20
Feb
18

Goodreads Review: You Suck! – A Love Story

You Suck (A Love Story, #2)You Suck by Christopher Moore

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“You killed me! You suck!”
With an opener like that, what can go wrong? The answer is ultimately very little. Christopher Moore applies his usual talents in taking the fantastic and mythic and bringing it down to a basic, human (or nearly so) level with fine form here, the second volume of the A Love Story trilogy. A pair of vampire lovers, when confronted with mundane things like goth fangirls eager to appease their dark masters, getting back a security deposit, and dealing with their former friends (and turkey bowling champions) who have of late become vampire hunters and problem gamblers, are made to deal with things in a far less supernatural fashion than one might expect… though there’s plenty of inappropriate uses of super strength, speed, and stamina on display here, as well as more than a few tantalizing and titillating saucy bits.

All in all a highly entertaining read that frequently had me laughing, and kept the pages turning steadily until the end, and well worth your time if you’re in any way interested in satire, urban fantasy, or Christopher Moore’s other works. Give it a try.

View all my reviews

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19
Feb
18

Doing it by hand

Sometimes you need to change things up a bit. Other times you just want to change things up a bit. Sometimes you just can’t do something the way you normally would, but want to get it done regardless, so you need some extra or alternative tools.

A lot of places recommend that those of us carry around a little notebook to make jots into at any hour of the day or night. Sometimes I resist that image, as it feels a little too pretentious for my tastes – I always conjure up someone who looks vaguely like Steve Jobs and Anton LaVey’s merged clone, staring intently at a random flower or animal and composing a sonnet on the fly – but other times I acknowledge that it is handy to have access to something to scribble in sometimes.

And then there’s the best times, where you find there is something that is just innately satisfying about making a mark on a piece of plain white paper. If that paper is thick and absorbent, and the pen you make the mark with is heavy and thick-tipped with a slight tendency to bleed, it’s even better.

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Yes, there may be something wrong with me, but the tactile sensation is intensely pleasurable and seeing that empty space go away, filled with the marks you’ve made – as opposed to endlessly scrolling and adding more, as a computer screen does – gives a distinct sense of accomplishment.

But maybe that’s just me. What about the rest of you? Do you have a writer’s notebook or other bit of paper to scribble in? What made you do it? Do you think it’s pretentious, useful, different, or mood-altering? Let us know down below!

KA Spiral no signature

18
Feb
18

Riptide, Part 6

(Missed the story so far? It starts here!)

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Mother was back. She’d announced her presence with a midnight beating. She’d crept up the stairs while Rachel slept, having felt safe that Mother wouldn’t return until morning. Somehow her friend hadn’t been aware of Mother’s return, either; Bertie gave no warning or attempt to defend her when she was jerked awake by the crack of the birch rod against her thigh.

Rachel was too surprised to scream, being yanked from a pleasant dream of floating in an endless ocean, free from concepts like pain and paranoia. She’d been just… drifting. Safe among the jellyfish and waves that meant her no harm. Her brain interpreted the first flare of pain as one of those jellyfish reaching out and stinging her with one ropy tentacle. When she blinked, the moon-face of Mother was in front of her instead of the gelid sac of sea life gone awry.

“Thought I’d forgotten about you, didn’t you? Thought Mother had just wandered off, leaving you to be free to do as you will, didn’t you, little whorelet?”

Her voice was thick and slurred, coming out of only one side of her mouth. Rachel could see that the whole left side of Mother’s face was sagging down, turning it into equal parts tragedy and comedy mask, while her left eye rolled in the socket, seemingly fixed on nothing at all.

Mother brought the switch down again, sending ripples through Rachel’s left arm before leaving it numb. Rachel saw a splash of blood spring up and droplets seem to hover in the air for a moment before raining down on the burlap sheets in a quick drum riff.

“Found your books, I did,” Mother said. She punctuated this with another swing but missed. The head of the switch bounced off the bed and rebounded; Rachel found herself wishing it would fly back and hit Mother in the face. Somewhere inside of her, a voice awakened, laughing at first.

