Oct 16

HAUNTOGRAPHY: Casting the Runes

FT1 comment • 147 views

Exhumed again, the ‘hauntography’ series, exploring the stories of M.R.James one by one! Read the original story, or read more about the series.

black_easter“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.”
“Not exactly.”
“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.

Aug 16

Popular ’01

FT + Popular33 comments • 1,855 views

I give a mark out of 10 to every entry. These polls are your chance to say which records YOU would have given 6 or more to. Not quite as many 2001 entries as the 2000 poll but still an awful lot. My 9s this year went to Destinys Child, So Solid Crew, and Kylie. DJ Otzi landed a 1. Over to you!

Which of the Number Ones of 2001 Would You Have Given 6 Or More To?

View Results

Poll closes: No Expiry

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Jul 16


FT2 comments • 109 views

UPDATE: the book is funded, so thanks everyone that helped. It is due for delivery in a little over a year. I will keep people up to speed on developments via the kickstarter page, which has a blog.

EXACTLY two hours left as I post, and it suddenly seems extremely doable so nothing cryptic for once :)

Gorgeous cover and illustrations by SAVAGE PENCIL, discussions and essays by Val Wilmer, Richard Williams, Mark Williams, David Toop, Tony Stewart, Bob Stanley, Charles Shaar Murray, Jon Savage, Cynthia Rose, Edwin Pouncey, Penny Reel, Liz Naylor, Mark Pringle, Tony Palmer, Paul Morley, John (aka Jonh) Ingham, Barney Hoskyns, Jonathon Green, Beverly Glick (aka Betty Page), Simon Frith and Nigel Fountain, and others (including me!!)


Jun 16

ROCKWRITE UK UPDATE: the kickstarter for the book of the conference IS NOW LIVE

FTPost a comment • 108 views

So last May, as some FT readers will recall, I ran a conference at Birkbeck about the politics of UK music-writing from the mid-60s to the mid-80s, its roots and discontents, its early evolution and its latent potential, as I put it here back then. The plan all along was to gather extracts of the (extremely interesting) panels into a book, add in some essays from participants (and others) and publish it.

To that end, I present the kickstarter for A HIDDEN LANDSCAPE ONCE A WEEK: how UK music-writing became a space for unruly curiosity, in the words of those who made it happen, an anthology companion to the conference featuring conversations and essays that unearth the many surprising worlds explored by the UK music-press from the 1960s-80s. Click through for further details, little explanatory films and so on.


Contributors (panelists and essayists) will include:
Val Wilmer, Richard Williams, Mark Williams, David Toop, Tony Stewart, Bob Stanley, Charles Shaar Murray, Jon Savage, Cynthia Rose, Edwin Pouncey, Penny Reel, Liz Naylor, Mark Pringle, Tony Palmer, Paul Morley, John (aka Jonh) Ingham, Barney Hoskyns, Jonathon Green, Beverly Glick (aka Betty Page), Simon Frith and Nigel Fountain. The illustrations will be by the legendary SAVAGE PENCIL (see left for cover mock-up).

I think this is a strong and interesting project, giving voice to people in this history who’ve been lost from view as well as better-known names, exploring ideals and describing day-to-day practicalities — so click through, read, pledge if you like what you see, and (above all) pass it on to friends who you think will be interested.

Apr 16

VOX POPULAR: The Charts As Soapbox In A Digital Era

FT + Popular13 comments • 2,002 views

Slide1This is the text of my presentation to EMP 2016, in Seattle. The theme of the conference was “voice”, thankfully this proved flexible enough for me to ride my favourite hobby horse. I gave the presentation without notes, so the text here is slightly drier than attendees might remember, and lacks ad libs, embellishments, moments of desperate panic, etc. Thank you to everyone who attended and thank you especially to all those attendees who came up afterwards and said nice things. I had a wonderful time.

Hello Seattle. Make some noise.

Feb 16

The Machine Stops

FT16 comments • 1,197 views

tin machine wogan The odd thing about Tin Machine, having finally listened to Tin Machine, is that Bowie’s instincts were dead on. It’s not a mistake at all. He’s listening to the Pixies so he’s in tune with what’s happening in American indie rock; he’s thinking it’s time to strip back the production and make rock music, he wants to make something a bit more confrontational and instinctive… these are all exactly the right ideas for the moment. And yet when he comes to act on those instincts and form his band he ends up with a record of skronky blues rock and some of his worst ever lyrics. Of course you can say he picked the wrong collaborators, but it’s not just that. It really underlines the horrible gulf between knowing what the right move is and actually pulling off that move.

Jan 16

The Freaky Trigger Comics Poll 2015: #12 – #1

FT + The Brown Wedge/5 comments • 442 views

Bucks Fizz “Hi, we’re Jay, Mike, Cheryl and Bobby, better known as Bucks Fizz, stars of LOOK-IN magazine – oh the mischief we got up to! Nothing risque, you understand, it’s a children’s paper. Of course we’re also famous as the inspirations for Amaterasu, Inanna, Lucifer and Dionysus from last year’s comics poll winner, The Wicked + The Divine, which we thought we’d remind you of just in case it turns up again below. Our own comics career has been a little quiet lately but between you and us I think hosting this amazing Top 12 will be just the leg-up we need for a new beginning (mamba seyra), maybe a licensed series from IDW or perhaps Boom! Studios. Move over Jem and the so-called Holograms, Bucks Fizz are back and ready to twirl!”

Thanks, Bucks Fizz! Yes, bringing the curtain down on Poll Month, it’s the Comics Top 12. As usual, an asterisk means I haven’t read any of it but thankfully Kat has once again stepped in to lend her webcomics expertise to the countdown.

Jan 16

The Freaky Trigger Movie Poll 2015: #10 – #1

Do You See + FT10 comments • 454 views

4835951786_b44ef39807_b“Hi, I’m Gongy the Rank Movies Gong, who you might know from the intro to any Rank Movie you’ll have seen between 1935 and 1980. And when I wasn’t being banged by an oiled up muscled bodybuilder I liked nothing more than settling down to watch the movie I prefaced. Now working for J Arthur meant I didn’t always get to see classics, but I think I put enough time in the cinema to judge the odd movie, and am in a perfect position to hand out the -ahem – Gongs in this poll.

I do miss getting banged though. Do people not “get it on” in 2015? Are there no vaguely racist kung fu movies I can cameo in to instigate a fight? Roll uncontrollably down a hill? A Gong gets restless in retirement. All the Gongmen are dead.”

Cheers Gongy, and I hope you enjoy this batch of pretty decent reasons to spend time in front of a screen. But not right in front of the screen Gongy, cos we won’t be able to see the films.

Jan 16

The Freaky Trigger Readers’ Poll 2015: #10-#1

FT27 comments • 866 views


“Yojne! – 01 Pot gnilffuhs-zzaj, gnikcilc-regnif lanif eht s’ereh, yawyna! Ekil I mug taht ekil, elyts ni kcab emoc ll’yeht yllufepoh. Selit eht htiw yoj on tub, sniatruc der eht dah yeht dna Esabemoh ni dekool I. Egdol Kcalb eht detaroceder tsal ehs nehw, morf selit roolf gazgiz esoht tog ehs erehw Remlap Arual gniksa ot dnuor teg yllanif nac I! Seires wen eht tuoba enoyna sa deticxe sa m’i. Skaep Niwt morf frawd gniklat-sdrawkcab eht, Ecalp Rehtona Morf Nam Eht m’i, olleh.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself. Without further ado: let’s have a look at the Top 10:

Jan 16

The Freaky Trigger Comics Poll 2015: #24-#13

FT + The Brown Wedge/2 comments • 306 views

Whacky “Hi Readers! It’s WHACKY here from COR!!, the weekly mag that thrashes the others. You’ve not seen much of me in comics lately, which is a bit of a sore point. I used to have to beat the offers away, but frankly, now Corporal Punishment in schools has been given the boot, there’s not been much call for my services. It’s a shame – a good whacking builds character. It certainly built mine. Still, I’m happy to help Freaky Trigger with their punishing poll schedule – they’re caning these results posts at the moment. Here’s the next instalment of the comics poll – I’m sure you’ll agree it features some real belters!”

Thanks, Whacky! I said in the last block of comics that it had the most titles I hadn’t read in. That, er, turns out not to be the case. Apologies for the perfunctory nature of some of the commentary below! As ever, an asterisk signals that I’ve not read any of it. We pick up with number 24…