Monday, 22 May 2017

DMZ Book 11: Free States Rising (#60-66)

"Can I do this? Do I have a choice?" - Matty Roth

So it's probably not the noughties anymore in an alternative world where around a decade earlier a faction arose in the Midwest of the USA calling themselves the Free States.  They set up their capital in Montana and seceeded from the Union bringing them into conflict with the U.S government.  The two sides fought to a standstill at New York and Manhattan Island, still inhabited by many people after a catastrophic evacuation became the DMZ.  Newbie journalist Matty Roth was accidentally left in the DMZ on his first assignment there and has been chronicling the people and events taking place there ever since.  Recently a charismatic leader called Parco Delgado won an election to become President of Manhattan.  Unfortunately he acquired a nuclear bomb to use as leverage, while a star struck Matty was running a parailitary death squad for him.  The US military found where the nuke was being held and nuked it themselves blaming Parco for setting off his.  Parco fled and the U.S., bouyed by sympathetic world opinion, started a bombing campaign against the Delgado Nation while making aggressive overtures towards the Free States based in New Jersey.  Matty after some time in the wilderness dealing with his guilt over getting fourteen civilians killed was given the mission by Liberty News to go back into the DMZ and be an unbiased reporter on the end of the war.  Now we'll find out a little more about the time the Free States movement sprang out from with "Free States Rising: Prelude", then return to the present as we discover what happened to Parco and say farewell to the one Free Stater we have followed since the start in "Free States Rising" and finally we have the one-shot "Citizen Zee" which is our last one dedicated to Zee Hernandez as she mulls over her time in the DMZ and whether she can find the motivation to stay to the end.

Before we continue, I am going to complain about the incredibly woolly timeline Matty's time in the DMZ has taken.  It's stated several times to have been five years not the three insinuated previously.  We also are told that Delgado was in charge of the DMZ while Matty "played tough guy" for him for at least a year before the bomb plot started.  But over the story we are given periods of time elapsed between events from Matty, Zee and Parco that simply don't add up with each other. Gah, space is warped and time is bendable! It's incredibly frustrating and it goes to my one complaint about the series that we really needed an arc between Parco winning the election and then buying the bomb to make the series as a whole flow better.  Well that's my one beef with the story off my chest, let's continue.

FREE STATES RISING - PRELUDE: Artist Shawn Martinbrough. We begin with a two part story that tells "one history" of the formation of the FSA. We follow one character and although it isn't revealed until the end, it's the man only known as The Commander.  As he isn't given a name in this story either to stop it getting awkward I'll be calling him the Commander from the start.  Right? Right.

We begin in what must be the early noughties, the country is already in chaos thanks to an unpopular administration devoting more resources to overseas actions than people at home.  There are riots all over, a breakdown of law and order and a mysterious symbol, a star with a slash through it appearing everywhere (the symbol of the nascent Free States).  We begin with the man who'll be known as the Commander meeting some neo-nazi militia members, supplying them with guns.  He tells them "God and race don't have shit to do with me". They switch cars and he drives off with a big bag of cash.
Meet the Commander before he was the Commander.
We then get some newsflashes about the "slow death of urban America" as the infrastructure is falling into ruin due to massive budget cuts while huge amounts of funding are being funneled into the military to fund a "seemingly endless string of police actions."  The President is coming under threat at every public appearance., the NRA have allowed the carrying of assault weapons in public everywhere and the "homeland defence card is accomplishing nothing but a further disintegration of the fabric of American society."

We return to the Commander who ruminates that he has no time for the coming war, he'll steal from one group and sell to another and buy his way through it.  As he plans another heist he thinks about how the closest thing resembling the law out here is the ATF, and they're more like the Mafia than anything else.  Unfortunatel for him he's been made, and flees his truck with a shotgun and bag of cash, "not the plan".  He thinks about the American soldiers coming under fire elsewhere.

The Commander: "Stupid war, endless war, professional war, political war... the notion that starting a war is somehow a necessity. No wonder people are in revolt.  They got a war declared on the too..."

His impetus is to resist via "stealing" back what they are paying for through taxes.  A drone circles above and he thinks "so much for sitting the conflict out". Then we get a news flash regarding the FSA symbol, "rumours of its intent range from a benign student peace movement to nothing less than a violent insurgent army..."

He takes down one of the men hunting him, then escapes into the forest. He realises his face is probably all over the ATF network by now.  His fingerprints are in the truck.  Sitting there in the forest he wonders if he should give up, but then resolves no, "I'm not going to have my life or fucking death dictated to me by crooks and abusers".  He kills the other men hunting him and finds himself walking down a highway.
The soldier emerges.
A man reaches out from his car to him offering him a lift.  He's on his way to Minnesota where the FSA have a staging area. He says it's "a new government by the people, for the people, right? You with us?" The Commander pauses and when the man goes on to say its a fresh start for them and the country, he replies "in that case.. hallelujah brother". And gets in the car.

We join him months later having made it to New Jersey.  More newsflashes record the gains made by the FSA, there are no leaders or public position from them, it just has many small fronts in "this very unconventional conflict" as the National Guard bases fall to them, "the twilight of our hallowed union".  An anonymous soldier abroad is quoted saying they want to come home and fight to defend their country for once.

The Commander is getting frustrated at how long they have been camped out in New Jersey, he sees Manhattan as ripe for the taking and wants to move on it before the soldiers come home. But he is told to type up a proposal and submit it.  He mentally grumbles that the Free States was "once an army, now merely a movement.  I didn't join all of this just to generate paperwork."

The Commander: "This country is broken.  I'll be the first to admit that picking up a gun isn't always the way to fix something, but in this case the quicker we move past the fighting, the faster we'll be onto the next phase.  Bulding a better America.  The big payoff.  And I ain't redneck enough not to realise that Manhattan over there is the key to it all."

He mulls over how they have lots of men there, but every minute they delay is time U.S. soldiers are being flown back to the USA.  He pshaws the fact that people around him are congratulating themselves on bringing an end to some of the foriegn wars, " that's the point of what we're doing.  Like that'll be the END of it".

So he gathers together a group of men and whispers to them, "wanna go invade a city?" He builds a team and arms them, spent two days walking from Jersey City to Weehawken to get into position.  Then they find a van and drive into the Lincoln Tunnel, strewn with rubble and abandoned cars.  The power has been cut to the New York grid, the lights go out forcing them to use torches.  One of the men says in twelve hours the lack of power to the pumps will render the tunnel unpassable.  The Commander says they have a timeline then.
And the Commander is born.
They make their way forward, then they hear something and turn their torches off.  A gun battle in the dark against some soldiers down there ensues.  As he fires he thinks, "somewhere in that mile and a half of hell, I became a full convert... what I swore I would never be.  A true believer... Even as the army stalled in Jersey, the movement bloomed in my heart".

They see daylight and he organises them to find a way to get power back to the pumps. Then set up a checkpoint on the Jersey side.  "We fought for this tunnel, we're keeping it. People can start listening to me for a change".  As the others get to work he gazes out across New York City. "Time for the Free States to be an army again.  It starts here".  And that brings the prelude to an end.

