blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
Full disclosure: I have never seen 'Watership Down'. The prospect of it bored the pants off me. I quite liked 'The Wind in the Willows' as a child and, if it's hot badger action you're after, then William Horwood's Duncton books are worth looking out for. But on the whole, talking animal stories are not my thing. So 'Beasts of Burden- Animal Rites' by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson really doesn't impress.

'Beasts of Burden' )

'Neurocomic' )

'Bandette Volume 1- Presto!' )

'Stitches' )
blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
Okay, truth be told I don't dislike Steampunk. I quite like the aesthetic but maybe inside the subculture it's not the fetishism of fashion in order to justify ignoring British colonialism of the 18th and 19th century. Maybe that's just how it looks from the outside. When I expressed this view to a friend of mine yesterday whilst at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, an indignant lady dressed all in black with requisite top hat felt it necessary to interject into the conversation that she didn't feel Steampunk was anything like that and that she spoke as a colonial. She had an Australian accent. She was white.

Gown by Karen 'Lady Elsie' Grover, 'Longitude Punk'd', Royal Observatory Greenwich Celatone by Matthew Dockrey, 'Longitude Punk'd', Royal Observatory Greenwich Tancre's Observation Device and Calculator by John 'Major Tinker' Naylor, 'Longitude Punk'd', Royal Observatory Greenwich Orrery Gown by Jema 'Emilly Ladybird' Hewitt, 'Longitude Punk'd', Royal Observatory Greenwich Clockwork Chelengk by Jema 'Emilly Ladybird' Hewitt, 'Longitude Punk'd', Royal Observatory Greenwich

So I went to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich yesterday. I seem to remember that I went there once before, but I can't remember exactly when it was or why. This time it was mainly to see a new exhibition called Longitude Punked. The minimal information on the website says it
"celebrates the creations of wacky inventors, stargazing scientists and extremely elegant explorers of the 18th century. Royal Museums Greenwich has commissioned 8 UK Steampunk artists to create works inspired by the technical inventions that were presented to the board of longitude between 1714 and 1828."
This seemed fun and interesting and so I made my way there. Because I have no memory of visiting the part of the Observatory that had this display I don't know what it's usually like. What it looked like was that normally there would be a display of things to do with navigation at sea. It would be informative and, to the best of anyone's knowledge, accurate. What it was now was half a display of things to do with navigation at sea that was deliberately captioned with humorous and entirely inaccurate signs provided by Robert Rankin. I have nothing against Rankin, I quite like his books even though they all have basically the one plot which never manages to last the entirety of the story. But I think it's sad that, in what they feel is an important anniversary year, the Observatory have basically said "we're not going to bother with any of that boring" < airquotes >"history" < airquotes > "malarkey, no we're going a hundred percent fictional! And we're going to do it with steampunk! Because that's what all the cool kids are into these days, what with their i-telephones and their addiction to snuff." So from a design point of view this exhibition was lovely, I'm just not sure why they did it this way. I don't think the Natural History Museum would replace its animatronic dinosaurs with My Little Ponys with new horns designed by China Mieville. I'm uneasy about a science institution inventing history, after all, when Ken Ham does this we rip the piss. It's not that they put up false information, it's that they appear to have taken the correct information down as well.

The clothes on display are fantastic and I wish I had both the gowns and the figure to show them off to their best. The inventions are chrome and metal which seems to be what something has to be made out of to be Steampunk so... well done? The exhibition is at least free once you have paid to get in and the Observatory is a nice small venue to visit if you're in the area.

But to finish with just a quick rant about the place. )
blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
Brighton: The Graphic Novel.
By Various

Twenty-eight writers and artists tell stories set between 1728 and 2013. Some are historical, some are personal, a few are fantastical, a couple aim for realism. We see beginnings, we see endings, we see life. We often see Brighton as it perhaps is rather than as it would like to be seen, a city supposedly noted for its liberality and creativity, as long as you're rich and white and don't want to rock the boat. If there is a theme that runs through the disparate and self-contained stories in this collection it is often one of fa├žades being torn down, sometimes this is literal, such as with Henry Phillips's Anthaeum in the 19th century, sometimes it's more figurative when the truth behind a murder is exposed. Of course when each chapter is written and drawn by different people you sometimes have great stories badly illustrated and sometimes great artists wasted on inferior scripts. I'd be interested to know how much collaboration there was between the writers and artists on this work when this was an open call for scripts.

