October 18th, 2011
OR: MINDLESS LINKBLOGGING, SPECIAL “ALL BASTARDS MUST BE AGGRAVATED!” EDITION!
As you hopefully noticed, we spent a large part of last month bringing you the best in bastardry. We’ve got some spooky Notes From the Borderland coming up in time for Halloween, so right now seems like as good a time as any to collect all of our bastardly musings together and to celebrate the cruel simplicity of the banner The Beast Must Die created for the event:
Hopefully you’ll be able to forgive me for indulging in a little bit of back-patting here while I take you through AN INDEX OF BASTARDS!
October 1st, 2011
I don’t usually deal in the sort of criticism that tries to find the spirit of our time in this or that piece of pop culture detritus, but for the past few years I’ve felt smothered by four little words – THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE! – and every time I see or hear a variation on that theme, there’s only one face I see.
No point in trying to keep the bastard stuck in a corner anymore. You can only fight him off for so long, you know?
It’s time to let Darkseid out of the box:
September 29th, 2011
This game came out in 1999, but the legal US (remake) release dropped on Sept. 20 and the Euro release is soon in coming. If you’re coming to the series now, this article contains significant spoilers.
You might guess the bastard from the picture, here; it’s certainly his most expected appearance (or something like it, anyway), the one that curls a squamous tendril across your forebrain in the dark. The big C, they’ve managed to make cuddly and even trite – mashing him up with Hello Kitty and selling plush cuddle buddies. But not this fellow – he still carries at least a little of the old fear with him still. This isn’t a profile, though – he doesn’t need one – this is one of his greatest triumphs.
September 27th, 2011
Yesterday my nephew finally conquered his fear of river folk on ring-crack.
It was a small victory and I used it to illustrate the point I’d made an hour or so earlier when I was desperate for what we here at Mindless HQ call a ‘proper loo’ and had to forcibly eject him from the bathroom explaining that one has to face one’s fears – heights, spiders, being shut out of the bathroom while an adult goes to the toilet – if one is to conquer them. In the end his clinging to my leg and screaming made proper loo impossible and so I resolved to grasp the next opportunity to expand upon my, at that point barely sketched out, argument as firmly round the throat as I currently wanted to grasp my nephew…. Little did I know said opportunity would present itself within the hour when it came Lord of the Rings time.
Towards the end of an eight and a half hour stint of babysitting one gets tired and I’m not ashamed to say that its normally around this time that the laptop goes on for an hour and a bit, and for the past few weeks the child pacifier of choice has been Lord of the Rings. The Nephew has much bigger balls than I did at his age and so far he’s braved cave trolls, balrogs and black riders without so much as a ‘fast forward it’, in fact he thinks all the aforementioned are cool – the cave troll being ‘SO COOL!’ – but even though his performance thus far had been impressive I knew until he’d managed to sit through the beginning of the Two Towers he couldn’t really have been said to be tested. Why? Because river folk on ring-crack.
Gollum is just a haunting in the first film, a half glimpsed series of disembodied eyes, hands and scuttling legs and low growled preciousses, and in the mind of a child this lends him incredible power. Long time readers of this blog probably know all about the characteristics of the haunting by now – high degree of absence generating presence, non locality translating into immanence, etc. – and so does the nephew. He’s learnt the hard way. This was obviously a big part of the The Fellowship of the Ring’s thrill for him, the pant shitting fear that Gollum might be lurking around every corner, that were he to get too complacent, too comfortable, then those scrabbling fingers might suddenly burst forth and drag him, wailing, back to a sunken lair beneath the Misty Mountains – Gollum, hiding behind the trees, the tv screen, the sofa, crouched, poised behind thin air, ready to pounce. So it was with great trepidation and, I could tell, not a little excitement that he agreed to sit through the beginning of the next film where, I knew, my point about facing one’s fears would be proved. Because as we all know Gollum’s not all that scary when you meet him in person. Suddenly the vast hyperdimensional spectre moving through the first film collapses in on itself, reducing to little more than a bug eyed, gangly drug addict – and, even less frightening and utterly inexplicably, one that appears to be afraid of the most ridiculous and annoying character in all the LOTR films, that ever whimpering sharer of loads, bloody Samwise Gamjee. So now, as the nephew himself says, he’s not scared of Gollum, not when he can see him, only when he’s hiding behind floating logs in the background.
Victory! Gaze into the fist of Dredd!!!
Still can’t go to proper loo when it’s just us on our own though.
So anyway this is all the obligatory autobiographical detour material you expect when you run a search for Mindless Ones, but the point is it got me thinking – thinking about rogues that lurk. There are different kinds of rogues, basically. There’s your Darth Vaders slap bang in the centre of the frame, big bads who command the action, and then there’s the guys in the background, the Bounty Hunters. Of course Boba Fett was a special edition, send off your tokens and get a free figure kind of deal, but I’ve never felt his status as the most popular Star Wars character ever could be quite so easily reduced to pre-Empire promotional toy guff. No, none of that stuff would’ve mattered one iota if the famous disintegrator had arrived fully fleshed out with all that crappy prequel backstory in tow. What makes Fett work so well, what makes all the bounty hunters work so well in fact, are the gaps in our knowledge. We all know this, it’s obvious. Films should not be made with fans in mind, continuity porn is bad. We are drawn to the lacunas in the atomic structure of the narrative around the Bosks and the Zuckusses. Providing my own explanation for why Dengar is wrapped in bandages or why there’s a 4 before the Lom is far more exciting and inticing than any a cruddy, or even not so cruddy, Star Wars fanficer can provide. And so it should be. These beings on the edges of our stories, just out of shot, are there to be chased but never caught, or in the end all we’re left with is a stupid gangle creature or Attack of the Clones. So there are some baddies we love to seek around the margins for, to whose pull we willingly acquiese.
