Poem – Points of Contact

We would sing if our lips were free,

and our lungs not swollen with the vacant heat

that comes from seeing you again.

 

Here there is pale softness that stretches on

far further than my fingertips can reach, but I attempt it

over and over again.

You’ve asked me to.

 

A heavy silence fills gaps between the chorus

and what comes after. Something unnamed, but it’s

all familiar. I’ve looked for you in everyone.

 

Stay long enough to keep sunlight on your skin .

Drift away and return to gather more.

Fade before I remember.

You’ve asked me not to.


I write poetry to permit the use of the most flowery language I can come up with, and I usually write this physical romance because I simply love to describe it.

I think i’m without structure, but I really do enjoy it; so for this one I wholeheartedly welcome feedback and criticism. It’s not much, but hey, this blog needs some life again!

Posted in poetry | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Recent Interest

I’m not normally one to update frequently enough to comment on the comings and goings of my blog, but I’d just like to take the chance here now to say welcome to all the new followers I’ve somehow been lucky enough to earn lately. 

I think I owe it to some Nosleep attention, which is fantastic, but no matter the reason I hope you find something you like on here. Actually, I mostly hope that you continue to find pieces that you like! Updates won’t be set to a schedule, but there is definitely more coming, don’t worry about that.

This is an innocuous enough little post, but really this means the world to me so it’s absolutely worth mentioning.

I value you all, look at how much I GODDAMN VALUE YOU!!!

 

Here’s hoping I do everything but bore you.

Much love, 
Conor x

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Two Short Stories Now On /r/Nosleep

So to tide you over until my next update, I thought I’d let you know that I’ve recently posted two short (and semi-ongoing) stories to the horror subreddit /r/nosleep. 

Merger:  The story of a man trapped within his own town.

I write reality:  When a writer discovers a way to make his words really count, he                                      calls on readers to suggest how far he takes it.

For those of you unfamiliar with the forum, it’s a place for horror writers to tell a story to an audience encouraged to believe every word. As such, I’m constantly drawn to the place out of sheer fascination. Reading is one thing, but when suspension of disbelief is strong enough to take it as absolute fact, some really interesting things can be done.

Keep an eye on ‘I write reality’ in particular, as the fact that I ask for outside input means the story is likely to continue on for quite a while yet through updates and comment replies. I’m really enjoying it, taking on my character fulltime and immersing myself in this little idea I’ve created.

I hope you enjoy, and I’m sure I’ll be posting here in earnest soon enough. 

Much love!!

Posted in Blog Post, Fiction | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Leaving Home

A very dear friend of mine left the country recently, and it’s gotten me thinking about the concept of moving quite a bit. She’s gone to England, which isn’t geographically that far away, but when you think of the great upheaval that goes with actually moving your life somewhere else, it feels like another world entirely. On my end it’s just strange knowing that plans to meet aren’t as simple as making the time  anymore, and that still hasn’t entirely kicked in. An Ocean now blocks off a night out, not just a bus journey. I admire her greatly for it, I know she’ll thrive over there which is a comfort that stops me from missing her too much, and I’ve sort of always seen it coming anyway.

When we’d talk about the future, which we actually did quite often through laughter and cups of coffee, she never seemed anywhere near as content to stay put as I. Getting a job after college, the kinds of paths we’d like to walk; these topics came up all the time, but I quickly learned that she was far more sure about her answers. I always tended to babble, to laugh it off and say it’d work out, but really I didn’t devote serious thought to it. You see I worry, but in the least helpful way possible. One of us knew there were more opportunities for them abroad, and the other couldn’t even think past the next godawful assignment at college. Different cups of coffee entirely.

For her, it was inevitable. Ireland had worn out a lot of its charm and she was dying to take in a new culture, a new home. I would see her talk vividly about Paris, Berlin, these places just waiting to claim her for their own, and she perhaps realized that home just wasn’t home for her anymore. Her career didn’t have legs here, goals weren’t achievable, so…why stay? There’s a courage to that, stepping out the door and settling down somewhere else entirely, and for all my talk it was something I definitely lacked.

Picturing her lighting up a whole other continent was easy, especially when she had already brought them to life for me in stories from prior visits. I could tell she’d considered a life in each, and quite different lives to boot. I’m half-American (or an affectionately-titled ‘Yank’), I’ve been fortunate enough to visit countless times and I adore the place, but even it couldn’t call me to shore so easily. I would hover around the edges of thought, picking places I’d like to live but never committing to it, never even coming close.

