Weekend Update


Water water everywhere
— photo by Me, March 27, 2008

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“Tattoo”; Eric Lapointe
The theme from “Bon Cop, Bad Cop”
Let me know if the YouTube isn’t available.


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I was watching bits and pieces of the Montreal Canadiens v. Toronto Maple Leafs game when I realized I haven’t used the PlayStation all week. I’m not sure if that sounds as important as I think it is so I’ll try again… I HAVEN’T USED THE PLAYSTATION ALL WEEK.

I don’t play a lot of video games. Despite owning thirty PS2 games for the past year I’ve only really played one, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Since being released in 2004 it has probably been the most revolutionary video game since Pong.

I’ve finished the missions a few times, but once the game map has been opened it covers three cities — Las Vegas, San Francisco and Los Angeles — and all the spaces in between and I find just driving around to be almost soothing at times. Through your character, Carl Johnson, you can interact with the pedestrians, fly helicopters and planes… drive / steal about a hundred different types of cars, Carl gets hungry, he can gain weight, he can starve to death, he can BASE jump. Except for most of the buildings it’s a totally wide open environment.

Which is absolutely perfect if you’re searching for a method to stop thinking. Sometimes it helped me to focus my main brain on Other Stuff so my sub-brain could work stuff out… when I’d get lost in the game it would help work out writer’s blocks. But when I wasn’t concentrating on what I was doing I’d get blown up or arrested by a three-star cop or something stupid and I’d get pissed off and all that sub-brain thinking would get tossed out onto the freeway like Carl escaping a burning car.

So it has been a week since I last got Carl killed and since I took the game out of the PS2 and placed it back on the shelf… and I didn’t even notice.

It does seem weird to me as well to think this is a Big Deal. Except it also feels like I should be feeling even more like it’s a Big Deal. It wasn’t just the main brain / sub-brain thing, I used Carl mostly as a way to not think. To just shutdown for a couple of hours… and it was a couple of hours, I was usually on the PS2 for two hours a day.

And it’s not only the PS2… I’ve dropped Diet Pop as a staple of my diet. This past ten days I may have had a Litre of pop in total instead of the 2L per day I had been sucking. I’ve switched to Club Soda with lime or lemon or both. And the cookies are gone… roughly two weeks ago I stopped eating cookies as a dinner substitute.

I hate to describe things which happen over a period of weeks as a trend, trends happen over months and years. I once joked about this kind of thing with an American technology analyst… I was getting his opinion about a takeover back in 2000. I told him that in Canadian news one Event was a suspicious coincidence, the second time it’s a trend. He asked what happened the third time Something happened and I told him that in Canadian news that’s a Revolution.

What else… I changed my blog banner again. I really like this one so I might keep it for awhile.

There was the hockey game on Thursday, where I got to spend some time with my step-father. It’s fun to talk hockey with him because he actually knows the game. Back when he was a young dude he was a superstar in Junior Hockey (basically Triple A baseball), but someone turned his collarbone into powder.

I also spent the day in Ottawa with my mother, which was great. She was signing a contract for her new, full time job. She’s really excited about it… it’s her first full time job in fifteen years. She normally works on contract with the federal government.

I managed to get to a CD store to blow off some gift cards and picked up Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”, which I haven’t owned in years, I finally found a collection of Gordon Lightfoot’s greatest hits with both “Sundown” and “The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald” on it, and I grabbed Slayers classic Heavy Metal album “Reign In Blood”. Awesome.

Then on Friday I had a really good session with my psychiatrist, then my girlfriend came over for dinner and a movie. We watched “I Am Legend”, which was brilliant then not so much.

And today I rested and watched the Leafs win a meaningless game and celebrate like they were going to the Playoffs but… they’re not. Which, at the end of this week, was like looking at the cherry being lowered onto my sundae.

I didn’t think it would, but it turned into a pretty good week.

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About Gabriel...

