Firstly, HI BLOG, you dusty, old bastard.

It’s been awhile. It also felt like a good idea to step away from epic political ranting after last time, since that’s not what this place was designed for. The cave is for shenanigans and hobby randomness.

With that in mind, it seems I am obliged to put letters into order on a page that reflect positively on ‘Game of Thrones’. Fortunately it’s pretty rare that something is entirely without redeeming features, so it might not be as difficult as previously suspected. On the other hand, it’s also going to be fairly difficult to avoid the natural segues into its many failings. And they are many, as I have previously written, for exam …

See! See how easy it is?!

Ahem.

Let us begin!

I believe the greatest thing that ‘Game of Thrones’ has done is to be successful in the TV fantasy genre. I cannot and will not deny it its success. That it has dragged a much maligned genre of television kicking and screaming into the limelight of mainstream success is something to be lauded. It has opened the door for others to follow and, perhaps, be just as successful. And that is something I would like to see. It’s not as if the fantasy literature lacks for sweeping epics that could be translated amazingly to the screen under the right direction.

Hopefully, the success of ‘Game of Thrones’ will enable that.

In some ways it may already have done so, since we will soon be looking at the Netflix adaptation of ‘The Witcher’. Here’s hoping that they get it right!

enhanced-30396-1455840762-1

Geralt Approves!

‘Game of Thrones’ also looks fantastic. I only watched up to the end of season four (I think …) and everything from the location shooting to the sets to the costume design looks fucking amazing.

King’s Landing looks and feels like a living, fantasy-medieval city. They all do, and though as a series it tended to steer clear of large scale battles (budgets can only be stretched so far I guess) the combat, when it occurred, was solid and visceral. It often felt like brawling with swords rather than the aesthetically pleasing but wholly unrealistic combat-dancing that happens in so many other shows and movies.

Not to mention …

brienne

A women! In fantasy-medieval! Wearing ACTUAL FUCKING ARMOUR!

Lets not get too carried away, but Brienne of Tarth is doing it right when it comes to women in a fantasy setting. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating : NERDS! ARMOUR DOESN’T NEED BOOBS! And if any of you whining shit-bags utters “Well, the armour needs boobs and to be more revealing otherwise she doesn’t look very feminine!” (Actual quote by the way, presumably from a nerd hunched over his keyboard frenziedly wanking over a ‘women warrior’ google search).

Here’s the thing losers, when you’re running into a mob of frenzied, axe-wielding sociopaths intent on bloodshed and rapine, you’re first thought isn’t ‘I wonder if my armour shows off my hips?’ it’s ‘I really hope my armour stops these guys from skewering me and eating my liver.’

If you disagree, I hope Brienne of Tarth shows up and smashes you in the groin with a mace. It will serve you right for not wearing sculpted dick armour.

cock700

Armour … that looks exactly like … a thingy!

Ok, what else …

Err, I like the music.

And the dragons.

In fact, really, as far as production value goes, it’s all pretty smooth in that regard.

Oh … yeah, and I also really like it when it ends.

Yeah. Closing on a cheap shot!

Advertisements

Alternative Slacks

Posted: January 31, 2017 in Uncommonly Serious Shit

Ergh.

Sadly, this is going to be another one of the egregious serious posts.

Not because I think it will do an iota of good, but in the vague hope that once I empty it out onto a page it will stop buzzing around my skull and let me got on with something else. We are, after all, just screaming into the void here.

In short : What the fuck do you think you’re doing?

I watched 2016 with a sense of vague bemusement as the referendum came and went with all of its associated bleating. I have even passed comment on it once or twice. I think we have made a mistake, a mistake born out of ignorance, bigotry or dissatisfaction, but a mistake I’m prepared to see out to the end.

I also think that the American people made a mistake with their choice of President (which is not to say that I am necessarily Pro-Hilary, those things are not mutually exclusive). That mistake has been all over the world in the past week.

And, y’know, if I was a terrorist I would be laughing my arse off.

What blows my mind more is the fact that there are people standing by this nonsense as if it’s fucking nectar. They’re chugging it down and then trying to tell us it tastes of strawberries and fucking unicorn dreams!

Hell’s teeth! Really?

By now, there might be a bunch of people already typing “LOL! Triggered!” or “Awww! Snowflake alert!” or some equally intellectual reply.

Here’s the thing : you fucking cowards.

What the actual fuck do you think you’re doing? Exactly what is being achieved? That you’re somehow “Keeping us safe”? Safe from what? Terrorists? Bad guys? Brown people? Johnny fucking foreigner? The hated other?

zhrwfa

Is it wizards? Are you keeping us safe from evil snake wizards?

Here, I’ll spell it out, real simple like, as if I were using crayons :

One of the California shooters was an America-born citizen of immigrant descent. He was a born citizen. His wife was a lawful immigrant. The present measures would have done nothing to prevent what happened. Not a single damn thing.

The Florida shooter was an America-born citizen of immigrant descent. He was born a citizen. The present measures would have done nothing to prevent what happened. Not a single damn thing.

The Boston bombers were Chechen. They claimed asylum eleven years before the incident took place and became naturalised citizens two years before the incident took place. Which is still irrelevant because the current measures would not have stopped them from travelling and they were radicalised after their arrival. You guessed it … It would have done nothing to prevent what happened. Not a single damn thing.

This is usually the point at which the shrieking starts about being a traitor, terrorist sympathiser, guilty of treason or whatever.

Let’s get one thing straight : Terrorists are fucking dicks. Total pieces of shit. I don’t give one gram of fuck what their ideology or motivation is. They are all, collectively, a shower of bastards.

They should do one.

All of them.

vsxsyxs7

I suggest this as a suitable location for them to do one to …

However!

Screeching in idiot fury about how this is all the work of devil Muslims is, when subject to even a modicum of rational thought, card-carrying bullshit.

Yes, some terrorists are Muslims.

Some.

Not all. If you can’t wrap your skull around that concept then you need to step back and sort your shit out.

