Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Ten - My Ten All-Time Favourite Computer/Console Games

1. Championship Manager/Football Manager (all incarnations since Championship Manager 2) - PC - Not so much a computer game as a way of life.
2. Magicland Dizzy - Spectrum 128k (+3 in our household)  - The fourth(?) instalment of the wonderful Dizzy series kept Baby Brother and I occupied for hours on end, working as a team to solve puzzles in a world populated by boxing glove-wearing anthropomorphic eggs. We didn't need drugs in the 1990s. We had Codemasters to create outlandish fantasies for us.
3. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - Gameboy - The First Legend of Zelda game on the Game Boy, the first I played and the one I've enjoyed the most.
4. Goldeneye - N64 - Quite possibly the world's best multiplayer game. Four players rampaging around hydro electric dam as Oddjob, Bond, Jaws and russian soldiers shooting each other has never yet been surpassed.
5. Mario Kart - N64 - The best driving game ever. Beaten only by Goldeneye in the multiplayer stakes. There has never, to my knowledge, been a bad version of Mario Kart.
6. Grand Theft Auto III - PlayStation 2 - Not the original, but definitely the best in my opinion. I never really enjoyed the first two games on the original PlayStation, but GTA3 was, and still is, awesome.
7. Pro Evolution Soccer - PlayStation 2 - As any fool knows, Pro Evolution Soccer kicks FIFA's ass every time.
8. Chucky Egg - Spectrum 48k - Falling into the "simple but effective" category, this Donkey Kong predecessor saw the player manipulate Henhouse Harry through level after level of platforms, collecting eggs and avoiding killer chickens. They don't make them like this any more.
9. Sim City 2000 - PC - My second favourite PC game after the untouchable CM/FM series. I've devoted countless hours to building a whole series of Jockvilles over the years.
10. Sensible Soccer - Gameboy - Only on the Playstation did Sensible Soccer suck, but on the original Gameboy it was the greatest football game by a considerable margin.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Square Root Of All Evil

As my office backs onto what, until recently was a massive Aberdeen building site, today myself and two colleagues ventured out at lunchtime for the opening of the city's new shopping/cinema/dining complex, Union Square.

And it was utter bedlam. I've just heard on the news that 10,000 people were through the doors in the first hour.

TEN THOUSAND people. 30,000 in the first three hours. To see shops and restaurants that largely already exist in the city.

The big draw though was the shiny new Apple store. They were giving away t-shirts to the first 1,000 people into the shop, and rumour has it that 100 of the boxes also had iPod Nanos in them. But we took one look at the queue and decided to leave instead.

But even that was hard work, fighting against the flow of 10,000 folk milling around, ramraiding others with buggies, stopping dead with no notice and generally infuriating those of us who are perfectly normal.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Everywhere You Go

The weather at the moment is rather strange. Last week, it rained non-stop for three days, causing flooding and landslides in and around Aberdeen.
But now the sun is shining and it is unseasonably warm. Which is causing me some problems.
It's too cold, and the risk of rain is too high, to go without a warm and waterproof jacket. But when walking around wearing said jacket, I quickly become too hot and end up sweating like Gary Glitter in a Phuket playgroup.
But if I then take my jacket off, I quickly become too cold, and it's really too big to be carrying round.
I have neither the funds nor the inclination to invest in a new winter jacket (even though the one I'm currently wearing has been around for a few years now and has the remains of a pen lodged in the lining, the pen having slipped through a hole in one of the myriad pockets).
I hate autumn. Cold without being properly cold, warm without being warm enough to stay out for too long. Far too wet. Dark mornings and darker evenings. It's at this time of year that a permanent return to Australia (or a transfer to my employer's Houston or Singapore office) seems ever more inviting.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

21st Century Boy

I think the musical pool I've been dipping into over the past few years has shrunk somewhat.
Spurred on by a text from a friend, I attempted to draw up my list of my 10 favourite albums since 2000.
And off the top of my head, the list consisted of:
The Cooper Temple Clause - See This Through and Leave
The Cooper Temple Clause - Kick Up The Fire and Let The Flames Break Loose
The Cooper Temple Clause - Make This Your Own
Elbow - Asleep In The Back
Elbow - Leaders Of The Free World
Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid
The Coral - The Coral
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever To Tell
The Libertines - Up The Bracket
Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
So, six albums contributed by two artists. No Oasis albums. No Doves. No Coldplay. No AC/DC, Queens of the Stone Age, Primal Scream, Manic Street Preachers, Verve, Bob Dylan or Ian Brown.
I'm wary of becoming one of those middle-aged guys who claims to have their finger on the pulse of modern music, but who can only tell you when the next Rush or David Bowie album is coming out.
I do think that most of the music covered by NME nowadays is pish - but I've probably thought that every year since 1998. They certainly lost me for a while around the turn of the century when they shamefully lauded The Strokes as some kind of defining band, when they were nothing of the kind.
But maybe I am in danger of losing my knowledge of what's new. Mrs Wife is the one who bought Florence and The Machine's debut album Lungs, while I've instead been spending my money on Beatles remasters and Ian Brown albums. While she can identify the new singles by The Enemy or The Big Pink from their exposure on Radio 1, I spend my morning commute listening to Miles Davis or Abbey Road.
I'll be 30 next year - is it time to give up the NME subscription and devote my time and money to Classic Rock instead?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Separated At Birth

Shamelessly stolen from another blog, which I would link to if it wasn't open to invited readers only.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hey Jude

This reminds me of Baby Brother's A Capella renditions of Bohemian Rhapsody when he was around the same age.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hidden Gems

The last time I looked, my Magic Tune Box had just under 21,000 songs on it. Most of these tracks are those I've ripped from my CDs, but some are from CDs borrowed from friends and family or from downloads both legal and illicit.

This much music means that to listen to it all would take solid weeks. And it also means that there are lots of tracks on the Magic Tune Box that I've never heard. Not even once.

So, a while back I decided that one way to remedy this would be to listen to all the albums on the Magic Tune Box in alphabetical order. As well as allowing me to hear some of the music for the first time, this also enabled me to keep my borderline OCD in check.

At the moment, I've gotten as far as "E". And today, I heard the Rory Gallagher compilation Etched In Blue for the first time.

I was blown away.

Thanks to my odd desire to listen to everything in some pre-defined order, and to the alphabet, I've discovered some new (30-year-old) tunes.

Take your happiness where you can find it folks....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Season 2009/2010: Match 2: Montrose v Queen's Park

It's now official - I support the worst "professional" football team in Scotland.

A measly two points from the first quarter of the season tells as much of the story as should be necessary - no wins from the opening nine matches.

As is the case with fans of most shite teams, I'm adamant that Montrose are better than this.

Except they're not.

The defence is largely anonymous. Paul Quinn could have stopped and made a cup of tea before scoring Queen's Park's first last night, with the centre backs - Sean Crighton and player/manager/captain/obergrupenfuhrer/king of the world Steven Tweed - nowhere to be seen.

Andrew McNeil was an erratic keeper when he was at Hibs, and presumably that's why he now finds himself slumming it at the foot of Division Three.

And Montrose have no-one who can score goals. All of their attacks were based around long shots from outside or near the edge of the box, or aimlessly lumping the ball into the box and hoping that Tweed or Crighton could connect with their noggins.

It seems a long time since the heady days of Jim Weir, when promotion looked a serious possibility - but it's only been a season and half. Montrose's slide to below mediocrity has been rapid, thanks in no small part to a whole host of managers and a club-wide budget cut.

It's going to be a grim winter.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Gone But Not Forgotten

My granny died early this morning after a long series of illnesses.

If I'm honest, it's a blessing of sorts, as age and illness had slowly and cumulatively stripped her of everything that made her my granny - her memories, her personality, her mobility and, in the end, everything bar her body's refusal to finally surrender.

At the moment, it's hard to put those memories to the side, but I'd much rather remember her for the wonderful woman she was.

She was a woman who loved unconditionally, who was singularly devoted to her husband, children and grandchildren and a woman to whom there was no greater pleasure than spending time surrounded by her loved ones.

I may be biased, but I have never met a better cook, and I would give almost anything to taste her steak pie and roast tatties again.

My memories are all over the place at the moment, but all of them are happy. Images of the whole family clustered around the kitchen table playing Monopoly, my granny always insisting on being the iron; her singing along to Radio 2, always out of tune and always a bar behind the recorded version; roaring with laughter at Some Like It Hot despite having seen it hundreds of times.

I could go on like this forever, but I won't. I'll just sit here with my memories of a wonderful woman.