All posts by pictsean

Rosie & Sean Present: Most Memorable Gaming Moments of 2015

  1.  Her Story – True Detective

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This short, simplistic game sits at number 10 mainly due to a great narrative and satisfying gameplay.  You only have a police archive database and your keyword searching skills to find out what happened to a missing man through interviews with his wife and another woman.  Pretty soon you uncover his grizzly fate  and are left to piece together who dunnit. I thought I worked out what had happened, but talking to my bro I found that he had come to a different conclusion, even though we watched the same clips.  I felt like a True Detective as I searched through the database, as I am sure most detectives do a lot of computer work.  

  1. Wolfenstein: The New Order – Eat this vegetable!

Due to some ‘issues’ with the next entry on the list I ended up buying this muscle puppy and was pleasantly surprised. A game where the main character spends 14 years in a vegetative state resonates with my very being. So I sat by and watched the year go by in the game and in real life. Eventually I came to my senses and realised it’s Wolfenstein game. Ignoring the muscular dystrophy, I got out of that wheelchair and started killing some goddamn Nazi’s! Simple and effective, oh and the story wasn’t bad either. The New Order is like no other game – a first person shooter where you fight against the Nazis. (9/10 – on this list)

  1. Evolve – release the Kraken!

This game has everything you could want from a monster hunting game.   You can be one of four humans hunters, or you have a choice to be a huge, scary and beautiful monster that can evolve into even bigger scarier monster that can eat everything, including tasty humans!  

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Both types of gameplay can be fun, I found that tracking down the monster could be frustrating.  Whereas playing as the monster was intense! The enemy can see your footprints and follow the trail so it feels like you are being hunted at all times.  I would of loved this game a lot more but it took far too long to find a game online and was incredibly disappointing when it would freeze mid game and then I would be back to the long wait.  Rage quit.  

  1. Telltales Game of Thrones – Taking a beating.

Once again Telltale makes you feel like you’re between a rock and a hard place.  Your family is in danger and it’s up to you to play as the various family members to ensure survival.  Some moments are gold,  once I was caught drinking stolen royal wine and told the Kings Guard that I found it in the bushes!  Haha!  Accidental comedy can arise but this is a serious game and most decisions will be hard to make.  This game is not quite as heart wrenching as The Walking Dead, but will leave that horrible feeling that you could have played better to prevent the various horrible things that happen to your family.  Bring on the second season!

  1. Rise of the Tomb Raider – Getting in touch with your feminine side and discovering it’s a mass murderer. 

November 10, 2015

Dear diary,

Today I was the only person who didn’t get Fallout 4. I bought Rise of the Tomb Raider instead. It looks like a movie and plays beautifully but I have to go to bed so will write in you soon.

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ARCHAEOLOGY!

November 22, 2015

Dear diary,

I finished Tomb Raider today. The last 12 days I have been speaking like a well-to-do archaeologist from Ascot. I never knew what an archaeologist actually did. Apparently it’s destroying and displacing artefacts while committing mass murder. My quest, I mean, Lara’s quest to find the holy grail consisted of killing half the population of Siberia and most of the wildlife. Jesus, who was an immortal militia leader also perished after Lara destroyed more artefacts. I think I would be a good Tomb Raider, except for all the horrific deaths.

P.S. I also raided lots of tombs.

  1. Fifa – Slide tackle.

I only discovered Fifa this year as previously I had thought I didn’t like sports games.  I was surprised at how smoothly it all worked and how it took me back to my youthful soccer days.  It really felt like I was a star sports player!  I especially relished sprinting at all times, using slide tackles inappropriately and having a blatant disregard for everyone’s personal space – including the people on my own team.  I even leant more about the rules of soccer, like how you can’t have two people offside – amazing!  I would recommend Fifa as a couch co-op and to also play like a maniac – it makes for a hilarious replays.

  1. Star Wars Battlefront – You’re a star war!

A long, long time ago…Do I really need to write anything for this? It’s Star Wars. Firstly, the sound is perfect and goes like this…*clears throat* Pew Pew Pew (Blaster, H. 2015), BLAP BLAP BLAP (Wing, A. 2015). Running around blasting rebel scum looks and feels like the movies, you’re at the front of battle in the star wars. There are modes galore and fighter squadron feels like a completely different game. Sure there are downsides to it that I’m not going to bother mentioning, because just when I thought I’d get bored of this game I found a shiny icon and got to be a star war!

As a huge, yet inherently indecisive (lazy) fan, it was tough to choose between Bubba Fatt, Dark Vader or Mr Palpatine. Mr Palpatine has assistants that can really help change the tide of war. So like any good Catholic boy I chose the electric paedophile that creeps around destroying people’s lives with his hands. ZAP!

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Mr Palpatine
  1. Rocket League – Crazy car soccer.

Imagine playing soccer but with cars, and rockets, and flips.  Now you understand Rocket League.  Fast paced fun with short matches made for multi-player madness.  Also you get to dress up and wear hats on your cars head.  What more can be said?

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  1. Dragon Age: Inquisition – A dance m’lady?

100 hours, that’s 27 short of cutting my own arm off, Franco style. It’s also how long I spent playing Dragon Age: Inquisition this year. I did not expect the Inquisition (intended) to be what I spent 4 actual days playing. Why did I play it? Well the same reason I ask myself questions in my own blog, it’s great! Like Franco on Instagram I tuned everything I could – Men, Women, Qunari and Dwarves. Regardless of their sexual preference I inquisited them like a guy who had a magical green wrist that I assume gave a great hand chandy. In addition to the tuning options, all the other aspects of the game were near perfect – dialogue choices, freaking dragons and phenomenal set pieces.

My pick was Wicked Eyes & Wicked Hearts, a mission where you don a ridiculous mask and suck up to nobles whilst gathering dirt on them in order to uncover a conspiracy to assassinate the Empress. A distinct change compared to the rest of the game. My choices resulted in making a scene on the dance floor before murdering the conspirator in cold blood and telling everyone else they all worked for me since I have lots of dirt on them. Proof that games provide an escape from reality by tapping into our subconscious desires.

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Dance for me

*A special mention to the mission that lets you judge the conspirator posthumously (a stinky fly-ridden crate of remains).

  1. Tales from the Borderlands – Finger Blastin’ Good

Telltale games aren’t real games, they’re stories. There’s no gameplay. I’ve seen better graphics. These are some of the things I made up so I could rebut it. Admittedly, it did take me a while to get into the Telltale games – I still haven’t played any of The Walking Dead. But I came around after playing Game of Thrones. I imagine Rosie is saying “no shit idiot, I told you they were good”. Well behind every woman’s discovery is a man who takes credit. I’ve seen Big Eyes and know how it works. That’s a lie, I haven’t. Game of Thrones was excellent, but so serious. I liked the style of game but needed something that was ‘my jam’.

Well I found my jam and it was Borderlands flavoured. For a game to come in at #1 it has to be something we both loved and agreed on. Easy! since TftB has an amazing cast of characters on an outrageous adventure in a rich world. The voice acting was perfect, particularly Patrick Warburton (see below) and the situations you find yourself in lead to some of the saddest, grossest and most hilarious scenes I’ve seen in my years as a wannabe stay at home dad with no kids. I’m talking actual laughing… out loud! No condolence laughs through the nostrils needed.

Much of the story is presented via flashback through the 2 protagonists, Rhys and Fiona. An unlikely duo forced to work together to find a vault of treasure while getting themselves into trouble and having to fend off a variety of bizarre and hilarious enemies. With the help of Fiona’s sister Sasha and Vaughn – Rhys’ bro (in a bro way, not a sibling way) plus two of the best robots in all of history, Loaderbot and Gortys.

Tales from the Borderlands takes place in a world I’m familiar with, but didn’t really need to be. It’s a brilliant and along with Portal 2 is one of the funniest games I have ever played. I don’t want to spoil the jokes or story but this scene… this scene alone was our favourite gaming moment of 2015.

High Performance

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Employee Plans, most workplaces have them and many see them as either a path to success or a waste of time. If you are having trouble with how to further your career then take a page out of my tree. Here is my plan for success:

SAFETY by being committed and responsible for safety –
I wear correct PPE, identify hazards/near misses at work and encourage others to be committed to safety by berating them in front of my other colleagues and the public.

CUSTOMER AND COMMUNITY by actively listening to customers, being responsive to the needs of my customers and always endeavouring to exceed expectations – 
My interaction with the public is minimal, however, I use correct phone etiquette when conversing with customers even though I didn’t complete the 8 hour course on how to use the phone. I am always presentable and friendly to any clients and customers

ACCOUNTABILITY by being accountable for quality and timely outcomes, being empowered to set myself challenging but realistic goals, consistently delivering on my promises and commitments and by using initiative to find solutions to problems – 
I am forthright in my actions and admit if I have made an error (although this is quite rare). I secretly compete against my co-workers for better results and times which gives me a false sense of superiority. I work hard on making myself needed around the workplace as the threat of redundancy looms above like a vulture awaiting the death of its next meal.

PARTICIPATION by participating with purpose and pride, engaging others to achieve and enhance outcomes, having a sense of urgency about the work that I do, leading by example and taking ownership for my work, being open and honest and by having integrity and showing respect for the individual – 
Participate – it’s one word I embody. You can tell by looking at my school sports awards, they all read participation. There are no 1st, 2nd or 3rd ribbons, but at least I am enthusiastic at work and work related events and perform in a positive and timely manner in relation to the job and my colleagues.

CREATIVITY by always looking for better ways to do things, having the courage to be creative, initiating and embracing change and inspiring others to do the same, and by being committed to excellence – 
Due to the fit for work policy, I cannot test my hypothesis that LSD use results in a more creative approach to work. However, I believe my openness to change reflects my flexibility as an employee. I believe efficiency results from lateral thinking and time management which are talents that I have… as is papier-mâché.

DELIVER VALUE by knowing the value that I add purpose and vision, creating and delivering value with the resources available to me, thinking beyond the present to drive long-term value for the organisation, treating all resources as precious – 
As a delivery boy for both Dominos and Eagle Boys during my youth I know how to deliver value and pizza. I have brought this skill with me to the benefit of the workplace. My personal mantra of “do it once and do it right” applies to all areas of my life (except sex life). This means that the correct result is obtained in the first instance and less time and resources are used in the process

SELF ACTUALISING by articulating the vision, finding enjoyment in work, acting with integrity and encouraging self-fulfilment – 
Articulating my visions have proved troublesome in the past as they usually end up as some kind of phallic symbol made of clay. My work here is vastly different as there is tangible evidence that the work I have done has made a difference, which in turn makes it more enjoyable and I strive for better (if possible) results. Many times I have looked at my work and thought “My God! You are freaking awesome. Keep it up.”

AFFILIATIVE behaviours by sharing thoughts and feelings, being friendly and cooperative, building trust and emphasising “customer” – 
My co-workers are like family, I didn’t choose them and many have severe mental issues. Despite this, I care for them deeply and enjoy working with them so much that a bond has formed that can never be broken. My feelings are thoughts are conveyed to them through interpretive dance and homemade macaroni drawings. There is an inherent trust shared between us that ensures that the work is completed to a high standard so that customers receive the best possible outcome.

