Wobbegong was for the beginning, this one’s for the end, for the “!” in “Hope you had a good year!”
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is a blithe and glorious (yes) collection of such amazing, curious and sidesplitting book titles as:
Drummer Dick’s Discharge, Beatrix M. De Burgh, Ernest Nister, 1902
Penetrating Wagner’s Ring, John Louis DiGaetani, Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1978
Boobs as Seen by John Henry, George Vere Hobart, New York: G. W. Dillingham, 1914
Memorable Balls, James Laver, Derek Verschoyle, 1954
Invisible Dick, Frank Topham, D. C. Thomson & Co., 1926
“Jeehosophat! What a disgraceful scene!” said Dick Brett, doing a series of physical jerks behind a bush, as he began to grow into visibility.”
(authors–right or wrong)
The Ethics of Peace and War, I. Atack, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005
Motorcycling for Beginners, Geoff Carless, East Ardsley: EP Publishing, 1980
Industrial Social Security in the South, Robin Hood, Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1936
Obesity: Causes, Consequences, and Treatment, Louis Lasagna, New York: Medcom Press, 1974
Metabolic Changes Induced by Alcohol, G. A. Martini, Berlin: Springer Verlag, 1971
Frozen Future: The Arctic, the Antarctic and the Survival of the Planet, Daniel Snowman, Toronto: Random House of Canada, 1993
There Are No Problem Horses, Only Problem Riders, Mary Twelveponies, Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1982
etc etc, going through a wealth of subjects and book types. I feel weirdly proud of owning this book. Apart from being a little treasure all of its own, it reminds me how anybody can publish a book and indeed how many different tiles have been published through the centuries, that we’ll never know about no less. Time to start writing now then!
BTW: I’m not including this to the 2015 reading challenge because I read 95% of it in 2014. In fact it was a gift from my mother. Spot-on, wasn’t it?
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Αυτό εδώ μου το πρότεινε η μάνα μου, ως ένα καλό έργο το οποίο ήταν μπροστά για την εποχή του, μια μέρα που συζητάγαμε για τον χρόνο και της μίλαγα για το “Making Time” και πόσο με είχε εντυπωσιάσει.
Μυστήριο βιβλίο οι Άμμοι του Χρόνου… Ο Γιώργος Μπαλάνος γράφει ευχάριστα, έχει γνώσεις και άποψη, αλλά πραγματικά είναι ο,τι να’ναι. Μπορεί να σου μιλάει για ένα θέμα και ξαφνικά να σου πετάξει κάτι άσχετο και να ξετυλίξει τον οιρμό του με περίεργο τρόπο. Η γραφή του είναι γεμάτη ειρωνεία και μια λεπτή υπεροπτικότητα η οποία όμως συνήθως ταιριάζει με το θέμα (σαν να λέει σε κάθε σελίδα «δεν ξέρεις τίποτα τελικά για τον χρόνο. Ποιος όμως, τελικά ξέρει; Ούτε οι επιστήμονες, ούτε οι φιλόσοφοι, ούτε εγώ…»)
Ξεκινάει με τις διάφορες ιστορικές φιλοσοφικές και επιστημονικές θεωρήσεις του χρόνου και τις αναλύει, αντικρούει ακόμα με πολλή στιλπνάδα. Και είναι ένα βιβλίο που γράφτηκε πριν σχεδόν 35 χρόνια. Όχι πως έχει αυτό σημασία, απλά βλέπω πως τόσα χρόνια μετά δεν έχουμε κάνει κανένα σοβαρό βήμα μπροστά, ίσα-ίσα έχουμε κάνει μεγαλύτερες παραδοχές στα θέματα που ο Μπαλάνος προσπαθεί να ρίξει λίγο φως. Ίσως επειδή η άμμοι του χρόνου έχουν, για τώρα τουλάχιστον, κάτσει;
Gestalt, βιοκύκλοι, φυσική αθανασία και επιλογή ηλικίας-ρόλου (όπως στην περίπτωση των μελισσών), ταξίδια και «ταξίδια» στον χρόνο με διάφορες μεθόδους, όπως με τρύπες στο (χώρο;-)χρονικό συνεχές και με τήρηση ενός ημερολογίου ονείρων με σκοπό την ενθύμιση περισσότερων ονείρων κι έτσι πιθανόν και κάποιον «προφητικών»… Ο Μπαλάνος υποστηρίζει ότι είναι θέμα χρόνου (pun unintended) πριν βρούμε κάποια μέθοδο για να νικήσουμε τον θάνατο. Έχω φυσικά τις επιφυλάξεις μου αλλά εγείρεται το εξής ενδιαφέρον ερώτημα: Η επιβίωση, το κύριο μας μέλημα, θεωρητικά εξασφαλίζεται με την επίτευξη της αθανασίας. Μετά, τι;
Μετά τι; Αν είχαμε απάντηση σε αυτό το ερώτημα ίσως και να είχαμε περισσότερες απαντήσεις σε άλλα άλυτα θέματα της ανθρωπότητας…
Οι Άμμοι του Χρόνου είναι μπροστά. Το βιβλίο παρουσιάζει μερικές προκλητικές ιδέες για σήμερα, πόσο μάλλον για τα τέλη του ’70 οπότε και γράφτηκε. Μπλέκει την επιστήμη (η οποία από μόνη της προτείνει μερικές εξωπραγματικές ιδέες ως πραγματικές), την φαντασία, την επιστημονική φαντασία και την μετα-επιστήμη (για να μην πω μεταφυσική: έχει περίεργες, προεκτάσεις αυτή η λέξη, ακόμη κι όταν είναι βάσιμη και περιγραφική. Όπως η «συνωμοσία»…) με τρόπο ο οποίος πιάνει το πνεύμα της εποχής μας σχεδόν καλύτερα απ’ότι πριν 35 χρόνια. Με άφησε με ιδέες, ερωτήματα και όρεξη για έρευνα, και αυτό ακριβώς ήθελα. Αν ήταν πιο καθαρογραμμένο και ο Μπαλάνος ήταν λιγότερο φιγουρατζής σε σημεία, όχι πως αυτό δεν είχε και την πλάκα του, το βιβλίο θα ήταν συνολικά καλύτερο.
It’s 2000. Every little kid and pre-teen (and some teens as well!) are heavily sick of Pokemon fever. The video games and TCG sell like crazy and you can see a Pikachu almost everywhere you go. Kind of like Dora the Explorer or Ben 10 of today. A little boy called Dimitris Hall is no exception and is sicker than most.
I caught the Pokemon bug (or should I say… the Bug Pokemon. Get it? ;p) early in 2000 and for a few years Pokemon was all I could think about. “I ate and breathed Pokemon”. Even today I can amaze my friends, who weren’t all that lesser of fans, by being able to recall almost the full roster of the 251 Pokemon of the first two generations. They have been etched in my long-term memory. Generations 3 and 4 were disappointments for me, so I recall being a big Poke-fan for around 3 years. Yes, the special years of pre-puberty I was collecting virtual monsters and animals. Cool, isn’t it? I still like Pokemon but the game has not grown up or matured at all, unlike me.
Mum found my Pokemon TCG collection a few weeks ago which had been almost lost after numerous moves. She handed me my albums and boxfuls and back I went to my 11 and 12-year old self, rediscovering old prize pieces and decks. Yes, decks. I wasn’t just a collector, but also a trainer! I used to play in the Pokemon League in Holargos with my old friend Aldo. We’d go to the League every second weekend, sometimes every Saturday. And it was fun! We weren’t top players because we frequently missed meetings, but it was good fun. I still have the original 8 Gym Badges in some box here in Nea Smyrni.
