TASH-BED: Hi everyone! It’s us, the singing Bedingfield siblings! Remember us? You must remember us.
DAN-BED: Summon Tash and she will appear!
TASH-BED: We’ve been keeping busy for the last few years, doing a turn on the New Zealand X Factor, manning the tombola stall at our ancient religion’s summer fête, organising the occasional covert raid on government strongholds. You know the drill. There’s not been much time for pop stardom!
DAN-BED: Tash the inexorable!
TASH-BED: Well, I say ‘we’, it’s mostly been me doing all the work. My darling brother here has just been sitting on his arse babbling about some old Pink Floyd record and looking up spiritual retreats in the west of Ireland.
DAN-BED: Tash the irresistible!
TASH-BED: Sigh. See what I have to put up with? He’s never been quite the same since he went on that ‘vision quest’ in the tropical house at Kew Gardens a few years ago. I found him a week later dancing away in the woods on Wimbledon Common with a bunch of hairy hippies and had to drag him home for a bath.
DAN-BED: All hail Tash!
TASH-BED: You’re really starting to get on my wick, Dan.
I’m sure the Bedingfields will kiss and make up soon. Here’s #20-#11!
Greetings! I’m the Toilet Duck and I’m here to solve all your problems! It’s easy (*quack*) when I’m on your team. With my catchy tunes and the help of my squadron of all-terrain bathroom fixtures I will defeat the rebel bacteria menace that would otherwise evolve into a terrifying ‘super’ ‘bug’ and bring civilisation to its knees. My global presence means there’s nowhere for rebel scum to hide! I’ll even plant a tracking device under the rim of your toilet seat to make sure they don’t get away. Bye bacteria, bye worries!
Reassuring words from Toilet Duck, there. On to numbers #30-#21!
“Hi I’m Godzilla. No honestly I am. I know what you’re thinking, that doesn’t look like Godzilla, he stands up on his hind-legs and stomps Tokyo. Well firstly who are you calling a “he”. Godzilla, ie me, is a lady. And secondly, that Godzilla is stupid – I’m the kind of more realistic Godzilla that people were crying out to see in the 90’s.”
“They didn’t? What even with Matthew Broderick? Jean Reno? What about the twist of my babies? Jamiroquai? His song is the best bit? Well that just makes me angry, makes me want to destroy Manhattan with my atomic breath.”
“I don’t? Well nuts to that.”
“Sorry about that, it turns out that I’m not the crowd pleasing monster I thought I was, instead I am a punchline to a number of jokes and I have been assigned to one of the great flops of history. Well just as well I spent last year watching the ten films which appear to come in between #30 and #21 in the FT film poll.”
Thanks rubbish 90’s Godzilla and that is a remarkable coincidence isn’t it. Well here’s what I thought of this run of movies.
Hi, I’m Dr Zaius smoking a cigarette from The Planet Of The Apes. You know the proper Planet Of The Apes from the sixties where people acted as apes, rather than Andy Serkis wearing ping pong balls and making a fool of himself. OK it meant that Charlton Heston got a bit too personal about our personal hygiene but the allegory more or less worked. I also turned up in Beneath The Planet Of The Apes, which was surprisingly good despite Chuck ducking out and an even heavier handed Nuclear War Allegory. Since then I’ve been pretty quiet here in the potentially nuclear destroyed future, I didn’t travel in time to Escape From… and they didn’t get me back for the Tim Burton travesty and I think it is a bit early in the new cycle of Apes films for a doddery old Doctor type to turn up (though I must go see my agent just in case). Nevertheless all of this spare time has allowed me to look at the best films released in the UK in 2016, and help curate the Freaky Trigger Top 41 (because there are two number 40’s).
“‘Allo. My name is René Artois, cafe owner and reluctant assistant to the Resistance. You may be wondering what I am doin ‘ere, at the top of a German communications tower, ‘olding a large knockwurst with a fuse coming out of it (use your imagination – Picture Ed). It is a good question, one I am currently asking myself. As you remember, Michelle of the Resistance, ‘er with the beret, ‘ad an ‘are-brained scheme to steal the secret plans for the V2 rocket. I am to transmit the plans to Edith and Yvette who are sat atop that distant tree, ‘olding a colander as a makeshift satellite dish. Edith will then ‘ide the plans in ‘er undercrackers, and escape in a dustbin transported to the Resistance base by Monsieur Alphonse’s ‘earse. This sausage – which, did I mention, is filled with nitro-glycerine – is apparently a precautionary measure in case I am caught! Why is it always me left ‘olding the banger? This whole place could blow up at any second! It is madness, but of course I never get a say in these matters.”
Merci, René. Let’s inspect our first batch of songs!
“Hello readers! It’s me, last year’s winner, Missy Elliott! Although 2016 has been an eventful year, I definitely hadn’t forgotten about my triumphant song at all. Definitely not. And neither had the good folk at Freaky Trigger forgotten about this year’s poll until yesterday! Submissions are now OPEN so get voting…”
Cheers Missy. Here’s the shiz:
Email up to 20 of your favourite tracks of 2016 to firstname.lastname@example.org by 23.59pm GMT on 31st December 2016.
– You don’t have to send 20 tracks – 10, 5 or just 1 is fine.
– Tracks should be in order – your #1 song will get more points than your #20 (if you really can’t put them in order, I’ll do it for you randomly!)
– Release date should be this year, but realistically I’m not going to check. If one of your picks appeared in last year’s poll, I’ll ask you for another one.
If you really have no idea what happened in pop music this year, there’s still plenty of time to have a listen to everyone’s best-of lists and see if anything floats your boat. If you’ve already made one, why not plug it in the comments?
The 17th Annual Freaky Trigger Between Christmas and New Year Pub Crawl: The Highgate Upside Down Wales
To celebrate this milestone I thought on the 29th December this year we should go on a route which several milestones can be seen, and also have a metaphorical expeditionary force, a force for good of course. Good cheer. And considering sixteen years of this pub crawl, I have decided this year to be a little selfish and do one quite near to my house. And also a selection of rather decent fake country pubs rather close in. So I present you a self-indulgent Highgate pubcrawl.
Starting at the Woodman next door to Highgate Tube (high entrance) at 3pm we take a scenic walk to Highgate Village ending at the lovely Duke’s Head. Route below the cut:
2. Spitfire And The Troubleshooters #1 (Brown/Morelli/Conway/Trimpe/Sinnott/Morgan/Roussos)
The New Universe was intended to be more ‘realistic’ than the main Marvel line – “the world outside your window” as the early editorials put it. In the comments to the first post in this series, Phil Sandifer reasonably asks how much of this was hastily added after the fact, perhaps to cash in on a vogue for gritty realism following the success of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns.
For some of the New U titles, the relationship to ‘realism’ is obviously a very tenuous one. But there’s clearly something to it. Several comics read like attempts to solve puzzles, where the starting point is “the real world” and the end point is, say, “an Iron Man comic”. If you must do a comic about a powered exoskeleton, who is most likely to be building one?
Iron Man’s answer to this is – clear-sightedly for a 1963 comic – ‘arms manufacturers’. Spitfire And The Troubleshooters arrives at the same rough conclusion: a genius scientist is building it, the military want it. The wrinkle the comic adds is that it’s not about the genius scientist, who is killed off on page one. It’s about his daughter, an MIT Professor, who sets out to keep his final creation out of the hands of the military. With the help of five of her students, who essentially go on the lam with her.
This is a blog about failure. Thirty years ago, Marvel Comics celebrated its 25th Anniversary by launching a “New Universe” – a start-up line of all-original comics, designed to… well, that depends who you ask. In theory, the New Universe was meant to reflect “the world outside your window”, returning to a level of ‘realism’ other Marvel comics had supposedly once had and lost. From the world outside Marvel’s window, it looked like a colossal vanity project – born of a need by Marvel’s then Editor-In-Chief, Jim Shooter, to prove a point to his critics: he was a creator, not just a brand manager.
In practise, once underway, both these aims were quickly scrambled. Marvel slashed the New Universe’s budget, and the grind of producing eight monthly comics on a shoestring soon became visible on the page. Within a year of its launch, Shooter was out of a job. This is a blog, after all, about failure, as it shows up in creative product: disappointing, mediocre, half-hearted, cruddy failure. It will also be about comics, and hype, and the 80s. At 13, a Marvel fan, I believed in the New Universe. Shooter’s very eighties pitch – that I would be “in on the ground floor” of something big – suckered me in. I have hardly ever been as excited as when the first issues of its titles trickled into a suburban British comic shop. And hardly ever as disappointed as when I read them. Some I dropped entirely, some I followed doggedly. At least one became a favourite, for a while. In among the failure may be some elements of success.
“All magic — I repeat, ALL magic, with no exceptions whatsoever — depends on the control of demons. By demons, I mean specifically fallen angels. No lesser class can do a thing for you. Now, I know one such whose earthly form includes a long tongue. You may find the notion comic.”
“Let that pass for now. In any event, this is also a great Prince and President, whose apparition would cost me three days of work and two weeks of subsequent exhaustion. Shall I call him to lick stamps for me?”
— James Blish, Black Easter or Faust Aleph-Null (pub.Faber & Faber 1968, p.25-26 Penguin Edn, 1972)
A man discovers that recent deeds have created for him a fierce and a bitter enemy. Sinister events unfold and it becomes clear a fatal spell has been cast. If it is not lifted, the man will die, rather horribly. In the event, friends are able to help, forestalling the danger and defeating the terrible foe. Victory is theirs — but at cost of their best opinions of themselves. No longer can they quite self-describe as decent, rational, civilised, ‘modern’. They have become what they fought.
More Ghost Stories, the collection containing M.R.James’s ‘Casting the Runes’ was published in 1911; Life’s Handicap, the collection containing Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Mark of the Beast’, was published in 1891. The short summary in the paragraph above accurately describes both stories.