Ask Jimmy #6 – A Christmas Tale 2

December 29, 2018
krauserpua

Chapter One is Here

Chapter Two – Ye Olde Pathe of the Brave

Jimmy stooped down into a tiny basement which appeared to house, predictably, an old curiosity shoppe. The shoppe was brightly lit at the entrance, dimly toward the corners. The air was dry and chalky. There was a general feeling of claustrophobia, with strange trinkets and junk of all imaginable shapes and sized stacked and stored in such a way as to make one suspect it was done so to purposely obstruct and annoy those who enter. Nothing in the store seemed to be anything that could be of any imaginable use to anyone. Vastly oversized bird cages that could house people, books without their covers and antique bicycles with handlebars missing made it looked more like refuse collection than a curiosity shoppe.

While we can all see the direction this story is taking, less so our dull-witted hero.

‘What kind of a shit show is this place?’ Jimmy muttered to himself under his breath.

‘It’s a magic shop obviously, you pie-faced moomin’, someone, or something, croaked from somewhere out of sight. ‘And the best wishes of the season to you too you miserable, arrogant urchin’. The voice sailed over from behind what seemed to be a pile of what seemed like a bookshelf of old magazines and comic annuals. ‘You find a street that shouldn’t be here and a funny little shop in a Christmas story and you can’t put two and two together and realise you’re in a fairy tale. My God Jambone, you’re just as incompetent as they say you are in those daft bookes your mates wrote. I didn’t think it possible. I really didn’t think it possible’.

‘What bookes?’ Jimmy muttered and he rounded the bookshelf and squeezed himself between an enormous picture frame and boxes of assorted lamps. Away from bright entrance Jimmy now had to squint in the dimmer light, but there in front of him, behind a little makeshift desk, lit by the weak glow from a nearby lamp, sat an impossibly old looking crone with a mannish face so miserable and unforgiving as to drive even the most hardy of adventurers away in fright. We’d rate her a 4 (that’s a 7 on a field report on a pickup forum). Thank God it was gloomy dear readers, for she was truly horrific.

old-hag-stratton-D88DN9

‘Ey up, a notch waiting ‘appen this. She’s bound to be lonely this one’, Jimmy remarked to himself, before continuing, ‘what bookes old crone, and what do you mean incompetent?’ Jimmy tugged on his lapels and rearranged an imaginary tie. ‘I’ll have you know I am a project manager’.

Jimmy stuck his chin out, ‘organisation is my stock in trade, my strong suit’, his lines were well rehearsed, as if addressing an audience. Jimmy had made this speech many times when routinely accused of incompetence. He then paused and turned on the deadly charm, ‘I should smite your bony backside with the flat of me sinewy right hand’ he said, with a twinkle in his eye.

The crone, however, seemed indifferent to our hero’s flirtations. She merely flapped her old grey hands in the air and conjured up an impressive glowing orb, some kind of apparition thing that just hung in the air. It chased the gloom in the shop into the farthermost of all it’s corners, but more importantly, it serves to remind the slightly less calibrated amongst Krauser’s readership that this is a Christmas fairy tale of magic and derring-do and not currently a field report to be taken seriously. No one is claiming to have ever met a witch.

‘It’s your lucky day Jimmy’, she wailed jubilantly. ‘Once in a hundred years I appear from my slumber to find the world’s most incompetent, cack-handed dingbat and grant him knowledge, oh such a great knowledge’, she cackled and peered at Jimmy past the blinding glow of the spinning orby thing, before adding pointedly ‘any knowledge he wishes. It’s a kind of, ‘raise the weakest link in the chain’ kind of service’.

‘You single out the brave and the genius!’, Jimmy exclaimed. Never one to give up the frame so easily.

She continued in vaguely hypnotic and rhythmic chant,

’you can learn the cures for hills of ills,

cancer, AIDS, invent those pills (that cure them, not cause them),

write the worlds most banging tunes,

or build a bridge from here t’ moon’.

Jimmy interrupted excitedly, ‘could you make it ‘pie and a pint for a pound day’, every day down at the Giggling Squid’, he gasped the words out, barely daring to believe it could be true.

Bay-Horse-Pies-843A9684

Smashing

The crone shook her head impatiently. ‘yes, but don’t you understand you damned fool, I can give you the knowledge that ends all wars!’ The crone began to chant again, the globe burned brightly again, spinning quickly on it’s axis again, making a melodic whirring noise again. ‘Jimmy, just choose it at will and whim and you could invent the engine that runs on air. You could save the world Jimmy Boy. I am talking about ending hardship and saving humanity, you could live forev…’.

‘I GOT IT, I GO IT! HOW DO I CLACK THE ‘OTTEST SKIRT’, Jimmy blurted, now unable to contain himself.

The light dimmed and the orb suddenly stopped spinning.

‘Come again’, the crone croaked.

‘The skirt, you old hag, that top drawer skirt I see ‘ere and about’, Jimmy waved his hand in the general direction of the world outside. ‘How do I clack it?’, he demanded. He then raised his long skinny fore-finger aloft and said decisively, as if addressing a crowd again, ’there’s a way you can clack them crumpet. I want to know how. I want to know the secret that has eluded me for centuries. That’s the knowledge I want’.

The room was silent for a moment.

Fallen-Women

Ye Rock Solid Game boot camp in field

‘You want a book about how to get women’, the crone asked flatly, ‘what you mean like Ye Mystery Method?’ and still holding her hands aloft underneath the now grey and lifeless orb, she motioned with her neck to an old black and beige paperback lying by the comics and pulp fiction.

Jimmy bounded forward and grabbed the old book, thumbing through the dusty pages, wide eyed. ‘I could well see this being useful’, he slavered.

‘But that’s just a crummy old paperback’, the crone cried, ‘someone brought that in last week. I’m offering you the secrets of the universe; you can get that waffle from any disreputable bookshop. Wouldn’t you like to invent the microchip?’

