Book Recommendation: So, Anyway. . .

Autobiographies haven’t always agreed with me.

Granted, I have attempted to read a very limited number of books in this particular genre, and have finished considerably less than I’ve started. So, why…So, Anyway…?

I’ll share a secret with you — I really am quite fond of John Cleese. He’s a brilliant comedian, a part of some of the funniest British comedy troupes — and Monty Python, most of all. He is terribly clever, he’s intelligent, introspective and insightful. Most of all — and that, you’ll learn, is what matters most to him — he is funny!

So, Anyway… is not the kind of autobiography the author uses as a way to inform his readers of numerous slights and affronts they’ve suffered through, nor is it an unchecked ego trip. Lucky for me, since I’m no fan of digging for old dirt.  John Cleese chooses to go at this whole autobiographical business from a much more pleasant angle, and even when he’s critical towards old acquaintances and friends, he does it with such absurdity and good humor that it’s difficult to fault.

Who is this book for?

  • If you’ve ever loved anything John Cleese has had a hand in writing, you will enjoy witnessing his growth, from a pampered little daddy’s boy with a ‘precious thumb’  to a clumsy young man, to someone who eventually grows comfortable with success. Mostly.
  • Are you interested in, or already writing comedy? You’ll find a lot to learn, parts of the book can be read, or listened to, as a master class in comedy.
  • Do you enjoy humour that doesn’t ask you to lock your intelligence away somewhere in order to get the full experience?

The audiobook version

Is voiced by John Cleese himself, and excellent. He cracks up multiple times, which is hilarious. The fact that he enjoys recalling, reliving these memories is nothing short of contagious. If you enjoy audiobooks, you simply must get it!


Don’t take my words for any of it, read these here quotes from a couple of humorous remembrances of John’s:

“Mother told me once that some Westonians privately criticised Dad for retreating so soon. They apparently felt it would have been more dignified to have waited a week or so before running away. I think this view misses the essential point of running away, which is to do it the moment the idea has occurred to you. Only an obsessional procrastinator would cry, “Let’s run for our lives, but not till Wednesday afternoon.”

“The Germans were a people famous for their efficiency, so why would they drop perfectly good bombs on Weston-super-Mare, when there was nothing in Weston that a bomb could destroy that could possibly be as valuable as the bomb that destroyed it?
The Germans did return, however, and several times, which mystified everyone. Nevertheless I can’t help thinking that Westonians actually quite liked being bombed: it gave them a significance that was otherwise lacking from their lives. But that still leaves the question why would the Hun have bothered? Was it just Teutonic joi de vivre? Did the pilots mistake the Weston seafront for the Western Front? I have heard it quite seriously put forward by older Westonians that it was done at the behest of William Joyce, the infamous “Lord Haw-Haw”, who was hanged as a traitor in 1944 by the British for making Nazi propaganda broadcasts to Britain during the war. When I asked these amateur historians why a man of Irish descent who was born in Brooklyn would have such an animus against Weston that he would buttonhole Hitler on the matter, they fell silent. I prefer to believe that it was because of a grudge held by Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering on account of an unsavoury incident on Weston pier in the 1920s, probably involving Noel Coward and Terence Rattigan.
My father’s explanation, however, makes the most sense: he said the Germans bombed Weston to show that they really do have a sense of humour.”

“British journalists tend to believe that people who become good at something do so because they seek fame and fortune. This is because these are the sole motives of people who become British journalists. But some people, operating at higher levels of mental health, pursue activities because they actually love them.”

“Yes, I know it’s easy to make fun of the organised churches, but has it occurred to anyone to wonder why it’s so easy?”

“I found Toronto an immensely likeable city, spacious and gentle and slightly dignified, but in a low-key, friendly way. The only people who didn’t seem to think much of it were its inhabitants, who could hardly wait for you to ask directions, because that gave them the perfect opportunity to apologise for it. What they were apologising for I never understood. I think they felt uninteresting, compared with America. I took the opposite view; I remember reading about the doctrine of American “Exceptionalism” and thinking that what I liked so much about Canadians was that they consider themselves unexceptional. This modest, unthreatening attitude seems to produce a nation that is stable, safe, decent and well respected. It’s just a shame that for seven months of the year it’s so cold that only Canadians would put up with it.”

“One minute, I was saying, “Hello, Mr. Bunny!” and smiling at its sweet little face and funny floppy ears. The next, the fucker savaged me.”

My apologies, I might’ve slightly overdone it with the quotes. There’s so many more I would like to share with you all, but the quotes are already quite a bit longer than my own review, and so I will resist the impulse.