You could always do it for her, it said after a moment. Rachel liked the idea. She pushed with her feet, forcing herself into a sitting position and tensing the muscles in her right arm – the left was still numb, good for nothing but dripping blood all around her – as she slit her eyes. Watching the tip of the switch the way a snake charmer might watch the eyes of a particularly aggressive cobra, she waited for her chance.

“Nothing but bad. Since you were born, I knew it.”

She swung again; Rachel twitched to her right but kept her arm still. The birch rod cracked against the wall only inches from her head. She wanted to lunge for it, but that internal voice had told her it wasn’t quite ready yet. Steady, it told her.

Mother pointed the switch at Rachel, as though she was lining up a pocket shot on a cue-ball, her good eye running down the twisted rod to lock with Rachel’s gaze. Rachel wanted to squirm under that mad glare but kept herself still. The moment was coming, she knew it.

“I tried to beat it out of you. Tried to guide you to the Lord. But you wouldn’t listen.”

Her voice was rising in volume and dropping in octave, until it was a bass rumble that Rachel felt certain must have been rocking the flimsy walls of her attic prison.

“The devil in you answers to only one law. And the good Lord told me if thine child offends thee,”

She began to raise the switch above her head. Rachel saw it in slow motion, tracing the arc with a clinical precision that she wouldn’t have believed herself capable of.

“Then you must strike her down!”

Now! the internal voice shrieked as Mother brought the switch down. The whistling trajectory was aimed right at her head, and Rachel had no doubt that if it connected she’d be unconscious or worse.

But it didn’t. Her hand shot up, without conscious thought, and wrapped around the rod an instant before it hit her forehead. Ther was a meaty thud instead of the sharp crack she had been expecting. Her arm reverberated with the impact, and her hand became nothing but a leaden glove leaking blood between the fingers, but she had hold of the weapon.

Mother seemed too shocked to respond. Rachel knew what to do. She yanked, pulling it free from Mother’s weakened grasp. With a casual flip, she turned the business end around, raising it over her own head as she stood up.

Towering above Mother, feet planted squarely on the bed and thankful for once that it was nothing more than a wooden slab with a thin cushion of burlap thrown over it, Rachel’s teeth shone forth in a feral grin.

“How’s this for evil, Mother?”

She swung, aiming for that rolling eye and whatever diseased brain lay behind it.

KA Spiral no signature

17
Feb
18

Bad Habits

They’re easy to start, and easier still to fall back into when you thought you’d managed to banish them. They creep up on you, whispering sweetly into your ear until you give in. Once you’ve done so, it makes it even easier to do it again.

We all have bad habits. One of mine is procrastination, especially when it comes to writing. It’s been hard to put up posts and force myself to the word processor for the last week; there’s plenty of excuses, most of them health-related, but what it boils down to is an attempt to slink back into my bad habit of pulling a hole over myself and disowning the writer part of me.

So far I’ve managed not to give in. I’ve managed to write something every day. A few of them were later than I would have liked, but I still made it. Still, there’s that little voice. “It won’t matter if you skip a day. I mean, you’re sick! You can barely walk and talk, who expects you to try to write in that condition! You’re on heavy duty painkillers, and we both know what that does to your writing ability…”

All valid points. But I won’t give in. I’ve managed 47 days straight of scribbling every day, and that’s too much of an investment to give up on.

What about you out there? Have a procrastination monster that lives in your brain somewhere? How do you fight back the whispers, and what do you do when you fail? Let us know down below!

KA Spiral no signature

16
Feb
18

Doctors are Dumb

I’m not one of the people who claim doctors are in business to keep you sick so they can keep throwing new drugs and treatments at you… but I do think they’re dumb when it comes to prescriptions.

