The Best-Kept Secret
Being an easy pushover for a good UFO book (something I’ve not shaken since my childhood), I’ve just read Jacques Vallée’s and Paola Harris’ Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret. It’s an account of a hitherto unknown UFO crash in San Antonio in 1945 very close to Ground Zero where the Manhattan Project had tested the first atomic bomb just days before. In reality, other than the testimony of old men who saw the crash as small children and a piece of aluminium, there’s not a great deal of physical evidence. Nevertheless Vallée and Harris link the first wave of UFO phenomena with the use of nuclear weapons and with the 1964 Zamora close encounter in nearby Socorro and the similar 1965 Valensole, France close encounter. Vallée’s approach is open-minded and investigative and he is as interested in the psychic effect of anomalous incidents as their physical. Though it’s never entirely clear what Vallée believes, he seems to interpret the UFO phenomena as a form of communication or signal to influence human society.
Just read Goodbye, Things by Fumio Sasaki which advocates an extreme form of extreme ascetic minimalism. Fumio argues that through discarding material possessions other than those that are absolutely essential is the path to happiness. I can’t disagree with most of Sasaki’s advice but feel that it’s aimed at much younger adults without families. He’s clear about a need to shift priorities. For example: “There’s no point in putting up with a terrible job or working yourself to death just to maintain your standard of living. By having less and lowering your minimum living costs, you can go anywhere you want. Minimalism can really be liberating.“
But what’s gone on, what can I see?
You’re all getting mugged by the aristocracy
But what’s gone on, what can I see?
You’re all getting mugged by the right wing beast.
I had a long car journey today which gave me the chance to listen to UK Grim, Sleaford Mods’ new release. Aside from the bleak portrait it paints of Britain, it’s wretchedly – absurdly – funny. The Mods’ appear to have both personal and political hypocrisy in their sights. Andrew Fearn’s synths seem to me to be the soundtrack to the days we are living through here in the UK. (Oh, and without any sense of irony, The Daily Telegraph made UK Grim album of the week with a perfect score!)
Whither the Woes of Winter?
On our walk today we notice the first signs of Spring: the early flowerings, the reddish tips of bushes regrowing after being cut back. It’s still cold, though. My hands are still sore from not wearing gloves. It’s an age thing.
Star Wars-level dismemberment
Alas, Luigi seems to suffer Skywalker degrees of injury in our house lately. He’s been glued several times. He always has that complex shocked-but-resigned-to-suffer expression.
Attentive photography attempt
Realised that – except for two or three family snaps – I haven’t taken a photograph since Christmas. Or non-family photos for a very long time. Which must indicate that I’m not paying enough attention. Inspired by a recommendation to use an old Canon SD1000 as a “sleeper camera”, I hunted through the boxes in the attic until I found my old Canon Ixus 130 which I’m going to put to deliberate use to take attentive photos. I’d certainly like a better camera – and have long had my eye on the old Lumix LX 100 – but the 130 will do for a start.
Godmode9 Sysnand Backup
For the love of all that is Good, how tortuous is this?
This application requires…
It’s happened! My phone – an iPhone 7 bought in 2016 – is now supposedly too old to update to iOS 16 and, consequently, won’t install newer apps. The phone is perfectly good. It’s in great condition, continues to work really well and seems fast enough to do everything I want. I don’t need a faster processor for games or a better camera lense. Enforced upgrading!
Tom Strong’s Terrific Tales Vol. 1
Got this for £5. Have been after a reasonably-prices copy for at least 5 years.
New Year’s Day
To see in the new year we went for a walk in Hayle Park Nature Reserve and then down into part of the lower Loose Valley. Enjoyable wander.
Obsidian Canvas Tool
Obsidian’s latest update, 1.1.8, introduces canvas, a type of infinite note that encourages visual note-taking. Although it’s only currently available on desktop, it brings much of the functionality of OneNote. Once on mobile/tablet, all that’s needed is a stylus/handwriting plug-in (which, undoubtedly a developer in the Obsidian community will be working on). Fantastic step forward for the app.
Frankensteined a classic iPod out of two broken ones today. I continue to like the idea of a dedicated music player rather than using a phone. It could be familarity and nostalgia that puts me off the current (terribly-designed) mp3 players. At some point I’ll swap out the hard drive for a larger sd card and add a new battery.
It’s all so quiet
Looks like the country has taken a day off. No one is out and nothing is moving.
Suddenly it’s snowed!
Just looked outside and it’s snowed! It’s been cold over the past couple of days here in South-east Albion but I wasn’t expecting such heavy snow. Such a peaceful evening.
The villain is… the English teacher
Pat Mills is someone I have incredible respect for as both a writer and advocate of creativity. His Substack is required reading for me. For Mills, the villain in his creative life is the presence of his English teacher: “My teacher’s deliberate sabotaging of my creative endeavours – for a number of personal reasons I’ll get into later – actually forced me to find my own unique writing path. His negativity undoubtedly made me the writer I am today and I can see his influence in every single one of my stories… He is lurking in the shadows of all of them..” (Pat Mills’ Iconoblast)
My eldest son, Lysander, graduated today with his first class degree in film-making. It was great to see him receive his degree – especially as his time at university during the pandemic was hard for him and, at times, he felt like giving up. It was heart-warming to hear how highly other graduates spoke about Lysander and the regard they held him for his skills and technical knowledge.
What a Draft idea!
Trying to save money has meant ending small subscriptions for services I’ve enjoyed using for years. I’ve just cancelled Drafts, the text capture app that I’ve used as a starting point for all my notes and writing. As much as I find Drafts an excellent app, I don’t use the actions – which are really its killer feature – nearly enough to warrant a monthly subscription. I use Drafts to keep notes and write longer pieces that I then move into other apps like Obsidian and IA Writer. It’s possible to do that using 1Writer, an app I already own on iOS, and Sublime Text on Mac and keeping them in shared folders accessed by the other apps. I’m going to see whether this works over the next month before deciding whether or not this will be permanent. After that, I’m looking to end my reliance on Microsoft (for OneNote) and – less so – Apple (for iCloud).
Every time I think I have how Mastodon works in my head, I find a feature that is so unexpected and welcome. My natural inclination is towards organisation (eg. tying in my blog posts to Mastodon so they become a natural part of the conversation rather than forcing links to be clicked etc.) but it might do some good to be a little chaotic with this.
Walk in King’s Wood
Postponed from earlier in the week, we went for a walk in King’s Wood this morning. So quiet! So many mushrooms!
On the way to Horrid Hill
Took the boys for a walk along the river and up to Horrid Hill this morning. Tide turned as we walked back.
Started Cormac McCarthy’s The Passenger. His last novel, The Road, was published 16 years ago. There’s an expectational attitude you have to take when you read one of McCarthy’s novels…
“children… have a right to high-quality care and education that meets their social and emotional needs”
Excellent piece by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett about childcare in the UK (second most expensive in the developed world that our European neighbours put to shame). Cosslett is right in linking child-care to aspirations of a fairer society and child-neglect as a political policy. She points out: “far more important is the wellbeing and education of children, who have a right to high-quality care and education that meets their social and emotional needs.“
In your restless dreams, do you see that town?
Exciting to find out that – after 10 years – we are returning to Silent Hill. Four games seem to be in development. I’m most interested in Silent Hill F, set in 1960s rural Japan. There’s even a sequel to the fairly enjoyable 2006 movie. All very exciting.
More as a reference for me: Laird Barron’s short story recommendations. I’ve not read the Paul Tremblay story so will hunt it down RIGHT NOW!
2000AD, Prog 2295
Final part of Abnett & Culbard’s Brink: Mercury Retrograde in this week’s 2000AD. Brink continues to be a fascinating comic and this book/series/season has approached the story from a very different (and thoroughly engaging) perspective. I’m in the process of re-reading the first four book atm.
Another snap of the Moon. It’s amazing to see the detail and begin to navigate locations. Here the three large “bruised” areas are Mare Serenitatis, Mare Tranquillitatis and Mare Fecunditatis. To their right, Mare Crisium and to their lower-left, Mare Nectaris. On the left is the top of the Apennines mountain range. (I also just about saw the rings of Saturn. My telescope is not powerful enough. Just a beginner’s!)
Very surprised how easy it is to take a snap of the Moon using a phone just by holding the camera up to the eyepiece of the telescope.
Dug out the telescope we bought a few years ago.
Issues with the server migration have causes lots of small issues that have popped up. Posts to this site haven’t been working. Grrr.
I know I’m not the target audience but the Kenobi series was terrible. Why can’t Disney hire people who know how to plot interesting stories? Even for kids? Buried in the mess of the Kenobi series are some great characters and ideas. It felt like watching a fan-made film rather than a genuine Star Wars adventure. I’m coming around to the idea that my head-canon for Star Wars has to be A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and… well, that’s about it. Everything else seems to diminish what was wonderful about Star War originally. (I’m tempted to add Rogue One – but I probably need to rewatch it just to double check.)
Gradually finding the remaining single issues for Moore and Burrow’s Providence. I’m now only missing the regular cover for #9 I think this cover is of a Government Lethal Chamber.
Arrived today! Last year I got a copy of the Marvel 1961 omnibus that published the November 1961 comics published alongside Fantastic Four #1 (and before the company was even called Marvel).
This omnibus is perhaps more significant as it presents the comics published coverdated June 1962. In that month the company presented the first Spider-man, first Ant-Man and first Thor. Browsing through the omnibus shows how varied the comics Marvel published were: alongside the five superhero titles were seven girls’ romance, one western and two science fiction.
Chute & Gibson
Teaching A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Year Seven this term. These are my go-to books when planning Shakespeare: Rex Gibson’s indispensable Teaching Shakespeare, which always offers some new idea or insight, and Marchette Chute’s retellings of the plays, Stories from Shakespeare. My approach is to nail down the main characters are, the plot outline and act out some quotes (usually 10) before reading the text. I definitely don’t “front load” context or The Life of Shakespeare.
Played some KotOR this afternoon (as a break from Mass Effect). Not keen how the Series X doesn’t seem to play it full screen.
