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April 29, 2016
[billboards] Evening Standard Billboard Flashback: March 2006 … Another average month in London: Death, more death, Cancer, Tom Cruise has a baby, John Prescott had an affair and pictures from a HORROR PUPPY FARM.

Evening Standard Billboards: April 2006

April 28, 2016
[comics] The 13 Most Interesting Time Travel Stories in Comics … a varied collection of comics to track down … ‘Three years before they would create 1986’s Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons were honing their comic-creating skills by producing short stories for 2000 A.D. magazine. In one of the magazine’s recurring features called Time Twisters, they published a five-page story called Chronocops! that is considered one of Moore’s best early works, and one that would hint at the complex narrative skills he would demonstrate later in his career…’
April 27, 2016
[comics] Comics You Should Own – Elektra: Assassin … another look at one of my favourite comics … ‘I suppose this should be called a guilty pleasure, because there’s only a little in these comic books that is socially redeeming in any way. From the first few pages, Miller and Sienkiewicz grab us by the throat and refuse to let go. It’s impressive, when you read these in one sitting, how the creators keep the high level of energy over eight issues. There’s very little fluff here, which is amazing, considering the padding we often see in comics today. Even the “down time” in this book is packed with little details, both in the writing and the art, that doesn’t leave us much time to catch our breath…’
April 26, 2016
[movies] An electrician remembers: I worked with Jack Nicholson and Stanley Kubrick‘It was a small crew and he used us for bit parts. Because they rarely shoot leading artists when you can’t see their face, he said to me: “You look like Jack – put on the jeans and boots.” In the film, when a semi-conscious Jack is dragged into the food store, those are my legs on screen. He asked me to be the guy in a bear suit with his arse hanging out and his head in a man’s lap at the end. But I said: “No, mate, I ain’t having that.” Could you imagine? Everyone at home saying: “That’s Bobby Tanswell.” Nope, sorry.’
April 25, 2016
[comics] Bill Sienkiewicz reminiscences about meeting Gary Groth‘I turn, Gary is taking big fast purposeful strides toward me, a nickel-plated revolver in both hands, looks like a S&W .357 magnum/4 in. barrel. I jump back because, one, I don’t know Gary that well, two, he’s got a gun, intent, and I’m not stupid. Gary ignores me and slides into where I was standing, aiming the pistol at the VW with both hands…’
April 22, 2016
[life] Universe Feels Zero Connection To Guy Tripping On Mushrooms‘Frankly, I feel like he and I are as separate and unconnected as we’ve always been. Sure, he seems like a decent person, but have we at some level blended together into a single cosmic entity, flowing through each other and commingling our energies? Definitely not.’
April 21, 2016
[life] Deep Intellect … a wonderful article on the alert, intelligent, playful minds of octopuses… ‘Only recently have scientists accorded chimpanzees, so closely related to humans we can share blood transfusions, the dignity of having a mind. But now, increasingly, researchers who study octopuses are convinced that these boneless, alien animals — creatures whose ancestors diverged from the lineage that would lead to ours roughly 500 to 700 million years ago — have developed intelligence, emotions, and individual personalities. Their findings are challenging our understanding of consciousness itself.’
April 20, 2016
[tv] Teletext time travel … a fascinating look at how lost Teletext pages are being recovered from VHS tapes … ‘The pages are a snapshot of life in the 1980s – British Rail train times, Mrs Thatcher’s opinions, new pound coins and Gus Honeybun – and therefore fascinating for historians of modern life…’

Recovered Teletext Page

April 19, 2016
[religion] I sniffed the end of the world, and it smells like bile and dread … Two artists have created what Armageddon smells like .. ‘To put it somewhat intestinally, Apocalypse left me with an undeniable feeling of dread, right there in my bowels. It felt like the nasal equivalent of a subsonic frequency.’
April 18, 2016
[comics] The Evolution of Daniel Clowes … Nicely done profile of Clowes career… ‘Eightball was like seeing Clowes’ id, ego, and super-ego splayed out on the page. Like A Velvet Glove Cast In Iron translated his dreams (dreams being a frequent source of inspiration and analysis for Clowes) into a darkly bizarre journey into sexual perversion; Pussey lampooned every level and segment of the comics industry with unreserved viciousness. In short, odd stories, loners and misanthropes navigated a world of rampant ignorance and crass consumerism. In autobiographical diatribes and skillful pop parodies, Clowes gouged at the grotesqueness of American culture until its eyes were bloody, and always made sure to save a few jabs for his least-favorite subject: himself.’
April 15, 2016
[comics] Art: Wally Wood’s Sound Effects…. and much more … a gallery of Wally Wood comics …

