Sunday, 1 January 2017

Alan Moore Obscurities: Crossed +100 Book 1 (#1-6) NSFW

NSFW WARNING: Sex!  Nudity! Gross Sexual Violence!

"I never skulled we were all Wishful Fiction" - Future Taylor

Well 2016 was a shitty year wasn't it?  So let's have a little catharsis as we begin 2017 and what better way to begin this newest of year than with some rude and explicit NSFW recent stuff from Moore and his foray into the Crossed universe.  Although the back cover says you don't need to know about the main Crossed series I think some brief backstory will help.  Crossed was created by Garth Ennis (and it'll get covered one day never fear, although he hasn't written every volume in the series; it's had a number of writers), it involves a horrible contagion that sweeps the world which sort of turns people into the rage zombies from 28 Days Later.  Any drop of fluid from a Crossed will turn a normal person into one instantly.  The name Crossed comes from the red cross shaped scar that appears across the infected person's face.  What's truly horrifying about the sickness is that the infected not only attack and kill uninfected brutally or infect them too, they also have a tendency to discard their clothes and rape their victims before infection sets in and then they live hedonistic lives of excessive sex and murder including their own kids and are barely sentient.  Basically they become feral.  This story takes place one hundred years after the 2008 outbreak in 2108.  The Crossed have pretty much made themselves extinct via AIDs and incest but the uninfected population of the world is very low now, and pockets of humanity travel around scavenging fuel and also relics of the past.  Our main character is an archivist collecting media from the pre- "Surprise" (their word for the initial outbreak) world.  Language has also changed in the preceeding hundred years which is odd considering they have access to media from our time, and which *sigh* allows Moore to indulge his love of wacky slang to a level that makes the book unreadable in places.  There is an interesting story under it all but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't having to try and figure it out by looking at the just pictures in places because the speech is so difficult to follow.
Future Taylor.
The story is mostly narrated by a young woman called Future Taylor.  She is said archivist dedicated to finding stuff from the pre "Suprise" world.  Currently she and several others are driving a converted train from their colony at "Chooga" to look for archival material.  On board the train is their leader a black man called Robbie who has a badly scarred face, remember this, it'll be important later.

Taylor: "Ordinary sun-up over ordinary bone-brunch. This one's outside Lewisburg. Seventy or eighty people.  Probably a last stand after the Surprise.  It's out seventh assuary since this run".

Yeah and that's a more understandable bit too.  Inside the train, they discuss maybe running on coal but also that it might harm the green house layer, they use bio-fuel as it is so discard this option.  They arrive at the "corpse of Colombia".  Taylor and another woman go looking for stuff.  Then suddenly an emaciated Infected runs at them, one of the men shoots it, but more appear.  They are shot too.

Taylor panics saying there should be no nests of infected here at Mason Dixon.  They find a dead baby and Taylor pukes.  These were "illbillies" products of the Infected's incest.  Taylor is askes how she feels and she says they were feeble but shouldn't have been there. The four of them have a thorough wash to make sure they have no Infected matter on them.

Later in her journal Taylor notes Infected numbers had drastically dropped by 2050.  She also has a passion for science-fiction and fantasy stories which she calls "Wishful Fiction", she writes "I'm going to read some stuff that didn't happen, then go to sleep."
The first shrine to "Phil" is found.
Next day they find a church and go look inside.  Much to Taylor's consternation, she finds a shrine to a man.  His picture has been clipped out of a newspaper and framed with candles round it.  There is also a pile of white stuff that turns out to be salt by it.  They wonder who did it because the Infected couldn't have.

Suddenly some Infected run past, but ignore them.  Then suddenly pack of wolves comes running past as well.  Using a back way they return to the bus/train and find the man they left in charge of it has been torn apart by the wolves.  They bury him:

Taylor: "It was fuck bad, without much for burying. Everyone was sadded up, mostly because he was a young maybe... for a marker we made the Crunk [cross] thing out of sticks.  Didn't look respectful.  Crunk's just a fashion-the-pan".

Later that night Taylor pours over the newspaper photo of the man, and tries to make sense of the story on the back of the paper.  Robbie says it's likely a pre-Suprise but why had it been displayed so?  She sits on the roof exhausted by the day and writes, "I just want the stars."

Next day she ponders her latest Wishful Fiction book, "The Lord of the Rings" and reveals that her grandfather was six when the outbreak happened. His family kept him alive for nine more years before getting infected and he had to kill them all.  In 2023 he joined her grandmother's tribe.  They had two girls, then there was an Infected attack and he and her moms got away.  They came to the safe haven of Chooga and their mums met their dads and Future was born.  The world wasn't as simple as J.R.R. Tolkien made out she muses.
Further into the city they find the remains of a zoo and some wild elephants living in it. They aren't aggressive so they leave them be.  Future wondered how they adapted, Bobbie says it's warmer now.  They're too big to archive so they move on.

The arrive at a building shaped like a pyramid.  Later Robbie asks if she is OK with seeing the Infected's and killing them.  She says it was her first time as she grew up in Chooga.  They continue on to a large bridge.  They decided to make camp by it.

Taylor is still worrying about the shrine with the salt.  Over the radio she communicates with her mum back in Chooga and tells her about her tangle with the Infected.  Her mum says if they get too close "you don't mop. You fuck run".

Later the other two women in the group pair off for some sexy funtime.  Taylor broods over the photo and calls the man "Phil" after the PH on his picture.  She also watches a home movie they found made by some Infected raping and murdering gleefully.

Next day they find the Governer's Mansion and go inside for scout round. An initial sweep doesn't show any threats so they go in to scavenge and are impressed at how majestic the house looks inside.  They keep looking and suddenly Taylor spots another shrine, this time a picture of Jesus and the word "Salt" written on it.  The frame is the same as the one they found before.

Some Infected attack.
Then suddenly some Infected appear as if from nowhere and attack.  They gun them down but one of the women, Giancoma gets splashed.  She insists she is OK as Robbie points a gun at her, but her voice immediately starts to get rougher and a cross appears on her face as she cackles with laughter.  She is shot in the head.  Her lover, Cautious is devastated.

Back on the bus, Taylor writes up what happened.  This was the first time she saw someone turn and now has some idea of what her mother went through.  She can't stop thinking about the shrines, "I skull like I'm making connects that aren't, missing ones that are."  She wants her mum and she wants Chooga, now.

Luckily they are on their way back there.  She writes a little bit about Chooga, how they kept "red Alleghanains [Native Americans] there"  And it was involved in something called the Trail of Tears.  "So maybe that was the worst fuck shamed-up run Chooga's ever seen.  And not mine".

The bus arrives and is let in the fortified town and the townsfolk greet them incomprehensibly and they discuss what happened.

Chooga Resident: "He finished the Crunk, true? Safing the viroment?"


Chooga Resident: "It was viroment that fooded him, you brownholes."


Chooga Resident: "Are you caspered over those Infecteds?  You opsied poor Hope going over."

Anyway, Taylor and her mum talk about what happened.  Then her mum says they are running low on birds, which turn out to be ostriches.  Seems some have disappeared, they think wolves might be the problem.  They have a grain surplus though.

After dinner, Taylor starts looking at a video they scavenged in Colombia. It appears to be someone off-camera training the Infected to speak normally and not act on their murderous instincts and when they fail, cutting their heads off.  Taylor notes it's like a test.  "I'm worried up now.  It was so fuck controlled" she thinks.  And she goes to sleep to think on it.
The grim training video.
She wakes early and reads some Heinlein while watching the herders.  She finds the men in it all leaders and the women "churchface."  She finishes up and goes to meet her mum.  There is a town meeting where they report the findings of their trip, as well as discussing linking up with other settlements so "Alleghania" (which appears to be what the US is called now) can be a country again.