FREE STATES RISING: We start with Matty taking some photos of the soldiers about to be deployed.    They sneer at him but he brushes it off, "smile for the camera, boys.  The whole world's watching".  He then thinks on how in the past thirty hours the U.S. has dropped more tonnage of bombs have fallen on the DMZ than in the last half decade of the war.  The whole world is "unequivocably on their side, the United States government finally opened the stockpiles".

The real battle is yet to be fought, the pretense this is all about Parco's army has fallen away, the U.S. want the FSA crushed and they'll go to war not FOR Manhattan but WITH it, in pursuit of that goal.  Making things hard for Matty who has grown to love the city and its people.

Matty: "I'm sure it has a proper name, something like Operation: United Homeland, maybe. But everyone knows what's really about to happen.  If the City of New York is the door that leads to the Free States Army... We're about to kick it down on our way through."

He's called into an armoured car at the front of a tank procession and taken to a U.S army command outpost.  The commander there says he has something to tell him, he didn't want this posting, it's going to be an ugly war and he'll never wash the dirt off, "I'll always be the guy who destroyed New York City.  This is the last command I am ever going to have."
Matty fully officially embedded now.
He says he gets why Matty is there, "the eyes and ears that'll legitimise the victory in the court of public opinion.  I fucking hate it, but I get it".  Matty says nothing. Then tells the commander he has his orders same as he does.   Ful access to briefings, full embed status, a secure, clean data line, a body guard detail and no movement restrictions says the commander.  Matty says he doesn't want the body guards.  He says he's no tough guy, he's lived here for six (no he HASN'T!!!) years and doesn't need them, what kind of message would it send.

Commander: "That you expect someone to take a shot at you.  That you deserve it.  Hey lighten up.  If it makes you feel any better.. I was havng a hard time finding men who would actually agree to protect your ass out there".

Later Matty is sent out to make a move on The Bowery with a squad of men.  He thinks about how he could tell them who controls the ground, their weapons and blindspots, give them a nightful of intel in less than ten minutes, "but so far no one's asking".

As they carry on forward, finally someone asks his opinion on the status of a street, but before he can give a full reply they are ordered to shut up.  They move to higher ground in a bombed out building.  Matty is still making notes.  When he says he isn't judging them but camping out in this building isn't an effective way to recon the street.  The soldier asks him aggressively "what do you know about any of this?"  Coolly Matty responds, "are you asking me an actual question?"
Out in the field.
Then we see him drawing a map for the assembled soldiers as he realises him being neutral and impartial is one thing "but standing by while these soldiers get themselves killed is another.  This invasion is happening, the army's here, and nothing is going to stop any of this... And if I try and deny that fact, I'm going to get people killed.  Again".  When he is asked if he is sending them into a trap, Matty responds that he has no friends in the DMZ anymore.

Next day after the bombers hit their targets they move out.  The strategy is "absurdly simple" a slow methodical sweep west across the Island, the blackhawks clearing the way for tanks and troops.

Matty: "So far, it's been quiet. The unspoken assumption on everyone's mind was that the enemy (who is the enemy exactly) is waiting for the army to get midway before closing from behind and on the flanks.  The only viable counter to that is to overwhelm with sheer numbers."

The U.S. has been slowly recalling troops the entire length of the war, the bridges and tunnels are crowded with U.S. soldiers entering the city, "so far, nothing at all from the Free States Army."

Later he is in Chinatown handing out medical supplies.  A young woman who was Wilson's lover calls to him.  Matty asks her where Wilson is, but she says "oh, you haven't heard".  Before she can continue, two armed men in suits come for him saying someone is asking for him. They take him to a secure location where the FSA Lincoln Tunnel Commander is shackled and will only speak to Matty.
And it's The Commander again.
Matty is told that he can go in and speak to him as he's "pretty fucking... resistant" to interrogation.  Inside the Commander greets him saying he only has himself to blame about his current predicament, "I was up to some shit".  He tells Matty to lean in close, and whispers right in his ear, "we found Parco.  We got him.  He's been in the DMZ this whole time, and we got him.  Wanna get the band back together?"

Tanks and men move through the DMZ, what looks like the Empire State Building has it's top blown off. Back with Matty he leaves the interrogation room thoughtfully.  He is asked what the Commander said, their mikes couldn't pick it up. Matty says he didn't tell him anything, he's not friends with the guy and Matty wasn't able to get anything from him.  He leaves, calling after him that they need to win the war and if the FSA is running some kind of operation behind their lines they need to know, "for.. you know, the good of the city".

Matty retorts that he might have believed him if he hadn't said the last bit.  He's well past the point of him having to listen to what anyone tells him, especially the U.S. military, "and so, with respect... you do what you have to do, and I'll do the same."  He then grabs a car and takes off on his own.  As he travels he thinks about all the crap the Commander put him through over the years and always get it to serve his agenda, it has to stop.  But what can he do?

He thinks back to what the Commander whispered in his ear, he tells him Parco is in possession of some "very interesting documents". Matty says that sounds tired, the Commander says it's a cliche sure "but so is 'faulty intelligence' and 'war criminal'"  He goes on to tell him the India Point detonation was a U.S. airstrike.  He says he couldn't care less about Parco and his nation, but he can be useful to embarrass the U.S. and gain some leverage.

The Commander: "You aren't Free States, Matty.  I know that.  But you're sure as shit pro New York City.  Take a look around... how much of it do you think will be left standing when this is all over?"

We then get a newsflash: It's Day Four of the Battle for Manhattan and soldiers are still pouring in meeting with little resistance.  Massive arms caches found many weapons foriegn made, pockets of insurgent activity still to be rooted out.  The President is offering a swift end to the final battle, "and a thorough one".  The U.S. commander says the soldiers are not their as tourists and New York is a field of battle, the news says it is impossible to judge how history will think of this conflict but it will likely "be tinged with profound sadness that I suspect we've only begun to realise."
Parco having hidden for two years, one year, several weeks, make your mind up Wood!
Back with Matty, he finds a house with a trapdoor, descends and finds a room with Parco standing in it.  Parco embraces him saying he's glad he came.  Matty then asks what the actual fuck?  Where has he been?  He demands to know how long Parco has been in with the FSA?  Parco says it doesn't really matter now and hands him a memory stick with the information implicating the U.S. in the India Point detonation.

Matty angrily says it was still his bomb that caused this.  And he put Matty up in front of the world and made him an accomplice.  Parco asks if he forced him?  "You made me believe in you" responds Matty.

Matty: "And I lost it all. I lost Zee, I lost five years of work.  I lost every friend I had in the city.  You cost me my soul".

Parco says he's lost everything too, he lives in a hole in the ground and has nothing.  He tells Matty to just read it when Matty questions if it'll prove the U.S. have no moral mandate and that Parco is an innocent man. Matty regards the stick quietly.

