1 September 2002
[film] Along Came A Spider — article on the 12 Film Certificate and comic book movies … ‘For the beleaguered film censors, the problem with films based on comic books is –the comic books. Comics have always been controversial, with their mix of cartoon violence, vivid villains and perverse characters; always accused of glorifying the crime or drug use that their clean-cut superheroes exist to combat.’
2 September 2002
[books] The Other Mother — Philip Pullman reviews Neil Gaiman’s Coraline [UK | US] … ‘When Coraline finds a door that opens into another flat strangely like her own, but subtly different (thus making the classic transition from here, where we live, to there, where the mysteries begin), we believe what we’re told. And when she discovers a sinister woman there, who looks a little like her mother but has eyes that are big black buttons, the matter-of-factness of the woman’s response when Coraline says “Who are you?” is both disarming and terrifying. “I’m your other mother,” she says. And so begins a struggle for Coraline’s soul.’ [via Robot Wisdom]
3 September 2002
[distraction] Flash Air Hockey — fast moving and I love the sound effects. [via Grayblog]
[politics] ‘Oh my god. Not Ann Widdecombe’ — Guardian Colunist spends three days in a hotel with Doris Karloff‘You get all sorts of requests once you’ve written a book. The other week Amnesty International invited me to an event to read the works of an imprisoned writer and I was happy to say yes. I chose Jeffrey Archer.’ [via I Love Everything]
4 September 2002
[blogs] Lying Motherfucker — various famous authors blog, kinda … Frederick Forsythe: ‘Oh, how different it had all been in the glory days, back when Maggie held firmly the reins of a nation and men weren’t afraid to knock a Big Issue vendor into the gutter where it belonged. When the fuzzy-wuzzies knew their place and everyone stopped for a roast dinner on Sunday. Henry fingered the limp white collar of his shirt. A gentleman couldn’t even get a dependable starch anymore. It all went downhill with the Labour government, when they forced the coolie laundries to stop using child labor.’ [Related: Scott McCloud explains LyingMoFo]
[blogs] Best British Blogs — I’ve entered, by the way but I’d probably put money on Troubled Diva winning it. Tom, meanwhile, has come up with this:

5 September 2002
[office] Subject: Star Wars Figurines — another office email classic … ‘To the person (or persons) who finds it funny to repeatedly position my star wars figurines in inappropriate positions, please stop. The note I put there requesting this to NOT be done was not a challenge for you to do it again, or to see how grotesque and inappropriate you could get.’ [via Venkman]
[web] Engine Trouble — profile of Google covering the block by China‘Google knows things. Not only does it index more of the web than any of its competitors, offering makeshift translations of pages between languages – it remembers, too. The company archives millions of web pages on its own computers, giving them a life beyond their creators, which provides another potential motive for the Chinese block: even if the computer hosting a Falun Gong website is seized and destroyed, the page persists in Google’s collective memory. In 2001, Google bought the rights to thousands of old postings on the Usenet system on online message boards. They are now catalogued on its database, and your past obsessions with Dungeons and Dragons or ornithology cannot be erased’
9 September 2002
[books] Last Rites, Last Orders — extract from Zadie Smith’s new book The Autograph Man [UK | US] …

‘Whose idea was it to drink alphabetically? Alex did not come to Bubbles with that intention. He merely came to have a drink, maybe drinks, maybe drinkseses. After five swift whiskies, though, the idea just sort of presented itself. And Roy, who was the barman, and must take some of the blame, Roy did no frowning, no reluctant shrugging. Oh, no.

Roy said: “Go for it, my son.”

And Tommy, a pregnant Irishman, whose idea it may have been, said: “Twenty says you don’t get beyond Haich.”

Which was a dare. And drunk men take dares like they take breaths.

Absinthe, then, set it off with a bang.’