There is an argument about whether they can spare the resources to go cleaning out the last nests of Infected in Tennessee. They decided to do so and the various buses get ready to move out. Taylor and Cautious travel aboard a steamer ship this time.  They sail on down the river and when they go past a ruined nuclear plant they all put on protective suits.
Off to Murfreesboro.
They travel through a burst dam, but Taylor spots something and they row a small boat out to look.  It's a wrecked ship chock full of human bones.  They discover the bodies had been chained together and one of them has a necklace full of something white.  Taylor realises it's salt.  The skeletons also had leather clothes which the Infected shouldn't be able to make.  They think they might have been Infected slaves of Infecteds.  With that said they travel onwards.

They arrive at the large settlement of "Murfreesboro" to make sure they know about the Infected sweep.  The town can spare eight buses for it.  Taylor goes to see the Muslim Archivist for the town, a man called "Mustaqba".  They have a bout of sex before getting down to the business of discussing her findings.
If a Moore story has bad sex, it must also have good sex to balance it out.
He tells her the picture of "Phil" is of a photofit for a man in the pre-Suprise world known as the "phonebook killer".  He doesn't know what the salt means though.  She asks him if there are different Infecteds out there, he says they haven't found any.  Maybe the Appalachians still have nests there.  She says there is a hole in their knowledge, but then they start having sex again.

The next day the buses move out, they are going to sweep west.  Chooga sweeps north.  There is a discussion as to how Islam adpated to the post-Surprise world, that men could no longer "attitude over women, or men who had sex with men.  It was not practical" in a world full of Infected.  Seems the Christians gave up their faith (whut?) and only Islam remains?!  Well in Tennessee at least.

Back aboard the ship Taylor watches another recovered tape.  This time an Infected woman is strapped to a chair and is being forced to say the words "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog".  She can't deal with it right now, and the ship soon arrives back in Chooga.

After some time spent with her mother Robbie's team take the last bus out on the sweep.  Taylor is left behind but her interest piqued by the boat they found says she's going to take a horse and go look in the Appalachians.  An older man called Keller comes too as does Cautious.  As they ride, Taylor reflects on how religion failed in the face of disaster and the Wishful Fiction remained Wishful:

Taylor: "So was our history.  So was our society, our story of ourselves.  How we were best. How we were tight. it's like we don't skull something's a dream until we get woked from it. And we always get woked.  And it always turns out to be a dream."

Taylor has a dream of six faceless people on mechanical horses.  They tell her there was something she missed.  She says she was part of the sweeps of the Infected Nest, "but what if there's a double-cross?" says one of the rider's as he and the rest depart and Taylor wakes up.
An old Infected village found...
Her three-person party is now camping in the mountains with their (normal) horses.  They ride out and say if they don't find anymore Infected or Illbillies today they'll ride back to Chooga.  Then they come across some houses and they appear to be made of human bones and sinew.  They go inside and then an Infected appears, but doesn't run laughing at them he starts to talk but Cautious puts an arrow through his head.

They find more sleeping and they shoot them all.  They are somewhat worried about how "normal" these Infected talked.  They look at all the decorations on the houses, "I-it's almost like they did fuck more culture than us" says Taylor.  There is a large shrine, painted in blood of "Phil" The Phonebook Killer.
Getting infected didn't alter him at all apart from the scar.
There is a journal by the picture which Taylor picks up and starts to read.  It is the journal of The Phonebook Killer or to go by his real name, "Beauregard Leander Salt". To summarise, when the infection broke out, he got infected himself, but because of the precise control and psychopathy he had, he was able to remain completely "normal".  Well as normal as a serial killer can be.

As the Infection spread, he decided he was going to do something about enhancing his enjoyment of it all and created a "study group".  He does this by finding uninfected people and murdering and infecting them, feeding the dead ones to the live ones.  He writes that he thinks he can condition them like rats.  Their habit of eating their babies is going to make a colony a problem but he can solve it.  He moves his group out to the Appalachians.

He takes a baby away from the Infected and raises it himself. His colony are contented and well fed, because a lot of uninfected hid in the Appalachians and they have been preying on them.  He suffers some frustrations when he hits the twenty year mark though:

Beau Salt: "Twenty years work and I'm down to five and a fucking three year old.  I'm worried they won't be enough."

His most intelligent Infected says they should tape the conditioning, which he does.  The Infected child is older now and is able to speak normally and resist the urge to rape and kill.
The first trained Infected.
Beau Salt is dead, but the child, a black male, has passed the conditioning test.  The first one to do so. The Infected that Beau trained are carrying on his mysterious mission. Then Cautious comes and finds Taylor.  Worriedly Taylor tells her these Infected learn, their knowledge of them is wrong.  They find boats that show smart Infecteds have been shipping dumb ones down river, one of which ended up being the boat full of bones they found.

They find pens with ostriches in them, the ones that had been nicked from Chooga.  Taylor suddenly realises the Infected could have planned for them all to go out on sweeps that would draw the buses away from the settlements and leave them partially undefended.  The Infecteds had been kept bottled up by Beau Salt for one hundred years, with all the hatred being kept up and a desire for revenge against the "plain faces".  Now it's the one hundreth anniversary of the Surprise they are going to attack Chooga.  They saddle up and get ready to race back there to warn them.
Salt's legacy and continued killings from beyond the grave.
We see the army of Crossed marching on Chooga, some riding horses the rest on foot.  Then we cut back to Taylor and the others, she is beating herself up by not realising the signs were there with the altars and so forth.  She realises Beau Salt was creating disciples who could carry on after his death.

As they ride, Cautious says that Chooga is still well defended so maybe things will be OK. The buses might have got back already. We then are shown a bus returning to Chooga and being let inside.  Taylor says of Beau Salt:

Taylor: "He's still alive, as good as. Stalking Chooga over a century..  A pre-Surprise murder-crimer who never got caught. Who never overlooked anything".

They realise the speech training would be for impersonating uninfected.  But how would they disguise the cross on their face?

We then see the Infected bursting into Chooga after the doors were opened for the bus.  We see the inhabitants stripped, tied up, raped, murdered - all the fun stuff.  Taylor and the others realise the ostriches were stolen as part of a plan to lure the fighters out of Chooga.  If Chooga is fucked, they'll go back to Murfreesboro to warn them.
Chooga falls.
They crest the hill and see Chooga, it's gates wide open with corpses decorating the walls and heads on spikes.  Cautious sees her parents dead and starts rushing towards them in tears.  Archie grabs her and the three of them more cautiously enter the ravaged settlement.

They find most of the young women locked in pens and the men dead in a large pile.  They spy the bus and Taylor realises it was the diversion to get the Infected inside.  They creep and see that the Infected are having a party in the centre of town and leading it is Robbie.  He was the young Infected boy who had his face mutilated age 12 so he could pass for an unifected.  He infected the bus then drove it back so the rest could get in.