It's not terrible but really such faint praise is all I have to offer. Despite getting the nod from Bryan 'Alice in Sunderland' Talbot it cannot hope to compare, that was a focused and singular vision, this is just a bunch of stories. I generally prefer the historical stories (in this case I mean everything pre-1945) as they are mostly telling stories about the construction of Brighton. The post WW2 stories are largely personal stories that could be set anywhere that has a seafront and a pier. 'Brighton's Angels' by Glenn Stevens, Emelie Marjarian and Collette Tarbuck and 'Beside the Seaside' by Tom Harrop and Iain Buchanan inadvertently distil Brightons queer culture into drag queens and 70s homophobia while the latter story and 'Jonas Tindale: Night Man' by Jon Sapsed and Pete Katz are the only two stories with non-white characters. The blurb from the publishers suggests that the content of the stories was left up to the writers, all of whom from their bio pics are all white so what could QueenSpark Books do?

My favourite story is probably 'Short Back & Sides' by Mark Pembrey and Adam Moore about a local barber of the 70s and 80s. I love the artwork of 'The Sea Swimmer' by Ottilie Hainsworth and Salka (one of only a couple of the stories that address the sea that Brighton borders) and 'One Step Into the Future, One Step Into the Past' by Robin Tulley and Kathryn Miller which has Talbot-like qualities.

Getting hold of this outside of Brighton might be tricky. I got it from my local library and they had fun purchasing a copy. So why not try contacting the publishers or Dave's Comics in Brighton if you want a copy? Even if not entirely successful it's still a laudable project and, in the end, what could be more Brighton than that?
blahflowers: (Jiving Girl)
SPRING motherfuckers!

Oh, it just feels like it, even though it's a month early, but to be able to slink through Mother London and it to be bruise-bright and not raining? We take our gifts even as they cut our hearts.

Only Lovers Left Alive )

The soundtrack, which is available here is also extraordinary, mixing Motown classics with a more modern wall of textured feedback and guitar sound. But you really should go and see this movie, it's just the thing for a cold winter's afternoon.
blahflowers: (Flowers)
Me in Apron


'Der Trommler' by Michael Sandle, Tate Britain


And, there we go, done. I very nearly didn't take any photos last month. Nothing until Christmas certainly. I thought this moght have to be 'Twelve Months Twenty-Two Photos'. It's not that I didn't do stuff last month it's just that it was mainly low-key, hanging around with friends or going to the cinema to see 'The Hobbit 2: Draconic Boogaloo'. Visiting Tate Britain last Sunday was as much about wanting to see something either there or between there and home to finish this off as it was curiosity about the new look of the place. It's nice. I'm not sure why they felt they needed a new non-disabled friendly staircase in the building but I hope they will be very happy together.

For someone who writes a journal (who has written a journal for about nineteen years) remembering what I've actually done doesn't come naturally and photos are often the visual cue I need, months later, to remember where I went.

I want to write more this year, the thing on Fantastic Four I did was an attempt to kick the writers block I have by writing about something I like, and to try and avoid the habit of falling back into slagging things off for being bad. That happens a lot, and there's people out there that do it a lot better than I could hope (Linkara and Diamanda Hagan are two I enjoy a lot) so I'll leave it to them. I have a number of series I want to write about it and when I sat down in 2013 it just didn't happen. Setting targets invites failure and I'm not going to beat myself up, but if I get to next December's '12M24P' and there's at least twelve entries on something between here and there I'll be happy.
blahflowers: (Flowers)
'Materials House' by Thomas Heatherwick, The Science Museum


Collider Exhibition, The Science Museum


Nearly there now, just two more entries to go and then we're done. Getting out and about to things has been a bit tricky, bad weather had it's own effect but I rather stupidly let S.A.D. kick my arse for a few weeks before I realised that it had indeed shown up. I went with friends to The Science Museum for the just opened CERN exhibition, Collider which was fun. Due to it's success we had to buy tickets and then wait a couple of hours so went and drifted around the free stuff. I don't go to the South Ken museums much due to their amazing tourist trap nature and had restricted myself to just the V&A for the last few years. I realised that by just going to the Science Museum for one thing and ignoring all the other stuff I was doing myself a disservice. There was also the Oramics exhibition which any fan of electronica should consider essential viewing, and lots of materials stuff such as Thomas Heatherwick's piece above, which attempted to be made out of every material that goes into the modern house. I think if I had only seen Collider I may have been disappointed again, the biggest spaces were for two video pieces, one for scientists telling us how momentous the Higgs Boson discovery was and another for a rather... 'artistic' rendering of what happens when two particles collide in the accelerator. There were lots of magnets and cabling, but as part of a day out at the Science Museum it was great.
blahflowers: (Flowers)
Sir Henry Tate Mausoleum, West Norwood Cemetery


