The Life Anticlimactic

4 Jan

Well, I’ll tell you what I’m not going to do.

  • I’m not going to feed you some bullshit about how busy I’ve been in the last three months or so. I have done exactly two strenuous things since September: I moved into a new house on or around the fifteenth (it turns out time is just as difficult to keep track of when you’re sober), and then about three weeks later I completed a brace of 2000-word essays in a single weekend. The rest of the time has been devoured by, in descending order of magnitude; housemate drama, not doing important uni research, eating, not drinking (until two weeks ago), drinking (in the last two weeks), streamed television, Skyrim, and staring blankly at the wall. I am a shiftless layabout and
  • I will not apologise for that fact, but I will set myself a challenge. If I’m to have any writing skill at all before the sun expands and devours the planet, I’m going to have to get a move on with actually writing something. Unfortunately, last year I fell into the old, comfortable exigological trap of thinking “I’m crap at this, so I won’t bother continuing” (no, it isn’t a real word). This is a stupid, unreasonable thing to tell oneself, but it’s deceptively easy to go along with. I know myself too well to hope that making a brand new, idealistic promise at the start of the year will actually work. If I leave it to myself, then there’s a very good chance that
  • I won’t write anything at all. As the corruption of the old saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can only make it drink if you subject it to a series of horrific punishments and make it clear that only by drinking can he make it stop“. I was stuck as to how I might apply this timeless axiom to my own life until a recent spate of texts to a certain vlogstress made it clear – I am absolutely terrified of attention of any kind, so what more humiliating punishment can there be but a, well, a humiliating punishment which is then filmed and posted online?
  • I won’t go into the manifold ways this idea scares me; I will simply state the rules, here and now:

I, Jimmy Liar of Jimmy Liar obscurity, will write at least one piece of decently-sized and hopefully entertaining work, to be posted on the aforementioned blog, in every week of 2012. If I do not write and post such a piece of work in a given week (i.e., before 23:59 on Sunday), I will rely on my audience (ha) to suggest to me a punishment, which I will then undertake, film, and post to Youtube. If I do not do this thing, may be heart and lungs be cut out, blitzed in an industrial meat processing unit, and baked into a delicious souffle for Delia Smith’s new BBC series, “Devouring The Flesh Of The Unworthy on the Cheap”.

Oh, and I’m counting this as my first one. They’ll be longer, I promise.

– j

(It’s all kicking off here, incidentally.)


Skyrim Field Notes

23 Nov

I estimate that with decent organisation and planning, I can turn forty pounds into about two weeks’ worth of food and supplies. I guess I’m eating rice and stock cubes for a fortnight, then.

Notable events from my first two days playing Skyrim:

  • Making a High Elf mage and being hugely frustrated when, while wandering around at level 2 (in the game’s “Everything Can And Will Kick A New Hole In Your Arse” phase), I decided to take a trip to Winterhold, which seemed to be about sixty billion miles away. Having gotten halfway up the nearest mountain from Whiterun, I found myself following three cool lights which I realised slightly too late were will-‘o-the-wisps. I was about to curse myself for being an idiot, but decided to use that lung-power to scream as I saw some hellish grey dust-matriarch (a “Wispmother”, apparently – now, Bethesda, you are just making shit up) well up from the ground in front of me and start directing her minions, who are made of light and never tire, to chasing me back down the mountain. I used up four stamina potions in outrunning them and, on hearing the fight music stop, foolishly congratulated myself on surviving and saved the game. Seconds later, I was obliterated by a coven of angry witches who seized with both hands the opportunity to launch endless Fireballs at me (for the unfamiliar, think rocket propelled grenade) and who apparently knew that every time I died, the game would bring me back just feet away from them, giving me absolutely no opportunity to escape.
  • Abandoning that character in disgust for a Khajiit thief, and attempting five times to run all the way to Riften from Whiterun. I did it, and was halfway through the heist missions before I realised that you can get a goddamned carriage to any of the major holds. (Before you ask, no, I was not amused by the guy in the Thieves’ Guild who did the same thing).
  • Discovering the absolute joy of sneaking around and stealing shit when you have at-will night vision, and resigning myself to the fact that I would never get anywhere near the main missions while there were still objects to thieve in the wider world
  • Returning to my mage character, getting into some decent Destruction skill and joining the College.
  • Having my first encounter with giants and being stepped on and one-shotted for doing absolutely nothing. I would be cursing giants still if not for the fact that, five minutes after killing my second dragon with Delphine, I was attacked out of nowhere by another dragon, who proceeded to kick my arse up and down the mountain before zipping off to attack something else. I noticed its health going down rapidly and moved closer to see a giant going all out on the bastard-lizard, apparently unconcerned that he, the giant, was bathed lovingly in hellish flames for a good thirty seconds before it landed to finish the job. Fortunately, the big man was a lot tougher than me and managed to smash the dragon’s skull in with about five hits, which permanently secured giants a place on my Things That Are Fucking Awesome in Skyrim list.

