My new best friend

This isn’t tonight’s post, but it’s not going to fit with tonight’s post, so it gets its own entry: the Gelatinous Cube is probably my favorite D&D monster of all time, and if it isn’t it’s super close, and the fact that the absolutely fantastic Gelatinous Cube Funko Pop is virtually impossible to get one’s hands on without expending ruinous amounts of money has been and continues to be deeply depressing. But yesterday? Yesterday I discovered of the existence of this beauty, and today it’s in my office, where it belongs. (Forgive the messy desk. Or not. I guess I don’t actually care what you think of my desk.)

Fun fact: I got this from GameStop, where it’s apparently an exclusive product, and they offered either free 3-6 day shipping or $10 for overnight, which would have been same-day if I’d ordered when it wasn’t already nighttime. Normally I don’t worry about shipping speed, but for some reason I shrugged and went ahead and paid for it, only to discover that what they mean by “overnight shipping” is that they look to see if they have any at the stores in your area, and if they do, they fucking DoorDash the thing to you. Only they don’t tell you that right away, and there’s no way to tip the driver, nor is there any real indication of how much of that $10 goes to the driver who, in this case, had to drive all the way across town to bring me my stupid Gelatinous Cube statue. So I got her CashApp from her and tipped her that way.

But anyway. I now have a Mimic and a Gelatinous Cube in my office. Now I need a Hook Horror and I’ll be all set.

i wish I was surprised

The President of the United States must be removed from office tonight. I don’t care how; an immediate impeachment, the 25th Amendment, whatever. I don’t care about the method. He must be removed from office tonight.

His Twitter account and any other social media account he controls that he is using to direct the actions of these people must be permanently banned.

Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Mike Braun, Jackie Walorski and every other member of Congress who was involved in this attempt to overturn a fair and free election must resign or be expelled by the Senate.

Rudy Giuliani and Michael Flynn should be in jail.

Every single one of these white supremacist thugs, these maggots who have so little fear of consequences that they’re doing this without even bothering to conceal their faces, should spend the rest of their lives in jail for sedition.

After a thorough investigation, anyone involved in the chain of command that led to Capitol police standing down and allowing these animals into the Capitol building without a trace of resistance should be fired and jailed.

Fucking. Enough.

#REVIEW: THE HUNGER, by Alma Katsu

For whatever reason, I’m reading a lot more this year than I did last year. I set last year’s goal at 100 books and only barely got past that at 106; I decided to dial it back a little bit this year and set my goal to 75, and I just finished the 70th book of the year last night, so I’ll finish my yearly reading goal before the year is halfway done.

Given that I’ve been on a book-every-day-or-two pace for most of June, the fact that it’s still notable how fast I devoured — pun intended — Alma Katsu’s The Hunger is pretty impressive. I couldn’t put this book down; it’s nearly 400 pages long and I finished it in less than a day. Even more impressively, The Hunger is a horror novel, and I tend to be kinda rough on horror novels. The scariest book I ever read was a nonfiction book about the Dust Bowl (I am not remotely kidding) and on the rare occasions that I find a horror novel that actually scares me I tend to promote them heavily.

You might imagine, given all of that, that a historical fiction about the Donner Party that tosses some supernatural complications into the story might be right up my alley, and man, you’d be all sorts of right. Don’t get me wrong; I think Katsu probably could have played this book perfectly straight and still written a hell of a novel if she’d wanted to, but taking what was already a nightmare hellscape of a setting and tossing in what isn’t quite a zombie story but is still certainly in the neighborhood ended up creating one hell of an engrossing story. Katsu bounces back and forth between half-a-dozen or so narrators from the caravan (which was, at the beginning, nearly 100 people strong) and from my brief research into the actual events of the time, does a decent job of keeping at least the important parts of her narrative close to what actually happened.

(I mean, monsters. She adds monsters. I’m pretty sure the monsters weren’t there originally. But it’s still decent historical fiction nonetheless, I think.)

So, yeah: this book is about terrible things happening to regular people, and some of the terrible things are kind of their own damn fault but most of them are because frontier-era America was legitimately dangerous as hell, and Katsu keeps the tension so thick for most of the book that you want to wipe it off your fingers when you’re done reading. She’s got a genuine gift for setting a scene and a hell of a talent for just keeping everything creepy; this book isn’t a jump-scare sort of thing, but the type of book that’s gonna worm its way into your head while you’re reading and stay there a while. There’s a good chance of seeing this one on my Best of 2019 list at the end of the year. Check it out.

In which I was right and I hate it

Can I call something a crushing disappointment if it was exactly what I thought it was going to be? There really should be a word– maybe there is, and I just don’t know it– for something that you don’t want to suck, that you think probably will suck, that then turns out to suck just like you thought it would.

Why, yes, I did see Pacific Rim yesterday, how’d you guess?

As my wife and I were walking out of the theater I suggested that what they had done to make this film was take every bad movie ever and throw it into a blender and that they then somehow managed to make a good movie out of that pureed mess of bad movies. Now, fourteen hours or so later, the good parts of the movie have cooled and the bad parts have come to predominate. My wife, for what it’s worth, normally more of a plothole hound than I am, declared the movie to be exactly what she wanted. I can’t make that claim, just because it would have been so damn easy to make a good movie instead of the stupid movie they made.

It is not that much harder, Hollywood, to write a smart movie than it is to write a dumb one! I promise! You really could have done this!

Here’s the good stuff about Pacific Rim: the monsters and the robots. (Note: I have a weird prejudice against people who use Japanese words when there are English words that suffice perfectly well; the word “kaiju” annoys me enough that I refuse to use “jaeger” either. Monsters and robots. Fuck you.)

Generally whenever the monsters and the robots are on screen and punching each other, good shit is happening, at least until the point later in the movie where one of the robots reveals an ability that really makes you wonder why they were bothering with punching for so long if it’s obviously so ineffective. They never forget how big the monsters or the robots are, the action is stunningly shot (at least insofar as any of it is “shot;” that’s the wrong word for a movie which I assume was composed entirely in a computer) and there is never a point where you can’t figure out what the hell is going on on-screen– I’m looking your way, every other action director working right now. I had initially speculated, prior to seeing the movie, that the fact that every battle appeared to be at night and in the rain was going to be a bad sign and a crutch to make the action murkier; I couldn’t have been more wrong. The movie is gorgeous, crisp; they’ve raised the bar on what you can do with special effects in film.

What was bad: everything, and I mean everything else. The acting is horrifyingly bad, and made worse by the incredibly dumb things the actors have to say and do. Mickey fuckin’ Rooney might suggest that maybe the stereotypes were a bit over the top. The main dude’s brother (he probably had a name) looks enough like his rival (whose name was Iceman, I think) that at first I thought they were supposed to be clones. The science is crap even given that this is a movie about million-foot-tall robots fighting million-foot-tall monsters. The ending is literally exactly the same as the Avengers, which just came out and wasn’t too terribly original when it did. They spend large portions of the movie insisting that certain things are either Impossible or Really, Really Dangerous right up until the point where all the sudden they aren’t anymore– and not in a Ghostbusters “You said crossing the streams was bad” sort of way, but in a “yeah, never mind that, I’m good” sort of way. Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. Unavoidably, stupidly, painfully bad. All the punching in the world isn’t enough to make up for it, unfortunately. And I really wanted to like this movie.

I hate it when I’m right.