1 October 2001
[comics] A couple of preview images and some PR for Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Strikes Again‘The Dark Knight returns once again – trimmer, more streamlined, and with a vitality that hasn’t been seen since the first years of his war on crime. Together with his army of Bat-soldiers, including Carrie Kelley – formerly Robin, and now the new Catgirl – the Dark Knight wages a new war on a diseased world that’s become completely lost. But to fight this war successfully, he must first return to being the World’s Greatest Detective and discover what has become of his former allies who were once the World’s Greatest Heroes.’
[books] Adrian Mole — Monday, September 24‘I heard with alarm today that, due to the coming “Crusade” or “Infinite Justice” or “The Conflict” or “World War Three”, David Blunkett has warned that my civil liberties may be restricted in the future, and that I may have to carry an identity card with me at all times. Since I am constantly losing my Sainsbury’s Reward Card, the future looks dim for me. ‘
[comics] David Hayter and The Watchmen Movie [Link #1 | Link #2] … A Watchmen film looks more like a possibility… maybe. ‘The mood of Hollywood execs right now is to go on “retreats” so basically all these suits are at these spa retreats, hanging out and discussing how they’re going to be dealing with all of this. According to Hayter what appears to be happening is that a lot of feel-good romances and comedies are getting optioned right now as a direct result so in two years we’ll be seeing a massive wave of these happy films at a time when the US will very likely be fighting. He went on to compare this intensity in mood to the 70s and the Vietnam war where some incredibly dark and gritty movies were made, the good thing from this tragedy, if it can be called as such, is that we may see some amazing new things out of Hollywood in a few more years reflective of the country’s mood.’ [via I Love Everything]
2 October 2001
[comics] Tintin’s Nazi Spin — review of Tintin: The Complete Companion by Michael Farr. On Hergé’s war years: ‘…even Farr struggles to offer a positive explanation for The Shooting Star, written in 1941, about a European expedition to recover a meteorite from Arctic waters. In the wartime version of the adventure the rival expedition is American and funded by a sinister Jewish financier called Blumenstein. In later editions the financier was changed to Bohlwinkel and the country to Sao Rico, but the unmistakably anti-Semitic caricature remained.’
[politics] Steve Bell in Brighton … Britain’s finest political cartoonist visits the Labour Party Conference. ‘To Brighton, storm-lashed and ready for war. It’s also where I live, so, as a ratepayer paying for this steel-ringed, machine gun-equipped securityfest, I am already irate.’ [Related: Archive of Steve Bell Cartoons]
3 October 2001
[distraction] Could You? — Amusing spoof on recent UK Police TV Ads. [via Wanderers Weblog]
[politics] Field-marshal Blair rallies the troops for war – on socialism … Simon Hoggart on Blair’s Conference Speech. ‘Throughout this conference, Mr Blair has scarcely shown his face on the platform. Instead we are allowed to imagine him in the ops room, or at least the Metropole hotel, with an open scrambler to George Bush, dispatching ships, planes, tanks and men to the most hostile terrain on the planet. Or possibly watching This Morning with Twiggy. Not that it matters. There are times when leadership means staying out of the way.’
[comics] Will Superheroes Meet Their Doom? … Time on what happens to the mainstream comic book industry after 9-11. ‘…publishers Marvel and DC may feel the impact most of all. They are both located in New York, but that’s not the reason why. They both specialize in a kind of entertainment, superhero books, that suddenly seems off-key. Who can now abide the fantasy of an evil madman’s nefarious plot to kill thousands of people being foiled by a muscle-bound troglodyte?’ [via Comic Geek]
[politics] Full Text of Tony Blair’s Conference Speech [Part 1 | Part 2]

‘Just two weeks ago, in New York, after the church service I met some of the families of the British victims. It was in many ways a very British occasion. Tea and biscuits. It was raining outside. Around the edge of the room, strangers making small talk, trying to be normal people in an abnormal situation. And as you crossed the room, you felt the longing and sadness; hands clutching photos of sons and daughters, wives and husbands; imploring you to believe them when they said there was still an outside chance of their loved ones being found alive, when you knew in truth that all hope was gone. And then a middle-aged mother looks you in the eyes and tells you her only son has died, and asks you: why? I tell you: you do not feel like the most powerful person in the country at times like that. Because there is no answer. There is no justification for their pain. Their son did nothing wrong. The woman, seven months pregnant, whose child will never know its father, did nothing wrong. They don’t want revenge. They want something better in memory of their loved ones.’

4 October 2001
[politics] Steve Bell in Brighton — Tuesday and Wednesday‘Blair sweeps in, looking serious, determined, resolved and orange. It’s been niggling in the back of my mind as to why everybody on stage at this conference seems to be orange. It must be a combination of the lighting effects and the backdrop. Or perhaps they’ve all been inoculated against chemical attack with Sunny Delight.’ [Related: Archive of Steve Bell Cartoons]
[movies] Colin’s Movie Monologue Page — Some very amusing quotes… [via Haddock]

Dr. Evil’s Childhood: ‘Very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink, he would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Some times he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy, the sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical, summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring we’d make meat helmets. When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds, pretty standard really. At the age of 12 I received my first scribe. At the age of fourteen, a Zoroastrian woman named Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum, it’s breathtaking, I suggest you try it.’

