January 23, 2017
[comics] How Batman Helps Me Survive My Mental Illness
… How Batman can help with your mental health …
I’ve been ill for as long as I can remember, and probably always will be. I have plenty of good days, when life seems delicious and my tasks seem surmountable, but over and over again, I have the bad days, ones where the voices in my head — my own supervillains — tell me to give in to chaos. There’s the baddie who says I’m insignificant, the one who says I’m unable to love, the one who says I’m lazy, the one who says I’m defined by my failures, the one who says I’ll never be successful, and so on. They’re recurring characters. Sometimes, I’m fighting one; other times, a few of them team up. I push back as much as I can: I go to therapy, I meditate, I medicate. The antagonists go away for a while. But they never permanently disappear.
On a very literal level, Batman has been facing the same fight for the 77 years since his creation. His challenges, too, are chronic: He throws his enemies in Arkham, but they’re never there for long. Wins don’t last. There will always be new stories in which an individual force of evil or a team of villains will concoct a plan to take him down. Other superheroes have their own lineups of baddies, but Batman’s is easily the deepest bench, filled with vivid — and archetypal — characters who come back again and again. What made that scene with Alfred in Dark Knight so compelling was the manifest exhaustion of Bruce Wayne that any Batman reader or viewer always assumed: How can he possibly withstand the demoralizing truth of knowing all of his victories are provisional?
January 20, 2017
[comics] The Unquotable Trump
… Who could have guessed that Donald Trump works well as a comic book villian? …
January 19, 2017
[moore] “The interior of the human head is infinite”: A Conversation with Alan Moore
… Extras from another interview with Alan Moore
… ‘ Our leaders are like surfers who are on top of an enormous wave. They are hanging on with their toes as tightly as they can. They are in a state of complete terror and yet, to the people down on the beach, they might even look like they are controlling the wave. That they were guiding or leading the wave. No, I think that the state of our modern leaders is that, like all of us, they are caught in this current of history. They are trying to make it seem as if they are leading the way, but they are being borne along it like all of us are.’
January 18, 2017
[murder] Solving the crime that changed my life: the murder of British backpacker Peter Falconio
… some true-crime from the Outback of Australia… ‘Then a detective – the one Gwynne had chosen for her acute attention to detail and who had sifted through thousands of Murdoch’s belongings – discovered a small, round, Mary Jane hair tie. “It was the hair tie that was taken from Joanne Lees when she struggled to survive and keep her life. [Murdoch] had it wrapped around his shoulder holster, inside his belongings. I think it was a trophy but no one will ever know.” Months later, when the hair tie was presented as evidence in the trial, it clearly made an impression on Murdoch. “He recoiled and he wouldn’t touch it,” recalls Gwynne. “You could see that he knew that was it. That was the nail in his coffin.”’
January 17, 2017
[moore] Alan Moore’s Most Controversial Comic Book Stories
… Unsurprisingly, this is a long list! … ‘“Saga of the Swamp Thing” was, like pretty much all of DC Comics’ output at the time, approved by the Comics Code Authority. However, that changed with “Saga of the Swamp Thing” #29 (by Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette and John Totleben). The issue included zombies, which were still a “no no” according to the Comics Code, but it also had Abby having sex with her husband, Matt Cable, who was possessed by her uncle Anton Arcane. It was likely way too disturbing for the Comics Code, so DC released the issue without Comics Code approval. Since they knew Moore was going to keep doing these types of stories, DC decided to stop submitting the book for Code approval and then with “Swamp Thing” #31 they began to label the book as “Sophisticated Suspense.”’
January 16, 2017
[shipwrecks] The Last Great Arctic Shipwreck
… a look at the history behind the wrecks of HMS Erebus
whose wrecks have recently been found in the Arctic … ‘When it was John Franklin’s turn to etch his name in this roster of arctic disaster he was no noob: a previous harrowing expedition in search of the Passage had earned him the oddly specific nickname “the man who ate his boots.” But the style of expedition Franklin came to represent—what modern British explorer Benedict Allen has described as “the siege, where you took your world with you and set about defeating the place”—was one of the last of its kind. Like the many doomed voyages that came before, Franklin’s ships quickly encountered what British explorer James Clark Ross described as the unforgiving solidity of ice, “not less solid than if it were a land of granite … meetings as mountains in motion would meet, with the noise of thunder.”’
