Your Granddad died so you could buy our rosemary foccacia you ungrateful fucks, so get out there and starting shopping.

A beautiful and heart warming piece about advertising at xmas by Jamienory…(is not what you should expect to read. But there are a lot of truthfacts and swearing.)

Jamienory

Around this time last year I wrote a piece about adverts and specifically the John Lewis ad “The Bear and the Hare”. Here it is if you fancy a quick shufty- http://jamienory.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/the-bear-the-hare-the-bucket-of-brain-parasites/

This year though things have stepped up, like they’re a part of some shitty dance based film franchise. I just had to google the “step up” movies to make sure I got that right, so you better have appreciated that reference based joke. If not, we could be in for a badass dance off to settle matters.
I do not know if they actually do that in the films.

Not only do we have various newspapers, a host of TV shows and an endless stream of websites harping on about how we must watch the new John Lewis advert because it will allow us to experience emotions. There is now competition for the role of “feels generator”. Sainsburys…

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Microsoft buys Minecraft – part 3

The final part of my study on why Microsoft buying Mojang matters so much. Cheers to Alpha Signal Five and all the people who kindly donated images for the articles.

Alpha Signal Five

In the final part of his examination of Mojang’s sale to Microsoft, Anton takes in the geek culture reaction.

Now that the business side of it is all discussed, I feel it is time to move on to talking about what may be the most important part of the whole equation.

People sometimes overreact. Hair-trigger geeks tend to overreact slightly more than average. I think that this is because they feel almost totally invested in the idea/show/film/comic/game/character/book, and have attached some part of themselves to it. If that changes, they change. They cannot possibly be the same person if this part of their life is different.

geek culture blog minecraft Image by Anton Krasauskas – and it’s a doozy!

So when such-and-such gets killed off in whatever series of books, or whatsisface turns heel and powerbombs thingybob through a table, it has not only affected the story, it has actually affected their life. By becoming…

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Recently excavated memory

I remember we were doing an improv exercise at college where we had to pretend we were in the big brother house. The tutor played the part of the “big brother” character and he basically told us the situations and the rules for the improv. At some point he told us that the house was being locked down and we would be poisoned to death with Chlorine gas for the entertainment of the viewers. We all started pretending to be freaked out and getting upset. Then we all actually started getting freaked out and upset. People started screaming and crying. At one point I picked up a chair and threw it at the window, which luckily did not break. We were all so completely absorbed in the game that even though we knew it wasn’t real, we were allowing ourselves to go so far as to behave as though it was. Then the room started to fill with gas and we started running out of air. We collapsed one by one and passed out. Some people actually passed out. Then the tutor told us that it had been a test and there was no gas. We were all free to leave. He walked out of the room and we were just supposed to carry on with the day. This had been an exercise just like any other and now we were supposed to just carry on.

Looking back on it now I think it was kind of pointless. It’s an interesting story though.

Something important. (An attempt to explain the big picture.)

This may all just be delusions, or it might be long overdue chemical brain damage, or it could actually be true and real and not imaginary in any way. But it’s definitely one of those. I just don’t know which one.

This was a terrible way to begin.

I’ll start again.

I sometimes have bouts of deja vu. But not like anyone else I know. For me they can last for minutes at a time and i am almost always sure that I have dreamed whatever it is I am in the middle of. In a few cases I have been able to tell someone what is about to happen and then it happens. The last couple of days have visited upon me a small scale version of this.

It always seems to happen just as things feel as though they are getting into the right places. People and places and opportunities and events mesh together perfectly and then it all just sort of happens. This one wayward thought passes through your head on it’s travels to somewhere else and then you’re following it. There is no logical reason to do so, but for some reason you are following this half formed idea somewhere. The longer you follow it, the more familiar everything around that thought seems to be. There are people attached to this vagabond idea that you had forgotten all about until just now. Songs that you haven’t heard in years must be played in case something goes wrong. Jigsaw pieces fall from above your head and bounce once before dropping into their rightful places. You instantly understand, in this one tiny moment, that something vital is going to happen. And these are the songs that you will hear, and this is the cast of characters, here is a list of the times and the places and here is the most important part. Here is the bit where you just have to remember what to say next to make it all work. All of these events will clockwork their way into existence if you can just remember the next line.

Fuck.

