"A banquet for the shadows, Horse and I"

@Horse_ebooks: "In fact, through my own research I discovered dog"

Small lapse in my journal updates there. Nothing to worry about! I had a busy couple of weekends, that's all. Let's start from the beginning; two weekends ago.

My parents came to Cambridge on Friday evening. I met them at the train station, and we walked to the Travelodge where they were staying. After dropping their suitcases off in their room, and a small amount of faffing around, we walked to Zizzi, my Mum's new favourite Italian restaurant in Cambridge (Replacing the Bella Italia by the river). We drank a lot of wine, and I made the mistake of ordering a pizza that had chillies all over it (Literally. There was a full red chilli laying across the centre of the pizza), and the further mistake of actually eating them. Still, the meal was nice. We had a drink at a pub afterwards.

The next day I met my parents in town, and we split up for a while, as there was some stuff Dad wanted to see. Specifically, he wanted to get a drink in The Baron of Beef, a pub that was featured in Micro Men, the BBC dramatisation of the Sinclair/Acorn story. So we did! It's always kind of busy in there, but the food's pretty nice. We didn't eat though! Dad bought a camera, and when we met up with Mum again, we had lunch in 'B'. I'm sort of skimming here, because I don't really remember much of the details. I went home for a while, probably played a bit of Civ4, and looked for a place to eat.

Mum and Dad fancied Indian, so I found a place on Mill Road that I'd been to once before. It was nice! Both Mum and Dad made the mistake of ordering the jalfrezi, though, and it pretty much killed them. Mum wasn't even drinking! After the meal, we walked to the Tram Depot, and I had a Crabbie's. Mum still wasn't drinking though! After that we went to The Avery, for some reason, and sat on a couch while loud invasive dance music played.

On Sunday Mum and Dad were supposed to get a taxi to my flat, after spending a bit of time in town. I kind of got bored of sitting around playing Civ4 though, so I decided to walk into town and meet them there, sending Dad a text message in order to arrange a place to meet. He didn't get the text, but it didn't matter because I ran into him outside HMV. We popped into Eat to sit down for a bit with a drink and some fruit salad, before meeting Mum and getting a taxi to my place. There wasn't really a lot to see here, as it's quite a small flat! We ate at a pub just down the road, and sat outside in the beer garden. It's worth mentioning that the weather was fantastically warm and sunny that weekend, reaching about 28 degrees Celsius. Hottest October day on record! Back at my flat, I copied some stuff onto a USB key for Dad, and played him a bit of the song I'm working on. We made dinner plans for that evening, and they taxi'd back to their hotel.

Dinner plans were a restaurant I didn't really know anything about, except that it was overlooking the river, and it was probably quite expensive. Dad wanted to eat at a steakhouse (And the steakhouse I had in mind had closed down), and that's what it turned out to be! So that was fortuitous. It was a nice restaurant too, and I had a lovely steak. Again, much wine was consumed, and after the meal we had further drinks at the Baron of Beef. After that we parted ways, and they got a coach to Coventry on Monday morning.

Huh, turns out I remembered quite a lot of that. I may as well split things into two posts, and cover last weekend later on. Bye!

Shambling, Drunk

I was dreaming this morning; it seemed important to me, so much that even whilst asleep I thought I should try to remember the details so I could write about them when I woke up. Alas, it didn't quite work out that way. All I remember was that there was some kind of virus, except that instead of infecting my computer, it affected my daily routine. I think! I just remember a sequence of things going progressively more wrong, and that it was kind of like a nightmare.

