Monday, 15 October 2018

Horror Film News: The Tattooist

Horror Film News: The Tattooist


The Tattooist Poster

I don't have any tattoos, but it's something that I've often pondered. I'm just not sure a tattoo of any kind would suit me, and the thought of having to live with it forever (well, until death) doesn't sit well with me. Mind you, if I visited The Tattooist in the new film by Michael Wong, I don't think I'd have long to wait for death, if I wasn't happy with the tattoo I was given.
‘The Tattooist’ studio is renowned for its remarkably crafted tattoos. But during their visits, the customers have been drugged and imprisoned with other unfortunate victims that bear his prized masterpiece. They must fight their fears and race against time to escape from The Tattooist before ending up as a victim of his morbid obsession!
The Tattooist Screengrab

The trailer embedded below reveals the kind of film you can expect, the jaunty music that begins proceedings soon giving way to gore and sinister scream montages. After hints of people meeting a messy end, the trailer ends with the tattooist dancing to said jaunty music, adding whimsy and craziness to a scene that reveals the truth of what was really happening on the tattooist table.

The Tattooist has already won a number of film festival awards, including Most Terrifying at The Top Indie Film Awards, Best Gore at the Independent Horror Movie Awards, and Official Selection at the Midwest Horror Fest 2018. I wouldn't be surprised it if picks up more accolades as it roams the film festival circuit either, it looks like a cracking film, and one I'd certainly love to watch.

Check out the trailer below, and keep your skin clean in preparation for The Tattooist's needle:

The Tattooist from Michael Wong on Vimeo.

GAME REVIEW: American Truck Simulator: Oregon DLC

American Truck Simulator just got bigger in the form of its Oregon DLC, offering new roads and vistas for the virtual truckers who drive its roads. I take a look, and learn a couple of things about American geography along the way. You can read my review on Geek Syndicate at this link.



Saturday, 13 October 2018

3 Ways That Rage Quitters Hurt Themselves The Most

3 Ways That Rage Quitters Hurt Themselves The Most

By Casey Douglass



Image used freely from the excellent Gratisography.


The game is barely minutes old, a blank canvas on which the victor will eventually write their dominance. Someone falls. A sound chimes, and an icon appears with a line through it. That person has disconnected. Your heart sinks. Your task is much harder now. Like dominoes, your teammates begin to fall. Another disconnects. The game seems already lost. You sigh.

If you’ve played any online competitive video-game, the previous scene will likely be familiar to you. Any game which sees people play against others runs the risk of being blighted by drop-outs, disconnections, and rage quits. Not everyone who leaves will do so in a rage, or even become a serial rage quitter. Sometimes games crash, and at other times, life gets in the way. It’s the serial rage quitters that I want to focus on here, someone who likely has no idea of the ways in which they are compounding their own misery.

A “satisfying” rage quit seems to involve a number of elements, but each contains a seed of misery that will eventually bite the quitter in the backside:

Hollow Victories


First is the idea that you are getting one over on your inept teammates or the other side, somehow depriving them of something or punishing them for a perceived misdeed. While this maybe true, they might actually come away from that game having had one of the best games of their lives. In my own experience on a variety of games, a rage quit on the team doesn’t mean the end of the game. It might make for a harder game, a game in which the odds of you winning are reduced, but there is still fun to be had in trying to turn things around. And if you succeed... you’ll probably be so satisfied that you’ll be beaming from ear to ear. This is an experience a rage quitter will likely never encounter.

Hair-Trigger Emotions


Another element to a rage quit is the changing of feelings in the quitter. Whichever emotion might have been slowly (or thunderously) building, such as anger, frustration or hopelessness, it will be replaced by the above mentioned feeling of smug satisfaction at “getting one over” on the remaining players. Okay, congratulations Mr or Mrs R. Quitter, you’ve just lowered your tolerance for any “unpleasant” emotion going forward, and set the trigger in your brain to engage at even milder situations.

Having worked through Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I know a fair amount about thoughts, feelings, and the actions we take to alter them. One of the first things I mastered was the idea that if we give into one thought, one time, the chances are higher that we will do it a second time. This is due to all kinds of stuff like neural plasticity, habit forming and reward mechanisms etc. which is a really interesting Google Expedition if you fancy it at some point.

As far as gaming and rage quitting, if you rage quit after a certain thing happening, maybe you die to friendly fire in a first person shooter, the chances are reasonably good that this will trigger you again more easily next time it happens. While you are in this “games have to go my way” frame of mind, you will slowly expand your “Conditions in which I Quit” list, and if you don’t find some degree of self-awareness beforehand, you'll find that what you need to happen in a game to have fun will become an increasingly narrow band of possibility. Basically, rage quitters, by escalating their quitting behaviour, reduce the chances of finding any fun or enjoyment in a game that they really want to enjoy.