5 October 2001
[comment] Robert Anton Wilson on The War Against Some Terrorists‘Just as the War Against Drugs would make some kind of sense if they honestly called it a War Against Some Drugs, I regard Dubya’s current Kampf as a War Against Some Terrorists. I may remain wed to that horrid heresy until he bombs CIA headquarters in Langtry.’ [via Fark]
[profile] Big Mouth Strikes Again — profile / interview with Bob Geldof … ‘Of wise words and passionate topical convictions, he’s got a tidal wave. “…this ferocious death cult called the Taliban, who have no real theology, whose every action is anti-life, including a denial of life to all women, and a shadowed half-life to all men, who can’t display their faces. These people are like having the Ku-Klux-Klan running the country. And I don’t want them in this world…” It’s nice to have the Any Questions? Bob back ? arguing with Ann Widdecombe, haranguing governments about Third World debt and starving refugees (“It’s an intellectual absurdity that people die of want in a world of surplus”), always looking to stir things up.’
[movies] Another one from Colin’s Movie Monologue Page

Dr. Evil’s Secrets: ‘Okay. I have a vestigial tail. It’s more of a nub, really. The spine just goes on a little longer than it should. Also, I’ve dabbled. I mean, perform fellatio once and you’re a poet, twice and you’re a homosexual. I remember once I was being fisted by Sebastian Cabot- but here’s where the story gets interesting…’ [More]

6 October 2001
[politics] Presiminister Exits as Old Conflicts Rumble On … Simon Hoggart on Blair’s performance on Thursday. ‘The prime minister did not try to save the world again; he did that earlier this week. Instead this was his seventh day. For a moment he could rest, with a rapt House of Commons listening carefully and silently to everything. He gave a cool and precise survey of what is being done and what is being planned. As for the most sensitive evidence, “I enter a major caveat”, he said, unlike UBL himself, who has no doubt recently entered a major cave.’
[comics] To be Precise, Tintin — another look at Michael Farr’s Tintin – The Complete Companion‘In a career of more than 50 years, Hergé produced only 24 Tintin books. Had he been less meticulous, he might well have been a lot more prolific, but I doubt he would have ended up being so widely loved and admired. Picking up a Tintin book the other day for the first time in many years, I found myself torn between a narrative-driven urge to race through the frames as quickly as possible and an impulse to linger and wallow amid the lovingly realised visual detail, the brilliant evocation of time and place. I don’t think there are any other books which made quite such an impact on my childhood imagination as Tintin.’
[books] Learning to Fly by Victoria Beckham — The Digested Read … ‘Brooklyn is literally the best baby in the entire universe and David and I just so love him to bits. We are just so at our happiest when it’s just the three of us together out shopping at Versace.’
7 October 2001
[ubl] An Ernst Stavro Blofeld for our Times … article comparing Osama bin Laden with the Bond Villian. ‘Of course what the public craves in all this is a real-life James Bond to tackle him. Unfortunately, the secret service has changed since the days of 007. Out have gone the cocktails, the girls and the relentless innuendo, to be replaced by a new politically correct streak. The CIA, for example, has spent 20,000 man-hours in a year on “sensitivity training” and the sewing of quilts to celebrate cultural diversity.’

Kill bin Laden or risk catastrophe, says FBI‘Officials in the Justice Department and intelligence services believe that the bin Laden network, still operative in cells across the globe, would implode if he were beheaded. Investigators laid out two scenarios: “There’s a notion that if you behead the snake, another two crawl out of the swamp,” said one official. “This situation is the opposite: cut off the snake’s head and the body shrivels up. The important thing is to get the man”.’
[movies] The first trailer for Ocean’s Eleven is up … ‘Dapper Danny Ocean (GEORGE CLOONEY) is a man of action. Less than 24 hours into his parole from a New Jersey penitentiary, the wry, charismatic thief is already rolling out his next plan. Following three rules — don’t hurt anybody, don’t steal from anyone who doesn’t deserve it, and play the game like you’ve got nothing to lose — Danny orchestrates the most sophisticated, elaborate casino heist in history.’ [via Ghost in the Machine]
8 October 2001
[comics] Chick Christian Comix … links and brief comments from Disinfo on Jack Chick. ‘Hell is a very real place to Mr. Chick. He sees Demons lurking around every corner, and this special brand of paranoia and literal-mindedness endows his work with its sick charm and has granted him status as a pop culture icon among some of the very people that he probably despises. This is the absolute zenith of contemporary religious kitsch!’
[profile] Saint or Skinner? — interview with Frank Skinner. ‘…the smile of a ubiquitous, tousle-haired, 44-year-old who tells jokes about anal sex and oral sex, but mostly anal sex, and still manages to be something of a housewives’ and grannies’ favourite. Frank Skinner is the chat show host who famously balanced a mentally precarious Tara Palmer-Tomkinson on his knee, creating the catalyst TV moment that sent her packing to rehab. He is a smutty, talented, slovenly, porn-video-watching, teetotal, divorced practising Catholic with an undying passion for West Bromwich Albion football team and Elvis Presley.’
[comment] Rhetoric to arouse the Islamic world — interesting insight into Bin Laden’s aims … ‘Bin Laden believes himself to be a latterday embodiment of Saladin: a militarily gifted defender of the faith, willing to jettison Islam’s tradition of peaceful reflection and do what is necessary to drive the infidels out of the holy shrines. To this son of a Saudi construction magnate, it is a historic settling of scores.’
9 October 2001
[comics] Comic Book World Is Not Immune From Terror Attacks — another look at Marvel and DC’s reaction to 9-11 with comments from John Romita Jr. and J. Michael Straczynski‘Although Mr. Romita tries to limit the violence he draws, he regularly blows up empty warehouses, knocks off portions of buildings and shows Spider-Man battling evil in the streets of the city. “I have done this before — why is this so hard?” Mr. Romita said in a telephone interview, as he sat in his office in San Diego, drawing pictures of superheroes quietly aiding firefighters searching the debris. “The answer is obvious,” he said of his creative struggle. “There are thousands and thousands of people beneath that rubble.”‘ [via WEF]
[ubl] Two views on bin Laden’s aims…

