so i'm in a relationship now.

a couple of weeks ago, luke was in town and we were going to meet ian and the gang at the foundry. included in this gang was my girlfriend, rachel. upon arriving, we noticed that ian was alone.
'where's everyone else?' i asked him.
'i don't know, didn't you call rachel?'
'no, i assumed you would.'

so we came to a conflict; i had assumed ian, being james and rachel's friend, would call at least one of them and tell them we were going out on the town. ian assumed i, being rachel's boyfriend (whatever that means) would call her. i maintained ian was an older friend, and that had priority over newer, even though we were a couple.
all of a sudden, there was all these rules i had to abide by that no one had explained to me. i felt like he'd offloaded responsibility for her onto me; we'd only been going out a week or so and already it's my duty to call her, even when he's meant to have been arranging the evening? i just expected to see her out like i always did. no, it turns out that's not enough.

cuh. society.



completely forgot to write anything about the rather interesting last few weeks. my relationship with rachel is fast approaching the 'completely undocumented' status that makes me look back and let imagination and half-memory toy with my mind with no hope of compensation.

that last post wasn't as good as it sounded it my head; if i want to make it as a journalist i'll have to try harder than that. writing it really made me want to play deus ex again though, and thief, and made me realise i actually didn't like the game at all. i mean actually realised it; i fired it up the next day and the addiction had been vapourised. i'm playing soul calibur 3 now; i had mild retina burn from it last night but that's ok. at least it's something that rewards you for the time you put in.

and i've still not got a job but everyone's got something they're waiting to hear from; if none of these leads go anywhere i'll be very surprised. and buggered.

so i'll try and write more again.

this weekend just gone, for instance, well it started on wednesday i suppose, with another impromptu girls girls girls gig at 'cuba' in camden. it's in the wierd old theme-park-esque market place where every venue is themed after a different country. cuba is a large, long bar that amongst everything else, sells cuban cigars, and i can't imagine they get much trade in that. aside from the bands and they're cronies, i can't see they get much trade on a wednesday anyway; i felt we'd been conned by the management, the bands weren't here to bring an audience, they were there so the bar would have customers. apparently it was an excellent series of bands though, even the stoner grunge band were good at what they did. mad staring eyes had some joyful moments in between slightly more interpol/chris rea moments, and the fact that they were playing different kinds of stuff is always good. they were clearly very talented as well, but modest with it.

thursday was rachel's birthday, so i went out with a gaggle of teachers to some pub in whitechapel. by the end of the night, some drunken idiot had torn the leg of her beautiful frog puppet. but she had loads of other pressies - much jewelery, which she was quite over laden with. it was all good gear. when it closed, the remains of the party - her and i, rachel's colleague alison and her fiance alan, rachel's housemate joel and his girlfriend annie, and rachel's oldesty friend james, piled into a dark and sleezy bar for a bit. i bought soup from the 24 hour cost cutter next door and we went home.

on friday miss wheeler was late for school - she got up with the alarm but found her phone had somehow lost an hour when it ran out of batteries. nothing to do with it being her birthday the night before - although there's nothing to say that if she'd got up at the right time, she'd have actually made it out. i came back here, browsed the world a little more, et another can of ful modomas (fava beans, lebanese style, which i may write more about), back out to the foundry for james' birthday. there was no way i was getting dragged out by ian and katie to trailer trash, nor spending more than necessary in the joiners, which was packed wall to wall with heaving homosexuals. rachel and i went and sat on the chairs outside the furniture shop opposite then went back to hers again. she wasn't exactly pleased with her present, so i repeatedly insisted we could take it back and get something else, which she continually said no to - she would leave it out and get used to it. so i guess that's a yes then.

saturday we went for breakfast, and then to the park which was gorgeous. clissord park, i think - there was a pond that had one family of swans, one of ducks, one of moorhens, one of a waterfowl i'm not familiar with, and a group of terrapins, sunning themselves on a log. what was strange was how one family of ducks kept nibbling at them which they didn't seem to mind - searching for mites, or perhaps the lazy blighters were just too slow to do anything about it other than retract their legs? i came back here, rachel set out to camden to buy presents for everyone else who had a birthday (it's been quite a week) and then came along. in the interim i whipped up a mean pizza sauce; we stocked up on videos at blockbuster - it's only an express so any of my favourites were out. we settled on the prestige, which i wanted to see again and she wanted to see at all - terkel in trouble (english version), and gilliam's tideland. we made some absolutely brilliant courgette pizzas - rachel convinced me to have cheese on as she needs to 'fatten me up', the regret i felt of which has hardened my wanna-be vegan stance, but they were so top - and watched the prestige. it's still very very good, but i didn't get as much more out of a second viewing as a i thought i might. you do notice a lot more though - i didn't realise how tight the structure of the film was, reflected in nested diary reading.

