1 October 2003
[fruit] Yes – In 10 Years We May Have No Bananas — been meaning to post this one for ages … ‘It is a freakish, doped-up, mutant clone which hasn’t had sex for thousands of years – and the strain may be about to tell on the nation’s fruitbowl favourite. Scientists based in France have warned that, without radical and swift action, in 10 years’ time we really could have no bananas.’
2 October 2003
[quote] Memorable Book Openings (#6): The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker …

‘At almost one o’clock I entered the lobby of the building where I worked and turned toward the escalators, carrying a black Penguin paperback and a small white CVS bag, its receipt stapled over the top. The escalators rose toward the mezzanine, where my office was. They were the free-standing kind: a pair of integral signs swooping upward between the two floors they served without struts or piers to bear any intermediate weight. On sunny days like this one, a temporary, steeper escalator of daylight, formed by intersections of the lobby’s towering volumes of marble and glass, met the real escalators just above their middle point, spreading into a needly area of shine where it fell against their brushed-steel side-panels, and adding long glossy highlights to each of the black rubber handrails which wavered slightly as the handrails slid on their tracks, like the radians of black luster that ride the undulating outer edge of an LP.’

3 October 2003
[fruit] Banana Peal — Bananas may not be extinct in 10 years according to‘Bananas aren’t about to be swept from the face of the earth by a deadly pestilence poised to wipe them out. There are about 300 varieties of the fruit, and the current fear applies to only one of them, the Cavendish. Granted, the Cavendish is our banana of choice, but it isn’t the only banana out there.’ [thanks Steve]
[tv] Bill’s Blog — the comedian Bill Bailey has a blog … ‘Got the new website up and running – I trust it will delight and inform. Quite flash what with ringtones and all… last one only had a link to a gardening centre… though quite a nice one.’ [via Neil’s World]
5 October 2003
[quote] Memorable Book Openings (#7): The Eye in the Pyramid by Shea and Wilson …

‘It was the year when they finally immanentized the Eschaton. On April 1, the world’s great powers came closer to nuclear war than ever before, all because of an obscure island named Fernando Poo. By the time international affairs returned to their normal cold-war level, some wits were calling it the most tasteless April Fool’s joke in history. I happen to know all the details about what happened, but I have no idea how to recount them in a manner that will make sense to most readers. For instance, I am not even sure who I am, and my embarrassment on that matter mates me wonder if you will believe anything I reveal. Worse yet, I am at the moment very conscious of a squirrel – in Central Park, just off Sixty-eighth Street, in New York City – that is leaping from one tree to another, and I think that happens on the night of April 23 (or is it the morning of April 24?), but fitting the squirrel together with Fernando Poo is, for the present, beyond my powers. I beg your tolerance.’

7 October 2003
[comics] Grant Morrison’s Favourite Superheroes [published in The Face | via Barbelith]

1. The Flash
2. Superman
3. Paradax (Strange Days)
4. Diabolik
5. New Gods (by Jack Kirby)
6. Flex Mentallo, Man of Muscle Mystery
7. Emma Frost, The White Queen (X-Men)
8. Cyclops (X-Men)
9. Billy the Cat (and Katie) (DC Thompson)
10. Marvelman (by Alan Moore)

8 October 2003
[film] Tarantino on Comic Fans‘The reason I’ll never do a comic-book movie with, like, The Flash or something like that is fuck those comic-book geeks, man. You can’t please them. I might do a comic-book movie, but I’d come up with my own characters where I’m God and I’m the expert and not you guys’ [via Neilalien]
9 October 2003
[books] The Source of the Modern World — Glenn Reynolds interviews Neal Stephenson … ‘I do think that society has a craving, hardwired in somehow, to have a few people, no more than a couple of dozen maybe, who are universally famous, people like J. Lo or Britney Spears. However, once you get beyond that level, I think it is going to be a kind of highly fragmented, focused kind of fame. It makes for interesting situations. I’m sitting in a Marriott outside of Ypsilanti right now, and there’s a dental convention here. I’m totally anonymous. I can get a drink in the bar, go down to the restaurant, whatever and nobody will recognize me. But if I went to a science fiction convention, I’d be famous in those confines and I’d probably be recognized if I went anywhere.’ [via Fimoculous]
10 October 2003
[books] Thomas Pynchon to do a guest voice in the Simpsons … [via Boing Boing]

‘Al Jean: We have a show coming up where Marge writes a novel and gets endorsements from writers playing themselves, including Tom Clancy, Thomas Pynchon-

IGN DVD: How did you get him?

