I read Crooked Little Vein on Friday. It’s a short, nasty quest novel, filled with twenty-first century urban legends ( Warren Ellis claims most of what he wrote is based on things that really happened ) and a menagerie of over-the-top Ellis-ian characters. To an extent, (ok, putting on the critic hat here ), Ellis’s characters here are stock reproductions of his template cast – the hard-talking evil-hearted bossman character ( Think Dirk Anger, Spider J, Henry Bendix), the tough-as-nails, tech-friendly female lead ( Aleph, Channon/Yelena), the cokehead Presidential wannabe, the down-on-his-luck protagonist, right down to the resilient rat in Mike McGill’s office, the one that begins the proceedings by peeing in his coffee – it’s familiar territory for Ellis readers. But the good thing here is, the man does his job well ( as if there was a doubt ). The throwaway nuggets of information Ellis scatters in his narrative leave you gasping with laughter – provided you laugh at things like tantric sex with ostriches and godzilla bukkake and saline injections in one’s private parts. It interrupts the narrative only once, I thought, at the point where Michael meets another detective on a flight, who thinks it fit to describe his career experiences in vivid detail to our protagonist. Or maybe I just could not figure out what it is that Ellis was trying to do here – mock the Hammett/Chandler genre, or update it for the new century?

But hey, deep down, Crooked Little Vein is actually a mushy love story, so there.

I also reread the first volume of Powers yesterday. The deal with my copies of Powers is this – I bought ( at an insanely low price ) issues 7-37 of volume one some years ago. Read the lot then, but had to read the first six issues off scans. Then I bought volume one again, because Brady was offering all of the 37 issues at 50 cents each. Who can refuse such temptation? So I read the lot again yesterday, and it was so much fun. Because it’s a creator-owned series, Bendis and Oeming are not bound by any conventions of the superhero/detective genre – and the tale goes places. Trust me on that. Especially the Forever arc, which is an origin story of the superheroes in the series, which completely took me by surprise. Can’t wait to read vol 2, which I have not read before.

I installed an old favourite, Unreal Tournament on my machine. My ex-flatmate had downloaded quite a few maps and mods ( quite a few? More like ALL the mods available at that time on the internet) and it’s kind of a zone thing – firing up a practice session on Unreal tournament, with the bot-level set at ‘masterful’ ( associated skill level comment: “I hope you like to respawn.” ) Unreal Tournament used to be my favourite mode of release, right from the days I played it in demo mode in a window, because my celeron 333 MHz 32 MB machine just couldn’t run it. There were only two arenas available in the demo, and I loved playing them all day. The background music was kick-ass, the bots splattered with pretty realistic screams, and most importantly, the flak cannon was among the most satisfying weapons I’ve ever used in a deathmatch, producing the kind of squelshy virtual gore that’s made up for years of therapy.

I am in the middle of watching Ratatouille. Watching it in controlled doses, every day at dinner. I had completely lost it with Pixar after cars, but Brad Bird is someone I will never doubt again, I swear. What a beautiful movie! I missed out on seeing it in the theater because a bomb exploded in Hyderabad the day I had booked tickets and grrrrrrrgh, we didn’t go.