Gaia in the Cathedral
I’m not entirely sure what I made of the installation of a giant spinning globe in the nave of Rochester Cathedral. It certainly looks better in photos than in real life and the crowds certainly enjoyed their selfies and Atlas-like shots of family members holding the Earth up. Two things did strike me, though. First was how the whole thing seemed to remove the usual sense of awe and mystery you get when entering a church. It could have been any indoor space. Second was how incongruous it seemed that such a non-Christian spirituality of Earth-worship, Gaia, was placed at the centre of a Christian place of worship. Noticeable was the lack of priests… and in their places people tending to the secular congregation in yellow hi-viz jackets.
Mass Effect Revelation
Played the first Mass Effect today and was immediately struck by how coherent the world-building of the game is from the very start. I’m enjoying it far more than I remember when I played it back in 2007. I saw that there’s a range of novels and thought I’d give the first, Revelation, a read while I’m engaged in the story. I rarely read adaptations or tie-ins so I’m interested to see what I make of this.
Next up on my play list after Alan Wake – and most likely well into the summer – is the Mass Effect trilogy, a sort of RPG/shooter/interactive story that was released between 2007 and 2012 with a follow-up, Andromeda, published in 2017. One of the joys of the Xbox Series X is its backward compatibility, which means that pretty good games cost a couple of pounds. I only vaguely remember playing the first Mass Effect. It’s one of those games – like Bioshock – that In realise I should have paid more attention to at the time.
Edit: just noticed it’s out of sequence! Agghhh!
I’ve become convinced that teaching Macbeth benefits from nailing down the sequence of scenes and linking each scene with quotes, a determined number of themes and imagery. Taught simultaneously and reviewed reviewed reviewed. I’ve just started teaching the play to Year 10 and constructed this mobile for my classroom that I’ll use for questioning and retrieval. I’m pleased with the idea of using hashtags as themes and imagery (and pondering on whether to use double hashtags for imagery…).
Hulk Grand Design: Madness
Second of this two-part recount if Hulk by Jim Rugg. It’s been my favourite comic of 2022.
Alan Wake Remastered
For the longest time I’ve wanted to play Alan Wake again. It’s a game I adored back in the days I had a 360. Hopefully, I’ll be able to spare some hours to play over next few weeks.
£2.50 bargain bookcase
Passing the RSPCA shop near where I live, I saw this bookcase selling for £2.50 (I actually paid £5). I’ve wanted a small bookcase for the corner of my classroom for ages and this is perfect.
Bought the first volume of Judge Dredd Case Files and started. I actually remember reading these stories in 2000AD when I was a kid. Powerful stuff!
New Broodcomb Books
Two new Broodcomb books arrived! Will be settling down to read Therapeutic Tales this evening.
Teacher Fast Feedback @TeacherFFB
I’ve been playing a little with the Fast Teacher Feedback wireless printer after work. First impressions are very good and I can see a lot of potential for using it.
Spent a little time today looking at how I can tie up this blog with Pixelfed so I can post a daily photo. I think I’ve got it sorted and taken a step into the Fediverse. I also realised that I’d forgotten to use the microblog section properly. It’s ended up being random photos of covers of books I bought recently – which is much less than what I wanted to use it for when I started. I’d forgotten I can quickly compose and post a microblog from Drafts. (Which I’ve done with this micropost.)
Hellboy Artisan Edition
Arrived on Friday (which was a delight after work). Hellboy in Hell is an amazing, flawed piece that Mignola should have left as an ever-ongoing occasional series he created issues for whenever he wanted. Instead, it was cut short but – as this artisan edition shows, Mignola artwork is awesome.
Not sure why I didn’t buy Flashpoint in single issues when it came out – especially as I was all-in on the New-52 reboot. Have kept an eye out for the singles for a while and just picked these up for £10 (which is an absolute bargain when you realise the crazy prices the 5 issues sell for on ebay). And to think now that it was an amoral Dr Manhattan behind it all…
Locke & Key: The Golden Age
Very pleased to see this volume collects the wonderful Sandman crossover, Hell & Gone. Real treat to find this had arrived when I got home from work.
Huge omnibus – almost as heavy as The Invisibles – arrived today in a box! I was vaguely familiar with the original Captain Britain comic as a kid as a friend bought the weekly issues to school. A little later, in the Daredevils comic (I believe), I became aware of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland. There’s a scene in one issue where Captain Britain fights a villain outside the old Forbidden Planet shop in London and I can remember standing outside imagining the battle when I first visited as a teen. I have SO much I want to read at the moment, I’m not sure when I’m going to get around to this. It’s a month’s worth of comics!
Lobter Johnson Vol. 1
The Mignolaverse’s version of The Shadow. Lobster Johnson is the only part of the Hellboy Universe that I’ve not read (and I’ve read a HUGE amount over the last 20 years). Glad to say that this omnibus is a thoroughly enjoyable pulpy romp.
Adam Warlock collecting
Holidays usually involve at least some time sorting piles of comics. For about 10 years I’ve been collecting Adam Warlock comics, a weird Marvel character who first appeared in Fantastic Four as an artificial man called Him, became transformed into a Christ-like cosmic superhero called Adam Warlock to die and be resurrected as an adversary for Thanos. I’ve (so far) collected about 150 issues: mostly older ones from 1960s to 1990s plus a few short-runs from late-1990s into 2000s. I estimate I’ve got about 120 to still get. The big gap is the Abnett & Lanning Guardians of the Galaxy-related issues which are prohibitively expensive. And, of course, Beavis and Butthead #15 which I believe is a Marvel UK comic and might not actually feature Warlock at all.
