Honestly - this week has been like pulling teeth... out of a dog's mouth, while it's trying to bite you.
All I've wanted to do all week is get the paddling pool out and strip down to my sweet pants (and then shuffle up and down outside my house, making snarling noises while dragging the deflated pool along the pavement behind me).
Anyway. Letters time.
If you would like to appear on next week's page, or you've something you'd like me to give some attention to in our occasional Plug Zone - please send your emails to this place here: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been a bit busy. A red van showed up with the words "Educational Services" written on the side. People in funny clothes have been chasing me. I am not sure what that is about.
It occurred to me while I was talking to myself in a cave that my voice kept coming back to me. Do you think it is because it is scary in there or because it just doesn't want to be alone?
A Passing Drunk
I know you can't see it, but right now I'm doing a dance.
It's a great dance, so much so that I felt the need to email you about it. Shame you missed it, sir.
1. What games do you think have shown the best range of real-world settings?
2. What is more important for you when you play games, how much you enjoy the initial play-through, or re-play value?
3. If there was to be an officially-licenced game of Found Footage, what would it be like?
2. I think it's the initial play-through that means the most to me; there have been very, very few games I've played to completion more than once. Half-Life 2 is the game I've finished the most times.
3. Oh man! I dunno. I'm not sure it really lends itself to a game, though maybe I could do a point-and-click interactive story narrated by Sting.
Are you often surprised by which of your phrases, characters or sketches capture fans' imagination and become popular?
How much does that then influence their continued appearance?
Having them catch on influences my use of them to a degree, I guess, but I always feel a bit dirty when I do it for the sake of it. I suppose it's the equivalent of playing the greatest hits. I was quite happy to bring back Mr T, and the other Digi characters, when I launched Digitiser2000, but - as you've doubtless noticed - I've stopped using them.
Partly it's because I'm a different, potentially more boring, person these days, and partly because - to my mind - they worked back in the day because they weren't the sort of thing you'd expect to see on a Teletext video games page. Also... most of those catchphrases are 20 years old or more, and it feels a bit sad to still be trotting them out like an octogenarian Norman Wisdom.
Rightly or wrongly, I've never wanted Digi2000 to be driven entirely by nostalgia, as much as I know some of you probably wish it was. Still - it's Digi's 25th anniversary next year, so I'm sure there'll be many an opportunity to roll out classics then.
How d'ya like dem onions?!?
I certainly didn't expect Goujon John to be such a phenomenon, or his whole "Taste bad" thing to stand out as a sort of catchphrase. It's tempting to just run that into the ground, because that's an easy laugh, but to me it's a law of diminishing returns. Also, it's kind of anathema to creativity to just latch onto one idea and repeat it indefinitely. It was part of why I struggled with comedies like Little Britain and The Fast Show.
Worry not, though; GJ will be a big part of Found Footage, but I've tried to find new ways of using him. You might be surprised by what he gets up to. How d'ya like dem onions?!!?
Press reveal to see what Mr T has to say about all this.
People always say of book-to-film adaptations that the original novel material is far superior, usually with a full mouth.
It’s quite a pointless observation really; no standalone film can compete with the distinct intimacy of an individual reader’s experience en masse. But that’s not to say that filmmaker should not continue their attempts, some of the best films out there are based on books and can be judged as children in their own right, removed from the shadows of their overbearing parents.
And changes must be made to fit the medium, the backers who make production possible and, if nothing else, the practicalities of length; with books often being digested over weeks or months or more and not in a barrow full of minutes.
Long running TV series and subscription services may be giving cinema some competition in response to the problem of storytelling space and pace, but this is no new concept; as renewed popularity of long episodic programmes only matches a trend set long ago with the serial publications that first thrived in the late 19th Century, bolstered by a growing literacy rate.
My question to you is can you think of the converse – what film is better than the book or comic from where it became?
Also, I positioned three semi colons in this letter, please rank them in order of how ineffectively they were employed.
Also, I loved the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy TV series - which, yes, I know strictly isn't an adaptation of the book, given that the radio series came first - but I always struggled with the books. I found them a bit smug and self-satisfied. But then, something I find very hard in general are novels which are intended to be funny.
My favourite funny book that I'd like to see turned into a film, you say? Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (who killed himself a decade or so before the book was even published). Aside from the main character, the flatulent onanist Ignatius J. Reilly, being hysterically funny in his own right, the language is just next-level poetic.
“I should perhaps warn you that I am about to faint from anxiety and general depression, though. The film I saw last night was especially grueling, a teenage beach musical. I almost collapsed during the singing sequence on surfboard. In addition, I suffered through two nightmares last night, one involving a Scenicruiser bus. The other involved a girl of my acquaintance. It was rather brutal and obscene. If I described it to you, you would no doubt become frightened.”
Last week's letters page mentioned Mass Effect disappointments, and as it happens, I've been playing the first Mass Effect for the first time over the last few weeks. I'd been looking forward to having a crack at this game for quite some time - since it has a reputation for depth and plot, but I've struggled to get into it at all.
Mass Effect the First has combat that makes you feel like a floaty Thunderbird puppet, there are interminable conversations that hardly have any impact on the game, and a lot of the exploration seems to involve lonely wandering through big empty spaces.
I was so annoyed by the game the other night that I switched it off to go and read a rubbish book instead. The thing is, I'm not adverse to a talky game with a bit of action - I just finished Deus Ex: Human Revolution and (ending and boss combat aside) I enjoyed it throughout.
Now, over the last week, you've been writing about how you don't have the time to be playing games you aren't into, but I tend to be a bit more stubborn about wanting to stick with things to see if I can get anything worthwhile out of them.
What do those out in Digilands think? Do you have techniques for sticking with a game? When do you let hope die? Is it better to persist with a game for a little longer, or is life too short, and are we all, like Danny Glover's Murtaugh, too old for this shit?
Equally, it might have nothing to do with age, and everything to do with games being so damn huge these days. I've got plenty going on in my life, without having to carve out dozens of hours to finish something that I'm not necessarily going to love. I dunno...
I SAID I DON'T KNOW.
Biff-baff-boff. After seeing that you'd bought yourself a second-hand Spectrum, even if you did say you weren't going to play it and you just wanted to stare at it like some kind of terrible mental, I promised you a letter full of Spectrum questions.
HERE ARE THE QUESTIONS:
Q1) What is your favourite Spectrum game and why? END OF SPECTRUM QUESTIONS
Q2) You have professed your love for Disney World and Disneyland, but what is the shittest theme park you have ever been to?
Q3) This must surely have been asked before, but: why Biffo? Why not Gnasher, or Lord Snooty, or Billy Whizz, or Jean-Paul le Prolapse?
Q4) What do you make of the current series of Doctor Who, and which filthy global celebrity or repellent little-known thesp would you like P. Capaldi to regenerate into?
Thank you kindly. I am sorry if this week's selection of letters is such a hooting poo-fest that you have to print this one.
1) Skool Daze/Back 2 Skool, duh.
2) Oh man! Blackgang Chine in the Isle of Wight/Shite comes close. Also, once you've been to Universal in Orlando, the Hollywood one is a massive come-down. Horribly claustrophobic and pokey, even though the tram tour is great.
3) It was just plucked out of the air, because we had a habit of saying things were "Biffo the bear" or "Korky, man - Korky the Cat". Could've been called Mr Korky. I feel I've told this story many times, assuming that everyone who reads this page would have heard it.
4) Uh... I've found this series a bit boring, if I'm honest. And it's a shame, because there has been nothing wrong with it - the cast are great, it's still full of good ideas... I just think the format needs a massive shake-up and refresh. It feels a bit tired and predictable. Hopefully the new feller will give it the fresh injection of energy it needs.
Strap in, kids, because this is gonna be today's top letter.
When Titanfall came out, it registered a zero on my interest meter because I didn't have an Xbox One and it looked like an online-only squad shooter, a genre of game I like only marginally more those weird pregnancy-themed Disney Princess browser things.
Then you started spaffing on about Titanfall 2, specifically its campaign mode. The notion of Titanfall as a single-player game was of interest to me and I assumed I'd unnecessarily judged the first one. I don't like starting a game series on entry #2 and, having since bought an Xbone I got me Titanfall only to find that, the box suggested, it was definitely was an online squad shooter with no single-player mode to speak of.
It's stayed in its shrinkwrap and, due to the deluxe edition being twenty quid for download, I bought and started Titanfall 2 after all.
So my question is: did I do right, daddy? Or should I reconsider giving the first one a spin?
Sorry to Digi2000 readers for any cardiac issues caused by this high-octane content. I am not financially responsible for your healthcare.
A couple of weeks ago I bought a 25 litre bucket, eight bags of sugar and some 'turbo yeast' that brews booze at 14% in just two days or, as I did, left it for about six days to make it 21%. It was like rocket fuel - it really burned my throat and it didn't taste too good until I poured a big bottle of peach cordial in it but it worked out at about 36p per litre or something. Wish I had this sort of stuff when I was at school; would've made me a fortune. I've bought more yeast.
As such, I'm down to my last litre - it's just as well I work from home these days because I've not driven since I started drinking it...or really worked much either.
Also, after having a few cups of it last night, I ended up buying a meat grinder on eBay and an Indian takeaway (still on the lounge floor - never even opened it). I don't remember why or when but, hey, a cheap supply of burgers, sausages and faggots coming my way to sell to my my Smoking Brother for a handsome (but fair) profit!
My nephew Archie doesn't associate the word faggot with the gayers.
I suppose my Smoking Brother's video game policing is working. Either that or he's quite tolerant with the English language and associates and understands that faggots are the minced lungs, heart, liver and pork with a really nasty sounding dish.
I love faggots. I'll send you a photo next week.
I am in hospital next week and that is all.
I've been playing lots of PlatinumGames releases on Steam lately. I got Metal Gear Rising which is bonkers-fun, then Bayonetta which is also crazy-good, and now I've picked up Vanquish - which I didn't play first time round - and am finding it to be slidy-shooty, my way of saying it's rather spiffing.
Now this has got me thinking: SEGA have a rich back catalogue and the latter two recent ports have been really, really good.
They've had some missteps like Golden Axe 3D, but given these successful re-releases and things like the new Warhammer games, I wonder: are we likely to see a resurgence of the Mean Blue Machine in a pure publishing sense?
I don't think they're coming back as a hardware contender any time - well, ever really - but I still think there's untapped potential there. If only they'd stop making Godawful Sonic games.
Incontinent Cat by T. O. Illet.
I have an incontinent Cat in mind, her name is Jennyanyplops;
Her coat is of the tabby kind, with skid mark stripes and winnet spots.
All day she shits upon the stair or on the steps or on the mat;
She shits and shits and shits and shits—and that's what makes an incontinent Cat!
All the best,
I'm late to the party, as usual, but in case anyone else has been living in a damp cave for the last couple of years, I'd like to bring this to your attention...
I don't know what I'm going to do as a follow-up to Found Footage, but I do know that I want to carve out a big block of time for the shoot, rather than doing it piecemeal as I have to at the minute.
Incidentally, do you think, if I did some filming while I was away, I could put a holiday through as a legitimate business expense?
Question: what happens when my 6 year old daughter plays Magikarp Jump?
Anyway... speaking of poo... it's time.
Not much has happened to me this week, I have mostly just been doing my work and watching unacceptable anime about titties. I'm not sure what an acceptable anime about titties would look like, but there you are.
I have attached the next book in my wildly popular series, this one starts off a bit slow but I think the pay off at the end is definitely worth it.
MR BIFFO AND THE IMPORTANT MEETING
Once upon a time there was a good boy called Mr Biffo who was twice as erotic as his peers but only half as erotic as his arch-rival and nemesis MrPSB, which was still remarkably erotic considering, but still not number one which is only to be expected.
Mr Biffo was sitting watching the television when the telephone rang and he had a telepathic tingle that there may have been a telemarketer on the other end, but in the end it was a teletwat called Terrance Twatttttttttt, his boss from the Teletext.
He said “Hello Mr Biffo I need you to come into the office for an important meeting and please do poo before you enter the room we do not want a situation like last time”. Mr Biffo replied “OK Mr Twatttttttttt I will do that and see you later for the important meeting.”
Mr Biffo arrived at the offices with an empty bottom as instructed, having made sure to thoroughly wash out his colon with a wire brush and warm soapy water to make sure it was spotless and free of any possible embarrassment.
He climbed the stairs to the room where the Important Meeting was happening and when he entered the room there were tarpaulins everywhere and everyone was wearing those hazard suit things but he said “It is OK, my heart is full of love and respect and my bottom is empty” and everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief and packed away all the tarpaulins and hazard suits, which if you’ve read any of these books before you can appreciate was probably A Mistake.
The meeting droned on and there was all sorts of boring stuff about wanting less jokes about poo and more stuff about games which nobody wanted to hear, when Mr Biffo reached into his bag and fetched out a perfectly-formed turd, which he placed quietly on the table. As the meeting wore on and everyone’s focus remained on the nonsense his boss was spouting, Mr Biffo added another poo poo, and then another, playing his own private game of Brown Jenga in reverse.
Finally when his monument to toilet contents had reached 30cm in height Mr Biffo’s boss noticed it and said “what the hell is that!!!!!” and Mr Biffo said “IT IS YOUR DOOM, I QUIT!!!!” and slammed his hand flat palm down on the giant pile of filth. There was an explosion of shit, and nuggets of dirty shrapnel flew to all four corners of the room.
Mr Biffo was closest to the impact and took the brunt of the backblast, but this small sacrifice was worthwhile for the sight of an almost intact bum cigar, having been displaced from the middle of the tower at some speed, flying straight into his boss’s open mouth. A horrified silence followed the stench of smashed faeces to fill the volume of the room until Mr Biffo said “And Another Thing” and pulled down his trousers to reveal his bottom, which was fully reloaded after the big meal he ate on the way over.
The liquid brown jet of his contempt shot across the room and as his aim was Perfect, it hit his stunned boss in the mouth, washing the poo that had landed there down his gullet and into his tummy tums. Mr Biffo said “I feel better after that” and then he woke up because it had all been a dream, except he’d written “Mr Biffo Rules OK” in diarrhoea on the ceiling.
I hope you enjoyed that.
P.S. LISTEN TO THE AUDIOBOOK HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTvM99aCGOE