Cakes and Money
Friday, November 29, 2002
Demonic Lecturers are my Friends
This week�s Wake Up Screaming is a nice set-up for some good old-fashioned Demonic lecturer based action. I can�t wait to see what kind of madness this all leads to, and can I just say once more- YAY Demonic lecturer-action!
Am I repeating myself here? Who cares� Demonic lecturers are where it�s at.
I honestly don�t think that my body can handle any more junk food. After eating a McDonalds yesterday, I felt utterly putrid and could barely stomach anything else all day. �Par for the course with McDonald�s� you might think, but still� I�ve been eating a lot of crap recently, and I�m really not sure if I can keep it up. Of course, not eating junk food takes thought, and effort, so that could be a problem! But seriously, I think I�m gonna have to actually think about what I eat for once� how weird is that?
Thursday, November 28, 2002
There�s an amusing (not to mention fair) post on Fluxblog about a particularly stuck up Godspeed You! Black Emperor fan who wrote a painfully pompous review of the latest Godspeed� album on Amazon.com.
The entry you�re looking for has the, frankly marvellous, title of Dude, You'll Never Understand The Malleable Hammer!, and is a well deserved dissection of this particular Godspeed� fan�s lofty (read: disgustingly pretentious) attitude.
Back in the world of comics, it was a Paul Pope heavy week for me. The fourth issue of Pope�s fantastic 100% mini-series came out today, and it certainly didn�t disappoint!
This issue has a fun wee introduction by Pope himself in which he says the following about the writing of this series:
�It isn�t easy writing melodrama. It always comes off as so� melodramatic. A minefield many writers would rather avoid. But not me!�
This very cute little quote says quite a lot about this comic book, I think. Pope�s artwork may be unbelievably dark and sexy, but his characters are creations of pure romance, wandering around in the pulsing, scary world Pope�s art so vividly depicts, trying to figure things out. In an earlier blog entry I think I described 100% as a �romance comic from the future� or something like that. As silly as that description may sound, it�s pretty accurate. Here, we�ve got six people, and three couples, each of which has it�s own little story. It�s nothing big, just a few people getting together. Sure, some of the writing is a little, shall we say, melodramatic, but surely that�s the point? It pushes simple buttons in a universal way that people can relate too. Paul Pope seems to think so, and in this case I�d have to agree with him, such is the lust for life bursting from the page here.
This issue is, in my opinion, probably the best so far. All three plots are really heating up, and I have to say that I�m really in love with all of the main characters now, particularly Eloy. What can I say, you�ve just gotta admire a guy who wants to create a one-note symphony using one hundred kettles!!!
Plus, the man makes the best use of sound effects in comics at the moment!
Pope�s fill in issue of X-Statix was alright, but nowhere near as good as his 100% work� I think it�s just that his unique facial quirks look a little odd on Allred�s smoothly designed characters. Still, the issue itself ends on a note that opens up a lot of possibilities for this series, and I can�t wait to see where Milligan is gonna go with the character of Guy Smith now.
And Now The News
There�s been quite a bit of odd stuff going on at Glasgow University recently. Someone has been spray painting bizarre slogans around campus, particularly on the library. In a recent interview with our very own University newspaper (The Glasgow University Guardian) the mystery graffiti artist rambled on a bit about his aims and ideas, and I�ve been left with a bit of an odd feeling about the whole thing.
This guy claims that his graffiti is an act of �detournement� by which he will �subvert the university system and expose the truth behind the illusion�, the truth of course being that university is alienating and professors don�t have all the answers.
Now, forgive me if I�m wrong, but I didn�t think that this stuff was particularly secret. No one I know has any delusions about their professors being all-knowing (or even particularly bright!), and while I do sympathise with the fact that University is potentially alienating and that it is a hollow, outdated form of education which has little intellectual benefit, I�m not entirely sure how his particular slogans were supposed to generate the intense debate he claims he wishes to provoke
�Sure, this interview will make me look like I�m trying to enforce my own agenda, but I am not. The idea is to allow people to direct their own consciousness- however they want to.�
While I acknowledge that to some degree the fact that I�m even writing this is proof that I�ve had some form of reaction to his methods, I�d argue that the only thing that he�s done that has sparked any thought on my part was the very interview he seems so keen to stress the unimportance of, and my reaction to that was primarily that he wasn�t addressing any important issues in a meaningful way.
Lets have a look at some of the slogans:
�STUDY MORE LEARN LESS�
�THINK OF THIS AS A WINDOW�
�ARE YOU PREGNANT WITH ABORTION OR MENTAL MENOPAUSE�
Pretty non-descript, I think you�ll agree. I think most people thought that �THINK OF THIS AS A WINDOW� was pretty catchy, but the rest of it simply reads like left over snippets form early Manic Street Preachers interviews. These slogans are not thought provoking. These slogans do not shatter any kind of illusion. These are mere sound bites, every bit as hollow as the University system itself.
Don�t get me wrong: I�m always up for a bit of graffiti, but only if it�s relevant, or funny, or witty or good looking. These slogans are none of the above.
The interview itself was similarly confused. There was lots of fancy talk of subversion, but on the whole it just felt a bit like a cry for help from a slightly bitter student. Plus, y�know, everyone can leave University, at any time they want. Sure, some folks might get shit of their parents for it, but I don�t think that the phrase �Study More Learn Less has much to do with that.
I guess this whole thing just annoyed me a bit, as I�d be very up for some insightful, imaginative commentary on the University system, but this isn�t it.
Rant Tract the Third
Do you know what really needs to be done about University? People need to get rid of the sense of importance that gets heaped on it in society in general and High School in particular. Our School guidance counsellors were utterly useless. If you didn�t just want info on University courses, they couldn�t help you. People who were interested in going to college or, god forbid, entering the real world weren�t given any time or mention- disgusting, no? University is not for everyone. It is not the be all and end all of society. It is not the only way to succeed in life. The government has claimed that it wants 50% of school leavers to go to University. What shite. It�s fucking disgusting that people promote going to University as being somehow superior to getting an apprenticeship, or a job.
Why am I at University? Cos I wanted four years off to figure out what I wanted to do with myself.
I�m getting there. I think�
El-facto Rides Again
The second issue of Warren Ellis' new limited series, Global Frequency, came out today, and like the first issue, it passes by in a bit of a blur, leaving little impression on the reader as it does so. I understand that Ellis is trying to write each issue as a highly compressed stand-alone story, but here, as in the first issue, I found that this robbed the story the sense of drama and excitement it needed to work properly. It�s clear that Ellis is going for an action story in the vein of Aliens or Predator here, but we don�t get enough of a sense of tension or character to care. The idea for this story is a nice twist on a fairly stock sci-fi story, but we don�t get enough about the rampaging cyborg, or any of his victims, for us to feel at all bothered about what happens to them, which makes the whole thing feel like little more than a extended burst of techno-babble. Matters are not helped by the art for this issue, which is provided by Glen Fabry, best known for his Preacher cover art. I�ve never been that much of a fan of Fabry�s art, and here it looks a bit too stiff and scrappy for my liking.
So far, this series hasn�t really grabbed me� it feels like Grant Morrison's The Filth, but without either the Technicolor madness of that books more surreal moments, or the grim, black humour of it�s �real world� sections, and if things don�t improve with issue three, I think I�ll probably stop buying this book.
It�s not terrible, and it�s certainly no worse than your average superhero book, but so far it�s no better either, which is a shame, cos the idea is top!
I�ve noticed that quite a few people recently, both on Barbelith and elsewhere, have been putting forward the idea that Warren Ellis is perhaps much better at writing about comics than he is at actually writing the comics himself. And while I do think the vehemence with which some folk on the Barbelith board attack Ellis is a bit much, I have to say that I agree with them. As a comic book writer, Ellis can often be good fun, especially when he�s paired with a good artist, but I�ve never really read anything by him that�s completely blown me away in the way that some other writers have. He�s a sturdy genre writer, I would say, and one that�s very good at building and maintaining a fan-base, but I think that where he really excels is when he gets into the mechanics of writing, and the industry.
His old column, Come In Alone , is archived on-line, and it�s well worth a look if you�re interested in the comic book industry in any way. He�s got a lot of good ideas for how to get people to actually give a damn about comics, and when he actually gets into the nuts and bolts of the writing process, he�s pretty much one of the most informative men in the field.
Wednesday, November 27, 2002
Scott has tweaked the design for the Wake Up Screaming website, and I think it's a good look. As he's been snowed under by essays and stuff recently, there was no update last week, but I'm still looking forward to see where he goes with everything.
If, like me, you've been amused/bemused by how much blog-time Scott gets here, then you're in for a treat(?) next week, when I post a short interview I held with him recently. There's some interesting stuff about his aspirations as a writer, and about the development of Wake Up Screaming, and all in all I think it's a good laugh.
Maybe some of my other friends will start getting an equal amount of screen time soon... who can tell...
The New Tower of Babel
Metropolis was every bit as good as I�d hoped it would be. I�m totally in love with the visual design of the whole thing: the city, the machines, death, the robot� all of it looked brilliant, which is a bit odd if you think about it. I mean, there are plenty of films from the last ten or twenty years that look crappy and dated already, and yet here�s one from the 1920�s that looks fantastic. In terms of visual storytelling, I have to say I�m very impressed. I�ve only ever seen two silent films (this, and Nosferatu), but both of them have flowed very easily as stories. You got a good sense of the narrative just from the visuals, and while the story may have been a bit rickety in places it was still very effective. Plus Grot�s �witch-burning dance�, as it was dubbed by me and my friends, was helluva funny!
The live piano accompaniment was nice too, with lots of interestingly discordant stuff going on. None of us knew if it was the original score or not, but either way it worked really well with the movie, so we were happy. Plus it feels nice and intimate when you�ve got something live going on, and I appreciate that.
Monday, November 25, 2002
"I am writing this under an appreciable mental strain, since by tonight I shall be no more. Penniless, and at the end of my supply of the drug which alone makes life endurable, I can bear the torture no longer; and shall cast myself from this garret window into the squalid street below."
If the Devil be Thunder Proof
Oliver Reed had a beautiful face, didn't he? I mean, his forehead may not compete with our old friend Patrick McGoohan's, but still... there was something primal and gorgeous in his face. It aged well too, with his pouting, stony facials just getting poutier and stonier as time went on.
And he just plain owned Gladiator. Russel Crowe really couldn't compete in terms of sheer facial power... maybe thats why he's so god damned angry all the time...
Just thinking out loud here.
Swift One, Rhetoric Nil
This months issue of the Filth also reminded me that I'd really like to see more phonetically accented dialogue in comics. The character of Cameron Spector talks in an amusingly thick Glasgow accent, and the results are really hilarious.
Partly, I think I like it because I like the idea of loads of American readers having to translate lines like "Fuckit! Iss wrigglen lik wanny thay fucken anacondas affy the telly! See it tryinty get up ma fanny??" and "Seefy tries enthin wi me, eez fukken fucked. Av git steel toecaps an nay fukken tolerance", but I do genuinly think that phonetic speach works really well when it's framed by a speech bubble. There's something inherantly snappy and immediate about the way dialogue gets presented in comics that adds a certain sense of fun to phonetic speech I think.
I mean, it could be painfull if it was overused, but if it was did well I think it would be a really nice touch every now and then.
It worked really well in those brilliant old Krazy Kat strips anyway, so I think there's room for experimentation here.
Are you talkin tay me, or chewing a brick?
It was a Grant Morrison heavy week comics wise, with both New X-Men and The Filth coming out at once.
New X-Men #134 was fantastic. With a few exceptions, most of the recent issues of New X-Men have been somewhat lacklustre in my opinion. The pacings been a bit off with too much dithering about and not nearly enough big, soapy action or character development.
Thankfully, this issue was a lot tighter and more interesting, and I really think it did a good job of setting up the Riot at Xavier's story arc. The issue focuses on the school kids a lot and this works really well for me. There�s a lot of fun character stuff going on, but with just the right amount of tension building underneath. The ridiculously named Kid Omega, or Quentin Quire as he's also known, makes a grand debut here that bodes well for the rest of this arc. Morrison has always been good at writing angry youths, and Quentin looks like he�s gonna be no exception. I like the fact that he's not entirely sympathetic or alienating to the reader... he's not just the standard geeky outcast character (after all, it's him who totaly humiliates the 'cool' kid in school), and as a character he's all the more prommising for it.
Basically, I can�t wait to see where this is all going, and I�m confident that it�s gonna be a fun ride.
On the downside, the fill-in art by Kieron Grant was dissapointingly bland, and inexpressive. He�s not a terrible artist, but he just doesn�t get a good flow going here, and I don't think he's that suited to the tone of the whole thing.
Ah well- one month till the return of Frank Quitely!!!
The Filth #6 was also a class read, in an OTT trashy way. The Pornomancer story came to a suitably amusing end, with lots of bizarro action and fucked up visuals. Morrison�s done a very good job of coming up with a very vivid, amusing and sensationalistic wee world for himself in The Filth, and it�s always good to have a refreshing burst of insanity every month.
Plus, that last page is a classic. Grant Morrison's at his maddest.
'All you need is fuck' indeed!
While the nutty day-glo stuff was a great laugh, it was the later half of the issue (the bits that were set in the �real� world) that really did it for me. It had that freaked out, Philip K Dick edge to it that I really liked. I�ve always been into stories with characters that can�t tell if they�re having an extraordinary experience or a nervous breakdown� it�s just a theme which hits the spot with me, in a paranoid way. The dull, but oddly sensationalistic, grind of the 'real world' section is brilliant, and I hope to see it becomming domminant towards the end of the book, as for all that the stuff with Ned Slade and 'The Hand' is amusing, it's the Greg Feely bits that really shine (in a depressing way).
Friday, November 22, 2002
Claim Free Drivers
Jamie Delano, the man behind Outlaw Nation, 2020 Visions, Hellblazer and many other Vertigo comics, has written a very interesting editorial about the relevance of writing in the modern world for comics website Ninth Art
He talks a bit about how he�s had ��doubts about the relevance of writing comic books this last year or so. Doubts about the relevance of writing anything, if I'm honest� before deciding that it�s time for writers/artists to �rupture the conventional mindset and force a little cultural evolution�, which, dramatic phrasing notwithstanding, sounds fun to me.
Thursday, November 21, 2002
Schism/(Or So I Have Been Told)Are My New Favourite (Mandatory)/Name(Place)/To Live
I�ve spent the whole day writing my Swift/Eighteenth-century satire essay, and it�s going pretty well. The more I get into Swift, the better I like him; there�s just such a rich mix of different parodies, allegories, voices and perspectives in his writing, and it�s so far away from being dull rhetoric that it�s juts not true. He�s very imaginative and amusing, and he�s got a real talent for using impersonation to undercut a point of view. This really is becoming one of those times when I�m having difficulty cramming everything I want to say into a cohesive essay, which is both a good and a bad thing, I guess�
Plus, I�ve only just discovered that A Tale of a Tub is very, very good when you get into it, so I�m chuffed.
I�m gonna e-mail my tutor about it presently, but I�m pretty sure everything is ok with this essay. Well, I sure hope it is anyway!!! If it�s not there�s gonna be some frantic re-writing around my way!
Wednesday, November 20, 2002
Doves (there�s no �the�, apparently) were actually really good last night. The gig had a really good atmosphere, and the band have a couple of stonking tunes in their back catalogue, so it was a really good night, all considered. Plus they finished with some really cheesy, stomping song from their days as whatever their old groups was (Sub Sub?), and it was totally fucking brilliant, so it was.
My friend Kevin gets bonus points for Bez dancing his way through a couple of songs, even after I�d accidentally head butted him� Kev: yer a trooper, and there�s no mistaking it!
The Delgados were really good too, but it wasn�t really the right environment for their brand of whimsically tuneful indie-rock. The noisy bits were top though, and on the whole I think they went over rather well with the crowd.
Polite? I�m Baffled!
The new Cat Power song, He War , is bloody brilliant. I�ve only previously heard The Covers Record, which is a personal favourite of mine, and this track is as good as the best songs on that album, which is to say that it�s fantastic. I really can�t wait to hear the rest of the record� He War, clunky title aside, just has this kinda soft toughness that really works for me. It�s a bit more rollicking and full sounding than anything on The Covers Record, and I�m really curious to here more of her music for comparison.
Monday, November 18, 2002
Misty Elliot And The Lapland Crew
I�ve just purchased a couple of tickets to see Metropolis with live piano accompaniment at the GFT. This is, of course, a good thing. I�ve been wanting to see this movie for a while now, and so I was bloody ecstatic when I saw that the GFT were going to be showing it.
All I need to do now is check out if any of my friends want to go see it with me, the ever mentioned Scott has already confirmed, but I don�t know if anyone else will be up for it� ah well, we�ll see!
Through a couple of bizarre twists of fate, it looks like I�ll be going to see the Doves tomorrow night. In all honesty, I�m not that big a fan of the band because I'm pretty unfamiliar with the majority of their output. Hopefully it�ll be a good laugh, and I think the Delgados are supporting them, which should be interesting, If nothing else.
What A Terrible Waste Of Volume
It looks like its essay season round my way, what with me having four essays and two presentations to complete in the next five weeks. It�s not too heavy a workload but I�m always on the lookout for something to moan about!
All joking aside though, I�m actually kinda enjoying working on my essays at the moment. I�m currently focussing on writing an essay about 18th Century satire, particularly Pope and Swift. I think I�ll mostly be arguing about what the role of satire is and whether or not Swift and Pope fulfil that role. This all sounds interesting to me, but then again I could just be going mad!
Sunday, November 17, 2002
I Can Only Think In Circles
I�m the first to admit that I don�t know much about anything, but I�ve decided that there are two facts in life that I am one hundred percent sure of.
1) Prisoner star Patrick McGoohan has the world�s most beautiful forehead. No one else can storm around with quite such top-heavy authority as old Patrick, and without his awe inspiring noggin, The Prisoner wouldn�t of been half as compelling as it was.
2) Sausages with bacon wrapped round them are the finest food on planet Earth. Accept no substitute. They are heaven in an edible form, and they make Christmas worthwhile!
If you disagree with either of the above then you are a communist, a nazi and a traitor to the crown!
Narrate The Armament!
I bought myself the DVD of Terry Gilliam�s Time Bandits last week, and It�s been on my mind ever since. It�s just such a brilliant adventure story, and on re-watching it I was surprised by how much of a Roald Dahl feel it has to it. I think it�s to the fact that the story features a sterile parental world being invaded by a romping big ball of madness and imagination that makes me think of Dahl. Well, that and the fact that his parent blow up at the end!
John Cleese is fantastically detached as Robin Hood (�How long have you been robbing? Four foot one! That is a very long time!�), but the real star of the show is David Warner as Evil, who steals every scene he appears in.
I�ve only recently come to realise that Gilliam is one of my all time favourite directors. Brazil is one of the best movies I�ve ever seen, and the man has produced a large, and constantly excellent body of work over the years.
My local cinema is showing the Lost In La Mancha documentary (which chronicles Gilliam�s botched attempt at filming Quixote with Johnny Depp) in December, so I�ll have to remember to go see that when it�s on�
I had a stinking headache last night, which was a bit of a shame, as it meant that I came across as a bit of a sullen bastard at my cousins 21st Birthday party. I don�t think I was particularly charming or sociable last night, and I think that overall I probably looked like a bit moody weirdo, which is probably a pretty fair representation of myself, come to think of it!
This weeks Wake Up Screaming is a bit mental, isn�t it?
For the past few weeks, Scott has been experimenting with a more paired down, conversational style. The last three or four strips have been noticeable for the total absence of madcap violence and pop-culture parody, and even the ever present Demonic Lecturers seemed to be taking a Holiday. This week sees the strip do a complete 180 turn on the spot. We�re back in wacko country from the first line onwards.
�Forget what you think you know� Demonic Lecturers exist.�
I�m very curious to see where Scott is going to go with the strip, as while I had been enjoying the very reflective nature of the recent strip, I was missing the full on silliness a bit. Whatever happens next, I�m sure it will be interesting.
Saturday, November 16, 2002
Every Time I Learn Something New It Pushes Some Old Stuff Out Of My Brain!
Warning: The following post contains raw, un-edited late night gibberish and is thus not recommended for anyone who can�t be arsed with that kinda stuff� which is probably most of ya, but hey!
It�s late, I�m tired and I suspect that I look quite a bit like a bum. I�ve got a couple of day�s worth of mangy facial fuzz and my hair is a fluffy, semi-gelled mess. As I write this I�m fresh of the 66 Bus (which was packed full of rambling nut jobs and sleeping drunks, just like any good late night bus should be) and I�m hastily conducting my Internet business before I go to bed.
I am of course, rambling incoherently, but that�s only natural at this time of night, don�t youthink?
At the moment, I'm flashing back to my first year of University. I�m in all day doing maths and computer science, and the buses are starting to drive me mad. After a few months of constant travel, I�m really beginning to resent the stinky and painfully slow form of public transport provided by the First Bus Service. I�ll never get used to this, I think in a moment of hugely exaggerated drama where all of this unimportant shit suddenly seemed unfeasibly terrible and significant.
Back in the present this all looks terribly amusing. I spend a ridiculous amount of time travelling between places and I now feel oddly at home when I�m in transit. Between getting the bus in to Uni, visiting my friends in Glasgow, flying down to see my girlfriend in Cambridge and jaunting about Scotland during the summer I�ve certainly been doing my fair share of travelling recently. I think it�s all starting to have an effect on me. Call me crazy, but I�ve even developed a strange kind of attachment to buses� I find them very easy to tune out and relax on, and if I�m finding that boring there�s normally at least one truly insane conversation going on at any given point in time. Trust me, I�ve heard some classics in my time.
Tonight I witnessed an odd looking middle-aged man trying to convince a bus full of strangers that Tony Blair was some kind of Ying/Yang synthesis of both Satan and Jesus who was trying to break the firemen during their current strike because Maggie Thatcher had asked him to. Somehow, this story turned into a yarn about how once special branch apprehended our deranged storyteller for being high at a Stone Roses concert and subsequently placed his house under constant guard by some special forces military unit. In the end he was ok though, cos he just told them that there was a sniper in the trees and they all ran away.
True story, apparently.
I dunno� maybe I�m just fascinated with the whole Idea of travel at the moment because I like the idea that my life is in a period of transition. It�s clunky and clich�d, I know, but that�s just the way it goes sometimes.
So, erm� yeah, basically�
I�ll stop babbling and go to bed now thankuverymuch!!!
Thursday, November 14, 2002
Highly Complicated Machines/The Dimension Of Mind(?)
I haven�t been putting up many interesting links recently, which is something I hope to rectify in the near future. The truth is that I�m just not browsing enough to come across anything out of the ordinary.
Hysterical Jokes /(Equals)\ News To The Robots
I picked up the new Godspeed You! Black Emperor album, Yanqui U.X.O., a couple of days ago. Aside from the fact that the exclamation mark in their name seems to have moved about a bit, the album doesn�t really see the band make much progression. Steve Albini�s production hasn�t had any overly discernable influence on their sound, but the whole thing does sound fantastic, particularly Rockets Fall On Rocket Falls and Motherfucker=Redeemer (part 1) both of which are interesting and moving variations on Godspeeds� familiar Quiet/Loud/Quiet/Really Fricken Loud template. It's Godspeed You! Black Emperor by numbers, perhaps, but in this case that's not a bad thing. It�s a stormy and passionate slice of orchestral rock music that positively bristles with anger, sadness, hope and fear. Basically, it�s brilliant and if you like the rest of their stuff, then there's no reason you wont like this.
It is also far more concise than their previous album, Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven, due to the fact that it contains no found sounds, or fragmented narratives in between tracks. This is a good thing in some ways, but I cant help but feel that it was these elements that gave Lift Your Skinny Fists� it�s sense of scope and texture. I think that all those little bits made that album feel a lot deeper and more personal than this one and it�s a shame that they�re absent here, even if it does make for a more focussed listen.
Ah well, you can�t have it all, can you?
Walking Record Players Are My Friends
The final trade paperback collection of Grant Morrison�s fantastic comic book, The Invisibles is finally out now.
The Invisible Kingdom collects all twelve issue of volume three of the comic book in one neat bundle, and quite frankly it�s about time. While I�ve read these issues before, it�s still nice to have them in this format.
The issues themselves are, by and large my favourite parts of the entire series. It�s certainly not a good starting point for new readers (go read the rest of the series in a random order first! It�s fun!!!) but it�s definitely one of the most idea rich and interesting trades in the whole series and the one that I feel benefits the most from repeated re-readings.
All of the compressed information aside, what I really love about volume three is that it sees Morrison finally taking some time to play around with some of the brilliant background characters he�s introduced during the course of the series. Mr Six, Edith, and Sir Miles are all fantastically colourful characters that finally get the screen time they deserve in the first two story arcs here.
As with all of the Invisibles, these stories are a blur of big emotions, mad science and glorious pop that can, at times, threaten to overload itself. The last story in this collection, The Invisible Kingdom itself sees the narrative dissolve into sludgy mess, but in the end it doesn�t matter. Not to me anyway. The Invisibles may be flawed, but it is an infectious blast of insanity that is worth a lot of the work it requires to get the most out of it. It�s an epic adventure story, a biography and a guide to the secrets of the universe according to a deranged Scottish comic book writer. This, alongside Morrison�s previous work on Doom Patrol and Zenith, is some of the best pop music of the last 15 years or so. Oh yes!
Hyperbole? Who gives a damn! It may not be for everyone, but I love this stuff unapologetically.
I�m particularly fond of the last issue, which was drawn by the fantastic Frank Quitely and is a brilliant finale to this most bizarre of stories. It�s packed full of brilliant ideas and that last line is one of my favourite parts of the entire series. It�s just perfect on so many levels.
Art wise this collection has it�s up�s and downs. As I�ve already mentioned, Quitely�s work is suitably anarchic, while Philip Bond�s bold artwork is a perfect match for Morrison�s script. I am however, slightly disappointed by the fact that they didn�t revamp more of the artwork in The Invisible Kingdom story. While many of the artists who contributed to those issue put in fine work, it�s all still a bit too jarring and incongruous for my liking.
Ah well, as I said above, you can�t have it all, can you?
Wednesday, November 13, 2002
Do You Realize?
Do You Realize - that you have the most beautiful face
Do You Realize - we're floating in space -
Do You Realize - that happiness makes you cry
Do You Realize - that everyone you know someday will die
And instead of saying all of your goodbyes - let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It's hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn't go down
It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round
Do You Realize - Oh - Oh - Oh
Do You Realize - that everyone you know
Someday will die -
And instead of saying all of your goodbyes - let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It's hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn't go down
It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round
Do You Realize - that you have the most beautiful face
Do You Realize
--cos Flaming Lips lyrics are fun--
[these song lyrics were brought to you by the good old letter Z]
Puns and Poor Quality
I'm really sorry for the utterly terrible pun that I slipped into the end of yesterdays post. Y'know, the one where I called the people in charge of the Glasgow underground "tubes". It really wasn't intentional, honest guv!
Tuesday, November 12, 2002
Behold: The Duke Of Kent
And we�re back!
I had a fun time in Cambridge, but seem to have been assaulted by a plague of roaming gunk-factories!!! It is safe to say that I am not best pleased with my icky cold, but I think the people who�ve had to sit beside me on buses recently have had a harder time of it! It can�t be easy to have to spend an hour sitting next to someone who can�t stop blowing his nose, and my sympathy goes out to anyone who�s been in this situation (with me, or otherwise)!
An Outbreak of Peace
I saw a production of Brecht�s Mother Courage while I was down there. It was very interesting and amusing, and I had a good time discussing what it was all about with Gillian on the way home.
It�s rather long though, isn�t it? I�d never thought about how long it was when I read the play last year, so it was interesting to see it in the flesh and see how my reading of the text was affected by my lack of experience at the theatre.
Something To Do With Free Will
Donnie Darko is fucking fantastic. It�s probably the most me film I�ve ever seen, and It�s exactly the kind of movie I needed to see this year!
It�s writer/director Richard Kelly�s first film, and it�s a very impressive debut. It�s rough around the edges, but is still very confident and assured and I like that odd combination.
Basically it�s the ultimate 80�s popcorn movie as high jacked by David Lynch in an oddly humane mood. Quite a few people have objected to the openness of the films central mystery, but personally I love it. The ending lends itself to a fair few interpretations, and I always admire that in a film.
All the 4th dimensional madness aside, it�s the warm, confused character stuff that gets me. I love the fact that Donnie can�t quite sort it all out, despite his intelligence. His character really works for me� I guess I can relate to him a lot, and I think that the film really crackles with that kind of clunky, angry teenage intellect in a way that very few teen films ever have.
His supporting cast are all very close to being nothing but broadly drawn types, but in the end they all seem very believable and real. It�s a combination of good writing and all round great performances, and it really gives the film a nice, vibrant background to build on. Patrick Swayze is perfect in this movie, which is something I never thought I�d hear myself say. He�s the ultimate sleazy 80�s guy, and his performance here uses that brilliantly.
So basically: Donnie Darko � I love it, and so should you!
This Time A Smoke Alarm
It seems like the tubes in charge of the Glasgow Underground have did the sensible thing and rehired all their drivers. This is, off course, a good thing. It also allowed me to have the wonderful experience of being handed a Discovery ticket (an all day pass) just as I was about to but a ticket. The fact that my benefactor was a total stranger charmed me so much that I decided to give the ticket to a random person when I was done with it. I can but hope that this ticket got passed around some more after that� I like the idea of this communal ticket passing from person to person. It�s cheesy, I know, but I like it.
Thursday, November 07, 2002
New and Improved
As you can see, I'm currently experimenting with the look of this blog. While I really liked the design of the previous template, I was frustrated by the amount of unused space on the screen, so I�m switching to this model now. At the moment the links section is gone, but I�ll get round to fixing up this page in the next couple of weeks.
As I�ll be away this weekend, I don�t expect to update this blog till about Tuesday next week. Sorry about that, but it just isn�t gonna be practical this weekend.
Today I picked up a couple of very fun comics, both of which were written by peter Milligan. X-Statix #4 was as trashy and fun as ever, and Vertigo POP!: London #1 was a very enjoyable little pop-comic too. It�s illustrated by the marvellous Philip Bond, who�s work on such brilliant comics as The Invisibles and Kill Your Boyfriend I am very fond of indeed. His style just oozes enthusiasm and energy, and he�s definitely a cartoonist who I would like to see a lot more work from. Here�s hoping that when this mini-series is over he puts out some more classy comics on a monthly basis.
Storywise Vertigo POP!: London looks like it's going to be a blast! It's a witty, stylish take on the archetypal story of a past-it rock star trying to reclaim his youth, but Milligan throws in an odd twist on the last page that makes it look like this is going to play up to all of his strengths as a writer. Milligan's one of the best comic writers of the last 15 years or so, and I'm pretty confident that this is gonna be a very strong mini-series indeed!
I also picked up the Bruce Campbell autobiography, If Chins Could Kill which I haven�t got round to reading yet, but I am looking forward to it greatly. The pitch on the back of the book, about how it�s special because it's about one of the many �B� movie plebs in Hollywood rather than all the usual suspects, really sold the book to me, and my rampant Bruce Campbell fandom pretty much makes my enjoyment of this book a given.
Erm... Hello World?
Is this thing working yet? I've been trying to change the template tonight, and things seem to be going bonkers!!
The power of the learned is absolute. The learned have never been, and will never be. The learned are eternal. Every alternate has it�s own myths about the book of the learned, but no one has ever been able to prove the existence of this most sacred of texts. In the final days of the great construct the book of the learned will be the Key.
This book was written by, and is dedicated to, the learned.
Time Is The Factor
I think it�s about time that I put up a big list of recommendations for ya�ll. I dunno why, but I kinda feel the need to do one� I�m a bit odd that way, I suppose.
Music To Download/Check Out Online
Work It Out, by Beyonce: A near perfect slice of fresh, sexy funk that reminds me of a lot of old songs, but yet still sounds utterly modern. It�s the best pop song of the year, ladies and gentleman, and I think it�s my favourite Beyonce tune yet, which is really saying something considering how much I�ve liked a lot of Destiny�s Child�s recent singles.
You Held The World In Your Arms, by Idlewild: The new Idlewild album is a big improvement on their previous efforts, in my humble opinion, and this is one of the best tunes on it. The band seem to have gotten a lot more confident in their song-writing skill, and their previously patchy brand of noisy guitar pop sounds a lot chunkier and more melodic now. Plus Roddy Woomble�s thick Scottish/American accent is really cute, which is always a plus.
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, by The Flaming Lips: The whole album is online here. How great is that? Yoshimi� is pretty much my album of the year so far, and the fact that you can try before you by makes it all the sweeter. It�s full of big, simple pop songs and wonderfully inventive arrangements, and the whole thing feels like the best Saturday kids cartoon that never was. Grounding the whole glorious is noise is Wayne Coyne�s cracked, fragile voice. There are many singers out there who have �better� voices, but very few manage to sound as human as Coyne. What more could you ask for?
The Donnie Darko Soundtrack, by various artists: I�ve been downloading songs from Donnie Darko recently, and I have to say I think that it�s a top soundtrack. The pop songs they�ve used are brilliant and very evocative of the 80�s. It�s all great stuff like, Joy Division�s Love Will Tear Us Apart, The Killing Moon by Echo and The Bunnymen and Mad World by Tears For Fears. If you�re in the mood for some brooding 80�s rock, then you could do a lot worse than download these songs (and the score�s not half bad either� in fact, it�s very good!).
Comics To Buy
The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol 2, by Alan Moore and Kevin O�Neill: Ever wondered what it would be like to mix and mash characters and plots from early fantastic literature together? Well Alan Moore has, and the results have been brilliant so far. The current story arc involves a fantastic reworking of H.G. Wells War Of The Worlds and if you like a good adventure story then believe me, this is the book for you.
X-Statix, by Mike Allred and Peter Milligan: A delightfully trashy mix of pop-culture satire and full on soap opera, X-Statix is one of the most lively and entertaining superhero books on the shelves at the moment. Milligan has filled the book with warped, interesting characters, and Allred�s bright, poppy artwork is as slick and energetic as ever.Don�t be put off by the fact that it�s technically an X-book, cos it�s so much livelier and funnier than that!
100%, by Paul Pope: Coming on like some kind of scuzzed up Romance comic from the future, 100% is a stylish, atmospheric bastard of a comic book. Pope�s artwork is thick, sexy and vibrant, and each issue has had at least two utterly blinding moments of genius (those of you who�ve seen the bartering scene in issue one will know what I�m talking about). There�s a lot of weird, moody stuff going on around the edges of this story, but as I said, this is basically a romance comic, and the narrative always focuses more on the characters than the futuristic world around them making this a refreshingly low key slice of sci-fi fun.
The Filth, by Grant Morrison and Chris Weston: If you want your comics nice and nutty, then this is the book for you. A bizarre combination of sci-fi fun and warped black humour, The Filth is basically a very fucked up re-working of all those old Gerry Anderson TV shows like Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and UFO. It�s full of twisted imagery and barmy concepts, and story-wise it feels like Morrison is taking some time to have fun with some of the ideas he�s been blasting out for the last 15 years, which is definitely a very good thing.
And the covers are bloody brilliant too!
One day, someone in Hollywood is gonna make an action movie with Samuel L. Jackson, Jackie Chan, Chow Yun-fat and Bruce Campbell in it and I�m gonna be a very happy bunny.
Why has no one thought of this before? It�s such a simple idea, and one that just couldn�t fail.
With the amount of terrible action movies Hollywood churns out every year you would think that some daft bugger would come up with this particular concept, but yet no.
[angry teenager voice]
What is wrong with people today!!!
[/angry teenager voice]
Wednesday, November 06, 2002
I can�t seem to get into my Yahoo! account at the moment, which is getting really annoying. Goddamned Yahoo! Mail� If I had a nickel for every time it broke down then, erm, I would have a lot of nickels which I couldn�t spend here and would have to take to the bank and� I�ll shut up now.
Thesis and Antithesis
As I�ve mentioned before, I�m going away to see my girlfriend Gillian in Cambridge this weekend. This is, of course, a good thing.
Aside from the fact that I�ll be very happy to see Gillian (which I most certainly will), I expect that this whole trip will be another amusing reminder that all of her colleagues at Cambridge University are not painfully silly rich kids. Sure, some of them may not think that Maggie Thatcher was that bad (true story), but on the whole they aren�t half as snobby as you would expect. It�s almost like they�re normal or something, which is actually kinda disappointing in a silly way.
I wanna visit a mythically stuck-up college, full of people who have butlers and small castles dammit!!!
To all the people at Churchill college, Cambridge: don't worry, you're a lovely lot and I really enjoy visiting you!
I dont even mind the lack of butlers... much.
~ : - )
Tuesday, November 05, 2002
After slogging through a lot of Renaissance and Augustan literature that I have little/no interest in, the two subjects seem to have decided to be kind to me for a week, as I find myself having to study both John Donne and Jonathan Swift at the same time.
Donne is good fun, in a chewy, complex way. I like the fact that his poems are very cerebral and very passionate at the same time� it just works for me in a way that very little poetry does.
Swift, while occasionally a bit dull, is someone who I�ve been very interested in for about a year now. I�m mostly just interested in Gulliver�s Travels which I think is an utterly brilliant little look at humanity, and an interesting adventure story as well. There are loads of other amusing bits and bobs in his various other works, but none of them have quite grabbed me like Gulliver�s Travels did. I think it�s the work of his that transcends the concerns of it�s time the most, and I think that this makes the focus on the general problems with human nature a lot clearer.
EXTRA! EXTRA! Cheapo BBC Remix Brigade In Sensationalistic Schlock Shock!!!
Have you ever been on a bus that has been used as target practice by a group of unruly youths armed with fireworks?
I Love Rock �n� Roll!
I�d forgotten that the brilliant Paul Pope is going to be the fill in artist on X-Statix #4!
X-Statix is one of my favourite comics at the moment, and Paul Pope is, in my opinion, one of the best artists out there. It�s a winning combination and one that I can�t wait to see the results of. That�s one of the great things about X-Statix: it always seems to have brilliant art, even on the fill in issues.
According to a recent interview with Pope, he is also trying to get to do an issue of Grant Morrison�s New X-Men. I think that the combination of Pope and Morrison is strangely perfect, and I�d be overjoyed if they do work together, on New X-Men or any other title.
Hmm� all this Pope talk has just reminded me that I still haven�t seen the fourth issue of his brilliant 100% series yet.
Note to self: check out the Internet to see if 100% #4 has been released yet.
Monday, November 04, 2002
Gotta Work It Out
I�m considering checking out some of Guillermo del Toro�s back catalogue, as I�ve suddenly realised that he�s working on a number of projects that I am quite interested in.
He�s directing the Hellboy movie, and I�m a massive Hellboy fan so I'm very interested to see what he does with the character. Everything I�ve heard about the movie so far sounds cool, but I�m always unsure about approaching an adaptation of something I love from one medium to another. I don�t expect it to be as good as the comic, but I hope it wont be another From Hell.
He�s also been attached to the movie version of At the Mountains of Madness, which while far from being my favourite creaky old H.P. Lovecraft story is the one which I can see best translating onto the screen. There�s so much scope in there for some truly brilliant imagery, and if they tighten up the character stuff a little bit I can see it being a great movie.
On top of all that, he is apparently linked to Sleepless Knights, the kids movie written by Grant Morrison. What this one will be like (presuming it gets made) is beyond me, but I�m very interested in it because of the Grant Morrison connection.
Basically: If Guillermo del Toro does a good job on this lot, I�ll be unfeasibly happy, so I wanna check out what his other films are like.
I�ve only ever seen his work on Blade 2, which was an enjoyable slice of popcorn fluff, but I�d like to get a better idea of his stylistic range.
Hopefully he�ll turn out to be ace and I�ll have a good couple of year�s worth of fun films to look forward to�
A big round of applause for Cameron Stewart who�s work on Catwoman #12 is simply stunning. The story itself isn't really my kind of thing, but the art is just brilliant.
The action sequences are smooth, the storytelling skilful and confident, and Stewart has a real gift for conveying facial expressions and body mannerisms in a simple, but effective style.
It�s classy stuff, and if you�ve got a couple of spare quid I�d definitely recommend you to try it out.
Open All Night
I�ve had this blog up and running for a week now and I�m quite pleased with it so far. I�m still trying to find an appropriate �blog-voice�, but that�s been part of the fun of it from my perspective. I�ve been really enjoying updating it as often as I can, though recently I�ve been in a bit of an anti-computer mood and thus the frequency of the updates has lessened slightly.
I�ve got a lot on this week, including a visit to Cambridge to see my girlfriend Gillian at the weekend, but hopefully after that I�ll be able to speed up my input into this blog a bit� I like putting stuff up as frequently as possible for some reason. I just think it kinda suits the tone of the whole thing really well.
I picked up the soft-cover edition of Dan Clowes� David Boring today. It�s a comic I�ve been meaning to pick up for ages now, given that I�m a huge fan of all the Clowes I�ve read, but have always been put off by the price of the hardcover version. I�m two thirds of the way through it, and so far I�m loving it. It�s not quite up there with Ghost World or Icehaven, but it�s still a bloody interesting story with lots of very warped, but strangely human, characters. I�m particularly enjoying the use of the panels from David�s father�s comic book� it�s quite a simple technique, but it�s one that works really well here, I think.
Wave Of Mutilation
Having listened to You Know You�re Right, the previously un-released Nirvana track, a few times now I have to say I�m not that impressed. There are a couple of nicely cracked vocals in the verse, but on the whole it just sounds like one of the lesser songs from Bleach or Incesticide.
While I still really love In Utero, MTV Unplugged and Nevermind and I accept that Nirvana were a very important band, I�m starting to get a little bit sick of everyone slavishly proclaiming them to be the best band of the last 15 years or so. It just reeks of lazy, homogenised generalisation to me. It�s like people have been told that it�s true so much that they don�t even begin to contest it anymore.
Give me the Pixies any day. As a friend of mine said the other day, it�s like they were the really cool older kids in the playground that Nirvana could never quite be like, despite their popularity.
The Pixies were, quite simply, all that is good about rock condensed into one screaming, wonky little bundle of noisy-pop genius. They were brilliant, and they�re a band that I am quite sure I�ll still be listening to when I�m a frazzled old man with no hearing, a dodgy bladder and false teeth.
Saturday, November 02, 2002
The Killing Moon
I've had a satisfyingly lazy day today. I caught up on some sleep this morning and then spent the rest of the day mostly just reading and writing. Time Enough is going really well at the moment, so that�s encouraging. All of the story elements seem to be coming together very naturally, and I�m quite chuffed with the whole thing so far. The only problem is that I really like two of the characters from this story, and am now tempted to try and think of ways to turn this into a continuing series. I�m reluctant to do this mostly because I can�t think of any other scenarios that have quite the right tone for these characters to be effective in. Shame that.
Prepare For Total Reality
I really need to go to the cinema more. I�ve seen quite a few films this year, most of which were alright, but the only film that I�ve seen in the cinema this year and flat out loved was Nosferatu, the old silent vampire movie. I saw it accompanied by live musicians playing a brand new (and highly effective) score. It was a very striking movie that, while sometimes inadvertently amusing, was still full of scenes that had a very resonant feeling to them. My girlfriend and I were both very impressed.
It�s something of a shame that this was probably the best movie I�ve seen in the cinema all year, despite its old age, but I�m hoping to see a few interesting films in the near future.
Donnie Darko looks like a fantastically me film and I have high hopes for it, but I may end up watching that on import DVD as one of my friends has it in his possession.
I don�t know quite why going to the cinema is actually at all important to me. I�ve seen a couple of brilliant movies in my home this year (The Royal Tenenbaums, Amelie etc�) and most films I really love aren�t exactly movies that exactly need the size and volume of a cinema, but I guess I just love the whole silly experience of going to the cinema. Overly expensive popcorn included.
The Halloween party I went to was fun. My costume was painfully last minute and low-fi, consisting as it did of some ripped clothes, an eye patch, a bandana and a cutlass. It still rocked like a big, rocking badger-thing though, so that�s cool!
I have to thank my hosts for providing such bizarre Rum/Jelly for our consumption. It had a brilliant brain munching texture that really worked for me and seemed to suit the mood of the night perfectly.
My oft-mentioned friend Scott had what had to be the best costume of the evening (though he was given a run for his money by Gillian�s Peter/Petra Pan outfit). He went as Diamond, from the Powers comic, and boy did his costume rock! I believe he had professional help with it, but that doesn�t diminish the brilliance of the thing itself. All he needed was a doubled up jaw-size and he would totally have been there.
Must See TV
We also watched the last part of the new League Of Gentlemen series, which was entertainingly skewed, like some kind of oddball mix of David Lynch and Monty Python. With that series of the air I�m gonna be struggling for any regular TV fixtures until Buffy and The Sopranos start up over here again.
I guess I�ll just have to amuse myself with old episodes of The Simpsons and Futurama for the time being. Ah well, it could be worse I guess!
"There hath he lain for ages, and will lie/ Battening upon huge sea-worms in his sleep,/ Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;/ Then once by man and angels to be seen,/ In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die."
There�s a brilliant article here about how giant squids may be taking over the world unseen behind our backs.
Ok, it�s not quite as dramatic as all that, but I find some of the ideas within this article to be interesting in a very humbling way. I always think it�s fascinating to note how much of the surface of our own planet we don�t have any knowledge or control over� plus the whole thing gives me creepy H.P. Lovecraft vibes, and that�s never a bad thing!