Horse-Flies – Satan’s Airforce

Horse-Flies. Irritation? Or winged demons hellbent on the elimination of all life on the planet? I’d always assumed the former, but it would seem that i’ve underestimated these flying fiends.

Until recently, i’ve relied solely on information gleaned during my 33 years on the planet, my own experience of having been bitten by a horse-fly and a smattering of common sense. With this, I figured out the following:

1) Horse-fly bites are a wee bit sore and you get a bump. The bump itches.

2) A cream from Boots sorts it out

3) If you’re allergic, it can be pretty nasty. Mind you, so can peanuts or seagulls or words ending in “ism”. Allergies are a dick.

What a fool i’ve been! Thank god for Somerset Live and every other local rag and tabloid up and down the country for pointing out the true horror of horse-flies.

“This image was recovered from the camera of one Michael Gambonberry who was almost wholly devoured shortly after taking the shot. Only his feet were left intact as horse-flies loathe the taste of leather.”

The problem is, they’ve not gone far enough. I read the article about these murderous, winged bastard-demons and decided that we need to dig deeper. So, I stayed up until 3am convincing myself that every buzz I heard was a sign of imminent death, pumped by system full of so much caffeine that I can now overtake The Flash at a jog and then I jotted down my horse-fly research. Here’s what I found:

1) The average horse-fly is around 22 pounds in weight and has a wingspan of around eleven feet.

2) Only the female horse-fly bites, as it requires blood in order to lay eggs. The male horse-fly will guard the perimeter and is generally armed with an automatic weapon and backup sidearm as well as a variety of knives.

3) Horse-flies can not be killed by conventional weapons. One was reportedly shot down over the Mojave desert in 1998 using an experimental gauss cannon but no remains were ever found.

4) Asides from the need to consume blood in order to lay eggs, a standard diet for the horse-fly consists of raw meat, the brain matter of infant swallows and those little packets of barbecue sauce from Rustlers burgers

5) The UN have been attempting to broker a peace treaty between mankind and the horse-fly nation since 1968 but as of the most recent summit in 2016, no diplomatic resolution has been made.

6) Horse-flies are equipped with a sophisticated anti-air “chaff” system, air to ground missiles and twin 30mm cannon.

7) In days of old, the horse-flies were kept at bay through the ritualistic sacrifice of the elderly and infirm. Worshipped as gods, they ruled over the land with an iron wing. We were perhaps unwise to stop worship…

8) Horse-flies have no natural predators and sit comfortably at the top of the food chain. They have been known to take down prey up to ten times their size by working in packs and will often kill for sport.

9) Horse-flies have mastered the dark arts and command great shadow beasts to do their bidding. In league with Those Below, the horse-fly will eventually rise up to lead Hell’s army in a war against God and bring about the end of days

10) Horse-flies are all Trump supporters

THE SKIES ARE ABUZZ WITH THE WINGED BRINGERS OF DEATH! NO GOD CAN SAVE YOU! THE END IS FLY!

Disclaimer: Aye, horse-fly bites can be a bit crap. If you get bitten and react, see a doctor. Generally speaking, you’ll be fine. 

Brick By Brick

Video games are bloody marvellous, aren’t they? They’re tons of fun to play and look ever so nice sat on a shelf, or in big piles, or heaped in the corner of the room, gathering dust. Oh…

Yup, i’m digging through my “pile of shame”, folks. All gamers have one, you know. A collection of games that we’ve yet to complete or haven’t even started. Sometimes, there’s tons of stuff left to do, in other cases there’s one buggerdly achievement to squeeze out and all the while, companies keep releasing new, shiny games which simply MUST be purchased and added to the pile.

My pile of shame isn’t as large as some (my pal Alan has a collection of unplayed games so massive that the heap has it’s own considerable gravitational pull) but there’s a lot of unplayed and unfinished titles in there and I recently decided to dig in and get some of them finished. Which brings me to my little self-set challenge.

I’ve promised myself that, before 2017 ends (assuming the world doesn’t explode between now and then) and 2018 comes knocking, I am going to max the achievements in every single Lego title made by Traveller’s Tales.

