Saturday, 11 March 2017

Let’s talk about Casey Affleck

The issue:

Ben’s kid brother won an Oscar, and people complained. Not because of his performance, but because Affleck is a man accused of sexual harassment on an earlier project, by two separate women. Both cases were settled out of court. The criticism is that yet another man has been able to use money and power to get away with demeaning (and possibly criminal) behaviour towards women, and not only move on with his life, but rise above the clamour to win fame and critical acclaim. This sends the wrong message, many say.

The argument:
Let’s be clear about one thing, here. Casey Affleck has been convicted of no crime. He has been accused of actions which are possibly criminal, more likely simply ill-advised. The line from many seems to be that this should make him ineligible for an Oscar, or other awards. Ignoring the fact that awards for acting talent are not based on the moral character of the actor, it seems a little heavy-handed to condemn a man for the rest of his life, for actions he may have committed. Do we want to live in a society where the very act of accusing someone constitutes a life-long black mark? Is this the type of judgment we aim for?
Now, since the cases were both settled out of court, there can be no way of really knowing what happened. We cannot know whether the claims were completely true, completely false, or a mixture of the two. We cannot know whether Affleck is a lecher, or whether the women spied the chance for a quick buck and took it. Or, again, some combination of the two. If the women involved had cared enough about the integrity of the matter to eschew the settlement and proceed with their cases in a criminal court, it’s probable that by now we would have a much better idea of what went on. But they didn’t. They took their money and went away. What does that tell you?
Now, I am not saying that absence of proof means nothing ever happened. And I am not na├»ve enough to be unaware of the problems with the court system. But to simply give up and walk away – how serious could the actions have been?
I find it disturbing that a man who, as mentioned, has not been convicted of anything, has yet come dangerously close to being crucified by the court of public opinion, as has happened to others before him. To assert that he is now no longer worthy of praise for work well done, because of allegations which the accusers took money rather than push forward, seems excessive and dangerous. 

The rebuttal:
First of all, it needs to be stated that the kind of action that Affleck is accused of is criminal. It is sexual harassment, and should not be tolerated by the industry. Until more is done to punish those who do things of the sort, there will be no disincentive for them to keep doing it.
And Affleck is the latest in a long line of rich men who have been accused of harassment and other, more serious crimes against women, and lived to tell the tale, careers intact. Admittedly the claims are not as serious as those levied against Cosby, Allen, or Polanski, but that doesn’t mean they should be trivialised. From all these case, though, we can see one thing clearly: wealth allows you to make problems of this nature go away. Wealth provides a security net. And the settlement process allows this whitewashing to happen.
Here’s the thing: cases of rape and harassment are under reported. Those that do make it to trial do not achieve a high success rate. Add to that the trauma of the proceedings, as well as the stigma which inevitably and unfairly attaches to the victims, and you can easily understand why the women involved would choose to settle rather than push their cases forward.
The settlement doesn’t imply that the actions never occurred, merely that the women involved were probably too unsure of success to believe that pushing things further would be worth it. The whole system, which should support the victim, often works against them. And make no mistake, women deal with this shit all the time, to a greater or lesser degree. There’s an argument to be made for that fact that these women deserved their settlement, for putting up with what they did.
I’m aware I’m assuming guilt in a lot of what I have said above, and as stated, there’s no real way to know that without a trial. But the way the world works points to some kind of inappropriate action having happened, and it’s be foolish to think otherwise.
The final kick on the teeth is that society accepts it. Life goes on. Mr Affleck gets his Oscar and his praise, and from an artistic point of view, maybe he deserves them. But what sticks in the craw is that even if he is not the type of man to do the things he was accused of (which in itself is hard to believe), there are many more like him who are, and who continue to get away with it while the world looks on and claps politely.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

