In the early eighties, a new wave of metal emerged from the British scene which would eventually confirm the fears of the religiously paranoid around the world. Venom, with their amateur musicianship and silly recreations of virgin sacrifices as part of a “satanic” stage image, proved one of the most inept bands to ever spark a musical subgenre; much less one so politically and philosophically inclined as black metal. Because even though Henry Rollins (among others) would eventually immortalize Venom with accounts of touring with a “real life Spinal Tap,” Venom’s legacy would actually be its inspiration of groups like Mayhem and the bizarre web of events linked to the Norwegian branch of the black metal genre. And while Venom admits that their whole “satanic” image was just that, the black metal musicians and fans who followed actually made good on the threats put out in their music. Suicide, church arsons, and murder eventually became the reasons why Mayhem, Burzum, Darkthrone and others received media attention until Varg Vikernes of the one man band Burzum stabbed Øystein Aarseth, Mayhem’s guitarist and a major figure in the black metal movement, to death in 1993.

To think that Jacob Aranza had already moved on from ranting about rock music...

The ugly story of Norwegian black metal fascinates people outside of the metal scene for the sole reason that everything about the music, aesthetics, and attitude behind it hits a single, discordant note: it’s stupid. From the hysterics of the media when covering the related crimes (the “Satanic Ritual Abuse” scare had not been entirely discredited in the early 90’s) to the actual music, which is nonsensical in both musical and lyrical structure, black metal seems to go out of its way to be inconsequential. What is it that makes people so interested in this? Schadenfreude? Moreover, how in the world did a genre of music birthed by a band as lame as Venom provide the impetus to such deadly serious things as arson and murder?

Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlind try to explain the phenomenon of Norway’s black metal scene in their book, Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground. Part music history, part lurid crime journalism, and part conjectural discourse on the archetypical make up of Norway and the Black Metal scene, Lords of Chaos enjoys a degree of attention that other books published by Adam Parfrey’s Feral House do not. Again, I am perplexed. I bought my copy of the second edition at the local Borders. Try finding a Borders that carries Apocalypse Culture.

Lords of Chaos, while admirable in its aims, cannot be taken any more seriously than the subject it reports. As musical criticism, factual errors mar its ever brief exploration of influences and antecedents. Particularly egregious: "the Misfits mutated into Samhain...by 1988 the band had changed names again, to simply Danzig.” As an account of the crimes that took place, the actual offenders and their peers have taken exception, claiming that the authors selectively ignored or misrepresented the scene’s more diverse elements. But Lords of Chaos receives most of its criticism for its explanation of why the church burnings and murders occurred. Various critics feel that Moynihan sympathizes with his subjects due to his own right-wing political leanings -- that his explication of black metal ethos and its eventual outcome borders on worshipful.

Moynihan contends that black metal and the crimes of the young men (and a few women) who committed them stem from a long suppressed Odinic impulse, not dissimilar to the emergence of the Odinic archetype in Nazi Germany, as theorized by Carl Jung in his infamous essay, “Wotan.” The authors even go so far as to compare the crimes of black metal bands to the wild hunt, with black metallers fulfilling the roles of marauding Aesir.

This is incredibly silly, but even if the adolescents involved actually were subconsciously invoking the archetypes that lay dormant in their racial unconscious, Moynihan and Søderlind provide no explanation for what reason they reemerged from the unconscious Hel. It seems that much of the book forms itself around the Jungian archetype thesis, almost as though the conclusion had been reached before even research began. The real explanation for the Norwegian black metal arsons and slayings, for the Floridian teens for which the Moynihan and Søderlind named their book and for countless other examples of extreme youth culture that they spend the latter chapters discussing is really very simple: they’re brats.

