Winning gold in Olympic yawning

 

The Olympic Games is one of the most boring and futile spectacles yet invented by humans, so the approach of the last day will bring no dismay.

Every four years the best athletes in the world join together to compete in running, jumping, and falling over while their non-running, non-jumping, non-falling over compatriots ecstatically cheer them on.

My, what a fuss those compatriots kick up, painted and draped in the national colours, cheering, waving flags as if it were an Olympic sport of its own. The fans don’t seem to be celebrating that their athletes are the technical best at running, jumping, and falling over, but that they and their nation are innately, inherently the best in the most absolute and fundamental way possible; that they are racially, culturally, morally, naturally, spiritually, genetically superior to everyone because of their abilities at running, jumping, and falling over.

Each victory, near victory, or humiliating loss being greeted with such emotions, such screaming, cheering, crying, and raised arm salutes as to suggest that all this running, jumping, and falling over actually matters to the universe and everyone in it on a very fundamental level.

Never mind that the victors and losers are separated by microseconds, by millimetres, by quantities of time and distance that cannot be measured by humans alone, that require the most sophisticated of machines to calculate, the kinds of machines that normally would be employed measuring the amount of gravitational shift caused by a butterfly flapping its wings on a small planet orbiting a star the other side of the galaxy. In other words, amounts that normal people shouldn’t give a fuck about.

And never mind that the winners in four year’s time will be from totally different countries which makes the nationalistic hoopla look as silly as it is.

The Olympics are thought to have been first held in 776 (when, sensibly and mercifully, there was only one event) so you would have thought that in 2,792 years people would have noticed that the outcomes are a wee bit arbitrary.

Bill Murray tweeted that every event should include an ordinary person as a measure,

and that’s a very good idea because Michael Phelps just swam the equivalent of the distance from my house to the end of the street in the same time I could walk it; well, I just pulled a bogey the size of a rat out of my nose: where’s my medal?

And the Olympics are a very, very expensive exercise in futility indeed. The stadiums in this year’s games cost millions that could have been better spent on drugs in Rio’s favelas — which is entirely the Russian team’s approach to the games.

And what’s more, once the games are finished, the sites will go back to the jungle like Angkor Wat or Chernobyl.

For all the energetic running, jumping and falling over, let’s not forget that the games are celebration of obesity because each run, jump and fall is branded with the Coca Cola and McDonald’s logos, purveyors of fine sugar, fat, and heart attacks. Eat enough of this stuff and you too can run, jump and fall over — or at least fall over, and at this top-flight level, one out of three is pretty good.

Then what about the International Olympic Committee itself? Committed to building a better world through sport, or as the rest of us would call it, rampant bribery and corruption. Given the amount of money that’s being sloshed around on Rolexes and little girls, cheering the Olympic athletes is a lot like cheering the gunmen during the St Valentine’s Day massacre.

However, there is one mitigation of the games, and to be honest it’s a pretty big mitigation, one reason to actually feel a bit grateful, and that’s a prompt to go to YouTube and remind ourselves of Eddie Izzard’s vision of the stoned Olympics.

Now, do I get any kind of medal for this rant?

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Bollocks to … summer

All right! Enough everybody! Enough! This summer has gone way beyond a joke now. Silly! Silly!
What is it now? About 30 consecutive days of 35 or 36C? I hear that Osaka scored 38C today. Thirty-eight! I mean, fuck off, OK?
marmalade fission

The sun shooting blocks of ice at the Earth for climate change deniers to catch in their teeth

And this is not the cor-blimey-worra-lark dry heat of Spain or North Africa. This is wet heat. It is fetid heat. This is hot marmalade injected directly into your lungs heat.