ACHIEVEMENT by setting challenging goals, thinking and planning ahead, learning from mistakes and giving autonomy – 

My goals of planning ahead, learning from mistakes and giving autonomy are challenging but result in achievement

HUMANISTIC ENCOURAGEMENT by being sensitive to others needs, coaching people, being thoughtful and considerate and giving positive feedback –

As a 28yo Pisces I am sensitive to people within my personal aura. If I was a little shorter I would be the perfect shoulder to cry on, unfortunately I am over 6ft which means I have to awkwardly bend down for people to sob on my comfortably. I congratulate my co-workers when things go well and encourage them when things go wrong as there is always something positive to be learned from any experience whether it be positive or negative.

Rosie & Sean Present: Most Memorable Gaming Moments of 2014

  1. Papers Please – Stampin’

Papers Please came out in 2013 but we included it because we only got around to playing it last year. The premise of the game is that you are a border security officer manning one of the control points somewhere behind the Iron Curtain in 1985.  Strict rules are in place and your character is severely penalised for making mistakes, often resulting in your family starving to death. I would best describe this game as a paperwork simulator and even though the gameplay is very similar to some of the tasks I do at work, I still really enjoyed this game.  I strangely liked the tension of rifling through paperwork to try to find the right document or the keys to the gun cabinet.  When I would accidentally let a suicide bomber across the border made me feel ashamed of my cavalier attitude with the approved stamp.   However, using the approved/denied stamp was my favourite thing to do in the game.  Maybe it was the sound design or maybe it was the illusion of power but it felt good putting the ink to the paper.  Most stressful paperwork game this decade!papersplease

  1. Titanfall – A fortnight of fun

“Titan incoming” – these words blocked out any inclination that I was supposed to be doing wedding stuff. Although Titanfall only provided about 2 weeks of entertainment, those weeks happened to be leading up to my special day. Ask yourself, would you rather check RSVPs against seating arrangements OR  shoot some bullets until your giant pet robot falls out of the sky and crushes some pleb or someone else’s pet robot? Then you enter your robot in some kind of rebirthing experience and shoot some bigger bullets at some more people and robots. Eventually some robot punches your robot in its womb, rips you out and throws you to your timely death.  The first time this happened my inner dudebro lost his mind. I put my flat brim cap on backwards and settled in for a good time… no thinking required.

  1. Battlefield 4 – RPG vs Helicopters

Battlefield 4 was one of the first games we got on the new gen Xbox and we sure did sink some hours into it.  The sweet graphics, 64 player team battles and selection of vehicles and equipment makes this game pretty enjoyable.  I spent about the first month playing this with pitiful K:D ratios, where killing an enemy would be a surprising act. The turning point for me in this game was when I once parachuted off a building, shot down a helicopter, landed and then murdered two guys hanging out on a rooftop.  After having such a hard time with the game, it felt so good to go in Rambo style and actually pull it off.   My husband, aka backseat FPS driver, was even proud of me.   Aside from fanging around in a 4 wheeler trying to run over enemies and do sweet jumps, shooting helicopters was my favourite pastime.

  1. Child of Light – Art?

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ART! What is art? Is it the black canvas with a single white line through it? It is a series of mouse traps with monopoly money as bait and a dead rodent wearing a top hat to highlight our consumerism? No, that’s all nonsense. Child of Light on the other hand brilliantly combines dreamlike art, sensational music and solid combat mechanics into a fantastical gaming experience. Waking in an unknown world you play as Aurora, who discovers she must save this new land if she is to get home in time to save her Father from a weak constitution or something. You float around the world talking in rhyme and killing monsters through a real time/turn based mechanic. The combat is engaging and fun, but for me what stands out is the music and art design. Aurora visits stunning landscapes such as enchanted forests, eerie caves and spooky castles as her hair waves behind her luring you further into the game. The score compliments these worlds impeccably and keeps you tied to this fantasy world. It even has a mouse wearing a hat!

  1. Starwhal – Multiplayer

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Starwhal is a narwhal jousting game with bright colours, funny physics and laughs to boot.  Over Christmas, I played this with my brother and husband, all cramped in the family room. My dad walks in and comments on how little we all cram into the computer room these days, which brought back memories of my childhood and how gaming experiences were more shared back then.   I love a good couch multiplayer game as well, so this was perfect over the break.   The controls are hard to master which adds to the randomness and hilarity of the game.  Many different areas and worlds give enough variety to keep the game interesting. Best Narwhal game I have ever played!

  1. Far Cry 4 – Tear shit up

What makes a game memorable, is it gameplay, design or music? Yeah all those things whatever, but if it includes honey badgers and explosions then you have a truly memorable game. Add one of the best voice actors in Troy Baker as Pagan Min and Far Cry 4 tears into the middle of the list like a ravenous ratel. I’ll admit I was hesitant at first; FC3 had some fantastic elements (eg. Vaas) but seemed to lose the plot at certain points. Admittedly, this has similar issues because the world is so big that you can lose sight of the story. However the core plot is engaging and it seems the main missions have been created for you to go “that’s cool” in the best way possible. Side missions keep you laughing or blowing something up, or both. Once the waters had been tested I jumped right in and was not disappointed.  The very first time I was devoured by a pack of voracious honey badgers, I put the controller down and thought, well played Far Cry…well played.

The dialogue is top charts for every character (except your own) and Troy Baker continues to dominate the voice acting world my heart with a performance that is both unnerving and hilarious. But the thing with this game is that if you scratch the surface it touches on issues regarding religion, women’s rights, reasons for killing and the difference between right and wrong. All it takes is a little time to explore the world that Ubisoft have created and you will realise it’s not all about shooting, stabbing and explosions. In the end, it’s what you make of it. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to ride an elephant into battle, knock vehicles off cliffs and rain fiery death upon my enemies.

