Monthly Archives: October 2012

Something I wrote for something else. Something.

Deadpixels - Gaming from the bottom of the half empty glass

Dear Diary,

The day started like any other. The usual shaft of light beaming through the crack in the curtain and the shrill constant beeping of next door’s alarm clock scratching at the walls. Christ, the only thing missing from this picture was the dustman reversing down the road clattering the green plastic tops of wheelie-bins like a rejected cast member of Stomp wreaking revenge on the sleepy town of Bromley.

It had been 3 months since I’d left the favelas of Sao Paulo, and with New Jersey seemingly closed off to me, I’d packed my pockets and set off for the sunny south-east of England; I figured that at least here I’d be free from the streets of bullets, grime, and crime. How wrong I was.

As I swung my legs out of bed and sat up, I noticed something odd. Well, odd to any normal person, to me…

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The beautiful game. (The tired looking man).

My eyes are a bit weary and the coffee I’m rubbing into the sockets seems to be penetrating just enough to let me operate a keyboard at 40%. Apologies if this don’t read good. There’s a reason for my lethargy this morning, and that reason is FIFA’s Ultimate Team and Pro Clubs.

These two features from FIFA 13 are going to be the death of me due to the following reason:

1. Loss of job. 
Ultimate Team has a web app and a phone app. These applications sync in with the xbox/pS3/PC game and allow you to build your Ultimate Team (FUT), bid on players in the online auction, sell players and commodities. The lot. At one point last week I found myself playing FIFA whilst simultaneously checking the iOS app for a Golden Right Back.

Doing this at work is NOT a good idea. It’s got that Ebay pull. Keeping your eye on the clock as it ticks away and you pray to the gods that no one else has spotted that player you want with 40 seconds to g…. NNNOOOOOOO!!!

2. Lack of sleep.
To call FUT addictive is to call crack cocaine a little powdery time waster. On the surface it’s easy to look at it and dismiss it as a way of EA to syphon a bit more cash from you via micro-content and in game purchases. Whilst that’s true, it’s quite possible to build up your wedge of in-game cash by working the auction house (buy high, sell low!! – no wait..) and  by winning games both on and off line. In fact, the little money I’ve spent has wielded scant reward in terms of star players yet the sheer joy of opening a pack of cards harks back to the days of spending our pocket money at the corner shop buying up Panini stickers and trading cards.

Got. Got. Got. Need. Need. Oooh a shiny one!!

This need for the best players is only beaten by the need to tinker with your team. Building 100% chemistry and keeping your players fit, and happy. These pre-madonnas don’t like to play out of position and they much prefer playing with team mates from the same league or the same country. Thinking about it, perhaps someone needs to have a word with the Kick It Out campaigners on this one?

And then there’s Pro Clubs.

Pro Clubs is FIFA’s other online community. A place where chums from all walks of life can gather in their private (or public) club, pull on a virtual shirt in the form of your very own Virtual Pro, and take to battle on the field of play.

As a team member for the sedate Olympion Argos, my role is playmaking midfielder. A dream I’ve held for many years and one that, frankly, never materialised in real life; and like real life, it’s not actually materialising in-game either! Arse.

Still, there’s a reason for that. Your pro can only get better by doing things in game and online. The more games you play with your friends, the better your pro will get. It’s often the simplest ideas that are the best, and this hook along with many a laugh with your friends online can keep your head buried in game before someone mentions over the voice comms, “er… it’s 1.23am“.

Every. Single. Night.

So forgive me if I look like an unused extra from The Walking Dead, but my goodness, this years FIFA 13 is a bit good.

(Picture lovingly borrowed from the internets)

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Ode to Brown Ink.

Coffee. You beautiful Brown inky bastard.
I love you.

If I didn’t wake up with you every morning,
I don’t know what I’d do.

Your taste. Your aroma. Your silky smooth caress.
My lips.

You wake me up. You make me creative.
Make me…


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Food challenge: empire chicken and mince beef Wellington

Last week I began my food challenge with Empire Chicken, from Jamie’s Great Britain book. It had lots of potential, roast chicken with an Indian marijnade, Bombay potatoes and a curry sauce made from the juice of the chicken.

It almost worked, but not quite. The chicken was moist, the Bombay potatoes lovingly spiced but the gravy, for me the bit of the dish I was most looking forward to, just failed to deliver. Almost all of the pint of stock had evaporated and as such I was left to improvise.

I ended up with a curried gravy, but not the chicken stock thick sauce I was excited to taste. The whole thing has potential, I’ll have to figure out what went wrong and try again another time.

This week we revisit another Jamie Oliver book, this time Ministry of Food. Flicking through on Sunday morning in a somewhat slightly hungover state, I was keen to find something that wouldn’t stretch me too far yet still come under the banner of something I’ve not tried to make before.
I landed on a page entitled Minced Beef Wellington. Bingo.

I’ve been planning on making something like this before and if you’ve not tried to put this together yourself I really think you should give it a whirl. It takes an hour to cook, and roughly half hour prep and makes an interesting change to the usual mince recipes you have, week in week out!
With carrots, potato, peas and celery all wrapped up in crisp puff pastry it’s a little bit like biting into a Cornish pasty. Yum!

The book recommend serving with greens or mash potato, but instead I decided to put together some creamed leeks which complimented the star of the show perfectly.

As a bonus there is plenty leftover for tomorrow’s lunch. Huzzah!

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Minty lamb burger salad

I managed to begin the food challenge this week, cooking something brand new from Jamie’s Great Britain book which has been sitting tantalisingly on my shelf since Christmas, not unloved but certainly unexplored.

However, first I want to quickly scribble down the lunch that came not from a book but instead from my brainbox. Huzzah, impromptu creative cooking with leftover bits in the kitcken! I present to you, my very delicious, Minty Lamb Burger Salad.

(serves 2 and a half)

– 2 seasoned lamb burgers cooked in a pan. with a splosh of olive oil and a handful of fresh rosemarijn.
– 1 Romain lettuce, cut up into caesar salad sized pieces.
– 1 small red onion, finely choppy chopped.
– 1 manly fistful of fresh mint.
– 2 soft boiled eggs
– a smidgen of cheese shavings.

Cook the burgers according to pan directions on the packet (about 8 minutes either side) and at the same time soft boil two eggs. Chuck the lettuce, onion and mint in a bowl and toss. Add some olive oil and a chef’s pinch of sea salt (or if you’re feeling naughty the oil and juice from the burger pan).

Divide the salad between the plates and slice the burgers into strips, dividing between the plates and then add the fine cheesy shavings.

Finally place the soft boiled egg on top and slice gently in the middle so that the yummy yolk runs out all over the salad.

Serve with Ben Howard on your iPod.

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