...diagnosed with manic depression in 1989, for the next 14-years I lived without treatment or a recovery plan. I've been homeless, one time I graduated college, I've won awards for reporting on Internet privacy issues, and a weekly humour column. In 2002 I finally hit bottom and found help. I have an 8-year old son, and a 4-year old son... I’m usually about six feet tall, and I'm pretty sure I screwed up my book deal. I mostly blog at saltedlithium.com....
This entry was posted in Bipolar, Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, Canada, Clinical Depression, crazy people with no pants, Depression, Health, Lithium, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression, Ottawa, Punk. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Weekend Update

  1. zoom says:

    I know exactly what you mean about the video games – I used to use Civilization and Dark Age of Camelot to zone out. It served a purpose, but after a couple years I realized my real life would probably be much better if I put half as much effort into it as I put into my virtual life. I had to quit cold turkey – there was no way I could just cut down. Real life left me feeling kind of stoned for awhile after I quit DAOC.

  2. dame says:

    so much for that tat i’ve been considering … yowchies.

    glad you had a good week, lil angel.

    here’s to cherries. yay.

  3. markps2 says:

    The game that saved my life is “Dune II: Battle for Arrakis” cartridge on the sega genesis.

  4. thordora says:

    mmmmm Slayer….

    I haven’t had the time, or the drive to say much of anything, unless you could the bitchy email to chapters customer service about the little bitch who said “gee, we all have our excuses don’t we” when I said I didn’t want their stupid rewards program because I needed diapers.

    Read the story I Am Legend. Awesome, and better from what I can see.

  5. Gabriel... says:

    Mark: The Sega Genesis… did you ever play the NHL game where you could make the players bleed if you hit them hard enough? Awesome. I think the 1994 version was the first with the blood thing taken out but you could still have results of 60 to 59. My girlfriend at the time had a Genesis, she was addicted to Sonic…

    How did it save your life? Like, it gave you something to continue on for?

    Tout la monde: There was a game my girlfriend (1990-93) had on her computer called “Warlord II” once you got into the game the turns would take twenty minutes to complete so one of us would play while the other was watching TV. Good times. It was amazing how much that game ate into our time together… it got to the point where instead of sleeping with her I’d be playing against the computer.

    Zoom: I know what you mean about Real Life… with Warlords II I’d be playing it in my sleep, but when I’d go on a six hour tear on GTA: San Andreas then go walk around it felt like I was still playing the game outside… when I quit Warlord II there was a withdrawal but weirdly the withdrawal from GTA hasn’t been that bad yet.

    Thor: I actually plan to, I read the Wiki page about the book, the Will Smith movie and The Omega Man, the Charleton Heston version. So far I think I like the sounds of Chuck’s version best.

  6. markps2 says:

    re:How did it save your life? Like, it gave you something to continue on for?

    I was severly suicidaly depressed. I had fun (long-time no fun) progressing/learning through the levels and clans in the game. Trying different strategies.

    Sorry, never played the NHL game.
    On a side note
    I think video games should be controlled, the same way pornography is controlled and kept from children.
    I believe this from learning to play Duke Nukem.
    This was years ago of course, but I do remember how initially I had to learn to enjoy pulling the trigger/being taught to enjoy pulling the trigger and killing the virtual character. I wondered what this would do to the minds of the young, a game so different from Asteriods, I first played as a child.

    When I was “in” the game, my real world problems/feelings don’t exist, this alternate world to exist in (where you can’t die) I believe is a big reason for what makes the games so addictive.

  7. markps2 says:

    “When I was “in” the game,”

    was supposed to be after

    “Trying different strategies.”

  8. bine says:

    i am completely immune to gaming, don’t know why. but i know that state of mind, and what i do is, i open a book and disappear in it. writing this down i think it sounds like a little girl thing to do, but then again that’s what i have done since i was a little girl. honesty, it saved me from losing my mind a few times. when i resurface the world always looks like a friendlier place to be in.
    it sounds like you really had a few good weeks. hope this continues!

