Avatar Expert analysis

… and in the end we had to chuck the fridge and finish the race in second place. I think it was worth it overall, especially considering the state of the floor.

Well, I can’t you lovely people here all night. I would like to thank you all for coming and listening. It’s not often that I get to speak on such a specialised topic, especially for a large group of people. We all need to remember that being an expert doesn’t always required three degrees and ten thousand hours of practise, sometimes it can be done without knowing, unwittingly even.

I trust you will take my words to heart and carry forth the message to those who couldn’t make it. There’s a plain black joggers wearing people in all of us. Thank you and goodnight!

Avatar ‘Lord Winklebottom Investigates’ – mini review

Pip pip! Tip top! Absolutely, old boy. Bally tally ho!

After playing ‘Lord Winklebottom Investigates’ I can safely say that whilst I will never be a posho, I can talk like them if I need to. You may remember that back in May of last year I made a post here explaining how excited I was to play an adventure game featuring a Sherlock Holmes-esque giraffe detective. I have since purchased the game and played through it so here is my review in case you were still sitting on the fence.

It’s a great game. If you’ve ever played a point and click game then you will be very familiar with the user interface. You move the curser around the screen and it will show items of interest. You can look at the item and some you are able to pick up to place in your inventory, which appears at the bottom of the screen when the curser gets near it. Your job is to use the things around you to solve the puzzles you come across. Sometimes it’s a matter of putting two items together and sometimes it requires listening carefully to what the characters are telling you and using a bit of the ole’ imagination pipes.

The story, without spoiling too much, takes you away as Lord Winklebottom to a mysterious island to meet up with an old friend and along for the ride is his good colleague, Dr Frumple. When you arrive you unfortunately discover said friend has died under mysterious circumstances and it’s up to you to work out which of the colourful characters inhabiting his mansion were responsible. You’ll need to speak to everyone to make notes of their relationship to the deceased and their reasons for being there. There is a handy notebook which automatically records certain things that comes up in conversation so you can look back on them if needs be.

Everything about this game is ridiculous and I wouldn’t want it any other way. The dialogue is very funny at times, mainly due to Dr Frumple who is the best character in the entire thing. His innate Britishness seeps into every conversation and he never NEVER puts his cup of tea down. At one point I tried to take the toilet paper and he refused to do so on the grounds that it just wasn’t on. The graphics fit the narrative and atmosphere as you’d expect them to. You can’t half arse this kind of thing, it’s balls deep or nothing. The only part that was a little disatisfying was the music which lingered in the background not really doing much. Perhaps it was doing something however I can’t remember any of it.

It’s not the hardest game in the world. You won’t come across anything as difficult as the ‘goat puzzle’ from Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars or practically everything from Grim Fandango. There was only one part where I needed to soak up some grease from a pan (don’t ask, no spoilers) that took me a little longer than expected and even then the answer was staring me in the face the entire time. I managed to finish it in under five hours and what a five hours they were. I had to wait for a price reduction as thirty squids for a game this short wouldn’t sit well with me. If you can find it for anything under a tenner then I would say go for it, old bean!

Avatar ABOFB 33: Disappointing Things

After only 9 months since the last episode, and because Ian made me feel bad for that fact, here comes episode 33!
I’ve dredged out from the lockdown archives this gem, where we discuss:

  • Gigs
  • Gruff Rhys
  • Ignoring the question
  • Food

Avatar Do the splits

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the age of forty. After an uphill struggle through some difficult times you’ve made it and you’ve made it in one piece. Now all you need to do is sit back and enjoy the view through these novelty binoculars.

It seems as though I can’t go a few weeks without making a fool of myself. Last week I got lost driving back through Gateshead and almost drove into an industrial estate and then accidentally drove through a bus lane. That was fun. I don’t really have much of a defence other than it was dark and I was hungry so my hunger caused me to drive the wrong way. That’s what I’m going to write to Gateshead Council when they send me a letter asking to pay a fine for driving like a clown.

Let’s do something a little more contemporary though to really illustrate the fact that I’m potentially getting worse. Subjectively. Gingerly. Crimsonly.

It’s the end of the day and I am striding to my car. I don’t walk anymore you see I stride. I’ve got the prestigious job and the happy life so I take a manly stride to get me around places now. As I approach my car I see that the car next to me has parked a little too close because everyone is terrible at parking. I can open the driver door however it requires a bit of manoeuvring (I can never spell that word) to hold the door so I don’t smash it into the other car but also leave enough space to get my sorry ass into the seat. I manage to get my left leg in and I hear it, the sound that I have heard a few times before. I don’t feel as though I have lunged too far however by the sounds of things I have crossed a line and one that once crossed cannot be undone. I may as well have put my foot in the footwell of the adjacent car for what it’s worth.

