Tuesday, August 31, 2021

That was Milo's Week

We live in the golden era of comic reprints, where the most obscure stuff from a century ago can get lavishly restored and republished, but there is still an ache for the things we can never have. Comics with complicated rights that never get untangled, or are so obscure nobody even remembers they exist any more.

And some things have such a specific audience that they'll never return a profit for anybody who ever published it. And if they ever put out a collection of the 'Milo's Week' comic strip by Dylan Horrocks, they'd probably sell one copy, and I would gladly be that one.

A lot of Horrocks comics have been reprinted, even a tonne of his incomplete work was reprinted in a book called Incomplete Works, but nobody is expecting any Milo's Week. It ran for a couple of years in the mid 90s in the Listener, a local TV listing magazine that somehow became a political juggernaut (and then got sucked into the mediocrity of baby boomer fears). 

In a rare moment of editorial adventurousness for that magazine, they paid Horrocks to do comics and they were sharp as fuck, while also being genuinely funny and mixing real-life politics with surreal slapstick - the invisible hand of the market comes in and fucks everything up for everyone, while a Mr Wallace Footroot makes an appearance

Horrocks talks a lot more about it here, and even with the abrupt way the strip ended, it's obvious there is still some fondness for the whole endeavor there.

But it's created for such a specific audience, for people who were politically aware at an exact point in New Zealand's government and dig comic strips overloaded with political satire. Hell, who knows. Maybe they'd sell three copies.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Getting into Jurassic Park

We're all staring at our own individual screens now, and that can make it hard to remember how much of a big freaking deal Jurassic Park was when it came out. Everyone in the world wanted to see it as soon as they could, and they wanted to see it at the movies.

They wanted to see Jurassic Park because everyone wanted to see the start of something new. The use of CGI to create animals that haven't walked the earth in tens of millions of years was genuinely mindblowing, highlighting a future where you could put literally anything you could think of onto a movie screen. It's a promise that remains weirdly unfulfilled - we're still waiting for the great CGI art film - but anything felt possible when this popcorn blockbuster bullshit screamed into the world in 1993.

I've only seen that kind of mass culture fascination happen a few times, and it's usually Star Wars related, and it often sours as expectation overwhelms reality. But sometimes there is a piece of culture that isn't just for the nerds, it's a big fucking deal for everybody, and Jurassic Park was it.

Me and my mates were 18 when it hit theatres, visiting friends at university, and every Saturday night screening in Dunedin was sold out by early Saturday afternoon. You couldn't get a ticket anywhere.

We only just got into that sold-out screening at 10.45am in the Sunday morning, and the single screen cinema was absolutely packed. (And after the last year, even just the thought of that, of being in a huge crowd in a cinema is both anxious and incredibly alluring. We'll get back to that place one day.)

Fortunately, Steven Spielberg is really fucking good at what he does, and Jurassic park paid off bigtime. There was a woman in the row in front of me who had the most nineties hat on that you could possible imagine, and I still remember how she nearly jumped through the damn roof when the raptors came calling.

And everyone else would have followed her, because everyone was into it. If there is one thing I've missed and craved over the past 18 months is that sense of community, of being part of a large group all feeling the same thing at the same time.

It wasn't a life-changing experience or anything, but it was a bloody good way to spend a hungover Sunday morning and walking out of that cinema into the bright afternoon, it really did feel like anything was possible.

Unfortunately, what we got was a bunch of Transformer movies. Even the cinema didn't last - it was torn down a few months after it shuddered to the roar of a T-Rex, but they fucked up the demolition, and couldn't build on it, so turned it into a pointless carpark that nobody ever needed in that part of town. 

