October 17, 2003
[weblogs] London Bloggers — the London Blogs Tube Map Directory redesigns … ‘There are currently 644 registered London weblogs.’
October 18, 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]
October 22, 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.’

October 23, 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.’
October 24, 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.’
October 25, 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]
October 27, 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

October 28, 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]
October 29, 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.’
October 30, 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)’

October 31, 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.’
November 1, 2003
[fim] Alien: the Director’s Cut — a review of the re-released sci-fi horror film …

‘It is a genuinely frightening movie which makes splatterfests like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre look juvenile. With style and intelligence, Scott absorbs the influences of Kubrick and Spielberg, together with movies like Westworld and The Stepford Wives, but makes a movie quite distinct from any of these. He puts together a white-knuckle intergalactic ride of tension and fear, which is also an essay on the hell of other people, the vulnerability of our bodies, and the idea of space as a limitless new extension of human paranoia. Alien also functions as a nightmare-parody of the Apollo 11 moon-landing, which had happened just 10 years previously, with all its earnest optimism about human endeavour. And perhaps most stunningly of all, this new version of the movie reveals how it works as a conspiracy satire about state-corporate complicity in manufacturing biological weapons of mass destruction.’

November 2, 2003
[data] World Drowning in Oceans of Data — BBC News reports on a estimate of the vast amounts of raw data being generated worldwide … ‘US researchers estimate that every year 800MB of information is produced for every person on the planet. Their study found that information stored on paper, film, magnetic and optical disks has doubled since 1999.’
November 3, 2003
[comics] The Superhero as House Guest — a profile of Alex Ross who is living the fanboy dream [thanks Kabir] …

‘To see the really cool stuff, you have to sneak into the room above the garage, which Mr. Ross calls “my fortress of solitude of collectibles.” Two lifelike figures — a 6-foot-3 Superman and a 6-foot-2 Batman sculptured in wax, resin and fiberglass by a British artist, Mike Hill — dominate the room. Action figures including one-of-a-kind pieces bought on eBay and cheap mass-produced fast-food favors are arranged museum-style in vitrines on every wall. A small jointed wooden Superman from 1939, bought for a song at a toy show, has its own shelf.’

‘Mr. Ross went to his own party as the Phantom, an often overlooked superhero also known as “the ghost who walks.” At 6 feet 3, Mr. Ross can actually be rather unghostlike — especially in a hooded Danskin bodysuit the color of grape Kool-Aid.’

November 4, 2003
[history] At home with the Führer — nice summary from Simon Waldman about what happened when he posted a Hello-type article on Hitler from 1938 to his weblog … ‘As a result of this casual browse through an old magazine, I have struck up a friendship with an amateur historian in Louisiana, been involved in a copyright tussle with the UK’s biggest magazine publisher, been branded a Nazi sympathiser, been written about in the New York Times, International Herald Tribune and the Jerusalem Post, and become the subject of a petition from 60 Holocaust scholars as well as protests from David Irving.’
November 5, 2003
[comics] The Books of Heaven, the Comics of Hell: The Graphic Novel in America — Stuart Moore on Graphic Novels … ‘It’s easy to see why writers champion the graphic novel. It’s very liberating to be able to craft a lengthy narrative and let the tension points fall where they may, instead of having to break the flow every 22 pages. But there are two reasons why the graphic novel format hasn’t taken over, despite some pretty zealous proponents. The first drawback is visibility. This is more of a problem for the artist than for the writer, because generally speaking, comics take a lot longer to draw than they take to write. That means that, for some artists, doing a stand-alone graphic novel can take them out of the marketplace entirely for six months to a year. […] The other problem is stickier: economics…’
November 6, 2003
[ukkblogs] Updated UK Weblogs — I’ve spent the last few weeks updating the list of Recently Updated UK Weblogs. There are plenty of interesting UK blogs to check out …

  • XFM Breakfast Show Blog‘We’re in trouble with the Muppets, apparently. After the interview yesterday, when Christian, erm, questioned Fozzie Bear closely about his sexuality, the Henson people have apprently gone tits. I hope they don’t set Animal on us. The bear doth protest too much, methinks.’

  • Belle de Jour — Diary of a London Call Girl …‘The client was in law enforcement, and the first time out he’d taken me to a semiformal work event. From the ratio of nubile cuties to paunchy detectives, I may not have been the only paid girl there. Or perhaps the Met’s PR efforts are paying off in unexpected ways.’