  9. Gabriel... says:

    G’Day Mark. Technically there is a rating system… the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is the industry standard. Manhunt 2, for example, was originally rated Adult Only or “AO” (18+) and had to be edited to get a Mature (17+) rating because gaming stores won’t carry AO games. Every game, however, carries an ESRB rating.

    But it works just like every other rating system… an older brother can still buy you all the beer and porn and video games you’ll ever need.

    With the “killing” thing… I never really liked the first-person shooters until I found the “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon” series and the Splinter Cell series. I’ve been in conversations with people about GTA and they talk about all the killing and maiming and what it’s teaching kids… there’s a disconnect, I find, between those people and what kids do. GTA is a comic book. The Hulk never killed anyone, neither has Magneto or Sabretooth. Personally I’d be uncomfortable with a 12- or 13-year old playing GTA because of the language used, but not with the pretend violence. There’s minimal blood and all the sound effects are cartoonish. Manhunt II is another story… but again, not because of the violence — which is about the same as in a graphic novel or a Saw film.

    I think video games really comes down to whether or not someone has taught their kids about what’s real and what’s not. Shots of the killing fields of Rwanda on the news or in a wonderful movie like Hotel Rwanda are depictions or recreations of What’s Real. Running over thirty characters in GTA… not so much.

    I know what you mean about needing and using something, anything, to get yourself out of bed and through the day. Something to keep your mind active, something to act as a distraction for the suicidal thoughts. This blog was mine last year. In the past it was photography, taking photos of my friends and their bands down in Toronto…

    Thanks Bine. When I was a kid it was James Herriot or The Lord Of The Rings… or a Zane Grey western. I once read all the LOTR books and The Hobbit in two days. I was dreaming about Hobbits for a week. I haven’t been able to concentrate long enough to read a whole book in years. I just picked up “The Kite Runner” and “The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time” by Mark Haddon, which is supposed to be excellent. I’m setting aside time this week to get at least one of them started.

  10. markps2 says:

    I still disagree with you Gabriel about the seriousness of video games.

    All boys play cops and robbers , hide and seek etc, the difference is at the time of playing the child imagines shooting/blood. The video game simulates real killing too well, the video image and sound is teaching the children.
    The child is not voluntarily imagining as in the old days.
    Adult content should only be for adults and it should be taken seriously.

  11. markps2 says:

    A group of third-graders plotted to attack their teacher, bringing a broken steak knife, handcuffs, duct tape and other items for the job and assigning children tasks including covering the windows and cleaning up afterwards, [link here]

  12. Gabriel... says:

    You’re either up too early, or far too late Mark.

    Yeah, I figured you’d drop that link here. Don’t forget about Jamie Bulger. I’m sure there was some video game out there which taught 10-yr olds Jon Venables and Robert Thompson to lay a kid across a railway track to make his murder look like an accident… or maybe that was their exposure to Dudley Do-Right cartoons.

    And lets not forget how Looney Tunes taught us all how to jump off cliffs. Then there were all those Heavy Metal suicides and satanic Dungeons & Dragons parties… oh, and Frank Zappa was going to turn us all into sex maniacs, thank God the PMRC and cancer stopped him.

    And then there’s Kayla Rolland… I wonder what video game her 6-year old killer had been playing, maybe the 13+ version of Club Penguin?

    C’mon dude, the GTA series alone has sold more than 60 million copies, you’ll have to show me the legions of 6-12 year old children stealing cars and running down people…

    Yes, there have been people killed by dudes who obsessed over some game or another, but David Berkowitz killed six people because his neighbour’s dog told him to… people are freaks.

  13. Magneto did sink a Soviet submarine. Sure, they’d tried to nuke him, but they didn’t jump clear before the hull imploded.

    I’m just being pedantic here.

  14. Actually, ignore that as I misread you. Whoops!

  15. Gabriel... says:

    No… you’re right, Magneto’s responsible for a lot of killing, and he has tried to commit mass murder more than a few times. Don’t forget when his powers first manifested he slaughtered an entire village…

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