1 October 2002
[tv] Funny Business — profile of Ricky Gervais / David Brent‘Brent might initially appear to be one of a long line of characters frustrated by their circumstances, from Hancock through Basil Fawlty to Partridge. Even the gentle surrealism of Father Ted offered the decent, eternally trapped Ted Crilly. But Brent is no mere barrel of neuroses. Rather, he’s a well-meaning buffoon, insecure rather than unsatisfied, forever debasing himself in a vain attempt to curry favour amongst his long suffering minions. “He’s confused popularity — not that he is popular — with respect,” says Gervais, clearly fond of his excruciating creation.’ [Related: The Office]
[politics] ‘If only we had known back then’ — Steve Bell on Edwina Currie and John Major‘It’s not often that I actually gurgle with delight, but I must confess that is exactly what happened when I awoke to the news of Edwina Currie’s affair with John Major. Having spent so many years drawing Major as a hapless gawk with his Aertex Y-fronts always worn outside his dull, charcoal-grey suit I was faced with the fact that he was also a sex-romping superstud who could keep it up for at least three hours (according to the News of the World).’
2 October 2002
[politics] A couple more links about the Currie / Major Affair

[blogs] Bloggers of the Left, Unite! — New Stateman article on the supposed right-wing hijacking of weblogging … ‘…this is the blogger’s way: like raptors, they hunt in packs, gain momentum, pick enemies, vent spleen, and never, ever, hold back. These blogs do not have large direct readerships: InstaPundit clocks only 40,000 readers a day. But many readers run their own blogs; others are political or media professionals. So a growing community is aware of whatever most irritated Sullivan today. This in turn creates what the legal theorist Cass Sunstein calls “cybercascades”, reaching millions of readers with ideas, in this case associated almost exclusively with the right. They are democratic dynamite: private networks of information, unchecked by sensible debate.’ [via Haddock]
3 October 2002
[books] The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith — The Digested Read … ‘Jesus, thought Alex-Li as he checked his messages. I must have booked a flight to New York while I was out of it. Still, it will go down well with US readers. He phoned Ads. “I’m off to New York.” “You’ll miss Esther’s heart operation.” “Hmm. That adds some pathos.”‘
[blogs] Get Your Metafilter On‘Best. Mefi. Post. Ever.’
4 October 2002
[books] Angry Bed Positions from Mil Millington‘Think of it as a ‘K’. One person is in the standard half-‘X’ shape (facing away) and the other is a rigid ‘I’; lying prone, eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling. Here you lose points for style if the ‘I’ person doesn’t let out frequent sighs and snorts in an attempt to get the Half-‘X’-er to ask ‘What is it?'” [via Anglepoised]
[politics, kinda] ‘My children have been a little surprised this week about how good I am at keeping secrets’ — interview with Edwina Currie … ‘What did she think when she heard Major first talk about [Back to Basics]? “I think you could have heard the clunk of my jaw drop two miles away. I sat there listening, and I thought, ‘He’s mad. He’s absolutely mad!’ Number one, no government should moralise. Number two, it ain’t a policy.” The fingers go up again. “But thirdly, I looked at that man, and thought, ‘You have no right whatsoever to make comments of that kind.'” Perhaps he had forgotten his own past, I suggest. She nods. “I think he had airbrushed it from history.” She says it was obvious that he would end up alienating huge chunks of the electorate, not least single mums.’
6 October 2002
[sunday] Weekend Reading …
  • You Shone Like the Sun — backgrounder and brief interview with Syd Barrett‘Then, a sound in the hall. Has he come in from the back garden? Perhaps it needs mowing, like the front lawn – although, judging by the mound of weeds by the path, he’s been tidying the beds today. I knock again, and hear three heavy steps. The door flies open and he’s standing there. He’s stark naked except for a small, tight pair of bright-blue Y-fronts; bouncing, like the books say he always did, on the balls of his feet. He bars the doorway with one hand on the jamb, the other on the catch. His resemblance to Aleister Crowley in his Cefalu period is uncanny; his stare about as welcoming…’ [Related: Metafilter Thread]
  • Hoax! [Part 1 | Part 2] — Jon Ronson meets America’s Anthrax Hoaxers … ‘Terry first realised that he was in very big trouble when no less a figure than the US Attorney General, John Ashcroft, made a speech about him in a press conference to the world on October 18. Ashcroft announced that the FBI had “arrested Terry Olson for committing a serious crime in connection with terrorist hoaxes”. “What did they charge you with?” I asked him. “Weapons of mass destruction,” he said. “Life imprisonment.” “You must have said to them that Nesquik and sugar aren’t weapons of mass destruction,” I said.’

