Something for the Weakened

Archive for July, 2006

Perkifier

July 31st, 2006 by

I’ve spent most of the past couple of days slowly spiralling through various cycles of misery (as is my habit) and I was going to bore you all by whingeing on about that. Mercifully a couple of things have amused and cheered me on my way since then, so instead I shall share those with the group. First up, I remember hearing someone mention the fact that all church bells always seem to play the same tune, no ,atter where in the country you hear them on a Sunday morning. I took this to be nonsense – I mean, the varying numbers of bells and pitches alone should make enough of a difference. Thing is though, I’ve been listening to Bells on Sunday as I believe it’s called for the past few weeks. I realise that the majority of you are unlikely to have listened to it, it lasting barely a minute on Radio 4 at a quarter to one in the morning (life? What on Earth gave you the impression I had a life?), but don’t worry. I’ve done the work for you. And, yes, it’s exactly the same tune every week. Without fail. Before the ringing there’s a description of the bells, and you can tell by slight differences in the recordings that they are different bells, but the tune – identical. Well, it amused me.

The other thing was while listening to the news I found that I was singing the following ditty to myself:

“The Lebanon, do-doo-ddo-do,”

“The Lebanon, do-ddo-do,”

“The Lebanon, do-doo-ddo-do, ddo-do, ddo-do, ddo-ddo, do-do-ddo-doo.”

Was that wrong of me?

The Power Of Cryer Compels Me!

July 27th, 2006 by

Jesuit – Christ tag.

Evil Postie

July 25th, 2006 by

Not sure that I trust my postman any more. I’ve been expecting a letter for over a week or more now, which admittedly was held up in a postal strike (which I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he organised), but as far as I can tell that’s been over for a week or more. It all seems a little sinister to me, I don’t mind telling you. And he’s stopped dropping the rubber bands. Bet he’s stock piling them for some nefarious deed in the near future. If parliament is crushed by a giant elastic ball, don’t say that I didn’t warn you . . .

Chin Zano

July 25th, 2006 by

Hello my little brown eyed angles. No, it’s not a spelling mistake – I imagine you all to be at forty five degrees as I type this. It’s been an unusually frantic weekend and a bit, hence the lack of updating for which I apologise in my usual hollow fashion. I was going to inform you all of what I’ve learnt since then, but when I started actually writing it down it began to sound incredibly tedious. What I will say is; try to avoid having small flying beasties chewing on your chin – you’ll wind up looking like Judge Dredd. And a Carlos Ezquerra one at that – not even a Bolland. I know you don’t understand, but frankly I don’t care. You’ve got an internet. Look it up if you’re that bothered. Blimey, I don’t know why I bother sometimes, really I don’t.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, George and Carlos

July 18th, 2006 by

are the prophets who have been buzzing around my head for days. Had to get them out somewhere and here seemed as good a place as any. That is all.

“Will that be a single or a double?”

July 17th, 2006 by

There have been half a dozen people here on work experience for the last week or so. They are all girls. They are all about sixteen. They are all blonde. They all wear cumbersome pearl necklaces. It’s as if I’ve died and gone to entendre heaven.

Pre-Empting Lost Girls

July 16th, 2006 by

Being a companion piece to A History of Collecting.

The not terribly observant amongst you will probably have noticed that I have something of a passion for comics. Equally inobservant regular readers will probably have spotted my interest in pornography too. I can’t deny either, much as I’d like too at times. I’ve invested a lot of time in both and money in one (you can probably guess which). Occasionally the two will over lap, though rarely these days. I’ve not bought an issue of Heavy Metal in over five years since it devolved from an intriguing blend of translated European science fiction into poorly censored reprints of hardcore French bandes desinee. I forget whether it was the poor censorship (mainly obviously positioned speech bubbles over anything that would offend Canadian customs officials – it would have been UK ones too, but the laws had loosened somewhat by then, but I’m getting ahead of myself) or my reading tastes becoming more high brow that stopped me buying it, though suspect it was probably a mixture of the two. It was primarily one man who forced my reading expectations higher. That man was, of course, Alan Moore.

