Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Five Things I Learned In Suffolk

Your humble writer ponders the efficacy of his sat-nav
in an area of non-Euclidean geometry.

1. Unsurprisingly, New Year is a fairly stupid time to go bird-watching in Britain. Even so, just beyond the squamous nightmares of Dunwich (not pictured) there's an RSPB sanctuary where you can watch marsh harriers braving the weather to make various species of duck rather nervous. Having never seen them before, this was something of a treat, even if the local otters failed to make an appearance.

2. While on the subject of Dunwich, we got to play Eldritch Horror with three of the current four available expansions (I don't have "Under the Pyramids" yet, though with my birthday just 10 days away this situation may quickly rectify itself), and it's clear Fantasy Flight has learned its lesson from the grotesque swollen whale-cadaver that is the fully-assembled Arkham Horror. Which, don't get me wrong, I adore in all its insane fundamentally unplayable glory. But the route taken for Eldritch... is much more sensible; one randomly chooses a Great Old One threat along with a prelude card, the latter of which adds flavour to the game. One or both of these may require you to add in some components of the expansions, or they may not. As a result, each game can play out massively differently, but no individual game will use more than, at most, two elements from the expansions. This works both in avoiding bloat and increasing the lifespan of the game.

Last week's session saw us having to deal with a super-charged Dunwich Horror firing out gates in all directions from turn 1 whilst Shub-Niggurath marshalled her forces. It did not end well for us, or humanity generally, though the site of a magically-enhanced librarian killing the Horror with repeated point-blank shotgun blasts meant our ultimate defeat did not come without cost to the forces of squamous naughtiness.

3. Cleaner shrimp are awesome. Having learned our lesson about wasting time on wild animals the day before, we headed over to the Sea Life Centre in Great Yarmouth to check out various sub-aquatic captives. Of these, the shrimps you could present your hands too and giggle as they nibbled away under your nails were the unquestionable highlight. It was kind of like a fish pedicure, except no-one has to smell your feet, and there are no idiots around insisting that sticking your extremities in a tank filled with piscine poo has somehow made them cleaner. Plus, watching two crustaceans fight for the right to jab their tiny claws under the nail of your ring finger rather makes one feel wanted, which is always nice.

(Other things learned at the aquarium: once it starts to get dark out all the eels in the aquarium come out and start dancing [1]. Synchronised Eel Disco isn't just an indie band name, it's also very fun to watch. Also too, a three year-old child can be stood right next to deliriously cute penguins playing with the crowd and still decide she'd rather play Ring a Ring o' Roses with a fat asthmatic man. Kids, man. What's up with them?)

4. Against all odds - and much to the displeasure of Chemie, who had arranged the screening - I actually rather liked Rubber, the post-modern horror(?)-comedy(??) about a murderous tyre with telekinetic powers. It's by turns clunking in its heavy-handedness and utterly beyond comprehension, but it's beautifully shot, pleasingly short, has a couple of great lines ("It's not over! It's been reincarnated as a tricycle" being the most choice; and no I don't care that I've just spoiled it for you - this is a film that transcends spoiling), and gleefully teaches us that roadhogs are despicable scum even if they happen to accidentally save your life.

Plus, its fundamental messages that studio accountants will not only destroy films but ultimately themselves, that most actors just want to get their job done and go home before things can get screwed with by the higher ups, and that test-screening audiences are at their best when not actually there, are all potentially interesting ones, for all that their presence here generates so schizoid a feel one could be forgiven for thinking two short film scripts were shuffled together, filmed in haste, and then given a gobshite awful opening monologue just to screw with you.

5. "Piecaken" (a cake baked in a pie, surrounded by more cake), somehow, is a thing that exists, and which - even less plausibly - does not kill those who eat it. Actually, it is ludicrously tasty, a kind of black forest gateau with a more interesting texture. Even so, I would have assumed the whole thing a joke had I not eaten a tiny slice of it and then failed to do more than crawl to the sofa for the next few hours.

SPECIAL BONUS LEARNING: I know this has been bugging some of you for a while, so I'm glad I've finally had the chance to do some experimentation. For those who've been on at me for years about how much money I would have to drop into a (just flushed) toilet before my Yorkshire-bred tightness would overcome my mild-ish mysophobia would force me to extract it, the minimum amount is, at most, two pounds. Further experiments are not planned.

[1] Tomsk beat me to the conger-conga joke, and as such has been judged an ENEMY OF THE BLOG.


Tomsk said...

I will appeel this judgement.

SpaceSquid said...

No need, the case has collapsed due to the unreliability of the only witness. A known drunkard, apparently. Kept saying a goat made his friend try to decapitate him with a car boot.

Jamie said...

I watched Rubber a while ago; glad I did although it felt like it was longer than it needed to be for basically a pisstake of art films. Some amazing lines though, gotta agree there.

SpaceSquid said...

That's interesting. Having watched little to no art films, it would never have occurred to me that was what the film was doing. That said, there's sufficient pops at mainstream cinema in there to make me think that it's either not just aimed at art films, or that it's aimed at mocking art films that mock the mainstream. Which would make me like it even more.

Tomsk said...

That's a reelief but what do I do now with my stockpile of bad eel puns?

SpaceSquid said...

Seel them away?

Chemie said...

One does not enjoy "Rubber", one endures it. I don't source this stuff for you to have fun you know. I source it so you have a good benchmark for "absolute shite", "overly ambitious" and "incoherent concepts and narrative".