Drive.

Life this year has been stop start at best. I’ve drifted away from friends in real life, on the internet, and writing; losing contacts and losing work. The reasons for that I don’t want to divulge on the Internet as you never know who’s reading. Things as of today are no better on paper but I feel like things are slowly coming together.

This is mainly because of one person that I recently spoke to who told me that I have to get my identity back, and that identity is linked to writing, and getting out there in the big wide web again. I have to go against my natural instinct and pull my head out the sand and stop hiding from everything that I’m not happy with. And that’s hard. It comes down to motivation and drive, both are lacking, but both are being forced back into my mind.

So, me, be aggressive, be productive, be yourself. Expect more.

FIFA – Y U NO LET ME HAVE FUN?

Football games have always been a big part of my life, as I’m sure I’ve said before on many a blog post and game review. What I loved about the old games was the fun you could have with a friend. You could play all sorts of teams, try out different formations and players. On PES you could build your Master League in your own time and then face off against your friends. And what I just remembered yesterday, you could edit and play around with the World XI teams (One of the old PES games let you choose your team before every game, which was fantastic fun) again creating Barcelona like teams that make every other team pale in comparison.

Now let’s fast forward to yesterday where Scott and I were playing our ritualistic three games of FIFA. Only three games because one of us always gets annoyed with the game. He goes Classic XI and I go Current World XI. His team boasts greats like Pelé, Cantona, Maradona… no wait, there’s no Maradona (I think this is due to image rights). But that’s nothing when compared to my team, I have Lampard and Berbatov, for crying out loud. Both great players but why are they first team players and not the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Forlan, Torres(ignoring his current form), Robben , Pato amongst many others. Even worse is the fact that there is only five reserve players and two of them had stats in the mid seventies. I would go back and check but apparently the squad changes on every load and I have no idea why. No problem, right? Let’s just change it up and add our own players. Only no, you can’t even edit the team.

This lack of control is my main problem with FIFA 11. It occurs throughout the entire game, small picky details that niggle and frustrate and over time can lead to ruining your experience with the game. Formation screens are the worst, favouring their traditional clunky, slow and just ugly design. I could put up with this but it’s the editing of the player positions that are just horrible. Play a central midfielder who excels in real life in a holding role in FIFA and their stats will drop. Flick to the formation edit screen and you can nudge him two fucking millimetres forward and suddenly he’s good again. Only you can’t just use that formation, you have to save it, which you cannot name, it just sits there among all the other minor adjustments that you’ve done.

The actual football is good, we all know that, apart from one thing, something that Scott and I call “The Jip”. The Jip rears its ugly head when the game decides that you need to be playing worse, to make the game more tense or something. Suddenly your passes will start going astray. Your players will not connect to through balls, running the wrong way or stopping without any reason. Your opponent will be able to tackle you with ease, stripping you of the ball with little to no effort. I know this sounds like the ravings of a sore loser but we’ve played a lot of FIFA and this has been getting worse through the last three instalments.

The Jip usually signifies the end of our fun and so we often switch to arsing around and tackling each other off the ball, shooting from anywhere on the pitch, going mazy runs with the goalkeeper etc. FIFA handles this well, even helping in the fun thanks to its ridiculously calamitous physics engine. Yet it still stops you from doing what you want, like playing your goalkeeper outfield, allowing Gerrard to don the gloves. Editing a formation that plays everyone upfront, only you can’t as you MUST HAVE one defender back.

I’ve put up with it for too long, and what sickens me is I always award them high scores as when they come out as they appear brilliant improvements, only through time the honeymoon ends and outcome the comfort pants and the mortgage payments. So, EA, please make your game more open ended, less linear and confined, and bring back the fun to football.

Rant/

23: Kinder Eggs Are Too Safe!


Image.

What in the hell happened to my youth? Remember the phrase that your mum no doubt preached many a time, “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye?” Well thanks to today’s PC packaging you couldn’t even do it if you tried.

Kinder eggs have brackets, you cant pop them anymore. You cant shoot them across the room at an unsuspecting friend. It’s harder to fill one half with blu-tack and create a top spinner thing; just me?

And Smarties are the worst. Cardboard tubes with little cardboard bracket hats. They used to be firearms, I’m surprised schools didn’t ban them. I was a crack-shot with them; hitting people on the run; banking them off walls; mortar firing people behind PC monitors.

Now what are kids supposed to do? Yes, the packaging is more functional, impressive, but it’s not as lethal. I give it six months before the Government start demanding Flakes to come with warning labels as the dusty chocolate remnants could blind you.

19: iHate iTunes

Hating iTunes is nothing special, I’m sure everyone loathes it or has not loathed it at some point. I struggled along with it for too many years thinking it was the only option when syncing my iPod.

Then I discovered MediaMonkey, a free to download program that you can use to manage your music and sync your iPods. It’s simple, customisable, easy to navigate – just better, really. But if you want to burn more than a certain number of CD’s or rip music then you’ll have to go Gold and subscribe. Something I don’t do, preferring to use Windows Media Player to do that old fashioned stuff.

The iTunes store is a bit of a loss of course, but with so many other download places about you can live without it. I almost downloaded iTunes again to buy an unknown Canadian hip-hop album as that was the only link on his site. Did a little digging and Thank God I found it on Amazon for £6.99. Phew.

With the likes of Amazon and… other shops (I haven’t really researched this. It’s late. Oh, and Bandcamp. I love this site. Artists can share their music on the site and people can go buy it or even just play the entire albums. I’ve got so much good hip-hop off of it through lesson6. If you know where to look you can find so many free albums and demos from up and coming artists, and not just hip-hop. Where was my point? Oh yes) why do a lot artists and bands still only list iTunes?

There’s better out there.

Oh, and I don’t do podcasts so I don’t miss that. MediaMonkey manages it, though. I should get sponsored.

16: January, It’s Like An Urn Full of Janus

fdg

January is an ice-covered, debt-encrusted, Christmas hangover. The weather is no longer ‘festive’, it’s just cold and dangerous. The money you spent is no longer worth it and there’s nothing to look forward to until Spring. I found out today that yesterday was what some call Blue Monday. I’m not one to follow superstitions like that but yesterday was the worst day of the year and last year combined. The weight of every important and completely silly little thing weighed down on me tenfold.

Here are some facts as to why January is awful:

Urn is an anagram of Januray. And urns are not nice things. Just like January. It holds the ashes of Christmas, or something poetic an’ that.

“January is named after Janus (Ianuranius), the god of the doorway” Janus sounds like Anus, and they poop, and poop is how I feel in January.

“sometimes called Circumcision Style because this was the date of the Feast of the Circumcision, being the eighth day from December 25″ Just, what? FEAST of the CIRCUMCISION. This is bad on so many levels. Again, like January. Notice a pattern.

“In Czech January is called leden, meaning ICE MONTH. In Ukrainian it’s called січень, which means cutting or slicing, which some think is about the wind.” Ice. Cutting wind. Further evidence to why January is shit.

And my little village seems to be cursed. Everyone is ill, including me, on antibiotics and inhalers and steroids and God knows what else. A tree killed a man. He was cutting it down, but still. There was 6 car crashes on one 14 mile stretch of road today. A school friend is in a coma with swine flu. A little kid who lives around the corner is really ill with meningitis. Someone supposedly threw themselves off the bridge in the town this afternoon.

All this in 18 bloody days. That’s just crazy.

That’s why it is my plan to change the name of January to something cool and strong, like Kurt. Or, we take it back to the old school and use an old saxon term, Wulf-monath. It literally means wolf month. How cool is that? Just say it, wulf-monath.

So if you could all send payments of at least twenty pound to this paypal account so we can set this in motion. I’m just thinking of the future generations. The children.

15. Anybody seen my mind?

Had a rough night last night. Got very little sleep and today I have paid the price. I tried to get work done but my head is not present. I ended up giving up and played some Halo with some friends. I was surprisingly good. But anyway, that’s not what’s important. I have basically lost a day. I hate it. No matter how much caffeine I consume my brain just does not compute anything, hence this garbled nonsense on the page.

I’ve been the same for the past week, even the whole year. I need to get my head back into a routine. Here’s a lit of things I need to do:

1. Attain a regular sleeping pattern. If I am going to be up late then try using this little site I found on Reddit. It tells you when you should sleep to get up for a required time. Sounds stupid but it works with the principle that waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle will make you feel like, well, this.
2. Consume healthier things. Last year I thre myself into cooking and managed to get a good base of knowledge. For Christmas I got an entire new set of pans and a fancy wok. I’ve yet to use them. Cut down caffeine, drink more water etc. all come hand in hand with this.
3. Use my time more productively. If I succeed in 1. and 2. then this one should be easy. If not then I’ll be back on square one.

Tomorrow will see me less depressed, more healthy and thus more productive. Which means a better post than this.

008: Bank Robbers and Football Managers

I’m a little gutted that I’m typing this today and not yesterday when it was supposed to be written. I had an ides, started the draft about 2 in the afternoon and then the door went and I was greeted by a somewhat distraught cousin. He woke today (yesterday) to find out his bank had been completely drained. All his rent for the coming month and all his money for living. Completely gone.

I made sure he had called the bank and his landlord. He had. Now it’s just a case of wait and see. We hope that they have managed to stop the transfer before it reached these fake Barclays accounts, meaning that the return of the money will be easy. If they haven’t then I have no idea what will happen.

It’s just a complete kick in the balls, especially as he was planning on going back up to Glasgow on Thursday to get back to work and Uni, now he’ll have to wait and see if has the money. What really gets me is the hopelessness of it all; there’s no one you can point at, no one to punch. Just some random person sitting in a random place robbing people of their money in fucking January of all times. Horrible, horrible people. Or is it the websites fault? Should they not have better security against this? Ugh.

So I told him he could come down here for the day and we would watch films and have fun, keep him distracted. And that’s what we did. We watched Where Eagles Dare and Road Trip – odd pairing, right? – as well as some Sky+ nonsense.

We also played lots of Football Manager, which I haven’t played for around 8 years or so, and boy it’s impressive. He’s been trying to get me hooked for so long but I’ve always said no for some stupid reason. We’re currently reshaping Liverpool from the ground up and have signed some quality young players. It’s not your standard two player game but with a good film on and a selection of snacks it’s actually great fun.

So that’s how I lost last night. It’s not something I plan on doing again but it was necessary. Don’t lose faith in me yet.