MINECON-ATHON: Part 3b - A relaxing final night

Seen as though I ended my last post on a depressing note, I feel like I should briefly fill you in on the closing ceremony.

I couldn't find the summary video that was played at the closing ceremony, so here's the whole damn thing:

(Skip to about 36:50 if you want to see just the summary video)

It mainly consisted of thank you's and cheering/applause, which got a bit tedious but it had to be done. There was a recap video of the whole weekend and the final of the costume contest! I'm gutted that I didn't get more pictures of the people in costumes, especially the girl that won (she wore a TNT dress and had TNT sticks in her hair) but I did get these two, and they're my personal favourites by far:

Before I explain what these two costumes are for those uneducated I'll add comparison pictures when I get home so you can judge for yourselves how good the costumes are. I'm just full of good ideas today. Right so the pictures can't be put side by side, which is stupid; sort it out Google. Anyway, I've put the corresponding Minecraft character below the costume (as you can probably tell).

After the closing ceremony finished, that was the end of Minecon. We had the feeling of total deflation; we were going home tomorrow. You all know what I mean, when you realise you've got to actually go back home.

It sucks.

But! "But" you hear me cry! We had a stroke of luck and a showcase of Ellis's impressive observational skills (gaming improves vital skills like that, if you're listening governments) that improved our mood. We ended up in Earl Of Sandwich for our tea in a line that was near enough non-existant; rare in the Disney Village. So well done Ellis. Bravo!

After food we went back to he hotel for an hour to freshen up and cry a bit over the fact Minecon was over, but we were ready for another happy walk around the Disney Village and then planned to sit in the Hotel New York bar again and get hammered.

Except when we got to the New York we realised that we'd need to spend like 50/60 Euros to get decent tasting drinks that tasted good and got us drunk. So we just settled for two drinks. But our first round was big enough to nearly last all night when the waitress bought us 50cl glasses of 1664 (about a pint and a half), which was actually incredibly nice. Once we'd had them we ordered the most womanly drinks possible to contrast the 1664 we'd had and put our Man Points total back to 0. Shame really. But Bacardi and Coke is nice man, so losing the Man Points was totally worth it.

Once we'd finished in the bar Ellis dragged me to one of the medium sized Disney shops again to get a Ratatouille cuddly toy that he'd been pining for all night, and that was that.

And that is that. Minecon is over. France has long been left behind and I'm currently sat typing this post up on my iPad on a train from Lancaster to Barrow. Our journey back was an eventful one with delay after delay meaning we missed our initial train and almost missed the one I'm currently on. But it's been a hell of a weekend, and if I could, I would without a doubt do it all over again.

Thanks for reading.

Minecon 2012: 9/10 would attend again

26 November 2012
Posted by Elliot Morrow
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THE MINECON-ATHON: Part 3a - The second day of Minecon (25th November)

We didn't really have a breakfast winner this morning. It was all a bit average and ended up a no-score draw. Seen as though I'm writing terrific posts about Minecon though I'm going to give the breakfast win to myself; the referee's decision is final.

There wasn't quite the same rush this morning to get to the Events Arena, and we naively thought it'd be a relatively small queue to get into it. Well, we were wrong. But it was smaller. Just.

Most people were there to get to Jinx (the guys that sell Minecraft merchandise) and as a result a humongous queue developed within seconds, and the rest where there for a free Xbox Minecraft t-shirt, including myself. We got there early, we queued, we were ready. But the Xbox guys weren't. So I gave up. I know, god damn it Elliot. But I did manage this get two t-shirts later on! One for my girlfriend who has no love for Minecraft and one for my little cousin should it fit him who does have a love for Minecraft. However, there were no men's ones left meaning I missed out on one for myself.


Oh well, they're pretty ugly anyway:

Fine, I'll admit that they're actually kinda cool. I'm just bitter okay.

During the same time period, Ellis spent another 45 minutes on the Parkour course, but only achieved 8th place today. Poor Ellis. We're pretty sure he got beat my the fat kid sat next to him who was dressed all in green. The kid made his dad wait for hours (near enough all day) while he played and he just kept posting good time after good time; but it's okay because he looked like Augustus off of Charlie and the Chocoate Factory. No one wants to look like Augustus off of Charlie and the Chocoate Factory, so joke's on him.

