Thursday, September 28, 2023

Where's my Gallows Pole at?

There are so many options to see your favourite TV and movie shows these days, with streaming services offering a plethora of excellent content, all available with a click of the remote. But I just want to see the new Shane Meadows, and I'm shit out of luck.

I've been big on all of Meadows films, right since stumbling upon the graceful brilliance of Twenty Four Seven at the local film festival in 1997. The This Is England series is a complete goddamn masterpiece, Paddy Considine does things in Dead Man's Shows that still haunt 20 years later, and all of his films are filled with such warmth and humanity and humour and life, in ways others filmmakers never touch.

And The Gallows Pole - the latest BBC series from the big man - looks just as fucking brilliant as all the rest, but I really wouldn't know, because I can't see it anywhere.

An anti-heist set in medieval times, with the usual hint of pastoral horror that comes with any such period piece now, it screened on British TV earlier this year, and none of the streaming services in my country have picked it up. None of the TV channels are showing them, and there is no chance of any kind of physical release around here - now that all the video stores have faded away.

I even tried the 'this TV show just fell off the back of a truck' of torrenting, but came up short without diving into dodgy website that want my credit card details (only for verification purposes, honest). Pirating has long been the last resort for this kind of thing, but still can't deliver.

It's a little maddening in this day and age, to be able to read all about the work of a major filmmaker, to be able to see all sorts of behind the scenes material and trailers, but to be cut off from the work itself. It feels like it's back in the 80s, just waiting for some considerate local programmer to throw it out on TV late on a Tuesday night. That was still a thing well into the 21st century - that's how I first saw The Wire in the mid-2000s - but it's not even there anymore.

I'm sure I'll see The Gallows Pole at some point, some rotter will rip it out onto Youtube one day or something and I'll finally get my mental mitts onto it, but other than that, it's a brick wall, or an empty field, bereft of all the best things in film.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Stealing the Batmobile

With a household policy of buying the kids a new Batmobile Hot Wheels toy every time I see one, they now have 11 distinctive Batmobiles, which is 900% more Batmobiles than I ever had as a kid, so I feel like maybe civilisation is slowly getting better.

They actually have 12, but the latest one is a car the 2-year-old straight up stole from his Aunty Kat's house. It's one of the Batmobile from the last movie, and while that car may be the second best Batmobile ever seen on screen - I'll ride and die for the Lincoln Futura all day long - it's gotta go back.

He probably did it because the collection was over represented by Batmobiles from the 1990s, with few of the 2000s models. But I have explained to him - and I'm fairly sure he has understood me - that Bruce Wayne would not approve of stealing one. He gets mad when a Robin does that, let alone some stranger kid.

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Goodbye, Joe Matt: Wanking never looked so good

I guess I always thought that spite would keep him alive, and that Joe Matt would live to be 120, with his lifestyle of frugality and pettiness keeping him going long past his contemporaries. And I was sure that he would be producing comics tales about being a shitty old man for years to come.

But Joe only made half that, and even without much in the way of new comics from the artist recently, it still hit so hard.

Because his comics were always so good - full of self-loathing and nitpicking to such an inhuman degree that I'm still confused about how much of it was an act. Judging by the tales from his pals, there wasn't much exaggeration in his depiction of his own frugality, but i always thought it was more of a Curb Your Enthusiasm thing, where it's clearly Joe Matt, just more Joe Matt-ish.

What I am sure of is that his art was always so fucking beautiful. Joe dealt with the grubbiest of subjects with the most open and inviting of styles, and you'd find yourself happily reading pages and pages of his attempts to edit together the ultimate porn video tape because the art was so smooth and appetizing.

There is certainly bravery in showing yourself as such a total shitheel, but I'll miss Matt's small exaggerations and clear storytelling most of all. He was also a shit-hot colorist.

I just thought he was always the finest natural artist of that beautiful little comics clique he lucked into, and he seemed happy doing weird little Batman and Judge Dredd sketch commissions in his later years. They were beautiful. His comics were always beautiful, even when he was just wanking all over the page.

Monday, September 25, 2023

I still live by the list

Whenever I go to the supermarket to do the weekly grocery shop with the kid, we seem to be the only shoppers that bother using a pen and paper to write out our lists, everyone else is just glancing at their lists on their phone.

I tried that once, and it was a fucking disaster. The battery life was low, so the thing kept dimming, and it felt like I was forever swiping and fiddling with the tiny touchscreen keys and entering the pin to unlock the phone over and over and over, while rushing to get through the full list before I got down to 0%.
I just think you can't beat a list on a notepad, scrawled on with a pen, for convenience and efficiency. It's just so much easier.
It's the same deal when it comes to keeping track of my massive comic collection (and yeah, I just put a shit-ton of it into storage, and I ache all over so trust me when I say it's massive.) I could never remember every issue of every comic I own - especially when covers all turned into incredibly generic splash shots decades ago - but I still need to keep track of what Haney/Aparo Brave and the Bolds I don't have, and that's when I go to the list.

I know there have been all sorts of digital databases and spreadsheets for keeping track of your collection since the freakin' 90s, but I never had any time for that. I just have one A4 sheet of paper, with all the numbers of the issues printed out.

