The Onion: Screw Everybody Outside the USA

Day 38. 97 pages, 44,193 words.

So, this happened.

Fuck you, Onion.

Seriously.

Now make no mistake here. I am not complaining about these guys charging money. The Onion produces works of great modern satire and although I would not pay a regular subscription for something so hit-and-miss when there is so much equal-to or greater-than the Onion out there absolutely free of charge, it in no way diminishes their wit. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill complaining from an over-privileged reader used to getting a good thing for free, now being forced to pay and not liking it.

Well, I guess that’s exactly what it is, but oh well.

It’s a bit tacky offering a free service to USians but making the rest of the world pay. Isn’t it? What’s that all about? That’s bullshit is what that is. If you want to charge, put your money where your popularity is and charge everyone. Do you think your readership will drop? No fucking kidding it’ll drop, genius.

Meanwhile, people can still link pages to me and I get the headline and teaser, but then when I  try to read it, I get cock-blocked. And even if I did subscribe, what would be the point of my linking funny stories up and trying to share them with other people if I knew they would just be going out to people[1] who couldn’t read them and would get as annoyed as I am? Well fuck you, I won’t read it or share it at all then.

[1] Fun fact: People outside the USA often have non-USian friends. As a matter of fact, in 2014, USians often have non-USian friends. Although sometimes the USA does not make this fucking easy.

Plus, I buy Onion books and Onion merchandise. A single Onion book retails for about $12, which is approximately a year’s worth of subscription I have paid for just buy buying your hardcopy. How about next time, you give buyers a subscription code that entitles them to your website’s free and unlimited service whenever they buy something from you? Then they can enter the code into the subscription field and you can take your pop-ups and go fuck yourselves with them.

And no, I’m not upset about the “ha ha, the non-USA world be so barbaric and fascist” tone of the pop-up itself. It’s amusing on multiple levels (including, but not limited to, its massive and surely-intentional hypocrisy). It does serve to lampshade the dickishness of asking me to pay for something just because I’m not a USian, but I don’t ignore a dickishness just because it’s lampshaded.

Well, you’re hardly going to listen to me anyway. Just wanted to say, Onion:

Yes you are.

You heard me. Vicariously through Uncle George.

Anyway, all’s well that ends well. A buddy of mine (I need to add that it was none other than my boy Mick, erstwhile owner of the original Hero Quest game I longed to play throughout my childhood) showed me that an incognito window opened in Google Chrome will stop this bullshittery in its tracks and allow me to read the Onion again. Which is worth doing just as an extra fuck-you to them.

Still rather more effort than I’m interested in going to for their articles, though. Most of the time.

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On the Vine

Day 37. 94 pages, 42,839 words.

Here’s something interesting I’ve found in my week or two on Vine.

Okay, first of all, they’re kids. They’re all kids. Oh, there are a couple of old farts but the majority – and I have to say the funniest and the most joyous – are kids. At first I thought they were just making a lot of jokes about parents and schoolwork, but it seems they’re just actually teenagers. And bless them, they’re wonderful and give me hope for the future of our species. This is a perfect example of a generation raised with the Internet and mobile phone technology, acting completely at-ease with their environment. They’re just moving around in a world to which they are native, and it’s amazing and humbling to see what they do with it. It makes me realise just how little anyone over the age of about 25 is really ‘immersed’ in the worldwide web. We’re just floating around on the surface like carcasses, some of us trailing appendages or shedding extremities into the water.

But I digress.

Next up, though, a slightly more difficult thing for me to see. Vine’s comedy category (admittedly the only one I really watch) heavily features groups of African American kids doing jokes about watermelon and fried chicken.

Now, already I can see myself walking into trouble with this.

I get that, as dumb-to-the-point-of-surreality as I think they are, these are negative stereotypes intended to mock and belittle and categorise a whole group of people. I get that it’s probably one of those “only a ginger can call another ginger ‘ginger’” things, and that even so these videos I’m seeing are perpetuating an abusive generalisation. And yes, of course, a lot of these videos are just going for cheap laughs or reversals. Because-we-can meets taking-it-back, I guess.

First of all, I’ve never understood this slur. Watermelon is delicious and refreshing even though I’m not a huge fan, and fried chicken? Frying is the best thing humanity has ever done to an animal, and chicken is the best animal we have ever done it to. It’s fucking fantastic.