[blogs] Lots of interesting comments over the weekend about Best British BlogsMike: ‘I really do hope that the winner is someone that nobody reading this has ever heard of.’
10 September 2002
[books] A Diverting New Chapter in the Life of a Literary Superstar — Zadie Smith Profile … ‘The essential charm of Smith’s writing is not its multicultural sweep, nor its Rushdie-like exaggerations and swift changes of direction, not even its incisive comic wit; it is the warmth with which she invests her portraits of even her unloveliest characters.’
11 September 2002
[911] What has changed in New York? Everything. And Also Nothing — a journalist walks through Manhattan …

‘Strozier has been mapping Manhattan according to “zones of sadness”. South of Chambers Street, you could make out the people jumping, “and the only question is how that transforms you. Not whether you’re traumatised”. South of 14th, you could see everything – except individual human beings. And on the Upper West Side, “you probably saw it on TV. But you had to live with the smell. People are deeply confused about that, unless they’re very psychologically alert to their feelings. But everybody knows what the smell was. Today, the victims are literally in the lungs of people in New York”. Because of wind patterns, though, the smell never made it to the Upper East Side. “The richest, most elitist area in New York, and it was never touched. And within a few weeks, the most important thing for them was whether they could get a reservation at a five-star restaurant.”‘

[911] A View From The Patriotic Left — Christopher Hitchens looks back on 911 … [via Junius]

‘It is important to realize at the outset that a victory for those forces, of which bin Ladenism is only the most extreme, is in two senses of the word impossible. Impossible, obviously, from a moral point of view and from the viewpoint of survival. It has taken us a long time to evolve a society that, however imperfectly, respects political pluralism and religious diversity and the emancipation of the sexual life. A society that attempts to employ the objective standards of scientific inquiry and that has brought us the Hubble telescope and the unraveling of the chain of DNA. Clearly, there can be no compromise between this and the ravings of those who study dreams and are deluded by wild prophecies and who regard women as chattel and unbelievers as sacrificial animals. For them, the achievements of science are nothing, while the theft of weapons of mass destruction counts as a holy task. Their degradation is bottomless’

12 September 2002
[books] Warren Ellis on James Bond‘In some ways — and I don’t think Fleming was unaware of this — he is what Allen Ginsberg called “bleak male energy,” causing and taking immense damage in single-minded pursuit of what he wants. At the conclusion of YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, the front end of his personality essentially rubbed out by torture, drugs, multiple trauma and a sequence of horrible mental hammerblows, there is an almost disturbing glimpse of an amnesiac Bond as gentle, open, devoted, and almost sweet. And his lover dreads the day that he recovers. He is England’s blunt instrument of international assault — the spiteful, vicious bastard of a faded empire that still wants the world to do as it’s bloody well told.’
[distraction] Dicks of Hazzard‘Just two good ol’ boys, wouldn’t change if they could, Fightin’ the system like two modern-day Robin Hoods…’ [via Blogjam]
13 September 2002
[books] On The Road: American Writers and their Hair — Zadie Smith in America … ‘Kansas City is oven hot, dead metaphor or no dead metaphor. And for some reason it is God’s plan to have me read in an inter-denominational all-faith meeting house, the better to offend all his children in different ways. By the time I get back to the hotel I’m washed up. The Jews hate me. So do the Catholics, the Muslims, the Hindus and the Jehova’s Witnesses. The Buddhists aren’t so crazy about me either. It turns out Kansas is not the city for religious comedy. Who knew?’ [thanks Prentiss]
14 September 2002
[funny] Says God‘I like to kick things off with a bang. A Big Bang.’
15 September 2002
[books] Man and Wife by Tony Parsons — The Digested Read … ‘I. Don’t. Know. Why I. Write in. These ridiculous. Sentences. And repeat. Re. Peat. Mys. Elf. Now. To women. Know I hate. The poncey. Middle-classes. That. Watch the. Late. Review. I. Really. Love Pat. He’s my son. Pat I. Love. He’s the. Best. Thing. I’ve ever. Done. Best. The. It breaks. My heart. That he. Lives. With. Gina.’
16 September 2002
[comics] More Comic Book Confidential from Mark Millar‘That mysterious barrier between reader and creator has finally broken down and I can now name at least a dozen of my friends (most of whom are married) who’re having some kind of relationship with at least one of their readers. I think it’s a combination of the easy-access everyone has to their creator of choice at the moment, but it’s also due in no small part to this big influx of good-looking chicks we see on the boards, at the signings and at the conventions. Unlike the Vulcan-dressed, beer-paunched Sci-Fi chick, I think the comic girl tends to have a deadly combination of looks, intelligence and encyclopedic knowledge of their favorite creator’s work. Like I said, around half the pros I know (and I know a lot of people) are currently besotted with someone half their age on the other side of the country at the moment. Where will it all end?’
[distraction] Well worth the download: Eminem vs. The Smiths. [via]
17 September 2002
[politics] Saddam and Me — interview with George Galloway