Wally Wood's Sound Effects! Page 1

April 14, 2016
[tech] How the Ballpoint Pen Changed Handwriting … An interesting look at the history of the ballpoint pen and it’s role in the decline of cursive handwriting … ‘My fountain pen is a modern one, and probably not a great representation of the typical pens of the 1940s—but it still has some of the troubles that plagued the fountain pens and quills of old. I have to be careful where I rest my hand on the paper, or risk smudging my last still-wet line into an illegible blur. And since the thin ink flows more quickly, I have to refill the pen frequently. The ballpoint solved these problems, giving writers a long-lasting pen and a smudge-free paper for the low cost of some extra hand pressure.’
April 13, 2016
[politics] Has Jeremy Corbyn’s spin doctor Seumas Milne gone rogue? … an interesing profile (but written by Alex Wickham so YMMV) … ‘A recurring theme is Milne’s disconcertingly endearing comic character. Dressing in a communist-chic black rollneck jumper and white chinos, Milne offers great value as a self-deprecating self-parody. “He’s like Swallows And Amazons meets Spetsnaz,” says one journalist who has worked with him.’ [thanks Phil]
April 12, 2016
[tv] Findable.TV … useful website to search all popular streaming sites in the US and UK to find the movies and TV you want.
April 8, 2016
[movies] ‘Superman,’ The Inside Story: Director Richard Donner Remembers Meeting Stallone to Play the Lead, Working With Brando, and a Near-Fatal Knife Attack … Richard Donner describes how Superman: The Movie got made …

I was brought up on Superman as a kid. There was a whole point in my life where I read Superman. So when I was finished with it, I was like, “Man, if they make this movie, they are destroying the legend of Superman.” I wanted to do it just to defend him.

I called [writer] Tom Mankiewicz, who had been a friend for years. He said, “I don’t want to get involved. I don’t want to do a comic book.” I said, “Tom, it’s more than a comic book. Please come over.”

I got a little stoned, smoked some weed, put on the Superman costume. I was in pretty good shape then. It was like elastic. And Tom pulled up, and I ran across the lawn and Tom turned and looked at me and ran back to his car.

Tom says, “You’re crazy. Get the f— away from me!”

April 7, 2016
[moore] Other Moore’s Laws … What if Alan Moore, Roger Moore and Michael Moore had their own laws?

