A Viewing order for the The X-Men franchise.

Film Welcome to the feelinglistless breakroom, I'm Stuart Ian Burns.  

About four years ago, after the release of Logan, I attempted to put the X-Men films into some kind of logical viewing order with only minor success. After seeing someone I follow on Twitter try to make sense of it, I had a brainwave. Rather than treat them as a single narrative, just assume they take place in different realities, ala the Sony Spider-Man films and watch them as such, like an anthology series about mutants. 

Logan's Run. 

X-Men Origins: Wolverine 
X-Men 2 
X-Men 3 (or whatever it's called in your end of the world) 
The Wolverine 
X-Men: Days of Future Past 

As I suggested last time, there's a version of these films in which the same Wolverine character is the protagonist who finally has his redemption at the close of Days of Future Past, having undone the mess of X-Men 3. If you watch just these films, they tell a complete story (assuming you're kind enough to accept there are two mutants both called Sabretooth for some reason).

Old Man Logan. 

The Gifted 

As I misinterpreted on first viewing, Logan is supposed to be set in a different continuity, perhaps one in which the events of Days of Future Past didn't end favourably. I'm also boldly suggesting that this is the same world TV's The Gifted happened, which also has an absent X-Men and mutants on the run from sinister forces.

The Do-Over.

First Class
Days of Future Past 
Dark Phoenix

Time works differently in this reality, people or at least mutants, don't age at the same rate as the others.  Essentially this is the reality which breaks off after Wolverine time travels.  Versions of at least the first two films in the 00s trilogy do happen after Dark Phoenix and the final result is much the same but perhaps even further into the future (to explain the different casting especially of your Mom).  This also helps explain the various casting changes from the "Prime" universe, notably Emma Frost.


Deadpool 2
The New Mutants

Ridiculously, Deadpool is referenced on screens and documents in the airplane scenes of Fant4stic which means they're in the same continuity.  Putting Deadpool in a different reality to the other films explains why Colossus is so different to them and it bolsters The New Mutants a little bit by making this other X-Men the one they're referring to with their fate leading in to Legion as the terminal point for mutants in this reality.

What do you think?  Leave a comment and don't forget to like and subscribe. For feelinglistless, I'm Stuart Ian Burns.

Liverpool Biennial 2021: Press Launch.


Art  Just seconds ago (at time of writing) the press launch for last year's Liverpool Biennial concluded.  Necessarily delayed until this year, what with one thing and another, and the event happened over Zoom for the same reason.  Which means that unlike previous years you won't find me describing my imposter syndrome or offering an existential recitation of dealing with crowds of strangers accompanied by a sad photo of a half eaten croissant.  On the upside, this did mean I was able to watch with a freshly brewed decaffeinated coffee in hand thanks to owning a silver bean machine that will do that sort of thing.

Thankfully the event was structured as a webinar, so the only faces on screen were the speakers so I didn't have to inflict my lockdown hair and weird storage boxes on the real press people in attendance.  Unfortunately that did also mean that it lacked the opportunity to lig on who else was in the crowd.  Hopefully it wasn't just me.  That would be disappointing for all involved.  Not that for a moment this didn't actually look like this might be the case when my written question was answered first, about the existence of a printed Biennial visitor guide (yes, there is and a pdf version too), but fortunately other contributions were made straight away.

As you can see from the above screen shot, this year's instalment is titled "The Stomach and the Port" paralleling Liverpool's key historic utility with how our body functions or as the festival portal explains:

"... challenges an understanding of the individual as a defined, self-sufficient entity. The body is instead seen as a fluid organism that is continuously shaped by and shaping its environment. A plethora of artistic practices inform this edition: many of the artworks include sound, shun direct representation, de-stabilise gender categories or look at intense forms of contact. Liverpool, and its maritime history as a point of global contact and circulation, provides the perfect ecosystem to situate these enquiries."

Like some of the classic entries, Liverpool Biennial 2021 has a theme that's both interesting and open enough that it'll be up to the visitor to decide exactly how a given artist has reacted to the brief and how the artworks interact with it.  There's a much longer explanation available here.  

From what I can see glancing through the booklet (enough to comment, not enough to have spoilers), there are far more new commissions than archival works than in recent years which means the artworks should directly reference these ideas and the times in which we live (rather a curatorial attempt to make old works fit the theme), which makes me far more optimistic about this edition than I have in a long time.  The quality has been variable in the past decade but this is a whole new team reconceiving what the Biennial can and should be.

Indeed my only fear this year is logistics.  Recent Biennials have spanned up to three months but this whole thing opens on the 19th May and closes the 27th June.  One the one hand this forces me to get my finger out and try and do multiple venues on the same day, but given that most of them require a booking I'm a bit flummoxed about co-ordinating those booking to give myself enough time in each space, especially if I'm following the suggested trails, not wanting to rush to make deadlines, not wanting to have to hang around too much in-between.

But strangely I'm less bothered about safety concerns.  Having timed bookings means they're limiting visitor numbers and if the quality of presentation in previous years is a guide, rules will be followed to the letter.  Plus being fully vaccinated changes the equation a lot.  Please god the next Biennial will happen in a brave new post-pandemic world in which the only barriers are between the artworks and our ability to interpret them.  With Cityscapes.  I still miss Cityscapes.

The Sugababes are actually releasing a new album even if it's an old one.

Music The NME reports that the Sugababes are rereleasing One Touch "featuring demos, rarities and re-workings from the likes of Blood Orange (aka Dev Hynes) and Metronomy."  Accompanying the news is an interview with Siobhan and Keisha, but troublingly not Mutya, last seen parroting Qanon theories about the Royal family amongst others on Twitter and her now private Instagram account.

There's an MNEK remix of Run For Cover on Spotify, the first new material to appear under that name since 2010's Wear My Kiss (Flatline has been expunged along with the MKS profile and only survives in various plastic cover versions.  The remix isn't really my sort of thing, of the kind which would be amongst the ten different versions on a CD single to bulk up the value of charging £3.99 for a copy of Underwater Love by Smoke City.

The interview covers similar ground to previous outings although it's pretty obvious Siobhan and Keisha have continued to go through some things since 2013 and been able to articulate exactly to each other what caused the split when they were kids.  Remember in 2009, Siobhan told the PonyStep website (just four years before the release of Flatline):
"... there was no doubt that I was pushed out. It was clear that there was someone in that band who never wanted me in it and that’s Keisha. She never wanted me in that band and made my life a living hell. It’s funny... all these years on, I’ve grown up and I’ve left it all behind me and I’m not bothered by it. I think a lot of the memories, I have just blocked out because I don’t really like to think of the nasty stuff. I like to think about the good things in life, always focus on the positive, and Zen and all that shit. But I’ll never forgive her. Though no-one forgives that first bully in their lives, do they? No-one does. Even when you’re fifty. Though, on the other hand, it doesn’t matter. You meet so many people in the world. Why would I need to reconcile with that person? I don’t even know if she would want to.
Contrast that with this exchange from the new interview when Keisha's answer a question about how racism contributed to a perception of her being a bully:
Siobhan: “Even as a teenager, it was obvious to me that the three of us were treated differently, especially in other countries. Some people would only direct questions to me. It was awkward and obvious to me then what was at the heart of what was going on, but I didn’t know how to address it then.”
Keisha: “To be honest with you Siobhan, I didn’t even notice.”
Siobhan: “I always did.”
Keisha: “I genuinely didn’t, and then I went into every situation on the defensive thinking: ‘They’re not going to like me anyway’. That was my defence-mechanism: show an attitude first to protect myself. In the past 15 years, I’ve done a lot of work to make sense of this all, but it’s had a very damaging effect and – not to get emotional – I feel really good that we can even have this conversation.”

Honestly, this is genuinely moving and shows how time really is a great dealer.  The absence of Mutya isn't addressed although apparently there's more of this interview to be published, so perhaps we'll find out then.

Anyway, the rerelease is out in October ready for the Christmas market and there might well be actual new material released soon too.

Let's end on Sugababes 3.0 mangling Overload in 2006, for old times sake:


In The City. Finally.

Life Hello, how are you? Keeping safe? I know it's been a while, but, you know, stuff and things.  We're all double or fully vaccinated now, which happened relatively smoothly, apart from Dad ending up in hospital overnight after his first jab, although it wasn't until much later we realised that it wasn't the side effects which caused him to repeatedly pass out as fluids were emerging from all over his body, it was the large bag of black liquorice he'd eaten that afternoon which is a no-no if you suffer from high blood pressure.  He had liquorice poisoning.  

After over twelve months of thinking about it, I visited the city centre this morning for the first time in twelve months.  Having been vaccinated and with the proffered statistics on cases and deaths in the local area, I'm a bit more relaxed about going out into the world, albeit still with a mask on throughout and to the point its caused a rash on the back of my ears.  For all that, bus travel is still a psychological step too far, what with some people being incapable of keeping their mask on for the whole journey.

The city centre felt strange.  Even for a Monday morning it was relatively quiet   Much of the visit amounted to me noting what's closed (the Sainsburys at the top of Bold Street, the WH Smiths in Central Station), what's newly opened (B&M in the old Virgin Megastore space in Clayton Square) and what's miraculously still open (the cheap DVD and CD place in St Johns Precinct!).  But having become so delivery sufficient across those twelve months utilitarian reasons for visiting the city centre have diminished considerably.

Not least because we've also updated our broadband connection.  Twenty years ago when visiting the Millennium Dome, I watched the Wierd Al parody of The Phantom Menace on a T1 internet connection which seemed like magic to someone accustomed to dial-up.  Ten years ago, this blog was still being written across a phone line.  Today, it's via a 1.1Gbps fibre connection, which is ridiculous and faster than some universities.  It was a 700mps leap for just a pound extra a month, albeit added to an already relatively expensive charge.

Of course, at these margins, using the web hasn't become that much faster.  Download speeds are only as fast as the servers from which they're being delivered and while pointless saving tracks to offline mode in Spotify is now instantaneous on Windows, grabbing material from the Internet Archive still has some inertia.  But streaming apps are miraculously fast to open now and installing one of the Alien related games the other night, all 13GB of it, took just four minutes.

So despite having been vaccinated enough that it feels safer to go places and do things, at least for now, there aren't that many places I'd want to go and with this broadband connection no need to.  But museums and cinemas will be opening soon and I'll finally be able to look at a painting in the paint and canvas rather than on a computer screen.  Though geographically useful, virtual exhibitions simply aren't a substitute for a thrill of visiting a space and smelling the varnished floors.