my lovely girlfriend

Favourite Films on Friday: #31, From Dusk Till Dawn

So we all know how a Tarantino film goes, right? It’s something like this. A couple of tough guys commit some crimes, and they’re bad dudes – like, real bad motor-scooters – but you start to love them anyway, because they’re talking about all this stuff you know. And it opens exactly like that. A long, drawn-out conversation between a guy behind a till and a cop, full of mundane stuff and stylised swearing, while the Gecko brothers there – the guys farming this film’s melons – provide the underlying tension. They’re in the back, and they’ve got guns, and hostages, okay? So even when the tension inevitably releases itself, and the cop gets a bullet through the back of his Stetson, it remains comfortable territory. This is what you put down your pounds, dollar, yen, or currency of choice down for, right? Except that From Dusk Till Dawn isn’t just a Tarantino film. A trademark bare foot marks, with its delicately wiggling toes, exactly where that territory ends… (Anyone who has never watched the film, and intends to, stop reading. Now. Buy, rent, download. We’ll still be here when you get back.) … Because this is a Rodriguez joint too. He’s the director, after all. And, nearly an hour and over halfway into the film, Dusk Till Dawn totally flips genres about with a single nudity-filled, mariachi-soundtracked scene. The mariachi band start playing on guitars made of human meat, and the topless girls turn into grotesque vampires. Cue over-the-top violence, b-movie make-up monsters, and Tom Savini with a cannon for a penis. The surprise makes the change-over deeply, darkly hilarious. It’s the perfect punchline to a long shaggy dog story of a joke, and from here on the film is armed with shotgun/baseball bat crucifixes, condoms full of holy water and cheesy one-liners. Pleasant is a strange word to use, but it’s one of the most pleasant shocks in cinema, and one that, in a perfect world, I’d preserve for future generations. I’ve spent many an hour with my lovely girlfriend arguing the merits of my refusal to ever read those blurbs on the back of books that tell you roughly what the story’s going to be. Dusk Till Dawn is the perfect example for my side. The effect of both halves would be negated if you knew what was coming. Because you don’t (hopefully, and if you’ve read this without watching, you’ve only got yourself to blame), the second half of Dusk Till Dawn turns – ta-da! – into something all its own, equal parts black comedy and survival horror. There’s a line to be drawn between it and Tarantino/Rodriquez’s other cinematic collaboration, Grindhouse, also a film of two parts: one distinctively QT, another more on RR’s turf. But this feels more organic, and does it in one single film. In a much shorter timeframe, using the same characters, you get two equally pleasing, entirely distinct films. To steal one of the ideas those two threw around during the promotion of Grindhouse: From Dusk Till Dawn is incredible value for money. Two flicks in one, okay?

