Sunday, December 31, 2017

Best of 2017, Not from 2017

I didn't spend as much time this year seeking out the finest epicurean morsels of the year and all the previous years there have been.

I spent most of the time working, being over-protective of a blind kitten, reading through exhaustive bibliographies of authors it turns out I'd already read the best bits of anyway, and pretending to be a Filipino woman on YouTube in a misjudged business enterprise that ended up losing money, but at least allowed me to experience some vicarious racism, gender dysphoria and sexual harassment, so it wasn't a complete waste of time.

But it was either write this or get on with more of that pressing work. Gan on then. Hope you had a good year!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Reviewing Millennium, Harsh Realm & The Lone Gunmen

My virginal reactions to the X-Files' sister show, spin-off and Chris Carter's failed second franchise. Not particularly insightful (I recommend The M0vie Blog instead), but it was either put them here or put them in the bin, and these unreliable ratings can be helpful for my own selective rewatching.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Reviewing The X-Files, part 2: seasons 6-10

The 1997 film already did a pretty good job of segregating the first five years of The X-Files into their own protected, rose-tinted bloc where they would always be praised over what came next, deservedly or not. The jarring move from Vancouver to Hollywood just made compartmentalising easier, and the steep decline in quality certainly boosted the position.

It's not all bad. Some of it's almost as good as the older stuff. But a disappointing amount of it is disappointing. Then they brought it back, which was alright.

Part 2: The Hollywood years (& Vancouver reprise).

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Reviewing The X-Files, part 1: seasons 1-5

I watched The X-Files right from the start when I was nine, thanks to my dad letting me stay up illegally late on a school night when my mum was at an evening class or something.

Five years ago, I watched the whole series again (some of those later episodes for the first time). This is what I thought about them. Supplemented by mythology updates when I watched selected episodes with the wifey more recently and felt the need to chronicle any minor changes of opinion.

Part one: The Vancouver Years (a.k.a. the classic years. Mostly. Often).

Friday, December 15, 2017

Ranking the M. R. James stories

Wooooooooo, it's Christmas! Which means it's time for spooky stories, but only if you're British and at least a generation older than I am (and often wish to be).

I didn't have the pleasure of being creeped out by these tales as a child, but reading 'The Mezzotint' with my ears on one of my Edinburgh walkabouts is one of the few times I've recaptured that innocent chill in adulthood. Probably because it reminded me of that scary bit at the start of The Witches where a child gets trapped in a painting. At least I wasn't deprived of Roald Dahl.

Even if none of the others succeed in raising a goosebump or ruffling a feather, reading The Top 40 M. R. James Stories is still going to be a falsely nostalgic pleasure. Pass the imaginary Christmas cake. I miss British desserts. I don't belong in this time or place.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Reviewing the classic Doctor Who serials + extras

Not a judgemental ranking this time, because I watched these over the course of a few years and it's not like I can remember the subtle nuances that make 'Warriors of the Deep' slightly more or less poor than 'The Horns of Nimon.' Instead, judgemental ratings and reviews in chronological order, copy-pasted from my old TV blog onto one conveniently unwieldy page.

I didn't watch these in the correct sequence (6-7, 4-5 and finally 1-3 with breaks in-between), so I may become noticeably less aware of continuity and influence as I go along. But I know what I like. I'll throw in a top 10 at the end if my first-impression reflexes are that valuable.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Ranking the Twilight Zone episodes

Almost 60 years on, The Twilight Zone is still the definitive TV anthology series. Even a load of really terrible episodes can't tarnish that legacy. You've already seen the best ones on The Simpsons, but The Top 156 Twilight Zone Tales are well worth checking out.

Here are my unreliable first-timer 'reviews,' newly shuffled into an inconsistent ranking based on several-year-old memories. In case that's useful to anyone. You never know. Stranger things have happened... in the Twilight Zone.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Ranking Clive Barker's Books of Blood stories

I'm not a big fan of modern horror. I prefer my spooky stories cobwebbed and prudish, where tentacles are just tentacles and everyone's far too busy tracking down old manuscripts and losing their minds to have time for that sort of thing.