Other Moore's Laws

April 6, 2016
[politics] Inside the Unorthodox Donald Trump Campaign‘A confluence of factors created the conditions for this election and Trump’s surprising success in it: the turbulence of economic change, anxiety about terrorism, the rise of social media, Obama-inspired racism, Hillary-inspired misogyny, resistance to all manner of social change; the list can go on and on. But one factor that’s been particularly crucial to Trump’s rise may be the way that reality television, cable news, and talk radio have shaped the culture’s sense of “reality” — in other words, its relationship to truth. If Ronald Reagan showed us that Hollywood was good training for politics, Trump is proving that the performance skills one learns in the more modern entertainment arenas are even more useful. Talk and reality shows are improvised operations, mastered by larger-than-life personalities expert at distorting and provoking, shifting and commandeering attention.’
April 5, 2016
[books] In Hindsight, an ‘American Psycho’ Looks a Lot Like Us … one more look back at American Psycho … ‘With time, the book itself has picked up a good deal of grudging respect, too. It’s seen as a transgressive bag of broken glass that can be talked about alongside plasma-soaked trips like Anthony Burgess’s “A Clockwork Orange” (1962) and Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian” (1985), even if relatively few suggest Mr. Ellis is in those novelists’ league. I read “American Psycho” for the first time recently, and this is certain: This novel was ahead of its time. The culture has shifted to make room for Bateman…’
April 1, 2016
[comics] Elektra: Assassin’s Political Satire Cuts Deep 30 Years Later … revisiting Miller & Sienkiewicz’s masterpiece … ‘I can’t overstate how much fun Miller and Sienkiewicz are having in this series. They’re two virtuoso talents at the peak of their powers, making satiric hay out of politics, government, the military, gender stereotypes and other comic books, which were (and still generally are) weak sauce compared to this.’
March 31, 2016
March 30, 2016
[work] HR Sends Out Reminder Email About Not Scrawling ‘Revenge’ In Blood In Conference Room‘“Most of you are already familiar with this rule, but just as a refresher, it’s directly against company policy for an employee to use blood to write ‘revenge’ on the conference room walls, door, or table,” wrote Shumaker, emphasizing that it did not matter if the word was rendered in human or animal blood.’
March 28, 2016
[comics] Howard Chaykin Speaks … Chaykin, like Alan Moore, is unable to give a bad interview … ‘I’m on record everywhere regarding this – I’d like to think that had I known it was going to be that big a deal, I would have done a better job. That work will haunt me to my grave, diminishing the value of the actually good and true work I’ve produced in the past forty odd years. I figure my NYT obit will read HOWARD CHAYKIN DIES; FUCKED UP STAR WARS COMICS – AND REALLY NOW, WHO GIVES A SHIT ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE HE DID, RIGHT?’
March 25, 2016
[books] Swansea Oxfam charity shop asks women not to return used Fifty Shades of Grey‘An Oxfam bookshop in Swansea is inundated with so many copies of the erotic novel – ‘literally hundreds’ – that they’ve started begging women to stop bringing them in. The shop now has so many copies of the book, they’ve built a fort out of them.’
March 24, 2016
March 23, 2016
[moore] What Next For Providence? … Where is Alan Moore heading with Providence? … ‘Issues #5 and #6 are almost a two part story, where Black visits a city which is a major nexus of Lovecraft’s work, and intersects with several different stories, and many characters who act towards Black in an openly malevolent manner. I predict that #11 and #12 will be set in Providence, RI, and will feature Black’s inevitable doom after similarly intersecting with multiple stories and characters. “The Haunter of the Dark” has to appear. The Case of Charles Dexter Ward seems extremely likely’
March 22, 2016
[books] Some Kind Of Abstraction: Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho 25 Years On … Another look at American Psycho‘We’re a world away from the wry, toothless, plot-driven 80s satires of Tom Wolfe or Martin Amis here. In American Psycho we’re shown a tiny social circle in its antiseptic habitat. Not much of note happens outside of Bateman’s uncorroborated excesses. But refracted through his inner world, and thanks to Ellis’ gift for, well, writing, the tour we take is tense, energetic and – surprisingly, given what we’re shown – emotionally resonant.’
March 21, 2016
[kubrick] There’s Something About Stanley: Kubrick’s Strange Science Of Obsession … the search for meaning in Stanley Kubrick’s films… ‘What if the most meaningful clue is not in anything that the Kubraphiles are proposing, but in the fact that they are looking, and what if Kubrick intended this to happen? Allowing that it was more than just the deluded bid for immortality of a cosmically inflated ego, what might the end game be here? As I suspect every good Zen master will tell you, the nature of such a many-layered puzzle is that it’s not the answer but the experience of finding it that leads to understanding.’
March 18, 2016
[people] When Benny Hill met Anthony Burgess… Craig Brown remembers the odd meeting between the writer and comedian … ‘The two men met for the first time shortly after the review appeared. I was lucky enough to be present at this bizarre meeting. Both of them were remarkably like they were on television. Hill arrived first, as perky as can be, apparently over the moon at having been driven by a female taxi driver (“Oooh, I said, you can take me anywhere, my love!”). Burgess – histrionic, loquacious, with deep voice and furrowed brow, putting the emphasis on unexpected words – behaved just like a slightly hammy actor playing the part of Anthony Burgess. The two of them were full of mutual admiration, but never quite found common ground. All in all, it followed a similar pattern to T S Eliot’s meeting with Groucho Marx: the author wanted to show off his knowledge of comedians, while the comedian wanted to show off his knowledge of authors. By the end of the dinner it seemed to me unlikely they would ever meet again, and, as far as I know, they did not.’ [thanks Phil]
March 17, 2016
[billboards] Evening Standard Billboard Flashback: March 2006 … Sex, death, terror, leopards and free goody bags – another average month in London…

Evening Standard Billboards: March 2006

March 16, 2016
[crime] Why did two parents murder their adopted child? … a long, disturbing true-crime story from Spain … ‘Immediately after his arrest, Basterra was put in a police cell next to his wife, separated by a flimsy partition through which they could speak – and be secretly recorded on video. The police amassed hours of tape but at no point in the recorded conversations was there any admission of guilt or any other evidence to use against Basterra and Porto (a court would also later declare the recordings inadmissible). “Look what trouble your overheated imagination has got us into,” was one of several enigmatic phrases used by Porto.’

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