There are approximately 2.6 million Muslims in the UK alone. Which sounds like a lot, but is actually only about 5% of the population. 2.6 million. That’s still greater than the total population of some counties. The idea that there are 2.6 million enemies of freedom bent on the destruction of the west living in the country right now is beyond absurd into the realms of the insane. If the ideology itself actively promoted violence then there would be hell on literally every single day.

Most of those guys (like everybody else) just want to get the fuck on with their lives.

But, like all strata of humanity, among that number you will find assholes.

Assholes are everywhere.

Assholery transcends faith and nationality and sexuality.

The next moronic screech tends to demand that ‘they’ do something about it.

Really? Like what exactly? Publicly condemn the acts of assholes? Because … that happens quite a lot. Only what tends to happen is that as soon as that condemnation occurs, everybody conveniently looks the other way so that they can maintain their air of ignorant superiority. Either that or they smugly declare that ‘they’ obviously don’t mean it because ‘they’ are the hated other.

Seriously.

I just spent part of the morning reading comments regarding the Canadian shooter and how it obviously wasn’t the right-wing white dude because a Muslim was also arrested. And we all know that there is no such thing as a white terrorist, so it must be the Muslim and this is all just a cover-up by the political correctness police.

Obviously.

_90069273_mediaitem90069271

Definitely not a terrorist.

Claiming that Islam itself actively promotes terrorism is an absurd notion. People will find their excuse to act like shit and frequently that excuse is religion. Am I denying that there are a load of Muslim terror groups?

Fuck no, you lunatic.

What I’m saying is that you can take any given religious text, fever dream or political pursuit and twist it into what you want it to be. And call it ‘interpretation’. It’s tremendously convenient to be able to interpret a text of faith in a way that allows you to act like a piece of shit and dictate to others how they should live their lives.

Some shitheads choose to use that holy book free-pass to be assholes and blow shit up and kill people. Others are more insidious.

Neither of them seem to be able to recognise irony.

Which brings me back to my original point.

You fucking cowards!

You sit there and draw circles around groups of people and declare them the hated other, and that measures must be taken to protect us all from the devilry. The law, society, indeed the very freedoms that are the foundation of our society need to be uprooted and reworked in order to save us from these evils!

Just whatever you do, don’t look at the number of actual deaths caused by Islamic terrorism in the west versus the number of deaths caused by, say, poorly controlled firearms. Or drink driving. Or heart disease. Or indeed, just about anything else.

Does the danger exist?

Fuck yes!

Look around you, terrorists  do some terrible shit!

Should you build a wall around yourself, clutching a gun and pissing into your shoes in fear that the terrorists are coming?

Fuck no!

I’ll say it again : You. Cowards.

You, who would turn your back on people in need out of fear, and dare to call it patriotism.

You damned, fucking cowards.

There was a fairly wretched meme doing the rounds about poisoned Skittles (delightfully comparing human lives to candy) asking if you would eat from a bowl of thousands if you knew that one was poisoned.

Yes. Yes I fucking would, because I am neither wretched, nor spineless. I will kneel to offer another my hand, because apparently that isn’t simple humanity in this day and age, that requires courage.

maxresdefault

Fuck this guy, he’s not a terrorist (white dude!) but he’ll only spend the money on booze.

So sure, laugh, throw insults, mock the simple act of having an ounce of humanity. Go ahead. Build your walls and tear up your society as you quake at the phantom of terrorism. Charity begins at home after all, though let’s be honest, what you actually mean is “Charity begins at home as long as I personally don’t have to do anything or change my lifestyle.”

Burn it all.

Because then the terrorists, who want nothing more than what you are doing, will have won.

You will have done their job for them.

So, if you see a bunch of suspiciously buttockless guys carrying tubs of popcorn then you should arrest them.

They’re terrorists.

Lock S-foils in attack position!

Posted: December 18, 2016 in Random Musings

Otherwise known as the obligatory Rogue One post!

First of all, this will be packed full of spoilers, so if you haven’t seen it yet then consider yourself warned. It would be impossible for me to explain why it has become my favourite bit of Star Wars without the use of spoilery information. So … deal with it.

The real backbone of why I like Rogue One was that I had a hope (a new hope …) for a Star Wars  movie that was not about the Jedi or the Sith. And that’s exactly what I got. It may seem a little perverse that I regard one of the most iconic (if not the most iconic) aspects of the Star Wars universe with little more than withering contempt, but there you go.

The blame for that can mostly be put at the feet of Mr. Lucas and the prequel trilogy, which took the slow build and sparing approach to Force users from the original trilogy and rolled it in shit. The carefully constructed myth presented by ‘A New Hope’ through ‘Return of the Jedi’ was shown to be a lie and the competence and ability of the Jedi shown to be a wretched shadow of what was promised. Further, I personally find the concept of power that polarises into two extremes (supremely good, governed by rigid discipline, or supremely evil governed by selfish desire) produces characters that are tedious, predictable and often much less competent than they should be.

I don’t talk about Grey Jedi. Or Green Jedi. Or Beige Jedi … or any other happy, rainbow, unicorn-riding, expanded universe mother fuckers. You guys are part of the reason I don’t care that the expanded universe has been consigned to the Disney dustbin fire.

boba-fett-10-things-you-need-to-know-about-boba-fett

Nobody invited you! Fuck off!

I digress.

As usual.

So yeah, I was excited for Rogue One. I was genuinely excited for a story about normal people and their war and sacrifices. And I got what I wanted.

It’s a war story, about blood and loss and sacrifice, and while it leaves a lot to the imagination regarding many of the characters as they are, quick-fire, introduced and bolted onto the journey, I have an imagination. I don’t feel that I need to be shown or told everything about them. That can and does make it hard to sympathise or identify with some, indeed many, of the members of Rogue One. On the other hand, I didn’t find any of them particularly dislikeable either, so I was happy enough to be along for their ride to see where it went.

Well, where it went beyond the obvious anyway.

The conclusion was never really in doubt.

And I have always maintained that the best heroes should die at the end.

What greater heroism is there than being prepared to give up your life for something greater than yourself?

It was an interesting point of contrast when listening to the feedback to two kids who were sitting in the row in front of us. We shared the lift with them and their Mum as we were leaving the cinema and she and the youngest (maybe eight years old …) thought that it was not so great because everybody died. The older boy (maybe thirteen …) thought that it was probably his new favourite because he had loved the heroes.

The younger lad perked up and decided he wanted to watch it again when we pointed out that the Ghost from Rebels (or at least a VCX-100) made a sneak appearance, and that there had been a announcement in the rebel base summoning General Syndulla to operations.

And there were a lot of those nods to the wider universe.

death-troopers

Death Troopers are actually a hundred feet tall …

Is Jyn Erso a tribute to Jan Ors?

I still have a question mark over the Death Troopers, as their appearance is very close to the original Dark Troopers. I initially believed that this was simply another polite nod to the Dark Forces title and that the Death Troopers were simply an elite cadre (if you can imagine such a thing …) of Stormtroopers. However, they appear to communicate in what sounds like blurts of machine noise that is very close to sound of the Dark Troopers as well. Either way, it was nice to see those little nods to the older material.

All of the cool things aside, it was not without its faults.

CGI Tarkin is my biggest axe to grind, as it was both poorly executed and unnecessary. When he first appeared on screen (which he arguably had to, as commander of the Deathstar) he appeared as a reflection in a screen, and I thought that was an excellent way to have the character appear without having to resurrect Peter Cushing. Unfortunately they then went for the full-on CGI facial which was just … poor.

It wasn’t so much the look (the oft described uncanny valley) as it was the animation of the face versus the lines that were being spoken. The lips simply didn’t fit the words and the effect was jarring to the point of distraction. Which was sad, as it was an excellent opportunity for what could have been some very clever cinematography and instead came off as a cheap ‘look what we can do’ that smelled just a little too heavily of George ‘CGI fruit’ Lucas.

window

I would have gone for him conversing like this …

In contrast to this, the digital versions of Leia, as well as Red and Gold leaders were fine. It was fine to the extent that it’s easy to believe that the squadron leaders are simply re-spliced footage. But no, digital wizardry at work. The lighting, the fact that much of their faces are covered by the flight helmets and the brevity of their appearances probably helps.

Also, Jyn Erso’s motivational speech to the rebel council will have to go down as one of the weaker cinematic fire-lighters. It’s certainly not a ‘Henry Cavill in Immortals’ level of fuck this noise, but it’s just not that convincing. I did crack a smile at the fact that it seemed to be the more politically oriented members of the council that lacked conviction, while the more militant members were in favour of the fight …

And … Vader …

I knew he was going to be in there (again, he’s pretty tied up in the Deathstar story), but I would have personally preferred it if his involvement had been minimal. Ok … even more minimal.

I don’t mind small alterations to his costume (we know that the suit comes off and he’s still a crusty, wrinkly dude under there) as it’s not unreasonable to assume he has more than one. Nobody wants to stew in wrinkly Sith funk. And it’s not like it was blue or yellow or something equally weird. I also didn’t mind his slightly quirky line about choking on aspirations (teehee!) as it’s not unlike “Apology accepted Captain Needa!” (The sarcastic bastard!).

I would just have preferred … less …

I was amused that the corridor scene pretty much confirmed for me that Vader is like a dwarf from Lord of the Rings. Wasted on cross-country but very dangerous over short distances. It’s important when you can’t move faster than a brisk walk that your victims are unable to run away. That’s what you get for having clunky, metal legs.

vader

Boop your nose!

The final scene also won a smile, as Vader can clearly see that the rebels are running away with a data disk containing the Deathstar plans, yet at the beginning of ‘A New Hope’ the Imperial officer says “The Deathstar plans are not in the main computer!”

No, they’re not, because they’re on a disk!

*Force choke*

Try not to gag on that information commander!

Teehee!

I like trains!

Posted: December 12, 2016 in Random Musings

Ok, I’m done with the ranting, it’s time to get back to the wildly irrelevant.

Mostly, the recent gaming history! Yay!

Most recently …

final-fantasy-xv-noctis-gladio-ignis-prompto

Is … is this coffee?

Final Fantasy XV opens with “A Final Fantasy for newcomers and fans alike” and I’m inclined to agree with that sentiment. I’m sure it will (and probably already has) draw a lot of fire from Final Fantasy ‘purists’ for taking a new approach to the series, but you’re never going to please all of the people all of the time. In videogames you’re doing pretty well if you can please some of the people some of the time.

But I was pleased.

It has a very shiny graphical veneer, the criticisms of the combat system that I had after playing the demo have been addressed (chief among them the inclusion of a target ‘lock on’) and the story is pleasantly direct while still having enough mystery to keep you hooked. Given that some Final Fantasy storylines have run into the absurd …

The evil Punchron intends to fold space and time thirty seven times using his quargle-blaster from the future so that he can bite it like a sandwich and remove the moment of his artificial birth from history! Only it turns out that Punchron is merely a servant of the cosmically insane Warblesnoo who plans nothing less than the complete conversion of all matter into custard! Punchron is manipulated into joining with the quargle-blaster so that Warblesnoo can journey back in time in order to send the past version of himself into the future to confront the cloned future version of himself so that that clone can be sent into the present in order to converse with the real version of himself in order to talk himself out of it! Why?! Because REASONS! That’s why!

Sometimes you just want a story to go from A to D via B and a surprise C. Final Fantasy XV does that. I liked the characters, which surprised me given my first impression, and I liked the way the characters bounced off each other and those they encounter along the way. And (without giving anything away) I really liked the way it ended. I can’t go further into that without divulging epic spoilers, but … yeah …

I did feel oddly short for a Final Fantasy game. Which is not to say that it is lacking in content as there is a bucket of side-quests to keep you distracted. But the story chapters feel short. The structure is very much like Final Fantasy XIII, only in reverse. Where XIII opened with a linear progression that opened up in the final third (pretty much the Final Fantasy standard), XV begins with an open world that becomes very linear toward the final third.

