Sunday, 31 August 2008

An Adventure in Humour

This week (and I might even try to post something new on a weekly basis) I decided to write some fiction for you. I don't know how good it is; this is my first attempt at something of this style, but I certainly had fun writing it. This is only part one, although I probably wont post the next instalment for a couple of weeks, just to keep you on your toes! If you have any comments you want to make, some complements or ways I could improve then fire away... I really just want to know how many people actually read this in a regular basis! Anyway, enjoy!

Marcus looked down the shaft of the arrow at the centre of the target that stood fifty meters away. Reasoning that gravity might do him the favour of pulling the arrow down a little, he lifted his aim up a few degrees so that he was looking at the clear blue sky above the target. With a prayer to every god he could think of and a few that he made up on the spot he let go of the arrow.

The laws of physics were clearly not with him, as the arrow, in stark defiance to gravity, failed to dip gracefully towards the target, instead it continued to fly upwards and landed somewhere in the ridiculously dense undergrowth that conveniently lay behind the target. Marcus was no expert but he didn’t expect that the arrow would be seen again.

He sighed at looked at the tribesmen who were trying, and failing miserably to contain their laughter. All but one of them looked as though he had a sever case of constipation as their faces strained to withhold impromptu giggling. The tribal elder however, was the only one who didn’t see the funny side of the situation. In fact it was quite clear to Marcus that he was more than a little bit angry at the lost arrow.

Snatching a spear from one of the constipated guards, he stuck it in Marcus’ face and began jabbering some incomprehensible and thoroughly generic dialect that this utterly cliché tribe of natives spoke. It was clear from the tone of the meaningless words that the dark skinned, leaf clad, mud painted savage that he was somewhat angry. Which was, after all, pretty justified given that Marcus had, apparently, desecrated one of the shrines to the many, multifaceted deities that this tribe worshiped. On top of which he has just lost one of their arrows.

It was not clear why he had had to shoot an arrow at the target in order to get off for his crime. He had not even been told what he had to do, although he reasoned that hitting the target would have been a good start. The task did seem more than a little unfair; it clearly benefited people who actually knew how to shoot, which Marcus did not, evidence for which had been on display not a few second previously.

Marcus also saw it as a little unfair that he was being, or was about to be punished for doing something that he did not realise was a crime. After all, it had not exactly been obvious that what he had eaten for his lunch had been a sacrifice to some god or another. There had not been a sign saying ‘Reserved for hungry sky fairy, please leave.’ Although even if it had Marcus would not have been able to read it given that it would have been written in generic tribal.

Speaking of which the angry tribesman had still not stopped talking and the very sharp point of the spear that was just inches away from his nose and smelling of something foul, presumably poison, after all what else are you going to put on the end of your spear? Disinfectant so you can heal your enemies to death?

When the angry and completely incomprehensible rant had finally ended, by which time the sun had sunk another couple of degrees, which did not stop of from being bloody hot (although what do you expect from a ball of burning gasses?). by this time the shirt was sticking to Marcus’ back his hair had become matted in the typical way in which hair always get matted when you sweat, which Marcus was well accustomed to doing.

As he watched another droplet of sweat roll down to the top of his nose and fall off, a welcome distraction from the sharp pointy spear (as opposed to the blunt, not pointy spear?), he reasoned that there might be some merit in dressing solely in leaves. However, after a bit of thought he decided that everyone could do without seeing his pale and flabby naked body.

While he contemplated the merit of having other people dress solely in leaves the tribesmen, who had since stopped laughing or relieved themselves from their constipation, or both, used some string, which was presumably used to tie the leaves together to form clothing, to tie his hands together behind his back, as should happen in all good hostage taking.

After doing this, more out of tradition and in keeping with generally accepted etiquette rather than actual practicality given that Marcus stood no chance of escaping past the leaf clad, spear armed tribesman who formed his escort, they led him away. It was not clear where they were going; no one had had the courtesy to tell their prisoner in a language that he could actually understand. It seemed safe to assume however that wherever they were taking him would have more spears and more leaf clad individuals; his day could not get much worse.

The reader will no doubt be puzzled as to whom our hero of dubious heroism actually is. His name is Marcus, which I hope you have noted by now and if not then WAKE UP!!! He is aged somewhere between twenty-four and twenty-six, although were exactly is not clear to anyone, least of all himself. The reason for this is that he was abandoned by his eternally loving and caring mother, who decided that bringing up a child would impede here ability to have sex with anyone and everyone who was willing to pay the requested amount. It was not clear then why she didn’t just have an abortion, but she was obviously not blessed with incredible powers of intelligence or forward planning, which may explain her career choices. Perhaps she found that there was a market for pregnant women that she aught to fill in the sex business, after all there seems to be a market for most things. Whatever the case she abandoned poor Marcus on some lonely street corner somewhere in the city where she plied her wares. Either she had some compassion in that she did not kill the child and be done with it, or did not have the courage to put the poor thing out of it’s misery, for the record Marcus has always assumed that latter.

Well some unfortunate soul had an uncharacteristic fit of compassion and took the child in. She was the wife of a totally incompetent businessman who only made enough money to feed himself and his family by spending all his time working to keep his business going. His life was rather like blowing up a balloon with a hole in it; he spent all his life blowing air into the thing, only for it to go straight back out the hole. The harder he blew the faster the air would go out. Because of this he and his unfortunate wife spent no time together, which meant that they did not get the chance to produce any offspring, which on reflection was probably a good thing. Not that the wife suffered from a lack of sex; she had sex almost as often as Marcus mother had done, although with fewer people and she had the sense to have abortions when one of the men was clever enough to get her pregnant.

So Marcus was brought up almost single handed by the unfaithful wife of an incompetent workaholic. I say almost single handed because the woman’s many lovers did help a little bit in-between bouts of raucous and often extremely loud sex. The things they taught Marcus were probably not the ideal things to be teaching a young boy, especially one blessed with the same intelligence as Marcus; a trait that had clearly skipped the generation before his.

The young Marcus did not spend his childhood doing what we might expect young children of his age to do; that is play in the streets with other children or learn to read and write in one of the many schools of dubious quality all over the city. Instead Marcus learned the arts of cheating, lying and stealing, at which he inevitably excelled. He spent he adolescence in the criminal underground being used by one crime lord or another to earn them vast quantities of money by very questionable means. His free time was spent gambling (or should I say cheating at dice?), drinking and having gratuitous sex with any number of willing (or unwilling) females. No he did not by any means shake of the habits of either his mother or the woman who ‘raised’ him.

As he reached his twenties his criminal activities only increased, so much so that he made enemies of every crime lord of any note in the city. Having run up huge debts and on the run from generically large thugs in the employ of every respectable crime lord in the city he decided on a change of career path.

He fled the helpful characterisation device city with nary a goodbye to the woman who raised him, probably because she lay face-first in a ditch having been the victim of one of the more subtle mobsters, and began a life as an adventure, or that is what he calls himself, the authorities (justifiably) label him a vagabond and try to arrest him. As a consequence he fled the civilised world and we find him wondering aimlessly through the bland and under populated area off the map of any self-respecting ruler. Adventurer is perhaps a little misleading given that he has done very little adventuring of late, unless you could running for your life from some more soldiers an adventure.

In between avoiding arrest and committing crimes that warranted his arrest he did meet up with a couple of delightful young people who were in a similar predicament to him. He found them cheating several unsuspecting drunks of their money in a tavern is some poor backwater town a few miles from nowhere. Understandably they were fast friends. The two were brother and sister, cast out from their family for robbing everything that they set eyes upon and flogging it off to fuel their drinking.

Marcus, in a shameful attempt to cut loose from his newfound friends had risen early a few days previously and disappeared, leaving them to sleep late and find him gone when they did wake up. Out of some inexplicable, but useful (for writing purposes) sentiment for our unlikely hero. Possible a reflection of his charisma, or more likely a cop out excuse to introduce some more interesting characters and stop this tedious back story filler, they decided to look for him.

So without further ado, let us join this new pair of heroes.

“I told you we should have gone left back their.”

“Fernando, we are walking across a plain utterly bereft of landmarks, where exactly were you proposing we ‘turn left’?” Fernando remained silent. In truth, he had only said it, as it was a good way of introducing a reader to a conversation half way through.

“Why are we following him anyway? Why don’t we just carry on doing what we were doing before he showed up?”

“Because we need to teach him a lesson.” It did not even convince herself, but Fernando was too stupid to pick that up.

“Why bother? He ditched us, lets just leave him be.”

“Shut up Fernando and keep walking.” He complied.

After a bit more walking in the arbitrarily decided direction, Fernando, unable to withhold his verbal diarrhoea, spoke up again.

“Rebecca.” She grunted, resigning herself to another stupid question. “You love him don’t you?” she sighed and rolled her eyes.

“What answer would make you shut up?”

“The truth.”

“And how do you propose to know when I am lying and when I am telling the truth?” he did reply. Rebecca smiled and continued to trudge through the dull grassland that still did not offer and promise of providing any clues as to their whereabouts of Marcus.

A stray strand of dull brown hair had stuck itself to her face with sweat. She brushed it off and cursed the sun for not finding a convenient cloud to hide behind. A bead of sweat appeared on her neck and rolled itself rather erotically between her ample breasts before being absorbed by the shirt that clung tightly to her figure in all areas except for the cleavage where it was designed to show off as much of her plentiful bosom as possible. It was, admittedly not the subtlest of shirts, nor was it particularly practical, then again it was not designed for waking through the deserted grassland, it was designed to make sure that the usual scumbags who frequented taverns were too distracted to pay attention to their wallets, allowing her brother to steal them.

