One thing that disappointed me about the commentary surrounding Time Zones was a general unwillingness on behalf of most critics to get stuck into not just Freddy’s pitch but the first scene generally. I understood why well enough, it was a depressing episode and seasoned fans have been well trained to mistrust the surface glamour of Mad Men’s premiers, which in the normal course of things turns to crap after the first half hour. But in the end that didn’t cut it for me, for two reasons. Firstly, because the opening pitch so often serves as the key to unlocking a season’s trajectory, and secondly, because Freddy’s first words, a confident and joyous starting gun on a gloomy story, were designed to nag.

“I want you to listen carefully. This is the beginning of something.”

The idea that these words heralded the beginning of the final season and nothing else seemed unlikely. Because, come on everyone, this is the final season. Every detail is important.

Initially the main effect of this nagging, this jarringly incongruous celebratory voice echoing across the ruins cheering the new day, was to force me to re-evaluate many of the scenes and plot beats most reviewers took for granted were evidence that things will never go right for Don. Then it got me thinking about the downward spiral of the season more generally, eventually concluding that this, like Don’s descent in six which led to that beautiful final scene, was probably a good thing too. I was listening, I was paying attention, and it occurred to me that the Something Terrible Don drew down with that first ad pitch in The Doorway probably wasn’t through with him yet. Megan leaving him to pursue her career in California and his getting fired was only the start of it. Things needed to get about as bad as they could before the pendulum would swing the other way.

Quite simply, I realised this season is about nothing less than the destruction of Don Draper.

How marvellous!

Adam and I have decided to reroute our Mad Men musings back to our spiritual home at Mindless Ones. This is the first of what will likely be many posts.

Hope you enjoy them.

Pay attention. This is the beginning of something.

Part 1, Part 3

p27

Adam: My, isn’t that lava lamp… big.

In case you hadn’t noticed that’s Dr B Coote S.M.B.D: standing for sadism, masochism, bondage, domination one imagines, which sadly loses some of the flexibility of our real world formulation, BDSM. There you’ve got bondage, domination, sadism, masochism or bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadomasochism. More… er… therapeutic options.

Amy: BDSM is considered by some people to be quite an effective form of, well not exactly therapy, but a way of containing and processing painful experiences, particularly those of a sexual nature. Mina has already engaged in mild BDSM with Allan (the infamous “Bite me” scene), probably as a response to the ultimate Dom/Sub relationship she shared with Dracula, so we know she’s the perfect patient in some ways… Saying that, though, it’s hard to imagine anyone as drugged up as Mina conclusively consenting to anything.

p29

Andrew: Notice the spy camera on the corner — a little incidental detail of how the world has changed since the last volume. We grow so used to these things, it’s sometimes hard to remember that in a lot of ways we’ve been in a dystopian future since at least the mid-90s.

Read the rest of this entry »

Part 2, Part 3

Andrew: First impressions, this is a truly strange comic. I mean, it’s *good*, but it’s an attempted critique of modern pop-culture by someone who has no idea what modern pop-culture *is* (outside of the work of Armando Iannucci, anyway). I haven’t owned a TV in my adult life, and yet I have a better idea of what the pop-cultural feel of 2009 was than Moore seems to have.

And it’s a shame, because the story Moore wants to tell — of the deterioration of culture since the 1960s — is one that could be plausibly made. But to make it work, one has to criticise the 60s counterculture. Most of the problems in the world today stem, ultimately, from the utter self-obsessed infantilism of the generation that were young adults in 1969 — Moore’s generation, the generation that voted in Thatcher, the generation that made up Blair’s cabinet — but rather than admit the link, Moore has instead basically taken a line of “Weren’t the 60s great until Charles Manson and Altamont, but now the world’s full of young people with their hippity-hoppity music and their pinpods, and I wish it would all be like it used to be.”

But all that said, this is still a great comic and a great conclusion to League Volume 3.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

For those of you who don’t know – probably all of you - some of us Mindless like Mad Men a whole lot, and I think now that the new series is underway it might be time to get my thoughts down about it. The general format of these posts is presently undecided, so it’s difficult to give you an idea of what to expect. Whole screeds, mini essays, round robins with the other Mindless – all are possible. Whatever, these posts will be dense, but hopefully enjoyable if you’re familiar with the show, and, I’m sure, in some cases even if you’re not.

Today it’s Botswana, Ad and myself chewing the fat.

Superhero Horror #2

March 5th, 2012

Give me skeletons over zombies any time.