Then he says that Parco has a way of making people wanting to follow him to the ends of the earth, and he let everyone down and made it meaningless.  He says Parco pissed his power away and when he finally climbs out of his hole in the ground he'll see what he's done to the city, "that's your legacy Parco".  And he leaves.  In the car he reads the computer files and just says one word, "Christ".  Again he thinks, "Can I do this?  Do I have a choice?" as he rings someone up.
The U.S army sweeping through the DMZ.
We then see a few pages of the U.S soldiers versus armed DMZ citizens.  A newsflash tells us that the military deny any civilians are being hurt as they have been evacuated to safe zones, leaving behind only those dedicated to violence.  Also that bidding on contracts to rebuild the city have already started.

Then Matty drives to what's left of Chinatown, he meets with the woman who was Wilson's lover.  She is there on a day pass helping clear out some of the more difficult buildings, "helping them see the inevitable. Before the war I was a social worker". Matty asks her to tell him about Wilson with some difficulty thanks to the guilt he feels.

He thinks about Wilson, how his relationship with him was the "sanest" he had in the DMZ, "Did I ever think, even briefly, that he wouldn't make it through this war?  I don't think I ever did.  He's Wilson".  He wonders as he listens to the woman speak that did he ever know the real Wilson, or did he just know a fake Wilson put on for outsiders like him?  He wonders how the Wilson he knew could give up on his people and have them shipped across the river into custody.

Matty: "I feel like I'm missing some part of the puzzle. But then I realise that what I'm really missing - who I'm really missing... is Zee".

More newsflashes: Trustwell is on trial for many crimes including the assassination of a U.N amabassador.  There has been a settlement reached with the family of PFC Stevens, found innocent of the Day 204 massacre but dropped into the DMZ by members of his own unit and killed by a mob.  DJ Random Fire has a single debuting at number one in the French and Japanese charts...

More bombs fall, as Matty has some soldiers look out for Zee for him. Then the suited man calls him into where The Commander is being held.  He's agreed to give up Parco in exchange for his freedom. They've agreed.  Everyone looks at Matty.  He's asked if he has a problem with it.  Matty says "not at all", while thinking does he?  Did he want to be the one who gaving him up, or the one who saved him?  He had a friend at Kelly Connollys station hold onto the data stick for now as he though about his next move. He wonders what the FSA Commander is up to.

The U.S. commander sends in a team to retreive Parco, "history in the making people".  As they wait Matty can't understand what the FSA is playing at, after a multi-year operation supporting the only legally elected President of Manhattan and the proof of his innocence and everything needed to strip the U.S. of its mandate and bring the invasion to a halt, they give him up just like that.

The team call in and say they have Parco.  Matty is told there is no need of him there for now, and they all disappear into the room the FSA Commander is being held in.  Matty stops, and goes back and flips up the laptop screen still showing the inside of the interrogation cell.  As the FSA Commander asks for a ride back to Jersey, he is shot point-blank in the back of the head as Matty watches.
And that's the end of the FSA Commander.
We open the final part of this arc with Matty making one of his reports on how the war is going.  It's very one-sided so far. There's been a lot of resistance since the images of the executed Free States Commander were released, "part of the U.S. strategy is aimed at antagonising any enemy forces and getting them to appear out in the open."  Not many outside of the FSA knew who the Commander was but anyone in a leadership role is considered "high value".

Matty: "This is an ugly battle, which is saying something about a Civil War that has raged for close to a decade.  But the U.S. has taken its self-described mandate firmly in hand and has run with it... this is the end, now. And it'll be a decisive end.  No interim government or ceasefires.  The U.S. military action is so heavy handed... the U.S. army is a boot grinding down.. and when it lifts back up, what will be left intact?"

He goes onto say there are days left for the DMZ, New York City will continue to exist and what will the relationship between the city and a new American government.  "Does anyone expect, after all this... that we'll listen to anything they have to tell us?"

We then cut to an extraordinary military tribunal which has Parco Delgado on trial with no laywers or anyone allowed to speak for his defence.  He admits that the FSA supported his election bid, financially, covert militarily, he was meant to be their foot in the door, but he had no intention of being a puppet.  His presence as governor was to clear Manhattan of U.S. military, once that happened they would move through the DMZ on their way to their goal and Parco would be left to govern.
Parco on trial.
He's told he is being very candid, he responds that he knows the hearing is a formality and he knows what the outcome will be. He is asked about the violence and fraud that happened on election day.  He says he had nothing to do with it as he was in bed recovering from an assassination attempt, if it was Trustwell it's on them, the FSA didn't run it past him.

They move onto the nuke.  He says he won't deny he bought the nuke nor had it transported. He won't deny he used it to threaten and intimidate.  He moved it to India Point for security reasons, he never detonated it.  He is told there was a significant blast, "I just deny it was my weapon that caused it" he responds. The tribunal pause then ask if he is making some sort of accusation.  Delgado says he has proof.  "Where is it?  Well?" they ask.  Parco looks away.  Matty who is watching the trial looks thoughtful.

Later he sits by the Hudson river holding the memory stick.  He wonders what the lesson of all this is, "the truth at all costs... or that it's better to maintain the lie, because it'll end the war faster?"  He thinks about tossing Parco's evidence into the river.  "Couldn't I?  Could I? What would Zee do?"  And Zee comes and sits next to him.
Zee's always been his touchstone.
She mildly rebukes him for having the army find her.  But he says he has no one left in the DMZ to ask.  He then asks her what he should do?  She says hanging onto the Viktor Ferguson footage did no good in the end.  He says it kept them alive.

Zee: "It kept you alive, you mean. Did it end the war any faster? Did it make any of the players act any better? Did it prevent any of the horrible shit that's gone down in the last five years?"

She gets up saying he can think about the greater good and the truth, he might be able to boil that conflict down to a moral issue and bodies will still pile up in the streets. He calls after her saying the truth should count for something, she responds "it's time to end the war Matty.  The truth can wait for later.  Go take care of it".  And she departs telling him to find her later, she has a surprise for him speaking of truth.

He phones someone, then we see him negociating for Parco's freedom.  There will be a mock execution, then they can reuinite him and his sister in Haiti.

Matty: "And the story remains the same.  Parco is guilty, the mandate holds, the invasion plans continues... and you end the war."

Parco is never to be told it was him who arranged this as he doesn't want to see or speak to him, he stays in exile.  Matty is told that he has to hand over the Viktor Ferguson footage too, Matty refuses saying it's his lifeline.  But it's no deal without it.  So he tells them, end the war in six months and he gets it all, every copy.  He is then revealed to have been dealing directly with the President, "and son, if we're going to be one big happy nation again soon, I suggest you get in the habit of addressing me as 'Mr President'".
As he leaves the building his dad greets him, beaming from ear-to-ear.  He says to him that "you've helped end the war!"  Matty heads for the chopper telling him to "hold that thought".  His dad queries why he's going back.  "Reality check time" thinks Matty.  As we see the scenes of Parco being mock-executed and then flown overseas to a joyful reunion with Rose his sister, we also hear Matty's thoughts:

Matty: "The war isn't over. But its time has definitely come... and it doesn't even matter why. After all the years of chasing down truths, this is a lie I can maintain.  This is a cause worth the decption.  If nations can lie and manipulate to start wars, I can do the same to end one.  But what my dad wouldn't get is that the promise of an end isn't enough.  Even after the last bullet is fired, the last tank turns around, and ink on the peace deal is dry... we have a city to rebuild."