Bin Laden’s Vision Thing ‘…we are dealing with people with long historical memory. Ayman Zawahri, leader of the Egyptian Jihad, stated Sunday that his group “will not tolerate a recurrence of the Andalusia tragedy in Palestine.” (The Andalusia tragedy is the end of Moorish rule in Spain in 1492.) So the World Trade Towers had to come down because some psychopath can’t come to grips with the end of World War I? Basically, yes. In bin Laden’s universe, that was when everything started to go wrong.’

Astute Bin Laden raises the stakes ‘Bin Laden is successfully polarising opinion. He proved tactically astute on Sunday in releasing his video soon after the attack. His videotaped interview was designed to address the three main Arab grievances: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; Iraqi sanctions; and the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia. He also referred to America’s atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as an example of US “world crime”.’
10 October 2001
[interview] You Ask The Questions: P. J. O’Rourke‘A title of one of your early books was Give War a Chance. In the light of recent events, do you still hold to this credo? “Credo” is as it may be. But “Give Communications Intercepts, Intelligence Agent Penetration of Terrorist Cells, Limited Special Forces Covert Actions and Suppression of Worldwide Money-Laundering Activities a Chance” will never be a book title.’
[9-11] Missing: but not lost — stunning image inspired by 9-11… more here. [via Black Belt Jones]
[politics] A right pair of Dolly Partons — Simon Hoggart on the Tory Party Conference … ‘Then there was a stir. “Welcome,” said the chairman (a woman), “a very special guest. The Rt Hon William Hague!” At this point the conference sprang to life and stood. Noises emerged. IDS accompanied him onto the platform. It was a fantastic, surreal sight. They looked like two boiled eggs in blue eggcups. Their pates gleamed in unison. I gazed from the balcony in awe. If you’d stuck a few sequins on their heads they’d have looked like Dolly Parton’s cleavage. Then Hague separated from his twin and stood at the front. The conference applauded wildly. Margaret Thatcher (three victories) got little more applause than William Hague (one landslide defeat). It was mad. They were cheering the albatross!’
11 October 2001
[wtf? wtf? wtf?] Osama Has a New Friend — Wired on Evil Bert and Bin Laden‘Reuters photographs of a rally this week organized by Jaamiat-e-Talabaye Arabia, a radical Islamic organization, show that protesters created a pro-bin Laden sign out of a collage of photos they apparently lifted from Internet sites. But — is it fate or coincidence? — the sign featured a Bert muppet sitting on the left side of the man believed to be responsible for the bloodiest terrorist attack in U.S. history.’ [Related: Bert is Evil, Metafilter and Fark Comments.]
[9-11] Has the world changed? [Part 1 | Part 2] … the Guardian asks a bunch of “23 eminent figures” their opinion…

Anthony Giddens: ‘You have to see this in terms of a certain continuity. There have been a range of terror attacks over the last 10 to 15 years, including suicide attacks, and while this event is so massive that it has made a tremendous impact on the public, it is connected to a very long history deeply intertwined with the Cold War. It is very important to avoid altogether the discourse of the “clash of civilisations” – not because it’s wholly untrue, but because it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, a dangerous idea that becomes part of what it is supposed to describe. The clash, instead, is between a range of different fundamentalisms and the more cosmopolitan world society most of us would like to build. So the response to this should be more globalisation, more co-operation, more recognition of global interdependence. Because among the fundamentalists you have a global network, too, part and parcel of the very things to which they claim to be opposed.’

12 October 2001
Watchmen Smiley Face[comics] Excerpts from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen courtesy of Amazon … [via Haddock]

Rorschach: ‘Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen it’s true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout “Save us!”… and I’ll look down and whisper, “No.” They had a choice, all of them. They could have followed in the footsteps of good men like my father, or President Truman. Decent men who believed in a days work for a days pay. Instead they followed the droppings of lechers and communists and didn’t realize that the trail led over a precipice until it was too late. Don’t tell me they didn’t have a choice. Now the whole world stands on the brink, staring down into bloody hell, all those liberals and intellectuals and smooth-talkers… and all of a sudden, nobody can think of anything to say.’
[politics] Political cartoonist Steve Bell visited all the Labour, Tory and Lib-Dem Party Conferences …. ‘Theresa May has a strange simpering manner and a magnificent nose, along with bags under her eyes that suggest a wealth of experience, though not in transport, local government and the regions.’ [Related: Archive of Steve Bell Cartoons]
13 October 2001
[comics] Newsarama covers DC’s plans for The Authority with reaction from Mark Millar, Bryan Hitch and Warren Ellis.