This is not the future Jurassic Park promised, but at least we all shared the same dream, for a little while.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Tremors: The wrong goddamn rec room

I don't know, man. The bit in Tremors - 1.30 into this clip - where they pan to the wall full of weapons in the cellar is a moment of cinema that would have made fuckin' Hitchcock weep.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

The wisdom of Tony Curtis

Somewhere, sometime in the 90s, the immortal Tony Curtis is giving an interview with a movie magazine, and the veteran actor, who worked with some of the great performers and directors of the late 20th century, is asked for his philosophy on life. He comes back with the phrase:

"Fuck 'em, fed 'em fish."

I've seen Tony Curtis pop up in a lot of old movies since then, and there are some fine performances in there. But after reading this quote in an Empire magazine long ago, none of those performances have taken as much real estate in my head as that phrase has.

Friday, August 27, 2021

The worst movie ever made

It still irritates the shit out of me when anyone say the new Saw movie or Transformer film or something like that is the worst film ever. I'm not saying they are any good - they probably stink - I'm just saying they can't be the worst movie when there is Curse of the Cannibal Confederates out there, stinking up the cinematic world.

Even at an age when I was about all things zombie, and could even find plenty of nice things to say about a unmitigated piece of shit like Zombie Creeping Flesh, Cannibal Confederates was just intolerable and the only zombie film I couldn't actually finish. 

Is this latest cinematic abomination in focus? Is it more than the world's most boring people stumbling around in the dark? Then it's fucking better than Curse of the Cannibal Confederates. I'm still angry about the half hour of my life that I wasted on it.

Forget Plan 9, which has its own awkward charms. This has been my Worst Movie Ever Made since I saw it in 1991, and there's no reason it's not going to be knocked off that perch anytime soon.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Ask the Answer Algorithm

I haven't really interacted with the local Facebook groups that have a focus on comics, because, well, fuck Facebook, (although the fact that they're often full of a lot of people who get very excited about Carnage comics probably doesn't help).

But I do get a kick out of checking in on them every now and then for a slightly weird reason - they remind me a lot of the 'Ask The Answer Man' segments that ran in DC comics 40-something years ago. 

Bob Rozakis used to do this column on the DC hype page, and the questions were what you usually expect, with Bob fielding a lot of questions about the first appearance of the Royal Flush Gang or what jewel kryptonite does to Superman.

But my favourite part in these columns, in these ancient comics, is the little dude who excitedly writes in to ask what Steel #3 is worth, and gets told it's worth about 25c. There's obviously no reply to the answer, but it's so easy to imagine the heartbreak on the other end, where the kid finds out the comic he'd swapped with his big brother for half a dozen candy bars wasn't a high value collectors item like he'd been promised.

Absolutely nobody has learned absolutely anything in all the years since, because that desperation is still there today in those Facebook groups, with people hoping the ragged ass copy of Marvel Premiere #14 is worth something, even though it looks like it's been used as Jabba The Hutt's sweat rag, and then they get told it's worth $1.

Every so often, someone actually has something worth something, and is rightly chuffed. But that's always a rarity, and the answer is almost always a disappointment. It's absolutely glorious.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Was Kenneth Smith legit?

After recently reading old issues of The Comic Journal and soaking up the details of decades-old feuds that mean jack shit to anybody now, I'm struck by a familiar issue - I still can not figure out if Kenneth Smith was a legitimate and sincere writer of columns about the human condition, or just some mad joke that Gary Groth was playing on everybody. 

I've read almost every word of those magazines, including many about comics that I have no interest in reading, and I truly tried to read some of Smith's incredibly verbose articles about modern society and philosophy, but never made it more than a paragraph or two before completely losing what he is on about.

I know he's a real person who has done some stunning fantasy art, but was his column a joke? Was it just the biggest and most ambitious troll of its time? Was Smith trying to explain his ideas in the most idiosyncratic form possible, just to annoy anybody who actually tried to read them? Do they make sense?

Fuck knows, but it's so much more fun to wonder about than actually trying to read the fucking things.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Lovers Rock: Words are never enough

Words can not always be trusted in the films of Steve McQueen. His movies always have lyrical voices, and despite some fucking impressive monologues, the truth is rarely in the vocal words people say to each other.