End of the war? Maybe. End of this arc, definitely!
The truth is sacrificed, so the city can be saved.
CITZEN ZEE:  It starts with Martel, the Trustwell soldier Zee rescued and healed and who apparently had become her lover, leaving Zee in the night leaving her a message saying the city is dead and she feels dead with Zee. There is an amnesty for Trustwell members and she is going back to them, "going back home to try and forget any of this happened.  You should too".  Zee sits with her head in her hands for a while, then collects her medical supplies bag and heads out thinking "but this is my home".

She starts thinking about the day five years ago she found Matty injured in the street after the news chopper he was on got blown up.  She dragged him to safety and patched him up while checking out all the cool gear he had, "the idiot had come bearing gifts".  As she tended to him she realises he must be press, "or someone desperately trying to be, anyway".  She justifys her taking him in as him maybe being useful to her.

Zee: "He's probably a little imperialist, like everyone else from across the river.  Come to speak to the natives.  But, like I said, he's got some power.  Clout.  Depending on what he does with it... he might suprise me."

Back in the present, she walks through the deserted streets.  She contemplates going back to family upstate, but eash time she does, "something pipes up from deep inside me...'bad idea' Zee".
Zee wanders the deserted streets.
She enters the New York Public Library and has a brief flashback to Matty listening to a Parco rally going out over the radio.  When he says he wanted to spend more time with her, which is why he isn't there, she responds with sarcasm.  In the present she thinks about Matty's "Delgado fixation". She told him he could have Parco or he could have her, knowing who he'd choose. Sadly she thought how Matty had potentional before he started carrying a gun as she collects Matty's notes she stored there and files them on another shelf fully labelled for him to come collect.

She thinks back to when she was first living with Martel, why she has carried Matty's notes for him when he never made an effort to come find her, "too busy playing warlord with his personal army."  Then she remembers seeing Matty make the call that got fourteen civilians killed, and finally the explosion at India Point.

Zee: "And now he's back, or so I hear. Matty Roth, just in time to end the war. They can have each other.  I'm DONE.  I've played my part.  I've carried the pain and suffering of this city on my shoulders for too long.  I've borne the brunt of exactly the sort of shit the Roths of the world dish out".

She leaves her medical bag and starts to walk away.  Then she hears someone feebly calling for help, she rushes back to her bag and goes to help him realising if she left now, what would it all have been for?   As she treats the man, she thinks finally, "Long after the Parcos, the Martels, the Roths and the like have left me... I'll still be here. Until the end of it all and whatever comes after."
But she just can't walk away...
So the penultimate volume has a lot to offer us.  The two-part prelude showing how the unamed commander transformed from a cynical mercenary, robbing all sides to make his way through is forced first by circumstance then by genuine, fire forged feelings to become the ultimate Free States warrior.  It's intriguing to see little glimpses of how crapsack this USA was before the Civil War finally broke out properly, who wouldn't appreciate a new government based on old Founding Father's ideology when you've lived in a crumbling mess of a country that only seems to want to spend money on the military and overseas police actions of which many more than in our noughties are full on warzones. "Citizen Zee" is a melancholy affair.  Yet with a hopeful ending, Zee cares enough to have stored all Matty's files meticulously labelled and in the famous New York Public Library to boot.  And her inability to abandon a man in pain and distress hardens her resolve which explains her telling Matty it's time to end the war in the main arc which comes after this one-shot speaking strictly chronologically.  And what an arc "Free States Rising" is, only four chapters but packs so much in as Matty twists and turns in anguish over when it is time to reveal the truth and when a lie should be maintained for the greater good. After all his playing soldiers and moping in the wilderness he's back where he started, being a journalist.  And it feels satisfying that he does use the datastick to cut a deal, a personal one, he saves Parco and gets an assurance from the U.S. President himself that the war in total will be ended in six months even though the DMZ is pretty much retaken, there is still the rest of the country to consider.  But denying the FSA their greatest prize and executing one of their leaders is a great stride towards the war ending in full.  But does it? And what will become of New York in the meantime?  Find out in a few days time for the final volume.


  1. Wow, another smorgasbord of ideas and influences to digest. Where to begin?

    "Let's start at the very beginning, that's a very good pla..."

    Oi, bog off, or I'll show you how *I* deal with a problem like Maria.

    I'll just throw out random musings and let it develop from there. Think we'll be revisiting this one a bit.

    Ok, the "Court of public opinion" bit. Now that's a quote from Adolf Hitler when he was on trial for the beirkeller puscht. So is there some deeper meaning there or is it just an easter egg? I am wondering how many more might be tucked away. Like an Alan Moore story.

    The idea of no go zones is reminiscent of the 'free fire' areas in Vietnam. Basically anyone in that area was deemed to be an enemy and could be fired upon without notice.

    I'll ponder more on the tribunal before commenting. Lots of issues there. Wish it was Wilson pulling the fast one rather than Parco though. I like how Matty's thoughts echoed my own. I'm guessing the writers realised Wilson was probably a very popular character, so it's a nice little epitaph.

    Some interesting parallels between the formation of the FSA and the American revolutionary army. They tried to run that as a democracy. Didn't work. Hence the appointment of officers, including that General Washington bloke. In one of those historical resonances, same thing happened in the English civil war. Hence the formation of the New Model Army and generals like Cromwell.

    The secret evidence has cropped up lots in real life too, as have the ethical dilemmas of what to do with it. You read 'Enigma'? That deals very well with the UK government coming into knowledge of the pre war Russian massacre of Polish officers. Do you go public and split the Allies? Won't spoil it for you in case you aren't familiar with the outcome of WW2. This is made more interesting though because of Matty's obligations as an ostensible journalist.

    I've been wondering if the President bit and the six months reference is anything to do with Nixon and Kissingers artificial extensions of the Paris peace talks. Might be seeing patterns though that aren't there. Still, death of the author and all that. Glad I now realise that's just a metaphor. Boy, was JK Rowling pissed off. Good security though.

  2. Heh you've just about summed up my current train of thoughts. I cannot brain well right now. I blame videogames. Ban 'em.

    I think what you've spotted is all most likely meant by the writer. Even if he can't get his time periods straight. What I liked as well about this one was the "settling accounts outstanding" newsflashes - Trustwell on trial, PFC Stevens done right by, even the DJ from a one-shot made it out and git successful. There's a real feeling of loose ends being tied up. I like that.

    As for world war 2, I thought it was good although that villian was abit over the top and the never before seen superweapon at the end was something of a deus ex machina. :P

    I think six months was just a length of time Matty thought the war overall could be ended that he threw out when challenged. The DMZ won't be in existence for much longer though, which will probably be where the series ends. If the book has been about anything it's been the story of a city, of New York. The only period we've spent outside it was the prelude in this volume.

  3. WW2? Phh, you casual. WW1 is what all the real war fans were into.

    I like the little tidying up exercise with the newscasts. Wraps things up (cos closure) but without diverting from the main story. I would be interested in a Jaka's Story type thing though, going over the same (UNIT dating controversy apparently) timeframe but from Zee's POV.

