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Sunday, 30 December 2018

Reader's Request - Dune, The Devil and Meghan Markle

Greetings folks, and welcome to the last blog of the year - a Reader's Request, no less! So without delay, I will dive into the prompts given me by social media, and see what we find!

Hardest scene you've ever written and why - This one prompted a "THIS!" from the peanut gallery, so a popular choice, apparently. This is... hard to answer, but, I think it is a scene from a NaNo entry called Individuation. Something I'd like to revisit one day. Anyway. The main character ends up in hospital over something self-inflicted, and I wrote that whole bit from experience. That was difficult to put down on the page.

Most useless piece of tat you have ever seen marketed? (politicians don't count) - The company Supreme makes a lot of ridiculous overpriced bollocks, I don't know what they do aside from that, but here's a fucking BRICK with their logo on it.

Favourite MST3K episode and robot - In the not too distant future! My favourite episode is Manos: The Hands Of Fate, season 4, episode 24. It's just... such a bad film. So very, very bad. And my favourite robot is Crow T Robot, if only because his brand of sarcasm is very much my kind of brand.

Favourite and least favourite mash up of an item. - This came with a prompt...

So there are so many mediocre mashups - like, websites full of shirts that (in various levels of wittiness). I think the best mashup I've seen - like, a literal melding of two separate individual properties - is the combination of Batman and Wolverine in the short-lived Marvel-DC mash-up. Darkclaw - the ULTIMATE edgelord. My least favourite mashup is the New Testament.

Favourite adversary you've used in writing or gaming - That's a hard, hard choice. Very hard. Though I think that... if I had to pick one, it would be Emir. The covert-terror AI that got loose in Eclipse Phase, and caused a civil war to break out amongst other things. Oh, and he killed millions by severing the space elevator anchored to Mons Olympus.

Favourite and/or most interesting Tradition - One of my own favourite traditions of a thing that only I do is to always watch The Crow on Devil's Night (day before Halloween for the uninitiated). In terms of other people's traditions? I like this motherfucker. This is Mari Lwyd, it's a bone horse that gets carted through various different towns and villages in Wales.

Why dune is the only film you ever need to see (David lynch version) - This is a falsehood. It is, however, a film you NEED to see if you have not. Because it is ABSOLUTELY BONKERS.

Most memorable arcade machine - This one got a "THAT!" from the peanut gallery so we're gonna go with it. There's two memorable ones. One because I absolutely LOVED it, and one because it is absolutely infamous. The one I loved was the Aliens arcade game. If only because I was obsessed with Aliens when I first discovered it. The memorable one? There's a very, very prevalent glitched Streetfighter 2 board wherein the characters have mixed-up specials and Chun Li does fireballs when you do her kicks. It's absolutely mad. And I've found three of the same machines in three different arcades!

Batshit craziest folk story you ever heard? - The first world, in Aztec lore, displeased Tezpatlipoca the Smoking Mirror - god of ancestral memory, time, and change through conflict. So he had everyone on earth be eaten by jaguars. No flood, no fire, no cascade of angels. No. EVERYONE gets eaten by a jaguar. Fuck you people.

Difference between our generation and our parents and why it leads to so much angst and strife? - Economics and war. The march of capital upwards and upwards, away from us. My mother remembers rationing when she was a child - back when we as a country had built a million council houses to house poor people after massive swathes of the country had been bombed flat. Now our money is worth less and employers are less willing to hire us. And nobody wants to admit that they've been given a better ride than anyone else. Not that they chose to.

Favorite character you've ever written. - Difficult choice. But I think, maybe... Captain Forenza Drake from Bridge. I like her a lot. Big and bolshy and grinning like a cocky dickhead the entire time. She's brilliant.

Follow up, your favorite character in popular media. - You need me to pick one? Gawd. That's hard. My favourite characters read like the lineup from a Smash game (except not all owned by the same franchise). But like. I mean. Let's just go with Lt. Ellen Ripley and be done with it.

Comments and thoughts on the resurgence of Nationalism, and how we can (as a world) move past it. - Nationalism is being tapped again, as it always gets tapped, to fend off changes that the people want and demand. The people that want things to be the way they were can go to Nationalism for that, and they will. We as a world have to move past it by rejecting it at every single turn, by not giving it the space to grow, and by being active in their community and their politics. We need to learn, we need to study, we need to believe we can be better, and then we need to be better.