Varg Vikernes and Øystein Aarseth are the two most obnoxious music figures of the nineties. Based on the descriptions in the book, Vikernes is a jerk whose racist mother spoiled him. Aarseth’s parents helped fund his record store, Helvete, which Aarseth all but sabotaged with his irresponsible business practices. These two figures loom over every page of the book, even though the authors give Vikernes more than his due attention. It was Aarseth’s band Mayhem to first craft an absurd media image around theistic Satanism. Following the suicide of their lead singer, who fittingly handled himself “Dead,” Mayhem intentionally spread rumors that Aarseth had cooked pieces of Dead’s brain in a stew and made jewelry out of pieces of his skull. Dead, a melancholy Swede known by his parents as Per Ohlin, left a note that read, “Sorry for all the blood.” Aarseth found him after he had cut his own wrists and neck and shot himself in the head with a shotgun. Aarseth bought a disposable camera and took pictures before reporting the death.

Vikernes entertained an intense interest in fascism, Vidkun Quisling (a Nazi puppet governor of Norway) and Nordic heathenism. Aside from his killing Aarseth without a hint of remorse, Varg probably started the wave of church burnings and might have been planning to blow up a meeting place for left-wing punks with stolen dynamite before he was arrested.

Øystein Aarseth is a weaselly character, and Varg Vikernes a violent one, but they are merely two different personalities who share a common narcissism. The hatred each of them express towards liberal, Christian ethics has less to do with resentment of any particular facet of Christianity and everything to do with their desire to dominate and control people. For Aarseth, that desire manifested itself in having kids in the scene looking up to him and trying to impress him while he (according to Vikernes) watched stomach churning pornography and fake snuff videos and played with dildos, indulging in depravity because it was depraved. For Vikernes, it equated to a justification for violence.

Whether this is a result of repressed racial behavior is irrelevant: arson and murder should stay repressed. The black metal scene consisted of a group of young men and women who lived comfortably in one of the wealthier nations of the world who nevertheless thought that they should indulge in violence without consequence. Christianity represents (or at least represents itself as) the triumph of law and empathy over the chaos and selfishness of heathenism. Christ’s sacrifice represents the ultimate love of God; the gods of the Norse reward those who cause destruction. Aarseth worshipped Satan; his belief was to practice whatever he could get away with. Vikernes worshipped Odin; his belief was literally that might makes right.

And aren’t these childish notions? I won’t pretend that I didn’t have fun reading parts of Lords of Chaos. Perhaps schadenfreude won out. I merely wish to point out that the authors’ premise is silly and wrong headed and possibly informed by Moynihan’s own right-wing political beliefs. But it is difficult not to laugh when Vikernes drones on about UFO’s and Atlantis and the Aesir being interplanetary travelers. Lords of Chaos does offer a great deal of research, a trove of interviews with people both in and ancillary to the scene, and a mostly objective account of the world of angry white kids who claim to hate Christians and non-white people. But what's it all for, really? Boiled down and rendered of its image, its fanciful self-regard, and the self-aggrandizement of its pseudonymous leaders, black metal culture is merely the most common sort of human selfishness, wrapped up and delivered in terrible music.


God's Cartoonist : The Comic Crusade of Jack Chick (Kurt Kursteiner, 2008)

I watched God’s Cartoonist: The Comic Crusade of Jack Chick on the Documentary channel with my dad, who studied theology and nearly sought ordination when Chick tracts espoused the wildest conspiracy theories that their authors and artists would commit to the limited panels and formatting of Chick’s signature medium. The craziest, most evidentially wrong claims filled books and audio cassettes and the “Crusader” comic books drawn by Fred Carter. When the documentary turned its attention to John Todd and played audio from one of his tapes on the Illuminati, my dad started laughing. He had owned that tape.

My own experiences with Jack Chick’s instruments of testimony and witness are comparatively limited, in part because I grew up after his tirades against Catholicism cost him the support of Christian booksellers and, more pertinently, because my parents had very quickly grown to dislike him and his method of proselytizing. But I do remember that, while attending a Baptist school, a teacher handed out copies of the infamous “This Was Your Life” tract to illustrate how salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone (what the Baptists call “Accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior”) works. Chick’s illustration of God as a faceless giant and the galaxy wide cinemascope screen on which the angels broadcast the sinner’s iniquities are images that stick with an eight-year-old.

