Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I'm Afraid Of Massive Seismic Deathwaves

(This post originally appeared in Fighting Talk - back when I wrote for them, obviously - and has been resurrected to capitalise on what the author feels is an elevated period of tectonic activity.)

Above: Fear factory.

At primary school, my teachers had two goals, and I'm not sure which was the more urgent one: the molding of me into a prosperous, healthy contributing member of society, or the scaring the living shit out of me by all means necessary. I think it was 50/50.

Mostly they'd scare the living shit out of me by telling me about The Earthquake: they'd sit me down on a mat and tell stories about the widespread terror that Wellington, and uniquely Wellington, faced in the VERY IMMEDIATELY INEVITABLE FUTURE at the hands of cruel relentless Nature and her fickle ways.

But sometimes, for a special treat, they'd take me to special centres, like the Civil Defense headquarters, where trained Living Shit-Scarers would show a filmstrip that was the exact reason the Heavy-Handed Parody Filmstrip has become such an hilarious comedic trope.

This filmstrip, and the accompanying stern Civil Defenders, would explain the multi-pronged attack Nature had planned for us. See, here's how an earthquake (which, let's remember, is IMMINENT) will hit Wellington and uniquely Wellington:

Pre-Credits Gambit: The Earthquake

A low loud rumbling (possibly similar to the opening bars of Massive Attack's Angel) will build for some time. This is all the warning we will have, AND IT WILL BE CRUEL AND PRECIOUS LITTLE.

And then the shaking will start.

Buildings and rooms will be split in twain; your best friend, or the girl you get on really well with in a sweet-innocent-primary-school-kissing-with-mouths-closed sort of way, may well fall down a bottomless crevasse screaming never to be seen again. You'd be best to get under your desk, but don't be a damn idiot little shit thinking this will do any good. It'll improve your chances, but you'll still probably be brained by a flying television or decapitated by a fishbowl or fall into the aforementioned chasm.

Or, of course, be ripped to shreds by the razor-sharp shards of bulletlike flying glass.

First Act: The Razor-Sharp Shards Of Bulletlike Flying Glass

Wellington, as we're aware, is a city with many towering glass towers stretching as high as the eye can see. (As long as the eye can't see past the top of the Majestic Centre, and don't even start that built-on-higher-ground bullshit with me). We have erected a sprawling monument to the ability of people to make big buildings and put glass all over them. WELL WE WILL PAY FOR THIS HUBRIS WITH OUR LIVES AND ALSO WITH THE INTEGRITY OF OUR DEAD AND HUBRISTIC CORPSES. You see, when the earthquake hits, every pane of glass is going to bend, splinter, crack, and EXPLODE WITH THE FEROCITY OF GUNFIRE!

This will turn every building in the city into a towering battery of flying-razorsharp-glass-guns. People will be ripped to shreds where they stand, sit, or cower. Inside or outside, it matters not. Which will be followed nicely by the roaming clouds of fiery death.

Second Act: The Roaming Clouds Of Fiery Death

Windy. That's what Wellington is. Windy, and having many streets lined with tall buildings (which, as we've just learned, are really just batteries of flying-glass-deathguns waiting to happen). Also, we foolishly believe that having built a city on a faultline and lined it with high buildings, that we can further harness nature's chaotic energies for our own means, and we have gas mains all over the show. O Lord, what fools these mortals be!, that we can take something whose defining characteristic is that it likes to set itself on fire and be very hot and explosive, and channel it so as to only be afire at our behest! Well, the chickens will come home to roost when the earthquake hits, AND THEY'LL BE ON FIRE.

The gas mains - and probably natural gas reservoirs in the earth just for good measure - will all be violently split open, spraying gas about the place, distributed far and wide by the cold uncaring wind. Which would be bad, but when you factor in the flying snakes of electric searing horror, we're really fucked.

Everywhere you look, there will be flying snakes of electric searing horror, as the bus lines who once benevolently allowed our transportation and the telephone lines who benevolently shifted our porn and the power lines who benevolently gave us cancer come detached from their moorings and whip in the air crazed and mad and charged with violent whipping electrocutionary fervour.

