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Monday, May 25, 2009

Things I Did Yesterday 25/05/09

Tut tut. Yesterday I:

- Got up nice and early but then sat at the computer, trapped in our bedroom until Alex's mum woke up in the lounge. Oh, she was very generous in terms to telling me not to be sheepish about waking her in the morning, but dammit I can't help it. I'm always like this when people stay over, not wanting to impose on them. To be fair, I wake up early on the weekend and I appreciate that most people don't. So being a prisoner in our bedroom seems like the reasonable course of action.

- Got ready and then once everyone was up and functioning, we headed down to Spitalfield Market. I haven't been down there since all the renovations, and I'm really not sure how I feel about it. It certainly feels cleaner and more orderly and the food places feel a lot less like botulism stands, but it is lacking in soul. I'm sure the tourists love it, but it won't be a regular stop for me.

- Went around the corner to a proper East London street market, which is always entertaining for the barking stallholders, but quickly realised that pressing my way through throngs of pushy, inconsiderate people isn't that much fun either.

- Headed over to London Bridge and went to The George, a very nice pub off the main drag with a spacious courtyard out front. Had some lunch which mum-in-law kindly paid for. Result!

- Saw Alex's mum off, then walked back up through town for a while. Near Holborn Circus we found an abandoned office chair which I nabbed as my old one has fallen apart. Wheeled that up to Rosebury Ave and got a bus.

- Faffed about on the net before a dinner of delicious lamburgers.

- Watched Big Man Japan, a film which has been doing the YouTube rounds thanks to the scenes where our eponymous hero battles against bizarre giant monsters. The guts of the film, however, is a little more meditative, shot as a documentary about the normal life of our monster-fighting hero. There's a lot going on about family, sacrifice, honour and the fickle nature of celebrity, but to be honest a lot of it fell flat with me, probably because it really does speak directly to Japanese culture. It also suffers from a narrative shift, abandoning the documentary format whenever he becomes a giant monster-fighter, which is quite jarring. There were certainly aspects of it I enjoyed, particularly the trippy final scene, but the fights are pretty much all covered by the clips on YouTube and the documentary material only works sporadically, unhinged by a largely unsympathetic lead character. Can't recommend it I'm afraid!

- Watched some Inbetweeners then hit the sack.

Carry on reading...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Things I Did Yesterday 19/05/09

Listening to the Bugsy Malone soundtrack on Spotify. Sweet. Anyway, yesterday I:

- Had the day off, awaiting the delivery of our new washing machine. I got up at the crack of dawn to go down to the post office to pick up my new phone, only to be told it hadn't come back to the branch yet. Miserable bastard behind the counter too. Put me in a fould mood.

- Got home and took out our old washing machine, ready for disposal. We had paid John Lewis £9 to take it away while dropping off the new one. Took it outside to empty any excess water out, then left it there with a note on saying it was being taken away. Within the hour someone had nabbed it! Waste of £9.

- Found out the machine would be coming after 12, so I went to the library and got a few new audiobooks: Enduring Love by Ian McEwan (read by Richard E Grant), The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco (didn't the print version of this have comic strip material? Interested to see what they do about that) and the first season of The Mitchell and Webb Sound. Loving me some audio books at the moment, especially since I started hitting the library.

- Got home and faffed about. Twittered a bit, browsed Spotify, played some Crackdown (which went quite well, though the difficulty curve between islands is pretty steep). Didn't do any of my cleaning jobs. Oops. Did some dishes though.

- Alex surprised me by popping home in her lunch and picking up my phone on the way. She's a keeper. Got that sucker on to charge.

- The machine arrived at about 4.30, which is typical. Went to install it, only to realise that I needed to install an electrical socket to replace the dedicated cable the old machine had. Ran (walked quickly) up to Leyland and picked one up. Connected that, plumbed the washer in and hey presto! We have laundry! Cool machine, actually. Nice and modern.

- Had a bath then some dinner. Then retired to the bedroom for a little phone action. Oh yeah, baby.

- Initial impressions of the HTC Magic are very good indeed. Fairly intuitive interface, all very attractive. The touch screen is very responsive and I find the onscreen keyboard easier to use than I thought I might. The app store (the real deal-breaker for the newer generations of phones) could do with some more sorting options, but otherwise is a cinch to use and I was finding plenty of decent utilities straight away. I feel like I'm just scratching the surface so far, so more impressions as they occur to me. I must admit, I've fallen for this little minx pretty hard. I hope she's not a heartbreaker.

- Watched a couple of Inbetweeners from season 2. I like it.

- Read my book and dropped off to sleep.

- Didn't write. Haven't written in some days now. I plan to remedy that from tomorrow morning. If I can stop playing about with this fucking phone for 5 minutes.

Carry on reading...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Things I Did Yesterday 18/05/09

Waitin' for the washing machine man. But yesterday I:

- Got up and faffed about online while waiting for Alex to wake up.

- Decided our day-trip would be a walk out to the Leyton ASDA. Exciting! Quite a nice walk on the whole, taking just over an hour. A good mix of inner-city London, through rough estates and nice parks.

- Shopped at ASDA, which was something of an endurance test. Honestly, Sunday afternoon shopping is some kind of awful lesson in dog-eat-dog ruthlessness. People are just so ridiculously blinkered to the needs of anyone else for fear they might be disadvantaged in some way. Anyway, went to buy dinner stuff but grabbed some clothes and other assorted household goods. Well, it was a nice walk, anyway.

- Came home and chilled. Played Crackdown for a while, had some dinner, then I went to the bedroom and played around a bit with Spotify, as well as a new (to me) music player called Media Monkey.

- Watched Liam Neeson action flick Taken. It was a lot of fun, although the American xenophobia was a bit heavy handed: the French are spineless; Europe is murky and dangerous; don't trust Arabs or Eastern Europeans. Neeson is great though, really selling the role.

- Read for a bit then hit the sack.

Carry on reading...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Things I Did Yesterday 17/05/09

Did I miss one? Rats. I'm playing about with Spotify at the moment. It's...okay. More functionality with LastFM it would seem to me, but there is something to be said for Spotify's simplicity. It's almost like that "radio" thing the kids are all on about. Currently playing the Alestorm album. Anyway, yesterday I:

- Got the bus in. I'm listening to an audiobook of Kazuo Ishiguro's When We Were Orphans, which is great, even if the reader's voice is a little soporific.

- Worked. Got into town to have a coffee and read for a bit first, but I was horrified to find the nice Nero not open yet (at about 8.30). Weather is still a bit crap here, so no park sitting. Had Costa instead, but it wasn't as good. Life is so tough! I'm concious of the lack of morning writing I'm doing at the moment. Must remedy that.

- Had one of those work Saturdays that dragged like a corpse caught on a smallish speedboat escaping the scene of a crime. Man that sucks.

- Walked home with Kane. Oh shit, maybe that's what I'll do tonight: watch See No Evil, starring WWE star Kane.

- Umm...what did I do? Played some Crackdown, I know that much. Oh, of course, Alex and I watched the Eurovision finals while playing cards to determine who would do which household cleaning tasks. Happily it all worked out pretty evenly, with 9 jobs each, though to be honest I've come out the better I think.

- Found a missed delivery card for my new phone. I'll have to swing down on Monday before Alex goes to work, as we've got a washing machine coming at God only knows what time. 7am-5pm is all the info I have so far, but they are supposed to be contacting me with more details. New phone is very exciting.

- Eurovision was fun. I've never watched it before, other than glimpses on a pub screen the year that Lordi won. It was very entertaining, and Graham Norton did a sterling job of putting some snark into the proceedings.

- Hit the sack and read for a while before succumbing to sleep's deathly grasp. Not this time, though. Not this time, you fucker.

Carry on reading...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Things I Did Yesterday 15/05/09

In the nick of time! Yesterday I:

- Had the day off! I got up early-ish, read my web crap, then made a to-do list for the day.

- Popped down to Angel and bought some birthday cards for nieces and nephews. Wandered about a little, mainly in the bookshops. Saw a history of post-colonial Africa that looks pretty interesting.

- Had a coffee and read my book for a bit. Into the third book of Greg Keyes' Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone. I'm enjoying this series a great deal.

- Came home and settled in for an afternoon of web-shopping!

- Bought a new washing machine, which is coming on Monday, so no more £8 a pop service washes at the laundrette.

- Got myself an HTC Magic phone ordered from Vodaphone. I figured it was time to get into the modern world of handhelds. I'm trying not to get my hopes too high for it, as I'm sure it'll disappoint in many ways, but I'm looking forward to seeing how the Android OS develops. Also, I'll have a phone with a working call button! Oh, one important note here: this was the first time I've passed a credit check in years! I must be doing something right at last!

- Sorted out most of Alex's birthday present, which I obviously can't go into detail about here. Not that she reads this bloody thing.