Jim Rugg’s Hulk Grand Design
This is my favourite comic of 2022. It’s a virtuoso performance of comic art retelling the Hulk’s adventures between the 1960s and early 1980s. There’s a frenetic, nightmarish energy throughout that matches the weird madness of (pure) Hulk stories. Death, resurrection and the psychological turmoil between Banner and Hulk circle around endlessly. Jim Rugg’s skills as an artist are incredibly impressive in terms of changing styles of comic art, page design, panel design. Rampagingly recommended.
Attempting to reduce the piles of books and graphic novels I’ve got laying around the house. Alan Moore seems to be growing exponentially at the moment. I also discovered Golden Age and Silver Age DC omnibuses that I couldn’t remember ever buying and who knows where the hundreds of Marvel ones ever came from. With all my bookcases filled, the stacks of longboxes upstairs and the boxes of books I’ve really reached a crisis! Crisis on Finite Bookshelves!
Bagged The School Bag
Immensely pleased with finding this hardcover copy of Heaney and Hughes’ The School Bag in our local Oxfam bookshop. £2.99 bargain. Its companion, The Rattlebag, has been a constant go-to for years!
Absolute Swamp Thing vol. 3
After a long wait caused by the pandemic, Volume 3 of Absolute Swamp Thing arrived today. It concludes Alan Moore’s famous run on the comic.
Providence issue 5, regular cover
Bought the regular cover for issue 5 of Providence. Jacen Burrows’ magnificent covers of buildings from the Mythos. Empty, eerie architecture. Characters in themselves. I’ve already got issue 5 as a dreamscape variant but much prefer these regular covers.
My half-term treat to myself is a couple of collections by the poet David Morley. I heard Jo Clement read one of on the radio the other day and I was captivated. (I also ordered Clement’s first collection which is published later in the year.)
Slipcase of Ballard
Our neighbours also gave me some J.G. Ballard. I haven’t read Ballard for years and then only a couple of novels. I’m probably going to read this slipcase of three sixties novels next – The Wind from Nowhere, The Drowned World and The Drought and a short story collection, The Terminal Beach.
Pile of Moorcock
Kind neighbour across the road has given me a pile of old SF novels by Ballard, Bradbury and Moorcock. Some of the covers are hideous but remind me of buying cheap books when I was a child. Some of the blurb on the backs of the Moorcocks is nuts!
Among my haul from the local Oxfam bookshop was this book which puts Priestley’s writing in cultural context. I’ve grown incredibly fond of Priestley over the last few years as I’ve found out much more about his life and thinking.
I paid £15 for the complete run of Providence by Moore and Burrows. Very pleased. It’s one of my favourite comics and, I believe, one of the most significant published in the last decade. Maybe even the best thing Moore’s written. I already have Providence in various collections but not in floppies. There’s a few variants in there that I’ll replace with the regular covers.
Mignola’s and Johnson-Cadwell’s Victorian vampire romp, Falconspeare, is super enjoyable. Another volume added to the bookcase full of BPRD/Hellboy/Baltimore/Witchfider collections.
In its thrall…
Woke up feeling rough from a dream where I was told I had Covid by a talking crow. Tested this morning and… Covid now has me in its thrall!
My first attempt to replace an iphone battery was a success! The hardest part was reinserting the tiny screws. Opening it up without damaging the screen proved to be pretty easy. I went V E R Y S L O W L Y. The phone was an old 6S that had a dead battery. I wanted to resurrect the phone for my son to use. Next I’ll look at a battery for my old ipad…
Great evening in Hoxton with Young Knives.
Locke & Key: Hell & Gone
Pretty impressed by how enjoyable this two-issue story has been. Usually, crossovers between comics are little more than cash grabs. Glad to say this wasn’t the case. Rodriguez’ art continues to be stunning (there’s a continuation of his Little Nemo in Slumberland homage here) and the way that Hill fitted this story within early Sandman is immensely satisfying. (I do need to get started on my Sandman re-read!)
70s nostalgia alert! Very excited to discover the first six Space: 1999 novels in the Oxfam shop. Love (Season 1) of Space: 1999!
Dark Horse Trio
Lousy and frustrating end to what had been a pretty good day. When I got home I found an unexpected package I guessed was a book. Turned out to be these three from Dark Horse. Cheered me up? Not ‘arf.
Alice bought me a copy of Deirdre Bair’s biography of Jung for my birthday. It’s some thing I’ve wanted to read but I hadn’t imagined it was over 800 pages. Certainly won’t get it finished this weekend.
Picked this pre-order from my LCS this afternoon. It’s an omnibus collection of all the comics Martin Goodman’s comic company published in August 1961, including Fantastic Four #1.
The Spell of Conan / The Blade of Conan
I’ve been after this pair of books – reprints from the old Amra fanzine of criticism, stories and poetry published in 1979-80 – for YEARS! Never been able to get either for a reasonable price. Until now.