Overall though … yeah … good times! I look forward to the additional chapters!

91mskojxqil

Oops! Looks like you rolled twenty block dice and got all ‘Both down’ results! What are the odds?! No really … what are the fucking odds?

Fuck Blood Bowl 2.

For clarity – I like Blood Bowl … the table top game is a classic, and the videogame adaptation is actually pretty faithful. The first incarnation had some issues with its dice roller, but those issues were so obvious that they were predictable. You could work around them.

This second incarnation looks a lot nicer, but its dice roller is crooked as sin. It’s so broken that it actually ruined my enjoyment of the title. What irritates me more is that it looks very much like the programmers opted to use the dice roller as the measure of difficulty rather than bothering to improve the AI. The real life equivalent would be giving loaded dice to a novice player in order to make it more challenging.

It doesn’t make it challenging.

It makes it shit.

The point at which I turned the game off was when I had (once again … ) massively out-manoeuvred the AI team and had the ball-carrier boxed in with five players on their scoring line and proceeded to get a single knocked down result on fourteen block dice! It took all five players and a reroll to achieve that …

Now I know oddities can happen, indeed some of the best matches in the table top feature dice rolls of rare fortune, but not every match!

When the AI achieves more than twice the number of armour breaks every game, regardless of which teams are playing, something is very, very wrong.

In the sea with you Blood Bowl 2.

fallout-4-xp

Man’s best friend … unless you’re trying to sneak up on some raiders …

I didn’t like Fallout 4.

When I first watched the trailer my impression was ‘Fallout 3 with a next gen veneer’. Which isn’t a bad thing (I loved Fallout 3 … ) but also not exactly a wild innovation either. When I heard about the whole base-building thing it pushed it further down my list as it seemed a bit … misplaced … for the theme.

Well, I finally picked it up and my initial impression was … Fallout 3 with a next gen veneer.

Cool.

Then the dog turned up and ruined all my stealth. But that was ok, because I could leave the dog behind. Then I took a brief look over the weapon improvement and base-building mechanics …

And that was the first thing that made me go … hrm …

My idea of survival in a post-apocalyptic wasteland is scrounging for medicine, bullets and food. It is not scrounging for tons of office supplies in order to salvage enough screws. Stripping a petrol station bare of desk fans and toasters (each of which has been made with one screw …) for essential items when whole cars are sat on the forecourt seems … off …

That feeling only grew when I started venturing out and confronting raiders to find that even the poorest souls were often armed with as many as three weapons at a time. One decent journey out would frequently result in hauls of ten to twenty pistols, six or seven shotguns, half a dozen rifles and buckets of ammo for all. And they felt worthless next to the resources required to improve those weapons. The skill that allowed you to convert excess weapons into screws suddenly seemed invaluable as I scrounged through buildings, discarding buckets of weaponry in search of toasters and desk fans.

junklady

Y’know where Office Depot is dearie?

Then, after an hour or so, I got a suit of power armour and a minigun …

Yeah, the mechanic has changed so that the armour has a limitation, but still. It’s like Rick Grimes going out to forage and coming back with a Chieftain tank. Sure, they might not use it very often, but it’s still there and rather ruins the theme of desperation.

As a last ditch, I thought I’d give the base-building thing a try and while I can see how it would be fun (if you’re into that sort of thing) the mechanics of it are clunky and badly executed. What’s more annoying is that most of that execution could be fixed with a simple ‘snap-to’ feature for building straight walls …

dishonored-definitive-edition-2-720x450

Onward rodent minions!

I finished Dishonored after its initial release on PS3, but never played either of the additional chapters. Now that Dishonored 2 is out I picked up the definitive edition in order to feel properly prepared for the sequel. It was just as good the second time around (and it hasn’t aged badly with the graphical update!) and the extra chapters (Knife of Dunwall and Brigmore Witches) were totally worth it. Turns out that they are also massively relevant to the sequel as well!

It would have been nice to have given Corvo a voice (as he has for the second game) but it doesn’t really impact the experience. I have read that it was a creative choice in order to allow the player to ‘project’ into the character, but that’s not something I’ve ever really been able to relate to.

Looking forward to getting into the second game now!

vyvzabrc5bzb5tbejngfuu

I love this art, it has echoes of Roger Dean …

There’s no way I can talk about No Man’s Sky without calling out a bunch of people as whinging, entitled bastards …

As per usual, a massive chunk of the internet out two and two together, decided the answer was one hundred and four and then ran screaming into the hills. I feel for the guys that worked on this title, as for my money it does exactly what it promised to do. It gives you a galaxy, almost literally, to explore.

I hear criticism that it’s a bit dull.

Yes and no.

But then I guess it depends what you’re into. I rather enjoy the quiet solitude of alien vistas and ancient, half buried monuments. Of approaching a new world and wondering what it will look like and what might call it home.

I don’t need war and massive space battles and factions and multiplayer. Look around, those themes are well-catered for elsewhere. Very well-catered for …

I’ve not tried the new patch yet, and some of the additions sound good.

But base-building?

Seriously …

What’s the fascination?

Go play Minecraft!

So I said I was done with these dull ‘serious’ posts, but you know what?

Turns out that I lied.

Suck it up.

I’m only writing this because I appear to be putting a huge amount of energy into not writing things elsewhere, so if I get this emptied out of my head now, in my space, then it won’t accidently break loose of its moorings somewhere else.

It would only result in another pointless and circular debate anyway.

So.

Basically, shit’s fucked up yo!

Social media is a battleground alive with propaganda, memes, misinformation, misquotes and screaming children wielding them with all the dexterity and eloquence of a toddler playing with glassware.

And I’m not even going to talk about the US Presidential candidacy.

Jeez.

That’s a whole other barrel of monkeys.