‘He revealed how Saddam had offered him Quality Street chocolates, told him how much he admired British buses. He also said how shy and retiring the Iraqi dictator was. The account may have been widely ridiculed, but Galloway is probably the only British politician who would be granted such an audience. Why didn’t he accept one of Saddam’s chocolates? “I never eat sweets, my dear. Never.” In his article, Galloway also related how Saddam commented that he had lost weight since their last encounter a few years ago. Galloway smiles when I mention it. “He didn’t have a chocolate either, which is interesting. But everyone else wolfed them down, so I got the impression that the tin doesn’t get brought out all that often.”‘

[distraction] Lego Theorists — Judith Butler, Anthony Giddens, Angela McRobbie and Michel Foucault as Lego … ‘The Lego Michel Foucault comes with a Parisian Library for younger children, or with the Lego San Francisco S&M Dungeon for older boys and girls.’
18 September 2002
[another distraction] Mecha Breakout — the classic arcade game in your web browser.
19 September 2002
[numbers] LinkMachineGo is Evil‘This number, when read backwards, gives 00438. This, written in octal, gives 666 – the number of the Beast. Enough said – QED.’ [via Dutchbint]
[books] Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About by Mil Millington — his new book looks interesting … ‘Millington’s customarily whimsical take on contemporary gender relations is, of course, much in evidence but some of the sharper comedy here actually occurs beyond the familial settings. In certain respects the book has possibly more in common with the wry, mild-mannered satire of the Ealing films or David Nobbs’ Reginald Perrin than the novels of Tony Parsons, Nick Hornby and co.’ [Buy: UK | US]
20 September 2002
[web] The Online Life of Bigplaty47 — from upsideclown

‘call_me_katy: why weren’t you there???? say something!!!!!
call_me_katy: I’M CRYING i thought i knew you, i thought i might love you
call_me_katy: and you do this, you did this
call_me_katy: YOURE MAKING ME CRY
call_me_katy: you have no heart. no heart at all
bigplaty47 has signed off.’

[comics] Alan Moore interviewed by Gary Groth — More audio interviews from the Comics Journal‘Moore, fresh off of his success with Watchmen (and subsequent break with DC Comics), had just embarked upon an experiment in self-publishing with the Bill Sienkiewicz-drawn mini-series Big Numbers. In these excerpts, conducted by telephone, Moore discusses some of the other projects he had been working on (Miracleman, A Small Killing and The Lost Girls) before settling into an extended dialogue concerning From Hell…’ [via Bugpowder]
21 September 2002
[comics] The Philosophy of Art — interview with Eddie Campbell‘I love history. I’m very interested in the history of everything but when I hear terms like “Golden age”, I actually have a mechanism in my legs, called a “fuck-off mechanism”. It makes me automatically walk at great speed, and fuck off in the opposite direction when I hear those words. The comics business has its own peculiar imaginary history. Which is all right up to a point, but I prefer to see comics as part of a bigger history of art…’
22 September 2002
[books] Philip Pullman Reaches the Garden — interview with the author of the His Dark Materials Trilogy … Pullman: ‘It’s a curious thing: we have to be told how to fall in love. We don’t do it automatically. Somebody made the point that if there were no stories about love, nobody would ever fall in love. We wouldn’t know how to do it.’ [via Interconnected]
[film] This Much I Know – Robert Evans‘It’s irreverence that makes things sizzle. It’s irreverence that gives you a shot at touching magic.’
23 September 2002
[director] Triumphs that cannot Soothe a Troubled Soul — profile of Sam Mendes‘ Can it be coincidence, for example, that the then-bachelor Mendes, emerging from a series of broken relationships in his early thirties and hung up about marriage, chose five years ago to direct the Sondheim musical Company, which is about, er, a bachelor in his early thirties emerging from a series of broken relationships and who is hung up about marriage?’
[film] Back With A Vengeance — update on Tarantino and Kill Bill

Uma Thurman with a sword

‘Yohei Taneda, the production designer for the film’s Asian sequences, tried to explain the look of the film and the experience of working with Tarantino. “There is a reality to Kill Bill, but it is not the reality of the world,” he says. “It is the reality of Quentin’s world, and that is a somewhat different place. We are in Tokyo, we are in Okinawa, we are in a Chinese temple, but at all times, really we are in the world of Quentin.”‘
24 September 2002
[comics] Grant Morrison updates his website. From Come Ride My Column: ‘How would you feel if a seemingly unlikely sex kitten like Brian Michael Bendis, say, or Alan Moore actually turned out out to be an utterly convincing and feminine seductress, able to “pass” as a refined and sophisticated lady? Let’s face it, careers could be hurt but this could be a very interesting and genuinely upsetting experiment. So I say once more. Let’s see some A-list comics pros got up as tarts! Fellow professionals, make your sexiest shots public – nothing seedy mind. Strictly glamour, lads, no hardcore.’
[tv] A Star in Geek’s Clothing — profile of Mackenzie Crook (Gareth from The Office) … ‘Crook modestly plays down his character’s part in the second series — “Gareth would be happy with the status quo and so it’s right that he doesn’t develop as much as other characters” — and then lets slip a storyline development that will surely cause many guffaws (as well buttock-clenching moments of embarrassment) this time around. “He becomes a bit of a ladies’ man — women I’m sure he meets down Chasers nightclub — and the others wonder if he’s making it up. It’s excruciating but there are poignant moments as well.”‘
25 September 2002
[blogs] Blog Drone Unit #0189837 — automatic blogging … [via Dutchbint] …

‘Anyway she was a figure of poise and everything until the registrar told her that she needed an fna. She was a calligraphy enthusiast with a slight overbite and hair the color of strained peaches. In junior high but yesterday he said she was his gf from 7th to 9th grade if they were together the whole time thats a damn long time. One interesting thing about that is that i was working my way through the events of my junior high years when i remembered an old buddy from back then. We went back to dancing and i got my groove on with some fools that were therethis one guy was totally hot :* After the boat we went back to lizs in the limo.’

[rant] Trouble when Tweed Comes to Town — Will Self rants about the Countryside March … ‘Yes, Countryside Alliance, you’re the Tories who can’t stand the free market; you’re the libertarians who can’t handle homosexual rights or decriminalising drugs; you’re the defenders of Fortress Britain who get bankrolled by Brussels. You aren’t old MacDonald – you’re bloody senile.’ [via Guardian Weblog]
26 September 2002
[comics] Probably the best individual comic panel ever? (St. Swithin’s Day by Grant Morrison and Paul Grist, click picture to enlarge) …

Why Am I Such A Wanker?