Jimmy looked up at the crone and pounded his finger against one of the pages as he declared ‘it says here it’s all about giving them a bit of a cheeky chat’. Jimmy sniggered. He banged the pages together, dust exploding outwards in all directions into the dry air. ‘I’ll be balls deep in a tenne before closing time, and all I wanted was an 8’, he crooned, cramming the tattered pages into his pocket. To his credit, he felt a twinge of guilt at being so selfish. Pie and pint for a pound day at the Squid would have probably been the preference for most of the lads, but Jimmy has always struggled to fight the temptation to selfishness. It was, he said, his only flaw.

‘It takes years of practice and a lot of hard work to perfect that there Mystery Method’, the crone cooed. ‘It’s very powerful but you can’t just go out and get immediate successes. You have to try and fail and tray again’.

Jimmy’s face fell. The jubilation drained from his cheeks. None of our heroes are perfect dear readers and the hero of this story is no different. For if there is one thing akin to kryptonite to our Jimmy, then there were in fact two. These ideas of ‘hard work’ and ‘years of practice’ were in the same category as ‘the police called by to see you earlier’ and ‘it’s your turn to get the ales in’. It was, according to Jimmy, his only flaw.

‘I haven’t got years to get this done crone’, Jimmy whined pathetically, ‘the banging top night out is tonight’. He fell upon his knees, ‘I throw me on your mercy crone, and remember this is to be at most a three part tale, so we need to cram in as much as we can to the rest of this chapter and only one more’.

‘Very well’, said the crone. ‘Since you haven’t actually chosen anything in terms of any magic from me, you just chose than daft pickup book that you could have just bought anywhere’, she glanced dismissively at Jimmy’s bulging pocket where the book was indeed still crammed, Jimmy clasped his hands urgently and protectively over the bulge as if fearing it was to be taken from him, ‘how about I’ll grant thee a boon?’

‘The Grant’, Jimmy cooed. ‘Do it! Grant me!’ he proclaimed. He held his breath, threw his arms wide and closed his eyes. Visions of the south of Gaul, fine horses, swish clothes and ‘top totty’ filled Jimmy’s head. He closed his eyes tighter, salivating in anticipation.

When he opened his eyes he was a little disappointed to see he was still in the dingy little shop in the same old grey tunic, with the crone’s ugly old face staring back at him. Jimmy peered over her shoulder as if expecting to see the tops of the street of Monaco or the view from the balcony of the Metropole.

‘Grant me?’, he repeated, throwing hia arms apart and shutting his eyes again.

‘Jimmy lad, you are a buffoon,

you lower the tone of every room… err, that you grace.

You’re a total waste of space.

But you need to know what game’s all about

and you can’t do that without

experience and wings to help you out.

I’ll give you all this knowledge that you boys crave,

a plan and a crew to run with night and day.

These powers to thee I grant,

by the time I end this magic chant’.

And with that, the crone clapped her hands together. The two stared at each other in silence for a second.

‘A bit of an anti climax’, the crone said sheepishly, ‘I probably should have explained, it takes a few days for the information to bed in, by the time New Year comes round, you and the lads will know how to work a set in most bars. Sink a few ales in the Squid tonight, but on New Year’s Eve you’ll venture into Clapham Junction and there you’ll exercise your mighty powers. Try not to cause too much trouble; it’ll affect me badly at my half century review’.

‘OK’, Jimmy muttered as he turned slowly to leave, rubbing his head gently. ‘Thanks crone’.

Jimmy clambered over the bric-a-brac and oddities, back through the bird cages, books and furniture that littered his path back towards the door. Turning the handle, he glanced around the shop one last time, he could hear the crone humming behind the junk that now obscured her from view, he turned his back and got the feeling he was returning back to reality as he stepped through the door and headed back to the life of the village outside.

He began to wonder if he’d made the right decision as he walked past a church group singing Christmas carols. He wasn’t all bad our Jimmy. He worried if he had been selfish. He could have chosen ‘pie and a pint day every day at the Giggling Squid’, something the whole village could enjoy and maybe the lads would have liked better. Now he’d have to tell them they couldn’t spend all night in the squid, they were to venture out into the respectable peoples’ taverns of Clapham Junction. These doubts though didn’t last long and as he padded back along the street, he again turned up his collar to the falling snow and set off in the direction of his home. As he whistled his favourite tune ideas were already beginning to filter through. Building value before opening, pawn sets, targets, various gambits designed to adjust social dynamics in your own favour and as Jimmy reached the outskirts of the village and closed in on his own low rent neighbourhood, and as the snow fell heavier, and as the wind grew colder and the streets darker, and as Jimmy smiled more broadly, he warmed to one idea of which now he was certain.

He even said it to himself, as if to officially accept it was true, ‘me and the lads are going to hit them smart taverns soon enough and pull us some unsuspecting, decent looking skirt’.

You can find Jimmy hanging out on his blog here and he can sometimes be persuaded to do consultations.

#133 – The Age Of Calamity, Time Life BOOK REVIEW

December 29, 2018
krauserpua

The Age Of Calamity

Fucked, mate. You’re all fucked.

My school teachers informed me that the European settlers in North America decimated the native Indian population more through disease than war. In particular, we gave them blankets carrying contagious small pox and influenza germs. Right, I get it. That wasn’t very nice. But do I feel any White Guilt about it? Hell no. Aside from the obvious fact that I’m not personally responsible for what someone I didn’t know and who died before I was born did to someone else I didn’t know and died before I was born…. there’s just another rather important fact.

It was give and take. You see, my school teachers told me about the Black Death that twice ravaged Europe. What they didn’t say is who brought it….. the fucking Turks.

