bobquasit: (Omac Destroys!)
Iron Man vs. Doctor Doom: Doomquest (Marvel Premiere Classic)Iron Man vs. Doctor Doom: Doomquest by David Michelinie

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Unbelievably putrid. Over and over I sat in stunned amazement, asking myself "Did they really publish stuff this bad back in 1981?"

There are two kinds of stories in comics. One tries to say something meaningful, or at least to present some sort of concept that the reader can be entertained by. The other is the visual equivalent of two three-year-olds trying to one-up each other. "My hero is a million times stronger than yours!" "Oh yeah? Well MY hero is a JILLION times stronger!" Over and over and over. There's no sense to it, and no point.

Which pretty much describes this "book".

Oh, and the authors completely abuse the Arthurian legend. In an incredibly lame "future Arthur" sequence, Merlin is "cool", saying things like - and I am NOT making this up - "Okee doke: One 'Return to Sender' spell, comin' right up!"

Merlin as Jar-Jar Binks. It made me want to beat the author with a club.

So to sum up, the only reason to read this thing is if you want to take a look back to see just how incredibly awful some comic books were, even as recently as 1981 (the art is pretty bad, too). And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to do something - anything - to drive the memory of that unbelievably idiotic writing out of my brain.

View all my reviews
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The Cat Who Walks Through Walls The Cat Who Walks Through Walls by Robert A. Heinlein

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

One of Heinlein's last books, and not one of his best. It represents yet another installment in the "World As Myth" theme that he used so often later in life, and therefore includes many characters from his older, better works - including, inevitably, Lazarus Long, who continues his long (pun intended) degeneration from the original interesting protagonist of "Methuselah's Children" into an annoying incest-freak, Heinlein surrogate, self-parody (I suspect), and all-around jerk-who-must-be-worshiped-due-to-his-natural-moral-superiority.
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Heinlein only wrote one more book after this; I've read it, but don't remember much of it (which is not very high praise, I must say). Unfortunately, that means that I don't remember if there was any mention of the outcome in that book. I suppose I'll have to re-read it to find out.

If it weren't for Heinlein's great skill as a storyteller, I'd have given this two stars at best. It's certainly among his weakest novels.

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Apr. 29th, 2009 09:39 am
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I'm still pissed off. I made the mistake of getting a coffee Coolatta and bagel at the only Dunkin Donuts near my work.

As always, they simply tossed the bagel in the bag with some butter. If I wanted to butter a cold bagel myself, I would have bought one much cheaper at the Shaws next door. Is it that fucking hard to butter a goddamned bagel?!?

And the Coolatta was utterly undrinkable. It was mostly liquid, not frozen, and it must have been 98% cream. It was as white as snow! I looked at the guy and said "That's a Coolatta? It's SO WHITE!".

He ignored me. Like an idiot I took the bagel and Coolatta (I'd already paid for them) and left the store. When I got back to my desk, I tried buttering the bagel; it was cold. I tried the Coolatta and nearly puked; it really was pure cream. I tried microwaving the bagel a little to melt the butter, and ended up with melted butter everywhere. So I threw the whole fucking mess in the trash. Then I wrote to Dunkin Donuts and complained, and then I went to and posted a bad review. But because that DD is in an Exxon Tiger Mart, I had to review that instead.

I am really, really pissed off this morning.
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Dear Microsoft,

Just a note to say "hi!" and thanks. I was working on my website, trying to get things done before finally getting some much-needed sleep. But you knew that my work wasn't really important. And that's why you decided to install some important updates and force my computer to restart.

Oh, you gave me a few minutes warning. You even provided a little window with a countdown, saying "X minutes before restart". There was a box that said "Restart Now", and another box that said "Restart Later" - but wacky jokesters that you are, you greyed that "Later" box out! You know I didn't really want the option to wait a few extra minutes and finish my work. No, it's so much more satisfying to have the computer shut down on me against my will, at the command, Microsoft.

I can't help but imagine what the world would be life if you guys ran everything. Say I'm in the middle of a phone conversation with my doctor. I had some tests recently (no, not really, but bear with me - this is dramatic license) and she's going to tell me how I'm doing. Is it cancer, doc?

"BEEP! This is Microsoft. We've installed some important security updates on your phone. Press umlaut to delay hangup. Ha ha! Umlaut isn't an option! Say goodbye! Click...beeeeeeeeeeeeep..."