January 13, 2017
[world] The place furthest from land is known as Point Nemo
… A look at the most remotest place on earth – the “oceanic pole of inaccessibility” … ‘Despite writing 66 years before its discovery, science fiction author HP Lovecraft chose a site eerily close to the oceanic pole of inaccessibility for R’lyeh, the home of his legendary tentacle-faced creature Cthulhu.’
January 12, 2017
[politics] BBC’s Adam Curtis: How Propaganda Turned Russian Politics Into Theater
… This, from Adam Curtis seems pertinent somehow …
So much of the news this year has been hopeless, depressing, and above all, confusing. To which the only response is to say, “oh dear.” What this film is going to suggest is that that defeatist response has become a central part of a new system of political control. And to understand how this is happening, you have to look to Russia, to a man called Vladislav Surkov, who is a hero of our time.
Surkov is one of President Putin’s advisers, and has helped him maintain his power for 15 years, but he has done it in a very new way.
He came originally from the avant-garde art world, and those who have studied his career, say that what Surkov has done, is to import ideas from conceptual art into the very heart of politics.
His aim is to undermine peoples’ perceptions of the world, so they never know what is really happening.
Surkov turned Russian politics into a bewildering, constantly changing piece of theater. He sponsored all kinds of groups, from neo-Nazi skinheads to liberal human rights groups. He even backed parties that were opposed to President Putin.
But the key thing was, that Surkov then let it be known that this was what he was doing, which meant that no one was sure what was real or fake. As one journalist put it: “It is a strategy of power that keeps any opposition constantly confused.”
January 11, 2017
January 10, 2017
[people] Was 2016 especially dangerous for celebrities? An empirical analysis.
… ‘2016’s P200s were: Fidel Castro, Muhammad Ali, David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Johan Cruyff, Bhumibol Adulyadej, Leonard Cohen, Antonin Scalia, Elie Wiesel, Nancy Reagan, John Glenn, Carrie Fisher, Chyna, Harper Lee, Kimbo Slice, Ernst Nolte, Rob Ford, Pierre Boulez, Alan Rickman, Shimon Peres, Christina Grimmie, Terry Wogan, Abbas Kiarostami, and Merle Haggard.’
January 9, 2017
[weird] The movie that doesn’t exist and the Redditors who think it does
… Do you remember a movie from early Nineties called Shazaam? …
It wasn’t until last year that things took a dramatic turn.
On 11 August 2015, the popular gonzo news site VICE published a story about a conspiracy theory surrounding the children’s storybook characters the Berenstain Bears. The theory went like this: many people remember that the bears’ name was spelt “Berenstein” – with an “e” – but pictures and old copies proved it was always spelt with an “a”. The fact that so many people had the same false memory was seen as concrete proof of the supernatural.
“Berenstein” truthers believe in something called the “Mandela Effect”: a theory that a large group of people with the same false memory used to live in a parallel universe (the name comes from those who fervently believe that Nelson Mandela died while in prison). VICE’s article about the theory was shared widely, leading thousands of people to r/MandelaEffect, a subreddit for those with false memories to share their experiences.
January 6, 2017
[docu] The 16 Best Documentaries of 2016
… ‘Not many movies have been accused of throwing national elections, intentionally or otherwise. And while the sentiment that Weiner is somehow at fault for the presidential result is a bit ridiculous. It’s a testament to the incredibly strange year that directors Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg have had. In January it was an epilogue. In August it became a second act. By November, it had become a prop in a much grander narrative. Yet what is most impressive about Weiner is the way that its treatment of the nuts and bolts of politics only gets more compelling. From the constant thrum of media distraction to the choreographed avoidance of already-made mistakes, it is a film in constant motion. And the scene of Weiner yelling at the unseen head of Lawrence O’Donnell will go down as one of American political cinema’s most resonant images.’
January 5, 2017
[ai] Superintelligence: The Idea That Eats Smart People
… some critical analysis by Maciej Cegłowski on the recent hype about the risks Artificial Inteilligence, the Singularity and Simulated Realities … ‘Every base reality can contain a vast number of nested simulations, and a simple counting argument tells us we’re much more likely to live in a simulated world than the real one. But if you believe this, you believe in magic. Because if we’re in a simulation, we know nothing about the rules in the level above. We don’t even know if math works the same way—maybe in the simulating world 2+2=5, or maybe 2+2=👹. A simulated world gives us no information about the world it’s running in. In a simulation, people could easily rise from the dead, if the sysadmin just kept the right backups. And if we can communicate with one of the admins, then we basically have a hotline to God. This is a powerful solvent for sanity. When you start getting deep into simulation world, you begin to go nuts.’
