And, for the most part, we’re talking common sense: ‘Do unto others’ isn’t exactly a solely religious strategem by which to live one’s life, and so it appears in Penn Jillette’s list.
When it comes to it, getting along together in the only life that we have shouldn’t be too acutely absurd a notion, yet so many people of religious faith and non-believers want to butt heads when the obvious answer is clear –
I have my second driving test on Monday. Yes, Halloween. Not sure what to make of that date, but I didn’t really have much say in it – it was, as they say, available…
The first one went mostly well until I completely botched a roundabout and somehow contrived how to deal with lane discipline. I had no minor errors to speak of – but those major ones did me in.
So, second time around I plan to pass, if only because taking the test is so bloody expensive – each time that I’ve paid for the test I’ve been unable to escape the very real idea that I could have bought a game for that – probably even one of those absurdly overpriced collector’s editions.
I know, I know – the cost of driving only gets more expensive once you actually get your license and have to pay for insurance, MOT’s and all that jazz but I’m going to be splitting the cost with Mrs Rolling Eyeballs, as I really don’t need to own a car myself. I live in a city and there just isn’t the room to park another vehicle in the area that I live in. I might be able to park a unicycle – the jury’s out on that.
Am I confident? I know that I’m a pretty decent driver – something that I suspect which comes with age, experience and a healthy sense of pathological distrust for everybody else on the road – but the actual belief in my ability to pass the test is something else. Everyone around me – including, thankfully, my long-suffering teacher – is positive that I can do it. I know that I can do it – I just have to lock to let the glass half-empty side of my personality securely away for a couple of hours on Monday so that my inner Negative Nigel can be wholly and completely usurped.
What do you write for a 200th post? Do you talk about the past, muse on the future or thank people for reading? Or do you take the blog format to its logical conclusion and tell people about what you’re doing right at this moment?
I am on holiday next week and have decided with Mrs Rolling Eyeballs to make a start on a job which we have been putting off for far too long – tiling our hallway floor, with quarry tiles leading from the kitchen and some grey ceramic tiles proceeding from the quarry tiles, along the hallway to the vestibule which leads to the front door.
Sounds quite grand but it really isn’t, to be honest.
Don’t misunderstand me – I am not Mr D.I.Y. Far from it – I only get involved in this kind of home improvement caper predominantly because it saves a bit of cash and there’s a curious satisfaction to be derived from planning, carrying out and living with a D.I.Y. project that you’ve seen from inception to fruition.
The current state of play as you read this is that the tiles are now applied in a row of four across the wooden floorboards – a slightly dull and nasty red carpet previously sat in situ in the hallway and succeeded primarily in making a dark and dull space that bit more dingy and gloomy than it really had to be.
One fringe benefit of this project won’t even be felt by me – when the hallway is tiled, it’s going to be the ‘go-to’ spot for our dogs to lay their heads in the hot summer weather. I don’t think that I’ve ever met a dog who didn’t like to lie on a cool ceramic tile in the middle of July and get their canine recline on.
Not that Minnie’s the major client on this job. At least, I don’t think she is…
Being one of those entirely disreputable and untrustworthy types who doesn’t believe in omnipotent, vengeful, invisible people in the sky, the prospect of Christmas drawing ever nearer is not one which fills me with joy. Another December where I spend a disproportionate amount of time re-explaining to people – folks who also heard this a year ago – that I don’t celebrate Christmas, send cards, buy presents or participate in the festive season.
At a push, I’ll have an internal appreciation of colours, lights and decorations. There’s something slightly pagan about those aspects of the Christmas holiday which transcends the virulent commercialism, high pressure selling tactics and hypocritical religious sentiments that so irritate me about that time of year. That the nicest colours and lights of the season are to be found in commercial institutions like the department stores and malls is an irony not lost on me – if you want your pretty-pretty lights, you’ve got to have to deal with margin-conscious, sales-hungry store staff trying their hardest to get you to buy something, buy anything, buy – buy – buy!
The transition towards not celebrating Christmas is a lot easier for me, I realise, as I’m not a parent. I don’t have children and I don’t have to try to explain why their friends are celebrating a holiday which they don’t and why they are different to their friends. All that I have to do is get up on December 25th, take my lovely dog for a walk, help Mrs Rolling Eyeballs to make lunch and enjoy my Christmas “Doctor Who” without any of the pressure.
It’s a lot easier to enjoy the end of the year when you don’t have to run around like decapitated poultry for a month buying lots of things for people who don’t appreciate it, going to parties that you don’t want to go to and putting yourself in financial dire straits until the Spring – is any of that stuff worth it? Sustaining an economy based on unreasonable, profligate spending which is induced by guilt, advertising and the fear of disapproval by your peers is no way to live a life, surely?
It’s a weird one – you wait for a game to be released for what seems like ages, follow previews on the internet and in magazines, get hyped when the pre-order bonuses are listed, perhaps even splurge on the special edition and then what happens, when you have the lovely disk in your console’s tray?
I’ve been a good boy this year – the two titles that I’ve bought in 2011, “Bulletstorm” and “Hunted: The Demon’s Forge”, have been new IP’s and had compelling enough stories to make me fight my way through the final boss and get that wholly invisible badge of honour for beating the game.
As to why people don’t finish games? At lot of times, it just isn’t worth the effort to persist when you’re not enjoying the experience. Most adults have a limited percentage of leisure time to spend on entertainment and the middling quality of so many games can’t be allowed to eat into it without some kind of promise of payback.
For example, I gave up on “Final Fantasy 13” after seven hours because the promise that ‘Oh, it gets really good twenty hours in’ seemed like such absurd B.S. and a pathetic justification for the medium. Would any film director get to make ten or eleven movies in the abstract hope that he or she might hit a rich streak of inspiration? I think not. In addition, “FF13” was essentially ‘Home & Away’ with anime characters and, to be honest? Not a great loss. Traded!
Gaming culture is an odd fish, anyway – devout gamers buy a game on Friday, beat it by Sunday and trade it in the next week for the new title out that weekend. As a medium, the fan base is capable of utterly brutal, near-instant dismissal of two-three years of some developers life. Forget the on-line modes, forget another run through the game – beat the campaign, harvest the gamerscore/trophies and move directly to the next thing, because if you don’t, you’re sunk. Mrs Fluffrick is especially bemused by this – ‘Spend forty pounds on something that you only play for a weekend? Have you heard of Blockbuster?’ and I can’t help but agree in this context.
Games offer great value – but they’re expensive, of that there is no doubt. If you play “Call of Duty” multi-player and prestige 15 times, that equation probably weights itself in favour of the game offering better value than say, a novel in hardback or a first-run, opening weekend viewing of a 3D feature film. Thing is, those games are the exception and certainly not the rule.
I’m more of a fan of single-player titles, but the replay of a game is, for me, sometimes the better play through, if I am inclined to play again. Ganesha only knows, I might even complete some of “Hunted”s side-quests now that I know not to walk through doors because the game path is so super-linear…