Saturday, March 31, 2018

On the camino by Jason

Jason is a Norwegian comic book artist who lives in France.  I can't remember if I've read any of his books before.  I picked up On the Camino as my partners uncle and aunt have done the walk on a few occasions. Another friend from work did the walk with his brother a few years ago.

I'm not a religious person and I was under the impression that the Camino was a Catholic pilgrimage. Interestingly Jason is not religious and undertakes the Camino for self discovery and personal spiritual reasons.  He details his 800 kilometre walk and the encounters he has over the way.  He identifies himself as a solitary person and he had hoped he would would perhaps open up and talk to others more.  He has been triggered to do the walk by his 50th birthday.

He portrays himself as a talking dog.  He describes the shared dormitories, the discussions about feet and the bedbugs.  He describes the people he met and his day dreams and fantasies along the way.

Jason has a nice clear line art style and this is a good book.  It's a clear read on an interesting topic.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


I don't write enough.  I should write more.

Writing, at times, can be like throwing words, bouncing words, off the walls of my world.  It can help get it out. It can help work it out.

This evening I watched a DVD.  Man on fire, the 2004 Denzil Washington film (not the 1987 version that nobody has seen).  I found it amongst my fathers stuff yesterday.  My partners younger brother had recommended it to me ages ago and I've been looking for it for a while but I only just noticed it amongst my dads stuff last night.  It's exactly the sort of film my dad liked. Rough justice, guns and a bit of Spanish.  He loved that sort of stuff.

It's been about a year since my dad died.  I do miss him.  My mum misses him a lot.  Life continues but we'd rather he was about.  His illness was difficult and he was fed up with it. He didn't like being dependent and he didn't like the care he received in the hospital.  I understand why.  It was not very good a lot of the time.  Stuff was often done in a half-arsed manner.

Easter approaches but sadly we won't see any resurrections.  We will have our memories which aren't quite as good. Memories are still valuable.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

addendum to Danzig post

The video to 'I'm the one' features Danzig wrestling an alligator.

No shit.

30 years of Danzig

There is a Big Black concert recording that contains the immortal phrase 'no-one in the room may look Danzig in the eye'.  One controversial punk icon making a snide dig at the other.  Both larger than life figures who attracted controversy.  Both wrote songs about horror with humour in their music.  Both often ended up in physical confrontations with detractors.

There is notorious youtube footage of Danzig being knocked out with one punch (look here if you must).  In 1993 Danzig nearly got into a fight with a member of Def Leppard. This was not the one armed drummer as many suggested.  I think a lot of people wanted to beat up Albini too.

Still, I love Danzig.  I've loved his stuff since I first heard Last Caress/Green Hell on the $5.98 e.p. by Metallica when I was at primary school.  The stupid offensive lyrics and the swearing just got me.  After that I got a tape with Bullet on it and I was in love.  Misfits stuff was hard to find but the first Misfits collection LP was well circulated in the west of Scotland in the '80s.

The Misfits were stupid fun horror punk.  Danzig sang with great passion about the emotional struggles of horror film monsters and other gory subjects.  The energy of the music with the lyrics of songs like Bullet or Attitude were just electrifying.  As a 12 year old I had no idea what the lyrics of Bullet meant.  Reading them now, at the age of 40, I'm still bemused.  If I had the chance I'd love to ask Danzig about them.

The Misfits are not the whole story.  The band Danzig, fronted by Danzig, were superb.  The first album I heard was Danzig II: Lucifuge.  I've been listening to it today.  It's still fucking great.  I'm not sure why they had to lose the original Doors homage cover.  It was a bit homoerotic.  They probably got sued.

Danzig was Danzig trying to be Jim Morrison with a dash of Elvis.  It was metal but blues.  The songs were still fucking ridiculous with Danzig worrying about being a werewolf or some shit like that but it rocked.  It rocked like little else.  It really wasn't cool but it didn't suck.

At this point I must make it clear that I had little access to MTV as a kid.  I've only seen the video for She Rides recently and as a fairly PC, hardcore punk morally puritanical teenager I might have been put off by the blatant sexism and exploitation of this video.  As an adult I just shake my head and sigh.  Danzig was trying to be sexy.  I'm not really convinced he was.

I'm really excited that I've got tickets to see Danzig when he plays Glasgow later this year.  He last played in 1991 when I was just a bit too young to see him.  I did see the Danzig-less Misfits a few times but they could never top the real deal.