I actually left Ellis for the majority of his Parkour playing today to go to an Indie Game Panel on the game Gunpoint. I made a separate post about it here so be sure to check that out if you're interested.

At 11am we met up inside the Times Square Hall so Ellis could try once again to enter the Intel Minecraft Hunger Games competition. He'd already entered 3 times yesterday but to no avail, and unfortunately today was no different. Unlucky Ellis.

Then we just bodded around for a bit looking at the exhibits with me attempting to connect to the Minecon wifi, to no avail. I'll be honest it wasn't a great day for either of us. And it was made even worse later on.

Since the schedule was released late last week and we learned that God was attending Minecon, I'd been on one hell of a high. Of course you all know that when I say God I mean Peter Molyneux. God. He's literally the most amazing guy in the world and his voice is just so god damn soothing. I won't bore those of you who don't know him by explaining his history but he's a game designer/maker guy who created my favourite game series ever: Fable. So Peter being there was a pretty big deal to me. Imagining being just a few feet frm him while he talked about his new game studio and the ideas they had made me shiver. Sad I know, but I was so excited. 

I set off to get to the panel room early while Ellis entered the Hunger Games again. I was literally skipping to the room. In my mind. As I got closer I saw that the board stood outside had changed. This got me even more excited; is there something extra being shown? Is there to be some prizes for people who got there early? No.

As my eyes adjusted to the text and my brain pieced the letters together, I stopped skipping. My face dropped.

Peter Molyneux is sadly ill :(

Peter Molyneux is sadly ill

Peter Molyneux is ill

Peter is ill.

That was it. I freaking broke down in tears in my mind. Just moments ago I'd been skipping merrily along, hand in hand with sunflowers on a sunny day. Now it was raining, and I was staring out of a glass window as thunder and lightening boomed and flashed. It was horrible. It was downright depressing.

What did they put in place of Peter Molyneux due to his absence? A mega indie games panel. How disappointing.

And as a result of Peter's absence (get well soon by the way), Ellis and I literally just played the indie games on show for the rest of the day, meaning I didn't get to do a separate post, and this one's ending on a depressing note.

Sorry guys.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to kick up a... actually no. No. You are not free to kick up any kind of storm. Don't go near my Twitter, I'm too upset: @EJMozza

Posted by Elliot Morrow
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THE MINECON-ATHON: Part 2b - A night to remember (24th November)

After an okay first day at Minecon, Ellis and I were both pretty damn excited for the night time activities. We went back to our room, washed our pretty little faces and had a pleasant stroll to McDonald's for our tea. And that was nothing special really. If there's one thing I've learnt about France this weekend, it's that the French do not give a crap how long you have to wait in line, because they'll take their time regardless of how long the queue is. Seriously though, we waited over half an hour just to get our food. And McDonald's had one of the shortest queues in the Disney Village. It was ridiculous to say the least.

The food was average McDonald's; nice, but overall mediocre. It was better than Annette's the night before though, so I can't really complain.

Next up was the really really really, "waited 3 months for this", exciting part. A free night in the Disney Studios park. We got there about 45 minutes before the gates opened. Actually it was before they closed and then opened again. The park was open till 8pm and they let us in at 8:10pm. So yeah, we arrived 45 minutes before the park closed so we could wait the extra 10 minutes nearly at the front of the line until they opened the park again.

Did you get that? Good. I didn't.

Either way, we made the freaking queue! And by made it I mean we actually initiated the process in which people stand and wait in a line. Want proof? Here it is:

Ellis had been to the park when he was younger so knew the direction in which we had to head for our first ride: the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster with Aerosmith.

It was alright I guess. I've been on the one in Florida (at the MGM Studio) and that was waaaaay better. I still enjoyed it though. But not as much as what followed! What followed? Oh it was perfection.

Toy Story Land!

Okay okay, the cheering is fine but the applause is a bit much. Shush. 

I'll be honest Rex was bigger than I anticipated, but he was still pretty up for the hug.

Toy Story Land is great. A little small, but still amazingly great. We jumped on the RC Car ride which is basically a big car that you sit in and it pushes you forward and back up a big curve; pretty cool. There was a little kid about 9 or 10 in the queue with us crapping his pants over going on, but me and Ellis are so cool we actually convinced him to go on a second time after the first. 

