Creative Curse of the Call Centre

Throughout the week, I’ll get several ideas for blog posts I’d like to write. My current job is very menial and repetitive, so I often find my mind wandering to subjects that interest me more. Something in particular that I like to think about is my blog and ideas for things I might write about on it. As I while away the hours, I get plenty of ideas. I’ll remember a funny thing that happened and want to write it up. I’ll collect my thoughts on a certain subject. I’ll want to  write a sentimental reflection about something. The problem is that I’ll always forget my ideas…

In any other context, the best approach is to jot down the ideas right away. In a call centre, you’re discouraged from writing things down and can actually get in trouble for doing so. They’re concerned that we’re all dealing with sensitive information from customers and so there’s the risk that we could be writing down bank details and taking them home or something. But I want to write down my blog ideas! For this reason, so many ideas have been slipping away from me. At work, I have so many things that I wish I could be writing, but then when I sit down to get it done, they’ve all gone. It can feel a bit frustrating.

Imagine this hypothetical situation: would you enter a room which would provide you with lots of fun creative ideas, if you knew that the ideas would definitely leave you when you left and you weren’t allowed to write them down? Well, this magic room is pretty much my office.

(Don’t miss today’s Finger Puppet Show!)

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Posted in Writing | Leave a comment

Doctor Who: Timewyrm: Revelation by Paul Cornell

Timewyrm: Revelation is the final novel in the four-part Timewyrm series and, I have to say, it provides a really thrilling finale. After the series had taken a bit of a misstep with the third book, I was a little less enthusiastic about starting this one, but I shouldn’t have been worried because I think it might just be the best one so far!

The story is a really interesting one and I think the easiest way to describe it is like this: the Doctor and Ace both die and go to Hell and then they need to figure out how to escape. I’m sure that sounds fairly silly, but it’s actually pretty good and, don’t worry, its all still given some form of scientific basis.

One aspect of the novel which particularly appealed to me, was that it had a real emotional centre. We get more glimpses into Ace’s life prior to meeting the Doctor (and I just find myself liking her more and more) and we’re shown the emotional (and mental) toll that the Doctor’s lifestyle has on him. It’s amazing and I really liked that these two characters were taken completely seriously throughout. They (and the relationship they share) received some significant development.

What was also very appealing to me, was that the entire novel was very surreal. As you can see, the front cover shows the Doctor dancing with Death on the moon, as an astronaut watches on with a church in the background. This is an actual scene from the book. Perhaps the best way to put it, is that the book feels a lot like a dream and I like that very much indeed. It’s hard to get surrealism right in writing, but Paul Cornell has done just that.

Fans will also be pleased by the fact that there are several significant cameos by characters from Doctor Who history and the story really helps to make everything feel connected. Oh, and what pleased me enormously is that we find out that the Doctor once went to a party in Bath – I’m sure that fact isn’t too exciting to most people, but I was absolutely delighted, since I love the city so much.

Overall, a really good read and one of the best Doctor Who novels I’ve read. It does require a fair bit of pre-existing knowledge of the series, so I definitely wouldn’t “jump in” with this one though! My recommendation is to read all four novels about the Timewyrm books, because the pay off in this finale is so, so worth it.

Rating: 9.4/10

Buy it here.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Doctor Who | Leave a comment

Internet Friend Communication

Over the years, I’ve made a couple of internet friends who have then gone on to become “real life” friends. In so doing, I have noticed quite an interesting pattern in regards to communications and it might only apply to me, but I still thought it worth sharing.

When I make new internet friends, I find that I speak to them online a lot. More, in fact, than my offline friends, since it is my only means of communication with them. We’ll share a lot about our lives and often talk long into the night. It’s interesting and exciting to get to know a new person and I love being introduced to new perspectives on things too.

However, once I’ve met them in person, it’s like a switch is flicked in my head. They’re no longer internet friends, but real friends just like everybody else. Before meeting them in person, I always worry (a little bit) that the chemistry we share won’t carry over into reality. Thankfully, it does do, but once speaking in reality is a viable option, speaking across the internet is just less appealing.

I mean, I could message them with all my life updates as and when they happen, but once I know that real life interaction is an aspect of a relationship, I always prefer to save things to talk about in person. I wonder if this has been true for many others with internet friends?

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Posted in Thoughts | Leave a comment

My Phonetic Alphabet

At my work, I find myself having to use the military phonetic alphabet very often. I don’t really like it that much, so I decided to create my own phonetic alphabet. Without further ado, here we go.

  • A for “An Evening with Richard Thomas” Because who wouldn’t love an evening with Richard Thomas?
  • B for Blossoms. Onion blossoms, specifically.
  • C for Colin (the world famous cow.)
  • D for Dandelion & Burdock, the best non-water drink.
  • E for Everyone is Beautiful.
  • F for Fonetics. You know the fonetic alphabet.
  • G for Getting A Bit Bored of This Idea Now, Didn’t Think It Through.
  • H for Hitler. Monstrously inappropriate, I know, but I heard somebody saying it at work once.
  • I for One… hahaha Get it?
  • J for Just Kidding… But not about this. It’s genuinely the letter I mean.
  • K for Karrot. Who gets that reference?
  • L for Love – the greatest emotion.
  • M for Mandos. As in mandos Nando’s are good. See the letter “N” for more info.
  • N for Nando’s the famous, Oscar-award winning restaurant.
  • O for Oscar. This one may remain the same. One of my very best friends is an Oscar.
  • P for Porridge. Pure and Delicious.
  • Q for Your Favourite Ride.
  • R for Romeo and Juliet.
  • S for Sorry but I’m just so sick of you.
  • T for Trust Water Bottle. No explanation needed.
  • U for You but in text language.
  • V for Victory. It just rolls off the tongue.
  • W for Waltons, The.
  • X for Kisses xxx
  • Y for Goodness Sake!?
  • Z for Zexclon. That’s me.

(Don’t miss today’s Finger Puppet Show!)

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Posted in Funny and Silly | Leave a comment

F-Zero

F-Zero is the first game in Nintendo’s series of futuristic, high-speed racing games. This first instalment was originally released on the SNES, which might cause you to worry that out-dated technology will render it unenjoyable (I’ve certainly played some older racing games which were pretty bad) but rest assured, this is a fun game which was ahead of its time.

Really, it’s quite a simple premise and a fairly simply game. You choose one of four hover cars, then use it to race around several futuristic tracks. It’s not a simple case of pleasant, safe racing though. Often there are huge jumps to make, mines to avoid and the other racers are always trying to ram you into the electric barriers which run along the sides of every track. If you’re not careful, the damage will literally cause your vehicle to explode (and, subsequently, you will lose.)

There’s may not be much to it, but there are three big reasons that I like it. First of all, the soundtrack. The music in the game is great and it really suits the feeling of driving along at extremely high speeds. Secondly, visually, it looks pretty nice and there’s a lot of beautiful background scenery. Thirdly, finally and most importantly, I feel like the controls are really tight. It can be quite a difficult game at times (certain obstacles are quite tough to maneuver) but finally being able to come first in a race was so satisfying, because you knew that it was skill that won you the race and nothing else.

Quite jarringly, there’s no multiplayer mode. I am sure that many will be disappointed that there’s no opportunity to play this game with friends. It is a bit of a shame that this option is lacking, but I don’t think it’s too much of an issue since it’s still fun when playing alone.

It’s also worth noting that this game contains the debut appearance of Captain Falcon, who has gone on to become something of a Nintendo icon. But don’t get excited if you were looking forward to seeing him in action – his appearance boils down to nothing more than a small silhouette of a head in the driver’s seat. It’s only through supplemental material released with the game that you really know it’s him.

Overall, this game is an interesting piece of Nintendo history and still fun to play to this day. If you enjoy racing games, then I definitely recommend that you give it a try. Be warned that the difficulty can be occasionally frustrating, though.

Rating: 8.6/10

Buy it here.

(Don’t miss today’s Finger Puppet Show!)

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Posted in Video Games | Leave a comment

Ideas in the Pipeline

I have quite a few ideas for future blogging projects. Some of these are ideas I’ve had for years now and others are newer ideas. It’s easy to continue updating this blog, since it’s already all set up, but starting completely new websites feels like quite a large task. To make sure I actually get around to doing these at some point, I thought I’d share some of them in today’s blog post:

  • What to Eat in Bath: Eating out is one of my favourite things to do. Bath is one of my favourite places. I’d love to have a website where I review different meals in all of the different restaurants and cafes in Bath. If I worked with a friend, they could write about the non-vegetarian meals, while I focused on the vegetarian ones. Perhaps I could incorporate the Pizza Creature.
  • The Waltons Reviews: I’d like to review every episode of The Waltons, as well as its novel and film precursors. Also, the children’s books and the novelisations. And the Christmas albums. Not as many people are as insanely obsessed with The Waltons as I am. Maybe I could even have a section for fan fiction reviews.
  • Doctor Who Reviews: The “Whoniverse” is very good indeed and it’s pretty big too. Aside from the hundreds and hundreds of episodes that make up the TV show, there’s also the numerous novel series, comic series, radio dramas, spin-offs, video games and more. I could categorise things based on Doctor, too. Along with The Waltons, Doctor Who is one of my absolute favourite things.
  • Blogging as a Fictional Character: I’ve often thought that it would be quite fun to use the blogging format to tell more of a story. I have a character in mind (that I’ve created) who it would be quite fun to blog as. It’s a bit experimental for me, but I think it could yield some good results.

My goal is to launch at least one of these other blogs by the end of the year. Now that I’ve written that on something I’ve published publicly, I’ll be letting myself down if I don’t do it! Of course, I’ll never stop updating this main blog, I just want to try some new things in the near future.

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Posted in Blogging, Writing | 1 Comment

Age Discrepancy

For whatever reason, people seem to find it very hard to identify my age. But it’s not a simple case of people think I’m older than I am or that people think I’m younger than I am, it’s that’s people end up thinking I’m all kind of ages.

One example is an old boss of mine. For whatever reason, he seemed to think I was roughly the same age as him, a man in his mid-forties. I was 23 at the time, but he made several references to us being similarly aged. Although, to preface that, I should also mention that he was exceptionally unintelligent, so perhaps that carries less weight.

Conversely, I was walking past a school on the way to work the other day and I stepped out of the way of an old woman to let her past. She thanked me and then asked if I went to that school. Presumably thinking me no older than 16. Then customers at work have described me as having a “beautiful child voice” which is nice, I suppose. A friend of mine says that they describe me as a “very youthful figure” and I like that quite a lot.

But then, I am frequently told that I dress like “an old man.” A person I didn’t really know at my work indicated that they thought I was “a lot” older than them, implying even that I was of another generation entirely. I was only five years older. But then, perhaps, from the younger perspective, that small span of time might seem much longer.

It’s interesting that people see me as so many different ages. But, then, I can’t blame people I find it very hard to identify a person’s age. I personally can only guess within twenty-years – even then, it’s tough. People age at different speeds, so I don’t think its really that easy to recognise age after all.

(Don’t miss the latest Finger Puppet Show!)

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Posted in Anecdotes | Leave a comment

Sabre Wulf games:

1984: Sabre Wulf
1984: Underwurlde
1984: Knight Lore
2000: Banjo-Tooie ¹
2004: Sabre Wulf (Game Boy Advance)
2005: Banjo-Pilot ²

Connected Series:

Footnotes:

  1. Sabreman appears as a non-playable character in the game.
  2. Sabreman makes a minor appearance on the Jolly Roger’s Lagoon race track.
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Knight Lore

Knight Lore is the third game in the classic Sabre Wulf series of games. I felt like the first was pretty good and that  the second was okay, but much more flawed. I wondered whether this downhill trend would continue into the third title, or if I’d be pleased to find a return to the heights of the first game.

So, which was it? Well, it’s start looking over the game’s strengths and weaknesses. First, the strengths: The game introduces the idea that Sabreman has been turned into a werewolf, which is pretty cool. There’s a day and night system where he’s human during the day and in a wolf-form during the night. Again, pretty cool. The game provides an isometric perspective in an attempt to provide a 3D gaming experience. A nice ambition for the time. The character designs are all pretty cool as well and I felt like the art style of the old graphics went a long way towards making an atmospheric world. Plus, the title screen has a really great piece of music on it.

Now, for the game’s weaknesses. There’s only one, really: it controls really, really badly and the perspectives make it very hard to time jumps and so forth. This is the games only problem and it’s such a shame that it completely ruins the experience. It’s kind of like if you had a really nice car: it looks just the way you wanted it to, had a powerful engine, comfy chairs etc. etc. but, oh wait, it doesn’t have a steering wheel. Also of a sudden, it’s not a good car anymore.

It’s a shame. I’d love to be able to say this was a great game, because I think it has good potential. You’re working to a deadline to cure your lycanthropy and you need to find special ingredients so that a wizard named Melkhior can make you a potion. A cool idea for a game. I’d love to see it remade (just like Underwurlde) because modern developers might be able to do the concept justice. Until then, it shall have to remain as a not very good chapter in the life of Sabreman. Sorry, Rare.

Rating: 4.6/10

Buy it (as part of Rare Replay) here.

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Posted in Video Games | Leave a comment

Weekly Man Eating Pie Reviews

This year, a good friend of mine set himself the challenge of writing a video game review every single week for the year. At first I thought that I’d like to go along with the challenge, but then I realised that I’d either have to start writing more blog posts or cut down on my book reviews (or other types of post.) So while I’ll be sticking to a video game review every other week, you should definitely check out my friends review blog to see what he’s been reviewing – you’re sure to find several different games covered to the ones that you’d see on my site. He’s also very funny sometimes.

Also, if you’re saying to yourself, “Hmm, A Man Eating Pie, that sure sounds familiar…” you’re right! And, also, you have a very good memory. It’s a sub-domain of the main Man Eating Pie blog which, while un-updated for a while now, is still a source of some high quality blog posts. If you’ve not read any of those, I recommend that you take a look at those as well! All my friends are good writers.

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Posted in Shout Outs | Leave a comment