And just to cap things off, after the computer restarted you thoughtfully didn't bother to restore my programs. FireFox can do it, and it's open source. But you, Microsoft, you're much too busy to bother wasting time considering the convenience of your users. Why, if you did that once, they might expect consideration ALL the time!

So thanks, Microsoft. And fuck you, fuck you very much.

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The following comment just burst out of me while I was reading a question over on Askville about airport security at Heathrow (in the UK, as I assume everybody knows).

I went through Heathrow about fifteen years ago, so I don't have an up-to-date story to relate. But they did pull me out of line and search me extensively.

Years later, I had an employee who had also had bad experiences at Heathrow. He was a short little red-headed guy from Ireland (I'm a red-head too, but not at all Irish - although everyone who sees me assumes that I'm either Irish or Scottish).

Anyway, he told me that one time he was pulled out of line, taken to a separate room, and strip-searched. They took his clothes and left him alone in the room. After about forty-five minutes, he got tired of waiting and went strolling around the corridors naked, looking for his clothes.

I'm still not sure if I believe him. :D

I did go through Customs as well as airport security in the US last week. I have to say, it's like living under some third-world junta. Some of the Homeland Security people are decent enough, but a surprising number of them are rude, arrogant, and apparently drunk with power.

The rules themselves are ridiculous. My wife had a small tube of hand lotion; it was confiscated, very rudely, because it was an ounce or two over their limit. My son, that so-suspicious seven-year-old terrorist in training, had a sealed bottle of water in his backpack (we'd forgotten about it); confiscated. Yet I was able to bring a large tube of ointment through in my medical bag, despite the fact that it was obviously half-used and did not have my prescription information on it.

Most of these idiotic new precautions do NOTHING to hinder terrorists; all they do is inconvenience innocent travelers, and give a large number of jerks a license to dress up in a Nazi-like black uniform, carry a gun, and threaten people. As I said at the time, it's good to know that we're protected from the terrible hand-lotion menace. It's too bad that the government didn't use one-thousandth as much vigilance in monitoring Wall Street!

Sorry, I seem to have gotten off the point.
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A comment on a thread over on Askville about how to treat Republicans after the election, if Obama wins.

It would be hard not to rub their noses in it, I must admit.

I can't help but recall all the nasty comments that Republicans made in such abundence, both times when Bush got the Presidency, and all the names I've been called for the past several decades. They've called us communists, idiots, moral degenerates...if there's a name that they haven't happily flung at liberals and Democrats, it can only be because it hasn't been invented yet.

"Liberalism is a mental illness." I've seen that on more than one bumper sticker, and more times online than I can count.

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The Republicans over on Asvkille are going fucking psychotic. Even I am amazed at the crazy shit they're making up in their Obama "questions".

This was my response to a question by one of them that claimed that all Democrats say that only racists won't vote for Obama:

I keep visualizing the Askville Republican Strike Team.

They're all worked up behind their keyboards in their parents' basements, slobber literally raining down from their open mouths as they make up ever more bizarre questions to imply that Obama is an uppity black power terrorist child molester drug fiend pimp Communist with lesbian tendencies, and that all Democrats are morons and moral degenerates. All while they piously proclaim that they are true independents in the spirit of the Founding Fathers, and decrying the vicious partisanship that the Democrats are constantly inflicting on the sweet, innocent, responsible, wise, and patriotic Republican Party.

I also imagine that their blood pressure shoots up at least twenty points for every point that McCain drops behind in the polls. I have to admit that this amuses me, even though I'm not voting for Obama.

If (okay, probably when) McCain loses, I have to wonder what's going to happen to these disturbed souls. Will they simply drop dead, their hearts exploding out of their chests in one last gory technicolor display? Will they take the last step into complete paranoia, and end up naked wearing a tinfoil hat on a rooftop someplace, taking potshots at every black man they see until the police come to put them away? Will they turn on each other like rabid dogs locked in a very small room? Or will they just take the last step and disassociate from reality completely, entering a state of full catatonia?

One thing I doubt very much is that any of them will become sane. Most likely, they'll just keep on doing the same crazy stuff they've been doing all along. But as the country deals with the utter ruination that their policies have brought to us all, they won't get anywhere near as much attention as they're used to. They'll go from being a tumor on the body politic, to a pimple - the difference being, of course, that now thanks to them the nation is a lot closer to destruction!

