Saturday, December 3, 2016

Update and Book Review: The Obsidian Chamber by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Hey look! I'm a little tired of politics. I said my piece, I changed exactly 0 people's minds about politics, welcome to the Internet, this happens all the time.

So, let's just move on, shall we? I'm eager to get back to reviewing entertainment that temporarily distracts us from our troubles.

LAST TIME ON PENDERGAST

There were witches in Innsmouth Exmouth. Monsters were set loose. Constance tried to make out with Pendergast, which ended about as well as everyone expected it to. Pendergast died. Again. Readers began to wonder if the real mind behind the Pendergast series was Steven Moffat.

Also Diogenes came back to life.

Readers began to wonder if--

ANYWAYS

No, Diogenes didn't "come back to life". He just landed on a convenient ledge and crawled back out. How? I...

Umm...

Moving on.

Diogenes has come to the conclusion that he is in fact in love with Constance, and suddenly the book turns into a Gothic romance, complete with a secluded island. Also, supposedly, the arcanum backfires if someone stops taking it, and Diogenes is Constance's only hope. Why did she just now starts suffering from it? We're not sure.

Diogenes has a psychotic female assistant who is not, in fact, Harley Quinn, because if she was then we would actually like her. Said female assistant has, predictably, fallen in love with Diogenes. Confusion ensues.

Meanwhile, PROCTOR IS ON A HIGH SPEED CHASE THROUGH THE DESERT TO FIND CONSTANCE AND HE FIGHTS OFF TWO LIONS ALL BY HIS LONESOME BUT WE DON'T SEE THAT BECAUSE BOOOOOOOOOO

I have strong feelings about not seeing Proctor's epic fight against lions.

Pendergast is not dead. Of course. Instead, he has been rescued by drug runners, who are holding him hostage on the boat and being Obviously Evil. They try to ransom him back to the FBI, which is divided between The Old Guys Who Implicitly Trust Pendergast's Wacky Ways and the Young Hotshot Who Isn't As Smart As He Thinks He Is. Where Mulder and Scully fall on this divide can be inferred.

This review has been a lot more sarcastic than I intended. I mean, it was a fun book, but I felt there was something slightly off. It's almost like the Gentlemen were like, "Hey, look at all these wacky theories by the Diogenes fangirls. Let's write them" and then it happened. The concept itself isn't bad, but I felt like Diogenes feelings came out of left field, and there was little focus on either Pendergast or Proctor's amazing ability to fight off two lions at once. (I'm not letting that go.) We get a little bit of Pendergast Pendergasting around, but that doesn't last long.

And what the hell happened to Tristram? You know, HIS SON? THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE BACK? This kid started a rebellion at the age of, like, 15, after being locked in a basement for most of his life. WE REALLY NEED MORE ABOUT HIM.

That said, I'm interested to see where this particular arc point is going. And I'm happy to hear that the next book is going to be a classic Pendergast/D'Agosta team-up.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Post Election After Thoughts

I've been holding off writing this, first because to me, I had the same reaction I would have had if Hillary had been elected. "Well, that sucks." I made no secret that I despised both candidates. But here we are, and we have an orange president for four years (and hopefully no longer).

First, let's address the Electoral College thing. Look, I know it's frustrating when someone wins the college but not the popular vote, because I've been in that exact situation. But the purpose of the Electoral College is to prevent the high population areas from creating a tyranny of the majority over the rest of the country. It's job is to give voice to the people in rural areas and "fly over" states that would otherwise be drowned out. America was never intended to be a pure democracy. It was always a republic. There are some great Enlightenment works out there that discuss these concepts. I think a good foundation for learning about our country and political system would be to look at them.

Second, let's address the racists. I have one thing to say.

STOP

This is what you look like when you get mad at people of different ethnicities for merely existing:



I'm so confused by this. I admit, I laughed at people's outraged reactions the day after Trump won. I was scolded because "people are genuinely scared". Well, I maintain the majority of them were still ridiculous, especially these crying 18 year old white kids curled up in safe spaces. Stop that. No one got anything done doing that. And I'm saying this as a person who will cry at the drop of a hat. I also maintain that if that chick hadn't made up a false report about being attacked, these idiots wouldn't have latched onto the idea. I think she shot herself in the foot with that one.