But after Hellraiser successfully creeped and grossed me out as an adult, I was intrigued to read more from Clive Barker in a way I'd never felt after watching the TV movies of Stephen King. Sorry, Langoliers.

That dark voyage has been going on for a decade now and hasn't all been smooth sailing, but the perverse peaks were worth the tedious troughs. For reasons unknown, I persevered with unpalatable bloated sagas but barely touched the appetising short stuff before now. Here are The Top 30 Tales Of Books Of Blood.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Ranking the Murder Most Horrid mortality tales

I never watched The Vicar of Dibley, I preferred the darker side of Dawn French's '90s output. Except when it was rubbish.

Here are some unhelpfully brief thoughts illustrated by below-par VHS-to-MP4 screencaps.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Ranking the Jonathan Creek cases

David Renwick's duffel-clad mysteries were the peak of '90s Saturday evening programming, and they're still intermittently making them 20 years later. But do any of the modern puzzles hold up to the classics? And is it a good idea to rewatch something you considered the height of flabbergasting genius in your youth, now that you're grown up and can spot when it's a bit ramshackle and convenient sometimes?

Here's what I thought when I watched them all again the last time they made some new ones. Newly arranged into an unreliable ranking for the sake of convenience and arguments.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Ranking the Blackadder episodes

No special occasion this time (we just passed the 30th anniversary of the underdog-favourite third series?) Here's what I could be bothered to write about The Top 27 Blackadder Episodes (plus extras) when I watched through them all again a few years back. (When my wife isn't interested in watching something with me, I like to talk to an imaginary penpal).

Newly shuffled into an approximate ranking of best to worst, because that took minimal extra effort and it's an unhealthy preoccupation.

Friday, November 17, 2017

A bunch of time travel films

Thirty half-arsed "reviews" of films featuring varying degrees of time travel, salvaged from my old blog since Photobucket's ransom demand made wading through that site even more irritating than it was already. In alphabetical order, not chronological. That would just get confusing.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Ranking Robert Jordan's Conan novels

My Robert E. Howard read-through was hardly comprehensive, only covering the 30-odd Conan stories and fragments he wrote in his short lifetime. So it seemed likely I'd take another swing and hack through more of the bibliography at some point.

I didn't expect it would involve reading another writer's expanded universe fan fiction from 50 years later, but here I am. Clearly couldn't get enough of the rugged brute. I could have read some proper novels in the time this took me. Just as I could have spent my late teen years getting to grips with Bach rather than Manowar, but never mind.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Ranking the Red Dwarf episodes

This list of The Top 73 Red Dwarf Episodes (1988–2017) was prepared for Ganymede & Titan's 30th anniversary Pearl Poll.

Since compiling the original list from literally rose-tinted memories, I've actually bothered to rewatch my favourite childhood programme with as close to as an objective lens as possible, and the ranking has mildly altered.

Have any of the younger entries risen up the ranks when watched alongside the old "classics" on shuffle? They've slid down, if anything. Red Dwarf is mint.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Oh yeah, privacy

I had a mild wake-up call that just because I'm not posting photos on Bebo or whatever they have nowadays, it's still not a great idea to broadcast images of myself and the real people in my life and information about what I'm doing out into the world to be unprofitably duplicated by disreputable image site bots forever.

So I've reverted-to-draft all posts since early 2013 that might include personal details or pictures of my lady wife and other family members, until I can be bothered to go through deleting the incriminating data one by one. So I get to enjoy the boring admin of a break-up without any of the unpleasantness, win-win. (I'm especially looking forward to spending time manually removing the location field for each blog that I took the time to manually enter every single time, out of some weird sense of obligation that I'm sure Google appreciated at least).

Anything before 2013 doesn't matter, I was just freelancing and flaneuring and killing the lonely evenings in-between. This is my life now. With a wife, a couple of cats, some good books and a lot of work to be getting on with.

Cat pictures are fine though. You'll be delighted to know.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Ranking the Edgar Allen Poe stories

Wooooooooo, it's Halloween (apparently)! What better time to unearth these morbid morsels from the master of the macabre?