It’s amazing what a money-sink this collection had been. I have hundreds of rare cards, which means that my collection had easily set my parents back (especially mum, who I now realise had dealed with my addiction quite marvelously) several thousand euros. Imagine: every booster pack cost 1.400-1.500 drachmas, the equivalent of ~€4,5. And I have so many cards, I must had bought a couple of hundreds of booster packs. OK, I will admit that I did combine my collection with a friend of mine’s back then. He suddenly lost interest so I got to keep all of his cards after claiming that it would be impossible to split our collections as they were before we had merged them (wow… what a jerk! Addictions can be very dangerous matters, hurting self and friend alike…)
They were curious, happy and care-free times. Nostalgia has been singing in my ears after I re-discovered my cards, just as if it was some siren I fell in love with long ago. But the sirens’ song is captivating… dangerous and… tranquilizing in a bad way…. 10 years later, I no longer am 11 but 21, and in a state of acceptance, reconciliation and introspection about my past life and current personality. Holding on to my collection has no point at this time. I will keep some worthless cards so that I may play with friends sometime, it is a very enjoyable game after all, but the wise decision to take is to sell the good ones; let go of this collection that brings out emotions in me not at all unlike those Gollum felt when he craved the One Ring. But better yet, I can use the money I get from the cards to buy something that suits my current needs and dreams…
So. This is my collection. I have only listed my Holos, Promos and special cards. I have not listed any of my Non-Holo Rares (I’ve got loads!) or Uncommon/Common 1st Edition ones, although some of them might be more valuable than some of the holos. If I see that selling my holos is paying off, I’ll put them up as well. Comment on this post or e-mail me at dimitrishall (duckling) hotmail (dot) com if you’re interested in any of the cards.
For a better fomatted and more readable version of the below, download this.
Cubilone’s Pokemon TCG Valuable Card Price List
Last Availability Update: 26/07/2010
Μy condition standards:
Mint (M): New, best condition available. No visible scratches or blemishes.
Near Mint (NM): Card has been handled very briefly. Has some extremely faint scratches, but is similar to Mint condition.
Very Good (VG): A few scratches, but generally looks good and is quite acceptable.
Good (G): Condition worse than Very Good, but still not too bad. Usually has dirt and creases, perhaps the first signs of black spots.
OK: The card has been played slightly, will have some creases, black spots and edge wear.
Played (P): The card has been fairly played and looks it. Many creases and scratches and lots of black spots.
Heavily Played (HP): This card’s condition is poor. Will have large creases, dirt, discoloration and scratches (and worse!).
Cards with a (1st) next to their condition are 1st Edition.
Double conditions, ex. G-VG, may be deemed either, depending on the collector’s condition requirements.
Alakazam 1/102 P €1 OK-G €1 OK-G €1 G-VG €2
Blastoise 2/102 G-VG €3 OK €2 OK €2 G €2
Chansey 3/102 P €1 G-VG €2
Charizard 4/102 HP €4
Clefairy 5/102 G €2
Gyarados 6/102 G €2 OK €1
Hitmonchan 7/102 VG-NM €4 VG €3 G €2 OK €2
Machamp 8/102 G (1st) €1 OK (1st) €1 OK (1st) €1
Magneton 9/102 OK €1 G €2
Mewtwo 10/102 OK €1 VG €3 G €2 G €2
Nidoking 11/102 OK €2 OK €2 OK €2 G €2
Ninetales 12/102 VG €4 VG €4
Poliwrath 13/102 OK-G €2 OK €2 OK €2 G €3
Raichu 14/102 G-VG €3 VG €4 G €2 G-VG €3
Venusaur 15/102 VG-NM €4 HP €1 G-VG €3 G €2
Zapdos 16/102 G-VG €3 VG €3 HP €1
Clefable 1/64 G-VG €3 VG €4
Electrode 2/64 G €3 OK-G €2
Flareon 3/64 VG €3
Jolteon 4/64 G-VG €3 OK €1
Kangaskhan 5/64 G-VG €3 VG €4 G €3 HP €1
Mr. Mime 6/64 G €2 G-VG €3
Nidoqueen 7/64 G €2
Pidgeot 8/64 VG €3 G-VG €2
Pinsir 9/64 OK-G €2 G €3
Snorlax 11/64 OK-G €2 HP €1
Vaporeon 12/64 G-VG €3 G €2
Venomoth 13/64 VG €3 G €2
Victreebel 14/64 G-VG €3
Vileplume 15/64 VG €3 G-VG €3
Wigglytuff 16/64 VG-NM €5 VG €4
Aerodactyl 1/62 VG (1st) €7 VG €3 OK €1 VG €3
Articuno 2/62 G €3 VG €4 HP €1 P(1st) €3
Ditto 3/62 NM €5
Dragonite 4/62 G-VG €3 VG €3
Gengar 5/62 G-VG €2
Haunter 6/62 VG €3 OK €1
Hitmonlee 7/62 G €2
Hypno 8/62 G €2 VG €3
Kabutops 9/62 VG €3 OK-G €1
Lapras 10/62 G-VG €3 OK €1 G €2 G €2
Magneton 11/62 G-VG €3
Moltres 12/62 NM €5
Muk 13/62 OK-G €1 G-VG €2
Raichu 14/62 G-VG €3
Zapdos 15/62 NM-M €4 VG €3 G-VG €2
ΒΑSE SET 2
Blastoise 2/130 NM €8
Chansey 3/130 VG-NM €5 VG €4
Clefable 5/130 VG €3 VG-NM €4
Clefairy 6/130 G €2
Hitmonchan 8/130 G-VG €3
Poliwrath 15/130 OK €2
Scyther 17/130 VG-NM €6 VG €5
Venusaur 18/130 VG €5
Wigglytuff 19/130 VG €4 NM €5
Dk Alakazam 1/82 VG €7
Dk Arbok 2/82 G-VG €5 VG €6
Dk Blastoise 3/82 VG-NM €8 VG-NM €8
Dk Charizard 4/82 P-OK €5
Dk Dugtrio 6/82 G-VG €4
Dk Gyarados 8/82 G-VG €6 NM €8
Dk Machamp 10/82 NM €7
Dk Magneton 11/82 OK-G €4 VG-NM €7
Dk Slowbro 12/82 HP-P €2 P €3
Dk Vileplume 13/82 NM €7
Dk Weezing 14/82 VG-NM €5 G €3
Here Comes Team Rocket 15/82 G-VG €6
Dk Raichu 83/82 NM-M €15
Blaine’s Moltres 1/132 P €3
Erika’s Dragonair 2/132 NM €5
Erika’s Vileplume 5/132 NM-M €6 VG-NM €4
Lt. Surge’s Fearow 7/132 NM-M €6
Lt. Surge’s Magneton 8/132 OK €3
Misty’s Seadra 9/132 NM-M €7
Misty’s Tentacruel 10/132 NM-M €7
Sabrina’s Gengar 14/132 NM-M €7
Erika 16/132 VG-NM €5
Lt. Surge 17/132 M €7
Blaine’s Arcanine 1/132 M 12€
Brock’s Ninetales 3/132 OK €4
Giovanni’s Gyarados 5/132 VG €5 VG €5
Giovanni’s Machamp 6/132 M €7
Giovanni’s Persian 8/132 VG-NM €5 NM €6
Misty’s Golduck 12/132 VG €6
Rocket’s Zapdos 15/132 NM-M €9 VG €7
Sabrina’s Alakazam 16/132 M €9
Sabrina 20/132 M €6
Ampharos 1/111 NM(1st) €11
Azumarill 2/111 NM €11 VG €7 VG €7
Bellossom 3/111 VG-NM(1st) €7
Feraligatr 4/111 HP(1st) €5
Feraligatr 5/111 NM-M(1st) €14 NM(1st) €12
Heracross 6/111 NM €8 M €9
Jumpluff 7/111 NM-M(1st) €8
Kingdra 8/111 M €6
Meganium 10/111 VG-NM €6
Meganium 11/111 NM €7 VG-NM(1st) €12 NM €7
Pichu 12/111 NM-M €10
Skarmory 13/111 NM(1st) €9
Slowking 14/111 VG €7
Steelix 15/111 VG-NM €7
Togetic 16/111 M(1st) €12 M €8
Espeon 1/75 NM(1st) €10
Foretress 2/75 OK €3
Hitmontop 3/75 M €7
Houndoom 4/75 M €9
Magnemite 7/75 M €7
Poliwrath 9/75 M €7
Scizor 10/75 NM-M €6
Tyranitar 12/75 M €9 M €9
Umbreon 13/75 NM €8
Unown A 14/75 M(1st) €8
Wobbuffet 16/75 M €6
Ampharos 1/64 M €7
Blissey 2/64 M €9
Delibird 5/64 NM €6
Entei 6/64 M €7 VG-NM €5
Ho-oh 7/64 M €12
Houndoom 8/64 NM €8
Magneton 10/64 M €7 M €7
Porygon 2 12/64 M €8
Raikou 13/64 M €8
Suicune 14/64 M €9
Shining Magikarp 66/64 VG-NM €8
Dark Donphan 3/105 NM €5
Dark Gengar 6/105 NM €6 VG-NM €5
Pikachu 1 G-VG €5 NM €6 G €4 VG €5
Electabuzz 2 G €1 VG €2
Mewtwo 3 OK-G €2 G €3
Pikachu 4 OK €1 G €1
Dragonite 5 G €1
Arcanine 6 G €1 NM €2
Mew 8 VG €2
Mew 9 NM €4
Meowth 10 NM €3 M €4
Eevee 11 VG-NM €1 NM € VG €1
Sabrina’s Abra 19 G-VG €3 NM-M €5
Pikachu 26 NM €3 VG €2
Pikachu 27 G-VG €3
Ancient Mew M €5 M €5 VG €3
Aerodactyl Pre-release 1st G €3 G €3 NM €5 NM €5
Error Nidoqueen G €5