It’s something…

Something…something about tightropes. Something about balance and perspective. Something about uncertainty and validation and how i’d rather watch the sky getting further away than watch the ground rushing up to meet me. Something about failure being a signpost on the way to success. Something about waiting for the perfect idea and then three come along at once. Something colourful. Something specific and inspiring. And then you were there with me, but you had somewhere else that you had to be. So we went our separate ways. I turned around quickly because I remembered that there was something I wanted to tell you. Something…Something that looks like a victorian wardrobe with little tiny cameo portraits on the doors. There are scuffling sounds and then the doors burst open and fifteen identically dressed officials collapse into the room. Into the space. Into the…the…balance. A lion roars somewhere and a cat meows back. Sickly children line up with their bony hands outstretched. Top hats and tails. Top hats and tails and canes. Unable to pick one thought from the next now. This is not how it was supposed to go. There was something.

Something…important.

I nearly had it.

More about writing…

Lots of writing and editing and some more writing this week. Script editing for The Skeleton Project is going well. We did a scratch version of the first section at West Yorkshire Playhouse on Saturday. It was received very well and we got lots of good feedback about it. Now we just need to carry on with the rest of the piece. But since we have adjusted the whole first section of it so much, the rest of the piece feels quite loose and wobbly. But that’s what editing is for.

I have also been trying to make sure that I write something every day. Sometimes it’s poetry, sometimes it’s part of a story idea, more often than not it’s just a collection of rambling thoughts that I will condense down into something more interesting at some point in the future. But I am very definitely writing more than I have done in a long time. I also got started on a site called HitRECord (the mid-word capitalisation annoys me, but it’s the name of the thing so I suppose it’s fine.) There’s a fairly impressive writing community on there which is good. Also they do writing challenges and things like that. If you are interested this is where it lives. It is all explained on there, rather than me going into it here for people who aren’t interested. Although i’m not sure why you are here if you’re not interested in reading about writing.

So yes. Lots of writing. Lots of good times with good peoples. Lots of new peoples.

The more I write, the more fun it is to actually start pulling what I have written to pieces and find ways to make it better. I’m starting to find that is a more enjoyable part of the work sometimes. The initial idea is great, but hacking at it and shaping it into something better is quite exciting.

ALSO. I have been learning about all the different kinds of poetic metres. I can’t remember the names of any of them at the moment, but I am starting to think more about the technical side of that sort of writing. I am finding it quite fascinating. I am sure that it is probably not anywhere near as exciting to anyone else.

Ugh…Sundays: Addendum

Shortly after posting that last piece a very lovely person sent me a song that sums up exactly the feeling of sundays I was attempting to put into words, but in the form of noises instead. It’s here if you want to listen to it. Also this sounds a lot like a sunday squished down into one minute and forty one seconds. 

Warning: Bleak and slightly cold, but in a soothing sort of way that implies that it will be over soon and that maybe things aren’t so bad after all.

Ugh…Sundays

I’ve always had this weird aversion to sundays. It’s one of my earliest memories. Bad things always happen on sunday. I forget that there is homework to do for monday and sunday night becomes a mixture of terror and maths and hoping that i’m not being a huge disappointment to anyone. For anyone else I know sunday is a relaxing day of rest before the weekly grind begins again. Games and films and hangovers and fun things with fun people. And if I am hungover then it can be that. If I wake up at someone elses house then usually it starts of as an amusing day. Gathering thoughts and memories of the previous night. Drinking cups of tea and half watching stupid garbage on the television. But sober sundays are nightmares, to me at least. Sundays are fear and loss and despair. Sundays are death and attempted abductions. Sundays are memories of Lego and Bonnie Tyler. It’s the same reason that listening to the radio makes me feel numb. Not because it’s shit, which it invariably is, but because the sound of the radio is inextricably linked with sadness and fear and loss and Lego and death and missing cousins and sunday.

I’m not sure why this has all just come to the surface all of a sudden. The same way you feel as you leave a loud club and the lack of noise disorients you for a moment whilst your ears adjust to the absence of heavy bass and loud crowds. I tend to get quite addicted to being social. If I don’t get the chance for a while then I just lose my taste for it and fade back into hermitry. But that bit takes a while. And in between all of those bits I get that instantly recognisable sunday feeling. (I don’t know if hermitry is a word, but I like it and so it is a word now.)

I feel as though I should be writing more, But I have nothing specific to write about. So this is what comes out. I really don’t do enough writing.

For anyone who is interested, the novel I have been working on since last November is coming along at a very slow pace. I have bursts of energy with it that disappear quite quickly. I am basically stuck at a point where I feel as though the entire thing is shit. But I don’t know how to make it not shit. I feel generally quite happy with it when I am working on it. There are some parts that I am very proud of and then some bits that i’m not so bothered about. But they are sort of necessary to the story. And then because I can’t decide what I want to do with those bits, I stop trying and just get very down about the whole thing and the entire idea of being a writer. But if I can just write, whatever it is and however it comes out, then surely that is better than spending my time arguing with myself about my own abilities as a writer. At least I can perhaps work through some of those issues by writing about them.

