Wednesday, July 30, 2014

News You Can't Use: FremantleMedia North America & Jeff Gaspin To Revive ‘To Tell the Truth’

Apparently televised game shows not only still exist, but are enjoying a sort of pathetic renaissance were programs that first aired when Eisenhower was in office are being brought back, for want of any better new ideas. It's a lot easier than trying to create something new, or even, God help you, intellectually challenging. Here's the right way. Take a show that acted as a backdrop for the conception of many of today's retirees, add in some exposed female torso and/or lower extremities, maybe a weird touch-freak host or some colorful flashing lights and sit back and count all that money.

To Tell The Truth is eyeing a comeback. FremantleMedia North America has teamed with Jeff Gaspin and George Moll on a new version of the classic celebrity panel game show.

We have harnessed the awesome power of something your great-grandfather watched on a five inch black and white television the size of a refrigerator, two guys I've never heard of and a company that's so broke they can't even afford proper punctuation in their name.

Eyed for primetime on the broadcast networks, the new To Tell The Truth is described as an update of the familiar format with a surprising new twist that adds action and suspense and raises the stakes.

Because we all know how much the assisted living set that's presumably the target audience loves "suspense" and "raised stakes." Hold that Life Alert jewelry tight, you're in for a wild ride!

Created by Bob Stewart, To Tell The Truth launched in the U.S. in 1956

All the best ideas come from the fifties. Diners. Inconclusive anti-domino effect wars in Asia. Dream kitchens and 3-D glasses. All of these things must come back. A little more saber-rattling against North Korea and we'll achieve this very worthy goal.

The original format features a panel of four celebrities who are introduced to three people who all claim to be the same person with the same incredible talent.

The new format will feature one of the lesser Kardashians, a one-hit wonder who needs money (ladies and gentlemen, Young M.C.!), and maybe a washed up actor or two who will be introduced to three people who all claim to have the same unbelievably banal "talent" like texting using fingers other than the thumbs or being America's Vice President.

Former NBC chairman Gaspin, a To Tell The Truth fan, tracked down the format to FremantleMedia, which owns the rights. He also brought in longtime collaborator Moll. The two, along with Gay Rosenthal, created and produced one of VH1′s signature series, Behind The Music.

So they're already used to creating Old Skew dreck.

Once a primetime staple, game shows largely have migrated to daytime and early fringe, where they do very well.

Right up there with Judge Sassy Older Woman and hour-long infomercials for a technical school that teaches you how to repair torpedo tubes on Great War-era submarines.

"Are you now, or have your ever been, a Communist?"

Recent game shows that have had successful primetime runs include Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Deal Or No Deal and Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader? (all spawning syndicated versions) as well as the current NBC series Hollywood Game Night.

If you were wondering whether turning the moron box off and leaving it off was the right decision, here's your answer.

Komment Korner  

Just how in the heck are they going to do this without Kitty Carlisle?

Obviously won’t be any politicians on the show.

I’m not interested in hearing modern Americans “tell the truth” about their weird sexual practices and the filth they put into their mouths, which is what this program will boil down to.

put obama on that SHOW!!!

Might actually be too smart for viewers these days.

Check Out My Books!

Aaron Zehner is the author of "Posts from the Underground," now available in paperback and e-book. Read free excerpts here and here.

His first novel "The Foolchild Invention" is also available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

News You Can't Use: DUI Suspect Pulled Over While Driving Lawnmower

How can the awful task of reducing the average size of grass blades via mechanized devices be made more tolerable? An answer one individual arrived at was getting loaded on over-priced domestic beer while driving from one bar to the next on the old riding mower. It's sort of like that heart toasting story of that old boy driving a mower across America to see his dying son or whatever, except with less soul-wrenching pathos and a whole lot more vomit, pants-piss and concerned motorists.

A Northern Colorado man was arrested on suspicion on DUI but it was what he was driving that makes this case unusual. He was driving a lawnmower.

No, this wasn't your typical Northern Colorado corksucker climbing behind the wheel and causing havoc, an event which is so common in the N.C. that we don't even bother attempting to document it. This time lawn care was involved, so it's extremely interesting and satisfying to hear about.

Police said Kenneth Welton was driving drunk from bar to bar along a very busy 8th Avenue in Garden City on a riding lawnmower. 

By "very busy" we mean one car, three cows and a few other drunks using whatever improvised means of conveyance were at hand.

“He couldn’t stand on his own. He was showing signs of impairment,” said Weld County Sheriff’s Sgt. Sean Standridge.