‘The Authority will not appear in any form we recognize for some time to come. Because for it to work, it must be callous. It must be horrible, and violent, and must be gleeful about what it’s doing. If it’s not cranked up to ridiculous volume, viciously insulting to the genre that spawned it and blatantly absurd in its scale and its disregard for human life… it’s just another superhero team book. You can find those anywhere. Unfortunately, the clash between the Authority style and the real-life events and attitudes surrounding it means that, at least for a little while, it’ll have to be just another superhero team book. If it’s going to be published at all. Personally, I think the audience is ready for it. It’s escapism, and it’s revenge fantasy on the biggest possible scale. But the people who make the decisions clearly believe otherwise.’ — Warren Ellis.

[books] This is how it feels to me — Zadie Smith on what it’s like to be a writer at the moment…

‘We cannot be all the writers all the time. We can only be who we are. Which leads me to my second point: writers do not write what they want, they write what they can. When I was 21 I wanted to write like Kafka. But, unfortunately for me, I wrote like a script editor for The Simpsons who’d briefly joined a religious cult and then discovered Foucault. Such is life. And now, when I finish a long day of CNN-related fear and loathing mixed with eyeballing my own resolutely white screen, I do not crawl into bed with 500-page comic novels about (God help me, but it’s OK; I’m going to call on the safety of quote marks) “multicultural” London. I read Carver. Julio Cortázar. Amis’s essays. Baldwin. Lorrie Moore. Capote. Saramago. Larkin. Wodehouse. Anything, anything at all, that doesn’t sound like me.’

14 October 2001
[comment] The New Evil … interesting view post 9-11 from Ha’aretz — a newspaper from Israel. [via Scripting News]

‘ …when a handful of fanatics carrying knives succeeded in gaining control over the advanced flight technology of the Boeing company and hurtling it into the advanced engineering technology that built and maintained the Twin Towers, they created a vast metaphor of appalling consequence. They made it clear to everyone who still didn’t get it that the story of the 21st century is going to be that of the enemies of the West using the technology of the West in order to strike at the West. What this fact signifies is that not only individual fanatics but fanatic states and fanatic sub-cultures are liable to shatter, within only a few years, the Euro-American monopoly on power. If they are not stopped immediately, they will try to undermine the foundations of the West by using levers of force that originate in the West itself.’

Lee Harvey Oswald and Tourist Guy[hoax] Tourist of Death vs. Tourist Guy [Related: Original Photo]

From Snopes Urban Legend Reference: ‘…the photo provokes sensations of horror in those who view it. It apparently captures the last fraction of a second of this man’s life . . . and also of the final moment of normalcy before the universe changed for all of us. In the blink of an eye, a beautiful yet ordinary fall day was transformed into flames and falling bodies, buildings collapsing inwards on themselves, and wave upon wave of terror washing over a populace wholly unprepared for a war beginning in its midst. The photo ripped away the healing distance brought by the nearly two weeks between the attacks and the appearance of this digital manipulation, leaving the sheer horror of the moment once again raw and bared to the wind. Though the picture wasn’t real, the emotions it stirred up were.’ [via Metafilter]
15 October 2001
[stuff] Linkage:
  • You Are My World — Really well done Stone Roses Fan Site.
  • Yet another Link from my Favorites: Watching the Detectives — an hypertext guide to Watchmen.
  • Subport.Org — for all you g@m3b0y r0m d00dZ.
  • Distractions — Mr T Soundboard‘Shut up, Fool!’ / Hitlerdance.
  • UK Blogs: Who is The Grapevine? / I Love Everything — Excellent redesign. / Barbelith Server Fund — Show Tom the Money!
  • Warren Ellis’ Ministry Of Space #1 downloadable in PDF format. ‘MINISTRY OF SPACE is an English science-fictional idyll: a fantasia on the notion of a British space programme that outraced the rest of the world, as found in such as Dan Dare. Now that Britannia rules the waves of space, a utopian green-field England plies ships to the Moon, to Venus, to Victoria Station in low Earth orbit. This is the Ministry that sent a colonisation flotilla to Mars in 1963. The Ministry that destroyed a city and ran an exploration program unseen in human history. A Golden Age – and what it cost.’

[comment] The Making of a Master Criminal — John le Carré on the War on Terrorism … [via Follow Me Here]

‘The stylised television footage and photographs of Bin Laden suggest a man of homoerotic narcissism, and maybe we can draw a grain of hope from that. Posing with a Kalashnikov, attending a wedding or consulting a sacred text, he radiates with every self-adoring gesture an actor’s awareness of the lens. He has height, beauty, grace, intelligence and magnetism, all great attributes unless you’re the world’s hottest fugitive and on the run, in which case they’re liabilities hard to disguise. But greater than all of them, to my jaded eye, is his barely containable male vanity, his appetite for self-drama and his closet passion for the limelight. And just possibly this trait will be his downfall, seducing him into a final dramatic act of self-destruction, produced, directed, scripted and acted to death by Osama Bin Laden himself.’

[bioterroism] How to spread terror for the price of a stamp … what it’s like to be in the middle of an anthrax scare.

