. Spent this week playing through Lego Indiana Jones 2 and nearly finished the last part. Nothing on the 3DS and played some Wii with Andy. Also downloaded Civilization Revolution as my freebie from Microsoft now that the flat has interwebs again. Of course I’ve yet to actually play one of my free Xbox games as I’ve been favouring other titles but hey-ho.

That’s your lot for now, I’ve got places to go, people to see and liquor to be drunk.

Ned Ludd is back

Technology rant today:

iOS 7 – Having finally caved to pressure, I decided to update my iPad to the latest Apple operating system. Rather than fall into the iOS 6 trap of having all the issues and dramas from day one, prudence seemed the better part of valour. Having seen a third iteration of the operating system, now seemed a good a time as any, plenty of time enough to iron out the kinks in the system.

First of all – what have they done? The aesthetic looks grotesque, the transparent panels really don’t work with a white overlay and is reminiscent of a pencil case? What is this recent propensity for “brilliant white” – it’s all over Office 2013 and now all over Apple. Some of us don’t like the dazzle or the melding and have to spend forever tinkering with settings to get a decent balance.

The icons for the Apple range of products are just rank. Reminds me of a child’s pencil case or a really naff sticker-book. I’m a die-hard skeuomorphicist and proud. Skeuomorphism at least helps foster memory as any idiot knows. The best way to store something in the brain is to summon a memorable image and commit it that way. But who will remember that “Game Centre” is a series of bubbles or what the difference between notepad and reminders is? And sub-menus? Ugh.

Yeah, I fell prey to the music problem. I don’t know what exactly the issue was but 1400 of my songs (about half) just refused to copy over to the new system and restoring them proved excessively long and complicated. Why the transition between old and new had to be difficult I don’t know, sufficed to say it lowered my overall opinions by a lot. Ditto the videos.

Swiping through apps is…well… just too easy. It’s no problem for the iPad to misinterpret a gesture and yank you out of what you were doing (big problem with online gaming where it translates into a rage-quit) and penalises you accordingly). And some apps just no longer seem to be accepting gestures for some weird reason. Movement of familiar buttons and no more words for commands is particularly irritating.

Of course the worst part is that I have yet to drag my iPhone through the same process. I don’t know if I have any positives about the new system because I’ve only lived with it 48 hours but I’ve seen enough frankly – I want the old system back. I note that there is STILL no option to change the default font for iBooks. There’s only one sans-serif font available (Seravek) and I’d rather all my literature were defaulted to this rather than the random fonts that seemingly get assigned.

Next technology rant – my boiler. How the hell does it work? There is no operations manual, the interface is bewildering and non-intuitive and although “manual override” is always a simple affair, I’d rather operate a programme so it switches on automatically etc.

Outlook 2013 – why are certain menus not included when you impose a blanket view change such as sent items and delete? And where are the options to amend those menus? I don’t want Segoe, I’m already beginning to regard that font the same way Joey regards Comic Sans…

My Xbox crashed for the first time at the weekend – thank heaven for suitable save points liberally dotted throughout games. One of the dramas with the Wii was that save points were often manual affairs and if the console crashed (which it seemed to, sometimes with reckless abandon during certain games), you would have to backtrack for ages. Let’s not mention the infamous level of Scarface: The World is Yours…

I know it’s been a while since my last blog entry – it’s all the fault of Batman: Arkham Asylum (and other stuff). But now that I’ve finished it, I feel another review coming on.

Gacha Prizes

Shameless plug – if you get chance to read this fortnights edition of Private Eye, turn to the alternative Queen’s Speech à la Helen Mirren. Hilarious.

So, on Wednesday night I filled another four refuse sacks with DVD, Wii and Gamecube cases as my Star Trek collection and later Nintendo games were consigned to the new carry cases. There’s no way it’ll fit into the recycling bin outside the house so there’s a small mountain growing in the space between wall and house. All the game instruction manuals fit neatly into a shoebox, fortunately enough. It was incredible to discover just how many of these games I’ve not actually made time to play…ever. Some were still in their cellophane wrappings.

My only hope this evening is that after the tenancy agreement signing ceremony (or whatever the hell is going on when I’ve decreed I’m not going to be there), Mr C doesn’t elect to loiter and paint. I’ve stated in no uncertain terms that I don’t want him hanging around (having come up with a suitable story) and I don’t want another evening with the smell of fresh paint in the air. I am all but convinced that inhaling old paint flakes and the odour of new paint has been contributing towards a general feeling of ill health this past week.