  • Memex 1.1 — John Naughton’s online diary … ‘I’ve discovered that I appear in Colin Jarman’s The Nasty Quote Book! [I described Radovan Karadzic, the infamous Serbian politician as “a rambling, inconsistent, sentimental, bouffanted crook”. Nasty, perhaps; but also true.]’

November 7, 2003
[comics] The Saga of the Earth Pig — summary of Dave Sim’s Cerebus … [via ¡Journalista!]

‘Cerebus is unique among other comics for its length of story, depth of character, breadth of detail, and evolution over time. It exists in 4 dimensions. The series focuses on Cerebus, a 3-foot tall aardvark man, who lives in a pre-industrial medieval fantasy world. As the story progresses, Cerebus finds himself involved with people and events that change history. He becomes a politician, pope, houseguest, bartender, and prophet, in that order. He finds and loses love. He speaks with beings of great power and knowledge, including his creator, Dave Sim. And yet, he still cannot find happiness in day-to-day life. Cerebus has done it all, been everywhere, and seen everybody. And he still fucks up.’

November 9, 2003
[murder] Terrible history haunts the Old Bailey — Poignant summary of the first weeks evidence at the Soham Murder Trial. ‘…whatever the outcome of this trial, I suspect that the three-day opening statement leaves us with a different sense of our own anonymity. If the story is big enough, the shock and outrage sufficient, then heaven and earth will be moved; history itself will give a shake, and come to life. Point by slow point, graphic by triplicate graphic, belt and buttons and braces, one week last summer was carried into court and had life breathed back into it, and a strangely unsettling experience it was, to realise how many thousands footprints we all leave, if someone starts looking hard enough.’
November 10, 2003
[books] You Ask The Questions — Philip Pullman‘Q: Do you crave adventure? A: No. On the contrary, I crave dullness and routine – that’s when I work best. What I would really like is a fairly long period of imprisonment, in a reasonably comfortable prison with a good library. That would keep the outside world at bay. I have no desire to be out on the ocean again. It would give me inspiration, but I’ve got plenty of that. What I don’t have is time.’
November 11, 2003
[comics] Howard Chaykin on American Flagg: ‘Twenty years ago I did a comic book about a twenty-first century America with endless reality shows based on public humiliation; a federal government secretly selling off pieces of the United States; and a citizenry so drugged out on media they colluded in their own betrayal. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.’
[books] A Writer’s Life — an interview with Iain Banks‘At 14, he wrote his first novel, The Hungarian Lift Jet, which he wrote in pencil on a series of jotters. “The idea,” he tells me, “is that Hungary has invented this radical lift jet” – a sort of hovering warplane – “and the secret service had nicked it. It was just an excuse for vast amounts of mayhem. It all ended badly. Everybody died.” Meanwhile, Banks was developing “a really bad pun habit”. Pun habit? “Well,” says Banks, “say you’re describing a chandelier. You would have a character who was drinking shandy and leered at somebody. It’s that bad, I’m afraid.”‘
November 12, 2003
[comics] Brought To Book — interview with Posy Simmonds … ‘Not only is she the author and illustrator of five successful children’s books, but this feeling of being treated as a sub-species is also the lot of the cartoonist. ‘People often ask, “Who thinks of your ideas for you?” When you reply that you think of your own, they sometimes say, “Do you do the drawings as well?”‘ She relates this in a deadpan tone, but behind it you can see amusement rather than irritation.’
[blogs] Mom Finds Out About Blog “God, my links alone contain unlimited fodder for Mom’s neuroses,” Widmar said. “She’ll have access to not only my life, but the lives of all my friends who have web sites. She’ll have the names of all the places in Minneapolis where we hang out, which she can — and will — look up. With the raw materials in my blog, she could actually construct an accurate picture of who I am. This is fucking serious.”‘ [via Anil’s Daily Links]
November 13, 2003
[comics] “Captain America! I Command You To — “ WANK! [via me(ish)]
[party] UK Bloggers Christmas Party 2003Downstairs at the Well in London on Sat. 29th. November …

image of a church sign
Thanks to the Church Sign Generator

November 14, 2003
[games] Jeff Minter interview by B3ta‘Q: What imagery was rejected from the Attack of the Mutant Camels games? A: I drew the line at exposing my innocent young gamers to images of Margaret Thatcher. Hallucinogenic imagery and implied bestiality seemed mild by comparison.’
November 15, 2003
[911] Operation Holy Tuesday — insight into the planning behind 9-11 … ‘The prisoner no longer recalls precisely when he heard these words and in which of the many hideouts in the mountains bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, this single sentence uttered by Osama Bin Laden has burned itself into his memory, this decisive sentence, spoken in a soft and silky voice, that would ultimately become a death sentence for about 3,000 people: “Why do you use an ax when you can use a bulldozer?”‘ [via Metafilter]
November 16, 2003
[comics] After the 30-year Struggle, a Heroic Victory — interview with Paul Levitz, president of DC Comics … ‘It is easy to imagine the small-framed Levitz feeling like an outsider when editing a comic fanzine while he was growing up in Brooklyn. Not any more. “Popular culture has shifted,” he says. “It’s not just the function of the comic book movie per se. Look at everything from Men in Black to Lord of the Rings. This is the kind of material that as young men my friends and I loved, and we were rather at the edge of things. That material is now squarely in the centre.” DC sits in the shadow of the sleek, modern towers that will serve as the new head office of parent company Time Warner, an appropriate position for a business described by investment bank Thomas Weisel as a “hidden asset” buried within the Warner Brothers division…’
November 17, 2003
[blogs] Technorati Growing Pains: ‘Right now, we’re adding 8,000-9,000 new weblogs every day, not counting the 1.2 Million weblogs we already are tracking. That means that on average, a brand new weblog is created every 11 seconds. We’re also seeing about 100,000 weblogs update every day as well, which means that on average, a weblog is updated every 0.86 seconds.’ [via Scripting News]
[comics] Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex — Larry Niven wonders about Superman’s Sex Life … ‘Ejaculation of semen is entirely involuntary in the human male, and in all other forms of terrestrial life. It would be unreasonable to assume otherwise for a kryptonian. But with kryptonian muscles behind it, Kal-El’s semen would emerge with the muzzle velocity of a machine gun bullet. (*One can imagine that the Kent home in Smallville was riddled with holes during Superboy’s puberty. And why did Lana Lang never notice that?*)’ [via Many Comic Blogs]
November 18, 2003
[comics] Alan Moore is 50. Happy Birthday… and enjoy your retirement!

‘Sat in a sandwich bar in Westminster I meet the sharp south-London wideboy occultist that I’d created some years previously for a U.S. comic book. He looks at me. He nods, and smiles, and walks away. Years later, in another place, he steps out from the dark and speaks to me. He whispers: I’ll tell you the ultimate secret of Magic. Any cunt can do it.’ [link]

‘The basic thing to remember is that, eventually, I am always right’ [link]

‘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.’ [link]

‘…with the world political situation as it is at the moment the political radical is put in a difficult position because, hum, how do you rebel against chaos? You know, much as political conspiracy theorists would like to think otherwise, the brutal truth of the thing is nobody’s in control, this is a runaway train. Nobody’s in control, there’s not some big conspiracy in control, whether it’s Jewish bankers or nazis or CIA spooks, the simple truth is that the world is a complex storm of mathematics, basically… Very complicated mathematics that is beyond human comprehension.’ [link]

‘I made it all up, and it all came true anyway. That’s the funny part.’ [link]

November 19, 2003
[murder] Huntley Carr Trial Reports‘A selection of reports of the trial of Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr in connection with the murder of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.’ [via Blah Blah Flowers]
[potus] Reporters’ log: Bush in Britain‘The BBC’s team of correspondents bring you news updates, as they happen, on President George Bush’s state visit to the UK.’ [Related: Chasing Bush]
November 20, 2003
[retro-games] Masters of their Universe — extract from Backroom Boys by Francis Spufford about the creation of the computer game Elite‘In 1982, popularised science hadn’t yet risen above the horizon in Britain as a cultural phenomenon. No chaos theory as a universal reference point; not much evolutionary biology, since Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould were only then beginning to make their mark on public consciousness; no cosmology deployed à la Stephen Hawking as a modern replacement for religious truths. In particular, computing in its DIY phase didn’t resonate as it would later. You wouldn’t have found French literary theorists writing about cyberspace in 1982, any more than they’d have written about household plumbing. Computers weren’t glamorous. The result of all this was that what Braben and Bell achieved together while they were at Cambridge was, effectively, invisible.’
[blogs] Venusberg‘This forces us to only one conclusion. Death is MacGyver.’
November 21, 2003
[food] Belly — a new recipe blog from‘Nepali, Indian, Italian, Argentine and assorted goodies are all to come, inlcuding some ancient family recipes filtered through my haphazard skills in the kitchen. Good food for and by idiots, if you will.’
November 22, 2003
[tv] The Miserable King of Comedy — profile of Larry David. ‘…If there is a master storyline [to Curb Your Enthusiasm], it is that Larry simply wants to go about his daily business but is constantly mystified by the obstacles thrown up in front of him. The obstacles may be no more than a bothersome word, or a small tic of behaviour, or the suspicion that some rule of social etiquette has been broken (for example, the show where he becomes convinced that a television executive has stolen the shrimp out of his Chinese takeaway). Larry’s attempts either to overcome these obstacles, or get even for them, invariably entangle him further. That’s when he gets mad – convincing himself that he is a reasonable guy when we, the audience, can see how he has set himself up for trouble from the very start.’
November 23, 2003
[film] Love Actually — amusing review of Richard Curtis’ new film … ‘Does Mr Curtis have special screenwriting software to produce this sort of thing? Using a Q-tip and bodily fluid, he must have impregnated a disk of the Final Draft programme with his DNA, so that all he has to do is type, say, control-shift-NUPTIALS, to get a complete quirky-yet-touching wedding scene. Or maybe control-shift-PRESSCONF, and we get one of his press conferences with a coded public declaration of love. Perhaps apple-control-SIBLING generates a scene with a trademark disabled sibling or loved one, or maybe he just types alt-ROMCOM and the entire movie comes chuntering out of the printer…’
November 24, 2003
[comics] The Graphic Novel Silver Anniversary — Time Magazine on 25 years of Graphic Novels. ‘…Eisner had to come up with his own, spontaneous sleight-of-hand marketing. “[The phrase] ‘graphic novel’ was kind of accidental,” Eisner said. While pitching the book to an important trade-book editor in New York, says Eisner, “a little voice inside me said, ‘Hey stupid, don’t tell him it’s a comic or he’ll hang up on you.’ So I said, ‘It’s a graphic novel.'” Though that particular editor wasn’t swayed by the semantics, dismissing the book as “comics,” a small publisher eventually took the project and put the phrase “A Graphic Novel” prominently on the jacket, thereby cementing the term permanently into the lexicon.’ [thanks Kabir]
November 25, 2003
[comics] Deadlock — amusing online comic from Other People’s Stories. ‘…My solution was brilliant in its passive agressive deviousness! I was asking Lisa out on a date without actually going through the humiliation of asking her out on a date!’ [via IllNation]
[wifi] In the Air Tonight — report about Wifi Networks being installed aboard trains in Britain … ‘The train is fitted with a satellite dish on top of its restaurant carriage. This connects to the internet through a range of different networks (including satellite and GPRS) and then distributes the bandwidth throughout the train. Connecting in this way means that if one connection goes down, another automatically replaces it, which allows for a constant connection even at speeds in excess of 100mph. The service, which is in its early stages, is variable. Some areas provide faster net access than others, but simple tasks, like accessing web pages and sending email, worked quite well throughout my two and a half hour journey’ [via The Daily Chump]
November 26, 2003
[quote] Memorable Book Openings (#8): The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams …

‘Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea. This planet has-or rather had-a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy. And so the problem remained; lots of the people were mean, and most of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches. Many were increasingly of the opinion that they’d all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans. ‘

November 28, 2003
[comics] ‘Hello, I’m Grant Morrison and I write the X-Men.’ [link]

image from the simpsons comic with grant morrison and mark millar

November 30, 2003
[books] The Daemon King — profile of Philip Pullman‘His powerful trilogy touches on the great issues common to all human imagination. Eternal oppositions such as love and hate, loyalty and betrayal, life and death, truth and lies, courage and cowardice are common themes in the experience of his main characters. In epic style, these leave the security of home in the quest of something far greater than themselves whatever the danger – a plot as old as Beowulf, but as resonant as ever. Stories have always had the capacity to show us the best as well as the worst of ourselves.’
December 1, 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?’
December 2, 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]
December 3, 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]
December 4, 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.’
December 5, 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]
December 6, 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.’
December 8, 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 ‘

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

December 10, 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.

December 11, 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.’
December 12, 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…’

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

December 15, 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.’
December 16, 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.’
December 17, 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>
December 18, 2003
[blogs] Guardian’s Best of British Blogging 2003 — My reaction:

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

December 19, 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]
December 20, 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]
December 21, 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]

December 22, 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…’
December 23, 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.’
December 24, 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.’
December 27, 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.’