Words don't always get across what you're trying to say. They can be full of lies. They can be used to harm and oppress you under the full farce of the law.

All of the recent Small Axe films are exceptional in their own way, with entire stories hinging on pained, knowing looks instead of the usual loud outbursts, but the all-night party in Lovers Rock is working with a different kind of vocabulary altogether.

There is still a lot of talking and posturing and flirting in the film, but it's the dancing that tells the real story, that strips these beautiful people bare and shows them for what they truly are - full of life and love and everything.

Whether it's the moment when the sound system crew drop out the tune and everyone sings along in communal joy, or when the men get gloriously feral to a thick, thick beat, that's their higher selves coming through. There are no lies on this dance floor, only truth.

Pictures can tell a thousand words, which means you're getting 24,000 words a second in some films. That's worth dancing to, especially if the bass is this good.

Monday, August 23, 2021

The Thor crossover that broke me

It was a good year, just after I left school and started making money in my first job, that I'd get every single superhero comic I could get my hands on. This was the early 90s, and there was no comic shop for miles and miles, so I would take what I could get.  

Whatever showed up on the shelves of the corner dairies and bookshops. It didn't matter if they were deeply average DeFalco/Ryan Fantastic Four comics, or Dan Jurgens Justice League, I got the lot.

And then I got a car and out of the area, and could get lots of comics from lots of different places, and I could get picky. I was also right at the age to fall hard for independent and alternative comics, and suddenly it didn't feel like I had to get every single issue of the post-Crisis Superman books after all.

And then there was this one Silver Surfer comic, and it just fuckin' broke me, and it was right then that I gave up almost every regular superhero comic I was getting..

I'd been getting the title for a couple of years, enamored by the endlessly shining arse of Ron Lim's Norrin Rad, but that was the last new Silver Surfer comic I ever bought. I don't know what it was about that one, I don't know why it stuck in my mind, but I still have that disappointment that I spent $3.95 in 1992 money on this shit

I can't remember a single thing about the actual comic, it was so forgettable. Some sort of crossover with Thor at his most mediocre. I do remember there was no Ron Lim art on the inside, just that teasing cover, but I couldn't tell you a single other thing about this issue.

I'm not a monster, I didn't give up on superheroes altogether. I just only get one or two at a time now, I'm not trying to get 60 a month. I never came close to getting that much, but there was a while there where I would get anything, and really try to get anything I could.

It didn't last forever, but nothing does, let alone Thor crossovers.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

This taste pallet is not as refined as I think

I always tell myself that I don't dig food that is too spicy or full of crazy flavour because I've got a refined palette, and eating the most basic food is such a sensuous experience, and that the real flavour lies in the proper use of restraint.

But I think I'm just a fussy little fucker who doesn't like a lot of shit. Maybe I'm just that basic.

Not all blog posts have a moral. This is one of them.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

How to read Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

It would be easy to assume Tarantino's book version of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood would be unreadable nonsense - it's the screenwriter's first serious attempt at a novel, and he's never made any secret that he struggles with things like spelling and grammar.

But the novel - which may or may not have had some heavy duty editing work done to it - is a cracking read. Like his movies, it meanders all over the show, but that's all part of the charm. It's incredibly earnest and funny and mean (although reading it straight after the latest James Ellroy does leave Tarantino's meanness looking a bit small and puny), and I'd definitely read a straight Western novel by the dude.

And Tarantino has the best ear for uncanny dialogue on the planet, which comes especially handy for almost all the Cliff and Rick parts. Because you can straight up hear Kurt Russell's voice narrating those sections, with all the weird digressions, familiarity and comfort of the spoken word.

It lacks the endless sadness that the end of the movie comes with, but it's not making any attempt to make that kind of emotional connection, it's going for different emotions altogether.