September 24th, 2011
‘Multi award-winning writer Mark Millar has revamped the X-Men, launched a number one Spider-Man title, brought Captain America into the 21st Century and made Superman a communist. He is also the writer of the US industry’s biggest-selling comic book of the past decade, Marvel’s Civil War, published in 2007. His Wanted comic series was the industry’s biggest-selling creator-owned book of the last ten years until he smashed his own record with Kick-Ass, each issue selling more than Spider-Man and X-Men from issue one with an unprecedented five printings every issue. Both properties were sold as movies before the first issue hit the stands and everything Millar has ever created is in various stages of theatrical development. Wanted starred Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy. Kick-Ass stars actor Nicolas Cage.’
As that other great villain John Bender says, ‘The world’s an imperfect place’.
Still, Nicolas Cage though…
September 23rd, 2011
Ok, so there are some big Wire *SPOILERS* coming up here, so anyone who hasn’t got to the end of the show would do well to sit down and play catch up while we discuss a young man called Marlo Stanfield.
September 23rd, 2011
Awright troops, Illogical Volume here, with a bit of fine
imported basterdry for ye!
I’m not sure that aka the Original Eyeball intended to start a fight here, but he should’ve known no tae challenge a proper weegie baistart like my pal Scott McAllister, aka Mr Attack, aka The Boy Fae the Heed, because a man like Scott disnae back down fae fuck aww.
Well, at least not when there are Transformers involved. Anyway, that’s enough of my pish. Here’s what the lad Scott had to say about Thunderwing:
It’s another day at the office in Marvel UK in the late 1980′s. Creative license tells me that at this point in history, it would be dark all the time, and it would be raining. A package has been couriered over from Hasbro, and contains the latest information on new products that must be featured in future issues of Transformers. By this point, the engineering has gotten less interesting, and the toys can be changed in about two or three moves. Quite often these days, they are accompanied by a humanoid shell to contain them in, like a a sarcophagus with arms that can only rotate at the shoulders. A quick glance of the villains line-up reveals it looking more and more like the cover to an Iron Maiden single.
On top of that, with Budiansky departing the American book, it seems the personalities of the toys have fallen into the doldrums, with each character little amounting to endless variations of “he is so bad, so very, very bad”, “he is soooooo good it hurts”, “he is evil because he is mental and robots don’t do meds” or “he’s sort of a good guy, but if we’re honest he’s a bit of a wank”.
Now, if you’re one of the cartoon writers, you stare into the mirror, remind yourself you’re too good for this shit and that you’re only in it for the money, so you recycle the plot of some other show you wrote, and have the new villain you’ve been requested to début elect to secretly build some giant weather-controlling device, or hypnosis booth or some shite, and have him turn up at the end as the mastermind of it all, to get his ass kicked.
But, you’re not one of those guys. You are Simon Furman. Simon Furman only has one question in his head EVER. “How can I make this guy interesting so that he’ll be remembered long after I kill him to bits?”.
September 21st, 2011
Huge spoilers from the start
I struggled with this one for all of five seconds until I remembered that my favourite TV series ends as it began, with the threat of many more bodies wrapped in plastic
The battle between BOB, the evil spirit that haunts the woods surrounding Twin Peaks, and Special Agent Dale Cooper, is nothing less than a Manichean struggle between good and evil. BOB is the home invader, the predatory paedophile, the serial killer. He’s every tabloid nightmare made fantasmal flesh. Worse, he’s the madness that made the good man Leland Palmer rape and kill his daughter, Laura, wrap her corpse in plastic and throw it in the river. Dale Cooper on the other hand is the answer to the question, what if Buddha were a policeman? In constant communication via dictaphone with his forever absent personal assistant cum spirit guide, Diane, Cooper’s a coffee loving, pastry chomping saint with a badge. The kindly face of authority come to rescue us from All Bad Men, and guess what? He fails, and he fails catastrophically.
September 15th, 2011
Hooray! It’s the 80s! Reaganomics forever unshackles money from concrete notions of labour and production! Credit and finance win forever! But wait: the American psyche becomes suspicious – it can smell something is not right. How can wealth no longer be attached to the creation of tangible value? What about the vast and mighty powerhouses of industry and agriculture (and forcible ‘freeing up’ of overseas markets – but forget about that for today) that American prosperity was built on? Are these going to rot? Is money just going to be a run of digits now, moved from place to place, percentages creamed-off for the great and the good to grow very fat on while the working man is left to suffer and starve? It is? Well that’s just unAmerican dammit! That’s dishonest, effeminate even – positively European in its emasculate, corrupted chicanery.
September 5th, 2011
“A Screaming Comes Across the Sky…”
They dared me to do this one.
“…It never ends.”
To be critically viable, you’d have to change more than a character – you’d have to change a whole world. But no matter what changes you made, a story without him in a major role – one of the largest roles – you’d be kneecapping yourself at the outset. He has always been, after all, one of the best of them.
(Image by Guido Guidi)
Well, maybe best is the wrong word.