‘…I had visited the decaying laboratories in once secret cities and interviewed some of the tens of thousands of Soviet scientists who had worked to perfect mankind’s most vicious, efficient killers. I was now familiar with the stench of such places – the haunting mix of bleach, dust, animal waste – the smell of death. The research had terrified me at first. Not even the terrorism I had covered as a correspondent in the Middle East in the 1980s had so unnerved me. But I had remained, through it all, detached from the reality of my often awful subjects. To do our work, journalists had to be. We were trained to be the cool, professional observers that our business requires and readers demand. Yet now I was no longer covering a story. I was the story.’

16 October 2001
[emergence] Only connect — why the internet is like an ant colony …

‘The simplest rule of all the systems I talk about in the book is: learn from your neighbours. An individual ant alters its behaviour based on the behaviour of other ants that it happens to encounter; out of all those semi-random encounters, the higher-level order of the colony emerges. A neuron in your brain decides to fire or not to fire based on the input from other neurons to which it is connected. A given “block” in the game SimCity decides to raise or lower its crime rate or pollution levels based on the crime or pollution in neighbouring blocks. All of these systems follow relatively simple rules, but they project those rules out over thousands (or, in the case of the brain, billions) of interacting agents. Given enough interactions, and given the right rules, something magical happens: the colony starts organising its workforce; the brain starts thinking; the simulated city comes to life on the screen.’

[comment] When War Drums Roll — more from Hunter S. Thompson …

‘Generals and military scholars will tell you that eight or 10 years is actually not such a long time in the span of human history — which is no doubt true — but history also tells us that 10 years of martial law and a war-time economy are going to feel like a Lifetime to people who are in their twenties today. The poor bastards of what will forever be known as Generation Z are doomed to be the first generation of Americans who will grow up with a lower standard of living than their parents enjoyed. That is extremely heavy news, and it will take a while for it to sink in. The 22 babies born in New York City while the World Trade Center burned will never know what they missed. The last half of the 20th century will seem like a wild party for rich kids, compared to what’s coming now. The party’s over, folks’

17 October 2001
[comment] What Now? … Bruce Sterling on what might happen next. [thanks to Paul]

‘Many More Wild Cards. This is neither an “age of terror” nor an “age of freedom”. This is an age of random calamities. It’s a genuine end of history, in which the passage of time in human affairs no longer has any rules as we previously understood them. There is no great historical narrative at hand, nor is there any grand scheme by which a rational analyst can make useful sense of events. NYC 9.11 is quickly eclipsed by other, biggest factors even more untoward and shocking: perhaps dumber acts of terror by even smaller groups, plus some Greenhouse calamities, an asteroid strike, some brand-new plagues, or even free beer and five cent nano-genetic intelligent cigars. Humankind has lost all control of our destiny and nothing can restore it. Probability: 3%’

[tv] Edie Does It — William Leith interviews Edie Falco (Carmela from the Sopranos). ‘If you haven’t seen The Sopranos yet, you should. Filming is about to begin on the fourth series and the third will air on Channel 4 in November. How good is it? Well, the New Yorker magazine recently reported a conversation between two real-life mobsters who were being bugged in just the sort of police operation you see in The Sopranos. One mobster says, ‘What’s this Sopranos? Is that supposed to be us?’ The other replies, ‘What characters. Great acting.’ ‘
[big questions] Why is Snot Green? … From Notes and Queries. ‘I agree with Dr Powell that is is the enzymes in neutrophils that give snot its green colour. However, I thought this was due to another powerful antimicrobial agent, peroxidase. Incidentally, this is the same enzyme that gives wasabi its green colour – a lovely thought for the next time you’re in Yo Sushi!’
18 October 2001
[wtf?] Bin Laden as Lex Luthor — Salon compares them… ‘Like bin Laden, Luthor is an ultramillionaire whose aim, we are told, is nothing short of the defeat of the civilized world and/or the enslavement of mankind (or, in the diabolical Saudi’s case, women). His loathing for Superman is personal: According to DC comics lore, Luthor went bad as a teenager when Superboy, rescuing him from a scientific experiment gone awry, inadvertently caused him to go bald. Similarly, the U.S. rescued bin Laden and the other mujahedin during the Afghanistan War, but then emasculated him by persuading the Saudis to take in our troops instead of his during the Gulf War.’
[film] Interesting review of From Hell from the New York Press:‘…despite its surface slickness and baldfaced artistic pretensions, this is an angry, empathetic movie. It’s genuinely interested in the lives of the poor, and righteously angry at the rich ruling class that has used the poor as servants, whores, entertainers and guard dogs since civilization began. The second half spirals into a bizarre conspiracy that turns history into a slanderous comic book, then delivers an intelligent, downbeat, provocative ending that’s sure to alienate most viewers, and finishes up by reminding us that nothing we just saw can be taken at face value because it’s all the memory of an absinthe-pickled opium addict.’
[lmg] I’ve just added a proper blog comment system… Just click on the [Comment] link below to let me know what you think about LMG and the links…
19 October 2001
[comment] The View From Smalltown, USA — Chuck Palahniuk on 9-11 … [via Barbelith Underground]

‘On television, the towers fall in slow motion. The same crowds of people stand around on the West Side Highway, observing. There’s the same jiggling, chaotic shot taken by some cameraman fleeing the cloud of dust. Watching this, David says: “This is worse than The Blair Witch Project.” Then he asks: “They ever find that intern, Chandra Levy??”‘

Superman vs. Muhammad Ali[comics] One of the weirder comics of the 70’s: Superman vs. Muhammad Ali

