Sometimes it’s hard to concentrate, because He is always there with me.
Not in a creepy way, I should say. People always assume that’s what I mean, and I get it. Looking at him, looking at him with no context that is, you’d be forgiven for thinking some pretty unflattering stuff. He’s old-looking, and He always has been, that’s the weird part. Nobody really knows what He looked like when He was young, and I can’t even picture it, even when I’m literally looking at a picture of it. He’s lank, and maybe tall? Although, maybe not. Maybe He just seems that way. I don’t think ugly men are ever allowed to be average height, it just doesn’t work. I think we automatically perceive them as being extremes of height and weight whether it’s true or not, because without that instinct we might be forced to confront some pretty uncomfortable truths about ourselves. Not that He’s ugly. No, well, He is. Not really, not like ugly ugly, just not attractive in any way that you would be able to… describe. Or identify. But that’s not mean, He jokes about it a lot! Well, His characters do, at the very least… But he wouldn’t take such ugly roles if he hadn’t on some level come to terms with the fact that his face is, at best, unorthodox and, at worst, just freakish. Let’s think about some of them: a thief, a sort of creepy mayor or something, a P.I. nicknamed “the Chameleon”, and an actual sort of chameleon monster with too many legs. I think it’s a sort of meta-irony on His part, He is making a point about morality and aesthetic. All these characters are either villains, or they are ugly, and ugliness, as we know is simply a physical manifestation of some deeper moral failing. Yet He is a good man. A great man, even. A hero. A hero willing to be perceived otherwise for our entertainment. Kind of like Jesus, really, because he was technically a criminal, but it was also for our own good, I think? I don’t know the story that well, but I’m pretty sure he got the death penalty, but it was one of those cases where they got it wrong, so they reversed the decision. Either way, He’s kinda weird looking, and He knows it, and I think that’s sometimes why he looks back at me, back through the long-range lens, with a face of such confused horror, with eyes that plead “Why me?”.
And those eyes. Oh man, those eyes. Pensive, bulbous… wet. You know how sometimes in films there’s a character, and they’re a fly, and the movie wants to show you what the fly is seeing, and suddenly the screen is filled with hundreds of tiny circles, each filled with the same image distorted in a thousand different ways because that’s what science tells us flies see? Well what I want is for a director to have the bravery, to have the – the – the… vision! The vision, to show us what He sees. Because there is no way He sees the world in the same way you and I do. And I don’t just mean a bright filter and a panoramic lens, I want the real deal. It’s not for me to say what He sees, but I know it’s purer somehow. I know it borders on the transcendental, and I know it strips back the dishonesty of the world to reveal something greater. You couldn’t lie to Him. I mean, you could try. But you’d know, deep down, that he had seen right through you, seen back through time to the exact moment of your conception, seen everything preceding this moment, and everything that will follow, that he perceives the world as one enormous chain of dominoes, Kafka’s own Rube Goldberg machine, stretching back to the very first instance of the universe, and reaching on until its collapse, with each individual component so vital and yet so insignificant, reason disguised as choice and chance, a closed system of immense potential which ticks and tocks its way forwards, ever forwards, and to which He has the blueprints showing Him all that has been and will be, and making it quite clear to Him that No, you didn’t just “happen to be” outside of his dentist appointment which only his assistant knew about, who the hell are you?
And it’s a valid question, y’know? Who am I? Who am I to consider myself worthy of His presence? Who am I to put myself within His reach, and feel entitled to stay there? Well I’ll tell you who.
I am the one who has sacrificed their life (admittedly a lesser life, but a life nonetheless!) in the pursuit of being closer to Him. I may not have had His millions, or His universal acclaim, but I had a wife. I had children. I had a job, and a home, and circle of people who held me in some sort of regard. But they couldn’t– no, they refused to see what I see. Rather than join me, they chose to condescend, to ridicule, to cower, and ultimately to leave, to give it all up. So now this is my job. Now He is my wife, and He is my kids. He is all I have. So yeah, I feel like maybe I earned a place by His side. Maybe there should be some recognition of that dedication. Show me someone else willing to throw it all away in allegiance to Him! Show me someone else who has read all the biographies, and written a couple more (as yet unpublished). Show me someone else who has crippled their eyesight spending day after day in a dark room pouring over long-lens shots of a man whose face could buckle wrought iron gates! You can’t, because it is just me! I am the one who exclusively wears the clothes He thinks He is donating to charity! I am the one who waits until the internet traffic is low to edit every “he” on His Wikipedia page so they have capital “Hs”. I am the one who drinks his bathtub dry, and flosses with the hairs that stick in the plughole. And I am the one who, on the rare occasion that I pluck up the courage to head out into town, to try to live life like everybody else, to go and have fun in the company of my fellow mortals, I am the one who on this one-in-a-million evening, having finally set Him aside for just a few hours so that I might unearth the care of another human being, am graced by the alignment of stars and find myself speaking to a woman who is enthralled not by Him, but by me, and whose skin thrills me, and whose words are a balm to my wounded soul, I am the one who, having stumbled upon what might be the freshest blossoms of love, having tripped into the arms of one who is willing to carry me, who asks, who begs to come home with me, whose hot breath on my neck is precursor to some greater physical connection yet to come, I am the one who presses her back to my front door for a kiss of unrivalled passion, before turning the key and pushing us both giddily into my apartment, I am the one who will piss it all away, who will decimate my only hope for a normal life as I stand there, proud and defiant, unmoved and unmoving, as she looks at me and howls with a horror informed by ancient traumas logged deep within our cells, screams at me to explain why everything, and I mean everything, in my flat has Steve fucking Buscemi’s fucking face on it!
