Posts Tagged ‘my slow descent into madness’

I need a break from writing a paper for my history class (topic: gender relations during the High Qing period, with Zhang Xuecheng’s Two Biographies as a primary source), so I’m giving you a followup to this post.

Have fun.

~ Ian

 

I woke up to the harsh, piercing trill of my phone. It wasn’t pleasant– I’d been out hard drinking the night before, and so my head felt like a screaming ball of barbed-wire-abraded soft flesh dipped in rancid sriracha. The sound of the phone was a knife being forced into a head wound. So as you can imagine, not pleasant.

I picked my head out of the pool of saliva where I’d been laying, and picked up the phone. “Muffet,” I growled. Christ, was that my actual voice? I sounded like a ninety-year-old man with a hole where his larynx should have been.

“Muffet, what are you doing!? Get your ass off your tuffet and get out there, girl!”

“Trying to get some goddamn sleep for once, Phil,” I said.

“Well, crawl out of your little hole. I’ve got reports of twelve Cyberachnids South of Market, close to your location. You’ve got a job to do, Muffet. Get going.” With that, he hung up. Rude, of course, but Phil’s always been a bastard.

I got up. My clothes stunk of stale beer and sweat, so I stripped them off and got into the shower, feeling warm water running in smooth rivulets over my naked skin. I guess that some guys would find me attractive– I’m pretty hot, I guess– but my missing arm tends to throw them off.

Getting out of the shower, I couldn’t help but notice the stump where it was missing, just a nub of flesh and bone that ended just below my right shoulder. Lost, a long time ago, to the Cyberachnids. Just a little girl, who they crept up on, while I was eating my curds and whey…

I couldn’t think about that. Too many memories.

I dressed, putting on a sheer black tank top (low cut, to show off my breasts), as well as black leather skintight pants and black boots. I pulled my blonde hair back in a ponytail, then attached one of my many robotic arms to the stump of my missing arm. It fit perfectly, and I flexed my new, shiny metallic hand. Strong enough to crush a man’s skull between its steel fingers, yet incapable of feeling anything. Not the smooth skin of a baby’s cheek, or the stubbled chin of a man while we make love. Nothing.

Finally, I took my katana down from where it hung on the wall, and slung it across my back. I went outside, and jumped on my Kawasaki, taking off at seventy miles an hour down the streets of San Francisco.

The city’s a ruin, now. Completely destroyed. Ever since the Cyberachnids took over, the whole Bay Area’s been destroyed. The TransAmerica Pyramid was behind me as I ride towards the Mission District. It was nothing more than a skeleton of its former self, now. A broken, jagged tooth looming over the city.

As I approached the Mission District, I heard a sound in an alley behind me, and skid to a stop. Dismounting my Kawasaki, I drew my katana from its sheath across my back.

As I’d expected. The alley contained a blonde hooker, dead, with her head ripped partially open and a long, black tube sucking greedily at her brains. And following that tube, I could see a ten-foot-tall figure, eight-legged and shining chromium-silver. My heart pounded, as it always does when I see one of them, but I held steady. I would not let myself be afraid.

“Hey, shitfucker!” I yelled. Eight beady eyes looked up from the hooker’s body. The Cyberachnid’s mandibles clicked and chittered, almost as if it was trying to  say something.

“That’s right, bitch,” I cried. “I’m your worst nightmare. I’m Little Miss Muffet, and I will not be frightened away!!

The Cyberachnid screeched in anger, and charged.

I readied my blade for the oncoming bloodbath.

I watched a hobbit today!

Of course, because of the fact that my brain recently fragmented into two parts about a month ago due to the combined stress of finals and NaNoWriMo, I’m going to review The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in two lumps, and give it two grades: a Tolkien-nerd grade, and a general storytelling grade.