Biting, scratching, shit-flinging monkeys. In a barrel. It’s ugly in there.

No.

What I am mostly tired of, right now, is every single post-EU referendum article that comes up anywhere, no matter the content, is drowned in a torrent of (and you could Bingo card this.) :

“Out means out!”

“We voted out! [They] Need to stop dragging their feet and just do it!”

“We know what we voted for! Out now!”

“DEMOCRACY!”

Something derogatory about remoaners!”

Usually sprinkled with a number of assertions about how this is all the fault of the left and a number of ‘lefties’ lamenting that yes, this is indeed their fault because damn, how did we not see this coming.

polar%20bear%20facepalm

Even the polar bear is sick of this shit, and he should be more concerned about his habitat that’s shrinking due to a Chinese conspiracy!

Ok.

Right.

Here’s the thing.

Bullshit!

The few times I have tried to engage with this absurdity (y’know, in a dangerously reasonable sort of way!) It has, at best, been like trying to converse with a wilfully ignorant wall and, at worst, like plunging your tender areas into a pit of rabid honey badgers.

There is an oft repeated axiom that abuse and name calling does not win people over, it pushes them away, alienates them and further polarises their views. Education is the answer. Except that it isn’t. Because there is also a groaning resistance to being educated as well. There is even this misguided notion that the oppressive ultra-right are ‘winning’ because ‘We’ (The People!) are sick of political correctness and touchy-feely inclusiveness.

It’s one in the eye to those effete, elitist, liberal, leftist bastards!

Here’s the thing.

The hilarious myth about Easter Eggs having to be called ‘Easters’ because they aren’t really eggs?

Or the fucking deathless joke about banning Christmas?

If that was real, you would be quite right, that would be political correctness gone mad! Mad I say!

Only they’re not real. Never were real and almost certainly never will be real. Why the fuck would you ever believe that either of those things was real?

Because … shit … if you do, I have some amazing magic beans for sale right here!

Being tolerant of others, their faith, sexuality, nationality or whatever?

That’s not political correctness gone mad. That’s just being a decent human being instead of a piece of shit.

“You just called me a piece of shit! Calling people names isn’t how to win people over!”

Maybe not. But if I need to explain why you should treat other people fairly, or at the very least, in the way you would want or expect to be treated, then I’m pretty sure that the explanation is going to be wasted.

I digress …

tommy_lee_jones_disappoint

This look. Just … this look.

Here’s the thing sound bite social media commenters!

The thing about the UK leaving the EU is you can’t ‘Just do it’.

It’s not a fucking hair dryer. It’s not a big plug you can just pull out and it’s done. It’s a political and economic nuclear reactor. In the simplest possible terms, there is a shitload of infrastructure and planning that needs to be done regarding how the country will continue to operate once it has divorced its EU family.

You know why it needs to be done?

Because nobody thought to do it before the vote was taken!

Those grinning, clown-shoes motherfuckers were so caught up in the idea that they could, nobody bothered to try and figure out what should happen if they did.

They actually managed to be less prepared than John Hammond was for success!

And you know how his success ended?

Velociraptors all up in the kitchen!

Is that what you want?

Fucking Velociraptors man!

Is that what you really want?

Because that brings me on to the second issue.

“We know what we voted for!”

Really?

Because unless your ballot paper was significantly different to mine, what you voted for was one of two things :

Leave.

Remain.

Nothing more or less than that.

Lots of people seem to have decided what leave means all on their own, but unless you’re some sort of wizard it doesn’t mean anything more than leave. If you asked ten different people from ten different places you would get ten different answers. Sure, lots of shit was said before the vote was taken, lots of maybe and could and possibly, but no charter, no plan, no naked declaration of policy.

And if we’re going to start touting some of the things that were said as absolutes, then I’d quite like the NHS to start getting its extra 350 million a week please. Because it seems that’s not a thing any more, which rather implies that what’s happening is that folks are picking and choosing the bits of the leave campaign that support their personal beliefs while ignoring those bits that have inconveniently been revealed as, you guessed it, bullshit.

untitled

Awkward …

 

So yeah … I’m quite sure you know what you think you voted for.

But actually what you voted for was … leave.

And while a whole lot of people voted leave (a majority no less, as we’re constantly reminded) and I voted remain, I am capable of respecting the decision. I disagree with it, but I do respect that a vote was taken and a majority achieved.

But.

I do now expect that decision to be subject to discussion and scrutiny in parliament so that we (y’know … the people) can be sure that our interests (at face value at least, topic for another time) are being represented by the good folks that we have elected to do that job. Instead of … ooooh … I don’t know, the government just arbitrarily making the decision on behalf of the entire country.

I want that democracy thing that gets shouted about so often.

That’s what I want.

And I don’t even like what we tout as democracy.

But I’ll take it over the alternative.

History teaches us that handing a one party government the power to ignore parliament and the judicial system can end … poorly. Which is not to say that it would, but merely to acknowledge that it could. We should be learning from the mistakes of the past, not trying hard to repeat them.

simpsons

You just keep grabbing that fish …

 

This is the point at which people start snorting in derision because Nazi comparisons, or get all up your face about not all leave voters being fascists, racists, xenophobes or whatever.

Here, I’ll help.

Not all leave voters are fascists, racists or xenophobes.

That would make them aforementioned pieces of shit. And I know that’s not true.

I have found that there are roughly three groups :

The pieces of shit.

The ignorant.

The informed gamblers.

I’ve had some good debates with the informed gamblers. I don’t agree with their choice, but it’s theirs to make. They have chosen to put their stake on short to medium term suffering in the hope that the long game will pan out.

And that’s cool.

I’m not a gambling man, but that’s cool.

However.

In the process, the pieces of shit have been enabled, and the ignorant refuse to acknowledge that that is a problem. Like … it’s really a problem.

Please acknowledge that it’s a problem?

poster-3_png_gallery

This? This is a fucking problem. So is the Nazi-parroting poster.