The reason I don't remember any details was because I was woken up at 5:30am by a clatter on the road outside my flat, and some guy shouting frustrated obscenities. Even my half-sleeping mind was able to construct an accurate picture of what had happened; a guy, so drunk he could barely stand, had collided with the road barriers and cones outside (Road works have been in effect on my street for about a month now), become very annoyed about this, and then continually failed to stand up. A peek out of my bedroom confirmed that this was exactly what had happened, and I watched him try to find his feet a few more times, before he gave up and went to sleep in the middle of the road. I was less able to return to the oblivion from which he had awoken me, so I was still awake 15 minutes later when, seemingly prompted by the arrival of a car, he had another shot standing up. This time he had more success, and when the guy got out of the car to ask if he was alright, he replied with, "Yeah, you alright?", seemingly missing the point. After collecting himself, he shambled off down the street, shouting more wordless obscenities. Good times.

What I've Been Listening To

In no particular order except that which they come to mind.

- Kvelertak - Kvelertak. Metal is usually a harder sell than most other genres for me, mostly because the mainstream stuff is pretty tedious, and the more technical stuff is often just a little too abrasive. There are few bands that appeal to me in the same way as Tool do, being listenable but also progressive enough to interest me. This Swedish group are partway between Black Metal and 70s Hard Rock, and the riffage of the latter element makes it easier for me to get a handle on the throaty vocals. Energetic, raw, and catchy as hell.

- Jethro Tull - Heavy Horses. When I was younger, I had some pretty poor misconceptions about Jethro Tull (And about Led Zeppelin, for some reason); I guess I was confusing them with Jethro, the dreadful West Country 'comedian'? I don't know. At any rate, I thought their music would be a bland country rock that wouldn't appeal to me at all. Ironically, Heavy Horses is about country life in England, but it's anything but bland. I put this on in my Dad's car when I was over in Ireland recently, and it's pretty great.

- Bat For Lashes - Fur and Gold. I've had Natasha Khan's second album for a couple of years, but only just got around to picking up her first. Really, I should have got this back in 2006 when Joel and I saw her (and her band) playing in Koko. I read my LJ entry about that yesterday, and I actually thought she was called 'Back To Lashes'. Close enough, I guess! Anyway, the album's great. A little more naïve-sounding than her second release, maybe, but no less moving.

- Zomby - Dedication. James ordered me to get this! It's nice, atmospheric minimal Dubstep. He sold it to me as melodically amazing, but I'm not so sure about that. It has its moments, but most of the time it just feels rather melodically unfocussed. Which isn't to say I don't like it! I'll be putting a good bit more time into it, because while there a number of tracks that miss the mark slightly, there are more that get it pretty right.

- Hail Mary Mallon - Are You Gonna Eat That?. Aesop Rock's new project. I often feel like I'm pretty much alone in my love for him, preaching to the mildly disinterested, but he's really great, honest! This album's no exception, with Aes sharing the vocal duties and some of the production legwork with Rob Sonic (With DJ Big Wiz on scratches), there's plenty of stylistic variety. Opens with the completely stomping 'Church Pants', which exhibits a more mature sounding production than I've heard from Aesop Rock in his solo stuff. Hip-Hop album of the year? God, I don't know.

- Daft Punk - Discovery. Yeah, I'm fashionably late to the Daft Punk party, all showing up wearing a cheap cardboard robot helmet. I figured I'd pick this one up, and it didn't really disappoint. I find it pretty much impossible to listen to 'One More Time' in today's Autotune climate, but the rest of the tracks are pretty well up my alley, all vocoders, synth voices and sample-madness. It often feels like this kind of sample-driven Electronica became slightly unfashionable in the mid-'00s, but it still works for me. It's everyone else that's wrong.

