Alterna-Front

The Fascist Painting: What is Cultural Capital? by Phil Beadle (2020)

“How many rich kids are there in your Year 10 bottom set?” asks Phil Beadle at one point in The Fascist Painting. He doesn’t need to present a reciprocal question about Eton or other public school. For teachers aware of the social inequities of the school system in the UK,...

Johnson’s Kulturkampf

Peter Jukes and Hardeep Matharu’s How Myths of Britishness Are Turning Totalitarian shows how culture is currently weaponised in the UK to enable a right-wing government that engenders a condition of disillusionment and delusion leading to the sort if paranoia seen in the US. Jukes and Matharu view this as...

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Johnson’s Kulturkampf

Peter Jukes and Hardeep Matharu’s How Myths of Britishness Are Turning Totalitarian shows how culture is currently weaponised in the UK to enable a right-wing government that engenders a condition of disillusionment and delusion leading to the sort if paranoia seen in the US. Jukes and Matharu view this as calculated.

The War on Woke won’t improve Britain’s pandemic response or ameliorate its recession, heal its social divisions or growing poverty, nor solve its rupture from its major trading partners in Europe. It will just make things worse. But, as the delusions of exceptionalism fail (which they are bound to because they are delusions), the explanation of betrayal, the ‘stab in the back’ and the foreign enemy, mounts.

from The Byline Times.

Life and Legacy of Stan Lee

Intelligent article about life and legacy of Marvel editor, Stan Lee by Prof Stephanie Burt in The New Yorker.

If Lee’s life deteriorated into fraud and feud, his legacy has come to seem only more enduring. The cast of characters that Lee and a clique of almost entirely white guys created has gained cultural and commercial superpower, animating stories and authors and fans in ways that they could never have foreseen.

Who Really Created the Marvel Universe? in The New Yorker

Galactica & Conan

Both of these arrived by post today (I’m having a bit of a Battlestar Galactica and Conan the Barbarian revival). As a child, I remember owning both these books. Proudly, I showed my primary school teacher, Mr Lee, the Galactica book to his bemusement. Conan of Aquilonia was the first Conan book I ever read. I bought it from a spinner rack in a SF bookshop in Rochester called Stargate One. I loved that bookshop.

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Week One: Twelfth Night (1602)

On Twelfth Night 2021 during the lockdown COVID pandemic I finished re-reading Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. It’s the first play in my attempt to read everything by Shakespeare by the end of the year. I studied Twelfth Night at A-level and taught it once for the old Key Stage Three SATs...

Madness!

It’s beyond question that Boris/Al and his ministers just aren’t up to the job of leading the UK in this crisis. Again and again they’ve avoided properly forward planning and left it too late when inevitable actions have to be taken. It’s time for them to go. Boris must resign....

Micronauts #7 (July 1979)

Micronauts vol 1 #7 July 1979“Adventure into Fear!”by Bill Mantlo, Michael Golden and Joe Rubenstein CoverMan-Thing is “Guest-Starring” in this issue. He is standing in water holding unconscious Marionette and Rann while the remaining Micronauts are positioned about his feet. While Microtron and Biotron appear to flee, Acroyear wields his...

Micronauts #6 (June 1979)

Micronauts vol 1 #6 June 1979“The Great Escapes”by Bill Mantlo, Michael Golden and Joe Rubenstein CoverThe Micronauts are attacking a Folorida Highway Patrol car. Bug is using his lance to melt through the windshield, Acroyear swings a piece of wreckage, Marionette points a gun at the cop. PAGES 1-6 (1-3,...

Michael Moorcock’s “The Dreaming City” (1961)

Moorcock’s The Dreaming City is the first short story featuring Elric, his silver-skinned Melnibonean hero. The story appeared in the wake of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (published between 1954 and 1955) as well as the renaissance of interest in Howard’s Conan tales (from 1932), Leiber’s Fahfrd & Grey...

Micronauts #5 (May 1979)

Micronauts vol 1 #5 May 1979“The Prometheus Pit”by Bill Mantlo, Michael Golden and Joe Rubenstein CoverTiny Micronauts – plus Muffin the dog – defending Steve from a Deathlok-type cyborg at the edge of a circular Prometheus Pit. (It’s a great cover!) PAGES 1-2: The Micronauts arrive at H.E.L.L. The Astrostation...