 

So why do I stay? Could I get better opportunities to write abroad? Probably, yeah. In fact I’ve lost out on a shot at my dream job as a direct result and that alone is enough to make it seem almost idiotic to stay, yet here I am.  I can’t tell you why some people are susceptible to wanderlust and others aren’t, not today at least. What I can tell you is that even the lure of Californian sun and London markets aren’t always enough to budge those with deep roots. That’s been me for quite a while, but it’s ironic that a sad departure is what suddenly has me motivated. 

Something that really stayed with me as I said goodbye, was that she truly recognised that there was no reason to come back to Ireland after moving. This was it.  I understood that, I agreed with her, but I wasn’t sure it could be the same for me. The more sensible of our pair would tell me that Dublin wouldn’t keep me happy forever, and she was right. I work there at the moment and it’s a city I really adore, but there’s an expiration date on that. Even my hometown of Dundalk is starting to get a bit annoying. I love the people there, I love the memories it brings and how it feels like everyone I need is within walking distance, but it’s too sleepy for me now. I’m wearied by the place, thoug If I leave then I’ll definitely come back, there’s no doubt in my mind

I’d like to get a chance somewhere else and live with excitement and a tinge of the unknown to my routine. My courage is linked somewhat to this blog, as it represents progression in a way that I’ve avoided to my detriment before. I’m ready to keep practicing what I love and focus what I’m best at. Then I take this show on the road and see if I can be brave myself.  As you can tell by reading this post, I’m not quite ready…but England calls, and again – it’s only a short flight away.

Maybe I won’t set up a new home there like my friend did, she’s more daring by far, but I might just set up camp. Who’s to say the temporary can’t feel like a home as well?

 

-What would I miss from Ireland? Glad you asked. Pints at the Bartender, Irish                   forests and rivers, our sense of humour, endless sarcasm, walking down                               O’Connell street at nighttime, Ravensdale, potato bread. Christ I’d miss potato                   bread…. 

Posted in Blog Post, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Scene From A Bar

Shamelessly pretentious and inspired by the wonderfully filthy work of Charles Bukowski, this is an extremely short bit of something that resulted from me just wanting to write with a version of his voice. 

There were maybe six others in the bar. I sat in a booth at the back with a really terrible scotch and waited. That’s all I came for, just to wait. I treated the glass in my hand like an excuse to do nothing and hope that my day would just occupy itself, tucking itself in neatly with all the rest I had burned away in the dim light. It was going well so far.

A lot of people need a reason to drink, but my reason was the act itself. Liquor is a catalyst, it makes things happen. Not that I had faith in a cheap bottle of whiskey or anything, not at all. Whatever it was going to set up wouldn’t be worth the price of admission. Still, two mouthfuls and I had gotten used to the taste.

There was one girl in the place; pretty, with blonde hair pulled back too tight into a ponytail. The hum of the music was an annoyance, it distracted me from eyeing her properly. She was with a man who stomped his leg rapidly with either excitement or nerves, neither of which I was sure were justified. His hands painted ten messy pictures as he told her about his lunch or something, and she just looked right past him. She was a wall that he regaled with false stories of bravado and fabricated charisma. He had a routine all lined up and it didn’t matter which beats hit, he’d follow through. The girl pursed her lips after every sip she took, auburn clinging to those pillows from a bottle of house red. He never even touched his, it got in the way of his speech.

Posted in Fiction | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A New Year

First things first, I hope everyone reading this had a long and happy Christmastime filled with far too much food and warmed by good company. Mine was lazy and pleasantly blurred, with days melding together into one very welcome break.

It’s 2014 now, and I haven’t shown myself on here for quite a while, I know. As of November I’ve been writing for Nintendolife.com as a news reporter and occasional reviewer. It’s been keeping me busy on my days off work, and if you’ve an interest in Nintendo at all then I genuinely can’t think of a friendlier and more informative site to recommend. The staff are amazing, and this sounds reallllllly self-serving as I’m now kinda one of them. Next I’ll be putting up banner ads and subliminal messagingVISITNINTENDOLIFE.COMor something.  Check out my profile, and a quick search of ‘Conor McMahon’ should bring up most of the stuff I’ve written so far.

So I’m aiming to get this blog a bit more active again, with a few opinion pieces and bits of fiction in the works for the near future. Today I’ll throw up a very brief piece alongside this, more to come soon as well. I want give my thoughts on the methods of storytelling, review and analyse different films and video games, and hopefully keep to some kind of schedule. This could even be my resolution, actually…

I ramble, so I’ll stop it here and wish you the absolute best for the new year. Make it a good one, do something weird and give up biting your fingernails or something. Though…that’s easier said  than done…

Conor X

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Thoughts on Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Within five months of its Western release and just under a year of its initial release in Japan, Animal Crossing: New Leaf has managed to rack up over six million sales. While undoubtedly a hotly anticipated title, it is nonetheless an astounding figure for a handheld game, particularly in a climate where many were quick to announce smartphones as the new evolution of mobile gaming. As one of those six million sales myself, I thought I would give my thoughts on the title, and question just where it fits in with modern contemporaries. 