After spending too long in the sun yesterday, it’s raining here. Coat weather!
Somehow I’ve not played Skyward Sword before. It’s really good!
Love how the UK is the country that breaks off relations with Krakoa in X-men #1. It’s the sort of thing the UK would do after booing during the Hellfire Gala.
Buscema & Roussos
Been looking at some early 80s covers for Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian by John Buscema. Hit by nostalgia which more than anything is down to George Roussos’ colouring. I have vivid memories of picking up these comics at newsagents on the way to school as a boy. Just delightful and lifted me after tough – seemingly endless – day!
Subterranean Network Blues
Sometimes I just don’t learn. Over the last decade I’ve built a Heath-Robinson home network out of a couple of WD NAS drives and some portable drives. For a few years I had one NAS automatically back up to the other every Sunday night. Back in March the newer NAS’ firmware updated and, for some reason, wouldn’t allow the other drive to auto backup. I knew that I needed to buy a proper NAS with RAID. But what I wanted was crazily expensive so I put my upgrade plans on hold and simply did a couple of manual backups syncing one drive to the other using FTP. Only I didn’t do it regularly. In fact, I think I only did it once. Yesterday something happened – some sort of router upgrade – that locked me out of both router and NAS drives. When I finally got back into the main NAS drive, I found it had been wiped. Everything wiped. While not the end of the world because the other NAS has everything backed up to last April, I’ve lost everything for the last two months. Really annoying. What’s worse is that I know I need to sort it out properly. I just don’t know what to do.
World of Black Hammer vol.3
Pleased to see the Library Editions of Black Hammer come out so frequently. Got this yesterday and just unpacked it this morning. I adore Tyler Crook’s artwork so this is a lovely Saturday morning pleasure.
Literature IS the operating instructions
Reading Ursula Le Guin’s **Words Are My Matter**, which is incredibly uplifting.
At one point Le Guin insists:
“Words are what matter. The sharing of words. The activation of the imagination through the reading of words.”
It’s a long time since I last bought an issue for my Warlock run. Got this today, Thor #164, which has – in the last couple of panels – there ‘s a glimpse of Him. It’s not in as good condition as I thought (there’s a little cover separation). Great Kirby art!
Gorgeous early Sunday morning in the back garden. Been out here for a couple of hours since six writing and reading. Shaped the piece I’m working on and looking at how James begins for some guidance on establishing tone at the start. Excited as I can see where this piece is going. Working title is “Brittle”. Everyone else is asleep in the house and I need this early morning to be able to completely focus.
Charity Shop Haul
Picked up some great books from the charity bookshop in town. A mixture of children’s books to add to my classroom library and some teacher books (Listening to Children Reading is one I’ve been looking out to find for ages). I’ve always steered away from Ladybird books but I’m not sure early years secondary students see them as just for primary kids anymore.
Like buses, just when you’ve been waiting for a new Hellboy publication two arrive at the same time. One of the stories in Universe is by Paul Grist, an absolutely amazing creator.
Dark Matter by Michelle Paver
Finished Dark Matter quickly. It’s an Arctic ghost story. It felt slight to me: as if it’s really a short story that’s been padded out. The premise and setting are engaging, even if the characters are a little too Brideshead. The connection between the scientific concept of dark matter and the darkness of the Arctic night works well. It just didn’t need the explanation of who the ghost was. Would have been better with the ghost as a nameless, unknowable horror.
One of the joys of having a little time off work is to do some geeky-techy things that I wouldn’t ordinarily bother with. I’ve managed to get a self-hosted Wallabag working well. It’ll replace Pocket, which is coming up for subscription renewal. Wallabag is free. It’s very much like Pocket but has the bonus of exporting articles into formats like pdf and epub very easily. Down side is that I can’t get the mobile apps working. Saving and reading using the browser works very well though.
Appreciation of L.T.C. Rolf
Wonderful piece by Kai Roberts, An Appreciation of Weird Fiction of L.T.C. Rolt.
“To anybody who lives amidst relics of the Industrial Revolution, the surroundings depicted in a number of Rolt’s tales should be very recognisable indeed and little evokes a sense of desolation and existential dread quite as effectively as decaying industrial architecture.”
Discovered this in Oxfam this morning. Very pleased. It’s a themed anthology of texts about animals from the early 1970s. With a stylish cover by Ivan Atanasoft, there’s a real sense that a great deal of thought went into the curation of the book’s design. Some striking interior images, including one of a working horse collapsing in a street. I’m trying to get hold of as many of books like this from the (Golden Age?) of English teaching before the introduction of the National Curriculum. Moving Creatures is part of the English Project series edited by Geoffrey Summerfield.
My professional reading for next week arrived today, Robin Alexander’s A Dialogic Teaching Companion.
After Year 11 went
I’m glad I ignored their protests at the start and didn’t have a “fun last lesson” with my Year 11 class today. Instead, we staged a role-play debate on the issue of hunting with groups taking the roles of various lobby groups and a panel of judges. As the debate went on many became quite embroiled in the argument. It was great to see many remain in role presenting viewpoints they didn’t personally agree with. I’m hoping a number of the students go on to study A-level Lit.