I Miss Obama


It’s only been two months, right? But it feels longer. Soooo much longer. We’ve been subjected to a daily barrage of bluster, ego, and ignorance dressed up as knowledge, idiocy as virtue. It’s hard to escape it. As John Oliver said, it’s like a fart in a Volkswagen.
I yearn for the good old days, the days when the man who was President acted like it, when twitter tantrums were reserved for angry teenaged boys, and when we were blessed with an example of dignity and decorum we got so used to, it was like a slap in the face when the time came for it to leave. Did we even deserve Obama? (And by we, I mean the world. I’m no American, for better or worse, but the influence of the Presidency is felt far and wide.) Maybe we did and maybe we didn’t, but it sure as hell sucks now he’s gone.
It was so refreshing to see a man of principle remain so, despite the years of abuse, the nonsensical tirades and borderline (and outright) racism hurled at him and his family. Despite having to deal with an opposition whose number one priority was essentially to prevent him doing as much as they could (rather than, say, working to improve the country in whatever way possible), I never once saw him stoop to the level of his detractors. Despite the ridiculous nature of the birther movement, which cost time and money better spent elsewhere, Obama rose above.
Now, I’m not saying the man was perfect, but he was the closest I’ve seen in my life to what a politician should aspire to be. And it’s a shame that what followed him is exactly the opposite.
As the man himself said, progress is not guaranteed, and perhaps instead of whining about the past, I should be looking to the future. It seems fair to say that now is a time to focus on what can be done, rather than on what has been done. There is nothing to prevent the powers that be from taking everything that has been achieved and tearing it down, or building something worse in its place. (Some kind of wall, perhaps.) There is nothing to say that all that has been achieved, in the US and elsewhere, will not slowly (or swiftly) be eroded. But there is also hope. There is always hope.
The signs are encouraging, if you chose to look at them that way. The failure of the Muslim ban in court, the mobilisation of state powers against new and planned laws designed to enrich the rich, remove women’s control over their own bodies, and teach our children that if they’re different, they’re bad people with fewer rights than everyone else. These things and others can, and are, being challenged every day, by brave individuals in positions of power and in positions of no power, people of conscience, and people who are plain old tired of being pushed around.
Perhaps what we’ll see in the coming months and years is the resurgence of the spirit which won so many hard fought victories (some would say that spirit never went away), a massive, beautiful, and peaceful uprising which says no to fear, no to division, and no to injustice. And perhaps Barack will come back and join in the fight once more. Maybe after a few more months. Hell, the man’s earned a holiday.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

An open letter from the year 2016 to, the entire internet, apparently

Ok, here’s the thing you guys. I get it. I really do. It’s been a rough one. I’m not going to try and argue in any sense that the year which brought us Brexit and Trump has been without its downs, I’m not going to say that these aren’t things which should make you annoyed, or angry, or crestfallen, or inspire a general dislike for the human race in general and your countrywo/men in particular. I understand your feelings have been hurt. Some of your favourite people you’ve never met and don’t really know on a personal level saw fit to up and kick the bucket, and you’re hurting because you’ll never hear their new music or be excited by one of their new displays of acting ever again. I get it.

I, too, quite liked David Bowie; I’m as partial to a cool lightning bolt as the next guy. And Prince had at least five catchy songs. Besides, the way he kept changing his name was amusing. George Michael had some good songs, too; you know, the ones I never admit to my friends. I liked Gene Wilder and Alan Rickman. They were funny and talented, and although I never went out of my way to watch them, when I did, I always thought, I don’t regret spending that time. And my life is much shorter than (most of) yours, so that’s saying something.
Like I said, I understand why those things suck. But it’s not my fault. It’s yours. You created me. A year is simply an artificially chosen portion of the time the earth moves around the sun. You could as logically count from July 2016 to July 2017. You diced up the days and created the months. I am what you made me.
Also, listen. I didn’t create death. I know that I am a unit of time, and thus deaths will occur within me, but I didn’t cause them. Blaming time is like being angry at the bar graph which shows incidences of car crashes. You should really be blaming yourselves. Death is part of the human condition. If you’d spent more time trying to conquer disease and aging, and less time arguing and slaughtering each other, you could have been free of death by now. It’s your own fault, really; it’s your nature.
It’s also your nature to look for easy options for your anger (see the above-mentioned Trump and Brexit for prime examples of how bullshit works). So I understand why you want to scapegoat me. But I’m not having it.
And here’s the other thing, you guys. It hasn’t been all bad, has it? There have been good things, too; the ups, in opposition to the downs. If you’re reading this, you made it (well, almost; hang in there until that countdown hits zero and you all shout and cheer). All that laughter you had. Those children who were born, the birthday you must have had, all the good movies you saw (by the way: for Rogue One – you’re welcome). You’ve been to weddings, parties, and had great nights all. All those new people you met, all that art you created, all that sex you had. Yeah, where’s my props now?
So lay off me. Don’t it feel good to be alive? Despite the downs, you had a year of pure, unadulterated life. That shit is a gift. And you had your ups. So stop fucking moaning.
By the way, you think 2017 is going to be any better? Statistically, with the prevalence of fame and the increasing awareness of the lives of others, more of your favourite people you’ve never met will die in 2017. There’ll be natural disasters and stupid politicians saying stupid things; there’ll be terrorism and war and disease. But there’ll also be love and hope and joy.
Now, how you deal with all that is up to you. Maybe instead of lamenting the problems of the year, you could get off your asses and set about solving the problems that made it so awful for you in the first place, if it even was that bad. But what I’m saying to you is: this is on you, not me. So if you want to piss and moan and cuss me out, fine. But don’t expect the transition of one arbitrary division of time to the next to solve anything. If you want 2017 to be better than I have been, you’re going to have to make it happen it yourselves.
How does that strike you? You want me gone? Fair enough. I can’t wait to be rid of you, either. I’m going, and I’m never coming back. Just make sure you don’t look back one day and say, damn, 2016 wasn’t so bad after all, I really wish I had that time again. You never will.
2016, out.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Drumpf

