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.) 

While i’m here…

It’s weird how easy I find it to be dragged back into being scared of daily life. It can take just a subtle hint that something might just happen to set me back into a mini spiral of feeling like needing to drink and smoke myself to sleep. Listening to terrible things that have happened in the last few years doesn’t really help, not that I expected it would. But I assumed that I would be able to cope with dredging through some terrible garbage in the hopes of finding some pearls of knowledge. I was pretty much wrong.

Creating is helping. I am currently recording footage that I will be using for a show on sunday. This part of me typing will be part of the final piece, but just the reaction of my face to the music i am listening to, and my occasional thinking face as I try and pick the right word to go next.

I don’t know whether it is a sign that I should stay away from horrible garbage and just try and do good in my own life, rather than trying to research and inform others of the horrible and atrocious things that have occurred in the last ten years. It makes much more sense to me that I should simply concentrate on being happy, spreading that feeling around, trying to lift the consciousness of the people I love. Throwing shit at people to get them to see that the world around them is shitty seems oddly illogical to me. Yet that seems to be what the majority of people think is the solution.

Truth, yes. Idealism, probably. But not at the expense of sanity and goodness.

Or something like that.

I’m mostly just rambling now so that I can fill time in on this recording.

You probably won’t see it anyway, so it won’t really matter that much to you. You can just ignore this one if you want.

extension of an idea someone transmitted to me in comic form

I.

Y?

IB.

IC.

U?

IBU.

O.

UBI?

K.

K!

There is a spell that exists that is taught to you as a child, at least if you grew up learning English. It is a spell that many people find it difficult to break. It is a spell that inhabits your mind, piggybacking your thoughts like some crudely drawn cartoon demon. It is a virus that infects everyone you speak to and infects everything you say. To understand that it is a magical virus is to gain some measure of control over it, but you must always be aware that it exists within you. If your attention slips for but a moment, it has you back within it’s control. It is a spell that makes up all the words in the English language. It is a spell that closes down pathways and opens up others. It removes potentials, filling the world instead with what is and what isn’t. It strangles imagination, forcing images to couple themselves to sounds. It is why pop songs have lyrics and why internet memes have captions. It ensnares and ensorcels us. It makes up the world we live in and it puts borders up around every relationship we have and everything we understand.

The most potent spoken words of all are the words that say themselves.

It’s name is unpronounceable. But it is spelt ABCDEFGHIKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ. It is the most potent and harmful virus ever unleashed upon humanity. But within it lies the seed of it’s own destruction. Within it lies the key to how we can describe how to remove it and how to destroy it. If we speak, we are safe. It is only when we write that we awaken it. It is mute and deaf and cannot transmit itself unless written down. It has no license over our tongues just yet. Not yet.

In the beginning was the word.

(By the way. You should totally read The Invisibles by Grant Morrison.)

Giant Black Square unveiled in Tate Modern in BP sponsorship performance protest

Liberate Tate

PRESS RELEASE For immediate release

Liberate Tate art intervention ahead of court case on gallery’s lack of transparency on oil company links  

Photo credit Martin LeSanto-Smith Photo credit Martin LeSanto-Smith

LONDON – Over a hundred members and supporters of art collective Liberate Tate today (6 September 2014) carried out an unsolicited interpretation of Malevich’s iconic Black Square in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.

Liberate Tate’s ‘Hidden Figures’ was a dramatic reference to Tate’s refusal to disclose information about its controversial sponsorship relationship with BP. In April 2014, the UK’s Information Commissioner ruled that Tate was breaking information law by refusing to remove a series of black squares covering information about the sponsorship deal in meeting minutes of Tate’s Ethics Committee and Board of Trustees. The painting ‘Black Square’ by Kazimir Malevich is currently on display as part of the Malevich exhibition at Tate Modern.

The Liberate Tate performance started at 1pm when a 64…

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Here and now

When one train of thought opens up and you follow the path it leads down, it seems that there are always dozens more people thinking that same thing at roughly the same time.

Cristian Mihai

tumblr_navmpw7U4D1r5gmiko1_400Anton Chekhov once wrote that any idiot can face a crisis – it’s day to day life that wears you out. And he was right. I believe that most of us are strong enough to conquer the reality we live in, but so few of us are actually in control. It’s the ups and downs that make life interesting, to say the least. The struggles, the fights, the losses.

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