The Art of Hergé
Great to see these volumes of The Art of Hergé arrive this evening. Ordered them from a Scottish shop called Paper Tiger. I can never get enough Tintin.
I’m not going to get a chance to watch this 4 hour 4k epic until the weekend. The kids will have to battle me for the TV!
Playground in a Lake
Been listening to Clark’s newest album, Playground in a Lake today. Enjoyed it a great deal. I’m sure I can hear the influences of Jóhann Jóhannsson, Max Richter, Satie, BoC and even Vangelis. It’s quite moody throughout and seems to go to some dark places and wouldn’t sound out of place as a soundtrack to a Denis Villeneuve SF film. The tracks I like best are More Islands and Shut You Down, which seem to be the most electronic on the album.
Curse of the Rougarou
So that’s how they should be laid out!
I wake up at some odd times in the night!
Just realised that I’d left the USB drive on which I keep all my lesson powerpoints and resources plugged into my macbook at home. Luckily, I’d planned for this to happen and have the usb drive sync to a folder on my macbook that then syncs to a Onedrive folder whenever I use it. Instead of the prospect of a whole day teaching without resources, I could simply download the backups. Feeling very pleased with myself.
House of Secrets 92
published 50 years ago and was on the newsstands in April 1971. Means that Swamp Thing is half a century old. Happy birthday, Alec.
Today’s Fall… Totale’s Turns (It’s Now or Never)
1980. Live album. The sleeve tantalises “in Doncaster! Bradford! Preston! Prestwich! 79 Oct-Feb 80”.
This morning: Dragnet. 1979. “like being nutted by reality” according to Allan Jones in Melody Maker when it was released. It’s actually fantastic!
The Fall Weekend
Hereby it is a weekend of listening to The Fall. Commencing with Live at the Witch Trials. 1979.
Farewell, Super League
Up super-early for no other reason that having labyrinthine dreams and a headache… so listened to latest New Statesman podcast where Stephen Bush and Ailbhe Rea discussed the role football plays in public discourse. I tend to avoid thinking about football but, as the podcast points out it plays a major role in culture, identity and masculinity. Rea particularly makes some interesting comments about how football creates normative behaviours that exclude certainly women but also those of us who aren’t interested. She gives the anecdote of a political reporter taking up running as a sport so she had a mechanism for talking with MPs. Bush presents football “talk” as a working class equivalent of the old-boys network. Football gives men genuine pleasure – my brother for instance, who loves the sport more than I ever realised when we were younger.
Daily Mail comments section gives feedback to Simon Armitage’s elegy to Prince Phillip this morning. In the comments section the most recent from Tiggybeans exclaims: “A lovely tribute, full of meaning.” Winning2020 instead thinks that “The poem is as cold as the weather outside.” Most of the others – as expected – proclaim their dislike of poetry.
Think Tanks Ate My Brain!
Just looking at another educational think tank’s web site. What I can’t see is how the organisation gets funded. Doing even a cursory web search on some of the think tank’s members seems to indicate their members are more partisan than it claims. Lobbying for personal gain is one thing but there are a LOT of educational think tanks lobbying and influencing policymakers in Westminster. As far as I can see they all have more or less the same sorts of agendas. Wouldn’t be surprised if these educational think tanks work from 55 Tufton Street.
And… randomly Autechre’s _Bike_ just started playing. Suddenly uplifted!
I’m finding Kiernan’s *Black Helicopters* a pretty challenging read. Have read it through once and now listening to audiobook plus reading along. It’s mesmerising and wonderful. But tough going!
Drafts to Blog
Hooray! After a bit of tinkering with Drafts actions, I managed to get it set up to directly post my microblog posts feed. I tried to do this a few years ago and gave up in frustration. It just makes quick microposts so much easier.
Utter failure in what I thought was going to be a quick solo game of The Midnight Masks! Didn’t even manage to capture a single cultist!
Still working my way through the Conan stories and it’s (sadly) clear that the better Conan stories so far are indeed the ones by Robert E. Howard. I’ve always been wary of the dismissal of de Camp’s and Carter’s stories as merely pastiche, but it does seem that there’s something qualitatively different about a Howard story. (It could be that Howard often breaks his stories up into different narrative perspectives, rather than following Conan exclusively. A little like early Hollywood movies.)
Night of the Zealot, Solo
Dug out Arkham Horror LCG and considering playing it properly over Easter hols. Played the first scenario, The Gathering, from Night of the Zealot true solo. Just one investigtor. It was HARD and took ages. Took damage. But survived!
My car broke down in the car park at work and I waited 5 hours for the RAC to arrive. In that time I finished a whole Conan book and nearly half of Children of Blood and Bone. Five hours though!
Went to bed last night early after the dull headache I’d been sporting turned into a sickening migraine when I got home. It’s rare I get headaches like these and know the best thing is to sleep it off. It meant that I woke up early and have been up since before dawn listening to music (another thing I’ve learned is not to read after a day of headaches). Listening to Autechre’s second album, Amber, which is now – blimey! – nearly 30 years old. It’s beautiful.
Greed and Public Health
Worth monitoring how this very public linking of capitalism and public health develops. By promoting greed as a mechanism for better health it’s inevitable that the drooling vampires will be stalking the NHS more aggressively.