I have started reading The Great and Secret Show by Clive Barker. And that is part of the reason why I feel so negative about my own work. I have a habit of comparing myself to internationally known and published writers and just immediately assuming that if my work isn’t as good as Chuck Palahniuk then obviously me making any sort of work at all is a massive waste of time.

This is probably going to become a regular thing now. I can’t think of a word for it, but this basic unpicking of issues that I find myself staring at. It’s a good excuse to write and I don’t feel as though I’m putting something else off if I’m working towards something like this. And who knows, maybe some good will come out of it.

Also, I wrote an article for my brother’s blog Alpha Signal Five. I reblogged the first part, but the second part is up now too and the third will be going up sometime in the next seven days. So if you are into Minecraft or Microsoft or just want to read something else that I’ve put together, here’s a link for you.

In a bit, kids.

Microsoft buys Minecraft – Part 1

Part one of an article I wrote for the excellent geekery blog Alpha Signal Five.

Alpha Signal Five

The Mine-crosoft Debacle rages on, as guest writer Anton Krasauskas gives his thoughts on Mojang’s purchase by Microsoft.

I wanted to give this article a little bit of breathing space before I wrote it. I felt as though this topic was far too big to simply dive into. I wanted to be in a position where I could plug myself in to the whole picture and come out with a sort of wordy collage that covers all the points I care about.

At the end of the day big companies buy up successful smaller companies all the time. When Microsoft bought up Rare, I wasn’t really that bothered. Even considering what they did to Banjo Kazooie. (Viva Pinata was alright I suppose. Conker was…let’s not get into that.) The big question that has been floating around my head this whole time is: why do I care so much…

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Ash – Horror Short

CAUTION – This is a horror story that may or may not be suitable for human consumption. The only reason i’m warning you is that I felt weird after writing it. But as with anything else, your mileage may vary. I’m just putting it up here because within in five seconds of mentioning it on facebook I had two requests to read it. So here it is. I don’t want to overblow it, but you are reading it at your own risk. Just so you know.

The wind picks up slightly as I walk into the place. I see her straight away. She is sitting in her usual spot at the far end of the bar. Stewart nods to me as I walk past. I courteously return his simple greeting, but I continue walking towards the back of the room to the table at which I always sit. As I pass, I glance towards her out of the corner of my eye but she pretends to ignore me. She lifts her Martini glass to her mouth and takes a long, slow, patient gulp so that she doesn’t have to make an excuse. It doesn’t matter. I continue to the table in the corner and lay my bag down on the floor next to the chair. I sit and take out a newspaper that I have brought with me.

Affixed to the wall just above her head and facing the entire room, the television is mumbling to itself about the various horrors and atrocities committed in countries which I couldn’t point to on a map. I look down at the newspaper and see much the same stories, told in a slightly different order. But without context or any explanation of their relevance, they are simply stories. Their characters are meaningless sketches and their morals are completely lost on me. They are just entertainment, but lacking a shred of anything entertaining.

Before I go on with my tale, I must tell you about her. She is the most stunning woman I have ever seen in my life. She is a woman of such indescribable beauty that it pains me to even attempt to lay out her immaculate appearance in words for fear that I would miss a detail or undervalue a single aspect of the entire woman that she is. There are no words in any language that I know that could justly describe her. And so I will not even try. Suffice it to say that her beauty, her charm, the promise of receiving a smile from her. That is why I come back here. Night after night and week after week. That is why I do what I do. I do it for her.

A man walks into the bar. A flash of recognition crosses his face as he sees her. His hand comes up and he waves nonchalantly at her. She stands up and walks over to greet him just a few feet from her stool. They embrace and his eyes scan the room. He sees me and then immediately looks away, pretending that he hadn’t noticed me here in the corner. They sit under the TV and he orders a drink from Stewart.

Stewart is the barman. That is all that needs to be said about him. He has worked there for as long as I have been going in there. He reaches down into the fridge and pulls out a bottle of cheap lager for the customer. Already he disgusts me. Such vulgar tastes are well below what she deserves. She deserves better than him, at the very least. I feel sickened just thinking about his intentions. He is clearly no gentleman, drinking his piss weak lager straight from the bottle. I feel bile climbing to the roof of my mouth and I have to dig my fingernails into the flesh in the palms of my hands just to stop myself from running across the room and gutting him like a dog right now. I reach down and run my fingers across the shoulder strap of my bag and my anger subsides. I get up to fetch myself a drink. I will show this animal how a gentleman behaves.

