Homeschool Sex Machine

By Matthew Pierce

Book Cover: Homeschool Sex MachineI don’t even remember what internet rabbit hole led me to Matthew Pierce’s blog, but the entries I read were funny enough that I decided it was worth $2.99 to get them compiled in his kindle book. The author was primarily homeschooled up to 10th grade, and he describes the experience, and that niche community, hilariously and self-deprecatingly. I kept expecting some anger or bitterness, but he writes respectfully, if briefly, about his religiously conservative parents, and ultimately affectionately about his upbringing.

I got a little grumpy about it, actually, and ended up having to face some personal bias against religious conservatism that I would have preferred to ignore in myself. Personal issues aside, though, it was a really interesting and entertaining look a childhood much, much different from my own. He has a sequel about attending a Christian college, which I look forward to reading just as soon as I work up some acceptance for Christian colleges.

In case this review has not already made my religious lack clear, I have tested as being damned to an inner circle of Dantes’ Hell. Rebecca found an online quiz that tells you where you belong in the 9 circles, and it was all fun and games as every other member of my family headed off to limbo to hang out with famous philosophers, and then I was consigned to burn in sepulchers with all the other heretics.

—Anna

The Dante’s Inferno Test has banished you to the Sixth Level of Hell – The City of Dis!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

Level Score
Purgatory (Repending Believers) Very Low
Level 1 – Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers) Moderate
Level 2 (Lustful) Low
Level 3 (Gluttonous) High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious) Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy) Moderate
Level 6 – The City of Dis (Heretics) Very High
Level 7 (Violent) High
Level 8 – The Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers) Moderate
Level 9 – Cocytus (Treacherous) Moderate

Take the Dante’s Inferno Hell Test

Darths & Droids

Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 7.16.08 PMDarths & Droids
by The Comic Irregulars (Andrew Coker, Andrew Shellshear, David Karlov, David McLeish, David Morgan-Mar, Steven Irrgang, Ian Boreham and Loki Patrick)
and, of course, Lucas Films
2007 – present (and ongoing)

So, I’m currently reading book 3 of this series, while the authors are still regularly updating book 6. And, with the soon-to-be released Star Wars episode 7, I’m sure hoping the authors continue to write a book 7.

Because this is a graphic novel parody re-telling of the Star Wars movies and it is hilarious!

I actually blasted my way through Books 1 and 2 and am now laughing my way through Episode 3, even as I also go back to Episodes 1 and 2 to laugh at that over Anna’s shoulder as she reads it.

The great thing about this is that it doesn’t actually deviate from the plot (as best as I can tell, although I admittedly don’t really remember the movies all that well) – it uses screen captures for the illustrations. The parody aspect comes with the fact that it’s told as the adventures of a Dungeons & Dragons style role playing game and has the dialogue of the players, both in and out of character, overlaying the events. And let me tell you: all the things that make no sense in the movies, suddenly make all sorts of perfect (and perfectly hilarious) sense when you see the motivations of the players making the decisions.

I have no real interest in role playing games, but this almost tempts me to try because it’s so funny, except that then I remember that I find them kind of tedious. It doesn’t matter, though: this makes it look fun and awesome! And the author’s comments below each page are also hilarious bits of commentary either on making that particular update or on the joys/frustrations of role playing games.

Plus, I had not thought it possible to be absolutely charmed by Jar Jar Binks, but apparently I can be. And I really want to tell you all about the hilarious things that happen (Shmi! Sally! “Summon bigger fish”!) but once I started, there’d be no end and you really just need to go start reading it yourself.

Go forth and read Darths & Droids: here!

I’m also going to include a couple of other somewhat related links, which are well worth exploring too:

DM of the Rings: Darths & Droids was originally inspired by DM of the Rings, another webcomic parody with the same premise of role playing gamers being the Lord of the Rings characters. It’s also hilarious, although I think Darths & Droids does it even better, in part at least because the Star Wars movies are active/ludicrous enough to support going through it scene by scene, while DM of the Rings necessarily skips over large sections.

Star Wars: Before The Force Awakens (original Korean: “스타워즈: 깨어난 포스 그 이전의 이야기”) by Hong Jacga is actually a fully licensed and approved addition to Star Wars that is also a free online webcomic being regularly updated. It’s also beautifully illustrated and adds scenes of Luke Skywalker’s early life even as it retells much of the story of the original trilogy.

I’m Not A Terrorist, But I’ve Played One On TV

By Maz Jobrani

Book Cover: I'm Not A Terrorist, But I've Played One on TVI first read an article in GQ by Jon Ronson (who I love) about Maz Jobrani and other actors of Middle Eastern descent, and about how they are only offered roles as terrorists. The actors describe all the different ways they are killed by the heroes, over and and over again, and how frustrating it is to get no other roles, not to mention feeding into negative stereotypes of your culture in order to make a living. Because it is Jon Ronson, too, it is depressing, but also a bit funny.