    I'm currently pondering whether Parco's hearing amounts to a 'competent tribunal' as required under the Conventions to determine whether he's an unlawful combatant. Of course if I was defending him I'd just go down the sovereign immunity route. The US did sort of endorse the election after all. Does seem a bit risky for the US to keep him alive though. What of he pops up n TV in six months time? Personally I'd have sent you into that room with your wrench.

  4. Well it's been nice dipping into others lives and Zee has remained a constant with three one-shots dedicated to her. I guess she has little to do with the politics of the DMZ unlike Matty so we'd mainly just see her out rescuing and treating people, not hobnobbing with Presidents.

    I did wonder about the legality of his trial, but a scapegoat was needed and he provided one. As part of the terms of his exile he can't even pnone anyone in the USA let alone visit so I'm guessing he'll be under covert surveillance for the final time. What about the execution of the FSA commander in his FSA uniform, how legal was that because it felt well dodgy to me.

  5. That execution was well dodgy. Regardless of clarification of the FSA he was entitled to convention protection and POW status as he was very much 'hors de combat'. You can of course execute enemy soldiers, as Nuremberg shows. But you can only summary execute in certain circumstances, none of which appear to apply here. Otherwise you need a trial. Of course there may have been a Bill of Attainder. They're not allowed under the US constitution, but I suppose that could have been amended.

    Churchill wanted to use an Attainder after the war for the Nazis. That's basically where you pass a statute saying various named people are to be executed. That's what they used for oliver Cromwell. Although as he'd been dead for ages the courts refused to take the case anyway. But anyway it was actually Truman and Stalin who persuaded him as to the advantages of a fair trial.

    If you want to know more about the issue of targeting military leadership then the shooting down of Tojo's plane is an interesting case study.

  6. Yeah I did think you'd know what was dodgy about it. I guess we can infer that because of the war this government had amended the constitution to allow for it. An ugly moment indeed.

    What happened with the shooting down Tojo's plane?

  7. Feeling a bit sick at the moment. You heard about the Manchester thing? Got a message a while ago on the roadie grapevine. Explosion at Manchester Arena. Crew ok but horrible scene. Full of kids. News now saying fatalities. It's funny, none of the London bombs bothered me. Even though I was on the tube in front of one thar blew up. But this has really shaken me. Think it's because it's kids who'd have been so happy and excited moments. :-/

    Ah well, welcome the distraction.

    Ok, so Tojo. Main Japanese strategist. Considered very able. US got intelligence he'd be on a particular flight. Unarmed transport but possible fighter escort. Big debate about whether to carry out what would be in effect an assassination. In end decided pragmatism outweighed legal and political considerations so sent up shed full of fighters to intercept. Shot the transport down.

    As for a constitutional amendment technically you need a quorum of States. Wonder how that would work with bits seceding. So guessing just a good old fashioned bit of war crimes there.

  8. I slept in today and didn't see what had happened until I just popped out to do some shopping and saw the front pages. I've been to that venue, lived in that city, my sisters and mum live there. Attacks on Manchester always hit me hard, and as you say, the fact it was teenagers excited at a pop concert makes it all the worse.

    So yes, distractions. Very interesting about Tojo, so there was precedent for the execution of the FSA Commander then. Also I wonder how the war crime tribunal would have preceeded if he hadn't fessed up to being propped up by the FSA. Probably would have had the same outcome.

  9. What's got me a bit (and you know my normal detachment) is the Guardian front page. Some guys from the crew helping people. Keep thinking how half an hour before they'd just be doing normal roadie stuff. Just another gig. Then bang. It's that juxtaposition thing again. Also a rather heartbreaking interview with some (Muslim) guy who'd just picked up his wife and 12 year old daughter as the bomb went off. They're now devastated as you can imagine. Wife catatonic, daughter crying. But this was her Christmas present. She was probably looking forward to this for months. And now she's been robbed of what should be one of her happiest memories. That's really got to me.

    But ah well. Ironically it does resonate with this story. The shattering effect of events on regular people's lives that they have no control over and no real understanding of. And especially the impact on kids.

    You know, when I was in London I was indifferent to the bombs. That's not just some stoic spirt of the Blitz cliché. Just partly that 'what are the odds'? mentality. But also a sort of "we bomb people, people bomb us. Fair enough" sort of thing. Like we're legitimate targets. But kids on what should be one of the happiest days of their young lives, that's what's so cruel.

  10. It's been hard reading about it, I had to stop after seeing the eight year old who died. Just closed BBC online and walked away as it were. Funny I was in Manchester the day after the 1996 city centre IRA bomb and was amazed at how no one had managed to die in that explosion, even with warnings. Shows how suicide bombings are a whole new level of disgusting.

    And you're right, DMZ does make it clear what it must be like to live in places where this is a daily occurrence not a rare atrocity.

  11. At a more appropriate time we can maybe discuss PIRA strategy and how they moved towards 'economic' targets rather than mass casualty attacks. I remember the south quay bomb. Heard that one go off. Ironically the one casualty of that, a war between Christian denominations, was the poor Muslim bloke who ran the tobacco kiosk.

    Ah people eh?

    The weirdest 'day after' thing for me was strolling around after 7/7 (all the courts had closed for a bit) and just finding myself in.Russell Square. The exploded bus was still there. That sort of brought the reality home a bit. Ironically moreso than being on the tube in front of one that blew up. It's going to sound weird, but up until then my only emotion was a bit of excitement. I suspect that's not uncommon though. There was like an adrenaline buzz in the air but no consciousness of danger. It's that 'what are the odds'? thing I mentioned.

    But this one has really hit home. It's that Christmas present thing. Can't get that put of my head. Poor poor family. And so many others going through that.

    Puts all the portrayals of this sort of thing n context an illustrates that thing about being 'respectful' (as this tale manages) as opposed to just using it as a background for fantasy heroics

  12. When me and my sister went into Manchester the day after the 1996 bomb, Corporation Street which was the street mostly affected was fenced off, but we stood and looked down it, with the over bridge from the Arndale to Marks hanging loose, the huge crater and blast damage to the buildings and it was so quiet. It was one of the eeriest damn experiences I have ever had in my entire life, and as I was at Manchester Uni, though not for much longer it was post exams packing up time, everyone I knew was pretty knocked for six by it.

    I spoke to my sister a little while ago and she said that it shouldn't make it worse that it was kids, but it does, it so, so does. I think about my nephews and can't even imagine how I'd feel if they were targeted. I hope the correct people get arrested. I hope the Muslim community doesn't suffer reprisals.

  13. The quiet is the weird thing. Just been reminiscing with some friends about 9/11. For various reasons we were completely oblivious to what had been going on. We were incommunicado in the upstairs backroom of a pub. We left about one am. Instantly though we sensed something wrong. It was just so quiet (this was fleet street so even at that time it should have been busy). Like day of the triffids. We even had that trope of seeing an evening standard newspaper poster "Attack on America". It was like "Huh?"

    Actually I'd never thought how tropey the experience was until just now.

