A GREEN Dragon Lies Beneath!

I took the Inner Dragon online quiz and found out I am a Green Dragon on the inside. My Inner Dragon is the embodiment of Nature and the Earth. Greens spend almost all of their time below the canopy or just above the treetops in tropical rain forests. Not a bad life considering every other creature in the forest looks up to me, figuratively and literally. I speak the language of every animal and plant in my domain and know most of them by first name. If people mess with my forests, I'm more than happy to wail on their puny butts. Because of my protector/caretaker role, I am the Earth Elemental dragon.

Naturally my whole life pretty much revolves around the other couple million species I keep an eye on, but that's not my whole dragon. I also like to like to impose my steadfast will on others, commune with Nature, and lobby governments for alternative fuels and conservation. My favorable attributes are gemstones, mountains, caves, soil, respect, endurance, responsibility, prosperity, and purpose in life. Folks shouldn't get the idea I'm a hippy pushover though, because my breath weapon is a nasty Fire/Acid combination. Maybe I should invest in a hemp shirt reading "Don't knock my smock, or I'll clean your clock." *wink*

[paces about a bit, looks up at the sky, realises it might fall in at any second, flies away]
Film Finally, after all that soggy nostalgia a quick word for Kevin Smith's new site Move Poop Shoot. OK so far, but it will have to go some way before it overtakes the mighty Chud.
Nostalgia Sometimes you find something and you don't really know where to begin. A few weeks ago, you may remember I reminded you of Zzap! 64. Well, something else from my past has just jumped up and bit me on the botty. OINK! was a racier version of IPC stablemates Buster and Whizzer and Chips (a reaction to The Dandy and The Beano) -- it was a sort of nursery comic for future Viz readers, cleaner but with a slightly more scattological agenda. Which is interesting because many of the people who worked on it eventually ended up at Private Eye, Viz and The Guardian. Charlie Brooker was an artist on it.

So we had Pete's Pimple, Combat Colin, Tom Thug, Nice-man (a nancy version of He-man) and the spoofs of the kind of photo stories which would turn up in teen mags and the original Eagle revival (remember 'The Collector'?). Suddenly I find that Not BBC have been posting each issue online in sequence over a number of weeks. Reading back through the stories, I can see what attracted me -- the creators took the conventions of the single character one sheet and twisted them slightly. In this strip for example, Tom Thug is the protagonist even tough he's the school bully -- the one who would pick on the kids at Buster's school. And whereas there the baddie would be bested by the hero, here he is overcome by his own stupidity. It's not actually that funny, but in some ways you wonder if that was ever the point ... for people who are grinning wildly now, here is a list of links to related sites, Lemon, were you can download and play the official computer game, and Gruntster giving access to the songs from the flexi-disc which came with Issue One, in Mp3 format. Some of Frank Sidebottom's best work.
History Another nugget from the archives of Ms. magazine. Alice Walker, author of 'The Colour Purple' writes in 1974 about creativity of black women in the south. It's a difficult piece to read, especially since in some ways things haven't changed twenty-seven years later:
"For example: in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., there hangs a quilt unlike any other in the world. In fanciful, inspired, and yet simple and identifiable figures, it portrays the story of the Crucifixion. It is considered rare, beyond price. Though it follows no known pattern of quiltmaking, and though it is made of bits and pieces of worthless rags, it is obviously the work of a person of powerful imagination and deep spiritual feeling. Below this quilt I saw a note that says it was made by "an anonymous Black woman in Alabama, a hundred years ago."
Even now labelling exists which is just like this. There are a number of British paintings which cannot be attributed for whatever reason, and in that context, this example feels wrong. I hope that after the article the Smithsonian relabelled the piece. The main issue in this case is the naming of the artist an anonymous 'black' woman -- if it had been someone white would that factoid have been included? In this context it is a way of penning it away from 'our' society -- singling 'them' out as 'different'. British paintings tend to be listed as 'unatributed' or 'anonymous' or even 'British School'. Not 'anonymous white man from Britain'. In this case, 'Alabama School' for example feels much cleaner and also fits the piece within a more fitting context.

There is a broad connection I suppose with Halle Berry's win at The Oscars. It's staggering that in 2002, that she was the first black woman ever to win, and that this was an issue at all. Also, too many times we heard that it was the accademy making a kind of political decision in support of black actors (with the Washington and Poitier awards). It really shouldn't have been that way. The Oscars should be in support of creatives in general no matter their so-called origin.
TV Bye Spencer.
Humour Realism invades the Knock Knock joke:
Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Janice Peters?
Do you know Mike Liebowitz?
We went to high school together.
Small world.
No kidding.
Thanks again, Modern Humorist.
People Duncan Cambell from The Guardian is interviewing former Hollywood madame Heidi Fleiss when her sweetheart, Tom Sizemore appears and suggests that he be interviewed as well. The journalist explains he hasn't anything prepared and the actor suggests they just do something off the cuff. It's a revealing interview, fulfilling Glen Gould's edict that the best way to find out about a person is to ask them about subjects outside their profession:
"There was talk after September 11 that films might become more thoughtful, more cerebral, more engaged... "Bullshit - we have the memory of a mosquito. Most young people don't know the second world war happened. They don't know who Churchill is. Where are our statesmen? Who are these mothers running the country? Jack Kennedy - maybe he liked to go with whores - who cares? He was a statesman. Who's Tony Blair? He's the US's publicist."
I think the issue is that the people that we look up to no longer have political power. To me, Anthony Hopkins or Sean Connery feel more like the statesmen of old.
Commuter Tales There was no one to cheer with on the empty train this morning when Michael Owen scored. Even though I threw my arms in the air, without the semblence of a crowd the mouth refused to make a sound. An older woman sitting nearby looked up from her Joanna Trollope novel, adjusted her glasses.
"Oh are England playing?"
There was no one to comiserate with on the slightly fuller train when Brazil equalised. My words fell on deaf ears.
"Brazil have equalised."
When the final goal went in as I walked up to work, I simply turned by radio off and put it in my bag.
"I hate football."
Sound I finally went out and bought myself a headset -- and it works absolutely fine. Yes, that is my voice although I can become terribly northern when I'm angry or drunk or both. The words you hear were the first recorded by Thomas Edison on that wax cylinder. Tinfoil is an amazing archive of similar recordings which have survived long enough to be stored in an electronic medium [sound clip requires Real].
Quiz! I'm a Left-Liberal:
"Left-Liberals prefer self-government in personal matters and central decision-making on economics. They want government to serve the disadvantaged in the name of fairness. Leftists tolerate social diversity, but work for economic equality."
What are you?
People I can see tonight's work has been a little below par, so why not continue with the news that Hugh Grant left some pictures to be developed ten years ago and didn't collect them. "The ETA photographic developers in Kensington Park have resorted to putting up a wanted poster on their window saying, 'Have you seen this man?' alongside a picture of the actor."
The Buses As some of you may know, in Liverpool we have two tunnels under the River Mersey going either way to cut time between The Wirral and our side (the alternative used to be length ferry ride). I always wondered what might happen if something broke down in the middle. I can wonder no longer.
TV Time then for what is increasingly looking like a weekly Big Brother rant post. It's unthinkable that it would continue with the same momentum if Alex leaves. He is the centre of the show, a scimitre for both hatred and love within the house. Which is odd because like the other housemates he has lost sight of the essential basics of his situation. That he is living in a twenty-four hour gameshow. So on Saturday night when he was harranged by social misfit PJ to justify his somewhat logic choice of picking those three girls to spend the following week with him on the rich side (I probably would have picked them as well) he didn't pick on the one thing which would have silenced everyone. "It's a game mate. On this occasion, I won, you lost. OK?" Instead he went the British route of trying to be nice -- it didn't occur to him that he might strengthen his position within the group if he took the bastard's position. The fact that he also felt like he had to answer back when faced with what was essentially very childish behaviour is a weakness which will eventually be jumped upon (assuming he's still these next week).

[and just while we are in the area, why did Channel 4 sensor Spencer's reason for nominating Alex? What could have been so awful? And if it was something which would prejudice the public vote against the sullen one, don't we have a right to know?]
Words As someone who is often misquoted I can well understand how Arthur Conan Doyle might feel if he was alive. At no point in any of his writings did Sherlock Holmes say, "Elementary, my dear Watson," and yet it's trotted out as a key phrase from the series. Attache magazine describes the secret of this mis-information and debunks a few others:
"So the next time a friend tries to impress you by quoting Shakespeare’s Hamlet 'Alas! Poor Yorick! I knew him well!' remind him that the line is actually 'Alas! Poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio.' And if your child tells you she learned about Paul Revere shouting, 'The British are coming!' you might point out to her teacher that the colonists were still British and that Revere’s warning was more likely 'The regulars are coming!'
Does this actually matter? Yes. While some of the quotes mentioned are pretty trivial, what happens if the initial source is gone and all we have left is hearsay? For example, some of Shakespeare is from the memory of a scribe not from the wit of the bard -- we'll never know the actual truth of his writing. Even since then there have been many attempts to make his work accessable via 'translations' and 're-writes'. These are from people advocating that we should lose the source altogether, as long as the sense remains. I once had to undertake a translation of 'To Be or not to Be' for an acting class. The result...
HAMLET enters stage left and looks upwards. Thunder raws, and there is the sound of rain. HAMLET pulls is coat off and throws it to the floor, before throwing his arms defiantly in the air as the rain gets heavier.

Is life really worth living now? You might as well just let the worst happen. Is there any point in fighting against it, when you know you can't win. After all isn't death just the deepest sleep imaginable - the kind of sleep which calms all pain and ends all sadness? One of those sleeps which you could literally die for.

He puts his arms down and into his pockets and begins to shift the flat of his show against the stage.

But what kind of dreams would there be. Death dreams. After a life full insults, unwanted love, injustice and the bureaucracy, the kind of debts which can only be paid with the cut of a dagger. Aren't we just putting up with a life like that because we're afraid of not knowing what happens after death.

He reaches down and picks up his coat. He brushes the dirt from it and pulls it back on.

Still its better the devil you know than the one you don't. So I'm a coward for living, but at least I can be.
... is generally awful (although nice staging). The sense is there, but the poetry is gone, replaced by phoney melodrama and wierd phraseology. Don't know about you, but I prefer the original.

For once 'The Economist' agrees with me as it considers a new glossary of Elizabethan and Jacobian language translation:
"More insidious are the places that seem safe. When Hamlet asks Ophelia if she is 'honest', and two lines later if she is 'fair', do we feel the sexual sting? The word 'sex' and its derivatives were not used in our sense then. Shades of meaning in honesty, affection, fancy, sense or blood, did the business. Lucky foreigners, it is said, who can render the connotations' and sweep away the inauthentic air of archaism."
Better to translate as you go along, not to discard the original. No matter how good your poster print of the 'Mona Lisa' might be, you don't want to throw the original in a skip. But I've a feeling those mis-heard quoates and stories will continue anyway. As Rose McGowan says in 'Scream' -- 'You hear the Richard Gere gerbil story enough times you end up believing it!' ... although she didn't quite say it like that did she? [Shakespeare piece via ArtsJournal]
Design What is originality?
"Over the past thirty five years, which coincides with my years of practicing industrial design, I have been intrigued with our continuous search for originality, our fascination and admiration for its results, and with the fact that reaching an "original" result has never been questioned against the real aim and goal of our profession: user satisfaction."
In other words, what's the point in designing a really nice looking chair, if it's impossible to sit in it?
Backlog Just been watching the excellent pilot episode of Channel 4's new import 'Six Feet Under'. As American readers will know this is ensemble piece about a family running a funeral home in the aftermath of the death of the father of the family. It's by Alan Ball, the writer of the growing on me 'American Beauty' and shares it's twisty dialogue and vivid characterisation. It will be interesting to see if the series can continue the care free attitude of this first moment.

I was shocked to discover Anne Dudek of 'The Book Group' drifting past in the closing moments of the show. If you've still got the programme on tape, find literally the final moments of the show, as Nate Fisher stands watching his father ride away by bus. People are passing-by and smiling -- there she is (with some child). It's her eyes which give it away. Which brings me to an appeal -- I missed (somehow) the episode of 'er' when Eric La Salle left (ie) the one where Benton left the show. By a strange co-incidence this was Anne Dudek's only other TV work, as 'Paula Gamble, Teddy's Mom'. Something of a double wammy then. If anyone happens to have the episode on tape, could you let me know so I could grab a copy -- I'll pay for postage, tape, whatever. After watching Benton grumple his way through eight and a half seasons, it would be a shame to miss his swansong. This really isn't a substitute.
Flashback In honour of the taxi-cab ride I’ve just taken through the local Macdonalds Drive-Through (you should try it – it’s some kind of adventure), here is the story of the last time I went to such a drive-thru.

It was 1998 and ‘Friends’ was still very good. My friend Tris had been away and missed much of Season Two, so I’d been to his new house for a catch up night. We began at half past six and by eleven we realised that there are only so many episodes of any programme you can watch in a single evening.

As I’m leaving I realise I’m still hungry, and since the only place open at that time of night is Macdonalds, so I make that cheeseburger my goal.

I begin the long walk to Edge Lane, where the restaurant is (via the opposite direction and a proper direction finding run in with some pissers-by). When I get there, I find the damn place is shut - having walked - in the pouring rain - for nearly twenty minutes. BUT, the drive-thru is open. I look at the people in the cars all being served with processed meat on sesame seed buns. It doesn’t seem fair that they would get food simply because they’re sitting in shelter on wheels. In that back of my mind (which I must stress was not fuelled by any kind of alcohol) something screams and I decide that the best thing to do is join the queue. With the cars. Without a car.

The queue is not short – by the time I arrive there must be about twenty-five of them. So I’m standing there, in my long black woollen coat, which is just sponging up those raindrops, wondering what the personal number plate ’FO 1’ means. The kid on the back seat of the car in front is staring at me, and the guy in the car that just pulled up behind me honks his horn.

I stand there for a good ten minutes. Like any good human queue, I move forward with the other Mazda-shaped members, bending the corners in the lane that twists around the building. Of course, I knew all this was vaguely unusual. But as I kept saying to myself – pickled gerkins, cheese, lettuce. A guy in a car a few ahead in the queue opens his window and asks me were I left my sun roof.

I first spotted the police as they cruised up the carriage way. I thought nothing of it. Then they appeared around the corner in front and actually give me a drive by. We eyed each other as they passed-by, and I could tell that they are checking me out to see if I’m all right. I realise that if I run, or try and disappear, it will look suspicious so I stand my ground. At the back of my mind all I can think of is that I’m about to be done for causing an obstruction or some breaking the natural laws of the road.

They disappear. I sigh and step forward determined to reach the front.

A window opens in the car in front and a girl drops her head out. She asks me what I’m doing. I tell her I’m waiting the queue because of my burger craving. It is now, having stood here for twenty minutes, that she decides to tell me that there is actually a window at the front for people like me who are on foot. At first I don’t believe her. But she insists. I shrug and tell her to save my place. It takes a few moments for this to register with her. She nods and says quietly ‘Well OK’, and I charge off looking for the window, already decided that I’d simply go home if the window did not exist, knowing I’d looked like a tart for long enough.

The window exists. I arrive and order a cheeseburger and fries. I tell the girl serving my story, hoping to break the sullenness of a graduate with the worst job in the world. It’s now one o’clock on a Saturday night. She has every right to be depressed. But it has the right effect. She laughs hard and loud, and then tells me in her sweet Glaswegian accent that I’ve made her evening and it will come in really useful at 3 o’clock. We chat for a moment while she works. She tells me that their computer keeps bollixing up and losing orders. Which is why there is a tailback of cars in a usually efficient system. She is lucid and intelligent, which made a change for Macdonalds, compared to the staff at the city centre branch who forget orders even when they are written down and often provide the wrong food. So I ask her if it’s worth working at this branch and after a moment’s thought, she says yes, and tells me were to apply.

Like all great real life stories, thus one doesn’t have a punch line, but to be honest I don’t think its that kind of story - yet. Perhaps in five years I’ll bump into that girl (Lucy – oh that everyone in the world wore a name tag), remind her of that night and we’ll marry. Unlikely, but at least it would be a good end to this story. [related]