There's a lot of parallels between our current world and various dystopia such as Altered Carbon, Shadowrun etc. Do you think we're doomed to a dystopian future, or do you hold out hope that we can possibly reach something more utopian like Earth in Star Trek: TNG? - I think that in order to reach a future that isn't Blade Runner, we're going to have to rip down the entire edifice and start again from scratch. And that simply isn't likely.

When (if at all) do you think the current Age of Superhero media will go the way of the Westerns? - If you mean, when it will go fallow, and then return in a more gritty shape? I'm not honestly sure. I mean Marvel are still making stuff like Paint Your Wagon, whereas DC have blown out of any semblance of it and skipped ahead to 3:10 To Yuma. So I am honestly not sure. It's a hard market to pattern.

Favourite after credit scene. - The bloopers from Rumble In The Bronx.

Favourite video game of 2018 - Battletech. Brilliant game. Absolutely brilliant.

Current favorite meme. - While I like Bongocat a lot, my current favourite is Surprised Pikachu.

Obligatory boobies - Yes, indeed.

You view on this - Well, I mean, it's a way to advertise I guess? ...bit idealised, but...?

Your view on the current state of video games - Kind of all over the place. I don't know enough about the innards of the industry to comment properly but... there's been some great stuff released recently, and some of it has even been triple-A. But the same shit is being trotted out, as usual. Not a lot of forward movement.

Top 5 depictions of 'The Devil' in media? - I love this one. In reverse order:
5 - Rodney Dangerfield (Little Nicky)
4 - Gabriel Byrne (End Of Days)
3 - Robert DeNiro (Angel Heart)
2 - Al Pacino (The Devil's Advocate)
1 - Peter Stormare (Constantine)

Honorary mention goes to Tim Curry for the Lord of Darkness in Legend. He's not the Devil but he's awesome.

Anti-vaxxers, flat-earthers , conspiracy theorists .. discuss ?? - Oh god. There's a lot to unpack there. A loooot to discuss. I think we'd be a lot happier if, instead, we vaccinated our kids, accepted the earth is round, and started learning about how things actually are rather than chasing ghosts. Every conspiracy theory has a reality to it that is 1) obvious if you look 2) out in the open and 3) much more mundane and terrible than the theory itself. Bush Did 9/11? It's probably scarier to imagine that it was achieved by a bunch of determined people under the not-so-watchful eye of local security services.

What animal breeding style would you like to see swapped with another? E.G. female seals laying hundreds of eggs, queen alien style. - I'd like to see sea turtles use the breeding style of sharks. So they don't have to make their babies run down the beach. Instead they get to fight each other before birth. But they don't die cos they aren't sharks.

If you could update the human body with a new patch, but only concerned with one system, like digestion or whatever - The BRAIN. The brain. By god. The brain. Just be better, dammit, BE BETTER.

Who would you like to put on a new £4.50 coin? - Clement Attlee. He preceded Churchill (whose genocidal mug is on the £5).

What do you do if your friends don't dance? - Their opinion doesn't matter, I can dance if I want to.

What if God was a duck this whole time? - It would explain an awful lot.

Which SCP would you most like to keep as a pet, and which would you most like at your disposal - I would keep SCP-999 as a pet, because I would very much appreciate being able to just be happy sometimes. You know? And I would like to keep SCP-682 at my disposal, for deployment when I need something absolutely fucking destroyed.

Which ninja turtle would make the best emperor of Edo Japan. Then which Power Ranger. Then which of them would win in a duel. - Leonardo would make the best emperor because he is literally the leader. And he's good at it. At least, most of the time. I don't know if ANY Power Rangers would make a good emperor? But let's go with Billy Cranston, because he's smart as fuck, and not just mechanically speaking. Which means that I think Leonardo wins the duel. Cos he's a fucking ninja.

Meghan Markle! - I love her. She's great! It's unfortunate that this country has so many assholes in it, and that she becomes a target for them. It's an embarrassment for this nation.

If 500 years ago, Britain was a Matriachy, would things be the same? - I am not entirely sure, however - the monarch 500 years ago was Henry VIII. So like if he wasn't around, and there was a queen instead, then we wouldn't have had the whole reformation thing... god, that would have changed things a bit.

(Chris asked me who my favourite US president is but he didn't post a question for me to copy, boo) - I dunno but I like Lyndon B Johnson a lot. If we're talking about ACTUAL US Presidents. My favourite fictional US president is Morgan Freeman from Deep Impact.