 

Tolkien-Purist Ian:

Overall, I have to say that The Hobbit did REALLY well with staying true to the spirit, if not the letter, of the books. And there was a surprising amount of it that was accurate to the books… although, really, it wasn’t all from The Hobbit. While I was watching the movie, I could literally count off the origins of the scenes: “this one’s from The Hobbit… now we’ve got one from the Appendices of Lord of the Rings… here’s one that’s a little bit of a blend of Appendices and Unfinished Tales… now we’re back to The Hobbit… the screenwriters made this one up entirely…” Basically, I could tell you where every scene of the movie originated, and most of it was accurate.

And even when they made changes to the book’s narrative, it made sense. I could completely understand why Azog was included in the movie– he acts as a main adversary to Thorin, and Thorin’s opposite (if you look at Lord of the Rings, it’s constructed around the fact that most of the main characters have their “dark mirrors”, visions of what they might be if they were corrupted– Gandalf has Saruman, Aragorn has the Witch-King, Frodo has Gollum, and so on). Azog is also important because he adds to Thorin’s story arc. (Okay, Storyteller-Ian intruding here. Who thinks that Thorin and Azog are going to kill each other at the Battle of Five Armies at the end of Movie Three? I’ll take bets, but to tell you the truth, I like my odds of being right.)

And what’s different about the changes to The Hobbit as opposed to the changes to Lord of the Rings is that they make sense. There’s no pointless and nonsensical changes like Arwen and Aragorn sharing a telepathic link because of the power of “twue wuv”; Arwen being a Xena clone in the first movie and then somehow having her fate tied to the fate of the Ring in the second and third; Elrond acting like a douchecanoe; Aragorn falling off a ravine in a needlessly-added clearly-stalling-for-time battle and having no one bother to look for his body except for his horse; the lack of Denethor’s subplot with the Palantíri– look, I could just go on and on, but honestly you get the point. (I’m not complaining about the omission of Tom Bombadil. That was a good change. What I have a problem with are the moronic changes that Jackson and Co. clearly put in Lord of the Rings to appeal to the Lowest Common Denominator.) In contrast, the changes to The Hobbit make sense, and what’s more, even satisfy the Tolkien fan. (I might have been the only one in the theater who broke into laughter when Gandalf said, “There’s the two blue wizards, of course… You know, I’m not sure what their names are!”*)  There’s not really any egregious violations. It all works. Even Radagast being a mumbling, mushroom-eating hermit with birdshit in his hair riding a rabbit-pulled sleigh wasn’t a problem to me. After all, it’s pretty clear that Tolkien intended for all the wizards to be crazy in their own way. Some get megalomaniacal and want to rule the world, like Saruman, others just go a little woodsy-where-am and talk to hedgehogs like Radagast.

I did have two things that I didn’t like about the movie’s changes, though:

  • I didn’t like the fact that Thorin is clearly intended to be a broody Aragorn-surrogate. Jackson and Co. are clearly trying to have Thorin fill the same role as Aragorn did in LotR, and it didn’t work. They’re two different stories, and there’s no point in giving us characters that we’ve already seen before.
  • hated the huge warty ballsack dangling from the Great Goblin’s chin. Every time I saw it, I was tempted to yell, “Kick him in the balls! I mean, neck!”

Other than that, though, it was excellent.

Tolkien-Purist Ian’s Final Grade: B+

 

General Storytelling Ian: 

Literally everything in this movie was better than in Lord of the Rings. Better acting, better direction, better writing, everything. It’s almost as if you took the same team that made Lord of the Rings, gave them ten more years of experience, and set them loose in the same universe. (OH WAIT IT ACTUALLY IS.)