Now, I happen to like most of the Turks I’ve met and I’ve dated a couple of Turkish women [1] but their repeated invasions of Europe do sorely try my patience. The Ottomans were utter cunts, with their slave galleys, penchant for impalings, and Janissary child-kidnapping system. Bunch of cunts and I’m very glad WWI finally put paid to their sick twisted empire. However, what history really ought to remember is it was the Turks who introduced the Bubonic Plague to Europe in The Age Of Calamity between AD 1300 and 1400. Here’s how the book describes it:

Out of the Far East came a sickness of unprecedented virulence which, in the years between 1346 and 1352, carried off at least one third of Europe’s population. The greatest wave of mortality ever to sweep across the world, it was to become known as the Black Death.

It was first spotted in Constantinople in 1347 and infected rats aboard Ottoman vessels gave it to the rest of us. Now, I’ll admit that the Turks may hold their hands up and say, “hang on a minute, we didn’t originate it. We got it off the bloody Mongols” and they’ll have a point.

blackdeath_main

What % bodyfat do you reckon he’s got? Maybe he’s on Tren?

The terrible machinery of the plague appears to have been set in motion in the Gobi desert in Mongolia. In the late 1320s and epidemic erupted there among rodents and claimed its first human victims from within the ranks of the nomadic Mongol horsemen, who then proceeded to spread the disease throughout their extensive empire. The trade routes of the Silk Road, along which silks and furs were carried westward from China, exposed the whole of central Asia to the disease.

We Brits got it from the French [2] via Burgundy wine.

Now the lesson of the Black Death is pretty simple: Build The Wall. It was the mass immigration and globalist trading which allowed the spread of virulent pestilence from the Third World into Europe. We are seeing the same thing now on a (currently) smaller scale with all the Ebola, HIV, Hep C, small pox and strange new diseases coming in with all the Soros fake-refugees. Anonymous Conservative has been keeping tabs on the spike in incidences of previously eradicated diseases. Bring in the third world people, and they bring the third world conditions with them. But of course so long as globalist traitors like Merkel, May and Macron are in power, they’ll keep doing it.

French cunt

“Zut alors! Ve got thee Engleesh with ze wine!”

There was an upside to the mass die-off in the European population.

The massive decline in population transformed the relationship between people and resources. Because labour was scarce, the surviving work force could command high wages, while the prices of land and agricultural products fell due to lack of demand.

We see the modern equivalent in Japan, but due to declining birth rate. The country suddenly isn’t so crowded. House prices have been falling for thirty years. After decades of overcrowding and pressure on scarce resources, declining birth rates should be leading the First World into a Golden Age. As soon as those parasite Baby Boomers die, everything is freed up. But…… those same Baby Boomers insist on keeping globalists in power who are using the “demographic crisis” as a pretext to inflict mass immigration on us.

Really, as if Britain’s “demographic crisis” can be solved by filling our schools with Pakistani and Somali children….. how does turning Britain into Not-Britain help the British? Whatever Age Of Calamity strikes the Proper Countries as globalism and the neo-liberal world order collapses and the civil wars of identity fire up, I’m guessing those of us who keep our heads will emerge into a great age, like in the 1400s.

I made it though an entire blog post about immigration without once saying “shoot the invaders and execute the traitors!” I guess I’ve mellowed.

Look, this is what happens when you read a book in summer and forget to review it for six months. Let’s pretend it never happened, and buy Daygame Mastery, Daygame Infinite and Daygame Overkill, alright? Check them out here.

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[1] But never have and never will bum a male Turk, nor wrestle one. There are many things I won’t follow Casanova in trying.
[2] No surprise there. It’s always the bloody French. I’m glad we smacked them up with the Hundred Years War for it.

#132 – The Elements Of Eloquence, Mark Forsyth BOOK REVIEW

December 29, 2018
krauserpua

The Elements Of Eloquence

It’s my bet that most of you young yobbos know what alliteration is. Perhaps you recognise the sweet scent of synaesthesia in my words. And I’ll bet you my hyperbole has kept made your heart beat a millions times a minute. But, I ask you this….

…. do you know what an epanalepsis is? Or a prolepsis [1]? Or a scesis onomaton?

Nor did I but having read Mark Forsyth’s The Elements Of Eloquence I do now and what is more, I’m very glad I do. You see, this is the Daygame Mastery of prose writing. There, I said it. Now I have to explain why.

I’ve been trying my bestest to become a good writer and thus have approached it with the same mindset I did with Game. The first thing is action – learning through practice – so I’ve been writing an awful lot. This blog is the obvious outlet of such energies but it’s not like I listened to any of those sober heads who warned, “woah Nick! you might want to slow down in churning out them there memoirs.” Stephen King in his book On Writing advises very strongly to write every single day whether you feel like it or not. It’s only through doing that you improve. But that’s not all there is to it.

My 2018 book review project was borne partly out of a desire to improve my writing because, it seems, all the good writers recommend reading a lot. So, I dipped into books from all genres, eras, and topics to expose myself to many styles. By writing a short essay on each I converted the reading process into active learning both in absorbing lessons from the books but also in teaching myself how to find themes and write about them in short order. Call it a one-year research project. But what else?

Masterclass

I know, it looks like “… teaches pedophilia”

I tried the various Masterclass seminar products such as those of Aaron Sorkin, David Mamet, Malcolm Gladwell, and James Patterson. But of every source I tried, The Elements Of Eloquence is by far the most useful. That’s because it is a toolkit. It’s a very specific actionable toolkit on how to improve the literary quality of your prose. Until now, I didn’t even realise there were guidebooks for this kind of thing. Imagine the way Daygame Mastery and Daygame Infinite explain the theory, give practical examples, and then explain how to create your own versions – that’s exactly what this book does with the writer’s art. It has 39 chapters and each introduces a figure of rhetoric. A what? Mark, you explain it mate:

The techniques for making a single phrase striking and memorable just by altering the wording. Not by saying something different, but by saying something in a different way. They are the formulas for producing great lines.
These formulas were thought up by the Ancient Greeks and then added to by the Romans. As Shakespeare set to work England was busy having the Renaissance. So the classical works on rhetoric were dug out, translated and adapted for use in English…. So Shakespeare learnt and learnt and got better and better, and his lines become more and more striking and more and more memorable.

Ah, I see. So, Mark, I don’t suppose you could pick the best of these figures and then patiently guide me through each one so I can begin improving my own prose? What, you already did that, with 39 of them? Smashing! Good lad! But I’m worried that focusing so much on style may hinder the dialectical value of my work. I’m not looking to become a bloody poet.

A poet is not someone who has great thoughts. That is the menial duty of a philosopher. A poet is someone who expresses his thoughts, however commonplace they may be, exquisitely. That is the one and only difference between the poet and everybody else.

Ah! Gotcha.

Lets give an example, with Chapter 3’s antithesis. The essence of the antithesis is simple: first you mention one thing: then you mention another. Oscar Wilde used to do it by making the first side of the antithesis something pretty obvious, then begin the second side to lead you into expecting something else equally obvious, but surprise you with an odd turn (making it an epigram). For example:

  • ‘The well-bred contradict other people. The wise contradict themselves.’
  • ‘If a man is a gentleman he knows quite enough. If he is not a gentleman whatever he knows is bad for him.’
  • ‘Journalism is unreadable, and literature is not read.’

It all comes down to plays on the basic formula of X is Y, and not X is not Y. It works as rhetoric because it appears final and certain through the phrasing. For example, compare the same thought expressed first as a philosopher and then secondly as a poet (using antithesis)

  • Those who can’t write themselves instead instruct other people on how to write.
  • Those who can, do: those who can’t, teach.

Right then, are we all happy with the basic idea of the book? It’s like a To Do list. I imagine myself sitting down with The Elements Of Eloquence at hand while a draft manuscript of Balls Deep sits open on my laptop. I then proceed to pick a figure of rhetoric and add it in a bunch of times, then pick the next figure and add those in. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we’ll need to add a Merism in here…. A what? A Merism is when you don’t say the group/category name but instead name all of its constituent parts. Thus ladies and gentlemen is a merism for people, because all people are either ladies or gentlemen [2]. Tennyson used merism in his The Charge Of The Light Brigade:

Cannon to right of them.
Cannon to left of them.
Cannon in front of them…

Forsyth notes it would’ve been far more efficient to simple say cannon were in every direction, or “Cannon quaquaversally”, but it doesn’t have the same rhetorical effect, does it? No, sonny Jim, it does not. I’ll give you a few more figures of rhetoric so you get a flavour of just how much is in this book.

Anadiplosis: Taking the last word of a sentence and repeat it as the first word of the next, to create the illusion of a logical connection. See the promotional material for Gladiator: “The general who became a slave. The slave who became a gladiator. The gladiator who defied and emperor.” Or perhaps Yoda, “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” That’s Anadiplosis.

Gladiator-wallpaper

Well, are you?

Tricolon: Using the magic number three to create a rhythm and implied connection between all elements: “I came; I saw; I conquered” or “Sun, sea, and sex.” They have alliteration too, as does, “wine, women and song.” [3]

Parataxis and Hypotaxis: These are two poles in sentence length and complexity. Parataxis imitates the short clipped sentences of direct spoken English, and would be described as “punchy” or “crisp” prose. Hypotaxis is the long sentences with many conjunctions and sub-clauses seen in older novels, aimed at a mass readership with a higher overall IQ and level of education. Forsyth explains the style thus:

Hypotaxis was what made English prose so terribly, terribly civilised. It still works. Angry letters of complaint, redundancy notices and ransom notes will, if written in careful hypotaxis, sound as reasonable, measured and genial as a good dose of rough Enlightenment pornography.
Yet hypotaxis (along with reason) has been declining for a century or more. Gone are those heady and incomprehensible sentences of Johnson, Dickens and Austen, replaced with the cruel, brutalist parataxes of writers whose aim is to agitate and distress. The long sentence is now a ridiculed rarity [4] usually hidden away in the Terms and Conditions, its commas and colons, clauses and caveats [5] languishing unread and unloved.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough for aspiring writers. I come from a martial arts and video games background where I’m used to instructional manuals and seminars where complex chains of action (e.g. a triangle choke to omoplata transition, or a Dark Souls boss fight) are broken down into constituent parts that can be analysed and perfected. That is exactly what The Elements Of Eloquence does for sentence construction. It’s also very humorously written so you’ll be chuckling your chubby cheeks as you peruse its precise pages.

Serious seducers of sexual sentiment should probably purchase my predatory, precise and perfected publications: Daygame Mastery, Daygame Infinite and Daygame Overkill. Check them out here.

Final Cover

Daygame Infinite interior hardback 1

[1] No, that’s not what porno actresses get after too many anal scenes.
[2] There are only 2 genders, and 74 mental illnesses.
[3] As does Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein Fuhrer! It’s powerful rhetoric.
[4] Alliteration
[5] And again. See?

#131 – Powers Of The Crown, Time Life BOOK REVIEW

December 28, 2018
krauserpua

Powers of the crown

Contrary to popular opinion, my initial interest in Japan grew not from its porn or video games but actually from ninjas. Yes, those shadow-skulking, shuriken-shuffling assassins for hire. I first saw them in the 1980s movie Enter The Ninja, hired from my local Jet Garage gas station’s small video rental booth. That was followed up by Revenge Of The Ninja and god knows how many others until I finally discovered the king of all ninja movies: Mafia vs Ninja.

At my school it soon became accepted as established fact that martial arts superstar Bruce Lee did not die of a brain aneurysm, but had actually been assassinated by a gang of seven ninjas who were upset that he was too fucking hard for them [1]. Indeed. You need to be careful who you piss off in life, and I’ll tell you now there wasn’t a single kid in my junior school who’d have risked pissing off the ninja. We’d rather risk the wrath of the Eagle’s Claw school of kung fu than the ninja [2].

My love affair with ninja continued throughout the 1980s, including my frequent visits to the South Shields seaside amusement arcades where I’d play games such as Yie Ar Kung Fu and Ninja Warriors. When playing Bad Dudes vs Dragon Ninja I was firmly on the side of the latter, and then when I discovered the original Eastman and Laird Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic books in my local Timeslip comic store, I was all over them.

The 1990s were a blur of university, work, and not enough ninjas. I did try my hand at the university Ninjutsu club, being a regular student for all three years though I realise now I was wasting my time. The ninja mythos was so strong that all kinds of charlatans got involved. I still suspect that Grandmaster Hatsumi Masaaki is a bullshitter. Talented martial artist in the traditional sense yes, but more like the leader of a historical reenactment society than a legit ninja [3]. Then of course, there was Ashida Kim. I did get in a bit of ninja gaming though, such as with From Software’s [4] Tenchu: Stealth Assassins game.

Finally in 1998 I visited Japan for the first time, spending a week in Tokyo then a week in Osaka and Nagoya. My bird at the time told me there was a ninja museum within day-trip distance of Nagoya, in the Iga province (their old base). So, off we went. We visited a beautifully reconstructed Tokugawa-era mountain village just like you’d see in a Zatoichi or Kozure Okami movie, and then found a big wooden house deep in the forest that housed the museum itself. A purple-clad kunoichi [5] showed us around and I bought a souvenir coffee mug that I own to this day. A great day out.

Where on earth am I going with all this? Frankly, I don’t know. I just like to talk about ninja. They were a secret society of assassins hired by rival feudal leaders to infiltrate castles and murder VIPs. They also never actually dressed in those black suits – that’s a coincidental artefact from the custom of Japanese plays to dress stage hands head-to-toe in black so the audience ignores them.

Oh wait! I remember. Yes.

In Powers Of The Crown, the theme of which is that AD 1600-1700 saw consolidation of royal power in most civilisations bar England, the first chapter covers Tokugawa Japan – the time of the first shogunate. It’s the period covered by James Clavell’s classic novel Shogun, which itself was made into a TV series with The Count Of Monte Cristo himself Richard Chamberlain. I read that in 2015 and was surprised that the book ends on the eve of the fateful Battle of Sekigahara. Fateful why? Well, that’s the battle where Tokugawa Ieyasu of the Eastern Kanto region crushed his rival of the West, Ishida Mitsunari, and became undisputed military dictator of all Japan.

Incidentally, it’s also the battle the aftermath of which begins Eiji Yoshikawa’s classic Musashi saga, as the teenage tearaway Miyamoto Musashi wakes up injured on the morning after the battle, having been knocked unconscious while fighting for Ishida’s losing side. I’m pretty sure the battle also features plenty in Japanese video games from the warring kingdoms period, such as Kessen and Nobunaga’s Ambition [6]. Look, the important thing is that the battle was ace, some 140,000 warriors laying into each other with pike, spear, and sword. I wish I’d seen it (from a safe distance).

220px-Kessen_II_Coverart

Loved it

Anyway, that’s chapter one. Powers Of The Crown also explains the Manchu invasion and occupation of China, the Great Shah of Persia, the rise of William of Orange and the Dutch Republic, and then the settlement of the USA by the English. The only break from the theme is the Civil War in England leading to Charles I getting his head lopped off and Oliver Cromwell establishing a reign of terror. To take Powers Of The Crown at face value it rather seems like Charles I was asking for it, making the dumbest and most arrogant of moves when he could’ve easily held onto his throne with Roundhead consent if he’d been reasonable.

But no, he was rather Cavalier about it.

I think he envied Louis XIV across the channel, who’d established an absolutist government. All this is great backstory to fill in the Alexandre Dumas novels I’ve been reading. Dumas was an avowed Royalist, so he gives it all a rather different slant [7].

Anyway, after 168 pages of world history painstakingly assembled for this volume by Professors Geoffrey Park (Illinois), Christopher Bayly (Cambridge), I.J. McMullen (Oxford), Denis Twitchett (Princeton), David Morgan (SOAS), Nicholas Tyacke (UCL), Jonathan I. Israel (UCL) and G.V. Scammell (Cambridge) we can all agree on the major learning point: Ninjas are awesome.

If you’d like to see some real stealth attraction, stealth comfort, and stealth seduction from a masterful daygaming ninja then do consider my own textbooks Daygame Mastery, Daygame Infinite, and the video series Daygame Overkill. Check them out here.

Daygame_Overkill_Double_Bill_Poster

[1] I consider it far more likely he was poisoned to keep him quiet after he considered exposing all the paedophilia and child sex trafficking that went on with Hollywood producers during the location filming of Enter The Dragon.
[2] Because Jackie Chan had already proven that while the Eagle Claw is invincible against Snake’s Fist, it is highly vulnerable to the Cat’s Claw style. Nobody had yet figured out the style to beat ninjutsu.
[3] Unless he was actually involved in the Bruce Lee assassination and his role as kindly old instructor is a deep cover.
[4] Yes, that From Software
[5] That’s female ninja to you, lad. And no, you’re not allowed to shag them.
[6] Okay, I think Oda Nobunaga came a bit earlier, now I think about it.
[7] Not that type of slant, you racist!

#130 – Cruel As A Cat, John Creasey BOOK REVIEW

December 28, 2018
krauserpua

Cruel as a cat

John Creasey usually writes books that you’d call “genre fiction” or perhaps “pot-boilers”, meaning they are formulaic and do exactly what they say on the tin. For example his Inspector West stories will always involve the titular West employing police procedure to track down local criminals, with a little levity and seasoning added from his time back home with the ball and chain wife and kids. His Cruel As A Cat, first published under the pseudonym Michael Halliday in 1968 as part of his Dr Cellini series, is nothing like that. It’s a character study that reads much like Agatha Christie’s The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd.

I can’t tell you how it differs from TMORA without giving away that classic’s key twist, so I urge you to read Agatha Christie’s best novel. But what it shares with TMORA is as follows:

  • Mostly in the perspective of a central character who begins the story having discovered a recently murdered corpse without having a solid alibi himself.
  • The franchise character (Cellini here, Poirot in TMORA) doesn’t appear for quite a while, and only then as he is encountered from the perspective of other characters. The detective is not a perspective character himself [1].
  • Ultimately it’s all about the psychology of the murderer, hidden from all but the reader until the detective figures it all out.

Cruel As A Cat begins with poor young James Clayton hidden in shrubbery on the moors at the peak of summer while a manhunt rages around him. He’s the prime suspect in the strangulation murder of his adoptive sister Gloria, discovered that morning in her apartments soon after James was seen quarrelling with her over an inheritance she’d jipped him out of. From the beginning Creasey makes it clear – as the reliable narrator – that Clayton is innocent. But he’s on the run and in deep shit.

His hiding place is disturbed by a dog called Blixi, out being walked by its owner, a Mrs Midge Benison – a beautiful young woman who recently moved into the area with her shifty husband Alec. There’s a tense scene where Midge seems about to turn James in to the posse over the next ridge, but something stays her hand. She seems to believe his protestations of innocence. Quite unexpectedly, she offers him sanctuary in the attic of her apartment, rented out from the spinster Trudie Stern who lives on the ground floor.

It’s here where Creasey begins the head games, as he slips in some misgivings and red flags regarding Miss Benison and her motives. She doesn’t seem quite right. Too flirtatious, too controlling, and altogether a little odd. More a bunny-boiler than a pot-boiler. Thus the character portrait begins. Clayton is kept couped up, effectively a prisoner in the attic – considering the danger of being ensnared by the manhunt outside – while Miss Benison plots and schemes to as yet unknown ends.

Siren

Miss Benison, yesterday

It’s a fact of life that men understand other men far more accurately than women ever can. The reason men worked so hard to present themselves as dependable and of high moral character was that they needed a girl’s father to approve a marriage proposal. Society knew men’s arsenal of bullshit is far more effective on a woman than upon a fellow man, especially a man a generation older than the bullshit artist. This works the other way. Though Miss Benison effectively beguiles the young men in her life (fugitive James and her husband Alec, among others) she can’t fool Miss Stern, her landlady. Stern reaches out and is put in touch with Dr Cellini, who finally appears in chapter nine, making a house call for tea and biscuits with Stern. She relates her concerns:

“It’s past time I told you why I’m worried,” said Miss Stern at last. “There is something rather odd about the young woman who lives in my flat upstairs.” She told Cellini exactly what she had told [Inspector] McLelland although in somewhat greater detail. “Of course I know that the Lombroso theory is out-dated, Dr. Cellini, one cannot really tell a criminal type from their bumps, but—”
“You can often tell a kind person from their face– and a cruel one, too” said Dr. Cellini. “That is, if you are sensitive to appearance, as you obviously are. You might be unpleasantly surprised if you knew how many people there are who enjoy being cruel, Miss Stern.”

While taking an interest in facts, Cellini is as interested in ‘the psychologies’ as Hercules Poirot himself. In order to subtly ascertain the quality of Miss Stern’s interpersonal judgement he asks that she give her impressions of a mutual acquaintance, the Superintendent Hardy who made their introduction. It’s a nice scene, showing Cellini as keenly observational and precise in assessing his sources.

Dr Cellini no longer looked a benevolent elderly man; he took on a stature of which she had not been aware before. She realised that with very little prompting he had made her talk much more freely than she would normally have done, but she could not for the life of her imagine why he had made her discuss Superintendent Hardy. To cover an inward confusion which she did not want to admit, she plugged in the kettle and took the lid off the silver dish of Mary Jane’s sandwiches.
“You are telling me to pay very close attention to your opinion of the Benisons” remarked Dr. Cellini. “A woman who can see a stranger so clearly as you see Hardy is likely to have a very balanced view of someone she knows rather better. How long have you been uneasy about the Benisons, Miss Stern?”

I ate this up. One thing drummed into me from Game theory is the need to elicit values early in a date. It encourages the girl to talk, to share her mind, and build rapport. As I explain in Daygame Infinite, it allows you to begin placing her on the r/K spectrum so as to guide your choice of DHVs and speed of escalation. Detective stories focused on ‘the psychologies’ are good role models for this type of interpersonal communication [2].

Hercules Poirot

“It’s about the grey cells, Hastings”

This whole book was as smooth as butter with delightful pacing, precise language and suitably colourful characters. I was somewhat surprised how little Cellini’s investigations relied upon careful consideration of evidence. There wasn’t the usual Poirot business of double-checking alibis and establishing timelines, nor of Sherlock Holmes minutely investigating footprints and tobacco ash. This was all about the psychology. The publisher’s biographical note at the book’s end clarifies it nicely:

One of the major factors in John Creasey’s ever increasing popularity is undoubtedly his talent for viewing and so portraying his characters as living beings; each with his own special problem, each with his own hopes and dreams and fears. John Creasey has now written nearly 500 books, and in essence this extraordinary achievement is a testament to his penetrating observation and understanding of human behaviour. Criminals, their victims, the police – all he writes of are touched with this very real compassion.

I absolutely agree and that puts the finger on why I liked his Inspector West and The Toff stories so much [3]. Although Creasey stories are structured like pot-boilers, the characters are never empty suits. They always feel like real, engaging people. I felt like I knew Clayton, Benison, Stern and Cellini.

If you’d rather women were just shagged rather than empathised with, consider buying and then studying my pick-up textbooks Daygame Mastery and Daygame Infinite, which will encourage your malevolent sociopathy into far more constructive paths than murder. Check them out here.

Mastery cover

Mastery interior

[1] Not unlike how Mr Moto is usually written in those classic Japanese espionage stories.
[2] As are espionage stories that rely primarily on verbal jousting to uncover the intentions and secrets of rival spies.
[3] And not the early Department Z stories, where he hadn’t yet developed these skills.

