I went to Play Expo in Manchester.
My brother‘s quite a wiz there, and he was able to get me in for free!
Now. What’s Play Expo. It’s a gaming expo. No matter what does it for you when it comes to gaming, they’ve got you covered. My brother’s the lord of the retro realm. He spends his days dual-wielding remote controls, reactivating analogue TVs when they go into standby mode.
But that’s just his day job. The stuff that goes on behind the scenes – all the setting up, wiring, calibrating, tuning etc. – well, it makes me knackered just thinking about it. He’s the quartermaster, and he chooses exactly what retro games and consoles get featured.
He’s gracious enough to give people the sort of stuff they expect to see – such as Mario games, which I know he’s not too keen on himself. But he also adds a few personal touches. Like Stimpy’s Invention, a Megadrive Ren & Stimpy platformer that’s just as odd as you’d expect.
But that’s not all! Gaming is a broad church, and everyone’s welcome. You like board games? They’ve got board games. You like card games? They have those. Arcade cabinets? Yep. And pinball.
Let’s look at the pinball!
This is Padywacs – the best store in America, bar none.
(“Store” is an American word, meaning “shop”.)
Few would have thought that the best store in America would be found in South Lyon, a sleepy Michigan pumpkintown North West of Detroit. But having visited every single store in America, I can confirm that it doesn’t get any better than this.
Let’s take a look at what’s inside.
I return from three weeks of travelling and seven months of not blogging to bring you a message:
Craft beer is terrible.
Behold Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem!
It’s the oldest pub in Nottingham, and it also lays claim to being the oldest pub in England.
The oldest “inn”, in any case. I referred to it as a “pub” because I didn’t like the look of the sentence “the oldest inn in England”.
Notice it has a longsword attached to its front.
I’d like to pretend that the figures in the foreground, all of whom are strangers to me, were not there at the time the photo was taken. The problem is, they look a little too glamorous to be ghosts.
Except, perhaps, the young man to the bottom right. He looks like a teenager who was hit by a car whilst running across the road to see the girl in the middle. Now his spirit will follow her forever more. The twist to the tragic tale is that he remains as invisible to her in death as he was in life.
No, these guys aren’t ghosts, but the place is full of them. Full of ghosts, and all manner of interesting things.
UPDATE!!! UPDATE!!! UPDATE!!!
Yesterday, I posted a list of my five favourite things at Glastonbury 2014.
Item number five in that list was a moving tribute triptych of Rik Mayall.
I was brazen enough to talk about this tribute without including a single photo. That’s how little I respect my readership.
But UPDATE!!! UPDATE!!! UPDATE!!!
Now I have a photo! Along with a bonus photo of a bonus Glastonbury Rik Mayall Tribute Mural!
Earlier this week I got back from my sixth Glastonbury Festival.
The annual Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts is a big deal for me. As I explain over on FCK LDN, I love the darn thing so much that I’ve started to feel strangely Christmassy about the whole ruddy ordeal.
Now, I’ve already done the emotional gushing over there, so I’ll use this space to list the five best things I saw at Glastonbury 2014.
With the benefit of hindsight, I should perhaps have used my own personal blog to share the above personal ruminations, instead writing this here “review” for FCK LDN. But this gloomy place has been dormant for months now, and it could do with a bit of cheering up.
So here we go. Live on Lord Gloom, a list of the five best things at Glastonbury 2014. They’re in ascending order! I think.
Somewhat Abstract is the largest exhibition of works from the Arts Council ever assembled outside of London.
For me, this exhibit was a big deal, as it enabled me to finally see Francis Bacon’s Head VI in the flesh, so to speak.
I say “finally”, but I only became aware of this painting’s existence last summer, when the Arts Council displayed various pieces from their collection on billboards and posters on roadsides, bus stops and train stations across the country. Still, it’s the sort of image that, once seen, can never be unseen.
This was displayed on a small, out of the way poster along Liverpool’s dock road:
Terrifying. Brutal. Beautiful.
Fair to say, I’ve been somewhat haunted by that screaming pope ever since I first saw it. How fortuitous that, within the year, it should be exhibited for free at a gallery conveniently located on my walk from work to the train station!
Though Francis Bacon’s painting dominates proceedings (for me, at least), there is so much more to see at Somewhat Abstract.
Read my full review over at FCK LDN.
This, I promise, will be the last bit of writing about Whitby on this site. For a while, at least.
Honestly, I spent less than 48 hours there and I’ve been wittering on and on about the place for weeks.
But yes, my first article for FCK LDN is all about the Whitby Museum, and the curious surrealist dislocation I experienced there.
Surrealist dislocation is quite hard to explain, but Breton explained it by way of a Lautréamont quote, who once wrote about a “chance meeting on a dissecting-table of a sewing-machine and an umbrella.”
By chance, you see two things together than do not necessarily belong together. This acts as a springboard for the sort of deep thoughts, ideas and free associations that might not otherwise have been made.
“The mind is ripe for more than the benign joys it allows itself,” wrote Breton.
The mind can therefore feast at the Whitby Museum, where fossils rub shoulders with arcane charms and steampunk augury.
Read all about it at FCK LDN, complete with many, many pictures!
When writing about Whitby by day, I mentioned that I could not find my photos of Whitby by night.
Well, I found them! Here they are!
These are some of the most atmospheric photographs I’ve ever taken, from a night where I felt more alive than I have in a long time.
After a deliciously bleak morning spent staring at the sea, we went on to explore Whitby in considerable depth.
What we found will shock you.
It won’t. It won’t shock you. But those Buzzfeed/Upworthy titles really work, and how else am I going to convince you to read on?