When and if I resurrect A History of Collecting (you thought it was hard to read – writing it was becoming pretty hard going!) I have every intention of devoting at least a whole column to the man’s twisted genius, but for those of you unfortunate enough to have never read any of his work a quick summation. Those of you with a clue may skip to the next paragraph. Northampton born and based, Moore rose to prominence in the comics world during the mid eighties. Though he had been working on newspaper strips, undergrounds and for national music magazines, it was his work in the anthologies 2000AD and Warrior that finally led to him getting wider attention. Strips such as Halo Jones, Marvel (later Miracle, but that’s a whole other can of worms) Man, V For Vendetta and D.R. & Quinch pushed for a more mature storytelling style that hadn’t really been seen before on this countries newsstands. This eventually led to Moore’s being headhunted by American publishers Eclipse, an independent who finished Miracle (as it was by then) Man following Moore’s severing ties with Warrior and it’s subsequent collapse, and DC, publisher of Batman, Superman and one of the big two in the American business (Moore had severed ties with Marvel after they reprinted a Star Wars story he had written for them without his permission). There he breathed new life into their flagging Swamp Thing title, finished V For Vendetta and created what many believe to be his opus, Watchmen. Shortly after that came out, Moore severed ties with DC for adding the phrase ‘Suggested for Mature Readers’ to the covers of his final issues of Swamp Thing, considering it to be little more than a form of censorship. At the turn of the nineties Moore briefly attempted self publishing with his Mad Love imprint, producing two issues of the ill fated Big Numbers before it folded. At the same time he began work on two projects for the anthology Taboo, published by Steve Bissette’s Spider Baby Graphix. The first of these was From Hell, considered by many others to be Moore’s true opus, a densely plotted dissection of the Jack the Ripper story which was made into a film that barely resembled it. The other story was Lost Girls, which we’ll get to shortly. Moore eventually severed ties with Bissette, for reasons that escape me, so From Hell’s episodes were published by Tundra (until it went spectacularly bust), Kitchen Sink (until it went less spectacularly bust), with the collected edition eventually coming out from it’s artists own self publishing venture Eddie Campbell Comics and from Knockabout Books in Britain. In the late nineties Moore returned to the superhero world, working for Image on various not very good titles. The relationship bore readable fruit when one of Image’s co-founders, Jim Lee, offered Moore his own line of titles to create himself and write. Moore accepted, just as Lee sold his stake of the company to DC, who he’d vowed never to work for again. Promised that DC wouldn’t interfere with his world, Moore accepted the deal and went onto create splendid series such as Promethea and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – again, made into a shit film with no bearing on the original. Moore worked on the line up until earlier this year when at the age of fifty he announced his retirement from the comics world (on his fortieth birthday he declared himself to be a wizard). And also because DC had interfered with his world, both with the comics and by attributing quotes to him relating to the rather poor film version of V For Vendetta. And breathe out.

Now this year, Lost Girls is finally published in it’s completed form. This might cause some controversy for a number of reasons. The first amongst these is that it is unreservedly pornography. Moore and his wife to be, Melinda Gebbie, have both stated as much since the projects inception over a decade ago. Having bought the first few chapters when it was originally serialized in Taboo and in the short lived series from Kitchen Sink, I can only concur. Those chapters are extremely explicit in the ‘activities’ they depict and from what I’ve read about from those who have seen advance copies, it becomes more and more so as the story progresses. But that’s where it differs from almost all pornography that has come before it. It has a story. It’s not just concerned with steamy action, but touches on war (it’s set just before the outbreak of the First World War), art (the actual opening of an opera is apparently a thematic lynch pin to the books later chapters) and supposedly acts as a world history of pornography also (Moore’s ability to pastiche certain styles of writing is well renowned). It’s not just a cursory “Alright love, I’m here to fix the boiler,” from a randy plumber, but instead actual characters with identities and back stories. It is these back stories that might prove to be another of the problems the book faces.