Noticed that the new COVID-19 self testing kit is now labelled with Rapid Antigen Test on the box… RAT test!
Found an advert for Stargate One in an old magazine. For a time when I was 12 or 13 I visited Stargate One almost every day. Have very fond memories of the bookshop. It was incredibly formative in shaping my reading at the time.
Not sure why I’ve not ever thought of doing this before: installing RPiPlay on the Pi and using it as a surrogate airplay screen. Works brilliantly.
It gets me thinking that this is a very cheap way of getting airplay to work in a classroom which I’d find super useful. That’s if we ever get to going back to having our own classrooms any more in schools!
Final Head Lopper
Head Lopper issue 7 arrived today from the Netherlands and completes the run (so far…). I’ve been after this issue for ages. Such a good comic!
Doctor Star arrived today. It’s a four-issue Black Hammer limited series that – for some inexplicable reason – I didn’t buy when it was released a few years ago. For some reason (most likely copyright) the comic is now called Doctor Andromeda.
More Aickman-edited Fontanas
Picked up the two remaining Robert Aickman-edited Fontana Great Ghost Stories collections. Several stories that I’ve not read.
Love that this fell out the Covid-19 Self-Test Kit I just opened!
Scam or Not Scam
As soon as I ordered this USB drive, I regretted it. In a mad moment I saw what looked like a reasonable advert for a cheap 2tb drive. Then read the immense number of warnings about fake ones! It arrived today and, when plugged into my mac, says it’s 2tb in size. Apparently the drives can be set up to show a false size though. Just trying to fill it up with big files to see what its real capacity seems to be. It’s very slow transferring files. It does come with a return card though.
Started David Didau’s Making Meaning in English
Sunny outside. Will sit in the garden and read this for a bit.
Cognitive Apprenticeship in Action
Been reading the new In Action publication this afternoon, essays by teachers at Huntington School presenting Cognitive Apprenticeship approaches, essentially teaching methods that make the learning process explicit or visible.
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.
Godzilla vs Kong
Literally the most exciting trailer I have seen in a decade. Literally.
There really aren’t better movies than giant monsters punching each other!
The Fascist Painting
Very pleased Phil Beadle’s The Fascist Painting was delivered today. It jumps to the front of my “to read” queue.
OOFSTED “overwhelmed” by praise for teachers
Good to see this positive story about schools. Following, Wiliamson’s obnoxious call for parents to report schools, OOFsted (ha! infantile Roblox misspelling) has been “overwhelmed” by messages, mostly praising teachers.
“Ofsted’s call centre team are sorting through emails to identify genuine complaints or concerns, but the vast majority are believed to be from parents praising their child’s school during lockdown in defiance of Williamson’s advice.”
Our Christmas lights are staying up until Candlemas. Our neighbours have already taken their lights down but it’s a pretty grim time all round and a little bit of light is still needed.
Jan’s turned the piles of books I’m taking upstairs into a DIY assault course!
Teaching Shakespeare by Rex Gibson
Back in August I hunted the house searching for this. Spent hours going through piles of books and boxes in the attic. Now I’ve found it along with a heap of other books hidden behind other books in a bookcase downstairs. Teaching Shakespeare is about the best book on… well… teaching Shakespeare that there is. (I also found Visible Learning by John Hattie that I seem to have only got half way through and Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman which I must re-read and convince my department to teach next year if it’s still on the syllabus.)
What’s this? A new album by Wire?
Released a day ago, City, is the second… maybe third album by Wire in the last year or so. It seems like an album of electronic music. There goes my evening…
More Joycon Surgery
Replaced the right joystick but somehow managed to damage the cable to the connector light on the side of the joycon. It all works fine and has sorted the controller drift.
Reading, That Strange and Uniquely Human Thing
In Reading, That Strange and Uniquely Human Thing, Lydia Wilson, a researcher at the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory, presents investigations into the origins of writing and proceeds to point out that we use a mixture of phonetic, pictographic and classifier elements to read. She goes on:
” If non-dyslexic readers of phonetic scripts, which are usually taught initially through sound-based learning, were also encouraged to learn the word shapes from the start; if those learning pictographic characters chanted them out loud as well as copying them out to memorize them; who knows what new creativity would be unleashed?“
Sometimes there’s no other choice but to use a screwdriver and sort out joycon issues! Poor connection fixed.
Blow the Bloody Doors Off
Reading the papers’ reporting on the Brexit negotiations today – eapecially The Guardian’s – I half-expected someone to report that Michael Caine was involved in the negotiations and drove off in a Union Jack-decorated mini, fingers up in a V. Chipper Brit underdogs outmanoeuvred grim Euro goliaths seems to be the narrative. If it wasn’t a deadly pandemic and Christmas, doubtlessly we’d be instructed to hold street parties.
Finale of Season Two was so unexpected. I was genuinely excited when I realised who had arrived at the end.
I was just about to order a book from the US. The shipping is £10 more that the cost of the book. Madness. What’s annoying is that the site doesn’t reveal shipping until you click through payment method so that it would be easy to buy the book before realising what had happened. It’s a book I’d love to get… but not that much.