What I've Been Playing

- Super Mario Galaxy. I'm way behind on this, but I actually started playing it back in 2007! It belonged to my housemate at the time, though, so when we moved out, I never got around to buying it myself. Until I got it for Christmas last year! I started it again from scratch, and then sort of forgot about it for a few months. Then I picked it up again, got interrupted a few more times, and finally finished it again last night. I wonder if my enjoyment of it were diluted in any way by not having played it within a short period of time. At any rate, I did enjoy it a lot, and I've got about 54 Stars left to get so I'll be playing it for a while longer. Things I liked: The absolutely joyous level design, which put me in mind of playing Super Mario 64 for the first time. Also, while the game throws a completely lewd number of lives at you, it's doesn't fall into the 'restart point every 5 metres' trap common to many modern platformers, so if you do die, you usually have to play quite a long section over. This can be frustrating, but underneath that I appreciated what it was doing; allowing me to experience the joy of successfully completing particularly difficult sequences. Things I disliked: Mario's movement often feels unwieldy, and the often-bizarre camera angles don't help. Also, it's petty, but the pseudo-science guff got on my tits a little! Referring to a collection of rocks and debris as a 'galaxy'? Phhh Nintendo. Overall: A million out of ten.

- Strong Bad's Cool Game For Attractive People. I bought all five episodes of this in a recent Steam sale, and finished the last of them a few days ago. Enjoyable stuff! I appreciated how each episode had a different central mechanic tying the gameplay together; that seems to be the way Telltale work, and it's a good ethic! It helps each episode feel quite different and distinct. Aside from that, I didn't find them quite as funny as I'd hoped, but the Homestar Runner world is one that I still find engrossing, and there were so many neat little touches. Overall: 200,000 out of 12.

- Torchlight. One of those games that piqued my interest when it was released, but I never really found the time for. Again: Steam sale! It's pretty much what I wanted it to be; single-player Diablo II. It adds a few things to the 11-year-old formula, but at heart it plays largely the same. It's a loot game, where the focus is on finding better and better armour and weapons to make it easier to kill monsters and find better armour and weapons. I don't know why I find that kind of thing so compelling, but I always have. Removing the online component does dampen the experience slightly, but not in any major way. Overall: 350,001 out of 11.

- Civilization IV. While I'm a huge nerd for this kind of shit, the only prior Civ game I've played in any depth (I briefly played Civ II on a friend's PC back in '99) was Civ: Call to Power. I went in with some ideas about how to play, but still made a pretty big hash of my first game. So, I started again as the Chav Empire, and.. I'm still not doing very well! I'm going to stick it out though, in the hope that I'll be able to gain some ground later. There's definitely more to take into consideration than there was in Call to Power, but I'm mostly on top of it all now. And man, I get so sucked into it. I'm a sucker for micromanagement! Overall: 2 million out of 1 million.

- Portal 2. Obviously. Valve made a sequel to a near-as-dammit perfect game that was about three times as long, and almost as consistently great. There are occasional moments where it falters, but to call the game out on that would be ridiculous. It's a fantastic achievement, and a joy from start to finish. My Game of the Year so far! Overall: 3 trillion out of 1.

Other games on my list include Trine, Far Cry 2 (Which I've played a fair bit of already, but need to go back to), Super Stardust HD (Free from Sony!), inFamous (Also free from Sony!) and BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, the latter of which I played for a bit, but got turned off by its stupid broken difficulty curve. Fuck overpowered beat-'em-up bosses, seriously.


I'm moving this weekend! Guess who hasn't packed yet. That is correct: David T, Master Procrastinator. So far this evening I have played Enslaved (Trying to mop up some achievements, but bad design makes it frustrating) and watched Misfits (TV series; think Heroes meets Skins) in order to avoid doing any packing. Woo! I'm fine, though. I've booked the removals company for Sunday, which gives me all of tomorrow. From previous experience, this is ample time. Although I do need to go into town tomorrow and drop the tenancy agreement into the estate agency. And pay them a ridiculous sum of money for the privilege. I hate estate agents.

I visited the new flat earlier, anyway. I've been bringing CDs and DVDs over, to save a bit of box space on Sunday. I've been pretty unsure about how I'd fit everything in, but I moved a few things around this time, and I think I can manage it. Furniture-wise, at least. Whether all of the rest of it will fit in is another matter. But it's about time I got rid of some stuff.

Thanks to everyone who commented on my relationship-y entry. If I didn't reply, it's because I couldn't really think of anything to say. Stupid brain.
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The Past: Part I

May as well throw down a few more of the things that have been happening in my life recently, so that anyone interested can piece together a broad overview.

