Saturday, January 28, 2012 a nutshell

Lovecraft can be very entertaining. But on the "I don't mind reading someone trying to sound like ye olde English gentleman" level. Sometimes Lovecraft's stories can be very strange, and very rambly. Dreamquest of Unknown Kadath certainly has this problem. Therefore, for those who don't wish to take the five hours out of their day to read the whole thing, I have written a summary, a Cliff's Notes version, if you will. I hope this helps explain a few things.

Randolph Carter dreams of a pretty city and goes to find it in the Dreamlands.

Creepy Fish Guy: Hi Randolph! Here, take a swig out of this creepy ruby flask.
Randolph: Sounds legit.

Randolph promptly passes out and is shanghaied off to the moon to visit Nyarlathotep, whose name is constantly mentioned for no reason other than foreshadowing. Luckily, an army of cats who can somehow go to the moon and back arrive and save his ass.

Random Demigod: Hi Randolph! I’m not sure where that city is, but it’s probably over those super creepy mountains of doom that no one ever goes over because they’re so incredibly evil.
Randolph: Sounds legit.

Randolph goes over the creepy mountains and is shanghaied off to an evil dream city to visit Nyarlathotep. Again. Luckily he knocks his captor out with a lamp and runs off. After gathering an army of ghouls to fight off the moonbeasts of doom, they fly on out to Kadath to ask the gods where the pretty city is. They make it to Kadath only for Randolph to visit Nyarlathotep.

Nyarlathotep: Hi Randolph! Climbing on the back of this white windowless unmarked Shantank will take you to the pretty city of Boston, and free candy.
Randolph: Sounds legit.

Randolph is immediately shanghaied off again, this time to visit Azathoth. Luckily he realizes he can jump off the back of the white windowless unmarked Shantank and wakes up, safe and sound. Nyarlathotep, embarrassed by the fact he was outwitted by the dumbest human in existence, takes it out on Earth’s gods, who were vacationing in Boston the whole time.

Conclusion: Randolph Carter might be a scholar, a writer, and a bad ass, but he’s dumber than a box of rocks.

This would make a good English paper, right?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Book Review: Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Look! Look Rick! Something not Slender Man related!

But it's kind of dark. And creepy. And I guess the Dark Passenger could be considered an eldritch horror...albeit a small and fairly harmless one, and oh let's just get on with the review.

Adorably enough, this series first came to my attention via TV Tropes. Oh, those wonderful, awesome TV Tropes! But I digress. The page was linked to "Serial-Killer Killer" which peaked my interest. I saw there were books, and there was a TV series. I decided, as usual, to go for the books first.

They’re really really addictive.

I read the first one in, oh, three days I believe. But not before Mom started jabbering about “Oh is it like in the TV series where the bad guy is ------?”

Thanks Mom!

But really, when you get down to it the twist ending was somewhat obvious, so I can only pick on her so much.

The basic premise is that Dexter, a mild-mannered blood spatter analyst with the Miami police department, also happens to be a serial killer. Who only goes after other serial killers. In fact, the very first chapter jumps right into the untimely (but cathartic) death of a pedophile. As the story progresses, Dexter reveals that he was adopted at a young age, and his foster father Harry soon knew that whatever had happened to him before had damaged him badly. (He figured this out shortly after the neighbor’s dog mysteriously disappeared, never to be seen again.) As a genre-savvy cop Harry knew that one day, no matter what, Dexter would start killing other people. So, he decided to train him to be a hunter of other hunters. He taught Dexter how to escape detection and gave Dexter a very strict code by which to judge his future victims, and Dexter himself seems happy enough to keep to that code.

Unfortunately, other “monsters” (as Dexter calls himself) do not have this code, and when one occasionally escapes the justice system, they do not escape Dexter. (A hilarious gag states that child killers do not stand a chance in Miami-if they manage to somehow escape the eponymous CSI unit, Dexter will catch them. Crossovers abound!)

So while Dexter goes about his merry dual life, something happens. A serial killer terrorizing Miami’s prostitutes starts leaving messages for Dexter. His sister (also PD), unaware of what he is, keeps badgering him for his “hunches” he gets about these mad killers (hunches he gets thanks to his “Dark Passenger”, the reptilian voice that giggles with glee over these sorts of things). To make it even worse, the lieutenant in charge of the case keeps hitting on him, a certain Sergeant Doakes seems aware of what he is, and he keeps having bizarre dreams. And, of course, he has to keep up appearances by dating of all things! Dexter frequently wonders how these terrible things keep happening to him.

