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Archive for the ‘Funny (ha ha)’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: March 2022] The Last Hero

The Last Hero is a Discworld illustrated short story or fable .  Really what that means is that there’s only one main plot line since most Discworld stories have multiple plots that interweave and then come together.  So it doesn’t really feel short because a full adventure happens–just without all of the ancillary characters.

And, perhaps most striking for any Discworld book is that this one is fully illustrated by Paul Kidby.  Only every other page is full text. The rest are half picture or full picture.  But the pictures are also very deatiled and will keep you busy for a while.  This particualr version has 16 all new pages of illustrations.

The Last Hero is Cohen the Barbarian.  We last saw him in Interesting Times when he became the Emperor of the Agatean Empire.  But, well, being in charge of things is kind of boring.  And, frankly, it’s no way for a hero to go out.  When one of the Silver Horde died by choking on a concubine–I think you mean cucumber– Cohen decides they need a plan.  So he gathers the rest of the Silver Horde for one last adventure.

The very first hero, “Fingers” Mazda, stole fire from the gods and gave it to mankind (analogous to Prometheus), and was chained to a rock to be torn open daily by a giant eagle as punishment.  Cohen’s plan is to give the fire back–in the form of a giant explosive packed into a large sled filled with explosive Agatean Thunder Clay. They plan to blow up the gods at their mountain home, Cori Celesti. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: April 14, 2022] Thief of Time

The Death stories allow Pratchett to play around with new characters (in addition to old favorites).

So this story features a new character named Jeremy Clockson.  Jeremy was a founding left a the Clockmaker’s guild.  He is uncanny in his precision and was ultimately kicked out of the Guild for being too high strung.

One day a woman walks into his office (he makes the most precise clcks in Ankh-Morpork.  her name is Myria LeJean.  She is obnoxious and haughty and demands that Jeremy make the best clock that has ever been invented.  He, knowing a thing or two about clocks, says that he has already created the most precise clocks ever.  But she tells him about a clock that can be even more.

She offers him a lot of money to build it even as she knows that building such an amazing clock will be all the reward that Jeremy wants.

This is when Death gets involved.  Because it turns out that if this clock is built it will literally be the end of the world–this clock will capture and stop time.

Many Death stories have to do with the Auditors, and of course the Auditors are behind this, too.  The find humanity too messy to deal with, and they want to remove humanity so that the universe will run more smoothly.  They have sent Myris as a human to try to learn.  But she soon becomes taken over by human behavior and she kind of… likes Jeremy.

She also sends Jeremy an Igor to work with him.  I love the Igor characters and was delighted to see another one make an appearance.

As with most of the latter Death stories, Death is really enforced by Miss Susan–Death’s granddaughter.  Death him self cannot get involved when the Auditors cause trouble.  But Susan can stop them as long as Death doesn’t reveal too much.

I loved seeing Susan’s life as a teacher (her headmistress doesn’t like her, but the kids love her)

In the other major thread, we meet Lu-Tze–a powerful member of the History Monks masquerading as a humble sweeper.  There’s some wonderful karate movie shenanigans in this story.  With Lu Tze presenting as a lowly sweeper when he is indeed the most feared member of the Monks.  He works with a monk who creates with weapons called Qu.

And yet whenever he is called upon to do something that involves attacking or violence, he seems to just use trickery to get things to happen.

He is also given an apprentice, Lobsang.  Lobsang is a name that jumped out at me so much, that it made me think I must have remembered this story very well and yet I didn’t. I just remembered the name Lobsang.  Huh.

Lu-Tze and Lobsang are in charge of making sure that time isn’t destroyed.  Lobsang is considered a pain in the butt by the other monks.

Lobsang is a spoiled kid, who is bored at school and cant be taught because he knows everything.  Even Lu-Tze is not impressed with him, until he is able to bend time is ways that only the eldest Monks are able to do.  In fact, no one should be able to do the things he can do.  Lu-Tze realizes that Lobsang is naturally gifted at time shaping, he just needs to know how to control his gift.

Incidentally, the main abbot of the monastery has been reincarnated serval times.  He is presently a baby but he is also very wise, so his conversation is constantly interrupted his baser needs.

‘Ah, Sweeper,’ he burbled, awkwardly tossing aside a yellow ball and brightening up. ‘And how are the mountains? Wanna bikkit wanna bikkit!’

‘I’m definitely getting vulcanism, reverend one. It’s very encouraging.’

‘And you are in persistent good health?’ said the abbot, while his pudgy little hand banged a wooden giraffe against the bars. ‘Yes, your reverence. It’s good to see you up and about again.’

‘Only for a few steps so far, alas bikkit bikkit wanna bikkit. Unfortunately, young bodies have a mind of their own BIKKIT! ‘You sent me a message, your reverence? It said, “Put this one to the test.”’

As the apocalypse looms, Death recalls that he and the other four horsemen must ride forth.  But it has been a really long time and War is now married (he has to ask his wife if he likes meat–no it gives him wind).  Famine and Pestilence aren’t that keen on doing anything either. Leave it to Death to find the long lost horseman of the Apocalayse–a man who is now a milkman named Ronnie Soak.  Ronnie hasn’t thought about riding forth in years. But he becomes essential to the plot.

There is a huge pile of time travel in this book, as well as eastern philosophy and thoughts of what it means to be human,

There’s some really high concepts in a story in which the bad guys are defeated with chocolate.  And in which other characters are decapitated with no ill effects.

I love Susan as a character and the way that the Jeremy story and the Lobsang story combine is pretty masterful

And don’t forget Rule One.  Rule One is “Do not act incautiously when confronting a little bald wrinkly smiling man

 

It’s a great story.

Here’s the list of all Discworld books in order:

1. The Colour of Magic
2. The Light Fantastic
3. Equal Rites
4. Mort
5. Sourcery
6. Wyrd Sisters
7. Pyramids
8. Guards! Guards!
9. Faust Eric
10. Moving Pictures
11. Reaper Man
12. Witches Abroad
13. Small Gods
14. Lords and Ladies
15. Men at Arms
16. Soul Music
17. Interesting Times
18. Maskerade
19. Feet of Clay
20. Hogfather
21. Jingo
22. The Last Continent
23. Carpe Jugulum
24. The Fifth Elephant
25. The Truth
26. Thief of Time
27. The Last Hero
28. The Amazing Maurice And His Educated Rodents
29. Night Watch
30. The Wee Free Men
31. Monstrous Regiment
32. A Hat Full of Sky
33. Going Postal
34. Thud!
35. Wintersmith
36. Making Money
37. Unseen Academicals
38. I Shall Wear Midnight
39. Snuff
40. Raising Steam
41. The Shepherd’s Crown

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: April 2022] The Truth

This story is set in Ankh-Morpork but it’s not about the Watch.  Or Lord Vetenari.  Well, it sort of is about both of them, but not really.

This story is about The Truth.  And also about a new character called William de Worde.  William is a black sheep of a famous and wealthy Ankh-Morpork family.  He has always been interested in writing and in finding the truth.

His job was to write an occasional message to various important figures around the Disc with information about what’s going on in Ankh-Morpork.  He quickly learned that he could write his message, have the Engraver’s guild print multiple copies and just change a few things for each one.  This made him a lot more money.

Then there was big news in Ankh-Morpork–the arrival of movable type from the dwarfs, particularly Gunilla Goodmountain.

William, through a series of events, inadvertently becomes the spokesperson for the movable type (even though he had nothing to do with it) and starts a newspaper. The paper is supposed to be named Ankh-Morpork Items but they get the type wrong and it became The Ankh-Morpork Times.

He is assisted by the dwarfs and Sacharissa Cripslock–a fiery reporter who proves very useful. (more…)

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[READ: April 2022] The Fifth Elephant

This is a story of Ankh-Morpork and progress.  Ankh-Morpork has just introduced a series of clacks–semaphore towers–to provide quick communication between distant places.  It’s expensive, but businesses in the know are all getting c-mail addresses.

Incidentally, the movie The Fifth Element came out in 1997 and was clearly an inspiration for the title–although very little about that film falls into place here.  Rather, the fifth elephant of the title is believes to have been one of the elephants who held up the world but who fell to the Disc and caused craters of fat deposits that are found underground in Uberwald (which produces the best fat on the disc).  Fat deposits are a very valuable commodity.

Uberwald factors heavily in this story.  Ankh-Morpork now has the largest dwarf city on the Disc.  And the progressive dwarfs in Ankh-Morpork are able to sway elections back home–where the more traditional dwarfs (deep down dwarfs) don’t think highly of the dwarfs who have left.

An upcoming election for Dwarf king was swayed by the Ankh-Morpork contingent and Rhys Rhysson, a progressive dwarf is set to become King.  But this has made many old school dwarfs very unhappy and rumors of an internal war start brewing. (more…)

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[READ: March 2022] Carpe Jugulum

It’s so hard to believe that Carpe Jugulum (Discworld book #23 of 41) is the last one to feature the Witches! Especially since it is quite clearly about vampires.  Actually, other books feature Granny Weatherwax (the Tiffany Aching books feature her a lot), but it’s the last one that features the classic trio of witches.

Queen Magrat and King Verence have figured out the whole bedroom thing (Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax weren’t sure they’d every actually figure it out) and are pleased to announce their first child–a girl.

The King has invited everyone to their naming ceremony.  That includes the vampires from Uberwald.

Since the vampires have been invited they are pretty much free to do as they want.  It turns out that they are quite clear about their plans–they are going to move into Lancre Castle and basically turn all of the humans into their cattle (as they have done in Uberwald).  But because of a kind of hypnotism, no one is upset by this–nor do they seem to fully get what the threats represent. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: March 2022] The Last Continent

The Last Continent in Discworld is Australia. Or as Pratchett says “This is not a book about Australia. No, it’s about somewhere entirely different which just happens to be, here and there, a bit Australian.  Still… no worries, right?”

In the previous Rincewind story, he was sent to Four Ecks in exchange for a kangaroo.  He has been there for a time and has been adjusting reasonably well–only nearly everything wants to kill him.

But suddenly he meets Scrappy–a talking kangaroo.  Scrappy believes that Rincewind is a hero of sorts who is going to bring the wet (Rain) back to the continent.  Turns out that it has not rained in Four Ecks for a long time, although it is surrounded by forbidding storms that make the continent almost inaccessible from outside.

Four Ecks is also a time travel parody of sorts, because Rincewind is able to see himself (and the other wizards) in cave paintings that are thousands of years old but which just appeared in front of him.

Meanwhile, back in Ankh-Morpork, the librarian seems to be going through something.  His magical field (which tunrned him into an orangutan) seems to be failing.  He keeps turning into various shapes, and the senior wizards (Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully, The Dean, The Bursar, The Chair of Indefinite Studies, The Lecturer in Recent Runes, The Senior Wrangler, and Ponder Stibbons) are keen on fixing him–even if that means turning him back human–which he does NOT want, Indeed, the librarian destroyed all record of his original name–which would be essential for creating a spell to revert him to his original shape.

They decide that Rincewind might know a thing or two about the librarian since he was the librarian’s assistant.  They think about dragging Rincewind back, but soon realize the danger of that (and actually stop their plans before anyone can get hurt). (more…)

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[READ: March 2022] Jingo

With a title like Jingo, you know that Terry Pratchett isn’t holding back.  And indeed, this is a story about two countries fighting each other over disputed territory–and the unenlightened attitudes that people have about “foreigners.”

What is great about Pratchett is how much he is able to get his point across without being preachy.  Some of the unenlightened characters say offensive things, but they are quickly discoruaged from such attitudes–not with bludgeoning and hysteria, but with rational comments.  It’s very well done.

But what causes this trouble?  Well, out of nowhere, an island has surfaced.  The island of Leshp was submerged forever, and suddenly, it floated to the surface amid two fishermen.  Solid Jackson of Ankh-Morpork (and his long-suffering son) and Greasy Arif from Al-Khali, the Klatchian capital.  They often fought over their prey (the Curious Squid), because they sailed the same waters that were between the two countries.

While this is going on, diplomatic business is occurring in Ankh-Morpork.  The prince of Klatch, Khufurah, is in Ankh-Morpork to receive an honorary degree (Doctorum Adamus cum Flabello Dulci) in Sweet Fanny Adams.

Hostilities between A-M and Klatch are high.

Several leaders of the city are there to complain to Lord Vetenari about Klatch.  Watch Captain Sam Vimes is there to add a level head and sarcasm.  When someone complains that Klatch wouldn’t accept ten boatloads of cabbages, Vimes says out loud to himself “everyone knows caterpillars add to the flavor” and later “Meat is at its best when it’s going green.”

And of course, the Patrician knows his way around diplomacy: “it is no longer considered…nice…to send a warship … to show Johnny Foreigner the error of his ways.”