Something I’ve been getting back into is Zoo Keeper Battle. Ever since they overhauled the entire game adding more rewards, prizes and the like, it’s been able to hold my attention more successfully. I’ve still lost my mojo – or rather the rest of the planet has been able to improve their skills. The best time for me to play is either first thing in the morning or at lunchtime as I’m competing against what I’m guessing are other Europeans who tend not to be as good as the Japanese or Americans. There are more Power Bottles awarded as prizes (as well as prizes for logging in) which enables more people to play for longer keeping the game going. If I had to re-review the game, I’d award it a higher score for the new features.

Whilst you the reader cannot see it, I’ve actually been staring at the cursor on the screen for the last ten minutes blinking on and off. No, I’m not high, just hit a wall in writing – I want this blog entry to stretch to more than a single page and my brain is running on empty. Actually, it’s more like the episode of American Dad I watched last night where Stan and Roger are trying to capture Jeff to turn him in for a bounty and they’re in the convenience store having inhaled the contents of a burning barn full of Mary Jane.

Stephen R told me to plan a holiday about an hour ago with my recent ill-gotten gains. I responded that as the next three weeks are monstrously busy, I just can’t think beyond them to do any planning; move, unpacking, wedding. And somewhere in the mix will be another Brussels trip, possibly a Swansea excursion – I just don’t know. In a perverse way, I’m glad I passed on the Falconry & Book of Mormon prizes from the Griffin quiz. It’s another day/evening of my time I don’t want to lose.

Oh – I’ve had an offer for my laptop. Think I shall back it up, wipe the memory and use the cash to get a new one. I’m hoping to get a faster laptop to handle Civ V and the rest of my Steam library.

Damn the Jem’Hadar anyway

I’m really pleased that my blog attracts so many lovely comments, particularly from pornography websites. Really, inbetween bouts of no-holds barred nookie to sex of a degrading nature, I’m pleased that everyone involved has time to catch up with my life, video game commentary and the sporadic bit of alternative history. Kudos to you all, whether you suit up or bareback.

Somewhere on another PC is half a blog entry which should have been posted towards the end of last week but as that hasn’t happened, it’ll keep until Monday/Tuesday. Can’t believe I only have six days left of being thirty-three years old. Where does the time go. This time next year, I dare say I’ll be complaining about being middle aged (if you take the whole three-score and ten argument). Ah well, s’not that critical in the grand scheme of the universe.

Right: what did I have to tell y’all this week? I don’t think I have any idea so let’s start with a catch up from Friday. Actually, this weekend is the first lengthy break I’ve had in ages. Went to Ceajay’s on Thursday evening for a Games Night and we ended up playing some Wii U and Settlers of Catan. I think this was the first time I actually tried a Wii U (actually, I know full well it was – why I had to lessen that sentence? Dunno). We only tried a couple of chasing-type games so I had no idea as to the full range or extent of the console’s abilities but the graphics looked much better now that its joined the HD fraternity. As to the rest, that remains to be seen, of course.

Friday was a quiet day at work though I still had to nail down that Number Plate Submission. Sufficed to say folks, we wish to “tighten the existing regime” and leave it at that. However, the sick thing about it all is that each and every time I leave the house and walk down the road, I’m constantly checking car registration plates to see if they’re legal. I spotted four illegal ones on Gurney Road alone (incorrect font, bolts obscuring text and broken plates) before I caught myself and stopped.

Managed to get in a ten mile walk however to make up for the lazy day that was Thursday and I was really quite happy and almost, but not quite excited to see that the Royal Parks have been laying down new turf all over Hyde Park. They weren’t quite finished unrolling it all but it’s definitely a start. Now if the weather stays cold, it’ll deter people from loitering so the grass can embed itself in its new home. Next will definitely have to be few other smaller squares.

Weather has been really weird – snow which has been fallen in tiny flakes but there’s no chance of it settling. As I wrote on TB, it reminds me of being in a Silent Hill Game. All we need now is for Harry Mason to knock at the door, asking if I’ve seen a little girl. Still, the temperature has been barely above zero degrees; did the Groundhog see its shadow? I think it did IIRC.

