Happy Halloween everybody -- whatever you do, have a good one.
And don't let the Peel man getcha! He remembers Sounds of the Suburbs, maybe not as well as you do, but well enough to want a taste of revenge!
As the good lady Karen said – fail!
The main problem is that this is less like cookie dough and more like a Millie’s cookie that’s been left on a radiator and then smothered in cheap chocolate sauce. This sauce, by the way, also tastes as though it has been melted to burning point – yeuch! You do get a thoroughly okay-ish scoop of vanilla ice cream for your £4.49, but when this comes into contact with the main dish it turns it into a thoroughly unappealing brown gruel:
Ladies and gentlemen: seriously, annoying as some of this stuff is, don't take it out on the mopes on the front line. I can guarantee you that some stores and restaurants will be firing or disciplining people who don't offer you whatever crap the bosses are trying to sell, so even if their offers seem risible, please try not to be a dick about it. Thank you.
With that in mind, I'd like to note that the whole "let's pretend we're changing out name to Pasta Hut" thing really gets my blood up. I have a weird problem with unhealthy food pretending that it's healthy. Why not just admit that you sell fatty, delicious lumps of pizza and be happy with that? Cos I know that when I'm looking for something with a little nutritional value, I don't go asking for a supersized McDonald's meal with a Pizza Hut on top.
Plus Pizza Hut's pasta has always been gloopy and hideous, so I don't hold out too much hope for their expanded menu. I know, I know -- fast food is a competitive business, and it pays to look like you're trying to be healthy at the moment. Plus, also, it must suck to have Morgan Spurlok riffling through your underwear drawer and complaining about how many pubes he finds, and I'd do anything to avoid Jamie Oliver too, so... I guess I'm just having a naive little strop here. But hey: stropping is fun!
Unhealthy food is a big and oh-so-fucking satisfying part of my life, and it just sort of pisses me off that companies keep making their junk "healthier". Because what this leads to is shit like the new, reduced salt Pot Noodle which is neither mildly tasty nor even remotely worth eating as part of a balanced diet, and who the hell needs that?
Note: since I've posted this I'm sure I'll go eat some "Pasta Hut" gear and love the hell out of it, but I'll let my knee-jerk here tonight since I so rarely do.
Ghost IS Tony Stark. The Cary Grant swagger and the neverending guilt. The wanting to be a man of peace in a life that’s pretty much just violence, some of which he’s to blame for (for crack dealing rather than arms dealing). The non-sequiter logic jumps, the I’m the smartest man in the room attitude, the impulsive nature, the relationship with women. The fact that they’re both pretty drastic alcoholics with a serious medical condition. Which they ignore.Word to that. Sean's also posted part 10 of his essay series, and it's another belter. This time it's all about the action, man.
When they come back to play an encore, Mogwai don't dial it down, but they do show even more range. As always, 'New Paths to Helicon part 1' is open and dreamlike, romantic where 'Batcat' was vicious. It's a beautiful song -- the sort of thing that demands videos full of couples snogging in slow motion, but in a good way. By the time 'We're No Here' lurches into being, I can only just make out the changes, but that "only just" is the important thing. Unlike the rest of the set this final song doesn't so much call up emotion as lay waste to the crowd. It's an almost purely physical experience, and when the group leave the stage it becomes clearer and ever who the real star of the evening has been: the noise, which blares on their absence, beautiful and triumphant.
The only things I like to listen to are things where risks are being taken. I think that's the only thing that pushes you to the next place, when you do things that are out of your comfort zone. When you're like, "This is not cool, I don't think I should be doing this!" But you do it anyway, and sometimes it's the most embarrassing stuff, your ego sensor goes up immediately, like, "No no no no no, I'm not doing that," and then you do it. And that ends up being the best stuff.Which... a big part of the reason I started writing on this blog was to get over myself and actually write something that might actually embarrass me. Sometimes I've hedged my never-more-cliched bets, but I'm really happy with the longer pieces I've put up here, and I think I'm going to focus on them a bit more in future. This probably means that my posts are going to stay sporadic, but... I'd rather post two good essays a month than thirty short, pointless ones. Which isn't to say that I won't post the occasional link or video, but my eyes and ears aren't as wide open as, say, Sean Witzke's so that's never going to be my main thing. I'm also going to work on finishing off some of my long-running creative endeavors, because... well, I'm sick of quadruple-guessing myself and shitting out on perfectly decent projects and ideas.