Must be that secret, undocumented ingredient they put into beer.

Welton’s driver’s license had been revoked when he was arrested.

I was going to make a snide remark (yeah, big surprise) but with the way the government is expanding I wouldn't be very surprised by the existence of "Lawn Mower Licenses" that must be regularly renewed at great personal expense.

...and hard to drive when you're all to' up.

From jail, Welton, 53, told CBS4 he was not using the lawnmower to get around, but instead to take care of overgrown weeds.

"I'm actually some weird kind of hero." *vomits on self, again*

“It was just surprising, it was just a total shock. What are you kidding me? I haven’t been, I’ve been working, I have been mowing, I haven’t been bar hopping,” said Welton.

Nice to see this guy fully embrace his fictional version of the events netting him a room at the Green Bar Hotel. "Are you kidding? Not being able to stand under your own power is normal! This is America, after all."

"This is not a joke."

"My brother was killed by a drunk on a threshing machine."

Weld County leads Colorado in traffic fatalities. The Weld County Sheriff’s Office wants to change that statistic and prevent any more deaths.

Yeah, that's generally how you'd change it, assuming just arbitrarily lowering the number and saying "Everything's fine now!" is off the table as an option.

“He’s lucky he didn’t hurt somebody or get himself hurt from somebody hitting him,” said Standridge.

Let's try to make a big deal out of this ridiculous story of rural route dysfunction.

The ad-laden source:

Komment Korner  

The cop thinks his tractor is sexy

Driving is a right, not a privilege.

What a disgrace to everyone who has worn a uniform to defend this country. The police in this country ought to be ashamed of themselves!

Thanks for admitting your racism.

Yesterday I saw a guy getting on a moped in front of the grocery store with a case of beer and a bag of ice.

Check Out My Books!

Aaron Zehner is the author of "Posts from the Underground," now available in paperback and e-book. Read free excerpts here and here.

His first novel "The Foolchild Invention" is also available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

News You Can't Use: Driver Who Asked Jesus To Take The Wheel Hit Motorcyclist

Holding on to the wheel of a car is extremely difficult and painful, the sort of long dark night that often forces one to offer sincere prayers to the Creator of the Universe. That or just tell the Unmoved Mover to take the wheel because you think you saw a mostly undamaged Frito in the cracks of the passenger side seat and diving after that is more important than, say, not turning your car into a deadly weapon. Into this equation add a motorsickle riding organ donor with their patented "Eh, looks like I'm gonna die" attitude and you have the sort of story guaranteed to offend everyone except nihilist mass transit riders and who really cares about them.

Usually when someone says “Jesus take the wheel” it’s meant to help them through a rough patch in life.

That or when the Mexican racing team needs to switch drivers at the halfway point.

But police say an Indiana woman took the phrase literally on July 11th, when she took her hands off the steering wheel as she was driving.

If there's one disclaimer that belongs on almost every spiritual issue, it's "don't take this literally."

The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette reports 25-year-old Prionda Hill told authorities she let go of the wheel because “God told her he would take it from here.”

"Okay Prionda, I'm done creating that nebula from nothing and populating a planet a few million light years from Earth with a complete ecosystem, I guess my "CEO of the Universe" duties can wait while I help you out with various banal tasks."

Unfortunately for Anthony Olivery, her car veered off the road and slammed into his motorcycle, throwing him to the ground. Then the car ran over him.

Clearly "bad luck" is the culprit and not almost unbelievable stupidity.

“When I looked at that bumper and looked at that tire, I told myself, today is the day you die,” he told the paper.

Ordinarily I'd be skeptical of this stoic calm in the face of death, but again, motorsickle rider. Every time you get on that "hog" you must be thinking "Yeah, this will probably kill me. I'm fine with that" while making sure to evade those tyrannical helmet laws.

The accident broke all of Olivery’s ribs on his left side, cut his spleen, bruised his kidney and caused severe injuries to his left arm and leg.

It was the least serious motorcycle accident that we have a record of.

Hill kept on going, according to court records, hitting a pickup truck twice and only stopping when her car crashed into an island between two fast food restaurants several blocks away from where she struck Olivery. Officials say she told officers she had a prescription for Vicodin.

So she's basically a dopehead and this cover story about "Take the wheel, Jehovah!" was the best excuse her addled mind could create on short notice.

This is some solid irony.

Hill was arrested and charged with failure to stop after an accident and criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon.

Sorry we added a bunch of irrelevant shaggy dog nonsense to a very straightforward "scumbag does drugs, injures man on sui-cycle" story.

Komment Korner   

I blame Hollywood for giving weak minds the idea that "magic" actually happens.

Probably a senior Obama adviser

What's up with the title of this article referencing Jesus. Obama clearly stated that "we are no longer a Christian nation". The article itself only references God. The separation between Church and Everything Else has been violated here.

The problem here is bad theology.

Piglosi is a hypocrite, and so are her defenders... IE YOU

Check Out My Books!

Aaron Zehner is the author of "Posts from the Underground," now available in paperback and e-book. Read free excerpts here and here.

His first novel "The Foolchild Invention" is also available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Choose Your Own Adventure #11: Mystery of the Maya

After yet another lukewarm space adventure, complete with a heavy-handed "violence is always wrong, pacifism would somehow have defeated Hitler" moral, I'm glad to be back near the start of the series and safely on Planet Earth, all its flaws and too-heavy gravity notwithstanding. This time the aliens will come to us, building a lost civilization and then for some reason kicking the plug out of the wall.

Sadly, we've long passed the point of "Peak Maya" so this does put a bit of a damper on the proceedings. A few years ago they were definitely the "in" ancient civilization, easily displacing the massive Assyria fad that had dominated the nineties. Then it was discovered that the apocalyptic predictions of their amazing ancient calendar weren't any more reliable than some modern day American crank. Ever since that disappointing day when the world failed to end they've fallen back into that second tier of lost civilizations.

Another classic "montage of crazy stuff" cover.

I'm a writer assigned by my New York editor to go find out what happened to the Mayan civilization. It makes sense. When you need the solution to a practical problem and everyone who is actually qualified has failed, you send in an author, preferably a fiction one. This is why that guy who wrote that series of books where Marky-Mark is a secret agent with amnesia or whatever became our national military adviser after Nine Eleven.

Mayan history is laid out in efficient prose, covering their rise and fall in about three paragraphs. We're here for the choices not a dull lecture, after all. I arrive in the Yucatan and am greeted by Manuel, who I immediately and quite arbitrarily decide must be a descendent of the fallen empire I'm searching for. I mean, sure, why not? Add in a few flowery descriptions, assign both credit and blame to space men and I should have the next sure-fire best seller.

Is such a thing even possible? 

I get an offer to see some professor-type, but hard won experience has taught that this is a bad idea. Instead I want to go right to the "ruins" where I'll use my author superpowers to notice hidden details that were missed by thousands of trained archeologists. I get a choice between Chichen Itza and Uxmal and decide to go with Uxmal in much the same way I'd skip the Pyramids and Sphinx in Egypt and instead try to find some of the charred remains of the Library of Alexandria out in the desert somewhere. You've got to off-road to get the big scoops, obviously.

Despite picking the less trendy spot, there's "crowds of people" and I "wish I was alone." Yeah, tell me about it. I decide to check out something called the "Temple of Magicians," but get blocked by the crowd of gawking ugly Americans, camera-permanently-strapped-to-head Japanese and whatever negative stereotype that I'm not familiar with is applied to European tourists. While being frustrated by this crush of Temple aficionados an old man offers to take my to a "very deep water hole." You don't say no to that kind of offer.

   The new cover, completed with "rapper pose." Let me drop some lost civilization on you, sucker!

I follow the old man into the jungle, but instead of a totally righteous cistern I'm surrounded by armed criminals, having fallen for the old "Have a harmless senior citizen promise a well of some sort" ploy that every travel guide warns you about. They take my money and then strap me to a donkey. I'm going to be held for ransom. I wonder if my friends and family will be able to raise the needed funds and the story ends right there. Yet another forgotten victim of trusting the elderly and being way too into the idea of extracting water from the earth.

The ending was abrupt and I didn't really get to do anything, but overall this one seemed to hold a lot of promise. The writing is actually pretty solid, there's a nice exotic setting and a goal to aim for. By R.A. Montgomery standards this is in the top 10%, easily. Too bad I promptly blundered into a rejected torture pornography script. 

The normal aging process gets you. The End.

Check Out My Books!

Aaron Zehner is the author of "Posts from the Underground," now available in paperback and e-book. Read free excerpts here and here.

His first novel "The Foolchild Invention" is also available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

News You Can't Use: Judge Nixes Nutter Administration Attempt To Tax Lap Dances at Strip Clubs

Sleazy thrills are the bread and vegetables of the psyche and as such, logically, should be as equally resistant to taxation as their physical counterparts. The right to "back rooms," "You'll get more grinding for an extra $10" and quasi-prostitution in general has recently come under fire from over-reaching Big Government, kicking off yet another quiet battle for the nation's soul.

It's going down in Philadelphia, until now mostly known for its freeway killers and the time when a rapper was spun like a human propeller, necessitating a fear-based parental decision to move him to an elite West Coast neighborhood. Now it will also be remembered as the place where "Mayor Nutter," who quite frankly sounds like a character in an XXX-rated City Council-themed VHS from the nineties, waged a losing battle against our freedom to exchange cash for crotch friction without having to pay a "Stamp Act" type punitive tax.

The Nutter administration has lost in its legal battle to tax lap dances performed in the back rooms of strip clubs.

Time to sign that unconditional surrender in the back room of the battleship Missouri. 

Lawyers for the city had gone before Common Pleas judge Ellen Ceisler, arguing that the city’s Tax Review Board last year was wrong when it said the city’s amusement tax was too vague to be applied to lap dances.

You've got to love the idea of an "amusement tax." "Hey, you with that smile on your face! Either stop being happy or pay the government!"

“If the city wants to tax lap dances, they can go to City Council, ask City Council to amend the ordinance, and they can start imposing a tax on lap dances. Or anything else they want: karaoke songs, piano playing.  Anything they want.  But you have to put it in the ordinance. You just can’t make it up as you go along.”

You can do anything you want, but first you have to get it past a body of faceless suits in a hearing no one knows or cares about. That's the correct procedure. Just make sure your speech is short.

Club Risqué and Cheerleaders, represented by Bochetto, faced tax bills totaling nearly $900,000. A third club, Delilah’s, was assessed more than $630,000 in back taxes, interest, and penalties for lap dances.

Fortunately the Sin Industry is the only growth industry left in America other than credit card debt and stripping copper wires, so it probably could have taken this tyrannical hit.

“I think the courts have essentially borne out our conclusions all along, that the city never really had a good case. The case never really should have even gone this far.”

"Let's celebrate by sitting back from the main stage, slowly nursing a beer and ignoring the repeated requests for "private dances."

Bochetto believes any further effort by the administration to tax lap dances would not sit well in any court.

Which is ironic considering how difficult it is to sit well after one of those "dances."

Please take any keys out of your pockets, keep you arms at your sides and fill out tax form 15158-EZ.

“I think the swiftness of Judge Ceisler’s ruling sends a message to the city that it’s time to give it up,” he said today. “It’s time to call it a day.”

You have suffered a total and complete rout at the hands of the legal representatives of "Cheerleaders." Game Over.

Komment Korner  

What the fffffk? Obumfk has put in place taxes on suntan parlors and a couple other things noteworthy.

Ummm, while true, the implication that conservatives are the patrons of strip clubs is simply inaccurate.

I'd makem say uhhhh.

Getting your news from ABC, NBC,CBS,CNN, MSNBC or NPR is like watching Hogan's Hero's to learn about the Holocaust.

Jessica alba has the #1 pooper, man its FANTASTIC

Check Out My Books!

Aaron Zehner is the author of "Posts from the Underground," now available in paperback and e-book. Read free excerpts here and here.

His first novel "The Foolchild Invention" is also available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

News You Can't Use: Female Yahoo Exec Accused of Sexual Harassment from Female

When considering the technology industry the first thought that pops into the head of any healthy person is steamy visions of every possible type of hot, hot sex. There's just something about all that in-putting and hyperlinks and sitting and snacking that makes you want to select the nearest warm body for defilement and then give the soul and personality that is imprisoned in said body a bunch of "lousy" performance reviews. Get ready to get warmed up and please try to keep both hands above the equator as I tell you the latest tale of tech-heads and their overwhelming urge to do the Wild Thing.

Sexual harassment complaints aren't uncommon in the tech industry, but a new one at Yahoo is making headlines because of an unusual twist

There's just something about the social skills of your average "programmer" or "analyst" that insures that there will be sexual harassment complaints for even the most timid of their creepy advances. As for the twist, by "unusual" we actually meant "banal as all hell." We regret the error.

A female executive is accused of coercing a female subordinate into sex.

I'm not sure if this a victory for human rights and equality or not. Eh, it probably is. Sure. Let's celebrate.

