Monday, 29 November 2010

Webcomic In The Works!

That's right guys, it's update time! Despite having quickly developed symptoms of sinusitis or death-syndrome or something, I've already written you a short amount of babble on the occult, which I frankly find fascinating (the subject I mean).

So why the need for the second post?  I'll assume you've read the title because you'd be pretty daft if you'd started reading something without knowing what it is. I do that quite a lot actually... Anyway! I've started drawing my own webcomic with a similar level of humour to Cyanide and Happiness (which I think is the best thing since mega-sliced-bread. Expect an... Issue? Edition? Post? Post'll do... Expect a post at some point! Maybe some point before Crimble, because I have to draw and write and stuff and I'm busy anyway. Meh.

Until next time!

The Occult

Well, since I've received a few emails recently about my deep interest in the occult, I figured I'd do a full write-up about it and answer the questions I've received. It also helps that I've nothing better to do, what with the snow and Arctic cold and all. First, a clarification: you can not know about or study the occult if you hold any misconceptions about what the occult actually is. The occult, as a term, refers to anything beyond ordinary knowledge and understanding. We commonly take this to mean  the supernatural.

Now, the genuine questions I've received! I'm pleased the subject's received some interest from you, my dear readers, I really am. So, the questions!

Do you practise magic?
No... Perhaps I would if I had the patience or the resources to. Magic requires a great deal of ritual and, therefore, patience. To use an example that I referred to in a previous post, Le Grimoire du Pape Honorius encapsulates a great deal of ritual-magic, pertaining largely to unholy entities, both summoning and protecting yourself from them.

Now, some magic does not require ritual. This particular magic is about focusing the will of the spellcaster to a physical or spiritual manifestation. It was argued, rather cogently I thought, in the book Nazis and the Occult, that this was something practised by Hitler to gain power in Germany and early success in the war. You should read up on the subject of Nazis and the occult actually - there's a surprising amount of evidence there.

How many books have you read?
Oh boy... This list is not exhaustive, as I know I've read more. I just can't remember their names. Two lists: the first one is of the actual occult and 'forbidden' books I've read, either physically or in digital form. The second contains the books I've read on the subject of the occult.

  • Le Grimoire du Pape Honorius
  • Book of the Law
  • Malleus Maleficarum
  • Mysteriorum Libri Quinque
  • Cantus Circaeus
  • All four Occult Philosophy books by Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa
  • Key of Solomon
  • The True Petition of the Jesuits
  •  Nazis and the Occult
  • Modern Occult Rhetoric
  • Spear of Destiny
  • Masonic and Occult Symbols, Illustrated
Actually, that may be all the books I've read on the subject. For some reason, I have an easier time remembering the titles in their original languages. Very odd. I'm sorry to say I've not read more of Aleister Crowley's writings (Book of the Law being the only one I've read), as I consider Mr. Crowley to be partly batshit crazy, with the twisted 'insight' that insanity is alleged to give to it's victims.
When did you first become interested?
You can thank my grandmother on my mother's side for that. We were very close before she died several years ago, and she was a highly spiritual person who always had a lot to say about the occult. It rubbed off on me. I first started my reading about 5 years ago.

Have you ever performed magic?
As I say, I don't have the patience. However, one has to bear in mind the Karma system: one thing that everything stresses is that performing magic for purely personal improvement or gain will come back to haunt you. I'd rather not fuck with something I don't understand.

As of writing, that's all the questions I've received (reworded. natch). If anyone wants to ask me something, drop a comment or an email!

Until next time!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Risqué Joke Of The Month!

A pregnant woman walks into a bank and lines up at the first available teller. Just at that moment the bank gets robbed, and she is shot three times in the stomach.

She was rushed to the hospital where she was treated. As she leaves she asks the doctor about her baby. The doctor says "Oh! You're going to have triplets. They're fine but each one has a bullet lodged in its stomach. Don't worry though; the bullets will pass through their system during their lives."

As time goes on, the woman has three children: two girls and a boy. Some twelve years later, one of the girls comes up to her mother and says, "Mum, I've done a very weird thing!" Her mother asks what happened, and her daughter replies, "I peed out a bullet." The woman comforts her and explains all about the accident at the bank.

A few weeks later, her other daughter comes up to her with tears streaming from her eyes. "Mummy, I've done a very weird thing!" the mother says "Let me guess... You peed a bullet into the toilet, right?" The daughter looks up from her teary eyes and says, "Yes. How did you know?"  The mother comforts her child and, once again, explains about the incident at the bank.