Martin Freeman was incredible. Unlike Elijah Wood, who was a wimpy fainting prick in the lead as Frodo in LotR, Martin Freeman embodied everything about the character of Bilbo. He was funny, charming, vulnerable, blustering, embarrassed, cheerful baffled, and brave, all at once. It was note-perfect. I can’t really think of any way that his performance could have been improved. Where Elijah Wood’s Frodo would probably have rolled his eyes and fainted at any sign of danger, Martin Freeman’s Bilbo faced up to it, and kicked ass. From now on, he’s the quintessential hobbit for me. Compared to the actors who played the hobbits in LotR (Sean Astin’s painfully-‘orrible British accent, Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd’s relentlessly-grating comic relief, and Elijah Wood’s general blandness and suckitude), we had a hobbit that I can actually like

It also makes sense that Martin Freeman has played Arthur Dent, too. I can’t think of two characters more similar in all of literature: two middle-aged, middle-class Englishmen (or Englishman-surrogates) who get swept up unwillingly out of their rut and into a fantastical adventure by people who might actually be certifiably insane.

There’s still more of the same tricks that we’ve seen from Peter Jackson as a director. Specifically, I’m thinking about the defining shot from the LotR trilogy, the helicopter-mounted shot of people walking in a straight line through gorgeous New Zealand scenery. There’s some of that, although not as much, which is fine with me: too many of those and they’re going to start getting stale. But I could tell that Peter Jackson was varying his camera shots a little, and there was some pretty creative camerawork as well, even in scenes with just straight dialogue. (It’s easy for directors to fall into the boring old shot-reverse shot trap in dialogue-heavy scenes. You can do that, and it works, but I like to see a bit more creativity once in a while.)

I couldn’t have complained about the acting from Ian McKellen and Christopher Lee, of course. They’ve both been acting for longer than most people have been alive. Still, Ian McKellan was still the quintessential Gandalf, and Christopher Lee (even though he only showed up for a single scene) conveyed a different Saruman perfectly. Instead of Dark Lord Wannabe Saruman, we get a second, earlier view of the character, one of Third Age Middle-earth’s equivalent of the climate change denier.

What was better in this movie was the supporting actors. While there was broad physical comedy with the dwarves, it didn’t cheapen their characters the way it did with Gimli in LotR. Quite the opposite, in fact– it fit the lighter tone of the movie perfectly. And I can’t wait to see Benedict Cumberbatch’s Necromancer. He’s been so good starring opposite Martin Freeman in Sherlock that I can’t wait to see them in a movie together, even if the two characters never meet.

(This is an interruption from Gaiman-fan Ian, speaking from another segment of Ian’s shattered brain. If a Sandman movie ever gets made, can we please have Benedict Cumberbatch play Dream? I can’t think of another actor with the acting skill, broodiness, and cheekbones who could pull off that role.)

(Ian’s appetite here. I’m getting hungry, guys. Can we get something to eat soon?)

Can we please not have interruptions from other sections of the brain?

(Tolkien-Purist Ian: Yeah! It’s really annoying! This is our post!)

(The Section of Ian’s Brain That Always Posts Lame Gifs on Axolotl Ceviche: This article needs more gifs. Can we have some gifs in this post? Like, maybe one of Sad Gollum at the moment when Bilbo almost kills him?)

No! Shut up, everyone!

(Gaiman-Fan Ian: Sorry.)

(Ian’s Appetite: Sorry.)

(The Section of Ian’s Brain That Always Posts Lame Gifs on Axolotl Ceviche: Sorry.)

(The Part of Ian’s Brain that Never Apologizes: I’m not.)

(Tolkien-Purist Ian and General Storytelling Ian: SHUT UP!)

Anyway, where was I? Oh– I should talk about the writing.

It was good. Like I said, more lighthearted– and was, in fact, as witty as a Joss Whedon production, which made me happy. It could have been a little less corny at times, but overall, it was better. The dialogue was tighter, the characters were better defined, and the lines felt more like something someone would actually say.

(Tolkien-purist Ian: And nobody said stupid things like “If you want him, come and claim him!” and “Let’s hunt some orc!“)

Quiet, you. This is my section.

Anyway, well done, actors, writers, and Peter Jackson. You’ve given us one hell of a movie.

General Storytelling Ian’s Final Grade: A

 

For those of you who are wondering, here’s the scores that Tolkien-purist Ian and General Storytelling Ian gave the Lord of the Rings movies:

Fellowship of the Ring: TP Ian B-, GS Ian B

The Two Towers: TP Ian F, GS Ian D-

Return of the King: TP Ian C, GS Ian B

That’s it for now. Have a wonderful Boxing Day evening.