And that's it! That's the last blog of 2018! I didn't enjoy this year much! Did you?

Let's hope that 2019 is a great year!


Sunday, 23 December 2018

Season's Gratings

So I am making a conscious effort to not piss in anyone's Wheaties, in my life in general. Which is sometimes hard, because I'm an opinionated asshole.

It is, for the most part, reasonably simple to just keep my mouth shut when someone likes something that I really don't.

I mean it's all opinions, right? If we're in an environment in which a discussion would be appropriate or welcome, then we can have a discussion - but immediately jumping in with the shit-talk is something I am trying to do far less. I used to do it a lot. I was REALLY annoying.

So that usually means keeping my trap shut when it comes to Christmas.

You've maybe seen my festive blogs before. They're not very festive. You can draw your conclusions from how I feel about Christmas from... well, let's just say there's a plethora of evidence.

In my office, there is a significant amount of Christmas cheer. Like the place is bedecked with happy people eating mince pies and doing secret santas and cheerful and yay and joy and.. I don't want to fuck that up.

I know the value of happiness.

Last blog I talked about how the little things are important - the little good things in our lives, the things that make us happy when everything else seems to be devoted to making us miserable. When it is so easy for the negative to have sway over us and so hard for the positive to really sink in, those individual examples of niceness and pleasantness hold a lot more significance.

So yeah. If wearing the hat and dancing around to Mariah Carey is gonna make you happy, then... well, I should probably keep my grumbling to either myself or someone that I am fairly sure agrees with me.

Cowardice? Maybe. Dad always taught me to pick my battles and telling other people to not enjoy an inescapable marketing event isn't one that will have any positive result. Also... what would the point be? It's not like we're talking about eugenics or white supremacy or corporatocracy. It's just people having a laugh. I ought to let them.

I don't know if I have an actual point, for this blog. I think I'm just talking about my feelings and thoughts on this topic?

Most of the stuff that I don't like about the season isn't actually Christmas' fault. It's just people, when I come to think about it.

Maybe I am more of a misanthrope than I'd like to admit.

Anyway. Tune in next time for the New Year Run Up Special.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Elegy For A Zaibatsu

This blog is again going to be a short one, because I am running at a super low ebb right now.

There's a specific piece of music that I am told is one of the theme tunes to Kirby, which is something I'm not aware of because frankly I never much liked any of the Kirby games. But whenever I hear it, I never think of the Kirby games.

I think of at least two dudes on YouTube chatting shit at each other and playing video games, under the monicker Two Best Friends Play.

It's Let's Play stuff, with these two guys - Matt and Pat - that snipe at each other, and know a fair thing or two about game culture and design. They've both worked as playtesters, I think. They both also love fighting games, which is where their pal Woolie comes in, who is apparently some kind of god-level fighting game expert. He is, also, very funny.

They played all sorts of games together. Every Halloween they'd do a thing called Shitshow, wherein they would put on display a bunch of awful and sometimes good horror games that they'd collected over the years. That was a favourite of mine. I've always liked Halloween, and people that know games ratting on bad games with a horror theme is just my idea of a good time.

I've always kind of wondered how their friendship kept going, though. I mean it's not in my nature to be all peeping on the personal lives of youtubers, that's their business and if they don't want to make it part of their public lives, that's their business - but they have always seemed to be quite antagonistic. Like, the sniping on occasion got to be a little personal. And some people are more okay with that than others, I get that. I just wondered.

Last night, a video got put out involving each of them individually, talking about the fact that the channel is over. The two best friends aren't friends any more. Like, literally, that's their reasoning. So that's just over, now.

That got me thinking about permanence.

About how quickly shit can get just.. snatched away. Even if it is clear to others that it has been going for a long time, that it is most definitely on the way out, the actual moment of something going away that it actually starts to sink in. We haven't necessarily thought about the shape of the hole that it has left in our view of the world - but we're aware the hole is there, sudden and empty.

That's not just about YouTube channels. That's about almost everything. It never seems to happen to shitty or awful things, either - and I know full well that is confirmation bias, but it's still the feeling left behind, like a taste in the back of the throat. Like the good things get snatched away so quickly and so imperiously, and the bad things drag out and dig in, clutching on with a will of their own.