The TT Lego games are some of my absolute favourites. They’re tons of fun to play, have some incredible, laugh-out-loud moments in cutscenes and Marital Unit and both Child Units are all fans, so i’ve always got a couch co-op partner ready and willing to jump in with me.

Of course, having been a fan of the Lego games since the first Lego Star Wars way back in 2005, i’ve already maxed a few of them. There’s a lot of work left to be done, though. Let’s run through the list.

COMPLETED:

Lego Indiana Jones: Original Adventures (Xbox 360)
Lego Batman (Xbox 360)
Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 (Xbox 360)
Lego Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (Xbox 360)
Lego Pirates Of The Caribbean (Xbox 360)
Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (Xbox One)

These are done. Done-diddly-doodly-done. I’ve pulled every single achievement out of them and can happily set them aside and move on to…

PLAYED, BUT NOT MAXED:

Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Xbox 360)

I’ve done all but two of the achievements in this game and it’s taunted me for some time. To max this, I have to 100% the game (just a few bits and pieces to finish up, mostly race based if I remember rightly) and then play an entire level online. When I was working through this, no-one I knew had it. That’s soul destroying, right there. The good news is it’s now backwards compatible on Xbox One AND is free with Games With Gold as of the 16th of June. This one is getting knocked out in a night.

Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues (Xbox 360)

Just 3 achievements to go for. Why did I leave th-OH GOD I REMEMBER! I remember EXACTLY why this is unfinished. It was a hell of a lot of fun to play through in Story mode. It was a lot of fun to play through for a second time in Free Play. It got bloody wearing playing through it for a third time in Quick Play. That being said, I could have put in a few hours grinding and gone through that, but trying to complete Hangar 51 in under five minutes…it broke me. I’m not looking forward to this one.

Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7 (Xbox 360)
Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (Xbox 360)
Lego The Lord Of The Rings (Xbox 360)
Lego Marvel Super Heroes (Xbox 360)
The Lego Movie Videogame (Xbox One)
Lego The Hobbit (Xbox One)
Lego Jurassic World (Xbox One)
Lego Marvel’s Avengers (Xbox One)
Lego Worlds (Xbox One)

Everything above i’ve started, done a bit, then been pulled away. Lots and lots to do there and that’s before I even get to…

NEVER EVEN STARTED THIS LOT

Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (Xbox 360)
Lego Dimensions
Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Lego City Undercover

Hell, I haven’t even bought Force Awakens or City and there’s a few from the unfinished list that I had back when I used to trade in games, so i’ll need to pick them up again. I’m actually ADDING to my pile of shame here. What’s wrong with me?! OH GOD WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE!?

But yeah, Lego games. Bloody brilliant. Give them a whirl.

I’ll give an update on this challenge in a week or six. Keep ’em peeled.

 

Smashed Pumpkins (A Treatise On Inebriation And The Measurement Thereof)

I’ve spent more than my fair share of nights in assorted bars and clubs up and down the land, indulging in the devil’s brew. That’s a fancy-shmancy way of saying that i’ve been standing-up-falling-down-pissed a whole bunch of times.

Now sure, it’s not big and it’s not clever. There’s nothing sensible about drinking enough alchohol to leave you near blind, clutching a kebab like some sort of baffling, spiced life preserver. That being said, I enjoy certain alchoholic beverages, I enjoy spending time with friends and I enjoy socialising, so long as it’s on my own terms and I get to tell people to piss off if they come within six feet of me on an off day.

With all that in mind, i’ll not apologise for occasionally failing to drink responsibly. I won’t advise others to do it and i’ll happily spread the words of moderation and taking care of one’s self, so long as it’s understood that my vomit scented days of old are something i’m one hundred percent A-OK with.

These days, I rarely take a drink but as I write this at a little shy of 1am on a Saturday morning, i’m faced with the very real prospect of spending an evening in the company of John Barleycorn and his lesser known cousin, Mike Largebottleofbloodygoodsinglemalt.

As I ponder possibilities for the day and night ahead of me, I decide to listen to some music and my random Youtube playlist lands on 1979 by the Smashing Pumpkins. Thoughts of ice cold mojitos, combined with the pleasantly melancholy wailing of Billy-Why-Can-I-Not-Leave-TNA-To-Fucking-Die-Corgan cause a sudden spark of inspiration within me. Could Smashing Pumpkins be the answer to an issue which has plagued mankind since time began(ish)?

