Books & Comics


So it comes that time when we all compile pointless lists of what we enjoyed throughout the year.  And I’m feeling it this time so make no exception.  So some top lists (in alphabetical order):

Movies:

  • Cloverfield
  • The Dark Knight
  • Iron Man
  • No country for old men
  • Son of Rambow
  • Wall-E

A quiet year for movies on reflection.  If I had to choose only one it would be Wall-E.  As much as The Dark Knight is perfectly accomplished and astonishing in its brilliance and Iron Man is just brilliantly entertaining, Wall-E is just a wonderful combination of stunning visuals, gorgeous sound design and heartbreakingly staged story.  I love it.

Albums:

  • Crystal Castles
  • Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid
  • Foals – Antidotes
  • Fuck Buttons – Street Horrrsing
  • Los Campesinos! – Hold on now, youngster
  • Lykke Li – Youth Novel
  • Metronomy – Nights out
  • Mogwai – The Hawk is Howling
  • Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Did, Lazarus, Dig!
  • Remember Remember
  • Vampire Weekend

Picking a favourite from these is extremely difficult.  Or very easy, as since The Hawk is Howling was released I’ve listened to very little else.  It’s a truly stunning Mogwai album and feels fully formed, like it’s existed for years.  And I love it.  However, choosing Mogwai as my favourite of the year is kind of cheating as they’re my favourite band.  So before that was released it was Fuck Buttons – Street Horrrsing.  I’ve been listening to this all year and still love it.  Powerful and compelling.  Regardless, all  the above have been on constant repeat since release and are well worth listening to.  Interestingly, my favourite album of last year: Low – Drums and Guns is still on heavy rotation.

Songs:

  • Black Francis – The Seus
  • CSS – Rat is dead (Rage)
  • David Byrne & Brian Eno – Strange overtones
  • Elbow – One day like this; Weather to fly
  • Fleet Foxes – Blue ridge mountains
  • Fuck Buttons – Sweet love for Planet earth
  • Gotye – Hearts a mess
  • Ladyhawke – Paris is burning
  • Lambchop – Sharing a Gibson with Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Lykke Li – I’m good, I’m gone
  • Metronomy – Heartbreaker
  • Mogwai – Scotland’s Shame; Devil Rides
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – More news from nowhere
  • Noah and the Whale – 5 years
  • Pete and the Pirates – Mr Understanding
  • Remember Remember – Fountain Mountain
  • Santogold – You’ll find a way
  • Those Dancing Days – Hitten

Rather an indiepop-tastic selection this year (getting old?) but fuck it.  My favourite?  Hmmmm.  Fountain Mountain probably (the original version rather than the split version that appeared on the album).

Books:

I managed to get through an impressive 53 books this year (not including comics) and out of those my favourites were:

  • We need to talk about Kevin – Lionel Shriver
  • The Murder of Roger Akroyd – Agatha Christie
  • I am Legend – Richard Matheson
  • Regeneration – Pat Barker

My favourite was ‘We need to talk about Kevin’ – an incredibly powerful and compelling story.  Plus this was the year I discovered Agatha Christie and more importantly, Poirot.  The full list is at my Goodreads site on the right.

So, that’s it for the lists.  Not a bad year all in all.

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Saw on the BBC website that the Orwell Prize are releasing all of George Orwell’s diaries over the next few years in blog form.  Click the pic for the link.

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This is an interesting take on current feelings towards relationships: Sex Without Condoms Is The New Engagement Ring.  I can certainly relate and do kind of agree though I feel the meaning is wide open to misinterpretation/manipulation by younger kids and teens.  What is even more interesting though is the number of hugely vitriolic and borderline racist comments in response.  There’s a real mix and what’s most enlightening (once you take all the bias religious views out) is a seeming age divide.  The younger commentators show a willingness to look beyond the supposed controversy and make an effort to explain and support the case. 

There’s always a certain amount of ‘head in the sand’ attitude relating to teenage sexual health issue but what it comes down to is that many teens are having sex and just telling them not to won’t change that.  You need to accept it’s happening and then work out how to develop an atmosphere where the issues and concerns can be openly talked about by all.  From my years as a sex educator with Sexpression I think the more debate the better.

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And to change the tone, I only just found the awesome free web comic: Last Blood.  When zombies take over the Earth it’s up to the remaining vampires to keep us alive so they have enough blood to live off.  They’re making this into a movie so get in now.

 

Say what you will about Stephen King (I’m an unashamed fan) but he’s more than happy to embrace new story telling styles.

It’s a good idea – over the next 5 weeks there will be 25 two minute ‘graphic video episodes’ serialising his new short story ‘N’.  With a pan and scan format, comic style art, a real audio score and voice actors you can get daily updates for free online or via your mobile (if you live in the States).  The trailer is up and the first episode is available if you register.  If not it starts next Monday.  Click the pic:

The first part is wonderfully OTT in tone and it sounds like it will be a dark and addictive tale.  It looks great though the music is on the hokey side of horror.  I tried to grab the player for my blog but it wouldn’t work.  WordPress doesn’t like widgets much.