in the morning we watched terkel, which was a little over-localised i think - and the translation was a different script to the english subtitles for the danish version, so the 'what about you?' song became 'look at yourself', and some of the accents were nasty and chavvy. which they probably should be actually. so what am i complaining about? we were too dopey to pay attention to tideland, which is a little too distressing and plotless to keep up with. it reminded me more of the texas chainsaw massacre than of anything else.

then the girls got back from their all-weekend recording session and we sorted shit out. need to tidy the flat at some point this evening, and chase up those leads...


why i hate dragon quest: journey of the cursed king

"A survey conducted in 2006 by the magazine Famitsu earned the game the #4 spot as the best video game of all time after Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy VII and Dragon Quest III.[1]"
from the wikipedia page.

eurogamer review: 9/10

there is no explanation as to why you keep getting attacked.
every game has a plot. a plot is important in games because you need to know why you're doing something; why you would set out on the adventure and risk your neck. it also needs to tell you why everything is attacking you. 'a plague of monsters sweeps the land' is one fairly good reason. 'everyone is driven insane by a rage virus' is another. crikey, even 'rival gang member' has it's own kind of logic. this game has a plot, but it's completely unrelated to the creatures you're fighting. you can't walk outside anywhere without getting attacked by birds and little bits of slime - so how come everyone else can?

turn-based random monster fights.
no. it's something you did 25 years ago before computers could handle enemies wandering around; that doesn't make it wrong. it's just lazy. as are the monsters themselves; initially they seem interesting or weird, but they go through the same old colour changes as they get harder as you get harder.

needles animations, text, and button presses.
this is a very simple game. the core mechanic is decades old, and not much has changed. but twenty years ago, all you'd have got was a bit of text - turns of a fight would be doled out simply and effectively. it's just numbers. but you have to sit through these repetitive animations - fun the first time, but soon you just want them out the way so you can get on with the actual game, which is basically just maths. and it's true all over the game. the inventory menu is basically a 2-d grid, but you have to maneuver one dimension at a time. you go to the shop, where you can buy and sell; 1. press a button to say hello. 2. choose buy or sell. 3. press a button to enter that menu. 4. press a button to get rid of the message from the seller. 5. move down to the item you want and quantity, press a button to purchase it {n.b. - that's the bit you actually want}. 6. press a button to confirm. 7. press a button to choose who'll carry it. 8. press a button to say if you want to equip it or not. and then to get back out of the menu, it's another 5 button presses. just to exit the menu. this is a game that doesn't want to be played.

there is no main character
your character - you - never says a word. lets consider grand theft auto 3 a minute, and why that works and this one doesn't. in gta3, you are alone. you are a thug; you follow orders. not saying anything makes you associate with that character more. however in this game, an rpg, you'd expect some kind of interaction. it just furthers the feeling of a lack of control in the game.
it was made worse when i changed my line up so that yangus was at the front, not 'me'. suddenly he appeared as the avatar in the world map. now, i only see the hero in fights. the best thing about the game is the voices; they're quite english. but our hero never speaks. you get to know everyone very well but the character who is meant to be you has no personality. ok so, you're not meant to get to know them - you're meant to be them. so what they've done is just be as absolutely vague as possible. well as long as you're a young male i guess that's ok. it's still rubbish though.

'this path is blocked by a landslide!'
and it's later cleared for absolutely no reason when you need it. see also when you go looking for the npc brains in pickham (and you have to find his house, even though yangus knows where it is), he's not in. and then your horse and cart gets nicked in a completely unrelated distraction. of course he's back when you get back. for no reason. the right way to block a path is by filling it with monsters you can't beat at the lower levels. which is weird because they're there too. the blockage is just to stop you thinking you might be able to go that way... the game's almost on rails.

preset characters
i like modularity. customisation. i like a basic template which i can fill in. character generation. a logical set of rules that can be used to determine any character from a starting point; there's none of that here. the characters, there are four of them and you have no choice over who they are, have absolute limits as to the armour they can wear and weapons they can use. so yangus can use clubs, axes and scythes, but no-one else ever can. this isn't because he's stronger than the others or anything; it's just a fact of the game. when he levels up, he can choose to specialise more in one than the others. this is just about all the freedom with the characters you get. each character has their own special trait as well; this leads onto the next point. the hero has courage, yangus has humanity...

it's sexist.
angelo has 'charisma' and jessica has 'sex appeal'. jessica's armour options include bunny ears, hairclips, fishnet tights, silk robe. see the next one.

the characters look the same no what what armour you've equipped them with.
if i take off yangus's hat and give him a turban, i want to see him wearing a turban. for all the men in the game, only the weapon is reflected on their sprite. jessica, however, will wear that dinner gown for you. ugh.
i mean, when i was playing kotor, sure, i had that bastilla lass running around in her rather nice matching bra and pants, but only while she didn't have any actual armour since her clothes didn't provide any protection. and jessica looks about 12 because of her stupid japanese eyes.. wait that's not what i meant...