All in all, it’s a fun read. I’ll admit the parts where he’s in full-on serial killer mode are, well, a touch disturbing. Apparently Jeff Lindsay did a decent job with the character, because real life serial killers say they understand him so well-then naturally go kill an innocent person, not thinking “huh, he only kills people like me…”. Ah, well. Lindsay actually references this in his latest book, but I will review that one later. However, most of the time, Dexter is merely in snark mode. His disconnect from humanity in general makes him a good vehicle for pointing out the foibles of others. It’s sort of like Ocean’s Eleven, where you’re rooting happily for the protagonists the whole way, then stop at the end and say, “Hey, waitaminute!!” I’m sure there are many, many Christian review websites out there that are practically fainting in horror over these books.

But what makes these books work is not “give in to your dark side…come to the Dexter side, we have donuts”, but rather that Dexter is pure catharsis. We all know the outrage and anger we feel when someone escapes justice. We all know the writhing disgust when we see a pedophile go free. Dexter is our way of living out that justice, albeit in a slightly creepy and dark manner. A regular protagonist could not go around madly slashing away. We would look on in horror! But someone compelled to kill, unable to resist those urges, turning those urges to a good use, is something different.

This works very well, so long as you are not a genre-blind serial killer who doesn’t understand that concept of “context”.

See. Nothing about Slender Man at all.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My Two Cents

Dear Government,
     Your belief that one can monitor the Internet activities of billions of people around the world is quite amusing. Please, keep saying things like that. In these dark times comedy is necessary.
     ...wait. Wait, you''re serious? Oh.
     Well then. I now know what I must do.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Reviews-The Slender Man VLogs

I'm a sad person. You see, it all started with me finding this little vlog called "Marble Hornets", which served to scare the daylights out of me and gave me bizarre dreams of being chased by an Eldritch Abomination. And then...oh dear...then I found out there were more like this. I think I'm a bit addicted.

I've been going through several vlogs related to the Slender Man mythos, that mad Internet phenomenon in which an Eldritch Abomination stalks poor college students. Why does he do this? Well, no one quite knows. But he seems to be getting a kick out of it. I've decided to give my opinion on those I've watched. There are, in fact, several. Okay, about seven or eight. I'm sorry. I'm an addict.

1.) Everyman Hybrid

This started out...okay. Probably would have been better had I realized what they were doing. A few guys decided to make a YouTube fitness series, and have a friend dress as Slender Man and hang out in the background. I...didn't notice that part. I did, however, notice it when the real thing decided to show up in their house, wobble his head around, and slam a door on them. The fit then hit the shan, as the saying goes. The thing's left bags of blood for them, Evan tried to beat him with a baseball bat and wound up coughing up blood, they tried to run Slender Man over and that worked about as well as you'd expect....It started out great, really, but got complicated. And by complicated I mean...

One of the guys had a girlfriend who disappeared and her friend has a blog in which she talks about floods and takes secret pictures of the Hybrids and then they call the cops on her and she was put in an asylum but then they busted her out and that disappeared girlfriend was the niece of this psychologist who years ago had adopted kids who bear the same names as our protagonists and one of them was an insane violent kid who called himself HABIT who is an entity who is possessing our protagonists and taunting people on the Internet and the beclawed Rake keeps attacking someone's brother who has his own YouTube account and...

Yeah. That's why I stopped watching it.

2.) Tribe Twelve

Noah was going to do a project on the twelve tribes of Israel, and then the project was cancelled. Then his cousin Milo dies unexpectedly so he makes the YouTube channel into a memorial for Milo. He had a camera a few years back when Milo visited. However, Noah begins to realize that there was this guy hanging around too...and Milo seemed to be fleeing a lot...

This is actually one of the better ones. It started out a bit clunky, because it was almost a rip-off of Marble Hornets. But then, Noah goes to Milo's funeral in New York, and meets up with his German grandfather, who has been watching the videos online. Seems his grandfather knew about this thing called Der Grobmann, a creature who lived in the Black Forest and would hunt bad children. Seems Grandpa Karl was part of the OSS, making him completely bad ass, and saw a Nazi soldier get ripped apart by the aforementioned Der Grobmann. This is also from the original SomethingAwful thread about Slender Man, but it made an excellent addition. Things get crazy, with a being called the Observer threatening Noah, trying to get him to fetch poor Nazi Sebastian's diary from Grandpa Karl, who clearly knows more than he's letting on. Noah has been through a lot, poor guy, and the Observer likes to take over his Twitter feed to taunt Internet people. (This happens a lot with Slender Man's minions.) There have been some genuinely terrifying moments in this vlog, especially on the nature trail and the airplane, and the special effects are top-notch. (THOSE TENTACLES. DEAR GOD THOSE TENTACLES.) Now, we have found out that Dr. Corenthal, the adopter of violent children, studied Milo long ago, and Milo apparently knew about a child who mysteriously died on the nature trail (wonder who did that, eh?), but it seems like I won't have to catch up with Everyman Hybrid to figure that part out. The crossover is done. HABIT is leaving things up to the Observer. This is one of the better ones, especially as the original effort expanded into such a nice, frightening story.