  14. This had cheered me up a bit. Duffel blog today was sort of doing our war as media series thing. Basically saying Trump was canceling war on terror after bad ratings and people losing interest after main character Osama bin laden was killed off. I recycled my thing about hipsters but substituting Gulf War 1. Love this follow up comment from some American guy:

    "Falklands!" was good too. Typical BBC production. Short, punchy, and wrapped up in a finite number of episodes. But yeah the American stuff has more tanks.

  15. You know what I was doing when 9/11 happened? Sitting at my PC IMing my US army girlfriend with the news on. Realising something was up I went and looked at the screen. Aaaaand saw the second plane hit the tower. It remains the single most upsetting memory of my life. Then having to keep said GF updated on what was happening as all their communications with the Pentagon went dark (they ended up watching it unfold on the Beeb too). Which is why I find the whole thing being a government plot so ridiculous, the military certainly weren't in on it if it was. BUT JET FUEL CAN'T MELT STEEL BEAMS!!111 *sigh*

    Anyway, I like that comment about the Falklands. I read an amusing blog post a few years back about WW2 as a series, which I referred to up thread. Puts things in perspective somehow.

  16. Ooh, we've synched up. We've simultaneously made identical points on different Mammoth threads!

  17. Oh snap! I just read that, though I am fuming about the post about Pox Day and his vile views. Ugh, where's my wrench? Actually just played the part where I nine-ironed the leader of Rapture to death at his request. The wind goes out of the game's sails a bit after that point, and I wonder if that should have been the end. Especially as the final boss somewhat stretches belief IIRC. But what do I know?

  18. I'm really angry. And you know that's not me. Don't get me wrong, if I thought it was necessary I'd happily put someone through a wood chipper. But there'd be no animosity there. Just one of those things that needed to be done. Nothing personal mate.

    But this is annoying me. Like I said on Mammoth, the original act makes me despair but it's the responses that make me angry.

    And I also hate them for making me hate them. I'm normally cooler than that (unless of course it's animals, then I could out wrench even you probably)

  19. Yeah I think I am going to stay away from Mammoth for the rest of the day I'm getting one of my knife-in-the-eye headaches which usually means I've been getting stressed out.

    To change the subject, I'm fiddling about with my schedule on this blog for the next few months. I've enjoyed doing this series and I'm thinking of doing a Brit comics month, two months of random superhero nonsense (including Sword Of Sorrows), then doing another Vertigo series, this one called "Scalped" which is a crime noir thriller set on an Indian Reservation and runs to about ten volumes. Sounds good?

  20. Ooh, it's like sweeps week.

    That does sound good. You know I'm especially keen on finding out what you have to say about swords if sorrow. But that 'scalped' sounds intriguing too. I'll be able to discuss it with my 'Indian friend (tm)'.

    Yeah I should probably chill for a bit. Currently being counsellor/shoulder to cry on for another mate who's just broken up with someone (thought lesbians mated for life, like swans). Jeez, what a day.

    Yeah, hit me up with some warrior babes. Probably what I need right now.

  21. Then that shall be what I do. It was a toss up between Scalped and Ex Machina. But I just did a series devoted to New York and as Ex Machina is about a mayor of post 9/11 New York who has superpowers (and is about the only human who does) I think it's time to focus on a different part of the USA.

    You're Indian Friend might have some interesting insights. My America GF was half Sioux but her family was full military and she didn't know much about the Old Ways. It's quite a bleak comic, pulls no punches in it's depiction of reservation life, but also shows the upside of Native traditions and history too.

  22. oops realised why I was starting to feel so ghastly, forgot to stick on my fentanyl patch on Sunday and had started to go into massive opiate withdrawal. This is not a fun thing to experience.

  23. Yey. I love your client care. I'll give you another star on Yelp.

    I don't know whether to say "Oh you poor thing" or "Oh you daft bat"; but I'm glad you've now remembered your vital pain medication.

    I can't pretend I know a huge amount about Indian culture. Of course it's hugely diverse. It's like saying European culture. My friend's surname is Big Horse. How cool is that? I've obviously done the "Maybe it's big horse I'm a Londoner" joke. She didn't get it. There's a great documentary by Rich Hall called 'Inventing the Indian'. All about the myths and realities of Indian life in the US, both historical and contemporary. It is fucking awful how Indians are neglected and exploitated even today. I do quite like the Rez Dog subculture. It reminds me a bit of punk or skinheads (the nice ones). That embracing and celebrating of a lifestyle people look down on. And proudly taking the piss a bit. They do t shirts that look like calvin kline, but when you read them properly they say Custer Killer.

    To tie in scantily clad warrior girls there's a great comic called Wilde Knight. It's simultaneously laughably stereotypcal but also highly sympathetic. I just got it cos it was am artist I liked (was going to ask him for a commission, but then he died. Eek) but the story is quote good too. Basically Indian girl avenues murder of tribal elder by neo Nazis, by performing some ritual (cos all Indians know that stuff) which transforms her from a buckskin bikini wearing ordinary girl, into a (slightly different) buckskin bikini wearing warrior girl. It's all done in the best possible taste. And buckskin is notorious for its inability to restrain breasts during combat, so it's realistic too. The reviews in the Indian press varied from eye rolling to actually secretly enjoying it. Full of clichés and that classic 'Generikee' mash-up of completely unrelated Indian cultural attributes, but not unlike general comic clichés. Let's just be generous and say archetypes rather than stereotypes.

    The artwork is probably on-line. Dave Hooper was the writer/artist. She'll be the girl with the wolf.

  24. Hee, the main protag of Scalped is called Dashiell Bad Horse. I am interested in seeing how the story develops, like I said because it's a crime thriller it focuses very much on the worst aspects of Rez life. But like the Wire and it's focus on African American crime it's very nuanced and explains the reasons why problems on the rez are so rife. There is a white dude out there who used to spam every positive post about it on the much missed "Comics Should Be Good" by saying it was ghastly and offensive and shilling his own "respectful" comic instead. Hopefully I'm too little league for him to notice. That blog incidentally also introduced me to DMZ as well. He used to do things like "A Year Of Cool Comics" which would feature moments from varied comics over a year and cost me like a zillion quid.

    I quite like the sound of the comic of which you speak. Sounds fun!

  25. Ooh, track him down (see me keeping the Indian cliché theme) and invite him on board. Then we can channel Mrs Merton "Let's have a heated debate!"

    Heh, big horses and bad horses, but is there lurking out there a big bad horse? Or maybe the Wolf got dibs on that one.

    I saw an episode once of that Walker Texas Ranger. Gawd that seemingly had some groanworthy bits in. "I love Chuck Norris, but I'm not convinced of him as a half Texan half Cherokee"

    "You know he *is* half Texan half Cherokee?"


    But the portrayal of Indians in mainstream media is dire. That Rich Hall doc goes into that. It also showcases some films by actual Indians. Now I know you're always supposed to act like you appreciate stuff like that to demonstrate your progressive sentiments. But these films *were* brilliant. I suppose it's that thing where you've got next to no money so you just have to be better than everyone else. And thing is a lot of them were just films about Indians without being 'films about Indians'. Does that make sense? What I'm trying to say is its like Mike Leigh films are about working class people (who may happen to be northern) and their lives and struggles, not about northerners specifically. They might feature particular local themes but ultimately they're universal stories. Well these films were like that. And also there was one about a bloke who just kick boxes loads of anti Indian racists. Guess which is the highest grossing out of all of them?