A month later the boy comes up and says "Mum... I've done a very bad thing!"

"You passed a bullet into the toilet, right?"   

"No, I was jacking off and shot the dog."

Until next time!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

A Dream Analysis

The concept of dream analysis (or dream interpretation) was first theorised, professionally, by Sigmund Freud in 1899, and is the process of assigning meaning to dreams. My last dream (that I can remember) involved a zombie apocalypse, and was utterly glorious. Freud and Jung may say I secretly want to shoot zombies though. Basically, dreams can be interpreted a million and one ways.

I'm sure we all have friends who enjoy telling us their strange dreams (I'm telling you, my dreams seem quite normal compared to everyone else's), but when you have a grounding in psychology and a keen interest in psycho-analysis, the temptation to start analysing them becomes utterly irresistible. Today, a friend told me of the dream he had last night, and I thought it was so utterly batshit that I asked him to write it down so I could analyse it. What follows is what he told me and wrote down (with my initial comments in bold, [like this]. Names have been utterly and royally changed for the sake of drama and confidentiality.

"Scene 1 [yup, it has scenes]

Me, you [meaning me, natch], Clarissa, and Edwina walking through a new shopping centre/night club [I can't tell if this would make it the best or worst shopping centre in the world. Also, we don't know where this shopping centre is], going in the shops. Then for some reason I was upset so sat at a table where Bernard & Co were sat painting [Bernard & Co being a group of friends. I can assure you that painting is not exactly the activity I'd expect to find them doing] with red paint. Then I went in the toilet, you came in to say it was all OK. [At this point I questioned whether he was actually using the loo, but I was told he was standing by the sink.]

Scene 2
Sat in back of a truck watching people outside a garage. Then bad people (dressed as Red Indians) beat up the people outside the garage, so I hide (only me in this bit). [It gets stranger, trust me...]

Scene 3

Went into big white room with loads of people and Sidney [another person we know] gave me a load of cherries full of vodka [they'd been injected full of it, if you're wondering]. Went into the room and Kat & Alfie from Eastenders [dear lord...] were there. I was getting drunk from the cherries and was feeding some to Clarissa fairly sexually because we were sat on the floor. [A staggering piece of association: personally, I'd equate laying down with a greater amount of sexual energy, but there you go.] Then me, you [still meaning me], Clarissa and Edwina sat on the back of a bench in a town/village centre. It was sunny and we all walked off while I was holding Clarissa's hand."

At that, the dream ends, while presumably some uplifting string instrumental was playing in the background. Is this the dream of a madman who can't string things together into a cogent narrative? Well, at first I certainly thought so, but then I actually looked at the damn thing and started by identifying the symbolism (dreams are full of that, don't you know...).


What immediately hit me is the persistent theme of red (see what I did there?). Red can mean a cosmic fuck-ton of things, but what we most commonly associate it with is (in handy list-form):
  • Rage/anger.
  • Blood/violence.
  • Love/affection.
OK, so what things are red in this epic tale?
  • The paint.
  • Red Indians (in name only, of course).
  • The cherries (unless they were strange mutant-cherries. I'm going to assume they weren't).
I asked and he didn't notice what Bernard and Co were painting, so I assume they were just doodling with their red paints, as is their wont. That, in of itself, does not mean much, other than it establishes red as a definite theme, and therefore makes it that much more noticeable. Was my friend's mine trying to make it obvious to him? Perhaps not. Bernard and Co are actually commonly associated with aggression. Beating up old ladies, that sort of thing. Aggression is, obviously, derived from rage and anger. painting is generally artistic and sensitive, however. Therefore, I can only assume he was seeing them as getting in touch with more sensitive sides. I'm not sure why, but I severely doubt it's importance. The Injuns, of course, seem to only serve to keep that theme of red going. That and they beat up some random people. Now, more on the cherries...

I'm lumping the cherries into their own little section of symbolism. First, a crudity: what do we often refer breaking a woman's hymen as? Popping her cherry, because of the blood. What colour is blood? It's bloody red, that's what it is. This creates a double-meaning, which I'll elaborate on in a few seconds. Firstly, cherries are red. They are the common foodstuff of lovers, who also traditionally eat strawberries and grapes. Secondly, it's common knowledge that cherries are sweet, as most people have eaten cherries at some point. One may also argue that 'popping the cherry' is sweet (although I personally think that depends on the situation). Therefore, the cherries symbolise love and sex (which often go hand-in-hand). Don't forget his describing his feeding them to Clarissa as "fairly sexually".