The day wore on without presenting any clues as to Marcus’ whereabouts. It was a rather hopeless endeavour; he could have gone in any direction, so more than likely with every step they were moving further and further away from him. Given that neither of them had any experience at tracking they had no idea which direction he had headed and no way of telling if they were getting closer of further from him. Either way they were getter further from the world that they had become accustomed to and rejected by with every laborious step.

Eventually and with remarkably good luck (or bad writing, you decide) they chanced upon a peculiarly excavated hole in the ground. It was more of a dent really, but in any case it was clearly manmade and did not seem all that important. Reasoning that no harm could possibly come from them staying there over night they decided that now would be a good chance to go to sleep and that they could continue their fruitless hunt for Marcus in the morning.

The unfortunate thing about this convenient hole (apart from the fact that it was shrine dedicated to some god or other) was that it was facing west so when the sun rose the next morning (as it has a tendency to do), the light went straight down into the hole and rather rudely awoke the sleeping siblings. Rebecca was the first to awaken, being slightly less dopy that her brother, she gasped and leapt to her feet, banging her head on the low ceiling. She looked up at the sun in order to throw a few unsavoury and rather uncalled for curses at it and anything else that might be listening. This hail of rude and very unladylike insults was stopped short by the silhouette of a beleafed and rather surprised tribesman.

Instead she could only manage. “Oh, hi.” Then, seeing that the generic and nameless tribesman was clearly in some distress added, “sorry.” She smiled weakly.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

The Dark Knight: Review

As I mentioned in my last entry, I would probably be reviewing The Dark Knight next, a promise which, as the title suggests, will be fulfilling. I must just explain why I have only just seen it; as I mentioned before I live miles away from any form of entertainment like a cinema so I tend not to see many films. Anyway I made a special effort to watch it because everyone I have spoken to has said it was really good, so I was fully expecting it to suck royally! So without further ado let us begin. I must warn you that this review contains spoilers, if you have not seen the film then why the hell not? go watch it now and read this afterwards!

Right then, The Dark Knight. I am not usually a fan of superhero movies, or indeed superheros. I find that a writer who has to give their characters superpowers in order that they can overcome the wild and wonderful problems he poses them is not a good writer. Superpowers seem to be a good excuse not to have well rounded and appropriately human hero. Don't get me wrong, I think every good story need a hero or two, but just not one who has been bitten by a radioactive spider or whatever other piece of bullshit plot device the tired and socially inept writer dreams up in that totally fucked up brain of his.

As you can imagine Batman get instant points in that he was not bitten by a spider/radioactivated on etc etc. As such he does not have a 'superpower' unless you could a hell of a lot of money and some very clever boffins who can bend the laws of science to create awesome gadgets for your utility belt. Ok so it's not ideal, but it's better than Superman, who is easily the worst offender in the 'ridiculously over powered hero' school of bad characterisation.

Right then, the film. Unfortunately we start off on a very bad note with the very first scene being a camera flying subtly towards a skyscraper in Genericville, otherwise known as Gotham. The political messaging did not get much more subtle or tasteful as the film went on, in fact it might have been a better idea just to have the words 'terrorists are bad' written on well placed walls in Genericville. The constant references to The Joker as a terrorist seemed a little bit unfair; were I a terrorist I would be rather offended at being compared to him! 'Some people just want to watch the world burn' proclaims Alfred, the stereotypical English non-posh person (i.e a cockney). Yes, they're called pyromaniacs...

So I've thrown enough bile the crude terrorists references, for now, no wait, I still have some more! Batman. Throughout the film he seems to be wracked by this totally inexplicable guilt. Apparently the good citizens of Genericville seem to think that Batman is the reason behind all the bad stuff that happens during the film. They do not seem to realise that the nutter with the facepaint and smiley scars is the one setting off the bomb and causing all-purpose havoc in their beautifully generic city. Now we all know that most people can't see what is put directly in front on them so we shouldn't be too hard of the unquestionable thickies that populate Genericville. We can however be as hard as we want on Batman because he should bloody well know better. He is of course guilty of nothing other than refusing to kill The Joker at the first possible opportunity, and speaking like he has just swallowed a bucketful of gravel.