I'd be an awesome dad.

Then we went on a parachute ride that achieved nothing and was just a small/kids version of the Hollywood Tower Hotel (aka The Hollywood Tower of Terror). Now the HTH was by far the second best ride in the park. It was spine-tinglingly creepy, and the theming was superb, but Crush's Coaster blew everything else out of the water. Apart from itself, because Crush and his friends need water to survive.

"Insert hilarious Finding Nemo reference" - Achievement unlocked

I'm seriously serious, Crush's Coaster presented itself as a kid's ride, but it was up and down and round and back and forwards and it spun. It spun really quite fast and definitely didn't care for your safety. But shh, don't tell the authorities. It's a good ride.

Oh! Did I fail to mention that I bought a ride photo from the Tower of Terror? I did? Forgetful me.

(I'll put it here once I'm home, I need to scan the picture using my printer. Which is, yano, at home).

And that was it for the Studios. We spent about 2 hours in there going on various other rides that were pretty small and you don't need to read about, and to be honest, it was amazing. Plus, it was free. Amazing and free; two words I like together.

We went shopping around the Disney Village again after that, bought a couple things and then went to the most important place of all: The WiFi area.

Now the WiFi area, as you'd expect, had WiFi. It was free (Minecon/Mojang provided it for all Minecon attendees) and fast. Free and fast; two more words I like together. We stayed in the WiFi area (which was just the convention hall lobby) until about 11:30pm and then went to the Hotel New York bar. Which was exceedingly better than our bar that had little kids running around and a service that required you go to the bar to order a drink. In the Hotel New York service came to you.

Also, it had a massive cello. Posh.
We didn't actually get back to our hotel until like 1am, but we were sober and in good spirits, so who cares?

There's Day 1 all wrapped up! Thanks for reading, and check back in the next few days for more posts and a Day 2 recap.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to kick up a storm on my Twitter. Or punch one up. However you prefer I don't care: @EJMozza

Posted by Elliot Morrow
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MINECON-ATHON: Indie Game Panel - Gunpoint (Suspicious Developments)

Just for all you casual readers, you're entering a nerd zone here. If you couldn't care less about an indie game that looks pretty decent then you'll probably enjoy the day blogs more. You have been warned. I'm not responsible for any deaths that occur via boredom.
This is most likely going to be more shorthand than my full day posts because of the fact things are moving so fast during the panel, so I won't be elaborating quite as much as usual. Also, I've only got like 30 minutes here before I need to be somewhere else so this won't be the full panel. Although I'm positive you don't mind.

Gunpoint (Suspicious Developments)

Tom Francis (the guy who made/is making the game) with the game projected onto a screen. Tom's a writer for PC Gamer and he's created Gun Point in his spare time for the past two years; mainly on his own. Pretty impressive.
There are control instructions on the screen:

W, A, S, D to move (urgh, hopefully changeable)
ESC to save and quit game
1. Hold down the left mouse button to aim a jump
2. Move mouse further away for a stronger jump
3. It takes a moment to charge up to full strength

I'm assuming all the questions we have about the above instructions (especially the three numbered ones) will be answered in due course.

Gunpoint is a stealth game where you play as a freelance spy taking jobs from clients. Which means you get to break into buildings to steal stuff. The key concept is the fact you can hack and rewire electricals to make your mission easier. For example you could rewire a light/light switch to a door switch so you can get through to the next room. He actually waited until a guard was by the door and then activated it to slam the door in the guard's face; creative. 

The game looks good too. It's a side scroller (so all 2D). There's plenty of detail in the buildings, and there seems to be a lot of potential to be really creative with how you approach a mission.

Gunpoint is made in Game Maker. Which means that every time you start the game, it's completely randomised. Does that mean near unlimited playability? Pretty much.

Here's the answer the question you may have had regarding the numbered points: Tom wanted his game to be different in regards to how the main character jumps. So basically the numbers at the top describe how you jump using just the mouse. The big thing Tom pushed with the jumping mechanic us how you can jump through windows to surprise guards or even get at an angle where you can push enemies out of windows onto the ground below. 