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  1. The Walking Dead: Season 2 – Episode 5. No Going Back

Telltale Games sure have become popular of late, with titles up their sleeves such as The Wolf Among Us, Tales From The Borderlands and of course The Walking Dead.   It was a hard choice to think of the most memorable moment from this game because, for me, the best part of this game is comparing your choices to others and trying to justify what you did.  In the last instalment of TWD:S02, we see the Clementine making some hard decisions at the end of this episode.  I chose to go with Kenny, mainly because when I had the option to shoot him, I couldn’t because I realised that I had formed an emotional connection with his character.  Maybe it was just nostalgia from Season 1 and the fact he knew Lee and I had forgiven him for blocking the map in the front cab of the train.  When Kenny begs the nice door-guard-lady to please take the children, I must admit there were no dry eyes in my computer room.  He seemed tired after that and wanted Clemetine to go on her own, so I went in with the baby and parted ways.  Watching him walk away into the field of snow was a 10/10 sad moment.

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  1. Rayman Legends – Castle Rock

I love a good multiplayer game and Rayman sure does deliver!  After grinding through wave after wave of zombies to get my multiplayer fix, it was a relief to play such a fun and colourful game that doesn’t induce excessive stress and tension.   The characters are cute, the levels are well designed and it’s really, really fun.   Rayman Legends has something special which I haven’t seen previously – music levels.  The first of these will see you running, jumping and hitting to the meoldy of Black Betty that becomes infused with a hillbilly tune for 10% of the song.  The gameplay is so seamlessly merged with the music that you could (almost) play these levels with your eyes closed!  Rayman Legends wins the prize for game with the most toe tapping fun.

  1. Shadow of Mordor – Douche Warchief

Perhaps the biggest surprise of 2014, Shadow of Mordor (SoM) was one of the best gaming experiences for both of us. Unlike many titles this year it did not disappoint, which is kind of a bummer when it’s the first thing you say about a game. Regardless, a pleasant surprise is still a darn good thing.

So what did SoM do so well? The answer is almost everything, like a supreme pizza it takes everyone’s favourite bits and throws them on the tasty dough that is Middle Earth. A game that successfully combines the free running of Assassin’s Creed, the Combat from Batman Arkham and the exploration and cinematic presentation of Tomb Raider is not something to be scoffed at, so stop scoffing. Add to this the nemesis system, a mechanic that enables your interactions with enemy captains to be remembered throughout the story. Did you stab that Orc right in the face before he escaped? Well apparently the orc doctors (dorctors) can fix that with a simple bit of steel and a pat on the back, why he’ll be looking for revenge in no time. Enemy captains are randomly generated with different strengths and weaknesses so that no play through is exactly the same.

The first time I came across a captain he gave me some cockney lip along the lines of “man swine, I could smell your blood from a mile away” which I thought that was pretty great. Eventually I encountered a warchief which is essentially a boss with lots of captains around him so you know you are in for a fight. What made the battle memorable was the simplest sound effect – the continued chanting of the warchiefs name until he was killed. It added a fitting atmosphere for the fight and made me giggle during my fight with Dush (pronounced Douche). This did however, lead to me chanting my own name around the house and in public much to the chagrin of my wife.

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All in all, Shadow of Mordor is the pinnacle of Orc killing simulators to date.

  1. Valiant Hearts – The Walk

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A swig of golden ale is all it took for me to decide my favourite gaming moment of 2014. Valiant Hearts has stayed with me since I finished it and it’s the ending in particular that claims the #1 spot on this arbitrary list. This puzzle/platformer is set during the Great War and revolves around 4 characters from both sides of the conflict. There are aspects of this game that are phenomenal. Firstly, it’s a stunning game, not Child of Light stunning, but the folks at Ubisoft again outdo themselves by bringing a variety of visual elements to bring the beauty of the European countryside to life. On the flipside, the horrors of war, particularly trench warfare are highlighted in a way that isn’t glorified really struck a chord. A war game that doesn’t involve shooting waves of enemies may sound boring, but the way the story is told connects you to the characters and their quest to survive the war and be with their loved ones. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that it’s inspired by letter written during the Great War that enabled such a connection.

Scattered throughout the levels are historical items – letters, gas masks, whistles etc. and once found give you the history of the item and how it worked or changed during the war. On top of this there are miniature history lessons within the menu outlining the context of the situation and detailing the conditions and outcomes in a manner that manages to steer clear of the goodies vs. baddies trope. These titbits suit all ages and function as a learning tool within the game, something I hadn’t come across since Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?

Spoiler!

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Gorgeous, accessible and educational, what could this game possibly do? How about break my little heart into tiny little pieces. Though the entire game is emotive, it is the last level that re-enforces the insanity of war. After one of your characters accidentally kills their commanding officer in an attempt to save his friends from a suicide mission, he is court marshalled and sentenced to death by firing squad. The finale consists solely of walking to your death, the sadness of his fate heightened by the voiceover of his final letter to his daughter explaining his actions and saying his final goodbye. Cue the sad music with the inability to turn back as you pass your friends while they fade into memories and you are guaranteed to be a sobbing mess who needs a cup of tea and a hug.

So there you have it, our top ten gaming experiences of 2014.

The End.

The Honeymooners 4.0: Ghost Protocol

Who wants a delayed entry in a suitably terrible franchise? Okay,  you asked for it…

Our mission: Uncover the truth about the spooky ghosts that inhabit the Port Arthur historic site.

After the MONA we were more cultured than a tub of yakult and in line with the rest of our trip we fanged it to Port Arthur. A quiet seaside town named after the famous anthropomorphic aardvark.

Ghosts, like aardvarks are nocturnal so we had to bide our time until nightfall. A nap followed by a scenic walk along the beach would suffice. I could go on about how great it was, but I’ve used all of Microsoft words synonyms in the last 3 posts. Beautiful, lovely and exquisite are old hat. In my own words it was nice, really nice. Here is a picture of how freaking nice it is.