Archie goes down fighting, and gives Cautious and Taylor a chance to escape.  They start riding for Murfreesboro and all Taylor can do is think:

Taylor: "Infecteds will fuck come after us.  And but then they'll mop peoples from Alleghania.  Or the world. And peoples, all our build back since the Surprise, will just be a fashion in the pan.  And all the future will be infected..."
To Be Continued...?
I'm sorry, this book was a real turgid pain to read.  I simply don't believe that in just one hundred years language would change so much that it becomes so hard to understand by current standards.  I can still understand stuff written hundred of years ago, and it's not as if the people in this book don't have access to media written at the time of the outbreak and earlier, hell the main character's job is finding that sort of stuff.  So why have we got a script that feels like it was ghost written by Foul Ol'Ron?  I don't know.  To be frank if I was the person involved in publishing this I'd have rejected it and told Moore some slang is OK but not at the expense of overall coherence.  There are whole pages that are complete, undecodable gibberish.  Fortunately the clear and detailed artwork allows for some following of the story that way so a hearty round of applause to Gabriel Andrade for doing twice the job he needed to do to tell the story.  I am also unsure why the back of the book says no knowledge of the Crossed universe is needed when it is pretty damn essential backstory.  Of course the characters in the story might be filling us in on it, but it's so hard to tell.  I think if I had come at this cold I'd be even more clueless as to what was going on it.  In summary then, this is a mess.  Moore was so in love with the idea of creating a new world and language to go with it that it defied all realistic assertions that in just one hundred years we probably wouldn't speak much more differently than now.  I'm sure it all makes perfect sense to Moore, but to the reader, not so much which is a pity because from what I understand of the story there are some interesting things going on now in the Crossed world.  It's not good Alan. There is some rape which is justified in this case considering the contagion the world has suffered from here has the urge to violently rape as one of its symptoms. Although he doesn't have it shown graphically which is ironic that it was the one time it would have been completely justified to include full-on, and he didn't take it. Well done Alan? That's something I guess.  Happy New Year.


  1. "On board the train is their leader a black man called Robbie who has a badly scarred face"

    Is it any less easily callable in the comic just from this that he'll be revealed as a Crossed? I mean from what I heard about the series (I didn't read it, I generally stay away from "zombie" narratives) the infected are violent, rapists, etc. but not all of them are stupid. Cruder versions of this plan had to happen in the 100 years since the outbreak (for example sending in an infected child (humans are protective, and less wary of children) wearing a mask).

    In that world I'm not seeing why humanity didn't adopt the "can't see their face = enemy" (Deliberately obscuring their face? SHOOT THEM ON SIGHT!) mindset very early on. O.o

  2. Yeah, it does seem like someone should have suspected something like this could happen. That being said, I haven't actually read any of the main Crossed series maybe the idea of intelligent, cunning, plotting Crossed really was unthinkable a century later.

  3. I feel like that woman who used to do the wine reviews "I'm getting hints of...". This is a disappointingly derivative tale. I know one of AM's strengths is shout outs to other works. But normally that's nice little easter eggs or deconstructions. This feels like a sub standard 'follow the market' cash in. Bog standard post apocalypse fayre with a dollop of 'Day of the Dead' zombie rehabilitation. And there's no point trying to top 'smarter than the average zombie' Bub. That film just nailed it.

    If this had been say a Mark Miller universe then maybe we could have fathomed some hidden meaning. Like the rise of the infected was an allegory on the pernicious influence of liberal values or something. But this is just a bit meh.

    The idea of linguistic drift could have been interesting. When that's done well it can really help with the world building. Like it really endears you to the kids in Thunderdome "Each night we speaks the tell...". Even incomprehensiblity can be fun if there's a way of analysing how it came about and the etymology like Nadsat in Clockwork Orange or even city speak in Bladerunner. But here it just seems forced. If we're being kind I suppose we could pretend it's a parody of the dreadful future slang in cheap pulp sci-fi stories. But Douglas Adams did that so much better.

    Nah, this just didn't work for me. Like they'd just thrown a few random ideas in there but with no context. Ironically you can see how the infected could have been done better in that Serenity film with those reaver chappies.

    All I can assume is Mr Moore had a boiler repair bill he needed to pay off in a hurry so he just churned something out with none of his usual care for a story.

  4. @ malitia

    I'm now imagining a scene "I know we put you in charge of morale but did you really have to organise a masked ball?"

    But yeah, the heroes in the story do seem a bit thick. It is of course interesting to examine how people react to such events. That's often the most interesting part of the story. And there's always that thing in horror tales of whether the particular threat exists in fiction in the world being portrayed. I.e. Have the protagonists in zombie stories ever heard of zombies? Do they know all the tropes? (See also vampires etc?)

    But here, even within the fictional universe they should have the prior knowledge that the infected might try this. So it does come across as frustratingly naive of them not to countenance that particular threat.

  5. It's not even half arsed is it? Maybe a quarter arsed. To be honest Moore hasn't done anything I've enjoyed in comics since his last great flowering in the early noughties with Promethea, Top Ten, Tom Strong and LXG and even LXG has tailed off into a franchise zombie of increasingly negligent Nemo sequels. I blame that boring looking prose book he's spent a decade writing. I hope now he's got it out of his system he'll turn his attention back to comics full time.

    While I don't blame him for wanting to keep food on the table, he's definitely been coasting for a while now. That said it has prodded me into finally getting round to checking out the Crossed books proper, so there's that.

    Ah the original "Day Of The Dead" a fine film, and yes you can't beat Bub the zombie. Of course Romero had to go and crap all over that legacy with "Land Of The Dead" one of the stupidest films I have ever seen. But I can't hold that against him in his prime. Huh sounds familiar....

  6. The food on the table thing reminds me of a conversation I have a lot with another friend about the music biz. It's basically that dichotomy that (most) artists (in the general sense) are also just workers trying to scrape a living. So when we go to see friends at gigs it's like 'remember, they're at work now'. But I digress.

    I seem to recall Romero has struggled financially because of his commitment to his artistic vision. So I don't begrudge him cashing in a bit. And bearing in mind how the British comic creators got ripped off originally, maybe Moore can be forgiven for just dialing it in occasionally. So I'm less annoyed than disappointed (and thus I become Alan Moore's mum).

    DotD is my favourite zombie film though. To me it's just the pinnacle of the genre and by definition everything else has to be a pale inferior; no matter how good it might be in its own right. But more heresy coming up...!

    I actually like Land OTD! But not as a zombie film. In the same way that Dawn was really an allegory about consumerism and the banality of US suburban culture (that just happened to use zombies to make the points) I see Land as really about class and social stratification. It's perhaps not as sublime as Dawn and it maybe suffers a bit from having to also meet expectations that it's a big(ger) budget action horror flick, but I still think it's pretty insightful. Also it has that cool truck in it.

    There's nothing wrong with apocalyptic fiction that's just gung-ho mayhem and slaughter. Like I say, I love Doomsday for that. But since at least Wyndham the best apocalypse tales tell us something about the society we *currently* live in (or may be heading towards).

    To bring us back on topic I think that's another reason this story fails. It's caught between two stools. It feels like it's trying to be cleverer than it actually is. So we get a brief mention of how religions coped with the new paradigm, which could be a great subject to explore, but then no follow up. So it might have worked better as a standard 'Damnation Alley' chase back to safety battling off endless attacks. But it doesn't manage that either.

    Yeah, sorry Mr Moore but this story is barely a butt-cheek.

  7. Well I have preordered "Providence" which is him doing a Lovecraftian tale again. It could be awful like "Neonomicom" but I guess what I am saying is I'll pay for his lunch regardless. Though I believe he still makes royalties off everything he has written, and even stuff like the V masks and Watchmen badges keep him in skull rings (as Grant Morrison has rather bitterly pointed out).

    Actually I was wrong about "Land of The Dead". The stupidest film I have ever seen is in fact "Diary Of The Dead" which felt like Romero having seen "[REC]" and done a quick cash in with some of the dumbest characters ever committed to film.

    Eh, not really a fan of modern Romero, sorry.

    As for your final points, the book is optimistically entitled volume 1. so I assume there is possibly a plan to follow it up which might expand on some of the fairly minor world building going on here. Whether that'll be done by Moore or if like the main series it rotates writers I don't know. Would hate to be following Moore here, not because it's a tough act to follow, more having to deal with the idiotic language. I'd probably set it in a different part of the USA and pretend they ignored the stupid people who couldn't speak properly we saw here.