The lawsuit filed by engineer Nan Shi says that her boss, mobile exec Maria Zhang, forced her into sex and then punished her with lousy performance reviews when Shi put a stop to it, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

I'm sure we've all had some "bad performance reviews" after watching the submarine races, am I right? I was tired, it happens to everyone, headache, all the rest.

When Shi reported it to Yahoo, the company put her on unpaid leave and eventually fired her, according to the lawsuit. It names Yahoo as a defendant, reports Reuters.

Yet another case of human resource betrayal! Well, that or this is just a nuisance lawsuit and she really was inept at the job. There is that slim possibility.

"Zhang told Plaintiff she would have a bright future at Yahoo if she had sex with her," says the complaint. "She also stated she could take away everything from her including her job, stocks, and future if she did not do what she wanted."

"You want stocks, don't you? Of course you do. Suck on this."

Yahoo is sticking by Zhang and says it will "fight vigorously to clear her name."

"I was just looking for faceless casual encounters with whatever was convenient, just like any good person. It had nothing to do with the job."

It's only sexy when a vampire does it.

The suit is the latest in a string of harassment cases in the tech world, notes Business Insider, which has a roundup. (Last year, a tech-conference tweet led to controversy.)

Please use hashtag #damngirlyousofine. 

Komment Korner  

Their's your sexism right there.

There's not too much information out there on men being violated in the workplace

Time to do their jobs? Have you used Yahoo lately? It stinks.

So much for the Seduction of Misty Mundae on late night cable.

That is so hot! Any pics?

Check Out My Books!

Aaron Zehner is the author of "Posts from the Underground," now available in paperback and e-book. Read free excerpts here and here.

His first novel "The Foolchild Invention" is also available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

News You Can't Use: Pols Promise a Solution Against ‘Elmo Bullies’

New York City ain't no joke, man. If the air and water don't kill you the druggers, violence mobs and humanoid underground dwellers will. Even the most effeminate of children's characters are weaponized into aggressive panhandlers and con artists. Tickle me Elmo? Try, "Intimidate you with physical violence into making a 'donation' to the heroin fund Elmo." Since even the Death Wish vigilante isn't going to shoot junkies dressed up as Big Bird or whatever, it's up to "Pols" to spring into action and attempt to legislate away urban rot that's so virulent it even infected wussy kid stuff.

Though complaints about Times Square can fill an entire encyclopedia, at the latest Times Square Alliance’s Midtown conditions meeting, one issue took center stage: how to deal with Elmo, Hello Kitty and Spiderman, among other costumed characters.

I once visited the "Complaints on Time Square" Wikipedia page and it gave my computer about a hundred viruses, broke both my arms and stole the radio from my car. I don't recommend it.

When they came for the break dancers I didn't say anything because I wasn't a break dancer. When they came for the untreated mentally ill drug abusers dressed up like cutesy Japanese nonsense I didn't say anything...etc.

Costumed characters that panhandle or offer pictures in exchange for money have proliferated in Times Square, as noted by the Wall Street Journal, adding to the usual commercial chaos of the famed town square.

"It's making it hard for me to sell pencils, crude window washing and miniature American flags to raise funds to buy tiny white rocks."

And while they may seem cuddly, elected officials said the characters are a serious problem.

Let's explode the myth of the "lovable meth addict," once and for all time.

This is a cancer on Times Square that has to be excised soon.

"You're a disease, Hello Kitty, and I'm the cure." *repeatedly fires combat shotgun*

“The panhandlers are exploiting the First Amendment, but I don’t think you have a First Amendment right to harass and threaten people as some of these characters have done.”

Can we just add an amendment to the Bill of Rights that very clearly states "None of these rights apply if you're wearing a muppet-themed costume." Yup, we're gonna start quartering soldiers in the house of the guy that dresses up as "Scooter."

The alliance’s director, Tim Tompkins, said they’re not all bad — but their presence, and the number of complaints, has grown in the last two years.

There's at least two or three who don't shoot up or menace people, so we're kind of in a tight spot.

“The problem is not with the folks that are out there making kids happy in an appropriate way, the problem is the folks that are both subtly and not so subtly intimidating and harassing people,” Mr. Tompkins said.

This is NYC pal, there aren't any "folks" here. Try dope-heads, mole people and walking, anthropomorphic evil. Whoever it was that taught politicians "people will trust you more if you use circa 1930 Alabama syntax" deserves the worst.

The companies that own the characters being depicted are also interested in addressing this issue, Mr. Tompkins added, and having a way to get troublemakers out of their character’s costumes. He called on the City Council to regulate them.

"I sold you a costume depicting our intellectual property and then sued you for wearing it!" Logic.

City Councils. We regulate any harassing of "folks" by depictions of animated characters. We're damn good too. But you can't be any geek off the streets. Gotta be handy with the illogical application of capitalism and our legal system, earn your keep.

“If you have a licensing scheme, then you have the ability to leave the people alone who are doing the right thing, but also go after the people that are not doing the right thing” he added.

We used to call this force "God." It's now more correctly identified as a "licensing scheme." It will make people do right and not do not right. Somehow.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer told reporters she was open to examining a slew of possible solutions.

"We got a whole heapin' helpin' of in-ter-esting solutions for the folks on God's Green Earth, not to mention our costumed brothers and sisters."

Put him in jail!

“Legally, what do we want to do?  We want to regulate them? We want them to be licensed? How do we not infringe on the First Amendment?” she asked.

Obviously more red tape and bureaucracy is the answer, but how to do it?

“They accost people. I’ve seen it with my own eyes — they ask to take a picture, they ask for money, they chase people to the ATM sometimes for money. They are very aggressive and it doesn’t show a good picture of New York,” Ms. Brewer said.

If we're going to win that bid to have the entire city transformed into a prison colony we're going to have to improve that image a little.

“We’ve talked with our legal department about how we craft this legislation to allow you to express yourself, because I support freedom of speech and your right to freely act, speak and engage, but the minute you violate somebody else’s space then you have to be held accountable,” he said.

Or you could just actually enforce existing laws, whatever.

Mr. King seemed confident about the future of the bill. “I do expect huge support of the council members, I do,” he said.

Moments later he was torn to pieces and devoured by C.H.U.Ds.

Komment Korner   

I'm not saying it's good or it's right, but it is caused by liberal and democrat policy.

The only cancer in new York are the Communists who run it.

You mean like how NYC has a real handle on licensing Taxis. AHHAHAH Character medallions?

Just like the stings to bust criminals that rob drunks on the trains.

Check Out My Books!

Aaron Zehner is the author of "Posts from the Underground," now available in paperback and e-book. Read free excerpts here and here.

His first novel "The Foolchild Invention" is also available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Choose Your Own Adventure #80: The Perfect Planet

Last time as a doomed hero I successfully busted up a massive counterfeiting ring. No, not the federal reserve. I'm talking about The House of Danger where criminals used holograms of damn dirty apes to conceal their funny-money scheme. It was that sort of book. Knowing full well that almost anything is going to seem weak trying to follow that sort of insane goodness I just reached in the box, knowing the law of averages would probably produce some mediocre space title.

Sure enough.

If you weren't alive back then (1988), firstly, get off of my lawn. Secondly, you have to understand that the space obsession was once a very real thing. We were going to travel to other planets, build space stations, birth horrific monsters out of our chest, all that goodness. I guess today this fad is long dead and the latest Mass Effect game killed any enthusiasm that might have remained, despite the fact that I'm told your character can have sexual intercourse and you sort of get to watch.

You know what, let's just do this shit.

 My advice: "Keep running!"

We're at a interesting point in this series, where the threadbare premises of early entries have given way to lengthy exposition dumps, but the full collapse that would be embraced by the triple digit efforts remains on the horizon. You can see it coming, though. Anyway, there's "habitat unrest," which sounds like the title of an Al Gore fictional work, on Utopa. The thing is, this is the perfect planet alluded to in the title, so something isn't computing. Could it be that something actually could possibly go wrong? I'm going to find out. In the single digits we'd get a choice by now, but we're eighty deep, so the set-up continues.

I recall sitting in space college and offering my pathetic opinion on what would constitute the platonic ideal for solar satellites. Naturally, my answer is lame and human-normative and I promptly get punked out by the teacher who is all "what about the zebra getting eaten by the tiger!" and I've got no ammunition to fire at that mighty rebuke. She goes on to explain that on a truly perfect world everything would eat plants, since their feelings apparently don't exist and/or matter.

There was more, but I don't remember it. Sounds about right. "The prof was babbling away about how Western Civilization is pure evil. I don't know, lots of bad stuff, like eradicating small pox and eliminating banditry, whatever. I kind of zoned out."

Still better than that ungood family performance.