No Chance of Improvement


Finally, a rage quitter might justify their leaving as “I can get into a fun game more quickly” or something similar. Yes, this might be true, but even if this new game meets your growing criteria for fun, have you improved as a gamer? In so many competitive events, whether games, sports or even a quiz night at the pub, it is often possible to learn far more from losing a game than from winning. A rage quitter, by leaving the game early, kills dead any chance of improving their skills, tactics, or mindset, and simply lock themselves into the cycle of continuous annoyance at the game and the other people that play it.

Turning It Around


Is any of this what we want from our gaming hobby? To reduce our chances of enjoyment? To not grow or improve as gamers or even as people, to stunt our ability to be civil and to enjoy competition with others in a healthy way? That sounds like a very sad reflection of what gaming should be.

We can’t control how other players decide to play a game. We can control how we play and react to it. Gaming isn’t always fun and joyous. You can’t win every game, or even have fun every game, but what you can do is take the losses and the frustrations as part of the whole package, learn what you can from them, and enjoy the games that you can. 

If you see someone rage quit during a game, beyond the irritation and annoyance, see if there is a little sadness in your heart for someone who could soon find themselves adrift from their favourite game. 

If you are a rage quitter yourself, as an experiment, the next time you feel the urge to leave a game, stick it out and see what happens. You might come out of the experience pleasantly surprised, even if it is just at the way that your feelings may have changed or mellowed as the likely defeat played out. Who knows.

Thanks for reading :).

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Dark Fiction - River

Dark Fiction - River

By Casey Douglass


River by Casey Douglass


The first body floated past the town. It went unnoticed, soon lost around the gurgling bend.
The  second passed early the next morning and was spied by a fisherman. A host left the town, tracking the river in the hopes of retrieving the unfortunate soul. While these were away, a third body became entangled in the small jetty, the place where the children liked to sit and dangle their small feet into the gentle current.

More bodies appeared with every turning of the clock, the small warehouse behind the main-street soon turned into a makeshift morgue. Word had been sent for the coroner, but he was hundreds of miles away. Amateur sleuths tried their hand at deduction, many thrown off by the injuries that the bodies had endured during their watery journey. One person guessed right, and then the others saw it too: Suicide.

Crosses were sketched in the air with shaking fingers, tears shed for people not known, and tongues clucked about the state of the world.

The coroner didn't come.

A traveller did.

She walked into town with her garish clothes and laptop bag swinging from her shoulder. No one approached her, a state of affairs that always arose when people from the sinful world entered their haven. Broaching no games, she strode up to the mayor and showed him something on the glowing device in her hand.

A friendly alien invasion had taken place.

The town's folk didn't comprehend, but a meeting was called, and the traveller explained more, her gesticulations and enthusiasm at odds with the statue-like audience. It was a time of revelation, she said. They made us, she crooned. They’ve come back to elevate us to our full potential she gushed.
She moved on the next day, the town stifling in its silence. Even the dogs and chickens held their tongues. Minds weighed with doubt turned their thoughts to the towns upstream, the places the bodies had flowed from. Good places, pure. God-fearing.

The first suicide in the town came the next night, but no one saw as the body splashed into the river. The next was caught in the nick of time, the noose pulled slack with sweating fingers as colour returned to the skin.

A mass was called, the sermon reaching the ears of the shaking townsfolk. Suicide is a sin, and not the way to show your love for God!
A voice shouted that God didn’t make us!
Another yelled that he did, that Satan had come!
A third bellowed the query of who made the aliens? God of course!
The pressure cooker of debate smashed together the tidbits of belief and desire, until the township came to the decision to merely conduct themselves as before, observing their prayers to the Lord, and showing that their faith was strong enough to meet this challenge, whatever it may be.

The aliens did elevate humanity, a little bit each day, until hundreds of years later, humans roamed the stars with their new allies, their makers, dancing in the light of super-novae, skimming black holes, and enjoying a life without boundaries.

A taint pursued them though.

However far they went, whichever star they orbited, some were dogged by the phantom of a bygone age, by the thought of an unseen power whose hand stretched towards them wherever they might rest. These people withheld their awe, suppressed their wonder, and waited for the lash to fall, the lash of a whip that transcended space and time.

THE END

Monday, 24 September 2018

Dark Ambient Relaxation - A Way To Delve Deeper Into Your Music

I've created a video in which I talk about and teach the way I relax, and how it deepens my experience of music. Thanks to Cryo Chamber for permission to use their music.


Sunday, 16 September 2018

How To Get Through Night-time Anxiety

How To Get Through Night-time Anxiety

By Casey Douglass



Everything seems worse at night. Those thoughts that, throughout the day, ping off your mental bullshit detector’s armour, well, they seem to become armour-piercing sniper rounds that just might make your head explode at night. No matter what the cause of your anxiety, whether a mental illness that you are struggling with, or a stressful time in your life, night-time can really, really suck.

