Sunday, November 30, 2008

I have a few issues with The Prodigy, as they are one of the most unconvincing 'fuck you I won't do what you tell me' anti-authoritarian outfits ever, if George Formby ever lost it for a moment on stage and dropped a 'bollocks' into 'When I'm Cleaning Windows' he'd still be harder and more street than The Prodge. And I was also unimpressed by Liam Howlett's determination to only turn out shit music after (or, some might justifiably argue, during) The Fat of the Land because it was terrible about how so many people liked their music and they'd never wanted to be popular and wah wah wah wah BOLLOCKS! Still, after years in the wilderness releasing stuff that would have even Prince tutting about quality control it seems that things might have changed. Firestarter residuals not being what they were and that All Saints reunion not really working Liam probably needs to start courting the public with decent tunes to get the money in again.

Invaders Must Die is actually a fun track, no great musical departure but then not Baby's Got a Temper (And We're Making No Effort Whatsoever). The video with Noel Clarke tromping round the Essex coastline and re-enacting The Wasp Factory is a laugh too, enhanced by the fact that The Prodigy barely appear in it at all. Happy days!

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Thursday, November 27, 2008


I've been reading a couple of Warren Ellis's latest collections. Doktor Sleepless: Engines of Desire is a collection of the first eight issues of one of Ellis's ongoing series that hasn't disappeared from the face of the earth (I suppose we're never going to hear from Desolation Jones again huh?). Someone who may, or may not be, John Reinhardt, returns to the sleepy town of Heavenside and sets himself up as 'Doktor Sleepless', figuring he'll only be able to achieve what he wants in life if he becomes a larger-than-life mythic character rather than just a fallible human. This collection does little more than set the scene, individual issues being sometimes little more than an essay with pictures based on whatever Warren saw on the internet that week. Which is not to say they are bad, but other than a confrontation with a police inspector who is confident he has John Reinhardt locked up in prison and a confrontation with his ex-girlfriend in which he possibly explains the gruesome and strange way in which his parents died, not a huge amount happens.

Basically the comic is about Grinders. In real life Grinders tend to be men who enjoy hammering things into, through and around their testicles and then send pictures of it to Warren. In the mythos of the story they are transhumans who are less about digitally uploading into the superfuture and more about dicking around with technology in clever but ultimately pointless ways. By the end of this collection they are a faceless mob willing to dance to the Doktor's tune. Indeed this shouldn't work as a story, there are few characters, little plot and no reason to care about anything. Anyone sceptical about Ellis's work may well find this collection contains all they dislike about him the most and yet, I suspect it's the fact that it's a collection that makes me happier reading it than buying the individual comics would. While the Doktor has a masterplan and has predicted many of the things that happen it's clear he has not seen all the variables and that chaos may derail things for him.

The art of Ivan Rodriguez doesn't particularly grab me. It's frequently flat but, when characters do little than stand around dishing out exposition it's unavoidable.

A tastier treat is Black Summer, in which superhero John Horus executes the President of the United States for starting an illegal war in Iraq for personal and private gain. The surviving and retired members of his former superteam, the Seven Guns, have the whole US military coming after them as national security threats before they can decide whether they support Horus's action or not. And so we get eight issues of ultraviolence and high-tech goodness, punctuated by speeches. Most comic companies, in pursuit of realism, tend to have problems dancing around the issue of why their superheroes will fight space-squid trying to take over Nebraska but not deal with nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. The Authority, which Ellis created, tried to address this after he left the title but it was swiftly killed off after being handed to an author who was happier directing men in colourful costumes to punch one another rather than debate global politics. But though this is the very opposite of those books in interventionist terms it is equally unsatisfying, Horus seems to have no plan for what to do after killing off the head of the United States Government as though no-one would mind what he did. That the rest of the book consists of lovingly rendered pictures of death and destruction suggests that maybe Ellis is himself aware that there's not really anywhere else you can take the story after you've decided that that's your opening trick.

So, as a high-concept book, hell, as any-kind-of-concept book it's a bit of a misfire. But as another showcase for the kind of tranhuman, extropian ideas that excite Ellis's cold, cold heart the book is quite fun, Juan Jose Ryp's gorgeously detailed artwork is the polar opposite of Rodriguez's, giving a real sense of depth to each scene. So this will be a fun throwaway read for a wet afternoon which, lets face it, is not something we're short of at the moment.

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Gallery: Secrets of the Tim Tam. Damn it, I think I'm going to have to make a pre-Christmas trip to the Australia Store in glamorous Covent Garden... [via As Above]

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bendy Buses

Does Andrew Gilligan use false identities in online squabbles over his articles in the Evening Standard that praise Boris Johnson and his policies while trashing Ken Livingstone and all he did as mayor? Enquiring minds would like to know what Andrew Gilligan thinks. If you think you might be Andrew Gilligan, or you know someone who is Andrew Gilligan, please get in touch with specially trained staff at Bloggerheads.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Also, LOLGRIFFIN. I was trying to argue last night, perhaps not entirely convincingly, that were the address of lefties to be accidentally released to the right-wing a certain amount of violence might be expected, when it's the other way round you get sarcastic YouTube and Googlemaps mashups instead.

