Something for the Weakened

Archive for January, 2008

Diversion

January 27th, 2008 by

My intention today was to get a fairly lengthy post written that’s been gestating in the back of my mind for a couple of months now. Instead I’ve moved a mattress, done some sewing, read (past tense if you happen to be reading this aloud to a loved one or family member in a coma. Get well soon Little Billy) and genrally frittered my free hours away. Thankfully for you all, there is someone online with things to say that may well be of interest to you all. That someone is my good chum Paul (I’ve yet to bring myself to call him ‘Axl’ to his face and I’m damned if I’m going to start doing it in print). He’s been linking here from his own page for ages now and I feel particularly bad that I haven’t returned the favour. Please do go and have a look – he is intelligent, informative and often amusing. Some days he reminds me of me. One day I might get around to sorting out a full time links page, then you shall witness the mighty power of all my frien . . . oh, hang on, it wouldn’t be that a big a page after all, would it. Hmm, redesigning though . . .

Something you almost certainly didn’t know until now!

January 24th, 2008 by

I’ve been eating quite a lot of kiwi fruit this week.

Swarminge

January 23rd, 2008 by

Do traffic wardens live in communes? It’s not something I’d considered before, but am beginning to wonder if there might be some sort of warden shelter just around the corner from my own abode. Most mornings I’ll be strolling to work and standing there at the bus stop will be a bastard (surely the collective noun) of them, uniformed up and waiting to get down to their evil work. I could understand if they were all at different stops, but no. Always together, always in the same place. It seems to much of a coincidence for them to all have houses on the same street and I’d have thought that subsidised traffic warden housing would have had some press coverage if it existed. At least on their own recruitment posters (these I may have made up, but like to think that “Traffic Needs YOU!” posters are plastered up in Job Centres across the country). No, the only possibility is a massive condominium, filled to the rafters with those of the wardening persuasion, wiling away the nights playing with one anothers tickets. I’m especially narked as they seem to get free bus travel too. Perhaps I’ll fashion a makeshift uniform and try to infiltrate their dirty cult. Anything for a free ride . . .

Dry Dream

January 20th, 2008 by

I tend not to remember my dreams, though over the past week or so they’ve been unusually vivid. I’ve no intension of turning this into some sort of dream journal, as those can be etraordinarily tedious, but thought I’d share this one as it unsettled/amused me.

A friend of mine’s driving me around London – who the chum was is one of the few details that left me upon waking, I’m not trying to protect the identities of sleeping chauffeurs I can assure you. On a whim, he drives us into the underground car park of what appears to be a collosal brothel. Leaving the car, the location of this bordello appears to be in a palatial farm house and it’s various out buildings. I know that there are orgies of Caliguan proportions going on behind the closed doors, but never actually see anything going on. My pal has left me to entered one of them, leaving me standing alone on a bridge over a river filled with spectaularly coloured spherical fish. I watch the fish, until I spot my father walking past. We have an unsurprisingly awkward conversation, both knowing why we’re supposedly here, but unable to say why. We chat uncomfortably until I awake.

I don’t think my subconcious likes me.

The feeling is mutual.

A Return to 2000

January 19th, 2008 by

relating to (though not directly connected to) A History of Collecting, while not quite being another appendice

For the first time since around the turn of the millennium, I have begun taking the retro-futurist titled pamphlet 2000AD again. If memory serves, I stopped buying it around eight years ago for a couple of reasons. I felt that the standard of the writing had slipped slightly, as had the art to some degree. The weekly schedule was making it harder for me to keep buying regularly, as my newsagent habits had greatly changed from my earlier years. It also didn’t seem as mature as the other titles I was reading – I mean, where was the swearing or the boobs? I gave up in early 2000 (oh, the strange irony) and have more or less stayed away since.