‘From start to finish, the book is a miniature time-capsule of the era that spawned it. For starters, it sports a wrap-around cover depicting hundreds of late-70s celebrities from the world of pop culture. Entertainment legends like Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball are easy to spot, but for today’s readers even the “key” inside the front cover may not explain the identities of all the has-been stars. Ron Palillo and Robert Heyges? (Here’s a tip: “Up your nose wit’ a rubber hose!”) Tony Orlando? Wolfman Jack? Trust me, kids, you didn’t miss anything. Sharing “the good seats” with these pop icons are comic book characters like Billy Batson, Hal Jordan, Oliver Queen, Barry Allen and Diana Prince. Little do they know that neaby sit the DC writers and artists who control their destinies (Joe Shuster, Jerry Seigel, Neal Adams, Wally Wood, Cary Bates, Gil Kane, E.Nelson Bridwell). Over there in the front row is something you don’t see every day — President Jimmy Carter sitting next to Sonny Bono and Batman (!).’
[film] Terry Zwigoff: ‘Every guy wants a teenage girlfriend’ — facinating interview with the director of Ghost World. ‘…Ghost World’s Seymour has a horrid mom. What’s Zwigoff’s like? Until now, Zwigoff’s sails have been full of wind. Now they collapse. Mrs Zwigoff, it turns out, was “very critical, very negative, everything I was wildly passionate about she had no interest in whatsoever”. She didn’t get to see Ghost World (“she died, luckily”). She did, however, get to see Crumb, at its world premiere at the New York Film Festival. When the lights came up, she turned to Zwigoff’s cousin, Sherwin, and said, “So, are you still awake?” I tell him she sounds hilarious. He shakes his head morosely. “She was a very depressed person.”‘
20 October 2001
[comics] Mad Man — MSNBC interview with Alan Moore‘[Interviewer] Are you planning on attending the “From Hell” premiere? [Moore] If left to my own devices, I wouldn’t. I’m not really a big cinema guy, and I don’t really like public appearances. I only signed up to be a writer. I didn’t really sign up to be a celebrity. When I became a comic writer there was no more obscure job in the world. But my daughters, they’ve got some sort of plan that involves kidnapping Johnny Depp and giving him roofies. So I’d probably better be there.’ [via Barbelith Underground]
[aftermath] The Last Post — the inside story on the 90,000 mails per-day sent to addresses at World Trade Centre which don’t exist anymore and one of the people who used to deliver it…

‘Together the carriers have recreated, in miniature, a semblance of their old routes. The World Trade Centre buildings were allotted sorting areas ringed with dozens and dozens of beige and grey metal pigeonholes to accept the buildings’ mail.Thornton’s cubicle is marked with a large sign that reads “1 World Trade Centre” in bold black letters. Each of the companies on her old route has its own pigeonhole. She sits in this cramped, dim space for eight hours a day sorting mail. When a pigeonhole fills up, workers come and dump the overflow into large, marked crates. Thornton says she doesn’t want to feel ungrateful. After all, she is alive and getting a pay cheque. But most days she feels lost and disorientated. She misses the din of the building, the rush of the lifts, the friendly chats in the lobbies. “I have no place to go,” she says. “It is like I am homeless.”‘

21 October 2001
[history] Hinges of Opportunity — was 9-11 a “hinge moment” in history… where everything changes and we feel that nothing is the same as before? [via Ghost in the Machine]

‘What changes after a hinge is our stories of ourselves. Who we are, how we got that way, where we’re headed, and what makes us tick. The lesson is that any cultural revolution represents a grand new alignment of great forces — technological, economic, environmental and spiritual. These shape the tales we tell to make sense of our new world.’

[books] All Authors are Pyschotic — interview with Douglas Coupland‘…when you look at the history of the smile in the photo… up until World War II most people in photographs had their normal faces. And then Kodak and other camera people and filmmakers always had their people smile, and then we entered this cult of the smile collectively. If you try not smiling when people are taking your picture they basically tell you to fuck off and start smiling.’ [Related: BBC News on Coupland, via Feeling Listless]
22 October 2001
[distractions] Check out:
[movies] Return of the Legend — brief interview with Nick Broomfield about the documentary he is currently working on… ‘Broomfield is an undisputed success at marketing his own image, even down to starring in self-parodic adverts for cars. And he’s loaded: an English country pile; a place in Santa Monica. What’s interesting is how he divides opinion. Depending on who you talk to among those who really know him – producers, co-producers, commissioning editors, journalists, film-makers and friends – he’s an innovator, a shark, a genius, a fraud, a legend or a has-been; people love him or hate him. The work is brilliant or boring, revealing or repetitious, always fresh or endlessly formulaic. They all have to agree, however, that a Nick Broomfield film is hard to ignore.’
[comics] Excellent, long Comics Journal interview with Peter Bagge by Gary Groth … ‘Ya know, Alan Moore recently described the current state of alternative comics to me really well, comparing it to right now as opposed to five or ten years ago. He said it’s kind of like somebody left the top of the soda pop bottle off, where it looks the same and it tastes the same, but the fizz is gone.’ [Related: Bagge’s Website]
23 October 2001
[politics] ‘Those that are not with us are against us’ — interesting transcript of a conversation between the Labour MP for Shrewsbury Paul Marsden and the Chief Whip Hilary Armstrong about UK Government policy over Afghanistan…

‘HA: In fact we may well hold a vote, but if we do, it will be whipped. PM: That is outrageous. You won’t even give us a free vote on whether we go to war – it is an issue which should be a matter of conscience. HA: War is not a matter of conscience. Abortion and embryo research are matters of conscience, but not wars. PM: Are you seriously saying blowing people up and killing people is not a moral issue? HA: It is government policy that we are at war. You astound me.’