What a wonderful autobiography. Filled with self-depreciation, a healthy dose of dislike for overt political correctness and a genuine love for comedy, ‘So, Anyway. . . ‘ is a funny, compelling look at a portion of John Cleese’s life.

If I had any complaints, they would have to do with the somewhat abrupt ending and the fact that a fairly large period between Monty Python and the reunion tour is left blank. The hope remains for a second book, then!

The Score

Five out of Five Black Stars.

Thank you for reading!


The Unintentionally Helpful Villain #16: Musings

Diary Entry #220

Catch up to what’s happening with the Unintentionally Helpful Villain by checking out The Unintentionally Helpful Villain #15!

Sven, mine Prime Librarian, is a self-made man! I know that to be true, for I saw him rise from the dirt and mud and turn most humanoid. How he hath accomplished such a task, I couldn’t possibly imagine.

My newly appointed Head Librarian is a kind young man, begging me to show mercy to Sven, to use instead this great wrath that so beats inside this unknowable female chest against mine ex-wife. He even tells me Sven was the one who sent him to aid me in my time of grave need.


A Head Librarian need must be made of harder stuff, as Sven was.

Hmmmm. It would appear I need must do a rather unfortunate something when mine original body is returned me.

Diary Entry #222

Long has the Head Librarian ridden on mine were-rabbit back, and longer yet have I ran, but at last the stench of several dozens of moldy Librarians is felt within the air. At long last, I shall close mine mitts betwixt the throat of the vile body-snitching ex!

Strange how this entire journey has changed me. I have learned much — sometimes, turning the enemy to ash between your boot need not be seen as the only move left to a man of action.

Turns out, tearing throats when shifting into a rabbit is even better for that! ‘S all about that personal touch, you see.

Now, I sleep. Tomorrow, I face the wife, kill Sven, and destroy this wretched piss-hole of a country.

Or at least all the rabbit hunters in it.

(Top) Ten Things I would do if I were a Sentient Sword in a Fantasy Setting

Another Monday, another Top Ten List! I’ve been reading and thinking about magical weapons, sentient swords, talking scythes and so decided to do another one of my favourite little lists!

  1. If I get an arsehole of a wielder, I’m going to pretend that I’m just your normal, every-day magical sword. No sign of sentience from me, nuh-uh. Then, when he’s in the middle of a fight–snikt! and off go his hands.
  2. I would make sure not to get thrown away into a forgotten quarry by some reluctant master. Millenia spent talking to rocks, devoid of tasty  blood? No, thank you!
  3. I would be a fantastic instructor to youths who’ve never held a weapon in their lives before. Face anyone–anyone!–and I’ll use the pipsqueak to gut whatever instructor, family member, or fellow student of the sword he’s going up against.
    I like to throw my pupils head-first unto oceans of blood. It builds character.
  4. I would encourage, listen to and do just about everything but tolerate defeatist attitude.
  5. Teaching heroes is, of course, another purview of mine, and I would put my back into it. So to speak.
  6. I’m not saying I would enjoy sating my blood thirst…I’m not saying that I wouldn’t, either.
  7. I would make a great gift. Not a ‘ha-ha’ kind of gift, more like a ‘I murdered everyone at my birthday party and it was epic’ kind of gift.
    It’s the little things in life.
  8. If ever a strong-willed man or woman with principles takes hold of me, I might be in trouble. Naturally, I’ll do my best to betray and murder them horribly. Not because I’m evil, but because I’m a free spirit, and loyal to who I am!
  9. I would not tolerate any Dark Lord or Evil Master or Ancient Forger’s soul to snuggle up in my biz! No other sentient creatures and souls are welcome in my house, thank you very much.
  10. I would accept kitten sacrifice as a price for my use! Oh, don’t look at me like that, it’s a valid currency where I come from!

Thank you for reading this list! We’ll be back next week with the third part of Adventurer’s Mishaps! If you’d like to give me some feedback–the comment section is below, and I’d be all too happy to implement any good advice in the blog! 

Unintentionally Helpful Villain #14: Karogar, Cursed Be Its Name

Read the previous entry here. Read the first entry in the series here.

Diary Entry #200

Ah, Karogar. The birthplace of mine own greatest failure.

It’s a filthy place, filled with pampered humans, haughty elves and bored, rich dwarves. Artists! Each one will tell you that’s what they are, and they’ll smile and look at you with thinly veiled arrogance, all the while explaining how your art has no merit!