simple plot elements - like what you were doing one day before the game starts - are revealed throughout the game as if that's somehow privileged information
although this maybe because i didn't have the box or manual.

i'm deleting my save games.

i say i say i say

why does john lennon prefer to have his woodwork done at christmas?

because he hopes one day yule joiners!



well this is becoming a regular diary, eh? me sitting here on a sunday writing up the week that was. how predictable. i'll thank myself for it in forty years, if i'm not dead and we're still allowed electricity. god, we're could be in so much trouble.

i really need an rpg tonight. everyone says pokemon rpg is brilliant but i never got into it.. maybe emulators don't do it justice. they're such a terrible investment of time, but when you've got too much time that's a good thing. on the other hand, is there anyone who genuinely has too much time? where's my art now?i'd do some recording but i need to clean up the hard drive first and there's no point doing that until after i move next weekend. i tell you, everything i need to do revolves around my hard drives being full. i've not got enough laundary to put a wash on, yet i'm out of underwear. how did that happen?

i've been working in the city again this week, my bank balance touching the cloth, and now that i have to fork out a deposit 1.5 times greater than my last one, i've finally crapped out. i need something that's going to last. like my last job was meant to.

but in the meantime, my mental map of london is getting better - i now know not just where but what soho is, it's that triangle there, and the city is that bit and the east end fits together like so.

tuesday i put an ikea table together and found i would be working wednesday, in a very very temporary role which so far has quadrupled in length.

it's been a good weekend for reunions and feeling tired. on friday, robbie humphrie's newcastle-based band 'maybe myrtle tyrtle' played at a lovely pub down in whitechapel. i wandered down, and inspired by the impromptu gig the previous week, offered my hand as a support. that time, nervous as i was, i started with only the baying audience of girls girls girls to play to, and i was still nervous. when i took the stage, the tyrtles were still outside having a smoke. robbie's rickenbacker floundered in my hands, it's fuzzy tone suiting neither my clean nor rocking moods, mistakes were a-plenty, and the pub-goers seemed absolutely disinterested. it was worse than an open mic. robbie asked for 24 hour garage people, which i started but aborted and went into ideoteque instead - that's how things were. in fact, the guitar tone was pretty much perfect for that one. some more fiddling and i just gave up and left the soundman to put some records on.
the tyrtles were absolutely brilliant. perhaps appropriately mis-appropriating the gorky's font, or something that looked just like it, they were i suppose, a quirky psych-folk-rock band, but in as much as that, not very much like gorky's. it's hard to describe. thanks to the web, i don't have to.
towards the end of their extensive set, i actually became narcoleptic and kept being woken up by the crash symbol every time it went off. i carried myself home as soon as i could say goodbye with ultimately empty promises to meet up later in the weekend.
i currently have two books in my pockets - 'teach yourself zen' and 'generation x'. "that's a real mcjob" my temporary colleague said to me this week, and i've never realised what a cliche i am until i started reading it. it's nice to know in some ways.

saturday i went with ed and adrian to sign our new housing contract. it's going to be a fine house and the theme of the opening party will apperently be 'crystal maze'. will be a lot of effort i fear, but you know how i love having themed rooms at parties and i've wanted to do it for ever.

signing seemed to take a long time, and tied to meeting tom brimelow, another old school friend, at embankment at seven quite nicely. to my horror, we were meeting him at the chief's suggestion of gordon's winebar. i wasn't buying, and tried not to drink too much of the white wine being passed around, diluting it with irn bru to make it go further (and also taste nicer). many of tom's friends from the ages passed through - macclesfield, school, truro choir, university, current girlfriend. all were repesented, and how well we all got on, i do believe. i'd even met most of them at various points in my quests to visit tom wherever he went in the country; what happened to those days, eh? i had a good and inspiring chat with the chief (aka tim) about work, which i admit went a bit sour when i went vegan on his ass. i just didn't understand how he though that veganism wasn't as good as vegetarianism - it's odd when someone really throws you off your guard like that. i got a bit narky. this was, to be fair, on a boat bar on the thames where i wasn't even accepting offers of drinks anymore. i wasn't enjoying the atmosphere and could see the night going one of two ways - throw desire to the ground and have a massive night out, like what we used to do, edinburgh style, or call it quits and go home. i left and fell asleep on the bus, waking up confused and in the right place, fortunately with all my belongings intact.

today, i met rachel at cafe pogo for breakfast and what i will go ahead and consider our first date, i'm quite perturbed by how straight forward and speedy it all is, but i shouldn't be. then we went to the park for another picnic, but this time james bought a selection of really stupid dips - olive paste, something called 'cemen', which was apparently inedibly hot and of questionable content (is 'meat flavour' veggie? see also 'fake hologram'). lets just stick to humus in future. and baba ganoush. oh, and pickles. and stuff for people who can't eat sesame.
it's too late to start a laundary now.i'll just have a shower and leave it at that. i'll cross the underwear bridge when i get there.

night night