2010: The Second Quarter – Music

Welcome back to the internet’s most glacially regular feature. I talk about what’s been dominating the last three months, culturally. Not reviews as much as thoughts. It’s half a way of getting to talk about everything I might possibly want to, half a way of keeping track of what’s going on at the moment. Please, recommend, and help make the next one. Musically, April was pretty heavily dictated by what I was writing my 30 Days on. Which remains, in the months that I finished my degree, handed over responsibilities at Redbrick and prepared to face the big bad world, and moved house, probably the most important anything has felt to me. The panic at 11 o’clock the nights I hadn’t written an entry yet… But since, then I have gone seeking the hott new stuff, and I haven’t been disappointed. The year has been pretty sexy so far, musically. But it wasn’t always so… Laura Marling – I Speak Because I CanAlbum #2. That’s nearly that all that needs to be said about I Speak Because I Can. I haven’t read many reviews of it, but I reckon a lot will have leant on the old Difficult Second Album cliché. It’s just not as compelling as Alas I Cannot Swim, lyrically or musically. I could try and pick apart why: less tricks up Marling’s sleeve, a shift in tone, a generic move into more trad.country territory. But it’s actually a bit exhausting to try and pull anything out of Album #2. That’s all that really needs to be said.Gorillaz – Plastic BeachIt’s probably telling that the newly Glastonbury-headlining Gorillaz have dropped their cartoon faces for those of Albarn, Simonon, Jones, et al. There’s no less sense of novelty on Plastic Beach than Demon Days (see the fake breakfast cereal ad Superfast Jellyfish), it’s no less sprawling, ambitious, or plain weird (Glitter Freeze), but it’s somehow less of a cartoon, and that’s stopped me from immediately falling in love with the whole twitching, shaking mess. Doesn’t mean it’s a worse record, of course. I think it’s probably their best. I’m just broken. Kate Nash – My Best Friend is YouThere is a definite Kate Nash formula. When her guitar goes like, y’know, and maybe there’s a bit of piano, and her voice is all like… The new album opens sounding exactly like that, like the old one. Throughout, she use of those typical Nashisms: the blunt state-the-obvious observations (“Barbecue food is good/You invite me out to eat it, I should”) with the purposely flat language and rubbish rhymes. They occasionally shine in the verses, but as usual, fall flat when they have to carry a chorus, looking like Lily Allen-lite. So more of the same, you think. But it’s a trick. My Best Friend is You is more a series of blueprints for a possible second album than an actual record. That first track, Paris, imagines a slightly evolved, slightly more euphoric Nash. There’s hyper-neurotic wordy Nash elsewhere. Then there’s Don’t You Want to Share the Guilt? (an example of Nash’s ability to stumble onto simple but handsome and evocative phrasing, every now and then). It opens with that BBQ couplet, and slowly winds up, ending in a big dense spoken word bit, opening with… “I don’t know how more people haven’t got mental health problemsThinking is one of those stressful things I’ve ever come acrossAnd not being able to articulate what I want to say drives me crazyI think I should try and read more books and learn some new wordsMy sister used to read the dictionary, I’m going to start with that” Which is pretty much exactly my point. And, admittedly, the point of all her critics. But I think it’s easy to forget the language thing is an intentional stylistic choice and just dismissing it as stupid is borrrring. It goes on to feature the kind of lyrics I’d quote online in my statuses and profiles if I wasn’t too old and self-conscious now. Then, the next song is all banshee screams and Pixies guitars. A Nash who dived back into her record collection and decided, I could be the English Karen O (which she couldn’t and I’m glad that ultimately she didn’t, but is nice to hear her trying on for a bit). Take Me To A Higher Plane is folksy-Los-Campesinos-backing while Nash pretends she’s that woman from the Juno soundtrack. Mansion Song is the touchstone, though. Listen to it now. Okay, I’m sure you’re listening to it, but I’ll tell you what it sounds like anyway. It’s terrifying. It stirs all those things I’m unsure about with feminism, post-feminism and irony, Nash spitting the words over the looping drone of a music-box as it winds down, the little porcelain ballerina spinning slower and slower… and then it becomes this hyper version of Foundations. It’s frankly unpleasant, in the best possible way. It’s just curiosity that drives me, every time I listen to this album. I sneer the just, as if that’s a weakness. But curiosity is rare, certainly not what expected from this album. Curiosity is more than enough. LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening“Love is an open book to a verse of your bad poetry/And this is coming from me”.I’ve got a huge amount albums to talk about here (it’s been a really, really good year months for music, and it was during this album that that realisation clicked) so I’m trying to do them in a nutshell. This moment, in I Can Change (the single release of which being the point this album clicked with me, following which I had to listen to it twice a day for a week) is a pretty perfect encapsulation of the whole album. Flawless electronic waves – they could come across as cold – beat against your subconscious, while clever, funny and self-deprecating lyrics -that could come off as trite – appeal to you more directly. The song could just fall flat, but inbetween the two, somehow, […]

