Posts from August 2013
This week in the Lost Property Office you finally, the interview you have all been waiting for. The Nabob himself of this scene, Tom Ewing, a man who tells a good story, and – thankfully for this podcast – has been known to lose the odd item or two. Picking up the final few guests before the podcast disappears up its own concept, lost in the mists of losing stuff, Tom gets to talk about catching them all, then losing them all, yes Jigglypuff I am talking about you. Do you dare consifer the morality of Pokemon?
Elsewhere on this trip through the reliability of memory lane, we discuss bands that NEVER split up, one band that did and an ex members constant attack on its memory. Man-bags, Tropicana Orange Juice, Zico Coconut Water and the reliability of signed items. All of which done to a motley selection of TV themes, cover version and the dread/awesome sound of OPPENHEIMER. And don’t forget the large bronze cock… All of this and what the P in Genesis P.Orridge really stood for.
Are you sitting comfortably? Because this weeks guest wants to take you on a journey. A journey that involves bitter rivalry, tradition, softball and a macabre trophy which was liberated, transported and then lost. And the response of the Grand Elders of the Tennessee / Kentucky / Carolina Left Wing Softball Tourney to that loss. It is a tale that takes us right into the heart of darkness. And that heart, as ever, lies in the lost property office.
This weeks guest is more comfortable on the other side of the mic, hosting the terrific Slug Of Time science fiction podcasts from a few years back on FreakyTrigger. Now thoroughly ensconced within the BBC, he gets to tell us of one of the most bizarre lost items we’ve ever heard of, being physcially more lost than anyone we’ve ever had on, and bringing up the largest item of lost property we’ve ever had in the office. Truly they do everything bigger in the US – and it was great fun to welcome up Elisha Sessions to get lost with us. Beware of the grand elders…
The nu millennium demands nu music. Twinkling neon keyboard and nebular swells of synth herald the cyberdelic overlord of compu-pop. What galactic visions have his mauve eyes witnessed? What secrets of the funk cosmic lie in his androgyne grasp? Cyborgs flex to hip-hop breaks as he begins his star-borne song, his voice pitched high, warped into alien tongues. Speak, voyager!
And then the actual song begins.
Writing this post could have felt awkward. I have been very lucky: I’ve never had to face the premature loss of a loved one, and having never been tested by grief in that way I can’t fully grasp what George Michael was finding in himself to make “Jesus To A Child” after his lover’s death.
On the other hand, this is an exceptionally generous, welcoming record. If the “stages of grief” have any veracity – and as I say, I’m fortunate enough not to really know yet – then surely this is acceptance, or as close to it as the bereaved can ever come. However measured Michael’s performance is, in places it’s heartbreaking. But even as he sings “the lover I still miss” I don’t feel like a voyeur – this is his monument, a work Michael needs his public to hear. Even though few at the time knew the story behind it, the sincerity, and the will to somehow pass on something extraordinary and vanished, is palpable. It’s a heartfelt celebration of the effect love can have on a life, and it’s a songwriter consciously setting himself his hardest possible task, and achieving it.
Avengers #1-17; New Avengers #1-8 by Jonathan Hickman et al.
Marvel’s Avengers and New Avengers comics at the moment remind me a lot of Dragonlance-era D&D, where the whole plot had been worked out in advance and the PCs moved through it with occasional nudging from the GM. It was designed as an immersive, epic, longform experience but also one with very little agency for the players. Their job was to move from set-piece to set-piece while mandated NPCs explained what was happening to them. Some of the NPCs would join their party for a bit, others were more explicitly a voice of the GM: explaining rules or simply telling the characters what they had to do next.
Longform storytelling is in fashion at Marvel at the moment – no surprise, when the most-discussed and praised form of storytelling has shifted from the widescreen movie (the form comics tried to capture in the early 00s) to the complex, multi-season TV series. Story arcs are discussed in terms of seasons; new launches explicitly compared to, for instance, Game Of Thrones.
These are not bad ambitions – comics, especially mainstream comics, have always been a cultural sponge, it’s part of the reason I can’t stop loving them. Even when the stories are crap you can be interested by the wider stuff they’re filtering, reflecting, getting right or wrong.
One of the most important things I ever read was a tiny RPG fanzine called SNOWED INN. Actually it wasn’t even a fanzine in its own right. It was a bonus edition of a zine called ASLAN, which was – or so I was given to believe – the most controversial and groundbreaking RPG zine of its day.
By the time I saw Aslan its existing reputation as a thoughtful, warm RPG zine had been overlaid by its support for and love of “freeform” RPGs. Snowed Inn was a write-up of one of these – the first time I’d really come across writing which was a description of a game that had been played, not a scenario, or a debate about how to game well or just tinkering with rulesets. Snowed Inn was set in, yes, an inn, and was a kind of multi-player fantasy farce with tens of characters. It sounded as intoxicating and strange as the first RPGs I’d ever played.
Year poll time! I give every No.1 a mark out of 10. In this poll, you can tick any that you would give 6 or more to. My highest marks this year went to Livin’ Joy and Coolio, my lowest to Robson And Jerome.
Writing the 1995 entries has been tremendously enjoyable, reading the threads even more so. Thanks, as ever, to everyone who reads and comments on Popular and waits patiently for the oft-delayed new entries.
As ever, use the comments to share your own favourites from 1995, other lists, thoughts on the year in general, etc.