The book focuses on three women, the Lost Girls of the title, Alice, Dorothy and Wendy. Fairly ordinary names, except when it’s revealed that Alice spent some time in Wonderland, Dorothy had a dog called Toto and Wendy was chums with a flying boy named Peter. Moore has taken their ages from the original publication dates of their respective tales and extrapolated those to give the characters as they are in his story, leaving Alice quite aged with Dorothy just entering her twenties. This is similair to the trick Moore executed with the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen – using characters whose copyrights have long since expired in new and interesting ways. Which is fine worldwide for what he’s doing here, except in Britain. When J M Barrie died, he bequeathed the rights for Peter Pan to Great Ormond Street Hospital who, possibly because of their charitable status (I’m afraid I’ve forgotten these particular details), are still entitled to have their say as to what is done with the characters contained within the story. Whether this includes pastiches of the characters remains to be seen. There might be an awful lot of trouble trying to get copies into the country to begin with.

Lost Girls is being published by Top Shelf, an American publisher who deal almost solely with creators doing their own works without editorial constraint – the main attractor for Moore, one would think. The completed work now runs to something between six and eight hundred pages (again, specifics escape my memory) and is being printed in three full colour, hardcovers in a single slipcase, costing around fifty quid. As a high quality art item, it should make for a sumptuous package, but as I say, that’s if it makes it into this country. The problem lies with Moore’s desire to explore all facets of sexuality, including those experienced by those below the age of consent. Rich Johnston has already raised the possibility of Daily Mail banner headlines screaming ‘Paedo Pan’ to an unsuspecting public and I can’t help but fear that such a thing could be not too far off. Issues of Taboo were stopped by customs in the past, and were confiscated from raided comic shops in the bad old days of the early nineties, when vice squads could impound anything depicting a penis any higher than forty five degrees (honestly – I’m not making this up!), but as I say, things have changed since then. Over the past decade Customs have relaxed their policy on what can legally come onto these shores and I don’t recall having heard of any seizures of sequential art for a decade if not longer – mainly due to the prosecution frequently losing when the cases came to trial. I’m told that Canadian laws are still moderately puritanical in this way and there is some evidence that Australia can be too – Eddie Campbell as an ex-pat Scot living out there had copies of From Hell he had published seized because of some of the entirely unarousing sex scenes it contained. As you can see, Moore likes to stir up controversy, be it with sexually charged imagery or his own world views – his short work Brought To Light, a history of US covert operations from the forties to the eighties, apparently led to him having two mysterious looking men sitting in a car opposite his house for two years (probably until they realized he doesn’t have a passport so was unlikely to go out and destroy the American way. Moore famously dislikes travel and is probably happier destablising the Great Satan from home). But is depicting minors in sexually compromising situations going to be a step too far and bring down the full weight of our childocentric society on his head? I’ve not seen the pages in question, but would be highly surprised if they were titillating in any way whatsoever and are certainly there to serve the story, not a grubby man in a mac (there have been a few wags pointing out that due to the size and weight of the hardbacks, they are nearly impossible to hold with only one hand). The fact that no one underage was used in the scenes in question and the fact that they’re simply lines on the page that, in theory, could be being portrayed by an older drawing is one argument I’ve heard bandied about, but whether that would cut it with the usually jovial men and women of Her Majesty’s Customs & Excise is another matter altogether.