30 Days of Music is Over! feat. Imogen Dale

Imogen Dale is the lovely girlfriend, and having her first taste of the blogosphere. It is sweet, like strawberries. The best kinds of songs are those that evoke an emotion, any emotion, in the listener. There are the happy exciting ones that make you smile and dance around, then there are the opposing songs that can make you completely relax and even cry. Konstantine by Something Corporate. This is my crying song. And also my favourite song. I always come away from a listen feeling extremely satisfied, the 9 minutes and 36 seconds are enough for me to roller-coaster around my emotions and come out of the experience with a positive outlook on life. I feel inspired. I have memories of this song, of trying to write all the lyrics down during end of year 10 exam revision procrastination in the school hall, of putting it on a CD for my best friend to cheer her up (which, male readers, for a girl does often involve having a good cry) after a break up, doing the exact same thing for myself mere weeks later, I even went through, albeit only briefly, a phase of not being able to get to sleep without it. I especially love to listen on my iPod while sunbathing: I would thoroughly recommend this situation. I drift apart from my song, but we always come back together and then I feel terrible guilt that I’d neglected her. For me, she’s a timeless song, my love affair with Something Corporate has definitely ended but this song was always detached from the band. Other reasons I love this song: for once, I can sing along. I love to put my little heart and soul into a singing session (on my own, as I have been told I’m not allowed to sing in public, even on karaoke) and my poor memory doesn’t permit me to memorise very many songs, but that’s okay, because it makes those that I do more of a treasure. Also, the music is played by a piano rather than a band, and I love the piano. She’s quite simply a lovely song, a beautiful tune with enjoyable lyrics. Thank you for reading :o)

30 Days of Music: #005

day 05 – a song that reminds you of someone TODAY: A guest blog from Imogen ‘lovely girlfriend’ Dale. Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights Alex is addicted to this song*. It’s been sung, listened to, and craved for by him more times than I can count. I think (my embarassing lack of music knowledge exposed) this was the first time I’d even heard of Kate Bush, and the first time I heard it was indeed sung by the lovely Alex Spencer. As his singing doesn’t quite compare to hers**, I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy this seemingly screechy and dull song. But I did! And I have continued to enjoy it every time I have heard it. In fact, I think I’ve even been known to sing it to him myself, and to myself, on my own, while procrastinating. What can I say, it’s catchy! *It has, after all, already been a star in this 30 Days of Music extravaganza!**The opinions expressed by Imogen Dale do not necessarily reflect those of Alex-Spencer.co.uk. Thankyou, Imogen! This short entry (costing me only £17.53) courtesy of Imogen having an exam tomorrow, and Alex having somewhere in the region of 15,000 words due over the next couple of days, and Alex pansying about when he writes anything.

30 Days Of Music: #007

day 7 – a song that reminds you of a certain event It’s pathetic, but I can’t think of many pivotal events that are worthy of having songs attached to them. Sonic Youth’s Goo reminds of me of two or three bus journeys to school, but that doesn’t really count, does it? Hole – Celebrity Skin So I end up defined by my lovely girlfriend again. And I’d bet she doesn’t even remember this… It could have been my smug realisation of what Hot Chip’s Over and Over was about, with all its joy of repetition, and monkeys playing miniature cymbals. It could have been Weezer, from the exact same night. But, what I remember is dancing with her to this. And thinking: yeah, this could work. Imi at 15 was probably my exact match.* Sadly, we met at 19, but a girl I could dance with to silly 90s girl-grunge? Hell, that was good enough. And that’s the event that this reminds me of. Dancing together in the undefined early days, without the in-jokes and the keeping each other happy. One day, perhaps it will be a bitter memory. I really hope not, because I quite like Celebrity Skin and I definitely like being quietly nostalgic about it… You need some excuse to listen to Hole, right? *For my 15-year-old self, to be clear for legal reasons.

