Sunday, January 3, 2010

we could buy an airplane, build a home in the sand

There's nothing like a defiant machine. And, like the comments say, now I want to make one.

The slow seduction of my soul into City of Heroes continues; it's still not an issue of wanting to play--because I don't, in any way, want to play--but I've seen the character generator enough, looking over shoulders, that my fingers are now itching to get into the generator and fool around with character concepts. This is bad.

Massively comments on the Mark Kingdon address regarding use of real names in SL. Personally, I agree with them--I'm rarely the person with the same name in the room, but I have worked in places where we had Bob1, Bob2, and BobJr (just to be different), or two Jamies (one of which was me, because the stock supervisor could never remember my real name), or five variants on Cindy that grew increasingly complex the more we added. It won't work in SL. It's not a case of, it would be difficult; no, it purely, plainly, technologically cannot work.

If this isn’t the most charged parental passive aggressive line of foreshadowing in the game, I don’t know what is.

I'm still following along with the blog entries on Portal and GlaDOS from Game-ism, but wau, I have to agree. And also, I'm finding my biggest challenges in Portal are not the points that other gamers describe as challenging or difficult. My hardest tasks to solve are the ones other players seem to breeze past. I'm even notating step by step in the walkthrough for chamber 18, and yet? I keep dying. Over and over again.

Velocity issue? Sure. But there aren't any tips or tricks for it. Do it and move on to the hard stuph.

Well, I would, but it's the simple stuph that's locking me in place.

There's a life lesson in there, somewhere...

Metaverse Exchange may deserve another consideration. Though they still look as if they were designed in 1992, graphically, they have a rotate "look at this!" feature of which I was largely unaware.

I'm not now. Because on their homepage for the last few days? You would have seen that advertised.

I'll give them points, the random "cool stuph" links are nifty in any merchant setting.

And finally, from the Tor Cthulhumas giveaway comes comment 47 from Matt Carpenter:

"Everyone gives lists of their favorites, or what they like best. Let's invert that. Here is a list of Lovecraftian/mythos books that I strongly suggest you don't buy sight unseen. Sample at a book store or local library before you pull the trigger.