Secondly, I’m not seeing a perpetuation of a negative here. Nor am I seeing a disregard for historical injustices and bigotries that will lead to history repeating itself. I’m seeing – or perhaps I’m choosing to see – a celebration of legacy weirdness that means the next generation rejects this stupidity entirely. Their friends are their friends and what they do for fun and fellowship has nothing to do with outmoded social caste systems.

I’m seeing a conscious acting-out, a desire to put hatred and prejudice behind us, and do so in the only healthy way we can: pull it out from under the bed and hurl it under the hot, bright lights, naked and blinking and hissing, and giving it the laugh-and-point it deserves.

Some of it’s not so touchy, it’s just straight-up satire. Assorted collaborative Vine feeds include groups of assorted different “races” (oh boy, I’ve struck quotey marks), busting open stereotypes and basically being glorious, that’s fantastic. And they make fun of all the stereotypes, which to my mind makes it fair game:

Why my instinctive reaction to the black-guys-be-all jokes?

Is it still bad? Do I get to say whether this issue is all settled and we can now comfortably laugh at it?

I guess not. I guess I get to say whether I personally find it funny (I do) or offensive (I don’t). But do I get to say whether that attitude is right or wrong?

I feel, obscurely, that it’s wrong. See? Call it liberal guilt, call it what you like. I don’t want to make any declaration on this score. “I’m not a racist, but the guys on Vine making videos about racist stereotypes make me laugh.” If that makes me racist, then I’m racist. Everyone’s racist. We’re humans.

Yes, Vine is weird and attention-deficit-suffering and agonisingly random. These kids are just kids, doing what kids have always done: confounding the older generation and rejecting the bullshit of their forefathers. Is there automatic, inherent value in all of it? Probably not. I don’t think anyone would argue that.

And yet, they also hold up a mirror to our society’s inherent racism:

And the ridiculous nature of bigoted attitudes in general:

And they do amazing, wonderful things for no reason:

And they exist in a better world than the one that really exists around them, the world their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents have left them like some clapped-out piece of stained furniture:

And they’re fantastically funny:

And just generally beautiful:

And good for them. They’ve got this.

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The Far Wright (I don’t know, it was the best I could come up with at short notice)

Day 36. 91 pages, 41,262 words.

The Internet, in this case Google+, threw me a weird and delicious scrap of crusty ancient randomness last night, so I figured why not make it the subject of my daily blog?

Christopher B. Wright, one-time alumnus (if that’s the right word, and I’m pretty sure it’s not) of the alt.fan.robert-jordan monkeyhouse, popped up on Google+ and added me to a whateverthefuck Google+ has instead of a Facebook friends list. I’d had Google+ hanging around on my Gmail account for a few years now, and aside from the occasional notification that somebody had added me to a whateverthefuck, I basically ignored it because I already had enough time-sinks in my metaphorical kitchen.

But apparently people are using Google+, because Chris saw my name on a “people you might know” list and figured what the heck. And this is what the weird and wonderful world of the Internet, with all its fantastically stupid interconnections, is all about.

Chris (@ubersoft on Twitter) is now author of such diverse books as Pay Me, Bug! and the Curveball serial. Back in the day, though, he was this guy:

Christopher B. Wright – Common names: Christopher, Chris, Christopher B. Wrong. Well known for: Rand’s Creek, an absolutely masterful piece of genius that should be piled up on the newsgroup somewhere, and worshipped daily. It was a truly hilarious indictment on modern teenage soap drama, and the WHEEL OF TIME into the bargain. “First, it’s nice to see that this place is still silly,” he said after a recent absence. “The other place is too freakin’ serious, sheesh.” This was a good attitude. Chris also liked FAQs, but only if they were well-researched FAQs. No problem there, then. When DUMMER called Chris a faggot, Chris was just new enough to take it seriously. When he first heard the 10-Codes, he was heard to object, “I don’t speak your crazy moon language!” He was of the sincere opinion that Mat was as good a fighter as Rand in the WHEEL OF TIME series. I hope this will be cleared up one day, with Rand and Mat fighting each other. At least that means the two of them will be doing something. When HE WHO IS SHANNON began his ‘Car’a’carn’ humour thread, Chris volunteered “Car’zzzz’carn He who comes and then rolls over and falls asleep”, and has also theorised that Lan is Aragorn reborn. As you can see, there was a lot of gold, and most of it, wonder of wonders, mostly on-topic. Appearance: A very tall, thin man with very wide shoulders and a peanut for a head. Hat: Huge. Distinguishing features: The effect of him blundering around with that giant hat on, with that tiny little head underneath, was kinda distinctive. Status: Sporadic.