Still, I found out the other day I live a couple of doors away from someone on that list and, surprisingly, there's only one BNP member in the village I grew up in. I reckon it's just fluff that's been released to try and cover the news that it's been proved that Hitler did, in fact, only have one ball. There is, alas, no news as yet as to whether a thorough search of the Albert Hall has turned up the other one. Considering his father, the dirty bugger, cut it off when he was small, I'm surprised this hasn't been used to divert attention from Haringey's dead babies problem.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Ravenscourt Park Bonfire
Originally uploaded by Loz Flowers

Had several fun and exciting days, so much so that I'm just about ready to head back to work so I can relax for a bit. On Thursday was the demo outside the Stonewall Awards at the V&A, Aunty Sarah has more here and here. A fun time was had by all, except Ben Summerskill and Julie Bindel. I have emailed Stonewall to see whether they are now more open to discussing how this sort of situation might be avoided in future. They were presumably too busy nursing hangovers on Friday to reply so that's something to look forward to in the coming week.

Julie responded to events on Saturday in her usual way, a column in the Guardian. In a national newspaper she misrepresented every fact she possibly could, slagged off more people and then demanded to be left alone. She seems to take a view of separatism that allows her to make full use of what society offers but doesn't allow society to talk back to her. Luckily that's not how it tends to work. The comments thread for her article is heartening in that her fanclub didn't really get themselves motivated to post defending her, so it consists mainly of people telling her how foolish she is being. I posted twice in the comments and also sent a letter to the paper, they really need to stop enabling her like this, it's also terrible that the one person they give space to talk about transgender issues is someone ignorant of the facts and who is virulently anti-transgender. And anti-gay. And anti-kink. And anti-lesbian.

And then, yesterday evening to the Ravenscourt Park fireworks display over in Hammersmith with friends and a friend of friends. Seeing a proper professional display like this makes me wonder why anyone buys fireworks and does them on their own in the back garden, the two events cannot compare and back garden Dad has just wasted far more money than taking his family to a professional event. Every couple of years I go to proper events but this was the biggest and best event I've seen, despite the drizzle and the inflicting of bad music (David Gray, an awful new version of Van Halen's 'Jump' with a disco beat and, oddly, 'I Want to Ride my Bicycle' by Queen) it was a spectacular display, finishing with a carefully choreographed series of explosions that seemed to fill the entire sky with colour. Then back to the FOAF's for gin, food and arguments about 11/09/01 conspiracy theories before trudging to the tube station for the journey home.

Today we're off to the cinema to see Quantum of Solace. Should be fun!

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The perfect Sunday morning music. Or, you know, any time music.

The Boxing Lesson on MySpace.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Stonewall Demo at Victoria and Albert Museum

Stonewall Demo at Victoria and Albert Museum
Originally uploaded by Loz Flowers

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Stonewall Demo at Victoria and Albert Museum

Stonewall Demo at Victoria and Albert Museum
Originally uploaded by Loz Flowers
Stonewall, despite naming itself after an event in which trannies took part, has never made any bones about being an organisation that does not represent transsexual people. However, for it's 2008 awards it decided to accept a nomination for best journalist for Julie Bindel, a writer with a history of transphobic opinions and writing.

So a group of about 150 pissed-off transsexual people and their allies held a fun and trouble-free protest outside of the Stonewall Awards at the Victoria and Albert Museum on the evening of the 6th of November 2008 to remind them of what they seemed keen to forget or ignore.

Stonewall should never allow itself to be an organisation that champions bigotry in any form. What is especially short-sighted is that they are trying to see transpeople as just that, ignoring that they can also be lesbians, gays or bisexuals. A nomination for Julie Bindel is a nomination that is also for hate against gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

She didn't win in the end :-)

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

This one's for Patrick and Kevin, The Onion accidentally slips into reportage rather than humour.

Nation Finally Shitty Enough To Make Social Progress.

Meanwhile, good luck to Californian gays and lesbians as they try to get Proposition 8 overturned.

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John McCain's concession speech. Officially ten times more dignified than 93% of his campaign.

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So, if you're not busy tomorrow evening and in or near London, why not come and demonstrate with us outside the Victoria and Albert Museum? Stonewall are having their awards ceremony and some of us are going to demonstrating at their total lack of trans-awareness. The flashpoint for this was the nomination of Julie Bindel as journalist of the year. Bindel has had a visible presence as a transphobic lesbian feminist for around four years now, a position she maintains to this day. However, Stonewall have decided that at they are not an organisation for trans-people they do not need to show any concern about validating people who are against the trans-community, conveniently overlooking the fact that they may have many gay, queer, lesbian , questioning or bisexual supporters who... also happen to be transpeople too. Stonewall have consistently claimed that the awards were decided and couldn't be altered but have also avoided answering the question of what would happen if they were faced with the prospect of giving an award to someone who was on record as being racist or sexist?

