Thursday, February 23, 2006

Books For Sale

I have been clearing out my house and found these books. You may purchase them by contacting me directly.

In My Father's Shed, W. Howard Beecham:
Coffee-table book. A catalog of items found in the author's father's shed. Slow going in the first third, as each expired, once-used tube of epoxy resin is meticulously broken down into components (Beecham finds particular scandal in the notion that resins may on occasion be sold as hardeners and vice versa), but perverts forbidden from using a computer will find the author's fastidious nature serves them well when the bottom drawer of the tool cabinet is pried open.

The Horses Of London, Hackleford Brimstone VI:
A must-read for fans of rip-roaring space escapades. "Huck" Chuckbuckle, space privateer in the occasional employ of the Space Empire Of Javier, leads his merry band of space-swashbucklers, the Fighting Horses, across galaxies and through infinity in pursuit of their stolen ship, the London. Some have suggested that the Emperor Of Javier is a racist caricature of Falkland Islanders (the book was written at the height of that conflict); these people are not strictly wrong.

Triker Boys, Ralph "Kingo" Bilberg:
While it's intended as a scathing satire of Russian society, even the most diehard fans of good-natured humorist and would-be philosopher Ralph Bilberg (known to fans as "Kingo") give this embarrassingly misguided missive a wide berth. The problem lies not so much in Bilberg's woeful lack of research (a valid, if somewhat tired, complaint: as Kingo himself told an interviewer, "I don't read books; I write 'em!") as his utter ignorance in the area he intends to skewer. The misspelling of "Troika" in the title is the tip of an iceberg of inaccuracies that see the book's protagonist, Ivor Ivory, traverse "the length and breadth of Mother Russia, from gleaming Moscow in the East to shining New Zealand in the West," in search of his father, the Kaiser Of Russia. The notorious penultimate chapter, "A Hot Night In Mozambique", in which the Russian Capital is host to the country's annual Mardi-Gras, saw the book banned from many high schools: exactly how Bilberg came upon his perplexed notions of Russian anatomy is a mystery that perhaps should never be solved.

One Man And His Cannon, Ralph "Kingo" Bilberg:
On somewhat surer footing here, Kingo argues a solid case for Mutually Assured Destruction. Even the most fervent anti-Globalist will come away from Cannon singing the praises of sweatshops, the Spanish Inquisition and key-parties: such is Kingo's prowess as a storyteller, he manages to wind all these repugnant themes and so much more into an inarguable paen to man's right to enslave and demean man. Rumour has it Kingo wrote the book during his highly secretive marriage to Ayn Rand, who he later eulogised in the pages of Playboy with nauseating candour.

The Canon's Cannon, Stoker Ramsay:
Anglican secret agent Mcphee Brianard has seen some tough broads in his time, but none of them hold an incense stick to Sister Mary Impendus. The renegade Nun holds the key to Brianard's life, but she's not giving away anything until McPhee uses his unique abilities to help her disarm a mad impostor in the Vatican. Ramsay's talent for dense historical doco-fiction is evident here, as scandal, conspiracy and medical malpractice are worked into a heady narrative with a shocking twist you'll never guess. (The twist is that Sister Mary is actually the only living descendent of Jesus).

Interweb, Paul Kibblethorpe:
In the opening pages, the notion that entomology and the science of communications share deep-set, hitherto-unknown parallels is an intriguing one. By chapter 68, "Tunnel Web: How Kevin Mitnick Saved The Last Tarantella For Me", you'll be wishing Kibblethorpe would just go out and get laid.

The Apocalypticator
, Rodondo Rodondo:
Hailed as a Philip K. Dick for the new millenium in his native Mexico, a translation of Rodondo's prose has sadly never been treated to the time and effort it so richly warrants. While the book's original title translates literally to The Boy Who Saw God In The Light Bulb Filament, readers who attempt to navigate the slapdash translation sold under the title The Apocalypticator must contend with the likes of this excerpt, whose punctuation and probably typographical liberties have been kept intact:
Burgundy Starling removed her pants. Her ass was fucken hot. Harry Potter looked aty her ass and said "baby I gotta some stuff to shoot". and Then he pickd u[p his Shotgun and BOOM!

She fires the flamethrower. The eggs are
engulfed. One of the warriors lunges forward, a
living fireball. She blasts it in half with two
bursts from the M-41A.
RIPHarry Potter sayd to the Burgundy, 'Now Baby waht was that about some ice Cream?"

