Author Archives: Brian G Ross

Console Memories: Sega Master System…

I never had a computer as a child: I was always a console kid. Back in the late eighties, if you played video games, there was no middle ground or third party – you either boarded the train for Team Nintendo or you were in the corner for Team Sega.

And I can remember the exact moment I picked my poison.

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I was twelve years old and out shopping with my family in a store called Target, where I lived in Sydney. For those unfamiliar with that name, Target is an Australian department store, not to be confused with the American store called Target that it has nothing to do with, which also sports an extremely similar logo. I used to think that I was dealing with the same company (as you would) but it turns out they are completely different entities. Anyway…

I saw that box on the shelf, with the picture of the motorcycle racing game Hang On, in full glorious colour, and I was sold. Little did I know that video game graphics in 1988 were not anywhere nearly as sharp as the representation here. Even thirty years later, we’re not there, but back then I was enthralled by what wonders awaited me in that mysterious, yet fairly nondescript, box.

My parents must have been feeling both especially solvent and generous that weekend, because they bought the console for me, and I have not been without one ever since.

It was a primitive system, but we had a lower expectation when it came to video games then. We were not spoiled by technology as we are now. There was no video footage; no voice acting. Nothing was animated with more than a few frames. Everything came on plastic cartridges, because discs were at least half a decade away, and the control pad was absolutely awful, but it didn’t matter. Nor did it matter that the games were rendered on a machine with less processing power than a pocket calculator. I was a simple child with straighforward demands. The only criteria was that the games were fun.

19038-california-games-sega-master-system-front-coverVideo games have moved on so much since then in almost every conceivable way. They have better production values; they are longer, with more depth. The stories they tell are more involved. They look, sound, and feel… better. Apples for apples, they are also a hell of a lot cheaper than games were thirty years ago.

But while all that is true, there was a purity to games in the eighties that just doesn’t exist anymore. That entire cultural shift was in its infancy, and we cannot go back to the way things were. But for gamers of my age whose formative years were spent throwing a skateboard around in California Games or playing God in Populous, it’s crazy to think that this was the pinnacle of home entertainment, and that we spent weeks saving up our pocket money to buy them. A 2019 kid wouldn’t even go near them if they were free to download on their phone.

I had the Sega Master System for a few years, until it became passé and I upgraded to something a little more powerful and cool in the early nineties. But I stuck with Sega for a few more years, at least. I don’t know what I did with the Master System once it was replaced, but for the time I had with it, I had a blast.

Simpler (but fun) times indeed…

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Coming Off My Meds…

Three weeks to go with the nasal drops. They’re not pleasant, but they are working.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really think the course would fix it. I thought I had left it too long. You know, buried my head in the sand ostrich-style. Also, half the time I think doctors throw a bunch of pills and potions at you to see what sticks. But nineteen days after I started, it looks like – fingers crossed – I am back to where I was before.

If there’s a difference between this and being back to full sniffing capacity, then it’s imperceptible to me. Everything I have happened across that I should be able to smell, I can. I am rediscovering a part of life that most of us take for granted.

That sounds trite, I know, but it’s like moving from standard definition to HD, and who would want to be stuck with 480p?

Out of Print…

I haven’t printed out my writing for a long time – it’s just not the way I work best. I don’t have any need to have my work on paper, taking up space, and I haven’t edited that way since I was a teenager.

Last night The Girlfriend© asked to read one of my stories as it has been some time since she had done so. Always eager for an audience, I thought I would oblige and print one out for her, but 13 pages into a 22 page short story, my printer ran out of ink.

No problem, I thought. I went to one of my local supermarkets and spent £15 on a replacement cartridge… only to find that when I installed it, it didn’t work. I’ve now spent the last several hours trying to fix a problem I shouldn’t really have had in the first place!

Suffice to say, it’s been a waste of an afternoon, and I still don’t have anything to show for it. I think I may go back to using a typewriter and ribbons; I never had these problems working the old-fashioned way.


					

What I’ve Done This Week #12…

Although I haven’t officially committed to completing one particular story yet, it looks like Flowers for Mother is the one that is gaining the most traction – it’s certainly the one that I have spent the most time with over the last few days.

