Monthly Archives: December 2013

Brutal Legend


My current no thinking game1 is the PC version of Brutal Legend. I played most of the X-Box 360 version when it was released and mostly enjoyed it. It’s a Tim Schafer not-adventure game so I expected terrible controls, but the odd thing is that in Brutal Legend they do become more tolerable the longer I’ve played. For instance, the guitar solo magic tricks felt laggy at first, even on a joypad, but after a couple of hours play today I can perform most of them without too many missed notes. Am I getting used to how bad the controls are or do the controls, somehow, get better the further I play into the game?

I don’t know. The buggy you get given to drive around in still handles about as well as the very similar looking buggy you get given in Grim Fandango, which given this game is ten years younger is offensively stupid. Also the camera controls still remain in the way of uncritical enjoyment. Bah.

Is this replay changing my opinion of Brutal Legend? Not really. The idea of Brutal Legend is better than the execution. Now Brutal Legend does have some of my favourite visual design I’ve seen in a game, and I really love the soundtrack, etc. But the controls are still crap.

If only they’d fixed them.

1 Some games I want to think about, others I don’t. I’m also playing Fez and Dark Souls (which has its own issues on the PC) when I want to engage my grey matter. Brutal Legend is just stupid fun.


1. I haven’t blogged for ages. The last daybook entry on my website was
made back in September. Since then I’ve travelled to and from Finland
at the end of October, and then mostly to and from my day job in a
nearby market town. Finland was the best! I haven’t felt as peaceful
and relaxed in a years than the day I spent walking around Nuuksio
National Park just outside of Helsinki. I want to go back
there. That’s all I have to say about Finland: I want to go back.

2. Yesterday Jenny & I were at the Quaker Meeting House on Queens Road
in Leicester. A loose writing group that we’re both members of held a
critiquing session. I hope that I gave useful feedback to the four
stories/extracts/chapters that were presented, although by the third
piece I’d started to fall asleep. Still, it was a good chance to
catch up with the work that friends are doing.

3. Today I’m trying to get a short story finished. It has no intended
market or even audience. Who would want to read a story about a
disabled football hooligan in the future written as a stream of
conscious? No, the purpose of this story is to test some process
tricks I have been thinking about so 2014 can be a more comfortable
writing year. I need to get the habit back. I need the addiction

4. I am also using today as a way to catch up with all the Burial EPs
that I’ve missed over the past couple of years. Loner on Kindred EP
is immense.

5. This post was originally written as an email using IFTTT to post to
Tumblr. It didn’t work as I intended so has been switched off
again. (There was a newline/paragraphing issue.) One thing to look at
in the new year is better ways to work from the command-line. I have
in the last quarter moved most of my working stack over to the
command using a combination of screen, cmus, and a lot of Emacs. My
intention is to use as much of the terminal working on full screen as
I can. I want to work only with text and I am easily distracted by
the temptations of the Web. Evening having my netbook’s Emacs
installation being able to work with Twitter is quite frankly
poisonous. Yes, I think it’s cool that a thirty year old text
editor/operating system can read and write to Twitter, but it is
still utterly toxic to my already limited productivity.

A Confession

Please sit on the other side of the confessional screen and listen to my sin: I’ve only finished reading five novels this year. I’m sorry, but I just haven’t had the time naturally occur. And because of this it feels that for most of the year something important has been absent from my life.

I have however not finished a bad novel this year. All of the books that I’ve forced myself through have been in their own way examples of excellence. I started the year with The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson and then moved onto the first Martin Beck novel Roseanna, by Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö, for something easier to digest. It was after this I started reading Perdido Street Station by China Mieville. I only finished the crawl through it’s ~800 pages the other week, but it probably isn’t to blame for the limited number of novels, since I rattled through the last twenty-five percent in the space of a week. While reading Perdido I took a day trip to read Joanna Russ’s short novel We Who Are About To after hearing it being evangelised at Eastercon in Bradford. The most recent and last novel I’ve finished was The Man Who Went Up in Smoke, the second Martin Beck novel by Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö. Again, something easier to digest after the heavy meal of Perdido.

The reason I’m sharing this dismal fact is not because I’m proud of it. And although I’m not sure if I’m utterly ashamed of this poor record, as it just happened, I don’t remember what I spent the time not spent reading doing. Yes, I’ve spent hours trying to write short fiction. And I’ve played video games and watched films and TV series, but not all the time. I don’t know where this year has gone. It has evaporated over the course of five novels.

Now I suppose that this is the point where I’m meant to share a solution to the current situation or raise a question from the audience/priest to find help, but that’s not what I’m interested in doing here. No, all I want to do is record my sin against literature that in the eleven months that have passed this year I have only read five novels.

It isn’t the worst crime, but I wish to remember it so that I will perform my penance of reading more next year.