Right, like that wouldn't have applied to most of my reading this year. Ranking The Top 69 Edgar Allen Poe Tales only required the minimum of schedule shuffling. And it turns out most of them are lame comedies anyway. No poems, I don't do those.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Ranking the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comics, even though I'm a grown man

This was the first comic I really got into as a child, during my conventional Turtles phase (c.1990). For a comic based on a cartoon based on a different comic, it was surprisingly good. Mainly for rebelling against its lineage and doing its own, often crazy thing.

Writer Stephen Murphy (a.k.a. Dean Clarrain) seemingly had free reign to take the heroes-in-half-shells out of their cartoon comfort zone and plonk them into stream-of-consciousness sci-fi adventures and heavy-handed environmental sermons. At five years old, I found it all compellingly unsettling.

I only had maybe seven issues in total back then, not counting a few of the inferior British comics they put out to fill time between the American reprints. As a 31-year-old man*, I had little to no interest in reading the vast majority of these that don't have the necessary nostalgia. But what kind of world would this be if we're allowed to pick and choose?

Ignoring the straight adaptations of TV episodes and films and all the spin-offs I can't be bothered to get into, here are The Top 52 Archie TMNT Adventures. When you're reading them inappropriately grown-up, anyway. At least outwardly.

* I read/wrote all of this months ago when I had more time to waste. I was too ashamed to post it, so kept delaying it another month. At least it makes my YouTube persona seem even weirder, so there's that.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Still alive

Still insatiably greedy, still tries to escape the painstakingly cat-proofed garden every day, still wakes me up at 3am without fail.

Should have let nature take its course in the first place. That'd show him.


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Ranking Arthur C. Clarke's short stories

2001 (film version) and Rendezvous with Rama both made big impressions on me as a teenager, so I'm not sure why I've hardly read any more ACC books since then.

Maybe it's those ponderous titles making me worry I'm in for something boring? Maybe it's the whole paedophile thing? Either way, I won't let that spoil The Top 104 Arthur C. Clarke Shorts.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Ranking the Stargate novels

It's odd that there were no cinematic sequels to Stargate. Not that it needed them, or that it likely would have been any good, you'd just think the studio would be keen to milk that successful blend of sci-fi, Egyptology, ancient alien conspiracy, white supremacy and dumb action movie until it was left as barren and arid as an Abydosian plain.

But there were sequels! At least in book form. Bill McCay was contracted to write five further adventures for Jack O'Neil, Daniel Jackson and presumably that old man who eats Daniel's chocolate bar and exclaims "bunny weh!" They may not be any closer to what a real sequel would have been like than Splinter of the Mind's Eye was to The Empire Strikes Back.

Why only five? Either interest dried up or Bill ran out of titles starting with 'Re-' and they ran out of colours to slightly differentiate the boring, identical covers. Join me on the other side as we discover The Top 5 Stargate Novels. I suppose there's a chance they might even be good?

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Ranking the Red Dwarf novels

I was first exposed to Red Dwarf by accident when I was about nine. My grandparents' telly inadvertently caught the end of a repeat broadcast of 'D.N.A.,' where the disgusting curry monster blows up. I probably enjoyed it more than they did. A week later, I caught the beginning of 'Justice,' where Lister's swollen, pus-filled head bursts. Needless to say, I had a new favourite programme.

I still hadn't seen any of the early episodes when I spotted the first sort-of-novelisation at the library a few years later. Not having my mental images diluted by claustrophobic grey sets, I was blown away by Grant Naylor's elaborate descriptions of the city-sized ship as they rewrote future history and indulged their newfound freedom from having to worry about budgets and practicality.

I got the abridged audiobooks of the first two novels a while later, and Chris Barrie read them to me over and over as I refused to drift off to sleep. I read Last Human once or twice as well. Don't know if I ever made it all the way through Backwards.

Returning to these adolescent favourites a lifetime and a literature degree later, will they still hold up as sci-fi comedy classics? Or will they be exposed as a string of reprinted TV scripts with speech marks and "said Rimmer" pasted in, linked by a tenuous narrative? Which of Grant or Naylor's solo efforts is slightly better than the other one? Do I ever find my singing tie-pin?

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Ranking the Andrew Michael Hurley novel

Contrary to appearances, I don't only like dead authors. But when you've committed to reading pedantically comprehensive bibliographies, for some reason, it's helpful to know for certain that the author in question isn't going to put out any more and challenge your flimsy deductions.