A cherry full of vodka is somewhere between sleazy and extravagant, depending on where you come from. It does, however, give a certain novelty and party atmosphere. For some reason, it also reminds me of rohypnol, but I'm choosing to disregard that, even though he says he was starting to get drunk off them. Feeding Clarissa some was a simple lover or admirer's gesture, but perhaps he was trying to get her drunk, hopefully (presumably) leading to sex. That ties in rather nicely.

If you've been following along yourself, you may be screaming at the screen, thinking I'd missed something obvious: Clarissa herself. She symbolises herself, and we can quite blatantly see my friend's feelings towards her:
  • He's at a shopping centre/night club (my god...) with her, me, and her friend, Edwina. That actually smacks of a double-date to me, but one step at a time... Why would he be there at all? Someone asked. Why am I there? Someone asked, either him or one of the girls. In that case, I'd assume Edwina because Clarissa's obviously got other things on her mind. Hur-hur... If it was a singular date, there would be no need for the other two people to be there. Going by everything else that happens, it just smacks of a double-date.
  • What happens later? He feeds her vodka-cherries "fairly sexually". They were sat down. She's accepting them, so she's not protesting.
  • What happens after that? We all walk off into the sunlight, and they're holding hands. Now ain't that sweet?
Well, he obviously likes her and wants to engage in a relationship. That's really friggin' obvious. He isn't displacing his feelings towards her, as he later told me when I said what I initially thought. Therefore, she is in the dream for that singular reason that he may explore his feelings towards her. That begs the question of what everyone else was doing in his dream?

Other People
Yes, what was everyone else doing in his head? Sidney served the purpose of giving him cherries. Why him, and not someone else? I suspect it simply doesn't matter, his mind just selected someone who he could remember. What about Eastenders' very own Kat and Alfie? God only knows, maybe he'd like to meet them? Personally, it seems like it their being there was just a pretext to get him into the room. The whiteness of the room could symbolise purity, which ties in nicely with the sexual connotations involving Clarissa, and the obvious removal of whatever purity may be there. What was I doing in that room? Was I even there? I don't know. Same goes for Edwina, we just reappear later on in the dream in the village square. What about Bernard and Co? As I said before, their only purpose is seemingly to create that red theme. The Red Indians? Same thing, and they induce fear so my friend hides. The people who got beat up? I doubt they mean anything, although you're welcome to disagree with me. In fact, I don't believe Scene 2 serves much purpose at all, and may very well be part of a different dream. My purpose, initially, seems to be as a comforting figure, telling him "it's going to be OK" when he's upset. And, fair enough, I probably would. Then I disappear for most of the dream, as does Edwina.

So... What does it mean? his dream is a mix of condensation (where a thing has several meanings), representation (where an idea is given a form), and symbolism (self-explanatory). He wants to be in a relationship with Clarissa, is what the dream means. It's the other aspects that require analysis, but they often relate to his feelings towards her. All that analysis for one idea? It beats making a snap judgement and then realising you made the wrong one. He sees people he may not normally associate with as doing acts of sensitivity (painting) or kindness (giving him cherries). And me, to an extent. I don't often seem like the kind of person who'd comfort a friend, but I would. Why was he upset in the first place? He doesn't get upset much, and I've only seen him like that once. Going by the meaning of the rest of his dream, I suspect it's something to do with Clarissa. When we can't have something, it fills us with negative emotions and we can get upset. I suspect he thought he couldn't have her.

This just in: The white room was a wedding, Alfie and Kat's to be precise. This ultimately merely adds to the romantic connotations. Do I detect the wishing of wedding bells at some point? Furthermore, he remembers why he was upset: he'd said something to her that he didn't want to. Well, that certainly explains why he was upset, and why I was telling him it'd be OK. And it was! Furthermore furthermore, I was largely acting sympathetically towards him, and Edwina was... Somewhere. Somewhere in the background. The fact that I was hardly around half the time makes me think I was in the background half the time too. But this was actually really simple to analyse.

So if anyone's got a dream they'd like analysed, let me know!