I don’t know what the temperature peaked at here today, but my air conditioners couldn’t keep up. I’m not kidding. The inside temperature with the aircon set to 24 was pretty consistently 30C. The unit in my man cave actually gave up in the afternoon and just wheezed and groaned, which is exactly what I was doing, sprawled on the floor instead of doing all the things I was supposed to be doing. I had some simple email to write to some clients — not a lot, just a bit — and it was about 4pm by the time I had enough strength in my arms to put my hands on the keyboard to do that.
Had an uncharacteristically good sleep last night, then went outside about 9am to do a little heavy-ish lifting for Eiko. Wasn’t outside for more than 30 mins, came back in exhausted and covered in mosquito bites. And then that was that for my day. The end. I waved goodbye to my chips. May as well have put me in general anaesthetic and woken me up at sundown.
Talking of sundown, at 7pm it was still 31C in my room. Seven-effing-pm.
This was a day I will not get back again. And I lost it to the bloody weather. How ineffably asinine is that?
The story I’m working on has gone untouched. As has the picture I wanted to do. Marketing my stuff or looking for new work? Laugh laugh laugh laugh laugh till I pass out with heat. Not laugh laugh laugh till I piss myself, because my kidneys have completely dried out now.
And there are people, even people I know, people I know who read Brietbart and the Mail and the Express and the Telegraph and watch the BBC, who will tell me that climate change is not happening. The planet is boiling off its bedrock and these people are going ‘No, it isn’t! No such thing as man-made climate change. New ice age, that’s what it is. Caused by very cold sun spots. Look! There’s a polar bear!’
So that’s enough. No, not funny. Wasn’t funny to start with, even more not funny now. I want everyone to stay absolutely still and quiet until I find out who caused this bloody silly weather — or I will do when I extinguish these flames because I seem to have caught fire.
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Spot the difference: Theresa may be a monster

Questions must be asked.

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It’s international BoJo day!

It’s international BoJo day! I speculatively made this graphic a couple of weeks ago. Today it looks spookily prescient.

brave new weird-600px

 

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Fool Britannia!

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Graphic by Page with apologies to Willy Stöwer

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Lord of the Misgivings

Oh, what’s that sound? Oh, it’s you. Yes, it’s safe, you can come out of your hobbit hole, little hobbit.

Yes, Littleshire has been made safe.

The Sun is shining righteously. All the brown people are gone. There’s a pot of Elvish gold outside your door which fell by a fair-minded wind.

Best of all, all the Eurorcs have gone back to the smoky undemocratic wastes of Brussdor.

It is I, wizard Boris Faragedalf, and I confess I have made this land a utopia by magic. I waved my magic wand and made it so — fancy that! Fancy a fag and a pint?

Yes, come out … Oh, it’s you, Fraido Muggins. Yes, little hobbit, fear has been banished from the land and so have your other enemies: reason and humanity.

Oh look, the folk of Littleshire are having a fete to fete their fine victory. There’s morris dancing and dwarf tossing, and various wholesome activities to do with sheep and pigs and wellington boots.

That smell? That’s the smell of roasted fatty-eurocrat, you know, the animal that’s been eating all the food you’ve grown and traded to him for so many years — what a foul, greedy beast! And just desserts, don’t you think? We’ve got it turning on a spit.

Oh, yes, like I say, you are snug in your hole in the Shire. Why, I can see rose vines growing on your nose, even as I speak.

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Book-stealing worm in cyberspace — King of the Undies World pinched

 

So, King of the Undies World (damn fine novel) is now available for free download.

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The parasite that stole my book — Illustration by Chris Page

It went on offer on May 24 and is presented online, complete with full-colour reproduction of the cover — Hades in his underpants glory — and an impressive Twitter-like feed of user comments — glowing, effulgent user comments!

Here are some of the comments:

Jenny Martins
Finally I get this ebook, thanks for all these King of the Undies World (Underpants of Fire Book 1) I can get now!

and

Markus Jensen
I did not think that this would work, my best friend showed me this website, and it does! I get my most wanted eBook

and

Michael Strebensen
wtf this great ebook for free?!

And so the comments go on at embarrassing length. Dozens of them!

Well, the punters seem to be well pleased — ecstatically so!

Aw, shucks, guys, you’re really too much!

