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Posts Tagged ‘camp’

PS My wage doubled today, retroactive for this month, and I got to talk about the internet for an hour. Score.

nobody scores facelessbook beer celebration

we’ll talk about this later

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Ad Hock

Had an interview with a London Social Media firm, think it went okay. I decided to come clean about not using RSS much, in part because of habit/usability, in part because my current machine is an increasingly fragile, benzine-smelling, juice-stained paving slab-in-waiting. I probably should have talked a little less, and probably should have been a little less concerned with IP rights. Ah well.

Reading around for it took me to some interesting places; returning to Rageboy for the first time in months led me to Twitter critiquer the certifiable Marcus Brown:

(Blacked out in deference to Stephen Fry: the normal format is Brown talking to camera while sitting on the toilet in his tiny Munich bathroom.)

One of the most interesting things about the process of making a Twitter feed for the publication I work for is that I have to document and codify the grammar, conventions, courtesies and allusions of Twitter. Brown may sound mad as a stoat but his manic-laconic approach is enlightening and wonderfully well read. “I beg you. I plead. Follow him.”

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I’ve had the recent Kanye West singles on YouTube loop, thinking about how his singles and Flight of the Conchords got me through my final exams. It got me to thinking about the sort of role model Kanye so well represents: Sensitive and unabashedly talented; relishing his position in an economy where women benefit briefly and peripherally from his attention; yet like Jay-Z overridingly obsessed with his fulfilment of the Provider role. Tribal; caught schizotically between bandit chief and aging chieftan.

I don’t see why I need a stylist

When I shop so much I can speak Italian

What kind of person does he sell to?

Me, apparently. Sometimes his schtick is too much, sometimes his indulgences are truly charming, like the glossy but hardly focus-grouped video for Champion.

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Also, started writing notes for a project, currently called Hock, for a simple lock-screensaver which allows limited access for self-naming users to cue up elements like songs, videos or photo albums selected with a limited browser; an integrated MC program essentially, designed for passive-display participatory entertainment at parties/events of all size. Skin your party, and allow users to show off their stuff and post publicly. Needs to be written as a pitch.

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Also, this:

Now there’s a sex symbol for you. Compare Blogosphere and Radio 4 sex symbol Gail Trimble, the one-woman “intellectual blitzkrieg” who brought in more than two thirds of the total points for Corpus Christi, Oxford’s victorious University Challenge team in the final last night:

gail-trimble-with-two-of-001

Trimble, who has already turned down an offer to appear in a “tasteful shoot for NUTS magazine“, rightly observes that people wouldn’t make so much fuss about her appearance if she was male. All the same, my Starter for Ten.

Concomitant to my post about Professionals having to step carefully when engaging with non-pros using Social Networking (Or in fact any brand for whom ‘we’re creepy so you don’t have to be’ isn’t a core motive).

“Would you believe it, my brother received a Facebook message from Nuts yesterday morning saying ‘can we have your sister’s email address, we want her to do a tasteful shoot’,” the 26-year-old told BBC Breakfast.

“So of course he sent them an answer saying: ‘Seriously mate, would you give your sister’s contact details to Nuts?'”          -Guardian

how could you be so Doctor Evil

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Hang fire

chronic catnip company logo thumbnailRecovering from a hangover by reading Nobody Scores! and giggling like a simpleton.

internets apocalypse nobody scoresI wrote a while ago about Indian TV advertising: “most advanced in the world, in terms of biological imperative”, was the phrase. It’s right up there in terms of brand cheekiness, too. This campaign has probably stopped, since it was running when I was there over New Year, but I was still thinking about it the other day, which is a good sign (though I couldn’t remember the brand for the life of me).

It’s about “emphasising what women want – men, as opposed to wannabes“, apparently. Maybe its memorability for me is partly because of its remarkably succinct use of a gora (Western) backpacker dipshit as a signifier for the “wannabe”, although in that sense its visual semantics are also slightly confusing to my eyes, because like most B-list Indian Ad models or “Item girls”, the ad’s Girls look as Western as possible.

“Axe is a strong leader in this category …the guy to look up to, and we know that,” says Shah [Marketing manager, Paras]. “We’re close behind, and this gives us the freedom and cheeky irreverence to take on the giant and be compared to the topmost brand in this space. There is a thin red line between fun and offence and we haven’t crossed it.”

It’s a pretty limp parody, all told, but well executed.

PS Japanman has a good post about queueing in Japan, which made me think of Get in Line Games, a company producing queue-centric group game software which queuers use via mobile phone.