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Darkness descended, +1 and I made our way to the ghost commune where we met fellow ghost hunters who regaled us with a story about floating orbs from their investigation at Geelong prison. I expressed my astonishment at such a tale by breathing a heavy sigh, rolling my eyes and slowly walking backwards.  Floating orbs unsettled me since I hadn’t even dealt with regular ones, I knew we would need some top notch guides and the latest technology if we were going to find any ghosts, let alone survive the night.

We surveyed the other paranormal investigators and found it difficult to decipher who, in a group of wannabe ghost was clinically insane, especially when you start questioning your own sanity and whether this plane of existence is real and what, if anything, does it mean? Besides Mr & Mrs Orb there were 2 other noticeable nutjobs. They were banging on about having never seen a ghost but always sensing them and were quickly dubbed “The Middle Agers” due to: a) Their age and b) their ignorance towards common knowledge and simple facts.

Then whoosh! Cold air filled the room and whispers of ghosts come from the Middle Agers. A simple look at the entrance would have quashed their nonsense as our guides enter the lobby.  Two women, one young and one old(er) met us with a warm smile and an even warmer fluffy beanie before leading us to our headquarters for the night… The Asylum.

The immaculately restored mental institution was roomy, well-lit and warm and provided the perfect base for our induction into the world of the paranormal. Before us lay an arsenal of gadgets and devices specifically designed and built to detect the undead. Either that or they were just a bunch of regular cameras and recorders that just so happened to do that very task. With our attention, the fearless guides began their spiel with a history of the site which can be seen here: http://www.portarthur.org.au/

The older of the two had encountered many ghosts during her time at the site. So many in fact, she had to remind herself (and us) that not every sound/light/touch was a ghost. In contrast, the younger one had discredited many of the previous events by thinking about them and asking questions. We chose the younger guide, as did everyone else under 30 so that our group consisted of 3 couples and the seventh wheel guide.  After a warm cup of joe we geared up. The older group marched off to the Commandant’s house as we sauntered to the prison.

Roomy, well-lit and warm were not words you could use to describe this place. It was the opposite, left as it had been since it closed down and Bevan the groundskeeper stopped doing maintenance. We crept through the different wings of the prison before congregating in the hall to ask if there were any spirits present. There were not. Maybe they were scared of our future clothes and gadgets or were they just sleeping? As per every horror movie ever we split up in an attempt to make contact in various unexplored sections.

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The church? Nothing.

C wing? No ghosts.

Perhaps there would be some in the solitary confinement chamber? What a great idea, let’s voluntarily put ourselves in a stone chamber and close the creaking ye olde wooden door to make sure we could “HOLY SHIT WHAT WAS THAT? SERIOUSLY SOMETHING MOVED! Is that a lizard, or ghost lizard? No, a regular lizard”. Luckily I had listened during the induction and reminded myself that not everything is a ghost. Unfortunately for our group, it seemed that nothing was a ghost. We left the prison with empty handed, but I guess that’s why they call it ghost hunting and not ghost catching (laugh track).

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We trudged over to the Commandant’s house as the other group finished up. The guides traded stories and as expected the other group had encountered glut of paranormal activity while we were stuck with only ourselves and the occasional herp. However, our luck looked set to change as it was our turn to investigate the house. Alas, the only activity was an electromagnetic signal from the alarm system and the noise of a torch being dropped. Regardless of outcome the creepiness level was on par with the prison due to the original furnishings, eerie paintings and all.

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Hope remained as the two remaining locations looked promising, the Surgeon’s house which included a basement where medical research and autopsies were undertaken and the Accountant’s house where it is rumoured that the accountant himself divided by zero and opened a portal to the netherworld. Our batteries were running low and there was a strange mist around the grounds. We hurried to the surgeon’s basement and huddled around the stone surgical table, asking and then provoking any spirits that may be around.

C’mon you jerk, SHOW YOURSELVES! It was a sure fire way to die in any horror movie, but this ain’t no movie. Even old man Jenkins from Scooby-Doo could frighten the townsfolk while the real deal ghosts were doing sweet fuck all. While we were in the basement the mist outside has dispersed. We took our time making our way to the accountant’s house as it had the least scary name and we were losing interest. Once again nothing happened, this lead our group to develop an unspoken agreement: Scare each other before the night ended. Dropped equipment, strange noises and inappropriate touching rounded out our evening with lots of screams and giggles.

It was the perfect way to end our adventure and although we found absolutely no evidence of ghosts we certainly enjoyed the strangest of nights. If we could survive this then our marriage was off to a fine start. If only we hadn’t died in a plane crash on the way to Tasmania.. wooooooooooo spooky.

Also it was all a dream.

The Honeymooners: Part 3 – Return of the Last Crusade with a Vengeance

After our narrow escape, we were on a mission to not be eaten by a dinosaur. Our mission brought us to where we had intended to go anyway, Hobart.

With a warm sunset the dino-free capital ushered us straight to the fanciest placed I have ever stayed. This was no five star lodge, this was…The Islington.

After driving past the entrance many many times (fancy places don’t have signs…apparently) we finally arrived and were let in by the doorboy. He told me his name, but when you are fancy there is no need to remember names.

Doorboy calmly collected our baggage, both physical and emotional and placed it at the front door 3 meters away. Standing there was Madame Gestionnaire de la residence, or for those that don’t use Google translate to make themselves sound cultured – Mrs House Manager. Perhaps it was my skinny jeans and skate shoes stained with Oysters Kilpatrick, but I immediately knew that I was not fancy enough to be there. I tried to convince myself that I did belong, and almost felt I did until the house tour began with “On the right is our Red Room.”

Red Room

Oh god, they have an entire room dedicated to my least favourite primary colour.

“On the left is our morning room.” This was misleading as there were people in it during the the tour, so technically it’s an all-day room.