No information on when the game will be released and on what platforms (apart from PC, definitely PC), so I'll try dig up some gossip.

Here's a more detailed video on Gunpoint for those interested. Bare in mind it's a year old so the game is a bit more polished, but its basic mechanics are the same.

And that's all I had time for! When I left Tom was giving tips to aspiring game makers, so take a look on his blog if you're interested in that extra stuff.
Posted by Elliot Morrow
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THE MINECON-ATHON CONTINUES! Part 2a - The first day of Minecon (24th November)

Breakfast isn't bad at our hotel, but it would've been better had I won breakfast this morning. But no, Ellis did.
Ellis's glasses are the ones at the back, mine are at the front. He had the sense to fill two big mugs with juice whereas my idiotic brain decided to ignore the larger mugs and go for two small glasses. Brains suck.

Do you guys remember the excitement I showed on my first post about Minecon last week? You know, where I was so excited I exploded and nearly died but managed to fix myself up?

Yes. That one.

Well, today was no different! I couldn't really have been more excited as we queued for an opening ceremony that would feature the likes of Notch, Jeb, Lydia and various famous Youtubers/Minecrafters (SethBling was the only one I really knew, but the rest of the near 7000 crowd seemed to know them all). If you've no idea who the people are that I've just mentioned, use Google to cure your ignorance. Or you could use Bing. Just kidding! Bing can't search.

Silly Bing.

Right, so the picture on the left is from near the front of the queue on the right. The left picture is the end of the full queue, and curved all the way around the building you can see as well as another one to join onto where we were stood on the picture on the right. I explained that expertly I must say.

Basically though, the most important person is Notch, because he created Minecraft. Then there's Jeb who's now the head of the Minecraft team because Notch left. Lydia is the Director of Fun according to the huge screens in the Disney Events Arena, and she is pretty damn fun.

So once we'd finished our time in Solitary Quefinement and been granted access to the Disney Events Arena, the fun began. Gamespot are live streaming the whole thing meaning there were several cameras in the Arena getting a shot of us all as we came in that relayed on to the mahoosive screens (seen below). I've no idea whether my beautiful face had any seconds of fame while I was wandering to a seat, but once I'd sat down, I could see everyone still coming in. And there were some weird motherfluffers in that pack believe you me.

A woman from Curse sang Bohemian Rapsody for a couple minutes with her camera man. And once the majority of people were sat down the cameras focused more on those seated, which is where it got really weird. Some of the costumes were fantastic. A couple people were dressed up as Endermen. Some dressed as Steve (the Minecraft character). And one kid. One legendary kid was dressed as a chicken.

A freaking chicken.

The opening ceremony mainly consisted of videos and an introduction of the Mojang staff members and the various "famous" guests. So nothing I can really talk that much about. But I can show you this:

Helluva video ain't it? And boy did it put everyone in a good mood. We were already, but this transformed a good mood into a gooderer mood.

So the opening ceremony was just a massive celebration of all things Minecraft, going through all its versions with the most notable features. If I can find the opening video on youtube I'll post it here, because it was a serious collection of amazing. Extra edit: I found the video!

We left the Events Arena after the opening ceremony to hunt down interesting stuff. Everything was incredibly busy so it was a bit of a pain, but we did manage to find our way to the Times Square Convention Hall where there was about a dozen exhibits, including one from Intel who were showing off their Ultrabooks. And dear lord they're sexy. But they are also really overpriced at around £1300 for the top model. So stuff you Dell/Intel for making beautiful laptops that are far more expensive than they need to be.

After wandering a bit more to learn our way around, we headed back to the Arena to get dinner and play a bit of ze Minecraft. Because, after all, Minecraft was the reason we were at, erm... Minecon. The dinner was disgusting, and the Arena was busy, but I eventually found a computer to play on while Ellis was elsewhere.

I wish I'd never found that computer.

You know what was on that computer? Minecraft parkour. An obstacle map that you had to jump and run across and complete in the fastest time. I sucked at it. Ellis didn't.

I had about half an hour playing the map before Ellis came over and said "Ooooh what's this?" and instantly fell in love. I'm a nice guy so I let him have a go; I was bored anyway. Huge mistake.