Emirates Air Line


Another cemetery photo, another of the Magnificent Seven, this was a walk after a half-day at visit, then the bus home. It was also a journey which gave me enough time to listen to Electric, the new album from the Pet Shop Boys and probably my favouritist music of the last year. Bare in mind that most of the time I'm listening to my iPod or iTunes. Since it was uploaded in September I've listened to it fourteen times. Possibly that's not lot but other tunes I've listened to 14 times include most of PJ Harvey's Stories from the City, Stories From the Sea, loaded up in 2007, a good chunk of stuff from The Orb, loaded in 2006 and a selection of Manic Street Preachers stuff, put up in 2005, probably when I first had a computer with a big enough memory to hold all my music and not fall over. My relationship with music is a mostly cerebral one, as I like a lot of music you can dance to and do not dance to it. The whys and wherefores of this are not particularly ones I've thought too much on but I expect deal with a lot of insecurity, teenage gawkiness, the fact I'm still uncoordinated in my movement today and some body images too. I don't feel I'm missing out on anything, which is why I'm quite happy to sit and tap my hands on the back of the chair in front at a gig while everyone is big fish, little fish-ing on the dancefloor. Something as defiantly rhythmic as Electric is very good for giving you a pace to work to when walking any distance and the fact the Pets never write meaningless lyrics also helps.

Ahh, the Boris dangleway. It would be amusing to follow it's complete failure as a serious mode of transport of London if the public weren't subsidising it. I've been on it twice now, once from south to north years ago to see what it was like and then this time north to south because I was right by it for something else and needed to get back to Peckham in a hurry. In theory there isn't really anything wrong with it, it's just that Boris is playing Sim Mayor and thought it more important to unlock the Prestige points for having one rather than actually putting it anywhere useful. The two times I went on it I had minimal queueing, having my Oyster I didn't need to queue with the tourists for tickets and inside the queues to get on where short, due to the poor placement of the ride meaning there aren't many passengers. The actual journey was smooth, though that's because they have to close when the weather is bad or the winds too high. I presume Boris has done a deal with Emirates that they will hold on until he's not mayor any longer so that the inevitable closure of the cable car will be pinned on whoever replaces him.
blahflowers: (Flowers)
Portugese Whistles, Horniman Museum, Forest Hill


Nunhead Cemetery


It is sometimes the case that you can live relatively nearby somewhere and never visit, yet think nothing of going further afield to other places more often. So it is with the Horniman Museum, which I finally visited in September after only living down here for, what, four years? Going with [personal profile] alextiefling, [personal profile] nanaya and [insert_name_here] we had an enjoyable time looking round the free bits, the musical instruments, the preserved animal specimens, the cultural plunder, then checking out the garden before the chill of the September evening drove us out. I will go back in 2014.

I had visited Nunhead Cemetery before but that had been on an Open Houses day and I'd been living in North London at the time, so even longer than four years ago. This time I walked round and saw the bits that I didn't see then. I chose this picture because even if it's not quite in focus I like the accidental effect of the green gravestone contrasted with the autumnal brown of the leaves, it's almost psychedelic.
blahflowers: (Flowers)
Bragansas, Kennington


Crystal Palace Park


By August I was dieting. I'd started mid-July so by the time I took these photos I'd already dropped a couple of kilos. I suspect that part of the reason I finished off my London walking this month was due to my needing to walk so much to take my mind off the fact I wasn't eating. Doing something, even working was fine, sitting around doing nothing though, that was tough. That's why I decided not to diet during the winter. As it is, my weight has remained around the level it was when I stopped dieting in mid-September, which is very positive. Talking with [personal profile] plumsbitch the other day I said it was a virtuous circle with no clear start, I feel good, I want to dress good, I feel that, for my current definition of 'looking good' involves being slightly thinner than I was, I do that and feel good, I want to look good... It's not 'fat is bad', it's more 'there is a level of fat which I do not want to be'. And it's also to do with how I feel of the shape of my body in a suit.