Saturday was something of an errand day; chores in the morning and early afternoon, an experimental lunch of casserole vegetables, peppers, sausages in a caramelised onion sauce, fried up in a Wok. Didn’t taste that bad however and it used up a bunch of fridge stuff. Went out late afternoon after another game of Star Trek: Conquest (Dominion this time) and Age of Empires 3. Wandered up the road to Leytonstone, swung by Argos for yet another toilet seat (this must be my fifth or sixth in a decade) and called into Tesco for some odds and sods but ended up with £40 of items – treated myself to new Walking Socks, a bottle of Sicilian Grillo, some bi-curious cider and an armful of yellow stickered bargains.

Spent the evening playing a couple of games before bunging on Season Two of Waiting for God. I was in no mood to go out despite having itchy feet and instead finished off my Star Trek: Titan book before bed which means I now need a new iBook. LJ is giving me an iTunes voucher for my birthday which’ll mean I can buy three more Trek books. At least he’s appealing his redundancy decision which is one low-priority fret off my mind. Speaking of LJ, I finally spent his Xmas gift to me in John Lewis. Decided on the red gingham shirt in their Oxford Cotton range rather than owt else but have to find a shirt to junk as I’m still operating “one in-one out” on clothing. TBH, I’m not sure what can go “out” unless I start alternating clothing types as a few t-shirts could go the way of the Dodo.

Game is quietly shoving all the Wii stuff out of the door I noticed today which means if there are any other games I desperately want for the console I seldom play, it’s now or never. Not that I think there’s anything really – Maybe a Mario Party game just to round off the collection. Otherwise it’ll all sit on my shelves just like my Gamecube collection. Untouched…unloved…

Oh, been doing very well on Zoo Keeper Battle lately, hovering around the 20,000 mark with a new high of 14,000 in the world. Keep beating the Teapot Master for prizes also as he’s much easier than the Bushido Master for some daft reason. And I downloaded the new iOS version of Civilization Revolution though haven’t checked out the new material for the game (they’ve essentially blended it with Beyond the Sword in terms of further customisations). Like most other games these days, the additional content costs more moolah. Which reminds me to check Civfanatics for an updated Star Trek mod or even if they’ve finally finished the Star Wars one.

Return of Risk Legacy

For the first time this year, and probably for the first time since November I picked up my Wiimote and Nunchuck for a quick gaming session. Didn’t play anything too involving though I briefly considered starting again with Twilight Princess. No, the games of the day were the Kashyyyk level of The Force Unleashed, then a quick game of Star Trek Conquest as the Federation. And in the evening whilst logged onto Steam, I’d noticed that Joey had recently been playing Red Alert 3 which prompted me to dig out my copy for a quick few levels as the Russians before Campaign level three of Risk: Factions.

This weekend has been a struggle – felt like I was on the edge of a meltdown what with a fairly well blended start to the year. Lots happening but little time to process and it’s been catching up. Happy one second, despairing the next. Reading and gaming have proven once again the most effecting emotional regulators. I finally finished reading “Catalyst of Sorrows” – a Star Trek Lost Era novel. I’d read it before when released…about a decade ago but it must have been speed read because I barely remembered the details. Still, for those who like back-stories, it’s got a good grounding in the Sundering between the Romulan people and the Vulcans and why the two societies developed in such a differing way.

Oh – Party Packs (have to plug them on my blog for this) sent me a brand new Pickelhaube rather than just sending me the spike (and the chinstrap which I hadn’t realised was also missing). The two were in a placcy bag together which wasn’t in the main box. So many thanks people! Of course I picked it up from the sorting office and left it in Costa on Saturday post-lunch with Paul. Mercifully, it was still tucked under the table thirty minutes later; good thing it wasn’t something more…nefarious.

Yes, had lunch with the insouciant Mr Brown on Saturday at Strada in Westfield. He worried about the calories (2100 by his reckoning). I think that’s an exaggeration for Lemon Chicken with garlic bread but I had the pumpkin risotto which I choose to believe was healthier. The number of people choosing to have a late lunch on Saturday was interesting; I guess lots of people were out the night before and slept in.

Managed to get in a fair amount of walking this weekend what with meeting Paul on Saturday and running around on Sunday just…doing stuff. I had itchy feet and felt the urge to go much further afield than originally intended. Weather has certainly picked up – not quite in double figures but only slightly below. It’s been a while since last in Fortnum & Mason and they’ve changed it a fair amount, moving things around between the ground and the lower ground floors. It makes it so confusing to move furniture around in stores though on a purely Machiavellian level, it forces the unwary customer to look at everything and cram more into the shopping baskets.