How? Because for those of us who have chronic health problems or recurring issues with illness, we frequently become intimately familiar with what does and doesn’t work, what medications they are prescribed for what symptoms, and what their reactions to those meds are. All of this information is frequently tossed out by doctors, especially when you have to change primary care physicians. A lot of them just take what you have to say as anecdotal at best, and do what they’re going to do. Then you get to come back after you do it their way and are still ill or suffering, explain it to them all over again so they can prescribe something else. Sometimes you’ll have to repeat this two or three times before they finally give you the drugs that you knew would have worked the first time.

Now, if they’re tinkering because there are other side effects at work, or because some new medication has come on the scene, that’s fine. That makes sense. But when they’re prescribing very basic painkillers or antibiotics which haven’t changed significantly in years, why?

Had this experience recently. They insisted on giving me some antibiotic ending in -mycin. I forget which one. They further insisted on giving me Norco. I asked if there was a reason they didn’t give me plain old penicillin or amoxicillin, they said they preferred to try the mycin types first. Informed them that Norco tends to make me violently nauseous and screw up my sleep schedule, they offered to switch it to Oxycodone or paracematol, both of which I noted also cause nausea. They basically said, “play through the pain.” (Further, we started at jumped-up Tylenol, then went straight to Oxy? Jesus, no wonder there’s an opiate problem…).

What happens? Two days later, the infection’s not going away, the pain is getting worse, and I’ve been vomiting and suffering diarrhea non-stop. More than most of you wanted to know, I’m sure, but oh well. I’m cranky and would rather be working or playing Bayonetta 2.

So I call to inform the doctor of this, know what he does? Gives me a prescription for amoxicillin and Vicodin. You know. The things I told him he should probably prescribe in the first place. End result? I’m tired as hell (mixing paracematol and Vicodin and two kinds of antibiotic’ll do that to you), but I feel a whole lot better. After I sleep around the clock and fully migrate to the other meds, I may even feel human again.

Moral of the story? Doctors are dumb sometimes. But I’m still glad we have them because otherwise, I’d be a wheezing pile of psychotic rage and depression unable to leave the bedroom most days. Anyway. Until next time, folks.

KA Spiral no signature

15
Feb
18

Flipping the Switch

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So, almost two weeks, and still enjoying the Switch. That’s a plus.

It doesn’t mean there aren’t some serious issues with it, though. Allow me to don my cynical, pessimistic hat for a moment here, and list a few of the grievances.

One: 32 Gigs is not enough. Yes, I know, you can buy memory cards for it… but I thought we were past this point by now. Roll the cost into the machine for bigger internal memory or including a memory card; it’ll still be worth it. Or at least make it clear on the system’s box that a memory card is recommended, as the system itself will only handle 3-4 games at most (and won’t handle some games at all; I’m looking at you, WWE 2k18 and L.A. Noire) and that’s being generous and not including DLC.

Two: Get rid of the damned friend codes already.

Three: It would be nice to have some form of Achievement/Trophy analog. It wouldn’t mean a whole lot until Nintendo gets their game together for unified online and non-friend code friendships, but a satisfying “ding” when you do something awesome (or stupid…) would please me and quite a few others, I’m sure.

Four: Where’s Virtual Console? I don’t care if we’re waiting on GameCube or 3DS or something; can we at least get the NES, SNES, Master System, Genesis, C64 or TG-16 games up? Maybe? I would totally give you my money all over again to get Devil’s Crush, Dragon’s Trap (and yes, I know they’ve reissued it for everything in a “new and improved” version, but I still like the TG-16 one), Ninja Spirit or Super Metroid up in there.

Five: Give us the option to swap the buttons for Western confirm/cancel. I know the Japanese have used the bottom button for cancel and the right one for confirm forever (and I was quite used to it during the SNES era), but for those of us hopping back and forth between systems here in the West, it causes all kinds of mistaken “yes” selections and menu cancellations.

Six: Give us streaming options. I know Nintendo has historically been against using their footage, but they seem to be correcting their course in all kinds of other ways with the Switch, so why not this one? You’ve already got the screenshot/share function… would it be that much more threatening or difficult to add video streaming?