(courtesy of the Monkeyhouse archive, early 2000s)

I’m not sure if he still has a peanut for a head, but it’s fantastic to see he kept up with the writing and has made (and is still making) an excellent run of it. Always heart-warming and encouraging.

Of course, I’m already proud owner of an A4-printed PDF of Pay Me, Bug!, sent to me by the budding author before he was famous so that I might run my Edpooly eye over it. I recall having things to say about the title, most of which is summarised nicely in Chris’s ongoing musings about changing said title, but I also recall really liking the story. So now it is in for-reals print, I will pick it up (before he changes the title to something even worse (my suggestion is Love in the Time of Space Herpes) and maybe do a review of it.

Well, this was a silly little random event that made my evening and incidentally also made my morning blogpost. So there you go.

Well done, Internet. You’ve done it again.

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In the news

Day 35. 89 pages, 40,060 words.

I thought this was just going to be on the crackpot pages of the Internet version of the paper, but it looks like it was in the crackpot pages of the actual version of the paper too. And it is my unangebracht freude of the day.

Helsingin Sanomat

Let’s face it. Once you’ve survived cancer and appeared in the newspaper wearing spandex, the only real difference between you and a superhero is massive property damage.

This article appeared in the Helsingin Sanomat, a paper which came under some criticism for failing to report on a protest that was taking place in Helsinki against the ongoing slaughter in Gaza. And fair enough, seems to me a real newspaper would want to report something like that, although to be entirely fair I’m looking at the paper now and it does seem to have a whole huge section on the Israel-Palestine bloodshed, and various protests that are going on. I’m not sure what the complaints are about, aside from the fact that they missed out on reporting this one particular march. Which they could have put in, I agree. Or at least made the whole thing a bit more balanced. I’m having an increasingly hard time even thinking about Israel as even remotely the good guys in this one. I think we’re well past the childish idea that there are good guys or bad guys anyway. It’s just a whole lot of people being dicks to each other and it has to stop.

I’m not sorry they reported on Ropecon, though. Because that’s also the sort of news that needs to be reported. People get together and have a great time and aren’t dicks. It happens all the time and yet you never really see it in the news. And you should.

Number of genocidal wars started by people who dress up as fictional characters: 0.

Number of genocidal wars started by the other sort of people: ALL OF THEM.

So anyway, it was a great big fat overstuffed Sunday edition. I’m sure there was room for a bit more about the world, and the things happening in it that we should know and care about. That’s what newspapers are for, really. It’s sad that there was more about sport than there was about either the horrible world-important story or the fun local-story. More than both of them combined, actually.

But I have known and unbalanced issues with the whole concept of sport. And even I would be thrilled if instead of a war in the Middle East, we had a sports contest of some sort where all the countries were sporting against each other really hard, and the newspapers went on and on about it in huge detail. I would love that.

For now, my main gripe is that they spelled “parempi” wrong in the headline.

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Ropecon 2014

Day 35. 86 pages, 38,655 words. That’s right, nothing written yesterday. But totally worth it.

Oh gaffa tape, I do love you.

Oh gaffa tape. Never change (because that would be weird).

Oh yes, it was another excellent year! I’m definitely feeling that I’m beginning to find my stride now, getting better at the whole convention thing. Last year there was just a lot of wandering around and struggling to breathe and see in spandex, but this year was better.

I’m liking being Edpool more and more, but unlike last year, this year I’m not jonesing to get back into the costume quite so strongly. I guess it’s something that you get better at handling. Still, it was a lot of fun even though we were only in attendance for a few hours. Hey, you try wrangling one highly-active four-year-old and looking after a five-month-old at the same time.

We were all in costume this year, on account of Toop being out of the belly this time around. So Mrs. Hatboy and Toop went as Tim the Enchanter and the Killer Bunny respectively. Lots of people got photos of them but I didn’t get any on our camera (which as you will see, I was mainly running around after Wump and trying to get the occasional selfie with), which was a bummer. But hopefully we’ll be able to track down some shots from others.

I, of course, was dressed in “my usual”, with the added tweak of a top hat and monocle this year. There were practical reasons for this, namely that putting my hair through the topknot-hole in the costume invariably pulled the mask backwards and up so I lost my eye-holes, so this time I just had the hair sticking out of the zipper, and the top-hat over the whole lot, taking the weight and holding the mask in place. It worked well, I only had to pull my eyes back down into place about a hundred and seventy times instead of three thousand, four hundred and twenty-three.