The Truth About Kittens And Ponies, Jim Raddenforth:
They're the same thing.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Miracle Product Makes Writers' Lives Near-Unbearably Fun

THE ALTERNATE REALITY IN WHICH I, POPULAR THINKING SEEMS TO HAVE IT, APPARENTLY RESIDE, SATURDAY - Nintendo thrilled writers all over the world today with the release of the Stanza Nintendo Entertainment System, a console devoted to everyone's favourite recreational pursuit: the game of Writing. Anticipation has been rife for the Stanza, which promises to allow the frivolous, weekend-fun activity of writing to take up even more spare time than ever before.

Look at all those buttons!
The control pad for the revolutionary new machine.

The system is intended to wrest users away from serious, work-oriented machines like the Sony Playstation and Nintendo's own Gamecube, which have built a reputation through focusing on serious business solutions and management programs such as Dynasty Tactics and Viewtiful Joe. Nintendo promise to lure adopters toward the Stanza by offering inbuilt game engines for writers worried that their frivolous, lazy-afternoon fun may be drifting toward useful application in the real world.
Demoing the machine, Nintendo guru Shigeru Miyamoto showed prospective users how the Stanza will "keep writing where writers want it to be: in the realm of useless, timewasting fun".
Miyamoto, so devoted to the game of Writing that he famously used to fashion Writing gameboards out of masses of Post-It notes before the invention of the Stanza, explained that the machine will deliver on this promise by, for example, being bundled with an inbuilt cigarette lighter so that any money accidentally earned while playing Writing or Critiquing can be burned.
"We've talked to a lot of amateur filmmakers when developing the Stanza, and we've discovered that writers actually don't like to be paid," Miyamoto explained. "Accepted wisdom among industry wannabes is that writers are the only member of the crew who, actually, never even have to have money mentioned to them. If you were blessed with the ability to read scripts and work out the glaringly obvious flaws in them, wouldn't you want to do that all day every day without recompense? Similarly, anyone who's been told that their script may one day be used as the basis for a poorly-acted digital short that doesn't cut together properly and is only ever seen by family and friends, would gladly work on that script rather than using the time to do real work that would pay real money. I mean, what's food when you can live the dream of having a writing credit on the next Shirt or Futile Attraction?"
The machine is a first for Nintendo, who generally develop for a wide user base so as to ensure maximum sales - simple marketing logic. However, writers, explained Miyamoto, are different from regular people. This was covered in a subsection of the demo covering the Stanza's massive capabilities for the hugely-popular genre of Critiquing games, in which writers view scripts other people have asked them to look at.
"Most people who want to make a movie will say, early on, 'I'm not a writer'," Miyamoto began. "What this means is that they have no idea about nor interest in narrative craft, and are, to a healthy degree, utterly unconcerned with how real people think or act, let alone talk. They need to bring in a writer at this point, to deal with tangental issues such as Plot and Characters, so that they can get down to the business of what film's all about: putting the camera in interesting places and working out ways to edit it so it'll look as much as possible like a nu-metal video clip."
"After all," reasoned Miyamoto, "that's why most movies are so damn great, am I right?" This was followed by rapturous applause and agreement.
"If you're someone who feels that story or character are interesting, therefore," Miyamoto went on to explain, "obviously you're someone whose idea of a good weekend is to read many many scripts whose impossibly inadequate dialogue provides a thin smokescreen to disguise the author's utter lack of a reason for choosing this story to bring into the world. Obviously you're someone who would rather solve the glaring problems with the world's thousandth man-tied-up-by-faceless-criminals script than, say, eating orange chocolate chip icecream, or walking in the park with someone pretty. The Stanza provides you with the opportunity to do that."
The presentation then allowed users a hand-on demo of several of the Stanza's hottest games in the burgeoning Critiquing genre. These included So Random!, a wacky flatmate comedy in which the Rugby-obsessed lead character inexplicably finds themselves in a dress; and Simulacrem, a sci-fi thriller about a future in which computers have become more intelligent than human beings - with unexpected consequences.
Miyamoto saved the best for last: a demo of the Stanza's unique Mass Blindness Generation Tool, which actually provides concrete, physical assurance that nobody will ever see the film that results from writers' work.
"Everyone knows that the most rewarding part of writing is drinking coffee and talking about what a great script this is going to be," Miyamoto explained, provoking feverish nodding throughout the audience. "That's why the Stanza actually allows you to blind anyone who might potentially see the movie, so that the carefree business of writing can take place where it ought to: in a world where nobody will ever see anything you write."
While the machine's ability to burn the money of anyone who might offer writers unwelcome financial restitution for an activity that anyone could do if they wanted to was popular, it was the MBGT that would truly catapult writing-as-fun-thing-you-do-instead-of-real-work into the 21st Century, Nintendo promised.
"Now, people who like more than anything to spend solitary hours reading other peoples' dross and writing things that will never be seen or rewarded are in Paradise!" exclaimed Miyamoto.
The audience, which was composed of thousands of these very people (their existence being a very real fact), then dropped to their knees and made Miyamoto their chief. - GAMESPY