Ultimately, I ended up spending £85 (which was £10 more than my plan) on preserves, teas, chocolates, cheeses, biscuits and other non-essential stuff. The hardest part is not to sneak a few extra things for myself into the basket and when you’re in a gourmet store where there are so many items you just cannot find elsewhere, temptation certainly has your number. To be fair, for the same price I’d have gotten pretty much the same sort of stuff at the Savannah Store in Victoria. This just has nicer packaging.

Monday was a Risk Legacy night rather than a Spartacus night as Rob was at last available. We were able to dig out the Mutant faction for the first time which didn’t prove to be much of a game-changer. And Joey was able to place down the World Capital Sticker over Great Britain as “New Vauxhall”. This leaves only two envelopes left to open (+30 troops & a missile) and the “Do Not Open Ever” sticker. Kudos to Joey for remembering all the rules; I suspect he has his own set and has been playing secretly…

Bemused Analysis

This week – not sure of the number in the calendar but that’s something of an irrelevant point – has been something of a quiet one since Saturday. Went out both days at the weekend; the Saturday was spent briefly at Westfield poking around the shops in the continuing quest for a winter coat and all I was able to come away with was four new games: 3 Wii (Donkey Kong Returns, Super Mario Galaxy 2 & The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword) and a DS ‘Buy-Back’: Trauma Centre which means I’ve restored 20% of my former collection. With the Wii games, I finally have gathered enough points to get that SNES classic controller which has been ordered and will be with me in 6-8 weeks. However, it’s been some time since I ordered my Professor Layton freebie and that still hasn’t arrived.

The other thing of vague note was that I tried many of the Civ V scenarios at long last – chiefly as the Steam Achievements remain 50% unfulfilled but just playing them seems to unlock a bunch of awards. I played the Polynesia Scenario (Won as Tonga, lost as Samoa), the Wonders of the Ancient World Scenario (Won as Egypt) and began a Norman Conquest Scenario which I’ve not yet finished as the Normans though I have just finished wiping out the Saxons and am engaged with the Danish Viking faction and the Norwegian Viking faction.

Sunday was somewhat typical day full of dithering over whether to go out at lunchtime and eventually I dragged myself out heading towards Oxford Street, starting at Holborn, calling in at Forbidden Planet and through Soho to the quintet of Department Stores. All I had though, was a very late lunch at the cafeteria at BHS before getting bored and heading back home. Still no sign of the coat either.

Which brings us onto this week: quiet day on Monday, won the quiz on Tuesday, quiet day on Wednesday. Completed Lego Batman 2 on the 3DS (which means I can allow myself a new 3DS game) though not quite 100% as the Justice League Missions are driving me steadily insane. I have gold on three of them, the other two are…frustrating to say the least. I’ve also started Donkey Kong Returns on the Wii – reminds me quite a lot of the cartoon rather than the SNES/N64 games. Nice graphics and smooth scrolling though the “challenges” seem a bit on the ‘pixel perfect’ side.

On Tuesday, I finally plucked the courage to ask about the Posh Boy situation – it seems that he *has* been moved in though with a “temporary” caveat. Sufficed to say, I’m not happy though for the sake of keeping the temporary peace, I’m going to practice restraint. Now it’s out in the open, they appear to have been keeping their distance which is probably for the best. Am I being hypocritical though given my nine month “temporary” visitor? In an absolute sense, yes; in a relative sense then no. My house, my rules. That’s part of the trade off of rented accommodation – occasionally you’ll encounter a rule you don’t agree with but will have to display some pragmatism and compromise.

Though that leads me onto the thought of the day; I think I’ve worked in policy a bit too long as my automatic responses to questions are more focussed and to-the-point than they used to be. Television shows are of course scripted by professional writers and I used to marvel at the nature of some of the dialogue. In earlier blog entries, I’ve mentioned how characters in sitcoms always have a witty retort or a sharp comeback to any utterance which made me incredibly jealous until I practiced that skill enough to have it become second nature. But another envy of mine was the way in police and court dramas, how the lawyers were able to ask deep, provoking questions or make comments to obliterate the countenances of their opponents.