  8. My "friend" wikipedia tells me there is at least one more volume of this and that's not by Moore anymore:

    Crossed +100 - Volume 2
    - Collects 7–12 of the Crossed +100 Series
    - Simon Spurrier, Rafa Ortiz, Fernando Heinz
    - 160 pages
    - March 22, 2016

  9. Heh, I watched the first REC film with a Spanish friend.

    "That was pretty good. What does 'rec' mean?"

    *incredulous look*

    "Record, you f*cking idiot"

    You know the copyright on those V masks is owned by Fox Media? That does give me a small smile when I see edgy 'anti-system' anarchist kids wearing them.

    Ill have to try some Lovecraft. Think I've only ever read one original short story. All my other experience is from works that use the ideas, like that Gaiman Sherlock Holmes thing or Arkham Asylum. Can you recommend a good place to start? I do like some of the motifs. Unfathomable eldritch horrors will probably appeal to my love of the truly 'alien'. I just about have enough absorbed knowledge that I was able to associate the famous 'bloop' recording with Ryleh.

    Yeah if another author takes over be nice if the first encounter with the Moore characters just has someone asking "Why do you talk like that?"

  10. Thanks Malita, you research ninja :) I'll bung it on my list of things to pick up because I am genuinely curious about how they follow this one.

    Oh you MUST watch "[REC] 2" Alan, it takes place right after the first one ends, so I tend to think of them as one long film. Also it has a shotgun toting Catholic priest who blows the head of one of the mutant demon children. It's all VERY Catholic.

    Now Lovecraft. First of all I have to apologise for the massive amounts of racism in many of the stories. What can I say? He was a product very much of his time *coff*. That said, my favourite story and one many fans also label their fave, is "The Colour Out Of Space" which is thankfully sans racism. An actual sci-fi horror and deeply creepy. If you're wanting to try one of his novellas "At The Mountains Of Madness" is top and contains plenty of stuff pop culture has riffed endlessly on ever since.

  11. I have seen REC2 and I enjoyed it for all the reasons you point out. It is a very 'catholic' and indeed Spanish film. I liked that. Makes a nice change from everything being viewed through the prism of UK and especially US perspectives. The priest bit reminded me a lot of the Omen and even the Exorcist. The dilemma of when is a person no longer human and killing versus murder. Even more poignant when it's a child.

    I even quite liked the third one. It does depart a bit from the original gimmick. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. And an interesting take on the crawling through air ducts close cliché.

    I'll check out your recommendations. I like a lot of old stuff so I'm not too phased when they reflect the attitudes of the time. I see it as part of the context. Sometimes it can even be amusing in an eye rolling sort of way. Like when it's hundreds of years in the future but the women are still 50s housewives, even when they're super brilliant scientists or space explorers.

    Racism is of course a bit more problematic but I suppose where stories are set in a particular time frame at least it's an accurate reflection. In some ways it's less jarring than having characters act like they're all Guardian readers and unrealistically retconning progressive attitudes that just wouldn't have been there, even with the heroes. Unless of course that's part of the characterisation. I do like Heinlein for that. He is of course a product of his time but his works are full of hyper competent women, he doesn't bat an eyelid at non 'conforming' sexuality and I love his thing where there'll be some throwaway comment towards the end of the story that shows the hero wasn't a white guy (which does make you examine your prior assumptions). I'd be interested actually in what you'd make of Tunnel in the Sky if you ever get a chance to read it. Especially the gender stuff.

    At some stage I'll have to post something about gender and race in the Tarzan books. That's a very complex topic. You may be interested in how Burroughs relegated Jane when he decided she was just too much of a damsel and brought in lots of really feisty women characters (although eventually Jane did get a bit more badass herself)

  12. Oh great you have seen it, it's awesome and really creepy isn't it? The bit with the room that's different with the lights on and off always gets me. Plus Angela is hawt and apparently a real local news presenter which makes both films the equivalent of "Ghostwatch" (you remember the "live special" the BBC did for Halloween 1992 where Sarah Green got eaten by a cupboard and Michael Parkison got possessed and lots of people thought it was real and massively complained because found footage/fake broadcasting wasn't really a thing then).

    Hrrm, that was a lot of words in brackets. The first [REC] was remade as Quarantine, they removed all religious references (but kept the creepy room upstairs which makes no sense) and turned it into super rabies. Also they paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaded it out with 20 more superfluous minutes and at NO POINT on the commentary track to they acknowledge it's a remake of a Spanish film *dissolves into blubbering angrish*

    Anyway. Lovecraft is great despite the whole "being a big racist" thing, and he's definitely the nerds horror writer of choice. Had masses of influence in the tabletop gaming and videogame mediums. I have read a bit of Heinlein, I grew up with mum and dads libraries on hand (the copies of all the Lovecraft collections I have are dad's first editions which I well, nicked) and mum loves her some sci-fi. I enjoyed Asmimov the most but read "The Puppet Masters" a few times and was always amused by the solution being to just go around nude (which the British totally wouldn't go for). Next time I go over I'll dig around her shelves and see if she has a copy of "Tunnel In The Sky".

    Gender and race in Tarzan sounds like an interesting topic. I have to admit I don't know a whole lot about Tarzan so welcome any information you can put my way :)

  13. "My name's Future Taylor. I don't heart it much." We've adopted a new language based on emojis? I didn't even know that Mr Moore knew about emojis.

    On the bright side, Ms Taylor has a nice face.

    Why say "sun-up" when you could say "dawn," which has 50% of the syllables?

    On the other hand, I like "fashion-the-pan." It's a realistic example of the way language might get corrupted. Same with "Wishful Fiction." Much more evocative than "SFF."

  14. I haven't seen Ghostwatch, but of course I won't let that stop me pontificating about it, and trying to get another parallel with REC.

    One technique they used was whenever they did a 'replay' of an bit shown earlier it was in fact a separately shot scene. So although seemingly identical there were of course some inevitable tiny differences. As Harry S Plinkett would say "You don't notice; but your brain does". That unconscious disconnect can be quite unnerving and helps create an underlying feeling of unease. Kubrick does that a bit in the Shining with some deliberate continuity errors. So that reminds me a bit of the room in REC albeit that's a more obvious phenomenon. And of course there's just that innate fear of monsters in the dark, like when we turn the lights off in the bedroom.

    Speaking of subtle supernatural elements, have you spotted the ones in the Sopranos? And also the brilliant visual pun when Phil Leotardo murders the gay guy.

    Ooh Tarzan. Yeah could probably write a book on all the identity stuff in there. Racism is a feature of the books. Not just in a meta sense, but it's also an issue within the stories themselves. The tales both play into but also subvert the stereotypes of the day. Tarzan is of course the Ur 'mighty whitey' but the books explore that. They have a lot to say about colonialism, exploitation and attitudes to race. A very common theme is contrasting the evil backstabbing cowardly white baddies against the noble honourable and much more 'civilised' black friends of Tarzan. There is a reason Lord Greystoke abandons his place in the House of Lords and the English 'elite' and prefers to live with the Waziri as neighbours.