[wtf?] A long way from Ambridge — Afghan’s are addicted to a BBC World Service Soap opera based on The Archers

‘The Afghans were very news hungry,” says Andrew Skuse, a social anthropologist who wrote his PhD on the success of the soap. “They really trusted the BBC. After years of abuse of the media under various regimes, the BBC was seen as more trustworthy than the national service. Some thought it was the national service. They hadn’t a clue where it was located. People would often tell me they thought the BBC was a village in Afghanistan”.’

24 October 2001
[comics] Two interviews with the Big Scary Hippy Magician Guy (who writes comics) …

Comic Book Resources interview with Moore ‘The thing that turned me towards magic was a panel in From Hell where William Gull was saying something to the effect that the human mind is one place where all of the gods and monsters in human mythology are arguably real, in all of their grandeur and monstrosity. And after writing I thought, oh shit, that’s true. Now I am going to have to rearrange my entire life around this. There is no way to disprove it. I thought I was writing this great piece of Gothic villain dialogue. The gods and monsters inarguably exist and they are real. Because if they don’t exist how many people died because of them, or how many history changing things have been done in the name of these Gods that don’t exist? If they don’t exist why do they kill so many of us in their name?’ [via WEF]

Massive Two Part Onion AV Club interview with Moore [Part 1 | Part 2] ‘I’ve got the whole of Big Numbers plotted. I’d got this enormous A1 sheet of paper the size of a tablecloth that had been divided into 40 rows down the side, and 12 columns along the top. One column for each of the 12 issues, 40 rows for each of the 40 characters. And then, in this grid in tiny, incomprehensibly small biro writing which looks like the work of a mental patient, and which gives you a migraine just to look at it, there is what happens to each of the 40 characters in every one of the 12 issues. It’s this map of the entire plot. I’ve never done it with any other work, because it is kind of an insane thing to do. I’ve kind of got all that stuff in my head anyway, so the only real reason for writing it down on paper is just to impress and frighten. But because I’d still got the plot, we were able to reconstruct the basis of a 12-episode TV drama series. Whether it’ll ever make it to TV or not, no idea.’ [thanks to Kenny]
[books] Sue Townsend: You ask the questions‘[Q] Where do you see Adrian Mole aged 51? [A] Still trying to flog his abysmal novel, Lo! The Flat Hills of My Homeland, to a London publisher. He’ll almost certainly have early prostate trouble and I think he’ll be really strong on cardigans, in particular the Marks & Spencer zip-up range for men.’
25 October 2001
[politics] You can’t beat a bit of bullying — more on the way the way a Labour Whip dealt with an awkward MP over government policy in Afghanistan. ‘…they found it impossible to stick to the argument. Within minutes they had moved from the issue of loyalty to attendance records to trust (Marsden: “It would help if your deputy didn’t send me snotty letters”), to the question of war as a matter of conscience, to risible fibs about telephone messages (“Er, perhaps I got the wrong number”), to appeasement “Don’t you dare!”), to the pressing question of which of the two was the more northern (Marsden: “Do you mind? I spent four years at Teesside Polytechnic”).’
[tv] It’s nearly ten o’clock on a Thursday Night… time for Attachments Everybody Hates Attachments. The script for the final episode has been leaked apparently: ‘JON: FUCK! Gareth’s faxed all our HTML to a chatroom! DYSON: No problem! Just re-route it, stick it on a floppy and save it as an animated gif! JON: I can’t! I’m too busy reformatting the coffee machine! TESS: Oh Christ! We’re really IN THE SHIT!’
26 October 2001
[search requests] People keep visiting via Google searching for this — so here you go…

The Sopranos... Just tell us where bin-Laden is and fuhgedaboudit...

[books] Out of the ordinary — Douglas Coupland has been touring England taking photo’s‘Coupland adores objects, and most of his book-tour photography has been of hotel rooms, shop windows, products, promotional displays. But why do it? “I’ve never taken pictures before and I said to myself, ‘Dammit, I’m going to learn how to do this. I don’t remember my dreams. Do you? No one does. But if you wake up and write them down straight away, you can look at it 15 years later and like, ‘I remember that dream perfectly.’ It’s the same with this 36 days, or 46 days, or whatever it has been, I really want to remember them. But your body tends to remember the airport and the train rumble, rumble, so I’m trying to remember the good stuff.”‘
27 October 2001
[war] Steve Bell’s brilliant step-by-step guide to “smart-bombing”. ‘…can we talk about something else?’
[no logo] Between McWorld and Jihad — Naomi Klein on 9-11 and the anti-corporate movement…

‘Of course, there is little evidence that America’s most wanted Saudi-born millionaire has a grudge against capitalism (if Osama bin Laden’s rather impressive global export network stretching from cash-crop agriculture to oil pipelines is any indication, it seems unlikely). And yet for the movement some people call “anti-globalisation” others call “anti-capitalism” (and I tend to just sloppily call “the movement”), it’s difficult to avoid discussions about symbolism: about all the anti-corporate signs and signifiers – the culture-jammed logos, the guerrilla-warfare stylings, the choices of brand name and political targets – that make up the movement’s dominant metaphors. Many political opponents of anti-corporate activism are using the symbolism of the World Trade Centre and Pentagon attacks to argue that young activists, playing at guerrilla war, have now been caught out by a real war.’