Friday, August 20, 2021

A chance to sort (and director disappointment)

Our landlord put a heat pump in our living room, which makes it a lot more liveable. We live in a tiny house, but it's the middle of fuckin' winter here, and there are twice as many babies in the house now, so we need some goddamn heat.

While it only took them a couple of hours to set it up, it also took me many more hours to empty the bookcases around the area where the new heater was going in. There were books and DVDs everywhere, and once the hot air started flowing, I had to strap the new kid into the frontpack, and sort it all out.

This is not a complaint. Sorting out my bookshelves is the most zen I ever get. I never, ever get tired of doing it, and am never, ever completely satisfied. It's a job that never ends.

I've got a few hundred DVDs which I'm holding onto in the age of streaming because I don't trust those fuckers who hold the rights one little bit, and I think a bookcase full of them is more interesting that empty space. 

They're a bit more under control, a lot have been boxed up into storage, leaving the best couple of hundred. And they've been in alphabetical order ever since it all got a bit out of control in the mid 2000s - apart from one lamentable and short-termed attempt to colour code things - but this time I decided to get clever and organise them all by director.

Which was all well and good until I discovered that I had no idea who directed a lot of my favourite films, and I spent a lot of time trying to read the tiny credits on the back of the DVD.

Most of the collection is devoted to all the usual suspects - there are a lot of Tarantino and Coen and Jarmusch and Meadows films and it's always obvious, but then I get to things like Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires or Zulu or Sister Streetfighter and I have no fucking idea who directed them. The name almost always rings a bell when I look it up, but recalling them cold off the top of my head is impossible.

This created some deep disappointment in myself. If I couldn't keep up with the basic facts of the films I genuinely considered some of my favourites, what sort of movie person am I anyway?

I could argue that it's nice that I lose myself in the movie, and don't buy into any bullshit auteur theory, but that's just an excuse for a shitty memory. It might be that none of us retain this information anymore, because we can just look it all up on our phones, but that doesn't cancel out the sheer disrespect to the directing craft.

Still, I got there after a while and they're all loaded up on the shelves again, by director (in alphabetical order from Aldrich to Zwigoff). Maybe that'll help me remember poor Kazuhiko Yamaguchi next time.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Monsters in the night

Reading Barry Windsor-Smith's gigantic Monsters comic in one go at 3am in the morning is a very, very thick experience. I heartily recommend to everybody. 

Other people who are much smarter than me might say that it's such a dense book, packed full of sharp art and detailed story, that it requires serious attention. The creator himself says you'd be out of your mind to read it all in one go, because there is no way to absorb everything it's trying to tell you.

But with a dense slab of complicated comic, sometimes you just wanna bite the fucking bullet, man. Get into it.

It certainly makes it easier to deal with the jarring changes of tone as Windsor-Smith came back and forth on the project over the many, many years. You can see the marks where he wiped out Hulk references while keeping the skeleton of the story intact, and his entire style goes through some fairly significant evolution when he's off on some massive digression from the main plot, so that when he comes back to it, it's easier to work out who is who. 

So you miss a lot of the details by taking it all on in one go, but that doesn't mean the basic structure of the story isn't easy enough to follow. The book highlights mood over events and a lot of it isn't that surprising - the Nazis are once again the baddest fucks of all time, although the main Nazi fuck in this book is a particularly calculating individual.

I am certain that it will reward coming back to it, in a year or so, but just to have consumed such a huge book - in ever sense of the word - in one go feels something like an accomplishment. Nothing like the thirty-something years Windsor-Smith put into this book, but we can't all be mad mod artist gods.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

You know the rules, and so do I

It's been going for years and years, and I still think getting rick-rolled is the funniest thing ever. The second when you wonder why you've ended up at a music video, and then realise it's THAT video, and oh fuck they got you again.

I got rick-rolled last week by a particularly clever one, which I can't point to because I don't want to ruin it for anybody. But it was proper clever and I respected it so much I listened to the whole fucking thing.