But then there are times like this, when I'm really eager to read something that's been hanging around in my ebook library for a while and don't want to have to wait until January to find out that I'm not allowed to read it next year either.

So sod me and my aesthetically self-harming rules – here's The Top 1 Andrew Michael Hurley Novel. If he does insist on writing more, I suppose I can bring myself to write another hundred words every few years.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Ranking the Douglas Adams books

It must be over a decade since I've read a proper Douglas Adams book, rather than leftovers or pretenders. The Hitchhiker's Guides were a revelation in my late teens, and I've always wished I'd read them when I was younger and even more impressionable. But would they still hold up now I'm old and (even more) miserable?

I'm almost worried to find out. Don't panic! Or was that Dad's Army? Here's what I reckon about The Top 12 Douglas Adams Books and Not Quite Douglas Adams Books.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Best of 2016, Not from 2016, in August 2017

"Where's your annual, anachronistic round-up of the best things from 2016, not from 2016?" nobody asked. I actually got about half-way through writing this a while ago, before realising how much of a waste of time it was and deleting it. So now I had to waste more time writing that half again. Yes, I do have work to be doing. You knew this would happen, Dave. What have I ever done to you? Apart from all the self-destructive life choices. We've got cats now, things are getting better.

Here are my favourite things I experienced last year that probably weren't made last year, because that's just one of the many years available from history and we can't all have experienced it all the first time around.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Ranking Bram Stoker's short stories

You can't top Dracula, but I wasn't expecting my second Stoker novel – The Jewel of Seven Stars – to be quite as bad as it was. It seemed there were reasons his other books aren't as famous.

I didn't have the willpower to take on all the other novels, but luckily he wrote shorter fiction too. Less luckily, it turns out that hardly any of that's worth reading either.

Listen to them—The Top 52 Bram Stoker Short Stories of the night. What music they make!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Ranking (the "best" of) the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds stories

Faced with some of the tightest creative restrictions in the industry, officially licensed Star Trek novels were rarely any good.

At the other end of the spectrum, you have fan fiction that's beholden to no one and can do what the hell it likes with the characters, as long as that means turning the space adventure franchise into angsty smut. This also isn't my thing.

Somewhere between those two extremes (but still towards the safe end, because Pocket Books was publishing them) were the annual Strange New Worlds anthologies. For ten years, amateur writers from the U.S. and Canada were invited to submit their conservatively creative short stories set in the Star Trek universe for cash prizes and esteem.

I'm not sure why I never bought one of these books at the time, since I remember finding them intriguing. Presumably, spending my saved-up dinner money on two-episode VHS tapes and Smegazines was a higher priority. I got round to it eventually. Though I've mercifully limited myself to the stories ranked first, second and third by the editors of each book, rather than reading all 221 of them like some kind of Dave Warburton.

The cover images indicate which stories were awarded the Grand Prize in their respective collections. So let's see whether those all stack up neatly at the bottom, or if I have my own maverick opinions about The Top 30 Top 3 Strange New Worlds Stories.

Friday, July 7, 2017

My Top Ten Websites 2004

"I can't log on to this website to look at my friend's Nationwide-employed sister and imagine her in just her bra" - Me, apparently

Just to finish off this dooyoo trilogy that's been self-indulgent even by my standards, here's an absolutely pointless update of My Top Ten Websites 2003 from nine months later. It's the least anticipated sequel in history!

During that time, my original account was deleted when they noticed I'd been creating loads of fake accounts to click through all my reviews and fraud myself some extra dooyoo miles. I got my £40 Amazon voucher before that happened though, so pathetic crime pays. If they want it back, they can have it.

I came back under a new alias and behaved this time, which meant I also had the chance to give a second opinion on old topics and reveal the exciting progress of my boring teenage life. Fortunately, I'd leave for university five months later and my actual life could begin. During that time, I only dooyooed during the summer break when everyone else went home.

And here I am today, taking valuable time out of paid work to illustrate and [annotate] my old dooyoo reviews. Is that progress?