So what brought me back? A lot of it has to do with the blogs of a couple of comics artists I’ve been reading of late. Weston, towards the end of last year had been championing the magazine and it’s older creators reappearing (Mike McMahon and Brendan McCarthy principally) while D’Israeli was actually producing work for them. Leviathan, one of his many collaborations with Ian Edgington, was one of the few things from the comic I’d read in those intervening years. The combination of these two blogs, with the now traditional triple size Christmas issue (‘Great as a jumping on point for new readers, pals!’ as it would have been billed back in my day) forced my hand in late December and I decided to give it all another go.

So here I am, four issues back into ‘The Galaxy’s Greatest Comic’, and I thought I should share my thoughts with any of you who have got this far and are still awake. The first regular sized comic seemed a lot smaller than I remembered them being, but no. Having counted them, it still has the same thirty-two pages it ever did. The stories seem to read quicker too, though that could be more due to my reading habits being accustomed to a single twenty-four page hit rather than five of five to six pages. The major difference is of course the fact that now the whole enterprise is put out by computer game manufacturers Rebellion, who bought the intellectual properties from whichever large publishing house held them at the end of the nineties (was it still Fleetway then? I can’t recall). This take over does seem to have allayed my major disgruntlement nearly a decade ago – 2000AD has grown up again. Swearing! Boobs! Intelligent scriptwriting! Weell . . .

In fairness, the scripts do seem a bit better than I recall them being. Sadly, production line hack Dan Abnett is still getting work from them (yes Dan, a genetically enhanced character with blades called Gene The Hackman, how do you come up with them?), but at least there aren’t any of the interminable Sinister Dexter strips running at the moment (one of the main reasons for my previous departure). Wagner and Grant, mainstays since 1977, are still there producing material of varying quality. Sometimes it’s a rip-snorting action romp, which is what I seem to remember them most for, though Wagner does seem to be launching into one of his ‘issue’ based storylines. These I seem to remember he used to be handled quite well, though I fear that my slightly higher brow might find them a little heavy handed these days. Robbie Morrison and Ian Edgington are the ‘new’ blood producing stuff at the moment (both have been in the business for well over a decade, so it’s a comparative newness) and that’s surprisingly good. Morrison’s major creation for the magazine, Nikolai Dante, was another reason for my leaving the title, but his current strip Shakara is weirdly pleasing (though that’s due in no small part to the artwork – which we’ll come to shortly). Edginton’s meanwhile producing Stickleback, which is probably the most satisfying strip in the anthology at the moment.

Again this is in no small part down to the artwork. D’Israeli’s essays on Alberto Breccia are a fascinating read, and the influence on the work he’s doing is obvious (especially as he keeps stating the fact). He does seem to be producing some of the best stuff of his generally overlooked career (I hope that doesn’t seem too harsh, but I’ve loved his work since way back in the Deadline days and have always felt that he’s extremely under appreciated). The other big surprise is Henry Flint on Shakara. He had been around during my earlier reading days and had become something of a fan favourite, though I could never see why. That’s changed with this serial, where he seems to have morphed into a hyper-kinetic Kevin O’Neill with delusions of Photoshop. He’s drawing some wondrously twisted, utterly alien worlds and I’m really quite impressed. Carlos Ezquerra continues to do what he does, which I have no problem with. Probably the most distinctive art style of the last thirty (or is it forty – he was doing stuff in Battle and Action long before 2000AD was a glint Pat Mills’ eye) years – never pretty, but always functional. No one else really shone for me (lovely to see a bit of Colin McNeil and David Roach for the first time in ages, but neither seemed at the tops of their games), but some of the art choices did. The return of some black and white strips was a joy to see. The colour being crowbarred into some of the strips during my later reading period seemed utterly unnecessary, so it’s good to see that decision has been overruled. It was also intriguing to see that computer colour is now being used quite heavily. Most of the software back at the turn of the century was fairly primitive (or out of most artists budget, I’d imagine) but I think was starting to creep in before I left. Now it seems to have integrated itself into the magazine quite happily. To a degree, I sort of missed the painted art that was slapped onto nearly every strip back in my day, but the clearer art probably worked better than some of the murky oils that were slapped onto any old script back then.