God’s Cartoonist does not interview the man behind these iconic images. He is notoriously reclusive. And a couple of (sarcastically) animated tracts aside, God’s Cartoonist very much thrives on the content of its interviews. Director Kurt Kuerstiner interviews Chick supporters, including Dr. Rebecca Brown and Fred Carter, as well as underground comic authors who openly admit their not always ironic appreciation of Jack Chick.

In all honesty, the people who back Chick are not all that interesting except for reasons that are unrelated to Chick. Fred Carter’s humility is disconcerting; Rebecca Brown and Alberto Rivera’s wife are interesting only because they have stuck to their lies long after their association with Jack Chick ended. The collectors and underground comic artists who comment are the ones who actually tell the story of Chick, what little is known of him, from his early commercial art to his start as an independent artist/publisher and on to his current operation as the most successful independent comic publisher in the world. Each of them offers anecdotes about strange places they found tracts or the peculiarities of the collecting hobby, occasionally commenting on the theology of Chick, which resembles very much that of right wing, American fundamentalist protestants. Jack Chick would feel very much at home in an Assemblies of God church.

The tract which raises the most ire is not one of the homophobic or religiously intolerant ones, but a now rare and infamous tract aimed at child molesters titled “Lisa.” In it, a man who abuses his daughter Lisa seeks repentance and forgiveness and receives it from God, his wife, apparently the criminal-justice system and even the daughter whom he sexually abused. It’s actually worse than it sounds. Other observations on Chick’s methods are that he often repeats the, “I know... I was once one too!” plot twist. In these tracts, a wayward sinner (homosexual, Muslim, Mormon, Catholic, Illuminati, Mason, etc.) is informed by somebody who used to be trapped in the same sin about its dangers.

Chick actually claims that the people who knew him when he was younger would think him the last person who would become a world-wide evangelist. Has his memory been shaped by his work, or his work by his memory? It’s hard to say when he refuses to speak for himself on camera.

During the commercial breaks, my dad would talk about finding tracts in weird places. He would find them at construction sites in porta-potties and at gas stations on top of condom dispensers and sometimes just lying about in parking lots at the campus of his now defunct Bible school. Most of the locations he spoke of were in Dallas, San Antonio and Orange County. I have spent much time in these places. I worked in the construction industry, off and on, for about six years. The only Chick tracts I’ve ever seen in person are still the ones given to me at that Baptist school.

God’s Cartoonist: The Comic Crusade of Jack Chick does not just document the wild world of Jack Chick, his associates, and the mystique that surrounded them for years. Mr. Kuersteiner has produced documentation of the predigital world. I have read most of the more infamous Chick tracts online, many from the man’s own website, and yet I can only remember holding a single Chick tract physically in my whole life. The world has changed and with it, the way that we consume media, including bizarre, underground comics and religious tracts. There will never be another Jack Chick. Or rather, there are hundreds of Jack Chicks fighting over the limited attention of the anonymous, indifferent collective of the online public.

The talking heads in this movie made me nostalgic for a world I didn’t live in and in which this writing would not exist. The ubiquity of people like Chick has devalued the weirdness of his whole phenomenon. And still, I find myself in a position not unlike those talking heads. There is something admirable about Chick and something fascinating in the world he occupies. There are mysteries there that the probing eyes of the digital nyarlathotep cannot penetrate.