30 Days of Music: #023

day 23 – a song that you want to play at your wedding Fact: The Police’s Every Breath You Take is well known as being a very popular (and stupid) choice for weddings. Weirdly, it’s also high up on the list of songs played at funerals. This seems a clash of interests. Thus, I made a far better choice… Pulp – Common People Because, at a wedding, you have to dance. (This could’ve easily been something Arcade Fire – Tunnels, probably – as could yesterday’s. Album’s called Funeral for a reason.) Common People isn’t my favourite Pulp song by a long way but, my God, I’ve had some good dances to it. (In reverse chronological order, the four that come to mind: with Miss Frankie Ward at the Victoria a few weeks ago; at my cousin’s wedding* with the lovely girlfriend; at Subway City’s 90s night with selfsame girlfriend, which I suspect is actually a lot of times mushed into one; clearing a dancefloor with it in France on a school trip.) It’s a teasing, taunting song. Two people who have a good grasp on the words dancing it is like all that Strictly Come rubbish about a dance being full of tension. It’s basically license to verbally attack the other person for four minutes. You’re both playing at being the controlling, clever, witty snipey one.** The two of you get to take over the dancefloor, or at least so as you’d notice for the duration of the song. And, hey, what do the bride and groom deserve more than the dancefloor and the complete attention of all the attendees as they play at bickering? *See, this is a genius choice. Clever, me.**If anyone who has danced to this song with me disagrees about this analysis of what we were doing, please let me know.

30 Days of Music: #027

day 27 – a song that you wish you could play A tough one this, given that I have no musical talent*, and I’m happy being the passive observer… Tenacious D – Fudge** Her Gently So I have no interest in playing an instrument, what other reasons are there for wanting to play something? Plain and simple… Seduction. And this was genuinely the only song I could think of. Anyone wondering how exactly I ensnared the delightful Imogen? Fellas, listen closely. Ladies: imagine this being whispered passionately into your ear, with actions and everything… What’s that, you’ll be dropping by this blog a lot more frequently now? I thought so. And it’s easy to mock and say, Alex, this is a song by two fat blokes! Alex! It only lasts two minutes. I say, so what? Sometimes … you got to give her some smoochies too.(Happy Easter, y’all!)*Scientific fact.**I made the (somewhat arbitrary) decision a while back that this was a family-friendly website and by golly I’ll stick to it!

