Douglas Adams's Starship Titanic (Terry Jones)

For anyone confused about the title and author, according to the book's introduction this was originally conceived as a text adventure video game about a throwaway line in one of the Hitchhikers' Guide books (hey, it's even available on, then somebody wanted a book tie-in. But Adams didn't have time to write both the book and the game, so the novel was handed off to Terry Jones who was happy to do it as long as - and this is the introduction's words, I didn't make this up - he could write it nude.

The teaser description makes this sound like a rip-roaring fish-out-of-water adventure about some humans stranded on an intergalactic cruise ship with an alien journalist and a parrot, and there are some fun ideas like a race of master craftsmen who have guns that only create the illusion of things blowing up up so they can vent without truly damaging anything, or a sentient bomb that the characters have to keep distracting so it loses its place in the countdown and starts over. But the book's short length doesn't allow anything to happen with these ideas, and it skims over key moments like the search for the parts of Titania's brain (presumably leaving the game to plug in these holes) to devote precious page time to two characters trying to get into each others' pants. And maybe the parrot plays more of a role in the game, but it's only in two brief scenes of the book and I forgot it even existed for most of it.


Animal Man (Written by Grant Morrison, Illustrated by Chas Troug et al)

Minor confession time: despite referencing this comic in a Deltarune writing, I had never read the entire thing. After that writeup I figured it was time to go back and finish it and holy shit, when Chapter 3 comes around I need to do a follow-up on Animal Man/Deltarune similarities. Does this scene, where somebody (not Buddy, it's another character named Jim Highwater) goes into Arkham Asylum and runs into a cartoonishly dressed little man rambling about how their world is just a game words on a page, remind anyone else of anybody? Even creepier, that's the Mad Hatter, a lesser known Batman villain, and you know what the Mad Hatter's real name is? Jervis Tetch.



And the Mad Hatter's gimmick is mind control through hypnosis. But that's a story for another time.

Animal Man is half a brilliant comic. On one hand you have the deconstruction of storytelling, realities within realities, the author's place in their world, and how entertainment is basically us reveling in the characters' torment to make our own lives more bearable. It also toys with the idea of what happens to retconned and unused characters, and it was pretty damn funny when Buddy goes to Forgotten Character Limbo and runs into Mr. Freeze complaining about how he deserves another shot at being a Batman villain, because this was published a few years before Batman: The Animated Series gave him what he wanted. I do have to wonder how penetrable the later issues are going to be to anyone who doesn't know what the Crisis is, though.

On the other hand, the animal rights stuff is so heavy-handed that it just made me want to club a baby seal to death. One point that keeps coming up is how we need to end drug tests on rats because a human has no more right to life than a rat. First, yeah, it sucks but what's the alternative, Grant, human testing? Second, rats are a prey animals at the very bottom of the food chain, and their purpose in the grand scheme of things is to die for other animals. Should eagles stop eating rats because an eagle has no more right to life than a rat? Third, given how much of our food is lost to rats eating and shitting on it, I think we can call drug development a fair trade. Anyone who isn't aggressively fighting for animal rights is depicted as a fucking cartoon villain, and the dolphin issue is the boiling point of all this. Especially at the end when a dolphin spares the man who butchered her family because of how much wiser and more forgiving they are than humans. Hey, Grant? Dolphins are rapists who commit infanticide.

Things gain a little more nuance towards the end, when one of Buddy's activism stunts lands a firefighter in the burn ward, but then tragedy strikes and it turns into a revenge story. Then after that, it seems like Grant decided to sideline the animal rights stuff and focus on the meta aspect of the book.


Wario World (Gamecube, E10+)

Wario World has good ideas, being a collectible-hunting platformer with brawling elements, but the game is almost entirely ruined by the fucking camera. It's like Treasure couldn't decide if they were making a 2.5D game or a full 3D game, and you're left with a confusing mess that lacks the precision of the former, and the exploration of the latter. On one hand it's too easy to fall off the level and end up in that damn pit smashing boxes looking for the exit spring. On the other, it's needlessly frustrating to tell where collectibles are and how to get to them. This game is desperately crying out for the first-person look-around option from Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie. One of the collectibles in the snowy village level is on an icy slide at the very end of the level, but you can't look down the slide to see where the item is. If there is a way to get back up that slide I couldn't find it, so when you inevitably miss it all you can do it take the balloon back to the beginning of the stage and run through the whole fucking level again for another try, hoping to your deity of choice that you're in the right spot this time.

And it cocks up the brawling because you're fighting the same handful of enemy types through the whole game. Oh, they'll have different models, but you've got the crappy fodder enemies, the larger fodder enemies, the brute with the club that goes down on fours when you knock out his club, the stationary turret enemy, the crystals that trap you in a barrier, it gets old. At least Gunstar Heroes had the excuse of cartridge limitations.

Boss battles are imaginative, at least, but quickly wear out their welcome as they don't change up their fighting styles enough to warrant taking so many hits to kill.

The high point just might be the Mario Sunshine-esque mid-air obstacle courses, if only because you can actually rotate the damn camera.


The Pirates! Band of Misfits (PG)

This is just an adorable little movie with enjoyable characters (even if there were times I wanted to reach into the screen and slap the Pirate Captain), gorgeous claymation animation full of fun little details, and light-hearted humor. Yeah, the theme of sticking by your friends isn't exactly innovative in the realm of kid's movie, it's not the most insightful or thought-provoking thing out there, and I don't get why the pirates give a shit what the Queen says about them, but Christmas season was rough for me, so let me have my silly pirate movie.

By the way, the "Well yes, but actually no" meme is a rabbit hole of lies. First, it's not even in this movie, it's in a short that's part of the movie's special features. Second, he doesn't say it in the scene the caption is pasted onto, he's talking about a breeze there. And finally, he doesn't even say "Well yes, but actually no" he says "Good guess, but actually no."