More later. Playing Skyrim.

Needless Haiku

12 Nov

Essays scour my brain.
Workload cannot be lightened.
Whisky, come to me.

My money is gone,
Moths in my wallet. I shall
Have to charge them rent.

Soon, Battles approach.
A post about gigs may yet
Be in the works. Wait.

This blog has lain still.
I tell myself “It’s cool. I’ll
Get back to it soon.”

These may yet be lies.
But you’ll just have to wait, sir –
Real life still intrudes.

My brain is a wreck.
Haikus do not solve problems.
I’ll get back to work.

Mental Answering Machine, or Why I Haven’t Written Anything in Ages

6 Aug

Hello! You have reached the brain of Jimmy. Apologies, but the Occupant cannot recieve your communication right now, as he is busy. Professional courtesy dictates that, since you’ve been good enough to attempt to contact the Occupant, this message should explain exactly why he’s busy and with what business; but unraveling that twisted stream of events would eat up more time than is generally considered polite. Nevertheless, he probably appreciates your attention and will in all likelihood recieve your substance at a more convenient time.

If you are a stray particle of inspiration, press 1 to reach the Great Ideas Bank. There’s no queue. We’re positive.
If you are a lingering doubt, a disturbing thought or a creeping, nameless fear, press 2 to join the Negativity Trail. The primal quality of your particular disturbance will be absorbed into the howling depths of the Cerebral Vortex as soon as your place in the line is reached. Unfortunately, since this department has been particularly busy for several years now, you may have to wait for… just a little bit.
If you are a religious experience or a spark of spiritual awakening, please press 3 and hold the line while we put you through to one of our Cynicism Technicians. Be sure to have empirical evidence and several objective arguments at the ready, or you may be subconsciously disconnected. We are aware that evidence and argument are generally ‘not the way it works’. Again, apologies for the inconvenience.
If you are the recursive echo of a post-imaginary, psycho-philosophical dream-construct, press 4 to access the switchboard of the Useless Gibberish department.
If you are a steady stream of alcohol winding its way deftly through the meninges, press 5 to contact Sub-Arachnoid Customs. By entering the brain, you agree that advance signals may be sent to toxin technicians in Liver and coordination controllers in Musculature in order to inform them of your swift and delicious arrival.
We’re sorry to say that, under advice from Higher Functions, the Hindbrain has stopped taking calls at this stage.
If you have an inquiry that is not covered by this list, please remain in the spinal column until we decide to deal with you. Remember, your intellectual substance is almost certainly important to us, unless it isn’t, but it’s not like we can just keep you bastards out, is it?



18 May

Since it appears that I’m the sort of person who allows himself to be profoundly discouraged from various tasks by even the slightest sequence of setbacks (and will fill his blog with posts advertising this fact to the Internet at large), I thought I’d try what is apparently the inverse of positive reinforcement and remind myself of all the terrible things I have so far failed to do. Here’s a list, then.