Picture the scene. An 18 year old me, firm of thigh and thick of ginger mane, steps out into the world. After a glass or two of sweet sherry, one of my friends turns to me…

DAVE*: “Hey Jim, is Dave** coming out tonight?”

ME: “He said he was. Hang on, i’ll ring him.”

After three attempts, I manage to find Dave’s number and start a call. He picks up after a couple of rings.

DAVE: “Hello mate, i’m headed out the door now”

ME: “WAHEEEYYYYYYYYYYY”

DAVE: *laughter* “Bloody hell, how drunk are you?”

This happened. More than once. Usually, i’d say something like “Hahahahahaha” or, if I was feeling particularly eloquent, “Yeahhhh yeah hahahahaha alright”. I am and always have been a man of words.

The thing is, what was I supposed to say? How do you explain to someone what level of drunkenness you’ve reached? What’s the scale?

This morning, with Corgan assaulting my ears and half formed plans for debauchery in my future, I realised something. This will change your lives.

You are ALWAYS “Smashing Pumpkins” drunk.

The real question is, just how Smashing Pumpkins drunk are you? Let me break it down for you.

“It’s just playing in the background while I get ready”

You haven’t touched a drop.

“It’s fine, i’m 1979 drunk”

This is the start of the night. You’ve maybe had a couple of beers, relaxed a wee bit. You’re enjoying 1979, with it’s soft spoken verses and easy singalong chorus. Things are going great.

“Haha, i’m Today drunk!”

You’ve had a couple more drinks and you’re fine, you’re totally fine.

You’re a little giggly and you’re singing along to Today with a wee bit more volume than is absolutely necessary, but you’re fine.

Everything is fine.

Kebab and a taxi soon.

Fine.

“Mate, oh mate. I’m Stand Inside Your Love drunk.”

You’re six pints and four shots into the evening. An evening which is edging ever closer to being a morning. You’ve spent the last half an hour discussing lost love and lamentation, although not in those exact terms. In fact, mostly you’ve half sobbed the words to Stand Inside Your Love, mumbled “s’was our song mate. Our song. We saw it inna-inna-inna film”. This would be a good time to head home, drink some water and get some sleep.

“I’m so sorry about last night. I was Ava Adore drunk.”

This stage sneaks up on you when you’re alone.

If you’re lucky, you managed to get a ride home or a taxi, or you live close enough to walk. If you’re exceptionally fortunate, your transport has dropped you safely to the door of your actual house. What’s more likely is that you’ve been dropped off at what you insisted was the entrance to your driveway, only to find yourself being menaced by a cat that you didn’t know you had, before realising that you’ve gotten out of the car half a mile early.

Eventually, you stagger through the door of your house. It took you five attempts to unlock the door, after first shoving the key into the letter box three times, gouging the door frame on the fourth attempt and for reasons you’ll never understand to your dying day, rounding out by putting it in the hanging basket and hoping somehow that the door would pop open due to proximity of key to lock.

You get as far as the living room and collapse on the sofa because the stairs look, to you, like something that Escher drew during that one night when he took enough ‘shrooms to kill Kong.

Despite having drank every drop of alchohol within a 20 mile radius of your house, you’ve managed to dig out the bottle of Midori that’s been gathering dust in the hall cupboard since your housewarming party, six years ago.

You jab your phone into life and send a barrage of texts, messages and DMs which will slowly reduce every friendship and working relationship you have ever built to ash while you sleep. Some of them would involve blurry close-up pictures of your genitalia but in a single, blissful moment of good fortune, you switched to selfie cam and so several people, one of whom is bound to be your aunt, receive images of your I-hope-my-willy-looks-amazing-in-this face.

You finally pass out and are found the next day by your loved ones, a sticky puddle of Midori gluing your face to the couch cushions, a half eaten burger turned to pulp in your pocket and Ava Adore on loop, blaring through one earbud which you have stuck up your nose.

You have gone full Pumpkin.

* There’s always a Dave

** We have two.

This was written for comedy purposes, folks. Always drink responsibly and never, EVER go full Pumpkin.

…I am losing my patience…