Friday, February 24, 2023

Remembering Simon Mayo

Simon Who?

 Lying in bed at whatever o'clock. Thinking about a film review and it took me ages to think of their names. 2 familiar people but no names. Mark. French surname. Not Lamar. The other guy. Philip? Odd surname again. Mark Kermode! 

Then I forgot the name again.

I went back to sleep. I woke up and the name - Mark Kermode. That's a good start. And Simon. Simon what though? Amstell? No.

Mark Kermode

I got downstairs and remembered Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo. But that's a new one. I'm forgetting names a lot more now. I need to keep practicing.

Bruce Willis

So Bruce Willis who we knew already had a form of dementia. His family have recently released the news that it's FTD. (J as usual guessed it was months ago.)

I hope they use his fame to promote knowledge of the disease, rather than lie back and do nothing.

It's quite nice knowing I'm a trend-setter.

Walking the Dogs

J and I walk the dogs every day. J uses it as a form of catharsis where she works through her work out loud. I don't say much at all. Just listen and occasionally drift off into my own thoughts. 

Most of it is jargon-rich corporate stuff and people who I've never met and never will. I don't understand most or any of it. But it helps her and I don't have much to say when we walk - just take in the natural world and the joy of the dogs.

Now and again she expresses the burden she feels, being the primary earner, the runner of the house, mother to me as well as the children, the dogs, her parents, her family.

It sometimes takes a while for me to express how I feel - to first work out the elemental message from all my thoughts and verbalise them in a way that's factual and free from emotion.

So I go quiet and she knows I'm upset.

I'm sorry she's burdened with my illness. It's not what I wanted either, and don't think I don't feel both guilty about it and grateful to you at the same time. But what am I supposed to do with this information? What do you want me to do?

Fair point.

I'm glad I expressed myself like that. It's increasingly difficult to express myself constructively as the alternative would be an irrational, emotional outburst.

I ask myself what do I want to say, what is underlying all these emotions?

It doesn't get any easier.

Elden Ring and gaming update

Love/hate relationship with Elden Ring. After 174 hours of game play. - 174! -  I'm on the last 2 bosses. I'm not expecting a good outcome. Some of them take 30-50 goes to get past. I ended up asking myself if I was enjoying or hating the game.

I left it for a couple of days and told J I had had enough. 

She looked relieved the man-child was off the console.

I was back on a day later. It is daft though. I'll be glad to complete it. However it's such a massive game world you could play another 100 hours to complete it all.

I've 2 D&D campaigns which are both in their latter halves - the Monday crew at its final chapter. 

I'm finding it more and more difficult knuckling down and properly prepping the games. I think having the temptation of The Elden Ring in the other room doesn't help.

But when reading and taking notes my eyes dart around the page and then I've lost my thread. Staying on a page is tough. Making notes is good but not if you find yourself on autopilot. You end up with notes that mean nothing.

I really have to knuckle down today and get my head round it all. Try and visualise the party in a situation, the motives of the NPCs (non-player characters who I run) and then play out possible outcomes. Of course, the players rarely do what you expect them to do but having various options gives me food for thought - it fleshes out the characters - so when the players throw me a curveball I'm more in the head of the character and can react accordingly.

Sunday afternoon - here I come!

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Hello Elden Ring - Goodbye January!

Elden Ring

I knew this would be a bad idea. I had time to fill and I love gaming so what would make more sense than buying a massive open world RPG for my Xbox? Nephew Ben had extolled its merits (and he is a connoisseur of these things) and even Jacqui encouraged me to get it.

It's a bizarre, nightmarish, post-apocalyptic fantasy world. A Japanese take on European medieval gothic fantasy. You have to see it to understand.

Initially your character dies every 2 minutes while searching in vain for something to do. You're given bafflingly cryptic clues and instructions which you are supposed to figure out or even manually jot down in a notepad. Unlike other video games of this type there is no quest-line facility built into the game which you can refer to. You're just supposed to know.

Thanks to YouTube there are gamers who've played it to death and can show you the short-cuts. 

It is an incredibly immersive and massive game. I have put in 120 hours so far. My character is level 164, and still he gets his arse handed to him on a plate.

