Archive for August, 2010

The Gym and The Supermarket

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Me, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on 31/08/2010 by arabrhizome

So I went to the gym today, after a long weekend of no exercise. I was able to do a lot of running. I’m surprised at how I can sustain 20 minutes on the treadmill, between running and walking. I also did some rowing and some biking. But Then something horrible happened. I went to weigh myself on the way out, after weighing myself on the way in, and guess what? I had gained a kilo after doing my exercise. That was quite upsetting. But then I realised that I was holding a bottle of water my phone and my sweat filled towel, which I wasn’t holding when I weighed myself on the way in.I figured it must add up to a kilo so that’s okay.

The gym was enjoyable, even though there were a few show offs there. There was a huge black man who was wearing a sort of net vest showing off what he thinks is his beautiful body, but is in fact quite a disgusting site. There were a few boys trying to impress each other and the women around by using machines with a lot more weights on them then they can do comfortably. This lead to them making a lot of noise while using the machines. I’m sure a lot of this noise was showing off as well. Also, few boys were loitering behind the treadmills clearly looking at women’s bottoms while they were running. So while I was happy with my own performance, I was annoyed at some of the men and boys around.

I hate how disgusting men can be. Not that women are angels, because their disgusting behaviour is usually more subtle and more intelligent then men, it involves psychological games and long term plans. Men just gawk and stare and objectify women. All the men I wrote about in the previous chapter make me feel a bit dirty for being a man as well. Especially the boys loitering and staring at women. I wanted to say something but they were bigger than me (shut up all of you who are thinking that it’s not hard being taller the me because I am tiny, haha haha haha. Very clever, yes I am a small man, laugh it up), and looked like they might stab me later. But I think that the people who work there should make more of an effort of making sure people are actually exercising.

Anyway, after that I made my way to the supermarket to buy, specifically, some bread, olive oil, and toilet paper. I thought I might as well have a look at other stuff, as my fridge is a bit empty. So I went around looking for stuff. I ended up having a semi full basket. I got some prawns, some smoked salmon, some lean lamb, and other stuff. I paid what I owed and made my way back home. Only to realise once I got home that I got none of the stuff I went there to get in the first place. I am a fucking idiot. I think it’s the colours and shapes of the supermarket that turn my brain into the brain of a child. I start wanting stuff, and forget what I went in for.

What I need is a shopping list of course. Which I usually have. If you see me at the supermarket you’ll see me carrying my list and putting a check next to an item after I’ve purchased it. I am not insane. But today I went without one, because I was at the gym and I forgot to write one before I left. So my brain was unable to retain the vital information that is the items I needed to buy. I started walking up and down the aisles browsing their many products. I ended up getting plenty of nice stuff, but as I stated before, my child like love of meat overtook my need for certain important items.

Speaking of my love for meat. This love for meat, red meat particularly, has been with me since I was a child. In fact, when I was a kid I didn’t like sweet stuff, mainly because the sweet stuff in Algeria were disgusting, being way too sweet. You see I never really had a sweet tooth. I have grown to appreciate sweet food, but still prefer salty stuff. To explain to what extent that was true. I remember my grandmother, paternal, coming to visit us in Algiers, she lived in Oran at the time. I must have been 6 or 7, having started school not so long ago. I was going down stairs to buy something and my grandmother told me not to follow any stranger who proposes to give me sweets or chocolate. I responded by saying that I would never follow any one who offered such disgusting things, adding that if he offered me a steak then I would think about it. I was being clever you see, but the poor woman got a bit confused and said to me that I shouldn’t follow anyone who offers me meat either.

Well that’s pretty much it from me today. I am quite tired from all the working out today. I did take a bath afterwards, because my muscles felt very tense. I am now getting ready to go to bed. I hope you all have a very good time procrastinating while reading this. Oh yeah the reading hours clearly show that most of you read this blog during working hours, my speculation is correct. What are you doing wasting time? Go back to work! You should be ashamed of yourselves!

Dylan Moran and Nottingham

Posted in Culture, Me, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on 30/08/2010 by arabrhizome

So I just got back from watching Dylan Moran trying out new material at Just the Tonic in Nottingham. It’s a comedy club that, it seems, has been around for 16 years in different venues but now has its own new venue. The venue is still not completely ready but Dylan Moran wanted to try out his material and they weren’t going to say no to him. It will launch properly at the end of September. I can’t wait for that. I will be going there once every two weeks at least.