Ok, I think I'm done with the bile, let's move on to the good bits. Everyone I have spoken to says that Heath Ledger did a fantastic job as The Joker and for once I actually agree with the majority. You would think that playing a psycho-manic would be easy, however enough people have done it badly to prove that it is not as easy at it seems. However I think, as usual, Heath Ledger's role has been grossly exaggerated. Yes he was good, but the same can be said for Aaron Eckhart who played Harvey Dent, although really, does burning cause that sort of damage? More liberties with reality taken by socially repressed writers methinks! I think that more could have been made of Harvey 'two faced' Dent however. He would have made a great villain for the next film, but no they had to kill the poor fellow off before he could make a real impact on the already royally fucked up city of Genericville. Unless of course the writers pull the old trick of having him not actually die, at which point bile will spew forth from my every orifice.

So what else was good? Every action film has to have a chase scene, it's like the law or something. The one in The Dark Knight was very good. Unfortunately, while most chase scenes, while rather unoriginal, tend to be pretty decent, they are almost always accompanied by the comic relief character who, at intermittent points in the scene, makes 'witty' comments about what is going on. The attempts to lighten up the film in this way were just as laboured and just as unnecessary as they always are, even more so when you have The Joker providing more than enough comic, although slightly disturbing, relief. If you ignore the moron and his 'wit', the chase scene, as with pretty much all the actions scenes were very well done. It is easy to over do them (as anyone who has seen Die Hard 4 will know first hand), although admittedly when you have Gadget-ninja Man as the protagonist and a crazy maniac hell bend on destruction as the antagonist on your side it is much harder to do.

Right so I have begrudged admitted that the acting and the action scenes were good, what else can I concede was quite good before more bile arrives? Ah yes, although I have repeatedly bashed the writes for crude attempts at political messages, a have to concede that the actual story was very well written. It did have the odd scattering of clichés, but overall the dialogue was succinct and punchy. It was well paced, unlike many films, which seem rushed, probably a reaction to the general public's total lack of patience. I have nothing against short films per se; I just don’t like it when films rush through content in order to be less than two hours, because apparently the general public can't sit through a film much longer than that.

So, I suppose I must draw this exercise in critical evaluation to an end. It may appear to the casual reader that I did not much like the Dark Knight. I can positively say however that it leaps straight into my top 5 films. So if you thought I was a little harsh on it then wait until i review a film that did not like! Then bile will spew forth like the stomach content of you average drunk in Genericville on a Saturday night.

Friday, 22 August 2008

reasons for creating T.I.R.O.M

If you haven't already guessed (and you should have done) T.I.R.O.M stands for: 'The Inane Rantings Of Me', which, if your powers of observation still desert you, is the name of this lovely little blog in this charming little backwater of the Internet.

Yes I have decided to leap proudly onto the bandwagon that has been rolling since seemingly the beginning of time (or at least the Internet), that is the blogging bandwagon. For some reason someone, at some point in the not too distant past, decided that someone else wanted to read what they had to say and decided to put it up in cyberspace for all to see. Ever since angsty teenagers and other budding rebels have been doing the same. So, in following in the footsteps of these unsavoury fellows I have decided to put my ramblings onto the Internet for all to read (not that many actually will).

So what, I hear you asking (or at least pretend to so I can answer it) will you be writing about in this blog? The answer to which being; I have no idea! There will probably be no regularity to my posts, or any definite pattern. I will write about whatever I feel like; I may post my opinions on a news article, I may rant about something that has annoyed me, I may relate in interesting story that has happened in my life, I may review some books that I read, or films that I watch - in fact I will probably review the Dark Knight after I see it tomorrow (yes I know, it has been out for ages, but I haven't seen it yet because I live in the middle of nowhere, so getting to a cinema is a task in itself reserved for special occasions.)

So why create the blog in the first place? A question that I'm sure is (not) tugging away at your coat tails like an annoying younger sibling that you want only to swat away so that (s)he makes a satisfying thud against the wall (oh yes I did just make that analogy!). My reason for making this blog is simple; I felt like it. I decided that somewhere in which to write regularly, with (hopefully) a decent readership, would be fun and give me something else to do (to add to my already 'busy' life.). I find that my life is very stop start; I have a LOT of free time in the school holidays, but tend to get a bit bogged down once school starts (which i fully expect to get worse now that I am about to go into the business end of my academic life), despite this I still have a fair amount of free time which i am determined to fill up! So this blog offers a good opportunity to suck some of that up!

And what about the blogger himself? Who is he? Who am I? I am called Alex. I am 16 (at the time of writing), I go to school at King Edward's School Birmingham and I am a male. My main interest is History, although I also have a passion for Philosophy. My hobbies involve listening to music, playing rugby, reading, writing and blogging apparently. I spend far too much of my life on Internet forums and not enough in contact with normal people. As the observant may have noticed I am cynical beyond repair, which leads me to be overly sarcastic, probably a result of reading webcomics like XKCD... Bong! Name drop!

Anyways, you're probably all sick of me (if there is anyone reading this) so I'll stop the verbal diarrhoea for a day or two and let you all recover from an overdose of cynicism.