I sat down at my computer and sighed. I debated with myself whether to write this thing at all. We’ve all heard so much of it already and are sick to the back teeth, and things don’t look like they’re going to change in at least four years, despite optimistic predictions of impeachment, or trial, or the ‘second amendment people’ doing their thing. If this started as a joke, it’s ended as a coughing fit that’s bringing up blood.
I’m tired of it, you see. Tired of having to explain to people how, yes, associating with a racist doesn’t necessarily make you a racist, but it makes you something. Of how blindingly obvious it seems to me that a man who mocks disabled people is not a man who deserves any position of power. I’m tired of pointing out horrors and having them explained away, of misogyny being downplayed or overlooked, of idiocy and the language of fear triumphing.
I can understand it, of course. The failure of successive governments to address economic and societal woes, the ease with which the media are permitted to promote biased and blatantly untrue stories, the fear of the different which is at the core of so much of human action. But still, how a woman votes for a man whose tag line is ‘grab them by the pussy’ is beyond me. How a minority votes for a man who openly categorises them as criminal, or who is supported by the KKK and refuses to renounce such support, is beyond me. How a working class man votes for a man whose entire empire is built on the trampling of the working class is beyond me.
Perhaps I’m tired of democracy, of populations who’d rather believe in magical ways out than search for real solutions, tired of the easy targets of race and immigration being used as political hot buttons time and again. Maybe we should make it mandatory for factual information on key issues to be presented before any vote; maybe we should improve our education before the lack of it kills us.
But it isn’t going to end any time soon. Like I said, four more years, and also the slow drag of Uncertainty in the UK, our new banner. The rise of the far right in Europe. It’s draining, it’s terrifying.
And if that weren’t enough, we have a man who refuses to accept climate change, in a position where he is able to make important decisions about the future of our planet. Without exaggeration, humans face a problem beyond anything we have ever faced, and sound policy and technological advancement are the only ways to effectively address it. If we get it wrong, we’re doomed. As in, literally facing extinction. And it seems we may be about to get it very wrong. But as long as the economy is fine, who cares, right? As long as I don’t have to worry about foreigners coming to my country and taking all my jobs and women.
(An amusing aside is the way the historical parallels are conveniently ignored. Sure, the US was once invaded by people with far more nefarious intentions than any refugee fleeing shells and starvation, but that was all two hundred years ago. Now, the land belongs to the people who stole it fair and square.)
But it’s at times like these that it’s worth thinking of what we can do. President Obama, perhaps my all-time favourite politician, is a man of great eloquence and optimism. Emerging from his tenure into what must follow is like the journey from summer to winter. Even in the face of what we’ve seen throughout 2016, I know he urges us not to give up. Because if we give up, then we are truly doomed. There are fights to be fought, and there are millions of good people still willing to do the right thing.
Of course, flowery rhetoric means nothing. And all the blogs in the world won’t change much, especially not from this side of the Atlantic. I honestly don’t know what the point this blog is, except to say that I need to regroup, remind myself that not everyone is an idiot and that not everything is shit. Not all countries are ruled by demagogues shouting slogans and waving talismans. And really just keep hope alive. All is not lost. At least, not yet.