Lastly this: Salvador Dali on US fifties game show “What’s my Line”, which is a joy to watch as found art and as vintage entertainment

Actually in the general context of the questioning we would have to accept that all the affirmitive replies except perhaps the last one are not misleading in any major degree however I think the last answer is misleading and we could not accurately describe our guest as a leading man.

He’s a misleading man?”

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the greater the work the easier the parody

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p1040991

phillipeApologies are well and truly due. I completely failed to mention that I would be incommunicate for about three weeks while in India over Christmas and New Year.  Woops. Mea Culpa. Also Mea still untanned and sickly. Only I could go to India and return as milk-white and snotty as when I left.

India pictures over at If it has a name.

I did get some kanji work done (mostly while lying on the beach, to my immense pride). I got off the plane back in Japan time, into the snow, dragged my three-times-as-heavy suitcase all the way back to the dorm, and found out that the big test which I’d been dreading all holiday has been more or less abandoned. The language course is a bit shambolic at the moment, and from the start of next week we’re in a completely different timetable with an emphasis on conversation rather than the blind trundling ‘progress’ of working through daily tests regardless of practice.

So this is good. For me and a small-but-growing group of compatriots who work in some connection with the magazine, the next month is a chance to get some real momentum going on a couple of projects we’ve been pushing. Social Networking/ the forum and the podcast are first among these: we had a slightly disjointed but very pleasant planning meeting over dinner and talked extensively about the benefits of Flickr, Facebook and a regular Blog platform for our increasingly aged publication.

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Those projects aside, other things have suddenly appeared on the horizon. The other night I went for a drink with a very talented illustrator mate, because I’d told him I had a pitch for him. After the first time we met, we’d gone from one of us casually admitting a fondness for comics, to discussing the merits (or otherwise) of the Watchmen trailer, to talking about making a book together, in the course of two conversations.

I was going to pitch the idea for Manifest, the Vampire/Political analogy piece I wrote about earlier, but I realised as I was eulogizing and arm-waving about it that it really wasn’t in any way ready for public view. The overall concept is difficult to explain at best, and I have only the vaguest idea about characters and a general arc. I’m by no means giving up on the idea, but it will need some actual work, rather than just time spent sat on the beach thinking of cool snapshots and epigraphs and images I’d like to run with.

early_flight_02561u_2

But if I thought I had too many ideas when I went to meet him, when I finally left the bar to catch the last train I could barely fill up the pages of my notebook fast enough. He had a pitch to make as well, and within a few minutes of him introducing it we were talking almost completely in movie references and character notes, as if we’d already signed and sealed. I went home and started typing up, really enjoying working with someone else’s material.

I realised as I was pitching my own project that the excitement of collaborative comickry is this: no matter how I planned it out my work would turn into something I could never have expected. In the past I’ve always written from first concept to final draft, and sometimes to performance, in an almost complete independence. That takes a thoroughgoing confidence which I wouldn’t exactly call ‘unwarranted’, but which definitely would have benefited from seriously collaborative editing. Work alongside someone else, with similar ideas but different plans. And this friend definitely has those: best of all, he already knew, before he met me and without my having to convince him, that Porco Rosso was by far the best Ghibli film.

porco1

The ideas he threw around are clearly ones which he’s been working on for some time, and which aren’t exactly coming from nowhere. It’s a coming-of-age story really, a strong story seen in the weird diluted light of adolescence; and the fact that it’s going to be in a retrofuturist skeuomorphic ex-Atlantis won’t detract from that. Nor will the fact that I’m writing it in the only way I apparently know how: heavy with literary reference. At the moment the epigraph is from Aristophanes’ The Clouds, and I’m retraining myself from putting more reference in.

But the fun of the work for me so far is in taking characters who he sketches in skeleton (though not literally: I’ve refused to see any sketches till I work some more) and then working them out in dialogue. No matter how ‘biographical’ or otherwise the story is, these characters aren’t leaping fully-formed from his forehead, or mine. They’re coming from the needs of the story and how we both want  to make them. They’re not descending from the Clouds.

“Indeed not. These are the clouds of heaven, great goddesses for the lazy; to them we owe all: thoughts, speeches, trickery, roguery, boasting, lies, wisdom.”