This would be fantastic but for one thing: none of these people are real and this exciting giveaway has nothing to do with me.

King of the Undies World has effectively been stolen — yes, someone is giving my book away without asking me, without paying me and without even telling me. I found out about this irresistible offer completely by accident, not through any approach of proposal or permission.

How is a potential Nobel laureate to make a living when pirates are pinching his hard work and spreading it across space like confetti?

But wait!

It gets worse.

I have reason to believe that the link does not in fact lead to 75,000 words of underpants jokes, but to a virus infected file — a nasty Trojan worm of a a destructor file that will steal your life, kill all those dearest to you and repaint your house in an embarrassing shade of mauve before setting fire to it.

A dollop of digital sociopathy with my bloody name on it.

No, I’m not good with this at all.

So, who the fuck is this that’s stealing my life’s work to his own knobby end?

No idea. This worm seems to be tucked away in a maze of fake domains and cyber mirrors and trap doors but the fake offer also gets listed on at least one Google directory.

So, no, this is not good at all.

I complained to someone but I’m not sure in all this shifting cyber-fuge who I actually complained to. My message might have led to a dawn raid by Interpol on the rock under which this worm hangs out, or the complaint might have slipped down a virtual hole into the laps of the giggling, piratical hackerpaths themselves. It might have gone to my grandmother in the afterlife. It might turn up tomorrow in my morning sandwich. I really don’t know.

So, let’s be clear, I have not offered any of my books for free. If you come across a too-good-to-be-true offer to download and wallow in my words, be aware that it really is too good to be true. And if it is an actual download of the book, then it is stolen. If it’s a virus, then your hard drive might end up a smoking ruin,

So, if you find any free downloads of my stories, they are not legit and may even be contaminated. You might drop me a message to say that you have seen this deal, and maybe include the URL, so I can home in on this bastard and nail his scrotum to his own forehead.

If I do any free downloads they will go through psipook.com, chris-page.com, Kindle, or Goodreads, and that’s that.

 

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Brexiteers in need of sex education

Seems that Britain’s campaign to leave the EU has gone to delightfully racy (and presumably short) lengths to get their message across.

While most of us thought that for the Leave campaign the issue was all about xenophobia, not having to bother with foreign languages or smelly food, it was in fact about birth control.

Brexiteers have begun distributing condoms printed with the messages: ‘Vote leave: It’s riskier to stay in’, and ‘Vote Leave: the safer choice.’

They don’t seem to realise that the point of condoms is you don’t have to pull out.

Now, who’s going to tell them?

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Message to a gobshite gaijin

To the gobshite gaijin at the table next to ours last night when I was attempting to have a nice evening out with my wife: shut the fuck up!

Item: you talk incessentantly as if a moment’s silence would bring an immediate end to the universe, as if your shit were the actual dance of Shiva.

Item: you are full of shit.  I’ll give you a clue: no one gives a fuck for your tales of how much you like or don’t like Justin Beiber or which brand of coffee you drink or your preferred colour of socks. Starting a sentence with ‘I’ does not make it meaningful or worthwhile — only having a clue in your head can create value.

Item: being a gaijin does not make you a rock star. There are 125 million Japanese people on this planet and about 7.5 billion gaijin. Does that help put things in perspective for you?

Item: the couple you were with spoke better English than you do Japanese, so your attempts to translate yourself into their language was not only embarrassing it was patronising.

Item: it really is OK to talk at a normal volume. I don’t think the good people of Buenos Aires on the other side of the world, where I’m sure you were perfectly audible, wanted to hear your shit any more than the people in the restaurant. In fact — and brace yourself for this — I am confident that we would have preferred to listen to the people we were actually dining with.

Item: it is of course your right to speak your empty mind incessantly and at great volume, so can I suggest you do so at the bottom the canal so conveniently provided next to the restaurant where no one will mind and you might even be appreciated by the sludge and turtle poo?

Item: and to the Japanese couple you were with, there really is no need to be so polite. A wanker in any culture is a wanker.

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Who’s got the writer’s money? Amazon’s got the writer’s money.

(Since this article was written, Amazon has changed the way it makes payments of royalties. The new system is a vast improvement on the one described below. However, the discrepancy in the way royalties are calculated by region — see below — remains the same.)

Amazon claims to offer push-button publishing and loadsa-dosh royalties for independent publishers and DIY authors. But as ever with Amazon, the reality may not match the hype.

A pile of books by Chris Page

Books.

Shall I bite the hand that distributes me — again?

Amazon offers fantastic royalties to independent publishers like me. Or so they like to tell everyone. These fat royalties, their story goes, is one of the attractions of doing it yourself. Publish at the touch of a button, cut out the traditional publishers and middle men, sell through the world’s biggest outlet and see the money flood in.

The reality — big surprise coming here; you might want to sit down, lie down, or dig yourself a nice comfy hole — is very different.

Yes, royalties are very good if you sell your books in the US or Canada. Great, in fact. Thirty-five per cent great, or thereabouts.

If you sell your books anywhere else, the returns are laughably crap. Less than 10 per cent crap. And when you’ve squeezed the price of your book down to minimum, that’s 10 per cent of not a helluva lot in the first place.

Guess where I sell most of my books — yeah, anywhere other than North America.

Why the difference in pay?

Well, it has to do with greed. Amazon calls it sales channels, but we’re not fooled. You see, Amazon in America is the real company, and the regional Amazons are nominally different companies and customers of Amazon US. So, when it comes to self-published books, all the Amazons around the world are buying from Amazon US and selling on as separate retailers. Geddit? Me neither.

So piddling are the returns on my non-US sales that I thought Amazon was failing to credit me.  It took some quizzing and careful auditing with an electron microscope to convince me that, yes, despite the hollow echoing noise in my account, Amazon were actually crediting me with books sold.

And it gets worse. Amazon does not combine international sales into one account; for payment purposes they keep the regions separate. I have to pass thresholds in each of the currencies my books are sold in because they won’t add European, Japanese and US sales together.

In other words, I have to vault through financial hoops in both dollars and euros before I see a yen.

Such are the thresholds, I haven’t received a single penny from sales yet.

Not a bean. Nothing. I’m not telling how many books I’ve shifted but it’s more than the nothing I’ve received in payment.

Amazon has the money I made for the books I wrote. The dosh is sitting in Amazon’s account, with all the spondulicks of other people like me, earning Amazon interest and contributing nothing to the writers. And that’s that.

In fact, in order to see any money on non-American sales, I have to attain best-seller status just to clear their bars.

Yes, to hit the reader over the head with a frying pan, Amazon is keeping for itself the income of hundreds of thousands of independent authors and publishers. We are, in effect, working for Amazon for nothing.

The author keeping a close eye on Amazon.

An author keeps a close eye on Amazon.

Fine business model if you can get away with it: get a lot of tenacious people high on literary ambition to stock your shelves for you, and just sit on the revenue. Fantastic!
This demands a question, and even from this comfy sofa in Nara, I can hear you asking it: why bother with Amazon? The answer to this question is a whole blog post of its own. Watch this space.

There are lots of reasons to feel scepticism about Amazon: their employment practices, their bullying of traditional outlets and publishers to name just two, their UK tax avoidance to name tens of millions more. Again, this is another blog post and one that will be along shortly.

Meanwhile, readers wishing to avoid the corporate megalith can buy direct from me if they wish. This may be of most interest to Japan-based readers, where Amazon has set the price of The Underpants Tree paperback too high. Buying direct from me, you get a slightly better price. Readers in other parts of the world will feel no monetary advantage because of the postage, but the option is there.

Feel free to continue to buy through Amazon. I am not proposing a boycott, and you will be helping my accrued royalties edge their way toward those distant thresholds.

To find out more about getting your own paperback copies of The Underpants Tree, King of the Undies World, Weed, or Un-Tall Tales, go to this page.

Well, Mr Amazon, maybe you got the money, but we got the measure of you.

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