Many people have asked us exactly what the Four Lions project is. Clearly we can’t launch the film before its been shot, but I’ve pulled together a few paragraphs from the paperwork that’s been flying around.It’s shameless hype but its accurate – unlike almost everything you will have read in the press. No one who has read the script could disagree with a word here.
In three years of research, Chris Morris has spoken to terrorism experts, imams, police, secret services and hundreds of Muslims. Even those who have trained and fought jihad report the frequency of farce. At training camps young jihadis argue about honey, cry for their mums, shoot each other’s feet off, chase snakes and get thrown out for smoking. A minute into his martyrdom video, a would-be bomber looks puzzled and says "what was the question again?" On millennium eve, five jihadis set out to ram a US warship. They slipped their boat into the water and carefully stacked it with explosives. It sank.
Terrorist cells have the same group dynamics as stag parties and five a side football teams. There is conflict, friendship, misunderstanding and rivalry. Terrorism is about ideology, but it’s also about berks. Four Lions is a funny, thrilling fictional story that illuminates modern British jihad with an insight beyond anything else in our culture. It plunges us beyond seeing these young men as unfathomably alien. It undermines the folly of just wishing them away or alienating the entire culture from which they emerge. It understands how terrorism relates to testosterone. It understands jihadis as human beings. And it understands human beings as innately ridiculous. As Spinal Tap understood heavy metal and Dr Strangelove the Cold War, Four Lions understands modern British jihadis.
(Via Scott McAllister.)
Very much looking forward to this, if it ever gets made -- apparently funding is an issue.
The existentialists faltered on the brink of the gaping void.
"Nausea"... that's what those limp-dick intellectuals felt. They were afraid of the big black pit. Scared of losing their weeny-weeny dicklets in the asshole of being.Charming, I know, but the point I was going to make was this: faced with
Not me! By God, not Tex! I'm gonna fuck the abyss raw! I'm gonna make it holler like Lolita!
 Well, violence and commerce, I guess. One of Tex's minions is shown videotaping the carnage at the end of issue #5 (while being violated by the man himself no less!), and he keeps talking about 'These new kids... with their sleazecore heroin vomit porn'. To compete with them, Tex is going going to raise the stakes or the city or both. Which is, of course, another part of the equation between violence and enjoyment that this issue is attempting to solve. Or, as Porneau would have it: 'SEX = DEATH = BIG BUCKS'.
 I'm referring to the scene in which one of the detectives wonders: 'How do I tell my grandchildren that I like it up the ass Thai-ladyboy style?', another bit of quality tabloid realism from Morrison. For more evidence, check the speech Tex gives to the aforementioned delivery boy:
Don't give me this unprofessional bullshit, honey.
I get a thousand girls through here who manage to do what they do without
bleating like losers.
See, in Porneau's world, everyone's just an extra just waiting for their chance to take part in his productions -- it's gonzo pornography as an all encompassing worldview.
 To quote Tucker Stone on Nightwing #149:
Goddamnit, there's a good portion of comic readers, non comic readers, male and female alike, who dig on some low-cut gowns and some cleavage--but what, exactly, does it add to this particular story? The fight scene? It doesn't add to sales, because it's not like Nightwing has enough in the T & A department on a regular basis that anybody is going to add it to the wank file next to a stack of whatever Aspen Entertainment is offering. It's not even there for enough of the comic for it to get a good session finished, which means you have to go find that "Blackout" Superman cross-over where he married an island girl and she kept taking off her clothes. It's just Poison Ivy pulling a rumpshaker for a couple of panels, and it's Don Kramer drawing it (and brother, Don Kramer ain't no Adam Hughes.) Oh well. At least it ends with an innocent women getting shot in the stomach, and then dying in pain, so that there can be a turgid little scene where Nightwing is crying in a torrential downpour, played completely seriously. See  above. Of course, this has been one of Morrison's key themes since at least as far back as Animal Man. David Fiore is still probably the most enthusiastic (and best) untangler of the knotted meta fictional ethics of that series, and I can't recommend his writings on the work highly enough.
