Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Ranking the Douglas Adams books

It must be over a decade since I've read a proper Douglas Adams book, rather than leftovers or pretenders. The Hitchhiker's Guides were a revelation in my late teens, and I've always wished I'd read them when I was younger and even more impressionable. But would they still hold up now I'm old and (even more) miserable?

I'm almost worried to find out. Don't panic! Or was that Dad's Army? Here's what I reckon about The Top 12 Douglas Adams Books and Not Quite Douglas Adams Books.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Best of 2016, Not from 2016, in August 2017

"Where's your annual, anachronistic round-up of the best things from 2016, not from 2016?" nobody asked. I actually got about half-way through writing this a while ago, before realising how much of a waste of time it was and deleting it. So now I had to waste more time writing that half again. Yes, I do have work to be doing. You knew this would happen, Dave. What have I ever done to you? Apart from all the self-destructive life choices. We've got cats now, things are getting better.

Here are my favourite things I experienced last year that probably weren't made last year, because that's just one of the many years available from history and we can't all have experienced it all the first time around.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Ranking Bram Stoker's short stories

You can't top Dracula, but I wasn't expecting my second Stoker novel – The Jewel of Seven Stars – to be quite as bad as it was. It seemed there were reasons his other books aren't as famous.

I didn't have the willpower to take on all the other novels, but luckily he wrote shorter fiction too. Less luckily, it turns out that hardly any of that's worth reading either.

Listen to them—The Top 52 Bram Stoker Short Stories of the night. What music they make!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Revisiting Roy "Chubby" Brown's U.F.O. The Movie, Fart 2

I carried on regardless of interest or taste. In these dark times when a pretend, shapeshifting alien in a children's programme is allowed to be played by a woman of all things, we can take heed of U.F.O. The Movie's dire feminazi dystopian message and learn from the examples of its foul-mouthed, buffoonish hero. I hate you.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Revisiting Roy "Chubby" Brown's U.F.O. The Movie, Fart 1 (NSFW)

In 1993, Polygram Video and some bloke called George Foster (not the baseball player) financed a shoddy straight-to-video spoof sci-fi film to capitalise on the underground popularity of blue comedian Roston "Roy 'Chubby' Brown" Vasey. It was as shit as you'd expect.

Well, that's my retrospective knee-jerk liberal literature-degree reaction, anyway. When I was about 12, and my dad bought it second-hand from Cash Converters, I thought its melting pot of lazy Star Trek gags, literal toilet humour, F-bombs and actual boobs was entertaining enough to sit through by choice a few times on custody weekends, and to describe enthusiastically to envious friends. Especially the bit where Chubby strains to push his baby out and a poo comes out instead, that absolutely cracked me up.

What's wrong with being immature? It didn't stop Monty Python becoming comedy gods. The film is unashamedly sexist, but it has characters point this out from the onset, so is it any worse than The Office? Could this even be an overlooked comedy classic?

I lasted five minutes. Maybe I'll continue if I'm in the mood for self-harming one afternoon. If someone chances across this blog around 2021 and comments "lol do more chubby!" I'll be compelled to continue.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Ranking (the "best" of) the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds stories

Faced with some of the tightest creative restrictions in the industry, officially licensed Star Trek novels were rarely any good.

At the other end of the spectrum, you have fan fiction that's beholden to no one and can do what the hell it likes with the characters, as long as that means turning the space adventure franchise into angsty smut. This also isn't my thing.

Somewhere between those two extremes (but still towards the safe end, because Pocket Books was publishing them) were the annual Strange New Worlds anthologies. For ten years, amateur writers from the U.S. and Canada were invited to submit their conservatively creative short stories set in the Star Trek universe for cash prizes and esteem.

I'm not sure why I never bought one of these books at the time, since I remember finding them intriguing. Presumably, spending my saved-up dinner money on two-episode VHS tapes and Smegazines was a higher priority. I got round to it eventually. Though I've mercifully limited myself to the stories ranked first, second and third by the editors of each book, rather than reading all 221 of them like some kind of Dave Warburton.

The cover images indicate which stories were awarded the Grand Prize in their respective collections. So let's see whether those all stack up neatly at the bottom, or if I have my own maverick opinions about The Top 30 Top 3 Strange New Worlds Stories.

Friday, July 7, 2017

My Top Ten Websites 2004

"I can't log on to this website to look at my friend's Nationwide-employed sister and imagine her in just her bra" - Me, apparently

Just to finish off this dooyoo trilogy that's been self-indulgent even by my standards, here's an absolutely pointless update of My Top Ten Websites 2003 from nine months later. It's the least anticipated sequel in history!

During that time, my original account was deleted when they noticed I'd been creating loads of fake accounts to click through all my reviews and fraud myself some extra dooyoo miles. I got my £40 Amazon voucher before that happened though, so pathetic crime pays. If they want it back, they can have it.

I came back under a new alias and behaved this time, which meant I also had the chance to give a second opinion on old topics and reveal the exciting progress of my boring teenage life. Fortunately, I'd leave for university five months later and my actual life could begin. During that time, I only dooyooed during the summer break when everyone else went home.

And here I am today, taking valuable time out of paid work to illustrate and [annotate] my old dooyoo reviews. Is that progress?

Friday, June 30, 2017

Ranking the Korn, sorry, "KoRn" albums when I was 15-16

"Although the song is about rape, I don't reckon it was good enough to have put on the album" - Me, apparently

I wasn't intending to do this again. This isn't going to be an ongoing catalogue as I preserve my hundreds of bad teenage reviews for posterity they don't deserve.

But curiosity got the better of me, and I was interested to see the transition in my tastes from fun, lightweight American pop punk to dark, angsty American "nu" metal as I similarly passed from care-free Year 10 into the more stressful GCSE year, from a Pre-9/11 World into a Post-9/11 World, and reached the legal age of consent. These last two points would turn out to have no impact.

These heartfelt track-by-track essays masquerading as useless consumer reviews are much too long to be entertaining to anyone but me, so here are some of the highlights:
  • Pedantically insisting on writing it 'KoRn' every single time, while clearly wishing I was able to write 'KoЯn.' Look at me now!
  • Assuming the phrase "I bum it" as a term of appreciation among my friends is in common parlance or acceptable.
  • The phrase "drugs in the form of needles."
  • The phrase "unwanted sexual abuse."
  • A 3,000-word album review containing 1,500 words of copy-pasted interview quotes.
  • These quotes being reproduced in their rambling, inane entirety like they're deep and meaningful sermons we can learn from.
Written for in 2001. Don't bother writing your own, they don't pay any more. Featuring [mean commentary] when necessary. It seemed to be a lot more necessary this time.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Ranking the Offspring albums when I was 15

"I saw them live in Manchester in January on their 2001 European Tour, and those guys kicked some ass" - Me, apparently

Bit too busy to compare 100+ short stories this month, so I've invited my more eager, younger self from half a lifetime ago to share his enthusiastic, falsely confident, needlessly long opinions about one of the only bands he's ever listened to. The other band was Nirvana, who are used as the only point of comparison throughout.

This is what the absence of anxiety of influence looks like. I only [cruelly annotated] these when strictly necessary, but I didn't bother proofreading, since I didn't pay me for that. I only earned a few pence from writing these reviews for, and I'm going to need those when I discover angsty nu metal soon.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Ranking the Umberto Eco novels

Because I'm a bit of a ponce, I've always found challenging art to be the most satisfying. The more unreasonably complicated and stressful the novel, the more memorable the reading experience.

When I bother to put in the time and effort, there's a high chance I'll be rewarded with a favourite book of the year. Like happened in 2016* and 2015. 2014's was a comic with no words, because you have to sabotage your own arguments sometimes. The two years before that were both Umberto Ecos.

You'd think that guarantee of satisfaction would be motivation enough to read the remaining five-sevenths of his fiction library, but I've only managed another one and a half in the years since. It's a lot of effort, isn't it?

So it's time to stop lazily reading a couple of thousand pages' worth of short stories a month and knuckle down to some grown-up reading. Here are The Top 7 Umberto Eco Novels, with their original Italian covers to make me look smarter than I am. I didn't read them in Italian, obviously.