Until next time!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Banwyn Laments His Lover's Death

The fight knocked out of me, I fell to my knees beside her. I'd lost the will, the energy. As I knelt there, defeated, a soft breathing briefly knocked me out of my fast-approaching stupor.

I immediately crouched in close to her and held her hand. I whispered her name in reply, told her I was sorry.
"No... It's my fault... I'm sorry I let you down..."
"I'm proud of you, don't be silly. Please, just tell me you're all right?"
She didn't say anything. She merely lifted her free arm and touched the back of my head, trying to bring me closer. When I moved my face close to hers, she kissed me lightly on the lips. Then she... She died.

I lifted and rested her in my arms as I looked into her eyes. Her eyes... So full of life and love just minutes ago, now just staring remnants of that shade of blue I so loved. The eyes were often the only thing I noticed about the dead. We're so used to seeing them moving and full of life that it hits us when we see them motionless, staring.
"Don't you dare... Please... Don't, please... I love you. Please..."
I said her name under my breath, then into her ears. I asked her not to die, not to leave me. I pleaded with her.

All for naught.

The tears wouldn't come. Even today I chastise myself for this. They came later, but I was still in shock and denial. I'd lost touch of my surroundings, the pain of my injuries, the sounds other than my own panicked breathing. I continued to cradle and whisper to her. I told her I was sorry. I remembered that moment on Haven when she'd insisted on coming with me. I'd TOLD her that I didn't want to put her in danger. I could have refused, made her stay on Haven. Why did I listen to her? I loved her, that much was true. But in some corner of my mind, I knew that this was going to happen. Did I ultimately have it in my heart to tell her to stay away? I'd told her that the people who travelled with me ended up dead... My words came back to haunt me.

"Please, don't make me do this. People that go with me die. It's dangerous... Since I started this, I'm the only one of my original group that left the station. Don't make me put you in danger."

I'd listened to her protests. I'd put her in danger. As a result of my careless actions, she was dead.

I eventually became conscious of footsteps, coming from the corridor we had used to enter that room. I didn't care any more, and I didn't even consider letting her fall from my arms. I wiped away the blood that had trickled from the corner of her mouth. It had taken me this long to do so...

A voice rang out behind me, echoing off the walls. "Sir?" it asked. "Raines?" it added after a brief pause.

My name... I didn't reply. I felt as if I could no longer speak. A hand grabbed my shoulder, but I didn't react at all. It rested there for anywhere from a few seconds to a minute, and then it pulled lightly. My response tore itself from my throat; the speechlessness I felt just seconds ago was lost.

"I'm not leaving her."

The owner of the hand protested, and an intense rage immediately bubbled up inside me. I slowly laid her down on the ground and then, with renewed speed, simultaneously rose, wheeled around, and drew my pistol, pointing directly at the unknown party's face. I saw the badge before I could fire, dangling around his neck just as mine was.

"You're a bounty hunter. You're too late..."
"We got here as quickly as we could. There was trouble."

We? I suddenly became aware of other humans around me, and I heard the husky breathing of a Demis. But I didn't say anything. I just turned and looked at her body. The tears came.

"We've been told to extract you, sir" he said at length. That wasn't surprising. C.A. probably didn't want me anywhere where I could do more damage than I already had. I turned again, but didn't look at the bounty hunter. Instead, I looked at the prone figure of Gabriel. I stared, long and hard, feeling my muscles twitch with ever-increasing anger. Something, at length, caught my eye. Was he... breathing? I snapped, my pistol still in my hand: I immediately emptied the clip into his body: his torso and head. When the hollow click of an empty chamber reached my ears, I threw the gun away and charged over, stamping on the corpse.

The Demis tried to restrain me and failed - he was sent sprawling to the floor with a broken leg. Three of the human bounty hunters grabbed for me. The adrenaline allowed me to break free, and then I indicated to them that I was calm. Retrieving my gun, I walked to the hunter who had spoken to me. He was younger than me. Fankly, it didn't look as if he had too much experience. My usual energy had somehow returned during the altercation.

"What's your name, kid?"
"Mathka, sir."

Mathka? That name was common on Haven. I felt the tears well up again, and I recoiled slightly. He either didn't notice, or pretended not to. I wouldn't have blamed him for the latter.

"You can take the bounty on Gabriel. I don't want it." I said. I'd had the satisfaction of killing him. Being paid for it somehow removed some of the satisfaction.

"Thank you, sir."