It did not take much at all. My interest in film photography having been kindled since August already, the university photography club and all the cool people I met there only made me more passionate about finding the Olympus film camera I had been looking for. An OM-2n, some say one of the best cameras ever made… I just had to make it my first, and probably last, film camera. Not to mention that, with the proper adapter, I’ll have a perfect new lens for my digital Olympus e-510.
I had been eyeing many different auctions on eBay for days, but today was special. “Dimitris,” I thought, “today you’re winning one of them”. And I did!
Soon, this used but (apparently) well-kept Olympus OM-2n will be reaching my grubby mitts! The point of this post? I just wanted to share the joy of winning this auction with everyone.
I would also like to thank mum who is helping me with this purchase. It is true, yesterday’s incident was not good at all for my financials. But you know how these things go: you get unlucky but at the same time it’s your nameday the next morning. I couldn’t get further from complaining.
Ships, ships, ships, only a pee away from shit.
I believe that I was one of the best customers of the shipping companies this summer. A normal person wouldn’t take more than 4, 5, a maximum of 6 ships during the summer. Not me. Hohoho, not me. Between mid-May and my trips to Athens for supporting Alexandra’s exams effort and mid-August and our return to Mytilini, I travelled in a grand total of 18 ships (not 18 unique ones). My rough estimation is that I spent a total of 156 hours of this time travelling at sea. That’s about a week’s worth of non-stop travelling!
The problem is that greek ships are, well, shippy. I mean shitty. Most of them are old, the new ones are too expensive, the food and drinks on board are ridiculously expensive, they go slower than what they claim to in order to save fuel… They treat passengers as if they’re worthless sheep. Even when some of the crew are trying to be polite, you know that the general company policy is “passengers are sheep, and you are the herders!” It’s just a huge industry of money-thirsty shippers. They are the ones who control the Aegean Sea. I really hate them all. What I hate the most is the spam with which they bomb you on board: the safety messages, the cheesy music (especially ANEK’s, although Hellenic Seaways is epic as fuck! Tan-taaaaaan, tan-tan-taaaaaan…), “passengers wishing to di(n)e are kindly requested to proceed to the self-service restaurant, “due to increased truck, the ship will delay”, I could go on forever! These can be a good source of amusement for the first few trips but after hundreds and hundreds of hours on board it gets kind of… annoying.
Anyway, it’s no wonder I find it ironic when people wish me a good journey before I hop on a boat for the umpteenth time; it’s become a second nature finding a comfy spot, laying my sleeping bag, watching One Piece or reading a book for tens of hours at a time, no matter how shippy the shits are! Oh, the joy of studying 12 hours worth of voyage away from your own, but also your girlfriend’s, home…
Destruction of small neighbouring house
Ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I remember walking by a strange old house on my way to school and the neighbourhood mini-market. I could see this house from the heights of the balcony of my room for many years. It was a nice old abandoned house, with dense foliage and many cats living around. I never really knew if anyone did live there, apart from the cats. The guy owning it supposedly died at some point and his wife moved to another house.
A few months ago, to my great astonishment, mum told me that they had put up a sign in front of the house announcing that the house would be demolished and a brand new block of flats would be built in its place. Right then, I felt as if part of my childhood died.
The actual demolition only started in July. Hammers and bulldozers worked furiously every morning. The noise of course was too much to handle so me and Alex always had the balcony door closed, which led to extreme temperatures building up in my room. Mum warned me that during most demolitions swarms of cockroaches crawl out of the fresh ruins looking for new homes. Not really into the idea of hosting a dozen or ten cockroach clans, we decided that we shouldn’t leave the balcony door open even at night.
This went on for many weeks. Even when we left Athens a few weeks ago, terrible machines were still digging for the foundations. The hole was already abyss-like in depth.
In a few months from now, my once bright room will become dark and gloomy. This new apartment building will block all light coming to the back side. But it’s not only this. When certain things occur, it just hits you that you’ve grown old enough to see the world change. Nea Smyrni has sure changed in the 15 years that I remember it. The Alsos next to our home, the new parking, Nea Smyrni square, the tram… The city has even expanded during my lifetime. Places I remember as being just soil and nothingness (at the borders with Brahami) are now fully urbanised. Nea Smyrni has sure changed.
Recently, I found out that Nea Smyrni was originally meant to remain a lower density suburb. The height of apartment buildings used to be regulated everywhere in the city but along Syggrou Ave. Only after 1974 and the fall of the Junta were the regulations revised. Ever since, the number of small houses has fallen dramatically. I don’t think the surviving ones will be around for much either, unforunately…
Quick question: What had Alex been doing the past year? I’ll let you think for a second. Yeeees…
If you haven’t remembered by now, allow me to remind you. She was studying for her Panellinies!
Yes, Panellinies. This little final exam that gets all 17-year-old nervous and their parents broke. This exam that’s stuck somewhere between the Middle Ages and the Paleolithic Age that forces teenagers to decide what they’ll do for a living within a matter of months. This incredible exam that works by somehow making mathematics, greek language and physics only slightly less important than special subjects when calculating points for entry in the university or school of choice. I could go on.
Alex had a strange experience last year. When we met, she was studying German so that she could go to Austria and become a better musician. Apparently though, she had a change of heart somewhere along the road and decided that she did not want to either leave me, her country, (the rest of) her loved ones ;P or all that. To just suddenly go and live abroad for almost 6 years. I agree, that would be a shock, even though shocks can be useful from time to time. All was good then. She didn’t have to leave and we could stay together. Here comes the strange experience though: she realised that she was already 22 and had not lived the life of a student, she hadn’t gone through this magical process of living on her own! Many times before had this change of scene been delayed and her not going to Austria was added to the list. What was she to do?! Oh the horror! I can still remember when we were talking on MSN and she was panicking about her future, or lack thereof, as it seemed at the time at least.