Ellis sat on that computer for nearly 3 hours. To be fair, he managed to get to 4th (eventually falling to 6th) out of about 400/450 players, but he seriously did not move from this position until the place closed:

He did the same for about 2 hours the next day, but realised he just couldn't get that number one spot and gave up. Damn it Ellis.

So that was about it for Day 1. I'll have a night time post up soon featuring our free night at the Disney Studios park and a bit of shopping, plus more!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to kick up a storm on my Twitter, but please be sure to keep yourself as a Tropical Storm, I'm not in the mood to tidy up any mess you make: @EJMozza

25 November 2012
Posted by Elliot Morrow
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As with the first post (Part 1a) please note that this was written on Friday 23rd November, so when I say "Tomorrow" or "Today" etc. I'm using them on the day it was written, not the day it was posted. Sorry, but France sucks for free WiFi.

Continuing on from my last post (which you can view by scrolling southwards), Ellis and I have successfully checked into our hotel, approved of the room and asked for directions to the Disney Village.

Getting to the Disney Village involved a 15/20 minute walk through two Disney hotels. Which, after the pummelling my energy levels had taken through the day without any defoodrillators to revive them, was immensely difficult. But I made it. The walk took us through the Wild West town of Hotel Cheyenne, and past the New York Hotel (which was holding the majority of Minecon). The pictures of the Cheyenne aren't great I know, and I didn't manage to get any of the New York apart from one or two of specific things you'll see on other posts. Sorry!

Disney Village is amazing. It's got a huge Disney shop and a little Disney shop and even a couple medium sized Disney shops and restaurants like Planet Hollywood and the Rainforest Café. Oh it was just glorious. And freaking expensive. A Grumpy t-shirt cost 32 blooming Euros for the love of llamas! Waaaay out of my spending range. Planet Hollywood and The Rainforest Café were just as bad, and while we contemplated going to McDonald's, Annette's Diner seemed just as good. Why? Because the waiters and waitresses were on roller skates, that's why. Toats amazeballs.

It wasn't too expensive either; definitely one of the cheapest restaurants in the Village. We both ordered a meal deal that got us a burger, drink and a chocolate brownie topped with toffee ice-cream. Mmm you may say to yourself, but not Ellis. Oh god no, Ellis can't stand chocolate.

I know right. Freaky.

And I wasn't even a "It tastes alright actually, I just don't really do chocolate." Oh no, this was a "I can't even taste chocolate or I'll be sick." Ellis was actually heaving when even a hint of chocolate was detected by his taste buds. It was actually quite amusing to watch. Mainly because everything was drizzled with chocolate sauce, but he really liked the ice cream. It kind of turned into a game of operation. But without the body parts, or the inclusion of a naked man on a piece of cardboard.

After tea Ellis dragged me around the big Disney store again while deciding whether to buy a Peter Pan hat or not, before concluding that he'd wait until tomorrow. Then we went to pick up our Minecon goodybags! Which had some cool stuff in, as well as some stuff which was about as useful as a lemon loving llama that can fly.

Also. Cars bed sheets!

That's all for Part 1b folks! Part 1a was pretty lengthy so I thought I'd save your little brains from being entertained any more than they are already; they can only take so much bless 'em. Come back 24th or 25th (depending on where and when I can access WiFi) to hear all about the first day of Minecon!


Thanks for reading! Feel free to kick up a storm on my Twitter. But be careful! You break it, you pay for it: @EJMozza

24 November 2012
Posted by Elliot Morrow
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THE MINECON-ATHON BEGINS! Part 1a - The Journey.

Note that this was written on Friday 23rd November, so "Present Time Breaks" and such aren't bang on time. Sorry, but France sucks for free WiFi.

Every good trip starts with an early get up, and unfortunately, today was no different. A 7:29AM train made me wince at the thought of only a few hours sleep, but who cares right? Well, I do, but I can sleep when I'm dead. I don't like coffee either, which means no energy food for my brain. So apologies (before I start proper) for any spelling mistakes or confusing metaphors about lemon loving llamas that can fly.