He was very polite I thought. I asked him if he could come with me for a while, to help with the burial arrangements. Although it was clearly against his duty, he agreed and commanded the other hunters to continue with their mop-up operation. One of them reached to lift her body, but he was stopped by my glare. I lifted her myself. She was as light to me as she always had been. My memories had a strange choking sensation on me and I began to breathe heavily and audibly. We walked out, past the guard that had been posted by the doorway, undoubtedly by Mathka. He was actually very competent, despite his youth. He had a lot of potential. As I walked past with her body, they removed their helmets. I thanked them, and walked away.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Black And White, With A Horrible Scanner

Well, it meant fannying around with a horrible, filthy scanner, but I've damn well got some photies to show you. it's worth saying at this point that when I took the camera out several weeks ago, I didn't know it was loaded with black and white film. So I sorta tried to concentrate on the colours of Autumn. Which doesn't work because it's in black and white. Oh well. I took over 35 exposures, but these are the ones I decided to scan. Enjoy!

Until next time!

Monday, 15 November 2010

5 Facts About Teddy

A very small post to tide you over until tomorrow when there will, hopefully, be an update on my film photography. I'll hopefully have something to show for all my time in the darkroom by then (I already have several photos developed, but not scanned). So may I present: 5 facts about Teddy.

1, I've been a photographer for about two years, after apparently picking it up "unnaturally quickly". I've owned a compact camera, an Olympus, for years, but hadn't considered it a hobby. That changed when I went on holiday to Jersey and started using my father's advanced compact and film SLR. It went on from there and I now own my own digital SLR, and consider it my greatest hobby.

2, One of my greatest flaws is how introverted I am. True, blogging and Let's Playing aren't very introverted. If you know me personally, however, you'll know I am highly introverted, not caring much for company. While there is company I do care for, this is still my greatest flaw and what I constantly chastise myself over. I, having no siblings, am greatly accustomed to being on my own and, as such, am comfortable in my own company. I'll often go out for long walks on my own, purposely going places I know other people do not frequent. A personality is something that is learned and conditioned, largely from one's own self. I don't mean that I wallow in solitude, I simply am used to and accept it. I'll only make a conceited effort with a very few people. Because of how I naturally am, I can alienate the people who care about me, and that is something I will never forgive myself for.

3, My favourite piece of classical music is Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. There's... not much I can actually say here. It's just a beautiful piece of music, with a highly solitary mood. My favourite playing of it would be Claudio Arrau's rendition; in my opinion, one of the most timid but affecting. Give it a listen.

4, My favourite CRPG of all time is Planescape: Torment, followed by Gothic, followed by Baldur's Gate. Planescape has a wonderfully written story of immortal betrayal, love, war, honour, and many other factors. It asks you the question "what can change the nature of a man?" You may never find out the answer, but the story is in the journey. Your character, nameless, is doomed to an endless cycle of death and rebirth. You do not know how long this has happened for, but you repeatedly come across the consequences of your previous lives. You come across Deionarra early, but I always thought it was one of the most powerful scenes in the game. Damn my inability to find a clear English version with no commentary, but give it a watch. It's a world where belief can change everything.

5, it's worth saying at this point that I do not believe in God, Satan, Chuck Norris, Santa, or the Tooth Fairy. With that out of the way... I have developed a mild case of morbid curiosity in the Inquisitions (the concept of the Inquisition being an organisation with near-limitless power forming the basis for a series of short stories. The introduction of which you can see below). This curiosity/fascination has led my to read, cover to cover, the Malleus Malificarum (loosely translated as The Hammer of Witches). This was essentially the handbook for all Inquisitors and anywhere from aided to taught them how to identify, try, and execute witches. I've actually read it three times now (in English of course), and my curiosity has increased each time. I now feel confident that I could now go witch hunting, although modern society does tend to frown on that sort of thing. Somewhat inevitably, however, this has resulted into my developing a strange, almost Lovecraftian fascination with Christian books detailing the occult. The most recent one I've read is an English copy of le Grimoire du Pape Honorius: something you could see as a manual pertaining to the summoning of demons, written by Pope Honorius, no less. The thing deals with Lucifer and Astaroth, and can probably pull you down to hell if you look at it for too long. An occultist, Eliphas Levi, described it as "horrible, wicked, and profane" - it's frankly a little unnerving and it makes you feel like the tendrils of pure evil are pouring into your brain. It's very Lovecraftian. But now you know that if you have any occult books laying around that you don't want, you can always send them to me and help me lose even more of my sanity!