Later, the Prince meets with Vimes and asks him about the word he’s heard shouted at him: “towelhead.” (more…)

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[READ: March 2022] Jailbroke

This was the third of three books by Asman that I received at work.  It was also the least enjoyable of the three.

The story is a simple one.  Set in the future when humans are not the greatest species on the planet (they go by Terrans now), a spaceship that is run primarily by AI is ferrying humans around.  Using Asimov’s first principal, the AI, who are now vastly smarter and more useful than thehumans, cannot harm the humans.  Their existence is predicated on the fact that are have to help the humans.

Until, that is, one of them is accidentally fed biofuel that has a human part in it.  This jailbreaks their programming and allows them to kill humans indiscriminately.

Since this is a spaceship (a bottle episode), there’s not a lot that can happen.

In Nunchuck City, Asman delighted in violence.  In this story, he delights in gore.  Like the way he describes in loving detail how the space drill works on someone’s skull. (more…)

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[READ: March 2022] Nunchuck City

I rather enjoyed Brian Asman’s book Man, Fuck This House.  And since I had copies of two of his other books at my desk, I thought I’d give them a try too.

Nunchuck City is a very different books from House.  It is an over-the-top comedy/ninja story.  It doesn’t exactly travel in cliché as much as it explodes the clichés and goes past them into hilarious territory.

As long as you know what you’re getting with the book, it’s a really fun and funny (and fast) read.

Plus, Asman has a ton of fun with local businesses as well.

The story is set in Turbo City.  Skip Baxter, the Most Dangerous Man in Turbo City (even if the city won’t see fit to let him register his fists as Deadly Weapons) is about to get his ass kicked.  This is no surprise.  Baxter learned everything he knew about Karate from watching a three day binger marathon of kung-fu movies, declaring himself a sensei and opening a gym.  He got his ass kicked by eight-year olds.  But you can imagine his pride at realizing that he taught those kids to kick his ass.

But this time he is about to get his ass kicked by an actual Ninja, Kundarai Saru.  Saru intends to kick the ass of everyone in Turbo City until he can take on the mayor.  There is a law in Turbo City that anyone who can defeat the Mayor in battle will become Mayor.   And once Saru is Mayor of Turbo City, nothing can stop the rest of his plans.

Then we meet Nunchuck Nick.  He was trained to be a ninja.  But he found that he preferred cooking.  So after an incident he’d prefer to forget, he moved to Turbo City with the intent of selling the best Fondue in the world.  He parked his food truck right in front of The Crepes of Wrath, a popular creperie in which the waiters were mean stand up comedians who would personally insult you while you ate.  (more…)

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[READ: March 16, 2022] In the Jaws of Life

The version pictured here is not the one I read–there’s no pictures of it online!  My copy was translated by Celia Hawkesworth and Michael Henry Heim.

This book is a collection of short stories from throughout Ugrešić’s career.

The book has three (or 8) stories in it.  I discovered Ugrešić through The 2021 Short Story Advent Calendar (story #2).  “Lend Me Your Character” was weird and cool and was probably my favorite story in the collection (it’s here as well).

When I read a little about Ugrešić, I found that she was born in Croatia, but left the region when the war in Yugolslavia broke out, saying she was post-national and refusing to acknowledge her Croatian heritage.  She currently resides in Amsterdam.

Her stories are wonderful mash ups of fairy tales, feminist theory, “traditional women’s writing” and a lot of sexuality.

“Steffie Speck in the Jaws of Life (a patchwork novel)” (1981) [trans C.H.]
This story has so much going on that it’s easy to overlook that it’s a fairly straightforward story, just with a lot of filigree tacked on.  The story opens with a “Key to the Various Symbols” and includes things like — dotted lines with scissors (cut the text along the line as desired); slashes (pleats: make large thematic stitches on either side of the author’s seam); four equals signs (make a metatextual knot and draw in as desired).  And so on.  And the contents is actually listed as “The Paper Pattern” which lays out each section according to a sewing pattern.  Each section heading is given a parenthetical comment (tacking, padding, hemming, interfacing).

When you start the story you see that the symbols are indeed throughout the story, although honestly after a few pages I gave up trying to figure out what they might mean.

The story starts with the narrator saying that her friends told her to write “a women’s story.”  The author looks at several lonely hearts letters in the paper and picks the fifth one as the basis.  Steffie, aged 25, is a typist by profession.  She’s lonely and sad and lives with her aunt. (more…)

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