Watari The Ninja Boy (Sadao Nakajima, 1966)

If any Japanese movie ever deserved credit for inspiring Chinese variations on its theme, it would probably be a toss-up between Zatoichi and Watari the Ninja Boy. While the influences of Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai and Yojimbo on Chinese language cinema are easily identifiable, it is only Zatoichi and Watari who have actually had Chinese language productions made to capitalize on the demands of that market.
It also makes me wonder at what age the Japanese used to force their children to learn obscure history and complicated literature. The sort of kids I imagine would most enjoy Watari The Ninja Boy are the ones that would be least likely to actually follow the plot, which involves feuding ninja clans in the Iga province and a double-agent who is playing both sides for reasons that are never really explained (at least not in the movie, I’ve never read the comic, which this film purportedly adapts faithfully). Watari, a little kid who’s got awesome ninja power and his grandpa show up and investigate, uncovering a child ninja training camp and a gang of six master ninja working directly for Joko, the evil mastermind.
Really though, Watari The Ninja Boy is a movie in which ninjas fight each other. These fight scenes range from fairly standard illustrations of fantastic abilities which utilize wires and jump cuts to almost surreal combinations of live action and animation. Watari fights animated cat eyes, lightning bolts, and moths, while his actual physical enemies are made up to have red, green, and yellow skin, imitating quite literally the coloring of the manga artwork. There’s also some remarkably violent moments for a children’s film, particularly when Ryutaro Otomo as the villainous Joko throws his rope dart through three people and pulls it out as they all spurt blood like geysers. All of the death, especially those of children, seems quite at odds with the cute song-and-dance routines.
Child star Yoshinobu Kaneko seems like a real trooper, but he was already somewhat exposed to the pressures of film making when he appeared in this film. He would also play a major role in the “Aka-Kage” television series after this film, which is also quite a wild display of fanciful ninja antics. In fact, Kaneko’s work in Watari and “Aka-Kage” went over so well with Japan’s neighboring Taiwanese audience, that episodes of “Aka-Kage” were spliced with new footage filmed by a Taiwanese director to create the pseudo sequel The Magic Sword of Watari, also known under the title Golden Boy and the Seven Monsters.
The Watari brand name did not last, but it’s the only other property I know of besides Zatoichi to have the honor of Taiwanese film makers crafting such an unabashed knock-off. And besides the unofficial sequel -- actually (I’m really not kidding) a Momotaro (Peach Boy) themed movie -- The Dwarf Sorcerer, also about a super powerful martial arts kid, clearly takes its cues from Watari The Ninja Boy. That’s right: a silly movie about people fighting inspired yet sillier movies about people fighting. But give credit where it is due. Watari has more visual creativity than most movies that claim that virtue and no other.


Parsival or a Knight's Tale by Richard Monaco

I don’t know whether it is fair to say Parsival or a Knight’s Tale is Richard Monaco’s best known work or not. Quite unlike authors like Michael Moorecock or Gene Wolfe, introduced to me by fellow nerds, I picked up Monaco on an aimless trip to Half Priced Books. The cover art caught my eye and the idea of Parsival as modern fantasy in modern prose sounded amusing. But Parsival or a Knight’s Tale is not a modern fantasy novel in the post-Tolkien sense of the term.

Parsival is a less known figure in Arthurian legend, usually the subject of literary works not studied in school (unless you’re taking a class in Arthurian literature) and not prominently featured in mainstream films. In the Medieval telling, Parsival is an innocent of such purity that he sets eyes on the grail but is too naïve to inquire after it. His innocence is something that can exist in the world of chivalry according to the romances. Monaco writes Parsival from what John Clute calls a “disenchanted, modern perspective” (The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, 653) in which irony and cynicism obliterate innocence.

Parsival or a Knight’s Tale starts with an achingly poetic description of the Red Knight’s attack on a castle before setting into the narrative of Parsival, the prince whose mother shields him from the world to such a degree that when he kills a fish, he is mystified at its death. Parsival’s naivety, his growing physical strength and a chance encounter with Knights cause his mother to send him out to become a knight of Camelot, and broken-hearted by his leaving, she gives up, dying upright on her throne, unmoved since the moment he left. Two of her subjects, Broaditch and Waleis go to fetch him back. His mother needs to be buried, and he is technically a king. These characters are one of Monaco’s injections to the story.