The library and kitchen were just as stunning as the other rooms and there was a variety of Tasmanian whiskys at the bar. Delighted with the establishment we lugged our bodies up the staircase behind Doorboy who managed all 3 bags as well as a clay model skeleton that +1 had brought with her. I suspected it was some kind of marriage voodoo doll but I ignored it aside from occasionally sticking my own body hair on it to ensure authenticity.

Skelington

The room was superb, from the world’s most comfortable bed you could see Mt Wellington poking into the ominous clouds that had made their way across the last of the sunset. To round out our welcome there was a nicely stocked bar and a frosted glass bathroom, because there is nothing sexier than seeing a silhouette of your significant other sitting on the toilet watching sports highlights. After sharing that romantic moment we left the Islington to join some friends for dinner and got into all manner of strife. I remember a majestic impression of a tiger snake and then waking up with the worst hangover of the trip.

Chef saved my life with his signature hangover cure breakfast – eggs, bacons, homemade baked beans, relish, spinach, mushrooms and those little yummy sausages. With a mouth full of sausage, we checked out and decided to get cultured, Tasmanian style.

The Museum of Old and New Art is a fun way to become immersed in a provocative and intriguing collection of David Walsh tax breaks. Navigating a dark and confusing underground art bunker with a severe hangover is not fun. I sat down in the TV room and began round two with my hangover and my subsequent decent into insanity. My childlike sense of wonder had all but disappeared, the fat Porsche was kind of cool, the ping pong table had severe design issues and the poo maker ensured that I would swallow my own vomit at least once that day. If you are unsure of what the hell I am talking about, do yourself a favour and check it out – for art’s sake.

I took my fill of culture and my body had rejected it, violently. With a sweaty forehead and vombreath I managed to make my way out of the depths of the MONA and back up to the open air. To my surprise there was a free concert with some eastern European gypsie-fusion band and a plethora of food stalls. I scoured them searching for a treat that would land the coward punch on my hangover.

Fortunately I found the Captain Falcon of street food – the Po’ Boy. I sat in the shade with +1 and we listened to some gypsy-fusion while I ingested the most delicious hangover cure of all time.

After busting one hangover, I instantly developed a thirst for busting. Ghosts seem like the logical thing to bust next. So we drove to Port Arthur, where ghosts live. But that’s a story for another time…

The Honeymooners: Part II – Cradle 2 the Mountain

Oh hello friends, please take a seat and prepare for the not as good sequel to honeymoon memoir – Cradle 2 the Mountain, starring me as both Jet Li and DMX.

Cradle 2 Mountain

As my +1 and I were fanging it through the beautiful countryside I was instilled with a sense of hunger. I had eaten all the road trip oysters (which proved difficult driving at 110km/hr through a semi-alpine highway). There were still no ‘best foods’ since we had left Freycinet and its natural splendour behind. Spying a lonely inn we decided to pull in and suppress at least one of my primal urges. I often have trouble remembering things, and sometimes have to make shit up. But I’ll forever remember that pub as having the best Borscht ( beetroot soup originating from the Ukraine) in all of Tasmania. So if you are ever in the middle of Tasmania, be sure to stop in at the…what was it called? I forget, dammit.

After taking our fill of Borscht we quickly exited due to fear of ghosts. Luckily we wouldn’t actually be haunted until the end of our adventure. The remainder of the drive was pleasant as we sped through an amazing variety of landscapes – lowlands, midlands, highlands and inbetweenlands. The 30-foot tall gates & electric fence that marked the entrance to the lodge seemed out of place, but the friendly park ranger informed us that Jurassic Park was filmed there and it was there to stop the dinosaurs getting out. It made sense but I had my doubts about the legitimacy of her claims.

The cabin itself was very suitable to my needs as it had a toilet AND a minibar. After reading all the spa treatments that I wouldn’t get we set off on an afternoon walk. I was hoping to see the wombats as I heard they were all around and I’m a massive fan of their music, but all I saw were trees and waterfalls.

Not a wombat

The entire stroll was a complete failure as no wombats were seen and I wasn’t going to chase waterfalls. It was time to drown my sorrows; this was the lowest point in the 4 days of my married life and 10245 days of my regular life. After drinking (insert amount of alcohol that would make me seem cool) 3 whole beers, I went for a second walk to clear my mind. Wouldn’t you know it! A wombat was lining up for a spa treatment, or maybe he was just eating grass. I told him he was beautiful and we became best friends and fist bumped goodbye.

With my mood substantially elevated, +1 and I prepared for an elegant evening by drinking champagne and talking politics. The debate raged and by the end of the bottle we came to the conclusion that at least 60% of politicians are actually anthropomorphic reptilians wearing disguises made from human skin. In the case of the Greens party, an organic substitute is used, probably hemp. Dinner maintained the high standards that Tasmania had set in the food & drinks department. I pretended I knew something about the wine list and dropped various meats onto my shirt and pants. To round out the evening we went to the lodge bar, sipped a whisky and mercilessly beat a small child in a game of pool. High 5’s were used to celebrate the defeat of a kid that had noticed my meat stains. We decided to call it a night, which it was.

The following day was a little chilly, the thermometer read – 273.15°C so we spent the day playing chess and an outdated version of trivial pursuit whilst consuming enormous amounts of red wine.

