Tuesday, March 30, 2004


It's Sliding Doors without the middle-class smugness. It's Vanilla Sky without the general lack of redeeming features whatsoever. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind was a beautiful and clever film with a good script and superb performances from the whole cast (expect the same shocked proclamations of "Egad! Jim Carrey can act!" that we got after The Truman Show and The Cable Guy). But I didn't like it. It wallowed in its cleverness, it wasn't nearly as funny as it thought it was, and like so many films today (especially of the "independent" sort) it quite obviously subscribed to the Happy Endings Are Bad school of thought as it dragged the plot kicking and screaming not to its logical end, but to a more cynical climax more acceptable to goatee-stroking film students.
It was a romantic comedy that didn't have the courage to be a romantic comedy.

After that disappointment I'm looking forward even more to Hellboy, which should offer a refreshing lack of pretentiousness as well as big monsters smashing stuff up.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Ah! Spring!

The sun is shining, animals are becoming more active, and people seem more cheerful. The air is full of bird song, the trees are starting to bud, and as the ice melts, all around is the scent of slowly-defrosting dog poop.


(I take no credit for this observation. Meg is the one who pointed it out.)

With Apologies To The INS

Yesterday, I described the INS as "Bush's Keep The Darkies Out Department". Well, I do think that most of the Bush policies have been racially, religously and socially bigotted, including the creation of the sinisterly-named Department of Homeland Security, and that the system is still stacked against the non-white, non-English speaking applicant. All that said, the "officer" who interviewed us was less of a quasi-Nazi stormtrooper, and much more of a kindly aunt. From criticising the government and the country during a videotaped interview, to allowing us to leave to get a missing piece of paperwork and then return to finish the interview, she was a pleasant and helpful person. So, the government and its policies may bring to mind the actions of jackbooted lunatics with funny mustaches, but the people working within the system aren't necessarily of the same mould.
That missing bit of paperwork was the only hitch in what was indeed a formality. Yet again, the lurching bureaucratic monster that is immigration failed to tell us about something important we'd need later on, and we were lucky to be able to work around it this time.

So I have a green card, which is neither green nor a card, and a splitting headache due to a lack of sleep and a sudden and unexpected heatwave in these parts. It is so strange to walk around in the beating sun and see the lakes still frozen over.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Wish Me Luck (II)

Tomorrow morning, we have our Green Card interview. This is where Meg and I sit with an official from Bush's Keep The Darkies Out Department*, and are videotaped as we try and convince said official that we are indeed married and that I did not marry Meg just so I could live in the United States (hahahahahaha!).
This is the last time we'll have to do this. From now on, there'll be periodical check-ups, but those are a formality. This will likely be a formality too, but this is the last time that things could conceivably go wrong.

*This is not a view held by Brainsplurge. Rather this is what Brainsplurge sees as the general message given out by Bush administration policies over the past few years.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Doctor Look Out!

So, Christopher Eccleston will be Doctor Number Eight. A good choice, I think.
They have a bunch of good writers on the show, and it looks like they're taking it seriously. Should be good.
I'm just hoping that (1) an American network picks it up, and (2) that they get Orbital to do, at the very least, the theme.

And if you click on the Orbital link up there, you'll see that the boys have a new album coming out this year. More good news!