There is a Facebook Group set up to discuss this where, if you look through the threads, you will see Bindel troll, claim she will sue people, ask for a discussion and then clam up when people start talking to her, all the fun of the fair. (Friend_of_tofu on LJ has more specific links here).

This is not, as Bindel and her supporters have tried to claim, homophobia. This is not even directly about her (though it's sad if a prominent lesbian journalist uses her position to promote hatespeech). Stonewall have, in emails and phone calls, suggested that Bindel was not going to win the award. The target of this demonstration is Stonewall themselves, for allowing this situation to come up like this. In the past Stonewall put out leaflets describing what transphobia is and what should be done to stop it. And while they may believe that they have nothing to do with the transcommunity, it was that community that helped start the campaign for gay equality that is still not over today, that makes up a proportion of their numbers today and that by ignoring that community they only diminish themselves and set their cause back.

Oh yeah, and we'll probably go to a pub afterwards too!

Thursday, November 6, 2008
Time: 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Location: Outside the Victoria & Albert Museum
Street: Cromwell Road SW7 2RL.
Nearest Tube: South Kensington.

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The pictures on the telly this morning are amazing, street parties in Washington, Jesse Jackson with tears in his eyes, the new First Family standing on stage.

Cynicism glands are already starting to do their stuff so I've probably got about another thirty minutes before I remember how fucked the United States is and how Barack Obama is probably going to be spending the bulk if not all of his Presidency sorting out the absolute mess that the Republicans have made of the country in the last fifteen years.

One of the most striking differences between the United Statesian and British modes of politics is that when failure encourages a party to head out to it's extreme that impulse doesn't tend to achieve much in Britain whereas it reaps dividends in America. William Hague, Iain Duncan-Smith and Michael Howard all proposed going further and further to the Right after the Tories were ejected from power in '97 and it didn't do them much good, David Cameron has swung left and it's working, though it's equally that people are sick of the party in charge. But in the United States, ALL the Republicans who were standing to be their candidates were various degrees of batshit insane.

What has been depressing over the last week is that people have been even talking about Sarah Palin standing in 2012. Really? It's the Religious thing that I don't think secular people can understand, but the misadventures of Shrubya in office I would have hoped would have taught the Religious Right that God doesn't help you make up for an incuriosity about the world around you and an ignorance of how things work. If the Republicans had any sense they'd try to find a member of their party who actually knows what a conservative is and has conservative values rather than looking for a holy fool so devout they have stigmata. Leave them for the Catholics.

But yeah, good news last night. The United States can finally stop being embarrassed on the world stage (think of that Simpsons episode where Bart and Lisa strain their neck muscles because they've never had to hold their heads high before with respect for their father) and rededicate itself to actually trying to help make the world a better place again.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

While we wait for Patrick to work out what possible reason his countrymen might have for voting for Obama, let's review some highlights of the right-wing bloggers various smear campaigns.

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The United Statesians are voting today and I have no alcohol in the house. I'm going to have to get through the night sober. Oh well, might as well try sleeping then...

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Demonstrating for Children

OK, you're young, glamorous and filled with rage at the injustices at the world. When you find a demonstration to go to, what you DO NOT DO is invite the person that caused the demonstration to happen because that would be an incredibly stupid thing which would devalue the whole point of the demonstration. It would also help not to get angry and self-defensive when you are criticised and instead try and understand other people's anger at your incredibly boneheaded move.

So I'd just like to welcome the Queer Youth Network to leftist politics. They are having their own demonstration at the same place as the older people, with Julie Bindel as 'their' extra special guest. Does that make them the Judean People's Front or the People's Front of Judea?

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Ridiculous New Daily Mail Attack on the BBC

The Daily Mail, buoyed by it's success in surfing a wave of ignorant public opinion against the BBC has a new scandal, a paedophile working at the Beeb in the children's department!

Except, he was in four episodes of a childrens show made by an independent company in 2001. Of course, the comments are worse, as though people reading this article thought it was saying that Auntie had replaced Songs of Praise with film of BBC presenters wanking over a pile of toddlers.

Talking of masturbation, they must have surely run out of Vaseline and tissues at Associated Newspapers over a survey that allows them to claim that most people want to scrap the license fee. Of course they do, in a survey format people are never going to say "I want to spend ten pound a month paying for something" because most people are fundamentally idiots bereft of village walls to fall off of. However, seeing as ITV is no more than a rolling channel of Coronation Street, Heartbeat and, on digital, Inspector Morse repeats, there is a very good reason why making Auntie rely on adverts to pay its way is no solution at all.

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Need Encouragement?

The DO Lectures.

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