- Had a sort of nothing evening.I honestly can't even remember what I did. Watched some Inbetweeners. Read my book. Read the internet. Maybe watched Britains Best Home? Was that last night? Christ, I'm losing it.

Carry on reading...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Things I Did Yesterday 14/05/09

Ahh, a day off, eh? The things you can do! But yesterday I:

- Worked. Delivery day, so I spent most of it unpacking the Thursday comics out the back to the tune of Waits' Orphans discs. Well, Brawlers and Bastards, anyway.

- Didn't take a lunch break, so I just worked through until 5 then finished early. Spent the afternoon bagging and then got a sneaky start in on the filing. Then it was off home.

- Read a bunch of comics. Actually got through my whole stack for the week, which hasn't happened in a while.

- That's about it. Bloody hell...

Carry on reading...

Zipping Through the Week in Comics 14/05/09

Okay, as fast as you like, quick reviews of what I read this week. This may be a regular feature. Let's see how long it takes! The idea is not to give an exhaustive outline of plot, creators and so on, but rather to just say whether or not it's any good. Well, that's the idea, anyway. In no particular order:

Lockjaw & the Pet Avengers #1 - Nice idea, so-so execution. Would've made a fun one-shot. As a mini-series? Not enough to carry it, I'm afraid.

Ultimate Spider-Man #132 - Ultimatum does its reboot thing, Bendis indulges his little dialogue tricks and it's all fine enough. But jumpin' Jesus, why is Stuart Immonen not a megastar? He is a phenomenal artist.

Trinity #50 - Flicking through to see how it ends. What the fuck is going on here? Can't make heads nor tails of it, really, but that's what I get for missing out 20-odd issues. Not to rag on Busiek, but this is twaddle.

Thor Tales of Asgard #1 - Always loved this Lee/Kirby Norse mythology stuff that ran originally as backups in Journey Into Mystery (with Thor as main star of the book). The recolouring on here is dire, though. I'm not opposed to recolouring jobs, but this looks awful. Nice Coipel cover.

Storming Paradise #5 - Easy to forget that everybody's favourite right-winger, Chuck Dixon, can still write a smart, solid comic. Great alt-history WWII stuff, with outstanding Butch Guice art.

Soul Kiss #4 - Promising start to this series, but I can't help but feel like it's losing steam a little. When I think how much Rasl packed into just the first couple of issues, this feels a bit flabby. Good cliffhanger, though.

Secret Six #9 - I don't follow this regularly, and whenever I pick an issue up I'm always pleasantly surprised. Funny and dark. Who would have thought I would be made to give a shit about Bane? Or Catman for that matter?

Secret Warriors #4 - I have to admit I haven't been astounded by this to date, but I did enjoy this issue. I think the problem for me lies in how little interest I have in Nick's new team. Who hardly appear here. Nice to see Gateway around, though.

Howling Commados #1 - Kind of but not really a lead-in to Captain America: White. Beautiful art, okay writing. It's not going to change your life, but you could spend hours pouring over those pages.

REBELS #4 - Why am I enjoying this so much? It may have something to do with the return of childhood favourites the Omega Men, and I'm happy enough with the art. But there's something about it I find quite compelling, which is I guess just means Tony Bedard is doing his job. Oh, I'm always happy to see Starro and those aliens out of Invasion, too.

Jack Staff #20 - Just recently caught up on this. Why isn't this book more popular? I really must try harder to sell the bloody thing. I guess it's quite highly stylised, and Grists sometimes abrupt scene transitions take some getting used to, but dammit, it's worth it!

Guerillas #4 - Is anyone out there reading this? Brahm Revel has a lovely Mazzucelli/Toth-inspired line and the story is far better than it has any right to be given the concept. Genetically-modified apes fighting in the Vietnam war? Whaaat?

House of Mystery #13 - Picked it up for the Eric Powell guest art, but this series bored me away a long time ago. Nice Sergio one-page at the back.

Oh shit! Interlude! Did you see that they're doing a Groo Library? At last!

Anyway, back to it...

Green Lantern Corps #36 - The prelude to Blackest Night rolls on. War is a'coming. This issue is....okay. Plenty of action, at least. I do like Gleason's art, too.

Fusion #1 - Typical company crossover shit. Seriously, avoid.

Elephantmen #19 - God I love this series. A focus on Sahara, with some nice guest artwork by Marian Churchland.

Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape #1 - Read it last night, can't remember anything about it. Bad sign. Oh yeah, it was weird, but not in a good way.

Dark Reign Young Avengers #1 - The pleasant surprise of the week for me. Paul Cornell garners a lot of respect from folks, but his comics work has been hit and miss so far. Good work here though. Nice set-up with a team of thoroughly unlikeable sorts, like the racist size-shifter who is quietly reprogramming the team android to disrespect minorities. Check it out.

Fables #84 - Not sure about this big crossover, but it does cement Jack as being a primo louse, which is nice.

Dark Reign Hawkeye #2 - Another surprise for me last month. Who would have thought it? Basically: Bullseye is a nutjob who does bad things to people and most certainly not a team player.

Walking Dead #61 - Kirkman makes the point in the back that he has now surpassed the issue count of Y the Last Man (a series he admires a great deal). Amazing really that he has managed to maintain such a level of quality. It helps he has had a relatively stable art team who are perfectly suited to the subject matter, but there's a deft hand in Walking Dead that he just doesn't show with any of his other books. I'm a big fan of Invincible, but it slips a lot more that Walking Dead. That being said, things happen at the beginning of this issue that just feel a little too much, especially for what seems to be the beginning of a new storyline. Still, I guess the repercussions of it may yet be felt in what Andrea and Dale do next. Anyway, I love ya, you big hunk of zombie soap opera!

BPRD The Black Goddess #5 - Another favourite series of mine, but I'm a bit gutted to have this end on something of a cliffhanger then find out there's no new BPRD until next year! Sheeeit. Arcudi and Davis are a brilliant team, they really are. They have the kind of synergy you only get once in a very rare while.

Captain Britain & MI13 #13 - Dracula wins! Well, pretty much. Cornell again, who is doing a nice job so far on this story arc. I wasn't blown away by the Secret Invasion storyline they did, but it feels like he's able to pave his own way now and it's paying off. Oh, and the cover for the next issue is stunning.

Black Panther #4 - So far so good for me on this new series. Lashley is doing the best work I've seen from him, with not a small amount of Barry Windsor-Smith creeping in there. Shame about Campbell's ass-tastic covers.

Azrael Death's Dark Knight #3 - Well, it's very pretty, but does anyone actually give a shit about Azrael?

All New Savage She-Hulk #2 - I'm undecided on this. Van Lente is a favourite of mine, so I'll cut him some slack, but the humour was very welcome last issue and it feels far more muted this time around. More Campbell ass on the cover.

Action Comics #877 - This stuff is decent enough, but not enough to make me really care. I suppose if I were more of a devotee of the Supes books it might grab me.

From the Ashes #1 - Minimum Wage was one of my favourite comics of the 90's, so I was quite excited about Fingerman's new post-apocalyptic autobiographical comic. It's a nice twist. But it doesn't quite work. The dialogue feels forced and doesn't quite pull you in. Still, nice ending, so hopefully it'll pick up next time.

Echo #12 - I'm loving this series, really I am. You should try it.

Rawbone #2 - Jamie Delano does pirates. And sirens. And tits. Lots of tits. Two issues is enough for me, I think.

Young Liars #15 - I have to admit, I gave up on this around issue ten. As much as I love Lapham's work, I couldn't get into it. Finishing soon, so I thought I'd come back for the end. I have no fucking clue as to what's going on.

X-Factor #43 - Peter David does a great job in his little corner of the X-universe. Character-driven superheroics.

Wolverine #73 - Two halves, one by Jason Aaron & Adam "The Talented One" Kubert, the other by Daniel Way & Tommy Lee Edwards. All of it looks great and Aaron's story is a real joy. Way's half is a bit nasty, really, but that's to be expected of Way I guess. All told, well worth picking up.

War of Kings Ascension #2 - Abnett and Lanning have actually made Darkhawk interesting. That alone is reason to pick this up. It's like transmuting shit into gold.

Unwritten #1 - New Vertigo title by Mike Carey & Peter Gross. Worth a look, with an interesting premise. Not sure it will go the distance with the current crop of Vertigo readers, but might find a niche. Plenty of recognisable London landmarks (including the Jurys hotel up the road from work), which isn't particularly important but made me smile.

Umbrella Academy: Dallas #6 - That Gerard Way can sure write some good comics. Who woulda thunk it? Not to understate Ba's contribution, who draws the ass off it all. Happy to hear a book three will happen.

And that's it! Phew! About an hour and twenty. Who knows, maybe I'll do it again. Though I might just do the highlights! What do ya reckon?

Carry on reading...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Things I Did Yesterday 13/05/09

Ahh...was it really only yesterday that I:

- Got into work early to pick up the materials I needed for the graphic novel workshop I was participating in? Unfortunately, yes.

- Got a cab with Josh down to the venue in Southwark, taking my selection of 50 core books with me? Unfortunately, yes.

- Watched Paul Gravett give a great potted history of comics for the uninitiated? Fortunately, yes.

- Utterly butchered my own speech while getting an attack of nerves? Oh yes, yes indeed.

- Managed to claw back some positive results through talking with various librarians during the break and at the end? Thank fucking Christ, yes.

- Finished the day early thanks to my early start and a lack of lunch? You betcha.

- Met wifey for a pint, came home, had dinner, had a bath, watched a Pushing Daisies and hit the hay? Oh yezzzzzz...

Carry on reading...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Things I Did Yesterday 12/05/09

Should I keep doin' this? Well, I guess until a better idea comes along. Yesterday I:

- Went to Nero for morning coffee. There's something about the Nero on Southampton Row that I find particularly soothing in the morning. It's not too busy, for one thing, and the interior design feels all a bit drawing room (far more so than any other Nero I've been in). Also, they pipe in nice classical music, which makes me feel like some kind of urban sophisticate. Just don't ask me to name the pieces. Anyway, until the weather gets warm enough again to sit in the park, that's where I'll be going.

- Worked. Mainly preparing for today's graphic novel workshop with London libraries. Also generated Islington's adult standing order for May.

- Twittered a little. Does it serve any purpose for me beyond some kind of vanity thing? Asks a man writing about his day.

- Came home and worked on my speech, including running through it a couple of times with Alex. Wasn't feeling very confident. An omen of things to come...

Carry on reading...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What Me, Twitter?

Okay, I've gone and succumbed to Twitter. Well, I say succumbed, but really it's more that I've signed up. We'll see just how much I buy into it. He says cynically.

My reasons are several-fold, in order to not look like some kind of shallow follower. Which of course I am. Just like YOU.

Firstly, I intend to get a new mobile this month, probably one of the new Android-powered HTC Magic phones. I'm concious of my increasing ignornace of the world of mobile devices and I'm not happy about it. So I'll get something with bells and whistles and see how I go. But I see Twitter as being a fun part of having a decent phone.

Secondly, I believe the world revolves around me, and you are all drop-dead, can't-wait, thrilled to hear what I'm doing.

Thirdly, I'm thinking that little micro-reviews of the 140-word sort might be about the only way I can actually comprehensively talk about comics I am reading. Because god forbid I should discipline myself to sit here for the inordinate amount of time it seems to take to write anything of substance. Plus, if you asked me to review something tomorrow, I probably won't remember it any more.It would seem that my mind is becoming increasingly disposable, like some kind of cerebral MacMuffin.

So anyway, I'm going to give it a whirl. grizzleddog is the name. Come find me!

Carry on reading...

Things I Did Yesterday 10/05/09

Well, well, back here again! Yesterday I:

- Worked. Started early to get the bloody filing finished, then spent most of the day on the till getting Barney up to speed on the logging (which he picked up nice and quick).

- Finished early (in keeping with the early start) and came home. Just chilled out, really. I wasn't in a particularly chirpy mood, so I demurred on heading out to meet Alex for Ben's drinkies.

- Had a bath. Sweet.

- Read a bunch of comics. Very good week for me, actually. I really want to start doing some kind of little capsule reviews of what I'm reading. Had a thought on that. More later.

- Played some Crackdown on the 360. I really like this game. It's very straightforward: GTA with slightly less developed mechanics and a lot more action. You play a supercop who slowly develops your abilities while leaping and driving around a large, crime-ridden city, taking out gang bosses as you go. Fun in its simplicity, and a great "dip-in" game, something sorely lacking today.

- Watched Gomorrah, the Italian gangster film based on the exploits of Napoli mobsters the Camorra. Great film, deftly juggling five stories of those affected by the organisation. It's the kind of film that makes me wish I got off my ass and took greater advantage of my unlimited Cineworld card. I really regret not catching this on the big screen. Anyway, highly recommended.

- Continued reading How Not to Write a Novel, which was kindly donated to me by James B. It's a lot of fun, not to mention right on the nose for the most part. It's fun to see the development of their recurring example characters as they are bounced from one example of poor writing to the next.

- Went to sleep. The sleep of the just.

Carry on reading...