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity

Monday, 26 September 2016

My Life Extra

A meditation on my current situation, and the difference attitude can make.

My life sucks: I have no job, no real income, and I am unable to make any solid plans for doing anything. I am always stressed about money and can’t do a lot of the things I’d like to do. I have no ability to get new things.
My life rules: I don’t have to pay rent, and so am able to subsist on my current savings, without depleting them too far. I get money from the taxpayer just for looking for work, and I am able to do things now and again, using my ‘let me not go crazy’ stash of money. I won’t starve, and I won’t freeze. I have everything I need.
My life sucks: My career has been tainted by a previous role, even though I was trying my hardest to do the right thing, and I am struggling to move forward. On top of that I have to appear as a witness at trials, and it’s never clear when that will be, but it is stressful and takes up my time.
My life rules: My CV is good, I have had a security-cleared job since the aforementioned one, and when I do find work the pay will likely be good. I have helped the police bring people to justice and behaved honourably.
My life sucks: I live in an isolated area, far from my friends, many of whom have left the UK anyway. It takes hours to get to and from the city, where all the action is. The area where I live is quiet and boring, and I have the same conversations over and over.
My life rules: I still have a lot of good friends here, who take the time to make plans with me. I am still able to get into town for drinks, writing group, and other events. I was able to get a bike, which makes travel a lot easier. The area where I live is safe, and I am able to spend time with my Nan.
My life sucks: I have no girl, and there seems little chance of that changing any time soon. The girls where I live are all either in college or married, and the social scene is non-existent, unless you count nights down the pub. Opportunities to meet someone are few, and it’s not impressive to say I’m unemployed and live with my grandmother.
My life rules: Opportunities sometimes have to be made. I am able to go to events and go out with friends from time to time. Despite my living situation, things won’t be this way forever. The city is filled with talented, beautiful, intelligent women, and some of them even think I’m cute.
My life sucks: I’m stuck in a rut. I have achieved very little, and compared to people I know, my life is pretty much a failure. I am not married, nor do I have a house or a stable career. I seem to be caught in a cycle of progress and stagnation.
My life rules: I must examine my life on my own terms, instead of those used by others. I have been the victim of circumstance, but how I respond to it is entirely my choice. I have the means to make things better for myself, and every day I am working hard to do so. I must maintain a belief in the future.
My life sucks: my day-to-day life is boring. I have a routine, which involves exercise, job searching, writing, housework and maintenance. I struggle to find glamour in the ordinary.
My life rules: I am disciplined enough to work every day, exercise every day, write or edit every day. I have been able to complete stories. If I were working, I’d still be stung by the grind of routine, but it can bring stability and purpose. I have access to the internet and free entertainment.
My life sucks: Consistent rejection has the power to diminish my sense of self-worth, in the areas of job applications (~300 applied for), online dating, stories and books submitted to agents and publishers.
My life rules: Consistent striving builds character. Nothing in life worth having comes easy. I am putting in the effort, so I will not die wondering. Odds are, sooner or later, something’s got to give.
My life sucks: I am frustrated, restless, my mood is often agitated or unhappy. I feel as if I am in a situation I do not deserve. I struggle to avoid feelings of isolation, loneliness, and despair.
My life rules: I am (pretty much) healthy. I have the intellectual and emotional intelligence to understand that the situation will change, and to understand that the world doesn’t owe me anything. I have a good network of friends and family who I can turn to for assistance.