Friday, June 30, 2017

Ranking the Korn, sorry, "KoRn" albums when I was 15-16

"Although the song is about rape, I don't reckon it was good enough to have put on the album" - Me, apparently

I wasn't intending to do this again. This isn't going to be an ongoing catalogue as I preserve my hundreds of bad teenage reviews for posterity they don't deserve.

But curiosity got the better of me, and I was interested to see the transition in my tastes from fun, lightweight American pop punk to dark, angsty American "nu" metal as I similarly passed from care-free Year 10 into the more stressful GCSE year, from a Pre-9/11 World into a Post-9/11 World, and reached the legal age of consent. These last two points would turn out to have no impact.

These heartfelt track-by-track essays masquerading as useless consumer reviews are much too long to be entertaining to anyone but me, so here are some of the highlights:
  • Pedantically insisting on writing it 'KoRn' every single time, while clearly wishing I was able to write 'KoЯn.' Look at me now!
  • Assuming the phrase "I bum it" as a term of appreciation among my friends is in common parlance or acceptable.
  • The phrase "drugs in the form of needles."
  • The phrase "unwanted sexual abuse."
  • A 3,000-word album review containing 1,500 words of copy-pasted interview quotes.
  • These quotes being reproduced in their rambling, inane entirety like they're deep and meaningful sermons we can learn from.
Written for in 2001. Don't bother writing your own, they don't pay any more. Featuring [mean commentary] when necessary. It seemed to be a lot more necessary this time.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Ranking the Offspring albums when I was 15

"I saw them live in Manchester in January on their 2001 European Tour, and those guys kicked some ass" - Me, apparently

Bit too busy to compare 100+ short stories this month, so I've invited my more eager, younger self from half a lifetime ago to share his enthusiastic, falsely confident, needlessly long opinions about one of the only bands he's ever listened to. The other band was Nirvana, who are used as the only point of comparison throughout.

This is what the absence of anxiety of influence looks like. I only [cruelly annotated] these when strictly necessary, but I didn't bother proofreading, since I didn't pay me for that. I only earned a few pence from writing these reviews for, and I'm going to need those when I discover angsty nu metal soon.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Ranking the Umberto Eco novels

Because I'm a bit of a ponce, I've always found challenging art to be the most satisfying. The more unreasonably complicated and stressful the novel, the more memorable the reading experience.

When I bother to put in the time and effort, there's a high chance I'll be rewarded with a favourite book of the year. Like happened in 2016* and 2015. 2014's was a comic with no words, because you have to sabotage your own arguments sometimes. The two years before that were both Umberto Ecos.

You'd think that guarantee of satisfaction would be motivation enough to read the remaining five-sevenths of his fiction library, but I've only managed another one and a half in the years since. It's a lot of effort, isn't it?

So it's time to stop lazily reading a couple of thousand pages' worth of short stories a month and knuckle down to some grown-up reading. Here are The Top 7 Umberto Eco Novels, with their original Italian covers to make me look smarter than I am. I didn't read them in Italian, obviously.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Kids write/draw the funniest things on Amiga computers in the '90s!

I was eight (I think) when my family got our first computer, so already past the point where my juvenile Deluxe Paint art and Wordworth stories could be considered adorable and unexpectedly amusing. Fortunately, I had younger brothers.

Hard drive wipes, dismantlings and floppy disk deterioration mean it's unlikely that any of our 32-bit digital catalogue survives today. In many cases – such as the case of my "epic" sci-fi animation series The Lost Alien and the exhaustive encyclopaedia I wrote to accompany it – this is for the best. But it was a shame to lose some of the funny kid stuff.

The drawing above is a reconstruction of a drawing by my brother Michael when he was about six. There are a few things I like about it, maybe you can work them out.

The story below is a reconstruction of the first thing my brother Chris ever typed/mashed when he was about five, using the largest blube font they'd allow him. It's about a monster called Chris, the Qeen and the Qeenie (apparently different people, though they both wind up in his oss).

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Ranking the William Hope Hodgson stories

I read my first W. H. H. around the same time I read my first Arthur Machen and my first Robert Sheckley. All were experiences of elation at discovering a new favourite author, followed by gradual disappointment when nothing else lived up to that first one.

That's one of the advantages of reading entire bibliographies in strict chronological order, rather than heading straight to the classics; you have to put in the work to earn the highs.

I hadn't read many of Hodgson's short stories though, and since everything of his I had "read" before was in passive audiobook form (probably when distracted by Dizzy or something), I decided to give the novels a fair second hearing reading too. Even The Night Land. People seem to love that one. I must have been mistaken. Why do I do this to myself?

So I don't have to do this a third time, here's The Top 106 William Hope Hodgson Tales.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Ranking Dashiell Hammett's Continental Op stories

Like the western, the hard-boiled crime thriller is a genre I'm regrettably more familiar with through broad animated parodies and holodeck simulations than the real deal. The influence of the good stuff has no doubt trickled into plenty of things I like, I just won't have known.

I'd read The Maltese Falcon, starring Hammett's most famous detective (despite only appearing in a couple of stories) Sam Spade, but I knew nothing about his more long-running, eternally enigmatically anonymous sleuth.

I wonder if I'll be any the wiser after reading The Top 30 Continental Op Stories?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Ranking the Red Dwarf Smegazine strips

I didn't collect the official and improbable Red Dwarf magazine at the time ('92–'94 – I was busy collecting my glow-in-the-dark T-rex skeleton). I only caught up on scattered issues a few years later, courtesy of Crewe's sole comic shop. You know, the one tucked away in the back of APS Records & CDs run by the bloke who looked like Garth from Wayne's World.

A treasure trove of interviews, time-capsule fandom and unusable blurry posters, perhaps the Smegazine's least impressive feature was its original comic strips, which are the most fanwanky tales I've ever seen in an officially licensed publication. As well as below-par adventures with the main Red Dwarf characters, we're invited to take extensive tours of  various alternative universes spinning off from specific episodes and to catch up with all manner of minor characters from the series and the novels, including long-running strips based on Rimmer's sock puppet and a Neighbours parody that had already ran its course over a few seconds in the show.

But was any of it actually any good? It seems unlikely, but let's be optimistic. Here are The Top 45 Smegazine Stories.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Ranking the Indiana Jones novels

I'm not the biggest fan of Indiana Jones. Don't get me wrong, I think the films are loads of fun – all three of them – but I've not explored much further than that. I quite enjoyed the Fate of Atlantis point-'n'-click game, until I got stuck in a cave.

But it's certainly a franchise with legs, and I started to wonder if the tie-in novels would tenderly pastiche the style of old pulp magazine serials in the same way George Lucas & co did with old movie serials. I only wondered that for about a second before realising that, no, they definitely wouldn't. They'd be fan fic at best, and that's only if they cared enough to hire a hack who'd actually watched the films.

But even if The Top 13 Indiana Jones Novels are safely pasteurised cash cow milk churned out to deadline three times a year (initially), surely they could still be fun? Who doesn't want new Indiana Jones adventures after all these years? Yes, I did see it.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Absolutely pointless nostalgia: Obscure childhood VHS

I spent a lot of my childhood in front of the telly. As soon as I got home from school, it'd be straight to BBC One for a couple of hours of Children's BBC until that hit the impassable Newsround barrier, then catch up on the last couple of hours of Children's ITV thanks to the magic of home video. No difficult Sophie's Choice dilemma in the Warburton household (plus, that way around you could fast-forward the adverts).

But this was the late '80s / early '90s and children's TV wasn't on around the clock, so I also had a healthy supply of commercial videos to tide me over. Typically, these collected two arbitrary episodes of a popular animated series that would embed themselves in my memory through repeated viewings to the extent that I could still probably recite the scripts verbatim 25 years later ("planetary alignments come and go, but pizza is forever" etc). But sometimes, they'd be a bit stranger.

These underdog videos didn't have the budgets of Hollywood animation studios. Some of their origins are uncertain. Most of them have been preserved for undeserved posterity on YouTube.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ranking Robert E. Howard's Conan stories

I've never been the biggest fan of sword 'n' sorcery fantasy, nor brute violence. Whenever I played fantasy-based video games as a teenager, I'd invariably choose to play as the most morbid or ridiculous character available, rather than the meat-axe warrior who had a much easier ride.