The show itself was brilliant, as you would expect from such a fantastic stand up as Dylan Moran. If you don’t know who he is, go on youtube and watch a few videos of him and then go to amazon and buy his DVDs. He is so brilliantly grumpy and angry at the world. But more importantly it was nice to see him still in the rough. He is still working out what his show will look like and be. It’s the first time I see a preview show like this.

As you know I am very interested in comedy and would like to try it out myself. So watching one of the best stand ups in Britain and the world honing his material for a new show was fascinating. The thing with Moran is that his on stage ‘persona’ makes it look like he is just drunk and angry at the world and ranting. So it seems that everything he does is completely spontaneous. But of course you know it’s not. In fact, he clearly has thought about everything in his show very hard. So it was nice to see this happening in front of me.

In October I will go see Stewart Lee also trying out material for his tv show at the same venue. He is another great stand up. I can’t wait for that. I am happy though that this club is launching properly and I will try to go as often as I possibly can. I will also be looking for open mic nights that they might organise. I have decided to finally take the plunge and try out some material I’ve been thinking about. A lot of it is on this blog.

It seems also that the glee club is launching in a new venue as well. So that’s something to look forward to as well. I don’t know if they do open mic nights as well, that would be interesting. So it seems culture is picking up in Nottingham. In fact, tonight it felt like a proper city. There was some kind of street performance happening in the town centre as well. I don’t know if it’s just me but the city seemed to be quite vibrant and alive tonight. I hope this continues.

You see the problem I’ve had with this place is that it felt quite dead and not like a city at all. I would say that it felt like a big town. Cultural events seemed to be centred around robin hood and nothing else. There are a few theatres and playhouses, but it felt forced. However, something seems to have changed. I don’t know if it’s thanks to the council or what, but the city is really picking up. It’s not London or Liverpool but it certainly is a lot better than Nottingham 2008-2009. I hope this isn’t just an impression and that the city continues to become more vibrant and more interesting.

Well that’s pretty much it from me. I need to go and work now before I sleep. I am getting somewhere with my work it’s just taking a lot longer then I hoped. Anyway, I shall bid you adieu (which is wrong because adieu means I will never see you again, because it literally means ‘to god’, as in see you in the afterlife) and hope to have something to write about tomorrow.

Readers

Posted in about the blog, Me, Silly Thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , on 29/08/2010 by arabrhizome

Hello ever decreasing number of readers. I say ever decreasing but that’s not completely true. In fact, it is false but after a huge spike of hits for my 100th post, my hit counter has now decreased to a very small number. I have realised that I have a core set of readers, who are mainly my friends and then the occasional tourists. In fact, I have figured out a number of patterns about my readership and I thought I should share them with you.. It’s funny how compulsive I get about you. I keep feeling like I should entertain you and keep you wanting to read this.

So I thought about 15 of you visit this site on a daily basis, but I believe that this is not in fact the case. I think that I have about 40 or 50 people who will read this blog every week, but not every day. So my average hits is around 15 a day, but that’s because different people read it every day. I think only 4 or 5 of you do in fact visit my blog everyday. This explains the weird spikes of hits I sometimes get. The point is that once every three weeks to a month my hit counter reaches 70 or 75. This is usually followed by a much lower hit number, anywhere between 4 and 10. This to me means that sometimes you all read my blog on the same day.

Another thing I’ve realised is that publicising it on twitter doesn’t help much, because I think that my twitter followers who read my blog don’t need a reminder. So I have resorted to publicising it much less on there. I took that decision because my feed had become me linking to my blog. You see I haven’t been tweeting as often as I used to for some reason. In fact, I haven’t been tweeting at all for a while now. So I thought I would not turn my twitter account into a series of tweets linking people to this page. This hasn’t hurt my readership, thus proving that those followers who read my blog will do it whether I publicise it or not.

Another interesting thing is that when I publicise it on Facebook I get an immediate spike in readers. However, this happens only on the day I publicise it. This is strange as my Facebook friends aren’t stupid, so you would think that they know that this is a daily blog and so would read it if they were interested. However, it seems that they only remember it exists when I explicitly link to it. But again I don’t want to mention it everyday, because that would be annoying and spammy. I don’t want my Facebook feed to become a nuisance for my friends, so I only mention it on special occasions.