3.) Caught Not Sleeping

All right. The protagonist likes to complain a lot, especially about the audience even though they're usually more helpful to him than harmful. But I really couldn't get into it. It was more of a psychological puzzle, and as fun as that is for the audience, I'm really in this for the scares. This is a horror franchise. I am not frightened by the doll house, nor am I frightened by the wig in the garbage disposal.

4.) 004 Steps

Not a bad one. The creators are still preteens so the work probably isn't as professional as it could be, but they do quite well for their age. Markus Steps starts seeing the Slender Man, finds a psychologist case file (not Dr. Corenthal, one hopes) on himself, and finds old childhood drawings of the Slender Man. His friend has gone off the deep end and last we saw, was wandering about in the Creepy Woods of Doom (TM). No updates since (but they had end of the semester testing, so this is expected).

5.) doingJACKALL

DEAR LORD. This series is terrifying. I honestly haven't been this scared since first watching Marble Hornets. The plot is still so-so, but that's because they jumped right into the fun. It was clear they were going to start out just filming their boyish shenigans, but quickly everyone noticed the Slender Man. They have nice accents, by the way. As of this point, one kid has disappeared completely, and last we saw his body was hanging from a tree, one has apparently gone to the Slender side of the force, and the last is on the run, because no matter where he turns it seems the Slender Man is there. Eldritch Abomination determined to rip out one's organs=run away. Smart kid.

6.) Osiris Chronicles

They did a nice job setting this up as a channel about their dogs (and cat). But then, on a late night walk with friends, someone notices a tall guy in a suit walk by. Nothing is said more of this until he starts showing up outside our protagonists' house (and Petting the Dog, although since the dog has disappeared he may have also Kicked the Dog), and more or less being a general jerk. Also, the Slender Man has started a game of chess with our protagonist. And it seems to be mirroring real life, which is Not A Good Thing. He also sent a couple minions to the protagonists' house, who attempted to get inside in the creepiest manner they could muster. Some scary moments, a good plot...good all around.

7.) rubirubics

This one is okay. A kid's brother has gone off to college, and he's finding odd things on his brother's old computer. Odd Slenderish things. It's all right, but right now it's rather slow. Still, it's new, and the shenanigans may pick up any minute.

8.) silverselenide35

I'm hoping this one picks up soon. It's been very good, a great plot, and some scary moments without overdoing it. Two girls are working on art degrees and doing fashion shoots in the meantime. However, their camera usage as expected attracts the attention of Our Villain, who promptly shows up to ruin things as only he can do. The plot did seem to be picking up, if we knew where it was going. One character found a drawing of some building, and she can't figure out how it got in her friend's attic under things. And she just found out her mother faked her death. What's that? A conspiracy? Please, yes!

9.) 5zer02

Friends frolick about Louisville, until the Slender Man shows up to meddle with things, going so far as to bend over to look at them and they only see it on camera. (Paranoia ahoy!) Poor Xakk has gone to the Slender side, going so far as to harass the makers of another series, and complaining that he isn't a favorite minion. (Probably not meant to be funny, but it was. Yes, it was.) I haven't gotten myself up to date, but I plan to. Not tonight, though. It's pretty good, but a little confusing.

10.) Apple of our Eye

This guy moves into a new house, gets stalked by Slender Man, and gets lost in an apple orchard. It's all very simple, but has some rather terrifying moments. Unfortunately the project seems to have been abandoned.

11.) MLAndersen0

Another one I need to catch up on. A young man has just gotten out of an insane asylum, and is slowly being turned to the Slender side of the force. Of course, it's indicated he was in an asylum because his brother broke his leg while they fled the Slender Man, and Michael was blamed for the accident...

12.) TJandAmy Projects

This is an excellent one, and the girls tried to start their own spin offs but are very busy getting ready to go into basic, so who knows if we'll see the conclusion. They are two young women, one with a small child, living in a run-down apartment. They try to make their own Slender series but, of course, run into the real thing, who seems intent on kidnapping the child. That lends it's own terrifying dimension, and the series ended on a bit of a cliffhanger.

All right, and now I must go. I want to make food, and also the bathroom calls.

Sleep well...