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Quis Custodiet

In which we are the people who will be watching the Watchmen


We’ve noticed that trailers for the forthcoming Watchmen movie have started appearing on the telly, which means it can’t be long before it pops in to the cinema.

We’ll have to go and see it. Not because it’s going to be a good film – I don’t really think it will be* – but because the book is so iconic, seeing exactly what’s been done to it is an irresistible temptation. No doubt we will come out of the cinema going: “bah, they shouldn’t have filmed it that way,” “they shouldn’t have cut that part out,” and so on. We know, for a start, that the ending has been changed; which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because the overall plot is hardly the most important aspect of the book. On that note, though: the overall design of the book is far more important, and what I’ve so far seen of the film design doesn’t look promising. It’s both too dark and too sharp, not dirty enough and not ambiguous enough.

Even though it will probably seem too slick, too polished, too computer-generated, we have to see it. Because if we don’t see it ourselves, we can hardly criticise it. When we have, though, we almost certainly will.

* As I haven’t seen 300,** my only experience of Zack Snyder’s previous work is his remake of Dawn Of The Dead; which was a good (and scary) film roughly up until the end of the opening credits, and undeadly dull thereafter.

** I do think a British version of 300 would potentially work rather well, though. Feel free to try and guess exactly which episode of British history it would be based on.

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I’ve Liked You For A Thousand Years

In which we like Scott Pilgrim


The latest book in Bryan Lee O’Malley‘s Scott Pilgrim series, Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together, has been out in shops for a month or so, now. And it is, as expected, an excellent book. As it says on the back-cover blurb:

“Now with more kicks, punches, rock & roll, subspace, half-ninjas, experience points, samurai swords, girly action, and laughable attempts to seek gainful employment”

There’s a subtle pun in that blurb, which I’ll come to in a minute. If you’ve never read it before: Scott Pilgrim is a graphic novel series, 2/3rds published so far, about a 20something Canadian slacker with a mysterious American girlfriend – who has seven evil exes, who all have to be defeated in top-notch video-game style. In the meantime he has to deal with his own exes, everyday life, and (in the new book) his girlfriend’s own feelings about relationships. She is, incidentally, a rollerskating rapid-response courier, who has learned the trick of shortcutting through other people’s dreams.* Which is how Scott initially meets her.

They intermingle reality and fantasy with a lovely deftness. Defeated villains disappear in a puff of smoke and a shower of coins – although sometimes barely enough money for the bus ride home. The realistic universe is punctuated by save points, extra-lives, and RPG-style bonus items. Alongside the fantasy, though, there’s a subtle take on the character’s feelings, emotions, and motivation, all of them entirely realistic. As I said, a lot of the new book is about the mysterious Ramona’s own emotions. Spoiler time: For the first time, it’s revealed that she’s submissive, in the D/s sense, and I suspect that will become a much more important part of the story in the final book.** It’s shown in a rather subtle way: Scott takes a shortcut through subspace, in the way he’s learned from Ramona, and accidentally gets into her own dreams, which turn out to involve subspace in another sense. She gets understandably angry; and there’s no other explanation.*** If you understand it, you understand it.

You don’t need to understand that, though, to enjoy the book; and even though as I said I think that’s going to turn out to be important later on, it’s something that will deepen your enjoyment without necessarily needing to be understood. I’m sure there are plenty of other subtle references, to other worlds, that I’m not spotting myself. I really hope the rumoured Scott Pilgrim movie makes it into production, because despite the fantastic elements, the books are a wonderful slice of life.

* Other people’s dreams being the “subspace” of the back-cover blurb.

** I’m tempted to go back through the previous books and look for earlier clues; but I’ve leant them to Wee Dave at work. I’ll have to borrow K’s copies.

*** the books are all teen-rated.

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An interlocking mass of references

In which we read a meta-book


The Archers, The Avengers, Roy Of The Rovers, Quatermass, Angela Carter, P. G. Wodehouse, Giles, George Orwell. Hi-de-Hi, Spenser, Shakespeare, Crowley, Dee, The Prisoner. James Bond, Scoop!, and Bulldog Drummond. Virginia Woolf and John Cleland, all bound together on different paper stocks.

I’ve been reading The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier, which I picked up from Travelling Man‘s Newcastle shop yesterday.* And that’s only the references I spotted myself, without reading any annotations. As Ian said recently, “Alan Moore is geekier than all of us.”

* From a shop assistant who, I noticed, was wearing a rather nice-looking black leather collar with a lockable buckle on it. I was tempted to compliment her and ask her where she got it from – lockable-buckle collars can be hard to find – but I was with Kim, who would have been mightily embarrassed.

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Comical

In which we’re off to Oxford


As mentioned the other day, I spent most of the weekend at Caption, the annual small-press and self-published comic convention in Oxford. It wasn’t somewhere I’d visited before – I’m someone who looks on people who can draw properly with awe and admiration – but it turned out to be a nice day out. Held in a community centre which felt like an overgrown collection of church halls inside, it was a nice quiet relaxed event. “Ooh, it’s a bit quiet this year,” said the people I was with, who were veterans, but I didn’t mind that myself. It helped that it was on Cowley Road, which made it easy for us to pop out for a meal in the early evening, then nip back to the convention. And, unlike the centre of the city, Cowley Road isn’t completely flooded with tourists.

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At last it’s Friday

In which we plan to get away


Sorry to be whining so much about work, but that’s all my mind’s been full of this week. The pressure is so draining, my mind feels numb and empty by the time I get home, and I have nothing else to write about. My mind feels numb most of the daytime too; it’s at the stage where I just sit down at my desk and blank for a couple of minutes until I remember where I am and what the next task is.

At least I’m off away again this weekend, so I should be able to put work out of my mind for a couple of days. I’m going to Caption, a convention for alternative, small-press and zine-style comics. It’s not a scene I know much about, but I am hoping to be educated.

This week I have mostly been obsessed by: Last.fm,* the website that tells you what bands people are listening to. I’ve been refreshing it regularly just to check that it is correctly identifying which tracks I’m playing – it does sometimes not seem to recognise some obscure stuff.** I’ll post the link to my profile here, when my profile has more on it. Hopefully it will lead to finding more music I don’t know much about. I am hoping to be educated.

I’ve also been listening over and over to the first album by The Pipettes, a 60s girl-band in modern indie clothing. Review to come when I have time enough to write it.

That’s all for this week, then; one more day of stress stress stress, then at 5pm I can zoom off down to Oxfordshire. And then I’ll come back on Monday all refreshed, hopefully there will be news of the cat, and I’ll be all ready for another week of stress to grind me down. Just maybe, too, I’ll have been educated.

* also known as Audioscrobbler, which always makes me think of The Box of Delights by John Masefield, in which “scrobbling” means “kidnapping”.

** Usually things from Fluxblog, whose mp3s also confuse my mp3 playing software – it can’t read the track length properly, and usually tells me that the file is thousands of hours long.

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