A few things.

  • That Smith continues to stand by and support Mewes is wonderful.
  • When the best bit in the trailer is a less-funny swipe from your earlier work, you’ve probably got problems.
  • I stand by my belief that working with the restrictions of broadcast television on Clerks: TAS produced the best material Smith has ever done or will do.

I also have some thoughts on Alan Moore retiring, but they’re mostly ‘at least now we won’t have to suffer a list of references somewhat attached to a fairly mediocre story’ or ‘honest, this HP Lovecraft/hentai crossover is worthy!’ any further. Along with ‘in a post-Savile era, Lost Girls raises more than a few eyebrows’.

And ‘The Invisibles was always better than anything he did anyhow’

Actually, having spent Friday night re-reading Zenith, I think there’s a good case for it being better than Marvelman/Miracleman. Let me count the ways!

  • It actually has a satisfying ending (a typical Morrison one, but it does mostly tie everything together), whereas Miracleman #16 is basically ‘and then we created a Utopia, but maybe things aren’t great’.
  • Zenith feels much more of its time than Miracleman ever does. Not dated, but definitely an 80s title. Grounding Task Force UK / Cloud 9 in with the 60s counterculture makes it feel more grounded in ‘our’ world.
  • One of the villains attempts to fire nuclear missiles whilst clearly being Richard Branson in a Comic Relief t-shirt.
  • Peter St. John! Hippy to IEA-sponsored Tory! And he’s the hero!
  • Phase 3 does LoEG better than LoEG ever does, with Crisis On Infinite IPC/DC Thompson Earths thrown in for good measure. You’ll never cheer so hard for Billy Whizz to go just that little bit faster1
  • While it’s definitely not free from problematic parts (e.g. the pointless Metamaid ‘joke’, even if TNT Tom doesn’t seem too phased by the reveal), there’s nothing as bad as Evelyn Cream in here.

And finally:


Does Miracleman have an Acid House robot riding on a dinosaur? Case closed.

  1. I also love the meta-joke here that because it’s Crisis, a speedster has to die. Bravo. [return]

These are not Belgian

This week’s thoughts:

  • It turns out that I do not miss the humidity in the South one bit.
  • People had told me that Chuck’s had gone downhill. I was prepared for the burgers to not be quite as good as I remember, but as the plate was sat in front of me, I discovered the worst: the amazing Belgian fries have become standard fries. They’re not terrible, but really, why are you not just going to Al’s at this point? I left thinking I should have instead just got a chicken biscuit from Beasley’s next door…
  • Apparently 12:30am is the right time to go for a bunch of cheeseburgers after a long night of work bonding via bourbon.
  • I can still be surrounded by the entire staff of a Wendy’s as they listen to me give my order. It’s…quite odd.
  • It was quite odd going back to the Triangle and not leaving the downtown area of Raleigh. I will have to go back later in the year independent of work. But only when it cools down somewhat.
  • Having to actually explain a boardgame convention and what goes on there is quite amusing. “People go to these?”
  • No planes and no long travel for a little while, I think.
  • The cat has not entirely forgiven me for leaving her in the continued presence of dogs.

That's Both Information And An Excuse

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It occurred to me over the past week that I no longer have any real idea how many times I’ve seen Los Campesinos! Well into double-figures at least. This weekend saw the novelty being upped a notch; not just seeing them, but seeing them twice in 24 hours. I didn’t plan it, but when they announced that they were playing at WestFest the day before their Chicago date…well, why not?

Anyway, both concerts were good, with the welcome return of the audience invasion at The Empty Bottle during ‘Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks’ (in which we gained the admiration of the band for picking that over ‘You! Me! Dancing!’, thus proving that we’re the hardcore fans…I don’t think anybody called out for ‘Tweexcore’, either), and a good sense of energy for a band that’s currently on a short ‘our performance visas are about to expire, so why not?’ tour.

A big shout-out has to go to the couple who, being such big fans of the band, went so method that they started having a fight during ‘Miserabilia’ and continued through four more of the band’s most troubled relationship songs. That takes dedication.

And there was this weird 40-year-old right at the front of Sunday’s concert. Who was that odd person…oh right. Still, thanks to some quick work by Tammy at the end of the night, I have my first-ever setlist. And Tammy also graciously agreed to to swap places with me when the band started setting up after the support act and we realized that I’d be staring at Kim’s crotch for the entire set otherwise. At around 12 centimetres away from her, that would have been rather awkward.

(Tammy also needs a commendation for being ill all over the weekend but still being eager to go to the venues early to get good spots and staying out until 00:30 on a Sunday night. And I promise we’ll be a little more restrained on both those fronts at the Carly Rae Jepsen concert on Friday!)

Now I have to pack for Raleigh whilst ruminating on the alternate-universe Ian depicted in ‘Straight In At 101’…

And Then Courtney Love Said To Me

It occurs to me that this weekend is the 20th anniversary of my second and final visit to Glastonbury. In 1997, I dealt with Somme-like conditions, in 1999, it was mild heatstroke and a vision of Courtney Love appearing in the sky. We even brought the tent back home the second time around…

My optimism about resolving the basement was dealt something of a blow on Monday when they came back to inspect the cracks in the concrete and instead found fault with a major section of the drainage work. On the bright side, it’ll all be eventually fixed, but it does mean that I’m going to be in turmoil down there for a third of the year. Incredibly first-world concerns, I know, but it’s a touch annoying. If a little drier.

This week? Off to Chicago for Los Campesinos! On two nights, because I’m somewhat obsessed. And then off back to Raleigh for a week. And back again to Cincinnati to see Carly Rae Jepsen. A month of concerts and travel! I will then spend the rest of the month barricading myself inside the house and being a good hermit. It’s important! (though I already have plans in store for 2020. My first ever New Order concert!)

All The Social!

I have been outside! To boardgame meetups and Cincinnati Pride! Look at my socializing! And with that done, I will now become a hermit again for a few months. Don’t want to exhaust myself, do I?

(okay, as it turns out, early July will see me in Chicago to see Los Campesinos! twice in two days, and then Carly Rae Jepsen the following Friday. Oh, and a trip to Raleigh sandwiched between!)

And I know I’ve been a broken record for the past couple of months, but as of a couple of hours ago, I have finished the main text block for the early release of the book. Is it finished? Ahahahahah…no. But as of today, I am basically tinkering and re-writing bits here and there. So, let’s not have any big developments in deep learning between now and November, shall we?

This Is A No Smoking Cinema

It has been another week of mainly writing and old British TV. Here’s the exact point where I paused Cracker and bought the entire series from Amazon (only £12!):

Obviously, I knew it was set in Manchester. But what I hadn’t realized was as it was filmed in the mid-90s, it is a good archive of all that made Manchester when I was living there from 1997-2000, a large chunk of which is no longer there anymore. That Odeon was a regular haunt on Friday and Saturday night, walking past BBC North and the hallowed halls of Halon Menswear down the Oxford Road. In a pre-smartphone era, I have few pictures of my time there1, so having some evidence that it all existed would be nice.

I also watched Blackeyes, a Dennis Potter serial that has not been repeated or released on any other format since its first broadcast in 1989.

And…well. It’s gloriously inventive, with four or five levels of metafiction going on at any one time. But the misogyny is…well, I know it’s somewhat the point, but it does feel like Potter is having his cake and his eating it. Which, to be fair, he admits in the narration! But that’s a bit like having your cake, eating it, and then pulling out a sheet cake. I liked it, but it’s not something I’d actively recommend to people. Double Dare is probably the one I’d suggest if you’re after a non-singing play. And it’s only about an hour long!

The Long June March continues. This week: GANs, super-resolution (“computer: enhance!“), and fancy GPU calculations. So close to the end, and yet still so far.

  1. Of course, this also means that there are no pictures of my short-lived glitter days, so there are some positives from a lack of photo evidence. Also, when Matt took my camera into the bathroom at that ball, he was too drunk to do what he was planning on doing with it. And boy, that was a buried memory. [return]

Back! Back! BACK!

I’ve been waiting for The Story of 1988 for a long time. The school year of 198889 was a weird time for me; due to a quirk of class sizes and where birthdays fell, most of my friends skipped Class 3 and went straight into Class 2. I responded to this by having an odd year: Ian went Pop. I don’t really have any other way of describing it; I was one of the popular members of the class. I was the one who brought in Smash Hits, the one who knew about house music, and the one who hung out with everybody.

I really can’t work out who that person was. But I still have some of their copies of Smash Hits. And The Story of 1988 is part one of their Imperial Phase. Tiffany, Kylie, S-Express, Bomb The Bass, The Primitives, Yazz, The PSBs, Wendy James…

Sorry, Transvision Vamp flashes.

Paddy McAloon doing ‘hot dog, jumping frog, Albuquerque’ with all the conviction of the world, Now 11 through Now 13, the blackest of Black Type, and taking the piss out of Paul “Macca Wacca Thumbs Aloft” McCartney every fortnight.

Anyway, it mostly lived up to my expectations, with one glaring omission: No Timelords. Not entirely sure whether that’s down to the Glitter connection or whether they’re just saving it for The KLF proper, but given that The Manual also came out in 1988, it was weird for them to not even get a cursory mention either in the programme itself or the follow up Hits programme. Obviously, the Christmas performance isn’t going to be broadcast, but they’re surely going to show the actual Number One performance which doesn’t feature Glitter at all, right?1

Incidentally, Pop Ian reverted back to Normal Ian in Class 2. Honestly, I think Pop Ian would have been annoying to live with from 10-16, so it was probably for the best. Now, of course, I am doing with the kids at all times, surfing on the information superhighway and using emoticons. That’s what the cool kids are using today, right?

Just under 7,000 words on the book this week. Oh, and I added an extra chapter for fun. It’s a useful chapter, I think - who doesn’t want to know about how to debug neural networks? But maybe not the best time to add it so close to the impending Deadline of Doom. On the other hand, it is pretty much finished…

  1. After re-watching the programme with a very confused American, I did notice that there’s a two second clip of them at the start. Incidentally, I highly recommend finding an American to watch the show with you. “Who are all these people?”, “Why do you call them bross instead of bro s?” “He looks like a slightly Asian Stephen Fry!” It’s very entertaining. [return]

And Vanished

I am a lot more sanguine about the book this week than I have been for the past month. There’s been a lot of low-key freaking out about how much still needs to be done, and how close the deadline is for publication this year. As of this weekend, though, I have one more chapter to write and I’m at the point where I might have to eject some things from my outline to fit within the originally specified book length. Which is a rather nice position to be in! Let’s hope that I can continue the pace through June.

Wait, how did it get to be June?

Some big things this week in ‘lost media’ (and you know me, I do enjoy seeing YouTube clips filmed through Lucozade packaging). Firstly, the long-lost alternate ending of Quantum Leap:

Beth: You’ll find him.

Al: And what makes you so sure?

Beth: Because that’s what friends are for.


Secondly, an ITV sitcom that was so badly received that it was taken off the air after the second episode, and has never been shown since. Although Hardwicke House is absolutely terrible, one of the lost episodes features Rik & Ade doing a proto-Bottom routine and so has been something of a holy grail for UK comedy fans. And as of last week, the whole thing is now up on Youtube, sandwiched between episodes of The Dot Stop of Playdays.

I don’t recommend actually watching it, but fun to see it turning up in broadcast quality after being unavailable for 32 years…

Finally, as tomorrow seems to be the day that Apple sticks a knife in its back, I would like to declare that I may be the only person on the planet that doesn’t hate iTunes. I know, worse than Hitler…

Terminate with extreme prejudice

Chemical warfare works, people. Dead ants as far as the eye can see

This week, I settled into my 40s by having an exciting night going to a different supermarket…and going to the gym. Honestly, I don’t know how to contain myself with all this wild hedonistic fun. And I spent Saturday night watching World In Action episodes from the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Admit it, you’re jealous. Tonight? Tonight, it’s Columbo and deep learning papers. The life. Right here.

Anyway, June approaches. Now June is a sunny month and full of long days. Which would normally be great, but I’m about to enter a crunch period at work and on my book (available to order now on Amazon, coincidentally!). So I feel like instead of being outside enjoying the summer, I’ll be looking out of the windows as the sun sets every night. sigh Still, it could be worse. I feel like I’ll be happier come July or August, though.

Lastly, hurrah for a Bank Holiday Weekend! On both sides of the Atlantic for once.

Ant Farm

In contrast to last week, at least one major event happened this week, but I probably shouldn’t talk about it. It’s absolutely hilarious, mind you.


In other news, I seem to have an ant invasion. So many ants. They’re only little ones, but once they get into the hundred counts, that doesn’t help so much. sigh They’re happily eating all the poison, but instead of toddling off and dying, they just keep coming. Everything itches.

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But! Foxes! Maybe they can chase away the ants. Otherwise, I’m doing to continue to use an arsenal of chemical warfare against them…