Cakes and Money

Wednesday, December 31, 2003
Happy New Year Everybody!

"Do I have an original thought in my head? My bald head? Maybe if I were happier, my hair wouldn't be falling out. Life is short. I need to make the most of it. Today is the first day of the rest of my life... I'm a walking cliche. I really need to go to the doctor and have my leg checked. There's something wrong. A bump. The dentist called again. I'm way overdue. If I stop putting things off, I would be happier. All I do is sit on my fat ass. If my ass wasn't fat, I would be happier. I wouldn't have to wear these shirts with the tails out all the time. Like that's fooling anyone. Fat-ass! I should start jogging again. Five miles a day. Really do it this time. Maybe rock climbing. I need to turn my life around. What do I need to do? I need to fall in love. I need to have a girlfriend. I need to read more, improve myself. What if I learned Russian or something? Or took up an instrument? I could speak Chinese. I would be the screenwriter who speaks Chinese... and plays the oboe. That would be cool. I should get my hair cut short. Stop trying to fool myself and everyone else into thinking I have a full head of hair. How pathetic is that? Just be real. Confident. Isn't that what women are attracted to? Men don't have to be attractive. But that's not true, especially not these days. Almost as much pressure on men as on women these days. Why should I be made to feel I have to apologise for my own existence? Maybe it's my brain chemistry. Maybe that's what's wrong with me - bad chemistry. All my problems and anxiety can be reduced to a chemical imbalance or some kind of misfiring synapses. I need to get help for that. But I'll still be ugly, though. Nothing's gonna change that."

The above quote is Charlie Kaufman (as played by Nicolas Cage)'s opening voice-over in the movie Adaptation, or at least the version that exists in the shooting script (I'll compare it to the finished version soon, but from memory this looks pretty accurate), and it's something that's been on my mind a lot recently, especially in regards to the tradition of making a new year's resolution. Now I've not made a new years resolution in recent memory because in my experience I very rarely stick to them, but I think that this year I'll make one.

Here we go:

This year I'm going to stop making stupid little daily resolutions that are either unimportant or improbable, but I'm also going top actually see things through when I do resolve to do them. Basically, I want to avoid the kind of constant "Today is the first day of my new life" worrying that is so brilliantly captured in that comedic opening narration. I want to get things done, but I don't want to tire myself out by stressing over everything. Basically, I want to become more aware of the gap between worrying about stuff and actually doing stuff, which is one of the main things that Adaptation plays with; it is, after all, a movie which has as its centre the author's crippling worries about the very creative process that spawned it. 2003 has been a big year for me; there have been a lot of big events in my life, many of which were good, and quite a few of which were bad or middling. But regardless of this, all of these events have brought me to where I am now, and since I'm pretty happy with everything that entails, I guess things worked out quite well in the end. 2004 looks to be equally full of big, dramatic stuff (I graduate from university this year, for one thing), but that's ok - right now I feel good for it.

But as I said, I almost never keep my resolutions, and I think a certain amount of this kind of perpetual worry is only natural, so hey - I guess we'll just have to wait and see how I do, eh?

Anyways, happy New Year everyone - I hope you all have a great time tonight and that you have a kick-ass year on top of it.

Take care

Tuesday, December 30, 2003
The Name of the Game

"Money and cakes. That's all we want. Money and fucking cakes. We'll spend one and eat the other." (from Kill Your Boyfriend by Grant Morrison)

Well... I wanted a more compact and irreverent name for my blog, and now I've got one. Thanks to those few of you out there who ever referred to this place by its previous, rather unwieldy, name (Mad World/80's Revival). I've always been amused by the fact that most everyone on the internet calls me Big Sunny D - it's perfectly logical, and I don't mind it at all (in fact I find it quite endearing), but given that this particular URL and e-mail address has its origin in a throwaway non-sequitor from my high school days, I do get a good giggle out of it from time to time.

Anyways, link to me and refer to me however you want people - I just needed a new name for this place is all; the old one seemed a bit stodgy and past it to me when I looked at it again, and it was pretty graceless to boot.

I guess that in the end this is another part of my current attmept to enjoy my blog like it was a shiny new toy again... seems to be working so far!

Take care everybody

On Returning

A brief clarification - when I was talking about Jeffrey Brown's Clumsy graphic novel earlier, and more specifically when I was talking about how relatable it was, I forgot to mention that while I like works of art that I can directly identify with in some ways, stuff that comes from a place that I am totally unfamiliar with as a human being is equally important to me. I hope this was implied when I said that Clumsy was "...both rich enough with neat little details to feel personal and vivid, and universal enough to make it very relatable to a wide spectrum of readers." Basically I enjoy a mixture of the familiar and the, erm, unfamiliar in all walks of life - in whatever proportions these things may be present. Only reading/watching/listening to things that I could relate to 100% would be pretty boring - like only being friends with people who were exactly like you or something. Sure, it'd make it easy to decide where you were going to have dinner on any given night, but jesus, how dull things would be if you didn't have anyone (or indeed, anything) to give you a different perspective on life, the universe and nothing in particular.

My Favourite Comics Part 3 - Clumsy

A couple of questions:

Just how subjective is this list?

I dunno. Quite subjective, I suppose. These are my favourite comics, after all, and I've not exactly been shy about advertising this fact so far.

How subjective is my appreciation of Jeffrey Brown's Clumsy?

Well... that's a tough question. The story of a long-distance relationship that didn't work out in the end, it is most definitely a story which many people will find relatable. I myself read it just after I'd broken up with a long-term, long-distance girlfriend, and to pretend that this doesn't have a lot to do with my attachment to this book would be foolish. In a way I think that this is probably part of the appeal of Clumsy; it's both rich enough with neat little details to feel personal and vivid, and universal enough to make it very relatable to a wide spectrum of readers. At the same time, I think I'd be vastly underselling if I said that this was all there was to the books appeal. It takes more than a sense that a work is relatable and/or deeply earnest to make something like this come off, as many terrible alternative comics and mopey rock songs will attest.

So no, I don't think that I love Clumsy purely because I can relate parts of it rather directly to my own experience. For one thing, I think that Jeffrey Brown has a remarkable talent for constructing a story out of perfectly selected fragments, put together in just the right order. He puts together the awkward moments and the funny moments and the intimate moments in a non-linear way that recalls a sort of sad, but yet loving, trip through memory. And then there's his art style: his voice, if you will. It's simple, almost too simple at times, but incredibly effective. His characters are practically stick-figures, but this paired down approach adds to the directness of the whole experience and also adds to the inherent sense of kindness that stops this comic from feeling at all cheap or nasty; even when he is dealing with the specific problems he and his ex-girlfriend had, it never feels like Brown is providing a too-detailed expose. His work feels respectful and loving without ever seeming watered down, creepy, or emotionally depthless, and that's no small achievement.

Despite Liam's Best Efforts, I Still Cannot Moonwalk

A big cheer is due for Matthew, who has managed to come up with a Michael Jackson joke that actually made me laugh! Most Michael Jackson humour feels pretty tired at this point, but his theory about Michael Jackson and Jack White cracks me up.

Back In Traction

Because I've needed some boomingly confident music to help me get back into the swing of writing for this thing, today's soundtrack CD has been the Blueprint, by Jay-Z.

"What you about to witness is my thoughts
Just my thoughts man - right or wrong
Just what I was feeling at the time, uhh
You ever felt like this, you vibe with me...

More soon...

Monday, December 29, 2003
When My Essaying Days Are Done…

This installment of Wake Up Screaming from mid-December is sheer bloody poetry. Creepy comedy gold from my good friend Scott McAllister.

But yet... the realisation that I've only got a couple more essays to write at university has made me realise that I’ve actually come to like writing essays. Sure, sometimes I've had to write essays on novels, plays, or poems that haven’t interested me in the slightest, but I've also written quite a few interesting essays about texts that really fascinate me, and this has definitely sharpened up my skills as both a reader and a writer.

I'd say that I'm going to miss it once I leave Uni, but I guess that I could always start doing English Lit style textual analysis here whenever the mood takes me.


Something to think about...

Anyways, I reckon that Scott has been on something of a run of late as I've been particularly amused by the full-on silliness of some of his more recent efforts.

That's all for today, folks, but stay tuned, as I've got a fistfull of posts I want to write at the moment, most of which should end up being quite interesting.

Take care

This Just In

Dirk Deppey is good. Really, really good.

Well That's Encouraging

Erm... blogger, could you please stop mangling my posts? I know I occasionally slip up grammatically, but that's no reason to totally maul everything I write now, is it?

[Edit: Ok, so basically the problem seems to be that blogger no longer likes grammatical notations ported in from Word, which means that quite a few of my previous posts have become monged retroactively. This is a pain in the ass, to be honest with you. I'm going to look into the extent that this has affected my archives today and then see what I want to do from there.]

In the Blue Corner... (this post brought to you by Blog Envy 2003)

So - I'm back. I had to duck out of blogging for a while there, both because I was having a busy time of it (in a mostly very positive way), and because I was starting to get very self-conscious about my blogging. I was worrying too much about how the various subjects that I write about relate to each other, about who reads my blog and what they want to read here, about the multitude of other bloggers out there and how my blog compares to theirs etc. I felt way too awkward about my status as a "comics blogger" or a "semi-comics blogger" or whatever, but you know what? I'm cool with it now. Some of this stuff just isn't important, and as to the other parts, well, I'm pretty happy with them as well. Right now I feel focussed enough to simply got about my business, writing about whatever I want to write about, fully aware that it is both the same as and completely different from the output of a whole load of other bloggers out there.

As a result, normal broadcasts will resume presently. Have a nice day.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003
Taking a Break

Taking a brief holiday from blogging - will be back and kicking ass again in the new year. Have a great month everybody!

Thursday, December 04, 2003
Once More With Feeling

The mongrel cat came home
Holding half a head
Proceeded to show it off
To all his new found friends
He said "I been where I liked
I slept with who I like
She ate me up for breakfast
She screwed me in a vice
But now
I don't know why
I feel so tongue-tied"
I sat in the cupboard
And wrote it down real neat
They were cheering and waving
Cheering and waving
Twitching and salivating like with myxomatosis
But it got edited fucked up
Strangled beaten up
Used in a photo in time magazine
Buried in a burning black hole in devon
"I don't know why I feel so tongue-tied
Don't know why
I feel
So skinned alive."
My thoughts are misguided and a little naive
I twitch and I salivate like with myxomatosis
You should put me in a home or you should put me down
I got myxomatosis
I got myxomatosis
"Yeah no one likes a smart arse" "but we all like stars"
But that wasn't my intention, I did it for a reason
It must have got mixed up
Strangled beaten up
I got myxomatosis
I got myxomatosis
"I don't know why I
Feel so tongue-tied"

(Radiohead - 'Myxomatosis')


Big thanks to Alison and Neil for putting up/putting up with Gemma and I on Monday. It was great to see you both again, and very excellent of you to let us stay at your place.

On The One Concert I Didn't Mention Last Time I Posted Here?

Radiohead live at the Aberdeen Exhibition Centre (1/12/03):

(Main Set)
The Gloaming; 2+2=5; My Iron Lung; Where I End and You Begin; Lucky; Myxomatosis; Pyramid Song; Creep; I Will; I Might Be Wrong; Sit Down. Stand Up; Go to Sleep; Paranoid Android; Exit Music (for a film); Idioteque; There There

(First Encore)
Sail to the Moon; National Anthem; Punch Up at a Wedding; No Surprises

(Second Encore)
We Suck Young Blood; The Bends; Everything in its Right Place

After my initial rush of muddled enthusiasm, I've come to think of Radiohead's most recent Hail to the Thief album as being a solid, occasionally amazing, album that has one or two duff tunes on it. There's maybe a slight lack of a cohesive feel or atmosphere to it, but I still like it a bunch. Monday's performance didn't radically change any of this, but it did make me think about one or two of the songs from the album in a slightly different (more favourable) light?

-I've never really gotten into 'The Gloaming', and while it hardly blew me away live, it did make a bit more sense as a set opener than I would have though it would. In this context, it sort of felt like an extended intro tape or something. A moody build-up for the reliably rocking '2+2=5', a song that was made to get a crowd moving if ever I heard one.

-'Myxomatosis' is my favourite song on Hail to the Thief (has been right from the start) and thankfully it sounded every bit as brilliant live as I'd hoped it would. I love the way that everything in this song (Thom's vocals, those sickly, but yet somehow majestic, synth lines) just wraps round this huge wall of fuzzy bass noise. It's so bloody driving and effective, and when the fuzz drops off and the Thom's voice peeps through to the surface for the ever-so-brief "But Now - I - Don't - Know - Why - I Feel - So - Tongue - Tied" bits it is perfect; so battered and bruised and small sounding compared to the noise that frames it. Seriously - this song is one of Radiohead's best!

-'Where I End and You Begin', though far gentler, works in a similar way, with all of the song's instrumentation twisting and turning through that big, rolling bass part (which sounds even better live than on record). It sounds fucking huge without feeling even slightly cliched, and I love it.

-I don't dislike "I Will' and 'Sail to the Moon'; they're fine songs and everything, and I've never skipped them while listening to the CD, but I've never been that taken with them until now either. 'I Will', in particular, sounded really genuinely beautiful on the night, and I'm going to give the recorded versions another chance sometime soon.

-Hearing the extra percussion on 'There There' live = rock!

-Guitarist Ed O'Brien (that's the one without the potentially back-damaging posture to you, fight fans!) organising the crowd's shambling handclaps into an eerie, synchronized choir during 'We Suck Young Blood' = far more effective than it probably sounds written down.

There were still one or two new tunes that didn't really do it for me - 'Sit Down. Stand Up' has its moments, but still sounds a bit underdeveloped to me (like there's a better song waiting to burst out or something), and I'm not sure why, but I just don't "get" 'Punch Up at a Wedding' - but on the whole the new songs really came off well on the night.

But what about those old songs, eh?

-Right, first things first: they played 'Creep'. I'd heard that they had been playing it on this tour, but I didn?t really pay that much heed (flashing back to the last time I saw them play, where the band seemed to get a bit fed up with people chanting for it). And I'll be honest with you; 'Creep' doesn't mean that much to me. Don't get me wrong - it's a good guitar pop song, but I feel like they?ve recorded many better in their time. Regardless of all this, it's obviously a song that a lot of people are very, very into, and that's fair enough. And when they played it on Monday - man, the crowd reaction was overwhelming. So much so that I'll admit that it actually felt pretty special, and was the only real difference between the quality level of this Radiohead show and the last one I saw.

-'Just' and 'My Iron Lung' still have a lot of life left in them, don't they? Boy did they ever yelp, sneer, and crunch their way through these tunes like they were brand fucking new.

-'Idioteque' and 'National Anthem' were the two highlights of the set last time, and they still rock mightily. Both songs carry a really nice mix of atmosphere and energy live - it's pretty amazing to experience, to be honest with you.

-Time to break out a wonky cliche: 'Lucky' falls between two stools with so much grace that I'm never quite sure how they pull it off. It's almost a really dull, gloopy blob of sadness at first, and then you get to the chorus, where the lead guitar part is obscenely cheesy and heroic, and yet - it's a genuinely brilliant song throughout. Nice one, guys!

Overall, it wasn't really that much better or worse than the last Radiohead show I saw, with the crowd's enthusiastic response to 'Creep' making it feel that little bit more exciting. It's weird, because sometimes it's easy to let the common perception of Radiohead as annoying, middle class moaners (something that the band themselves sometimes don't exactly help to dispel) get in the way of, like, the music (maaaaan), which is excellent - and not in a silly sad sack sort of way either.

And Thom Yorke's dancing is kinda entertaining too, but that's a whole other blog post...