It's not addressed exactly whether, once the Roaming Clouds Of Fiery Death roll around, the Unendying Random Aftershock Terror will really matter; because it's more important, in these education sessions, to address exactly how you will personally be fucked up seven ways from Sunday by whatever effect we're discussing.

Third Act: Unendying Random Aftershock Terror

Aftershocks, according to the experts asked for the purposes of my education, can be as big as - if not worse than - the actual quake itself. They can also go on for days, weeks or months.
This has the confusing effect of making one wonder what exactly makes the actual Earthquake the big heavy-hitter, if it's followed by earthquakes greater than it. It's okay, though, because it instils in the young child a feeling not unlike that when you wake up in the night and upchuck copiously out of nowhere, and you're filled with this dread knowledge that whatever yucky-ass shit just happened, you have no way of predicting whether it's over, but given how horrible you feel, the worst is in all probability yet to come.

Only when it's vomiting, it's just vomiting, but if it's a hypothetical earthquake with all the above effects, telling a kid that aftershocks "can go on for weeks or months and be worse than the actual quake itself" is like pushing him over then kicking him in the nuts.

Final Depressing Post-Credits Epilogue: Survival Horror

Above: Wellington.
Wellington, having had all the above happen to it, will then, we're assured, be Fucked for a very long time. Because in addition to our foolish putting a city on a faultine and our Icarean drive to line the streets of a hill-flanked area with huge man-made wind-tunnels and the ludicrous insanity of our lining the underground with explosive gas and the overhead with thousands of volts of raw coarsing electricity such as are commanded only by the Gods and select divine horse-creature-thingies, we have gone and put our city between the sea and a whole lot of steep pathways to Nowhere At All.

The only ways in or out of Wellington are through hilly passes on elevated motorways which - you better BELIEVE! - are going to crumble like so much sandstone in the face of a grand earthquake. And, you will recall from the above, we're going to have no telephones, because all the phone lines are going to have turned into - that's right! - waving tentacles of electric fury. So if we've survived the earthquake and the razorsharp death and the flying immolation and the snaking whips of electrocution, if by some freak quirk we're still standing, we will then be all alone at the tail end of the North Island and there'll be no getting in or out. And probably, given the tone of my education, this is when the Government will turn us into slaves for their salt-mines.

At the end of all this, we'd go home and lie awake in our beds thinking just how inevitable was violent death. Luckily the memories of children are short and frivolous, filled with gumdrops and penny-whistles, so it wouldn't be too long before our nightmares of electric flame in a shaking hell alone all alone were replaced by wondering what was going to happen on tomorrow's Thundercats.

That's when they'd sit us down and tell us about the Bomb.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Donkey In Art Of The Week: Olden Time Greek Donkey

The kylix was what they used instead of blogs in Classical times. Here we see an example of olden-day blog Mundis Ornerii being used to post a Donkey of the Week, who is over the moon at being featured in the New Media.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What Monsters Would Say: Chupacabra

"Hey man, see Trent Reznor's latest blog post? Pretty sick, dude knows where it's at. You know I'm gonna Digg that shit."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Live From The Internet: Communication Evolved

Our whole theory is that people have real connections in the world. People communicate most naturally and effectively with their friends and the people around them. What we figured is that if we could model what those connections were, [we could] provide that information to a set of applications through which people want to share information, photos or videos or events.
- Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Actual Donkey Animal of the Week: Upside Down Invisible Bicycle Donkey

Dear Donkey, I think you are confusing up with down, air with a bicycle, and yourself with someone who is built to ride on same! How would you even grasp the handlebars??

Friday, May 15, 2009

What Monsters Would Say: Dracula

"I WANT YOU to audition for the amdram Lloyd-Webber revue I am putting together!"

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Sorry State Of The Culture: A Venn Diagram.

Prompted by this and carping of a similar ilk, but a fairly general principle I think.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Actual Donkey Animal of the Week: Hysterical Donkey

Friend of the show Someonefromsometime sends this guffawing fellow, who begs the question: what makes a donkey laugh? My guess is it's Hot Shots! Part Deux. You'd have to be dead not to laugh at something in that movie.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Videogames, Art Form of the C21st: Easy Pickin's

Terranigma taught me how to talk to the ladies like a P.I.M.P.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

It's like Sophie's Choice, if Sophie were a racist.