January 4, 2017
[moon] The Dark Side of the Moon
… go read this powerful profile of Buzz Aldrin …
You smile at him, your face opening the way every single face in the entire world opens when it encounters him. Because he is: Buzz Aldrin. And we are: mankind.
He takes note of your smile, and just as quickly looks past you. It’s the same way with everybody. It’s your pregnant anticipation: I can’t wait to hear the amazing synthesis of moon wisdom you are about to bestow upon me.
He has no idea what to do with that. None. He’s turning 85 this month. He went to the moon when he was 39. Mankind has been coming at him with your same smile ever since. What do you expect him to do with that?
January 3, 2017
[tv] Love Boat Insanity
… a fantasy wish list of guest stars for the TV series The Love Boat
December 31, 2016
[movies] The Poseidon Adventure Is Still One of the Most Insane Disaster Movies Ever Made
… Gizmodo remembers The Poseidon Adventure
… ‘Then there’s Gene Hackman, who had won his first Oscar a year prior, for 1971’s The French Connection. Here, he channels some of that Popeye Doyle snarl into his portrayal of Rev. Frank Scott, a take-action man of God who favors turtlenecks rather than clerical collars.Why would a newly minted Best Actor sign on for a ridiculous action movie? What other movie would let him use a giant fake Christmas tree as an escape ladder, engage in multiple screaming matches with Mike Rogo (Ernest Borgnine), dramatically curse God, and ultimately sacrifice himself to save a group of passengers who otherwise would’ve been literally dead in the water?’
December 30, 2016
 216 Good Things Which Happened in 2016
… a cheering end-of-year collection compiled by Feeling Listless
… ‘200. Accidentally stumbling upon New Broadcasting House during a Christmas shopping trip to London and being able to lean against the TARDIS whilst coincidentally wearing an Eighth Doctor t-shirt.’
December 29, 2016
December 28, 2016
[space] The Wold Newton Meteorite
… the history behind a meteorite that crashed into Yorkshire in 1759 and later fell into fiction … ‘In addition to almost killing a farm labourer and kickstarting the modern scientific study of meteorites, the “EXTRAORDINARY STONE” which fell to Earth two centuries ago was also the catalyst for some of the most inventive and influential crossover fiction of the twentieth century. If you’re are a fan of Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula novels, Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, or even Bryan Talbot’s Grandville, or Showtime’s Penny Dreadful then you have the Wold Newton Meteorite to thank. All these worlds filled with characters from different novels, films, and TV series owe a huge debt (acknowledged by both Newman and Moore, I might add) to the writing of Philip Jose Farmer…’
December 23, 2016
[games] Lode Runner Web Game
… take a break and have a play with this old classic platform game from 1983
which has been ported to the Web. [via Metafilter
December 22, 2016
 Which Philosophy Can Best Explain 2016?
… Vice attempts to understand 2016 … ‘We’re thrust into the world described in Machiavelli’s The Prince, where what really matters is the geopolitical power-plays of great men and the polities they lead. Certainly this would help explain the disparity, in the context of both Brexit and Trump’s victory, between what the polls claimed and the actual results. Perhaps we’re not just awful racists after all: perhaps this is merely part of some grand plot by Russia to undermine NATO and the EU so that they can annex the Baltics. In the now-immortal words of a mind far deeper and greater than I: “Guys. It’s time for some game theory…”’
December 21, 2016
December 19, 2016
[moore] The 21st Century Hasn’t Started Yet: An Interview With Alan Moore
… a recent interview in full from the Irish Times … ‘So, with the film work, I am trying to have that same sense of inventive fun in the film medium, and with the case of Jerusalem, trying to bring that to the novel. Yes, I have said that one of the great beauties of comics is that anyone with a pencil and paper can make a comic strip, however, I’d have to say that while that is still true, unadorned English prose seems to be more miraculous still, in that there are no pictures. 26 characters and a peppering of punctuation, and from that you can do anything, you can describe anything in the conceivable universe.’