Our final day at the lodge arrived and we decided to visit Dove Lake. What I saw was a natural fucking masterpiece, rolling clouds gave way to glimpses of Cradle Mountain in the distance. There was however, a distinct lack of doves and in my opinion Delfin’s lake-centric housing estates were still the benchmark of the lake industry. We walked to a rock and lost several digits to frostbite. As I was snapping icicles off my person I realised that we hadn’t fanged it anywhere in 2 days. Using what was left of my toes I ran to the rental car and turned the heating on. Defrosting gave me a moment to reflect on my time at Cradle Mountain; I had seen a wombat, made a mess at dinner, beat a kid and correctly guessed Martina Navratilova in every sports question in trivial pursuit. As we pulled out of the car park I looked back at the mountain and a smile spread across my face. My +1 looked at me and said “must go faster”, that’s when I saw the T-Rex chasing us…

Dove Lake

The Honeymooners: Part 1 – Walter Freycinet

Approximately 119 days ago I was transported to a distant land – a land where wombats roam, a land surrounded by a sea where sedentary molluscs are plucked from their home and loving families and placed into my mouth in a number of delicious varieties. Ironically chasing the doomed bivalves down my gullet was the “water of life” or whisky.  So. Much. Whisky. This was my honeymoon as told in the style of Peter Jackson (split up into unnecessary  parts and with Andy Serkis wearing a skintight suit covered in ping pong balls eating raw fish).

andy

I guess it all started waaay back at the Big Bang. I remember it clearly, I was sitting on the couch not laughing and my now wife groaned “No, I’m not watching the Big Bang Theory”. This was one of the reasons I married her, so we decided to talk about our bridal tour and quickly decided that we would go to Tasmania.  It seemed logical as I enjoyed a few other Mania’s – most notably Wrestlemania, but unlike my misspent childhood this would not be an oiled-up, underpants laden grapple-fest. Or would it?

As soon as my +1 and I stepped off the plane we realized something was different. People were polite and accommodating, even at the airport. This immediately put me on guard, “why are they being so friendly” I asked myself out loud and in a deliberate American accent. Nobody answered.

Soon the niceties were over as my +1 and I were fangin’ it to Freycinet to see a bay in the shape of a wineglass and become acquainted with its real-life namesake. We stopped to take some pictographs and vowed that if we saw somewhere advertising the best ‘insert food here’ we would stop and make that decision for ourselves. Unfortunately, it seems Tasmanians are a humble bunch and we arrived at the lodge, hungry.

Wallaby

After inspecting our room (spreading our clothes all over it and drinking the welcome champagne) we decided on dinner and more drinks. I took a full memory card worth of photos of a Wallaby named Walter and we became best friends. After creating a secret human/macropod handshake we said goodbye and skipped down to the restaurant in anticipation of everything. Drinks were had, the sunset was watched and we discussed married couple topics such as our zombie escape plan and which physical attributes we would want our future children to have. A tough choice considering my androgynous appearance, it was at that moment I decided to grow some facial hair.

As dinner started it was obvious that everything about the meal was delightful – the service, wine and food. I realized that this was the meaning of life and began a relentless, week-long consumption of all oyster-kind. My day had consisted of a long drive, a stunning sunset, tasty wine and a dozens of oysters. I’d had enough of that shit and went to bed. Day 1 was complete. Oh and whisky was involved, but it always is.

HM 11

The next 2 days were a song from Blur, I remember yelling Woohoo and pretended I knew what was going on for the rest of the time. There was good weather, not so good weather, beautiful scenery and old people a plenty. It seemed like the kind of place God would visit on holidays when he wasn’t smiting. He could go kayaking instead. With a belly full of oysters and smile on our face we said goodbye to Walter and decided to fang it to our next destination – Cradle Mountain. There may have been some oysters smuggled in a handbag. In hindsight, not a great road trip snack. This concludes the first part of my memoir. Stay vigilantly tuned for the next enthralling episode. Or not.

 

Lookout! It’s old man Learning.

Here at the institution that is GeekWuv, we tackle the important issues. So in line with that sentence, this week’s post will be about self-improvement and the importance of always learning new things.  Recently I enrolled in a 4 week course and learnt things and then promptly forgot them. However, there is one lesson I will keep with me – I loathe ‘mature-age’ students.

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Before you jump around on me like a swarm of people so blinded by rage they have forgotten how to express it normally and attack like a literal House of Pain, please, let me explain.  

Firstly my definition of ‘mature-age’ is not based entirely around age and whilst it is a mandatory requirement, it has certain conditions. Much like my definition of hipster (anyone hip-er than me), mature-age students must be older than me.

Secondly and the second most importantly, a mature-age student must ask an obscene number of questions. The number should be roughly equal to the number of times toddler asks ‘why’ after discovering the word. Repetitive queries alone are not the reason I have no respect for mature-age students. I would never discourage people from asking a valid question such as – can you only have one protagonist? There are no stupid questions, but for the sake of every other soul in that learning space, don’t counter every point made by the lecturer and then make a half-arsed attempt to disguise it as a question you grey haired jerk.   Image

You can probably tell that this is directed at someone in my course and that I’m the kind of guy that leaves passive-aggressive notes written in bolognaise (or blood) asking my housemate (or wife) to wash up (or sacrifice our firstborn). It’s for the best you found out now as I would struggle to define the mature-age student any further, perhaps only adding that they are condescending to anyone young or female.  Basically this dude is a real piece of work. A poorly constructed piece of work, maybe not even work, perhaps he is just a poorly constructed piece. But pieces usually belong somewhere and in this case I can only assume he belongs… in HELL. No, that’s probably too harsh. Plus I don’t believe in hell. Umm, maybe he belongs at HOME! A place where I don’t have any contact with him…Yes that works.

My irritability stemmed from his reluctance to learn and his compulsion to put other people down. Why pay cold hard cash to learn only to shove it in the face of the person you paid and everyone else in the room. Also, why not use an innernet transaction, it’s faster.

As I consume titbits of knowledge and struggle to write a decent conclusion it is fairly obvious that nobody likes a jerk. Fact.  Other than that I can pretend that this will somehow relate to my initial statement about loathing mature-age students.  It won’t, but hopefully this course helps me structure my thoughts into something more coherent in the future.

END?

Re-FUN-dancy

Close your eyes and use your child-like sense of wonderment and vividly imagine this scene.

You: “Honey I’m home. It’s been a while but I’m back now.”