Zombies have no charge for me anymore. I mean, I get it. I understand completely why everyone obsesses over them, what they *mean*, but it took watching that sequence from Mean Streets again recently, where the drunk, bullet riddled barman continues to lurch towards his would be assassin even though he should’ve keeled over and died five minutes before, to make me feel horrified by the undead again. All the hallmarks of the zombie were there, the shambling flying dutchman of an un-person complete with lolling eyes and outstretched arms, persistance of movement and ‘mission’ inspite of massive structural damage…. But this time I needed a real body, something more literal, less of a symbol (and, now, not just a symbol for scary stuff we’d all rather not think about, but a portal to a whole genre of entertainment/fandoms/an industry, etc. – a tangled mess of associations, many of which I find boring/slash annoying), to make me re-experience the supernatural horror of undeath and thence the very real, physical body-horror it points to. It was an assbackwards way to get there, but it worked.

But we’re here to talk about skeletons, right?

Superhero Horror

February 23rd, 2012

This is the first in what will probably -HAHAHAHAHAHAHA – be a series of regular, if shortish posts about good, scary moments in superhero books.

This week:

From Dante’s Inferno and Fungus the Bogeyman to the much maligned, because capriciously fatal, Chasms of Malice the megadungeon has, for me, an eternal appeal. But because I’ve always found it such a comforting fictional environment, films like 127 Hours and Touching The Void really fuck with my head. They take the safe, endlessly sheltered, endlessly contained and controlled space and aggressively insist it’s anything but. The endless shelter, the roofing, becomes nothing but a granite sky as uncaring, if not moreso, than the one in the stock quote. Because unlike the sky above us it can cave in, trap arms, pulverise shins. Can go on forever…. until it tapers into a little hole where the star of The Descent is still trapped, alone, left to rot and go mad in the dark. Dungeons jostle about like this in all our minds, I think. Humans seek refuge. We instantly anthropomorphise enclosed spaces. Potential homes. But they may resist us. Perhaps they *are* homes – but not ours. Filled with… things.

Or perhaps they’re not homes at all.

Um….

For some reason, probably because I found the Chief Man of Bats issue so meh and the following one bloody awful, and because I was in the Isle of Man, I didn’t pick up this, ahem, *special* (way to throw a cover together, DC art Dept!) when it came out a couple of weeks back, but I’m pleased I have now because this book’s back on track in a big way. We all moan about the Big Two, but DC aren’t stupid enough to completely overhaul one of their most popular titles, and, as with Snyder’s book, now that we know Batman Inc will stay pretty much on point after the reboot, I’m prepared to invest myself again.

Now that I know I won’t get hu….

DIDN’T THIS HAPPEN LAST TIME?

For some reason, probably because I found the Chief Man of Bats issue so meh and the following one bloody awful, and because I was in the Isle of Man, I didn’t pick up this, ahem, *special* (way to throw a cover together, DC art dept!) when it came out a couple of weeks back, but I’m pleased I have now because this book’s back on track in a big way. We all moan about the Big Two, but DC aren’t stupid enough to completely overhaul one of their most popular titles, and, as with Snyder’s book, now that we know Batman Inc will stay pretty much on point after the reboot, I’m prepared to invest myself again.

Now that I know I won’t get hurt.

Sniff.

As was somewhat unsurprising, the second part of this story really divided fans. You know my take on this by now. There are problems with Grant’s writing, sure. I know all about them. I’ve been reading him since Zenith. But they have nothing to do with the writer being on bad drugs. If people want a more traditional take, they can read Snyder. If they want a more colourful one that’s not afraid to push the boat out, then Morrison’s the man for them. If you belong to the former group, you should know now that what you’re about to read is going to take it for granted that experimentation in comic books should be the norm rather than the exception. There certainly won’t be any time wasted on justifying such an approach.

So: annocommentations annocommence!

Happy New Year!

January 1st, 2012

I’m sorry I’ve been absent from posting for a month, but here’s a xmas mix for those who enjoy such things (click Amiga Mountain).

Although there’s tracks from years gone by in there, there’s also a great deal to love from this year too. It’s a shame everything I enjoyed couldn’t get a look in, but I just don’t believe in making mixtapes that last much longer than sixty minutes. From the biting cold synths of Pye Corner Audio’s November Sequence to the scuzzed-out wooze of Hype Williams, the thrumming desert horror of Ayshay and the complete and utter big-up-yer-bogle rudeness of Jam City, the year’s best music is pretty well represented here. Hope you enjoy and forgive me for the cobbled together nature of the whole thing and the fact that, well, it sounds too quiet on my computer and too loud on the headphones – it’s my first time using Audacity and I’m in the Isle of Man for New Year’s without a sound expert scientist like Gary Lactus to nag.

Tracklist:

The Beegees – Until
Roly Porter – Caladan
Pye Corner Audio – November Sequence
Jean Claude Vannier for Yves St Laurent
Hype Williams – You Little Nothing
Amy – Ramirez
Cold War slow dance 1979
Omar S – Night Over Comption
Inga Copeland – Trample
Sand Circles – Midnight Crimes
Innercity – The Bells of Backworld
Ayshay – Warn-U
Julia Holter – Goddess Eyes
Rangers – Airport Lights
Machinedrum – Now You Know The Deal 4 Real
Jam City – Aquabox