Until next time!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Teddy's 5 Portrait Photography Tips

People have been asking me for several weeks now if I have any tips for portrait photography. I'm not entirely sure why, as I don't really do portrait photography as a rule. Nevertheless, people have been asking me repeatedly. So now I cave! Here are my 5 tips for shooting portraits (and by portraits I'm referring to any photograph that involves the use of models).

1, Get to know your model. I wouldn't blame you if you thought this wasn't important, I really wouldn't. But it honestly does have a noticeable impact on your final photograph. David Bailey struck up a wonderful chemistry with his models, and that can be seen in the dynamism of his shots. Your model is a person too: he or she isn't just a robot who's there to do what you want. Obviously you do want them to do what you want, and that means striking up a good working relationship with them, so that they want your photographs to come out as well as you do. Trust me, it works.

2, Know your lighting. People say it's hard to get lighting right. It isn't, as long as you know what you want. There are hundreds of different set-ups, but, frankly, it's just a case of finding something you like and using it. You can even use natural light if you don't have access to lights, but bear in mind that it's harder to control. You should always give a thought to lighting, and test it out before you shoot. In the digital age, we have the luxury of being able to waste shots. So use those shots for testing purposes.

3, Composition. What I mean by this (if you are unaware) is how the image is framed and put together. There aren't really any guidelines for good and bad compositions. We have 'rules' such as the rule of thirds, but it's a matter of preference whether you follow them or not. They're more guidelines than rules. It's easier if I show you than explain, so see four of my images:

Yeah, there is but one person. But you see what I mean by different compositions. All of these are 'right'. All of these are 'wrong'. The 'rule' for portraiture is to not place the subject in the centre of the frame. But that can work too, provided you have other elements in the image. See The Dummy (the first image), for example.

4, Follow your style. I've waffled on about style before. If you're a photographer, you'll have a style, even if you don't know what it is. In this case, show your model your photographs, and let him or her improvise for you. Funny as it sounds, you're never the best judge of how your photographs look. David Leslie Anthony's photographs have a physically dynamic and powerful style, so check him out to see what I mean. It's honestly not difficult to do. You just need to know yourself and how your work appears to other people. More importantly, you need to know what you're looking for, always.

5, The eyes. What I believe to be the most beautiful part of a person is often the most complex thing to get right. It's all up to personal preference, but my preferences are:

  • Shoot below the eyeline if you're facing your model.
  • Don't let your model's eyes look 'into' the camera - it looks more natural if a model's eyes are looking slightly above the camera. Again, however, this depends entirely on what you want out of your photograph; looking into the camera accentuates the eyes and automatically makes you notice the rest of the face.
  •  Riffing off the last one, have your model's eyes looking away from the camera - to a side. It helps to give the shot a degree of thought, as well as making it look more natural.
  • Brighten them, either in-camera or in post-processing. It makes them stand out, and gives your image an extra 'element'.
Again, this depends on what you want. The way I do it is not the way another photographer does it, and it is by no means the 'right way'. The trick is to experiment and to find what you like and what you think is 'good'.

Well, I hope these have been a help to y'all!

Until next time!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The Inquisition

A man walks through the cold, decrepit streets. The moon rose hours ago. He strides, long, authoritatively. Peasants unwise enough to be outside see him, and flinch. Cower. Their eyes focus on his ring. It tells them who he his, what he is. Why he is there. They know enough to stay away. All but one. The simple peasant jostles the imposing, striding figure. The figure garbed in a cloak worthy of royal ownership over bulky armour with a dull shine. As the peasant jostles, the larger figure appears to blink out of existence in an eruption of black light. Past the peasant, he blinks back into existence, not once breaking pace.

He strides, purposefully, his hand eventually resting on the hilt of his sword. More peasants see him and his ring. A chunky golden signet ring engraved with an eye wreathed in laurels. They stay away. He rounds a corner and embarks down an alleyway. The cold is visible in the air now. He rounds another corner and takes but one step into a more open square. He stands and sees his target. He draws his sword in a flash, pointing it directly to the ground.