When Danzig was young he wanted be a comic book artist.  Indeed, he did have his own line of horror/soft core porn comics called Verotik at one point.  They were kind of stupid, like many of his songs.  My University flat mate was an even bigger Misfits fan than me and he had a few.  Danzig also got famous comic artists like Simon Bisley to do covers for his records and draw his comics.  I used to like Bisley till I met him and he proved himself to be an objectionable twat.  I think I asked him if he knew Danzig.

I met the band Slint once.  I love Spiderland.  I got to talk to David Pajo who actually recorded a solo album of Misfits stuff and all I could ask him was 'you know Danzig, don't you?';  I was a bit drunk.  But Danzig is interesting.

Musically I sort of lost touch with Danzig after Black Acid Devil.  He tried to become Nine Inch Nails or Ministry and he failed.  He has made a few decent records since then but he doesn't get much exposure anymore.  He has also starred in a few slash-fiction comic books focusing about his fictional romantic partnership with Henry Rollins.  Rollins enjoys these comics.  I suspect that Danzig does not.

I love Danzig but it's a complicated relationship.

I just wish he would re-issue the Samhain box set.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Inspector Hobbes and the Blood by Wilkie Martin

Sometimes I like mild amusing books that don't require much thought. I like reading but sometimes I just want to unwind with a book.  I used to enjoy Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams and similar slightly skewed nonsense books with a dash of the impossible.  Wilkie Martin, whilst not (yet) up there with those great departed authors, is ploughing a similar furrow.

Hobbes is an interesting mix of old fashioned police officer, detective and slightly otherworldly person.  He has his tongue firmly in his cheek for most of the story and he is a figure of mystery.  The book has an unreliable and often misguided narrator who doesn't always know what is going on, standing in the corner, often quaking with fear as the animalistic Hobbes deals with crime in a unique manner.

Other strange characters inhabit the novel including Mrs Goodfellow, the house keeper, a ferocious black dog, a pair of ghouls, some Roman happenings and a troll.

There is more to be revealed about this world and I'll keep up with Wilkie Martin and the Unhuman book series.

Friday, March 16, 2018

this week

this week I have

1 - watched season 2 of Jessica Jones on Netflix
2 - watched the Death of Stalin
3 - worked many hours in a way that may benefit society
4 - had a panic one morning when I lost my house keys
5 - sent my mother flowers a few days after Mother's Day, knowing it would surprise her
6 - looked at several houses
7 - tried to teach myself immunology
8 - taught people stuff in a way that I hope will benefit them and society
9 - spent time with my favourite person
10 - read an entertaining book on my Kindle
11 - caught up with an old friend and planned a trip to a part of Scotland I've never visited
12 - planned a day trip to London for work

there are things I could have done better and things I did fairly well.  I spent some time worrying about some stuff that I couldn't change. I spent some other time working on things that may be useful.

I've been listening to the Fall a bit too much and listening to Danzig a wee bit

Monday, March 05, 2018

Repairman Jack, the Adversary and The Secret History of the World - the works of F Paul Wilson

A few weeks ago I was playing about with Twitter and I saw a post about an old horror film I'd never heard of, The Keep, which was about to be removed from Netflix.  I was intrigued and watched a bit. The soundtrack was good but the film itself was pretty terrible.  Then I read a bit about the original author, F Paul Wilson, and his work.

I was going on holiday and I'd just bought a new Kindle so I thought I would check out some of his work.  I downloaded The Tomb, the second book in the Adversary cycle and the debut of Repairman Jack and I was hooked.  In under a month I have read about 20 books in the series.

Jack is an interesting anti-hero.  He's a libertarian, almost an anarchist who refuses to pay taxes and is very fond of guns.  He develops over the course of 15 or so books and F Paul Wilson, almost literally, puts his hero through hell.  In some ways he reminds me of Rorschach or Batman but he does have at least some humanity as demonstrated by his relationship with his girlfriend Gia and her daughter Vicky.

The books mix horror, fantasy, Lee Child style thrillers and science fiction.  There is also a healthy dash of gun nut action hero.

Jack is not all of F Paul Wilson's Adversary cycle.  There is also the big bad evil, Rasalom and the once immortal source of good, Glaekon.  Reborn is a bit of a riff on The Omen and we meet Father Bill, a noble Catholic priest who has his belief challenged there.  There is also The Touch, a book about a GP (family practitioner) who gains the ability to heal with a touch.  At a price. So far, so Stephen King.

However, F Paul Wilson is a doctor and he writes doctors and medicine well.  He writes neurology well (which pleases me) and he gives his understanding of medical practice to his fictional doctor.  He understands the demands of trying to help people.  Unsurprisingly, his doctor is a libertarian who is opposed to medical guidelines and regulations and doesn't like to pay taxes.  There is a pattern here.