And when He dies, as only the truly immortal can, I will be the one who is there to witness it, to bask in the ineffable white light of His supernova, to let His essence wash over me, and change me for the better.
At least, I will be if He ever drops this restraining order.
COLINDALE, London — A local man’s week has been turned upside-down by the revelation that the boring movie his girlfriend is watching is actually just the first episode of an extended mini-series.
James Hunter, 26, was reportedly “devastated” by the realisation, adding that his entire week had been upturned by the news. James had made plans to use the living room TV that very afternoon, but has since had to abandon any hope of that, with the screen now sure to be held ransom for days on end.
“It’s not unusual to find her watching something when I wake up,” James told reporters, failing to hide his despair, “but usually it’s just some black and white movie, y’know; you put up with the last forty minutes, and then you’re golden. But this?”
According to sources, the realisation came a full fifteen minutes after James had taken a seat in the living room. “Very little had happened, even for one of these period piece things, so I made the mistake of asking what it was,” James said, trembling slightly. “She said ‘It’s a show called People Have a Right to Know: it’s from the 80s’ and that word “show” just hung in the air between us.”
Helen Hornets, 27, had apparently been advised to seek out the show by her father. “That’ll mean it’s political,” James reported, head in hands, “so inevitably there’ll have to be a discussion about it afterwards.” A quick Google search revealed to James that this was just the first of 9 episodes to which he would inevitably be subjected, all noted for their “stunning realism” by The Guardian. “That just means the dialogue’s boring. Oh Christ, it’s about unions!”
The show, which was presented in 4:3, seemed to James to be “a real waste” of the 60” television they were renting. “I wouldn’t mind so much,” he added, in a tone which reporters say implied nothing of the sort, “but everyone in these old shows is so fucking ugly. The past was a total dump.”
Worse news was yet to come, unfortunately. After a particularly gruelling scene about balloting regulations, Helen paused the show to visit the bathroom. “Fuck me!” James reportedly exclaimed, pointing to the progress bar at the bottom of the screen “How are these cunts are 90 minutes each?! It’s just people in hats!”
At press time, James was cancelling the rest of this week’s plans, and relaying the news to a largely unsympathetic flatmate, adding “That’s 9 films she wants me to watch, isn’t it? If you think about it.”
Picture the scene. You’re home alone, minding your own business, when suddenly Uncle Elbam’s at the door and wants to play the Feather Game? Ugh. Emotional labour much?
We’ve all been there, and most of us wish we hadn’t! Elbam’s not likely to stop his unannounced visits any time soon, so here are 3 helpful hints which will give you the jump on Uncle’s mischief.
1. The Birds Stop Their Sweet Singing
Uncle Elbam can’t stand for the happy birds to enjoy themselves with melody, and he’ll be sure to put a stop to their tuneful cries as soon as he pulls up onto the scene. Keep an ear out for the sudden and total absence of birdsong, and you’ll have an extra 8 to 10 seconds’ head-start before Uncle’s powerful arms get to slithering! It can be hard to remember to listen out for the absence of a sound, so practise asking yourself the question “Birds?” as many as 80 times an hour.
2. The Butter Goes Gritty
When it is time for Uncle Elbam to whisper his wicked knowledge into your soft-pink mind, the golden foods will tend to grow dirty and become wrong. On the off-chance that you happen to be making yourself a piece of toast or trying out a new baking project, keep a watchful eye out for the texture of your smooth spreads morphing into creamed sand. Yuck, Uncle! Talk about a tongue scraper!