When rehearsing conversations I anticipate having, I’m finding that I can ask the “right sort of question” a lot sooner skirting around the edges of what I really want to say. It’s difficult to pinpoint when this became the rule rather than the exception but I’m writing about it now as it’s a realisation on my part that it’s possible to be as loquacious as a character from fiction. Not all the time of course, but every now and again.

Last Friday I had lunch at Pat Val’s with Oliver S; mentioned the aversion therapy notion re aging. Again, have to wonder why everyone is so down on the concept when it’s just brilliant. Let’s hear it for aging. *whoo*. We also mentioned the TV show Friends and how the characters became effectively a parody of themselves. But having thought about this a couple of times, I actually think there’s something more…devious and clever at work.

I hope most of you readers are familiar with the concept of “Jumping the Shark”, the moment in a TV show’s chronology when it begins its downward descent from being fresh and goes into being stale. It’s derived from that episode of Happy Days when the Fonz jumps a shark whilst on water-skis. Many commentators and fans say that Friends “Jumped the Shark” around the fourth or fifth season when the characters went from well-rounded to one/two-trait personalities and relied more and more on guest stars than plot or observational humour.

However, rewind back to…season 1(?) when Phoebe dates the annoying psychiatrist who is blunt and abrasive when analysing her five close friends. At the end of the episode when Phoebe says that her friends don’t like him, he retorts:

Actually it’s, it’s quite, y’know, typical behaviour when you have this kind of dysfunctional group dynamic. Y’know, this kind of co-dependant, emotionally stunted, sitting in your stupid coffee house with your stupid big cups which, I’m sorry, might as well have nipples on them, and you’re like all ‘Oh, define me! Define me! Love me, I need love!’

So run with that – and he has a point. Throughout the show’s history, each of the Friends effectively overcomes the adversities of life and all become successful in their own way. But in doing so, they systematically eliminate all the external factors from their lives except at during their jobs (and there are cross-overs there too). It’s not surprising therefore that such an inward-looking group without any moderating influence begins to reinforce the negative values of the group and they are given free rein because they are tolerated and given (un)conditional love. In that situation, yes – the characters _would_ become self-parodies. I don’t think this is deliberate on the part of the writers because many sitcoms end up this way and the characters become two-dimensional but for this particular show and the interpersonal dynamics of the cast, it’s eerily accurate.

Too much time on my hands? Yup, but this is some of the crazy crap that runs through my head.

Genethics

I’ve only just heard the statement first ascribed to George Orwell that by the age of 50, everyone has the face they deserve. Whilst I’m 16.7 years away from that grim fate, I can’t help but wonder what I’ll end up looking like. The general consensus is that I take after the paternal side of the family. I have my grandmother’s eyes (and as we used to call her a witch, the omens are terrifying) but have the same general face of my long-deceased grandfather. I have other bits and pieces from my mother’s side of the family but said grandfather is the person I feel I have the most in common with.

There’s a lot to be said for ageing gracefully, or disgracefully, if you will. I had a discussion about it with someone on Thingbox the other day about how turning 30 was one of the best things to have ever happened. Never mind the whole ending of adolescence, the ending of the 20s was even more of a relief. I wouldn’t have minded my 20s so much if I had today’s mindset but as that developed in direct response to those experienced garnered in the previous decade, it’s nothing but harmless nostalgia rather than a problem I can go out and fix.

Perhaps the reason I’ve been mulling over ageing (again) could well be down to the fact that today marks one calendar year since I was rid of The Mason and his Rodent Boyfriend. Wherever they are I don’t know and I don’t care – they are out of my lives forever. A small celebration is planned to mark this event as it removed one significant hunk o’stress from my life, the whole “I don’t want to go home as they’re there” issue. Anyone who’s new(ish) to this blog might want to skip back about a year in entries to see the tedious diatribes I used to scrawl.

In terms of weekend activity, Friday was Games Night in Brixton – usual Monkey Ball/Mario Kart stuff, nothing worth reporting. Saturday was Games Afternoon in White City hosted by Darren S. I had to put the controller down twice lest I really lost my temper; the first was during Mario Kart when the computer kept shoving my kart off the track no matter where I was on it, the second time was during New Super Mario Bros when we tried the coin battle which was no fun and I put that particular game down as I lost all interest.