So it was surprising when, at one point, I got a bit obsessed with the 1982 Conan the Barbarian film. The one starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, in which James Earl Jones turns into a snake. It was around the same time I developed my Manowar problem. Was it the dark, mythic atmosphere? Ancestral memories of simpler, crueller times? The pecs? I eventually recovered... or did I?

I read Robert E. Howard's horror stories a couple of years back, to see where he stood among his pulp contemporaries. Horror didn't seem to be his forte – but then, I didn't like Lovecraft's twee fantasies either. So let's see if reading The Top 28 Conan Stories awakens anything in me, violent, homosexual or otherwise. I'm going to get sick of that soundtrack.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Ranking Alan Moore's Swamp Thing comics

There are still vast tracts of Alan Moore mindscapes I have yet to explore. I could have knuckled down to his 1,000-plus-page novel, or finally ticked off some of his less appealing ventures like Tom Strong and Promethea, but every few years, something keeps drawing me back to the fetid, squelchy, strangely erotic Louisiana swamps.

Moore's Swamp Thing stint is tediously legendary, but for the purposes of this, I'm going to ignore how revolutionary his psychecological sex scenes and feminist werewolves are and just celebrate how much I like these stories, respectively.

It helps that it's mostly episodic, and the occasional contractual crossovers and awkward Batman cameos make ranking The Top 45 Alan Moore Swamp Thing Stories less intimidating than trying to review something immaculate like Watchmen or From Hell. I wouldn't want to show myself up.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Wilbur's diary

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Ranking the H. P. Lovecraft stories

Like some contemptible illiterate seeking out the novel that was made into that film they like, my interest in Lovecraft's oeuvre has been rekindled by reading Alan Moore's dense comic mash-up Providence. I know: comics! Did I first come across Lovecraft when researching the American horror canon, or was it bloody Metallica? You got me. I hope the original stories have pictures too so I don't get lost.

Each of the early Providence issues adapted one well-known work, so even the casual Lovecraft reader could feel smugly satisfied that they got the references. But then the nonsensical panels build up and you read online annotations by people who really know their Mythos, pointing out how Moore's taking a sly swipe at that bit of criticism you've never heard of in a subtle gag that's not meant for you, and you feel like an idiot.

So I figured, later rather than sooner, I should swot up on the basics at least. And why not trivialise this literary enrichment by making a list while I'm at it? This exercise has also been useful for building my mental library of terror tales, so that if I do have a child, I can scare the shit out of them on demand and make them weird. "No mummy, I don't want to go in the ocean! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!"

Here's my unreliable, definitive guide to The Top 104 H. P. Lovecraft Stories. According to my variable moods over the past month, anyway.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Two down: Cathy gets pasteurised

Kitty Abortion Totalizer

It turns out there was something inside Mimi after all. And this was just a cat I grabbed at random because she had the right equipment. She wasn't even one of the fat ones. There are fat ones.

After a few days in veterinary confinement (that must have been loads of fun), she's safe and sound back wherever she likes to hang out now. She still comes over every day for cat biscuits and guilty strokes, she's very forgiving. Though I'm assuming she doesn't quite understand the magnitude of how much I've interfered with her life and feline rights.

Obviously I would have preferred if she wasn't pregnant, alright? But considering the last kittens that were born around here (that I know of) either died or ended up blind (and he'd be dead too if it was down to nature), I know I'm preventing generations of fluffy suffering.

But you can think I'm evil if you like. My Dave-ao Death Squad isn't going to stop any time soon. Today it was Cathy's turn.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

One down: Mimi gets the snip

It was an unnecessarily complicated journey to get Wilbur's mother spayed.

Except... that's not Wilbur's mother. (Isn't that a painting?)

Friday, January 13, 2017

Kitten update

Welcome back to the cats 'n' books blog! Or whatever this is these days.

Don't be worried by Wilbur's dramatics: he's only playing dead. But sadly, the little guy was a lot worse for wear when we came home after two weeks away.

If you're a bit sentimental where cute kittens are concerned, please enjoy the above photo and don't keep reading, or you're only going to get upset and then you'll start me off crying again. When he's had his week at the vet, I'm sure he'll be okay.