Outside the main narrative, other books and short stories fit in.  Black Wind is set in San Francisco, Hawaii and Japan between 1926 and 1945 and ties in with the Repairman Jack series as well as the Adversary Cycle.  It also works well as a stand a long historical/horror novel whilst looking at the relationship between Japan and America in the first half of the 20th century.

Sibs is another stand alone novel that ties in very tangentially. It's probably inessential to the main narrative but is worth a read.  The Peabody Ozymandias Travelling Circus & Oddity Emporium is better and more tied to the central narrative.  It reminds me of the old 1930's horror film Freaks.  It raises some thoughts about how society treats people who are unlucky enough to be different.

If you decide to start working through the books I would suggest using a Kindle.  I would try and read the main book in order as described HERE. I've still not actually read the Keep (too expensive on Kindle) so you can miss some out but I did enjoy not knowing how things would end until I read Nightwatch (the final book).  Several of my predictions were satisfyingly wrong.

I am now working my way through the various short stories and novellas that tie into things.  This will keep me happy for a few weeks.  Eventually I will run out of material and I will be sad.  F Paul Wilson is still writing I think and I will continue reading.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

RIP Mark E Smith

Why did Mark E Smith live his life the way he did?  He wrote great songs.  He made great music.  he was an intelligent man.

I first remember hearing the fall in the late eighties, on the John Peel show. I remember sitting in the back of my parents car, driving, late at night with John Peel on the radio, playing tracks by the fall.  As a young punk obsessive in 1989 I would borrow records by the Fall from the local library, specifically live at the witch trials and hex education hour although I didn't really get them straight away.

The music on the infotainment scam made more sense to me a few years later.  Free Range was the first Fall track that totally clicked with me.  Their cover of Lost in Music was great too.

I first saw them play live at the phoenix festival in 1994 - the stand out track from that day was Paranoia Man in Cheap Shit Room although it doesn't seem to be on the video of the show on youtube.  I just remember pissing myself at the line about masturbating over pearl jam.

I saw them in Primavera a few years back and at ATP festivals a couple of times.   I probably saw them in Leeds in 1999 too.  Sometimes they were amazing, sometimes they fucked up.  It seemed to depend on Smiths mood and alcohol intake.

His death at a relatively young age is not a shock but it's still sad.


Max Richter - Three Worlds: Music from Woolf Works - Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

I was in the pub with a pal from work a couple of weeks back and we were generally shooting the shit.  We were talking a bit about music.  My pal is into proper classical music and opera and has travelled to Milan to see shows in the past.  If you've seen this blog before or know me, you know that I like music although in terms of classical stuff Philip Glass and Steve Reich is more my thing.

In the pub I remembered that Max Richter was playing the Concert Hall as part of Celtic Connections so I picked up tickets to check it out.  I've got the Sleep CDs from a few years back although I haven't managed all 8 hours in one sitting and I've got The Blue Notebooks somewhere.  I think they were on my old iPod but I've not listened to him much.

The show tonight was the soundtrack to a ballet based on the work of Virgina Woolf.  I've never read her books but I am actually aware of the plot of Orlando, the centre piece of the night, after it was liberally showcased in an Alan Moore comic book a few years back.  The music was good with some great dynamics.  The violin part in the Mrs Dalloway segment was striking, really cutting through the sound.  The Orlando segment was anarchic and constantly changing, at one point reminding me of Pinball Wizard by the Who.  With much of the music, the melodies and themes were familiar, bringing to mind rock songs and post-rock sounds.

The final section dealt with the end of Woolf's life.  It was calming and felt very watery.

After a brief break, the chamber orchestra played On the nature of daylight from Blue Notebooks.  That piece of much is very familiar and has appeared in a lot of films and TV shows.

The music was lively and comfortable with some great sounds.  There was warm feedback which I think was intentional.  A good evening of modern classical music.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The year in review

2017 has been a difficult year in a lot of ways.  Between the death of my father and various other challenges it has been stuff.  To balance this out, in other ways, on a personal level it has been a brilliant year.  Good and bad, light and dark.  You can only really appreciate the good bits in life if you experience the bad.

I've worked hard this year, I've learned stuff, I've travelled the world (a bit), I've spend quality time with my significant other.  I've done a lot but there is a lot more that I want to do in 2018.

I don't do New Years resolutions.  I don't really believe in them.  I prefer to just have ongoing targets that I'm always aiming for.  I look forward to seeing what I achieve next year.

I started writing this blog in 2005 and I still find it useful.  Some people read it every now and then.  I hope people will continue to read it in the future.  It is a public, rather bland, diary.

Good luck for the new year everyone.  Hopefully 2018 will be better than expected.