Thursday, February 09, 2006

An Opinion I Have Been Nursing For Some Time Regarding The Preacher Comic Book

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I don't like Preacher. I find it to be an unimaginative tirade of carefully-positioned unpleasantness that does the world no good. If Preacher was a person, it'd be one of those incredibly irritating people you often find in the classrooms of educational facilities who aren't that smart but will pontificate till the cows come home, swearing a lot, often while drunk, incredibly self-righteously and utterly without grace or original thinking or or any real actual wit.

None of the ideas expressed in Preacher are particularly new or well-delivered or explored in an interesting way. The whole sublot with the boy whose face looks like an ass so he can't talk properly, for instance: someone obviously thinks this is mindblowingly clever in its RUTHLESS!! and PULLS-NO-PUNCHES!! approach to the teen suicide problem.
Whereas I would submit that everyone knows someone who'll go on and on and on about how suicidal people don't deserve any sympathy, man, they just give up, or how celebrities are all ugly on the inside and anyone can become a celebrity, or...
Look, fuck off. Take your tedious loud-dumb-drunk riffing on the preoccupations of premillennial society and go fuck yourself. Take your endorsement from Kevin frikkin' Smith and your nauseating hagiographical tributes to people who deserved better and your endless cast of "interestingly" mutilated protagonists and "hilariously" "perverted" villians (oohh look, that guy who's badass, he's also A GAY! He likes sex IN HIS ASS! How perfectly HILARIOUS that someone should be A GAY!) and go the fuck home.

Your one-two-punch "this is SO FUCKIN' COOL what I'm doin' here!; naw, just funnin', like whatever man" pattern might work on the hicks from the fictionalised Texas of your imaginations, the one where everyone talks like a really, really badly scripted episode of Walker Texas Ranger where any dialogue problems can be solved with the word "shit", but here in the real world, they just sound stupid.
Example: The hero, the one with the name you have soooo much fun with (a hero called Jesse? Are you fucking serious?) has an angel tied up in a basement. He asks him to recount what happened when the angel fell in love with a demon. And the angel says...
"Hers was the beauty of daggers in the alley".
Yeah. Exactly. That's so good, it could almost be a System Of A Down lyric. Almost.
Then he fills up a page with the same turgid bargain basement teenage crap, and you can just tell someone's writing this and going, "aw, FUCK YEAH!"; but then, just when you might be realising that this is written by people who can't write worth a damn, Jesse says something stupid and not-real-Texan to the effect of, "aw shucks, stop yer fancy-talkin' and git t'th' point awready!"
Which is just great. It means you can indulge your passion for turgid bargain-basement teenage crap, and make your hero look boss by putting a stop to it! Oh, that's genius, that is. Hey, that means you never actually have to write anything good, cause as soons as you've taken a stab at anything that would, in ordinary circumstances, require skill to render convincingly, you can just bring in one of your multitude of poorly-written cliche heroes to go, "aw, that's bullshit!", and you're off the hook w/r/t having to write anything good!

I think what annoys me the most about Preacher (narrowly pipping out that stupid fucking vampire character, who is just endlessly cringeworthy, except when he's meant to be, and then he's just a big sign saying I HAVE JUST FOUND OUT WHAT A CHARACTER ARC IS) is the Point. Oh my, but doesn't Preacher just have Point for Africa. I'd say Preacher is so enamoured of its Point, it ought to be named in a manner reflective of the fact that it is the most shamelessly, narrative-halting-for-purposes-of-pontificating, infuriatingly fucking evangelical comic book in the history of the world. OH WAIT, THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT IT HAS, IT'S CALLED FUCKING PREACHER. Get a fucking life.
Preacher manages to go out of its way to be Point at the expense of narrative to such an extent that, toward the end, Ennis and Dillon can't actually find a way to finish the story without splitting it off into two strands, so that the Point gets this grandiose showdown in Heaven and the Narrative sort of just skulks off into the final panel, and you get to watch both strands collapse under the effluent-soaked Weight of their own pretention[1].
I'm going to posit a contentious suggestion here, people. Some of you are going to think I'm missing the point. Okay. At the end of Preacher, that stupid cowboy with the oversized mouth goes to Heaven and he shoots God. Kills 'Im. And then Jesse and Tulip[2] ride off into the sunset, deeply in love and feeling that all is right with the world. And the whole sorry mess proves itself to just not have a clue, because, well, I for one happen to believe that God is love, you morons. I don't think I thought this up all on my own. It's not that this conclusion offends me because of whatever I may believe - although I also happen to believe that good comics are really cool, and certainly Preacher offends on this level - but, honestly, isn't this just a little lazy? Isn't it like writing a comic where the antagonist is, say, the President, but because you don't actually have anything to say about the President apart from, "that guy sure does run the country!", you have the President played by a werewolf?
No, it's nothing like that, because President Werewolf would be the fucking best comic book ever. Preacher, meanwhile, is really really useless.