 

Even before the vote was taken it was a struggle to get smart, articulate people to acknowledge that it was a problem. This was highlighted when a friend posted a picture of the local neo-Nazi demonstration (yes, that was a thing …) wielding ‘Get them out!’ banners alongside images of Hitler and text proclaiming ‘Hitler was right’. The picture mostly received the sort of feedback that you would (I hope … ) expect, including a few rightly pointing out that they have the right to protest.

They do.

It produces a visceral sense of loathing in me, but the statement is not untrue. They do have the right to protest. I drew the line at a guy trying to argue that they had a point regarding immigration, and that it highlighted that a discussion needed to be had.

I am happy to have a discussion about immigration.

I have had a couple of very productive discussions regarding immigration.

There is definitely a conversation to be had there.

Just not with Nazis.

And the guy would not back down. He was prepared to overlook the fact that what was being said was being said by a group that is, fundamentally, discriminatory in the worst ways imaginable. When repeated attempts were made to point out the horror of lending tacit approval to an ideologically repugnant group, I (and others) were told repeatedly that we were simply trying to ignore the subject of immigration.

I think the irony was probably wasted.

That is the grim reality of the world we now find ourselves in. A world in which hate groups now find themselves empowered, bigotry has once again taken a step out of the shadows and intolerance is on the rise. Sadly, I don’t think that fact is and of itself the worst of it. I think the failure to recognise and acknowledge it for what it is is far, far worse.

The ease with which it is dismissed as hysteria and hyperbole.

The casual disregard and contempt with which it is treated by the media.

Everything is fine here. Go about your business. Move along.

Those stories you hear?

That’s just exaggeration.

That neo-Nazi victory parade outside your workplace?

Don’t sweat it.

The abuse that people you know personally, love and trust, have suffered?

Yeah, it’s just loser, remainer propaganda.

This …

img_2146

Yeah … I got nothing for this …

This is my local town.

So yeah.

What do we do?

The argument becomes circular. We are the reasonable ones. We are the tolerant ones. When you confront people about this shit you get accused of being intolerant, of attempting to stifle debate or silence a dissenting view. If you sit silent, then that up there? That happens. When you call somebody a piece of shit, name calling doesn’t help and polarises. When you try educate or explain you get called a ‘loony leftie’. You try to wield fact, logic, reason, research, you get mocked for being intellectual or worse an ‘expert’, which has become a delightfully derogatory term.

So what do we do?

You draw a line in the fucking sand is what you do.

You call it out for what it is.

Because this?

This shit?

That just won’t fly with me.

Call it out for what it is.

And if you’re prepared to stand by and overlook this sort of crap, what does that say about you?

You stand the fuck up and say ‘Not in my town, not in my country, not here, not now, not ever!’

Write.

Confront it in the streets.

Fuck it, run for government.

Or, y’know, jam your thumb up your arse and pretend to care.

pale-blue-dot

We’ve only got one, lets try a bit harder not to fuck it up yeah?

And so, to the much delayed part three of the hospital saga.

The delay will, in part be explained below, but has also been because this may be the most difficult part to write as it is still relevant now.

I’ll get to that though.

Hopefully, once I have got this written we can return to regular blog posts full of inane ranting about stuff that’s absurdly unimportant.

So …

I was hustled off to the HDU while my blood pressure was chemically stabilised. It was an experience quite unlike anything that had come before, and I can only really liken to being suspended by a nest of tubes, all of which are plugged into you in some way and render you almost immobile. I had tubes in my arms, tubes in my ankle and tubes (the worst … ) in my back, where the surgeons had prepared my muscle for extraction. I had so many tubes in my right hand it looked like a potato with fingers glued to it.

Unlike my cosy room, the HDU was a shared space and the nursing staff were on hand and right there at all times. That, combined with the weird half-light of the ward (there were only a couple of windows and they were behind the beds …) and the esoteric and sometimes noisy treatments of the other patients gave the whole thing a timeless, disjointed experience.

Time would just sort of … pass.

The one constant was the discomfort, which only seemed to grow with each period of lucidity.

The nurses constantly urged me to use the big, green morphine button, but my stubborn resistance to the use of the pain killers coupled with a mental disconnect that refused to associate ‘discomfort’ with ‘you’re in pain, dumbass!’ meant that I dealt with it right up the point where I didn’t.

Not my finest hour.

argh

I’M NOT BEING UNREASONABLE!

To be clear, the combination of tubes jabbing me in the back, all of the sharp things in my arms, the lack of real sleep and inability to get even remotely comfortable finally overwhelmed my capacity for defiance.

The nurses insisted that it would only get better with pain relief.

A few clicks of the big, green morphine button and everything went away. Which was … bizarre.

Historically, my reaction to morphine was that it made me feel sick and disoriented, much the same as my reaction to the gas/air combination. It’s why I resisted for as long as I did, because pain is easier to deal with than nausea and dizziness.

Only this time the feeling was more like floating away like a painless helium balloon. Much like the experience with the extreme sleep deprivation, I remained entirely aware of what was happening, even while another part of my head tried to work out why I wasn’t bobbing around the ceiling.

That, and another stern lecture from the doctor about taking pain relief was what finally broke the stubborn streak.

Sometimes it’s the simple revelations that have the biggest impact.

Sadly, all the pain relief in the world could not prepare me for what would be the most traumatic experience of my hospital saga.

The changing of the dressings.

After the orthopaedic surgery, the dressing on my leg looked not unlike a mass of plastic shrink wrap attached to a vacuum hose. With my reconstructive surgery delayed, it was inevitable that it would have to changed.

Something that had previously only been done in theatre.

They dosed me with pain killers. I dosed myself with morphine.

It may have helped. I don’t know.

I don’t know how long it took. I don’t know how many nurses were involved.

I only know that a doctor was called at one point and administered a large hit of morphine.

And I know that I screamed through the entire experience.

Words cannot properly articulate how that felt, only that it happened, and then it was done.

