Saturday, May 29, 2010

Empire

www.collegehumor.com/video:1936291 - This could turn into an obsession if I'm not careful. Lost continues to tear me in two - so congratulations to the creators, whatever they intended to create will have a legacy; people will talk about this for years to come. But I still think it will end up being best remembered for having lazy plotting and being all style and no substance (which, considering the depth of substance, sounds like a bold statement).
Rarely does anything have me locking horns with myself like this has. Half of me loved the finale, but half of me hated it. That doesn't work out in mathematical terms, because the finale and the series was not so-so or average. I doubt there will be many things that end that will have such a dramatic emotional effect on me and its been a long time since I can remember ruminating over a TV series the way I have with this one.
One thing I'll stake my reputation on; it'll be a long time before we see a major network attempt to do something as ambitious, without it being instantly labelled the 'New Lost'.

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As beer festivals go, I don't have that much to compare the Northampton annual CAMRA event at Delapre Abbey, every Whitsun Bank Holiday, the only other festivals I've been to have been in pubs, not in the grounds of a historical building - http://www.delapreabbey.org/
It's the third time Roger and I have found ourselves there and while the organisation had improved and the crowds were many, there just seemed to be this nagging feeling in my head that it didn't have the rustic charm of yesteryear. I was also disappointed that despite having over 200 beers, they didn't have a lot of very worthwhile brewers and a slightly underwhelming number of beers from the good breweries.
It didn't help matters that I've been carrying around some kind of bug for best part of the week. A really bizarre thing happened to me at the pub quiz on Tuesday. I came over all nauseous. Roger, who was sitting opposite to me said he saw me literally go green. I wasn't drunk and I'd done nothing different - apart from being a bit off of my food that evening. Four days later and it's still not right - my stomach seems to be involved in a constant battle with itself. 4 halves don't seem to have done it any favours...

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I switched on Facebook this morning and saw this link - http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/notes/andy-winter/ci-rip/428392851411 I don't know if you'll be able to see it if you're not Andy's friend, but the upshot is an announcement that Cosmic Publishing has shut down.

Doesn't mean much to anybody does it?

Cosmic Publishing bought Comics International. Any one that knows me knows that I worked on that magazine for over 130 issues, ranging from contributor to news editor.

I spent two hours and 2,732 words talking about this and this morning I decided that Comics International, in one form or another and by one association or another has been part of my life for 21 years, that I needed to stop.
I input approx 40,000,000 words during my time there. I've written far too much about it since I parted company with it and I have a completed, but not finished, 300,000+ word autobiographical book, which spends a lot of time talking about my time there. I have been accused of being obsessed, if not by the magazine, by its former owner and my former exploiter, um, sorry, employer and frankly, while this is possibly the last best opportunity to talk about it with any topicality. I can't be arsed. I have my finger poised on the delete button. There may be a time when I do write something definitive, but now is not the time.

Comics International has really been dead for a few years. It limped along under a new regime that wasn't equipped. To eulogise about it now is a little like writing an epitaph for a person who has suffered from Alzheimer's for many years - its story is rooted firmly in the past.

However, as a footnote to it, I will say this. I have documented evidence of this, so I'm not just claiming to be a prophet...

In 2006, when the magazine was sold, I said the magazine would struggle and would last a couple of years, at best. I also said that this would please the man who sold it, because it would inflate his ego knowing that no one else could do it. I very much expect that now the name 'Comics International' is available to purchase from the administrator's sorting through Cosmic's finances; someone might have a go at doing it all again, just to see if he can prove, yet again, that he is what he's always believed he is - the messiah of British comics.

Of course, had Cosmic ever even considered asking the only other person in the country capable of producing Comics International to either run it or save it, the above wouldn't happen. I'm not saying that I would have made it a success, it was almost an anachronism in the late 1980s when it launched; but I would have guaranteed turnover, reader loyalty and some return for the investors money. Whatever people thought of me when I was in comics, no one can deny that I can deliver the goods and on time.
Who knows, maybe someone with integrity and desire will buy the name and do something honest and good with it. If that happened, they'd get my backing - but only spiritually.

Now, delete...

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Moving on.
It appears that one of Fabio Capello's problems was answered this weekend. How to get England scoring goals? Play Japan's central defenders up front instead of Crouch, Bent, Defoe and Heskey.
Two cracking goals though.

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Peter Gabriel had a bad one once; so did Brian Eno. Phil Oakey's was just plain daft and over the years there have been lots of ridiculous hairstyles that have caused a lot of us to snigger. At the beer festival on Friday night, Roger and I were supping one of the less interesting beers when two lads, about 18 or 19 walked past us. We both had one of those 'WTF' moments as we witnessed two adolescents sporting the new, 2010 version of THE MULLET!

Except these were no ordinary mullets; these were really tight cropped hair on the top, front and both sides; just the back had a luxuriant mane remaining. As beer festivals tend to be patronised by largely middle-aged men with beer bellies and a love of pub rock, these two looked like a couple of cocks at a clunge convention. In fact, they just looked like a couple of cocks...

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Radical idea; guaranteed to make me decidedly unpopular amongst kids and fans of Christmas.

Why not make Christmas day February 29th? That way it's closer to the supposed time that the supposed event that we're supposed to be celebrating happened. Also, it only happens once ever 4 years, so like the Olympics it becomes something to look forward to (or dread). That way you can give the poor people 12 bank holidays a year - one a month, and a bonus one in May, because we have two already. That way, we get 13 extra days off a year, we don't bankrupt ourselves totally and all of us who hate Christmas and kids can go away for that week and we have four years to save up for it!

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The irony of David Laws resignation from the coalition cabinet is that he not only broke a rule that came into being four years ago (therefore not just running up wrong expenses, but also breaking parliament laws, if you'll pardon the pun). Amazingly, and I don't give a hoot about his circumstances*, President Blackadder and sidekick Baldrick have defended the man, saying they hope he can rejoin the cabinet at a later date.

Less than a month into a new political era and the government is already blighted by a good old fashioned bit of deceit. The only thing that spoiled it was it wasn't Lord Snooty, but one of his attack dogs.

*The wife commented that Laws "couldn't possibly be gay!" I asked why and she said, "Look at him, the man has no dress sense at all."

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To suggest I'm going to stop using Facebook is a little like predicting that Blackpool will win the English Premiership; there is a chance, but its pretty small and I'd probably have more chance of getting a naked lap dance from Karen Gillan; but one lives in hope... Sorry, got sidetracked there for a moment...

Facebook. Yeah, that was it. Is it me or has the social networking side of Facebook been replaced by a more invite networking kind of thing? The reason I ask is because one gets the impression that social networking is a bit like meeting your mates at the pub, only you're all at home or work. Facebook isn't about networking, not in the actual sense of the word, it's about sharing. Facebook is a social sharing site; you share all kinds of information with your 'friends' - from what you think to what you like to what you need for your fucking Farmville obsession. It's used to brag about high scores, show drunken photos that once upon a time would sit at the bottom of draws, forgotten. It's used to promote things, it's used to pry into your private life, if you let it and worst of all it shows just how bland and boring our lives are if the highlight is getting home (or not in some cases, because work will do) to recruit new neighbours for some time consuming folly with no real goal to aim for. It does have things that make it socially interactive - a chat feature that is as temperamental as Liza Minnelli and a notifications alerts jobby that states the bleeding obvious. The status update thingy is only any good when you have something profound, witty or seemingly important to say.

Where Facebook scores with me is the ability to 'share' other stuff with friends. It's no different than being on a forum, except there still is an ease, which was always missing from something like Delphi or Yahoogroups, that makes it feel interactive, even if it's just a fancy hub for a directory of web based ephemera. It lets me play Scrabble for nothing and it keeps me connected with the members of my family that I'm notoriously inept at keeping in touch with. After that, despite the hours I've spent on it since 2008, I'm hard pressed to see any positives.

Today, the sun was shining and I had a choice. I could sit here and fiddle about with my Social City game, which I'm growing indifferent towards, surf around Facebook to see if there's anything remotely interesting or pick up a book, sit in the garden and do something just as meaningless, but away from the monitor, with fresh air in my lungs and a memory of when home computers didn't exist.

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The rest can wait...

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