The answer came quickly. She did not have to move out of Greece to receive the musical education of her dreams. A bit of research later and along came Musical Studies Dept, Ionian University, Kerkyra (Corfu… silly name). It sounded like best thing since Geometry Wars. Indeed, all opinions agreed on how it was one of the best, if not the best, musical universities in Greece. The problem? She couldn’t just walk in and start lessons; she had to be admitted. And how do people get admitted to universities in this day and age? Exactly.
Panellinies was the name of the game and Alex was more than willing to play. She even travelled to Kerkyra to see for herself before doing anything rash. Typically, she fell in love with the town and student life. I was slightly depressed at the time; no matter how good and well it is in Mytilini, I will never forget my disappointment when I failed entering Audiovisual Arts in the Ionian University.
All this was around this time last year. Alex did play hard. Harder than I expected. I was telling her “you’re gonna get in, but only just. You’ll be too lazy to get a better score, but not lazy enough to fail”. This year we even met every weekend almost, much more often than last year. She’d have all the excuses in the world to not go very well. But she did. And it was awesome.
In May I watched her as she fought hard for her 6 compulsory subjects: greek, maths, biology (easy and hard mode), physics and chemistry. If you’re wondering what all that has to do with music, well… don’t ask! Her score was a very satisfying 14860, thousands of points above the previous year’s minimum. She hadn’t even begun with her music subjects yet! But that was the catch; one wrong step at that point and all would have been for nought as it’s necessay to have a score greater or equal to 10/20 in both music subjects to get into a university musial dept.
The harmony exam was a breeze, Alex got more than 18 in that one. Dication was a surprisingly cruelexam though. It was plain evil. Girls got out of the exam centres crying, everyone was pessimistic, it was a mess. Alex was on the positive side although not certain and got a 12 finally, thus securing her entry in the uni and ending a few weeks of nervous uncertainty for both of us.
A few weeks ago the official result were announced and as we all expected, Alex is among the people that will be studying Music in Kerkyra starting this year. She’ll probably be getting a laptop too for her superb results!
It’s been a happy story till now. But there is a darker side to it, as the most perceptive of you will have noticed.
Till now, our relationship with Alex has been mostly uncomplicated. I live in Mytilini, she lives in Athens. A big obstacle for some that we jumped over easily. As if it did not even exist. Only rarely has distance ever affected our relationship. Distance can also be refreshing for a relationship. As I said in my previous Plus/Minus, travelling 8-12 hours at a time is manageable, as is travelling twice a month to Athens and back. No big deal, right?
Right! But what about… 24 hours worth of travelling? Starting in a few weeks, Alex will live in Kerkyra. That will be her effective home. Consider this: Mytilini is on the border with Turkey; Kerkyra is on the border with Albania and the western-most island of Greece, only a few hours away from Italy. How will this ground-shaking change affect our relationship?
This past summer I’ve been thinking about all these things. Not just me, of course. Alex has been just as pondersome. This feeling that our days are numbered hung, and still hangs over us, affecting our emotions. The natural response is to try and make use of these remaining days the best way one can. This often backfires… The looming sensation that time is running out often makes one take even less advantage of what time really remains. But maybe it’s because deep down we refuse to believe, no, we refuse to make the “time is running out” a facet of our reality. I still do not feel as if it’s anywhere close to being over. On the contrary.
All that said, how does this imminent change (and its awaiting) strike me, in the end?
: Alexandra’s finally finding her career path. It is the change she’s been waiting for years. She’ll do what she loves most and get even better at it. I can’t even imagine what great music she will compose! She will find new friends in the ultimate artsy-cultural university city in Greece. I am really and sincerely happy, most of all, that she’s getting exactly what she fought for, she’s doing what she dreamed of doing. It is something a lot of us forget to do nowadays. We compromise. We think too much of what people will (or won’t) say or what people will or won’t do as a reaction to our actions. Alex is setting an example. An example of purity of intent. How difficult is it for us people to know exactly what we want to do and be sure that it is exactly what will make us happy? Besides: travelling to Corfu? Count me in!
: The distance between me and Alex will soon double. What will happen between us? Taking for granted that we will keep on seeing eachother no matter what, there are two scenarios within sight:
1. Distance only makes us realise how much in love we are with eachother. Our less frequent meetings are much more intense and we live happily ever after.
2. We’ve thought of giving eachother the freedom to experiment with random people if we so wish (now we’re yound and free etc) while still, in theory at least, remaining a couple. I can already imagine the clusterfucks such a scenario might produce, the jealousy and quarreling… but we will end up together in the end, and we’ll live happily ever after.
Whichever of these 2 scenarios happens, increased solidarity is something that might help me concentrate on my last year on this island and all this might implicate…
: …but it’s all nice and good declaring beforehand that my last year in Mytilini will be be better if I concentrate on Mytilini-centric activities. How can I say that when I’ve been with Alexandra for more than 1.5 years already?! I may not have forgot how it was before her, but I sure don’t know how it’s going to be after her. They say that you only really appreciate something when you’ve lost it…
:…and even if I won’t have lost Alex, it will be harsh. It’s coming closer and closer, and the closer it comes, the harder it hits me. The day I’ll take the ship to Mytilini and she won’t follow me… and knowing that after a few days she’ll be in Kerkyra, in one of the most important moments of her life, and I won’t be there for her… and also knowing that being there would only make it worse for her… but definitely, I don’t wanna think about that day…
OK, OK. That last part was a bit emo. But you can’t help it. Most emos become emos over stuff like this. Now just let me look at the glass half-full again…
Αυτά τα Χριστούγεννα είναι διαφορετικά.
“Old satellite image is old. Η διαδρομή που έχω κάνει με τις τσάντες γεμάτες βιβλία στα χέρια πολλές πολλές φορές αυτές τις μέρες.