I take a peek over at Free Republic every so often, just for laughs. Today I saw a thread which was so mind-bogglingly out of touch that it amazed me. A poster claimed that the Democrats were praying night and day because they knew they were doomed to lose the election. How long had they been doomed? Ever since Sarah Palin was nominated.

"Who do they pray to?" another poster asked. "We know that it's not Jesus."

"Allah," came the inevitable reply.
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I hate having to defend Democrats, these days. They don't fucking deserve it. They've betrayed every single one of their supposed principles, and didn't even gain a mess of pottage in exchange.

But some idiot over on Askville just posted a "question" blaming Obama and the Democrats for the failure of the bailout bill. I had to say something.

60% of House Democrats voted for the bill.

The Republican leadership in the house also agreed to support the bill before it came to a vote. John McCain heroically suspended his campaign and didn't go to the Presidential debate in order to "save" it (well, he didn't do either of those things, but at least he made the effort to lie about it to the American people). Senator McCain announced his glorious victory in saving America yesterday morning, you may recall.

And then the House Republicans spoiled all the fun by voting against the bill, 133 to 65. House GOP leadership claimed that a "partisan" speech by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hurt the feelings of their rank-and-file, causing them to change their votes to "No". We don't know if any of them cried and stamped their feet in rage.

Seriously, the Democrats fulfilled their obligation to support the bill, and that includes Obama. The Republicans did not, despite Senator McCain's specific efforts and claims to the contrary. So trying to turn this around and blame it on Obama and the Democrats is...just the kind of sleazy lying that the nation has come to expect from the Republicans, I'm sorry to say.

And it's pretty clear that the nation is starting to tune it out.

Personally, I'm pretty dubious about this bailout bill. I'm not at all sure it's a good thing for the middle class; the Bush administration and Republicans got us into this mess with their sociopathic regulation-cutting over the past 28 years, and now the American people have to bail out their Wall Street billionaire buddies? That's just wrong. That money should come out of Halliburton, the Bush/Cheney family fortunes, and the pockets of all their campaign contributors; every single one of them should be on WELFARE before the rest of the American people have to shell out one dime.

But in any case, for Republicans to blame DEMOCRATS for the failure of the bill to pass is such blatant black-is-white, up-is-down, in-your-face lying that I simply couldn't let it pass without saying something. It takes real contempt for the intelligence of your readers to post that sort of bare-faced lie!

I have to wonder if the post will be deleted as being too insulting...which is why I posted a copy here.
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Someone irritated me greatly over on Askville by asking why it is that "conclusions" of economics are not generally accepted - such as, specifically, the "evils of a minimum wage".

Sometimes I wonder if anyone over on Askville ever asks an honest question. It seems that nine out of ten of them are asked to evangelize a religion, propagandize a political position or candidate, or sell something. The spammers may be the most honest of the lot!

Anyway, here's what I wrote in response:

"Evils" of a minimum wage?

I think that particular "conclusion" isn't accepted because A) it's not a generally agreed-upon conclusion of economics (except among right-wing "free market" radicals and libertarians), and B) the ruthless and destructive behavior of many of America's most prominent corporations has made it eminently clear to anyone with a functioning brain that without a minimum wage, corporations would happily pay workers a penny a day - as they practically do in many parts of the world - and simply replace their workers as they drop off the economic map into utter poverty.

The problem with free-market fanatics is that they fail to recognize that human beings have worth that cannot be calculated in dollars and cents. And that there's a world of things out there that are, likewise, beyond price. How much would you pay for your next breath of air?
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I wrote this in a response to a question on Fluther about what to do for someone whose birthday is on 9/11: "What is the appropriate way to handle a birthday on September 11?"

The person should sit in shame in a darkened room, apologizing to everyone for being born on this holy day. Then the guests should pelt him or her with stones, chanting "9/11!" "9/11!" "9/11!" until their voices give out.

Then everyone can sit down and have a good cry.

Damn. When did Americans become such wimps? How did one day manage to turn America from the beacon of freedom for the world into a torturing, privacy-violating, Constitution-shredding bunch of idiots who will apparently do anything as long as the magic words "9/11" are invoked?

9/11 was bad, yes. But it wasn't as if New York City was nuked, or something. Thousands died, not tens or hundreds of thousands. Does that mean it wasn't bad? Hell no! But other nations have suffered far worse calamities without making such a damned fetish out of it.