I thought it was a really interesting piece on something I had literally given zero thought to before, so when the article mentioned Jobrani’s memoir, I checked it out from the library that day. Jobrani, an Iranian-American, started as an actor, but turned to stand-up comedy when he decided that he didn’t want to play terrorists any more, which I think was a good move since his book made me laugh out loud several times.

Jobrani is an extremely positive person, disappointed by the anti-Middle-East sentiment in the US, but focused on creating a more positive presence. For my own part, I like humor that is a bit angrier and more biting, especially when it comes to social justice issues. However, even his light-hearted jokes revealed how little I know about Iran and the rest of the Middle East and this is a very easy way to learn some very basic truths about Middle Eastern culture. Jobrani has a lot of videos up on YouTube and is a semi-regular on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, so check him out!

—Anna

Interesting eBooks

First of all, I’d like to concur with Kinsey’s statement that we are not the sort of people that read a lot because we don’t watch TV; people are amazed at how many books and how much TV we are able to fit into our schedules, as well as our fair share of internet browsing.

Speaking of the internet, I bought a couple of very unusual e-books online over the last month based on Tumblr recommendations that are both absolutely ridiculous and sort of weirdly complementary.

Inspector Pancakes Helps the President of France

By Karla Pacheco and Maren Marmulla

Book Cover: Inspector PancakesInspector Pancakes is a picture book based on those old-school Golden Books in which Inspector Pancakes, a dog detective, helps the president of France track the thief who has been stealing his breakfast croissants. Or at least that’s the regular text. The really ingenious idea behind this is that it is two stories; each page has large bold text for the children’s story, and then much smaller italic text for the adult side, in which Pancakes is actually tracking down the brutal murderer of Parisian prostitutes.

The idea is just brilliant, and the pictures are adorable! The problem is the writing. For this type of thing the writing has to be as tight and spot-on as possible in order to work, and it just isn’t. The connection between the two stories is extremely tenuous and the pictures correspond with the children’s story without any winky reference to the adult story that would help tie them together.

Rebecca and I were brainstorming ways of correcting this problem, and we both agreed that the adult section has to be much more complex. It could be longer, of course, which would help, but theoretically at least, a skilled author could make an extremely powerful short story in just a few sentences. Rebecca thought that the author relied too heavily on ultra-violence to make the adult half stand out, and while I agreed that she needed more to it, I thought the violence was a funny contrast to the pictures.

Sextrap Dungeon

By Kurt Knox

Book Cover: Sextrap DungeonOn the other hand, there is Sextrap Dungeon, which had a promotional free download day a little while ago, so I figured what the hell. I have to say now that I highly recommend it (for adult audiences)! It is a choose-your-adventure book where you play a pick-up artist out to get some action on a Saturday night. (You are asked to select male or female at the beginning, but if you select female, you are told that’s ridiculous, and to try again. You then also have the option of how many dicks you’d like.)

The whole thing is super tongue-in-cheek, with a pretty surprising feminist slant, and mostly ends very poorly for your character. There are three “levels” and you graduate up levels by getting some action. Spoiler(?): I graduated up one level by getting a blow job from a Nazi stripper. It truly is a joke book, and not intended to be erotica at all, so there are no graphic descriptions of the sex (the violence is slightly more graphic, but still not extreme) – it is basically at the level of an extremely dirty joke. Think of a choose-your-own-adventure version of The Aristocrats, though actually a bit cleaner than that.

—Anna

A Girl and Her Fed by K.B. Spangler

First: Happy American Independence Day!

Then we get to the part where I have various concerns regarding my country. I love it, but oof, there are some things that need to change. A Captain America: Winter Soldier fanvid that I particularly appreciate sums it up best by changing the chords of the Star Spangled Banner from major to minor. Just the music change, changes the connotations of the classic question from “does my country of freedom and bravery still exist?” to “is my country that exists still free and brave?” And given the recent prevalence of fear-mongering and preemptive actions, the second question is a timely one.

Anyway, on the same note but with a much cheerier tone: have an absolutely hilarious webcomic all about government surveillance, government conspiracies, non-government conspiracies, presidential ghosts, and some pretty raunchy jokes:

 

AGirlandHerFed_4574A Girl and Her Fed
by K.B. Spangler
2007 – present

This is awesome! It’s a webcomic, but that doesn’t really capture it, because it’s also a serial story and a graphic novel. While each update is quite awesome on its own, it’s very plot-driven and I highly recommend starting at the beginning and reading through to the end.