I'm moving house! It's odd to think that I've lived at this place for over two years. I'm kind of sick of it, though. Certainly, I'm tired of the people I live with; not that they're particularly unpleasant, but the little things are really starting to grind my gears now. So, I'm moving in with my boss! Which isn't as bad as it sounds. I've known him for five years now, and we've worked together for three of those. I went around to the flat today and assembled some furniture; the room was unfurnished, which was a bit of an inconvenience, as it meant I finally had to buy a bed. Moving's going to be even more of a pain in the arse from now on.

Gaaaames. I was playing Minecraft for quite a long time! Several nasty occurrences in-game caused me to stop playing, but I'm sure I'll go back to it eventually. Final Fantasy VII has been rocking my PSP. I'm on disc 2, 40 hours in, and while it's not the life-changing experience it was when I was 17, it's a pleasant enough affair. I've also been playing Enslaved this weekend, as we finally got our copies, and I want to rinse it for achievements. I've already had a few bugs! Far Cry 2, Mass Effect and Crackdown are all waiting to be played, and there's much more chance of that happening when my housemate isn't spending like 4 hours a day playing Call of Duty.

Hey, maybe doing things in manageable chunks is a good idea. Look forward to more: Soon!

Blah blah blah.

I don't know what's happened to my ability to write. My recent entries bore me to tears when I read them. I've tried to start several entries, and either I just stare at a blank page for a while before giving it up as a bad job, or I start writing some rubbish, and then give that up as a bad job. I do need to write about Friday; maybe I'll manage something tomorrow.

I tried writing a review over Christmas, too. Two weeks, it took me, and I guess I did finish something, but it's a really shabby first draft. I need to refine it, but sometimes it's hard to strip away all the extraneous crap. I dunno, I've just got some major ennui going on at the moment, and I don't know how to shake it.

PS: It amuses me that I already have an 'ennui' tag. Wonder what my other 'ennui' entries are?

Aww crap.

Who is a lazy guy? Me. I am.

I meant to update more over the Christmas period but, of course, didn't. So, here's another of my entries where I try to cram a load of information in, and end up with a wall of text. Bear in mind that I've just had a double brandy and port (Dad's favourite drink; to me it tastes a bit like battery acid, but it's incredibly potent), along with assorted other drinks, so the recollections will probably be a little.. scrappy.

I think it was just after my last post, on the 21st, that Myriam and I got a lift into Donegal town with a neighbour. Or maybe it was Tuesday. At any rate, she had her hair cut, and I did a small amount of last-minute present shopping, and afterwards we had something to eat at a fairly nice bistro in town. My steak sandwich was decent, but a bit gristly. We walked around and took a few photos, and then got a taxi home.

All I really remember about the days leading up to Christmas was that we watched a few movies. Specifically: Blades of Glory and Watchmen on DVD, and Gremlins, A Muppet Christmas Carol and The Nightmare Before Christmas on TV. Beck and Niall arrived on Christmas Eve, as Beck had been working that day.

I always make a list of what I got for Christmas, don't I? I used to make more of a deal out of it when I started my LJ, I guess. This year, I got a PS3 from my parents. Other presents included 'The Thick of It' series 1, The Cinematic Orchestra's 'The Man with the Movie Camera' on DVD and an awesome Gregory Horror Show figure from James, 'La Vie en Rose', 'The Lives of Others' and two of Stieg Larsson's novels from Myriam, 'Warp20 (Recreated)', Themselves' 'CrownsDown' and Brütal Legend for the 360 from Beck and Niall, Edan's amazing 'Beauty and the Beat' from Esther and Fischerspooner's 'Entertainment' from my parents. Also, lots of chocolate and fudge!