This probably contributed to a general sense of malaise on Sunday where although I was able to successfully complete my Civ IV game as the Persians (Space Victory), things still felt…frustrating. A sense of achievement and victory were definitely needed but seemed perpetually beyond my grasp. As I wrote to a friend in a message, I could have won the lottery, learned of the hideous death of my enemies and have my favourite cake baking in the oven and still would have a nagging sense of aggravation. I should have put something in the diary and gone ahead and done it.

When that bored or irritable, I try and do at least one thing productive, channel that misdirected energy into doing something nice and I scrubbed the filters on the vacuum in the bath. It turned the water black but it should be as good as new for…oooh, five seconds. And later on in the evening, I made cola floats, something I’ve not had in yonks. Can one make a Crabbies float? There’s an idea…

Monday was a quiet day – eleven miles walked in total, perhaps more as my 3DS wasn’t recording properly in the morning – and I made a chilli con carne. I’ve also finished two more Star Trek Vanguard ebooks which takes me to Book 5 but rather than progress to the sixth novel, I’ve gone to the short story anthology. It’s not been a bad read and I hate to prove the maxim but you really can’t judge a book by its cover. When I first saw the series in Forbidden Planet, I rolled my eyes ad infinita but once I saw references and characters cropping up in other works – particularly the Mirror Universe novels – it more than piqued my curiosity. The obvious comparison for the novel is Deep Space Nine; two space stations commanded by officers who have strong personalities and are borderline bullies, both have quirky, spunky Science Officers but the differences between the two are far more apparent which thankfully doesn’t make the reader think he’s reading “DS9 – the First Generation” or something like that. My only criticism of the novels is that they are a bit too Klingon-biased in characters. Granted they are the primary antagonists of the Federation in this time frame but there’s at least a glance at other races and species, particularly the Orions and the Tholians who never got a look in throughout other books.

Oh – I saw Brenda yesterday. After I came out of the Victoria Station branch of Sainsbury’s having bought an apple, I watched as the hapless staff went chasing a shoplifter. Anyway, I felt like watching the pursuit so I peeked round the corner onto Buckingham Palace Road and then I hear the roar of motorcycles, turn my head and there’s the police escort followed by Brenda in the back of her car. It’s been ages since I’ve seen any of the Royals being chauffeured about in central London though now that Al-Fug no longer owns Harrods, will the royal warrant be returned?

Liberty Bells

My work calendar this week still remains devoid of activity for the first time since August last year when I was on leave for a month. It’s oddly exciting and yet frustrating. What this means in practice is that I’ll be shackled to my desk during a quiet period twiddling my thumbs a little. I could get on and do some Staff Network business but there’s very little that needs doing on that front, not least because things have kinda died off on that topic. The problem with near enough total equality…

After four years of sporadic attempts, I finally completed (successfully) a game of Civilization IV: Colonization as the Dutch. Granted it was on “Pioneer” level but from humble beginnings and all that. I have a strategy worked out which won’t always guarantee success but is a solid formula. Naturally, I find another game guide coming on to add to the multitude of others written (and never published/stuck up on the web). I defeated the Royal Expeditionary force with 35 soldiers, 12 dragoons, 6 cannon and 2 ships of the line vs 50 soldiers, 30 dragoons, 18 cannon and 15 Man O’War vessels. Once their back was broken after the second wave, their resistance crumbled and my veterans liquidated the opposition.

What I haven’t yet mentioned is that I began this game at 11pm on Saturday night and I finished the game at 5am…the war for independence itself lasting over an hour. I was inspired by a game I played earlier in the day as the French whereby I left it too late (and to be fair, couldn’t get a single Elder Statesman to come over from Europe) to declare independence despite making New France the most powerful state in the New World AND chasing the Spanish out. Until about 30 turns left in the game when it was just too late to ramp up Liberty Bell Production to get to a substantive level.

The end is also in sight for Picross – again. A handful of puzzles are left – perhaps four and that’s it, another DS game bites the dust. Alas I have my birthday gift and a couple of others now to work my way through before I’m caught up there. I also treated myself to two Wii games on Sunday – Pac Man Party and Trivial Pursuit: Bet You Know It, thinking ahead to multiplayer offerings/possibilities. As part of my “buy-back” plan, I returned another game to my collection, Rub Rabbits.

Yeah, had to get out the house on Sunday so went for a walk, shopped, ate cake in Pat Vals and returned home having spent about £50 keeping myself amused. It’s amazing how quickly the cash evaporates. Tried to shop around for bargains but the only yellow stickered items were 10% off, hardly the price collapse I was hoping for.