Everything on Utopa eats "slaif" a plant that is totally nutritious and most certainly is not made of people. I don't claim to be a biologist or any of that b.s. but I have a hard time imagining how this ecosystem would regulate itself, what with the absence of predators or even scavengers, but I'm supposed to be embracing the wonder weed and not applying critical thought, so let's just move on. 

For reasons unknown the people have stopped harvesting this miracle of botany and, as you might expect, this has led to starvation and unprecedented hostility from the animals. Yeah. Finally a book that dares to examine the implications of the "if everyone did weed we'd never have war!" rantings of that scumbag at the bus station.

It's, like, the perfect planet, man.

Time to use those crack investigative skills and get to the bottom of why people got sick of a non-violent, vegetarian lifestyle. Before I can start taking depositions, my wussy R.A. Montgomery-style "scout ship" gets destroyed by rampaging mumba beasts, who are themselves a wussy version of bulls. Everything bursts into flames and I'm basically stuck. After the obligatory "You blew it up, you maniacs!" stunned inaction I decide to inspect the wreckage, presumably to harvest useful twisted metal and bits of wire.

Incredibly my "radio transmitter" is intact, and even more implausibly I'm quickly able to make contact with a previously unmentioned "Federation Scout" who suggests we meet near the creatively named "Green River" but cuts off before explaining the details, as the laws of drama demand. I head upstream and encounter whitewater rapids. It wouldn't be a perfect planet without a place to shoot Mountain Dew commercials and rural rape-horror films, I guess.

My secret weapon in that "degrees of Kevin Bacon" game.

We get this pointless aside about a "rock wall" that I easily climb thanks to the "weaker gravity" but then get all cocky and sloppy and fall back down, avoiding horrible death because of relative deficiencies in the Weak Force. Then there's a trail and I follow that. Seriously, that's an entire page of this book. 

I find the ship of the federation scout, but it's crashed and he's dead, presumably a victim of the mumbas that ran up on me earlier. With no cynical commander to "ride me" I'm free to wallow in emotionalism and maybe plant a little American flag or two, but eventually heartless practicality kicks back in and I loot the ship for "vitro bars." The future!

I read the dead guy's space log, and quickly discover an account of an evil alien named "Kodor" who has been using "robot controlled eye ships" to terrorize Utopa's population, driving them into caves. Well, that solves that mystery. It's just eye ships under the control of artificial intelligence doing the will of some space dictator in a ship with a "cloaking" device. We can all go home.

Right. The ruined ships.

Still, "the fleet" is on its way, although it might not be a match for the more advanced technology of this space menace. In light of all this, you have to wonder why I was sent alone to dick around with cliff faces and white water rapids. 

So I chill in the wreckage, eating those amazing super future bars, watching the "eye ships" do their rounds and generally spewing out wack prose about the horror of the situation, the sad fate of the animals and my own bad luck. See, this is why you recruit bitter realists for this sort of thing.

They ruined an entire planet.

I'm rescued and taken to a warship where the Admiral wants to hear all about my goofy adventures, which I guess is better use of his time than planning strategy for the coming battle or something. So I tell my lame story. "Yup, went right up that cliff like I was on American Ninja Warrior, but then I got too confident and fell. Yeah, I was fine, low gravity, that sort of thing. Also there was some whitewater, like in that Kevin Bacon movie. No, not Friday the 13th! That one with this nerdy kid who's afraid of everything and goes to camp..."

It turns out that Kodor is stealing entire plants. Yes, not just leaves and stems, the book tells us, but the entire crop. Evil aliens stealing my trees, kids. Say no to drugs.

I'm all "if he can grow is own bud, he'll leave us alone," but the Admiral doesn't share this naive optimism. You don't get high on your own supply, after all. For some reason the Admiral lets me make the decision to attack or not, for reasons that I'm sure make logical sense but are never explicitly laid out for whatever reason.

We lay down some of that shock 'n' awe, after a lengthy meaningless digression about "ion shields" that never really comes into play but certainly helps pad out this already way too long story. Kodor gets his lunch eaten, but then we get about the fiftieth Star Trek "homage" when advanced beings materialize, criticize our violent ways and send us back to Earth until we learn that defending yourself is wrong and you should never do it. Good bye, Perfect Planet, there were monster there and truly we were they.

What. The. Fudge.

This one read like R.A. Montgomery at his absolute worst. Pointless space filling, constantly stealing from obvious sources, "we'll solve the theft of our space weed and the eye bot terrorism with LOVE" hippie nonsense, wussy vehicles, the list goes on and on. I'd say there were some decent elements and more of an attempt to tell a story in multiple acts, but the actual execution was a dog's dinner. Science fiction is a lot harder than it looks, I guess.