    As for women. The original tarzan and his mate story is fine. And the point is Jane too rejects her new york lifestyle in preference to the jungle. But in follow up stories she is pretty much the load. There's only so many times she can get kidnapped and wait for tarzan to rescue her. Pretty soon Burroughs just contrived reasons for her to be absent from most of the narrative. He created some great female characters. There's a great German baddy but the best is probably La of Opar. She's a bit torn because she really fancies Tarzan bit her religion compels her to kill him. She actually rapes him on one occasion whilst he's tied up to be sacrificed; I guess that's values dissonance as they say. They do become friends though. The conventions of the day meant married to jane tarzan has to reject her advances. But Burroughs did confess he was tempted to just have Jane eaten by a lion so they could get together. Tarzan still has to rescue La of course but half the time she's usually killed half her captors by the time he turns up and she's usually the one who started the fight in the first place. Unsurprisingly she's one of my ideal fictional women.

  15. @Lucy. Dear god maybe it is a language derived from emojis. I think the human race deserves being fully wiped out then.

    @Alan: Alan - you can pick up Ghostwatch for less than a fiver on Amazon and I really recommend it. It does some real mindfuckery of the sort we're talking about in the REC films (and yes there is some creepy shit I've spotted during the many funerals and wakes in The Sopranos). The set up for Ghostwatch is they are doing a live broadcast from a haunted house in the suburbs while Parky hosts various experts in the studio. The house is miked and camered up (and gets full use of all functions of the camera including night vision). Anyway to give one example of how they messed with the viewer they show a clip of the kids sleeping and the ghost "Mr. Pipes" shadowed in the curtains. Later when people have "phoned in" to report seeing it, they replay the clip and... nothing. It starts out quite boring before snowballing into a postmodern catastrophe. The people behind it got royally raked over the coals afterwards because so many people thought it was actually happening (if you rang the number on screen it told you it was just a BBC drama you were watching, unfortunately the phone system crashed not long into the show due to so many terrified people ringing in). Anyway, bit of a fan of it, on Halloween I watch it, Ringu and Jacob's Ladder.

    I must say I feel a bit sorry for Jane in your summation. I'm glad she narrowly avoided death by lion. La of Opar sounds really cool though, perhaps one of the influences on Tesla Strong..?

  16. Oh now that's a coincidence. I just watched The Sopranos episode "Calling All Cars" which ends with Tony dreaming a black faceless figure silently watching him from the stairs. Like something out of Sapphire and Steel, brrrrr.

  17. I initially read that as 'Pingu' so I was like 'ohhh-kay'.

    I'll check out Ghostwatch. I have seen a few clips and it does look quite entertaining. A couple of my friends actually do all that haunted house stuff. "We were in a cell in Bodmin Gaol and in the middle of the night this eery chill came over the place"

    Unheated stone building gets cold at night, yup, ghosts. But they'll probably enjoy it so I'll set up an evening. Hmm, come to think of it I think they might actually have it.

    I know Tesla has a 'Tes of the Tigers' alternate universe counterpart. She's pretty much a classic jungle girl archetype. A lot of the tropes do originate with Burroughs As much with his Pellucidar series as Tarzan (although they're in the same continuity). Of course perhaps his best known kick ass female hero is Dejah Thoris. She's a princess (and a scientist) but she's still not afraid to get her hands dirty. As an aside technically the first literary jungle girl is Rima. She's more of a female Mowgli though. I think Marvel actually own the rights to her now. The first jungle girl in the classic sense though is Sheena. She's a blatant and unapologetic Tarzan rip off as an excuse for good 'girl art'. I like the fact that, like Superman, she's meant to be Jewish.

  18. Have you spotted Pussy in the mirror yet? :-)

  19. And oh wow, sapphire and steel. Now that's how to give people nightmares on zero budget.

  20. At least the Ghost in Ghostwatch delivered. None of that boring "Most Haunted" crap. No, Mr. Pipes was a genuine asshole and he managed to trick the BBC into summoning him into YOUR TV via a live broadcast that acted like a massive countrywide seance. Also he sounds like a cat making vigourous love which is one of natures more terrifying sounds.

    I fucking love Sapphire and Steel the most out of all of science fiction/horror/whateverthefuckgenreitwas. I wish there had been more, but maybe it was special because it ended on a very high note (man trapped in service station cafeteria for all eternity. Downbeat). Adventure 2 is my favourite, wherein a cast of only four people keep us tranfixed for eight episodes. Marvellous. So I did see Pussy in the mirror, but I was more freaked out by the anonymous man in the dark suit walking slowly up and down the stairs. GAH.

    You know I am surprised there aren't more jungle girl comics out there given the love artists have of putting superheroes in skimpy costumes. I still need to pick up the collected Swords of Sorrow as I didn't get it for Xmas (that's OK I did in fairness email a very long list of wants to my sisters). When I do, I shall write it up never fear!

  21. Happy new year!! i am still reading your blog but I don't always think of things to say, sorry.

  22. Sapphire and Steel was a brilliant, perhaps the uber, example of that psychological horror that the 70s did so well. Like the 'Stone Tapes'. There was also a short anthology series. The one I remember was where a couple find some 'thing' in a jar in the wall f their house. Completely terrifying but all in the imagination. Classic 'nothing is scarier'. And just small cast in minimal locations. Could almost be plays. But, to me, ten times scarier than most modern horror films.

    There's an interesting experiment in 'nothing is scarier' comparing the two versions of 'night of the demon'. That's a film based on one of my favourite stories 'casting the runes'. The original story and the UK version of the film is classic 'maybe magic, maybe mundane'. Very scary but it might well be there's nothing supernatural actually occurring. For the US release though they added a very visible demon. In all fairness it's still very good. But it does remove a dimension to the story that made it a cut above the usual horror films of the day. That's also the film where the 'its in the trees, it's coming' sample in that Kate Bush song comes from.

    But S&S...faceless figures, rooms floating through space, eery train stations, things appearing in photos. There's a reason we still have all those images burned in our memories. And they kept a real air of mystery. Never explaining who S&S were or what was really going on. Second only to Dr Who in my book; although I also have a soft spot for the tomorrow people.

    Ah, jungle girls. Like we've mentioned before there have been some half hearted attempts to revive the genre, but they all seem to miss the mark as to what made the classics so good. Frank Cho almost understands, but then he just uses it as an excuse for sexy drawings. I'm fine with that but it might as well just be a portfolio. You need all the classic tropes to make a good story. The irony is that if you do just want to go down the titillation route then the stories are perfect. The standard situations tick a whole plethora of fetish boxes. Quicksand, snakes, man(girl) eating plants, catfights and bondage. Jeez, that was the whole raison d'etre for them in the first place. But what I love is that the women genuinely are the heroines. It's such a refreshing change that they're fully capable. Sheena spent half her time rescuing her boyfriend. I'm amazed she put up with him. In fact there's a great Rulah story where her old beux tracks her down but she dumps him because he's freaked out when she finishes off an opponent. Although I can't help but think the fact she appears to live with a harem of gorgeous girls may also have been a factor.

  23. @G: No worries, happy new year to you and glad you're still reading :)

    @Alan: That anthology would be "Beasts" which I have on dvd. Brilliant stuff, the one you are referring to is called "Baby", although I think "During Barties Party" is my fave of the series. "The Stone Tape" is amazing, it's out of print on dvd right now and like "Star Cops" I am kicking myself for not snapping them up although I have Other Means of viewing them *coff coff coff*

    I always loved how Sapphire and Steel very subtley world built. I especially love David Collings perky Silver who flirted up a storm with Sapphire and teased Steel. Hmmm, I think a veiwing might be in store once I am done with "The Sopranos" and "Avatar: The Last Airbender".

    You're really getting me interested in all these jungle girls, they sound pretty feminist! I'm betting there are rights issues around a lot of them. They could probably be done wonders in the hands of Gail Simone who rebooted Red Sonja as such a dirty, lusty, bisexual hero.