That said, these idiots exist. They think Trump's strict (in some people's opinions, overstrict) immigration laws = HATE ALL MINORITIES, but these are also the people that took the Crusades out of context to apply them to any issue they don't like. Give us back Deus Vult, you varlets. You wouldn't last two seconds in an actual battle of any kind.

Look, Trump isn't exactly an ideal president. His public persona accidentally called out the crazy racists of the country, but I said it before and I will keep saying it: his "promises" are not going to come through. President Obama made a lot of promises too, and most of those didn't come to fruition either. I will also point out that Trump has never been "conservative", or even very Republican. In fact, he basically won because he's slightly outside the establishment. (We'll see how long that lasts.) But the point is, he had some very different ideas before the election, so I've always been skeptical about what exactly he's really going to do.

For now, we have to move on. He's in charge, like it or not, and the best we can hope for is that he doesn't screw up any worse than past presidents have done. We've been in this situation before. We can make it. And, on the bright side, we have four years of Oompa-Loompa jokes to use.

But next time you hear about some racist mob, the best thing to do is confront them dressed as a Crusader. Riding a horse, if  possible. See how fast they run.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Some Lighthearted Lovecraftian Fun to Cleanse Our Palates



Randolph Carter is having a bad night. His best friend went down into a tomb, and now he sounds really weird, and keeps insisting that there are go-carts down there, and Carter should totally come join him!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Thanks, Election 2016, now EVERYONE is Hitler

Election 2016, with less muscular men.

AHAHAHAHAHA SOCIAL MEDIA IS FUN

Okay, this is the presidential campaign post. Or, more accurately, "Stop being jerks about the presidential campaign" post. So let's talk about how people have been behaving regarding this election.

Here's a picture that aptly demonstrates exactly what I'm talking about.

Yes, I whited out her name and Twitter handle, because this is a frigging classy blog

This attitude right here is why we're in the state we're in. Look, we're all going to disagree on somethings. We're also all going to have those idiots that genuinely think our candidates are the BEST CANDIDATES EVAR, which is a bit concerning, but never mind.
My point is that this attitude is destroying us from the inside. We live in a culture of outrage. Anything that can be construed as offensive will be construed as offensive, either by someone deliberately taking advantage of the situation to make themselves look better, or because they are so wrapped up in what they've heard about people that disagree with them that they genuinely think they are doing what's right. Those are the scariest. Fanatics behaving irrationally because they think they're right are the ones that can cause the most damage, because they can't conceive that they are wrong.

That's the other problem here, No one can possibly think they could be wrong about any little thing. And look, there's a difference between "I'm pretty sure I'm right on this" and "NO I REFUSE TO LISTEN TO ANYTHING THAT MIGHT MAKE ME HAVE TO THINK ABOUT WHAT I'M SAYING BECAUSE I'M RIGHT BECAUSE YOU'RE ALL JERKS AND I'M NOT". Yes, big difference.

This election has brought out the worst in people. Trump supporters think he's just "telling it like it is" despite the fact that he totally thought the exact opposite of a lot of things before he decided to run for president. Clinton supporters think that Trump is one bad day away from blowing up the world, while Hillary is sunshine and roses and has never done anything awful ever.
The problem with both sides is that they are blatantly ignoring all the truly awful things both candidates have done and continue to do. Trump supporters pass off his sickening comments about married women as "locker room talk", and sure, some men do talk like that, but if they jumped off a cliff should Trump do it too? No, don't answer that, let's not get into that right now. Point being, just because a lot of people do something doesn't mean it's right. Argumentum ad populum is still a logical fallacy. Also, Trump is pretty much a textbook narcissist. I took one year of psychology and even I can recognize that.

Clinton supporters, meanwhile, have suddenly decided that Wikileaks, who was their bestest best friend that ever bestest with them, is an evil puppet in the employ of Donald Trump and/or Vladimir Putin, whoever is playing Hitler in their minds that day. Clinton wasn't found guilty about sharing classified information, so that means she's not guilty! They happily ignore the totally coincidental meeting with Loretta Lynch and Clinton's own lies during the debate about the matter. Every time a new piece of evidence arises to show that no, Hillary Clinton isn't the pure, disinterested leader we want, they cry conspiracy.

All this leads to the problem we see now. Both sides are at each other's throats. They have so convinced themselves that their candidate is the only one that will save us from Doomsday (no, not that one) that the other side looks like the most heinous, selfish, awful people you will ever meet. Our friend Laura up there uses the word du jour, "privilege". It's a good word. It means that you can immediately dismiss whatever your opponent says by insisting that they can't understand other people. Sympathy and empathy are part of humanity, and by mentally casting your opponent as someone who can't feel these things, you diminish their humanity and thus make it easier to dismiss anything they have to say. You justify it by saying you are making the world safe for those without that privilege, and you come off looking like an angel of light.