It's a birthday party. Have a piece of cake, sing, give some presents. Lighten up!

Too harsh?

Not being able to leave well enough alone, I then added the following:

I know! Why not turn it into a theme for the party? You could even make it a party game! Have the birthday cake baked in the shape of the World Trade Center. Then have one of the guests crash a toy airplane into the cake, ruining it. The rest of the guests then pick out some other guest (but never the one who was actually responsible for the crash), and blame him or her for the whole thing.

That person puts on an Arab-style sheet, and then everyone at the party beats the living crap out of him or her...and his or her entire family, as well. Take all their money while you're at it. It's perfectly okay to beat up casual bystanders in the general melee, as long as you never hurt the person who actually destroyed the cake. Anyone who fails to show enough enthusiasm for beating up the designated villian should also be beaten.

Then everyone left standing can call themselves "heroes" and feel really good about themselves. Hurray!

I seem to have a wicked sense of humor today.

Update: The Fluther moderators deleted my second post. So I deleted Fluther from my links. I don't think I'll be returning there.

Update 2: Why do some sites make it so hard to delete your account? Fluther doesn't have the option, so I had to write to the site owners to request that my account be cancelled. Pity, but I really have no patience left for people without a sense of humor.
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Askville seems to be pretty much going to hell. The management neglected the users for a long time, and then suddenly instituted a draconian punishment by suspending 16 or 17 users; these included some of their best. Factions have developed, partly along religious lines, and discussion boards quickly turn into nothing more than flame wars.

In one of them, the Askville Mayor made a rare appearance to announce that the discussion board would soon be closed in response to complaints (which are almost certainly endemic at this point because of their own boneheaded policies). I had to respond:

Personally, I have to say that the thought of the Askville Team barging in here and shutting down the discussion is pretty offensive - not to mention high-handed. Yes, the DB has pretty much gone bad. That seems to be how most DBs here end up, sooner rather than later, when an even slightly controversial topic comes up. It's more a matter of personalities than anything else.

But who is to blame for the increasingly toxic environment here at Askville? In my book, it's largely the Askville team itself. They've played absentee landlords for years now, and the poisoned state of the Askville community is the natural result. They may have been working like dogs on background coding issues, but they've badly neglected the people who make up the Askville membership - the people who create the value that the site has for

They rarely speak to us. When they do, the communications are minimal. Mostly they issue decrees on their blog, which doesn't allow feedback. When they've been finally forced to take action because the community is falling apart, they've made stupid, draconian decisions.

There are really only two ways to run a social site (which is the core of what Askville is). One way is to run it impersonally, with clear but minimal rules that are enforced regularly and impartially.

Alternatively, you get yourself down on the level of your users and get to know them. You develop a relationship with them, or if it's a large site, with the most active and influential members. In other words, you make friends with your user base.

Distant but fair landlords, or friends to your users. The Askville team seems to have straddled the categories, and picked the worst of both types. They've been distant but unfair, with rules that are unclear and aren't enforced with any regularity. They've punished with little or no warning, and even when they try to interact with members, it's always very clear that they neither trust us nor are comfortable dealing with us.

It seems likely that Askville's days are numbered. That's a pity, because it was a good idea and could have been a smashing success. But when it fails, I hope that management will lay the blame where it belongs: on the Askville management, and on themselves. Because should have noticed long ago just how poorly Askville is being run.

The post went up, but I suspect that it might disappear soon - and in any case, odds are that the discussion board will be closed before long.

Askville management may have done a decent job with the code and features. They've done a horrendously poor job in dealing with their users. Yes, I might be banned soon for making this post there. But frankly, I have very little interest in the site any more - and it's just not worth answering questions "officially" there any more, because the odds are that you'll either be attacked by some for not agreeing with their opinions, or you'll be down-rated by other respondents in order to improve their own ratings. Some people have been gaming the Askville system like crazy to give themselves insanely high numbers of "quest coins" - even though the coins are useless!
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My response to a request for donations from the DNC:

Since the House and Senate leadership - along with Senator Obama - have chosen to aid the Bush administration by voting for telecom amnesty (and please don't try to feed me that line about judicial review - I'm not stupid), this life-long Democrat will neither vote for nor support Obama nor any Democrat who is complicit in this disgusting affair. I'll donate to ActBlue and the ACLU instead. At least THEY'RE not corrupt.