So I feel very fortunate to be fit enough that, if I have a few hours to spare, I can walk up to Crystal Palace on a summer's afternoon.
blahflowers: (Flowers)
Kinetika Bloco, Bermondsey Carnival 2013


Me at David Bowie Is, V&A


Despite living and working in Southwark I have to say, Lambeth have us beat when it comes to festivals. The Bermondsey Carnival and Lambeth Country Show happened with a fortnight between them and I know which one I thought was better. The LCS takes over almost an entire park with a number of different sections for different tastes, the BC is stuck in the corner of one park and is a car boot sale with pretensions. I don't know if it's a sign of different priorities, Lambeth's libraries are rather... stark, shall we say, Southwark cut back on it's funding for public events, causing the shutting down of the Carnival Del Pueblo (sp?) which used to happen up the road. I don't know whether this was a very bad year or whether it's always been shitty in Bermondsey. But to have the kids from Kinetika Bloco sashay past put a smile on my face, even if they'd almost gone before I realised what had happened.

The David Bowie exhibition at the V&A was and stands as probably my high point of the year. The people who put it together deserve an award. I don't go to the V&A that regularly and in the past I've tended to find their exhibitions put style far too high above substance (see especially the Post-Modernism Exhibition from a few years back) but this was putting style to the service of substance. Sure, some of the stuff based on finding your location within the space was a bit tricksy, but there was just so much to see and to play with. And you know they could have easily made the exhibition two or three times bigger because there is just so much there. I left energised.
blahflowers: (Flowers)
World Naked Bike Ride, London


Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013 Designed by Sou Fujimoto


The Naked Bike Ride earned me my first slapped hand from Flickr who took down a video I'd posted of people cycling by, despite me following the rules by marking it as potentially naughty, because of course we must think of all those children who use Flickr for looking for everyday people's bodies naked. All the photos I took seemed to survive. What was irritating though was about a month after I posted it Flickr sent me an email saying that they were taking down one of my images for breaching their guidelines but not identifying what it was. Not posting much nudity on my Flickr it only took me a few minutes by process of elimination to work out what it was, but if the complaint had been somewhat more insane then Flickr effectively make it impossible for the user to defend anything they post up, despite the fact the user owns the image.

Very good Serpentine Gallery pavilion this year, though they did make up for it by having a public sculpture nearby of one rock on top of another called, yes, 'One Rock on Top of Another'. Ah, bless the Serpentine Gallery. They are there, all year round, giving the public what the public expect modern art to be.
blahflowers: (Flowers)
Signpost, Blackheath


Tradesmans Entrance, Saint Mary's Terrace, Paddington


Two signs for you, for May. The first was from when I went for a walk around Blackheath when we seemed to have finally broken through the eternal winter of the first few months of the year. The soundtrack for this was Public Service Broadcasting by Public Service Broadcasting which I've listened to often this year and like, if not love. Certainly, you shouldn't let the fact that the band members have decided to call themselves J. Willgoose, Esq. and Wrigglesworth stop you from giving it a try.

The other picture is a stones throw or two from the Westway as I continued my grim sweep North. South of the Westway was done and now the expanse of Maida Vale lay before me. So it was bloody typical that they closed Edgware Road station for redecoration and de-linting the elevators. One of the generic walks you seem to get in London guidebooks is from Warwick Avenue to Little Venice and then along the Regents Canal until you build up too much speed and come flying off the canal path and crash into Camden Town. So it was interesting over the next month or two to see all the other bits around there that you don't see from the canal path.
blahflowers: (Flowers)
Robert Newman, 'The Trade Secret' Reading and Signing, Islington Waterstones


The New Suit


I did read Robert Newman's new book, 'The Trade Secret'. It's too long by about fifty pages but beyond that I'd recommend it as a decent if trad story in an unusual time and place. In the other picture, I'm not immune to a bit of fanservice.
blahflowers: (Flowers)
Sherlock in the Dust, Saint Bart's Hospital


The Hermitage Riverside Gardens Memorial by Wendy Taylor



I've only just noticed I didn't rotate the second picture before I put in on Flickr. Oh well...
blahflowers: (Flowers)
Futurely Famous, Saint Stephen's Gardens


Notting Hill Topiary Dog


Well, people had made a baby, so I got introduced to them in February, even if they spent most of the time asleep. This has been the closest I've been to the entire growing process beyond the first-hand experience we all get and it's been often fascinating if occasionally alarming. In my walking of London I was largely concentrating on the west side of my map, Notting Hill and Westbourne Grove, where these two photos were taken. The latter, like Maida Vale later on in the year was bland, Notting Hill had a certain faded glamour, like a movie starlet some forty years past it's prime, but who looks their best in Winter?
blahflowers: (Flowers)
The Honesty Shop, Saint Katharine's Docks
Borough Market


So, January 2013 wasn't great, there was some family stuff going on which involved some journeys to my parents which the winter snow didn't help. When it came to travelling down there the travel was at the whims of the flash frost. Saint Katherine's Docks in the snow is slippery as hell, those cobblestones are extremely treacherous. I'd heard about The Honesty Shop through the Facebooks a day or two before, the drivers were taking it all around London. They were 'selling' various Fair Trade and independent traders tat, I think I dropped some coins in the Honesty Box but didn't bother taking anything.

