Gonzo Blockbusters

Having struggled on numerous occasions to adequately sum up my (what felt like) extremely niche love of huge, colourful, stuff-packed and beautifully pointless movies (I refer you to Valerian and the City of a Bunch of Wossnames, Mortal Engines, Aquaman, Mad Max[1]…), I was really pleased to see this video from Patrick (H) Willems.

[1] Okay, some of them had some point. But it doesn’t matter.

Let me just say it.

I don’t have a lot to add to his summation, obviously I agree wholeheartedly. The creation is the point and I could watch it for days and make no further demands on the filmmaker. It’s life-force sucked out of the adorable muppets of popular culture by the remorseless dark crystal of my imagination (oh yeah, shout out to the classics, as well as Del Toro’s contributions to this area[2] which went unsung in Willems’s video but deserve a place). And I love it.

[2] I haven’t reviewed the original Hellboy movies as far as I recall, so the non-Del-Toro reboot will have to stand in, link-wise.

I may still be a non-load-bearing demographic for making these movies successful. But as my esteemed colleague and friend Mr. Bloom of Toisto says, we may be entering a phase of pop culture where the play-it-safe 200 million dollar blockbuster is unsupportable by cinema takings, allowing two hundred utterly fucking bonkers 1 million dollar streaming movies to take its place. And that is no bad thing for creative liberty.

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Oræl Rides to War, a musical anniversary spectacular

Today is the 1st of September, 2020. On this day, twenty years ago, my cute Internet girlfriend and I faced the magistrate and became Mr. and Mrs. Hatboy. A day or so later I was deported. Good times.

I have a lot to say about the extraordinary woman I was lucky enough to marry, but I like to dress it up as other topics (this is how we keep things fresh after so long). So I’ll say a few words here about my ongoing book trilogy, Oræl Rides to War. And at the same time I will inflict, like, a lot of Chris de Burgh on you. I like to think that the amount it will enrage my wife to have her praises sung to the tune of ’80s wusspop is proportional to the amount I love her.

Oræl Rides to War is, in a lot of ways, the story of my adult life. And its soundtrack is one that was seared onto my soul as an ’80s kid with ’80s teenager siblings.

Bad Cow, the first book in the trilogy, is a bit of a hot mess (as previously discussed). I started writing it back in the late ’90s[1], as I was increasingly finding myself an outsider in a life that I’d never realised I could just up and leave. Which I did, in mid-2000. New Century[2], new me. So of course Sailing Away is a key song in that book’s makeup.

[1] I had started work on the reverse and mythos of my expanded work earlier in the ’90s, but the Archangel Barry didn’t connect up to it until later.

[2] I know it was the last year of the previous Century but three zeroes fucking means something damn it.

It’s worth noting that Moonlight and Vodka is also an amusingly appropriate song for this period of my life, because of where I moved to and the mild but all in all pretty chill regret I felt over moving (the line about the beer, though, is entirely accurate; Finland’s beer game is a solid fifteen years behind Australia’s). I didn’t move from Los Angeles to Moscow, but Perth and Vantaa are off-brand close enough.

This is why Bad Cow was a bit of a hodgepodge. It was written by a kid with no real idea what story he was trying to tell, and was only finished a solid eighteen years later.

The second book in the trilogy, Greyblade, was building on something a bit more solid. Don’t Pay the Ferry Man, of course, was referenced right there in the book and was a driving theme. Yes, Highwayman (by Jimmy Webb) is also in there very literally (or indeed literarily), but we’re doing a Chris de Burgh theme for whatever reason so let’s stick with it.

While Bad Cow didn’t really have a theme aside from lost souls finding their way through uncomfortable events, Greyblade and the Last War of Independence at its core was very much inspired by the rise of xenophobic and isolationist governments across the western world. From Brexit to the True Crims to that giant mad dumpster fire in the US, it seemed as though there was no limit to the self-destruction humanity could wreak on itself in the name of hatred of anything Other. Chris de Burgh has some darkness in him but nothing that could adequately convey that sort of dreary, squalid evil.

The third and up-coming book, The Last Days of Earth, is all about humanity’s brilliance dooming itself. It’s an apocalyptic tale, as the name might suggest, and while the climate crisis is ancient history on 37th Century Earth, that is what the story is self-evidently about (but don’t take my word for it, mine is just one opinion).

As for music, The Last Days of Earth can only be a tribute to Transmission Ends. Very much the soundtrack of my creative life. When, at the beginning of The Final Fall of Man‘s timeline, the Molran Fleet arrived at Earth and told humanity “be quiet or they’ll hear you,” it was Chris de Burgh’s alien beings I was thinking of, picking up Earth’s jabbering. I’ve known how the world ends since 1984, and now I’m working on finally putting it to words.

But in all of this waffling about myself and my journey and my silly books, where does my muse come into it? Well, the short answer is, everywhere.

For the past twenty years, there’s been another song in my head. It’s the over-arching song of my writing, and of my whole world.

And as I start feeling my way around the edges of this whole depression thing, this is a profound realisation I’ve arrived at. This is where I find peace.

Always, she is standing by my side,
She’s my inspiration, and she’s my battle cry,
And in her arms is the only place I know,
Where peaceful waters flow.

Happy anniversary, Miffle. I love you more than my ability to words.

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How’s the weather?

I was given this idea by our esteemed new Hatstander Toon. At first I was a bit flummoxed by it, but then I realised that it was really quite interesting.

Toon wants to know what the weather is like all over this big troubled human-infested planet of ours. In these difficult pandemical times, with the climate crisis beginning to roll into unstoppable motion, it might help us all feel a little closer to one another. And provide a snapshot in the old online journal, which is what this is meant to be anyway.

So, the game is simple. Add a comment about what the weather is like, wherever you are in the world. Send me an email (st.chucky [at] gmail.com) with a picture if you can be bothered, and I’ll whack it up. Add a picture to your comment if you have the mad skills for it.

Short of the Internet and WordPress collapsing entirely (I read something about sharks the other day but it was mostly recycled hysteria from five years ago), this will give us something to look back on and laugh.

So what’s the weather like in Sotunki, Finland, at the end of summer? Well, the very question is typical of a person from Perth, Western Australia. My parents are always asking me the same. The truth is, in a three-hour stretch we can get all of the weather. It’s hot. It’s humid. It’s windy. It’s thundering. It’s cold. It’s raining. There’s sleet. The weather can be pretty much anything at any time. There’s no point asking.

We won’t even notice when the climate crisis happens. Last year we had like three slushy snowfalls and that was it, all winter. That was fucking weird. This summer? It’s been about the same as always.

These pictures were all taken on different days but they could have all been taken on the same afternoon.

Here’s a picture Toon sent me of the weather in Western Australia, looking out towards  Wadjemup (aka. Rottnest Island). Looks about perfect to me.

As you can see, people in Perth are used to being able to see the weather coming.

So what about in your neck of the woods? What’s the weather like?

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Today I’ve Mostly…

…been listening to a song. That doesn’t end.

Okay, so long story short, brilliant Australian performer and activist and “your Internet mum” Jordan Raskopolous decided to celebrate #wearitpurpleday by breaking the world record for the longest stint singing The Song That Doesn’t End.

And she went for it on Twitch.

As of press time, we were at 1 hour 20 minutes, and her plan is to smash the record so there’s still plenty of time to check in and drop a donation. I should warn you though, Twitch is a lot. I think this is the first time a social media service has made me feel old.

Oh well, back to work. Just taking a little coffee break before returning to the office laptop, while in the background the song goes on and on my friend…

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Darling’s Day

The sky was weeping tears of ash
At dawn on Darling’s Day.
The stones of Heaven high above
Looked down with not a glimpse of love
As we walked with heads and voices raised
Our hearts gave lie our steely gaze
All ‘neath the world’s dark eaves.

There in darkness full we marched
Marched e’en unto our fate
We knew our duty, yea, our will
We never asked a thing
I fancied Oræl strode the land
I fancied then I saw his hand
And darkling, spread his wings.

Then! We saw it, blinding bright
In burning rage, a nest
Awaiting judgement one and all
T’was a mess large o’ dragons possessed
O’ fiery, fiery breath, it was!
And in their eyes a judgement, yea,
A judgement, and our deaths.

Darling’s Day was when I met
The darkest truth of all.
And what I saw, it broke my heart
I fell beneath the pall
I begged to all the powers above
I pleaded as I felt my love
Wither, curl, and fall.

On Darling’s Day all that was fine
Within us passed away
Our quest for freedom came to lie
Angels fled on broken wings
Fire ate the trees that sing
Life, it is a broken thing
This I learned
On Darling’s Day.

Darling’s Day, from The Book of Sloane

I wrote about the Battle of Darling’s Day, at least in passing, in my book Greyblade. It was essentially the first of the culminating battles of the Last War of Independence in 2583 AD, when the human race turned prototype weapons powered by the trapped souls of the dead on every non-human in sight. There weren’t many actual enemies by that stage but xenophobic humanity convinced themselves that their former allies, and surrendered non-combatants, were enemies – and slaughtered them all. It spelled the end of the Dragons, the Ogres, and the Burning Knights at least, and many others that went unmentioned. It wasn’t the final battle of the war, but it was the point of no return.

Why I named it Darling’s Day is funny, on the face of it. The name will always immediately call to my mind the obsequious, cowardly, pencil-pushing character in the TV series Blackadder. The interesting thing about his character was, while he typified everything contemptible in the human race, by the end of the series he also shows everything mad and horrifying about war, and shows a glimmer of the soul of humanity that I have a hard time finding on a good day.

Captain Darling spends the entire series sneering down his nose at the soldiers on the front line, particularly his rival Captain Blackadder. He questions Blackadder’s courage, loyalty, and morality at every turn (often quite rightly), from his safe place back at headquarters. Their mutual loathing, not to mention his name itself, is played for laughs. However, when Darling is shipped to the front by the foaming madman in charge, he is greeted with gallows empathy. He realises Blackadder was right to want to get away. They all realise he didn’t want to come and they don’t blame him. They welcome him as a fellow victim of the insanity. And then they all get fucking butchered.

The comedy turns to tragedy really fucking hard, as you realise that this humourous look at the First World War was actually about a real war that really happened, and millions were slaughtered. All the stupid pranks, the rivalry, the dislike, none of it mattered. In the final seconds of the series, they are all just meat in the grinder and while there’s nothing funny about it at all, there is something darkly glorious in there. If you blink away the tears and look closely enough.

Anyway, that’s why I named the most tragic and senseless moment in future history in homage to this character. The poem itself? Its chaotic jumbled structure and wording is very deliberate, but it’s a bit of a longer story.

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Daily pick-me-up

Once again I had a couple of things underway for posting, and once again I am trying to write, but instead I went for another walk because it seemed like the thing to do. The rest can wait.

I was amused to find that this cool song, from a movie that is rapidly becoming one of the movies I most enjoy watching (in no small part because my firstborn loves it and is a giant Sonic fangirl), was actually done by X Ambassadors. A couple of years back another of their songs, Renegades, made my playlist because it’s cool.

So anyway, have a fun and groovy song, with solidly moving lyrics (if not precisely as uplifting as the tune) to brighten your whatever-time-of-day.

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Actual Hat Post

Because the universe just keeps on having a great sense of humour and nobody appreciates it, today Hatboy’s Hatstand is proud to present a blog post actually about hats for once. And it’s nothing to do with me, but rather Mrs. Hatboy.

My talented and slightly crazy wife has gone into business upcycling hats.

A while ago, she began collecting hats from the local recycling centre, and collecting assorted decorations and vintage buttons from people selling them online. Then things escalated when she invited a lovely quadruple amputee named Mabel to come and live with us as a hatmaker’s model.

Mabel now lives in the attic, where presumably she spends her days between photoshoots looking after the reject children I’ve told Wump and Toop live up there.

“Orange Octopus” can be yours for the modest sum of €40.

This is about a week early but makes good practice for our anniversary speech: I am constantly amazed and proud of the just absolute madness and creativity that is encapsulated in such an adorable little package. In between the hats, she is also making an approximately one-quintillion-stitch cross-stitch of Khal Drogo, working as a beloved and invaluable educator for special needs kids, carrying the entire village of Sotunki kicking and screaming into the 21st Century, and wrangling two impossibly goony daughters and a massive hairy misery-guts of a husband from one crisis to the next with all the skill and tenacity of a circus lion-tamer.

Buy a hat, then doff it in absolute respect.

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John Hunter

Today I was saddened to read of the passing of John Hunter. John was a true legend of the Perth Highland Pipe Band, President of the PHPB for 20 years and granted life membership when he retired in 2000, just as I was leaving Western Australia.

There are many top blokes in the short lifetime I spent in Australia, and whom I remember with great fondness and respect. John was among the toppest. A truly classy and decent gent, always ready with a kind word and good humour.

Also he talked me and another bandmate past the bouncers and into a fancy Perth nightclub to celebrate the PHPB’s 50th anniversary when we were seventeen and had no ID, using nothing but pure diplomacy and the absolute choicest quality bulldust. Maybe not the most legal move, but one which spoke to a higher morality.

john

When I was later shamed into confessing to him that we were not in fact over the age of eighteen at the time, he said with a twinkle, “you know, I had a feeling you weren’t, but you lads were members of the band and you deserved to come and celebrate with us. The important thing is that you had a top night.”