#129 – Sick Heart River, John Buchan BOOK REVIEW

December 28, 2018
krauserpua

Sick Heart River

It’s nice to see a master story teller at work. Most people know John Buchan from his famous spy thriller The 39 Steps and, until Sick Heart River, I’d only read that. This is his last novel, drawn from Buchan’s impressions of his journey in 1937 to the Far North of Canada, and the last of his character Edward Leithen. It’s a haunting and uplifting book that really got me thinking.

At surface level, it’s a frontiersman exploration drama. Leithen is a mid-fifties high-ranking Member of the British Parliament who is persuaded to visit New York on the down-low to investigate the sudden disappearance of one Francis Gallaird, a key industrialist and political mover. Set in 1939 just before the outbreak of war, Leithen canvasses Gallaird’s friends and family until he guesses the man had struck out into the Canadian hinterlands where he’d grown up as a young lad. From here, Leithen and Buchan leave civilisation behind as the Brit engages a half-Indian trapper called Johnny and attempts to follow Gallaird’s trail, overtake him, and persuade him to return.

That’s the surface level, which doesn’t really matter. This book is all about allegory, redemption, and man vs nature. Let’s talk about that.

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Just need rucksack and laptop, mate

Leithen accepted the commission because he’d been diagnosed with tuberculosis and given less than a year to live. Unmarried and with no children, he felt like his constant statesmanship and lawyering in London had grown stale. His health already failing badly he wished to “die in his boots” and jumped at the chance for a challenge away from his comfortable haunts. For the first half of the book Leithen has accepted death and seeks only to show stoic resistance in meeting it. His long trek through the snowy wastes is a slog taken one step at a time, deep in introspection.

The oppressive overbearing Canadian North hangs heavily over the book and against that weight, Leithen and his guide Johnny form a strong bond. It turns out Gallaird had hired Johnny’s more talented brother Lew as his own guide, so Johnny begins building up the latter’s character much like Colonel Kurtz in Heart Of Darkness as they themselves disappear ever further into an uncharted and uncompromising wilderness. They realise Gallaird and Lew have gone off looking for the mythical Sick Heart River, a place never touched by humanity but given a legend of its healing properties. It exists in the book at first as a phantasm, like Prester John’s kingdom.

The book is focused primarily on Leithen’s mind as his attitudes change over the course of his trek. Pushed to the limit his body begins to respond favourably to the clean air, harsh cold, and fresh meat. The North infiltrates his mind and he is pleasantly surprised to find meaning in his trek and his soul is reclaimed. By the final third, Sick Heart River has became an allegory for finding God through trials, tribulation, and service to the good of others. It sounds hokey when summarised like that but, believe me, as Buchan writes it is extremely compelling. For example, here is a short section when Leithen’s has relapsed towards the end of the journey:

For a little while Lew did not speak.
“You’re not going to die,” he said fiercely.
“The best authorities in the world have told me that I haven’t the ghost of a chance.”
“They’re wrong, and by God we’ll prove them wrong!” The blue eyes had a frosty sternness.
“Promise me, anyhow. Promise that you’ll see Gallaird back among his friends. You could get him out, even in winter?”
“Yeah. We can get a dog-team from the Hares’ camp if he isn’t fit for the trail. And once at Fort Bannerman we can send word to Edmonton for a plane…. If it’s to do you any good I promise to plant the feller back where he belongs. But you’ve got to take count of one thing. He must be cured right here in the bush. If he isn’t cured before he goes out he’ll never be cured. It’s only the North can mend what the North breaks.”
Next day Leithen collapsed utterly, for the strength went from his legs, and his difficult breathing became almost suffocation. The business of filling the lungs with air became for him a desperate enterprise where every moment brought the terror of failure. He felt every part of his decrepit frame involved, not lungs and larynx only, but every muscle and nerve from his brain to his feet. The combined effort of all that was left of him to feed the dying fires of life. A rough sledge was made and Lew and the Hare dragged him laboriously through the drifts.

I found myself thinking Sick Heart River could easily be re-read as a parable for Euro Jaunt daygame. There’s a man who is dissatisfied with civilised metropolitan life despite achieving good recognition from his peers in his profession. He’s missing something and wishes to be closer to the coal-face of life. So he sets off on a commission overseas, to a far-off land where several adventurers barely known to him have preceeded him. He then attempts to pick up the trail [1] and blunder into the wilderness. At each step further – at each set – he encounters harsh environmental resistance and blowouts that test his resolve. He puts one foot in front of the other and stoically endures the pain with only his fellow for comfort. After weeks together in a harsh land they feel their bodies respond and their moods lighten. They are living life closer to how nature intended and discovering much about themselves when faced with adversity. I’d go on, but I don’t wish to spoilt the plot – this book is a great read and it’s much better if it maintains the element of the unknown in those snowy wastes.

It’s often a beautiful book too. If you liked the DiCaprio movie The Revenant you know the kind of scenery we’re dealing with

Trapping

Out of the encumbered river by way of easy rapids the boat ran into reaches which were like a Scottish salmon stream on a big scale, long pools each with a riffle at its head. The valley altered its character, becoming narrower and grassier, with the forest only in patches on frequent promontories. The weather, too, changed. The nights were cold, and a chill crept into even the noontide sunshine. But it was immensely invigorating… The air had a quality which he was unable to describe, and the scents were not less baffling. They were tonic and yet oddly sedative, for they moved the blood rather to quiescence than to action.
But the biggest change was in Leithen’s outlook. The gloomy apathy of the Oblate’s presbytery disappeared, and its place was taken by a mood which was almost peace. The mountains were no longer untidy rock heaps, but the world which he had loved long ago, that happy upper world of birds and clouds and the last magic of sunset. He picked out ways of ascent by their ridges and gullies, and found himself noting with interest the riot of colour in the woods… Black bears were plentiful, revelling among the berries or wetting their new winter coats in the river’s shallows, and he saw a big grizzly limbering across a stone shoot… Leithen had a sense of infinite space around him. He seemed to breathe more freely, and the chill of the night air refreshed him, for frost crisped the lake’s edges. He fell asleep as soon as he got under his blankets.