‘Better than a dog anyhow.’

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Suicide Squad

Of course, Spoilers follow

So I’ve seen Suicide Squad, the latest DC offering, and I was thinking about just what I enjoyed and what I didn’t. I thought there was a fair bit to like about Suicide Squad; not to damn it with faint praise, but I didn’t come out of the film with my mind blown. Having said that, neither did I regret the cost of admission. I have to say that this is the default state with me at the moment, I’m much more picky or demanding than I used to be about films, and it takes a lot more for me to be wowed. I guess that’s what happens, the more films you see, and it isn’t necessarily a reflection on the film itself.
One thing which deserves mentioning: DC are under a lot of pressure right now, and it’s having the effect that, if their movies aren’t instant classics, they’re immediately trashed by many fans and critics alike. To me, this is unfair, but I understand that they feel the need to ‘catch up’ to Marvel, and the resonance this has with many when watching the films; still, I’d say that if DC could forget this need and just focus purely on film-making, they’d probably do a better job.
In any case, here are a few thoughts I had. I’ve tried to but the dislikes first, generally speaking, and the likes after that, but sometimes these things get mixed up.
The Rating: Suicide Squad is about some nasty characters, so why not go all out and make it an 18 film? The answer, as it is for so many things, is probably money, i.e. more people can see it if it’s PG-13, but for me, if we’d had a Joker carving people up, a Killer Croc who we see actually killing someone (not just dragging them into the water), or some of the more crazy things Harley has done, it’d feel truer to the characters. Not gore for the sake of gore, but if you’re going dark Joker, then don’t go in half-assed.
Trailer Fatigue: I actively avoided watching too many trailers for the film, and still felt like I’d seen too much before I went in. Again, it’s probably a money thing (trailers must get bums in seats; once the bums are there, the money has already been spent), and it’s not a problem unique to this movie, but it is annoying.
Similarly, but distinctly, I hate it when things appear in the trailer which aren’t in the film. There was a fair bit of that for Suicide Squad, especially Joker moments.
The Villain: Having a villain who’s intertwined with a human is a nice idea, and Cara Delevingne does a good job with the script she’s given, but the whole ‘I’m going to kill all the humans’ idea is a little done. I’m also not a fan of magic in comic book films, because it doesn’t feel like it fits, and too often is just lazy writing. In a movie where villains are the good guys, their enemy needs to be some kind of evil that you really hate, and I just didn’t feel much either way about the Enchantress. Not a compelling character.
I did like the idea that Waller’s attempt to control the Enchantress bites her in the ass (a theme also seen with the first Harley Quinn escape). Side note: I’d have had Doctor Moon stay dead, too, but it’s not a big issue.
Too Much Sugar: Having the Squad bond and all become like family by the end of one mission seemed a little too sickly sweet for me. I understand these people are supposed to be anti-heroes, bad but likeable, united by their common bond of a shared shitty situation, but in the end it’s all a bit too sweet. Diablo’s noble sacrifice also felt tacky to me.
Ensemble Cast: the large cast worked for some, and for others it just didn’t feel like we got much of them at all. It’s hard to pull off balance in a movie like this, but less Flag would have been good, in favour of more for Katana, Croc, Diablo, and even Boomerang. I don’t feel like I know them all that well, so it’s hard to care about them. Oh, and it was obvious when Slipknot was brought in that his purpose would be to die to show the bombs are real. He didn’t even get a backstory.
Bats! I loved seeing Batman in this film, and the cameo for The Flash was cool too. It looks like Batman has moved on from his murdering phase in BvS, and is back to being the non-killing hero we know and love. This is great, and I think a nice development for him. The movie isn’t about him, but you know me: the more Batman, the better.
The Action: I found the action to be solid enough. Having former-human-now-weird-slave-things for the Squad to kill removed a bit of the moral trouble that having them kill ‘real’ people would have (although the movie never even addresses whether the former people could be saved, in favour of smashing them to pieces), and the action in fighting them is solid. Not amazing, but there are some good parts. I did like the weird black mess left by Enchantress’ brother and his go-go-gadget arms.
Deadshot: I was a bit surprised when they cast Will Smith, mostly because he doesn’t usually play stone-cold killers, but I thought he did well with the character. He gets a lot of screen time, and despite not being a favourite DC character of mine, I found his actions throughout the movie made sense and worked within the story. The Deadshot from the Arrow TV show is a lot harder to like, and I can see why they didn’t go that way with him.
Harley Quinn: Really very pleased with Robbie’s performance as Harley Quinn. She captured the playfulness of the character well, as well as, of course, the unhinged-ness. Harley is funny, and brings levity to otherwise heavy situations. The jokes went down well, but you also saw that she hides intelligence beneath the crazy exterior, and people will often underestimate her. A really good first live-action performance.
The Joker: Well, following Ledger was always going to be difficult, and Leto certainly put his own mark on the character, which is exactly what was needed. I read that a lot of his scenes were cut, which disappointed me; even though it’s not a Joker film, he was a big selling point. So, I’d be very interested to see more of him. I liked what he did, getting that unpredictable, freaky, ruthless Joker down pat. Different again to Ledger, and I wouldn’t say better, but a really good job.
The Plot: Having the Squad rescue Waller from a problem of her own making, as I touched on above, was good. I think that the team just needed a common enemy, a way to get them started. It’ll be interesting to see what happens next, if they do another film, but I thought the plot was ok, fairly standard. In a film with so many characters, too much complication in the plot would not have helped.
So, overall I thought it wasn’t bad. Not up there with the Dark Knight, but then what is? For the sake of Harley and the Joker alone, it’s worth rewatching, and I’d like to see an extended version with the missing footage. It’s clear that Suicide Squad will not go down as a classic, due to the issues I’ve mentioned, but it was nice to see new characters and a new style of hero, and I was impressed by many of the performances I saw.
Final rating: 6.5 out of 10

