Comics update

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Having not collected any comics for several months they arrived in a parcel a couple of weeks ago.  This is a quick summary of what I’ve been reading.

Dial H Four comics arrived in this series written by China Miéville.  It’s a continuous story.  Each issue is its own title.  Having defeated the Nullomancer and her ally the Abyss in the first arc Nelson and Roxie are venturing to the Exchange, the heart of Dial Technology.  I see that DC Comics have cancelled this series and it will finish with the next issue.

Doctor Who Two stories.  The first includes Amy and Rory with the Doctor and Lady Christina De Souza aboard a luxury starship orbiting a would-be nova star.  We may have been here before.  The second story has the Doctor aboard a cosmonaut capsule in 1965.  The Vashta Nerada are outside and the capsule is about to go into the dark side of the Earth.

Willow A miniseries as part of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 arc.  As a consequence of Season 8 magic has left the world.  Willow is on a quest to restore it.  Her adventure takes her to the witch goddesses’ version of the Garden of Earthly Delights, and she duels with an old enemy.

Angel and Faith  One of the two titles for the BTVS Season 9 arc.  Another of the consequences of Season 8 was Giles was killed in the final battle with the Big Bad, a brilliant, shoking and savage action.  Angel’s quest has been to find the parts of Giles’ soul and resurrect Giles.  He and Faith have been based in London, in Giles’ flat, with Giles’ immortal and narcissic aunts Lavinia and Sophronia.

At the end of the arc it is revealed Giles’ soul was sold to a major demon and they have to get it back.  They are successful, and one of the results of the resurrection spell is Giles is restored as a 12 year old boy.  There’s some hilariously funny dialogue involved.  It’s like Anthony Head has been replaced by a child actor.  I like it!

The final story is a face-off with the season’s villains in London.  The team breaks up.  It looks like Angel will remain in London for Season 10, which is now full of fantastic creatures.  If he remains in London then maybe the story can cross over the Irish Sea and find out more of Angel’s former life in Ireland before he was turned into a vampire.  I also want to see more of Baby Giles.  Lil Ripper has already been suggested as a comic book title for this character.

The final issue of Buffy Season 9 wasn’t in the parcel.  I’ll save it for a later summary.  The story is picked up nicely and I wait to see its conclusion.

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Northern Irish addresses and Waldbuhne 2011

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Event for this week was an open lecture at the Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies on form and language in contemporary Scottish poetry.  Apparently the Scottish poets are borrowing from the idea pioneered by W. B. Yeats that the poet must be rooted in community.  Place and location are necessary to any poet; and form and pattern give force to a poem.  It made sense when it produces accessible poetry.  The lecture finished with a consideration of numerology in the poetry of Paul Muldoon.  I concluded that I didn’t understand what they are talking about.  The guy must be a poet’s poet which is a bit beyond my ken.  Numerology in poetry is another idea that goes back to Yeats, so I blame him.

Today’s treat was watching the Berlin Philharmonic at the Waldbuhne.  That was wonderful.  They began with some short pieces: Shostakovitch’s Jazz Piece, which isn’t real jazz, I didn’t detect any improvisation or feeling in it.  As the sun set in the natural amphitheatre then they moved onto more toothier pieces: Respighi’s Fountains of Rome and the Pines of Rome.  They caught close-ups of people in the audience and there was one woman with a child in her lap and a tear running down her cheek as they played Pines near a catacomb.

Then they brought the percussion out and finished with Berliner Luft.  I hadn’t heard it before.  It proved to be one of those special pieces, like being at a Last Nigh of the Proms.  I didn’t know Germans had that in them as they joined in the popular tune with clapping and whistles.  What a special treat, especially for the audience.

Lunch time reading this week has been from Perdido Street Station by China Miéville.

Talking about books

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I was down in Invercargill during the month for my brother’s 50th birthday celebrations, Boston T.. I stayed with Southern Dave and took the opportunity to browse through his extensive library for things I should read. Over five days I had time to read four of his books.

  • I shall wear midnight, the most recent Terry Pratchett. I had heard that this was darker than his earlier books. Before reading it I had put it down to the fact that the onset of Alzheimer’s disease had given him intimations of mortality. On reading it I found it to be deliciously dark and enjoyable. He also re-introduced one of his earliest characters whose fate I had always wondered about and identified several paragraphs before being revealed in the text.
  • The Fuller Memorandum by Charlie Stross. The latest in the Laundry series. That man is evil!
  • The Last Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko. I’ve gone off the Russian Night Watch series. There seems to be little choice between the libertarian Dark and the paternalistic snobbery of the Light. Gack! I’m not sure if this book had anything to add.
  • Peter and Max: A Fables Novel by Bill Willingham. Willingham takes characters from his successful Fables title in Vertigo and writes a book. It’s a reminder to me that characters from visual media: graphic novels and television, do not easily cross over into written media. They come across as two-dimensional in books to me.
  • Since returning to Dunedin I have bought a copy of Kraken by China Miéville. It’s not so much Gosh Wow as his New Crobuzon novels but it has several moments of the fantastic descriptions that have become his trademark. Because it’s set in London it feels closer to his earlier novel UnLunDun in its story telling. Two of his villains feel like a hat tip to the archetype that Neil Gaiman used in Neverwhere as Croup and Van Der Meer (I think that was their names). I would be happy to get Goss and Subby out of my head. They are creepy and terrifying! One moment in the denoument had me cheering because Metadata Is Important! Only a cataloguer can appreciate that moment.

    Also it was nice to see a character who’s a member of a squid cult who is motivated by its distinct ethos and theology. It makes a nice difference to fleshing out a character.

    And finally FreakAngels volume two by Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield arrived in at Pop Fiction this week. I have asked to get the next volume for me. Both Kraken and FreakAngels are welcome additions to my book shelves.

Holiday Report

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Kurow: visit friends, Jumpgate and Rribbitt, who are setting up an orchard on a lifestyle block. Maybe I will go visit them again and help pick fruit. I should be a good picker as I hate eating fruit, so I don’t eat as I work.

Hanmer Springs: we took the water in the thermal pools. Recommended.

Nelson: Caught up with the cousins before they left on an overseas trip to Britain and France with their boys.

Wellington: six days in the capital city. Less flat than Dunedin, more upward in perspective. Did all the things I like doing in Wellington: ride on the back of a motorbike; a burger from Abrakebabra; a visit to Graphic Comics; and to Te Papa, where I saw the artefacts on display from the Presbyterian Archives in the Scots exhibition: a communion cup, flagon, and tokens. I found a snugglesafe on sale for cheaper than I could buy it in Dunedin. Tao has yet to be convinced by it. Also saw the latest novel by China Miéville, Un Lun Dun, a young adult novel set in a fantastic alternative London. It’s a different writing style to the New Crobuzon novels, and I took my time in warming to it; I’ve still got 70 pages yet to finish.

I found a friend in Blenheim whom I hadn’t seen since highschool. We went back to Cust to by a feather stick from Route 72. It was a craft shop and cafe. They were a little shocked because we were buying it for Tao! I insisted we go into Christchurch to visit Tête â Tête, a vintage clothing & accessories shop on Hereford Street. We only had half an hour on the parking metre. I still came away with three shirts.

Our last night was in Rakaia. The snow came down to 200 metres. I left my mother in Dunedin as she travelled home to Invercargill. Tao is looking glossy after her stay at Penzance Cattery. I must find out what they fed her.

All-in-all, a good break. When can I do it again?