Another thing is that weekends seem to be a time when very few people read my blog. I find that qite fascinating as you would think that they have free time and would in fact catch up on the posts of the week. But it seems that this blog is read by people during week days, between 10:00 and 16:00. So I can only assume that it is used as a tool of procrastination, and I can only be proud of that.

One thing that is apparent though is that my core readership is increasing very slowly. This makes me happy. I like that I end up increasing the number of people who read this blog by 2 or 3 every month. This means that more strangers are reading this set of self indulgent non-sense. I am glad that’s the case as this makes me even more neurotic about writing something interesting, or at least trying to. So to al of you who read this blog on a regular basis I’d like to say thanks, you make me happy. To those who only visit once in a while, I’d like to say come on, pull your finger out and read it every day, or at least once every 3 days. And to those who have been linked to this by mistake then hope you enjoy it and visit more often.

Not Much To Say

Posted in Me, Uncategorized, Work with tags , , , , , , on 28/08/2010 by arabrhizome

Right so we all knew this was going to happen in these few days. I’ve been working a lot and so haven’t been doing anything. Today passed without me realising. I am so far behind where I want to be. Editing is so annoying. I don’t know why after a whole day of doing nothing but editing, admittedly not very well, I am still not done. See as I said yesterday I can’t bring myself to re-read and rewrite properly. I keep getting so bored that my mind end up wandering off into the metaphorical distance. I hate editing. I wish I could somehow force myself to do it. I used to be quite good at self motivation. I seem to have lost that ability. That’s why I’m going to ask for a desk in the postgraduate room for next year.

The post graduate room is this oppressive space where everyone is sat in front of their computer typing away at ungodly speed. It is very daunting and  quite intimidating, but maybe that’s what I need. Maybe I need some postgrads  to silently judge my lack of typing speed and productivity in order for me to be kicked into shape. The good thing about it is that A works there so I could take breaks with him. But in the mean time I need to finish off this thing this weekend.

Right, something has just happened. As I was writing this post, a fire engine pulled up on my street. Now, for those who don’t know, my street is a cul-de-sac and I live in a flat at the end of it that is a part of 5 blocks of flats. Three firemen came out of the truck and went to one of those blocks, not mine. I don’t know what they did, but they spent about 2 or 3 minutes in and then came out and left. It was very strange and somewhat unsettling. It was clear to me that there was no fire, so I thought that maybe someone died or was very ill, but it seems that this was not case thankfully. So there’s a mystery that I might try to investigate next week.

Well that’s pretty much it from me I’m afraid. It’s just that there is nothing really to say. I am cross with myself because I am not working as efficiently as I’d like. I am hoping that I will finish off this thing soon so that I start on the next chapter, which I’m quite excited about, as it is a fun and interesting one. Well I say fun and interesting, it is just something new. I’m sure that I will grow as sick of it as I’ have done with this one. So back to work, hope you are having a better weekend then me so far.

Headache, Hatred of Editing, and Gym

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Food, Me, Silly Thoughts, Uncategorized, Work with tags , , , , , , , , , on 27/08/2010 by arabrhizome

So I will do something completely bunkers and write about things in reverse order from the title. That’s right I’m starting with the gym, what a maverick I am. Some would argue that the real maverick art would be to write something that has nothing to do with the title, in a sort of post-something-or-other critique of subjectivity and the process of writing, but that’s been done a million times over. So, to repeat for the not so bright out there, I will begin by talking about the gym, then my (or someone else’s, who knows I am a maverick after all) hatred of editing (it is me I’m not that insane), and then my headache. Take that ‘the system’.

So I went to the gym this afternoon and continued to perform quite well. I am flabbergasted by my level of fitness. Now, just to clarify, I am not fit, but I am much fitter then I thought I would be after my hiatus from going to the gym. So I was able to row quite well, run and walk for a long time, and bike at a sustainable pace. All in all I felt quite good with myself. I have also had low calorie food, but I am not going hungry, I am just eating things that are mainly water like veg and fruit. So I’m hoping to start seeing results with my weight loss in the next two weeks. I don’t want to lose to much all at once, but a little bit would be welcomed. Also, I’ve been wanting to book a tennis court to start playing with my new cheap racket, but the sport centre is closed until Tuesday, so that will have to wait until next week.