And I'll encourage everyone I know to do the same.

I didn't stop being a Democrat. YOU people did. You disgust me.
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I approve of old-fashioned sugar dispensers.

Packets are a pain; unless you only use one or two teaspoons of sugar, they're tedious to use. Tearing open all those packets takes too long and leaves you with the empty packets to toss. Not to mention that the packets are bad from an environmental point of view! They're simply unnecessary packaging.

The Fresh City in the lobby of my building has classic metal-topped glass sugar dispensers next to the coffee dispensers. The problem is that they're not being maintained correctly.

First off, the little holes at the top are rarely cleaned. So they get encrusted with coffee-stained sugar, caused by splashback when people hold the dispenser too close to the cup. That decreases the size of the hole by half or more, reducing the normal flow of sweet, sweet sugar to a mere trickle and making the process of sweetening my life-giving coffee take much longer than it needs to.

The other problem is that when the workers there refill the dispensers, they don't bother to empty out the nuggets of hardened sugar which are inevitably left inside. Nor do they crush them with a spoon, or anything like that. So over the day, more and more of those clumps build up inside the dispenser. When you use the dispenser the clumps inevitably gravitate towards the hole, blocking the flow of sugar almost completely.


You know, it's kind of amazing that I can write about anything I want here - no matter how insanely trivial and stupid.
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Michael Abramowitz, a "reporter" for the Washington Post, is conducting a chat right now. Someone raised the possibility of impeachment, and he pooh-poohed it in an ever-so-superior way. I'm quite sure that this was a complete waste of my time, but I couldn't resist responding:

"Why would the Democrats want to push this when Bush is a severe lame duck and they know, from the GOP experience, that impeachment has a good chance of backfiring politically?"

Perhaps because they took an oath to uphold the Constitution?

And if misleading the nation into war, abrogating habeas corpus, setting up a secret and illegal network of international prisons, authorizing the repeated violation of the Geneva Convention, spying on American citizens specifically in violation of Congressional statute, etc. etc. etc. etc. don't warrent impeachment, then NOTHING does, and Article II, Section 4 is utterly meaningless?

Forgive me. I'm being naive. Please continue bestowing your wisdom on us, oh enlightened media person.


Apr. 4th, 2008 08:28 am
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Am I the only person here who had never heard of the G-Shot?

I just read an article about how the comedienne Margaret Cho had it done. Apparently it involves getting a needle full of collagen injected under the G-spot. It's supposed to make sex better, although apparently so far it hasn't worked that way for Cho.


I now have an extreme sense of sympathetic discomfort in my G-spot. Okay, yes, I know that as a man I don't have a G-spot. And to be honest, I'm not really all that clear about exactly where the G-spot is. That's unfortunate, because the sense of extreme sympathetic discomfort is sort of floating around amongst all the possible areas.

Gack. The things people DO to themselves! Between this and anal bleaching, I don't know whether to laugh or clutch myself in horror.
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I was going to buy a copy of the Hogfather DVD for my birthday today. I have a gift certificate, and I was really looking forward to buying it and watching it with Teri; she hadn't been able to stay past the first hour or so at Arisia because she was too tired.

Itjust went on sale at Borders this week. Apparently it's a special Borders edition.

It's "special" all right. It doesn't include ANY of the many extra features that are on the UK version. The word is that a proper edition will be released in the US in May, with all the trimmings. But I really didn't want to wait, so I figured I'd buy it and give it to a friend or donate it to the library once I bought the more extensive edition. was offering it for $9.99. But I wanted it today. So I went to the Borders website. They listed it for $14.99, but had a note saying that different stores might have different prices. I called the local Borders to see if they had it in stock.

They did, the girl informed me, and asked for my name and phone number so they could hold it for me. I was just about to give her the info, when some impulse made me ask what the price was.

It was $19.99. $19.99!

"That's funny," I said, "it's $14.99 on the website. Why is that?"

She cheerfully explained that it was something to do with shipping and handling.

"That doesn't make any sense!" I answered. After all, the store doesn't do shipping and handling - and in any case that didn't explain five dollars difference.

"So should I hold it for you?" she asked.

"No. Please don't. Goodbye!" I answered.

Fuck it, I'll wait until May. I am NOT paying $20 for a limited version. Borders sucks!