God knows, I've felt like the world's biggest fool more than once, but getting tricked into Rick Astley is the best kind of humiliation. Harmless and always, always funny. I even got it into a resignation letter at one of my favourite jobs, because there is no time when it's not appropriate. We know the game, and we'er gonna play it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Still living my life to a Love and Rockets beat


The last issue of Love and Rockets was a particular stunner, and so goddamn moving that I had to write 3000 more words about how good it is, just to get it out of my system.

It's just been published on the Neotext website after being given a proper and thorough edit by the site's most excellent culture editor-at-large Chloe Maveal, and you can read it here.

I'll never stop writing about how good Jaime Hernandez's comics are, because they will never stop being good.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Nerding the kid

The two kids don't stand a chance, not with a dad like me. Of course they're going to be complete dorks. It's in the genes. And even without that, I'm still going to give them a lifetime of opportunities to get their geek on.

There have already been small touches - the oldest, who turns two today, has already outgrown her first Spider-Man t-shirt, but still has a weird obsession with the foot-tall plastic Batman that's been standing for justice in my bedroom for the past decade. My pal Nik gave her a plastic Superman, who may have gained more affection lately, but Bruce Wayne will always be her first choice.

She's got her own books and can read what she wants. But if she ever wants to read any kind of comic, I've got something to share with her. She literally tore into the first comics I ever got her, which might seem painful to some comic nerds, but I consider it a Very Good Start.

 And if she doesn't read any of my stuff, I'm more than cool with that. Let her find her own way. As long as she's passionate about something,  I don't care what it is. Some cartoon that hasn't been invented yet. Riding ponies. Coronation Street. It doesn't matter as long as she cares about something. (As long as it's not, y'know, putting out cigarettes on cats or something. That would be unfortunate.)

Because a life when you don't get excited about the dumbest shit is a life hardly worth living, and I want to give the kids the best life that they can get.

The youngest is only two and a bit months old, and has just got the hang of focusing on single objects at a time. I don't know if he's a Batman baby or a Superman baby. We'll find out.

Happy birthday Evie! Sorry your dad is such a dork. 

Sunday, August 15, 2021

And even with medical advances, there's no end in sight

My mate Chris thinks I'm mad for the way I collect music, but I know it works, because the first time I ever listen to a Throbbing Gristle tune I think it's impenetrable drone waffle that nobody could ever possibly like.

By the sixth time, I've listened to it, it's fucking genius. Happens every time.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

Jupiter's Legacy: Just look at this fucking thing

 I only started getting the Jupiter Legacy comics for the Frank Quitely artwork, so I really wasn't sure if I'd bother with the new series, where the artist is relegated to covers. But I'm glad I did, because holy fucking shitballs, Tommy Lee Edwards' art is so goddamn beautiful.

Edwards has always been an absolute rock-solid artist, with his heavy line complementing some subtly kinetic action, but his work in the final part of Mark Millar's super-generational saga is just outstanding - powerful and direct and fluorescent. There are quietly breath-taking landscapes and exploding entrails, and moments of quiet humanity amongst the carnage. No superhero comic on the stands right now looks as good as this.

I don't give a damn about the story, although it seems to be getting into some pleasently mean super-nonsense. All these super-assholes can tear each other apart in strenuously despicable ways, and I'll eat it up, because they way it's being laid out on the page is a total joy.

I haven't seen a single minute of the TV show, because where's the fucking art in that?

Friday, August 13, 2021

Apocalypse soon-ish

The vast majority of fiction movies can't do actual harm to the world, because they're frivolous and stupid, and that's fine - that's what they are there for, to keep us entertained in a dark and cold universe. You will get things like Birth of a Nation, which popularized the KKK to an appalling extent, and ideologically unsound movies like the Mondo films and their gore porn, but I've never really believed that there are entire genres of films that are bad for you. 

After all, they kept fucking telling me all those 1980s horror films would rot my mind, but I turned out mostly harmless.