Micronauts #4 (April 1979)

Micronauts vol 1 #4 April 1979“A Hunting We Will Go!”Bill Mantlo (writer), Michael Golden (artist) and Joe Rubenstein (embellisher) CoverKarza facing the reader, blasting rebels. In the background dog soldiers are shooting down unarmed people who are running from them PAGES 1-6 (1-3, 6-7, 10): Dog soldiers raid the underground...

Micronauts #3 (March 1979)

Micronauts vol 1 #3 March 1979“Death Duel at Daytona Beach”Bill Mantlo, Michael Golden (breakdowns) & Joe Rubenstein CoverA space cruiser battling the Endeavour on a street corner. Acroyear and Rann flying. A couple of people in the street shocked by what’s happening (a typically Marvel cover). Michael Golden and Joe...

The Construction of Lost Hearts by M.R. James

M.R. James’ Lost Hearts is a tautly-constructed short story with an impressive economy of narrative. It’s a macabre tale of an elderly occultist luring children to his home and murdering them in an attempt to magical powers and immortality. An unnamed narrator (James?) relates the tale. It seems to me...

Micronauts #2 (February 1979)

Mantlo and Golden bring the Micronauts to Earth and begin to develop characterisation. In an interview in BEM #24, Mantlo explained how he established the characters: “The personalities of the characters partially arose from their visual appearance as toys. Not knowing Mego’s conception of their own toys at the time,...

Micronauts #1 (January 1979)

In Creating a new series for Marvel Comics: The Micronauts, Comics Journal #40 (June 1978) Mantlo writes: “The world would be, I decided, inhabitants of a “world within worlds,” as their name suggested. Homeworld, a whirling molecule on a spiralling DNA chain, became the first world in the Microverse that...

The Rise and Rise of Creativity

Utterly fascinating piece by Steven Shapin, Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University, exploring the way in which creativity entered modern discourse. It’s quite shocking to learn that creativity was barely mentioned before the 1920s and that its adoption as a defining human characteristic can be traced back...

The Hatred of Video Games is Simply Suspicion of Youth

Rather neat, germane piece by Ian Dunt about the way in which video games are stigmatised: Why should video games be seen as particularly addictive, compared to watching football, say, or soap operas? Both of these activities lead to people obsessively looking at a screen, day in and day out....

The Subjective Turn

Fascinating article on Hegel, historicism and human nature by Jon Stewart in Aeon magazine. Today, we dedicate much of our lives to developing and asserting some sense of personal self-identity that is identifiable and separable from that of others. People have become increasingly creative in the ways in which this...

Standardisation? The National Curriculum and Assessment

Notes from English and Its Teachers by Simon Gibbons (2017) In this chapter Gibbons presents the changes to English during the period of the 20 years-long Conservative government. His starting point is the 1988 Kingman Report and the introduction of the National Curriculum, the first attempt at prescribing the context...

X of Swords: Prelude to #10

It’s taken me a long time to get into X of Swords, the current X-Men crossover event. While I’m intrigued by Jonathan Hickman’s take on Marvel’s mutants set up in House of X/Powers of X, I can’t say I’m enjoying it. I dig some of the SF aspects of the...

Wolfgang Voight/GAS, Königsforst

A few days ago I happened to stumble across a list of Eight Great Minimal Electronic Records You Need to Hear. Minimal techno – if it’s what you could call the music on the list – is something I haven’t listened to a great deal so I thought I’d have...

Cognitive Load Theory and Instructional Design: Recent Developments (2003) by Fred Paas, Alexander Renkl and John Sweller

This is a text that I’ve seen repeatedly referenced online as an important introduction to CLT. After reading it, I’m not convinced that this is the best place to start with learning about CLT. It’s the introduction/editorial for an issue of Educational Psychologist and gives a broad overview of the...

Generative Learning in Action (2020) by Zoe & Mark Enser

Generative Learning in Action is refreshing after the heavy doses of Rosenshine I’ve been consuming recently. There are two aspects to the GL approach I find particularly engaging: it approaches learning from the learner’s perspective rather than that of the instructor (the “flip-side” that the Ensers repeated point out) plus...

Richard Skelton, These Charms May Be Sung Over A Wound

Aphotic and portentous, Richard Skelton’s new album has been played around these parts for a week. It’s magnificent. I’d even go so far to say that it’s a significant piece of modern music. The gloomy, droning soundscape evoked by Skelton on this album is perfect for both this time of...