At the end of January we had the big Shard Open Days. It was interesting to get a different perspective on a city I'd been doing so much walking around in, I was following streets from above and remembering when I'd walked that way. What is it about the human desire to go to the top of high places and look around? Poor old Westminster Cathedral with it's tower and creaky lift, once it must have been worth going up there but now so many of it's views are blocked by nearby new tower blocks where the workers nip up to the roof for their cigarette breaks. At least The Shard won't have that sort of problem for a while.

My own suggestion would be that, unless you're going in the Summer and feel lucky, take your time queueing for tickets rather than pre-booking, you don't want to go up there in bad weather or fog and so not get a good view.
blahflowers: (Baby Squid)
Or was that Joss Whedon's 'Wants to Sell You His House'?

How much alcohol was drunk in that film? Seriously, almost every scene has at least one glass of something being drunk. They should have made it continuous so that by the end everyone is sailing three sheets to the Tony Stark...

LEONATO

So-so-so-so- wha' wos I sayin'?
so are the prince-guy and fuckin' Claudio, who accuserated her
abou' all the stuff you heard:
Madge wos in some messing all up in this
Although she is a hottie so screw it,
In de true course o' alllllll the question.

ANTONIO

I fuckin' love you all guys, come 'ere, big hug...

The one thing this does, which the few other adaptations I've seen of this don't do, is explicitly say that Benedick and Beatrice had some sort of relationship before he went off to war. It's only in the silent pre-credit scene, the sticking close to the text doesn't allow any other elaboration on what it is, so it's not clear about whether WesleyBenedick and FredBeatrice were having a one-night I-may-die-tomorrow hey-nonny-nonny or whether Benedick was using going to war to get out of a relationship that he was too immature to commit to. Either way I don't like this as it gives an unpleasant edge to Beatrice's attacks on Benedick, this time it's personal. In other versions their relationship plays as the 'love-masquerading-as-dislike' whereas here it's all about how that man done did her wrong. And why would she accept him at the end, he's charmed his way into her bed before, what proof has she got that he isn't just doing it again?

Amy Acker's pratfall down the stairs when she hears the maid and Hero discuss Benedick's love for her is beautiful.

So, Nathan Fillion's turn as Dogberry was a great shame. It just didn't work for me. I saw the film in a nearly empty theatre but while the scenes where Benedick and Beatrice run around listening to the others talking about them got laughs the scenes with Dogberry were received in silence. Admittedly he wasn't as annoying as Michael Keaton's weird grotesque in Kenneth Branagh's wonderful film but it just fell flat. Maybe light relief needs to done to an audience (John Ramm's Dogberry in the staged version with David Tennant and Catherine Tate was fantastic) but there was something in the delivery of the lines that it's not really clear to the audience that he's talking nonsense and dropping malapropisms all over the place. It's only really the moments of physical comedy with Tom Lenk as Verges that really work.

Something that's always disturbed me about the play is the bit where Beatrice and Benedick admit their feelings for one another and then Beatrice gets Benedick to swear to challenge Claudio to a duel to the death for his treatment of Hero. I mean, what the hell? At this point she is one of the very few that know that Hero is not dead and that the friar has some sort of plan but while I can understand that she feels extremely upset and even angry at Claudio for his behaviour and words towards her kinswoman wanting to actually kill him seems a little extreme. I can understand her wanting to pretend to be really angry in order to continue the masquerade but to go from that to "If you really loved me you'd bring me Claudio's still beating heart" is rather odd. What's her motivation, a final scene where she gets to announce "the good news is the bride isn't actually dead. The bad news is that Benedick killed the groom"? I can only assume that when writing it Shakespeare started that scene thinking he needed to give the other actors a chance to do costume changes and the like, got distracted half way through and went to the pub, came home drunk and dashed that half of the scene off, went to bed, woke up the next morning and went "what the hell did I write last night?" and forgot to rewrite it before the script went to the printers.

Otherwise it's a nice little film from Team Whedon.

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