Ultimately, I was only in the HDU for a few days, my blood pressure stabilised and became strong again and I was moved up to a cosy little room in the plastics ward. A room with a view no less!

view

It wasn’t quite this … but after the dungeon, this is what it felt like.

But that time in the HDU, while it has taken on something of a mythical quality in my head, will not be forgotten.

Things … became simpler after that.

Doctors came and went, reassurance was offered, the belief was that I would be fine to endure the surgery a second time and that there was every chance for success. I still had way too many sharp things stuck in my back, and it was still almost a week before the surgery was reattempted, but everything simply became time.

It was significant in only two ways.

The first was that I hit my lowest point, mentally and emotionally, a couple of days before the operation date. The fear that I would wake up in recovery to find that it had failed again filled me with a bleak and formless dread. After three weeks of hospital time, the idea of not being able to find the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel became unbearable. Finding a train in the tunnel would have been preferable.

a-train-inside-a-tunnel-sakleshpur-trek

All aboard the Nope-train to Nofucksville!

I tip my hat to messenger friends and the second of my hospital heroes, who were on hand to just talk about random stuff and help dig a guy out of his existential funk.

The second ‘Thing of significance’ was another changing of the dressing.

To say that I was apprehensive when I learned that it was to take place is something of an understatement. I explained my reservations to the nurses and recounted the tale of the previous experience and they sourced a big tank of gas and air as well as administering the usual array of pain killers.

The experience was still … unpleasant, but also transformative.

I don’t know why, probably something to do with mental architecture combined with situations in extremis, but I came out of it full of fight and fire.

It’s probably a good thing that the second attempt at the reconstruction succeeded because I was about ready to drag myself out of there if it had failed. I guess there just comes a point where something inside just says ‘enough’ and you get busy living or get busy dying.

Not that the journey was over, but I once again had a complete leg.

And now an incomplete back.

robert-de-niro-frankenstein-dvd-1

I’M NOT A MONSTER!

 

But it was done.

I was also moved to a new room (with no view, which was sad) and baked well until brown and sweaty all over. For real. The first thirty six hours after reconstructive surgery demand a high temperature to encourage solid blood flow to the grafted tissue. I’ve never craved water quite so much in my life.

Over the week that followed I was slowly disconnected from all of the many tubes that had started to become what passed for normality. The check on things like my blood pressure and temperature were scaled back and physiotherapy became a very real thing.

It’s strange how quickly you can get institutionalised.

How quickly you become used to what passes for ‘normal’ and how threatening it can feel when that normality begins to change again. I actually called a nurse at one point to politely make sure they hadn’t forgotten about me because it felt like it had been such a long time since I had been checked on. She kindly explained that it was alright because I was recovering well and would only be checked on every six hours.

The first session of physiotherapy, for all my keen, was something else though.

All I needed to do was get out of the bed and use a walker to reach and then sit in the chair beside the bed.

So about three feet of actual movement.

It was a hell of a struggle and showed me just how weak I had become.

And after a few hours in the chair I had the only anxiety attack I have ever had in my life. I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time, I simply got light headed, started hyper-ventilating and my blood pressure crashed. I needed to be rapidly transplanted back into the bed, at which point I stabilised almost immediately.

Institutionalised.

The next day I waked across the room.

The day after that I walked down the corridor, ditched the walker and moved to crutches.

Because fuck institutionalisation.

Whatever unconscious part of my head was afraid to leave the routine of what had become accepted as ‘normal’ was wrestled into submission by the overwhelming desire to go home.

My wife had told me some time ago that I had a ‘Projected discharge date’ but I hadn’t wanted to know what it was for fear of building false hope. I had come to accept that I would be out when I was out. It wouldn’t be real until I reached the front door of the house.

Just short of five weeks after I was admitted to hospital, sick and delirious, I finally returned home.

tumblr_o8xpwac9o81tbdrfmo1_500

I have a new appreciation for how this feels.

That was seven weeks ago today.

I am better now. Better than I was anyway.

But I’m not going to pretend it has been easy either.

My leg is healing. It is a slow process, but it is recovering.

What has been harder to deal with is the inactivity. The painfully slow return to mobility. The painfully slow recovery of strength. The exhaustion. The ache in my bones. The lack of independence.

I have days when I feel like a prisoner in my own body and it makes me so angry because all I want to do is climb a hill and feel the wind on my face.

And I can’t.

Other days are just filled with a soul-crushing ennui, when everything feels like too much of an effort, because it will be the same as yesterday, and tomorrow will be the same as today. That, more than anything, is what has delayed this post. An overwhelming sense of ‘why bother?’

But I’ll win this fight.

Because all of this shit?

It’s the red car.

And I am the fucking blue car!

maxresdefault

Just try it, you massive red bastard!

So …

I’ll apologise again for the subject matter of this post and the last being a little more … sober … than is common for my writing. I will try to keep to my usual tone however. You have to laugh at these things.

Thus, having survived the ordeal of one hospital and the extreme disassembly of my lower leg, I was conveyed in the dead of night to the mighty hospital-fortress of plastic reconstruction … via orthopaedics …

The sadness of moving even further from home and family was a little offset by the fact that, after enduring the night time predations of old man psycho for the best part of a week, I now had my own room.

And how I slept that first night!

Six hours of pure, dreamless, unbroken rest!

The joy you can take in the simple things is incredible after they have been taken from you, even for a short while.

Then, on the second night just as I was settling down to sleep, I was visited by Taz.

taz51

LET’S HAVE A LOOK AT THIS LEG THEN!

I don’t mean to use the description unkindly, because the staff, all of them, from nurses to consultants were all excellent throughout my entire experience. I use the description because the consultant in question arrived without warning in a blur of “Hello! This is me! I’m aware of your case, tell me the story!” and then casually started stripping the dressings from my exploded leg while nodding and telling me to continue at the appropriate places.

I make no secret of the fact that I am incredibly unsettled by medical procedures, even really basic ones, like fitting a cannula or drawing blood. I have to look away, and find a mental happy place to be. I had also already been told that my leg was a particularly gruesome mess under the bandages, so I had no desire at all to have to see that just as I was about to sleep.

