All posts by al_vimh

The original Al Vimh

All I Want For Christmas…

I was helping the Child Units with their letters to Santa today and an interesting question popped up.

“Can we ask for anything we want?”

Well, of course. It’s Santa. You might not get everything you ask for, but you’re allowed to put anything you like in a letter.

Child Unit 2 asked for everyone in the world to have a Merry Christmas and Child Unit 1 asked for her brother to not be poorly (last year he was a snot, sick and shite machine) and for Santa to get some rest on Boxing Day. This is one hundred percent, gospel truth. They’re sweethearts, bless them.

Of course, they also eached asked for a Nintendo 2DS XL and as they’re my offspring, there’s every possibility that these lofty sentiments were a bid to curry favour, but even so I was touched. Touched and inspired.

This year, i’m writing my own letter to Santa, the first for several years. I thought i’d let you all see a copy:

Dear Santa

Let’s not fuck about, Kris. You and I both know that i’m no saint but I always try to direct my boundless reserves of rage and loathing toward those who do the world ill and I think  I deserve a few bonus points, so perhaps you could nudge me over to the nice list? 

You may take umbrage, but I know there’s precedent for this. Last year the Child Units destroyed a wide range of toys and household items and i’m pretty sure one of them is leaking government secrets to a Chinese spy but you gave them a pass and dropped off a whole bunch of nonsense, so I reckon I ought to be able to pop in a request or three?

Of course, you’re welcome to bypass me entirely but you should be warned that an empty stocking for me means a full inbox for every tabloid reporter come December 26th. The whole world knows you were caught kissing Mummy underneath the mistletoe but they’ve not seen where the mistletoe was hanging, have they? Yes, I have pictures.

So, let’s put all that crap aside and just assume that i’m waking up to a whole bunch of pressies, yeah? Yeah. On to my list.

Come Christmas morning, this is what I want:

1) I want a huge vault of gold coins into which I can dive headfirst and swim about. Obviously, like toys and batteries, I need this to come with a free “suspension of physics” pack so said diving won’t result in a broken everything.

2) I would like Donald Trump to be cursed by whatever demons you can summon so that everytime he writes a Tweet, he shits himself. If we have to deal with regular torrents of his crap, so does he.

3) Talkboy. You know, from Home Alone 2? They’re awesome.

4) I only want to hear the word “lush” being used by someone who is either describing luxuriant vegetation, pointing out a gin soaked old rummy or asking where to find a shop that sells bath salts strong enough to melt steel beams.

5) Obscene amounts of cake

6) Halo 6. Make it happen.

7) I want the power to render people unconscious using just the power of my mind, should I hear them whining about Christmas coming too early. Also, if they moan about the Coca-Cola truck. OH! Also to be used on anyone who says Die Hard isn’t a Christmas film. Best just make it a broad spectrum psychic chloroform deal

8) Would be nice if you could do something about all the bastards? 

9) Get Eureka renewed. 

10) And Warehouse 13

11) And Numb3rs

12) Cancel Game of Thrones.

13) Mostly, you could leave of all the other stuff above if you could do one thing for me? Make people a bit nicer to each other? I feel like the world could use a lot more smiling and laughing and talking and a lot less sexual harassment and abuse and bullying, don’t you? 

I’d happily give up all the stuff above and anything else that anyone else wanted to get me, if you could do something about the sadness.

If you could encourage people with mental health issues to open up more and get the help they need and make sure that said help is there WHEN they need it.

If you could force people to debate instead of argue and maybe stick a muzzle on the idiots who don’t want to debate because it’s a waste of good shouting time.

If you could perhaps lay off the visions of sugar plums for a night and inject a little dream serum into the world leaders, filling their heads with visions of peace and co-operation and the realisation that whatever one’s race, sexual orientation, gender, fucking shoe size or whatever, we’re all just people. Just people, whirling about on a ball of dirt and water which will eventually blow up or freeze or whatever and all of this crap will have been futile, so why not get along in the meantime?

If you could do something about all that then maybe we could all have a merry Christmas or a happy Hanukkah or a joyous Kwanzaa or whatever else you celebrate or don’t celebrate or what-have-you. The important part really is the merry, the happy and the joyous, isn’t it?

That’d be nice.

14) Or cancel the lot and get me an Xbox One X and a massive telly.

Looking forward to Christmas morning. I’ll leave out a bottle of malt and a couple rounds of toast.

Kisses or amen or whatever,
Al.

Fingers crossed, folks!

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.