Sleepy again, today. I was up until one am, again. Finished Simon Clark's *Stranger* last night. I was disappointed by one aspect, which has nothing to do with the author's presentation, but with my own wishes. When the characters are stuck in a military bunker, while masses of infected souls dwell outside hungry for blood, and the main chars's only source of info is this disembodied voice, I was hoping the voice would turn out to be an insane AI... Kind of the computer that keeps running, long after its programmers are no longer amongst the quick. Alas it was not meant to be. The voice belonged to a lunatic person... I could see how the novel's ending which came about relied on this salient fact, but I think the insane AI would have been a neato twist. Other than that the writing was quite good. Synopsis: Greg Valdiva is a stranger in the town of Sullivan (a town on an isthmus apparently close to NYC). The townsfolk allow him to stay (nay, treat him somewhat akin to kingly) because he has a odd ability to detect Jumpy infection. See, the world has gone in the toilet bowl due to a weird disease which started in South America and spread to the US on the backs and in the blood of countless refugees. The infection has a long term dormancy and then makes the victims explode into acts of violence and naughtiness. Greg can sense when people have it, even before they show any outward signs. He then goes into blood rages and butchers the infected. Not his fault and he doesn't understand why, but it's a useful skill nonetheless. Well, as the town becomes more insular (ultimately outlawing any strangers whatsoever) Greg realizes that the town's terrors are starting to turn inward on themselves. This culminates with the town performing a brutal murder (ala Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery") as a warning against anyone having even slight contact with Outsiders; after witnessing this, Greg leaves town. Out in the blasted world, he encounters survivors, and bizarre mysteries -- including a beautifully twisted version of hornets, hives and butterflies -- an ultimately makes the transition from a Reactive Force to an Active Force in the world.
Watched *The Apprentice* last night. Nice to see the teams split up, the sexes mingling. Of course, next week, we get "love". That'll only last until the two are left standing, then it will be everyone for themselves (ala the flashback sequence from *Battle Royale*). Afterwards, however, saw one of those excitingly bizarre game shows from Japan. The dubbing job was all cheesy American, had not much to do with the show, but was somewhat funny. No, Most Extreme Elimination Challenge is just hilarious to watch. What a screwy fecking show! I laughed my ass off! We watched two, and recorded two more... Quite hilarious. Ah, George Sakai's comment in The Simpsons is astute: "In America, you reward knowledge, while we punish ignorance." The hilarity is all due to people's stupidity, and hilarious, it is!
Gamed last night. It was pretty good, until the end. End was too weak. The chars managed to *barely* get through the challenges inside the gnoll fortification with their skin in tact. Then, it was a final Run The Gauntlet scenario through the wounded mass of gnolls, through open ground, and out to the trees. They got peppered with occasional arrows, but ultimately the gnolls didn't give chase. Why? Because I was tired. :) I suppose I can make the story point that the gnolls decided: 1) they didn't know how many more forces were secreted in the town, 2) the chars would lead pursuers into a trap, and 3) they were so disoriented by the distractions, that they decided to reorganize. Now the clock is ticking. Four weeks to mount a defense. Of course, most of this will be out of the characters's hands, as they are still little fish in the big fight to come. Chars got good rewards for the challenge, but they got away too easy in the end. Rather unrealistic, according to the gritty story axioms already established.
Well, Pete just told me that the rain has already started. Time to go. I'll see what the goiles are up to for lunch.