I have never:

  • committed any serious forms of fraud
  • caused a fire of over six metres in scale
  • uttered an oath stronger than “wanker” to a pensioner or clergyman
  • deliberately harmed any creature larger than, say, a goat
  • succumbed to the nagging desire to flee civilisation and live as a beast out in the headlands
  • caused significant damage to a listed building
  • scrawled vulgar witticisms onto a toilet cubicle, bus ceiling or insufficiently attentive person
  • caused a friend to mislay more than £1600 in personal funds
  • abandoned a small child in the middle of a foreign city without a guidebook
  • muttered unkind words about unhelpful public service personnel more than sixteen times a day
  • been prosecuted for the physical assault of a particularly recalcitrant double-glazing salesman
  • caused a stranger to suffer more than sixteen broken bones through acts of sabotage
  • subjected a person to a withering barrage of personal insults that caused them to break down in public and attempt to commit suicide
  • been convicted of. and subsequently punished for, the crime of defecating in the courtyard of an old peoples’ home
  • forced a person at gunpoint to read the complete works of William Topaz McGonagall*
  • deliberately served an irritating acquaintance a meal containing more than six milligrams of strychnine
  • wasted the time of more than five hundred people through their reading of this blog

It’s always good to know you’re not a total scumbag. See you next week.

* (…who was possibly the worst professional poet in the history of the English language. And it was at knifepoint – I’m not fucking rich, you know.)

Recursive Irony: A Second Cop-Out, or Pithy Phrase: A Colon, and Then Another Thing

29 Apr

“So then how have irony, irreverence, and rebellion come to be not liberating but enfeebling in the culture today’s avant-garde tried to write about? One clue’s to be found in the fact that irony is still around, bigger than ever after 30 long years as the dominant mode of hip expression. It’s not a rhetorical mode that wears well. As [Lewis] Hyde. . .puts it, “Irony has only emergency use. Carried over time, it is the voice of the trapped who have come to enjoy the cage.” This is because irony, entertaining as it is, serves an almost exclusively negative function. It’s critical and destructive, a ground-clearing. Surely this is the way our postmodern fathers saw it. But irony’s singularly unuseful when it comes to constructing anything to replace the hypocrisies it debunks. This is why Hyde seems right about persistent irony being tiresome. It is unmeaty. Even gifted ironists work best in sound bites. I find gifted ironists sort of wickedly funny to listen to at parties, but I always walk away feeling like I’ve had several radical surgical procedures. And as for actually driving cross-country with a gifted ironist, or sitting through a 300-page novel full of nothing by trendy sardonic exhaustion, one ends up feeling not only empty but somehow. . .oppressed. […] And make no mistake: irony tyrannizes us. The reason why our pervasive cultural irony is at once so powerful and so unsatisfying is that an ironist is impossible to pin down. All U.S. irony is based on an implicit “I don’t really mean what I’m saying.” So what does irony as a cultural norm mean to say? That it’s impossible to mean what you say? That maybe it’s too bad it’s impossible, but wake up and smell the coffee already? Most likely, I think, today’s irony ends up saying: “How totally banal of you to ask what I really mean.”

David Foster Wallace

The Towel, and the Manner in Which It Might Be Cast: A Cop-out

13 Apr

I have spent the day playing video games, eating snacks, reading, watching movies and, latterly, drinking, when I should really have been doing something constructive (revising for upcoming exams, exercising, repairing my increasingly distant relationship with my family, locating the real world and seeing if I can’t somehow insinuate myself into it).

Both the movies that I watched today (The Big Lebowski and Clerks) are about wasters.


(Back tomorrow, probably.)

(N.B. This is my fiftieth post. If that isn’t indicative of the basic output of this blog, I don’t know what the fuck is.)