The train journey was nothing short of unspectacular. I had cramp in my left hamstring for at least an hour, with no room to stretch out and relieve the pain. It was noisy even with my headphones on and Two Door Cinema Club blasting through them. And to top everything off with a vomit flavoured cherry, my Seabrooks crisps were incredibly mediocre; like Walkers level mediocre. But we got through it ("we" being me and my friend Ellis, who you'll read mentioned throughout), and eventually arrived at Manchester Airport where we were greeted by a 20 minute walk to Terminal 3, which was the perfect way of waking our legs up from their two-hour slumber; thanks God and people who put the train station and Terminal 3 so far apart. Mainly the former though, God had little to do with it. Although I'm sure some Christians will attempt to claim otherwise.

So train down, plane to go. But before the plane? Everybody!

"More waiting!"

Good! I must say that was impressive, you all said that at exactly the same time!

The waiting was boring, and that means even attempting to write about it may implode the universe. Via boredom.

PRESENT TIME UPDATE BREAK (2:30pm): We just traded our drink vouchers in on the plane for a Budweiser (for myself) and an Old Pulteney whiskey and Pepsi (for the old man Ellis). ALL FREE OF CHARGE. HELL TO THE YES.

The timing of that "present time break" was impeccable, because I was just about to end the waiting (see what I did there?) and talk about the plane journey. Which is, incidentally, where we are presently. But I can't see it being that exciting, and as a result I suspect there's gonna be little to write about. Unless I write a story!

I'm just kidding. Ain't nobody got time for that.

Ain't the world pretty.

Later... So the plane journey did end up being pretty average; nothing to shout about. Apart from the fact it was amazingly short. Like 1 hour 10 minutes short. That's pretty short. So short in fact that I barely had time to finish my beer before we were hitting French ground. Which, contrary to popular belief, is not made of cheese.

The usual traveling to the hotel occurred at some point. I didn't really pay much attention because of the fact my brain had malfunctioned through lack of food and drink and my body had decided that it'd had enough with moving, even though it had just been sat down on relatively comfy chairs for the best part of 12 hours. Stupid body.

The hotel is okay. I mean it's a 2-star so I wasn't expecting the Ritz, but it'll do for the fact we'll hardly be in it. Plus, it's Mexican themed, which is an excuse for me to say "Olé!" a lot. What I was really impressed by though was the fluency at which the staff spoke ze English language. I'm serious, it's incredible. I asked for directions to the Disney Village (more on that later), during which I said "Is it a walkable distance?" Now, as soon as that interrogative left my mouth, I realised I'd just used a made up word in English while talking to someone who was natively French. I started stammering "I... I... is it? I mean without-". But she said "STOP! (IN THE NAME OF LOVE) YOU CAN WALK THATA WAAAAAY" while pointing out of the window at a tower of lights which I presumed were coming from the aforementioned Disney Village. I was astonished. Ellis actually tried to pick my jaw up off the floor and failed. In the end it took him and 4 other staff members to place my mouth back into the correct shape. That may have been overly exaggerated by the way. Or it might not of been. But it definitely was. Maybe.

In all seriousness though, the lady understood my new word and successfully gave us directions.

And that was that! I'll add a few images of the room and hotel once I download a better blogging app. I'm using Blogsy at the moment, which is good, but I can't resize images how I want, which is why the one above of my view from the plane may appear humongous. But stay tuned for more posts from Minecon; I've got free WiFi at the convention place so that should make it a lot easier for me to keep updated.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to kick up a storm on my Twitter. But don't make too much of a mess, I only cleaned the place yesterday: @EJMozza

(For any of you interested in where I'm staying, it's the Disney Hotel Sante Fe)

Posted by Elliot Morrow
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Right. Right, righty right. Let me tell you before I explode with excitement:


...and all that other explosioney stuff.

Phew! Just in time. Did you see how close I was to not being able to tell you where I was going? It was literally milliseconds. I'm back though; patched myself up. I'm pretty good with all that doctor stuff, it's easier than it looks.

But now you know; and that's all I'm really going to say. I'm just going to leave you all hanging. Dangling from the edge of the cliff of anticipation. 

What's that? You want more information? Tough. I ain't budging. Not one bit.

If you really want a clue though, read the title. Just cast your eyes upwards towards the top of the page, because reading it shall produce an eternal being that drags your limp and tired body back from the edge of the cliff of anticipation, and lays you gently down on a bed of bubbles filled with sunflowers and lavender. Bubbles. Sunflowers. Lavender. Oh how reading the glorious title will improve your life! 