  24. Beasts! Yeah, thank you. I wonder if anything like that would work today. Or have audience expectations changed? Funnily enough I caught a glimpse of something in a similar vein over the holidays. I actually thought it was an old 70s programme , but it was in fact a new thing. They'd really got all the elements right though. Very much like Garth Marhengi did. Made by the League of Gentlemen guys. They do seem to have a genuine feel for that old school stuff. Anyway l, it was something about the Grampus myth. I'll have to have a Google and see if it was a one off.

    Cool, another jungle girl convert. Mwahaha, my work here is done (etc). But yeah, those original 1940s stories manage to be both very feminist (especially for the time) and also quite cheesecakey. A combination of which I wholeheartedly approve. By definition though they had to be strong characters. They lived in one of the most dangerous environments going and they always had to be the one to save the day. And because they were solo characters you never had that thing of them suddenly being relegated to second fiddle when a bloke superhero turned up. What was also nice, especially in the Rulah comics, was how often the baddy was a woman, usually bossing around her male henchmen. Of course that was probably so you could have a climactic catfight. Still cool though.

  25. Yeah I saw that Leaue of Gentlemen thing advertised but didn't watch it while I was over at mums. Now I think I should have.

    It's interesting how feminist a lot of women superheroes were in the 40's before the "get back in the kitchen" mentality of the 50's was inflicted on them. Lois Lane was downright awesome and of course Wonder Woman had a wonderful combination of sexual perversity and women's liberation all wrapped up in one excellent package. And nothing wrong with a bit of cheesecake, cheesecake is yummy. Of course when all you have is cheesecake it can get a bit much, oddly the 40's seems better for this than we have now.

  26. Yeah, it's funny how 'liberated' women characters were in the 40s and then a real step back in the 50s.

    I wonder if it was a war thing? You suddenly had a generation of women in the real world taking on previously masculine roles. That's everything from Rosie the Riveter to women in the armed forces. Heck, even our future Queen was a mechanic.

    But it was the era of female aviatrixes and explorers, intrepid reporters and plucky dames running rings round hard boiled private eyes. You really see that in those 40s pulp comics. Not just jungle girls, but girl spies and secret agents.

    Plenty of glamour too though. But it seems less exploitative than today. You're the gender studies expert so you'll know better than I all that stuff how it's lack of agency that makes something objectification; but those classic heroines were sexy on their own terms.

    It was also a different type of sexyness. I'm not bothered about superheroines doing contortions on comic covers so they can flash their arse and boobs simultaneously; but the highest compliment I can pay a woman is that she'd be perfect as the nose-art on a B-17.

    I suppose fundamentally it's a control thing. Wonder Woman was certainly wonderfully kinky, but you knew it was her own choice because *she* enjoyed it. The original Shanna was a bit of a perv too. She couldn't have relationships with men because she intimated them. However she had a weird relationship with her pet snake who she enjoyed letting strangle her. It's interesting that those original strips were written by one of Marvel's few women writers. When the male writers took over she was relegated to being Ka-zar's sidekick and later, wife. She also lost a lot of her unique characterisation (like a loathing of firearms) and became indistinguishable from any other generic eye candy.

    I think there could be a market though for reverting to 40s style real heroines. The Tom Strong idea does that a bit for male heroes. Classic Doc Savage no nonsense. So I'd love to see a decent writer try this. Be interested in what Gail does with sword of sorrow. She's got some of the best characters to work with. Hope she can do them justice.

  27. The war and the need afterwards to get the men back into the jobs women were doing and reinterate the woman's place was home and kids definitely had an effect on portrayals in comics. Lois Lane for example was a hard bitten career woman in the forties who had no time for romance. Come the Silver Age and she's turned into a woman obssessed with getting Superman to marry her and her career as a journalist is barely alluded too.

    I trust Gail Simone to treat those characters right. The reviews and posts I read about the Sword of Sorrows series all seem to say it's good, feminist stuff despite the lack of clothing the heroines are wearing! Got a few other things to buy first but it's near the top of my list now.

  28. "War! Huh. What is it good for?"

    Well actually, allowing women to demonstrate they're just as capable as men and therefore consequently leading to better characterisation in fiction.

    To keep the jungle theme going, that 50s domestic consumerist ideal was even reflected in the Tarzan films. The 40s films were classic pulp action. But in the 50s T&J were suddenly an ideal American suburban couple. All those treehouse tropes began there. Essentially they lived in bamboo tech duplex with all mod cons. It was like the Flintstones. Jane literally held dinner parties.

    And now a random thought has occurred to me. When I was a kid I obviously didn't view things through feminist lenses but even at the time I thought it was unfair that batgirl wasn't allowed to know batman's secret identity but it was natural that he knew hers. It was that thing that he was her inspiration and she was essentially just a bit of a fangirl. And that's got me thinking. Every male superhero seems to have a distaff counterpart. But are there any where it's the other way round? Why don't we have Cat-Bloke or Poison Ivan?

  29. I've finally seen 'Hey Duggie'!

    Funnily enough it was another friend who claims to have them recorded "for her nephews and nieces"

    Brilliant. I will be nicking some of the lines.

    "We've found your flipper. Now you can be in the show"

    "Be *in* the show? Darlings, I *am* the show"


  30. Actually there is a Cat Man! I believe he popped up as a Bat-villain in the Bronze Age and Gail Simone resurrected and put him as one of the main members of The Secret Six (I've covered the first volume of the first two minis a while back, have the rest of the series up my sleeve for later blogging). I suppose Poison-Ivan would be Jason Woodrue - The Floronic Man. See how my knowledge of super obscure DC characters can be used to delight and impress! :P

    And great, you've seen "Hey Duggie". It's a cracking little show. My favourite episode is "The Pottery Badge". The Zen Japanese dog who pops up to advise them on making their pots is hilarious. Small relatives are the best excuse. I can see me starting to go to the cinema again because Joe (and later his yet to arrive little brother) will want to see stuff and obviously I'm just taking them for their own enjoyment. Yes.

  31. I an indeed delighted and impressed!

    Had a weird synchronicity thing. In that post that got eaten I asked if anyone had ever done a spoof 'cat-lady' character. Then in the evening I caught a bit of some programme where a guy was doing fancy dress as Batman and a lass had turned up in classic cat-lady style because she'd misunderstood. Glad to see my psychic powers are kicking in nicely for 2017.

    The characters in Duggie are great. It's that thing where you can still appreciate them as a grown up but without them being nudge wink 'adult'.

    I also like the general concept. I'm quite a fan of the scout movement. Not too keen on some of the more 'traditional' conservatism when it comes to certain issues, but I love the overall ethos of learning stuff, self reliance and helping people. Considering scouting's roots in colonialism it's surprisingly progressive. There's great admiration for all sorts of cultures. We were brought up on tales of derring-do by zulu kids and the like. I remember in one of the annuals a story about an Indian boy who'd used his arm to bar the door to a door to keep the bad guys out. It was very graphic about how it got broken and the agony he was in. But it was made clear this was the sort of heroism we should aspire to. And the original 'Scouting for Boys' might as well have been called 'American Indians are brilliant, just emulate them'. And the Guide movement had all the same values. In fact you could probably make a nice study on the gender equality stuff. The guides had a lifesaving badge and the scouts had a needlework badge. Of course the entire ethos was to have a militia in waiting so it's perhaps not unsurprising that pragmatism won out over social convention.

    Which I think nicely returns us to your original point about war and women.

  32. I think the "Squirrels" are so sweet. Funny thing is though I was very opposed to Brownies or Guides as a kid, I just ran riot in the wild with my male friends and fought and set fire to stuff and er *coff* nicked stuff *coff* I think back in the 70's and 80's they would have been too girly for me and also I resisted group activities, the wearing of uniforms (managed to overturn my all girls school ban on trousers by just turning up in them and being too intelligent to expel!) and being told what to do.

