Sunday, 24 January 2016

Are social networks a good or bad thing for us?

I am sure you will have heard of the phrase "May you live in interesting times" it is after all an English expression which has always been believed originate from a translation of a traditional Chinese curse (although no proper source has ever been found for this belief). It can be argued that living in interesting times is either a curse or a blessing, really I guess it depends on what makes the times interesting. Wars are interesting in the history books but very few people would choose to live through one, especially a large one with heavy casualties. I guess a lot of it depends upon what you personally find interesting.

So where am I going with this? Well I am thinking about technology and most of all I am thinking about social networks and online communication. As a child in the 80's if your friends and family were busy then it was quiet an isolating experience, you basically had to watch TV or films, or play a video game, or read a book until someone needed you. When you compare this to now well there are so many countless chartrooms online with at least one being dedicated to pretty much anything you could want to talk about, you can write long in-depth electronic letters to friends and send them for free safe in the knowledge that the recipient will get them and will most likely reply sometime in the future.

So in a way we are never alone but some take it even further than that, some people sign up to facebook and then share every single moment of our lives, people will share not just how they feel on everything but what they have eaten for breakfast, tea and dinner. Do we loose something as people though when we loose these pockets of isolation? When someone places every moment of there life online and gets to control how they represent themselves can it actually lead to them losing a sense of there real self, are real thoughts and opinions pushed to the side in order to play some kind of digital game?

Yes I am arguing that to a degree social media is a form of video game, lets look at the reasons why I feel I can say this. For a start you have an objective, this objective is to be liked and to be popular. It can be argued that there is a score, the score can be seen as how many friends you can collect, how many likes you can get on one picture or one status. 

I have had a very off and on affair with facebook, I have spent time on there and then left it behind and then found myself back on it again and again (I currently am not on it). Yes I have committed most of the sins of facebook, I have found myself posting pictures of my food either because I am out somewhere and want to keep a photo of the moment or becaue I have prepaid myself because and I am proud of it. One thing I have always refused to do though is accept people as friends who I do not like in order to increase my friend list, this is for multiple reasons, one being that I dont easily drop grudges and another being that I can find it hard enough to handle the output of a handful of people let alone hundreds.

So I guess the whole point for me is that social media is neither a good or bad thing, its a tool and its how you use it that is important. having worked for an online anti bullying charity I have found that simply being able to reach out online for help can save lives but yet some people can also loose themselves in an artificial online world and loose touch with reality. I guess what I am saying is enjoy your online world but never loose touch with the real world and never loose a grip of who you really are and what you really believe in. I will end on a quote ''Be excellent to each other'' Bill S. Preston, Esq.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

The Light in the Darkness Chapter One: A sample of my writing

So I have mentioned a fair few times on this blog that I am a writer so I thought for a change I would share a piece of writing with you all. This is a draft version of a first chapter I have written. If it is ever going to be used for more than just a blog post it will of course need a lot of checking, a lot of editing and of course more chapters adding to it, but here it is as it stands at this moment.

The Light in the Darkness
Chapter one

The coastal town of Lands’ end was thought to be a somewhat plain place as far as everyone seemed to know nothing much had ever happened in its long history. Yet for its beauty it has often attracted many holiday makers. It was certainly true that the area was filled with natural beauty, jagged rocks and perfect crystal blue water. Sticking out of these waters was an impressive structure a lighthouse which now stands abandoned, yet still remains strangely magnificent. It had been damaged and rebuilt several times, but yet there it remained standing in one form or another, always there always shinning out in to the sea, at least it did until the day it was finally turned off, until the day the light went out for the last time and the horn sounded its final cry into the night sky. Yet despite this there have always been rumours quietly mumbled in the darkest corners of local drinking establishments, rumours that this impressive tower was once the centre of a dark tale. The kind that would bring a shiver to ones spine.