2010: The First Quarter

After realising how easily I lose track of what I’ve actually listened to/watched/read/played over a year by the end, I came up with the notion of a more regular periodic journal of what I’ve listened to, loved, or been affected by. So, as we arrive at the end of March (and the beginning, apparently, of Spring), I give you more lists, and links (Spotify, unless unavailable or irrelevant).This isn’t the end of any discussion, it’s the start. Take this list and recommend stuff I should be immersing myself in. Please.x Also the source of my most commented-on t-shirt of 2010:Los Campesinos! – Romance is BoringI pre-emptively called this “almost definitely my favourite album of 2010” before even hearing it. Whether that will stand true remains to be seen – come on, 2010, if you think you’re hard enough. I said it immediately, expecting it to change with time, but it hasn’t and I don’t think it will: this isn’t my favourite LC! record. I wanted it push further in the direction The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future suggested, into full-on emo territory. But I’m damning with faint praise here. Romance is Boring isn’t boring. It certainly isn’t a disappointment, and it sparked my love affair with LC! again completely effortlessly. It just doesn’t strike me as a particularly good entry-point into the band, and so isn’t a terribly useful record to talk about. That doesn’t stop it being a stunning piece of work. Hairiest album:Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip – The Logic of ChanceAbout which I suspect I’d have slightly different things to say, had I not been to see them live yesterday. With the beats pushed to the fore (in full t-shirt-quivering bass-heavy glory), and Scroobius’ lyrics feeling slightly more organic in person, the new stuff makes more sense. But it hasn’t changed the fact that Dan Le Sac has grown hugely, and absolutely owns this record, while the words sometimes come off a bit contrived. As recently found in my (lovely) girlfriend’s fridge:Gil Scott-Heron – I’m New HereOne of those things that dropped into my life (thanks, Sam Cowley!) to immediate awe. It deserves more time than I’ve given it, and I don’t know enough about Mr Scott-Heron to comment properly (apparently it’s a more personal album than his usual political material, he hasn’t been around for decades, he was in prison) but that’s part of it. This is one of those albums that is bigger than you, that you just have to bow down to and accept. The ‘companion to reading’ album:The Knife – Tomorrow, In A YearI guess this is the most ‘challenging’ album I’ve spent time with this year (having rejected Joanna Newsom as not for me), being the mysterious Swedish duo’s foray into opera. It’s about Darwin and evolution, apparently. I’m proud to say my boy Sam Langtree beat Pitchfork to the idea that it works mimetically, evolving from a sparse nothingness into some top-quality, almost-traditional Knife material. You must, must, must listen to this through the best speakers you can possibly get access to. On a laptop, it sounds underwhelming but, through a nice soundsystem, it overwhelms. Whether it stands up past that experience, I’m still not sure, but it’s worth a go. It’s already been a strong year for albums which, being an over-analytical music-type, is reassuring. Last year was all singles, but we seem to be looking at a healthy long-form crop in 2010. But the singles are still important. When aren’t they? I can’t believe I didn’t drop a mention to Music Go Music’s Warm In The Shadows in my 2009 round-ups. On repeat, it helped me through 12,000 words of essay-writing in January, and while that’s made it kind of difficult to love the same way in a non-work context, it’s still beautiful and ethereal. Then there’s the Lady Gaga Telephone video, which is of course phenomenal and the pinnacle of everything the Lady’s been working toward – for now. It’s also retroactively increased my enjoyment of the song in general, which I’m always faintly suspicious of. On the other hand: cigarette sunglasses. Right now, my life is dominated by Rihanna’s Rude Boy. It’s one of of those delightful moments where a big pop star finally clicks for me, though I haven’t experimented with Rihanna’s backcatalogue to see if it does more for me post-Rude Boy. Just… the ultimate dominant/submissive, self-aware/silly, masculine/feminine, endlessly quotable/catchy sexy song. I mean, you’ve heard it, haven’t you? “Give it to me baby like boom boom boom”. My 2010 cinematic life has been more dictated by what I didn’t watch rather than what I watched. I haven’t seen Avatar, still, or The Hurt Locker. Ponyo fled from cinemas before I got a chance to see it, and I never got to rewatch Where The Wild Things Are, which I still think deserves better treatment than the melting-screen, broken sound version I saw. I have seen Alice in Wonderland which was okay but had a lack of ideas (always an issue when you’re doing an Alice story) and wasn’t all that stylistically impressive (crippling when you’ve got Tim Burton to direct an Alice film) and 3D is still a load of rubbish.* One game has pierced through all the (rather good, but still largely unexplored) Christmas games to unquestionably dominate my year so far. It’s also dominated the year of my housemates, as discussion of nefarious plans (and misfunctioning files, being a play-by-email game) becomes a standard between those involved in the game. That game is Solium Infernum, a very much turn-based strategy boardgame set in Hell. It’s as little of an Alex Spencer game as exists in this world, and I don’t have the vocabulary to fully capture its majesty, but it deserves your time (try the demo), and the time and annoyance of the people around you. In comics, it’s a bit harder to judge what’s (as they most certainly do not say in the business) hot […]