I know the sound because it happened to me about a year or two ago. That is the sound of my jeans splitting. That is the cold air reaching my bare skin which up until recently was covered by my jeans. The material could clearly not take the isometric shapes my legs were making whilst trying to get into the car and now it’s all over. I still have to pick up some food on the way home and luckily I have some jogging bottoms in my gym bag, which is stashed on the back seat. In Asda car park I hide momentarily behind my door and pull them on over my now sagging jeans. Nothing left to do but stride around picking up what I need and head home like a grown-up, a grown-up wearing two pairs of trousers.

Avatar Forty first

It’s been revealed today that Ian “Mac Mac Mac Mac” McIver, a high class civil servant from Newcastle, has become the first person to be 40.

For years now, scientists have theorised that a person might be able to become 40, but nobody in human history had ever actually managed it. Now, a number of papers in leading medical journals are beginning to explore the genetic mutations that might have made this feat possible.

Speaking at a Sherry and Fortified Wine Symposium in Washington DC, US President Joe Biden – who has been 39 for more than 42 years – congratulated Mr McIver on his remarkable achievement. “If this guy can do it, perhaps we all can,” mumbled Biden, whose speech was becoming indistinct after several hours tasting samples of port.

While almost 40% of the world’s population are now aged 39, there is great trepidation about what the leap to 40 might mean. Sir David Attenborough, now aged 39 and 696 months, speculated that those reaching the new age might find themselves pushing onward to 41 or even 42 in the years that followed. “It could be a slippery slope,” he told reporters outside his local LaserQuest, “like the ones penguins slide down.”

Two fearless volunteers are said to have signed up to follow in McIver’s pioneering footsteps, but safety is paramount and their steps forward into the world of 40 will be taken slowly. Criss Crimz, 39, and Kevindo Menendez, 39, are both expected to become 40 under controlled lab conditions during the next year. Scientists will be monitoring their progress carefully.

In the meantime, Mr. McIver’s feat does not seem to have fazed him, nor does his unprecedented old age seem to have dulled his lively air of self-importance. At a press conference yesterday, he pushed aside the lead researcher, who had been explaining early findings about his condition to the world’s press, grabbing the microphone and climbing atop the lectern to shout “I was first!!!!” to the assembled crowd.

“I’m all about the wins,” he continued, “winning at life. Absolute cog pipes, I’m gonna win ’em all!”

Security personnel removed him from the auditorium at this point, but as he was bundled out of the door, McIver could be heard to shout “It’s OK, soon you’ll get the chance to win, but not right now – because I’m winning!”

McIver’s whereabouts are not known since his removal from the press conference.

Avatar Nonna

Nonna knows best,
Nonna wants you to know
That Nonna likes pizza,
Pizza toppings on pizza dough.

Nonna needs num-nums,
Nonna kneeds the pizza dough,
Needless to say by evening
Nonna’s certainly ready to go.

Nonna can’t let go,
Nonna wants a side dish,
I can’t make garlic bread,
Side dish is a side wish.

Nonna isn’t happy,
Nonna lets me know,
Left for dead in a dustbin,
Mozzarella, cheese and pesto.

Avatar Memories (approaching the grey hemisphere)

It is now only two days until I pass into official middle age, two days before it all comes crashing down upon me. Actually that’s not true. I have long since been comfortable with my transformation from hip thirtysomething into a forty year old man. I’m sure that forty year olds have a lot going for them and, if not, then I’m here to shake things up for them.

I started reminiscing (even more than usual) about my youth and decide to record some of the lessor-known facts in case anyone was interested. They are in no particular order and most of them are probably not worth hearing anyway. Consider yourself warned:

Dad’s Army

I watched a lot of television as a child. A lot. I spent most days flicking through the TV guide circling what I wanted to watch in the upcoming week. On weekends it was worse, starting around 6:30am for the kids TV, taking a little break around lunchtime when the “adult” programs started and then coming back in the afternoon for more cartoons, sitcoms and anything else. The BBC repeated tons of sitcoms over the weekend and I was there for them. In my tiny child brain I would sing, “Who do you think you are kidding Mr Kipling?” when watching the opening for ‘Dad’s Army’. Don’t ask me why, it doesn’t quite scan properly (which may explain a lot of my efforts at writing poetry) and there is absolutely no correlation as far as I’m aware between the beloved cake-maker and the murderous dictator.

