1 December 2003
[comics] Totally Grant Morrison — another long interview with GM‘Most people are secretly fond of the idea of comics, given half a chance. They just need an excuse to admit it. As for mainstream attention, Kristan and I went to the League premiere in Leicester Square and couldn’t help but notice that every page three boy band big brother celebrity in London was suddenly proclaiming a lifelong, undying love of comics …. Strangely enough, they couldn’t actually remember anything other than the Beano and Spider-Man when faced with questions. Progress?’
2 December 2003
[tax] Amusing Fake Tax Demand Letter: ‘…I ought to point out that even if you did choose to “give the whole foul jamboree up and go and live in India” you would still owe us the money.’ [via Metafilter]
3 December 2003
[blogs] Have you heard from Jorn Barger? — one of the earliest webloggers is missing … ‘Jorn Barger, editor of Robot Wisdom, is missing. He resides in Socorro, New Mexico, and was last seen there by his housemate in very early October.’ [Related: Profile of Barger | Metafilter Thread | via]
4 December 2003
[blogs] Beagle 2: Weblog — a blog for British Mars Lander which is now approaching the Red Planet‘Since 17 November the onboard software has been ‘frozen’ after several updates and the spacecraft is now quietly proceeding to its destination.’ [thanks Graybo]
[media] Daily Mail Finally Embraces the Internet: ‘…over half of all the Mail’s readers had an internet connection, making the launch a viable prospect commercially and editorially. “The question has always been not if but when we would launch. We believe that not only is the market ready but we’re ready in terms of how we build websites and make them profitable. More importantly, I believe the readers are ready,” said Mr Hart, the former Sunday Business managing director and Ask Jeeves chief executive who completed a five-year plan for the business before taking on the new job. The new website will have a strong community element, allowing Mail readers to vent their spleen on a range of message boards and interactive features.’
5 December 2003
[comics] The Golden Age: Uncensored‘Scientologists are fucking weird…’ [via Pete’s Link Farm]

image from the golden age: uncensored
[link to image]

[tv] Quotations from Tom Baker‘The notion that God was everywhere put paid to any possible peace of mind by the time I was six.’ [via Funjunkie]
6 December 2003
[science] Ancient Fossil Penis Discovered‘As the discoverer of a new species, David Siveter and his co-researchers provided the name for the ostracode. They have called it Colymbosathon ecplecticos, which means “amazing swimmer with a large penis”.’ [via Interconnected]
[blogs] Jorn Barger Has Left the Building‘It turns out Barger had simply relocated to a new home in the small desert town of Socorro, New Mexico, without telling his roommate.’
8 December 2003
[tv] Viva Johnny Vegas — profile of comedian Johnny Vegas‘At the end of the day he’s best live. When he came on to present a prize in last year’s Comedy Awards he held the place spellbound. There’s a dangerous, John Belushi quality to him. But he’s very English. What other country could produce a comedian whose act revolves around the potter’s wheel?”‘
[comics] Little things we like: American Splendor — mini review of Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor … ‘Now is the time to check out Harvey Pekar’s brilliant autobiographical comic, just before the film version makes a national hero out of him. Pekar is a downbeat hospital file clerk from Cleveland who writes about the mundanities of his daily routine, from spending empty weekends in front of the television to the dangers of getting stuck behind old Jewish ladies at supermarket checkouts, and it makes for compelling reading.’ [Related: American Splendor Movie Trailer]
[preaching] What is that Oxford Circus Megaphone Man all about?‘ARE YOU A SINNER OR ARE YOU A WINNER?’

‘What most people don’t know is that the religious nut used to think he was a werewolf and would occasionally get on London news reports because he would beg the police to lock him up come every full moon. Then he found God, or more specifically a cassette tape of some preacher which he is constantly listening to and repeating out loud ‘

9 December 2003
[archive] Good Links from the Sidebar Blog #1:

10 December 2003
[blogger] Jerry Pournelle claims he created ‘The Original Blog’: ‘I can make some claim to this being The Original Blog and Daybook. I certainly started keeping a day book well before most, and long before the term ‘blog’ or Web Log was invented. I note that a Google Search on Blog doesn’t show me, at least not in the first 10 or so pages, but then I long insisted I don’t “blog” because I find the word ugly. But I have a fair amount of traffic and a quality readership, so I can hardly complain.’

(update) How Jerry Pournelle Got Kicked Off The ARPANET — bit of ‘Net pre-history … [thanks Phil]

*:login pourne
That account has been temporarily turned off.
Think of it as evolution in action.

11 December 2003
[books] His Bright Materials — another article about Philip Pullman … ‘I saw the first preview [of the His Dark Materials Play], playing to a packed Olivier Theatre. It is a beautiful production, the daemons of the novels criss-crossing the stage with shafts of light, tissue paper creations lit from the inside. Afterwards, people filed out past the tired-looking man in red socks, sitting with his wife. Pullman looked emotionally stunned, his face showing the impact of watching his words brought to life with the full might of the Olivier’s huge chunks of stage which can be raised and lowered and wheeled round at the director’s will.’
12 December 2003
[comics] We Read Comics Blogs So You Don’t Have To! — a summary of what is happening in the Comics Blogosphere … ‘Does anyone really buy those stupid “sexy vampire” comics?’ [via Neilalien]
[film] Guardian Film of the Week: Touching the Void

‘Neither man waxes poetic about getting close to God or the purity of creation. Simpson says that he was brought up a Catholic, but no thought of his maker inspired him to survive; at the end there is just nothing. In fact, at the low point of his weakness and delirium and pain, Simpson hears music going round and round in his brain. Barber’s Adagio? Beethoven’s Ninth? Nope, it’s Boney M’s Brown Girl in the Ring, a brilliant moment in the film – exactly the sort of banal thing you might find yourself humming as you dangle over the precipice of your existence. Macdonald’s movie is thrilling not because of any divine or aesthetic rapture, but because the sheer vastness of the mountain landscape seems to go beyond beauty, exceeding the limits of the thinkable…’

14 December 2003
[archive] More Old Links from the Sidebar Blog #2:

15 December 2003
[saddam] BBC Reporters Log On Saddam’s Capture … John Simpson: ‘Saddam’s capture is an extraordinary melodrama. Ad Dawr, where he was caught, was where he was born, where his appalling stepfather used to humiliate him and beat him. It was a place that he hated. One of his confidantes told me that when he drove past it he would turn his face away, he wouldn’t look at it. To be caught there, with a pistol in his possession, yet not kill himself or defend himself, is a remarkable end to an extraordinary life.’
16 December 2003
[comics] Undertow — Warren Ellis’ take on letting fiction escape into reality … ‘Everything we know about Jack The Ripper outside of the forensic documentation of those five murders is fiction. Even the name is a fabrication. The Jack The Ripper letters, in the most optimistic reading, constitute the actual killer creating a fictional framework for himself. And Jack operated in a landscape already primed for his presence by dramatisation. Robert Louis Stevenson’s THE STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE presented a monster whose identity was unknown to the public, turning the streets of 1880s London into a killing zone. A monster, it transpires in the story, from the educated classes — as Jack, with his apparently trained eye for vivisection, almost certainly was. For all we know of Jack The Ripper, he could have been Mr Hyde, released from fiction into Whitechapel.’ [via Barbelith]
[2003] Meta Best of X for 2003 from [via]
[mp3] European RIAA-style anti-file swap lawsuits ‘inevitable’: ‘…the subpoenas could start flying next year. Writing in the IFPI in-house magazine, organisation chairman and CEO Jay Berman says: “Lawsuits on a large scale have so far been restricted to the US; this ‘fight back’ will almost inevitably have to take place internationally as well.” Berman’s piece outlines the industry’s global Internet strategy for 2004, suggesting that the organisation has next year in mind for its legal assault.’
17 December 2003
[comics] Eddie Campbell & The Dark Knight — preview of Campbell’s Batman comic. ‘…what’s the story about? Well, as mentioned earlier, it is an Elseworlds, so expect something…different. “Batman is visiting London on business in 1939,” Campbell began. “So World War 2 is just a few months away and people are getting jumpy. A Nazi plot seems to be revealed but it’s very much more complicated than that. There is a secret society of men who wear animal masks, a murder that connects with a series of old churches, and a lunatic abroad in the streets. It’s got some of the ingredients of From Hell, as you can see, and at the same time it’s all within the normal jurisdiction of the Batman.” The book is currently scheduled for an early July release…’te>
18 December 2003
[blogs] Guardian’s Best of British Blogging 2003 — My reaction:

a remixed panel from get your war on
[a remixed panel from GYWO]

19 December 2003
[tv] Office Party — a profile of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant … ‘Do Gervais and Merchant subscribe to the view that a crucial ingredient in most great sitcoms is people being stuck in a situation? “It’s not just being stuck,” Gervais insists. “It’s knowing you’re stuck.” Gervais (who did a philosophy degree at University College London before a lengthy stint as entertainments officer at the University of London Union, managing an early incarnation of Suede, doing the music for This Life and earning sundry other distinctions at the university of life) waxes metaphysical. “To be the dissatisfied Socrates or the satisfied fool … that’s the dilemma: do you trade happiness for wisdom?” And what would their answers be to that tricky question? Gervais points at Merchant: “He’s a dissatisfied fool.”‘ [Related: The Office]
20 December 2003
[film] Doom With A View — interview with Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner. ‘…despite being here (or not) to promote a movie devoted to his life, Pekar is hardly your average breathless self-publicist. Neither, although his comics have brought him a certain degree of wide-eyed adulation, is he any kind of superhero. What he is is a famously crabby retired hospital file clerk, a 64-year-old underground icon whose ongoing autobiography in the pages of his (until recently) self-published comic has now been transformed into a movie, also called American Splendor’ [Related: American Splendor Official Site]
[internet] The Mood Of LiveJournal‘anxious (6.9%)’ [via]
21 December 2003
[archive] More Old Links from the Sidebar Blog #3:

  • Buffy Guide … The Complete Buffy Episode Guide.
  • Comics — NCRL … New Comic Book Releases for this Week.
  • Eddie Stobart + Porn … Another Disturbing Search Request.
  • Blogjam’s Portal of God‘Hopefully by following the links on this page and learning a little about those good samaritans who’ve dedicated much of their time to Christ, you’ll gain a better understanding of life in the Church, and perhaps you too will go on to the make the World a better place to live in.’
  • Mefi: Free Comics Day … Metafilter on the Free Comics Day 2002 Promotion.
  • Young Ones FAQ … Frequently Asked Questions about Rik, Neil, Mike and Vyvian. [via Fark]

22 December 2003
[comics] Hail and Farewell — the final issue of Dave Sim’s Cerebus is out in March 2004. Sim says Goodbye in Previews‘Given that—in the “real” world—it often seems that all avenues to success based on merit alone are closed and it really is a matter not of “what you know” but “who you know,” I think we can all take heart that the comic-book direct market exists in the form that it does—as close to a level playing field as could be imagined, where the best of the “little guys” genuinely compete with the best of the “big guys” and where a first-time self-publisher’s work appears in the same catalogue with the work of one of the founders of our industry, the irreplaceable Mr. Will Eisner. And — no matter how furious that competition becomes — no matter who comes first or who comes second, ultimately, we all share in each other’s success and we all help to make each other successful.’ [via Neilalien]
[london] Sinners and Winners: A Confession — more info about the Oxford Circus Megaphone Man‘I suppose it’s about time I held my hands up and admitted that if it wasn’t for me the “Sinners and Winners man”, or Terry as he’s actually known, would be substantially less annoying. You see, it was actually me who bought him his megaphone…’
23 December 2003
[tv] The Canonical Priest List — Fantastic list of Priests in Father Ted. Mrs Doyle’s Imaginary Priest Names: ‘Fr. Andy Riley, Fr. Desmond Coyle, Fr. George Byrne, Fr. David Nicholson, Fr. Declan Lynch, Fr. Ken Sweeney, Fr. Neil Hannon, Fr. Keith Cullen, Fr. Ciaran Donnelly, Fr. Mick McEvoy, Fr. Jack White, Fr. Henry Bigbigging, Fr. Hank Tree, Fr. Hiroshima Twinkie, Fr. Stick Bubblecart, Fr. Johnny Hellzapoppin’ , Fr. Luke Duke, Fr. Billy Ferry, Fr. Chewy Louie, Fr. John Hoop, Fr. Hairy Cakelinum, Fr. Ebula Conundrum, Fr. Peewee Stairmaster, Fr. Tight Head Lips, Fr. Jemima Racktouey, Fr. Jerry Twig, Fr. Spodo Komodo, and of course Fr. Canabrana Lammer.’
24 December 2003
[mars] Beagle 2’s Weblog — hopefully updating with good news tomorrow morning. Landing on Mars sounds pretty difficult: ‘At 2.47am on Christmas Day it will slam into the upper atmosphere at 13,000mph, creating friction that will bring the heatshield up to 1,600C, but slow the probe to about 750mph. Sensors on the tiny craft will blow off the shield and the back cover of Beagle 2 and fire a mortar to release a pilot chute, which should reduce the descent to around 200mph. A 10m parachute will then be used to drag the Beagle back to a relatively gentle 35mph. By this time, an altimeter will be measuring the distance to the ground. At 200m, it will trigger the inflation of three gas bags that will form segments around the lander and cushion its impact as it hits the deck…’
[xmas] Graybo’s Christmas Message: ‘…remember the true meaning of Christmas – a distorted winter solstice festival that was hijacked by Christianity in an attempt to win over pagan tribespeople in Europe, that is now the preserve of business and corporate policy. Enjoy!’

Conservative Commentary’s Christmas Message: ‘ Have a great Christmas … unless you prefer the term “Winterval” or “Solstice” or something, in which case I merely wish you a 25th of December marginally less dull and empty than your indoctrinated minds.’
27 December 2003
[comics] The 10 Best Comic Book Footballers — My #1 would be Billy’s Boots‘Billy Dane was the sort of 12-year-old always picked last at break time. Essentially, he was crap at football. Then he found a pair of boots that had belonged to 1920s striker Dead Shot Keen in his gran’s attic and everything changed. The boots miraculously transformed Billy, who first appeared in Scorcher, into a goalscoring automaton. “Is this me or Dead Shot Keen?” he would muse before blasting the ball into the net.’