Just read that Richard Corben, a visionary illustrator and comic book artist, has died aged 80. His recent work on Hellboy was incredibly impressive.
“there is a psychic war being stoked”
Emotional – and quite frightening – piece by Hardeep Matharu on the threat of fascism and a need to innoculate ourselves agaist a virus of hatred:
“In a digitised information age, there is a psychic war being stoked, and raging, within ourselves; a ‘soft’ fascism being nudged into our hearts and minds – at the hands of social media companies, corporations and rogue actors intent on weaponising people’s worst instincts – and their most human of vulnerabilities – for personal and partisan gain.”
Awaiting rescue. One of those times when there are so many things you realise you should on have done… for instance kept the breakdown number somewhere in the car!
Update: The RAC were brilliant. Turned out to be a flat battery caused by putting hazard lights on when I pulled over. Lots of lessons learned tonight.
Mystery of the Gatwick Drone
Seems that there never was a drone. Great article by Samira Shackle.
Even grumpy old me was delighted with Ahsoka Tano’s appearance in the latest episode of The Mandalorian. Not so much Baby Yoda’s real name. But the prospect of Thrawn…
…wait… everything’s back!
Not sure how this has happened but evening seems to be still there on my macbook. I thought it had wiped everything but it seems to have only installed updates. Phew! I must sort out how backing up better.
agghhh!!! managed to wipe macbook hard drive
This was inevitable and I am cross with myself. Why did I leave the OS installer as a bootable option? Why do I keep so many files I’m using in a folder I deliberately don’t sync? Why did I decide to update OSX and not keep an eye on what it was doing? Agghhh!!! Maybe its my unconscious conspiring to encourage me to get a new macbook.
part human, part machine
Interesting piece by Alex Hern warning of the possible dangers of ubiquitous wearing of “mirrorshade” AR glasses. It seems that Apple and other companies are very close to releasing ones that could be adopted by millions of people. Hern sees it as the continued trend of turninh humans into man-machine cyborgs:
“What will human interaction look like eight years after smartglasses become ubiquitous? Our cyborg present sneaked up on us as our phones became glued to our hands. Are we going to sleepwalk into our cyborg future in the same way? “
the persistent trick of modern politics
“The persistent trick of modern politics – that appears to fool us repeatedly – is to disguise economic and political interests as cultural movements.”
Made a quick read-through video for Micronauts #1.
Finished working through all my Micronauts issues (checking condition and rebagging) which has been a delight. Really interesting to look at sequencing covers and trying to identify the artists. The title suffered from shockingly erratic quality of covers which probably didn’t help sales.
defeat by an 8-year old
Thought Soren might like to learn to play Magic. Impressively, the starter kit costs £6 and holds your hand through the first game. I’m hoping it might lure him towards more Fantasy and going to tie it in with an “upgrade” in the type of fiction he reads.
I’ve been working from home this week and been on my own during the day. Sometimes I’ve heard small footsteps running across one of the upstairs rooms. Like a child running. I’ve dismissed it as my imagination. Now, there’s a slow, non-stop muffled sound of something hitting a wall repeatedly from somewhere in the darkness of the house. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud. Thud.
The original Marvel Micronauts run was 59 issues followed by 20. Have been rebagging ones I’ve just bought. Only missing one issue: the final #58. One issue has a mark on the cover which is obvious and spoils it so I’m going to look for a replacement.
bem fanzine archive
Wow. I was hunting down an issue of BEM online (#24 if you’re interested) when I stumbled on what appears to be the entire digital run of the classic British fanzine from the late-70s/early-80s. The Classic Comics Zines site is pretty amazing. An incredible archive of an incredible pre-internet period.
retrieval concept mapping
‘There does not seem to be a particular benefit to practicing retrieval mapping over a standard free recall learning activity. “
The third season of the BBC’s The Lovecraft Investigations seems to have aired. Strange, as I was only wondering what had happened to the programme a couple of days ago. It’s an enjoyable – but definitely British – interpretation of Lovecraft’s stories.
Informative short video from Overlord Comics about Mantlo and Golden’s early issues of The Micronauts. A number of things I didn’t know and an interview in BEM to track down.
How far does a pig wander?
Just turned on the radio in our kitchen and there’s a programme about how far pigs roam in the New Forest.
micronauts #56 and #57
I’m closing in on completing the entire run of Marvel’s Micronauts from the 1980s. Fabulous cover on #57 by Jackson Guice.
I’m still listening to Barbarians, the new Young Knives album. It’s been over a month now and I’m still so impressed. The title track and Sheep Tick tie as fabourites for me.
xbox x or ps5?
I’m hoping this isn’t the modern incarnation of VHS or Betamax. I’m favouring Xbox X but notoriously wrong in things like this.
incredibly soothing about bagging comic books. It’s Wednesday and this evening’s been devoted to picking up my pulls from my LCS and then re-bagging the Marvel run of Micronauts I’m just about to complete.
I like the idea of microblogging – essentially tweeting away from Twitter – but increasingly dislike and distrust social media. I much preferred the early, old days of blogging. So, after a little thought, I believe I’ve got a neat way of microblogging her to my web site.