I have put together a beginning that I am happy with, and the tone is coming along nicely, so I’m over last week’s initial hump where I really wasn’t sure what I was doing. If I reach 1000 words with a short story I’m writing, it usually ends up going somewhere. When it ends up going somewhere is a different matter, but I feel very comfortable with this one at the moment.

The attitude of the central character actually reminds me a lot of what I did with a short story many years ago called Check-Out, so you could say that what I’m doing here is a spiritual successor of sorts to that piece.

People Are All Kinds of Dumb #12…

So, is that a chainsaw in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

Actually, yes. It’s a chainsaw.

I understand that many of us cannot afford to buy those things we need, but when you’re resorting to stuffing a chainsaw down your trousers, maybe you need to reevaluate things.

The fact that the guy managed to walk, let alone exit the store with the chainsaw still down his pants, probably says more about the staff and security’s ineptitude than it does about his prowess as a thief.

They guy is still at large, at the time of blogging, but they have some pretty clear footage of him, so he shouldn’t be too hard to find… especially if he still has that thing under his jacket.

Please Stop Remaking My Childhood…

220px-fridaythe13th2009The release this week of Pet Sematary is just the latest example of the lack of creativity in Hollywood today. Admittedly, it’s been getting great reviews, and the original was an average movie at best, but I don’t think there were many people screaming for it to be revisited in the first place. Well, perhaps Stephen King was on board with it, but he’s certainly not averse to the odd retake anyway.

ghostbusters_2016_film_posterI guess, if we must see things a second time, the very least a filmmaker can do is polish up something that wasn’t very good in the first place. The object of the exercise should be to improve upon the source material. If it isn’t, why are you wasting everyone’s time?

Point-Break-2015-Poster-Advance-Style-buy-original-movie-posters-at-starstillsOf course, there are some examples where the revision is better than the first try (Scarface, The Thing, The Fly), but for every smile there’s a frown. Does anyone think Jude Law’s version of Alfie is superior to Michael Caine’s effort? Or that the Poltergeist from 2015 is greater than the classic 1982 movie it’s based on? Hell, I didn’t even know that was a thing until recently.

MV5BN2ZiMDMzYWItNDllZC00ZmRmLWI1YzktM2M5M2ZmZDg1OGNlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDQ2MTMzODA@._V1_So, with all the remakes, reboots and reimaginings that have done the rounds over the last few years, here are ten properties (not exhaustive, by any means) that I never want to see redone, because I do not believe it is possible for them to be bettered:

  • Airplane!
  • Back to the Future
  • Die Hard
  • Duel
  • Dirty Harry
  • First Blood
  • The Goonies
  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Jaws
  • Rocky

Let me be clear: these are not perfect movies. Some of them I wouldn’t even consider to be amongst my favourites. But every one of them is an example of how sometimes, the total package is greater than the sum of a production’s parts.

These movies are quite simply, lightning in a bottle – a confluence of facets and factors that cannot be repeated. They each have an intangible quality that is impossible to quantify, or to replicate a generation later, no matter how talented or dedicated the team working on it may be.

Flying High…

There’s a fairly good chance that I’ll be taking my first overseas holiday later this year, since a wild stag weekend in 2013 took me to the south of Spain, and that was a whole different kind of thing entirely.

The Girlfriend© and I have narrowed the destination down to, well… most anywhere in mainland Europe really. Except for the cold places, of course. We both fancy Italy, but because we have both been there before and we would like to go somewhere fresh, Croatia is the new favourite. But we’re a long way from confirmed, and we’ll probably look at half a dozen other countries before we finally settle on somewhere.

I don’t want to spend a week lying on the beach, getting drunk. That is not, and has never been, my idea of a good holiday. I like to see new things and experience a different culture: I can drink alcohol anytime. Holidays for me are about getting up early and leaving the hotel behind, until I’m tired and end up back there for a sleep after my daily adventures. Thankfully, The Girlfriend© is of the same opinion, so I won’t have to leave her at home.

Of course, I fancy going back to Orlando, but then, that is always my first choice. Maybe next year!