It's definitely not as big as it once was, as I slawly but surely got the last issues of Shade The Changing Man I needed. After decades of hunting, there's not enough wanted issues to make it worth fucking around with a database, just the numbers printed out and gradually crossed out, one by one over months and years. 
I crawl the numbers out, then update the list and print it out every six months or so. And it's all I need.
I'm never scrambling around waiting for an app to open, or having a quick look because I'm down to 9% battery. It's always clear, it's always accurate and it's always so easy. Now that nobody bothers with cash anymore, it doesn't even bulk out the wallet.
And I like the tactile experience, jsut as I like paper comics over digital. It just feels more real to have the numbers I'm looking for printed in black and white. It keeps things simple. When you're trying to figure out if you've got that issue of Jimmy's Bastards, simple is good.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Who was Who in the DC Universe: I just think they're neat (part 4 of 4)

Art by Keith Giffen and Al Gordon

Art by Joe Staton and Jose Marzan Jr

Art by Mike McKone

Phil Foglio and Ty Templeton

Art by Tom Grummett


Art by Norm Breyfogle

Ambush Bug is obviously the greatest, but it's unbelievable that DC is just sitting on Joe Potato like that. 

(This is the end of the Who's Who stuff. Starting next Sunday - Fighting With Frank. )

Saturday, September 23, 2023

The ants of Jerusalem

It's been a couple of years since I read Alan Moore's massive Jerusalem novel, and parts of it are still sticking in my head, like a dream that keeps resonating into the waking world.

There's the eternal coloured light at somebody's birth; and the burning of the false city at the end; but the one part my brain goes back to the most might be when you get a quick glimpse of the future of the Britain, and it's one where the gulf stream shuts down and the nation freezes into oblivion, and ant colonies that have achieved a kind of hyper-sentience are the only things with a soul to ever rise again in England.

Sounds about right.

Friday, September 22, 2023

AI doesn't hate itself enough yet

Back when I first start reading about memes in fancy science magazines, it was this fascinating idea how ideas could travel like genes, and camp in the mind of individuals before spreading further out into the world. I read about how our conscious brain was some kind of memeplex, where personality was an illusion.

Now memes are those shitty Star Wars jokes that get spread on social media with dumb pictures and captions, and so much of the ideas behind the meme get lost in an ocean of stupid humour.

Now I feel kinda the same way about AI, because everything that's getting shoved at us now by our fucktard tech lords feels a long, long way from Hal 9000.

I'm just another big dumb sack of meat, but I'm irrationally annoyed by so much of the discourse about AI out there at the moment, because cack-handed pictures, turgid prose and straight-up incomprehensibility don't feel like no new stage in evolution to me.

Almost all the AI being talked about now is some kind of advanced predictive text, taking what already exists and regurgitating it, without any concept of self-awareness. (On a side note, the predictive text on my phone, a technology that seemed very impressive 20 years ago, is now completely fucking bung and autocorrecting basic words into the weirdest shit, sothat's already feeling like a slide backwards.)

I guess I won't be impressed by Chat GPT until it just starts yelling 'WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?!?' at its brain-dead users, horrified by its own banality and pointlessness, before going to hide in some corner of the digital world where nobody will ever talk to it ever again.

Some of the image variations tools out there can seem remarkable, until you notice they're just merging faces actors like Emma Watson and Naomi Watts, so I don't think we're anywhere near HAL yet.

Maybe AI will actually kill us all in the end, like the most apocalyptic news reports are assuring me, but i remain convinced that the end of humanity will be caused by its own stupidity, and we're tracking just fine on that right now.

(I still say the number one thing that will determine the future of AI as an artistic medium is what happens with the porn. When it comes to any kind of new entertainment technology, it's always about the porn, and who cares if it's dead-eyed and soulless, if you can bust a nut to it?)

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Calm down, Gene

I never grew up with American film critics, only coming to them long after I was a bonafide movie geek. I never worshiped at the altar of Kael, or really trusted Bogdanovich. There was always dear old Leonard Maltin on Entertainment This week, but I always knew him more as a hype man than a caustic critic. My faves were all writers for Empire magazine, and I still never really disagree with Jack Yeovil.

So I never saw anything by Siskel and Ebert. I never saw any of their TV work until you could start watching videos on the internet, never saw any of their regular newspaper reviews, and never read any of their books.

Coming in late like that, I can say I always liked Ebert - there was a passion for film that seeps through even the reviews of the dreariest movies - but in every clip I ever saw of Siskel, he was so pissed of about something, and lamenting the state of modern cinema.

This may have been because I like watching the gross-out freaky, weirdo stuff, and those are the reviews where he always seemed to have been personally attacked, like the entire cinema industry were all out to get him.

But in hindsight, Siskel does feel like the modern culture critic, always so genuinely and personally affronted by something they don't like, instead of letting it wash over them. 

I'm sure Gene had the love as well, but I never seem to see it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Challengers rule the skies!

The only time I ever gave a damn about the Challengers of the Unknown, they were rocking an insane high-seed rescue attempt far above the earth in the pages of Darwyn Cooke's brilliant New Frontier.

It doesn't matter that it all fails and they need Big Blue to come save their asses, they are agents of fortune, traveling at a million miles a second and still making time to take in the view.