Or ever.

But I let the doctor do his thing and told my story with eyes stoically fixed on a particularly fascinating ceiling tile.

Once the ordeal was concluded and he had looked over what I can only imagine resembled something like the Normandy beach landing rendered in meat, he stood and gave his assessment. Which was direct, and honest, and I appreciate that. He told me that I had a lot of surgery ahead of me. That it would probably be painful. And he told me that the possibility existed that I would lose the limb below the knee.

steampunk_leg_finished_by_skinz_n_hydez

A life of sky-piracy and swashbuckling beckoned!

That may sound horrific, but by this point I had already mentally prepared myself for that eventuality. It’s amazing what you can deal with when all the choices are stripped away. It really is. Weeping and wailing and howling against the injustice of your existence is a worthless endeavour. Better to deal with the reality and move the fuck along.

But we weren’t there yet, and Taz seemed pretty confident that it wouldn’t come to that. He then revealed to me that one of my legs was (in medical terms anyway) significantly longer than the other, and marvelled that I had never had any back problems as a result.

Then he left, as briskly as he had arrived.

So that was an experience.

The time that followed on the orthopaedics ward was slow time, but not particularly uncomfortable time. I had a room to myself. I had books, and films, and thanks to the generosity of a friend, a games console to play with. I also had some truly heroic staff tending to my care. One, to whom I will be eternally grateful, went as far as to go and source some flowers for me to give to my wife on our anniversary. I believe much awkward lurking around the hospital window boxes was involved …

I also had the joy of being told about the rescue helicopter that would occasionally stop by outside my window. I couldn’t see it because of the angle of my bed, but I was reliably informed on several occasions that it was the source of the titanic engine noise that would randomly descend from the skies.

close-encounters-of-the-third-kind-scifi-drama-thriller-spaceship-d-wallpaper-1

Mashed potato was on the menu a few times …

I had an MRI scan (relaxing … ) a CT scan (I now know what it’s like to be a water balloon attached to a hose …) and a standing X-Ray (120 seconds of pain and raw concentration …). The hilarity of most of these processes was the complete lack of warning that they were going to occur. In fact I rarely received any sort of time frame for things I did know were going to occur , only the knowledge that they would, at some point, happen.

Fortunately, my social calendar was very clear of activity,  otherwise it would have made planning an absolute nightmare …

Which lead to the understanding that should I happen to be talking on the phone, or messenger, and a porter suddenly arrive, to hurriedly say –

“THE BEACONS ARE LIT! GONDOR CALLS FOR AID!”

As the signal that I was going somewhere for … something

The weirdest shit becomes funny when you’ve been incapacitated for that long.

So off I went for my bout of orthopaedic surgery, which I am told involved a drill being applied to my tibia via my knee. Fun for all the family! I comfortably slept through the entire process. General anaesthetic is my friend.

1aarmygeneral

He’s a good man …

So that was a thing!

Based on the findings from the surgery and various scans it was established that plastic reconstruction was a viable option. That reconstruction would be done using a piece of muscle tissue harvested from my back, and the … shall we say … exposed areas, covered with skin grafts harvested from my upper legs. They could rebuild me in the form of a patchwork man. Victor Frankenstein would be proud!

It’s important to note at this point that as well as the physical health care I was being given, my mental health was also being attended to.

And I’m not sure I can highlight the importance of that enough.

I have, in my entire life, never made use of a mental healthcare professional. There have been times when I probably should have done. But I don’t mind admitting (and I’m sure enough people would openly state …) I am a ridiculously stubborn bastard to an almost self-destructive degree at times. This is not a good thing. When you are chronically ill and confined to hospital it really is not a good thing.

However …

I could deal with my situation. I could endure the immobility, the confinement, the isolation, the unknown future, the possibility (however unlikely … ) of mutilation. I could even endure the daily indignities that, out of necessity, go hand in hand with those things. Necessity is the mother of endurance. You get the fuck on with it you get the fuck out. It’s as simple as that. Discussed out of context, removed from the situation, it is quite impossible to imagine.

It is not a source of pride.

I don’t talk about endurance out of some freakish sense of masculinity.

Because being separated from home and family killed me a little bit every day … and that’s something I was not able to deal with without help. We all have a weakness in our armour, and that was it. I am, and remain, eternally grateful to the support team who simply took the time to listen to me express that grief.

Ahem …

Thus, the details of my forthcoming ten hour reconstruction were made clear, and the date (but not the time … never the time … remember the beacons!) set. The risks were once again made clear, the recovery and possible side effects explained, and the post-surgery baking process revealed (for really reals …). I was told that once the work was done I would be transferred to the plastics ward and my ongoing care passed to them.

The mainbrace was spliced and the topsail trimmed.

And then I woke up in recovery and was told, gently, that there had been complications and that the surgery had been suspended half way through.

epicfail

Well … shit …

Turns out that a last pocket of infection had been lurking down in my ankle, and had made a bid for freedom just as they were about to start lifting the tissue from my back. At which point I went into catastrophic (though I believe the actual word used was ‘florid’ which is a word that should be used more often … though maybe not in this context …) septic shock. My blood pressure was being artificially maintained and I was going to have to be relocated to the HDU.

That’s the High Dependency Unit to you and me, one step down from intensive care.

If I had been older, or weaker … I would have died. It was the anaesthetists that stabilised my condition. Uh … hey guys … seems a bit weak now, but … thanks for that!

Yeah …

So I descended into the darkness that is the HDU. From my relatively cosy, private little room to sharing a space with nine other very sick people and having doctors and a nursing team right there at all times.

matrix-pod

Should have chosen the other pill!

And that is where I discovered how fragile my previous notions of endurance had been …

revrob-1

“And that shadowy place?” … “That is the HDU son, and you do not want to go there.”

But that saga is for next time, when I should … hopefully … conclude!