But there is still the horrible sensation that maybe - just maybe - apocalypse films really have done us harm, here in reality. That the fears and perceptions of the end of the world is having an impact on the actual real world.

While my fire for the living dead has died down under the staggering weight of rotting flesh in recent years, I've always fucking loved a good zombie holocaust - the original Dawn of the Dead is still a stone-cold entry in the top five films ever for me - or a plague film, or some nuclear armageddon, or a good asteroid from space film, or the guzzaline-fuelled breakdown of Mad Max. Movies where all the rules of modern society break down and it's an absolute free for all.

And generations of viewers just like me have happily watched these films, smugly certain that they live in a world of civilization and rules, and that their neighbourhood could never fall to anarchy like that.

But these films also taught us the erroneous lesson that the apocalypse comes in a panic, and everything collapses in a sudden rush, when it's the slow burn that gets us, and everybody on the planet has seen that in the past year. The big events of human history seem fast in retrospect, but civilisation crumbles around the edges before breaking apart and the people living in the centre of it often don't see the end coming because everything is fine for them.

This year has also proven that we're completely useless at following some simple fucking guidelines, even when lives are actually at stake. The fuckwits who complain about wearing a goddamn mask are the same fuckwits who think how cool it will be to go all Zombieland in the apocalypse, when they're just going to be more meat for Woody Harrelson to bury his axe in.

We're completely unprepared for the apocalypse, because too many shitheads have bought into their own myths, and actually want to live in a world full of warboys and ghouls, but these dreams are as substantial as a fart. And because when it finally reaches that point of no return, there's a good chance we won't see it coming, because it doesn't come in a dramatic beat.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Just a dick

At first I thought he was a complete cock, because 18 months after slagging off X-books with undisguised glee in multiple British magazines about comics, the writer was crafting bog-standard mutant mayhem in Excalibur, sucking up that Marvel money with even more relish. 

Then I thought that the cynical Stalin thing and the tough-talking, hard-drinking, chain-smoking shit was just a stupid act, and he was actually a big softie at heart, because I'd read those bits in Planetary where the next generation of Batman uses tactical compassion, or the bit where the Doc Savage dude appeals to the humanity of the Fu Manchu dude, and that seemed more truthful than the public persona.

Than, it the past year or so, it turns out he really was just a cock after all. 

I still fucking love Planetary, and the Authority and NextWave and that Supreme thing he did, and still find the traces of optimism in those works endlessly rewarding, but it's always going to be hard to separate the works from the cock who wrote them.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Ultimate Tarzan!

The best Tarzan isn't the one that we always get in endless reboots, jumping on an elephant's back and yodeling like a loon, taking down greedy and sadistic men with surprising viciousness.

The best Tarzan is the one that Philip Jose Farmer takes to the natural endpoint, where Tarzan is some kind of immortal time traveling jungle god,  his animal growls reverberating across deep time, hyped up on super science and red meat and living forever as a pure creature of power. He's last seen heading off in a space yacht into the great expanse of the universe with Jane, and will probably still be there at the end of time.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Find the girl, while you can

The British music magazine Mojo still sticks a CD on the cover like it's 1999 or something, but god bless them, because that's where I get so much of my music. A lot of the time it's a bunch of random new stuff, and sometimes it goes digging in deep time for some forgotten tunes, and sometimes it's a full CD of covers of the work of a single great band or artist, by all sorts of musicians.

Some of these are an absolute dream, and one recent one featured a bunch of songs by The Cure, which was a lot of fun. The brilliance of the Cure's songs were always built on Robert Smith's ability to never be constrained to one type of sound for too long, swinging wildly from joyful power pop to utter existential despair with ease. Beneath the big hair, the songwriting is always inventive and pulsating with life.

(I recently found my cassette tape of the Mixed Up album that I got for my school cert exams, and it still fuckin' rocks.)

So this latest Mojo CD features 15 covers of Cure songs, and as enjoyable as I find these long, slow interpretations, I have no doubt that people who make movie trailers will be creaming their pants when they hear these songs.