Other Nations by Marsh (T & P Marsh, to be exact, and conclusion from the reviews: Deep Ones are just normal otherworld creatures who just want to coexist peacefully with humans. Riiiiight.)
The HP Lovecraft Institute by Bischoff (David Bischoff, and a three-word review: Proofread your work!)
Nightmare’s Disciple by Pulver (Joseph Pulver; and reviews seem to be split between "OMG he knows so much about Lovecraft!" and "Worst of the vanity press dreck offered up for purchase on Amazon".)
A Darkness Inbred by Heck (Victor Heck has written another polarizing novel, it seems, with some reviews trumping it as bland, derivative only by name-dropping, and rehashing the rehashed hash, and others describing it as the best thing since R'lyeh popped up from the waters again. YMMV.)
Horror Between the Sheets, [edited by] Amorel (Michael Amorel, and these are all short stories or poems taken from the pages of the now-defunct Cthulhu Sex Magazine. Your thoughts on that may effect your enjoyment of the compilation.)
Dagon by Chappell (Fred Chappell, and the conclusion seems to be it is the most successful mix of Southern Gothic and the Lovecraft mythos to date. Words like "compelling" and "bizarre", phrases like "deeply disturbing" and "thick with dread" make me think it might be worth reading, after all.)
Island Life by Meikle (William Meikle, that would be, and this is another one that seems to perfectly sum up Lovecraft's trademark creeping dread and uneasy awareness of life and intelligence--of some kind--beyond ours. It sounds worth tracking down in a library, if not actually buying.)
The Riddle of Cthulhu by Emerson (I'll nip a bit of Marc Ruby's review to give you all you need to know about this book: "
It's up to Detective Ulysses Martini and beautiful psychic Cybele Sikorsky to solve a string of ugly murders and chase the cause into the dark caverns and oceans beneath New Hampshire.". Yep, that about covers it.)
Ultimate WMD by Emerson (I quote again from one of the reviews, amusingly by Matt Carpenter: "
In Mr. Emerson's world, the Magna Mater gave birth to the twins Yahweh and Cthulhu, good and evil...What the author has done is taken some of the names from Lovecraftian entities, which are after all in the public domain, and shown that he has no comprehension of what makes a story Lovecraftian. Or good for that matter." Yuh-huh. Avoid as if the book spreads disease.)
Gretchen’s Wood by Cartwright (That would be Ran Cartwright, and beyond the Flipkart link, there's really zero information about this book, beyond that--yep--it's another vanity press printing.)
The Dark Destroyer by Glasby (John Glasby, and the sole review on the Amazon page is from Matt Carpenter...who loathed it.)
The Starry Wisdom (Edited by D.M. Mitchell, this seems a hit-and-miss compilation of short stories with some artwork thrown in, but for the names alone--including JG Ballard, William S. Burroughs, Brian Lumley, Alan Moore, and Grant Morrison, with an introduction by Ramsey Campbell
--I'd be willing to give it a go.)
Great White Space by Copper (Basil Copper wrote this, and a blanker page on Amazon I would be hard-pressed to find. It's nearly a negative entry. That's deeply odd.)
The Sand Dwellers by Niswander (Adam Niswander's book again is damned by faint praise, with more than a slight air of disapproval to boot. 'Better than most pastiches,' the reviews seem to imply, 'but not worth your time in the end.')
The Hound Hunters by Niswander (Recap in short: Natives elevate white man to status of Intercessor with the Gods, or something, save the Gods are otherworldly Hounds of Chaos. I think. Definitely sounds worth dodging.)
Cthulhu and the Coeds (I...think the answer's in the question, on this one.)
The Iron Maiden by Lancett (I'll just hit you with the official synopsis: "Kevin, a young man sleeping rough on the streets of London, meets Jenny Marsten and is drawn into a supernatural quest to save her from the nightmare fate her father has planned for her. Kevin is guided by Jenny's dead mother into realizing his destiny as the Kindly Knight of legends." Yeah.)
Colour Out of Time by Shea (Michael Shea's written other things, and while reviews of this work are short and on the pithy side, most of them are favorable, if not screaming-at-the-edge-of-your-seat horrifying. That's...something, anyway?)
Eidolon by Ryng (Thom Ryng, available through Amazon or Sardarthion Press, and it seems to be a book written by someone who believes the Cthulhu mythos is real. So take this one with a few grains of salt going in.)
The Coming of T’loal by O’Commor and Layne (It's actually John O'Connor and James Layne, Jr., but...maybe I'm painting them with too black a brush, but this is another vanity press offering. And the cover art is terrible. Why would I want to read the book if that is what's offered to draw me in? Plus, one of the reviews on that page used "Lovecrafty". Lovecrafty? No, 'Lovecrafty' is what you're doing when you're knitting an Elder God of an afternoon. 'Lovecrafty' is what happens when you embroider Dagon on your shower curtain. The. Hell.)
Lair of the Dreamer by Searight (Franklyn Searight's collection of short stories seems, from the impressions I've been able to gather, to be a worthwhile read if you know nothing about the mythos. That's...not good.)