Feb. 18th, 2008 10:24 pm
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A letter to Salon about Narnia in neon, an article about the children's television of Sid and Marty Krofft (subscription or ad-watch required).

I'm part of that odd generation that grew up watching the Krofft shows. I was born in 1964. My wife is a few years younger than me, and she'd never heard of them - although she'd watched more TV than I did, as a kid.

Any time I meet anyone born in 1964, though, I always find that we speak the same language: Krofft. We all dreamed about those shows, and our imaginations were forever changed - twisted? liberated? - by them.

So I bought the complete Pufnstuf and Lidsville series on DVD for my little boy. He's going to have the same bizarre images as I have floating around in MY subconscious. That may seem domineering, but have you looked at modern television for kids? It's either gross-out animation in the spirit of Ren & Stimpy (but without the talent) or the same perky-happy-crappy garbage that has been churned out for defenseless kids practically since the medium began.

Yes, I'm talking about you, Dora the Explorer, Little Einsteins, Hannah Montana, and the atrocity of the Winnie-the-Pooh shows featuring an animated perky AMERICAN GIRL in place of Christopher Robin (who was, damn it all, ENGLISH!). I'm talking about YOU, Disney! Mickey Mouse was NEVER funny!

And every single goddamned show is backed up by millions of dollars worth of focus groups, psychological research, and products to buy, buy, buy.

It's sanitized. It's sterilized. It's televisual pap! And what is that doing to the minds of our children?

Take a look at a random episode of Lidsville. It would never be made or broadcast today. The evil Hoodoo the Magician (Charles Nelson Reilly) having lost his "zap" powers to Raunchy Rabbit (I swear to God I am not making this up) dresses up as a female bunny and seduces the hapless lagomorph out of his powers!

Adults cringe in amazement at the sight of the tutu-wearing girl-bunny-disguised Reilly rolling around on a chaise longue with a little person in a bunny costume. But kids love it.

It feels as if Sid and Marty Krofft got a gang of brilliant maniacs together, said "hey gang, let's put on a show!" and made it happen. They're incredibly lose and amateurish compared to modern shows. There are obvious mistakes; for example, take the opening of Lidsville. Butch Patrick's fall into the giant hat was visibly botched - you can see his foot kind of bouncing there as he hits the padding upside-down at the bottom of the hat.

TV executives today would fire anyone for suggesting that a mistake like that be broadcast. But god forbid that even a smidgen of the creativity and imagination that the Kroffts displayed in almost every episode get on the screen now! Our screens must remain sterile as our children's minds. I think that the time will come when we realize that raising our children in an ideologically pure and sterilized environment destroys their mental immune systems, just as raising them without exposure to germs and dirt destroys their resistance to physical disease. Both are a cruel disservice to the next generation.

Pufnstuf and Lidsville were the purest of the divine Kroftt madness, in my book. They give us a window into a brief time when American culture was on the edge of becoming something truly, fundamentally different. Instead, that change was assimilated, digested, and eliminated.

Land of the Lost was a fun show (as a kid I loved it), but didn't have the essential Krofft craziness; that seems to have required giant-headed puppet-costumes. Sigmund & the Sea Monster verged on the weirdness, but somehow never quite reached the same level of strangeness and magic. That was probably, I think, because unlike Pufnstuf and Lidsville the child-protagonists of Sigmund were never taken away to another, magical world; their California world expanded a little to include sea monsters and other creatures, but it retained a link to reality that somehow made everything seem a little flat.

As for the Bugaloos, I didn't watch it much as a kid. And when I tried to watch it as an adult, I just couldn't take it. Yes, it seems to be the true Krofft quill...but maybe you have to have first seen it with the eyes of a child to be able to really enjoy it.
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I don't really care about the Patriots loss much. I mean, I am a geek, after all! It would have been a nice little start to the morning if they'd won, but really, who cares?

What did annoy me, though was a comment by one of the players on the radio this morning. He was saying he was disappointed, because of the sacrifices he'd made. Which instantly inspired a rant from me:

"Sacrifices?!? He gets millions of dollars for a few hours of work every few days for a few months out of the year! They all get millions more for endorsing sneakers made by five-year-old SLAVE children in fucking China! They've got groupies, beautiful women throwing themselves at them night and day! And this asshole is telling me he's made SACRIFICES?!?"

My fuse gets shorter when I'm really tired. :D
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The English language needs a new word.