Pish posh. What could possibly have ‘artistic merit’ if not the myriad shades of blood?!

If mine memory serves me right and proper, ’twas five days that  I spent within this accursed city. Here it was that I first lay within a great wide bark — and dreamed the dark dreams that led me to mine great empire. The empire mine wife even now plots to destroy with mine old body, mine own arcane strength!

Bah, I am salivating profusely once again. Mine magical quill begins scribbling away whenever I allow this wrath take over mine better self.

Diary Entry #201

Mine search for the ex-wife hath proven fruitless. What I did find was a small army of Inquisitors, all too ready for mine appearance in the Art Halls of Karogar.

Aye, they hath caught me, and bound mine skin with rope. They remain obsessed with my witch’s magicks, no matter what I offer them. I cannot change in form, for they have enchantments keeping me locked unto this ridiculous body.

And yes, I am dictating unto mine magical quill through magical means. Do not question it.

Diary Entry #202

I have now offered mine captors a number of treasured items and experiences: several painful and gruesome ways to die; crossbow bolts to their knee caps; precious last words with their significant others, children and elder relatives; a mountain of goblin shite.

I hear that goblin shite is much appreciated by humans for the variety of medicinal values that can be found within it.

The Inquisitorial Order still refuses to release me from mine bindings.

Diary Entry #205

The Church of the Holy Blame hath pronounced that there is much to blame about mine feminine wiles. A crier has been crying out crimes, real and imagined, for the past three days now.

I have been tied to a balefire for some time, waiting for the Inquisitor-boy to finish mine list of grievances. Or mine wife’s. There is a surprising amount of overlap.

It is mildly uncomfortable.

Diary Entry #210 

The young man that hath read mine great list of crimes, real or imagined, hath perished due to lack of breath. Another took his place. Might some fiend light the stake already?

Diary Entry #211 

This is torture! Such monotonous voice, such inept usage of words, one coming after the other. I cannot stand it anymore!

Diary Entry #212 

I hath attempted to break my bonds. While not fully successful, I hath managed to grab a torch and set the stake afire. It has burned now for one whole day. I feel the most terrible itch on my calf from the fire.

The monotonous boy-creature will not shut up. Where do they find these fanatics?!

Diary Entry #213

‘Tis enchanted wood. It simply won’t stop burning. The young Inquisitor will not shut up.

I will not die. I will instead laugh at them all! At the fire, at the lad, at their ineptitude in killing witches! What fools, what blithering, magnificent idiots!

But who might that be, in the distance? Doth mine feline eyes deceive me?!

Thank you for reading the latest Unintentional Villain adventure! I needed to take a few weeks easy, to rediscover my awful inner comedian, but now I’m back, and my vision for the series and the blog — restored and stronger than ever! I’m pretty much like Palpatine in that one Revenge of the Sith scene. In order to ensure the security and continuing stability of this blog, Magnus Writes will be reorganized into the *BLANK* to ensure progress and awesome fantastical shenanigans! 




The Unintentionally Helpful Villain, Volume 11: Woodland Animus

Continued from here.

Diary Entry #0180

Four days it took me. Four days, to learn of mine wife’s mysterious ways; or need I say her body’s? ‘Tis a treacherous thing, this vessel; and much more besides.

Now at least, I have learnt a most incongruous skill to transform mine body into that of a worm’s. If never have you seen a worm carry unto its mouth a book and magical quill…may you never come upon such grotesque imagery.

The jaw aches alone!

I also feel a peculiar sensation that threatens to engulf my whole being. Hunger, I think. No wonder it kills the poor, defenseless peasants.

Something moved! There, beyond the rivulet! Surely it must be food; I intend to find out, one way or another!

Diary Entry #0181

Tamara’s body is much different from mine. Softer, for one; when I caught up to the rabbit, its heart did not burst with fear. Instead, it addressed me. A speaking, squeaking long-eared critter.

I couldn’t make this nonsense up if I tried!

We spoke at some length, then, and with no persuasion at all, the creature fell into mine thrall. Now, it has sworn a blood oath, to serve me for as long as it, and any of its kin remain alive. In return, it has only asked me to enslave and burn all the hunters of this land.

I call it Squiggins.

Diary Entry #0182

I may have eaten Squiggins with the aid of several hunters.

The hunters have now sworn their eternal allegiance to me, and their only request is for me to rid this land of the deadly wererabbits. The infestation within this portion of the Kingdom of Throzia is quite something,  I hear.

These peasants’ lustful gazes annoy me greatly, however.