Check Out My Books!

Aaron Zehner is the author of "Posts from the Underground," now available in paperback and e-book. Read free excerpts here and here.

His first novel "The Foolchild Invention" is also available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

News You Can't Use: Artist Tracey Emin Whoops as Her "My Bed" Fetches Over $4 million

Some guy once observed that one of the signs of civilization collapsing is "art becomes freakish and sensationalistic instead of creative and original." This is great news for us, of course, because our artistic outputs have never been better. From billionaire industrialist vampires that like it rough to the sustained excellence created by network television it's an embarrassment of riches on the cultural front. Now we can add the bed of some woman with a busted face to this already fully stocked pantry.

Tracey Emin's "My Bed," complete with cigarette butts, crumpled sheets and underwear, sold for 2.5 million pounds ($4.25 million) on Tuesday, a record for the artist, who was present at the auction and applauded and whooped delightedly.

"Yee-haw! I can't believe this shit actually worked!"

It calls to mind the story of the boy who decided to sell lemonade for 100k per glass. "Do you really expect a lot of people to pay such an outrageous price?" someone asks.

"I only need one."

Emin's 1998 work, which fetched over 1 million pounds above its top estimated price, and a Francis Bacon portrait of Lucian Freud, which sold for 11.5 million pounds, were the show stoppers in a 75 strong collection of portrait-themed works auctioned by Christie's.

I'm guessing the portrait of the first viscount of St. Alban was a real, legitimated painting, you know like back in the bad days before Smart Phones and Instagram, and not a picture of some guy named Francis made out of literal bacon. You have to ask, just to be sure.

The auction house said it was very rare for an artist to attend an auction, and it demonstrated the connection Emin felt to the highly personal work.

See, not a half-assed stunt to take money from wealthy fools at all! This is "highly personal," in the same way what I flushed down the toilet earlier today is.

The price reached for Emin's work, described by the auction house as an iconic piece of 1990s British art, quadrupled her previous sale price record, but Christie's said the market was not overheating.

"In a fair world my soiled bed would be sold for Manhattan Island."

This is art. (Dat face, doe.)

People are really making distinct choices. Its a very subjective response to works," Brett Gorvy, Christie's international head of post-war and contemporary art, said after the sale.

He was later seen literally swimming in money.

Around 190 bidders from 28 countries took part in the auction, Christie's said, with interest from Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia.

Their interests and motives ranged from "get something for that wing of the museum where the art students sneak off to fornicate" to "prove I'm a man of culture despite my total and complete debasement."

But the price was a relatively poor showing for a Bacon piece compared with his recent record-breaking at auction.

The massive, white-hot popularity of the man who arguably created empiricism. They just go crazy for that Baconian method, man.

Some of the proceeds from the Bacon sale will be diverted to two charities championed by Dahl, and by his family since his death in 1990.

I honestly thought we'd talk about that whole "bed thing" more.

All the buyers from the auction chose to remain anonymous, meaning Emin will have to wait to find out whether her Turner short-listed work will end up in a museum, a wish she expressed the week before.

Totally Dissipated Wealthy Bastards With Horrible Taste, Anonymous.  Step One: admit you can't control your need to buy ordinary items from someone who looks like they were hit in the face with a sack of nickels.

Also, "This belongs in a museum!" shouts Dr. Jones as he battles Poison Claw assassins for the possession of empty cigarette packs and maybe a bottle or two.

Fifteen years ago, the startlingly human elements of the work, which includes discarded condoms and stained sheets, caused a sensation, raising questions about what was and was not art.

In unrelated news, that guy I mentioned earlier also thought "obsession with sex and perversions of sex" was not a sign of societal health. Like I said, unrelated. Don't know why I brought that up.

Speaking ahead of the auction, Emin told Reuters TV that the work felt like "a ghost."

This is one ghost that deserves to be busted.

"I feel quite sad, and I feel that it's like a fragment of time," she added.($1 = 0.5877 British Pounds)

I like how this article abruptly ends with an exchange rate, possibly the only information of any value in the entire thing. It's late, but we'll take it.

Check Out My Books! Millions of Dollars not Required!

Aaron Zehner is the author of "Posts from the Underground," now available in paperback and e-book. Read free excerpts here and here.

His first novel "The Foolchild Invention" is also available in paperback and e-book format. Read free excerpts here and here.