I was listening to some story on NPR this morning. It was part 18 of a 20-part story about life on Cape Cod and how difficult it is for the poor and working-class.

I wish they'd pay one-TENTH as much attention to the poor and working-class in the rest of the country, but I'm sure it's hard for the media elite to empathize with us grubby commoners. Sorry, I'm in a cranky mood this morning.

Anyway, some guy they were interviewing was talking about how he's so lucky, he live on Cape Cod and he has great kids and a great girlfriend.

"WHAT?!?" I shouted mentally. Now, maybe those kids were from a previous marriage. But I'd bet not. And even if they were, there are lots of people who are, of course, having kids without getting married.

I'm old-fashioned, of course, but even I am not so old-fashioned as to condemn anyone for having children out of wedlock. But it seems to me that calling the mother of your children your "girlfriend" is just plain wrong.

So it's my conclusion that the English language needs a new word to denote a person you've reproduced with who is not, and never has been, your legal spouse. I hereby open the floor for suggestions.
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Just a reminder to myself to do a post about two new books I got out from the library.

And because I may never get around to actually writing that post, here it is in brief:

Larry Niven's Fleet of Worlds is a welcome reversion. Niven's work had become rather weak in the past ten to fifteen years; it seemed that like so many writers, age was robbing him of his abilities and voice.

His many co-authors didn't help, either. None of them were that good, and they brought him down. At his best, Niven used beautifully clear, diamond-like prose to convey startling hard-science concepts and speculation; his fantasy was equally clever and imaginative.

Compared to his best works, his many recent novels plodded. They were better than a lot of the crap that's coming out under the SF label lately, but they were disappointing nonetheless.

While Fleet of Worlds doesn't attain the heights of Niven's best work, it is a quite respectable book and definitely worthy of Niven's literary legacy. It ties in to plot elements from previous Known Space stories without exploiting or ruining those stories, and without being annoying. All in all, it works. I haven't heard of the co-author, Edward M. Lerner, before, but so far I'd rate him the best co-author Niven has worked with. Although some of his work with Pournelle was also quite good.

I can't be anywhere near as positive about The Last Days of Krypton by Kevin J. Anderson. Although I'm only 100 pages into it (and it's a behemoth like so many modern crap-SF novels), I knew I was in for a rough ride right on the first page. I don't have the book with me, so I can't tell you exactly what elements set off my mental stink-bomb alert, but I'll see if I can dig them up later.

Okay, I'm being a little harsh here. Actually, as modern SF goes, I've certainly seen worse. But reading it gave me an insight into why I hate the vast majority of modern science fiction so passionately: it's stupid.

It seems to me that the current generation of SF editors and publishers came into the field after the Golden Age - in most cases, post-1970s. Lots of people working in the business now wouldn't know Roger Zelazny or Fredric Brown if they leaped out of their graves and bit them on the ass.

And I believe they think of science fiction as "childish" literature, for immature, adolescent minds.

Which, of course, it has often been from the very first. But there were always exceptional authors - the cream that rose to the top - who wrote truly intelligent, imaginative, and adult science fiction (and fantasy, of course; I'm not making a distinction right now).

The problem is that back then, there were at least some editors and publishers who could recognize greatness. Now, those perceptive and mature people in the SF publishing industry seem to be gone - probably, I suspect, because the whole industry is far more commercialized than it used to be, far more integrated into the craptastic Hollywood culture that dominates American society. They're all looking so hard for the next Harry Potter that they would not only MISS the next Cordwainer Smith - he wouldn't even be able to get in their door.

I fear that the same must be said for fans. It may be that the vast majority of younger fans simply don't know what good writing is, because they've never seen it.

There are still a few good writers out there, of course, but they're the exception rather than the rule.

Like Hercule Poirot, I'm not going to pretend that I'm stupid. I'm more intelligent than the average reader, even the average SF reader. So maybe that makes me more sensitive to having my intelligence insulted. I can tell when I'm reading something written by someone who is dumber than I am, to put it crudely, and I'd say that 97% of everything new being published these days is either written by a relatively dim person, or deliberately slanted for an audience that the producers of the product consider to be - there's no other word for it - idiots.

And even so, the people producing this crap are not bright. If they were, even their dumbed-down writing would show it - and it doesn't. Typos, logical failures, unbelievable characters, the same tired old cliches again and again and again...lord! I'm so sick of it!


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February 2016

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