The Black Sutra by deBill (That would be Walter DeBill, Jr., and Matt Carpenter chimes in again on the Amazon listing: "
The Black Sutra may be safely recommended to diehard mythos fans." I guess that's a lukewarm recommendation? Though words like "tired" and "unmemorable" were also used...)
Correlated Contents by Ambuehl (James Ambuehl, and don't get me wrong--I've written fan fiction before, and I like to think I've done more good and bad with it, but the first review I found for this stated unequivocally that these were written specifically for the Internet. This is not praise.)
Ghoul by Slade (I'll just clip this bit of the review from Publishers Weekly: "
Slade is a pen name for Jay Clarke, John Banks and Lee Clarke, the trio who previously produced Headhunter and now this excessively nasty horror story. The pages are crammed with nauseating details and incidents of maiming, murders, incest and other crimes committed in Canada, England and the U.S....The trio are no match for H. P. Lovecraft or other authors to whom they refer, apparently to validate the gory details of this mystery." Yep, that about covers it.)
Deeper by Moore (James A. Moore, and to be honest, the reviews are positive, the cover art is good, it's not published by a vanity press...why is this on the 'avoid at all costs' list?)
House of the Toad by Tierney (Richard L. Tierney, and all that I can find out is that reading this book might be impossible anyway, as it was a limited-press printing of 1,050 copies only.)
New Mythos Legends (Compilation work edited by Bruce Gehweiler, and the main descriptive seems to be "underwhelming".)
The Fertile Crescent (Written by Christopher McLairn, and again from the Matt Carpenter review of the work on Amazon: "
The plot, such as it is, is scatter shot and too tedious to describe. Basically, there is nothing here for the Cthulhu mythos fan." Another vanity press work.)
Coach’s Midnight Diner: The Jesus vs [Cthulhu] Edition (Edited by Coach and Kimberly Culbertson and Vennessa Ng, it appears to be a good-vs.-evil work in which God must always prevail. Leaving aside the anti-Lovecraftian notion of "evil" regarding the Old Ones, I'll fall back on this bit from Larry Shellenberger's review: "
It would be easy, nearly inevitable, to depict evil in a manner that glorifies darkness. The authors collectively avoid this trap, gratefully. Darkness, rather, is a backdrop against which justice, grace, and redemption shine." Yeah. Sounds like people can cheerfully and with unburdened heart avoid this book entirely.)
The Returner: The Book of Planes (Horrid cover art marks this work by C. Paul Landri, another vanity press work, of which Matt Carpenter says--I believe rightly--"
One needs to approach such self published fiction advisedly, with expectations set on lukewarm. ")
An Evil Guest by Wolfe (Gene Wolfe wrote this, and again, I'm leaving it to the description of the reviewers. From Colin P. Lindsey comes this: "The downside of An Evil Guest is that this book is extremely disjointed, not very clear, and parts seem missing. I truly wondered as I was reading this if Mr. Wolfe didn't thrash this out while on some very interesting medications." And Caitlin R. Kiernan of Signature said: "The distinctions we draw between past, present, and future are discriminations among illusions. This paraphrase of Einstein stands as a sort of thesis statement for this deliriously anachronistic novel, which, though seemingly set near or at the end of the 21st century, feels more like a wild confabulation of the '20s, '30s, '40s and '50s, with a bit of the '80s sprinkled here and there, and just a dash of the first decade of our new millennium." Right. I would say avoid, again, as if it spreads disease by contact.)
Resume with Monsters by Spencer (A...humor?? from William Browning Spencer, it's described variously as "
A dark-humored employee-angst novel, seasoned liberally with the Cthulhu Mythos" and as "An unsuccessful novelist himself, Philip possesses an imagination that creeps out of the shadows and sucks up quotidian reality like a B-movie alien, a quality appreciated by neither his ex-girlfriend nor his semiretired therapist, much less by conventional employers." ...Riiiight.)
The Eden Retrieval by Howarth (Sounds like Link meets the Old Ones; Matt Carpenter's review of this on Amazon says: "
I guess, considering he used Cthulhu as a character in his comic, Mr. Howarth has been a fan of the mythos for a while. Unfortunately he has bought into the Derleth version lock, stock and barrel, where Cthulhu et al are intrinsically evil, the intrinsically good Elder Gods punished them with imprisonment on earth and elsewhere, the Elder sign reigns supreme and magic is the order of the day. Oh, well, you can't have everything." I guess. Honestly, this does surprise me a bit from Howarth, who's better known for Bugtown, the Simultaneous Man comic, and the Keif sf comic series. Bizarre.)
Cthulhu’s Chosen by Loiler (Matt Carpenter shows up again here--gunning after another tenuously-connected vanity press book, he calls it "Dull beyond redemption".)