7 October 2002
[comics] Meditations in Red [Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5] — Grant Morrison does Shang-Chi – Master of Kung Fu! [via The Barbelith Underground]

Morrison and Yeowell's MOKF From Action Force (!) in 1987.

[tv] The Laid-Back Stand-Up Guy — profile of Bill Bailey‘First record, Bill? Come on, now. Chop, chop. “Well,” he finally replies, “it was either ‘I’ve Got a Brand New Combine Harvester’ by The Wurzels or ‘Down the Tube Station at Midnight’ by The Jam.” Bill, I say, a word of advice. As a friend. In future, drop The Wurzels. They’re no good for your reputation. They are guaranteed brow-lowerers. They’ll bring your brow down to ankle-level. I’ll just put in The Jam, OK? I’ll forget the whole Wurzel business.’
8 October 2002
[film] Ferris Bueller’s Day Off Shooting Script … [via Kookymojo]

‘CAMERON (grim monotone): 1958 Ferrari 250 GTS California. Less than a hundred were made. It has a market value of $265,000. My father spent three years restoring it. It is joy, it is his love, it is his passion.

FERRIS: It is his fault he didn’t lock the garage.

CAMERON: Ferris, my father loves this car more than life itself. We can’t take it out.

FERRIS: A man with priorities so far out of whack doesn’t deserve such a fine automobile.’

[politics] We’re Shit And We Know We Are — cartoon from Steve Bell.
9 October 2002
[games] Solitary Confinement — The inside story behind Solitaire for Windows‘Generations of Windows software have come and gone, but Solitaire continues on. How much has Cherry earned for this staple of world computer culture? Nothing. Nothing upfront. No royalties. Zero. How ironic. The richest man in the world (or is he second-richest this week?) got that rich by collecting software royalties, but the actual creator of the most distributed, most used program of all gets none of those royalties passed along to him.’ [via Rodcorp]
[comics] Weblogs and Comics: How weblogs can help the comics community — a how-to guide from Pete Ashton‘[Weblogs] essentially allow the artist to communicate and create outside of the usual channels, be they self publishing their own books or being published by a company. They add the human aspect that their readers would otherwise miss out on.’
10 October 2002
[comics] Is There A God? — the Onion asks a bunch of celebs the Big Question … [thanks Matt.]

Frank Miller: ‘I don’t think so.’

Stan Lee: ‘Well, let me put it this way… [Pauses.] No, I’m not going to try to be clever. I really don’t know. I just don’t know.’

Alan Moore: ‘[Laughs.] Well, I can’t move for them, quite frankly. I’m looking at about 12 of them from where I’m sitting at the moment. I’m kind of swamped for choice. Yeah, there’s probably tons of them. There’s probably a swarm of gods.’

[distraction] Joe Pesci Soundboard [via LukeLog]
11 October 2002
[web] NTK Not — a random NTK story generator from Blogjam‘An older boy mentions he’d do anything to see the ‘t*ts’ of the Daisy Duke character on the old TV show ‘The Dukes of Hazzard.’ But we’re not listed on the Lovebytes site at the moment – ‘cos we like to keep it underground, and don’t want to play that corporate game with the likes of Lego and Apple. – back again now. And good luck to ’em!’
[comics] Speaking with Frank Miller — First part of a Pulse Interview … On his reaction to 9/11: ‘I threw out all my notes for future stories. I started developing new ones. Being an obvious person, I had terrorists as villains in every one of them and I’m working on those stories right now. I feel like people talking about getting over 9/11 or moving along and so on, and I’m like yeah yeah, just like Jack Kirby got over Pearl Harbor. It ain’t gonna happen. This is my story now. And maybe for the rest of my life. It may be. I don’t know. It’s what I’m pursuing in every story now. I feel like my world has been reconfigured. I’m at the peak of my powers and talent, and I’m going to address this because every other story seems so tiny and out of it.’
12 October 2002
[politics] The Man of Faith who has made a Mockery of his Doubters — profile of Jimmy Carter … ‘As petrol and fuel prices soared, Carter promoted energy conservation to Americans as the “Moral Equivalent of War” — instantly reduced by his foes to the damning, and undeniably apposite, “Meow”. Capping everything was the immortal “killer rabbit” affair, too complicated alas to relate in detail here. It stemmed from a 1979 fishing trip to his native Plains, Georgia, during which Carter encountered a furry rabbit-like beast in a lake. The President himself started the story; and as others embellished it, the tale quickly entered the realm of the absurd. Carter, it was said, tried to defend himself against this dastardly amphibious assault with a paddle — then for fear of offending the animal rights brigade, he issued a clarification, that he had merely splashed water at the aggressor.’ [More on Carter’s Killer Rabbit: Staight Dope and News of the Odd]
14 October 2002
[stuff] Linkage:
  • Cory Doctorow’s Sad Mac Tattoo‘The sad Mac icon, taken from the ROM of his MacSE/30 (inset), measures 27 pixels square.’ [via Aprendiz de todo]
  • Read Comics in Public — another comics weblog. [via Bugpowder]
  • What is LMG? ‘LMG is a video recorder that jams mobile phone frequencies, crushes ice and never gets tired.’ [via Lukelog]
  • The Quiet Man Speaks — Steve Bell on Iain Duncan Smith.
  • Comment from Sri Chinmoy supporter regarding the Sri Chinmoy Project‘When I look at this curious confrontation between weblog culture and yoga culture in cyberspace, in reminds me of a Star Trek episode. Aliens from planet Chinmoy are flooding the ship’s computers with poetry for some unknown purpose. At first this is seen as a potential threat (such as a DoS attack); but by the end of the episode we discover that the “aliens” are humanoid, and that they are in fact a peace-loving race who simply choose a different way of life. They are sending out vast quantities of poetry because this is their instinctive way of defending themselves against attacks by Vogon-like anticultists.’ [Related: Original Post]