    Yey, roundhouse kick to the teeth ftw!

  26. I like the idea of an Indian kickboxing racists. Funnily enough Mr. Bad Horse is trained in Jeet Kune Do so he does some asskicking himself. As I said I've only read half the series so far, but it does feel authentic. Right down to the mum of Dashiel being a Indian rights agitator who was involved in the death of two FBI agents back in the 70's which I believe is roughly based on a true story. There are people who do awful things in it and you can feel the tug of a people trying to hold on to their identity in a world that has pretty much abandoned them.

  27. I'm going to pontificate a bit about this, but to set the background yiu might like to listen to this;

  28. Ok, well that's a U2 song called 'Native Son'.

    'Oh you are silly Al' I hear you say 'that song's called Vertigo'. Well it is now, but with somewhat different lyrics. The original version is about a chap called Leonard Peltier and an incident known as the Pine Ridge Shootout. And that's the thing that 'Scalped' seems to be referencing. So why wasn't the original song ever released and why the lyric and title change? Well basically U2 were advised that it was just such a controversial topic that they risked alienating their US audience or at least getting into a lot of bother about it.

    Now if you're Indian then Leonard is practically MLK/Ghandi and Nelson Mandela rolled into one. If you're not then he's the guy who murdered two FBI agents. Now I was going to go into my big polemic about the incident, the legal cases and whether or not (a) Leonard actually did it and (b) whether he would have been justified anyway, but the Wikipedia entry seems quite comprehensive. I'm usually a bit wary of Wikipedia but the info there does tally with what friends have told me. So, some light reading for you...

    From what you're saying about Scalped I think knowing this background might give you a bit of context and make it all the more enjoyable.

    The Pine Ridge incident does permeate through fictional portrayals of indians. There's that film with I think Val Kilmer that's like a fictionalised or inspired account, and I seem to recall a few others.

    But perhaps I get ahead of myself, I'll wait until I actually read the bloody post before I start commenting on it! :-)

    (But I already have some stuff in reserve for our JKD friend)

  29. I shall peruse the article tommorrow because I did not sleep a wink last night, ended up finishing the Atlas Shrugged First Person Shooter Deconstruction Game of Massive Wrenches with the final achievement I needed at around 0700 and then headed into Manchester to see the folks so haven't had a chance to take a nap.

    Very surreal seeing six policemen armed with assault rifles outside Piccadilly plus a couple of dogs too. Funnily enough they didn't make me feel very secure. Manchester was half empty too, normally the walk down Piccadilly approach into the centre is somewhat trying for someone like me who hates crowds.

    I have remembered where I saw something dealing with the Pine Ridge incident. It was an episode of Criminal Minds where they go investigate some murders on Apache land, and the Indian rez cop who teams up with them is freaking crazy cool.

  30. Tssk, a gun fetishist like yourself should know the MP/5 and MP/7 are sub machine guns not assault rifles. They fire pistol ammunition from an open bolt. ;-)

    Yeah, just explaining to an American friend who wondered how long our 'severe' level was likely to last. Told her that it's usually about a week until we remember we're more scared of guns than terrorists.

    She liked the "We're British. I don't get scared until the threat level hits 'replacement bus service'" tweet that's doing the rounds though.

    Congratulations on your skull cracking achievements. Get some well deserved rest and we can catch up when you've come out of a 57 year hypersleep.

  31. Well I have to admit Part of me did want to go up and ask them about their weapons because, c'mon, half of me thinks GUNZ SQUEE! But I thought that probably wasn't a good idea so had to make a guess based on the shape. Did like that one of them was a woman shorter than me, she looked pretty badass as did the tattooed and bearded guy holding the dog's leash (lovely dog too, if I could have a dog German Shepard is my ideal one). But yes, still weird seeing them on the streets.

    Actually to keep myself awake long enough to fall asleep at bedtime I've dived into the sequel game. I have all the single player cheevos for it but it's just such a fun place to run around in. This time you play a monster with a drill for his main weapon, also fun. It's a commentary on communism, with the Objectivists gone after the events of the first game, a smooth talking English woman takes control with some whacky plan to form a gestalt mind from those left (I think, been a few years since I played it last).

  32. You have no idea how chuffed I am thar I figured out 'cheevos' from the context :-)

    'smooth talking English woman'. You self inserter you. Mind you (see what I did there) felt a bit gestalt when we did that synchronicity posts yesterday.

    Now you are engaging in mind control, would you mind making me get off my ass and do some exercise?

  33. Ooh I forget my gaming slang sometimes I do. Funny I was chatting with my mum who'd listened to a radio show about the specific language that has grown up around gaming. I do try and remember to translate back into English when I natter about games with non-gamers but sometimes I forget. My gaming life is ruled by acheivements. Not so much my overall score which is a fairly decent but not remarkable 88,000 odd. I care more about getting every single acheivement for my games, which I have managed for 32 games now. Which is pretty decent seeing as up until a few months back I had no access to Xbox Live and so it was single-player only games I concentrated on.

    Anyway, mind control. Bzzzz, you will exercise. Ommmm... no I don't think it's working. I can't stop thinking about the big bit of homemade chocolate cake on the kitchen counter. That can't help.

  34. Ooh, I must tell you one day about when we crewed the Wembley Arena segment of the world's biggest "Ommm" session.

    Ironically you have motivated me because now I want chocolate cake and it's a mile to the shop.

    It's once got 990 on Space Invaders, does that count?

    So when you do your xbox thing do you get to choose who you play with? Or is it just random folks online? Just wondering about all the abuse and stuff I've read about. Or do people know you're handy with a wrench and not mess with you?

  35. I haven't played online because it costs a sub and most play is on the Xbox One now (which I shall be getting for my birthday). But I know how it works. When you first buy your Xbox you create a profile which records all your achievements, game files, unlocked goodies etc. When you first sign into Live you have your profile registered remotely so you can then switch back and forth between the various machines and keep your score updated. People can read your profile see what achievements you have and so forth, Live has a variety of different settings for example you can simply choose to only play with people who are in your friends list (every ID is unique) if you're mucking about in a game or waiting for a download and a friend signs in you get a little pop up message and you can communicate via headset or typing. The notorious side of online gaming is just jumping into open games with just anybody which from what my mates on gaming wesbites have said are where you spend most of your time being sniped by a racist twelve year old all the time. Some games are way worse than others, Call Of Duty games seem to be the worst offenders for underage, rage quitting everything phobic assholes. When I get my Xbone I plan to play mostly Gears of War, that seems to have a better behaved fanbase. You only need a paid sub to game online, everything else on Live is free.

  36. Leeerroyyyy Jenkins!!!

    See, that's how down with the kids I am.

    That was interesting and informative though, so cheers.

    The nearest I ever came to cooperative gaming was in the era of point and click adventures. We'd all play the same game, then ring each other when we got stuck. Never done any of that real time stuff though. Probably just as well, I'd end up yelling at kids "Right you little bugger, I know where you live you know!" And I understand hunting down and beating up kids is frowned upon even in the anarchic world of videogaming.