So will I be getting a copy? If they are allowed into the country and I can pick one up without being added to some sort of register, then yes I’d very much like to own a copy. I’ve been an obsessive follower of Moore’s works since first I encountered them (please note that all information above was taken from memory – no sources were consulted) and having already read the first eighth of the story I want to know how it progresses. Gebbie’s artwork should also get a mention – beautiful pastels and intricate coloured pencils are what I’ve seen on the opening chapters, but apparently she branches out using many more varied tools for the ensuing events, which should make the visual aspect as attractive as the written parts are cerebral. The only problem is the price. I could order it through work at a discount, but dare I face my peers with a piece of weighty overpriced erotica in my hands and still be able to hold my head up high? Would my merely ordering it put me straight into the dock? If I don’t get a copy before any furore starts, and it’s then banned, will I be forced to try and get an even more over priced copy from some swine on ebay, or will I be demanding that friends or relatives pick me one up when next they travel abroad? Maybe there won’t be any trouble at all, no one at work will even think to look up what the book’s about and I’ll be free to go about my daily business as normal. Not very likely though, is it? I’ll be sure to let you know and probably in even more prolonged detail than this. Tomorrow – something that doesn’t take me a whole bloody day to write.

Errata

July 12th, 2006 by

I meant to make the post below yesterday, but forgot, which is harsh on the late Roger. His was the first voice on the first album I ever truly listened to and I’m really quite sad that I shan’t ever have the chance to hear it again. Meanwhile, ‘Pre-Empting Lost Girls’ is taking an awful lot longer to gestate in my mind than I thought it would. You might have to wait until Saturday, if you can contain your excitement that long . . .

Good Night Syd

July 12th, 2006 by

We lost you decades ago really, but I always held onto the hope that you might come back mended and well again. Now it’ll never happen. Thanks for everything, old chum.

Razor Blade Smile

July 11th, 2006 by

I was given the film with this name on video a couple of weeks ago. It was bought for me as my chum apparently thought of me when they read the tag line “Part Seductress. Part Assassin. All Vampire.” I imagine they thought it’d be something that would amuse me rather than them knowing about my secret line in seductive assassinations, which is fair enough. I enjoy the odd really bad horror film from time to time (the odder, the better) and had heard of this one when it came out. It was an oddity at the time – a live action British film partially funded by Manga Entertainment, who were mainly known for, err, well, anime actually, but that’s a whole other semantic debate. Anyway, I saw it as an oddity at the time, but never actually saw it.

That changed over the weekend. To some extent I wish it hadn’t. I’m of the opinion that some films can be so bad that they become good again. There were elements of that in this, but for the most part it managed to transcend that and become so bad that it’s virtually unwatchable. The lack of any proffesional acting talent throughout made the two by fours attempting to deliver ‘dialogue’ (and I use the word loosely) throughout quite painful to hear too. The only ‘actor’ (and I use the word loosely) involved who I vaguely recognised (from another appalling British horror film which involved nuns and quite a bit of lezzing up) came close to delivering lines with some conviction, but actually just ended up shouting and waving his fist about. Some of the special effects worked reasonably well, in that charming three pound ten budget kind of a way, but the attempts at CGI looked rather like the videos they played at the back of mid-90s raves and that I could program on my Amiga.

Despite all this I persevered, buoyed on by the occasional bit of amusing gore or unarousing soft core porn. I was more than prepared to dismiss it as possibly the worst thing I’d ever seen – and I’ve seen a lot of shit. Then, the bastards pull off a quite spendid twist that I hadn’t seen coming from a mile off. Admittedly, the execution of it was as kack handed as the other ninety minutes, but the way that it was done within the plot and the fact that it almost entirely negated everything that had come before it tickled me. Which annoyed me, as I would have been more than happy to have dismissed. This tickly annoyance was compounded further by an extra scene tagged on after the credits (I was watching them to see if I recognized the name of anyone involved having been attached to any other films – I didn’t), which resolved a plot line I assumed that the writer had just been too lazy to tie up.

In conclusion, this film frustrates me. I wouldn’t really recommend that anyone watch it because it is truly awful, but if you can sit through an hour and a half of really bad amateur dramatics, the pay off makes it almost seem worth it. Almost.

Tomorrow – if I get time and the Spiders don’t distract me, what will probably be the first part of my Lost Girls essays. You thought A History of Collecting was tedious, well just you wait!