Yesterday I played for 13 hours. 13 HOURS!

Beautiful but baffling.

I've had arguments with J about it already. She was working her arse off upstairs while I was sat on my arse trying to beat a boss for the 23rd time and getting so close. Doesn't she understand? I mean for the gods' sake!

So now I have chores to do in the morning which actually make me feel better about myself - keeping the house clean and tidy, food shopping etc.

Enough Elden Ring for this week. Anyway I haven't a clue what's going on in the game. 

This Melina bird shows up talks to my character now and again. She seems nice. I haven't a clue what she's on about. I just go around killing stuff. Someone's got to do it and it looks like it's me. Could be worse I guess.

Not Online Gaming!

Back to D&D or the old analogue version using books, tables, dice and real (or real-ish) humans. 

I explained to 2 people this year -  a neurology nurse and a radio producer what Dungeons and Dragons is. 

It's people sat around a table. One of them is a Dungeon Master (DM) - he or she has the rules and the adventure. The others are players who have an individual character with stats for Strength, Intelligence and so forth. They have classes such as warrior or wizard. The DM tells them where they are and what creatures are populating the place they are in. The players' characters decide what their actions will be and the DM decides what that entails. It might be that the characters are in a village and they have an audience with the local mayor. The village has been plagued by nearby orcs who are raiding the village for food and gold. The players are in conversation and they are trying to persuade the mayor they need more money than is being offered to deal with the problem. We can roll-play - the DM playing the mayor and the player playing his or her character - and then as DM I would say - roll a Persuasion check on a 20-sided dice. The player rolls a dice and if he fails or succeeds trying to roll high. If that argument the player had made was compelling I would say roll a 10 or higher. If it was less than that then it would be a failure and the dialogue would reflect that. The outcome is the outcome and the play and narrative continue.

So...I explain this to people. And they still think this is an Online game. 

People don't really listen. They're lazy and look out for key-words and when they hear one they think 'Ah - that resonates - I know all about that subject." But they get it wrong.

I guess I'm as guilty as anyone.

Narnia Review and fiction and stuff

Yes, I said I would review all the books in my last post. It's so long ago now. I liked them. The Christian thing never struck me in the earlier books, but in the last book especially it does come across - sacrifices and all that. They're really good - don't get me wrong. 

J says that children's books suit my new-found dementia as they keep me on the ball all the time. There is no guff - no padding. My attention is kept throughout. There is always something happening.

I've tried some other novels (there is much research on this subject to show novels aid the memory) but can't get into them. I'm blaming me not the novelist.

I never read anything other than comics (2000AD - not the Marvel shit) when I was a kid. I just couldn't get into them. My Mum was a primary school teacher who could get any kid into reading, but she gave up with me. I found just found every novel presented to me painfully slow and tedious. 

It wasn't until I was in my early 20s and I had a friend introduced me to the works of Martin Amis, Henry Miller, Philip Roth and ultimately Charles Bukowski, the latter who is my favourite writer. He can say in monosyllables in one paragraph what it would it would take me in 3 pages to say, and mine still wouldn't be right.

Radio 4 Interview

J and I were interviewed for a forthcoming 15 minute programme on Radio 4  - the 1.45pm slot after the news.

It was an interesting process. I expected someone to have a recording rig, but instead the producer held a device roughly the size of a box an iPhone would come in, with a muffler on the end. That was it. I guess all the software cancels out background noise.

It was an interesting experience. I shall reveal all after it is broadcast, which I understand will be in April 2023.


When you give up alcohol you think, oh god - how am I going to do this? Am I going to get withdrawal symptoms? Will I need to take up Xanax or barbiturates or get a dealer to give me crack to mitigate for the huge gap in my life? 

How will I go on? HOW WILL I COPE??

The truth was actually less dramatic. I love the TASTE of beer, and it wasn't the alcohol. Many of the brewers have really got the process sussed now and that horrible stale, yeasty aftertaste of such filth as Kaliber is quite rare now.

My favourites are Brooklyn Special Lager and Leffe Blonde 0.0%. Try them - they're great.

It's very nice to discover I'm not an alcoholic. It's also nice to see I'm slim again.