An enormous creature composed of fused flesh and sinew is engrossed in it's meal of flesh. Pustules rapidly form and burst on it's skin, skin marked with lesions and weeping sores. The Inquisitor starts to run, faster than a normal human ever could. He careers towards the beast, and moves his sword in a quick slash that seems to cut the very air. The beast roars, it's arm severed. It strikes as best it can with it's other arm. upon every strike that would connect, the Inquisitor blinks out of existence and reappears inches away. The beast, despite it's strength and bulk, has no chance. When an opportunity appears, the Inquisitor blinks to behind the beast and skewers it on his sword. Before it can react, he uses it as a platform to get onto the beast's shoulders, whereupon he wrenches the sword out of it's back. Despite the beast's best efforts to shake him off, it is decapitated in seconds. The beast falls, the Inquisitor calmly keeps balance, only adjusting his footing slightly. Stepping off the bleeding corpse, he disappears as quickly as he arrived.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Staples Of Your Stereotypical FPS

While I was desperately trying to shake off my hangover yesterday, I got thinking about those little factors that every single FPS game seems to do nowadays. Yes, I am well aware that many FPS' subvert these somewhat, but we're going for stereotypes here! So here I present you with a comprehensive list of 20 staples of your typical FPS game, be it console or PC. Read it as a 'what not to do' if you prefer. Here we go:

1, When you look down, you will find you are just a floating pair of hands holding a gun. You have no body. It's even a TV Trope: First Person Ghost, it's called. Observe this artist's impression of Anne from Trespasser (also soullessly ripped from TVT).

2, Your health will magically regenerate on it's own, providing you avoid getting shot for a few seconds. Are you Wolverine? Quite possibly, as you can theoretically survive countless bullets as long as you take a few seconds out to let your wounds magically close.

3, A headshot will kill instantly. You may say this is "fair enough", but in reality, plenty of people survive getting shot in the head from any distance other than point blank range. They're more in danger of bleeding to death than dying from any brain injury. Yes, you're not likely to survive getting shot in the head, but it won't kill you instantly, unless it was a big enough impact with a big enough bullet, or enough shot to shred your brain. You'd probably be dead in a few minutes though.

4, Leading from point 3, a headshot may inexplicably cause an opponent's head to explode. This was lampshaded in Hot Fuzz, "Is it true that there is a place in a man's head where, if you shoot it, it will blow up?". JFK died this way, and guns of a large enough calibre can also do this. Sometimes. The truth is, though, that human heads are not made of explodium.

5, If you have allies, they will either need constant babysitting, charge off without you, or send you off on your own to fulfil some objective or other.

6, Every bullet anyone fires from any gun will apparently be a tracer. Now, if any attempt at realism was made, the barrel of said gun would wear out incredibly quickly, as tracers put extra wear on the barrel. Tracers actually appear every nth round, or at the end of a magazine, to tell the person firing to reload. Fair enough, though, if a crosshair is missing.

7, Bullet penetration does not exist. Thank god more and more games aren't doing this these days. It's the concept that a thin wooden wall can withstand an infinite hail of bullets, with not a single one erupting out the other side. Also used with body-armour on enemies, making you look for a 'weak-spot'.

8, You can dual-wield pistols and uzis. Sometimes even bigger weapons. A little tip from the annals of real life: you will probably not hit anything, and there's a reason people are trained to fire those small weapons with two hands. Yes, Jack Bauer does this, but he's fucking Jack Bauer. But even he traditionally uses one pistol with both hands.

9, It will either be modern against terrorists, or WW2 era against Nazis. This is disturbingly prevalent.

10, Steve Blum will voice either a character or multiple characters. I actually don't have any problem with this though, as Steve's got a voice made of awesome.

11, There will be a level in a sewer. I don't know why games feel the need to make us crawl around in shit. Note, however, these sewers will be enormous; usually big enough that three fully grown men could stand on each other's shoulders and still have plenty of room to move around in.

12, You can fire a rocket launcher in a confined space, even with your back to a wall. No you can't, thanks to backblast, which will just cook you.

13, Enemies will either flat-out not need to reload or will carry an infinite number of magazines. Unlike you.

14, A tranq dart fired to the head or heart will knock out an enemy instantly. It should actually take a minimum of 30 seconds. Even a baby wouldn't be knocked out instantly (probably. I've not actually tested that).

15, You have either bottomless pockets, or are restricted to two or three weapons at a time. But there is no realistic limit on how many magazines you can carry. Have you ever tried to carry 50 9mm clips?

16, You will not be able to climb or jump a waist-high fence, unless the game tells you that you can.

17, There are metal barrels, and they explode when shot.

18, Cars and other vehicles will explode with enough bullets.