~ Ian (Tolkien-Purist) and Ian (General Storytelling) (with unwanted assistance from Gaiman-fan Ian, Ian’s Appetite, The Section of Ian’s Brain That Always Posts Lame Gifs on Axolotl Ceviche, and The Part of Ian’s Brain That Never Apologizes)

*Alatar and Pallando, by the way.

robosanta

It’s getting to be the Holiday™ Season® again, and we all know what that means:

Consumer catalogs mailed to every door in the country.

One of these consumer catalogs that arrived at our house was an American Girl catalog. You’ve probably heard of them: they’re the people who make various polyethnic dolls that live all throughout History Times. Now, since there are not and have never been any people living in the Johnson Household who fit into American Girl’s target demographic, I fully expected the catalog to go to that great recycling plant in the sky. But since I wanted to read something quick while my waffles were in the toaster (as I am a compulsive reader), I picked up the catalog, and flipped through it.

Now, I have seen some scary things. I have stared into the abyss, where madness and chaos doth lie. I have stood atop tall mountains and slid down them at high speeds with nary a butterfly in my stomach. I have even cleaned out what has come out of my brother’s dog’s butt (although that tested the limits of my sanity).

Suffice it to say, I am a brave and hardy fellow.

Which means that when I say that the following images WIGGED ME THE FUCK OUT, you can know how incredibly fiendish and terrifying they are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Axolotl Ceviche readers with sensitive stomachs may want to avert their eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No, seriously. You’ll want to back off now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, fine. Don’t say I didn’t warn you:

DOLL-SIZED PAJAMA OUTFITS.

WITH IDENTICAL GIRL-SIZED PAJAMA OUTFITS TO MATCH.

 

 

 

 

I can’t imagine what kind of parents would ever buy these… garments for their CHILD. I mean, considering the vast existential horror of the advertisements, don’t you think that any sensible head-of-household would immediately picture their sweet baby angel permanently disfigured by the mere touch of the outfit, burned and warped so that it turns into nothing more than a surface on which bleeding pustules grow, their infant-smooth epidermis contorted into a vessel for dark bile and hate?

I mean, look at this:

 

 

 

Looking at this picture, we can see a number of children, ostensibly happy, carrying dolls with the same appearance and ethnicity of the girl who bears it.

Now, wouldn’t any logical, sane person assume, when looking at this picture, that each doll was once human? And that she, when she was a living, breathing girl, had a dark twin, an evil doppelgänger who cast some manner of enchantment on her, cursing her to take the form of a doll forever, while her evil twin walked the earth in her place?

ISN’T IT OBVIOUS?

Of course, this final image seals the proof that American Girl is actually some kind of evil, supernatural force working for the active destruction of the earth and the bringing of the Apocalypse. Like Wolfram & Hart, only less cuddly:

Look at this picture. Now, normally you would assume that this was an ordinary-sized girl, holding an ordinary-sized doll.

But look at the evidence. The size of the furnishings. The rendering artifacts. The tasteful, modern sans-serif font in the product description. No, clearly the doll is actually THE SIZE OF A HUMAN CHILD, and has been turned into a doll by a MALEVOLENT, TEN-FOOT-TALL GIANTESS.

And do you know what’s worst of all? THEY DID THE SAME THING TO THE LITTLE GIRL’S CAT.

So, that’s American Girl for you. They’re enchanters, black magicians, possibly Satanists, and cat-murderers.

Tell your congressman.

And for the LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, IF ONE OF THESE DARK PAMPHLETS APPEARS IN YOUR MAILBOX, DO NOT TOUCH IT, LEST ITS CORRUPTING MAGICKS DRIVE YOU MAD. I WILL COME BY AND DISPOSE OF IT, FOR A NOMINAL FEE.

~ Ian