So last week (including my 28th birthday) was spent on nights.  They were fairly quiet, interesting and there was a nice team on so it wasn’t too bad and K took me out to a ‘breakfast restuarant’ for a birthday breakfast.  She got me tickets to see Nine Inch Nails up in Auckland next week which is awesome.  I love me some mainstream Industrial noise I do.

Feeling like I’ve dropped off the face of the planet recently so have spent a bit of time making up for it by contacting friends and the like.  I still have a few to get to but I’m trying.  We’re just about to head out for dvds and dinner with friends so had to curtail it (and instead blog…).

Listening to old Underworld at the moment which is bringing back many memories (points for claiming the song the above is from) and as I mentioned to Kristin the other day I’ve been on a big Led Zep bender recently.  A group I’ve only got into recently which is a shame as I’d have loved them years ago.

A few things that have been keeping me happy recently:

Astronomy Picture of the Day: the pictures from this are just stunning and leave me staring at my computer for long periods wishing space travel really existed.  Sign up to their feed.

Fox Fur, Unicorn, Christmas Tree

Wondermark: the comic that just keeps giving.  More hit than miss and invariably entertaining.  Plus he’s created some lovely collections available through Dark Horse Comics.

Anyway.  Enough for now.

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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.

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.