The narrative follows the story of Parsival as laid out by Wolfram Von Eschenbach and Chretien de Troyes, filtered through the author’s disillusioned, although often lyrical prose. Broaditch’s cynicism, Gawain’s opportunism and Waleis’ whining make these characters the most relatable to the contemporary audience, which might have been an unforeseen consequence of updating the telling of this story. Parsival, ostensibly the protagonist and the hero, is very difficult to understand in his innocence. In fact, the episode with Jeschute is utterly revolting in spite of the fact that Parsival does not understand the relatively difficult concept of interpersonal relations, especially so given Monaco’s writing of the scene. It is only after he loses his innocence, when he has experienced violence and women that Parsival becomes a character that in any way resembles human beings as we know them.

But Parsival’s innocence does not mollify the wrongness of his actions. There is a deeply set irony to Monaco’s world that isn’t always funny. Innocence causes Parsival to do some very, very wrong things, and his disillusionment causes more pain and death still. Parsival or a Knight’s Tale is a story in which the protagonist is basically an accidental rapist.

But underneath the pessimism is a grail quest -- a quest for grace and mercy. It seems to this reader that Richard Monaco did not update the Arthurian myths themselves; he merely restated them with the word “fuck” inserted countless times in the text. The most basic story of Parsival is of an innocent whose purity leads him to the Grail but inadvertently away from it, and from a life of embittered worldliness seeks to find his way back again. Readers observant of history will note that the world described by Monaco is one of anachronism not unlike that of the medieval poets who wrote of Arthur, Perceval, and Camelot. Those same readers might also notice instances of structured alliteration in passages that resemble prosody in all but format. Monaco might have used modern vocabulary -- and his cynicism is clearly a product of the 20th century -- but his story is very much a traditional Arthurian narrative.

And so it pains me to say that I just didn’t like it all that much. The novel has an infuriating quality of pulling the reader in only to bore him or her. Scant pages after a thrilling description of the Fisher King from Parsival’s memory, the author plops a dull proleptic passage of a character telling the story of Parsival telling the story to Gawain. Monaco employs this trick often enough that it calls attention to itself. Also, while poetry is clearly among the author’s gifts, he employs it to a point that it verges on needlessly expository.

Parsival or a Knight’s Tale frustrated more than it enthralled me, but those moments that captured my attention did so completely. I already own the sequel, The Grail War, which I purchased after reading a thrilling sequence in which Broaditch has a revelatory experience in a slave mine. Shortly after, I was bored with Monaco’s prose again. I will read The Grail War, because in theory, Monaco wrote something that could not possibly be more in line with my interests. I fear it will turn out similarly.


Six Games You Won't Play (which I want)

Atlus hasn’t announced a U.S. release date for Etrian Odyssey 3, but there’s not much chance that they won’t release an internally developed game in English, especially since Etrian Odyssey was a surprise hit among an underrepresented and loyal niche audience. I know that I’ve mentioned that I love dungeon crawlers, but aside from reviewing The Dark Spire way back last summer, probably haven’t said much about the genre besides the fact that I like it.

That the first-person dungeon crawler has seen resurgence is undoubtedly a good thing to me, but it really comes at a weird time for the game industry. The style itself originated on American PCs, but now it appears neither on PC nor under the distribution of American companies. Etrian Odyssey 3 might be most comparable to one of the latter Might and Magic games (after 4 but before 9, obviously) -- just as Class of Heroes was very much a latter era Wizardry and The Dark Spire called attention to its being a reworked Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord -- but probably a very select group of its players will know that, and of those, only a few will have played a Might and Magic game to completion. If I am wrong in my assessment, you are free to blame the internet for giving me a false impression.

But there has been much talk from both gaming “journalists” and fans about the recent demise of the Japanese RPG, and occasionally the entirety of the Japanese gaming scene. Both assertions are false, but it might seem true if the only games you’re looking at are a gaggle of by-rote, briefly Microsoft exclusive games from Tri-Ace, From Software, and Square Enix. All of the most interesting Japanese RPGs are on the handhelds. And while there have been some surprising localizations (like pretty much every dungeon crawler mentioned above) there’s a stifling atmosphere for games that are “too Japanese.”

