I’ve come to the conclusion that I hate pinball. Saying such a thing would have been considered sacrilege in the 90s, or 80s, or basically any other decade without widespread internet access. The idea of a pinball table is great… in theory. As a form of entertainment found in the arcade, it leans much more heavily towards a mechanical rather than a computer operation.
This is good, at least, because it means the whole thing will never become non-functional thanks to some stupid glitch or file error – it’s far more likely to be that the skeletons’s head is stuck in the closed position. It’s a double-edged flipper though, because unfortunately pinball technicians are in about as short supply as stained glass designers for Notre Dame cathedral, so it ain’t ever getting fixed.
It’s happening, you know. I’m finally getting to the part of my life that everyone told me was going to happen. Through the arrogant veil of youth, which I wore as a protective cape, I always believed I could stay ahead of this, but my number’s up: my hangovers are getting pretty bad. I’ve not quite arrived at the dreaded two-day hangover stage just yet, though even I’m not that hotheaded enough to think I’ll be entirely immune to it, though maybe there’ll be a tradeoff from the fact that I could never do two nights of drinking in a row, even in my student days (i.e. pre Nat King Cole days when I wouldn’t have had the finances anyway).
I doubt it very much though, and I must sadly predict that in less than five years’ time, my drinking career will be over and I’ll be tearfully telling everyone about it at some house party (now called a dinner party) while clutching my second and last wine glass of the evening, all of us secretly wishing we could just get home and go to bed.
It happened one night. No, I don’t mean that twee 1930s film that swept the Oscars, although the leading lady in that picture was a lot friendlier than the one I saw that particular evening. I don’t watch much telly, but I was having an old scroll through the channels and I chanced upon a film called Hostel 2. From my perspective it wasted no time – a naked lady with a plump Middle Ages figure and Renaissance era cans, red lips, the lot, walks in and plonks herself down in a bathtub. Is that a great start or what?
Now that I’ve nestled my career within the vast cargo pants of Information Technology, I find myself tasked with leading projects and deployments and integrations various. But I’m not a project manager, in the same way that when asked, Amsterdam’s finest say they’re not prostitutes – they’re “sex workers”. It’s all about avoiding a potentially dirty title.
Here’s how it all goes down. Somewhere, sometime, a salesperson has beaten a potential client’s door down and persisted at it long enough to finally push the client’s decision-makers into a heartbreaking decision to buy the software. “OK, we’ll take your product,” they whimper, knowing that they had no choice – their fate would be either death by CEO or death by a thousand sales emails.
If there was a popular 90s game series, so too was there a 90s cartoon based on it. And some, like Street Fighter and Mega Man, weren’t exactly Studio Ghibli in their animation prowess. Think more Studio Gimply. There was cartoons for Double Dragon, Earthworm Jim, there was even a Battletoads pilot for heaven’s sake. Mario had a few cartoons under his belt, some pretty fun stuff that used to have the actual game music playing in the background. Not many plot revelations to be found in the Super Mario shows mind, apart from showing us what was under Toad’s hat (spoilers, there ain’t much there).
I make sure to tell everyone who listens that I’m a 90s baby. And believe me, there are some ghastly pretenders out there who’ll call themselves 80s or 90s babies – even when they were born in December ‘99. These fools don’t even remember the Y2K bug, for heaven’s sake. Although I don’t remember any kind of bug like that either, to be honest. Something about the clocks in computers being all wrong. How’s that something worthy of global panic? They should have a word with my microwave oven, if they wanna know all about incorrect times. Fancy some nuclear sausage rolls?
Nigel Mansell’s World Championship Racing (1992 / 1993)
When people ask me who my favourite Formula 1 driver is, to a man (because women never seem interested in asking) they are all amazed when I say Nigel Mansell. By any measure, he is a terrible choice. Why not someone like Nelson Piquet? He was wild, and said what he want. What about Niki Lauda, God rest him, who came back from the dead in 1976? And James Hunt, whose reputation precedes him. Or, from the modern day, big fan favourites like Kimi and Daniel Ricciardo. Stacked up against these characters, Our Nige’s famously boring persona gets magnified and made to look all the more dreary. So why him?
I always thought I’d fancy a bit of sado-masochism, whips and chains and all that. It sounds right up my alley, until I realised that you sort of have to get hurt or hurt other people yourself to get anything from it. I’m more of a delicate care bear, you know, and despite my famously rugged exterior I’m actually quite a softie. I’ve had handshakes where I thought I got rough treatment, and I’m the type of person to say “Sorry” when they bump right into me. If I see any kind of bruise coming up on my leg, I fret for days. This doesn’t make me a real man, I’m aware, but at least my skin stays nice and soft and unwhipped. Anyway, who wants to be tied-up when there’s yoga to be done?
It was a tearful experience for me when I realised that ninja was not a viable career path. I couldn’t even choose to study it in college. Basket weaving yes. Harry Potter yes. Even sociology, yes. But no modules on shurikens, ninjutsus, swordplay, kais, nunchuks, jet black clothing… they’re all massive gaps in my knowledge to this day. Uncle Monty wistfully made his eventual conclusion that he would never play the Dane. And I too had to come to terms with the sad fact that I would never be a Shinobi.
When I see tourists around Dublin city I am left dumbfounded. Now, I’m not going to hit you with all the self-loathing and culture cringe that often occurs when someone talks negatively about their country. But what exactly are these tourists doing? If someone asked me for Dublin city recommendations, I could hardly even give them the ideal pub or club to go to, because I don’t know any myself. I do know some great Spars and Subways. A CEX or two. I know some of the bus-stops. I even know where there is a 24 hour library. But what do the Germans and Japanese think to themselves when they come here? Apart from “Das golly-gosh Hilda, this place is sehr expensive.”