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

True Bible Stories

I
And Jesus spake unto them, saying: ‘yea, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed.’
And Peter was like: ‘really? Cool. How so?’
And Jesus said: ‘… oh, ah… you guys normally just accept things like this without question. It’s kind of why I like keeping you around.’
And Peter looked at his watch.
And Jesus said: ‘uh… well, it’s small… but a whole lot bigger on the inside.’
And verily someone cried: ‘that’s from Doctor Who.’
And Jesus went: ‘um… I mean, it’s good in casseroles…’ and he pulled out his wand and said ZAP! (for he liked to do his own sound effects), and all the people gathered present were transformed unto pigs, but not in a cool way like in Transformers. And verily, all the pigs that had been gathered there were transformed unto men, and Jesus frowned at his wand and spake unto it, saying ‘huh. Well that wasn’t supposed to happen. Better get this thing checked out.’

II
And Jesus spake unto the crowd, saying: ‘do unto others, as you would have done unto you.’
And a voice from the back cried: ‘what about if I am a total masochist?’
And Jesus saith unto the voice: ‘God dammit Larry, why do you always gotta interrupt my big speeches. All the gravitas has been lost now.’
To this Larry replied: ‘then how come we’re not all floating off into space?’
And thus Jesus was miffed, and he pointed a finger at Larry. ‘One more crack outta you, and I’ll boop you straight to hell.’
So Larry held up his hands in that way Neil DeGrasse Tyson does when he encounters a badass. But when Jesus turned away to resume his pontification, Larry didst whisper to the guy next to him, ‘you know, I was the guy who came up with that whole Jeebus thing.’
And the guy saith: ‘No. Way.’
And Larry saith back: ‘Way. But I don’t get no credit for it at all.’
And Jeebus Jesus, who, being a superhero, had super hearing, was all ‘I knew it’, and booped Larry to hell, accompanied by one of those flashes that Q made on Star Trek: The Next Generation, which made for an odd audio-visual combination. It also made Larry wonder if Q could beat Jesus in a fight.
Before he had time to articulate this thought, Larry appeared in hell and was all: Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’, in a brilliant piece of dramatic foreshadowing.
And Jesus didst Q-flash/boop into hell and turned his brow heavy upon Larry, and spake, saying: ‘what the hell, man? First you mess with my name, which is blasphemous bee-tee-dubya, and then you steal my lines?’
And Larry replied unto the Lord: ‘Dude, what’s up with this whole hell thing? Seems a bit excessive, no? Eternal suffering for a few wise cracks?’
And Jesus said: ‘Hey, I didn’t build this place.’ And he drew a breath and cried, ‘Daaaaaaaddd!’
And God, who also utilised the flashboop method of transportation, appeared unto them in the very midst of hell. And he spake: ‘What? I’m right in the middle of dinner.’
And thus Larry came to wonder why God would need to make dinner, but he decided to stick with one major theological question for the time being. And when Jesus shrugged and pointed at Larry, saying, my friend has a question about hell, Larry didst flash Jesus the stink eye, and then he began, thus: ‘I mean, I was just wondering, sir… that is… doesn’t the whole concept of hell seem a bit excessive to you?’
And God was like, ‘what do you mean?’
And Larry says: ‘well, for starters all I did was crack a few jokes, and now I have a demon ready to insert a hot poker into various parts of me for all eternity. At worst I deserve a good talking to, maybe a night in jail. But let’s say I’d done something really bad, the worst person ever, and I’d enslaved the entire human race in perpetuity, condemning it to generations of suffering and torment until our sun explodes and kills us all. Suppose all that was done, even then, all the pain I created will fade; All sin is finite, since human life is finite. Thus, an eternal punishment lacks all proportion, even for the most grievous of crimes.’
And God saith: ‘sins are also sins against the creator, unmoved and eternal.’
And Larry said: ‘would it help if I told you to chillax? There’s no need to be angry all the time.’
And Jesus looked at Larry nervously, and shook his head. So Larry changed tack: ‘Look, this place clearly violates the Eighth Amendment.’
And God boomed: ‘YOU DARE TO QUESTION ME AND MY CREATION?’
And Larry quavered; but then, realising he was already in hell, decided to press on, saying: ‘Yes, that’s about the size of it.’
And God said: ‘Ok, good. Just wanted to be sure. Sometimes I’m a little hard of hearing.’
And Larry replied thus: ‘Oh…’
And Jesus said: ‘Dad, he’s the one who came up with that whole Jeebus thing.’
And God was all: ‘Hahahahahahaha! That was hilario! Here is your reward, my child.’ And he booped Larry out of hell and sent him to Detroit instead. Then, turning to his son/self, he spake once more, saying: ‘Dude, you can’t just send people to hell like that, even if they do really annoy you.’
And Jesus gazed upon the glory of his father/self, and said: ‘Whaaaaat? Isn’t that the total point of this place? You do it all the time.’
And God replied: ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’
And Jesus, remembering that he was due to be crucified in about two weeks’ time, said: ‘I guess you’ll want to ground me for a couple weeks.’
And God saith unto Jesus: ‘Nice try, wise guy… let’s try a month.’
Thus Jesus was all: ‘Oh, no…’ and promptly flashbooped off to his room to play Arkham Asylum for a month, and develop a serious case of gamer’s thumb. And, seeing the future, he realised two things: the first was that he had just prevented Christianity (and the other religion that everyone’s too scared to make jokes about) from ever occurring, thus saving the world (and himself) more pain and suffering than it could imagine - and so the prophecy was fulfilled. And the second thing was that by thus avoiding the Dark Ages, he’d sped up the invention of cool things like Playstation and the iPod by at least 500 years.