That’s it. Not such a long list – at least so far. But beyond those minor gripes, it’s a great system. It’s not going to dethrone my PS4, but it’ll certainly get plenty of use. Unlike my Wii and my utter disinterest in WiiU.

What about you out there? Tried the Switch yet? What are your thoughts? Let us know down below!

KA Spiral no signature

15
Feb
18

Cui Bono

“Who benefits?” The all-important question to ask in almost all matters.

But today I refer to it specifically in relation to conspiracy theories; to be more specific, those involving the Flat Earth.

Due to past proclivities, YouTube frequently tosses out conspiracy-related gems in the “recommended” pile, and of late there’s been quite a few tied to the Flat Earth. Most are tied to Elon Musk’s latest stunt. Most are about as intelligent as you would expect. (My favorite so far claims you can see the angles on the edges of the planet where they touched up the photo to make it round.)

Now I’m all for questioning things, regardless of how 100% true we may think they are. I’m also for believing – if only for a moment – some whacked out things and the conspiracies related to them because it’s fun. Evidence my interest in all things JFK, Jack the Ripper, Black Dahlia and Roswell.

But goddamn the Flat Earthers take the cake. My problem with them isn’t that they believe it. It’s that they come up with the most asinine explanations for that belief, and are unwilling to do simple tests. They’d rather sit there and claim NASA has been doctoring photos for the last century – never mind that NASA didn’t exist that far back, be gone, you troublesome facts! – or that all our measurements are messed up because we’ve been lied to these many hundreds of years so you “can’t” go in a straight line, or that gravity doesn’t exist, so if the world was round, everyone in China or Australia would just fall off in their best Sandra Bullock impersonation.

They claim there’s a magical ice wall (which us stupid globe theorists believe is Antarctica) that holds all the water in, while the Arctic North is actually just an island in the middle. But they can’t prove it, because NASA and the UN have a legion of boats that patrol the area and shoot anyone or anything down that tries to get close to prove it.

Aside from the idiocy of that statement – where’d they get the boats? How come nobody has seen them? Who was preventing this discovery before NASA and the UN existed? – there’s a real simple answer. You think a magic ice wall is keeping the water in and makes sure our lovely little disc, banana slice, cookie tray or other totally-flat-and-in-no-way-round planet stays in proper order?

Show me the ice wall.

“But we can’t, because NASA!” they scream. Really? We have telescopes that can probe the surface of Mars in hi-def. You’re telling me they can’t point at something that is, at best, a few thousand miles out and show me where it falls off the edge or is kept in by magic walls? What, is it completely invisible? Okay, then show me the boats, planes, radar dishes and secret alien bases keeping the truth from us. Surely you can do that, right? I mean, on a flat plane with the proper zoom you should have no trouble at all finding that, right?

It wouldn’t matter that all our instruments are tuned wrong, either due to mistake or design, because you’re not relying on planes correcting a circular path when we think they’re flying straight. Do a full 360 panoramic in a giant field in the middle of nowhere. Australia or Africa should suffice. It’s gotta be there somewhere, right?

But aside from all that, and wanting them to prove it besides via poorly researched and misunderstood concepts, there’s a real simple question they need to ask.

Cui_bono.jpg

Cui bono? Who benefits? NASA and the UN, they say, because all that money that’s supposedly going to space flight and exploration, all the money they’re using to study the solar system and beyond or to contemplate terraforming Mars or the moon, is actually lining someone’s pocket or being spent on weird black ops to find the central core of the Hollow Earth and make peace with the reptilian overlords who dwell there or some other shit.

Okay. Fine. Who was to gain from this 2300 years ago, when the idea first started gaining popular traction? What did it matter or benefit ancient Greece to say the world was flat, round or a giant potato crisp floating in the sky? What did it continue to benefit the Italians and British when they came to the same conclusion? Where was the gain for America before NASA came along?

Show me that – with proof, if you please – and maybe we’ll talk. Maybe. Until then, maybe you should get that telescope going.

KA Spiral no signature




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