For me, it seems to link with falling asleep. The number of times I’ve dropped off feeling relatively okay, only to wake up at two in the morning flushed with anxiety... let me just say that it’s a lot. It’s a bit like watching a horror film in which the film-maker somehow made you forget about the thing hiding in the closet. With anxiety, jump-scares abound, and they are so much stronger when you are half-conscious. So how do you get through it?

Don’t Compound Your Misery


There are usually two aspects to anxiety: The anxiety that arises in response to something, and our response to that anxiety, which is usually more anxiety. If you wake during the night, anxious out of your skull, the first thing to do is to not compound your misery by adding another layer of distress.

Don’t berate yourself for feeling afraid, upset, weak, or whatever label you are giving yourself. Don’t fear the physical manifestations of the anxiety (the fast beating heart, the shakiness, the banging pulse that you can hear in your ears etc.). It might be hard, but you’ve probably been anxious before. Your body does its thing. You really don’t need to fear how that feels.

If you can accept that yes, you are anxious about X, and you probably will be for awhile yet, without adding too much mental chatter or fear, you will shorten the spell of anxiety, and probably reduce its strength to boot.

Racing Thoughts


Our minds are amazing. They are also neurotic and skilled machines at creating scenarios to fear. It probably kept us safe when we had to avoid predators in prehistoric times, where mistakes often were life and death, but in modern times, that’s rarely the case. In the early hours of the morning, fuelled by anxiety, our minds become the paranoid gods of our misery, presenting us with all kinds of ruminations and outcomes, to either hope for, or to fear.

If you can, watch the thoughts without following them too far down the rabbit hole. Maybe focus on your breathing while you do this. When you are aware that you’ve lost track of your breathing, you’ve probably been lost in thought again. If you watch your thoughts for long enough, the cycle of trying to reassure yourself and scaring yourself will play out enough times that you may even find it amusing. It’s like, “X will happen, I’m fucked!” And then “Oh, but if Y happens, I can get through X!” over and over, like a morbid tennis game, one in which the ball barely clears the net before it’s sent back to the other side again.

Reset Your Mind and Body


If you find the thoughts are too upsetting or overwhelming, and you’ve been struggling with them for awhile, get up and do something that will give your mind another focus. Some people won’t like getting up, but if you’ve been stewing in bed for an hour, what’s half an hour spent making a hot drink and reading for a little while really going to cost you?

If you don’t chose to read, you might want to avoid screen-based things, as these can often prolong wakefulness. Whichever activity you choose, don’t do it with the attitude of trying to keep the thoughts away. The harder you push against them, the stronger they will return. Do whatever you choose, but do it with the attitude of doing it while the thoughts are still there. This is acceptance, and while it isn't always easy, it is a valuable tool in working with anxiety.

The thoughts may disappear for a few minutes, and then come back, flushing you with anxiety again. Try to give them a mental nod and carry on reading (or whatever). After a few anxiety flushes, you might even notice that the thoughts don’t seem to hit with the same force any more. If you do experience this, you are probably entering a virtuous circle in which your mind and body begin to calm down. After awhile, you will probably feel like you might want to try sleeping again, so have a go if it feels right.

Decide Not to Decide


This is a short one but well worth mentioning. It’s never really advisable to try to make decisions and judgments during the night either, as they will likely be anxiety-based. Keep that kind of thing for the morning. And speaking of morning...

Always Darkest Before Dawn


If all else fails, try to keep in mind that you will likely feel a bit better once morning comes. No matter how shitty the night I’ve had, once it starts to get light, I get up, make a cup of tea and have breakfast in bed. I think eating probably helps the body shift mode, and by the time I’ve read for a little while, my mind feels more settled, and my body feels less tense. It’s happened to me often enough that, sometimes, it’s the only sentiment I can hold on to as the night progresses, and it usually turns out to be true.

***

There are no easy fixes for anxiety, nothing is guaranteed to work for everyone, all of the time, but the approaches above are all things that have worked for me time and again. As a matter of fact, I used them a couple of nights ago, and I use various aspects of the above on a daily basis in my general approach to my anxiety and ocd.

If you feel a question bubbling in your mind about any of this anxiety stuff, feel free to get in touch, either below, or by finding me on social media. Even if not, just come and say hi if you want, it’s lonely online at times. Also, please give this a share/like if you feel it was worth reading, then maybe other people might see it who otherwise wouldn't. Thanks :).

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Adventures in Case Time 2: Ticking Feels Good

In my latest vblog, I talk about the way a checklist can help with feelings of achievement, particularly when you're depressed and struggling with motivation. Adventures in Case Time 2: Ticking Feels Good: