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December 1, 2016
[music] Looking for the Beach Boys … Ben Ratliff analyses the Beach Boys… ‘The narrators of Beach Boys songs used their time as they liked: amusement parks, surfing, drag racing, dating, sitting in their rooms. Listeners through the mid-Sixties —I wasn’t there—must have responded to the way ordinary leisure and ordinary kicks could be enshrined by a cool, modern, prosperity-minded sentimentality. (Something similar had happened with bossa nova in Brazil, four years before the Beach Boys made their first records.) After that, listeners may have seen the paradox inside the Beach Boys’ music as a whole: the drive to be a man, to know the score, to win in small-stakes battles—the animating force of “Shut Down” and “I Get Around”—versus the drive to retreat and regress or live in a world of one’s own invention, which is the drift of Pet Sounds and SMiLE.’
December 2, 2016
[comics] The Northants Herald and Post published it’s final issue yesterday and included the final episode of Alan Moore’s Maxwell the Magic Cat

Maxwell the Magic Cat - Final Episode

December 5, 2016
[tube] Mapped: Fictional Stations On The London Underground … impressive list of fake tube stations from Londonist‘Hobbs End featured in the cult horror film Quartermass and the Pit. It was a new station on the Central line that became the nexus for some spooky goings-on (‘hob’ being an old word for the devil)’
December 6, 2016
[politics] What Theresa May’s Christmas plans tell us about her faith … brief examination of Theresa May’s religious faith from The Guardian … ‘There are two times a year when politicians talk about faith – Christmas and Easter. No one would listen at any other time.”’
December 7, 2016
[mystery] The Unsolvable Mysteries of the Voynich Manuscript … decoding the hidden meaning of a famous coded medieval manuscript‘Readers will probably never stop forming communities based on the manuscript’s secrets. Humans are fond of weaving narratives like doilies around gaping holes, so that the holes won’t scare them. And objects from premodern history—like medieval manuscripts—are the perfect canvas on which to project our worries about the difficult and the frightening and the arcane, because these objects come from a time outside culture as we conceive of it. This single, original manuscript encourages us to sit with the concept of truth and to remember that there are ineluctable mysteries at the bottom of things whose meanings we will never know.’
December 8, 2016
[comics] Cartoonist Joe Matt’s porn problem follows him to Los Angeles / Boing Boing … Good to see that Joe is unchanged! …

Joe Matt in L.A. Comic

December 9, 2016
[trump] Donald Trump named NewsThump’s “Resource of the Year” … … ‘We’re looking forward to writing even more wonderful bits of copying and pasting of whatever lunacy he’ll come up with when he’s actually President, assuming he doesn’t get shot, imprisoned or simply become bored of the idea of being president in the meantime. I really hope he doesn’t get shot. He’s essentially paying to do up my conservatory at this point. I have a conservatory, you know. All of us liberal elites do.’
December 12, 2016
[people] Lessons from My Father … Powerful piece of writing from Joe McGinniss, Jr. on the downfall of his father‘The subject of his book “Fatal Vision,” the convicted murderer Jeffrey MacDonald, upset that the book portrayed him as guilty of the crime, sued my father for fraud. The contract for the book granted my father the freedom to tell the story as he saw fit, but the jury deadlocked anyway, and a mistrial was declared; the case was settled out of court a few years later. A few years after that, a famous piece in The New Yorker, “The Journalist and the Murderer,” by Janet Malcolm, took the case as emblematic of the moral compromises made by writers. Few in the publishing world came to my father’s defense. His reputation was in tatters, and he wondered aloud whether he’d ever write another book. If he’d ever crawl out of the dark black pit of depression. If he’d see fifty-five, sixty? His freezer was filled with bottles of gin and vodka. He’d pour drinks and stir them with an index finger, suck it dry. Have a bottle of wine at dinner, a second. Then he’d call. If I answered, it was to listen, and I knew before he completed his first sentence.’
December 13, 2016
[crime] JonBenét Ramsey: the brutal child murder that still haunts America‘Parent-blaming is all-too-common these days, and usually the point is to make other parents feel better about their own parenting skills. But in cases such as that of JonBenét, something else is going on. By demonising parents who have suffered a terrible trauma, the rest of us can reassure ourselves that they are different from us: those parents are flawed, even evil, and we are good and therefore our child will never go missing – in Kos, in Praia de Luz, from our house in the middle of the night – like theirs did. The rush to blame JonBenét’s parents can also be partly put down to the public needing to reassure themselves that, contrary to what the Ramseys said, killers don’t break into houses and murder children where they should be most safe. That only happens when the parents themselves are killers. And yet.’
December 14, 2016
[docu] Is the Art World Responsible for Trump? Filmmaker Adam Curtis on Why Self-Expression Is Tearing Society Apart … another interview with BBC documentary maker Adam Curtis‘I believe you can be clever whilst also being very clear and imaginative for ordinary people. You can do it by being funny sometimes, by using music that people like, and by writing very simply and very clearly. But you can’t make ordinary people out to be chumps—I come from a working class community, and I know they’re really clever. They may feel completely isolated and fed up and pissed off, but they’re not stupid. They’re angry, and they were given a giant, big button that said “Fuck off” on it, and they pressed it. And I think the same thing happened in the Midwest, in your country. They didn’t believe Trump’s stories, they were just given this button—and they pressed it.’
December 15, 2016
[comics] Remembering Frank Miller’s Ronin [Intro | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6] … a long, detailed look at Frank Miller’s first attempt to breakout from the confines of mainstream comics …

‘Though it didn’t sell well when first released, Ronin has never been out of print and has continued to gain accolades from fans and pros alike. It’s now seen in its rightful light: as an audacious, bold attempt by a young creator to step outside of his comfort zone. Many praise Miller’s daring and smart storytelling, while also praising his “fusion” art style. The love story at the center of the book also merits attention for its wonderful sweetness and intriguingly kind approach to the couple.’
December 16, 2016
[horror] ‘Creepypasta’ is how the internet learns our fears … fascinating look at how the internet crowd sources horror stories and memes‘Effective horror, after all, has little or nothing to do with gore or body-counts. ‘Atmosphere is the all-important thing,’ wrote Lovecraft, ‘for the final criterion of authenticity is not the dovetailing of a plot but the creation of a given sensation.’ This is the only test of weird fiction that matters: can the work excite, at its least mundane point, a particular emotional response, ‘a profound sense of dread, and of contact with unknown spheres and powers’? Creepypasta represents a kind of industrialised refinement of this art. It is a networked effort to deliver dread in as efficient a way as possible, with the minimum of extraneous matter. Like pornography, it is single-minded in its pursuit of a particular response.’
December 19, 2016
[moore] The 21st Century Hasn’t Started Yet: An Interview With Alan Moore … a recent interview in full from the Irish Times … ‘So, with the film work, I am trying to have that same sense of inventive fun in the film medium, and with the case of Jerusalem, trying to bring that to the novel. Yes, I have said that one of the great beauties of comics is that anyone with a pencil and paper can make a comic strip, however, I’d have to say that while that is still true, unadorned English prose seems to be more miraculous still, in that there are no pictures. 26 characters and a peppering of punctuation, and from that you can do anything, you can describe anything in the conceivable universe.’
December 21, 2016
[politics] Adam Curtis on Non-Linear Warfare

December 22, 2016
[2016] Which Philosophy Can Best Explain 2016? … Vice attempts to understand 2016 … ‘We’re thrust into the world described in Machiavelli’s The Prince, where what really matters is the geopolitical power-plays of great men and the polities they lead. Certainly this would help explain the disparity, in the context of both Brexit and Trump’s victory, between what the polls claimed and the actual results. Perhaps we’re not just awful racists after all: perhaps this is merely part of some grand plot by Russia to undermine NATO and the EU so that they can annex the Baltics. In the now-immortal words of a mind far deeper and greater than I: “Guys. It’s time for some game theory…”’
December 23, 2016
[games] Lode Runner Web Game … take a break and have a play with this old classic platform game from 1983 which has been ported to the Web. [via Metafilter]
December 28, 2016
[space] The Wold Newton Meteorite … the history behind a meteorite that crashed into Yorkshire in 1759 and later fell into fiction … ‘In addition to almost killing a farm labourer and kickstarting the modern scientific study of meteorites, the “EXTRAORDINARY STONE” which fell to Earth two centuries ago was also the catalyst for some of the most inventive and influential crossover fiction of the twentieth century. If you’re are a fan of Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula novels, Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, or even Bryan Talbot’s Grandville, or Showtime’s Penny Dreadful then you have the Wold Newton Meteorite to thank. All these worlds filled with characters from different novels, films, and TV series owe a huge debt (acknowledged by both Newman and Moore, I might add) to the writing of Philip Jose Farmer…’
December 29, 2016
[comics] Steve Bell on his best cartoons of 2016

December 30, 2016
[2016] 216 Good Things Which Happened in 2016 … a cheering end-of-year collection compiled by Feeling Listless‘200. Accidentally stumbling upon New Broadcasting House during a Christmas shopping trip to London and being able to lean against the TARDIS whilst coincidentally wearing an Eighth Doctor t-shirt.’
December 31, 2016
[movies] The Poseidon Adventure Is Still One of the Most Insane Disaster Movies Ever Made … Gizmodo remembers The Poseidon Adventure‘Then there’s Gene Hackman, who had won his first Oscar a year prior, for 1971’s The French Connection. Here, he channels some of that Popeye Doyle snarl into his portrayal of Rev. Frank Scott, a take-action man of God who favors turtlenecks rather than clerical collars.Why would a newly minted Best Actor sign on for a ridiculous action movie? What other movie would let him use a giant fake Christmas tree as an escape ladder, engage in multiple screaming matches with Mike Rogo (Ernest Borgnine), dramatically curse God, and ultimately sacrifice himself to save a group of passengers who otherwise would’ve been literally dead in the water?’