    Anyway best hit the cake shop. Mmm, cake.

    Happy gaming. Hit someone with a wrench for me.

  37. In the end I got a battenberg.

  38. I nodded off now it's two, I'm wide awake and I just ate the chocolate cake which was gorgeous. Mind you battenberg is a fine choice.

    As for Leeroy Jenkins, I was playing World of Warcraft when that video was released. It's actually a very funny and astute parody of over-preparedness when it came to raiding. The setting off of every monster in the area by the titular Mr. Jenkins was just the hilarious icing on the cake.

    Now imma drill someone.

  39. There's something very homely about battenberg. Conjours up tea at your nan's and doyleys. Like how macaroons remind me of Alan Bennett for some reason. Great, now I want a macaroon.

    Speaking as someone who managed to drill into his own thigh (being daft, not some S&M thing) I can vouch for their effectiveness as weapons. So hope you're having fun.

  40. Heh, no long after I posted that my brain checked out and I woke up still gripping the controller. I needed more sleep I guess. And I just woke from a nap, so now I probably won't sleep tonight. I want to try and write up the final DMZ volume, I finished it on the train yesterday and got a little verklempt. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

    Afternoon Tea. My late maternal grandmother was a big believer in it. No matter how big lunch was, no matter what was gong to be for dinner at around four we got Afternoon Tea. Big pot of tea, cups and saucers, a selection of cake, fancies and buttered raisin bread. Best time of the day that was.

  41. Oh vey, mazzeltov. I need some sleep. Been stuck at work til nine most nights recently. I don't actually do that much whilst I'm here (post on Mammoth mainly) but it's the principle. Hopefully though a deal will finally complete tomorrow, then I can sleep all bank holiday. Although now I remember I'm supposed to be going to some arty do tomorrow evening. Hmm, I'll see if I get my second wind. I would like to see everyone.

    One of my favourite tea experiences was in Simpsons in the Strand. Now that's not somewhere I used to frequent a lot I must confess. Occasionally went for brekky if someone else was paying. But went for tea once. They bring posh cakes on one of those stand thingies. Now you're just paying for 'afternoon tea', it's not per item. Apparently the etiquette is you just take one, and two at the absolute max. But of course I just dragged the place down to an all you can eat sort of affair. Well, it's not like I was bothered about ever going back there.

  42. Aaaand I just woke up again. I'm blaming my lady hormones now. And the heat. Been to hot for might liking, that's what happens when you are raised in the Arctic wastes of Buxton.

    Now if I was presented with an selection of cakes and the option to eat as many as I could I'd definitely go for it. Unless my mum was there looking disapprovingly, then I'd have to play along.

  43. I went all soft and southern after about five years in London. I actually remember the exact moment. Going back oop north, got to Leicester Forest services and had to put a jumper on. Even worse being down here. Flew up for Julia's birthday party. It was snowing! And all I had on was beach clothes and Converse. (I rang Julia to say hurry up, so she deliberately parked just round the corner so she could spy on me shivering my ass off and laugh. Probably marry that lass one day!)

    We've pressganged a mate's daughter to help at work. She's well into her video games. Actually got some related degree. But thanks to all your educating me on gaming she thinks I'm well cool. "Yeah, well once you've got all your cheevers it's nice to explore the sandbox innit"

    Looking forward to the weekend. Although this is the start of the tourist season, so gets heaving down here. And I literally live at the seaside. Got the opportunity to move into that massive place in Truro though so if it gets too horrendous might up sticks. I do like the sea, but ironically I prefer it in winter when it's all spectacular (and living in my hallway occasionally).

    Got a tip-off that deal will deffo complete tomorrow. Hope so, then I can just chill. And go to that art thing with nothing nagging away. That should be really cool. They're like an old hippy pagan couple and they even have real standing stones on their land. Well, they're currently toppled but they're letting me put them back up. So when you see the headline "Squashed idiot's last words were 'No, *this* is how they would have done it in the neolithic'" you'll know I started.

  44. We didn't have central heating in our Buxton house. I remember going to Uni and being amazed at what it felt like to be warm at night. God that house would get cold. Icicles on the inside type of cold.

    So you get swamped by grockles eh? Buxton is a tourist town too, we might not have had a beach but we had plenty of lovely hills.

    I'm glad my gaming tutelage is paying off, just remember if she has a PlayStation Achievements are called Trophies. I'm finishing up the second underwater city game. Then mum bought me a Sherlock Holmes game, which is like the CSI game. ots of detectoring and no need for reflexes, I intend to chill out with it over the weekend, although I am going to an Erasure concert in Manchester on Sunday.

    Glad to hear your deal is almost done. Don't get squashed!

  45. Well if we're going "Four Yorkshiremen"...I lived in a house once so cold that I just used to go in the shower for hours on end to be in hot water. Then there was having to face up to getting put of it into the cold again. I used to pre-prepare (is that actually a word?) a stash of towels and blankets ready to jump into.

    That place was on the street the Brontes grew up on (before they moved to Haworth). Someone had graffiti'd their old house with "Fuck off Bronte cunts". That's when I decided I wanted to move out of Bradford. (You do sort of have to admire that level of pointless animosity though)

    Yeah, the population literally doubles. Cue debate about second homes and affordable housing.

    Trophies, gotcha. Seriously though you really have taught me loads. Also I can understand what my comic superhero obsessed mate is on about now. She's the one who's now got your back thing. Hmm, comics sound dangerous. That's probably just for girls though.

    That sherlock game sounds great. I think I'd enjoy that. We used to play a sherlock board game. It was a bit like a hyped up Cluedo. There'd be a mystery and you'd go around picking up clues. Ooh, now I want to play it again.

    If I don't speak to you before enjoy Erasure. Ooh, sometimes...

    Gah, and I'd only just got flock of seagulls out of my head.

  46. You had a shower? Luxury! Our boiler was so small you couldn't fill a full bath before it ran cold again :D

    I haven't started the Sherlock Holmes game yet. So tired and I still have to write up the final DMZ. The last Sherlock Holmes game I played was fun though, just one case investigating who was Jack The Ripper. The person doing Holmes's voice was amazingly fruity it made me laugh all the time.

    I'm looking forward to Erasure. Going with mum, sister no.2, her boyf and his sister and mum.

  47. Well, I say shower, it were more a hole in the roof that we set fire to when it were raining.

    Gah, that thing didn't complete. Horrible day. Lots of slamming phone down on irate client (we're friends again now). Couldn't muster the energy to go to that party. But rang my.artist apologise and he's said come up anytime in the week. So that'll be nice.

    Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper. Grrr, really wish we'd got off our arses and finished that comic idea. Ah well, history is made by people who turn up, as they say.

    But Holmes, fruity? He lives with an ex soldier. Can't get any more macho than that.

  48. Sorry to hear your thing didn't go through. Sounds very frustrating. I'll be posting the last DMZ post at sometime round midnight. Or the morning, depending when I go to bed.

  49. Uh turns out today was the day I was supposed to post this, time definitely is bendable for me right now. Enjoy it when you get a mo :)