III
And Moses said unto Pharaoh: ‘Let my people goooooooo!’
And Pharaoh was like: ‘Nah. I need them to build all my cool shit. Otherwise I’ll have to pay Polish guys to do it, and while they’re cheap, they aint cheaper than free.’
As Moses was all: ‘Ah, come oooooooooonnn. I’ll let you have my stick that turns into a snake.’
And Pharaoh spake thus: ‘What happened to your beautiful sing-song voice? This one’s all whiny and annoying.’
And Moses replied unto Pharaoh, shrugging: ‘I’ve been hanging out with Gilbert Gottfried a lot.’
And Pharaoh spake: ‘Well, quit hassling me, or I’ll have you crucified. And that really hurts.’
To which Moses replieth: ‘Wait, what? They don’t do that in Egypt. Do they?’
And Pharaoh was like: ‘I’m Pharaoh, bitch, I do what I want.’
And Moses didst mumble: ‘More like Pharaoh Fawcett.’ But fortunately for him Pharaoh had lost interest, and was busy playing an early version of Tetris with real bricks, and slaves to move them around.
And so Moses left the palace and his people remained where they were. But the people had really good lawyers, and so they unionised and negotiated much better rates (better being anything more than zero per hour), i.e. two carrots and a small bag of wheat per day (which doesn’t sound like much, but in those days it was enough to buy your whole weekly shop, and have money left over for a day at the races and a bag of penny sweets). And they also claused it thus: that in any movies made about the time, all the main characters must be played by popular white actors rather than ‘ethnics’, as this increases ‘audience engagement’ and is good for the brand.
And thus, due to spiralling labour costs, Pharaoh was forced to reduce to scope of his building plans and lay off several thousand local workers, causing much damage to the economy and the local tourism industry, not to mention a lot of resentment between the Jews and Gentiles ever since. And indeed many Jews have since moved that the word Gentile be changed, since the way they have been treated has been far from gentile, on many occasions.

IV
Verily God didst flashboop Larry back into hell, saying unto him: ‘were you serious when you said all that stuff about hell?’
And Larry looked around him and thought unto himself, well, at least I aint in Detroit any more. And he replied unto God: ‘Totes.’
And God was like: ‘Ok, well, what do you think I should do?’
And Larry spake unto the Lord, saying: ‘man, how the fuck I know? Aint you s’posed to be omnipotent and stuff?’
And God saith: ‘It goes in and out. Besides, I don’t pay as much attention to you humans as people seem to think. I have other things going on in my life, you know.’
And, sensing that what God really wanted was a little rant, Larry said: ‘Tell me about it.’
And God was all: ‘I know right. You know I didn’t even create most of you myself? That’s right, I outsourced it. That turned out to be a mistake. Why do you think there’s so much substandard work?’
And Larry wondered if he himself was one of the substandard ones, but said nothing.
Thus God continued: ‘Honestly, you little bastards are so demanding. So much of what you ask for is the most petty crap.’ And verily God spake in a whiny voice. ‘”Save my cat, Lord. Help me win this football game.” Jesus. You wonder why I tune it out most of the time.’
And Larry was like: ‘I hear ya. But still, you want my opinion about hell, it’s still a bit much, no? A bit OTT? Why don’t you maybe have like a room, boring and dark, where all people get to do is sit and listen to Enya for a thousand years.’
And God saith unto Larry: ‘We already have that in heaven. It’s where I go when I’m super wired. Man, I fucking love a bit of Enya from time to time. Really glad I created her myself.’
And Larry spake, saying: ‘Oh…’
And God went on, as was his wont and his privilege: ‘I will consider some changes. Thanks for listening, Larry. Now I will send you home to Detroit.’
And Larry said: ‘I’m not actually from Detroit.’
And God said: ‘Oh, sorry… like I said, not always paying attention.’
Thus Larry thought, and he replieth unto the Lord: ‘I’m from an island that was destroyed in the Great Flood, known as Katrina. It was beautiful, tropical, full of booze and weed and beautiful women who wanted nothing more than to satisfy my every whim.’ And he sighed. ‘Alas alack. My home is no more.’
And God took pity unto Larry, saying: ‘My bad.’ And he snapped his fingers dramatically, saying: ‘It is remade.’
And Larry was all: ‘Really? Sweet! Thanks dude, you’re the best.’
And God was like: ‘I know.’
And Larry replied unto God: ‘Stop by any time for a chat,’ even though he meant it not.
And God said: ‘I might just do that.’
And verily he flashbooped Larry away to his new home.