The following are games that I think look incredible, and that have been hyped up pretty well among the enthusiast faithful. The chances that any of them will see localization are, none the less, pretty low.

Brandish: Dark Revenant
Brandish was originally an overhead action game for the PC98 which featured lots of inventory management and a huge labyrinth filled with traps and puzzles. It also had the unusual visual device in which, rather than the character turning around within the dungeon, turning is represented by the whole dungeon moving underneath the character, which is fixed in more or less the same spot. It is hell to play in 2D, but with this PSP remake’s 3D graphics it’s neither a jarring effect nor an unusual one, and it has Falcom’s expert dungeon design.
Chances somebody will localize it: Marginal, at least, since Falcom has been trying to get their work licensed in the US.

7th Dragon

This game has been making waves for a while, in part because it was directed by Kazuya Niinou, director of Etrian Odyssey, and produced by Rieko Kodama, who is responsible behind much of the Phantasy Star series. It’s got EO’s cutesy graphics and character customization in a more familiar Japanese RPG package. Sega published it in Japan back in 2008 and American fans are still waiting.
Chances somebody will localize it: Pretty much nil at this point.

Blood of Bahamut

Described by a lot of people as being a handheld, 4-player take on Shadow of the Colossus, Blood of Bahamut is now this generation’s Bahamut Lagoon, a legendary Square RPG for the SNES that never made it to America. They’re even made by the same people.
Chances somebody will localize it: It’s the new Bahamut Lagoon.

Zettai Hero Kaizou Keikaku

Another in the long line of Nippon Ichi tactical/strategy RPGs, Zettai Hero Kaizou Keikaku is another tongue-in-cheek number crunch fest from a company that rarely makes anything but that. This one looks sillier than usual, but boasts cameos from anime characters like Dokoro-Chan, as well as various Nippon Ichi fan favorites. It also supposedly has no level caps and oodles of content in the form of extra missions and rare items. You already have to have debilitating, Ulillillia levels of OCD in order to appreciate some Nippon Ichi titles; this one supposedly trumps all that have come before it. Prism Rangers!
Chances somebody will localize it: Let’s see what NIS America does after Sakura Wars V.

Soma Bringer

This game has been around long enough (early 2008) for fans to have created a working translation patch. Developer Monolith is infamous for the overlong and bland Xenosaga games on the PS2, but Soma Bringer is actually something of a Diablo-like (this will be an accepted term at some point, I’m sure) with silly anime graphics. Lots of customization and rare weapon drops here.
Chances somebody will localize it: Very, very low. Glory of Heracles, but not this? Really, Nintendo?

Classic Dungeon

Another Nippon Ichi game, this time an action RPG with faux 8-bit graphics, Classic Dungeon also promises an insane amount of content, including sprite building. You can make your own 8-bit avatar. As with the game above, it looks to be something like Diablo in its stat building, loot hoarding mechanics. It almost looks like a deeper, more involved and portable companion piece to From Software’s forthcoming PS3 game, 3D Dot Heroes. The difference is that the latter has US release date.
Chances somebody will localize it: Waiting on NIS America. Not real hopeful.

I can think of others, but this list is getting long. The good news is that even though all these are probably staying in Japan, at least we have a good chance of seeing Etrian Odyssey 3. Atlus’ Japanese website has a party creation tool (that’s mine at the top; yes, my guild was named “Grengarm” in the two previous games as well, and if you know the reference you are a nerd) so you can see what your potential party might look like. I played with it for a while, and felt better. As long as EO3 is released in English, I’ll probably be so occupied with sailing, multi-classing and basic dungeon crawling that I won't miss all of these games.

At least not too much.


Fantasy Title Generator Game

Lightwing23 and I have been friends for a little more than half of our lives, which is funny if one considers that we have (in his words) “the best love-hate relationship ever.” Our tête-à-tête doesn’t consist of one-upsmanship, always; but when it does, the passive-aggressiveness is never less than fun and never more than that either. And in that spirit, I’ve suggested that we collaborate, in a loose sense, between our blogs. This was the first thing that I wanted to do when I considered what might be feasible: The Fantasy Title Generator Game.

