Laika’s Spout – Game Reviews and Objectionably Sardonic Ramblings.

Germans, Little Girls and Christians. A fun night out for sure.

Christmas, Christmas, Christmas… everybody loves Christmas! Well, not exactly. I spent my Christmas watching German movies and playing Bioshock, which I’ll get to later. And before you start, this isn’t going to be a ‘Christmas is shite! Burn Christmas!’ rant about nothingness.

I actually feel quite sorry for Christianity, sure Christmas is the most widely celebrated public holiday in the history of Western culture but it’s been bastardised beyhond all recognition. The clue is in the name, and Christmas should really be all about the birth of Jesus (although I’ve never really understood why, if that’s his birth, the Gregorian year starts six days later), a very, very religious celebration. I’m not sure about places like America, I understand their church-going population is much greater than on our miniscule island, but in the run-up to Christmas, I don’t think I’ve heard anyone allude to the religion at all and it’s sort of sad, in a way. 

By all means, we shouldn’t abolish Christmas, it’s a nice get-together time. But that’s just it, it’s not really anything more anymore, so we might as well turn around and just call it ‘Annual Family Time’, although this may see suicide rates in single, middle-aged men rise significantly. Leading me onto something else, the census. The most accurate gathering of information, as well as being reasonably feasible to carry out, but really is it that accurate? My point being, I was talking to my mother yesterday about it, joking how I will be putting ‘Jedi’ down in 2011, then asking her what she would put. Without a bat of an eyelid, she says Christianity… which struck me as odd as: for one, we’re not only not a practicing Christian family, but fairly avid atheists are people go . ‘Why?’ I ask, and my dad says ‘because we’re C of E’… Although I realise this isn’t necessarily reflective of the whole world, but I’d like to see my parents being, given my cotton-wooled distancing from reality, my best point of reference for the ‘general public’.

Leave Christmas to the Christians and stop ballsing up the statistics.

Anywho, on to my ‘Annual Family Time’ ‘celebrations’, which’d lead me to two solid conclusions: German Cinema is rather good and little girls with big red needle guns are absolutely fucking terrifying.

My examples of these brilliant pieces of cinema are as follows:

Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei (English title – The Edukators): a movie about three anti-Capitalist activists in Berlin, two of which regulary undergo a fairly morally lucrative form of ‘Edukating’, breaking into the homes of rich people but not to steal or pillage, but to rearrange the furniture, giving those rich bastards an eerie feeling of privacy violation. I won’t go on anymore about the plot, else you might as well not watch the fucking thing, but it was my starting point, for foreign cinema, and it’s a very enjoyable and thought provoking film.

Goodbye Lenin!: coincidentally also starring one of the actors from the previous film, Daniel Bruhl again provides an entertaining performance as the son of an avid Socialist, around the time the Berlin wall is torn down, taking with it all of the ideals his mother holds dear. However, she suffers a heart attack and falls into a coma a couple of months before this happens, and upon awakening, her son is informed that any forms of excitement may kill her. From this stems an perpetually elaborate con to keep his mother believing that the Deutsche Demokratische Republik is still alive and kicking. Whilst it might not be a laugh-a-minute comedy, it’s certainly very watchable and fairly easily accessible, even for those (like me) who didn’t have any prior-knowledge surrounding the DDR.

Das leben der Anderen (English Title – The Lives of Others): coincidentally also set around the time the Berlin wall is taken down, following two parrelel, yet unwittingly interlinked regarding the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, more commonly know as the Stasi, and a man they are watching, under the ‘suspicion’ that he is against the state. It follows Hauptmann, one of the Stasi’s top interrogators and surveillence men, is ordered to keep tabs on a writer named GeorgThe film explores corruption at the highest level, within the Stasi. Unwittingly, Hauptmann develops a close relationship with the entirely unaware Georg and coming to realise a few home truths about the brutality and harshness of life within the DDR.

Last and certainly not least is Der Untergang (English title – Downfall): displaying Hitler’s, and the Nazi’s, final days during World War two and the events which eventually lead to his, along with many other high-ranking German officials and their families’ suicide. The first thing that struck me about this film was Hitler’s immediate portrayal as a fairly warm and inviting, yet frail and weak human, which was an excellent contrast to the usual ‘ABSOLUTE CUNTHOLE, HE EVEN RAPES HIS OWN PETS!’ image which is usually portrayed.

Verdict? Watch them all, don’t let subtitles put you off like I did, I guarantee you won’t even realise they’re on. If you do, I’ll… well, I won’t eat a shoe, you can just fuck off.

Now for Bioshock, which I’m not going to say much about bar than it is the only time that, during a game, i’ve had one of those ‘OHMYGODNO!’ moments in a game, I believe in Shakespeare it’s known a a ‘cathartic release’, don’t quote me on that. The main reason I’m not going to say anymore is that personally, I’m ashamed I’d not played it before now and quite frankly, if you haven’t by now you’re probably drowning kittens or injecting heroin into your Grandmother as we speak.

All in all? A good Christmas, but disappointing in the sense that I didn’t have any awful games to rant about, stupid Lovefilm, actually sending me games and films I like, I oughta sue.

Now for something completely different:

(Warning: Awfully banal and sordid video above.)


Coping with loss; or, more accurately, how not to.

It was inevitable, I knew it was coming yet, somehow, even though I thought I was completely prepared, I wasn’t. I don’t think anybody can be, even if you lose somebody who you were never that close to. He, my Grandfather that is, had been fighting a losing battle with Alzheimer’s for years and to be honest, he could barely form words and had absolutely no clue who I am. To put it into perspective, he’s been ‘DNR’ for about 3 years. In that sense, I guess, the grandfather I knew and loved was already gone, but I don’t guess that made the final blow any less bitter.

I first found out about the inevitable on Saturday, mid-shift at my part-time job, sister came running teary-eyed, informing me that my parents had to rush off, post-haste, down to Gravesend Hospital where he’d been admitted with ‘respiratory problems’. I feared for the worst, and was immediately allowed home. Mid-walk home, I don’t know how or why, but I just let go. I just let go. I started crying in public, walking down the middle of the road, knowing what would happen.

Here we are, today, 8th December and it has finally come to a head. I guess, you could say it was a relief. I guess you could say it’s a release from pain and suffering but really, is it? Even though he didn’t know my name, or recognise me, he was happy. He seemed happy, and for me, that’s still a life worth living. Is it better to be happy and insane, or unhappy and sane? I’d pick the former any day of the week.

Is it strange that my first thought on hearing the news was not for myself, but two things: how my poor Mother must be feeling, solitarily fighting a losing battle with the social services and co-operation from her siblings and secondly, this blog. I don’t know why, but my first instinct was to write about how I feel. Not to tell my story and receive sympathy, by any means, but perhaps to understand how I feel because, to be honest, I don’t know. I know this probably sounds tenuously cliched but I honestly don’t know how to feel. I wouldn’t call it sadness, but it’s not a million miles away.

The worst part of this though isn’t the fact he died, not by a long shot. But more, his ‘fall from grace’, to articule myself in the most banal way possible. He was a captain of a tug, on the thames, which I understand isn’t the most presitigous job in the world but, captain of his own boat none the less. Then it struck me, age is a terrible curse. We make joke from time to time about how awful the NHS is, how incompetent it is a system but, it’s the best we’ve got which leads me on to ask; by having such a good healthcare system, life expectancy at it’s highest ever, have we actually almost condemned ourselves to inevitable senility and undignified death? From Captain to not being able to unbutton your own fucking shirt, how’s that for a glorious retirement?

I found out he finally died about an hour ago, mid-football match in which I, for the first time ever, scored two headers. This was before I heard the news. 
A sense of bizarre exctasy, brought on by sheer luck of being in the right place, the right time, with the right hat on, to nothing. Just, nothing. And the journey from the astroturf to home, all I could think is the lyrics and the instrumentation of ‘Communist Daughter’ by ‘Neutral Milk Hotel’ which is a beautiful song, I guess I see the trumpets as a sort of, send off and I suggest you listen to it too.