Monthly Archives: November 2011

All Hail The FreeView!

What a boon it is to live in the digital age, to have dozens of TV channels at your disposal, to be never lost for visual stimulus – even at four o’clock in the morning. Beats the old days with just 3/4/5 stations to chose from. OK, so TV was more of a shared experience then, all citizens bound us all together in a community of viewers. “Did you see X last night?” (everyone had, there was little choice, so you could bond over the telly).

But nostalgia ain’t all that. When you had 3 channels, half the programming was taken up with crap like NationWide, The Cannon and Ball Show or the snooker. You couldn’t escape that by switching channels because… well, because there were so few to choose from. And although most of what’s on now is dross and repeats, some gems do pop up from time to time. You just have to know where and when to look. So here’s three of my current faves, showing you just how I waste most of my days and evenings. Bon appetit.

1) Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (Food Network)

We denizens of the old continent often puzzle over the girth and weight of Americans and their ability to pile on the kilos. No more. This prog shows exactly how that happens. The food presented on this show is jaw-dropping in its crudity and lack of… well… taste. Everything here is huge, covered in mountains of processed cheese, stuffed with pounds of fried meat, drenched in sauce. It’s how I imagine that orcs would cook. Disgusting. 3D is pure car-crash television; bound to send you reaching for a salad and to rip up any take-away menus in the house.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f61FIh8glN4&feature=related

2) The Keiser Report (Russia Today)

Ostensibly this show is about exposing the lies and corruption of the world financial markets (except the Russian ones). The star of the show is Max Keiser, a front-man who is part shock-jock, part economic guru. Ably assisted by his assistant Stacey Herbert, he lays into the criminals, fraudsters, zombies and liars ripping us off on the financial markets and in government. JP Morgan, The Koch Brothers, Goldman Sachs, financial regulators, governments… every one of the authors of our economic misfortunes gets monstered on this show. You also pick up all kinds of tasty tidbits about how the financial world works (or how it doesn’t) from watching. Quite compelling.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrSWpmtm0kY

3) Mongrels (BBC Three)

There was, not long back, a campaign to shut down BBC3. The argument was that the network didn’t have a clear vision and that the programmes it produced were terrible. Closing the station would save the licence-fee payer squillions and blah, blah, blah. And then this comes along. A puppet show about animals living round the back of a pub in Millwall. There’s Marion, a feral cat with a Greek/Turkish accent; Kali, a West Indian pigeon; Vince, a sweary c*** of a fox; Nelson, a metrosexual, middle-class fox and Destiny, an Afghan-hound princess owned by the pub landlord, Gary. It’s so much fun you could even call it satire. Love it to bits. Series 2 is now showing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I139XVV-UaY&feature=relmfu

Post Ends. Please Disperse.

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Comic Book Classics # 19

 Richard Corben

The underground comix movement in 1960s America threw up a number of great comic book virtuosos: Robert Crumb, Gilbert Shelton, Vaughn Bode, even Harvey Kurtzman and Mad magazine can be attributed to this abandonment of mainstream comics by the brightest and best new artists and writers. Towards the end of that period, Richard Corben begins to make his mark as an artist in the underground press.

 His first successes came in fanzines including Grim Wit, Slow Death and Fantagor. Soon he moved to the more established Warren Publishing where he contributed to horror and fantasy titles (Creepy, Eerie, 1984 and Vampirella). In the mid 70s he approached the editors of French magazine Metal Hurlant [see Comic Book Classics #13]. There he developed his very distinctive style. The culmination of this new direction is his adult fantasy series Den.

 

Den is the tale of a nerd who finds a gateway to a new dimension; Neverwhere. Once there the nerdy kid is transformed into an over-endowed muscleman hero and goes on a series of violent and erotic adventures. A strong vein of humour runs through the series, something that runs through the rest of his oeuvre. Den soon proved an extremely popular series and featured prominently (ahem) in the Heavy Metal film.

Further Corben works include collaborations with Harlan Ellison, artwork for The Punisher, the adapting of classic tales by Robert E Howard, HP Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe and artwork for album covers. From 1986 to 1994 he ran his own publishing imprint, Fantagor Press. In addition, he has also developed further solo projects (Rowlf, Jeremy Brood, further volumes of Den etc.)

Comic Books have an odd habit of projecting distorted mirror images of the societies that spawned them. America, where ¾ of the population are obese, poor and treated like shit, has given the world the superhero. Additionally the Japanese,who enjoy the highest average age of any nation of earth, produce manga; a form where every single character – regardless of age or gender – has the face of a seven year old girl. When contemplating Richard Corben’s work you are often drawn to such psychoanalytical explanations because… well, look at this:

 

Discuss!

His depiction of exaggerated physical /sexual characteristics has certainly sparked controversy . Anyway, putting aside the shock value of the subject matter his artwork certainly deserves plaudits. The realism of his work (he pioneered the use of airbrush illustration) offers up landscapes that are almost photographic in quality. The fantasy worlds he creates are similarly rich, detailed and filled with exotic plants, animals, people and monsters. He also has a nifty ear for dialogue and brings a light humourous touch to his stories and characters. His ability to make such imagined worlds real makes his work truly great.

 

Coward of the Country

 (My one and only attempt at musical satire, written months after it ceased to be relevant. Words by Floppybootstomp with absolutely no input from Kenny Rogers at all)

 

Everyone considered him the champion of the Sky-Bid

He never said one single time that monopoly was wrong

His momma called him David but folks just called him useless

Something always told me he was a good Bullingdon boy

 

In office for ten minutes and he bottles the decision

Because Rupe’s a friend to Tories and they both got along

I still recall the final words that Murdoch said to Cameron:

‘The News of the World is history but my Sky-Bid must go on’

 

Promise me Dave not to leave my work undone

Remember all my favours if you can

The Sun comes out each day I can make our friendship pay

I hope your phone’s encrypted if you can’t

 

Sometimes your wallet needs an extra grand

There is someone for everyone and Dave obeyed Rebekah

With her lies he didn’t have to serve the common man

One day when he was working the Guardian boys came calling

They exposed Rebekah and the nasty Murdoch press

 

Dave opened up the door and saw Rebekah hiding

Her perjured heart, her shredded files was more than he could stand

He reached above the fireplace to take down Rupert’s picture

As he thought of legal loopholes he heard those words again

 

Promise me Dave not to leave my work undone

Remember all my favours if you can

The Times comes out each day I can make our friendship pay

I hope your phone’s encrypted if you can’t

 

Sometimes your wallet needs an extra grand

 

The house of commons laughed at him as he walked into the chamber

Or that idiot weasel Milliband? I really can’t be sure

He said he’d not refer the bid to the monopolies commission

but you could have heard a pin drop when he u-turned and ran away

 

20 years of crawling were bottled up inside him

But he knew that for the Murdochs he would crawl for 20 more

If Rupe got what he wanted he would finally be somebody

And if he didn’t get it, the Daily Mail would step in

 

And I heard him say:

 

Promise me Rupe not to drop me in the soup

Remember all my favours if you can

The Sun comes out each day I’ll do anything you say

Lat me stick my tongue up your behind

 

I’m the bestest little toady you will find

 

Everyone considered him the champion of the Sky-Bid

 

ian sneath

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