15 October 2002
[politics] R. Robot is Making Sense — automatically attack the liberal of your choice …

‘LinkMachineGo, what kind of a man are you? “Don’t hurt me,” says LinkMachineGo. Well, duh. LinkMachineGo, what kind of a man are you? It must be obvious to anyone who can think that the charges against the dirty bomber are true. When will LinkMachineGo come clean about the way he criticizes Ann Coulter? Instead of constructing arguments based on logic, the hot-tubbers assume that whatever they want to be true must be. “‘Department of Homeland Security?’ What the fuck is this, Brazil?” says LinkMachineGo. LinkMachineGo’s disgrace was obsessive and even dangerous. It was ad-hominem. It was ideological. But I understate.’

16 October 2002
[web] dot.conqueror — interview with Jeff Bezos‘He defends [Amazon] bullishly: “We’ve saved our customers money and time, and if we’ve changed anything it’s been in a good way. I don’t know how you could argue we’ve changed things in a bad way. Making products cheaper and easier to find is good.” A beat. And then the Laugh. Another beat. The acolytes laugh. What really strikes me is how utterly mirthless it is, how Bezos seems to use it aggressively to control the conversation. Today, Bezos is laughing very loud indeed.’
[terrorism] Don’t blame The West — Clive James on the events in Bali and the reaction in Australia … Australia’s pundits on 9-11: ‘Imperialist America was not only treating the helpless Middle East as its personal property, it had racist Australia for its lackey. No wonder al-Qaida was angry. On Christmas Eve, in the Melbourne Age, another pundit, Michael Leunig, called for a national prayer for Osama bin Laden on Christmas Day. “It’s a family day,” Leunig explained, “and Osama’s our relative.” It is not recorded whether the aforesaid Osama, sitting cross-legged beside his Christmas tree somewhere under Afghanistan, offered up a prayer for Michael. He might have done: after all, they were on first-name terms.’ [Related: We should try to love bin Laden, for Christ’s sake by Michael Leunig]
17 October 2002
[science] You Ask The Questions — Robert Winston‘Q: Is it true that your new series, ‘Human Instinct’, is going to explain — scientifically — why men have the urge to cheat on their partners? A: Well, the accompanying book goes into more detail. It’s because a woman’s egg is much more precious — she only produces one so it’s a huge investment. While the man produces millions of sperm that he can spread around. In the programme, we go round a university quad with a male and a female wearing a hidden camera asking the students whether they’ll sleep with them that night. All the women shy off immediately. And all the men look at their watches and say, “Yes, I’m free at 8.30”! It’s quite an important scientific point.’
[blogs] Will Blog for Cash — a “webby lament” from Andrew Sullivan … [via Nick Denton]

‘I’ve written tens of thousands of words; I’ve made hundreds of new web-friends; I get around 400 emails a day. I have to say I’ve never enjoyed myself as much as a journalist, had as much impact with my writing, or had as much sheer fun as a commentator on things large and small.’

‘Whatever else it is, [webloging] isn’t much of a business model. I pay my mortgage by writing for the old media – for this beloved paper, for the New Republic magazine, for Time, and other outlets that do the old-fashioned thing and provide remuneration for work. And yet, for all its economic dysfunction, the new medium has never been as powerful as it is today. In fact, I wonder if there’s ever been a technological innovation that has combined such extraordinary new power with such dramatically poor financial rewards.’

18 October 2002
[issues] Word Association Test — my inner turmoil revealed … [via Dreadberry]

I have issues with…

[distraction] Candy Train — similar to that classic old game Pipe Dream, rotate the tracks and keep the train moving. … [via Diminished Responsibility]
19 October 2002
[film] The Soiling of Van Der Beek (scroll down page) — brief mention of Roger Avery’s new film The Rules of Attaction‘My notes for The Rules of Attraction include capitalised mentions of all the naughty stuff his drugs-vacuuming collegian gets up to: “Dawson deals coke and crack!”, “Dawson has an eye-popping wank!”, “Dawson shags another bloke!” Sadly, he’s not the character who pukes on an unconscious Shannyn Sossamon’s back, at which point the film runs backwards, showing the vomit flying into its owner’s mouth. If that had been Van Der Beek’s up-chuck, the deal would have been sealed: Dawson is Horrid – Official!’
[music] A troubled hero for our times? — profile of Kurt Cobain. ‘… his formative tastes took in soft-rock bands such as Journey and Foreigner …’
20 October 2002
[film] ‘It seems like exactly the wrong film to make’ — Salon interview with Roger Avery‘For Avary it was about capturing Ellis’ Faulknerian storytelling mode, not plot or dialogue. “I worked with multiple narratives on ‘Pulp Fiction,'” says Avary. “And Bret’s novel is composed of multiple first-person narratives, each a chapter told by a different person. And they’re all talking about various events, sometimes the same event with completely different perceptions of reality. “It’s an impossible structure to turn into normal, narrative form. But to strip away Bret’s structure is to rob yourself of what makes him so unique. I wanted that literary device. And if you’re doing multiple perceptions of the same moment and you just cut, the way we did in ‘Pulp Fiction,’ then you sever the characters both in their timeline and psychology. The key isn’t to cut, but to play out the scene and pull back to another part of the room. That way you’re actually uniting the timelines as one and making sure everybody is connected.”‘ [via Sore Eyes]
[comics] Garth Ennis interviewed by Jimmy Palmiotti … ‘I was talking the DC editor Dan Raspler about good artists for war stories, and Carlos [Ezquerra]’s name naturally came up. Dan pointed out that no one’s really done a story about the Spanish civil war, at which point a lightbulb went on over my head. It seems odd that Carlos has been drawing for over thirty years and he has never done a story set in his own country, never mind one of its most important moments in its history. Well, here we go…’ [Related: Carlos Ezquerra’s Home Page]
21 October 2002
[books] The Rules of Adaption — Brett Easton Ellis interviewed regarding the Rules of Attaction film

'What do I think? Rock and Roll.'

‘One of my only complaints about the movie was that it was so much colder and harsher than the book. It’s like Kubrick directing a college film. I really thought there was going to be much more of an emotional pull toward the end, and there wasn’t. This is not a movie to bring your Kleenex to. But I think Roger captured that lack of feeling among college kids as accurate. During that age, you’re becoming an adult, and in that process you realize, “Okay, the world works this way, and it’s hurtful,” and you pretend it doesn’t hurt you, and you pose a lot.’ [via Anglepoised]
22 October 2002
[blogs] Biased BBC — a weblog from Natalie Solent‘exposing the left-wing agenda of the British Broadcasting Corporation’.
[comics] Mists of Time — Warren Ellis discusses Alan Moore’s out-of-print work … On Moore and Sienkiewicz’s Brought To Light: ‘ It’s an absolute tour de force. Sienkiewicz produces mad images, political caricature via Ralph Steadman, slapping down anything that might work — photocopies, splatter, bits of metal, anything that might work. The Eagle, pissed out of his mind and coked to the tits, hunches there at the bar and vomits out the secret history of the American century — impeccably research documentary coming out of the beak of a fictional beard. Remember the best bit of the film JFK? Where Donald Sutherland lays out the whole thing in one long riveting monologue, and then concludes it with a sigh, and: “Well, I never thought things were the same after that.”? It’s like that, only funnier and scarier and more compelling. It demands it be read in one sitting, and it just sears with passion and commitment.’
23 October 2002
[ai] I love Lucy — Jon Ronson meets the cleverest robot in the world … ‘I bought my son an Aibo dog for Christmas last year. “From the first day you interact with Aibo it will become your companion,” the packaging promised, adding that if you feed it, it will yelp in delight, if you put it to bed, it will sleep, etc. As we strung it up off the light fitting to see if it would cry, and deprived it of food and light and finally got bored with its constant yapping and turned it off completely and put it in a box, I pondered the same questions the scientists consider. The good news was that we gave Aibo perfect motive to rise up and enslave the Ronsons, and it didn’t. But did it offer a thrilling window into tomorrow’s world? No. Maybe it was our fault; maybe we didn’t give it an opportunity to flourish and learn and grow.’
24 October 2002
[blogs] Updated UK Weblogs — moves to a new home … Thanks to Jez, Ben and especially to Jen. Tom raises some interesting points after the demise of GBlogs … ‘I can’t tell whether it’s because we’re English or because we’re bedroom-bound webloggers that being part of such a community seems to terrify so many people.’
[politics] The Friendly Dictators — political Trading Cards richly illustrated by Bill Sienkiewicz and originally published by Eclipse in 1990 … [via jwz’s LiveJournal]

Friendly Dictator --  Augusto Pinochet

‘…”Captain General” Augusto Pinochet seized power from democratically elected President Salvador Allende in 1973, and buried Chile’s 150 year old democracy. “Democracy is the breeding ground of communism,” says Pinochet.’
25 October 2002
[radio] ‘I don’t take myself too seriously’ — portrait of Tony Blackburn‘A few years later, after his actress wife Tessa Wyatt ran off with Richard O’Sullivan (of Man about the House sitcom fame), he gave full vent to his despair on air, though he now denies playing Kool And The Gang’s divorce anthem Jones Vs Jones 17 times in one show. He was reportedly sacked by the BBC for criticising management in the press, something of a habit of Blackburn’s, which might surprise those who regard him as an establishment figure. Depressed, he sought refuge in one-night stands – about 300 of them, in fact, a statistic that has earned him, according to one website, seventh position in the promiscuous celebrity stakes, ahead of Charlie Sheen but way behind former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman and Julio Iglesias, whose tallies are in the thousands.’
26 October 2002
[comics] ¡Journalista! — the Comics Journal Weblog [via Bugpowder]
28 October 2002
[redrum] All Work and No Play Make Jack a Dull Boy‘All Work and No Play Make Jack a Dull Boy’

[comics] The Magus Speaks — extracts from Eddie Campbell’s interview with Alan Moore … [via Bugpowder]

‘Ah, Lost Girls. Can you imagine anyone else being able to get a wonderfully accomplished artist to spend thirteen years drawing pornographic material for them, customised to demand; being able to declare himself a pornographer and have everyone take it as some bold new intellectual position; or even claiming against tax for high class scud-books like The Art of the Marquis Von Bayros as “reference material”? No. You can’t. This is why I am a genius. “What are you doing in that bathroom, young man?” “Mother, I am doing highly paid reference work.”‘

29 October 2002
[dna] DNA as Destiny — a Wired writer gets his DNA scanned for problems. ‘…the string of genetic letters from my mtDNA readout that indicates I’m mostly Celtic, which makes sense. But other bits of code reveal traces of Southeast Asian DNA, and even a smidgen of Native American and African. This doesn’t quite have the impact of discovering that I’m likely to die of a heart attack. Nor am I surprised about the African and Indian DNA, since my mother’s family has lived in the American South since the 17th century. But Southeast Asian? Sykes laughs. “We are all mutts,” he says. “There is no ethnic purity. Somewhere over the years, one of the thousands of ancestors who contributed to your DNA had a child with someone from Southeast Asia.”‘
30 October 2002
[comics] A useful directory of the Comics Forum on Barbelith. ‘They can’t kill Beak, he’s a Van Sciver creation, which surely bears as much weight as a Kirby creation!’Ethan Van Sciver.
[distraction] Atari Adventure — my favourite 2600 game gets a Flash Conversion. [via Metafilter]
31 October 2002
[comics] The Transmetropolitan Condition — interview with Warren Ellis‘There are moments of pure, heart stopping beauty in the most tragic and broken environments. And the loveliest community on earth will not be able to eliminate the dog turd.’ [via Boing Boing]
[tv] 24 Continues to Thrill — Jack Bauer is having another bad day. ‘…the star of the show remains federal agent Bauer, played to understated perfection by Kiefer Sutherland. We catch up with Bauer a year after he has left the government counter-terrorism unit he once headed. He is a mess – still mourning the death of his pregnant wife at the hands of his former lover and also dealing with the fact his daughter Kim wants nothing to do with him.’