Thank you for your service and your friendship, sir. The world is a darker place for your light going out – but you showed many, many people how to carry a lantern.

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Hatboy’s Triangle of Undiagnosed-General-Sadness-Avoidance

Today I thought I’d share a little theory with you. I call it … you already saw the title of the blog post, that’s it, that’s what I call it.

Okay, alright. I give you: Hatboy’s Triangle of Undiagnosed-General-Sadness-Avoidance.

Ta da.

This extremely fucking basic self-care triangle is based loosely on the “fast / cheap / good; pick two” business model. But the variables are writing / clean / happy exercise chemicals. And you don’t just pick two. Here’s how it breaks down (and I hopefully avoid doing the same).

  • Writing: This one’s pretty self-explanatory. There’s a reason breathing isn’t on this triangle but writing is.
  • Clean: This is a pretty basic one. I have a lot of hair and I poop into a bag glued to my abdomen. As long as I shampoo and comb the hair (with the invaluable and loving assistance of Mrs. Hatboy) on a weekly basis, and wash the actual literal shit off my stomach daily, I’m good.
  • Happy exercise chemicals: A solid 5 km / 1 hour walk. Daily.

If I have all three of these things, I am great. Couldn’t be happier (with the obvious caveats of “a couple fewer hatemongers in my immediate circle” and “just millions and millions of euros so I didn’t have to worry about stuff all the time”).

If I have any two of these things, I’m good. I can function more or less indefinitely without spiralling into stare-at-the-walls bleakness.

I can live with only one out of three, but the one has to be writing.

That’s it. That’s the triangle.

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Hatboy’s Check-In

Where am I at, this sunny August 20th? Well, I’m at home, in my home office, taking a lunch break and writing up a blog post because I haven’t done one in ages. I have a lot of drafts ready to go, but nothing to post yet.

So it’s a check-in.

Work is busy. Hopefully it won’t become so busy that I break, but will also remain busy through the end of the year so I get another year’s contract at our current customer who has not gone tits-up because of the ‘rona. That, I would definitely classify as a priority – and it doesn’t look like finding work to do is going to be difficult.

Wump and Toop are both at school now, which seems to be going well. Mrs. Hatboy is also back at school and enjoying it. The woman is a gift to education and schools are right to fight over her.

I finished writing The Last Alicorn a couple of weeks back. 287 pages, 116,325 words in its draft doc. Now I’m editing it and drawing pictures. The editing is actual editing this time around, because there’s a bunch of backstory and detail I really don’t need and I’m forcing myself to cut it in favour of more jokes and fun. Also the pictures are going to add some bulk to the doc so I’m trying to think of ways around that (cheers to Aaron, incidentally, for pointing me in the direction of a potential editing tool – I still haven’t checked it out because I’m not to that stage yet, but I have my concerns about the publishers’ template just not holding up).

Sooner or later, I hope, I will have an actual draft for my editorial team to read. And I hope I have an editorial team.

I’m also still writing The Last Days of Earth. I complain about this a lot and right now I’m still feeling pretty okay about it all, but I have not been able to write. Not only have I been rendered pretty much exhausted by the pandemic situation, but I’m getting no time to myself, I haven’t had a write night since my weekend at the beginning of the month where I finished The Last Alicorn, there are just too many interruptions. Even talking about it depresses me so I’m going to stop.

We have plumbing and water damage renovation work going on at home. Basically this means no peace, even at work. I have to leave my office door open in case I’m needed to show the workers where shit is. It’s distracting and annoying, although admittedly it’s still better than working in an open floorplan office. Also, our water situation is variable.

All in all, I can’t complain. I mean, I can, and I do, but it’s fine.

On the lighter side, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion released an amazing song called WAP.

“He bought a phone just for pictures of this [Wireless Application Protocol].”
– B, Stallion et al.

Absolute hilarity ensued as the weenies of the conservative right (mainly weenies of the conservative right poster-boy Ben Shapiro, but apparently Tucker Carlson has also started wringing his hands) lost their tiny, tiny minds over it in what has to be the greatest endorsement of popular culture that has ever occurred.

Man, I hope the artists paid Shapiro well for punching himself in the testicles.

Shapiro’s outraged reading of the lyrics not only made it almost instantly into YouTube remixes, but it lent itself to effortless meme-ing. Like the “you laugh, you lose” challenge.

And it only got better when he cited Dr. Shapiro, his wife, who insisted that a wet pussy is a sign of some hospital-worthy yeast infection or other ailment.

Sweet merciful Christ, this poor woman.

Wow.

So anyway, that happened.

How have you all been?

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