The theme of this year’s Ropecon was “power”, so I had a ready excuse for the hat and monocle: quite simply, money is the only power left in this world. And also, I just killed the Monopoly Guy and took all his stuff.

The transformation begins, supervised by Tinkerbelle.

Undergoing transformation.

And Wump was dressed as Tinkerbelle, in a special fairy dress with fibre-optic lights and a pair of glittery shoes with pom-poms and a little topknot, and it was absolutely fuckin’ adorable.

Tink.

Told you.

Tink and I also got snapped by quite a few people as I chased her around and tried to keep her from climbing on too many rocks with the older Jedi kids, so I’ll have to keep an eye open. Goddamn Jedi kids.

I entered the costume contest with Tink, we’ll see how we do. Mrs. Hatboy and Toop, sadly, also missed out on entering the contest because Mrs. Hatboy’s motherly duties kept her busy until after the contest had closed, which sucked. They made a fantastic Tim-and-Bunny.

There are some who call her ... Tim?

Found: Courtesy of Helsingin Sanomat’s news story, “Pahempi kiun Vappu”. Also pictured, Melisandre.

Wump was most interested in the Lego stall, and spent a good forty-five minutes standing there and playing with the weird combination of knights, castles and toy dinosaurs that were set up. I admit I also had a bit of fun, putting Lego guys in the catapult and firing them at the castle walls.

Fuck yeah Lego.

She was momentarily fazed by the lack of a Princess. When a girl in Princess attire walked past and the stall organisers said “look, a Princess,” Wump looked at her and dismissively said, “she’s not a Lego Princess.”

Amidst it all, we did a lot of walking around and checking out of stuff. And a lot of grabbing random people in better costumes than me, and getting photos with them while they looked unimpressed.

[raspy]WHAT THE HELL IS THIS I DON'T EVEN.[/raspy]

Now when I grabbed Batsy, I raspy-voiced at him about being the hero Ropecon deserved, but he didn’t seem to get it.

Predators with a sense of humour.

The Predators were back, and they were way cool.

One of my favourite parts of the day was wrangling Wump along a wall overlooking a big lecture theatre, where a group of conventioneers were sitting and watching some sort of presentation. The screen’s back was facing me – as was the presenter’s back – but the audience could all see Wump crawling along the wall in her Tinkerbelle costume. And could also see me as I started to wave and make faces through the window. I was gratified when they all cracked up and stopped paying attention to whatever was going on at the front of the lecture theatre. There’s nothing an attention whore loves more than attention, after all. And I’ve come to realise that Edpool is a bit of an attention whore.

Found one!

Spotted a Cylon (this is my “I FOUND ONE!” pose). It wasn’t even trying to blend in. Kudos for the vintage Cylon look, by the way.

All four members of the Hatboy family were interviewed by Helsingin Sanomat, although I guess Wump and Toop had little to say. That might be worth looking for. I seem to recall going off on a long, hippie-like spiel about money and power and how none of that matters at Ropecon because money is a social illusion and at Ropecon imaginative illusion has more power than – I don’t know, I was really rambling.

The wisdom of Edpool

OH LOOK, here it is. “Minulla on käytössäni vain rahan valtaa, ja sillä ei tee Ropeconissa paljoakaan. Siksi tämä on mukavampi paikka kuin maailma yleensä.” I don’t know what I was smoking. Organically-grown TRUTH, maybe?

Four Princesses and Serious Business Fairy.

The four Disney Princesses and the Serious Business Fairy.

Rapunzel and Eugene. And Pascal!

I also met Rapunzel and Eugene. I love the effort they put into this, from the chameleon to the goatee (and they even got his nose right!). Although they could have put some red tape around the frying pan, marking it as a weapon. Then it would have been perfect.

Like last year, I found that my spandex-clad junkal package was a bit obtrusive again and found its way into a lot of pictures (as you can see from some of these). This year it was actually worse than last year, because I had bought a protective box which made it look like I had a tumour. Or, in the words of my esteemed friend Zack, like my colostomy bag had slipped.

Still, I guess a heroic bulge is part of the deal when you don the spandex and head out in public to fight crime. That’s my theory and I’m sticking with it.

Madam, control your griffin.

My hat was assaulted by a griffin and – as you know – no convention is actually complete until that happens.
I’m not sure what Cary Elwes was doing in the background there: presumably waiting to throw a garland of Finland-themed flowers around somebody’s neck.

There was even a pair of surplus Deadpools in attendance, although they were just in masks and gloves, which was a bit cheeky (and they’re not even wearing their gloves in this picture, lazy). Funny, though.