-Socrates the Sophist, Aristophanes’ Nephelae [The Clouds]

Not that any story or character ever does just appear from on high. My first instinct when writing the first notes for Manifest was to ‘list’ the mood of the book in terms of references: From Hell, Red Dawn, the poetry of Christina Rossetti, de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Stoppard’s The Coast of Utopia, Apollinaire…

In that case, the reference documents of the project what we’re currently calling Iland will be Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso, Porco Rosso, Last Exile, The Aggressive Adventures of Fearless Griggs, Johnny Crossbones

05gog

It’s not exactly steampunk: ‘Retrofuturist’ is a useful term here. Though I suppose I could add to the above list one of my favourite pieces of “young adult” fiction ever, Phillip Reeve’s dieselpunk fairytale Mortal Engines.

2008-11-18-fuuil
Johnny Crossbones is another useful example here: in many ways it has a younger feel that its most obvious influence Tintin: it has teen protagonists, rather than the age-uncertain, perpetually boy-scout author insertion brat Tintin; it hasn’t got the clear political pugilism, nor the obsession with technology. But it does have “attitude”, and a cool, smart, surprisingly hot female lead, as compared to the bizarre adventure theme-park of Tintin’s world, utterly devoid of women or sex (other than the monstrous Bianca Castafiore).

Similarly Mortal Engines: give me the mutilated, revenge-crazed anti-princess Hester over any bun-faced Lyra, any day.

mortal-engines-wallpaper3_1024_768

There are elements of Iland that will put it on the “Young Adults” shelf. It is to be a comic, but it isn’t going to be ‘raced’ into prominence since, like Kari in Amruta Patil’s masterful Kari, it doesn’t have a Politic. It was always going to be the brilliant and issue-driven work of Joe Sacco, or Persepolis or ultimately Maus that made it onto the coveted New Release tables, rather than the uncertain fantasy of V for Vendetta or, say, Blankets.

But there’s plenty of room for a whiff of sex in this one, believe you me. I guess I should add Black Hole to the above list, as well: a sexy, cross-over comic and a coming-of-age story that made it big nonetheless (albeit with the dubious honour of having hardback editions that looked rather disguised as regular fiction, and were often shelved as such. I found one in my local library, and picked it up having seen it many times and believed it to be a novel).

blackhole

I’m certainly not worried about being taken off the shelves for including a bit of teen sexuality (of any persuasion- thanks, K). In that sense I’m very happy to have my work considered ‘Young Adult’, in the vein of Les Grandes Meaulnes or Bonjour Tristesse. Or, dare, I presume, Cider with Rosie.

Or look at the 1973 Disney Robin Hood, which I rewatched recently to discover that I knew every word from repeated childhood viewings.Yet in all those infant hours spent sat on the carpet rewatching the film, I somehow failed to notice that it’s not only basically about Emancipation and the Blues Route in the American South, but it’s also somehow a camp masterpiece. And it combines the two in a way I’ve never seen outside Betty Boop or Hellzapoppin.


Camp is a funny word in this connection. It would be a mistake to equate the Camp appeal of, say, The Wizard of Oz with the film’s complete absence of sexuality: Tintin is adventurous and sexless, but couldn’t seriously be called Camp without distending an already too-flexible term. Or maybe with a new term: Steamcamp. Hmm.

tintin

[Speaking of The Wizard of Oz, I loved Australia and don’t care who says otherwise. Though I will concede that if Baz had called the film anything else it wouldn’t have been panned. No doubt Mr. Luhrman has made his own peace with being regarded as presumptuous.]

australia_movie

I suppose I should stop complaining or pre-emptively defending my actions. No-one can seriously describe comics as ‘marginalised’ anymore: it’s just an anachronistic defense mechanism for the more fringe stuff of which the medium’s still capable. A year ago I wouldn’t have expected that I’d be seriously considering a writing or part-writing a comic as my ‘first book’, but we’ve got an exciting idea and it’s ready to go, and so am I.

After all, I’ve always wanted to work with comics and retrofutur/steam and with Atlantean Anachrotech, and here’s my chance. A moment’s research uncovers an unbelievable amount of stuff being made in the Steampunk/creative anachronism community: Have a look at Airship Pirate band Abney Park or Neverwas Haul, or Silloff’s ‘Steam Wars’ remodelling of Star Wars figures into Pinstripe/industrial aesthetic.

biker_on_bike

I’m never happy, I’m coming to realise, without a project. And apparently learning Japanese isn’t quite enough anymore. As if I didn’t have enough to be thinking about. This weekend is going to have to be a foray into job applications, in the vain hope of having a position to come home to within a media industry which seems to be eating itself. Wish me luck.

shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

you are after all quite short

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