I think I’ve decided on a menu for Thursday – Pigs In A Blanket appetiser (for the carnivores), Red Lentil & Aubergine Moussaka for a main and White chocolate cheesecake for dessert. Not too calorie deficient. I need to pick a cocktail for arrival, preferably one with triple sec in it as I have a full bottle of that at home and could do with getting rid of it. Looking at a Cranberry Chiller, a Lynchberg Lemonade and a Scarlet Pimpernel.

Hmm, I think that’s about it for another day. As I’ve been up to very little, I have very little to report. Finished Vanguard Book 2 – on to Book 3…

Selfish Xmas Gift Buying

Rather than indulge in the usual walk tonight, I decided on the spur of the moment to take the tube from Victoria and go to Westfield in a sudden burst of shopping activity. I had no overall plan though several flashes of inspiration were kicking about the back of my head such as books, games and random bits of John Lewis bourgeoisie tat. My first stop was Game – not least because I didn’t know there was a branch in Westfield which seemed much nicer than the one in the regular Stratford centre. The two people I was considering from this store were Mr Moore and Mr Wilmot but alas my general sense of selfishness kicked in and ended up buying Sid Meier’s Pirates and Epic Mickey for myself. Though I could end up making gifts of them…oooh, the temptation.

Anyway, I did a complete sweep of the ground floor, also calling into the Lego shop on behalf of Mr Jordan but alas there was no Lego Batman to be seen – I guess it’s a discontinued line. Though I know he likes the Lego Ninjago line which is another possibility to pursue. It was somewhat heartening to see a return of the high street toy store after years of confinement by Toys R Us and the Argos product lines.

Every time I looked at a product, all I could think of was my bank balance and whilst it’s currently healthy and robust, it’s hard to consider upsetting the fiscal equilibrium. The Yoshi’s Island Lot will get something akin to Secret Santa tat which is easy enough to manage. But there’s Lee, Xian, Brendan, Andy & John and perhaps the wife that I want to consider buying for. Plus the staff of the Griffin. I’m not really fussed about housemates or family as per usual but then I receive a text message and so I feel…obligated to reciprocate with the first gesture in ages.

Speaking of financial woes, I allowed myself to lend the wife another £100 until Friday. I am convinced I’ll not see that for at least a Lustrum but the possibility of being surprised remains the spark of hope. My suspicions were roused as to the reasons why such a large amount over two days and I fear the worst. However, one must remain optimistic, however apprehensive.

Now that the bulk of hellweek is over, I have a fairly clear calendar in the run up to the end of the year with Rose’s retirement party tonight, coffee with Lee and Damon next week, lunch with Raj, a dental torture session and the finale of the Griffin Quiz. I was doing the maths in my head – realistically following my shopping trip on Saturday, I only need £150 for me for the rest of the month – the rest is “savings”. Life won’t work out like that but it’s a nice aspiration.

I know, that’s just been one long whine about money and so fucking boring to read but imagine what’s it’s like to write this crap. However, it’s helped my focus and organise my thoughts and I know the way forward. Should have made a bunch of Joe’s famous cheesecakes – cheaper.

Right – I don’t think I mentioned the Quiz on Tuesday. First of all was a change to our line up. Andy’s mum was in attendance and she joined our team although we were moved to the table opposite the DJ booth (aka the Naughty Table). Although assured it was Alex the barmaid’s fault for putting us there by accident, we remained sceptical. It was nice not to have to yell “shut the twatting door” every thirty seconds. And we battled our way to victory for the second week in a row, also winning a bonus prize (a chocolate Xmas pudding). There was a bit of a row at the end of the quiz over the choice of the prize. I picked the Cider (mainly as there were six of us) and came in a pack of 24 – there was no wine but I got berated for not choosing the beer. I then pointed out that two of the team don’t drink beer and it’s not fair to them to keep going out and the “you’ve bested me with your unassailable logic” grunt was heard.

And I finally completed all tracks on all levels on Mario Kart 7 last night so tick off another game as finished. I’ve also got 1* rating on all cups unlocking the golden wheels. So what now? Well I’ll try and at least gain a 2* rating on all cups, play online games and wait for the next hot thing.

As for the title from the last post “Whatever happened to Climie Fisher” – one died, the other is a successful songwriter and dance artist. So there.