It's become an obvious cliche that the genuises behind the modern movie trailer love a slow, sad cover version of a pop hit. You get the buzz of recognition and the scent of the new, all in one go. And this Mojo CD is full of them.

The lovely wife and I have a bet on which song from the CD that we're going to hear first on a major film trailer. She reckons it could be the version of Love Song by the mighty A A Williams:

While I'm more partial to A Forest by 8:58, because it starts with that haunting hook before building to an intense climax (plus, if there is one thing movie trailer editors like more than a sad cover song, it's being absolutely literal about things, and there are lots of films with trees in them) -

But it'll probably be the incandescent Phoebe Bridgers, with her 'Friday I'm In Love', because she's huge, and it's probably the band's best known tune -

There are also safe bets with regular trailer folk like Mark Lanegan and Cowboy Junkies and Dinosaur Jr. It's inevitable that one of them will show up soon, I just want the bragging rights of picking it first.

Monday, August 9, 2021

All the reading in the world

Even with two kids under two in the house, there is still a lot of time for some reading. When the youngest will only chill out by lying on an adult, you just have to sit there and not move for hours at a time, and you can only watch so many movies, so it's time to tear through some books.

There's always at least half a dozen long-term reading projects going on, and they're all in various stages of completion. I'm baffled by people who only ever read one book at a time, I've always got a few and switch between them. Life is too short to be reading just one thing.

There's always some big comic thing that I'm getting through, I've just finished off a big re-read of the past 10 years of Love and Rockets comics, and smashed the 50 issues of the Jack of Fables spin-off in a day and a half. I really shouldn't have started the re-read of the past 20 years of 2000ad comics, but there is also no rush for all that, not when there is a small pile of Star Trek Next Generation comics that I got at my last kilo sale that I need to get through first.

I've also been churning through lots of comic books from the library, like the Future State Batman stuff (which had a terrific four-issue story from John Ridley that had a strong and simple set-up that was instantly and fatally undermined by the 1000 other pages of comics that surrounded it) and some Acts of Vengeance cooks and Barry Windsor Smith's Monsters and Death Metal and Tardi's books about his dad's POW experiences in WW2. Some of these books were better than others.

In books without pictures, I recently finished both James Ellroy and Quentin Tarantino's books about how fucked up LA was in the past, and were both fun in their own sick, twisted ways. My long-term goal of reading all of the Doctor Who New Advantures book from the 90s has stalled for a few months, so I gotta crack on with that, but I haven't got a single page into the latest go at Lance Parkin's aHistory in a year, so that's unlikely to

My one-person book club has gone on hiatus, because I just want some comfort reading in the night. I might get a few more pages into that overall history of World War 1, or the book by Nat the bogan cook. Maybe I'll smash through the Ann Dracula books for laffs. It's been a few years.

There's so much to read in the world, so many stories to get stuck into, and I can only read so much at at time, before that short life is over. But I'm trying. Lord, I'm tryin'.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

This is my life again: Arms like Litos

And sometimes the kid just waves around these tiny and perfect fists, looking like he wants to sock the world in the goddamn jaw. Wildly waving his arms about is super fucking cute, and all I can think of it Litos in Death of Speedy, with too much energy for those hands. I bet the kid will look great in an eye-patch.

Saturday, August 7, 2021

This is my life again: Parenting tips from Preacher

Nobody really knows how to parent and we all make it up as we go along, but I've been basing a good 95 percent of my parenting style on these two panels of Preacher, and that seems to be working out okay so far.

Friday, August 6, 2021

This is my life again: Appalled in the back seat

One of the very first films I watched in the dead of night with the new kid was the recent Les Miserables movie, which has way more to do with La Haine than Victor Hugo. It's a fairly punchy film that doesn't resort to easy answers.