On Christmas morning, Myriam, Beck, Niall and I decided to test out the PS3's Blu-Ray capability by watching Shaolin Soccer. It was a bit more naff than I remembered, but still pretty entertaining. I think we watched Paprika, which I'd also bought on Blu-Ray, that night. It was good to see it again in Hi-def, although I kind of had trouble staying awake in places. As far as games went, I played Uncharted 2 and LittleBIGPlanet quite a bit. The former is really nice looking, if a little linear, and the latter annoyed me a little with its fiddly physics, but there's obviously a huge amount of depth there. Aside from that, I played Forza 3 a bit.

The next few days are a bit of a haze of semi-drunkenness. My cousin drove Myriam and I to a nearby farm/hall on the 27th to see ducks/pheasants/cows. Because everything was still frozen over at this point, however, we ended up staying in the car taking photos, so it turned into a kind of Irish safari. Myriam went home on the 28th, and on the way to Belfast we stopped at a retail park, and had a 'meal' at MacDonalds.

The next day, we went to Derry, where I bought Muse's latest album, 'The Resistance'. It sounds.. alright. On the way home, we met Niall, and I stayed with him and my sister for a couple of days. We played a lot of Forza 3, Castle Crashers, The Sims 3 and Brütal Legend. I ended up buying cLOUDDEAD's self-titled album in Letterkenny; it's awesome.

Wow, this turned into a completely tedious 'list entry'. I think I'll call it a wrap. I'm flying back to England tomorrow, after which I'll put photos of the holiday up on Flickr. If I remember anything else worth elaborating on, I'll probably post again. Until then, seeya!

Back Home

Well hello, sailor! I've been back in Ireland for the past couple of days; I was quite lucky to get here, considering the snow. Here's a run-down of my life up to this point!

Last week at work was pretty harsh. I worked until 9pm on Wednesday and Thursday, and until... actually, I can't remember what time I left on Friday. Probably about 6:30pm. A problem I've had lately, which is probably due to poor sleeping habits, is that I have a pretty poor awareness of events going on around me, and as such my memories of them are pretty sketchy too. Being home in Ireland is always the best place for me to catch up on my sleep, though, so I'm expecting to go back to Cambridge refreshed in the New Year. Otherwise I'm screwed!

I was in no rush to leave the house on Saturday morning, since my flight was at 4:50pm, which was a good thing, as I hadn't packed, and still had stuff to do. I did want to arrive a bit earlier to meet Myriam, though, as she was set to arrive in Stansted at about 12:30. I got everything done in time and left the house with about an hour to get to the train station, which should have been enough. It wasn't; due to the pretty intense snow we had recently, and the sub-zero temperatures that prevented it from going anywhere, I ended up waiting the best part of half an hour for a bus, which then took another half hour to get there. I could have walked in that time, but I had luggage with me, and I'd have been exhausted. Anyway, I arrived a bit late, but Myriam's flight was delayed too, so it was no biggie. We met up at the airport and swapped luggage around so as to stay within Ryanair's weight restrictions.

In the departures lounge, we had something to eat at Frankie & Benny's, and caught up with what had been happening recently. I made my way to my gate after that, and flew to Belfast with few problems. Slight delay in taking off due to frost on the wing, but it didn't matter, as I had to wait for Myriam on the other side. I started writing a review of Clark's 'Totems Flare' for The Chopstick during the flight, and did some more stuff on it at the Costa in Belfast City airport. Myriam's flight was delayed by about an hour, so when Mum and Dad arrived, we had to wait around a while. When Myriam arrived, greetings were said, and we made our way to the car. We got home at 12:15am, and had something to eat before bed.

That's pretty much it! Beck hasn't been to visit yet, due to the snow, and she's working tomorrow. A slight inconvenience, as I brought my Xbox 360 hard drive over, and some games (Forza 3 included), but not the machine itself. Of course, that's not the only reason I want to see her! Myriam and my parents get on really well, and we've mostly just been watching movies and drinking wine. It is a good way to spend the holidays. Anyway, I'm being antisocial, so I'll go. Bye for now!