Saturday, 28 August 2010

Next time I'll just break my leg

I've either bruised the muscles around my ribs or over-stretched the ligaments. Either way it hurts to stand, sit, lie, shower, eat, laugh, type, sneeze and drive. Pretty much the only comfortable position at the moment is a kind of slouch 25 degrees off horizontal.

So here's the scene; last Friday I climbed onto a packed bus bound for work. I found a space about halfway down and hung like a spider monkey from one of the rubber straps. Every bump and pot hole the bus rides over sent waves of pain through my chest. A third of the way through the trip we stopped outside Wellington High and most of the teenagers piled off and a single seat opened up just to my right. There were a handful of other commuters of a variety of ages and sexes also doing their PG Tips impression so I, of course, was paralyzed with levels of guilt and indecision usually only seen in a Woody Allen film*.

If I take the seat then everyone else on the bus thinks I'm a tool for denying the more outwardly deserving passengers a respite from standing. If I remain standing I have another 20 minutes on the bus that suspension forgot before I get to work.

This demonstrates once again why society needs some universal signs to help explain one's actions to strangers. Want to wear a "McCain/Palin '08" T-shirt without everyone suspecting you're a evolution-denying Republican? A simple irony hat (in my mind it's a fez) would reassure passers-by and co-workers that you weren't on your way to a Tea Party.

Do you drive around in an SUV and feel the nagging finger of environmentalists? Application of the green, "I do a lot of conservation work that necessitates an off-road vehicle" bumper sticker will avoid having the Chelsea/Ponsonby Tractor tag applied to your car.

This lack of societal iconography resulted in me standing for another 10 minutes until enough spaces became vacant to make it clear that I wasn't a wanker. If I'd been wearing a "I've got an injury/illness with few external symptoms" badge, I could have taken a seat with impunity.

*one of the good early ones like Manhattan or Manhattan Murder Mystery

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Well, I must say that I am alarmed

I was in the doctors yesterday (I'll cover this later but short version: I've bruised some ribs playing football) and saw this pamphlet:

I get that they're trying to advertise their "I've fallen and I can't get up" alarm in a new way, avoiding the image of a frail lady looking longingly at the camera while she lies prostate on the floor but I don't think they've properly focus grouped this pamphlet. To me it is saying one of two things:

- Our new alarms come in the form of an older lady that you'll have to carry on your back that will scream at the slightest sign of danger
- If you do fall over we'll send over a Clint Eastwood look-a-like to carry you to safety

Either way I don't think they're going to shift more units.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

I know Bioshock came out three years ago

I've been playing computer games a little bit more than usual recently. I think it's a combination of a lack of decent TV and a new lapdog. The way I remember playing games in my teens was a repetition of saving and reloading my progress with every step. If a fight didn't go exactly the way I wanted, I'd hit 'Ctrl+L' to rewind my avatar, placing him (until Ms. Croft came along it was almost exclusively a him) back before the fight/discussion tree/jump. If that didn't work I'd look through the various gaming mags I had to find the cheat code. This was a phrase (some in joke) or sequence of buttons that wouldn't look out of place in modern rhythm games, allowing me to swan through the hard bits with God Mode on: invincible, all powerful and totally without any obligation to play by the rules.

I don't know if it's because the visuals have evolved to a level that verges on cinematic or if its the fact that games are filled with the kind of ambiguous morals you'd expect to see in shows like The Wire, Deadwood and Breaking Bad but I'm being drawn into the games in ways that I haven't encountered before. I'll drag myself through an encounter with half my squad decimated and the bonuses no where near achieved but I can't just reload and try again. That would be somehow inconsistent and disingenuous. I find myself living by a different type of cheat code.

The line between storytelling and playing a game have become blurred. In the story I'm directing through button mashes and mouse gestures, the path has been written and I have to live by my actions. If I fail to save the girl or only barely defeat the dragon so be it.

That is until I die.

At which point I'm glad that I remembered to save and reload my game so I can have another go at moving on to the next level.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Promised a treat but got fruit

Yesterday, I was in the study when I heard Afternoon Delight coming from the living room. I knew that I had the Movie Channel on so of course I rushed through expecting to see Ferrell, Rudd, Carell and Koechner in song. Imagine my disappointment when it was in fact the underwhelming Starsky & Hutch.