I needed to go to the gym because I’ve been suffering while doing the final edit for this chapter. I hate editing. It is one of the worst things about writing. It is boring as hell. See the problem I have is that once I have written something I am more or less done with it, except for the occasional grammar or spelling mistake that I need to correct I am very happy never looking at this piece of writing ever again. However, editing requires one to read with fresh eyes, as if someone else is reading it, but see I am the one who has written it and I know what I’ve written. So rereading a paragraph is agony. I say agony, concentration camps were agony, this is a bit of an inconvenience. But I’m bored and then get petulant and start acting brattishly, so I play my video game, listen to the radio, watch television, do my washing up, basically anything other then work.

This situation is starting to become a real problem for me and I need to find a solution. I still have three days to get it done, and it is only a full day’s worth of work, so I should be fine. It is just getting to the point when I think that I might be in need of some kind of kick up the arse, or some kind of real tangible deadline, like a presentation or a publication deadline. I don’t know. I think that in reality I should just pull my finger out, or in my case probably pull my whole arm out, and do the work. When I said my whole arm, I was referring to the amount of procrastination I am guilty of, not to the fact that my anus is so wide that fingers would not fit and an arm would be the only thing that could block it. What a nice image I have planted in all your minds, you can thank me later.

Finally, I started suffering from a very strong headache just before I started writing this post. It was clearly caused by my shoulder muscles, which are quite tense, probably from all the weights I am lifting (I am not lifting any weights). So I decided to take a nice hot bath, which I did. So basically I wrote about one third of this post before the bath and the rest after (again, as for an earlier post, all of this admin type of information is probably completely useless to you and in fact quite uninteresting, if not down right boring. But this blog is free and I need to fill it with words. These are great because they fill space. I also like that the justification for them fills a lot of space as well. I am acutely aware though that this is one of the last times I can write about it, since, unless you are all quite thick, which I know for a fact you are not, you probably got the point the last time this happened. So five or ten more times should do it). The bath helped a lot and I now feel clean, refreshed and no longer headachey.

I will now go back to try and do some editing before I sleep, since I am not sleepy in the least, and end up playing my game or reading something online. I haven’t been following the news too much lately. I should probably do that in the morning while I drink my tea. Anyway, hope you all have a good sleep or evening afternoon or day, as I am not in control of when you read this. I am going to edit.

Resonance of Fate… Again

Posted in Culture, Uncategorized with tags , , on 26/08/2010 by arabrhizome

Right so I didn’t know what to write about today, so I thought I’l write a bit more about Resonance of Fate the game I’m playing at the moment. Well, what can I say, it’s a hardcore Japanese Role Playing Game (JRPG). It is not for newbies. You need to be familiar with the genre and be willing to sink hours of pure grind in order to level up and face the next quest. So I thought I would break it down bit by bit.

First, the story. So far it is still developing. We don’t really know what’s happening. The story is told through a series of videos that don’t seem quite that related to each other yet. Some are flash backs, some are about two high ranking men, who you don’t really interact with. Your characters’ stories are told slowly and intermittently. The world seems to make sense in itself, and your place in it as well as others is assumed rather than explained. While that might seem alienating, it kind of makes sense. You live on this tower/machine. The rich people live higher up, and the poorer lower down. You are hunters who do odd jobs for the populace as well as the leaders known as cardinals. It is a post apocalyptic world. The earth died and time itself doesn’t make sense anymore. Now time is regulated by that tower/machine you live on. It also seems to be a pre-apocalyptic world, as there seems to be some kind of catastrophe waiting to happen. All of this is suggested rather than explicitly told. This gives the narrative structure of the game a strong quality I find. There is an air of foreboding and as you go on living your life you discover more and more what is happening.

Second, the character: You are in control of a party of three hunters. A man, a boy (who the man rescued it seems), and a girl (who the boy rescued when she tried to commit suicide). Their back stories aren’t clear as they are told in a series of unconnected flash backs. Nothing makes you care for them, yet you somehow do. Again I think that this is due to the very strong way in which the story is told. As you progress you learn more about them and the more you learn the less clear everything seems. At least that’s how it is at the point I got to in the game.