I've held for a long time that the only purpose we have in life - the only purpose higher than replication - is happiness. That can be a hard thing to nurture, in the face of - well, everything, really. Society at large eating itself like Ouroboros, millionaires using the poor as ablative armour for their profits, fascists and racists and sexists and bigots generally making our lives miserable. We have to hang onto the things that make us happy, that make it worth getting up tomorrow.

I guess that is why it kind of sucks when one of those things slips away, even if it's only a YouTube channel that made me laugh.

Hang onto the good things, people.

We need them.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

The Bays And The Bumblebees

So my continuous derision for the Bayformers movies (I will not call them Transformers, no no no) is probably well-known to any regular reader of this blog, and so I find myself surprised to write this particular piece.

The Bumblebee movie - which should be out reasonably soon - looks like it will actually be... good.

Now I don't want to blame Michael Bay for everything that is wrong with the previous five movies in this franchise. I doubt he is personally responsible for literally every sin - the shitty design, the awful cinematography and choreography, the execrable writing, the brutal mutilation of characters to fit into the role required for the lamentable plot... but he got to sit on the throne made out of the bodies, too.

So his not being involved is a miracle to me, because... well, maybe some of the staples of his movies will be removed. Like his weird attitude toward women, or his inability to tell if the thing that is happening on the screen is racist (or his inability to care).

It also seems to seriously cut down on the weird bug-like design of the bots, even going so far as to having several shots from Cybertron in which everyone looks like they're actually meant to. Like you see Optimus Prime and he's not this fuck:

He's THIS lad:

Now which one of those looks like Optimus Prime?

Yeah. That's what I thought.

See, Bee has gone up a lot in my estimation since the old G1 days. He's undergone a lot of character changes. Been through a lot. His incarnation in the Bayformers movies has pretty much made him out to be some wildly violent super-soldier who is made to not realise he is so deadly for apparent plot reasons.

Also we appear to get Decepticons with personality this time. They actually seem to talk. They turn up on Earth with the intention to, ahem, deceive the local population. To help them track down Bumblebee. Which is genius. And exactly the kind of things smart bad guys would do. Right?

I am so very, very dubious. But I have so, so much hope.

A full review will follow.

Sorry for the short blog. Normal service will be resumed when I can, you know. Walk.

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Post-November, Post-Novel

So as most of you know I took part in National Novel Writing Month last month, as I so often do, and probably annoyed a bunch of people following me on social media.

For the uninitiated, the challenge involves writing a novel of 50,000 words in the month of November. (For reference, that's the length of The Great Gatsby, Slaughterhouse-5, Of Mice And Men and Fight Club, give or take a couple hundred.) As a competition it attracts a significant following every year, over 400,000 in 2017.

It was started, expressly, as an attempt to get people to just.. write something. All sorts of people talk about writing, but say they never have time, or worry they won't be good at it, or say that if it won't get published what's the point. So. NaNoWriMo exists to sideline all of those excuses. It doesn't need to be good. It doesn't need to be published. Just get it out of your head and onto a page. Writing is a practicable skill, meaning that the more you do it, the better you get at it. The most important thing you have to do is actually start.

I do it, because I have difficulty getting started in terms of writing. Plenty of ideas, so little will to get them on paper or continue them. I find it difficult. NaNo is just that right kind of pace and deadline that I find the entire thing to be very useful for my process.

It's also my opportunity to write a thing that needn't become anything bigger or tie into anything I have already done. I can write something experimental or just for fun.

This year, I dabbled in a setting I have been toying with, and I put in a romantic plot because I deliberately don't do that with a lot of my writing. I hiss and recoil whenever I am told that a plot HAS to have romance in it. So I am out of practice. This was good practice, and I ended up being a big fan of the two girls that fell for each other.

The end result isn't great. I like the setting but the story itself leaves something to be desired. I am making it freely available for people to read if they want, but it's far from my best work.

Also this year was close. And that is rare, because usually I either crush it with days to spare or I give up in the first week and a half. So to be on day 29 and to see I still had like 3,000 words to go - that was a bit of a pulse-pounder.

Being laid up as I am right now - my left quad is absolutely screwed, standing up and moving about is horrible - I thought that maybe it would make things easier. It didn't. The painkiller fog and the actually being IN pain and uncomfortable does not a good writing environment make.

I'm proud of the words I put down, even if they weren't my best. I'm pretty sure the story is cogent, at least. I like the characters involved - enough that I would like to revisit them. I would certainly like to do more in the setting.

Either way. I have emerged blinking out of the writing bunker.