On the other side, you have people casting their motives as speakers of the TRUTH (Truthiness?). Rather than engage in the sophistry and subtle repression of the their opponents, they insist that they are the truly rational ones, and as such they have the responsibility to insist on their version of the truth, loudly, at any time they feel appropriate, which is basically all the time. And with both sides, if you even venture a partial disagreement with anything, they are ready to cast you into the political outer darkness, where they think there's weeping and gnashing of teeth, but where there's really just a lot of very confused people who decide to just move on with their lives and shut up.
And there's the problem. These behaviors are leading to an echo chamber. By telling anyone who disagrees with you to simply be quiet and agree, you are damning yourself to delusion. It is impossible to be 100% right, and if you surround yourself with sycophants, you will never improve, you will never learn. 

Honestly, I think part of this problem comes from social media. It is such a part of our lives now that we view everything through its lens, and that's something I'm trying not to do. When we see the crazy neckbeard shouting "GO TORMP BEAT THOSE $^$#%#y$#ETHNICSLURS#@%#$%#@" on Twitter it's easy to connect that to the multitude of kind people who thought long and hard about the election and decided on Trump for reasons unconnected to racism and treat them with the same contempt as Neckbeard McNeckbeardy. Similarly, we see people like Laura up there, or the whiny college student who discovered that real life is hard, and connect it to normal people who spent time making their decision for reasons unconnected to FREE STUFF. Add to the fact that news outlets deliberately frame things to be as outrageous and eye-catching as possible, and we have a perfect storm of assumptions that lead us alienating ourselves from other people.

All this to say, vote for who you want, but regardless of the outcome, take time to see the humanity even in people you disagree with. And not in the Brexity "oh, you poor uneducated fool, I feel bad for your stupidity" kind of way. See the reasoning and sympathetic human being you are talking to, not a walking stereotype. Maybe we can start repairing this mess.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Top Ten Halloween Reads

It's that time of year again! Time to scare yourself so bad you want to leave all the lights on, and when you don't you find yourself imagining a monster crouched by the attic door as you lie motionless in bed, wishing you could go to the bathroom but not wanting your feet to touch the floor, lest the monster charge you as you get out of bed, which is a thing that totally only happens to children and never to mature adults who are married and have jobs and have responsibilities.

*cough*

So without anymore stories that would definitely be embarrassing if they were real, here's what you should be reading for this Halloween:



10.) Bloodwalker by L.X. Cain



Yes, I have already reviewed this. Yes, I am saying this again. Read this book. It is really weird. It's really creepy. It has a murderous clown, which means it is perfect for this year. What's that? You don't like reading about a murderous clown when there's a clown standing out on your lawn? TOO BAD, READ IT ANYWAYS.


9.) Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu


You know that really nice kid you invited to stay in your house?

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA yeah good luck with that.


8.) House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielwski


The House is bigger on the inside, and about as fun as that time the Other House took over the TARDIS. Will Navidson's film of the House might not be real. Zampano's book about it doesn't really make sense. Johnny Truant might need to see a psychologist for his sex obsession, and also because he's being chased by an imaginary monster. Everyone, whether or not they actually exist, goes crazy anyways. You'll probably go crazy too.


7.) Brimstone by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child


You say spontaneous combustion, but some say "demonic attack". Tomato, tomahto. And what's this? Our beloved Count Fosco is alive and well after all, and has replaced his real birds with mechanical ones. When people just start cooking from the inside out, you ask Pendergast to look into it, because he's used to weird things happening in New York.


6.) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley


You know, trying to create life by sewing bits and pieces together is generally a bad idea, especially when you're hoping to stop death altogether. On the upside, the monster you create will become eloquent enough to explain why he wants to kill you.


5.) Dracula by Bram Stoker


You know that really nice guy that invited you to stay in his house?

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA yeah good luck with that.


4.) Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M.R. James


These ghosts don't just go "boo". They do really weird things, like inhabit pictures to show you things, or throw parties next door when you're trying to sleep. Why? We don't know. There's a reason Lovecraft liked James so much. His stories are weird.