‘I can only dance to one song – “There She Goes” – and only in the bathroom. I don’t even need a record player. Sometimes I can just shut my eyes and HEAR it. Guitars like church bells. And then the drums start. And the singing comes in and I want to cry. And I’m going to die. I’m going to die tommorrow. I’m going to die and I don’t care. I’M GOING TO DIE! You know what they say – You’re only young once. And that was it.’
[bbb2002] Guardian’s Best British Blogs 2002 — as many of you know I was a runner-up. :) Congratulations to Scary Duck … [Related: Metafilter Thread]
27 September 2002
[911] Failsafe — intriguing article about Flight 93 contrasting the events on board with American Defense Policy … ‘It may be worth taking note of the fact that the hijackers themselves correctly foresaw that the threat to their mission would come from the passengers and not from a military source external to the plane. The terrorists left behind them multiple copies of a manual, five pages in Arabic. The manual does not tell the terrorists what to do if an F-15 or F-16 approaches the planes they have seized. It instead gives elaborate instruction on what to do if passengers offer resistance. We should not ordinarily let ourselves be schooled by terrorists. But terrorists who seek to carry out a mission successfully have to know what the greatest threat to their mission will be.’ [via Red Rock Eater Digest]
[comics] Public Heroes — Newarama on the use of public domain characters in comics (concentrating mainly on Alan Moore’s work) … ‘Like many of the comic characters created in the 1940s, the heroes of the Standard line weren’t copyrighted. It wasn’t necessarily a careless move by the publisher, just a simple business decision. Remember – this was in the days before the phrase “intellectual property” was even coined, and comic book characters were disposable commodities. One was created in order to sell comics to boys, and when its sales started to slip, another was created to take its place.’ [Related: Slashdot Thread]
28 September 2002
[tv] Johnny Vegas sells wedding pics to Viz for £1‘A spread of pictures in the adult comic show the couple walking, sitting on a bench and kissing. Johnny and Cath met in London early this year and married after a whirlwind romance. He said: “The glossies aren’t for me. Now I’ll just invest Viz’s quid and live off the interest.”‘ [via Haddock]
[comics] Alan Moore in Egomania #2: ‘”Approaching forty […] I was also starting to become more and more fascinated by the big taboo question of creativity, which also leads on to the big taboo question of consciousness, namely, “What is it and how does it work?” And also, of course, “How can I profit from it, move to Peterborough and live like a king?”‘ [via WEF]
29 September 2002
[sundays] A couple of interesting articles from the Observer

  • The Secret Passion that Staggered Westminster‘Back to Basics has come back yet again to haunt him, a phrase that must now go down as the most unfortunate, misinterpreted and now clearly misjudged three-word soundbite ever. It was launched at the Conservative conference of 1993. Currie was in the hall. ‘I listened in absolute amazement,’ she said. ‘And if you’re asking me whether I thought that policy was a mistake, absolutely. Not least because it was very cruel to people who were otherwise excellent Ministers, who didn’t deserve to have the magnifying glass turned on their lives at that time by their own leader. If it had been my choice, we would have had a very different policy. It was going against the tone of the times and it was also handled in an extremely cruel fashion. ‘It was cruel to single parents, it was cruel to women left on their own with children, it was pompous and facetious and stupid.’ And, a fact the public only know now, the height of hypocrisy.’
  • Don’t Laugh. This is the Real Office — A visit to a real office in Slough … ‘ I have come to the people at Swan to find out what they think of the programme and whether any of them resemble the grotesques on screen. And, of course, they don’t, Gervais’s comedy being a fierce distillation of every lousy trait – jealousy, ambition, self-deception, witty ties – found in every office in every town in Britain today. Instead, their chat represents fairly perfectly the minutiae of life in what Napoleon should more accurately have called a nation of service-sector retail distribution outlet co-workers: house prices, last night’s TV, the drive to work and the perennial search, in Europe’s biggest trading estate, for a decent lunchtime sandwich.’

30 September 2002
[stars] Osama Bin Laden’s Star Bio Horoscope‘Few things bring you greater happiness than a successful, close, personal relationship. You have an innate understanding of the interconnectedness and interdependence of all forms of life. Empathy, compassion and emotional rapport can be your strongest virtues. However, not many people are ready to merge the way you are. Learn to recognize and respect other peoples’ boundaries.’ [kinda, sorta via Dave Gorman]
[distraction] Poo Price — find out how much going to the toilet costs your employers … ‘Why not try and squeeze one out right now ?? All you need to tell us is how much you earn a year and how long your working day is (we won’t record this, we don’t really care). As soon as you leave for your poo click Start, then when you’re back click Stop.’ [via UKBloggers]