3. Uncle’s Dark Envoys Begin Their Chants
Uncle Elbam just can’t seem to go anywhere these days without his trusty and fiercely loyal gang of Dark Envoys to herald his arrival. And if there’s one thing those Envoys love to do, it’s to chant of Uncle’s past and future deeds in their forgotten tongue. When the Dark Envoys arrive and encircle your dwelling space with their well-robed bodies and sounds, you can be sure your Trouble Uncle isn’t far behind!
Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a game which has been making headlines the world over. It’s fair to say Nintendo knocked it out of the park with this cheerful life-sim set on a desert island in which you can live any kind of life you want to and spend time hanging out with quirky animal friends. Although most of the cute animal villagers mostly enjoy talking about island activities, Hamlet, a fit and sporty hamster, often seems to have other things on his mind. Here’s five times Hamlet ran up to me to discuss fracking.
1. The Time I Was Fishing For Water Eggs
I was minding my business enjoying the hunt for wet eggs which Zipper T. Bunny needed in order to offer me a mysterious present when Hamlet ran the full length of the beach to talk to me about fracking. He told me that fracking is when a villager injects high-pressure liquid into the island’s boreholes so as to force open fissures and extract oil or natural gas. To my knowledge, this is not a feature in Animal Crossing: New Horizons but none of the available dialogue options provided the chance to query this.
2. The Time I Was Talking Fossils With Blathers
Blathers the Owl is one of the most famous animals in Nintendo’s “Nintendo Presents: Animal Crossing: New Horizons”. He is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to the big three: fish, bug, and bone. After a relaxing day of exploring my island and enjoying lighthearted interactions with some of my favourite villagers, my pockets were overflowing with fossils to share with Blathers the Owl. Heading towards the museum, I could have sworn I saw a round shadow dashing through the doors ahead of me but didn’t think much of it. No sooner had I generously offered to donate the Ankylo Torso I had unearthed to the museum of Blathers the Owl than an orange blob of fur came hurtling down the long museum staircase with a wild and frantic look plastered to its high-definition face. Blathers the Elderly Owl was knocked to the floor by Hamlet’s powerful entrance and our dialogue was cut short while Hamlet breathlessly explained the ways in which fracking has been misrepresented by the mainstream media. There was no option to skip this exchange.
3. The Time I Was Playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
The Animal Crossing series created by Nintendo Entertainment Corporation has often been praised for the way in which it encourages you to play a little every day rather than spending endless hours grinding out bells. Having spent a busy holiday weekend gathering resources to improve my disgusting island in order to get the attention of a singing dog, I was ready to take a break for the rest of the day and decided to ‘drive’ on over to my favourite racing game, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, to unwind. I picked my favourite track (Dolphin Shoals), selected my favourite racer (King Boo), and gulped down a glass of tap water to stimulate my internals for a real race to remember.
By the final lap, it was neck-and-neck between King Boo (controlled by me) and Baby Rosalina (controlled by Shigeru Miyamoto). The famous Dolphin Shoals ‘super sax’ was grunting and gurgling out its famous Dolphin Shoals ‘super sax solo’ at a blazing double-time tempo as I rounded the corner towards the attractive and nearby Finishing Line. Suddenly, with a loud splash, the beautifully-rendered water seemed to explode into a thick black mist. King Boo and I careered wildly from left to right, our movements becoming slower and slower as the previously pristine shallows became a glutinous muddy stew. As Boo’s ghostly eyes adjusted to the dark smog which had engulfed us, we noticed a twitching circle of ink-black fur skittering towards us, the unmistakable whites of a pair of large and panicked eyes fixed on the King’s speedy vehicle. Unable to drive through the gloop, I was forced to wait for almost a minute before Hamlet—his fur matted and slick, his breathing loud and laboured—finally managed to get close enough to initiate the whimsical dialogue box we all know and love. Instead of his usual upbeat account of “nature’s hippest energy source”, he merely whispered the URL of a Wikipedia page called “Fracking (disambiguation)” before collapsing into an oily heap. Baby Rosalina flew past with a Mushroom Boost and took the victory.
4. The Time I Was Already Talking To Hamlet About Something Else
I had long since decided to avoid Hamlet where possible because his unsettling and incongruous babbling about dangerous and environmentally-damaging forms of energy was disturbing the carefully curated island vibe I had been striving for. When one of my favourite villagers, a green mouse named Bree, told me that she had taken receipt of a parcel meant for Hamlet and asked if I would give it to him on her behalf, I’m not afraid to say that I wept. It was several days before I was able to complete the lazy Bree’s delivery mission because I had cleverly moved Hamlet’s house to a section of the island which was only accessible via a complicated series of bridges and inclines which I had long since removed in the hope that the now trapped hamster would wither away when cut off from the island’s bountiful supply of pears. I liaised with Thomas Nook about the construction process, and having donated several hundred-thousand of my hard-earned bells to an awful wooden cactus with a badly-fitting hat, I could do nothing but wait for it to be completed.