December 16, 2016
[horror] ‘Creepypasta’ is how the internet learns our fears
… fascinating look at how the internet crowd sources horror stories
… ‘Effective horror, after all, has little or nothing to do with gore or body-counts. ‘Atmosphere is the all-important thing,’ wrote Lovecraft, ‘for the final criterion of authenticity is not the dovetailing of a plot but the creation of a given sensation.’ This is the only test of weird fiction that matters: can the work excite, at its least mundane point, a particular emotional response, ‘a profound sense of dread, and of contact with unknown spheres and powers’? Creepypasta represents a kind of industrialised refinement of this art. It is a networked effort to deliver dread in as efficient a way as possible, with the minimum of extraneous matter. Like pornography, it is single-minded in its pursuit of a particular response.’
December 15, 2016
[comics] Remembering Frank Miller’s Ronin [Intro
| Part 1
| Part 2
| Part 3
| Part 4
| Part 5
| Part 6
] … a long, detailed look at Frank Miller’s first attempt to breakout from the confines of mainstream comics …
‘Though it didn’t sell well when first released, Ronin has never been out of print and has continued to gain accolades from fans and pros alike. It’s now seen in its rightful light: as an audacious, bold attempt by a young creator to step outside of his comfort zone. Many praise Miller’s daring and smart storytelling, while also praising his “fusion” art style. The love story at the center of the book also merits attention for its wonderful sweetness and intriguingly kind approach to the couple.’
December 14, 2016
[docu] Is the Art World Responsible for Trump? Filmmaker Adam Curtis on Why Self-Expression Is Tearing Society Apart
… another interview with BBC documentary maker Adam Curtis
… ‘I believe you can be clever whilst also being very clear and imaginative for ordinary people. You can do it by being funny sometimes, by using music that people like, and by writing very simply and very clearly. But you can’t make ordinary people out to be chumps—I come from a working class community, and I know they’re really clever. They may feel completely isolated and fed up and pissed off, but they’re not stupid. They’re angry, and they were given a giant, big button that said “Fuck off” on it, and they pressed it. And I think the same thing happened in the Midwest, in your country. They didn’t believe Trump’s stories, they were just given this button—and they pressed it.’
December 13, 2016
[crime] JonBenét Ramsey: the brutal child murder that still haunts America
… ‘Parent-blaming is all-too-common these days, and usually the point is to make other parents feel better about their own parenting skills. But in cases such as that of JonBenét, something else is going on. By demonising parents who have suffered a terrible trauma, the rest of us can reassure ourselves that they are different from us: those parents are flawed, even evil, and we are good and therefore our child will never go missing – in Kos, in Praia de Luz, from our house in the middle of the night – like theirs did. The rush to blame JonBenét’s parents can also be partly put down to the public needing to reassure themselves that, contrary to what the Ramseys said, killers don’t break into houses and murder children where they should be most safe. That only happens when the parents themselves are killers. And yet.’
December 12, 2016
[people] Lessons from My Father
… Powerful piece of writing from Joe McGinniss, Jr. on the downfall of his father
… ‘The subject of his book “Fatal Vision,” the convicted murderer Jeffrey MacDonald, upset that the book portrayed him as guilty of the crime, sued my father for fraud. The contract for the book granted my father the freedom to tell the story as he saw fit, but the jury deadlocked anyway, and a mistrial was declared; the case was settled out of court a few years later. A few years after that, a famous piece in The New Yorker, “The Journalist and the Murderer,” by Janet Malcolm, took the case as emblematic of the moral compromises made by writers. Few in the publishing world came to my father’s defense. His reputation was in tatters, and he wondered aloud whether he’d ever write another book. If he’d ever crawl out of the dark black pit of depression. If he’d see fifty-five, sixty? His freezer was filled with bottles of gin and vodka. He’d pour drinks and stir them with an index finger, suck it dry. Have a bottle of wine at dinner, a second. Then he’d call. If I answered, it was to listen, and I knew before he completed his first sentence.’
December 9, 2016
[trump] Donald Trump named NewsThump’s “Resource of the Year”
… … ‘We’re looking forward to writing even more wonderful bits of copying and pasting of whatever lunacy he’ll come up with when he’s actually President, assuming he doesn’t get shot, imprisoned or simply become bored of the idea of being president in the meantime. I really hope he doesn’t get shot. He’s essentially paying to do up my conservatory at this point. I have a conservatory, you know. All of us liberal elites do.’
December 8, 2016