Βρίσκουν εμένα και την μαμ σε κατάσταση μετακόμισης και αναμπουμπούλας… Οι περασμένες μέρες μου στην Αθήνα κύλισαν με μένα να μην έχω ένα σταθερό σπίτι, κοιμώντας στο σπίτι της Αλεξάνδρας, στο “παλιό” σπίτι (εκεί που μέναμε απο το 2003 έως τώρα) στο “καινούργιο” σπίτι” (το οποίο είναι αυτό στο οποίο ουσιαστικά γεννήθηκα και μεγάλωσα μέχρι τον θάνατο της γιαγιάς μου το ’98, οπότε και το νοικιάσαμε. Απο τότε και μετά έμενα μόνο στον 3ο όροφο της πολυκατοικίας, στο διαμέρισμα της μαμ, το οποίο και πουλήσαμε όταν πήγαμε στο “παλιό” σπίτι). Ενώ το παλιό σπίτι είναι άνω κάτω και σχεδόν στοιχειωμένο μετά τις συνθήκες τις οποίες προκάλεσαν την ανάγκη για μετακόμιση (ναι, η μαμ και ο άντρας της χώρισαν και αυτός είναι ο κύριος λόγος), το καινούργιο (παλιό) σπίτι είναι αναζωογωνητικό με την προσωρινή αδειανότητα του και εκτός απο τις 2-3 πρώτες φορές που πήγα, σχεδόν ξεχνάω ότι εκεί μέσα πέρασα το μεγαλύτερο μέρος των 9 πρώτων μου χρόνων…
Κάθε μετακόμιση είναι μερικές φορές σημείο καμπής απο ψυχολογικής άποψης αλλά απο υλικής είναι πάντα, αφού ο υλικός και ζωτικός χώρος αλλάζει τελείως και είναι μοναδική στιγμή για ξεκαθάρισμα και φρέσκα ξεκινήματα. Έτσι κι εγώ τις τελευταίες μέρες άνοιγα συρτάρια, ντουλάπια, τετράδια, περιοδικά, βιβλία, έβρισκα γράμματα, μικρο- και μεγαλομπιχλιμπίδια που πάγωσαν στον χρόνο… Τεύχη απο Τα Σαϊνια, την σειρά Δεινόσαυροι, Αστερίξ, Κόμιξ, Ντόναλντ, Focus, τις παρτιτούρες του κλαρινέτου μου, μια παλιά φωτογραφική μηχανή, ένα discman, διάφορα καλώδια, 6 πράσινους αντάπτορες USB to PS/2, βιβλία γερμανικών και αγγλικών και τετράδια με 2-3 γραμμένες σελίδες. Όλα αυτά επιβίωσαν απο άλλα, παλιότερα ξεκαθαρίσματα. Τότε προφανώς ήθελα να τα κρατήσω και όσα επέζησαν είχα κρίνει ότι στο μέλλον θα τα χρειαζόμουν. Τα χρειάστηκα όμως; Όχι βέβαια. Ο σημαντικότερος λόγος που και εγώ αλλά και όλοι κρατάμε κάποτε χρηστικά αντικείμενα είναι η νοσταλγία, το τι συμβολίζουν αυτά τα αντικείμενα απο το παρελθόν μας, είναι κατα κάποιο τρόπο αποδείξεις των εμπειριών μας. Πάντα νοιώθω ότι κρατώντας κάτι θα μπορώ εκτός απο το να το βλέπω και να θυμάμαι καλές αλλά και κακές εμπειρίες, θα μπορώ με τα αντίστοιχα αντικείμενα να διηγούμαι στα παιδιά μου τις ιστορίες τους ή απλά για να κρατάω αναμνηστικά του παρελθόντος, χαρακτηριστικά του πνεύματος των καιρών κάθε εποχής . Ακόμα και σήμερα έχει μια μαγεία το να κρατάς κάτι το οποίο αναγράφει ΑΠΡΙΛΙΟΣ 1994, πόσο μάλλον σε 20 χρόνια.
Το πρόβλημα με την νοσταλγία είναι ότι δεσμεύει. Οι άνθρωποι είναι φτιαγμένοι για να εξελίσσονται συνεχώς. Κάτι το οποίο τους ενώνει με μια συγκεκριμένη χρονική στιγμή κρατάει ένα κομμάτι τους αιχμάλωτο του παρελθόντος. Εκτός αυτού, το να θέλει να δείξει κάποιος το τι έχει ζήσει στα παιδιά του είναι αρκετά εγωιστικό και αυτάρεσκο. Πώς είμαι τόσο σίγουρος ότι τα παιδιά μου θα θέλουν να δουν τις κονσόλες μου για να βλέπουν τι έπαιζε ο μπαμπάς τους μικρός, γιατί να θέλει το παιδί μου να δει την απόδειξη των εισητηρίων του interrail ή ένα γράμμα μιας μυστηριώδους ολλανδέζας; Θα θέλει να ανοίξει το τεύχος 51 του “Δεινόσαυροι” ή μήπως δεν θα μπορεί καν να διαβάσει ελληνικά; Πάντως, κακά τα ψέμματα, η μεγαλύτερη δέσμευση έχει φυσική υπόσταση. Αν μπορούσαμε να έχουμε όσο χώρο θέλουμε ο οποίος θα τακτοποιούταν αυτόματα, τότε το να κρατάμε οτιδήποτε μας είχε ανήκει σε οποιαδήποτε στιγμή θα είχε κάποιο νόημα. Όμως απο την στιγμή που ο χώρος ο οποίος αναλογεί στον καθένα μας είναι περιορισμένος αυτό σημαίνει ότι πρέπει να υπάρχει μια προσεκτική και χρηστική διαρρύθμιση του χώρου στον οποίου η οποία περιστρέφεται γύρω απο το παρόν και όχι απο το παρελθόν. Ακόμα και αν υπήρχε ο χώρος για κάτι τέτοιο πάντως, ο χρόνος και η ενέργεια την οποία θα απαιτούσε το να έχεις στο σπίτι σου ΤΑ ΠΑΝΤΑ τα οποία μπορεί να σου θυμίσουν κάτι, απο το να τα δεις και να χαθείς στις αναμνήσεις μέχρι να τα τακτοποιήσεις (συν το ότι κάθε μέρα προστίθονταν σε αυτά καινούργια αντικείμενα)… Κάτι τέτοιο σίγουρα θα σου έκοβε κατα πολύ τις εξελικτικές δυνατότητες αφού συνεχώς θα σε απασχολούσε το παρελθόν και όχι το μέλλον.
Πριν λίγες μέρες, στο δικό μου νοσταλγικό ξεσκαρτάρισμα, πέταξα όλα μου τα FOCUS στην ανακύκλωση. Κάποτε, είχαν γλιτώσει απο αυτή την μοίρα, όχι όμως αυτή την φορά. Το τι γλιτώνει και τι όχι αλλάζει ανάλογα με την ωριμότητα του ατόμου. Αν και κάνω μερικές χαλαρές συλλογές (βιβλία, ηλεκτρονικά και επιτραπέζια παιχνίδια, EDGE) δεν είμαι σίγουρος κατα πόσο έχουν διαφορετική ρίζα και αφορμή απο τον λόγο που κρατάω τις παλιές μου μπλούζες. Δεν μπορώ παρ’όλ’αυτά να βάλω τα παλιά βιβλία σε διαφορετική μοίρα απο παλιά μπιχλιμπίδια ακόμα και αν τα έχω διαβάσει. Δεν έχουν πρακτική αξία παρα να δείχνουν την βιβλιοθήκη πιο γεμάτη: δεν με βλέπω να τα (ξανα)διαβάζω εκτός απο εξαιρέσεις, και μόνο και μόνο το εξώφυλο ενός βιβλίου αρκεί για να σε κάνει να θυμηθείς πόσο ωραία ήταν όταν το διάβαζες…
Την επόμενη φορά που θα κάνω ενα ξεσκαρτάρισμα μπορεί να απαγκιστρωθώ απο πράγματα τα οποία ποτέ δεν θα άφηνα σήμερα. Είναι αυτό καλό; Θα είναι δείγμα εξέλιξης ή απλά θα μετακομίζω σε καινούργιο διαμέρισμα στο μέγεθος γκαράζ; Ακόμα δεν μπορώ να πω με σιγουριά, πάντως ελπίζω όντως τα παιδιά μου να ενδιαφέρονται για ό,τι κρατάω σήμερα. Αλλιώς, πόση αξία θα έχει για μένα; Αν δεν έχει για μένα όμως, αξίζει να τα κρατάω για τα παιδιά μου; Αλλά αν τα παιδιά μου δεν ενδ…
ΟΚ ΟΚ. Καλά Χριστούγεννα! Να χαιρόμαστε τους δικούς μας ανθρώπους, τώρα που αυτές τις μέρες μπορούμε να είμαστε κοντά τους (εμείς οι τυχεροί-άτυχοι, κατα τους γνωστούς-αγνώστους, που σπουδάζουμε εκτός Ελλάδος! :P)
It’s 7:30AM. Me and Mordread are sitting in my futon couch, going though the last, epic stages of The Force Unleashed, watching the final twists and turns of its plot unfold. Outside it is raining. The gentle sound of the drops hitting the street outside is audible even through the soundproof aluminum windows. It manages to reach our ears, as well as the lightsaber hums, Darth Vader’s iconic scuba breathing and the sound of lightning coming out of Starkiller’s fingertips. The sky is not entirely grey; in fact, its colour would be best described as a kind of dim pink. Soon I would witness what should have been the tie-in between the original and the prequels, the old and the new, the successful and the perhaps disappointing. My drowzy mind, amidst all this, was thinking that the line had been crossed; a new blog entry was finally at hand.