When the final bridge was in place, I put the parcel into my inventory and set off on my journey making sure to leave all the rest of my possessions behind in case Hamlet’s extended period of forced isolation had addled his already rotten mind and inspired him to physical violence. Arriving at his obnoxious and tastelessly decorated mansion, I caught my first glimpse of Hamlet since the Mario Kart incident and felt a shiver run down my spine as my quivering villager did the Be Sick reaction all over the floor. The inscrutable creature was tending a bed of mismatched flowers with a wide, serene smile on his fat-cheeked face. Was it an act? I approached cautiously and entered into dialogue.
Minutes passed and so did my fears. Hamlet seemed like a regular villager again, chatting about how much fun Bunny Day had been and how he was looking forward to working-out in the hot and long summer evenings. Hamlet and I were discussing my outfit choice for the day when the scrolling text froze in place and his hamster’s pixel mouth ceased moving. Instead of the cutesy vocoder voice I was used to, the deep, blank tones of a damaged human man dribbled out of Hamlet’s frozen lips to inform me that “Fracking has upended the American energy system. It has brought substantial benefits to the nation in terms of lower energy prices, greater energy security, reduced air pollution, and fewer carbon emissions.” After trying every button combination imaginable, I resorted to putting the Switch at the back of my wardrobe, burying it in jumpers and blankets to muffle the terrible chanting, and waiting until the battery died.
5. The Time I Lent My Switch To My Girlfriend So That She Could Play Animal Crossing
There’s no doubt about it in my mind: Animal Crossing: The New Horizons is the crown jewel in one of the most beloved gaming series of all time. Nintendo really knocked it out of the park with this one, no question. Whether it’s the attention to detail and variety in the myriad fun and desirable items which the designers have crafted for us to collect or the almost meditative quality of a few hours spent fishing, catching bugs, and planting flowers, the game truly has something for everybody.
To that end, I decided to lend my Switch to my girlfriend for the weekend so that she could see what all the fuss was about. Although I was busy doing my important and emotionally fulfilling work, she regularly texted me tiresome updates as she naively staggered through the island-establishment process which I had already aced with aplomb. It was easy to ignore these as none of them was interesting to me, but I was taken aback when minutes after texting me a JPEG of her new villager Hippeaux, an amphibious member of the 1%, my phone started to ring. When I answered, well prepared to admonish her for the needless and insensitive distraction, she had an unmistakably distant tone as if having just witnessed one of the terrible shooting incidents. “Are you enjoying the game?” I asked, kindly. “Yes,” she replied, “but there’s someone who wants to talk to you.”
“What do you mean?” I said, unable to hide the trembling in my voice. “What do you mean? Who wants to–”
The unmistakable sound of small rodent claws on hard iPhone glass clack-clack-clacked their way down my fearful ear canals, echoing off the pink-flesh walls as they bore ever deeper into my frightened skull. “It’s you, isn’t it,” I said. “I knew it would be.”
“Look, whatever you want, whatever this is about, it’s between you and me, Hamlet. Just you and me. Leave her out of it, you hear?”
“Hamlet, talk to me”. I was pleading now. The ugly high-pitched strains of desperation squeaking out of my closed-up throat.
“Hydraulic fracturing (also called fracking or hydrofracturing) is a well-stimulation technique in which rock is fractured by a pressurised liquid,” he chuckled.
And the line went dead.
In which Declan has flexed his writing muscles, Isaac takes us on a tour of the world’s greatest corrugated-iron based accommodation, and both get surprisingly genuine towards the end.
In which Declan goes on a journey of self-discovery, Isaac has wrenched some slime-covered content from the swamps of the Imagiporium TM, and both make sure the listenership know exactly how free this content is.
In which Declan wants to cuck a prudish pilot, Isaac wants his friends’ heads digitally spliced onto his cyber corpse, and both scrape the bottom of The Content Barrel.
In which Declan has been letting the juices flow, Isaac confesses to another love, and both navigate the choppy waters of romance this Valentine‘s.
In which Declan discovers his super-heroic destiny, Isaac chats a lot about something called a Cum-Tap, and both try to avoid mentioning the Oscars.
In which Declan brings along some OC clickbait, Isaac learns about the true flexibility of toast, and both get schooled in the humble Art of Grustling.
In which Declan introduces the world to Wayne, Isaac makes sordid use of onomatopoeia, and both get off on some sordid fiction.