Mar 18

In praise of Thatcher.

Do You See + TMFDPost a comment • 1,592 views

No, not that one, it’s okay.  I mean Timothy Thatcher, the wrestling one.  No?  The one with the mean face.  No?  Let’s start this story again.


I love professional wrestling.  It can be looked at in so many ways, on so many levels.  It can be gazed upon in childlike wonder as the 8-year olds cheer for the perennial babyface, action figure in hand, head to toe in WWE official merchandise.  It can be a much-needed way to remove oneself from reality for the duration of a match or a 3-hour show, thinking back to the story-lines of the past two months and how this might play out in the run-up to Wrestlemania [points at sign].  You can be a Johnny come lately, beer in hand, cheering “For whoever I fuckin’ like – I paid my money.”  Or you can take your starting point and … well, just run with it, devouring everything in your path; let it envelope you like a warm blanket or a Yokozuna bearhug, read biography after autobiography, watch Bruiser Brody swing his chain at the terrified fans in Tokyo in the 1980’s, laugh out loud at Ric Flair’s astonishing backstage promos, obsessively research Andy Kaufman’s feud with Jerry Lawler and explore the origins of pro wrestling in the travelling carnivals of America.

You may have guessed which category of fan I fall into and that’s why I’m so intrigued by this Thatcher character and what makes this chap tick.


Jul 14

Guess My Theory: Part BELGIUM

TMFD1 comment • 322 views

Marouane Fellaini

Apr 13


TMFD//4 comments • 707 views

Tree_Rex_Package Tree Rex. Eye Brawl. Scarlet Ninjini. If you’re the parent of a small boy there’s a good chance you know these names well: the ferocious cast of Skylanders, a computer-game-meets-action-figure franchise which has become my son’s first honest-to-goodness playground craze.

“Meets” here really means “versus”, in the way a mash-up is “versus”: the gaming and collectibles elements are fused to a fiendish degree. You play the game by placing a physical figure on a “portal of power” – presto! There he is on the screen, stomping around a pretty standard 3D platformer thing. The more figures you buy, the more characters you can use; the more characters you can use, the more game elements you unlock, and the more money Activision makes. There is very little Skylanders merch – no TV show yet, no comics, none of that paraphernalia – because why should there be? The basic collect-and-play mechanism has plenty of financial life in it.

This physical-digital fusion is the heart of Skylanders’ appeal, and it’s innovative in several ways, not all of them so fun. Playgrounds have always been hothouses where peer pressure and parental income brutally intersect – Skylanders rewards wealth (if not thriftiness) like any collectible fad. No novelty there. But successfully importing this mechanic into a console game is setting a precedent. The virtue of console and PC gaming used to be its completeness: buy a game and you’ve bought the whole game. Not so Skylanders: to my knowledge it’s the first really successful application of the “in-app purchase” model of mobile gaming to the big-ticket console mainstream.


Feb 13

Come as you are (or not)

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Ryan Lochte is never one to shy away from a good publicity stunt. He may have 11 Olympic swimming medals of various colours, but as you can see below his main talent is for getting people to look at him (this shot was taken for ESPN magazine).


HOWEVER I feel that Ryan has missed a key detail of this well-known tableau! I’m sure this will be rectified by the magazine’s photoshop department later…

May 12

I WAS A GOBLIN: In Which I Was Actually A Goblin

TMFD11 comments • 1,186 views

I was suspicious of Live Action Role Playing for a long time. I had three excellent reasons: it couldn’t possibly work, it verged dangerously close to SPORTS, and most of all White Dwarf strongly hinted it was a stupid idea. At the time I took White Dwarf very seriously. There was a whole underworld of role-playing fanzines who saw White Dwarf as the enemy of all that was righteous in the hobby, intent on straitjacketing the minds of infant games with their barely disguised pimping of glossy, shallow Games Workshop products. These fanzines were broadly right. But I didn’t read them: as far I was concerned, the Dwarf was mega and skill.

Games Workshop – White Dwarf’s publishers (hence the pimping) – had placed certain bets on the direction the HOBBY OF THE 80S was going to swing in. Their bets involved carefully painted dioramas rather than minibus rides to wet caves, so the magazine spent a lot of time taking the piss out of LARP. Some of this was also the unslakable thirst of the nerd to find someone they can look down on – sad we may be, but we don’t wave rubber swords around (we only paint lead ones). And some of it, it must be said, was justified. Like a lot of geek businesses in the 80s, LARP attracted a few thrusting young Thatcherites whose bold entrepreneurial spirit was matched only by their willingness to scarper with the money at the first opportunity. It gained a reputation for spivviness.