More than 3 hours later, the time is now 11:05. October 3rd, 2008. Rain sporadically cheers my ears but the sun has decided that its no time for playing hide-and-seek. The result is a wonderful colour of the sky. A fantastically unusual bright cloudy grey. Isn’t it strange that I often choose to write when my mind is working in ambiguous ways, powered by the strength of overnight determination but deterred by sleepiness? This fact could mean many things, quite controversial in their own right. Is it because I deem blogging so important a task that only the special moments of sleeplessness can truly get it going? Is it because writing is a time-consuming activity, best left for when my time constraints are only limited by my fatigue? Is it just because I’m bored and feel somehow special that I want to share my thoughts with the world (surrounding me)? I digress…
It’s been almost 3 months since my last blog entry. 3 busy, important, fascinating months. My last entry was written just hours before our journey to Europe had begun. Now, in mere weeks 2 months will have gone by since we returned from our trip. I won’t go into much detail about how it was, what it meant to me/us, if it was interesting or if I have any pictures to share. Answer to last two questions is yes. To the first two it is… well. I just can’t do it now. When I first came back from the trip, I was eager to tell everyone about it! Trying to remember every little detail so that it doesn’t get lost somewhere in the mists of memory lest it isn’t readily available so as to tell anyone who might be interested or write right here in Cubimension. But my enthusiasm was quickly discouraged. Not all that many people, especially friends, were genuinely interested in what I had to tell or show (I might write something else on this subject one day. It’s a deep matter). A lot of them will never read these lines either but the sentiment remains. It does sound too self-important, (as much of this particular entry, forgive me!) but I think it does have some right to be. Anyway, to not sound too melodramatic about something that doesn’t deserve it, if anyone would really like to ask me anything about our experience out there, I’d really gladly discuss anything! YEAH! But as it is now, I just can’t bring myself to summarise 38 days of travel for a questionable audience. Alexandra says that if we write all that happened down (something we did try to do…) we’ll remember it much easier. I kind of agree but writing it down isn’t exactly easy in the first place (hell, visit this topic on MyAegean and maybe you’ll catch some of all the previous feeling: http://my.aegean.gr/web/ftopict-991.html. But when it comes down to it, for whom do I opperate this site anyway, is it just to showcase what I do and am all about or is it too more like a personal dia… ANYWAY! My apologies for this nervous breakdown! 😀
OK after this last bit my post has lost the aethereal tone it had in the beginning. Fudge it, it was taking too long to think of all the difficult words anyway! What else has been going on? Well on August 23rd I first walked through the door of my current home. It was the week I was looking for my new place to stay. I was with Kira/George/Darthy. I’m not sure he had a good time, since I had to wake up early every morning just to take care of all the sudden obligations and do some new-home-hunting. We did have our very fair share of nargile and WoW discussions though (yes I was always the debunker! Sort of…) August 23rd was also Mordread’s 20th b-day. This can’t have been random cause now he’s my new neighbour! Walks in for gaming sessions, brings Pepsi along, takes care of the cat when I’m away — everything a good neighbour should do! Thanks Mordread, you’re a star! 🙂 After another week in Athens, IKEAing, meeting up with long lost friends and celebrating Alexandra’s nameday, it was time for me, her and mum to come back to Mytilini armed and ready! September 3rd-8th was the moving to brand-new home preperations. The two girls helped me a lot and I do so love them for it, even though one of them worked significantly more than the other, oops shouldn’t have let that one slip! 😀 It was a great time us being together, had some talks, some good breakfasts and stuff. And I can’t forget mention: whut!! We played Rock Band all together. Mum played a video game. As we say in greek, many bakeries fell in ruins on that day…
The real fun started when mum left, which was right on the day we moved! For another week, it was just me and Alex taking care of the brand new home. We painted every room in crazy happy colours, pondered on what should go where, watched sick and crazy funny movies, cooked some tasty food (I tell you, squeezing meatballs isn’t nearly as disgusting as it once seemed… nor is chopping turkey), quarreled for a little bit just to break all the happy tension, played lots of Geometry Wars (and Alexandra made a brave new footing into the world of Hexic! A round of applause for our would-be hardcore please), explored the new surrounding area, discovered that afternoons are sexy too (sometimes sexier than evenings), quarreled a bit more to keep things balanced, and had to keep Yuki’s teen sexual heat under contro as well. Shut windows, air-condition. Yeah. This is what brought that happy week to a close. I did something I will never forgive myself for doing which was nevertheless necessary… *read on*
I had to have Yuki neutered. I wasn’t happy that I had to keep windows shut to keep her tomcat-seeking skills at bay and neither was she. But having little Yukinos around wasn’t the problem here. The problem was that there’s the bloody busy road just down the street. One sexy night out for Yuki could be her last, as she made a perfect white contrast against the cold, hard pavement . They’d be one in their lifelessness… Nightmare inducing, I agree wholeheartedly. So for us to be both happy (or for me to be happy and at least hoping she will be happy rid of her sexual distractions or at least indifferent to their absence — pleasure or pain) it was a tough, not to mention costly decision. Seeing her dizzy from the anaesthesia was a cruel pleasure though, have to admit! She also bit her stitches out, had an open wound Mordread thankfully treated while I was away in Chios visiting good old Fanis, ignorant and blissful about Yuki. We had her second stitches removed yesterday. All is well with Yuki now. She’s as playful, active, cuddly, hungry (for “milk” and more serious food) as ever! Minus her uterus.
While Alexandra was here I tried another first. I pursued the foundations of some career as a waiter/barman at none other than Mousiko Kafeneio. Yes, the one and only! It took no less than 2 weeks of me trying to make coffees and other beverages, failing, drinking my concoctions and always looking somehow confused to realise that I was not entirely suitable for the job. Not because I wasn’t any good at all at it but due to new emergency weekend tactics by me and Alexandra that can’t allow any weekend work obligations. No less, of course because of Piscean inherent looking-for-excuses when being in situations I don’t particularly like, behaviour; that woman pulled no punches when it came to rookie training. She demanded I took full care of bar and service within my second week! Negotiating unacceptable. Hey, at least now I have some experience. And hey, I did eat and drink for a few days for free. That’s something! And now I can set out for some less stressful work solution. English teaching here I come (?!).
If we undserstood something together with my little sugary crabby (believe me it sounds better in greek) these weeks, it’s that we cannot manage to be apart for more than a few days. Meaningless misunderstandings through MSN (which is the DEVIL!), general dysphoria and everything just proves that. We couldn’t not meet last weekend (even though there were more fights last week because I didn’t have any money, which by the way made me cook some truly good but thick chickpeas (name sucks in english, revythia all the way) but it was urgent so I could just find some but it doesn’t work that way and and and and it wasn’t hard for things to just settle right. Last weekend in Athens was just made in heaven. Everything was so great! We had such a great time within such few hours. If our emergency weekend plan ends up like this, it’s going to be grand.
Well. It’s 13:05 straight! Hah, I’ve been writing for 2 hours straight. And now again, it’s all stuff that only interests me in the end. Maybe Alex as well. But I feel very satisfied that I finally came down to writing something! If you’ve reached this end, dear reader, we should hang around more!