[1] This paragraph written while pretending not to notice the blindingly obvious fact that if you have to split your Point and your Story into two separate strands in order to resolve them, you obviously have no idea how to write Story and your Point probably isn't really worth exploring anyway. Which is, I guess, where Preacher would retreat to the "naw, just funnin', like whatever" defence.
This paragraph was also written in homage to Preacher's belief that bodily waste is inherently dramatic.
[2] Yes, the protagonists of this book really are called Jesse and Tulip. When we're meant to care about their relationship, generally we'll be shown a scene where they talk about how much they like giving each other oral sex. This is deeply, deeply uncomfortable.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Marriage Guidance You Can USE

As a highly successful twenty-first century Marriage doctor (you can see it on my plaque on my wall if you doubt me), I'm glad you came. You're right, you're rightt, of course - you don't need counselling. Hey. I'm not here to judge. Just let's you and I just rap, just have a talk, the three of us.
Just last week I had a couple in here, newlyweds, lovely folk, and I'm going to tell you what I told them: if you want your marriage to last, you're going to have to knock it off with the beating. I know, I know, you think it's fun, you think it's cute, you're a couple of wide-eyed young kids, you're crazy about each other, and nothing says love like violent mutual bodily insult. And that's great.
But listen.
In the long run, it's just not going to cut it. Believe me - people get tired of reciprocal violence. May shock you to hear this - and I'm not saying you gotta believe everything you hear between these walls, lined though they may be with certificates of my infallible conciliatory wisdom - but it happens. People get tired.
I mean hey - I haven't. I can take a lickin' and keep on tickin, if ya know what I mean, and if you don't that's okay, I sure as hell don't either. But I'm here to tell you, whallopping don't last forever.
Let me make a suggestion to you. It's just a suggestion, just a take it down the park, toss it into the ol' pigskin, see if it makes good catching. Here it is. If you're thinking now might be a good time for violence, maybe it's not.
I know, I know, it's crazy. But try it out. When you get home, take a walk together. That's all - just a walk. No strings attached. Listen to the wind whispering in the trees. Watch the young ducklings gamboling and frolicking by the river. If you're passed on your travels by another couple, arm in arm, enjoying the evening just as you are, give them a smile and a nod - ain't this a lovely evening?
And if you're moved by that burning sunset melting into the horizon turning the whole sky a vibrant shade makes you just want to sing, and you think, the only thing would make this evening more perfect is if I turned to my beloved and slugged 'em right in the goddamn jaw - just don't.
Take in a movie together. I hear the new Richard Gere flick's quite lovely. Reaffirms your faith in the power of love, so they say. Couples go along bickering, come out lost in each others' eyes. Go see a movie together, just like it was your first date again. Buy her popcorn. Share your Tangy Fruits with him. Snuggle up and watch the movie together. And listen - I know when you're huddled up together, in the dark, feeling all alone in the moment, it might feel like you could just - whap! - snap your elbow back, catch your lover square in the nose, make their eyes water so they can't see you winding up for a really solid kick to the gut. I know, I know, it's right there, you'd be a damn fool not to go for it - but just do me a favour. Just try not assaulting your spouse in a crowded movie-house. Who knows, you might like it.
We're all adults here - I can tell you, this philosophy of mutual non-beating can even spread to the bedroom. Listen, I know that the moment of orgasm is the perfect time to deliver a totally unexpected fist smack-dab into the soft meat of your sexual partner's face. I'm not a young man, alright, I've been around. I know it's damn near irresistable - and in the heat of the moment, I don't blame you. But just - just this once, you don't have to tell me about it, I just want - just give it a try. Just let sex happen, without inducing blunt-force trauma. I mean hey, I could be way out on this, I don't pretend to have all the answers - just give it a go.
I think you'll find that with a little time, and a little patience, and just a measure of self-control, that this whole idea could really go somewhere. I really do. Have a great time, guys, and I'll see you next week.