As I walk towards the bar, a plan forms in my head.

I nod at Stewart once more. This is our unspoken agreement that I will be heading to use the facilities and that I would like him to keep an eye on my newspaper and my bag until I return. We both understand that this is the bargain without either of us having to say anything or do anything more than nod solemnly at each other.

The gentleman’s washroom is a disgusting place. The one functional toilet is blocked with faeces and rolls of toilet paper. A sickly, putrid green water reaches the rim of the bowl, but never quite flows over the edge. The floor is awash with various liquids. One of the urinals is chipped and a hairline crack runs the length of it, discoloured and mouldy with age. The other urinal is hanging from the wall by one threadless bolt and a rusted pipe. This is how it always looks. No matter how clean it might be before the bar opens, it always reverts back to this state by the end of the night. Men are such disgusting animals.

After I have relieved myself and rinsed my hands under the one remaining tap in what is left of the sink basin, I go back into the bar room. I pull out my wallet and take out a folded note; a twenty. I look over to see how things are going with the couple and I notice that her glass is empty.

Stewart looks up at me with a question on his face. I nod once and he begins preparing my drink. He takes a bottle from the top shelf and a glass from the counter and passes them both to me. I pour myself a triple measure of whiskey and put the bottle back on the bar. I hand Stewart the note and before he rings the order into the till I spring my plan.

“One for the lady, too,” I say. Loud enough for everyone to hear, but quiet enough so as not to seem over confident.

Stewart nods and turns to her. She pushes her glass towards him and smiles. Then she looks up towards me and smiles. An honest, truthful, beautiful smile. A smile that she has drawn up from her heart and set upon her face just for me. A smile that lights up her eyes and for a moment there is a flash of teeth and gum before she playfully diverts her gaze from mine. A dash of pink seems to dance across her cheeks and then she looks back at him.

He is not impressed.

He is not amused.

“No, no.” He begins, trying to take control of this rapidly escalating situation. “I’ll get these,” He says.

I look across and do my best to smile at him as genially as I possibly can.

“That’s awfully nice of you,” I say. “What’s your name, mein freund?”

He doesn’t understand that I have just called him my friend. He just says “Darian.” and holds out his hand. He tilts it at a 45 degree angle so that his palm is facing downwards ever so slightly. To take this handshake means that I am declaring him to be in charge of the situation. He is probably the type of man who reads books about how to pick up women and how to dominate in social situations. He smiles, waiting for me to fall into his baited trap. I decide to let him play his game and I accept his handshake but with my other hand I grab his arm just below the shoulder. Not with any real amount of force. Just enough.

Stewart returns from the till and announces “Twenty Three Sixty”. Darian’s eyes widen ever so slightly and I smile inwardly. He reaches into his pocket and takes out a twenty and a handful of coins. Stewart hands me back the note that I gave him and I put it back into my wallet.

Darian forces a smile at me through lightly gritted teeth. I return the gesture as warmly as I can and take my drink. I walk back to my usual spot and sit down. The whiskey is crap, as always. But it doesn’t taste so bad when I haven’t had to pay for it. Darian takes a moment to get back into his conversation with her, and I go back to reading my paper.

An hour passes. The news has not changed it’s tone and the mood of the place has remained intact. Darian has started to forget about how I beat him and in an attempt at a display of chivalry he lifts her hand to his mouth and puts his lips upon her skin. I have long since finished my whiskey and so I have nothing in which I can drown this particular sorrow, so I decide to wait for a moment. Darian gets up from his stool, wobbling slightly. He asks Stewart where the ‘bogs’ are and Stewart points him down towards the gentleman’s washroom. He nods congenially and throws a half hearted salute in Stewart’s direction. I stand, I pick up my glass and I walk down the room towards the bar. I ask Stewart for one more, and he nods. The bottle is already in my hand before I can ask her if she would like another, and so I just begin to pour.

I look up to see that she is looking at me. There is something uncertain in her expression. A look of longing. A look that says a hundred thousand things without words. She bites her lip and throws her hair behind her shoulder and then she returns her gaze to her glass, which is half empty. Then her eyes flick back at mine. She is looking at me over the top of her spectacles and she is telling me something.

This is one. This is another one. This is another one for him.