Next blog may be (but it may also not be) about all the new games, movies, music, books and cool stuff that has come to my attention recently. It’s going to be big! Don’t expect it soon! 😀
Ahyawwwn… I’m typing this really tired, I’ve been awake for close to 30 hours straight now. Yesterday was all about fixing up Cuberick, my new mate and companion in the world of internet, IT, games and cyberculture. Together with Magebreeze a.k.a. Beast, that is my old computer (I’ve set them up in a LAN, both are downloading, Cuberick is downloading Celestia addons while Magebreeze is downloading Bioshock while also transfering all of my existing data from Magebreeze to Cuberick’s more spacious HDD) they’ve both put me in a really techie and computer nerdy mood, which also lead me to rearranging my furniture a bit. Nothing special, just moving some chairs around and wasting one and a half hours on some stupid DVD stand that I thought I had put together wrongly but in fact after trying to fix it ended up making it worse, realising in the process that not only was it defective out of the box, the way I had put it up originally was the best possible way to do it. Without it looking too bad I mean. Yes, I think those were some of the least useful, productive or enlighting 90 minutes of my life.
Anyway, back to the PC: I had some worrying difficulties while building Cuberick (can I have a SCREW SCREWLESS DESIGN? No, that’s SCREW SCREWLESS FUCKING DESIGN!) but fortunately after talking with people that could give me some meaningful advice, like trying everything out having the motherboard outside the case and even with no CPU, GPU or memories on, it finally worked. The problem was initially that, once powered on, the PC would stay on for around half a second then turn off and then after a few seconds do the same on its own. It could go on and on if I didn’t turn off the PSU every time. After playing around with the connectors, the battery and the CMOS, somehow I got it to work, and even though there are still some pretty minor points that I’d like to be able to correct sometime, like not being able to boot in Dual Channel mode or having some kind of power hickough at start-up, Cuberick is, I’m very happy to say, working fine. At this point, I’d like to thank my mum, the funding of which was necessary for the creation of Cuberick, Mario, who was with me at the very first stages of building the machine and helped me avoid some (crucial) mistakes I would have otherwise made, Kostas, who gave me the idea of trying to set-up the motherboard outside of the case and see what happens, Manos, whose Windows XP Pro SP2 CD I used at a time of need, and Alexandra, to whom I gave the honours to name Cuberick. This name just suits it fine, it hit bull’s eye. 🙂 Thank you, people! Even if some of you may never read this…
So what was the first thing that I did with my brand new PC? I played Portal, Valve’s most attractive inclusion to the Orange Box, at least personally. I had been keeping an eye out for this game ever since it was first announced, somewhat less than 2 years ago. I had bought the Orange Box when it had come out but Magebreeze just couldn’t cut it, 2004 tech just wasn’t enough for opening portals and solving interspatial puzzles. So once I had Cuberick up and ready with graphics drivers and the game installed, about 6AM today, I started the game and finished about 3 hours later. Short game, but wonderful nonetheless. Darkly humorous, clever, mindbending, potent and stylish. It seems to me that the gaming industry is less and less inclined to make good epic and long games rather depending on one-offs like Portal, which are short, cheap, stand-alone, based on an intriguing idea [;)] and creating a huge cyberculture following. I can’t even describe the success and appeal the Companion Cube, GlaDOS and the Cake have all had to the internet community. And today, I found out exactly why! Definitely one of the better games of 2007.
So here I am, even more tired, unable to up some pics I wanted of Cuberick because they’re too large and uuuhh… We watched Planet Terror earlied with Marios, Garret and Dimitris… Totally crazy and fun movie, if not slightly disgusting at times. Really gives off the cult feel a lot of people, including me, like. Staple of the movie was Cherry, with her mutilated limb replaced with a machine gun! Recommended if you’re into lots of blooooood!
So I better publish, before I… ah, zzz…
The Nintendo 64. Released 1996 in NTSC markets and in 1997 in PAL territories, it was Nintendo’s first fully 3-D console. Made as a successor to the super popular and industry-defining SNES, the N64 saw in its 5 years Nintendo’s fall from the top of the home entertainment market. Sony, who created the PlayStation from the ashes of the to-be collaboration with them and Nintendo to make a CD platform for the SNES, used the design of this new platform to create the next new most successful console ever. Sony didn’t only bring in the CD platform to the industry successfully and en masse for the first time, it also hosted numerous reiterations of old franchises that practically reinvented their lines. Games like Final Fantasy VII or Metal Gear Solid were parts of older franchises that once belonged to Nintendo’s “side”. New games like Resident Evil, Pro Evolution Soccer, Crash Bandicoot, Tekken and Gran Turismo quickly geared the PlayStation for hardcore and casual gamers alike, with the latter term practically being invented by Sony’s generation. Nintendo’s decision to build its console around the ’80s philosophy of cartridges paid its tolls; even though N64 games had non-existant loading times and were pretty resistant to wear and tear (both factors compared to Sony’s CDs), not only couldn’t they fit 1/10 of what CDs could fit, they were also much more expensive to produce and, for good or for bad, much more difficult to duplicate, using legal means or otherwise. Yes, the possibility of pirating games and playing copies only really kicked off with the PlayStation and many would argue that this is one of the basic factors for its appeal to the broad audience. Cool games for cheap. What more could a bloke ask for? But I digress. This post has little to do with how the PlayStation changed the face of the games industry.
Way back then, in 1997, I didn’t know and I didn’t particularly care about these things. My mother had bought me my SNES for my 8th birthday, which was when I essentially became a Nintendo gamer. I did own a pseudo-NES on which I had numerous classic games of the NES era, among them Super Mario Bros. and Bubble Bobble, but my pre-SNES gaming history is also irrelevant. By 1997 of course, SNES was as new as PS2 is today alive and kicking. OK, PS2 is still selling better than PS3, but that’s not the point here! I had found myself a console that was dying, with N64 coming right around the corner. Neither me nor my mum knew that at the time, but it wouldn’t take long for me to find out (meanwhile I enjoyed such wonderful games as Yoshi’s Island, Donkey Kong Country 3 or Super Mario All-Stars that were already defining my gaming profile.)
July 1997. By now I’ve caught wind of the existence of N64, but I’ve been too busy playing SNES to really care. Suddenly, one day, I get to play Super Mario 64 in a small toy shop in Eisenstadt, Austria. I stand there, jaw hitting floor. I start playing on the demo stand for hours at a time, and the shopkeepers always shooed me away in words I didn’t understand every time it was time for the shop to close… I urged my mother to let me go to the shop again and again or to any other shop that had the game so I could play, even if I played the wrong way, holding the left handle of the middle one (I didn’t even know there was a Z button). It was just sooo good! I had even made her buy me a strategy guide of it in german and pestered her every time to translate bits and pieces to me… Sorry mum! 😛 There was no way around it: that console and that game had to be mine.
The rest of the summer and autumn went by with me wanting a Nintendo 64, fantasizing about it (you know, going to school and thinking about it and stuff) and really looking forward to Christmas. That’s when mum had told me she’d get it for me… Agonizingly, and with me playing some more SNES games, Christmas 1997 finally was upon us. Christmas Eve to be exact. It was a sunny morning, and I was playing Super Mario World while the other children were out singing the Kalanta. That was the day we’d go and get it (yeah it was much less dramatic than the Nintendo 64 kid scene, no trees, no wrappings or anything. But it was cool in its own way) So we did, from that big shop in Kallithea mum used to refer to as “the warehouse (apothiki)” and which later became Max Stores. That’s where we bought most of my SNES games as well. I got my N64 along with Super Mario 64 and GoldenEye. When I got home that day, I connected the system to our small 14″ Grundig I used to play my SNES on and played for hours. We’d have Christmas with friends, and so all the family friends came and brought their kids as well, and we all gathered round the TV and played… I remember Kostas’ and Alex’s faces, they couldn’t believe I had it! 😀 And the next day, (Christmas Day) another sunny morning, I called my then best friend Kostas (it was another Kostas) and we played together… Well with one controller it was much less “playing together” than “letting Kostas watch me play and maybe handing him the controller for a few turns” but that’s how it goes sometimes! GoldenEye didn’t get much playtime at first cause I couldn’t figure out how to play it… That, of course, soon changed…
Anyway, If I wrote ALL of my experiences with the little machine down it’d make for some tall wall of text, so my intro stops here. Intro, because I’m just getting started! This Christmas 10 full years will have passed since the day that was a landmark for my gamer side. As a tribute to those days and to the N64 which I think is (ok nostalgia really talking here but that’s how it works usually, right?) one of the best consoles ever, I’ll post my Top 20 for it, along with any comments, thoughts or experiences from and about each game. So, let me take you back to the past, back to my childhood days…
20. Pokemon Stadium
The year is 2000. Pokemon mania is sweeping the West and every pre-teen boy can’t help but succumb helplessly to the charm of Game Freak’s Pocket Slaves. While Pokemon Blue/Red were released in Europe in late 1999, I first got involved in the huge phenomenon around January of Y2K. The whole thing intrigued me very much, noticing but not really observing the craze that had followed not only the game but also the anime series on TV. It especially hit me when I went to Austria that year. Pokemon was EVERYWHERE!
