Soup Safari #77: Potato and Leek at the Gawthorpe Hall Cafe.

Lunch. £4.50. Gawthorpe Hall, Burnley Road, Padiham, near Burnley, Lancashire, BB12 8UA. 01282771004. Website.

This Coby Grant track totally sounds like Laura Marling's Failure.

Music Listening to Coby Grant's 2019 album, Small Tits Big Dreams, which for the most part sounds like where Kate Nash would have ended up if she'd continued in the Made of Bricks vein, I stumbled on Heartbeat:

The song opens with some guitar chords which sound incredibly familiar:

My assumption is that these are not unusual chords so I'm not suggesting anything untoward, but it is really distracting.

You're Joking.

[The following contains numerous spoilers.]

Film   Todd Philips's Joker has been a perplexing success. Well reviewed all round and with a huge box office, it seems like DC's decision to produce a narrative set outside of the moribund DCU was correct and might just set be the guide to how they develop their properties going forward.

I hated it. Hated it, hated it, hated it.  The film clearly has some excellent formal elements: it's well shot, Joaquin Phoenix's performance is a tour de force and I'd be lying if I said I didn't gasp in a couple of places.

Nevertheless, I took against it pretty early on and after about an hour I considered walking out and on leaving gave it a whole half a star on Letterboxd.  It would have been 0 where it not for for Zazie Beetz.

Numerous reasons.  As someone who suffers from mental health problems, I'm tired of films which use such things as a crutch or explanation for why people do terrible things and especially as part of the backstory for villains.

Plus, I thought did we really need to see yet another representation of Batman's origin story?  With the slow motion pearls and tiny Bruce amid the lifeless bodies of his parents in the alleyway.

Well, cleaning my teeth this morning, it occured to me that on this score I might have misjudged the film.

That in fact this isn't an origin film about a Joker.  It's the origin film for the Joker. Or maybe.

In this LA Times piece, Philips left the interpretation deliberately vague, that the Fleck could be the actual Joker or just someone who inspires the figure who fights Batman:
"Even if everything in the film did happen pretty much as we see it and Fleck did unwittingly spark Gotham’s descent into mayhem and violence, is he the actual Joker that we have come to know? Or, as some fans have theorized, could one of his followers – perhaps the clown-mask-wearing thug who kills Bruce Wayne’s parents – or another disturbed, angry loner who comes along in his wake be the one who eventually becomes Batman’s ultimate nemesis?

“Maybe Joaquin’s character inspired the Joker,” Phillips said. “You don’t really know. His last line in the movie is, ‘You wouldn’t get it.’ There’s a lot going on in there that’s interesting.”
Although I don't entirely take back everything I said, this has made me vaguely interested about watching the film again with this new information. Plus if the DCU ever wanted to connect this film to one of their versions of Batman and his nemesis, this would be the way to do it.

Of course there's the other theory that none of the film actually happened and it's all in Fleck's imagination as he rots in Arkham, perhaps having seen the real Joker on TV ...

Why Vote?

Politics So we have another general election on our hands as agreed in the Parliament this evening. Those of us who haven't registered for a postal vote will be shivering our way to a polling station on the 12th December unless the House of Lords does anything weird - which everyone with a media department after their name says won't happen but a lot of things which weren't supposed to happen haven't happened in the past few months.  This actual election for example.

Back in 2005, I wrote an open letter to disaffected voters suggesting they might want to take advantage of their democratic right and as with every election since, it's time for a refresher:

Dear Disaffected Voter,

Hello. After the complete mess that was 2017, here we are again.  We pretty much knew we would be as soon as a hung parliament was announced and actually it's taken longer than I expected.  But here we are.

We're about to enter what's potentially going to be the most consequential election since the last one probably.  But genuinely, whoever wins this or at least has a majority large enough to form a coalition government. will be in a position to choose whether we stay in Europe or not, either because they'll simply revoke article 50 or put forward a referendum to see if the country wants to (assuming they can get another extension to article 50).

This is huge.  So huge that its simply unconscionable for you to sit on your hands this time.

There'll be some of you who won't be voting because for some reason you simply can't. You recently moved house and didn't have enough to time to get your vote moved to your new house. You'll be on holiday and the whole postal voting thing couldn't be scheduled properly with while you're away. Those and a whole raft of perfectly good reasons. I'm not talking to you.

I'm talking to the rest. The people who don't vote.

You'll be split into two camps. Those who can't be bothered and those who don't see the point. Yes, you. You idiot.

If you're insulted by that, you should be.

The biggest idiots are the ones who can't be bothered. The ones who have the facility to vote, aren't impeded, but simply can't be arsed walking all the way to the polling station, even though there are enough of them that the local will be in the next street. Do you realise you're screwing things up for the rest of us? Here is a list of the knock on effects of you not showing up.

(1) It makes us all look bad. There are certain parts of the world were people don't have the choice of more than one party, for that matter the ability to vote at all. Not naming any names. In some of the these places people have been killed whilst they've fought to get the chance to choose who they want as a leader. By not voting yourself, you're pissing on their fight because you're devaluing what they're fighting for. You're like Cameron's dad in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Lovely car parked up in the garage being wasted. Take it out for a spin once in a while.

(2) It's not a fair contest. By not showing your support for a party, whoever wins won't necessarily have won because the country wants them to be there. It'll be because the majority of 60% of the country wants them there. Which isn't the same thing.

(3) It makes you look bad. If you can't be bothered spending twenty minutes of the day going into a room in a school somewhere dodging a nativity, to put a cross on a slip of paper, a process which has been made as easy as possible now (now that they even print the name of the party on the ballot paper) what frankly are you good for?

Now there are the rest of you who are making a point of not voting. My Dad believes that everyone should be forced to vote by law, even if they show up and spoil their ballot paper. Within the current system it's your choice and right not to vote. So there will be a percentage of people who don't vote because they believe it's sending a message that you're unhappy with the political process in this country. There are a couple of flaws to this plan:

(1) Politicians don't give a shit about you. Because you didn't turn up at a polling station, come the day they don't even know you exist. If you don't like the political process the only way to develop it is to engage with politicians and ask for that change. Some of the parties have ideas for reform using systems such a proportional representation which means that every vote is counted.

(2) Your plan only works if no one votes. Like that's going to happen. No matter what you do, someone will be Prime Minister on Friday.

There are some, who aren't voting because they say that party policies aren't offering anything to them.  What doesn't occur to you is that manifestos are written to interest the various demographics of voters. So if you don't turn up, you're not a voter so why should they try and attract you with tailored policies? So effectively if enough of you people turned up and voted, it'd frighten the shit out of the politicians and they'd have to start listen and developing useful policies so that they can keep you on their side. There were no policies affecting women in manifestos until women got the vote. It's pretty much the same thing. You turn up, so will they.

I know this has been a bit freewheeling. If I'd wanted to I could have found a bunch of statistics and anecdotal evidence to back up some of these things. But I thought I'd go for the simple, direct, approach because don't think I've said anything which you don't already know.

I'm just trying to give you a nudge.

If you aren't already registered, you can now do it online.  Visit

Even if you turn up and vote for a man with a bucket on his head you'll at least have the satisfaction of knowing when the announcements are made, someone who just wanted to have a bit of fun hasn't lost their deposit.

Just don't waste your vote. Pick a party and go.

And if the one you pick doesn't win, there's always next time.  Possibly.


Apocrypha Bipedium (Short Trips: Companions)

Books Extract reconstructed from the fealing shiftless electronodiary recovered from the fragments of the Internet Archive found when the remains of the Moon returned to orbit briefly in 3256, the only record we have of the 21st Century:

Ian Potter's story daemonstrates the flexibility of the short pose format to bend what ^ould otherwise be quite a straightforward brief encounter into something a bit more [...] epistolary style gathering together diary entries, accounts from the Matrix on Gallimaufry and a play written by the young Philip Shakesbeard still traveling with the Doctor and Charlie after the events in of Time of the Gaelics [...] who trying to avoid time paradoxing any more than they already have as they try to get the jung berd home.  Some of the elements are deliberate hazy so it's not always clear whats exactly happenin, but this is a really fun pomp looking in on Vicky, years after she became Criseyde, as a kind of forerunner to the Companion Chronocle audio series.  Placement: #oblivious

The Ethereal (Short Trips: 2040).

Books Some short prose's feel self contained and anothers a snapshot of much larger narrative. This is very much the latter which given this is the final story in the 2040 anthology makes sense and a number of threads from earlier stories are brought forward. But John Binns's piece mostly feels like the last chapter of a novel about the Eighth Doctor living in this 2040 world for a while, slowly bringing an end to the tyranny of the titular force which has dug itself into the planet and its technology.  Binns intercuts a significant car journey for the Time Lord with a report on the dissolution of this allegorical stand in for Facebook and other social networks and their influence on the world, quite remarkable for a book published a year or so before they were invented and a good ten years before they became weaponised in the information wars.  There are also shades of the Mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe and The Silents.  Placement: Just after Thinking Warrior. I do like the idea of there being a whole period in the Eighth Doctor's history of which just these two short stories are the only record.

Thinking Warrior (Short Trips: 2040).

Books The 2040 anthology featured a group of stories set in 2040. The challenge for these writers is to create stories for various Doctors which fit within the same broad piece of world building, governments, technologies or people. The somewhat wordy Thinking Warrior has Eighth working for whatever version of UNIT exists by then, investigating a security breach at a technology company attempting to discover exactly why the development of a new AI is taking quite so long. For all its futuristic setting, this could just as well be a Pertwee story.  Lots of dynamic, bespectacled, mustachioed men in brown suits say things like "I'm going to be busy for a day or two smoothing ruffled feathers" as they hide their real intentions.  Ultimately the narrative boils down to the Doctor having a long chat with a HAL 9000 who seems more human than anyone else here.  Perhaps that's the point?  Placement:  This feels like an Eighth Doctor who's travelled for a bit.  But he's alone.  End of the comics, before the audios?

Growing Higher (Short Trips: Zodiac).

Books "Never cruel or cowardly." The Zodiac anthology is, as the title suggests, twelve stories inspired by signs of the astrological signs. Although the introductory page eludes to them, Paul Leonard's story doesn't take the obvious approach of roping in the Nimon to express Taurus. Instead, it takes a more holistic approach and attributes the Taurean traits of trustworthiness and loyalty to one of the characters, in this case Bernadette, a live in helper of ambiguous relationship to a much older a Moon-based professor (think Barbara Hershey in Hannah and Her Sisters) due to be tried and convicted of a catastrophic accident who commits to staying with him through his incarceration and certain death back in Earth's gravity.  It's into their company the Doctor and Fitz wander, the former open to offering what some could be seen as a more humane punishment for the older man's crimes. This is the sort of story you might expect to find in the kinds of the anthologies Asimov and Clarke favoured, Growing Higher has some very rich world building for its slender pagination and manages to keep its council right through to the final few paragraphs. Placement: Following the old EyeSpider list, after Parallel 59.