The phrase is "'Offensive' name". The name whose offensiveness is contentious enough to put into "Apparently-Quotes" is "Nigger". Know what, The Papers? You can go ahead and remove those "alleged-markers" right there. The word "Nigger" is not "Offensive", the word "Nigger" is just Offensive. Okay? It's 2009. You're allowed to come down on one side or the other of the great Is It Offensive To Say Nigger Debate.

Meanwhile we're all pretending like the makers of The Dam Busters are still undecided on this point. I am officially Sick Of This Story.

For those outside of Nizild, where The Dam Busters is recognized as the promising low-budget action movie it is, this is the story: Peter Jackson is producing a remake of The Dam Busters. In the original film (and the events on which it was based), the main character had a dog called "Nigger" (on account of it was black). Nowadays, people don't own dogs called "Nigger" (even if they're black), so it has been suggested that the new version of The Dam Busters may not feature a dog called Nigger.

And the letter-writers and hand-wringers of the country have agreed to play their role via the appropriate channels, that of pretending like "should or should not Peter Jackson allow a movie to be released under his name in which a dog is called 'Nigger'?" is a debate worth engaging in. And said letter-writings and hand-wringings are then reported as if it was a debate that was being engaged in, rather than a silly little piece of theatre revolving around a total nonissue.

Because, see, nobody is going to release a movie into theatres with a dog called "Nigger" in it, and nobody in their right mind is pretending otherwise, apart from racists pretending they're striving for historical verisimilitude. To offend racists, or to offend anyone offended by the word "Nigger"? Well golly, it's hard to pick just one.

And now I will for a second abandon my position of "let us stop talking about this" and adopt a position of "if I were to talk about this, here is what I would say". What I would say is that anyone who is willing to argue that "historical verisimilitude" should see a protagonist in a pulpy genre action movie own a dog called "Nigger", just because the character on which the character on which he was based owned one, is a racist. And here is why I would say that.

If you were truly concerned with a film relating events exactly as they were, you would obtain and read the script, and you would pillory writer Steven Fry whenever dialogue got points across succinctly or elegantly at the expense of the regular "um"s and "ah"s of actual peoples' diction. You would lambast the filmmakers for never showing the characters on the toilet. You'd be insisting that only the real actual face of Guy Gibson computer-mapped onto an actor (presumably Andy Serkis) would be appropriate for the depiction of the main character (and historical Nigger-owner). You'd be offended whenever action shifted (or "cut") from one viewpoint to another abruptly, as that doesn't happen in real life; every time such a shift happened, you'd take a freeze-frame of the image and inspect it for non-diegetic lighting, not a footcandle of which you would brook. Hell, you wouldn't even be happy with the fact that the film appeared to allege that World War 2 was fought on only two dimensions (presumably allowing Fritz unbarred access to the precious third and upward ones).

Meanwhile, if you weren't wanting an accurate depiction of events so much as a faithful repetition of the original movie, surely you'd have become outraged as soon as you heard that Steven Fry had written a new script, and once you found that the movie was now in colour and featured new actors and... et cetera.

All of this is to say, via what I laughingly call reducto ad absurdum, that everyone knows that a film is a film, and that everybody knows that films don't tell the truth, they tell stories, and that stories and reality are different. And if you want as close as possible an experience to the original movie, well, go watch the damn original movie.

Whereas if you want to know exactly what it's like to be in a war and have people freely bandy about racist epithets, I'm sure there are plenty of companies currently serving that could help you out. Just don't write back.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Actual Donkey Animal of the Week: Lucy

In allowing a toy monkey to ride her and having her hindquarters fall victim to some sort of dodgy Photoshop pixel-shear, she has a name. Her name is Lucy. Her name is Lucy. Say it with me. HER NAME IS LUCY.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

What Monsters Would Say: Jenny Haniver

"This? Oh, it's some sort of comb thing I found during my very real oceanic travels. But listen, how are YOU? It's great to see you - we must do this more often."