Third, Game mechanics. Well the game progresses through a chapter structure. Each chapter involves a major mission that you need to complete. Each chapter also offers a set of side missions that you might choose to undertake by visiting the hunter’s guild and taking the jobs. If you do not finish the side quests that are assigned to this chapter before you choose to finish it then you fail them. This means that in theory one can go through the game without doing any side quests. I say in theory because in practice one would need to do them as the rewards, both in cash and experience are invaluable if one is to finish the game as combat is unforgiving.

Combat mechanics is very interesting. Unlike classic JRPGs which involve swordplay and magic, this game is set in a steam punk world where people use guns. So you have your guns and that’s pretty much it. Combat is a sort of hybrid between realtime and turn based combat systems. It is a bit hard to get used to. However, once you do it is quite rewarding and demands a great amount of strategy. The combat is also unforgiving as you die a lot. there are two types of weapons, those that do scratch damage, which is surface damage that doesn’t involve loss of health points, and those that do direct damage, which involves loss of health points. The idea is to rack up scratch damage and then transform is into direct damage. There are also a whole bunch of special actions including tri-attacks which are a sequence where all three members of the party attack at once.

The most striking thing about the game is how unashamedly hardcore it is. This is not a game that holds you by the hand and feeds you information with a spoon. It is not for casual players or people who are new to the genre. That is not to say that newcomers might not enjoy it, but they need to work hard at it. There are no easy short cuts. The player needs to go through the game quite meticulously and grind for a long time. the levelling up system is very interesting as a character levels up as their gun levels up. You can also customise your guns, in fact you have to otherwise you won’t be able to beat the harder enemies.

One example of how hardcore the game actually is, is the arena. Like almost all JRPGs the game includes an arena where the player can go and take part in fights that will earn him/her money, fame, and a few goodies. However, the arena has 50 levels and each level involves 10 fights. You can actually progress from level to level after beating a given level 3 times. However, if you are to master the arena you need to do 500 fights. That is a staggering number. Again this is completely optional, or at least it seems to be so far, but any RPGer worth their name would want to finish everything in the game.

All in all, I am enjoying it a lot. I think that the game works very well. It toys with the conventions of the genre, while sticking to the basics. The world is beautiful, imaginative, and well presented. The story is told very well. The characters are interesting and loveable, or at least likeable. Finally, the game mechanics are tied well to the story. I, so far at least, highly recommend the game.

Resonance of Fate and Gym

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Friends, Me, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on 25/08/2010 by arabrhizome

So I had a productiveish day today. I did some work all day then went to the gym with Cy. I was surprised with myself as I did a lot more than I expected. In fact, I was back to almost my full fitness. It was strange being able to use the treadmill for so long. It made me feel good to sweat a bit. Exercise really makes you feel good. Anyway, after the gym I passed by the supermarket and bought a tennis racket, they were selling them for cheap. I’ve decided to play a sport that doesn’t involve violent tackles as a fun alternative, or supplement, to the gym. I am starting to lose weight and I want to keep it going. This year, academic year I mean, will be the year I reach my target weight.

After getting back home I started playing Resonance of Fate, a Japanese role playing game (JRPG), that I got not so long ago. My first impressions are that its setting is fantastic. It is set in a steam punk post apocalyptic world. The world has all but died and all of humanity lives on this giant tower/machine. You are a hunter, well three hunters who live together, a boy a man and a girl. And you go around doing missions for people, some of them involve getting stuff, others involve killing people, etc. So far the game seems to be quite hardcore. It’s very fun but requires a good amount of playing around, upgrading and grinding, even from this early stage. I will keep updating my review of the game as I go through it.

Other than that, I’ve realised again that when I publicise my blog on facebook I get so many more hits then when I don’t publicise it or just use twitter. I don’t want to keep putting reminders on facebook though as that would be annoying for everyone. I wonder why people don’t just visit it on their own. Anyway, I am quite tired and in need of sleep. I have to start doing more things during my day in order to find something to write about. I’m still not very good at writing extensively about minor events. I mean I do quite well but I need to be able to write an 800 word post on going to the gym and starting a new game. Only when I am able to do that would I consider myself quite good at blogging. Until then, I am only an apprentice blog writer. Anyway, good night dear readers. I will hopefully entertain you tomorrow.