Also recommended, on a similar theme, is Kimberly Bohman-Kalajah's Reading Games: An Aesthetics of Play in Flann O'Brien, Samuel Beckett and Georges Perec. The first section is a little heavy on games theory, but once Bohman-Kalajah gets into the specific texts she's definitely worth reading. Her book traces a line of ethical enquiry through the overtly playful metafiction of O'Brien co, and there are points where I think her theories and Dave's meet up. That said, those with a low-tolerence for academic lit-talk should bodyswerve this one, because while it's far from the worst example of the form it's definitely in genre, if you know what I mean.
Sorry... sorry, these new senses... I can actually see the machinery and wire connecting and separating everything since it all began... This is how he sees all the time, every day. Like it's all just us in here, together. And we're all we've got.The day-glo optimism of this sentiment is both jarring and wonderful, but like amy poodle has been so careful to explain, sometimes it's good to just open yourself up to the ASS love. Some readers have pointed out that this plot point echoes a similar dramatic turn in Mark Millar's Authority, in which a supervillain gained access to immense cosmic power only to find his malice neutralised by his widened perspective. The fact that Frank Quitely drew both scenes certainly underlines their similarity, but I think that All Star Superman is actually best seen as the culmination of a theme Morrison has been working since at least JLA. Somewhere in the middle of the frantic finale to that series, the human race becomes the superhuman race, and they're urged into saving the day using the following rhetoric:
Don't be afraid... what we're feeling are new structures opening up in our brains... it's like a preview of evolution.Of course, All Star Superman makes this point far more effectively since this childlike, playful way of seeing is conveyed in every panel of Frank Quitely and Jamie Grant's artwork.
All this amazing stuff you're seeing and feeling is what Superman feels like all the time... It's why he wants to save us... hah!
Quitely’s art is like a window into a gorgeous homunculus mini-universe, a la Qwerq, where on the surface of things - at a glance - everything seems simpler and less dense, but then one’s eye gets drawn in, closer, by subtle nuances of gesture and facial expression, and closer still by the freeze framed trajectory of tiny dented bullets as they bounce off steel hard super-skin, and still deeper, into and across the suburbs, satellite towns, far away villages and mountain ranges of shrunken Kandor, and out… until we’re lost in the burning, lonely pink wastes and skeletal mining farms of doomed Krypton. Imagine the Kenner plastic Hoth set of your childhood sprouting the kind of fractal complexity necessary to transform it into a fully functional world - a real war zone, where the Force is a living thing and goodies and baddies really duke it out for the future of the universe and the heart of an alien princess. Imagine the functions your imagination performed every day as a child. That’s what Quitely, Grant and Morrison conjure here. That’s what this work reminds us of.I can't say it better than that, so I'm not even going to try! It occurs to me that with Frank Quitely, Morrison's work is as effortlessly bizarre and out there as Jack Kirby's, contrary to what I said at the end of my post on The Eternals. Quitely makes Morrison's constant quest to give fresh life to old fantasies seem graceful, elegant even.
...the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving. The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.So does reading David Foster Wallace make you a better adjusted, smarter and more microscopically perceptive human being? Almost certainly not, but nevertheless his work does seem to present away to use the abundance of ironical and interlinked resources we have at our disposal to say or see things more fully, and sometimes that gives me hope. Because we might not be able to recapture that level of childish imagination where even inanimate objects have a life of their own, but we might at least aspire to take into account the inner worlds of other people.
That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing. 
More soon, in the next episode. While I disagree with Noah's opinion of All Star Superman (as laid out in that very same post), I've got to admit that the man knows how to make a negative criticism stick! I mean, Noah's dead wrong when he says Morrison has no interest in the character, but some of the rhetoric in his post is pretty cutting all the same.
 This statement might come across as a somewhat banal, certainly compared to a world of time travel and jet apes, but as DFW also said during that speech:
...the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance, or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning. Well, he makes me laugh anyway. Here's one of his short stories, A Radically Condensed History of Postindustrial Life, in its entirety:
When they were introduced, he made a witticism, hoping to be liked. She laughed extremely hard, hoping to be liked. Then each drove home alone, staring straight ahead, with the very same twist to their faces.The man who'd introduced them didn't much like either of them, though he acted as if he did, anxious as he was to preserve good relations at all times. One never knew, after all, now did one now did one now did one.