Animal crossing is a game reliant on the player. It doesn’t do much to offer the kind of spectacular set-pieces and compelling story we’ve become accustomed to recently, and doesn’t even really give much in the way of missions or checkpoints to aim for. There’s a definitive beginning of course, the player’s initiation as Mayor of a perpetually quaint and cosy seaside village is a charming little ceremony, but aside from that the world is set out for you to create your own objectives. There’s no looming apocalypse, no alien threat or love interest to strive for. There is simply a cluttered little haven of cottages and wildlife for the player to mould as they see fit, and there is plenty to mould, no doubt about that. In the absence of a story, you’re left with a town to run and a population of animals to keep happy. From the beginning there is an even greater emphasis on choice and freedom than previous titles in the series. Tom Nook no longer forces you into employment, but simply suggests ways by which you can earn ‘bells’, the currency you’ll be hoarding like a miser worthy of a Christmas Carol. You don’t have to listen to his advice at all, as there are a plethora of ways to do so, but it does offer a guiding nudge for newcomers. What happens next is an experience that you make entirely your own. Some may focus on filling their museum with all the available bugs, fish and fossils, some will seek to expand as quickly as possible, and pump money into the local businesses to help them blossom and grow, some might even just want to make friends with their villagers. It’s a clever mechanic to release these possibilities bit by bit as villagers speculate over what additions to the town they’d like to see, or even upcoming events that are planned by a real-time calender system. Play the game on Halloween for example, and you can go ‘trick or treating’ for candy. Animal Crossing has always seemed to aspire to be a companion rather than an outright adventure, and it’s interesting to see this appeal to so many people. 

The elephant in the room for the 3DS has of course been the ever-growing success of apps, and there were many who dismissed the handheld as outdated and overpriced when compared to the slew of $1.99 titles that can be bought for your phone. It stands on a precarious middle-ground between home console and portable device, bridging the gap between two very different kinds of experience. This year it earned its place yet again though, and strength of sales from the 3DS alone has been a huge boost to Nintendo as they continue to struggle with the Wii U. In another life, Animal Crossing may indeed have even existed as an app. It shares some similarities with the hugely successful wave of management games on a small scale such as ‘Pixel People’ or  ‘Tiny Tower’, in that it encourages checking in on a regular basis to maintain the game world and reap the most rewards, albeit on a much broader scale. It requires a certain level of commitment, as neglecting the game results in progress slowing to a near-standstill, and those who put in the most time will more than likely have the most to show for it. Comparing it to the bite-size commitment of smaller, less expensive apps almost seems to negate a meaning for Animal Crossing to exist at all, but it’s more than just the expanded features that set New Leaf apart.

The tone of Animal Crossing has never been anything like the massive growth of an airline or an entire city that can be seen in similar titles. On the contrary, it never really grows any larger than what could be considered a village, emphasizing a break away from the urban environment and encouraging the player to instead enjoy the calmer moments of life. New Leaf is there as a refuge, a quiet break in the busy schedules that portable consoles were made for. It can be seen as the modern equivalent of a Zen garden; a place to be cultivated and appreciated under your control. It follows along with your day, so whether playing on the morning commute, at lunch or in the late evening, there is always an opportunity to take a walk through your very own forest, be it by sunrise or moonlight. Villagers will come and go, and New Leaf does a wonderful job of making you care about this fact. When your best friend in the town questions spreading their (often literal) wings and moving on, you feel a sense of panic that drives you to ask them to stay. Micro-transactions don’t even poke their head around the door here, and that is vital for the pacing of the experience. There will never be a ‘wrong’ way to play, the world is what you make it. The only way the game will ‘punish’ you for playing is if you sprint through forested areas. This will inevitably damage flowers, tear paths through your grass and even scare away wildlife, so the player is again encouraged to slow down and make the choice to get into a different, less immediate mindset. Strolling through your town in Animal Crossing is a calming experience, and a fairly literal break from the battlefield sprinting we’ve been inundated with lately. As such, it’s easy to see why many continue to play the title on a regular, often daily basis to this day. Whether for ten minutes, or a full day of renovation and exploration, Animal Crossing presents the player with a quiet little slice of existence that they can dip into for as long as they like, and now with a digital copy all they have to do is open their 3DS. It requires commitment, yes, but does nothing to make that a chore. You don’t play just to get through and earn another reward,  your village can be a place that you want to visit every day, even if only for a while. That, I feel, is something very special indeed.

Posted in Blog Post, Review / Analysis | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment