Monday, August 31, 2009

Peaches "The Teaches of Peaches"

While the lovely Ms Peaches is perhaps best known this album's opener, 'Fuck The Pain Away', there is much great music here. I particularly like 'Lovertits', on which Peaches seems to have found another irresistible dancefloor groove.

I don't think I know anyone who likes Peaches – other than my beloved, of course.

More incisive commentary coming soon.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Turbonegro "Ass Cobra"

Another old record. The more I think about it, the more I realise that Turbonegro are the band Zodiac Mindwarp could have been (er, could have fronted), if only he had had more than one song and liked singing songs about handsome sailors. I also like the song 'I Got Erection', with its increasingly outlandish list of things that give the singer a hard-on. I heard somewhere that the video for this song featured the band parading down some Norwegian street with giant inflatable erect penises – small wonder it received such heavy MTV rotation.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Maggot Brain

Air Moon Safari
Air 10,000 Hz Legend

Given that these albums are both genius and very different from each other, it is a wonder that I have not sought out more music by the French sensations.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Unknown Soldier

Those of you who read my posts about comics will recall me mentioning The Unknown Soldier by Joshua Dysart and Alberto Ponticelli. On the occasion of its first book format collection of this title appearing, the BBC have run a piece on this Ugandan-set title. It reminds me of my ambivalence about this title. Anyway, have a look, there are plenty of nice pictures from it: In pictures: Ugandan comic hero

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Important Animal News

A bear became trapped in a Colorado skateboarding park.

Rescuers lowered down a ladder, and the bear climbed out.

more on this important story

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Beatles "Abbey Road"

A longer walk to work has made listening to albums on the iPod more appealing than random shuffled tracks. So it was that I found myself listening to this record again.

It has only just hit me what a disturbing song 'Maxwell's Silver Hammer' is… behind the jaunty musical arrangements lie lyrics about a young sociopath who murders people for causing him the slightest problems. Maybe it is meant to be thought of more as some kind of adolescent power fantasy, though I am not sure why that would make it a good thing.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"To my ear, all these songs are universally awful"

Over on the Quietus, they have had a most excellent idea: play a load of space themed songs to famous astronomer Sir Patrick Moore, see what he thinks of them, and ask him about their astronomic accuracy.

And here it is: Space Rock The Final Frontier: Sir Patrick Moore On Pop

"I remember this one! I think it's dreadful," he says of Muse's 'Supermassive Black Hole'.

Monday, August 24, 2009

And Make Them Large Ones

A local documentary festival was showing that documentary about the All Tomorrow's Parties festival, this being the one they have had on in Camber Sands and Minehead over the last ten years or so. The film was made up of footage supplied by the festival's attendees, overlaid with music of bands playing at it (occasionally intercut with footage of British holiday camps in the 1950s and 1960s) In an age where people can't go for a piss without recording it on their mobile, the film's producers obviously had a lot of footage to work with – it's striking how they are able to cut between different shaky camera angles when showing performances by popular bands (thought they also had proper footage taken by professionals).

Most of the film washes over the viewer, as a kind of audiovisual stream of consciousness, but it is all very evocative of the festival in both locations. I think my favourite bits of concert footage were probably Battles performing 'Atlas', or The Gossip performing a song other than 'Standing in the Way of Control'. Other notable performances included Daniel Johnston, skating on the thin line between idiot savant and worrying mentalist, while the Yeah Yeah Yeahs continue to radiate star quality.

I also liked the bits where festival organiser Barry Hogan was giving out about the people who live near the Pontins in Camber Sands. They are a bunch of cunts, apparently. The bit where the guys in a trolley are being pushed around was also a*w*e*s*o*m*e.

I do not know what people who have never been to any of the ATPs would make of it, but I care not for them. For my own part, this motivated me to run out and buy a ticket for the Nightmare Before Christmas in early December, so I could spend the next six* months getting excited about it.


*indicating how long ago I wrote this.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

World's Greatest Blog Found

OK so it is not updated that often, but still.

It is actually the blog of good dog Bilbo, the Newfoundland lifesaver who would patrol the beach at Sennen if he wasn't prevented from doing so by the RNLI.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fearful Symmetry

The last SF book club book was Alfred Bester's 1956 novel "The Stars My Destination" (originally published in the UK as "Tiger, Tiger"). It concerns this fellow Gully Foyle, who goes on a rampage of vengeance against those who left him for dead in the depths of space. This is in the future, when people are able to teleport (or "jaunt") across the surface of the Earth but not through space. And in an unlikely sequence of events, Foyle also finds himself with Maori-like facial tattoos, symbolising his predatory nature; he is a total bad-ass, willing to do any number of unsavoury acts in order to attain the vengeance he desires.

It's a crazy book. A lot of the way the future society works is thought through in a credible and evocative manner, but a lot of the plot twists are rather outlandish (Foyle is several times saved from certain death by enemies of whatever planet he is on deciding to launch a surprise nuclear attack). Yet the book still works, almost as though by piling on ever more improbable events Bester manages to cancel out the unlikelihood of any one of them. The whole thing romps along at a pace that never lets you stop to question anything. It also has some wonderful SF touches – like how in a world where people can teleport across the planet, status is shown by moving as slowly as possible, so to impress people Foyle shows up to a party by train, with flunkies walking ahead of him to lay the tracks. Or a throwaway reference to how on Mars, where plants are vital producers of oxygen, the punishment for picking a flower is summary execution.

One thing people say about this book is that it is proto-cyberpunk, featuring people with technological implants, all-powerful yet strangely feudal corporations, odd future culture, and so on. And yeah, the gang's all here, all it's really lacking is people plugging into some crazy virtual reality computer system, but even with that the book feels like something very contemporary, not at all like something written in the 1950s.

image source

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Zombie Menace

Scientists have been investigating the undead threat, concluding that in the event of a zombie outbreak humanity would be in severe danger. "It's imperative that zombies are dealt with quickly or else... we are all in a great deal of trouble", reports the unlikely named Professor Robert Smith?

"I wanna hear about this 'cock' thing"

There is a Radio 4 humour programme that uses 'Beers, Steers, and Queers' by Revolting Cocks as its theme tune. They carefully exclude any of the vocals or sampled dialogue intros. Truly these are the end times.

The Continuity Cannae Take It, Cap'n

I went to see that new Star Trek film – the one that everyone is talking about. I liked it less than other people did – it is certainly a well-made and well-acted film, but the plot seemed a bit ridiculous, even by the standards of SF generally and Trek films in particular. The idea that the bad guys would go so bad just because someone failed to show up in time to save their planet seemed a bit outlandish. It also strained credibility in having the Federation respond to a planet threatening natural disaster by sending a zillion year old ambassador along to sort out the problem.

The characterisation was good fun, though. Kirk remained the eternally priapic alpha male prick he always was, but the real stars here were Uhura (somewhat reimagined from the original series) and Spock. The guy playing Spock was amazing, reinforcing again how central that character always was to olde Star Trek. The whole thing of [SPOILER] Spock getting a bit of saucy Uhura action[/SPOILER] was amusing – it seemed to go with the character's general oddness while not in any way undermining how heroically gay he looked. Maybe they could do a sequel where they just leave out Kirk and have Spock lead the Enterprise off into space for fantastic adventures.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ian solicits your advice

So tell me, is Bat For Lashes any good? The discourse around her talks a good game, and the one track I heard by her sounded at least interesting, but I am somewhat aware of my own limitations and do not want to go round buying records by attractive ladies on spec without hearing some kind of recommendation from sensible people.

I also wonder what the Inuit Panda readers' jury has to say about Julie Feeney –not much, perhaps, given that she is an Irish recording artist whose music is probably unknown outside the jurisdiction. Again, the discourse around Feeney sounds inviting, but my fear is that while she is painted as multi-instrumentalist sensation with a foot in the world of brainy compositional music, she could turn out to be just another shitey Irish singer songwriter.

Moving along, would I be right in thinking that the second CSS album is no good whatsoever? As previously noted, it crept into the shops with no fanfare whatsoever around it, suggesting that it may be rather lacking in tunes.

Finally, what do my readers think of the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs album (or indeed, of the second one). I am still very fond of the first one, a record that suggests that the band would be capable of making much more good music. But these days so many musical performers prove unable to deliver the goods long-term, so I am wary of the new one, for all the good reviews it has received.

Monday, August 17, 2009

When Audiences Attack

A while ago one of my pals commented that, in the past, people all wanted to be cool, but now they all want to be funny. I see where she is coming from. Things like Facebook updates or Twitter posts are too short for you to say anything of consequence, but they are ideally suited to the bon môt. It seems, though, that many people have not advanced so far that they can aspire to being funny themselves, so instead they just look to find everything they encounter funny – no matter what it is.

Thus it was that when I went to a showing in Christchurch Cathedral of the F.W. Murnau classic Nosferatu, I found myself sitting in front of some easily amused old bints who guffawed away as this classic of 20th century unfolded. Sadly, these three hellspawn were not unrepresentative of the audience as a whole. Here I was, watching one of the greatest films ever made, while these many enemies of good taste hooted and honked their way along.

The whole experience was made even more depressing by the film being accompanied by some David Briggs fellow extemporising on the organ. The organ music and the suitably gothic setting for the showing could have made for a most atmospheric of evenings, but these suckfaces made it one that I was glad to see ended.

There are, in fairness, some elements of Nosferatu that would raise a smile to even the most discerning film goer's face. The guy who plays the Harker character is a bit hammy in the rumbunctiousness he displays in the film's early scenes. The scene where the Count loads the cart with coffins must have looked pretty flash back in the days when no one had ever thought of speeding up footage, but now it just looks like something from Benny Hill.

But for all those comedic elements, the film as a whole has a terrible grandeur. Max Shreck, as the Count, inhabits his role with a sense of terrible malevolence, nevertheless communicating the terrible loneliness of the undead. There is a real emotional power to the scenes where he is staring at Mina – there is something more here than just the leering bloodlust of the damned, almost a sense of longing on his part, a desperate hope that in consuming her lifeblood he can somehow restore his own humanity.

Nosferatu is a film I keep watching, finding it one that repays endless viewings. See it yourself and understand why.

President Santorum?

Reports are coming in that failed Senator Rick Santorum may be considering a run for the White House in 2012.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

So Mote It Be

Gary Spencer Millidge Strangehaven: Conspiracies

This is the third collection of Millidge's Strangehaven comic. There is a helpful summary of previous events at the start for those of us just climbing aboard. This schoolteacher bloke from Essex has found himself in this strange rural village out in the west of England. Broadly speaking, the setting is like Twin Peaks meets the Archers. The locals seem to be a mix of fairly run of the mill country folk, but interspersed among them are such unusual types as an Amazonian shaman, an old lady whose cats and dogs talk to her, a bloke who claims to be from outer space, and loads of Freemasons.

The previous two books felt like they were setting up things, but this one really gets going plotwise. The local police sergeant, hitherto a rather suspicious and to me unsavoury character, finds himself confronted with a bizarre murder mystery – a man found hanging from a tree outside the village, the victim in full Masonic garb. Coincidentally (or not), the victim was expelled from the Masons on the night of his death, and his wife also turns out to have been separately murdered in their house. And the woman he is having an affair with turns out to be missing as well. All very mysterious, but the cop does at least have a talking teddy bear to help him out.

Strangehaven is an odd book. It lurches gamely from telling quotidian domestic stories to throwing the reader into a world of total weirdness. It is always an open question as to whether Millidge knows where he is going, but the books are so readable that if you pick one up you will bomb through it and then scramble around looking for more, even if you are not that convinced by it. One thing that is a shame is that the story is as yet unfinished, and Millidge is self-publishing it at such a glacial pace that we will probably all have died of old age before the title reaches its conclusion.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Slouching Towards Geneva

Frankenstein's Womb – a graphic novella by Warren Ellis, by Warren Ellis & Marek Oleksicki

Malek Oleksicki's name does not appear on the cover, so according to my own rules I should not credit him as a creator of this, but it would stick in my craw to only credit a title's writer and not the artist.

Warren Ellis has been active in comics for some time now. He has written a lot of stuff, some of which is great and some of which is complete rubbish. Transmetropolitan is probably his big title, but I have never read that. For me, his best work is Planetary, a beautifully drawn (by John Cassaday) title in which the mysterious undercurrents of a fictional twentieth century are excavated. Conceptually, it was not completely unlike The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore and Pat Mills, but Planetary was done less for laughs and was not so much about the creators showing off their nerdy knowledge of justifiably obscure fictional characters.

Frankenstein's Womb begins with Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, her lover Percy Bysshe Shelley, and her step sister Claire Clairmont travelling in a coach to meet Lord Byron by Lake Geneva, a journey seen previously in an early episode of Grant Morrison's The Invisibles. They stop by an old castle, and Mary goes in alone to investigate, meeting the monster created by Frankenstein in the novel she then had yet to write. The monster shows her various things from her past and future – her birth and her mother's consequent death from puerperal fever, Shelley's death, and then in the far future a dead hospital patient being revived by electricity. In purely plot terms, not much really happens, but it is very atmospheric.

A lot of the credit here must go to Oleksicki's art, which manages to portray the hideous grandeur of the monster without dissolving into pastiche of the character's various filmic portrayals. The depiction of Mary is also impressive. It would be easy for it to be crudely sexualised, given the period costumes, her somewhat racy life, the kind of people who read comics, and her youth at the time (I think she would have been just nineteen). The black and white art, though, suggests a depth to her character without fetishising her.

I sometimes lean towards the idea that Warren Ellis is not actually that great as a writer, except that sometimes he can serve as a catalyst allowing artists to produce great work. When combined with pedestrian artists there is nothing there to retain interest. In this case, I think the story is interesting enough, and atmospheric in its own right, but it is the art that really shines. I must keep an eye out for further work by Malek Oleksicki.

Area Cat Saves Man From Fire

The BBC reports that engineer Andrew Williams was asleep at home when a fire broke out in his house. However, he was saved when Hugo, a neighbour's cat, came in through the cat flap and woke him up by pawing at his face. Hugo is being hailed as a hero, but it is unclear as to whether he was actually just looking for food.

more

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Price of Freedom

Superman: World of New Krypton #6, by Greg Rucka, James Robinson, and Pete Woods

Superman – or Kal-El as he now calls himself – is living on New Krypton, with all the other Kryptonians from Kandor. At the end of the last issue, in a great OMG WTF moment, some guy shot General Zod. For the Kandorians, Zod is not some Terence Stamp played maniac, but a heroic figure, albeit one with whom Kal-El has a problematic relationship. In this issue, Zod lies grievously ill, fighting for his life, while in custody his assailant spouts strange ultra-patriotic rantings. And then, mysteriously, he escapes, and flies off to Earth. Realising that it would be disastrous for a Kryptonian security team to hit Earth looking for the would-be killer, Kal-El decides to head their alone with Supergirl. And, deciding that going there as Commander Kal-El would be inappropriate, he reaches for an old familiar red and blue costume, leading to episode's dahn dahn daaaaah! thrill powered closing line – "This is a job for Superman!"

I never thought I would find myself reading a Superman title, but here I am.

And in the back pages, there is one of those previews of another forthcoming strip, this one based on the superhero Magog, a fellow I mainly know from rubbish emo DC mini-series Kingdom Come. This looks like it is going to be yet another of those DC-hero-sorts-out-Africa titles. It looks like it might be a bit less rubbish than that story about Superman going to Makeyupytswana, but I bet that it will not prove to be a particularly useful book.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Broadcast "Tender Buttons"

So yeah, Broadcast. I saw them first all those years ago at the Bowlie Weekender, when one of my pals drunkenly accosted them at a post gig disco, telling them how great they were but also giving them some important advice on how to progress their career. "No wait, come back!" were his last words to them. Since then Broadcast have released a number of records, typically shedding a member with each one. I remember distinctly not liking the record before this – although some people (e.g. musical extremist P--- W----) felt that it was too twee, it seemed to me to be fundamentally lacking in tunes. One might almost say that it was not twee enough. I resolved to have no more to do with Broadcast.

When this Tender Buttons record came out, though, I noticed a lot of people giving it good talk. Seeing a cheapo copy in Fopp led to me taking a punt on it. Like a lot of the stuff picked up in Glasgow, I cannot say I have listened to it too closely as yet. But on a first listen or to, it seems to be a return to tune-based music, while still having the "BBC Radiophonic Workshop go pop!" sounds that everyone wants from them. Even though they are now only a two-piece, Trish Keenan still knows her place as a vocalist, though I think she makes up for it by doing loads of other musical stuff for the band. I think I will like this record a lot when I listen to it more – but only time will tell.

Since writing that, I moved flat and the record got buried.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's all over for the...

Unknown Soldier #10, by Joshua Dysart & Alberto Ponticello

There is much to like about this strip (the one about the doctor in Uganda who suffers facial injuries and mysteriously finds himself transformed into a killing machine). The art is great, with an evocative style of its own, and the writer's sense of engagement with Uganda and its recent history displays something more than the superficiality of usual treatments of Africa in fiction. I am finding, though, that the story is not really going anywhere, and it is all still being a bit vague on where all this doctor transformed into killing machine angle comes from or is going to.

One of the real curses of Vertigo titles (of which this is one) is their tendency to revive lame-o characters from DC's past that no one really cares about or remembers. The Unknown Soldier here (guy with bandaged face who is amazingly good at dishing out death) seems to be some minor DC character of yesteryear. Ultimately I find myself thinking that this would be a better title if they just went with the Ugandan setting, even using the device of (black) American doctor in the country as a reader identification protagonist. The Unknown Soldier character seems not to have fully gelled with the rest of the story. I was saying that the Unknown Soldier's own mysterious origins seem to be still a bit underdeveloped, and this might be because the title has to put a lot of effort into communicating the Ugandan setting. Without the sub-superhero angle this would not have two strands pulling in different directions, making it a more coherent comic.

This will probably be the last issue of this comic I buy, which makes me a bit sad, as there is definitely much to like here. But such is life.

There is a preview in here of some new Vertigo graphic novel called Filthy Rich, written by Brian Azzarello of 100 Bullets and drawn by some Victor Santos guy. It seems to be one of those classic "low level grunt given job of minding boss's sexay daughter" scenarios, with said daughter being one of those attractive yet scary ladies who populate everything Brian Azzarello writes.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

That is not our boss

Citizen Rex #1, by Mario and Gilbert Hernandez

Gilbert Hernandez writes the Palomar stories in Love & Rockets. Mario is the third Hernandez brother*, showing up in L&R on rare occasions. In this strip they have teamed up to jointly write and draw a strip for Dark Horse with science fiction theme. It begins with this bloke picking himself up having just been mugged, finding his robot companion also smashed up. It ends with some criminals discovering that their boss has been replaced by a maniacal android replica. God only knows where this is going, but it's a lot of fun. The art is pretty good too, albeit cartoony. I don't know how the two brothers have split the art between them, but it manages to look a bit different from normal Gilbert art without looking like the, eh, not great art I previously would have associated with Mario. Anyway, this is one title that I look forward to seeing develop.


*the other one is Jaime, but you already know this because he does those Maggie and Hopey stories you like.

Monday, August 10, 2009

U2 "The Joshua Tree" & "War"

As you know, U2 are a long-lived Irish band who have a new album out. This got me interested in exploring their back catalogue, so I picked up these two in the Oxfam on Glasgow's Byres Road. The Joshua Tree I knew already, having long had a vinyl copy (albeit without listening to it in a while). Do you remember when it came out? They led off with 'With Or Without You' as the advance single, and my friend W------ made a comment about it that basically sums up the fundamental U2 problem – "It starts well enough, but you know that sooner or later that Bono man is going to start shouting". By the time of The Joshua Tree, U2 had been going for quite a while, and you could say that Bongo's lyrics and vocal style had become a bit ossified, the songs all starting quiet before going into an impassioned cry, the lyrics typically communicating a rather non-specific sense of yearning. He does deviate from that a bit, when you get tracks like 'Mothers of the Disappeared' or 'One Tree Hill', which seem a bit more contemplative, but the general Bongo tone is an incoherent wail.

I think U2 were still god-botherers when The Joshua Tree came out, so it's hard not to think that the "You" endlessly referenced in the songs might not actually be some saucy little fuckbucket but, you know, God. Jesus. I must listen to this a bit more, but overall I find myself thinking that the younger me was wrong, that this is not actually that great a record. Certainly it seems more compromised than The Unforgettable Fire, U2's first Brian Eno associated record.

And then there is War. This was their last album before Brian Eno came onboard. I think maybe I still have not listened to it that closely, still mainly on shuffle in a playlist of other records acquired in Glasgow. A couple of things strike about it. First of all, 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' and 'New Year's Day' are amazing tracks. An album could have these two songs and nothing else bar the sound of Adam Clayton farting and still be total classic. I think their lyrical obliqueness suits them, making them something that anyone can take their own meaning from. That Bono man does a lot of shouting on them, but there is no pretence that you are going to get anything else than this.

One funny thing I read once is that 'New Year's Day' is about the suppression of Solidarity in Poland (patent nonsense, everyone knows it is actually about the Edge trudging through snow while unspecified people ride around on horseback). The writer tried to justify this crackpot theory by reference to the line "Nothing changes on New Year's Day", which clearly related to the lifting of martial law in Poland on the 1st of January in some year in the mid-1980s – because although martial law had been lifted, the apparatus of communist oppression remained in place, meaning that nothing had changed (on New Year's Day). Even if this reading is correct, and Bongo was trying to make a statement about Polish politics, it says a lot about his non-skills as a direct communicator of ideas – what is all the stuff about how he will be with this You again all about? For all that, it is still a great song, driven forward by the Edge's cack-handed piano playing and effects pedals, playing off well against Bono's unfocussed passion. 'Sunday Bloody Sunday' is similarly oblique – you get the general idea that Bongo is against war and stuff, but not very much sense of what he wants to do about it. Still, like they used to say about the method actors – you may not be able to make out what they are saying, but you know how they feel.

The other thing I found myself thinking about this record is that it still shows U2's roots as a kind of post-punk act, a band that Joy Division could have evolved into. I am thinking not so much of the avant-funk post-punk acts, more the ones who spend their time banging on dustbin lids. The drums are very to the fore on this record, for all Larry Mullen Jr.'s obvious technical limitations.

I remember in the early days of Frank's APA, one fellow established his separation from the APA's mainstream by saying that he did not want to be reading about weirdo music, but rather he wanted to be hearing all the latest hi-fi news and getting some idea whether the new U2 album was worth buying. So anyway, does anyone have any idea whether No Line on the Horizon is the kind of thing right-thinking people need in their record collections? My impression is that, by U2 standards, it has tanked, but that should not necessarily mean that it is shite.

I fear that no one reading this has any interest in U2.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Best Comic I Have Ever Been Paid To Endorse

The Unwritten #3, by Mike Carey and Peter Gross

This is the one about this fellow Tom Taylor whose father wrote children's fantasy books about Tommy Taylor, a highly fictionalised version of him (making him like Peter Llewellyn Davies or Alice Liddell or whatever Christopher Robin's real name was). His father has subsequently disappeared, but the son is still milking the connection (making him like Christopher Tolkien or Norbert Herbert). But now the protagonist has started to discover that maybe he is not really his father's son, while in an unlikely sequence of events various nutters have started thinking that he is actually the character in the books written by his father.

In this episode Mr Taylor finds himself in that villa in Switzerland where Mary Shelley had the idea for Frankenstein (and Milton apparently did work on Paradise Lost in a previous century). He had lived there with his father, before the latter went AWOL, and now some kind of conference for shitey horror writers is taking place. Taylor casts his mind back to the night his father disappeared, you know the score.