And of course, they were Deadpools, not Edpools. They had a selection of witty think-bubbles and other props, so I give them due credit and am only too happy to share the madness.

Ropecon just got POOLED!

Who has two thumbs and heatstroke? THIS GUY!

Many a selfie was taken.

Loki selfie!

Loki selfie!

Thor selfie!

Thor selfie!

Xenomorph selfie!

Xenomorph selfie! …wait.

The xenomorph sadly met its doom at the hands of Jedi master Twi Lek [I am reliably informed that this is in fact specifically Aayla Secura, and the species is Twi’lek. Go back to nerd school, Hatboy]. Out in the carpark, no less, like any great and glorious fight.

Big fight in the carpark.

Either that, or the 35°C heat finally got to it.

Twi Lek Secura then gracefully acquiesced to a photo.

Twi Lek.

“So, do you know any other Na’vi? That Neytiri is – BRB, wife coming.”

The day was made complete by a small but elite team of (I assume) Black Widows who were totally impressed to be hugged by a heavily-sweating, thick-bodied man in spandex…

Black Widows. I think.

Pictured: Three pairs of really excellent boots (BOOTS, I said). And between one and three people having a good time.

…and a Klingon warrior, because once again no convention is complete without it. And the other guy, who was probably meant to be somebody but all I know is that he probably wasn’t from Star Trek, but I’m too out of touch to be sure.

Don't know who he is.

“You, say Qapla’. You, say … I don’t know, who are you meant to be anyway? Sorry, I’m old.”

Most excellent times. Missing it already.

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Longrass VI (from the cutting room floor)

Day 33. 86 pages, 38,655 words.

As it ascended the fourth terrace, the glowing stranger became aware of a keening note, plaintive and soft, coming from beyond the final terrace. It was hypnotic, beckoning, telling of safety, peace and plenty. The stranger stood listening to the sound for a moment, then, blank-faced, scrambled up the final terraces, and down the plain dirt ramp on the other side. It didn’t look out from the top of the terrace; all its earlier caution and outright fear seemed to have evaporated. The keening note grew louder, ever more lovely, and the traveller saw the source of it.

A large brownish globe, over ten feet across, sat on the dirt like a great pumpkin. Thick vines surrounded it, pinned it to the ground, and large, richer brown leaves, shaped rather like hands, were scattered on these vines. The stranger dimly perceived other globes behind the first, scattered in places, thick in others, some larger, others smaller. But it had not looked at the extent of the new environment from the high ground of the terrace, and was not interested in it now. It stepped up to the smooth-sided brown globe, and smiled in relief.

There was a snap. Vines tightened, the glowing stranger was thrust, quick as a flash, through the surface of the globe, and vanished as if by magic into the centre of the bizarre fruit. There was a muffled, ridiculous squeak as the globe suddenly constricted. For an instant, the shape of the traveller was visible on the surface of the globe – fingers, nose, gaping mouth, all stood out like a sculpture – then there was a wet crunch and the constriction continued, folding the shape in upon itself grotesquely.

Then there was a wrench, and the shape within the globe twitched. Suddenly, there was nothing in the globe except for the shape of a badly crushed sack of rations – the traveller had vanished. The soft keening noise sharpened to a frustrated howl, and the globe pulsed, chewing the stomach-sack viciously in lieu of its meal.

Over the rise, on the other side of the terraces, the grass waved.

Years passed. Centuries, Millennia, Aeons were all the same to the long grass.

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Screw you, Punisher

Day 33. 83 pages, 37,089 words.

This week’s Best Thing I Have Seen On The Internet comes to you curtesy of Edpool, who is waking up and looking perkily around as Ropecon approaches this weekend.

Edpool picks a fight between Wolverine, Mystique and the Punisher.

It actually took rather longer that I was expecting for him to engage the Superhero accounts on Twitter.

I was disappointed by the complete lack of response from Wolverine’s account, and the Punisher seems to have some sort of private account that requires him to accept a follow request so he’s probably not going to join in, I’ll keep everyone updated. And of course there was some confusion about Edpool vs. Deadpool, this is one of those things I guess he’s going to have to put up with. You know how it is when you have a famous-looking onesie and your name sounds a lot like a celebrity’s name.

Seriously you guys.

One time, I got called Deathstroke.

Anyway, that’s it for today. Hopefully I will be able to get more photos and maybe even some video this year. Ropecon Saturday for us, looks like. We’re just too old to make it a three-day thing.

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