Coming to my simple senses

It is Easter weekend and some semblance of sanity is starting to seep back in. Things have been a tad chaotic of late, and also, my right side (the one left numb after my stroke) has been playing up partly I think because of the winter that started in Scotland back in what feels like September so Easter is about the odd cheeky bit of chocolate and wading through my stock of comics to get it spot on for the Edinburgh comic con in a fortnight. This means I’m armpit deep in bagging and pricing…

So enjoy your Easter weekend as I stick comics into bags and try not to get chocolate on my Giant Size Man-Thing.

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A word of appreciation for Poppy’s ”3.36 (Music to Sleep To)”

Poppy is one of those internet pop sensations that happen seemingly daily. The big difference is that the fact she’s a construct of the music industry and media is etched into her entire persona creating what is a rather wonderful post-modern publicity stunt mixed with an art project that’s funded by a major label in the shape of Island Records. Aside from her music she’s best known for stuff like this…

Masterminded by Titanic Sinclair, Poppy is his latest project after the vastly underrated Mars Argo, but in among all the vaguely ironic videos and pop songs is a work of genius which is Poppy and Sinclair’s ambient album 3.36 (Music to Sleep By).

Poppy clearly shares some DNA with the KLF, and this album is reminiscent of Space, while at the same time being very much its own thing, and oh, it will help you get sleep, or even comedown nicely from whatever high you’re on. Which ultimately is the test for a good ambient album and this is very much a good ambient album so stick the headphones in, relax and enjoy.

Comics are for kids

The other day I was chatting with Mike Lake (of Titan and Forbidden Planet fame) about my blogs regarding Neptune Distribution for something that may, or may not happen in the future. In this chat the subject on Chuck Rozanski of Mile High Comics in the US who played a pivotal part in the great distribution battles in the UK in the mid to late 80’s

Chuck’s one of those people who has, til fairly recently, been under the radar of many a comic fan, and were it not for Morgan Spurlock’s film about the San Diego Comic Convention, the current ‘geek’ generation wouldn’t have a clue who he was even though he’s one of the most important figures in regards creation of the direct market. The direct market now is designed to cater to a core of fans, and far too many shops are designed to make kids especially uncomfortable and considering superhero comics are essentially children’s power fantasies, it is appalling for me to enter a shop that makes it clear it fucking hates having kids in it. It’s also stupid, because these kids are your next generation of potential long term customers who’ll be with you long after this current bubble bursts.

Thanks to the fact all of Google/Facebook/MI6 and the internet as a whole is ripping off your personal data and conversations, the below video popped up on my YouTube recommendations.  Have a look.

Chuck’s been in the industry longer than I’ve been alive and I’ve been in the industry a fair few decades now and if a figure like him can ensure he’s catering for kids, it strikes me that all comics retailers can too because it is the future of the business. Cosplay won’t preserve or advance the comics industry beyond this bubble we’re in, nor will  the medium improve, so without people reading comics we won’t have comic shops so well done to Chuck for putting his money where mouth is and actually doing something.

Antisemitism and the left

One of the things about now living in Scotland that looking in on what happens politically in England  makes the utter insanity of Scottish politics seem sane and sensible, well, as sane as politics can be in this world dominated by Brexit and the aftermath of that. In this case the Jeremy Corbyn antisemitism row is one I look upon with interest as it seems most everyone involved in this are at some level, an arsehole.

It’s clear that some of those attacking Corbyn are doing so not because they’re fighting antisemitism, but they’re doing so to land lumps upon Corbyn. This of course isn’t true for all of Corbyn’s accusers as a number of people have very clear concerns with how Labour’s failed to deal with an issue that shouldn’t arise in a supposed party of the people like Labour. However as those of us in Scotland know, Labour are peachy with the like of Hugh Gaffney in their party and although it’s fair to say all parties have eye-popping racists and bigots in them, it is how they deal with them that’s the mark of a party. I can see that if I were Jewish that a party I’d normally consider safe refuge seems to be not treating bigotry aimed at my people as seriously as they should.

But the problem is that instead of an informed debate about antisemitism we now have a polarised shouting session where the decreasing voices of sanity are being drowned out by folk on all sides of this debate.

Do Labour, and the left as a whole, have an issue with antisemitism? Yes. This Guardian article provides some context for Labour, but parts of the left need to address this head on and no, that doesn’t mean turning the subject to Israel or mentioning Zionism. The comedian David Schneider make a wee test for those of us on the left and I think he’s nailed it.

I’ve been at Stop the War meetings not long after the second Iraq War where Tony Benn would agonisingly spell things out for people along similar lines to Schneider and when the floor was thrown open to questions, it would be guaranteed one of the first would be mindbogglingly antisemitic. At one in London around 2003 myself and my then partner (who was Jewish) left raging after folk ignored Benn’s message which meant she left before getting into a fight, and in Bristol a few years later myself and a mate left because we couldn’t be arsed arguing with people about ‘THE JEWS’ with spittle-flecked anger.

A section of people on the left have a blind spot for Jews. Do I think Corbyn antisemitic? No, he’s trying to protect his party and in doing so he’s fucked up because he’s never confronted the problem head on as it’d mean tackling allies, just as Gaffney isn’t tackled as it means he loses an ally here. It isn’t all Corbyn’s fault as no Labour leader in my lifetime had truly tackled the issue head-on but the issue sits within Labour and needs sorted. The left as a whole has the same issue and this leaves a massive open goal the Tories are only too glad to take advantage of. Of course the Tories have issues with every sort of bigotry going but the difference between us on the left and them is we’re supposed to care about people as people rather than find ways to get round this. Basically, we’re supposed to be better but I think some folk just have a blind spot which is why they need called out if they can’t be educated as Tony Benn used to try to do.

We have the worst government in a succession of awful governments which has wallowed in lies and corruption. A Prime Minister in Theresa May unfit for the job leading us to a Brexit nobody with sanity and compassion backs and yet the official Westminster opposition can’t break a lead because they can’t keep their own house in order. It’s a sad, pitiful and hopeless situation but if the left learns something from this then at least it may just have been worth it.

It won’t of course.

The crushing hopelessness of supporting Scotland

I have said a couple of times before about the sheer primal agony of supporting the men’s Scotland football team. Last night was the beginning of Alex McLeish’s second term as manager and to not a lot of surprise we lost to Costa Rica at a barely full (thanks to the SFA for charging stupid prices for this game) Hampden Park. Essentially supporting Scotland is like staring eternally at a gif of Andy Murray.

This Tuesday we play Hungary. On current reckoning that should be a multiple Andy Murray event.

So I ask, it shouldn’t be so hard to support your national side without it being humiliating..

What I thought of Marvel Team-Up

Comixology had a ridiculous sale recently where Marvel trades and masterworks were a fantastic 69p per book so I filled my boots and got all the Marvel Team-Up masterworks. For the uninitiated, Marvel Team-Up was an extra Spider-Man book which featured a ‘special guest star’ each issue, so the issue would normally start with Spidey swinging around New York bumping into a fellow hero and then both team up to fight a baddie.

Essentially most of Marvel Team -Up was fight scenes.

Early issues featured the Human Torch as the guest, but the series moved away from the idea of a fixed guest hero from issue 4 when the X Men appeared as guests at a time when their own book was in effectual limbo reprinting older adventures, however MTU acted within a parallel continuity linked to the the other Spider-Man book.

Those early issues featured some nice art from Ross Andru, but for me it’s the Gil Kane issues that stand out. His Spidey is sadly underrated and MTU allowed his to have fun with the then growing Marvel Universe.

These are superhero comics from a simpler time when the worst thing that would happen to Peter Parker was forgetting a date with Gwen Stacy, or he was on a crap job for The Daily Bugle.

The most stress yoj’d get as a reader is hoping the next issue would feature someone good, or even better, one of your favourites. Marvel Team-Up has returned several times over the years but nothing cries nostalgia as much as that first run of 150 issues. If you are a fan of 70’s superheroics then get yourself these books because they’re an utter joy.

Watching meteors hit the Earth is strangely relaxing

The website LiveMeteors.com is one of those things that is curiously addictive, especially if you’re still off work poorly as I am and don’t have the concentration to do anything more stressful but make a cup of tea. Essentially the site monitors objects entering the Earth’s atmosphere, be it meteor, space debris or anything else so when watching the live feed, you’ll get a near constant stream of small pings as objects enter the atmosphere with the occasional larger tone as something bigger than a teaspoon hits the Earth.

Of course such a site is open season for UFO hunters and even though on the front page of the site gives a scientific reason for the ridiculously long and heavy results you sometimes get, that isn’t stopping people from believing the truth is out there.

But this is fun to watch what is essentially something burning to a cinder. It’s somewhat relaxing…