28 October 2001
[film] O Brothers, Thou Art Cinematic Gold Dust — Sunday Times profile of Joel and Ethan Cohen‘Pranksterism has always been a feature of Coen productions. In the days of Blood Simple they invented a crusty old English film editor called Roderick Jaynes, who blasted the production before dropping out of sight. The awful Jaynes cropped up again for Barton Fink and Fargo, lambasting the “inept” scripts and “silliness” of the camera work before vanishing again. His name, nevertheless, appeared prominently on the credits, and for Fargo he was nominated for an Oscar. The Coens persuaded Albert Finney to dress up and attend the awards ceremony in disguise, but his cover was blown by the trade paper Variety and the academy huffily withdrew its nomination.’
[comics] What Warren Ellis would do if he were a comics publisher [login as Guest] …

‘My initial plan would be to release two books a month. One of them would be original, and one would be reprint. There are major works that have, for whatever reason, been lost to the modern reader. AMERICAN FLAGG issues 1-12, Howard Chaykin. THE NEW ADVENTURES OF HITLER, Grant Morrison & Steve Yeowell with Nick Abadzis. NIGHT MUSIC, the short stories of P Craig Russell. Disappeared. I’d even attempt to license some away: DC Vertigo has let Milligan and Fegredo’s wonderful FACE vanish, and Milligan and Ormston’s darkly funny THE EATERS too. If they don’t want to publish them, I’ll publish them. Alan Moore has probably published enough creator-owned short work in enough venues to merit a collection. In fact, you know what I’d do? I’d assemble what was completed of BIG NUMBERS. I’d go to Alan’s for a couple of days and interview him fairly exhaustively about the project. I’d spend a week talking to a few other people by email. Give me another three weeks to collate and arrange it all, and I’ve got BIG NUMBERS: The Lost Graphic Novel, a book about the thwarted realist breakthrough work of the 80s.’

29 October 2001
[books] More from Adrian Mole: ‘Glenn has been excluded from school, for calling Tony Blair a twat.’
[flatmates] Cleaning The Fucking Kitchen For Dummies‘The pizza may have arrived at your door on its own, but once you eat half of it, it’s dead and it won’t actually go away on its own. It doesn’t matter if you hide it somewhere like some sort of demented squirrel, it will stay there. Unless someone throws it away. That means you, if the world is just, which it plainly isn’t.’ [via Ms. Woo]
30 October 2001
[comics] Scot plans to make Batman hang up cape — brief interview with Grant Morrison and Mark Millar from the Sunday Times … In the wake of September 11, violent superhumans are not enough anymore. We should be putting the current international developments in context rather than just having wrestling matches between colourful characters. I’ve already started writing X-Men as a pacifist comic. They don’t believe in violence. They want to change the world in other ways. I don’t think there will be as much fisticuffs anymore. I always thought that was rubbish anyway. I’m more into the philosophical basis of comics, the ideas they explore.’ [Related: Newsarama on the Article, via Barbelith Underground]
[sysadmin] An Actual Letter from a Fed-Up Systems Administrator‘Never fuck with your systems administrators, because they know what you do with all your free time.’ [via]
31 October 2001
[books] First Chapter of Emergence by Steven Johnson… [via]

‘…they solve problems by drawing on masses of relatively stupid elements, rather than a single, intelligent “executive branch.” They are bottom-up systems, not top-down. They get their smarts from below. In a more technical language, they are complex adaptive systems that display emergent behavior. In these systems, agents residing on one scale start producing behavior that lies one scale above them: ants create colonies; urbanites create neighborhoods; simple pattern-recognition software learns how to recommend new books. The movement from low-level rules to higher-level sophistication is what we call emergence.’

[questions] You ask the Questions: Larry Hagman‘[Q] JR had many classic lines, but which one of them is your own favourite? [A] “Once you get rid of integrity, the rest is a piece of cake”.’
[funny ha ha] A couple of amusing Onions:

Let Us Freak‘Girl, please allow me to break it down for you. You are the love of my life, and I would travel to the ends of the earth to prove my love for you. I would fly to Europe in order to personally select the finest champagne for you to drink. I would climb to the peak of the highest mountain to demonstrate that my lower-back muscles are powerful and won’t give out. I would weave for you the most comfortable silk sheets ever known to creation. I am the man for you, and I will make you want to get down and get funk-ass nasty with me. I will make you scream and shout all hours of the night. I will make sweet love to you like no man has ever before. In addition to all of that, I will wash you.’ [via Haddock]

Now More Than Ever, Humanity Needs My Back To The Future Fan Fiction‘ Sadly, the flux-capacitor technology masterminded by Dr. Emmet Brown remains a fantasy. As such, we cannot go back in time and change the terrible events of Sept. 11. But we can draw strength by drawing close to one another and holding fast to the faith that tomorrow will be a brighter day. And also by reading my Back To The Future fan fiction.’