That sounds just like me on the streets when in my Daygame Infinite mood, don’t it? Leithen’s trekking has a similar salutary effect on his mind, curing his ills.

He awoke after midnight to see above him a wonderful sky of stars, still shot with the vagrant shifts of the aurora. Suddenly he felt acutely his weakness, but with no regret in his mind, and indeed almost with comfort. He had been right in doing as he had done, coming out to meet death in a world where death and life were colleagues and not foes. He felt that in this strange place he was passing, while still in time, inside the bounds of eternity. He was learning to know himself, and with that might come the knowledge of God.

Well, excepting that God bit at the end I think many a practised Euro Jaunter will see what I’m getting at. Walking the streets of Kiev and Riga aren’t as dangerous as the Canadian North in winter, but I think we can all relate to the numbing and yet clarifying effect such treks have on our minds. It’s a funny old world.

If you’d rather dispense with the allegories and proceed directly to the shagging, consider my textbooks Daygame Mastery and Daygame Infinite, and my video instructional guide Daygame Overkill. All the information is on this page.

Final Cover

Daygame Infinite interior hardback 1
[1] Perhaps aided by Balls Deep, Daygame Mastery and daygametrip.com

#128 – Skulduggery, William Marshall BOOK REVIEW

December 28, 2018
krauserpua

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It’s funny what you can learn about the real world from fiction. I remember the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China in 1997, and the BBC desperately putting a brave face on it. I’d only just graduated university and it never occured to me to wonder how the hell Britain had hung onto it so long. It was odd enough hanging onto the Falklands Islands. But at least possession of those had a few things in Britain’s favour, (i) a clear straight hop over the Atlantic Ocean by the Royal Navy, (ii) the adversary was Argentina, the most woppish of all South Americans, and (iii) there’s nothing on the Falklands worth having but sheep.

Hong Kong is another story. It’s a bustling economic hub with a beautiful deep harbour in a strategically important location, on the other side of the world, and the adversary is China. Big communist China. I read James Clavell’s Tai Pan in 2014, a fictionalisation of the creation of Hong Kong but it wasn’t until reading Skulduggery that I learned Britain had leased the mainland Kowloon area from China until 1997, and that’s the significance of the hand-over date. Naturally the slants didn’t renew the lease.

Bastards.

I imagine the millions of Hong Kong residents were rather nervous at the thought of losing British governance and rule of law, to be taken over by a murderous communist dictatorship who’d already killed sixty million of their own citizens. But, then again, I don’t much like Chinese people or European ex-pats, so if the whole island had been nuked I doubt I’d have given a fuck. I don’t even like Chinese food.

Big-Trouble-Main

What I do like, however, are detective stories set in Chinatown. Maybe it was the Charlie Chan movies I watched on Saturday mornings as a kid. Perhaps it’s the Sax Rohmer Fu Manchu novels. Maybe Shenmue II on the Dreamcast. It may even have been John Carpenter’s Big Trouble In Little China.

What a movie!

So when my brother gave me this fifth in William Marshall’s Yellowthread Street mystery series about a team of detectives in Hong Kong I was rubbing my hands in glee expecting to see long-moustached Chinese mandarins plotting world domination from underground opium dens tucked into backstreets of violent sailor’s wharves. It turned out to be nothing of the sort. The book was published in 1979 and is set around the same time. This is like The Bill but with slants and chop-suey.

I enjoyed it, mind. That’s the good thing about trying things out without bothering to read the back cover blurb. Your reading becomes like Forrest Gump opening a box of chocolates. So, to the story of Skulduggery.….. A skeleton tied to a makeshift raft is washed up in Hong Bay early one misty morning, discovered by a fisher-woman. The coroner asserts time of death as twenty years ago, murdered by blunt force trauma. Detective Chief Inspector Harry Feiffer is on the case, beginning first with an attempted identification. That same morning Detective Inspector Phillip John Auden is riding an elevator up and down an apartment block in an attempt to solve a spate of five muggings: all occurred in the elevator, the victims distracted and surprised when the doors opened at the third floor, despite the elevator being unable to stop there. Quite the puzzle. Lastly, Detective Inspector William Spencer is concealed in the storeroom of a Chinese money changer in stakeout for a band of three hold-up men, known as the Deaf And Dumb robbers, who are expected to hit that store. These three threads entwine with the mugging and hold-up cases providing leverage against leads in the murder case.

The murder mystery has shades of The Usual Suspects, especially the climax, but it’s a fairly standard pot-boiler. I managed to figure out the wheeze two chapters from the end and experienced the Gestalt satisfaction of pieces sliding into place, but also a diminished interest in closing out the book now that the suspense was neutralised. I wasn’t even able to pat myself on the back for being a smart boy, given how late I solved it. Kind of like getting a football score right in the 89th minute.

My main enjoyment from this book was seeing how mundane and normal the detective’s scenes were despite the somewhat alien (to me) setting of 1979 pre-handover Hong Kong. It’s still a bunch of daft lads in Her Majesty’s uniforms squabbling in the office and puzzling over clues. There were no poisoned lotus leaves, or slinky femme fatales, or plots of world domination. It was to Fu Manchu what Ackrington Stanley are to Real Madrid and enjoyable precisely because of its homeliness.

If you’d rather be banging your way around the Far East than solving its murders, consider my four volume memoir series available here. I’ve also written the best two instructional textbooks on picking up girls, Daygame Mastery and Daygame Infinite, and the best instructional video, Daygame Overkill. Check them out here.

Final Cover

Daygame Infinite interior hardback 1