Friday 31 December 2010

Something SFXy This Way Comes

I've had a small snippet of my Something Wicked This Way Comes review printed in this month's SFX magazine. You can read the full review ( written in a fake Bradbury-esque style ) here, as well as my reviews of Lucius Shepard's Life During Wartime and Roger Zelazny's Lord Of Light.

For anyone who's got this issue, be aware that only that one sentence is mine: the two paragraphs immediately below with the "cerebus660" credit were written by somebody else, who's probably feeling a bit pissed-off at the moment :-(

Thursday 30 December 2010

Welcome to the organisation.....

Hi to new Followers, tom_hixon and BK ( sorry I can't type in cyrillic )

Good to see you here!

( Art by the wonderful Banksy - it doesn't really relate to anything, I just like it! )

Tuesday 28 December 2010

Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol ( review with spoilers )

"Half way out of the dark....."

This year's Doctor Who Christmas special is probably the most Christmassy episode yet, a strange fairy tale fuelled by mince pies and eggnog. ( Whatever that is. )

Amy and Rory are trapped on board a doomed starliner with 4000 other passengers, their only hope the miserly ruler of a Dickensian colony-world, Michael Gambon's Kazran Sardick. But he's not interested. The Doctor falls down Sardick's chimney and becomes a cross between Father Christmas and the Ghost Of Christmas Past as he attempts to change Sardick's mind and save the day.

"Christmas Eve on a rooftop. Saw a chimney. My whole brain just went: 'What the Hell!' Don't worry - fat fellow'll be doing the rounds later. I'm just scoping out the general... chimney-ness!"

The Doctor realises that Sardick, like Scrooge before him, is an essentially good man who has become twisted and embittered but is not beyond saving. Jumping back into Sardick's past, the Doctor endeavours to steer his life in the "right" direction, inadvertently causing more heartache for the future miser by sparking a romance between Sardick and the lonely - and lovely - Abigail Pettigrew.

The heart of the story ( and the reason the regular companions are sidelined ) is this romance between the young Sardick and Abigail, as played by Welsh mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins. In an episode where Matt Smith and Michael Gambon are dependably excellent, Jenkins - with no previous acting experience - is the real revelation. Her character is cryogenically frozen by Sardick's tyrannical father, but the Doctor manages to unfreeze her every Christmas Eve over a number of years. Jenkins' performance of a woman living on borrowed time is genuinely touching and helps to ground the more outlandish aspects of the story.....

.....Including flying sharks.
Yep, only Steven Moffat could write a Who story based on Dickens, but replacing foggy London with a planet where fish swim about through fog-like atmospheric crystals. This leads to one of the maddest scenes of recent years: a world famous opera-singer, kneeling in dry-ice, singing to a model of a flying shark. At Christmas.

So, it's a strange, romantic and unusually low-key Doctor Who episode. Which is fine by me. After the hysterically escalating threat-levels of the RTD era ( the end of time, the Reality Bomb etc. ) it's good to see the series producing small-scale human stories for a change of pace. Not to say the episode is mundane - the steampunk look of Sardick Town is beautifully realised and the effects of Sardick's atmosphere-controlling device and the Doctor's wild sleigh-ride are gloriously surreal.
It's a wonderfully weird Christmas present for children of all ages.....

"Fish that can swim in fog. I love new planets."

4 Out Of 5 Bow Ties. ( Or Mince Pies )

Stan The Man

Happy Birthday to Stanley Martin Leiber, aka Stan Lee, 88 today!

If you're reading this Blog, chances are you know all about Stan The Man, and what he means to the comics-reading world ( and beyond! ) so there's no need for me to go into any great detail here.
( But you can read more about The Man here, here and here. )
Suffice it to say, Stan is a larger-than-life legend, a ball of octogenarian energy, and one of the most important - if controversial - comics creators ever.

Stan's been and done many things in his 70-year career but, for me ( and countless thousands of others ), he will always be Stan The Man, the editor, head writer and tireless promoter of The Marvel Age Of Comics -
co-creator of The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, The Mighty Thor, The Avengers, The X-Men, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Nick Fury, Daredevil and, er, Willie Lumpkin.

Of course it helped that he worked with some of the greatest artists that ever anguished over a deadline to produce super-hero mayhem, month in and month out: Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, John Romita, Gene Colan, John Buscema, Don Heck, Bill Everett, Marie Severin, James Steranko..... the list goes on.....

Anyway, Happy Birthday Stan! Your wonderful, corny, exciting, hyperbolic, philosophical, funny and touching prose style was a major source of enjoyment in my childhood - and still is!


American Graffiti

Just a quick plug for Barnstaple's premier ( and only ) comic shop, American Graffiti. James and I went in there on Christmas Eve
( I know, very festive, right? ) and were pleasantly surprised by the friendly, helpful staff and the range of products on offer. They've got a small but reasonably-priced Bronze/Silver Age section which I, of course, went straight to and liberated these Marvel-ous goodies. Call it a Christmas present to myself. 'Cos I'm worth it :-)

Monday 27 December 2010

A White Christmas..... on the beach

We came back yesterday from our first ever Christmas away from home, down in snowy Devon.

We couldn't face a Christmas at home this year: we'd had my Mum over for Christmas lunch every year since we lost my Dad, Pete, back in 1995, and didn't want to look at an empty chair this year. So we packed up and headed for the lovely little town of Barnstaple, somewhere we'd never been before.....

We stayed at The Cedars, a small and cosy hotel with friendly, welcoming staff and beautiful surroundings.

Here's Sarah on Christmas morning, walking down to the frozen banks of the River Taw.....

And here's James, doing his best Elvis moves on the ice. Don't ask me why.

We needed this long walk along the river to work off our breakfast and build up an appetite for the huge Christmas lunch - five courses!

Later on Christmas Day we drove to nearby Woolacombe Bay for our first experience of snow on the beach - a very surreal sight!

We've been to Woolacombe many times before, during the Summer months. But sledging down the sand dunes was something else!

And after all this cold weather and clear skies, a beautiful sunset to end the day.

Finally, a couple of shots of the snowbound Devon hills, just above the fishing village of Ilfracombe.....

Thursday 23 December 2010

Happy Christmas from The Glass Walking-Stick!

Season's Greetings, Yuletide Bloggers!

I know it's a couple of days early, but we're going to be away for Christmas ( snow permitting! ) so I thought I'd better do this while I can.

I hope all of you out there in Blogland have a happy and healthy Christmas, and I hope Father Christmas ( or "Santa" or even the Hulk in a fake beard ) brings you everything you want.

Take care everyone and I'll see you soon.....

Sunday 19 December 2010

A world in white gets under way.....

Just a few photos of today's snow. ( Well, yesterday's really, as it's now Sunday morning. )

Sarah and I stopped in Hempstead ( a pretty local village ) on the way back from buying our Christmas tree. We crunched our way through the new snow, through the churchyard and out across the hillside, past the old well.

A few people were out sledging - looked a good laugh. We had a nose around inside the church, where local community groups had various decorated Christmas trees on display. We ended up in the Village Hall, with a bunch of old folks, for cups of tea, mince pies and carols. How Christmassy can you get?

On a sadder note, Sarah's Nan passed away yesterday. She was a lovely old lady and will be greatly missed.
How much crap can you take in one year? Roll on 2011.....

Saturday 18 December 2010

Steranko Saturdays: Tower Of Shadows no. 1

OK, so it's not quite the psychedelic treat I promised last week
( It's on its way ), but I couldn't resist a quick look at James Steranko's macabre masterpiece At The Stroke Of Midnight from Tower Of Shadows no. 1, September 1969.

Above is Steranko's inexplicably rejected original cover, which was replaced by a more traditional, but dull, illustration by "Jazzy" Johnny Romita. Jaunty Jim's cover was probably too far ahead of its time and even "The House Of Ideas" wasn't quite ready for it. But I'm sure a certain Mr. Miller was paying attention.....

And here's the splash page for the creepy chronicle itself. If you want to read the complete spooky story ( and why wouldn't you? ) then Joe has the whole thing over at his blog. Tell 'im cerebus660 sent ya!

Friday 17 December 2010

Favourite Gig Fridays: Geno Washington

After writing about Dexy's Midnight Runners recently at t'other blog, I thought I'd mention the time I saw the man who was the inspiration for one of their biggest hits, Geno.

Geno Washington is a veteran Soul singer who was very popular with Mod audiences in the swinging' '60s and gained a reputation for exciting, energetic live performances. When I saw him it was back in May 1988, when the memory of the Dexy's tribute was still pretty fresh and helped him relaunch his live career.
As I've done a couple of times before, I'm going to quote from my dusty, cobwebbed diary ( with modern asides in italics ) so please excuse any bad grammar, bad language or just plain '80s language - it was a loooong time ago :-(

"Me and Sarah ( the bad grammar begins! ) went over to the Stroud Sub Rooms to see ( The Legendary ) Geno Washington & The Ram Jam All-Stars ( phew! ) - saw Paul and Nick there. ( A couple of mates not known for their gig-going activities. ) The first band on were called Double Agent and they were crap. They were one of those middle-aged ( steady! ) showbands who only appear once a year ( thank God! ) and play endless cover versions: 'Thanks, you're a lovely audience. We love you! Slurp! Slurp! This is an old Cliff Richard song.....' Bleeeuurrghh!! After suffering all that we were relieved to see the Lemons ( legendary Stroud psychobillies ) hit the stage. Thud! Dressed up as cowgirls, with the added attraction of 'Anal Sex' on sax, they churned out their usual thrash-country-abilly stuff. Though I've grown a bit tired of their limited 'music', they're still quite a good laugh and were very welcome after the previous group.

"Eventually Geno Washington and his band came on. He's about 50 ( actually 43 in 1988 ), is short and bald, and his band look like they came out of the Ark ( and bear a strange resemblance to the Monty Python team ) - BUT they were GREAT! They played R'n'B, straight blues and some ska, with an energy that a lot of younger bands couldn't manage. Geno got the crowd going like a real old showbiz pro - it was corny ( singalongs etc.. ) but fun. Me, Sarah and even Paul got up and danced and had a very good time. Strangely enough, Nick didn't dance. ( I don't think my mate Nick has ever danced in his life but, hey, each to their own. ) The band played such standards as Got My Mojo Working, Stand By Me, Al Capone and others, and got called back for a couple of shit-hot encores. We came out of the gig knackered and soaked with sweat ( that's twice in one week - what a masochist I am ) but happy. ( The other gig was Faith No More at the Bristol Bierkeller as seen in the very first Fave Gig Fri ) Also, all the money raised went towards Meningitis research - a very important cause around these parts. An excellent gig."

And a few days later I wrote this:
"Oh, yeah I saw Martin 'Ameeba' at the Geno Washington gig and I gave him a copy of the Death Planet Commandos demo tape. He must've liked it 'cos the Ameebas offered us a support slot with them. It's the Wednesday after next at the Night Owl in Cheltenham. Should be good."

Actually, it was the Worst Gig Ever, see here for evidence.....
But the Geno gig was legendary.

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Post no. 400

OK, it's post no. 400 on my 44th birthday and here's Fantastic Four no.4.....

May the Fours be with you :-)

Monday 13 December 2010

The Inner Sanctum

.....Sometime in the late '80s.

This is my old bedroom at Manor Farm, where I lived until I was 23.

I can see by looking at this ancient artefact that my tastes and interests haven't changed much in the last 20-something years. On the shelf to the left can be seen:
Stan Lee's "Origins" books
A picture of a devil created by me and my mate Kev when we were about 10
Clive Barker's Books Of Blood
Some dinosaurs of the cuddly and kit-form varieties
Assorted comics and mags

And on the walls:
Posters - Elric by Rodney Matthews, Conan by Boris Vallejo, Spidey by John Romita
Marilyn Monroe and Captain Christmas
My own creations - Punk collages, a lino-print of an anthropomorphic lemon (!), a Death Planet Commandos poster, a Cadbury's Fudge wrapper stuck to the wallpaper ( why not? )

Not to mention assorted junk on the writing-desk, including very-'80s Gonks and ET figure, and my beloved leather jacket which used to be like a second skin for many years, but now languishes at the bottom of my wardrobe.....

The pretty girl with the big hair is probably laughing because I've just told her that in 20-something years' time we'll be married with two kids and two cats, and will be living in sweet suburbia. As if that would ever happen :-)

Oh, and here's me auditioning for Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
I didn't get the gig.....

Saturday 11 December 2010

M.D.J is OK!

Hi to new Follower, M.D. Jackson, fellow blogger and fine fantasy artist. He's behind the excellent header art at Calvin's Canadian Cave Of Cool - what a stunning piece of work!

Check out M.D.'s artwork at his blog, Skylarking. And tell him cerebus660 sent you!

Steranko Saturdays: Monochrome

Some black and white beauties from Mister Steranko, kicking off with his signature character Nick Fury, Agent Of SHIELD, surrounded by friends, lovers, enemies and, er, dinosaurs.....

Next, the Incredible Hulk in a characteristic pose, but strangely less bestial than as usually portrayed. This illustration was slightly altered for the cover of Marvel's FOOM magazine no. 2, edited by Steranko of course.....

And now..... The Conventioneers! Nick Fury meets Chester Gould's Dick Tracy in some adverts for Phil Seuling's 1968 comic-con

Finally, a reminder that Mister S. had a sideline in illustration for science fiction magazines

Soundtrack: Play To Win / ( We Don't Need This ) Fascist Groove Thang by Heaven 17

Wednesday 8 December 2010

Baby, it's cold outside..... ( Part 2 )


RIP John Winston Ono Lennon ( 9 Oct. 1940 - 8 Dec. 1980 )

He was The Walrus.....

Strummer / Jones

Joe and Mick of the mighty Clash, looking cool as ever, on the cover of Rolling Stone, April 1980.

Read the interview here for Strummer's policy on rock venue seating, and a Rolling Stone journo's attempt to explain dub to Americans :-)

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Baby, it's cold outside.....

Even though we've missed most of the snow here in Gloucestershire ( so far! ), the frost and freezing fog has turned the landscape into a Winter wonderland.....


Related Posts with Thumbnails