19, You can't physically strike at people even if they're right in your face. This one's being averted with more and more games now, but it still happens and is very jarring when it does. Why can't you hit people who are literally in your own face?

20, Your guns will not fire bullets. They will fire hitscans; where the game basically just scans ahead and hits the first thing in your line of fire. This is averted when bullet physics exist, but that is depressingly seldom.

Oh, how I long for a remake of Sniper Elite...

Until next time!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Merry Bonfire Night!

Yes, merry anniversary of the failed Gunpowder Plot!

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, 'twas his intent
To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Hulloa boys, Hulloa boys, let the bells ring.
Hulloa boys, hulloa boys, God save the King!
A penny loaf to feed the Pope.
A farthing o' cheese to choke him.
A pint of beer to rinse it down.
A faggot of sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar.
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head.
Then we'll say ol' Pope is dead.
Hip hip hoorah!
Hip hip hoorah!

And now I'm off to a party for the night, so...

Until next time!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

I Have Selective 'Can't Be Arsed' Syndrome

The title says it all. Oddly, while I really can't be arsed to do legitimate work (which, I might add, needs to be done for tomorrow), I can be arsed to blog about HOW I can't be arsed to do legitimate work. Dear me... if you're interested (and why would you be, you strange person?), it's a piece of extended writing, based on evidence. If it sounds dull, that's because it is. I could theoretically bullshit my way out of doing it, but I suppose I'd best get it done.

*Promptly wastes more time doing a medley of other things.*

Ugh, deary me... I feel as if my brain's off living it up in Miami while my body is slumped here, trying to get the willpower to write some utter bollocks to be handed in tomorrow. I suppose it doesn't help that my notes and the evidence is on an A3 sheet, which I can physically not put anywhere. I've written half a page. I don't have the willpower to do more. I need whiskey. I need a drink. I need energy.

*Teddy disappears for half an hour, drinking whiskey and Red Bull. He comes back and writes at the bottom of the page:*
"Dear work... You are unattractive, and therefore, I can not do you."

Until next time!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Like Going Back In Time

Today, for the first time in years, I used a film camera. Also, for the first time in years, I used a 50mm prime lens. Which was attached to the camera.

The thing was smaller than my Sony SLR, but even heavier (and my Sony is heavy in a satisfying way). It felt like I could stove someone's skull in with it. it was partly metal, so I believe I could have anyway. The camera was a Phenix (a brand I've not heard of for years), although I can't remember the actual model number off the top of my head. It took 35mm film, and had a maximum of 35 exposures. I shoot in full-manual all the time, which is just as well because the thing has absolutely nothing automatic on it. You even have to manually advance the film. Holding it created a grip that I can only describe as 'the claw' - my index finger on the shutter, my thumb on the advance lever which is right behind the shutter, two fingers on the grip, and my little finger resting uncomfortably under the body. It didn't fit well in my hand, and it's small size meant my left hand couldn't wrap comfortably around the prime lens. The dial to adjust the shutter speed was also directly next to the shutter, and rested in an incredibly small space, and I could only adjust it with my index finger.

Sounds like a camera from hell? Well, it also smelt of mothballs. Despite all that, the simplicity of it's fully manual nature left me having a soft spot for it.

The lens on the other hand... Lord only knows how old it was. A prime lens is basically a lens at a fixed focal length: you can't zoom. It's been years since I've used one, and I always use a standard zoom and a telephoto. You might ask why you should ever use one then?

"Why should I ever use a prime lens?"

Well, I'm glad you asked, Sonny-Jim! You should use one because of the aperture range. My standard zoom has a range from (off the top of my head) f32 to f5.6. The Prime lens went from f22 to f1.6. They make lovely portrait lenses due to the wonderful focusing they can do, and are also easy to use. They're also usually cheap (by lens standards).

The thing I used though... Stiff as anything, and dusty as hell, even after I cleaned it. Because of this, it was bloody hard to tell if I was correctly focused. Furthermore, using the camera required me to take a best guess at the settings I'd need (shutter speed and aperture) before framing. I'd invariably underexpose (that's one thing the camera did tell me, before I took a photo. So I needed to break my composition to look at the top of the camera to adjust my settings, then re-frame. It was, frankly, awkward. But I do still hold a soft-spot for the thing.

I've no idea how my photographs turned out as I've not yet developed them. But rest assured, you'll all the the first to know.

Until next time!

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