The light had been turned off for the last time with not so much as a sigh or a whimper, nobody seemed to care. At the time the area had enjoyed almost full employment, times were prosperous and the joy seemed to be almost endless. Yet here in the now things are very different, so as the 20th anniversary of the day it was turned off drew closer people were told that it’s a cause for celebration a reason to embrace not only its history but the history of the area in general. Most people were more than happy to accept any invitation to raise a glass in hard times but yet alongside its intended purpose of spreading some much needed joy the announcement of celebrations also seemed to cause a rebirth of the old stories, the tales of incidents of paranormal activity began to be talked about again, only now the stories were not stuck in the darkness coming out of the mouths of drunks, they were being talked about by everyone in the light of day.

The tales told of a time long ago when the light which was supposed to be used to help keep wary travellers away from the rocks was instead perverted by five men, they were called the founders of the town. They used the lighthouses light to deliberately mislead ships, to cause them to collide against the rocks, to sink them in the hope of plundering there goods. These dark legends told of how the profits garnered from this twisted enterprise was used to expand the area, not only did it line the men’s pockets, it allowed them to live comfortably, to have families, to raise children, and this seed of evil was what the town grew out of.

Just a short drive from this point the rain was rhythmically bouncing of the roofs of the houses, some people would think this was a horrid sound, it would signify a sense of captivity.  It would mean that they were stuck inside held prisoner by the weather with no idea when it might stop, of when they would once again be free to step outside. Not everyone see’s rain in the same way though, to one particular young lady it was rather soothing. Jasmin had grown up in a large house with a big family, she was the youngest, and in fact she had later learned that really in some ways she wasn’t supposed to have even existed. The doctors had told her mother that she would be unable to have another child but then three years latter against all of the odds her mother had fell pregnant. The birth had been a complex one and it had made her mother rather ill, hearing about this latter Jasmin would feel a sense of guilt but this wasn’t the way her mother talked about it, her mother always refer to her as her special little miracle even when she wasn’t so little anymore.

Her family might have been large but they certainly were not poor, in fact if she was asked she would have to admit that she had been rather lucky for she had come from a somewhat well-off family. There had never been anything she had been left wanting for, her mother and father had done their very best to make sure she had everything she needed but she knew that all good things must come to an end for she would need to make her own way in the world. It was with this in mind that she had applied to a university with a small campus in Cornwall an area which although wasn’t the furthest point away from her family was far enough away for her to be a total stranger, for no one to know who she was or how she had been raised, this was a chance for her to see who she really was when she was away from everyone and everything she had ever known.

In a way it seemed like she had only just left home and yet here she was having just finished her 2nd year of university. She had more or less only just turned twenty four as well although she had largely ignored this fact choosing instead to focus on here studies. It had been a hard few months her recently studying for her exams and staying up late in order to write the best essays she could possible write but it had turned out well, she had managed to achieve excellent grades on all of her essays and she felt confident that her exam results would come back with similarly impressive scores. All she knew now was that she had six weeks to calm down to put the past year behind her and to get ready for her final and most important year.

Jasmin had contemplated taking a break over the summer in fact in her mind she had always planned to spend the time doing some travelling.  When she had finished her exams and began to pay attention to her bank account through it soon became apparent that she simply could not afford to go travelling to strange new places so this was simple out of the question. She did consider visiting her parents after all this would not cost anything apart from the price of a train ticket and it had its advantages. 

Jasmin knew that if she visited her parents were she would be able to eat their food, watch there large television without having to pay for the electricity and would not have to spend a single penny on pretty much anything. At first this seemed like a great idea but then Jasmin thought about it about being back at home. She would have to hear her parents talk about how well her older sister Alisha was doing in her new job, how her and her fiancĂ© were doing so brilliantly. Then there would be the questions, sure she could manage them asking her about her marks and if she had considered what her options would be when she had finished her course but what she couldn’t deal with were the personal questions. Why had she never brought a boy home? Didn’t she like boys? Was she perhaps a lesbian? Going home and spending time with her parents was not the perfect solution after all as it presented its own problems. Jasmin always felt smothered by talk of her wonderful sister who had already finished university, who already had a dependable trust worthy boyfriend and a full savings account. Sure it would be nice to see her folks but she wasn’t sure if she could put up with spending the summer in her sisters shadow once again. It was more than that though. 

She had grown up in what she would describe as a large but warm family, a family filled with love but this was no longer quiet the case. There was her brother Adam. He had grown up in the same environment as her under the same rules and with all of the same chances and yet he had squandered them. He had gotten some young girl pregnant and had several problems with the law. Not only would her mother preach to her about how wonderful her sister was, she would have to listen to her mother curse and moan about her brother. She wasn’t sure which was worse in all honesty. It was hard to be told how much better her sister was doing but it was also hard to hear her brother be talked about in such a negative way, especially when her own thoughts and feelings on the matter were always so confused. 

Yes he had made mistakes, yes he had used poor judgement yet she knew that deep down inside he had a good heart. Their relationship had been so different when they were younger he had been her big brother but he had been so much more than this he had also been like a second father to her in some ways and then she had also idolised him like a super hero. It was hard to focus on who he was now and the things he had done when it clashed so much with the childhood image of him that she had held deep in her heart for so long. Even with the small amount of cash she had, she guessed if she stayed in the local area or maybe took a bus or two there would be things she could see and investigate, after all she might have been in the area awhile but how much time had she really spent wandering? Most of her time had been spent in various lecture halls and in either her flat or the library buried under a sea of course literature. Maybe she would even go to the lighthouse celebration some people had mentioned that was happening close by, after all one of the reasons she had picked this area to attend university in was a longing to be close to the sea. Still she had plenty of time to think about it there was a whole six weeks’ worth of holiday and so she decided to sleep on it before making any rash decisions.

As Jasmin was falling asleep the night was only just beginning for Rochelle, while one girl was tasting toothpaste the other was enjoying the feeling of sweet white wine trickling down her throat. A diet of white wine while walking and dancing on 6 inch heels wasn’t the brightest idea that had come in to her head recently but then this moment in her life wasn’t about being bright it was about letting go and cutting loose. Some people would have seen her there dancing in the club drinking cheap wine and shaking her ass in a mini skirt and thought that she was some dumb young slut, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Jasmin was a girl who was sure she was going places not only was she tall with a beautiful olive complexion a model would kill for she was also a university graduate, she knew she was going places she just wasn’t sure where yet. 

There was a lot that Rochelle and Jasmin had in common, they both came from well off families but unlike Jasmin Rochelle was a lonely child. She had no brothers and no sisters, she was her Mum and Dad’s only child they called her there special little princess. They were so happy when she had gotten in to university and even more so when she had begun getting her marks back. This wasn’t the only thing that was different between them Rochelle had grown up in this area not only did she know every pub and club she knew every road, ever lane and every back alley, these were her streets and so she never felt any fear about travelling them at any time. She had plans upon plans for what she would do if someone tried to corner her, she had a map in her head of every twist every turn and every bolt hole in the area. She was a confident young lady and it was this confidence which let her step out from the club, that made her feel no hesitation at the prospect of walking from one night spot to another.

Yet somewhere else somewhere not to far away there was a figure stumbling in the night, surrounded by a fog in the darkness not a dull grey rolling fog but instead a fire-lit, ash-dusted fog which moved flowing along with the figure.  A noise seems to come from this fog at first it sounds like a man talking but no there were more layers to it than that, it isn’t the sound of a man it is the sound of a dark choir moaning and sighing in an almost rhythmic fashion, it is a symphony of pain and suffering which has continued on beyond the grave. This thing could smell the living, it could taste them in the air so as Rochelle left the club it knew it. Somehow it could taste her sweet perfume even through its own smell a smell which was as dark and disgusting as her perfume was sweet and light enveloped it. It wanted her and yet it didn’t quite know why it just knew that she would take away the pain, she would make things better for a time at least. It had to feed things were always much clearer when it began to feed.

Rochelle was simply walking now, as far as she was concerned she was leaving one club and heading to the next. At first she didn’t know she was being followed, the fog stayed far enough behind that in her inebriated state she didn’t pay any attention to it, in fact the first thing she knew was that the temperature seemed to be rapidly dropping. It had felt almost warm when she had first stepped out and now it seemed to be getting colder by the second. If she had looked down she would have seen the strange fog gathering around her feet, soon spectral fingers were crawling their way up her legs, but she couldn’t feel them, she couldn’t feel there cold skeletal digits brushing against her flesh, they were hungry for her, jealous of the warmth of her flesh, of the beating of her heart, she had what they had lost but soon she would join them.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

In the words of Shakespeare "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Well if this is the case then why do some films have so many different names?
 Some films sometimes seem to have an identity crisis, you look at the names which they were released under in different countries and they are totally different in fact some films sometimes even become sequels to films they have absolutely nothing to do with through the process of renaming. Sometimes there are also delicious rumours about alternate movie titles in different countries, ones that we would have believed before the internet was so prevalent but that now within fifteen seconds of googling we can unfortunately prove not to be true. The best I ever heard was a supposed oriental title for Pretty Woman which happened to be ‘’how to save money and marry a prostitute’’.

There are a few real gems out there though that happen to be true and not just rumours. Did you know what Die hard with a vengeance was known as in Denmark? Believe it or not it was called Die Hard: Mega Hard, I can’t help but chuckle hearing this it sounds like it’s the name of a Die Hard porno spoof.

It is important that a name fits the movie that it is attached to. For example if I was to show you a crappy low budget horror film with an original name then you would take it on face value it might still be crap but you wouldn’t be mad that mad about it, now if I was to make the same film and call it Evil Dead 4 then you would probably be screaming pissed if you got tricked and watched it expecting something on the lines of the earlier films carrying that title.

Sometimes though with all of the millions of films out there it’s kind of surprising that names don’t get repeated more often. As a child I was deeply in love with a film called Project X a 1987 film about a young Air Forces pilot who is due to his conduct reassigned to look after a bunch of chimps who are being used for a military experiment, then in 2012 a film came out called Project X about as far as I know an out of control house party (having not seen the film nor having any desire to I could be way off the mark here).

It would be easy to sit here and moan and go oh for goodness sake surly you can check what names have and haven’t been used for films but stop and think not only how many films have been made all over the world but also remember that sometimes when a film is shown in a new market it gets a new name with some having a whole list of Also known as references on websites such as IMDB.

I have a little first-hand experience in making a bit of a naming blunder as a youngster I made my own short film with friends, it was a gangster film and we decided that we would name it after an Iron Maiden song which we thought fitted the general theme, so we named it  The Evil that Men Do. We didn’t realise at the time that a film starring Charles Bronson had come out in 1984 when we were all very little with this exact same title. We did copy this short to video and show it to friends and family but in the end it got forgotten about and unfortunately lost but it does show that you can come up with a name without realising its already been used. So while I will always moan when people try to use a false title to trick people I think you have to accept the same name will end up being used now and again.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Ash versus Evil Dead episode 8: Ashes To Ashes Review

OK before you start reading this, if you havent read one of my Ash Versus Evil Dead reviews before then I need to sua that this will be very spoiler heavy so if you want to watch the episode without knowing what is going to happen go do that first then come back to this.

Well the first thing I can say about this episode is that if your a long time Evil Dead fan then this episode is an absolute nostalgia feast. Getting to see Ash return to the cabin where it all started is just the starting point but it needs to be said at this point that the replica of the cabin that they made for this show is so good that you will never stop and wonder if its the same place or not you will just accept that it is the cabin and role with it, which is great because the Cabin itself is just one of those movie locations that has been so fleshed out that it almost feels as if it is a character in its own right.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the skeletal head of his girlfriend Linda was still there, right where he had left it, trapped in a vice, this really hammerd home that this is not just a TV show  loosely based on the Evil Dead films this is a real continuation of events. The way Linda's head came back to life and played with his emotions being nasty and tormenting one moment and then turning this on its head and asking him why he left her and if he didn't love her the next was right on. It was good to see Ash struggling to fight against the Evil as it tried to use the fact that everyone he loves dies against him.

As Kelly and Pablo wander through the woods tooled up and ready to face danger we have Amanda finding Ash. Kelly and Pablo meet some backpackers while Amanda meets an Ash, an Ash which has grown from his evil possessed hand. I have to admit that its great to have seen the hand but its even better to get to see an Evil Ash again. I know that they dont apparently have the rights to Army of Darkness but the way this is played there is a definite head nod to that film in my opinion. It came completely out of the blue to see Evil Ash violently murder Amanda it surprised me in a way that doesn't happen very often, but I am not completely sure how I feel about it. I guess the character was built up more than enough to make you truly sad to see her pass but then on the other side of the coin she was perhaps built up a bit too much. It now feels like a lot of time and effort was invested in to getting us to know and like this person just so we would go ''oh no'' when they died.

The episode ends with Kelly and Pablo coming face to face with both Good Ash and Bad Ash and all I can say is I am really enjoying this show and cant wait to see how this series plays out. I am just so glad that a second series is now going to happen.

Friday, 1 January 2016

My Plans for my blog this year

OK so its a new year and although I dont believe in making new years resolutions as such I do believe in looking forward and thinking about your next steps. Last year was kind of important for this blog in two ways, one it had to change site due to the site it was originally hosted on being taken down and secondly it was the year in which I managed the most posts, there must have been a good 40 posts on the old place this year before it was shut down and then I managed 105 here.

My posts this year seem to have been split between Video Games, Horror, Wrestling and sort of political rants with the occasional mention  of comic books. I guess in some ways it must be confusing that I flip between these things and I have given a lot of thought to if I should somehow limit myself, if I should pick a core subject and just focus on it or run multiple blogs but I have decided against doing both of these for various reasons. So this means that I basically intend to carry on with this mixed bag approach. In the past I have also juggled pod-casts and YouTube videos along side my blog and while I miss both of these to some degree I dont really think that I have the time to return to them, particularly not YouTube videos. Making half decent YouTube videos actually requires a lot of work. So the next question is am I still writing fiction, well that is a tough one to answer, I actually did finish a novella which now needs to be taken from the draft form and polished and edited but this in itself is a process which will take up a good junk of time, beyond this I just dont know. I have been writing novels, novellas and short stories for around 3 years and the truth is that I feel a little burned out, I guess the correct answer is that if a really good idea gets wings and starts to seep out of me then I will write it down and take it from there, but if it does not then well I guess it doesn't.

As for this place? Well I intend to finish my 150 SNES reviews, I dont have a time table or even know what I will or will not being reviewing but I am determined that by the time I sit down to write next years ''My Plans for my blog this year'' post I will have finished these reviews. I also intend to review the rest of the episodes of Ash Versus Evil Dead, to talk more about the WWE hall of fame and to look at horror films both of the classic and trashy favourite. I also want to keep doing regular posts about my retro purchases and during the months in which I have actually managed to finish a game I will do posts about what I have completed (I have been too busy with work during December and havent managed to finish anything hence the lack of a post of this type).

What about new things and changes though? Well I do have a few Guest posters in mind, they are not anyone you will have heard of, they are intelligent people I know who I feel should keep blogs themselves but who do not, who I feel have voices and opinions on certain things that should be put out somewhere. Apart from this I will just play it by ear and see how things go.