Honey: “You are a redundant now go away in a month”

How did you read those lines with your eyes closed? Impressive.  Nevertheless, it is a truly harrowing hypothetical situation. But what if it wasn’t a hypothetical? What if it was a hyper-realistic first person sensory experience known as real life? For some this “real life” is a reality, a harsh and restrictive reality that can force a person to transform. Not into a Werewolf or a Dracula, but into a different type of human being, one that examines every single step that brought them to this point in their life. I know you savvy readers may have clued on by now, but I am that ‘some’ that was identified just earlier, like 2 sentences ago. So I will tell you the story until I lose my train of thought.

This is 100% true except for the majority of the details. I didn’t waltz back in after 31 days off and return with a hitch in my step and a smile on my face. Nor did I call anyone at work ‘Honey’, I just never developed that kind of relationship with the weathered dozer drivers or supple graduate engineers. I dreaded returning to work after a month off, I dreaded it so much that I would have preferred to go back to university and study a Bachelor of Law (and arts or some other baloney), become a solicitor for a few years, ace the Bar test, spend another decade as a barrister until finally becoming a Judge. Judge Dread. I was Sly Stallone in those few days before returning to work, I felt lost and started punching various meats.

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So it was to my surprise when I returned that I was cryptically told that I was no longer required. Cue some awkward laughter and confusion, add the weight of the world, a dash of “holy shit I’m losing my job” and a whole heap of “heck yes, I’m outta here”. Those feelings summarised my entire time spent doing that job. Immediate analysis of my reaction and initial feelings lead to a colossal smile on my face.

During this moment of glee I forgot that you need a job to get monies because monies pay for things. For me these things are Pizza Shapes and soap. You can never have enough soap and I like the fancy kind that gives you a fragrant and even lather…..urgh yessss! But the idea of not working scared me. It scared me far more than it ever did before because I almost have responsibilities. All my worries were heightened during the search for a new job. What if I didn’t find a new job? Could I use my fallback plan of being a stay at home dad with no kids?

To lessen my worries I did some good ol’ fashioned soul searching. Granted, I mostly searched through various whiskeys. Whiskey is far better than continually questioning why I was losing my job. Was the answer – because you were shit at it? I never really found that out, probably yes, but I was asking the wrong question.

What do I want to do? I looked at my wife, who besides living her dream of being married to a man-child with a wormish physique; she was also killing it at studying video games design. That leap isn’t easy in the real world; it takes courage and hard work. I drank some more whiskey, ate some Pizza Shapes and was once again inspired by this superior version of Claire Danes. With nothing else to do I can follow my passion and concentrate on what I really want from my life…

 

Pizza Shape scented soap.

 

THIS POST WAS BROUGHT TO YOU BY ARNOTT’S PIZZA SHAPES

BAKED NOT FRIED THE BEST FUCKING THING EVER!

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You’re a Vision

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Eurovision is one of my favorite weekends of the year. I have fond memories of Moldova busting out a sax solo like nobody else, Latvia singing their catchy pirate themed song and Romania having a gay Dracula stuck in a perspex box. This time around it was no different with all its pop glory & political statements served with lashings of cheesy goodness. It was as if someone had shoved an iPod into a block of Gouda, wrapped a rainbow flag around it and thrown it onto a stage. And I loved it. I consume Eurovision cheese like regular cheese, by opening my jowls and inhaling until I get sick.

In my eyes there was one clear winner, the superstars from Iceland – Pollapönk with their smash hit ‘No Prejudice’. You can view the official film clip here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwfGKEIn5xw Image

These gents channeled the Presidents of the USA , added some Yo Gabba Gabba flavours and based it around a core message of tolerance and love. Like Greece’s 2013 entry ‘Alcohol is Free’ the song was never going to win, mostly because it’s kids song written by kindergarten teachers probably for one of their sing-a-longs, but I blame the politics of the judges and their judgmental ways. This is a dang catchy song with lyrics like I may stutter when I speak/ (but) you don’t need to call me freak/ it’s not trigonometry/ inside we’re the same.” It is a welcome break from some of the more snoozeworthy ballads that get busted out over the course of the weekend. I’m talking to you Azerbaijan, not even your trapeze artist could keep me interested.

As I sat there on Friday night, stuffing my face full of pizza with my good friend/sadistic personal trainer and our other halves, I was content. Iceland had blown my mindhole and there were many more highs and lows to come. So here are a few of my personal highlights from the 2014 Eurovision contest.

  • The first song of the contest was Armenia’s ARAM MP3 and props to him for transforming a what would have been another Azerbaijan into a Eurovision hit by adding some rising strings and wub-wubs until it becomes a dubstep casserole.
  • Austria’s bearded lady smashing out her song and proving that beards are, like, totally in right now. Also winning the competition and having the Wurst last name.

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  • Russia’s twins doing their best impression of Disney’s TANGLED whilst singing on a giant see-saw.
  • The folk pop contingent of Germany, Netherlands & Switzerland as well as some others that I forget. 
  • Ukraine for being one of the sauciest entries and having a human sized hamster wheel dancer. (Pictured below, but you’re best off just YouTubing it)

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  • Special mention to Latvia who were knocked out in the Semi Final after their song about baking a cake failed to get them through.
  • Finally, the award for the most cringeworthy performance goes to… Australia’s guest spot. Australia is the drunk uncle of Eurovision who throws out slurred heckles whilst holding a 6 pack of VB and then wonders why he doesn’t get invited to important events. I’m not talking about Jess Mauboy’s performance, which was actually pretty good. No, I’m talking about the intro to it which included a shirtless surfer/skater, Russell Crowe references and leftover Sydney Olympic mascots. All in the true Eurovision spirit.

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I’ll see you all next year in Austria for a weekend of singing, dancing and pissing off Russia.