I quickly made up for any lost time with some vigorous playing on the Game Boy. I played and played Pokemon Blue for hours on my green GB Pocket… I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that Pokemon was my first RPG, and so it was some really fresh material for me. I quickly understood that I shouldn’t only be leveling up my Venusaur leaving my Paras and Pidgeotto at Lv ~20, and deleted my game and started anew once or twice so that I could have a really balanced team and finally get the game mechanics. I was hooked, just like any other 11-year-old at the time. But I wanted more. And I knew that my Nintendo 64 had the key to that.
April 2000. After some months of agonizing wait (I still remember how frantically I looked for the game in all the stores I frequented… Once I even remember getting to the verge of tears after a big disappointment from my local game shop, when they told me that they didn’t know when it would be released), I skipped school and waited for mum to call me from Jumbo and tell me that she had finally got it. Oh BTW, even since then I somewhat organized skipping school with mum, she always was good like that. Or wait… Maybe I was malingering again and she just played along with it, I don’t remember… She wasn’t too strict about that kind of thing and as we can see today no harm came from it. 😛 Anyway, she brought the game home and I was DELIGHTED I can tell you! Popped it in my N64, put my Pokemon Blue in the Transfer Pak so I could use my Pokemon from the Game Boy game in Stadium, and off I went!
The game, while it lacked any RPG mode, had some meat. It was certainly cool looking at your hardy monsters in magnificent 3-D, reading the new Pokedex entries Stadium had, playing the Game Boy game on the big screen through the Transfer Pak or even giving the mini-games a go. Lickitung’s Sushi Bar was a good laugh, as well as another one with Electrode in which I don’t remember what you had to do… All these mini-games were multiplayer, and good thing I had some friends that also were into the whole Pokemon thing. OK, I’ll admit it, I was the nerdier one when it came to games… But Stadium’s best feature was none other than multiplayer battling. We used to play with rentals, looking for quick duels of skill in commanding the little bastards. The game really was ideal if you wanted a quick dose of the rush of a Pokemon battle without having to plunge into the depths of the RPG.
While I also bought Pokemon Stadium 2 when it came out and generally liked it and the second generation Pokemon, the first game made a much bigger impact on how we played with our monsters back then. It was the next best thing after the GB games and it surely deserves a spot in my Top 20.
19. Turok: Dinosaur Hunter
Turok, if I recall correctly, was a whim purchause I made with dad. We looked for a present for me and it ended up being Turok. I have no idea when, but it happened!
The hero was an indianesque person that hunted dinosaurs becauuuuse… Again, I have no idea. I didn’t ever get much into the game’s story. The only things I can tell are: the game was hard, it had some cool and biiig guns and some interesting locales, the game was confusing, and its cheats were superb! Unlocking the uber guns and blasting everything away certainly was fun, as was being invincible and flying (I still remember that the cheat code had something to do with “bird”… But that is as far as my memory serves me), and going to every boss stage and wooping ass. Because I ended up only playing the game using cheats because I thought it was much better using some cheat or another than just playing normally, not to mention much less frustrating, I don’t remember it at all well. But messing around with this game was rewarding! Plus, how cool is a game full of dinos? Even if sadly you have to kill them… Looking back, the “normal” game must have been good, at least its structure was hub-based and linear at the same time. Intriguing, no?
Banjo-Kazooie ranked very high in my top games for a long period of time (still does) and my expectations for the sequel were even higher. B-K’s ending revealed that “Banjo-Tooie” would allow the player to gain access to hidden secrets in the original game by means of using a stop ‘n’ swap kind of system, something to do with cartridge swapping anyway. This in my mind only meant that Banjo-Tooie would have an awful lot to do with the original, and I just couldn’t wait!
Banjo-Tooie was released in Europe in June 2001. When it appeared, I had exams (it was the end of my first year in junior high) so I couldn’t pick it up right away. But when I did, I couldn’t help but be a bit disappointed. I found out that the “stop ‘n’ swap” thingie had been dropped and that only a few connections remained with Banjo-Kazooie, like the appearance of Gobi the camel or other references that should have been dependant on your status in B-K. The real secrets of the original were lost forever (even though lots of hackers are still tearing the cartridge apart to find hidden connections and clues, check out the numerous YouTube videos on this) and were replaced by the same items that the connection would have unlocked but had been hidden quite normally within the game.
Apart from this diasappointment though, Banjo-Tooie was actually pretty good. The worlds were much larger than those of the first game, more transformations, there were connections between levels, the graphics were better, the music was of the same high quality and generally it was a pretty worthy sequel to the first adventure of the bear and bird. Rare also once again showed what a great sense of humour they had throughout this game with their typical style of never ever taking anything too seriously. Unfortunately, unlike the first one, I only played through Banjo-Tooie once and did not even collect all of the jiggies. Thus, my memories of the game are pretty limited. I do remember some special moments, like the T-Rex transformation, Cloud Cuckoo Land and the Jinjo Village. I’d like to play it again some day, if only to make it more vivid in my mind.
17. Pokemon Snap
Another Pokemon title in the Top 20 (and it’s the last one). This time it has nothing to do with battles or collecting monsters… It’s all about…
In Pokemon Snap you go around on-rail levels like caves, beaches, volcanoes etc and take pictures of Pokemon in their natural habitat. Professor Oak then scores your pictures according to the size of the Pokemon in the picture, its stance, if the Pokemon is using a special move, how interesting or impressive the picture is etc. Interaction with the Pokemon is accomplished through the use of pester balls (throw one at it and see what happens) and apples (which inexplicably all Pokemon like) and a lot of the time a mini-puzzle has to be solved for a Pokemon to forget its camera shyness or even appear at all. Sometimes, Prof. Oak judged pictures on wrong criteria, and a fine, rare and artistic picture could go down the drain… Right? No! The game allowed you to save a fairly lare number of pictures… You could have a very personal Pokemon photo album!
Even if the game becomes predictable after a while because of the linear actions the player has to take to capture the best poses of each Pokemon (which is still not always the case, some Pokemon really allow for creative photographing), it still manages to be addictive and FUN! This game might actually be one of the best-executed spin-offs ever, and I owe that to HAL Labs, who’s behind this… Game Freak wouldn’t be able to pull this off! Anyway, capturing wild Pidgeys flying around in flocks in one picture, a Scyther slashing away or Mew dancing through the air in its bubble surely never felt this good. Sadly, the game only features about 60 out of the (then) 151, but it’s not a big deal since all have their cries straight from the anime and are actually very well modeled. In some cases I think their Snap renditions are better than in Stadium… Anyway, this game is a must for any friend of Pokemon and it’s not hard to understand why I loved it back in October 2000, when I really was a pretty hardcore fan.
TO BE CONTINUED