    My girly sister did attend the Brownies and Guides but has freely admitted recently when we were discussing whether her sons will be Cubs and Scouts (while watching Duggie ofc), that she was a pretty "crap" one and only went because there was sooooo little to do in Buxton. She also went to Woodcraft Folk for a while too. Freya my second sister didn't do Brownies or Guides, but also didn't roam wild setting fire to stuff either. But I have mentioned before, while me and sis 1 are very much Gen X'ers, she just about counts as a Millennial and wow, sometimes I am really aware of the fact she is a whole different generation to me especially as I turn into more and more of a crotchty old woman :D

    Anyway I think it would be much cooler if my nephews do Scouts and stuff because sadly the option to kick your kid out of the house and tell them to amuse themselves for the whole day is no longer seen as responsible parenting. Boo!

  33. I like the octopus and the crocodile; especially as he has that Peppa Pig thing going on where he can only look left or right.

    I very much subscribe to that booting the kids outdoors and letting them experience stuff approach. Luckily a number of my friends with kids are of the same view. I would regale you with tales of my babysitting adventures; but it's a fine line between amusing anecdotes and evidence for the 'at risk' register. I do like adventurous kids though (did you get a chance to see that YouTube clip I emailed?)

    I must confess that I don't understand that generation x millennials thing. I have no idea which one I am. Like we've mentioned before, I just got to a lifestyle I liked in the early 90s and pretty much stuck with that. Seems to be working for me.

    Is your sis really called Freya? I love that name.

    I wholeheartedly approve of running round in the wild fighting and setting fire to stuff. Pencil that in for the new year. Perhaps avoid the thieving though. Unless, you know, we find something worth having.

  34. I'm not proud of the thieving, but I knocked that on the head when I was nine and we got caught breaking into the school and hauled up in front of our terrifying headmaster and a copper who proceeded to put the fear-of-God-who-I-didn't-believe-in in me. Also they said they'd tell me mum, even scarier.

    Generational patterns fascinate me. It works on a roughly twenty year basis with no hard breaks, scroll down this ( page for a list and you can click on the different ones. Interestingly my mum is a Baby Boomer, but my late granny was actually the Greatest Generation because she had her kids late. It's funny, sister Freya (yes really is called that) reminds me so much of mum, who reminds me so much of granny. I often wonder if skipping a generation each time has made this so and things cycle round again each time too.

    I was pretty lucky growing up, we lived with loads of fields backed onto the house, and although there was a main road we used to cross to go and play in the pit full of rusty cars (lol, Glossop) there was so little traffic it didn't bother us. I haven't watched the clip you sent yet I was going to wait until I have my new laptop and then I can watch stuff with sound again.

  35. Oh yeah that vid is definitely better with sound. The giggling is adorable.

    Apparently I'm Gen X then (wasn't that a band?). I wonder how relevant generational differences are? Obviously it's all influenced by the contemporary zeitgeist but I wonder how indelible the 'imprinting' is? For example, on the face of it we might say millennials are a bit more pacifistic compared to say the wartime generation. But then I recall 1930s youth was very much like that. Remember the fuss over the Oxford Union's "This house will not fight for king and country" debate? (that's obviously 'remember' in the sense of being aware of it rather than actually living then!)

    People have been talking about supposed generational differences since at least when the ancient Greeks moaned about the youth of the day being feckless yobboes.

    So I'm not so much sure that it's a cyclical thing as people just reacting to events of the time. There are superficial differences but fundamentally people remain the same. So teddy boys, mods, goths, tumblr kids; it's basically the same seeking put a subculture for a sense of belonging. People say the post war years was the birth of the 'teenager' but has anything really changed since Romeo and Juliet? Heck, I can still remember the "I know you all and will awhile uphold..." bit from Henry IV. That's basically just a commentary on how you dick around as a young adult and then settle down a bit. I honestly think people have been the same since the neolithic if not before. I suspect there's always been mopey teenagers thinking their parents don't understand them and their parents nostalgically but mistakenly thinking things were different in their day.

    It's a bit like politics. One reason I'm always wary of the term 'progressive' is the implication that things move in one direction. Unfortunately I'm not convinced about that. Lots of older societies had much more enlightened views on say sexuality. And groups like the levellers and the diggers were very much 'social justice warriors'. Quite literally in some cases.

    It is all fascinating though like you say.

  36. I suppose it's more relevant to compare the "pop cultural" generations which obviously becomes more doable the further we get from WW2 and so forth. I have a sub theory that with all the sheer amount of the stuff avaliable and bombarding us now even two decades will seem like a long time for a generation to last and it'll all smoosh back together again. I shall be observing my nephews with great interest...

    I mean I don't own a mobile, can't work a touch-screen properly, have no streaming media services, still buy and use optical media and am one generation behind with my games console. How on earth did I become a dinosaur?!

    Also I am quite prickly when it comes to feminist issues, it's where me and Chloe unite against mum and Freya. Mum is pretty feminist (she raised us so obviously), but can make weak excuses for some fairly obnoxious male behaviour that me and Chloe will give major side-eye too and Freya just shrugs and thinks we make way too much of a fuss about these things.

    I do understand your worry about the term progressive. All the alt-right MRA bullshit that wants to reset us back to some 1950's idyll. Can you imagine what goes on on twitter and reddit and tumblr going on in the 1990's on the spanking new Information Super-Highway? Fuck I thought we'd won those battles. Now I'm depressed. Back to LEGO The Avengers!

  37. Yeah I was sort of thinking that. Hence the reference to the 50s birth of the teenager thing.

    It's also interesting what you say about exponential changes in culture. I was wondering if that was a permanent thing. I'm coming more to the view though that it's more of a punctuated equilibrium. So we'll see more that it's fits and starts. You'll get a sudden radiation of new ideas, often driven by technological developments, but then things plateau for a bit. So I don't see much of a real difference between MySpace and Facebook for example. And even Mammoth just reminds me of my times on Usenet.

    I think a lot of the changes are superficial. It's cool I suppose having a phone that I can Internet on. But some stuff seems to have gone backwards. I could do everything I needed to in Word 2.0 and the latest version actually seems worse. It's just so user unfriendly. So it's not you being a dinosaur. I think actually you've been very clever in not being taken in by change for the sake of it. You're the one watching your DVDs on a nice big TV whilst everyone else is trying to see pixellated jerky streaming on a 4" phone screen. 'Progress' is a loaded word. We had supersonic passenger travel and moon landings in the 70s. And they're not the only areas where things have gone backwards. Camera phones are pretty convenient, but even the best digital camera can't compete with quality 35mm film. (I'll stop now though before I start hankering back to vinyl records).

    So to go back to our previous point, progress generally isn't an inevitable upwards climb, no matter what the area.

    As to your more general point about feminism and excusing misogynistic behaviour I could go on for ages. But it would be pointless and a bit presumptuous as you know this subject infinitely better than I. It's funny though, although I'd never use the word feminist to describe myself, for all sorts of reasons, I suppose I've always held feminist views. To me it's not just a social justice thing though it's a matter of basic fairness and logic (heh, how blokey is that?). You can't have female friends without noticing they get the shittier end of the stick most of the time. And I find the idea that women are somehow incapable or second rate just bemusing (you're familiar with my views on nature/nurture so I probably don't need to reiterate). I do have a real revulsion to misogyny though. I think that's a subset of my general loathing for bullying, especially when its accompanied by cowardice. To use an 'SJW' term, I can’t abide 'punching down'. But what really annoys me is the cowardice aspect. If there's one thing I don't think about women it's that they're the 'weaker sex' but society is set up in a way that women aren't allowed to fight back. There's all that social expectation to not make a fuss. But what I really hate is, like all bullies, misogynists are only 'brave' when the odds are in their favour. So they'll attack women on social media behind a cloak of anonymity and when they have a virtual gang to back them up. Grrr.