So, conclusions then. 2000AD is considerably better than I remember it being back in the year of it’s namesake. It doesn’t feel as good as I remember it feeling back in what I consider it’s heyday. I’m going to give it a chance for the next few months and see how it goes. Take each week at a time. But if it does start to piss me off again, I’ll be doing a runner.

Tapes

January 14th, 2008 by

An aged stereo recently turned up in my ‘office’ (long story), which has given me the opportunity to listen to some of my old cassettes. Many of these haven’t been played in years, so it’s coming as quite a shock to me just how familiar I am with some of the material. Earlier this afternoon I found myself singing along with Cypress Hill, for the first time in Christ knows how long. It was always obvious that these South Central rappers would make a connection with a group of white, middle class kids living in the safest Tory seat in the UK*. Well it was to us, anyhow.

* – In an effort to force full disclosure, to work out who the joke is stolen from please replace Cypress Hill with Ice-T and the safest Tory seat in the UK with Cheddar. It is all true though.

My Friend Through Puns

January 10th, 2008 by

It was way back in November that the lovely Dan Haythorn got in contact. I have mentioned him on here before, as regular raders are unlikely to remember, as the chap who had recorded an album calling itself Something for the Weakened. What I can’t recall mentioning was the fact that the equally lovely Rob (Uber) had downloaded and given me a copy. I shan’t lie and say that I was instantly taken by it and it became my favouritest ablum in the universe ever, but it’s most certainly a pleasant listen and I feel I really should dig it out again.

Anyhoo, I don’t believe that Dan and I had ever been in contact before, so was quite surprised when this popped into my inbox (which I hope he won’t mind my putting up here):

So there I was, googlewanking (ie, googling my own name) when I find myself on your site. And not, it must be said, for the first time. This is because we share a cherished pun. A few years ago I recorded an “album” called Something for the Weakened (I place the word album in inverted commas, because no-one ever released it and very few people have heard it) and put some of the tracks from it on some website or other. This was pre-Web 2.0, inasmuch as the site I uploaded to was (and indeed is) quite hard to use and navigate around. It was this reason, AND THIS REASON ONLY, that my album was not an instant underground smash.

Anyway, I felt quite chuffed at coming up with such an astoundingly good pun, but I soon became aware that – as is always the case – someone else had got there first; and if not first, then at least simultaneously.

I gather from a post of yours that you too made this discovery when you stumbled across my little page of music. What can I say? Great minds, etc. etc.

I have graduated from depressing acoustica to slightly peculiar sketches. For the sake of two souls touching briefly across the cold vastness of the internet, I include a link to them below:

www.youtube.com/dananddanfilms

Thank you and good night – and, incidentally, you write a cracking blog.

Cheers

Dan.

What a lovely, lovely man. And really, I did rather enjoy the album. Due to my own dubious internet capabilities, I’ve only managed to watch one of the films he’s created, but was pleasantly surprised by it. Using what I imagine is now an easily obtainable special effect (is my Luddism showing again dear?) and some remarkably sharp comic timing, Master Haythorn has constructed some very pleasing hand made filmage. I shall be trying to watch more once I get this wretched technology to behave.

Coming Soon

January 9th, 2008 by

Okay, more for my own reference (as I am libel to entirely forget what I’m planning to write about) than anyone else’s, expect in the following days;-

A Return to 2000

My Friend Through Puns

The Classical Audience Rant

Musings ‘pon The Stage

Emptying the Sack

Some sort of contemporary comedy whinge

A Nervous Breakdown

Dribbling

A lot of dribbling

I have a hair lip

No

Wait

It’s just a hare

It’ll get off in a bit

When it gets bored

Rabbity bastard

Continuity

January 8th, 2008 by

So I’m sitting here, watching the end of Predator and I can’t help but wonder – what do the continuity announcers say in LA? “And now on Fox, you’re elected official in Kindergarten Cop.”

It seemed funnier when I first thought of it.

Pity the poor bastards who voted for Glenda Jackson.

Hello.

I’m back.

Let’s see for how long.

Disturbance

January 2nd, 2008 by

The other night I dreamt that I was friends with Sting.

Eerie.