I'm reading Jack Staff right now. Well, actually, right now, I'm downloading Discworld from here and typing this, but once I've finished typing this, I'll go back to Jack Staff. Discworld will continue to download happily in the background for the next, ooh, five hours, two minutes and six seconds. That's the curse of dial-up.
And of course, what I'm doing right now, depends entirely on when you're reading this. I think. Einstein would know.
I'd heard wonderful things about Jack Staff over the past couple of years, not least that it kept edging The O Men, one of my favourite comics, out of awards. I started getting it with issue four of the second volume, published by Image. I'd also downloaded the first issues of both volumes from the Image site. Of course, this left me rather confused in terms of storyline, but I liked what I had read enough to get the (expensive but well worth it) collection of the first volume as well as the first three issues of the Image series.
The titular hero is a sort of alternate universe version of Marvel's Union Jack with a bit of Gambit thrown in. He operates in a world populated by versions of classic British comic characters, most of whom are not superheroes because Brits Don't Do Superheroes. It even features Steptoe and Son (American translation: Sanford and Son) as a vampire-slaying father and son team. The art's stripped down and simplistic, but in a good way. The writing is superb, mainly because writer/artist Paul Grist really knows how to structure a story. The narrative jumps forwards and backwards in time, and multiple story threads almost always start off in disarray before coming together in an elegant finish. This is most evident in the way that each issue is presented as a mock-anthology (again because in terms of comics, Brits Only Do Anthologies) with each of the characters appearing in their own "strips" which are nonetheless all part of the same plot. It's hard to describe, but it's very impressively done. So if you read comics and aren't getting Jack Staff, then you should go out and buy it.

And Martin will kill me if I don't also say "buy The O Men too!" but I was going to say that anyway, because if you like superhero comics at all, you really should. He's one man with a bunch of pens and a photocopier, but Martin frankly puts most of the professionals to shame.

Thursday, March 18, 2004


I was rudely awoken yesterday morning by someone tromping about in our flat. Don't know who it was, as I only just got a brief glimpse of him as he turned around and left after seeing me in bed. He would appear to have been someone official, as he locked the door behind him, but he didn't appear to be the normal maintenance bloke...
Later, we got in a panic as Meg found a cockroach in her water by the side of the bed. We have a dread of the little buggers because the flat was infested when we moved in. They were all killed off, but whenever we see an insect in the flat now, we fear the worst. Luckily, it wasn't a cockroach this time, but one of these. Still ugly as heck, but not an infestation-level crisis. Oh, and the one we have in a glass is as big as the one in the picture. ;)

Wednesday, March 17, 2004


After an ebarrassingly long delay (which was all my fault, no excuses), page seventeen of the comic is done! It'll go up as soon as Spooky has the time to upload it, but it'll most likely be in a week or so, by which time I'll probably have at least one more page done. Once again, I was quite proud of it at first, but within minutes of finishing it, I started to dislike it.

Oh, and I just stole this from biLly. It's very very rude, but very very funny. If anyone knows how I can save it (it's a Flash presentation), let me know.

Monday, March 15, 2004


The highlight of the week's telly (not that I watch a lot of it, as the combination of poor reception and even poorer programming puts me off) has undoubtedly been last night's episode of espionage-soap-opera Alias. This is down to a number of factors. Pretty much the entire length of the episode was focused on the main plot involving interrogating a terrorist in order to find out how to disarm a bomb on an aeroplane. It's been done countless times before, not least every single week on the 90's Superman show, where it went a bit stale, but it was done very well here. The tension was cranked up and the decision to have one of the heroes and the main villain both on the plane at the same time and have them collaborate to disarm the bomb was very clever. The episode wasn't ambitious as Alias is at its peak, but told a good solid action/espionage story, and as such was better than almost all of this third season, which has focused mostly on the soap opera element of the show, something which due to the cast's general incompetence regarding actual acting has never really worked. There was a bit of this at the end of the episode, as Jennifer Garner had a good cry accompanied by whatever coffee-shop-music the production company was plugging this week, but it lasted less than two minutes, and didn't interrupt the action, so that was acceptable.
The other factor which made this a very watchable episode was the utterly bizarre casting of Ricky Gervais as the bomb-making terrorist. After the terribly clichéd opening in Belfast (Heavy drinking? Check. People dressed like nineteenth-century peasants? Check. Jolly dancing music? Check. They stopped short of wandering bands of Catholic priests and horses running wild in the streets, but only just.), I was dreading Gervais appearing with some awful Oirish accent, but he was allowed to use his own accent. In fact, he was allowed to be himself, as it seemed like Ricky Gervais had, rather than play a character, simply walked onto the Alias set and they'd just carried on filming. It reminded me a lot of those things they do at awards shows over here where they splice the host into currently-popular films. He just sat there taking the piss out of it all, including Garner's hair. I suspect he was given a bit of leeway with his script, as Alias is never funny. So he was funny, and it was certainly fun to see him turn up in what is usually such a po-faced programme, but the most striking thing was that towards the end of the episode, he dropped the cheeky English chappie characterisation, and gave us a surprisingly chilling look at the murderous aspect of his character. You know when, in the Hannibal Lecter films, Anthony Hopkins stopped overacting for just a bit and just sat there silently and stared? It was just like that, except without Hopkins' cartoonish japery. Very creepy. Meg pointed out that The Office isn't exactly a jolly laugh-fest and is actually quite dark, so it shouldn't be surprising that Gervais could pull off such an effectively evil performance, and I suppose that's true.
The next Alias looks to consist of Jennifer Garner blowing stuff up and shooting the heck out of everything else, which should be fun, as long as there's none of the embarrassing soap opera antics. But what I'm really rooting for is a return appearance by Gervais' character, and the ending of this episode was left open enough for that to happen.

On a related note, the upcoming American remake of The Office is apparently going to be called The Office: An American Workplace. I've never understood the tendency to tack one's nation's name onto everything it produces. I suspect that every nation does it, but I've only noticed it in the move over here. It's "American" this, and "American" that. The cynic in me says that it's the American tendency to think "American is better" that's at work here. The absurdist in me says that Americans often forget where they are and need reminding. It would explain all the flags...

Not much else to report, other than the fact that we went down to visit the in-laws over the weekend, and so I've completely failed to get page seventeen of the comic finished by the end of the week as I'd hoped. May I be thrice-damned to Heck for my crimes against productivity.

Finally, it looks like I might, for the first time ever, start getting an X-Men comic on a regular basis. Usually I'm of the opinion that X-Men comics are a bit...well...naff, but there's something special about this one. More on that exciting news story as it happens. Bet you can't wait!

And that's me done, because that's the longest post I've done in ages, and it's about nothing of importance. Goodnight all.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

An Almighty Cock-Up

Meg's just bought Bruce Almighty on DVD. Upon starting it up, we found that before the menu loads up, we are shown a bunch of trailers that we can't skip through at all. We can't jump straight to the menu, we can't skip past them, we can't even pause them.

They're not even good trailers, or even bad trailers for good films. Bollocks.

Friday, March 12, 2004

"Chicken Tikka, tell me what's wrong..."

Well, it wasn't a disaster...as such. Oliver's "fifteen-minute" curry recipe actually takes an hour and a half to cook, and I'm sure that our inability to find curry leaves and fenugreek didn't help. I thought it tasted like a spicy tomato sauce, whereas Meg tries to bolster my confidence by saying that it definitely tasted like the mild tikka masala that "comes in the bottles with the picture of a man's head on them". The important thing, I suppose, is that it tasted good, and I'm no longer apprehensive about making curries.
So a success on that front then. Now I need to sit down and digest, which might be less successful...

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Wish Me Luck (I)

Tomorrow, I shall be attempting to cook a curry for the first time since a disasterous chicken tikka incident in 2001 that dented my confidence somewhat. I've been craving curry for ages (after all, I am English...), and while Liam helped abate that a bit earlier this year (or was it late last year?) with a lovely curry-flavoured-chicken dish, the craving never went away. So tomorrow, a real curry will be prepared, following a recipe designed by some gimp from Essex, modified in places due to the fact that we live in a predominantly Jewish area of St Paul, where traditional Indian ingredients are a tad difficult to find. It will probably be inedible filth.

On a completely unrelated note, my writer's block concerning page seventeen of the Spooky's Dungeon comic strip has disappeared, which is a great relief. Since the later pages are scripted and laid out, I should be able to get a page or two done by the end of the week. For some reason, I'm really enthused about the strip at the moment, and it's both an excellent way to keep practising my drawing and to showcase my skills, although the early pages are atrocious and I keep finding faults with the later ones!

And on a completely, completely unrelated note, I'd like to mention that Ogre Battle is a superb game, and I'm astonished that I missed it the first time around.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

On Homosexuals, Apocalypse, Numb Appendages And Blokes Twiddling Their Knobs

Mark Morford in San Fransisco asks why gay marriage hasn't led to the end of civilisation, apparently unaware that on the very same day half a world away in Somerset, the signs of apocalypse have begun to appear.

And yes, I did steal the latter link from Nagl. Despite his visual similarity to various nefarious evil-doers, he seems to be a decent bloke, so I'm sure he won't mind...

My arm is feeling a lot better now. The pain has gone, but now it just feels tired or strained or something. But I can use it again, which is the important thing, so it's literally back to the drawing board for me, to see if I can get a couple of Spooky's Dungeon pages done by the end of the week. Actually, it should be quite easy to do, as I've got the next few pages planned out and scripted, but page seventeen (the very next page) is proving problematic. I've drawn it all out in pencil, and I know how the plot moves through the page, but I'm having a real trouble in scripting it. It's been sat on the desk for a week, unfinished. Bah.
I received a package full of CDs from my brother yesterday, so perhaps the likes of Boards Of Canada and The Crystal Method will inspire me!

Brainsplurge's Comic Reviews!
(Part 2 of an interminably dull series)

Actually, it's Part Nothing, because I've joined Silver Bullet Comics' reviews team, so if you want to see just how crap this month's Avengers is, go here. You'll find another review here, and a third here.
On a completely unrelated note, it's offical, God exists!. Wow.

Saturday, March 06, 2004


My entire lower right arm is currently exploding in a cavalcade of pain and hot tingly feelings even at rest. Meg thinks I might have developed tennis elbow, but I think it's unlikely both because my symptoms don't seem to match those of tennis elbow and because I haven't been doing anything particularly strenuous with said arm (hello Rad!). Yes, I've been doing a fair bit of drawing, but I've done more drawing in a shorter time before, so unless I'm getting old, I don't think it's tennis elbow. Oh well.

Talking, as it were, of my drawing, Spooky has uploaded the two new pages of the webcomic. The more I look at them, the less I like them. I don't think I can look at them any more, so you'll have to go instead... As soon as my arm stops doing whatever it's doing, I'll get some more pages up there. If Richard and Fred can get two or three pages up a week, then so can I. I may have to have a word with Spooky about changing it from an "e-comic" to a "webcomic". When I started the thing back in 1999 (16 pages in five years! Wow!), I was so pleased with the term "e-comic"...

Here's some bloke I've never heard of who claims to have a "reputation" asking Alan Moore, a man I have heard of, five questions. There are actually more than five questions, mainly because the bloke apparently worships Moore, and because Moore is an erudite fellow not accustomed to pithy answers, but that's no problem, because Moore is...er...an erudite fellow, and crikey my arm hurts.

Taking that into account, the sensible among you are no doubt questioning my decision to choose tonight of all nights to write my longest blog post in months. I am beginning to see your point of view...

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Giant Stalinist Crabs

If not stranger, then truth is definitely at least equally as strange as fiction. Alhtough the funny thing about this story (apart from the fact that it's about giant crabs taking over the world, of course), is that fishermen are complaining that the crabs are eating the cod that they base their livelihood on, and are spreading out of control. So why don't they, er, fish for the crabs instead?

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

From The Bullpen!

Two Spooky's Dungeon pages still waiting to go up, another pencilled, and two more laid-out and scripted.
I've also started rewriting and laying out some pages for The Mystery Project That Has Only A Tangential Connection To Gregory Peck. More on that when it's officially announced.

Monday, March 01, 2004

"I'm a Derek, and Dereks don't run!"

No, but they do win eleven very overdue Academy Awards. Well done to the cast and crew of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy. The second one was a bit choppy, but I'll let it pass.