The Rules:
- You have 15 points.
- Words from tier one are one point; from tier two, two points; from tier three, three points. Proper names are tier four, and take up four points.
- “the,” “of,” "a," and “and” are all free words.
- You can use up to five points on a single title.
- You must use all fifteen points.
- You must write a short synopsis for the books you come up with

The Words:
Tier 4:
Any sort of proper name (i.e. Odin, Thor, Hogar, Conan, or anything you make up)

Tier 3:

Tier 2:

Tier 1:
Gold (or golden)
Radiance (or Radiant)
Truth (or True)

My titles:

White Virago: Consort of the Virile Lance (-5)
In the land of Wrikania, the race of humans fought a bitter war with red scaled, tentacled Draakhen, leaving the population in danger of extinction. In the Wrikanian society, women are prized for their virility, but by the Draakhen for their alabaster skin. Etria is a powerful warrior-priestess, charged with the protection and procreation of the human race, who is forced into the harem of the Draakhen Lord, endangering her life, but also that of the Draakhen's supreme leader. In this Normanesque fantasy, Etria must escape from enemy territory clad only in the Draakhen's harem attire, which is practically nothing!

Adapted from the Sega Genesis game, WarSong (-3) tells the tale of Garret as he fights to regain his kingdom from an evil usurper. No random encounters!

Radiant Devil Fact (-3) tells the story of young Stenton, a printing agent who disagrees with the direction of publication in his country, controlled as it is by the religiously implemented government agency of materials, media and propaganda. He learns that the devils against whom he publishes tracts are in fact the true life blood of the world, and finds himself fighting with them for the sake of their philosophy of personal freedom and meritocracy. (Translated from Japanese.)

Nyasdofijasdokmnfoia (-4)
In this stunning evocation of Lovecraftian mythology told in Stephanie Meyer-esque prose, Rubia Weiss' move to Spoon, a lonely, rainy town in New England, brings her social life to screeching halt. But when she meets Timmy Nyas, a brooding student who glows in starlight and has the raw sexuality of James Dean and all the members of the all the boy bands of the nineties combined -- who also happens to be an exiled god from before recorded human history returned from his sojourn in space and just happens to be hanging out at the small town's high school picking up girls -- her whole world changes! Now unable to keep his elder god status a secret, Timmy must try to keep his beloved, much younger and less experienced and thoroughly chaste lover safe from Nyasdofijasdokmnfoia (pronounced Nie-ass-thbbbbbbbbbbth) the assassin of the gods.

That's it for my fifteen points. Expecting Lightwing23 to post his on his blog sometime soon.

This game was given to me via e-mail by an acquaintance of mine (who doesn't, to my knowledge, have a fanciful internet alias like the rest of us). You, reader, are welcome to play it too. In fact, you can either add or subtract a word before passing it on. I added "virago."


Fantasy by Warhol

This was inspired by Lightwing23's (referred to occasionally on this blog as Waffler) write up of the shamelessly derivative "Inheritance" novels. He's actually much nicer about them than I would be, but then, I've only read Eragon and found that to be more than enough. By contrast, Lightwing23 has read all three novels and is apparently willing to read the next one, assuming that Paolini can still get it published. Unfortunately, we already know that he can.

Actually, not all of the books whose covers I put on that image are terrible (Tolkien is certainly not terrible). What's terrifying is that even the worst of those books and series have devoted readers and die-hard admirers.

I've probably said more than needs to be said about tie-in novels, but the willingness of some genre fans to absorb the same crap in an endless cycle is never less than irksome. I mean, really, Terry Goodkind is a best seller? He's not even writing for a pre-existing fanbase. Unless you're counting Tolkien's. Or maybe Ayn Rand's.

This is probably one of the more obnoxious posts of late, even by the standards of this particular blog. I'll turn off photoshop and get back to playing Nightmare of Druaga.