3.) The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde


Take a little trip into the mind of a nice kid who slowly becomes a sociopath. And also wants immortality, can't forget that one. No supernatural threats, though, just your usual human darkness.


2.) House on the Borderland by William Hope Hodgson


There are pig-men. What? Yes, I don't know, they're just there. They want in your house. It's like a reverse Little Pigs. Also, the house will force you to live through the heat death of the universe. Why? Nope. Not gonna explain it. It just happens.


1.) The Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child


Old victims and new victims alike, all with a certain surgical procedure done to cause death. Of course Pendergast has to get involved. He loves all the weird things. The question is, who is doing this and why?

Okay, you know what, can we just agree that the search for immortality is a questionable one at best? I'm looking at you, actual real scientists that are doing it. Just stop. Find something else to do. What, do you want us to be killed by eloquent monsters and/or Vorlons? Look at this guy. Removing the cauda equina while his victims are still conscious. Who even does that? Read on to find out, I guess.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Notice of Not Being Quite Dead-I Might Even Pull Through, and I Think I'll Go For A Walk

So it's been a while since I've written literally anything on here.

I've been incredibly distracted lately, and it's not just from classes. For some reason I've been in one of those periods of time where you spend all your free time on mindless nonsense. Well, not completely mindless nonsense. I've been reading a bit too.

Anyways, this is just a little update to say I'm going to give more attention to the blog, at least until November when the annual WRITING A WHOLE LOT WHEN YOU DON'T REALLY HAVE TIME month begins. Yes, I'm doing NaNoWriMo again this year. I might blog about the experience, but I doubt it.

I will try to build up a blog buffer before November, though. Once finals are over this week I'll hopefully be able to breathe (even though, thanks to the schedule being rearranged, I don't get a break in between sessions this semester). So here's what we have going on:

-Blathering about this election in general, which obviously has to be posted before November. I have a lot of feelings, and it will lead in to another post...
-How social media affects our perception. Let's just say...jerks are becoming jerkier.
-Movie and book reviews-I have to catch up on these. Also I just finished Anna Karenina and I have bookmarked so many pages, so it'll be a long one.
-Doctor Who reviews. I will restart them, hopefully get them finished before the next series.

So until then, I leave you with the new and improved Clear Lakes 44, which is now ECKVA. Hopefully we'll get an actual story this time so I can talk about it.

I'm not going to recap everything, just go to the FWAN forums to find out what you need there.


Saturday, October 1, 2016

A Helpful Guide to the Election

As with any election, the candidates involved often represent a myriad of beliefs and stances, and to add to the complexity, oftentimes thinking voters find themselves agreeing and disagreeing with both on some issue or another.

To make it easy for you, I have compiled all the knowledge social media has given me about this issue, that way you can make the choice that is best for our country.


Donald Trump:

  • HIS HAIR IS FUNNY.
  • HE SAYS MEAN THINGS ABOUT WOMEN.
  • 2 CORINTHIANS.
  • HE'S RACIST MCRACISTON.
  • HECK, LET'S GET IT OVER WITH, HE'S HITLER, OKAY? DONALD TRUMP IS NOW HITLER. A VOTE FOR DONALD TRUMP IS A VOTE FOR HYDRA.



Hillary Clinton:

  • HER HUSBAND IS A WOMANIZER.
  • WE DIDN'T LIKE HER HUSBAND WHEN HE WAS IN OFFICE.
  • SHE HAS AIDS.
  • SHE HAS PHAGE.
  • WE DON'T KNOW, SHE JUST NEARLY FELL DOWN, THAT MEANS SHE'S UNFIT FOR OFFICE.
  • SHE'S HITLER, OKAY? HILLARY CLINTON IS NOW HITLER. A VOTE FOR HILLARY CLINTON IS A VOTE FOR LEX LUTHOR.



Third Party Candidate:

  • THIRD PARTY?
  • THIRD PARTY???
  • WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO, DESTROY OUR COUNTRY?
  • GARY JOHNSON STUCK HIS TONGUE OUT ONCE!
  • HE'S TOO HIGH TO DO ANYTHING!
  • DON'T YOU KNOW A VOTE FOR GARY JOHNSON IS A VOTE FOR HILLARY/TRUMP/COBRA?
  • ALSO HE'S PROBABLY HITLER TOO, OR SOMETHING.



Now, armed with the best knowledge the Internet can give you, go and make your choice.

But just remember, no matter what you do, the Internet will tell you that you chose...poorly.