Al Jean: We got him. (laughs) He was really nice.

IGN DVD: Oh well of course, he’s not seen, right?

Al Jean: He’s wearing a paper bag over his head, but it is his voice.’

13 October 2003
[comics] Brian Bolland cover for the latest Animal Man Reprint Graphic Novel … [via]

Cover to Deus Ex Machina (Animal Man Book 3)

‘I’ve seen more death and pain than you could ever dream of. Fifty thousand years of it. Dying on sharpened stakes, on torture racks and fires. Cut to bits by English bullets and American bullets and Nazi bullets. Life goes on! “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” It’ll only happen when people stop being afraid. Your family’s gone. You can’t help them by dying inside. Life needs you to go on fighting and not sit back while they build more bombs and bulldoze more trees. Either you’re on the side of Life or you’re on the side of Death. Which is it going to be?’
[POW! ZAP!] Car Owners’ Hero Dresses for the Job — a real-life UK Super-Hero – Angle-Grinder Man – makes the the New York Times … ‘After the interview was over, Angle-Grinder Man strode into the street in full regalia, wheeling the suitcase full of civilian clothes he planned to wear on the train home later. Watching his gold cape glitter and swirl heroically in the afternoon light, Judith Smith, a sales clerk who said she had been following Angle-Grinder Man’s exploits on his Web site, pronounced herself a big fan. “I think he’s extraordinarily attractive,” Ms. Smith said. “Especially the golden knickers.”‘ [thanks Kabir]
[magazines] Letting Go is Hard to Do — Charlie Stross writes about resigning as a Freelance Tech Writer for Computer Shopper. ‘…I was forced to confront an unpleasant conviction that the computer magazine biz has turned to shit. From being the banner-carriers of the revolution, we’ve ended up as pigs at a trough fed from the sump of corporate public relations. The industry is a treadmill, dominated by risk-averse multinationals turning out one bland plastic box after another. The software biz is dominated by the Evil Empire. The revolution hasn’t changed anything fundamental about human power relationships — in fact, inappropriate use of email and web facilities at work are now cited as the #1 cause for dismissal of office staff in the UK. The wild sense of excitement and potential that computers brought in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s has evaporated.’ [via 2lmc spool]
14 October 2003
[comics] It Came From The Quarter Bin: The Question #1 — Newsarama looks back at Denny O’Neil and Denys Cowan’s late-80’s revamp of The Question … ‘I found this first issue with a few dozen of the Question’s comics for a quarter a piece. Yes, I bought nearly the whole Question run for a mere bag of quarters. Sacrilege? Quite possibly, but as its always fun to take advantage of those who know not what is in their quarter bins, buying this issue (along with any other Question comics) you come across is nothing short of a phenomenal buy.’ [via Neilalien]
[web] The Register — Danny O’Brien on Orlowski, ‘wiki-fiddlers’ and the tenor of conversation on Weblogs … ‘My God, people say, how can Livejournallers be so self-obsessed? Oh, Christ, is Xeni talking about LA art again? Why won’t they all shut up? The answer why they won’t shut up is – they’re not talking to you. They’re talking in the private register of blogs, that confidential style between secret-and-public. And you found them via Google. They’re having a bad day. They’re writing for friends who are interested in their hobbies and their life. Meanwhile, you’re standing fifty yards away with a sneer, a telephoto lens and a directional microphone. Who’s obsessed now?’ [via 2lmc Spool]
15 October 2003
[comics] Captain America Wins Superhero Networking Crown — Spanish scientists have looked at the interconnection and social networks of the fictional Marvel Universe … ‘The researchers used the shape of the network to deduce the best connected character of the Marvel Universe – the Kevin Bacon of superheroes, if you will. Aptly enough, it is Captain America, a veteran of the 1940s Timely Comics era.’ [via]
[blog] Feeling Listless — Unmemorable Book Openings (#1): Star Fighters by Robert E. Miles‘The forces of the Dark Empire seemed to be irresistible: its black star fleets ranged far and wide, extinguishing the light of freedom in galaxy after galaxy, creating in this manner the mightiest empire ever known among the stars.’
16 October 2003
[politics] When the Plot Thickens Turn to the Beano — another parliamentary sketch from Simon Hoggart‘David Atkinson, the Tory member for Bournemouth East, reminded us that the former Europe minister Keith Vaz had declared that the European charter of fundamental rights would have no more legal significance than a copy of the Beano. At which he waved a copy of the Beano at us, as if we were too stupid to know to what he referred. Denis MacShane, the present European minister, drifted off down memory lane, to childhood days curled up with Dennis the Menace and Desperate Dan. (Did you know that DD’s home in the wild west town of Cactusville was actually modelled on Dundee?) You might think it pathetic that grown men should wave comics at each other in the course of a debate. But that, I fear, is politics as well.’
17 October 2003
[comics] Heroes of the Blues — a set of trading cards from R. Crumb … ‘Here are his portraits of the many extraordinary country blues artists whose work can be heard primarily on the Yazoo label. Based on photographs, they originally appeared in 1980 as a set of trading cards.’
[weblogs] London Bloggers — the London Blogs Tube Map Directory redesigns … ‘There are currently 644 registered London weblogs.’
18 October 2003
[comics] The Ten Geekiest Hobbies — from Seanbaby. Thankfully, blogging is not in the Top 10 but – OMG! – consider the Perfect Storm combination of comics and blogging! … Comics: ‘Damage to Sex Life: 68.7%. When you’re finished showing someone your chart of all the ways Magneto’s hat in X-Men 2 was incorrect, it’s going to be a long, uphill battle to then have sex with them. And to make matters worse, the faulty shape of the dong port in the movie’s version of Magneto’s hat will make having sex with it even harder.’ [via MemeMachineGo]
22 October 2003
[comics] Behind The Masks — Philip Pullman on Art Spiegelman’s Maus [Buy: UK | US]…

‘Maus does have a profound and unfailing “strangeness”, to use Bloom’s term. Part of this is due to the depiction of Jews as mice, Germans as cats, Poles as pigs, and so forth. This is what jolts most people who come to it for the first time, and still jolts me after several readings. It is such a risky artistic strategy, because it implies a form of essentialism that many readers will find suspect. Cats kill mice because they are cats, and that’s what cats do. But is it in the nature of Germans, as Germans, to kill Jews?

The question hangs over the whole work, and is never answered directly. Instead we are reminded by the plot itself that this classification into different species was precisely how the human race was then regarded by those who had the power to order things; and the question is finally dispelled by the gradual gentle insistence that these characters might look like mice, or cats, or pigs, but what they are is people. They have the complexity and the surprisingness of human beings, and human beings are capable of anything.’

23 October 2003
[mp3] Anapod Explorer — nice looking Windows software for Apple’s iPod – which, I admit, I’m really tempted to buy… The Marketing Blurb: ‘…includes full Windows Explorer integration as a device in My Computer, web page interface access to your iPod through a built-in web server, and powerful search and reporting capabilities using a built-in SQL database’ [Related: Apple iTunes for Windows | via 2lmc Spool]
[comics] ‘I Do Comics, Not Graphic Novels’ — interview / profile of Joe Sacco‘Sacco uses cartooning to report on some of the big issues of our time but his particular gift is that he is never pompous or polemical. He can illustrate the hooded interrogation of a Palestinian from East Jerusalem or a throat-slitting slaughter in Bosnia, both events recounted to him in detail, but can also add his own wry thoughts about the loveliness of young Israeli women or the consistency of Palestinian tea. In reality, he is both more dashing and more relaxed than the often anguished character in the strips, and it is not difficult to see how he manages to persuade people to open up to him.’
24 October 2003
[comics] Philip Pullman interviews Art Spiegelman at the ICA on the 4th. November …. ‘Best known for the Holocaust narrative, Maus, Spiegelman is also co-founder and editor of the avant-garde comics magazine, RAW, and edits Little Lit, a series of comics anthologies for children. He is currently working on an opera, Drawn to Death about the history of comics, and has recently published a series In the Shadow of No Towers in several papers and magazines.’
25 October 2003
[film] You Do Have To Be Mad To Work Here — review of Mike Judge’s film comedy Office Space‘Everyone who’s ever worked for a corporation will feel the chill of recognition: “Hawaiian Shirt Fridays”, miserable gatherings where the whole office mournfully sings Happy Birthday to a boss they despise, parking space wars, vanity license plates, traffic snarls, ID cards, swipe-cards, moronic corporate pep-rallies, performance evaluations, receptionists who bleat the same company phone-greeting hundreds of times a day, temp wage-slavery, credit-theft, blame-delegation, and the upwards redistribution of all initiative and decision-making power.’ [Related: Office Space Soundboard]
27 October 2003
[comics] Operation: Get Your War On — interview with David Rees (creator of GYWO) … ‘At that time my web host said I owed them tons of money, and I was considering abandoning my site. I had to go out of town and, hoping not to think about that situation or the strip, my girlfriend called me and said, “I know you don’t want to hear about this, but the Village Voice is trying to get a hold of you; they want to run your strip.” Then my friend, who was monitoring the website hits, told me that the site was getting five million a week. It got really crazy.’ [thanks Stuart]
[confession] — I feel guilty about continually reloading this site …

I like my girlfriend, but I’m dying to go date other girls. I know I could do a lot better than her.

I have three testicles.

i pissed on my neighbors cat… i feel really bad about it

28 October 2003
[movies] Scarface Soundboard‘You Wanna Fuck With Me? Okay. You Wanna Play Rough? Okay. Say Hello to my Little Friend!’
[politics] Down in the Snake Pit, the Party Plots — Simon Hoggart on the Conservative Party Leadership Battle‘Gerald Kaufman arrived and sat alone. What a tragedy: possibly the finest all-pro plotter in the place, and stuck in the wrong party! Then in came IDS himself. He smiled up at the sketch writers, and was right to do so, since we want him to stay on. He’s more fun than any of his successors might be.’ [Related: Hoggart on Byliner]
29 October 2003
[spam] Spam Pitches Are Mutating Faster — Wired News on the Arms Race between Spammers and Anti-Spammers. ‘…no spammer has yet to fool every Bayesian filter, some tricks work better than others. One recent spam employed a trick that misspelled almost every word in the body, but was still coherent enough to get the gist through. The idea, supposedly uncovered by researchers at Cambridge University, holds that readers can still read long sentences of misspelled words as long as the first and last letters of words are in the correct place. Ironically, the junk e-mail, which included 21 misspellings, was selling diplomas, including master’s degrees and doctorates, both of which were misspelled.’
[politics] Reporters’ log: IDS faces crunch vote — BBC journalists (kinda, sorta) weblog the downfall of Iain Duncan Smith … ‘I don’t think Ian Duncan Smith is going to be “humiliated”, in the word of choice that so many people were using yesterday. But the lobbies and the corridors are crammed with people who assume already that he is gone and are running and organising campaigns for future conservative leaders – Michael Howard’s people are very active and so are those for David Davis.’
30 October 2003
[politics] Wherever You Are on Oliver Letwin: ‘So that’s my vague attempt at a political justification for loathing him. But really, it’s just because he comes across as such an objectionable, toadying, upper-class prick.’
[politics] From Tom Watson (a Labour MP) — 40 Things You Did Not Know or had Forgotten about the Probable Next Leader of the Tory Party Michael Howard:

‘Howard sacked Prison Service Director Derek Lewis and then (famously) failed to answer a direct question about it from Jeremy Paxman 14 times on Newsnight.

Howard’s former deputy Anne Widdecombe said there was “something of the night” about him.

Howard was the Minister in Charge of bringing in the Poll Tax in 1988. Even after Thatcher had gone, and after the poll tax riots, he insisted he still believed in the policy. (July 1991)

Howard was the Minister who brought in Clause 28 of the Local Government Act banning the “promotion” of homosexuality. (March 1988)

Howard voted in favour of anti-abortion campaigner David Alton’s Bill to reduce access to abortion. (January 1988)

Howard criticised Jack Straw’s decision to detain General Pinochet and actively campaigned for his release: “We think this has gone on far too long. We think he should be sent back to Chile.” (BBC Interview, 26 November 1998)’

31 October 2003
[redrum] 100 Greatest Scary Moments — Channel 4 were wrong. This is the greatest Scary Moment…

really scary twin girls from the shining...
Come and play with us, Danny …for ever, and ever, and ever.

Shining Script: ‘On another of his exploratory bike rides as he comes around a corner in his inexorable progression, Danny is petrified when he confronts the two undead girls at the end of a hallway blocking his way. In unison, they beckon to him in metallic, other-worldly voices with an invitation: “Hello Danny, Come and play with us. Come and play with us, Danny.” For an instant, Danny is horrified to “see” another slide-show flash with horrific images of the carnage of past murders – the two mutilated girls lie in large pools of blood in a blood-splattered hallway, with an oversized axe lying on the floor in front of them. And then they add as they appear to get closer: “…for ever, and ever, and ever.” He covers his eyes to shut out the deathly apparitions. As he slowly uncovers his eyes, it appears that they have vanished.’