Sep 10

The Levellers

TMFD14 comments • 632 views

I wrote a post before. in the “I Was A Goblin” series, about how the Dungeons & Dragons concept of player “levels” and “levelling up” was an innovation which became hardwired into pretty much every game since. That was back in 2006 or so. Now we’re seeing a lot of talk about how the priciples and mechanics of gaming can be transferred into everyday life – see this blog post on the “Decade of Gaming” for an excitable* example.

I have another blog where I can dig into the details and issues around that, but I thought it would be interesting on Freaky Trigger to delve a little into the history of the “levels” idea. So this is a bundling of sources – comments from anyone who can fill in more or have other ideas would be extremely welcome.

A brief recap of what we’re talking about – “level” is used in multiple senses in games: to talk about player rank, specific game areas, and the ambient level of challenge in the game universe. We’re interested here in personal ranking. The idea is that a player (or avatar) earns points through successfully carrying out actions or tasks: get enough points and you go up a level, which generally involves an increase in your in-game abilities or access to new ones. So where does that come from?


Feb 10

Why Capello really dropped John Terry

FT + TMFD////2 comments • 358 views

Of the thousands and thousands of words that have been written about The John Terry Situation this week, Louise Taylor’s ridiculously florid piece in the guardian on Wednesday which starts:

Fabio Capello’s still somewhat limited English vocabulary may not yet incorporate the term “invidious position”

must have been the turning point where Fabio decided that he had to go. Not because of Ms Taylor herself, but, I think, because of the following piece of genius from Freaky Trigger’s very own Patron Saint of Sport, Lord Harry of Bassett:

Dave Bassett endorsed [Glenn] Roeder’s view that a Rubicon has been crossed. “The problem is John Terry’s a wrong-un. He’s masquerading as one of the chaps but he ain’t because this shouldn’t happen,” the former Wimbledon and Sheffield United manager said. “Of course you have players misbehaving when they’re married. But they aren’t doing it to a team-mate’s missus. That’s off bounds.

“It sticks in the throat. There’s an unwritten rule that you don’t start messing with players’ missuses. I’ve had players who have left their missus or had bits and pieces on the side but they’ve not gone off with a team-mate’s bird. That’s crossing a line and where it comes unstuck with Terry. I don’t recollect it in all my years in football.

Gawd Bless yer Harry!

Jan 10

The Most Important Game Ever Made #23: Druuuuuuuuugs

FT + TMFD1 comment • 490 views

Been away for a while and will probably be away for a while longer, but I have a brief window to advance this now-glacial series a little further. So then, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds:

William Shatner’s version, given a little extra ‘treatment’ for the YouTube generation by videoist Paul Heriot. I remember Lee and Herring describing this as Shatner believing that he had to be on LSD in order to sing the song, and Heriot certainly seems to be running with that ball (and also the Star Elephant that will forever be in any room Shatner inhabits). Personally, I love Shatner’s vocals and I think this might be the perfect song for his somewhat unique stylings… but this is a series about Beatles Rock Band and not Shatner Session Band so we’ll move on.


Nov 09

Baseball roundup

FT + TMFD7 comments • 601 views

p1_1013_pedro_apI’ve left it a little late, huh? The season could be over tonight, around 11pm. That’s Eastern Standard Time, Bronx Time, the time at Yankee Stadium, where the World Series returns this evening after a brief and inconclusive middle eight in Philadelphia. But now we come back to the chorus, the refrain heard so often in early autumn: the Yankees are about to win the World Series.

It’s enough to set your teeth on edge. The privileged golden boys of baseball – Derek Jeter, Andy Pettite, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and his mentor Joe Girardi – all of these guys first won the World Series way back in 1997, when owner George Steinbrenner was still giving great quote to reporters, when the World Trade Center was still standing, when the Yankees were still on WPIX every day through the summer and the “YES Network” (“Yankees Entertainment Sports”) was still just an agitprop gleam in Steinbrenner’s crinkly eye.


Jul 09

Films Are Short – GET A NEW BLADDER

FT + TMFD7 comments • 399 views

Things I have never really understood.

a) Pies at football
b) People going to the toilet during a movie

Both of these are predicated on the same issue really. Football matches take less than two hours. They take place, usually, in the afternoon – cannily timed between usual meal times. And yet at half time there are queues for the pie stall you cannot believe. You would think they were knocking out tubs of Ambrosia (foor of gods not rice pudding) for the stampede for a piss poor Pukka. Can’t you wait or do you have to graze at every opportunity?*

Ditto, films are usually about two hours long. I was taught, post potty training, how to hold it in for at least that long. Perhaps you had a few beers beforehand, perhaps you are drinking a VAT of coke. Perhaps this will add strain but you only have yourself to blame. Nevertheless for NAMBY PAMBIES with peanut sized bladders there is now a useful i-Phone App. Introducing RunPee: an application that tells you the best time in a film to have a wee. HAS IT COME TO THIS?