And I absolutely loved Damien Bonnard in the back of the car, as the new cop riding along with an urban tactical unit for the first day on the daily patrols, google-eyed in horror at the shit he has to witness and can do nothing about.

It's an eminently watchable performance, which really makes you feel for the guy, especially when he is thrust into increasingly impossible situations.

And I see it on the new kid. This appalled silence, looking at things happening that he doesn't understand, but knows on very level is wrong and unacceptable, and unable to say jack shit about it.

I think I have a total actor crush on Damien Bonnard now, which is always a bit weird. I'll watch him in anything from here on out.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

This is my life again: That's who he looks like

I swear, sometimes the new kid looks like Dave Bautista, (specifically the tiny glasses Bautista from the start of Blade Runner 2049); and sometimes he looks just Wallace Shawn (specifically when he's looking totally smug and about to die in the Princess Bride), and sometimes, just sometimes, he looks the baby from Braindead (specifically when he's on the loose in the playground).

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

This is my life again: Lost in time and lost in space, and meaning

New children love it when you sing to them, probably because of the vibrations or some shit. But the only lyrics I can ever remember in my sleep-deprived and generally exhausted brain are the Rocky Horror ones. Just like last time.

It could be worse.

Whatever works, man.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

This is my life again: What to read at the start

Our new baby was coming on a very specific day, so I put an extraordinary amount of effort to find something to read. I forgot about the nights of endless TV, but I hadn't forgot how much sitting around in small rooms while the new baby rests there is. So I needed something for the first few days - something fun and substantial.

There was a Dicks book by Ennis and McCrea that I've had my eye on for a while, which seemed like a bad idea on so many levels, and all the latest superhero comics looked dumb and mean, so they were right out.

I'm all about the signs and portents, everything has huge meaning when you're going through big life changes, even the shit you read while the baby is busy getting its first feeds in, and you're just waiting for the nurse to tell you when you can go to the next room.

I eventually went for an issue of the Jack Kirby Collector, and that worked out very nicely indeed, because it was substantial and beautiful. And it can't hurt to have the spark of creativity and vitality that Kirby had in the room when someone new is coming into the world.

Monday, August 2, 2021

This is my life again: The Pink Panther at 3am

It's been a couple of years since there was a newborn in the house, so I'd totally forgot how many hours you spend watching TV in the dead of night at minimum volume, watching anything to stay awake while the new human sleeps on your chest, because he bloody well won't sleep anywhere else.

With the first child, we watched all of Breaking Bad together, which I'm certain will not have a detrimental effect on my little girl. Since the second kid came along at the start of June, it's been movies. Lots and lots of movies.

I've averaged two a day/night in the past six weeks and I'll watch bloody anything - On the Waterfront and The King of Staten Island and Dragged Across Concrete and Stories We Tell and Shaun The Sheep and California Split and John Carpenter's Starman.

Some of them have been very good - Spontaneous was much funnier than it sounds and raised massively disturbing existential questions, while also being the tensest goddamn thing. And I only watched The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea because a copy of the book has been sitting on a colleague's desk for months, and I was 100% not prepared for where that film went.

But then I'll spend hours watching silly old comedies like the first Pink Panther film, and the exquisitely mean Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Penny Points to Paradise, the first proper film the Goons ever did. And I'd never seen Bowfinger before, which was a pity, because Eddie Murphy's performances in that thing are eternally funny.

I also dig European movies about miserable people, because you really have to pay attention - I have to put in a lot of brainpower to follow things like The Whistlers; Leviathan; A White White Day; and Cold War, and that keeps us all conscious.

And some are them are just great mindless shit, like that Zohan film Adam Sandler did, or The Last Dragon, which I hadn't seen since I was 12, even though I have been walking around saying 'Hey my man, what it look like?' with disturbing regularity.

Whatever gets you through the night. Whatever works. I just gotta stop accidentally watching so many fucking Mel Gibson films. That never works out for anybody, and the new guy might not care, but he probably doesn't need those Gibson vibes.