Spencer's prose is quite good but I would argue with anyone who includes this book in a list of Cthulhu mythos titles. Some are very much collectors' items even if they aren't all that good, like Correlated Contents. Nightmare's Disciple may be better than I've rated it, but read a chapter or 3 before you get it. Many of the most abysmal are self published (Cthulhu's Chosen, The Riddle of Cthulhu, The Fertile [Crescent] etc).

Thank you kindly, sir. I've added links where I can.

In further updates, I tracked down a bunch of the Team Fortress 2 vids to watch, now I've been playing the game.

"He had armor. Yeah, I'm not a crazed gunman, Dad, I'm an assassin. Well, the difference bein', one's a job, and the other's mental sickness!"

"Oh, they're gonna have to glue you back together, in hell!"

"Grass grows, birds fly, sun shines, and bruddah, I hurt people. I'm a force a'nature!"

"If fighting is sure to result in victory, then you must fight! Sun Tzu said that, and I'd say he knows a little more about fighting than you do, pal, because he invented it, and then he perfected it, so that no living man could best him in the ring of honor!"

"Some people think they can outsmart me. Maybe. Maybe...I've yet to meet one who can outsmart bullet."

"Hey look, buddy--I'm an Engineer. Not problems like, 'what is beauty?', because that would fall within the purview of your conundrums of philosophy. I solve practical problems. F'rinstance, how am I gonna stop some big mean Mother Hubbard from tearin' me a structurally superfluous new behind? The answer is a gun. And if that don't work, use more gun."

"This spy has already breached our defenses...You see what he's done to our colleagues. And worst of all, he could be any one of us! He could be in this very room! He could be you! He could be me! He could even be--*boom!*"

Now meet the Train.

Via Lady Fogwoman, comes this inspired bit of lunacy. Sadly, for Miss Prism and all who have sought this form of protection over the decades--it's simply not true. Hats made from any form of aluminum foil will not protect the brain from alien mind control rays; in point of clear fact, the hats will enhance the rays, making it easier for the aliens to mind-control larger populations.

I'm dreadfully sorry, Miss Prism. Maybe now you can invest in something nicer, perhaps with a few flowers, a bird's wing in blue or cream, and a trailing strand of beads. I sincerely doubt aliens can get through a finely ornamented chapeau.


Rhianon Jameson said...

Whoever hires the lawyers who work down the hall from me apparently give added weight if a candidate has the name "Katherine" or some variant thereof, because at least five (of perhaps 30 people, not all of whom are women) have that name. Go figure.

I've resisted for some time the urge to distinguishone of them from the rest by calling her "Ann," as she could pass for a young Ann Coulter. Sometimes my instinct for self-preservation kicks in in time to do some good.

Astolat Dufaux said...

Y Kant Tori Read! Your use of lyrics for post titles always makes me smile, especially when I recognize them without looking them up. :)

Emilly Orr said...

Miss Jameson,

Depending on her politics, it might not be an insult. :)

Emilly Orr said...

Miss Dufaux,

Okay, that made me laugh. I still have two friends who we occasionally drag, kicking and screaming, over to listen to the latest from Tori, because their first exposure to her was off of Y Kant Tori Read. They decided then and there that she was a rotten musician and a lousy lyricist.

They are frequently disgruntled when they like the stuph she put together on her own, not pushed into recording by her record label.

Magdalena Kamenev said...

Trying ... very hard ... not to click ... link to Cthulhu Sex ...

Ye gads ... RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!!!!

Emilly Orr said...

I know! I didn't even know that magazine existed!

Well, apparently, it doesn't anymore, but still. The point stands.