So what are you waiting for? Read it! Read it and live forever.

See you all Friday.
(Or Monday, depending on whether I can find WiFi or not)

Thanks for reading! Feel free to kick up a storm on my Twitter:

18 November 2012
Posted by Elliot Morrow
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The Fallen Streets

I know I haven't done a post in a while, but I've been so busy with college work and life in general that I seriously have not been able to find the time. I've decided to "recycle" something I wrote a little under a year ago though, just so you guys have something newer to read. How nice am I? 
Anyway, it's not an opinion piece, but a story I wrote for AS English Language. It got me an A and I'm pretty happy with it, although I'm not sure whether the text formatting has copied over the way I want it to from Word. Enjoy the story though, because I certainly enjoyed writing it... I think.

Editorial note: Reading through this now (21:50, 19/11/2012) I've just realised my main protagonist is called Sheldon Cooper. It's only just clicked. Oh dear.

The Fallen Streets

Cooper didn’t trust Kelso; not one bit. It’s like his father had told him, “Believe nothing, trust no one.” Cooper had never paid much attention to that line as a teenager; growing up in Los Angeles amongst the buzz of the city required him to be alert and watch his valuables, but he trusted his friends and family.
His father’s quote was on a continuous loop inside Cooper’s head as he drove south on Santa Monica Avenue towards the meeting place him and Kelso had agreed just the day before.

What a difference a day makes.

Cooper had decided he wanted nothing to do with the street crime business that now ran rife in Los Angeles, providing constant work for the police department, taking the lives of more and more innocent soldiers each week. It was those who had nothing to live for that were the most likely to get involved. Buying and selling the stolen morphine that proved so vital during the war. Now it was just a hindrance.

Cooper had read a story in the LA Times earlier that morning. Two ex-marines found dead in their apartment, tourniquets tied tightly around their forearms, showcasing veins from which used morphine syringes were protruding.

That story was what changed Cooper’s mind. He didn’t want to be the man that caused the deaths of brave US soldiers, striving to discover the life they used to have previous to the war. It wasn’t their fault that the US government had no idea what these men were going through; waking up in sweats in the middle of the night, memories of fallen friends haunting their dreams. Cooper was one of the lucky ones; he kept his head down during his time in the Rhineland, refusing to make friends with anyone in fear of losing someone he cared for. He’d spent most of his time bent over maps, studying enemy strongholds, discussing strategic operations with the Generals, and then sending soldiers out to die.

Cooper’s determination to stay detached from everyone meant he didn’t feel the sorrow he could see on many faces when the names of the dead were read out every Sunday. Of course he still felt upset, but his complete lack of a social life had pushed his emotions to the side, he’d become boring and professional. Maybe that was why he was so wary of Kelso. He hadn’t had a friend for at least four years now, possibly more. He didn’t know who to trust anymore. He couldn’t even remember the last time he’d laughed. 

Cooper cursed as he drove past the alleyway he and Kelso had agreed to meet in, shaking away the thoughts that had distracted him. He signalled and performed a U-turn into the deserted alleyway. It was the perfect spot: quiet, secluded, dark.

He opened the door of his Buick Business Coupe and stepped out. Santa Monica Avenue was peaceful tonight; it lacked the usual sound of blaring horns and screeching tires. It was just him and Kelso, and the little surprise Cooper had in store. Something Kelso would never expect.He knew what he was doing would endanger his life, possibly keep him on the run for the next few months, but he could handle himself; he knew what he was doing. If his plan went as perfectly as he hoped it would, he’d have no trouble staying on the right side of the law, protected from the drug dealers and street gangs.  

Cooper entered the backstreet alleyway, confronted by a sea of darkness that was only occasionally broken by small islands of light emerging from the lamps that lined the walls. He settled himself within one of these islands, hoping Kelso wouldn’t keep him waiting for long.

He was in luck.

Cooper saw the outline of him through the darkness; he could just make out the slight bulge of a 9mm Magnum handgun, U.S. Army certified, stolen from a shipment of weapons and morphine travelling back from Germany.

But Cooper wasn’t alarmed, heck, this was 1947 Los Angeles, did he expect any less? Anyway, he’d been looking forward to this all day; the chance to finally wipe the smile off this smug bastard’s face.