    Sorry, I'm going into rant mode now.

    I think though that one of my motives for training women in the Krav stuff (beyond the admitted fact that I find badass women sexy) is that its one way I can contribute to women making a stand. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to come to the aid of women should they require (got a moderately amusing anecdote about that) but I will admit to a perverse satisfaction where, as has happened on a few occasions, some lass I've helped train up has decked a guy.

  38. I think it's awesome you train women in self defence and if you don't think of yourself as a feminist (which I understand why) at least know you're definitely an ally :)

    Personally though I'm actually very fortunate that the men I know now both online and in meatspace are really cool people. The two men I interact with in the real world are my sisters partners both of whom have been with my sisters since uni, so one I have known nearly twenty years and the other ten. I consider them good mates and fun to talk to, I'm definitely lucky in that regard.

    I know what you mean about not being able to abide "punching down". I've always felt that way too. One thing Mammoth has been instructive to me is on matters of trans and genderfluid issues. My sister jokes that I am the most PC person in the world, but I see it more as just being someone with good manners and respecting peoples identities and choices.

    As for technology you maybe right. I don't use social media so I am very much stuck in Web 1.0. I prefer forums and blogs, although I follow the occasionally tumblr and some of reddit is OK. Badwomensanatomy is a hoot and has actually taught me quite a lot of stuff I didn't know about the female body! I think I tend to prefer places that have firm guidelines and moderators, I didn't really like "Wild West" boards even back when I first went online.

    I demand your amusing anecdote! You can pop it in an email if you don't want to spill here :)

  39. Badwomensanatomy sounds like it should be revealing pin-ups of Catwoman and the like. Hmm, knowing you, it might well be that. Well, enjoy!

    The most Wild West place I've ever frequented was Bullshido, the martial arts board. It's a proper hive of scum and villainy (which they quite proud of). It is a good place to try out lecture notes though. They are a knowledgable lot and it's not like they hold back the criticism. As I explain to the commentariat there, they're a good first trial before I move on to human testing.

    Email sent :-)

  40. Actually it's a subreddit you might want to browse, they have regular posts taken from the Incels board which contains waaaay worse stuff than I have even seen on Mammoth! So for your research purposes it might be useful.

    The most Wild West place I used to go was GameFAQs and actually I was a terrible troll there on some boards and on others (I was a reviewer and FAQer there, stuff is still up now) perfectly sensible and restrained. I used to make up rude user names and see how quickly I could get banned, I managed to stay as Cupid Stunt for over a week, sadly Connie Lingus and Jenny Talia got banned in less than a minute. A forum record a mate who moderated there told me :D

    Actually there is an epic tumblr that is devoted to terrible images of women from comics, manga and videogames. It's called "Escher Girls" because women get broken in ways that only make sense if Escher was behind it (the prevalance of the notorious "boob/butt" pose being what started the blog off). Worth skimming through as well if you're interested in female representation.

  41. Hah, brilliant. I'm wondering how long it will be for Facebook to realise a friend of mine isn't really called Betty Swollocks.

    I can see how old school silly trolling could have been fun. Especially as it was just daft and without malice. I see it as the difference between original Candid Camera (where it would be loopy things like the car with no engine) and stuff that's just plain evil like Russell Brand's call to Andrew Sacks. That make sense?

    I've never trolled myself although were you around when I did my Mammoth post:

    "As Doctor Spock said in Star Gate 'If at first you don't succeed, there is no try'"?

    That was more a point about my bewilderment at some of the pop culture discussions on there though rather than a wind up. I also used to have a thing when I went to Winchester Crown Court. It's next to the building where they have that medieval round table. That's high up on the wall but there's a small table where they keep leaflets. Whenever the curators were watching I'd take photos of that and mutter about how I couldn't see what the fuss was about. The best wind up though was by a Vietnamese mate at law school. He went to battersea dogs home in a bloodstained butcher's outfit and said he wanted to adopt "Four puppies. About 5 kilos each"

    I'll check out those site recommends. Be a nice diversion at work tomorrow.

  42. Yeah my trolling on GameFAQs was just silly stuff, no bullying or as you say being "evil". I must have missed that Mammmoth post. I only started visiting around June I think and am still working through the years of prior postings and comments.

    Enjoy those sites, like I said, pretty informative stuff on there. Stuff that even I as a woman wasn't aware of.

  43. On the subject of comic heroine impossibilities in real life, just been linked to a clip of a judo contest. Lass gets a fall by doing that black widow thing where she brings a standing guy down by swinging up and doing a leg scissor on his neck. Pretty impressive.

    Did that email get through btw? Gmail bit wonky at present.

  44. Oh my word; that anatomy site! Half the entries sound like they were written by Jay from The Inbetweeners.

    I did like the more serious posts about anthropology and taboos etc though. They were quite fascinating.

    I also had a nice educational experience from the Escher Girls site. Some of the images that were meant to be more 'realistic' than cartoony got me thinking about something some arty friends have mentioned in the past that if you draw people with realistic proportions it sometimes doesn't 'look right'. So for example if you draw someone's head to scale with their body, it looks too small. I was wracking my brains trying to remember more about that when loans behold there were a load of posts exactly on that point. 'Hobart's Ratios' it's called. There were some nice posts where people had tweaked drawings so you could compare the original, then the real life ratios, then the Hobart's Ratios.

    Of course I did end up outside my office seeing if it was possible to replicate some of the poses (it has mirrored windows). I'm quite impressed that I can actually get my arse and my chest facing front at the same time (unfortunately that leaves my post Xmas cheese and wine gut in a very unflattering side on view, so I don't think I'll be appearing on any comic covers just yet). But those years of doing 'Aphrodite Falling' have paid off! :-)

  45. Glad you got some useful info, as I said even I have been enlightened by the anatomy reddit, also the posters there are pretty funny too.

    There is a problem with realistic art making peoples heads look too small. Chaps like Michelangelo actually sculpted people with larger hands, feet and heads which do then look more "right" than proper proportions do. It's notable those are the bits that get exaggerated in cartoony art and still look OK.

    I salute you for attempting a boob/butt pose, I tried it too. I think everyone does when first visiting that site, my spine started groaning before I had barely started. If you ever brave the Rob Liefeld tumblr, there were some photos of brave soulds attempting to act out panels from his comics. Pretty funny stuff, I think they ended with a plea to "send chiropractors".

  46. Ha! I am so glad it's not just me. Really pulled something in my back now. I know you'll understand what it's like trying to spend 10 hours trying to find the one position on the sofa that doesn't hurt.

    Just seen a great thing on IPlayer you might enjoy. First of a three part documentary about the history of British weaponry. Some fascinating stuff about edged weapons. Learned loads. Did you know both Angle and Saxon were types of weapon? Hence the tribes naming themselves after their favourites.

    Yeah I'd heard that about statues. There's also something about busts. Like you have to make them a third bigger or something for the heads to look life-size. Perception is a funny thing. To tie into a feminist topic it's like how Barbie looks weird, and couldn't survive, blown up to real size. On another art topic, have you heard that 'points of contact' theory? Basically it suggests that if you take knees and elbows the more points you have touching the ground, the sexier the pose. Looking at some covers on that site it seems certain artists certainly buy into it.

    I've abandoned trying to replicate comic covers though, so the world will have to forego finding out if it works for me.