LISTS AND LISTS AND LISTS…

As I might’ve mentioned, oh, two or three hundred times by now, it’s basically the end of 2009/the decade/time. To celebrate, some lists of Good Things, and, where the inspiration strikes me, a bit of explanation. Top 5 Albums of 2009#5 Horrors – Primary Colours(People are talking about this as, yay, Horros reinvent themselves as good. But I actually quite like Horrors mk.1. Still haven’t given this the time it deserves, but enough to recognise, if I do give it what it deserves, it will be probably one of the most long-lasting likes on here. So ludicrously tasty and thick sounding: thanks new sound system!)#4 Karen O – Where The Wild Things Are(Still a little unsure about the film- more on that later – and haven’t listened to this since seeing it. Beautiful, but probably the most likely record to get kicked off the list, retrospectively. Realise now I never linked to my Redbrick review.)#3 Emmy the Great – First Love(This year’s largest sufferer of ‘love-the-band-but-I’ve-heard-the-songs-enough-by-the-time-the-album-comes-out’ syndrome. Will, no doubt, rediscover at some point, like I did this year with Dan Le Sac/Scroobius Pip’s Angles.)#2 Patrick Wolf – The Bachelor(I’m probably wrong but, my favourite Wolf. It is, as I learnt this summer, great runnning material, really determined stuff; though, thanks to my limited stamina I’m not that familiar past the first half an hour.)#1 Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz(I’ll write something huge on this at some point, no doubt. YYYs have been by far my biggest band this year- in both gig and album, but I haven’t had a proper Think about them since 2007ish.)Top 5 Games of 2009 #5 Wii Sports Resort(Screw you, Borderlands! A more pop choice, for the sheer family-uniting powers it has brought to bear this holiday. And I’m still interested in exploring its single player modes…)#4 Batman: Arkham Asylum(Was tight. Did tights right.)#3 Time Gentlemen Please(For making me laugh more than anything else this year. A perfect year would’ve provided me with Brutal Legend, to make a pure comedy Top 5; drop Batman and everything on here has provided more laughs than your average Apatow film, in one way or another. Oh well, no year is perfect, right?)#2 Red Faction: Guerilla(Second-biggest laughs provider. A game about revolutionary freedom-fighters/terrorists blowing up builds not funny? Wrong.)#1 Spelunky(This one has definitely got more coming. Not that there has been a lack of writing already. Haven’t touched it much since Autumn, but it’s left its mark. No doubt I’ll buy the upcoming 360 version too.) Top 5 Films of 2009#5 Let The Right One In(Beautiful, creepy, Swedish. Still annoyed I missed this in the cinema, but it’s possibly the film that’s held my mind for the longest#4 Inglourious Basterds(Provided I’m actually right about it. Recently found Tarantino’s introductory speech for it, and am a bit concerned about my reading. Although, death of the author and all that, does it really matter?*)#3 The Wrestler #2 Milk(As my girlfriend put it last night: “Why are all the films you like the ones that make me cry?”)#1 Up(More than any other, this is the one that made me realise how are hard, and rubbish, lists are. I forgot this until a quick Google. It’s the only film I’ve seen twice this year, and it genuinely held up. I think pretty much everything has been said by now- it’s surprisingly heartbreaking at the start, loses it a bit here and there, but still has a lot of the year’s best moments. Even the action-hero bit at the end doesn’t feel forced, and genuinely worked. Wouldn’t bother with 3D though.) This one was, surprisingly, the hardest to cut down. So much extra stuff that I really loved this year- I guess it’s easier to give yourself to something once. Pending a second viewing, Where The Wild Things Are might have a shot at knocking, I dunno, Inglourious Basterds off the list.All in all, it hasn’t been a year where I’ve cared much for the contemporary. I do love the YYYs album, but haven’t visited it as much as I would’ve had it come out in, say, 2006. And I have, as usual, struggled to keep up with the cinema, while discovering stuff like the Coens’ back catalogue. Probably played more TF2 than any other (non-Spelunky) game this year. In the case of gaming, money’s probably an issue. One free game, one that cost me £1.99, two I had on rental and a Christmas present. Hey, I started the Moneyless Gamer for a reason. Musically, new was even harder than contemporary. My favourite albums are almost all by bands I already knew and liked before. Even though, when I’ve got my Music Editor hat on, we get a constant stream of new into our inbox, and people are raving about this and that, I’m falling behind. Looking at Top Album lists for inspiration, I feel passed-by. Such band names! Crystal Stilts? Neon Indian? They sound like futuristic versions of bands I like. Can these really have come out without my noticing?. And bands I remember hearing about a few years back, when I couldn’t keep my nose out of the NME/blogs. Wild Beasts. Future of the Left. Bands I’ve tried with, and nothing’s happened. Bands I like who I didn’t even know had new stuff out. Sonic Youth. Gallows. Perhaps I’m just getting old.