“Cooper! Pleasure to see you again old chap, how are you? I hope you’re well!” called Kelso, still in semi-darkness but becoming less elusive with every stride forward. A faded street light held its ground between the two men.
“Cut the crap, Kelso. I’m not here for small talk.” Kelso stopped in his tracks, apprehensive of Cooper’s sudden change of tone since their last meeting. “I want out. What we’re doing is wrong and I won’t be a part of it anymore. Take your stolen morphine and find another seller. We’re done here.” Kelso moved into the light, one hand over the deadly weapon.
“I encourage you to reconsider, Sheldon,” tried Kelso.
“I also encourage you to reconsider pulling that weapon from your pants. Are they silk, Cole? I’m struggling to see in this light.” At this, Kelso’s face turned a darker shade of red, much to the amusement of Cooper. This was far too easy.

Suddenly, spotlights illuminated the area with a glorious white light. Kelso was forced to create a shield with his forearm. He pulled out his Magnum, firing blindly into the darkness which surrounded his unexpected moment centre stage. He heard no cries of pain, no grunts of discomfort. He stopped firing, squinting his eyes in an attempt to see through the wall of light, for any sign of movement.

As quickly soon as the spotlights had enchanted the area, their life slowly faded, allowing the darkness to assault Kelso’s now vulnerable position. However, he didn’t seem to be in any danger. Cooper was nowhere to be seen. 
10 September 2012
Posted by Elliot Morrow

And so it begins, the end of the internet as we know it.

As some of you may have heard, just last week a High Court ruling said that 5 UK ISPs (Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media) have to block The Pirate Bay from their users. BT are also part of this but are still deciding on whether to go ahead with blocking the site. So far, Virgin are the only ISP to have actually blocked the site. For those of you who don't know what The Pirate Bay is, let me explain.

How can you possibly block a site with this good a logo? Like seriously, let me know.

So, The Pirate Bay, in a nutshell, is a file sharing site; pretty much the centre of 'piracy', hence its name. You can go on there (even without signing up) and download music, movies, games and whatever else you can think of. Seriously, it's one hell of a site. But its always been in the middle of the 'internet piracy is ruining the economy' debate, and, in the UK especially, The Pirate Bay has finally been blocked. Which is sad, and incredibly annoying.
You see, the thing is, governments think they know what they're talking about when it comes to the internet; but they don't. They really, really, really don't have a clue. They seem to think that the World Wide Web should be more controlled, more moderated, more restricted.

And that's the word that strikes fear into my heart: restricted. The internet is something no one should be attempting to control. On a local basis yes; I've got no problem with schools blocking certain sites from students. But the UK isn't a school, it's a democratic country. One that prides itself on freedom of expression, choice and opinion. So why is this being slowly taken away?
The blocking of The Pirate Bay shows that the UK government is starting to throw away these principles when it comes to the internet. I know that's a pretty extreme view in a way, but it's true. What they don't understand is that The Pirate Bay is more than just a piracy site, it supports independent artists. But of course the governments of the world don't know that. Because they know buggar all. 

At the start of the year, The Pirate Bay launched a new initiative that it called "The Promo Bay", and within a few weeks more than 5000 artists had signed up to have their records promoted on the front page of the site, absolutely free.
Now let me just point out, I download things from The Pirate Bay. I see it as a brilliant way of "sampling" music, games and programs before buying them. If I don't want to buy something, I won't buy it. Sure, I'll download it for free, but I'm not going to buy something I don't really want.

So, if you take away the source at which I download stuff for free, guess what? I still won't buy said stuff. Which is exactly my point when it comes to blocking The Pirate Bay, it won't change a thing. People won't buy CDs, DVDs, games or computer programs if they don't really need them. However, offer them these things for free, and they'll bite your arm off. As a result, people get to "sample" things for free. If they like what they've downloaded and find that, for example, they enjoy a certain artist, then they're more likely to actually splash the cash when the artist next releases an album.
How's that for awesome?

Either way, piracy is just one big free promotion. Which kindly compliments what I've previously mentioned: governments know nothing.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to kick up a storm on my Twitter:

7 May 2012
Posted by Elliot Morrow

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