Of course, it’s not actually ended. Spangler is currently working her way through chapter 10 (updates twice a week!). However, the introduction thru Chapter 6 make up an entire plot arc. Chapter 7 starts with a quick montage of the next five years and then proceeds with the next plot arc, five years after the close of Chapter 6.

The premise (without any spoilers: this gets covered in the first 5 pages) is that a journalist who speaks to the ghost of Benjamin Franklin is on the terrorist watch list after an article on civil liberties. The fed in charge of monitoring her was part of a secret government experiment that implanted a cybernetic computer chip in his brain that includes an interface avatar that looks like George W. Bush.

And conspiracies abound!

Our two main characters have widely divergent political leanings but they’re both good intentioned. And our primary main character (the titular “Girl”) is incredibly outspoken and, while she has doubts about what to do, she is fearless in doing what she decides to do. Which is often incredibly dangerous and maybe she should be a bit more fearful, and yet, I love her because she is not.

There’s also a talking koala, Speedy. Speedy was the result of another government experiment, who is very smart and capable and yet remains very much a sexually-mature male koala (think tom-cat, except koala.) Speedy is largely the reason this story is PG-13 at minimum.

The whole thing is a joy to read and I love it. You should read it too!

You can read the author’s About the Story here (the webcomic equivalent of the back of the book.)

Or you can just dive in and start reading here.

Also, the art is lovely. I wouldn’t give a positive review of a graphic story if the graphic portion wasn’t good. Something to note is that Spangler developed a great deal artistically over time, and while she’s gone back and started redoing earlier pages to match up with the more mature art style, there’s a couple of chapters in the middle that are still significantly rougher than the rest. It’s not bad, by any means, but it is a bit jarring to hit that point where it starts to look like a rough draft to the final version rather than the final version.

But still: lovely!

Go read it!

 

For a quick laugh: 3 Fanfiction plus 1 Nonfiction

It’s been a while since anyone’s posted, so I’m going to recommend four short stories that are crazy good for a laugh. Two of them are so short that they don’t even have titles, but still, go read them!

LINK for FIC
by kyraneko

Fandom: crossover between State Farm Insurance Commercials and All State Insurance Commercials

Original Inspiration for Fic: “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there” we chant, and another agent appears in the pentagram. He screams. The Dark Lord feasts tonight.

LINK for FIC
by paginationline

Fandom: Marvel’s Avengers comic books

Original Inspiration for Fic: “Clint.”
“I know—“
“You have the army after you and no health and you’re falling out of a crashing plane.”
“I know, Nat—“
“It’s a bass fishing simulator, Clint.”
“I know! It just—it just happens!”

LINK for FIC: Your Highnessness
By shadydave

Fandom: crossover between Guardians of the Galaxy and Jupiter Ascending

Summary: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far a—
Yeah, I know that’s not when it happened, but that’s how you start this kind of—
I don’t know, do I look like George Lucas?
No, he made the movie. No, it doesn’t have Kevin Bacon. Not everything has Kevin Bacon!
Of course it’s still good!
Fine, you dicks. If you think you know better than one of the greatest stories of the human race:
A short time ago, in this galaxy…

LINK for FIC: So I used to be a martial artist
By textuallyaroused

Fandom: nonfiction, autobiographical

Example paragraph: Now, Sensei Diven was not a stupid man and he hated high-ranking kids that showed a bad attitude. This kid had a bad attitude. So he must have seen the evil gleam in my eye from a mile away and decided it was time for a little improvisation.

Thug Notes

Like Anna, I’m a bit embarrassed to make this next recommendation during Black History Month because while this is awesome and by black creators and celebrating black culture, it shouldn’t be restricted to just the one month. This isn’t just awesome within the context of black culture, it’s just plain awesome.

Thug Notes is a YouTube series of videos and it is AWESOME! And I really wish it had been available when I was in high school. These videos take classic books and, in about 5 minutes each, summarizes the plot and talks about the main literary analysis.

  • Great Expectations, which I slogged through in high school and just got entirely bogged down in the details, laid out nice and neat in 5 minutes.
  • Lord of the Flies, which I never managed to get past the first page of, broken down for me and presented.
  • Pride & Prejudice, which I have read way too many times and absolutely love, getting shown in a new light that I hadn’t noticed before.

What makes them particularly funny is that they’re all narrated by Sparky Sweets, PhD, coming at you from the Houston Rap subculture and he is keeping it real about what these homeboys of literature are up to, from a set straight out of Master Piece theater with all of its proper British overtones.

The implied culture clash is hilarious mostly because no clash is ever actually realized. As Jared Bauer, one of the creators, says:

The idea behind Thug Notes was always that ‘the joke is that there is no joke…’ because the analysis is just so accurate and so smart.

There are 64 of them (so far) and they are just brilliant. Go check them out!