I understand. I specifically understand what she is saying and I pay Stewart for the single whiskey. I hear the washroom door thud open and I am already at my seat before Darian manages to stumble back to his place at the bar. I hide myself behind my paper because I know what happens next and I do not want to see it. As much as I am willing to do whatever she asks of me, I cannot watch what happens next. I already know that she will lean over to him and whisper in his ear. Then she will move her hand onto his thigh. Then her tongue will reach out and her teeth will clamp down gently upon his ear lobe, whilst her hand grazes the top of the in-seam of his jeans. Then he will jump out of his seat and they will leave together. They will linger a moment in the doorway while she presses herself against him and he will lower his mouth towards hers. Their tongues will meet for a fleeting second and then she will take his hand and drag him out into the night. I have only ever seen it once with my own eyes, but that once was enough. That is why I make sure to bring a newspaper.

I fold my newspaper and put it back into my bag. Stewart has begun cleaning the bar and getting himself ready to close the place. I finish my drink and walk towards the exit. I put the empty glass on the bar on my way past, but Stewart grabs my arm insistently. I look up and see the fear in his face and in his eyes. Just the same as always. He has been hoping that tonight would not end the same way that it always does, but he also knows that I am powerless to do otherwise, just as he is. I nod and I walk towards the door. He follows slowly and solemnly behind me and once I am out into the night air, I hear the bolts slide shut.

I see her with Darian across the road, a little way ahead of me. They have stopped in an alleyway and they are wrapped around each other, their heads moving rhythmically as their hands grasp and claw at each other clothes. I cross the road and I walk purposefully and slowly towards them both. Something in the back of my mind says that this could all end tonight. This could be the last time I will ever have to do this. But I know that I will do just as I always do. I will do as I am told because I cannot do anything else. I have no power other than that which is granted to me by her. I don’t remember moving across the road, or passing any of the shops between here and the bar but I find that I am standing by the couple before I realise it. My hand reaches out and I grab Darian’s arm. Not with any real amount of force. Just enough.

He stops. He turns around slowly as though he doesn’t know what he might find behind him. When he recognises me he realises that he has nothing to fear. He believes that he has already won our little battle of wits. As such, I am no longer a threat.

“Just piss off, will you?” he says, “She’s coming home with me.”

He turns back towards her. He thinks that this will be enough to make me leave. I consider it for a second. Then I put my hand on his shoulder. He takes his hands from around her waist and spins around to face me completely. There is something bordering on anger bubbling up inside him. But no more than that.

“Look, mate…” he begins. His eyes focus on me and before he can finish the threat that he has just formulated in his mind, a plastic bag is quickly placed over his head and tightened. He is completely nonplussed.The shock of it all leaves him unable to make sense of the situation for a moment. He flails his arms to the sides and his legs try to run away. She grips the bag tighter and twists it, closing the opening around his neck until it pinches against his throat. He tries to breathe as deeply as he can, but plastic fills his mouth and covers his face, outlining every straining muscle. And just like always, his eyes plead with me. He is desperate to hear an explanation, but there is no explanation that I can give him. I have no explanation myself.

After three failed attempts at breath he finally drops to his knees. He cannot lift his arms up to attempt to pull the bag away from his mouth and nose. As his breathing becomes shallower and shallower I look up at her face. It is twisted into an ecstatic grimace. Her teeth are clenched and the muscles in her neck are tensed. Her knee is pressed against his back, just between his shoulder blades and her skin is flushed red with passion. But she is still the most beautiful woman I have ever seen in my life.

Finally Darian’s body goes limp and she lets go of the bag. She leans over to catch her breath for a moment, holding herself steady against the wall. Darian falls forward onto the ground. His face hits the pavement and I hear his nose break. Blood is already beginning to pool inside the plastic.

Instantly she is upon me. Her eyes search mine for any trace of remorse and find none. She smiles up at me over her spectacles and runs a hand across my cheek. I tentatively put my arms around her.

“Tonight?” I ask, hopefully.

She shakes her head. “Not tonight.” She pulls away slightly, and runs her hand down the back of my neck, past my shoulder, onto my chest. She digs her nails into my shirt so slightly. A promise of what might be. “Perhaps next week,” she says.

I nod glumly. I understand perfectly, but I wish it could be otherwise.

She takes a compact mirror out of her bag and checks her lipstick is still intact. She snaps it shut and places it back in her bag. I reach down and lift Darian up by the arms. We each place one arm around our necks and I pull the carrier bag from his headhead and shove it into my bag. Blood drips from his face and onto his shirt, but we pay little attention to it. For the next fifteen minutes all anyone else will see is two people carrying a drunk friend home. Until we reach her house, where we will go inside and prepare Darian’s body for the sacrifice.

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If you have read it, I would very much like to know what you think. Either here or on facebook (chances are that you probably know me on Facebook if you’re reading this.)