Thursday, March 12, 2015

Terry Pratchett 1948 - 2015

It was with real, geniune sadness that I heard of the death of Terry Pratchett today.

When I was 12 years old, and dumb as a sack of hammers, I wrote to Terry. I told him I wanted to be a writer just like him, and asked all sorts of stupid questions.

He wrote back. I got a four page reponse on Great A'Tuin headed paper. He answered all my stupid questions, and wrapped it all up in a mix of sage advice and encouragement.

Time has moved on. I'm hopefully a little less stupid. I even published a book...but I still want to be a writer just like my hero Terry.

I don't give praise easily. I don't often gush. I'm cynical and I'm generally an overly-critical, jaded human being. I tell you this so you know how sincere I am when I say Sir Terry Pratchett was a genuine literary genius. His work literally shaped my life. His work had a hand in everything from my writing style to my overall sense of humor.

As simply as I can put it. The world is a better place because Terry Pratchett lived in it.

I could go on for hours about how funny he was, how he mixed comedy, fantasy, sci-fi, satire in a package that shouldn't have worked, but just did... but what I loved most about Terry's work is that he had that extremely rare ability to make you forget that you were reading.

As an English student, by habit I pick apart everything I read. I enjoy the story, but I always notice where a sentence structure was a little awkward. Where the foreshadowing was a little heavy handed. Where a plot point was left unresolved or where a writer got a little self-indulgent.

With Terry's work that never happened. His writing style was flawless to the point where you just forget you're looking at words on a page, and the story, the scene, the characters just slip effortlessly from the page and into your imagination.

I thought about ending this with a quote. The problem was there are just too many to choose from, so the only real way I can think to end this is this:

Thank you, Terry. Thank you for the stories. Thank you for the universes you created...but most of all, thank you for taking the time to answer a stupid 12 year old's stupid questions. 

Friday, March 06, 2015

WTF is wrong with the UK?

Ok, I'd like someone to explain something to me.

I was on a website looking at movie props. I'll admit that most of the actual production stuff is way out of my price range but, hey, I like to look.

So I see an awesome gun that was used on Firefly and immediately geeked out...but when I looked at the page I saw the following:

"The violent crime reduction bill means that this particular prop can only be sold to customers who reside outside the UK. Generally speaking, it is illegal for a resident of the UK to buy this item."

What the fuck, England? Not only is it illegal for me to own an air rifle that you can buy in any American Walmart (marked 'for ages 10 and up)'s now literally illegal for me to own a rubber gun?

What am I going to do? Point it at someone and shout 'bang' loudly? It's literally a completely harmless object. It's not a gun. It doesn't shoot. It's a rubber or resin cast used in a movie

But of course, it looks real, so people could still use it to commit crimes!

Call me an idiot here, but I'd much rather get robbed by someone holding a fake gun than someone holding a real knife. Or, to put it another way, if someone walks up to me on the street and demands my wallet, chances are, I'm going to shit my pants and give it to them. I don't care what they have in their hands. I don't know if the guy has a knife, a gun or is just a hopped up drug addict with enough crack in their system to render them completely incapable of feeling pain. It's not worth the risk

My point is, if someone's going to commit a crime, their weapon of choice is pretty much irrelevant.

How about something a bit more practical. Instead of banning replicas, why not just say if you use a replica gun  to commit a crime, you'll be punished as if you used a real weapon? Punish the people committing the crime, not law abiding citizens.

This is where some twat points out that if the police see you with a replica gun during a crime they're going to call an armed response unit and shoot you.

My answer? Fucking good. If you're the type of arsehole that tries to rob a bank of mug someone on the street, I'm not going to miss you. Better you get shot by the police than me pay to keep you in prison for the next few years.

But what if a cop sees you just carrying your replica and shoots you?

Well, for one, I have an ounce of common sense. I'm not going to carry a replica firearm and brandish it in public. Secondly, if a cop can't tell the difference between a violent criminal and a guy outside a comic convention dressed as a stormtrooper...that cop's killing someone by mistake at some point anyway.

I wouldn't mind so much if it was even a ban on replicas of actual real guns....If I want a replica of Han Solo's blaster from Star Wars, I can't own that either unless it's painted a bright garish colour...which when you're going for authenticity kinda destroys the whole point of owning it. Sure you can have a movie prop long as it looks fuck all like the actual movie prop.

...and what's the deal with the bright colors? If you want an airsoft gun in the UK, it can't be an accurate can't even just have a bright orange tip on the barrel either. It has to be painted so at least 60% of it is a bright, primary colour like bright green or orange.

Once again, it's not like someone could disguise a real gun in five seconds with a can of spray paint.

It's ridiculous.

In my kitchen I have a large selection of knives. In my wardrobe I have my recurve bow which I could quite easily kill someone with. I can walk into any sporting goods or DIY store and buy a baseball bat, an axe, a chainsaw...any number of things I could actually murder someone with.

But, fuck that, let's make sure I can't buy a totally inert, rubber gun that's no danger to anyone.