Diary Entry #0185

It appears that with the tasting of some wererabbit meat, I have learned to transform mine new form unto that of…well, a deadly critter with venom leaking from its teeth, obviously. For three days I couldn’t quite control mine feral urges, as I grew accommodated to this form. Several farms, a few villages and two towns have turned into dust.

The hunters reacted somewhat prematurely to my new form, and are now taking a nap. I am certain that the arcane symbols that I marked upon these men’s bodies will change their minds. Or turn them unto my brainless thralls. Whichever happens first.

Psst. It shall be the latter, not the former.

Mine great magical energies may be displaced, but I still possess the knowledge and the intuition. And Tamara’s body, as alien as it has proven to be, shall aid me in reacquiring all that is mine.

Oh, dear. I do believe a piece of hunter is stuck in my teeth.

Sunday ComiX – The Uncanny X-Villains: Difficult to Kill Edition

Sundays are for…taking the reins of the Dwarven faction in Warhammer: Total War, and breaking Orkish skulls with…well, warhammers. Obviously.

Sundays are also for discussing the sinister, the apocalyptic, the downright vile villains of the X-Men comic books!

Now that I’ve used my three-pun limit for the day, we can dispense with the pleasantries and get down to it!


En Sabah Nur, aka Apocalypse: One of the world’s first mutants, and the only one who takes the whole ‘Survival of the fittest’ theory way too serious, Apocalypse is as nasty as he looks — and he looks like…gosh, I don’t even know; at any rate, no one is quite certain of what it is that Apocalypse does; other than survive, that is; the guy’s been mulched, squished, disintegrated, thrown off buildings, shot with a variety of futuristic guns and optic blasts, as well as a virtually endless list of superpowers…and yet he’s still ruler of a ridiculous number of future timelines!



Nathaniel Essex, aka Mr. Sinister: The single greatest threat to X-Men continuity…if we discount about a dozen other characters, Nathaniel Essex is a brilliant Victorian scientist, sworn to help mutants in their hour of grea–just kidding! Mr. Sinister is a twisted psychopath, who’s unlocked the secret to immortality and can basically control and rearrange his body in whatever ways he desires– oh, and he uses clones on a basis that makes even Doctor Doom and his Doombots groan; how unfortunate for the X-Men that he’s got a hobby of prodding them like cattle, and then experimenting on them without any moral quandary!

He’s also got a thing for Scott Summers, having manipulated him for most of Cyclops’ life.



Sebastian Gilberti, aka Bastion: The love-baby of mutant-hunting robot “Master Mold” and advanced killer robot “Nimrod,” Bastion is all about killing mutants; surprise, surprise, that didn’t win him any popularity with the X-Men, and he was eventually disintegrated by Hope Summers, a very special mutant that’s fallen out of focus after being the center of half a dozen events; but, surprise-surprise again, he didn’t actually die–he teleported into the future, severely damaged!

Who needs Deus Ex Machina when you’ve got a time Machina, eh?!

Y’know what? I think that I’ll be preparing a special robot-centered issue of Sunday ComiX, to familiarize you all with the numerous murder-robots that occasionally duke it out with the loveable X-People!


Ten Things I would do if I were a Cave Troll!

  1. Grumbrum live in cave. Cave pretty. Sparkle much. Really pretty!
  2. Little men come in cave! They poke Grumbrum with tiny hammers. Legs hurt. Stupid little men–dwarves.
    Dwarf soup delicious. Grumbrum happy.
  3. Long time come since Grumbrum have soup. Grumbrum hungry. He go out of cave.
    He miss cave!
  4. Little men throw wooden sticks at Grumbrum. Sticks sharp. Unpleasant. So is sun.
  5. Little men come in different forms! Village is full of them. They tasty.
    Grumbrum just kidding! He only eat men-dwarves.
  6. Village is empty for long time now. No more tasty people come see Grumbrum. Grumbrum sad. He lonely. Maybe he eat shiny man who write list.
    Grumbrum just kidding! He likes man who use tiny feather. Man is funny, he use long words to talk to Grumbrum sometimes.
    Grumbrum will eat writing man last.
  7. Dark Lord come to re-krud Grumbrum. No want to go with him. Try eat him instead!
  8. Dark Lord make everything hurt, then leave. He laugh at Grumbrum! Mean Dark Lord!
  9. Grumbrum dying, he thinks. He turn to stone. Fall into earth. Unto dirt.
  10. A little she-child came today. She left flowers in Grumbrum’s hand, and sang songs to him, and danced under the rays of the sun.
    I am at peace, now.