It has been jointly produced with Marvel and is due to be released as a comic mini series later in the year.  The King short story collection Just After Sunset in which ‘N’ appears is also out later in the year.  I find his short story collections the most rewarding for variety and enjoyment.  He is prone to occasional lengthy works of tedium (try reading Desperation for an exercise in pointlessness) so at least the odd crap story only lasts a short while and is usually followed up with something awesome.

Stephen King seems to be doing pretty well with Marvel right now – The Dark Tower series has so far been stunning and could easily run for a very long time.  As well as that the new serialisation of The Stand is shaping up to be a thing of wonder.  Say hello to Captain Trips:

It’s going to be nasty!  I’ve always thought (not to discredit the TV movie) The Stand would work really well as a long TV serial (with the right people and money) but a 35 part comic is a pretty good alternative.  Bring it on.

And thanks to Mr Neil Gaiman and his wonderful blog I have now joined Goodreads

All of the books I read will be updated there along with the occasional review (and I’m trying really hard to actually use the whole of the rating scale).  Add me as a friend if you wish. 

Who knows, if it rains really hard for a long time come August when I have no job and am trying not to spend money, I may go through my entire library.  May take a while. 

Link on the right

I’m off to eat soup.

So a frankly shitty week at work destroyed any refreshment my holiday instilled in me and a truly bizarre final two days almost did me in. But then came going out. And friends. Oh yeah – and alcohol.

Thursday was Humphrey’s birthday celebration and we found ourselves at Tiger Tiger in Croydon. Good food but no atmosphere. After we finally left the table we were pretty much the only people in there. So we eventually left and headed back to Liquid/Envy in oh so fun Redhill (it’s our local club and considering it’s a small provincial venue it’s usually quite entertaining. As long as you get there drunk. Very drunk). Turned out to be a great move as it was really busy with live MCs (quite amusing). Later after more drinks and the introduction to the night of tequila we went home and myself, H and Ulka decided to stay up listen to music and drink more. At 4.30 it occurred to me I had to be in for 9 so went to bed.

Leading onto a weird day on the ward. And a very tired day. But I kept going. And that night headed back ‘home’ to Tooting for the Part 5 disco. Oh yes, a full year has passed since we qualified and now it’s the time for all my friends in the year below (for the lonnnnnng time readers I’m talking about Louiza and Lily and all the others). And they all passed which is awesome. And we drank and danced and met people and had fun.

Saw some old friends – some still felt they couldn’t talk to me (wasn’t that years ago?), some I enjoyed catching up with after far too long and some just made my week. There were almost as many of the old gang there as newly qualified form-fillers-in.

Actually, to be honest I did feel slightly out of place to start. Nervous I guess at seeing certain people on the old territory. It’d already hit me after turning up at my old house and having the door opened by someone I once took home while VERY drunk (I’d forgotten she’d moved in – Arash thought it was quite amusing to let us both find out without warning – cheers, ha ha). And then we arrived (after curry at an old favourite) to discover the ‘new’ bar. The one promised to us for the whole 6 years of our tenure but never realised till after we left. And it looks good and trendy and fun…but not George’s.

But then the music kicked in, crazy dance floor shenanigans brought on smiles and an old friend decided to renew a friendship back in the place that started it all. And that meant something. (You never seemed to miss me as much as I missed you… ‘Well what choice did I have? I was left out there alone while you all had each other’). JD and Sambuca kept it all lubricated and the time flew.

So, yeah. It was a year ago since last there. And it was fun and it felt good and I’m really glad I went. I also think that was probably my last hurrah at George’s. I think I can move on now.

So the next day after finally getting to bed at 4.30ish (again) I was pretty much running on gas. Had coffee with Rashida and Nazneen which was nice but too brief as I turned up late (as per usual). Then headed up on the tube into central.

Nearly all of my experiences in London these days, dirty stop out that I am, are shaped by a slight hangover, unwashed, smelly jeans and a vague odour of lager (from getting spilt on the previous night), smoke (though thankfully less as the new smoking rules kick in) and sweat. Ha ha. I bought comics and then went up to Camden to hang out with Antony for the afternoon.

Turned out to be a really nice afternoon – sitting on the floor beside the lock drinking wine (which pretty much levelled me by the second glass – I think the lack of food and sleep had got a bit too much by then), in the sun with a friend talking about life, music and anything. It was nice.

Train home. Walked the few miles back to my house and: SLEEP.

Still knackered today but been taking it easy and Getting Things Done. Like washing what seems like all my clothes. After a bit of hunting I managed to find and rig up an impromptu washing line and for the first time this year have line-dried clothes. Excellent.

Anyway, it’s been a great way to round the week off and I’m now cooking, going to read some Batman (The Long Hallowe’en) and then get an early night. One of those mythical early night things. I’ve heard they’re good.

Later

Saw 28 Weeks Later tonight and liked it a lot.  Go read about my thoughts here.

Then saw this and got uber excited.

Joker

 

 Seriously, this has so much potential.  It could be so dark.