But, you ask, is this any good? Well, at this stage I say, yes, it is any good. There is an oddness to the story that is not showing any immediate sign of being resolved in an obvious manner. In narrative terms, though, I wonder if this title will find it difficult to keep going into the longer term. Sooner or later there will have to be some kind of big reveal about Tom Taylor's real past and his relationship with the various odd people – some of them plainly supernatural – who are floating around him. I am not sure the title will work if it endlessly delays that revelation, yet it will struggle to retain any narrative point once the character's background is known. Still, for the moment I am happy to hang on and see how this goes.

As an aside, one irritating thing about Vertigo titles is the way every one these days seems to feature some over the top endorsement (of the "best comic I've read in my puff" variety) from some other comics creator. This one has Ed Brubaker talking about how it "perfectly captures the zeitgeist of our times", whatever that means. And The Unwritten itself contains a preview of some new Hellblazer graphic novel, written by well known writer of real books Ian Rankin. It is the best thing that some other "will endorse for food" types have seen in ages, and it seems also to capture the zeitgeist of our times by being about reality television. The art is engaging but I think I may well give this one a miss.

Sad Animal News

Sam the Koala (above, being rescued) has died. Sam touched the hearts of millions when she was rescued from the Australian bush fires earlier this year, providing a feelgood aspect to what was otherwise a rather grim episode. However, she has died as a result of cysts associated with urogenital chlamydiosis.

"It's tragic that Sam the koala is no longer with us," said Kevin Rudd, Australia's prime minister.

Meanwhile, in Poland the authorities have raided a farm where St. Bernard puppies were being overfed and transformed into lard. I suppose this counts as a good news story, in that at least some of these puppies will now no longer be turned into lard, but it is still a bit sad.

Lard continues to be made from cows and pigs.

Koala image

lard puppy image

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Crystal Antlers "Tentacles" (vinyl, with free download)

Woaaah! More testifyin' action from the band kids love and parents hate.

DISCLAIMER: I am not actually sure that parents hate Crystal Antlers, and in reality perception the kids do not like them as much as they like rubbish music (e.g. The Kings of Leon). But still.

Good Dog News

I'm getting a bit excited about my soon occurring holiday in Cornwall. One thing that adds to this is news that a compromise has been reached that allows Newfoundland Bilbo to patrol Sennen beach once more. In an outbreak of what some might call political correctness gone mad, Bilbo was banned from the beach because dogs are not allowed walk on the sands, while he was banned from riding around on a quad bike for health and safety reasons. This despite his training as a life saver and determination to make sure that people always swim between the flags. Bilbo is now allowed to work on the beach on a part-time basis.

I will definitely not be swimming outside the flags just so that I can be rescued by Bilbo.

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image source

Friday, August 07, 2009

"Sherlock Holmes" #3

I have adopted the standard of only listing the names of comics creators here if they appear on the cover of the issue. This comic has no creators listed on the cover, so I am not troubling you with their names.

This is a piece of Sherlock Holmes pastiche written and drawn by modern day creators. In episode one, Holmes was in a locked room with some fellow who was then shot dead – and when the rozzers burst in, they found an agitated Holmes standing over the dead man, holding a revolver that had just been fired. So, has Holmes turned into a murderer, or is he somehow being framed for a crime he didn't commit? Whichever it was, last issue saw him bust out of chokey, and in this one he bumbles around London disguised as a decrepit old man while Doctor Watson tries to work out what's going on. Meanwhile someone else tries to kill some continental royal fellow who is over on a visit. But apart from all that, arguably not that much happens here – it's very atmospheric, but maybe this could do with moving a bit quicker.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Breeders "Pod"

I found my vinyl copy of this recently, and listening to it again reminded me of how amazingly good it is. This CD copy was acquired in Oxfam for iPod reasons. These days the Breeders are probably more famous for 'Cannonball' (itself now a very old song), but this album is from an earlier period, before the band was a Kim Deal vehicle, when The Breeders were a band of women who were playing second-string in other bands (The Pixies, Throwing Muses, and the less famous Perfect Disaster). Pod is a great combination of restrained song-writing and sparse Steve Albini production, easily overshadowing the cock-rock bollocks Kim Deal got up to when she had the band to herself. To go further, this is one of my very favourite albums ever.