Wizards

Later on I wanted to be a space cowboy but earlier on in my life I wanted to be a wizard. This may have been spurred on by what I read in ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’. I would steal various shampoos, conditioners, bubble baths and sometimes things from the kitchen cupboards (the bathroom was next to my bedroom so it was easier to sneak in and out with my effects) and mix them together to create potions. Did I have a proper cup or beaker to do so? No, I used the top of an old toy that had broken off. It was as curved green pot thing that was supposed to be the top of the tree. I think my mum noticed things were oozing out of the back of the small wooden desk in my bedroom so they broke in to look at what I had been doing. It seems as though I had also mixed in a dead spider to my current concoction to, I don’t know, heighten the potency of the potion. Needless to say I was politely asked to stop.

Showing off

I did a lot of showing off. I had three other siblings to compete with, I had no choice. Right? Right. I’m glad we’re on the same page. During the summer holidays my dad would “borrow” a video camera from the school he was working at and we would make home movies of varying quality, mostly terrible. In the quieter moments I would use the camera to record whatever I thought would be a good idea at the time. Once I made a stop-motion video of my pink dinosaur killing himself by jumping off the end of my parent’s bed, and when I say stop-motion I mean practically still shots with huge jumps in the middle rather than painstakingly moving the dinosaur into the next position. The crowning achievement however was the time I recorded five minutes of me narrating a fictitious race between… well that part is lost to me. It was a race though because I was doing my best Murray Walker impression. I was young and I had a cold so my enunciation was pretty terrible. I moved the camera wildly from side to side saying whatever came into my head. The film is notorious for one line that my brother and sisters still bring up to this day. I cannot tell you what I am actually saying because there is no substitution in the English language that would explain it yet I cannot fully believe I would say what I said at the age of 6 or 7. What did I say? Sigh. “I wanna see some boobies!” I didn’t fully know what boobies were at that age so why I would want to see them is anyone’s guess. It’s baffling knowing that it’s me and not being able to understand what I’m trying to say. The answer is lost to time.

Entrepreneur

One more before I go. I had a knack of trading things at an early age. In primary school I would take the toy or thing that came in the box of cereal and I would trade them at school with other kids for toy cars. I didn’t want the cereal toys, I wanted their toy cars and for some reason the other people thought this was a fair trade. In secondary school (you may have heard this one before) I would take the lunch that my mum had so carefully put together and sell it to someone in my form for the price of a school dinner which, I believe at the time, was £1.30. I did this every day so I came away with over a fiver a week to add to my pocket money pile. I used the money to go into town at the weekend to buy video games and CDs. My mum wouldn’t be home until after 5pm on a weekday so I would come home and eat bread (about a quarter of a loaf) and cereal to take away the hunger pangs I was feeling. She didn’t find out about this until I was in my twenties. I ate so much bread I believe it may have contributed to the intolerances I am now experiencing as an adult man, plus it made me round and chubby like the Pilsbury Doughboy from all the extra carbs.

Avatar Ian’s new book (new)

Yes, the moment you have all been waiting for is finally here. I know that I have asked a lot recently but the fact that you’ve all waited patiently means so much to me as a writer and a human being / doing.

Despite what some people have been spreading rumours about on here, as we and all the diehard fans know, ‘Three Shits to the Wind: The Secret Bathroom Attendant Within Me (M-Me)’ was a so-called spin-off book written by my old personal assistant and is not an official book in my ongoing series of self-help books. A hack can come in various different forms and there is nothing more hacky than passing yourself off as a competent author whilst releasing third-rate knock-off nonsense. Why settle for a mouse on toast when you could have the real thing right here, prime rib in your eyes? Disgusting behaviour.

The real deal. El trato real. La vraie affaire.

The name of my new book about to be released within the next week is ‘We: The New You’. Let me explain.

I have received letters from so many fans asking me to write a self-help book for those who have led multiple lives and may have multiple personalities within themselves. They can’t possibly use the assistance from my other multi award-winning volumes so it was only right that they have their time in the sun. Naturally I know that this will not be useful to everyone but as with my other New York Times’ best-selling books, even if you think you can’t learn anything new there’s bound to be something in there that will help you lead a better life. I guarantee it*

As well as that, ‘we’ can be applied to so many things: the royal ‘we’, ‘we’ as in couples, ‘we’ as in dogs and their owners, ‘we’ are in people living together etc. There are so many applications that it’s now my biggest book yet, literally; over one thousand pages of pure gold and at a low, low price of only £24.99 for the hardback and (coming in November) £17.99 for the paperback you can’t possibly go wrong. I’m not giving you this advice, I’m giving it to you for a reasonable price. I want you all to believe in yourselves and work through your problems in a safe and healthy environment, an environment full of hope and love and credenzas and little bowls filled with grapes and waterloo pumpkins.

*not guaranteed.