I’m The Fastest Man Alive: In Praise of Flow-Gaming

As my life takes on the traditional summer-holiday form of long days of gaming with little other nutrition, so do my for-the-blog scribblings become a games-only paradise*. But none of them still quite scratch the lingering itch that only Spelunky can satisfy. That is, something elegant yet mindless to do with my fingers while I chat/watch TV/listen to music. It’s why my girlfriend plays Tetris and Spider Solitaire while she catches up on Smallville**, why my flatmates play endless hours of Football Manager; it’s the unique debt we owe to laptops. 5 of us in a room, following (currently) the many running-people on TV and listening to the Ramones and discussing the “is she a man” controversy and never breaking the illusion of social contact.There’s a sense of pure uncomplicated flow to all these games that just fills a need. And even in console games- which tend to be a just-for-me, more serious time-consuming activity, I’ve found myself craving that flow. I think this is exacerbated by the death of my 360 and, in lieu of shooty games, seeking that other love of mine, the jumpy game. And it’s something I’ve just failed to find in the amusing, interesting mechanics of Super Paper Mario, or the pretty cartoon landscapes and addictive challenges of Wario Land: Shake It. They’re just not bouncy enough, frankly. It’s the same reason I love the Ninja Gaiden games, infuriatingly difficult though they might be at times, over more artistically interesting (and equally infuriating) games like, say, No More Heroes***. Now, having not touched Ninja Gaiden for maybe 6 months, if I close my eyes, I can imagine the exact moves. My fingers twitch automatically, dancing for where the buttons should be- a quick bounce of that guy’s head (R + A) to flip back off wall (A), then shoot myself (Y) back at him, get in a quick couple of slices (XX) before finishing with a uppercut stab (Y). There’s a sense of these games as an extension of your body, and the repetitive motion is their draw. It’s not a longing to do a particular level or move in Ninja Gaiden that causes me to inevitably crack open the case every six months- it’s a desire for its familiar mechanics. It’s soothing and at the same time I feel powerful. Which might seem a bit of a paradox in a game so infamously difficult, and with Spelunky being almost as hard. Sometimes the actual flow of movement on screen gets interrupted, often by death, but as I learn, I internalise the game’s mechanics. In Spelunky (and when I watch my girlfriend play Spider Solitaire I can see it happening in her head), I can look at a situation and, if I take my time, imagine the many- but finite- possible outcomes. The arc this thrown rock will take, how and when that spider will fall- into an arrow trap, which might wake the skeleton-is it an undeador just a throwable skull?- a simple bombshould solve it and let me safelydown to the next– I’m sorry, I need to go and play Spelunky. I’ve spent too long quietly typing this and not paying attention to the running-types on TV.*And, I realise, quite rarely committed to the blog itself. Internet’s been in a mess, etc. Comment if you’ve really missed me enough that you feel left down.**This isn’t an activity I encourage, but am consistently morbidly curious about it.***You can’t even jump in NMH. This is a travesty. (Confession: I’m aware this is about the most autobiography-heavy post I’ve ever done, for which I apologise. Handsome or no, I’m certainly less interesting than ninjas, tomb-raiders and Britney Spears.Confession II: I’m also aware the point of this post meandered more than a little. Apologies to the many teachers and markers who I am sure will recognise this quirk from every essay I’ve ever written.)