2002 Albums

  • Idlewild - The Remote Part

    Reminds me of Virginia Woolf. I have no idea why.

  • Sleater-Kinney - One Beat
    An album that wants to remake the world, and has the tunes that makes you want them to suceed. Shake your tail for peace and love.

  • Aimee Mann - Lost In Space
    You want company in misery? This record is for you.

  • Low - Trust
    You will feel teary-eyed when listening to Point of Disgust. Mormon Steel.

  • The Polyphonic Spree - The Beginning Stages Of…
    Distilled sunshine, filtered through the best LSD Texas has to offer. Dirty hippies. But lovely.

Special Awards: Spine-Shivering Line Award: “I believe in Electrelane” from Saint Etienne’s Finisterre.
currently playing: Blur - She’s So High

2002 Comics

  • Black Panther
    One of the biggest surprises of the year: Black Panther is still being published. After sales dropped below the 20,000 level, few people expected Marvel to keep this title around, no matter how successful it is critically. The attempt to attract new readers with the ambitious, complex five-part Enemy of The State II storyline was rather unsuccessful in raising the sales figures, but once again it showed that Priest is one of the best-kept secrets of the comic world. Intricate plotting, deft characterisation, plus excellent art from the team of Jim Velluto and Bob Almond. As the year closes, the title has changed its direction somewhat, becoming now of a police procedural thriller, and no-one expects it to last the whole of 2003. I certainly hope that it does.

  • New X-Men
    Last year, the X-Men finally stepped out of the Claremont shadow, thanks to Grant Morrison. This year has been somewhat less dramatic but still very interesting. The repair work on Cyclops is staggering; he’s now one of the more fascinating characters on the team, rather than being the lifeless leader of the team. There’s been amusing revelations about The Beast, intriguing new members like Xorn, and there’s the resurfacing of the Phoenix. The book hasn’t been as exciting for over a decade. And who knew that Grant loved Storm Shadow so much?

  • Three Days In Europe
    A slight cheat here, as I’ve only read one issue of this so far. If the rest of the series is up to the same standard, this is going to be a very funny series. It has all the charm and wit of a classic romantic comedy, and I hope that it continues on this high note.

  • Transformers: Target: 2006
    It’s not a new comic, but this Titan release is probably the first time that many people will have seen the story, so I feel justified in including it here. I like to think that it’s not nostalgia clouding my judgement here; this is a classic children’s adventure story, as deserving of praise as any Disney film. As Simon Furman’s first epic Transformers story, it has dated somewhat, but it still holds up rather well (it’s not as overwritten as most 1980’s Marvel comics), and has an enjoyable mix of interesting storytelling devices, twists and revelations, and plenty of robot devestation. All the things a growing boy needs. Plus an ending which can still bring twenty-somethings to their knees…

  • Blue Monday
    The best teen films that John Hughes never made. And Chynna Chugston-Major made me realise there was more to The Beat than ‘Mirror In the Bathroom’. You can get hold of the first collection of Blue Monday on Amazon, and I urge you to try it out.

Special Awards: The WHAAAA? Award goes to Andrew Lis for firing Gail Simone from Agent X despite her run being a commercial and critical success. The And? Award goes to Planetary/JLA, which read like a rather dodgy radio edit rather than a complete work.
currently playing: Saint Etienne - B92

2002 DVDs

One thing the last post forgets to mention - there’s no ordering in any of these lists. Mainly because I couldn’t be bothered, but I think everything I’m going to be listing is rather good, so you should try them all.

  • My So-Called Life
    A confession: I didn’t actually watch all of MSCL when it was originally on British television. This was partly a scheduling problem, as Channel 4 decided to show it at an awkward time, but I had a video recorder; I watched the first three episodes. It was just too real for me to deal with at the time. Looking back, I really should have made an effort to watch it. There aren’t many series that can have the lead say “I love you so much, it hurts to look at you”, and not have the audience burst into laughter. The story of MSCL’s long journey to DVD is too long to recant here, so have a look at this link for the details if you’re interested. If not, then a brief summary: it took a long time, and it was rather expensive for those of us who ended up funding the project. But I’m glad I finally have a chance to watch this series.

  • Roman Holiday
    The disc is fairly bare (and misses a golden opportunity to include Audrey’s famous screen test that landed her the role in the first place), but the newly restored print is so wonderful it has to be included in my favourites of the year.

  • Singin’ In The Rain
    A digitally restored print which looks like it was filmed last week; glorious songs; a commentary which has more of the great Stanley Donen, another disc full of documentaries plus an entire deleted muscial number. One of the greatest musicals ever filmed. What’s not to love?

  • Back To The Future

  • The Fellowship of The Ring: Extended Edition
    Even if you don’t like the film, there’s no denying that this is the DVD of the year. An extended version of the film that manages to fill most of the cracks that were apparent in the original theatrical version (including information that’s rather important to certain scenes in The Two Towers), spread across two discs with four commentaries featuring just about everybody who had anything to do with the film. On top of that, there’s two more discs containing documentaries about almost every aspect of the film’s production. New Line even promoted the two different versions of the DVD in a responsible manner, going out of their way to let people know that this version was coming out a few months after the original made an appearance in DVD form. A showcase for what the format can achieve, we can only hope that the trilogy’s other two films will get the same treatment.

currently playing: The Auteurs - Brainchild

2002 And All That

I promised a look at some of my favourite films, comics, and other things from 2002, so here they come. I apologise for a lack of explanation for my choices for best album, but I felt that you didn’t really want to read 2,000 words on why I love Sleater-Kinney…

currently playing: The Mighty Wah - Getting Out Of It

Cinnamon Stick

I did warn you that updates would be few and far between.

A big thank-you to the person providing the wireless connection; it wasn’t something that I was expecting to find in Bicester. I get a very good signal from my bedroom.

I don’t know when I’ll be writing another entry here, so I’ll wish you all a Merry Christmas now. The HMV sale awaits….

currently playing: Confetti: Diet (Remix)

Step Aside

Time to leave. Back soon.

currently playing: Mos Def - Travelling Man

Nobody Gets Left Behind!

Halfway through marking the exam papers. At this rate, I should finish before I get on the plane, which will make things easier (there’s not a huge amount of room in the economy section). Looks like it’s going to be cold on Wednesday. Mind you, the inevitable rain is holding off until Saturday.

Updates to the blog are likely to be sporadic for the next few days, at least until I’ve recovered from the trip home. Seven-hour flights tend to drain me somewhat.

Over Christmas, I’ll be jumping on the “Best Of” bandwagon, so you’ll be able to mock my choices for the best DVD, film, comic, album, and TV show of the year. I bet you’re excited.

I don’t think I’ve developed an American accent yet, although I did catch myself saying ‘elevator’ instead of ‘lift’ last week. It’s obviously a gradual process.

currently playing: Pulp - Do You Remember The First Time?

World's Biggest Idiot

Sometimes I could just shoot myself.

The 2004 Presidential Elections got a lot less interesting two hours ago, with Al Gore announcing he has no intention of running, I suppose that partly explains just how far he was prepared to mock himself and others on SNL last night (his turn as Trent Lott was great, and the West Wing sketch was quite amusing, if just a little sad). None of the hopefuls look very promising, and if Lieberman gets the nomination, they might as well disband now.

Finished the report. Not sure if I like anything that I wrote, but I hate writing experiments up, so that’s to be expected. Tomorrow I’ll be able to pick up the exams, and get started on the final marking.

Some comic links for today. I definitely recommend reading Paul O’Brien’s evisceration of Captain America #6. Paul’s reviews are consistently entertaining, but they’re unmissable when he’s reviewing something terrible. For those of you who want to relive part of their childhood (and get some insight to the early work of Grant Morrison at the same time), I’ve found a online archive of scans from Spider-Man and Zoids. It turns out that I probably bailed out far too early. In my defence, 50p meant I could afford only one comic a week, and Transformers was more interesting at the time I switched (plus for some reason I seem to remember that SM&Z became very scarce in Bicester around the same time I started buying Transformers UK. And I bailed before Morrison started). Grant wasn’t kidding when he said elements of The Invisibles were in absolutely everything he wrote.

currently playing: The Waitresses - Christmas Wrapping

Catch Up If You Can

I fully intended to write an entry for yesterday, but after spending an hour in a very uncomfortable position in the back of a bus, I spent most of the night lying down with severe back pain. If I’m still here next Christmas, remind me not to go anywhere near the mall until after the holidays are over.

I appear to have passed at least one course this year, according to the UNC StudentCentral system. A P grade (budget cuts have forced Chapel Hill to grade only with the letters H, P, L, and F), which suits me fine. All I have to do now is finish the report for the other course, and I’ll be finished for the semester.

Which leads, ferrofluidicly, to a question for the Bicester people: are we organising a night out before Christmas? I probably won’t be able to do anything on Wednesday due to extreme jet-lag, and Thursday I’m going to be feeding my sister’s obsession by seeing a few members of the New Zealand army run around in the rain, but as I far as I know, I’m free for any days except those two.

Another interesting link! A huge interview with Gary Kurtz, producer of Star Wars, American Graffiti, Two-Lane Blacktop, and The Empire Strikes Back. I love film history.

Continuing the film theme, I heard a new theory about the end of A.I. today. Consider this a spoiler warning. According to this theory, the robots at the end of the film lied to David; they couldn’t bring his mother back from the dead. They also knew that the love he had for Monica was David’s only function. So they created a simulation for him to spend the day with, and then quietly killed him while he slept. While I never subscribed to the view that the ending was a happy one in the first place, that’s just depressing. Bonnie, you can stop crying now. Just think of the hobbits. But don’t think about how the film on Thursday is going to end. I’m not helping, am I?

Al Gore is presenting Saturday Night Live tonight. Quite strange, although I see that Charles Kennedy hosted Have I Got News For You yesterday. Maybe it’s the new in-thing for left-leaning politicians?

Don’t forget - Mark Radcliffe is presenting the Top 40 tomorrow on Radio 1 from 16:00 until 19:00 (or if you’re like me and currently living in the East Coast of America, 11:00-14:00) . I doubt he’s going to be playing his “At Least Four Good Songs!” jingle, but it should be amusing nonetheless. Westwood is January 5th…

currently playing: Aimee Mann - Invisible Ink

North Carolina BBQ

Hmm. The taste of vinegar. Actually quite nice after you get over the initial shock.

Today’s presentation was quite bizarre. My partner suggested, with about five minutes to go, that I should do the presentation. His reasoning was fairly sound; his native language is Chinese, while mine is supposedly English. Still, I was working under the assumption that he was going to do it, so I hadn’t committed his slides to memory. I ended up giving a talk that felt (to me, anyway) that each slide was as new to me as it was to the professor.

Just to make things worse, we discovered a fatal flaw in our program about thirty minutes before the presentation was about to start. As it was highly likely to show up in the demonstration, I admitted our problems right at the start. We stumbled through showing the professor a few success cases and some failure cases. At any minute I was expecting him to fail us on the spot. But he didn’t. In fact, he seemed reasonably happy with everything. Quite strange.

After the hour was up, I bumped into him again as I was leaving the building. He said that he’d heard that I was thinking about dropping out of the course, and wanted to assure me I was making good progress on his course. Which was a very nice thing for him to say.

My replacement hard drive finally arrived this morning. Firewire goodness! Although I do feel a bit cheated; the website said that the drive could be powered through the Firewire bus, but the manual doesn’t mention anything about that (and the text on the box that says that Firewire power can be used has been marked out with a black pen). Which is a bit annoying, as I intended to use it on the plane to watch a few Cowboy Bebop episodes (I’ve almost finished the series). On the other hand, it has meant that I’ve been able to get my Linux partition up and running again. I’m currently copying all 15Gb of my music collection onto the new drive (as most of it is currently on the bad drive), so I’ll be able to have access to everything no matter whether I’m in Linux, Windows 2000, or using my iBook. Bwahahahahahahaha!

currently playing: The Pogues - Fairytale of New York