Well, that's a coincidence, isn't it? The 2010 Edinburgh Festival has just started, and here I am with a new book of reviews covering my Festival visits throughout the Noughties. You'd almost think I planned it that way, or something.
Just a quick interlude in the middle of the Rising Monkey 2010 posts: expect the final two of those to follow fairly soon. (And I actually mean that, not like the last post of the China 2009 writeup, which is threatening to be one whole year late...)
When I announced the publication of my first book at the tail end of last year, I did warn you it wouldn't be the last, didn't I? Of course I did. My long-term plan, in fact, is to publish a new volume every two months throughout 2010, plus an extra one at Christmas for those of you looking for stocking fillers. By the end of the year, I plan to have eight of these things on my shelf. How many you have on your shelf is entirely up to you.
Anyway, as it's more or less two months since the last book came out, it's time for the next one in the series. The title is reasonably self-explanatory, I think.
Oh, all right then, here's a bit more explanation for you.
In certain circles, it was the buzzphrase of 2009. It was the work of designer Matt Jones, who'd noticed how the old WW2 propaganda poster Keep Calm And Carry On had mysteriously come back into vogue this year. You can sort of understand why such a message might be popular in these times of economic embuggerment: but Jones thought that what was actually needed was something a little more proactive. Some extraordinary art and invention has emerged from times of crisis, so why can't that be the case now?
Meanwhile, elsewhere in 2009, there was me. I've spent much of the past year on the Spank Gold project, writing up my artistic experiences from a self-defined Year Zero of 1989 up to the point when the first Spank The Monkey website started in 1998. Put all that together, and I've now got a full record of the last two decades of my cultural life on the internet. But... now what? After all, it's just the internet.
The answer to that question eventually came from that guy Warren Ellis who keeps turning up here. Aside from writing comics, fiction and content for twenty or so websites, he's also a keen observer of cultural and technological trends. He picked up on the whole Get Excited And Make Things meme, and used it to test out some theories he had regarding one particular trend. I watched him put his money where his mouth is, realised that what he was doing didn't actually cost him any money, and, well...
What's that you say? Updates have been a little sparse here since the beginning of the month? Well, I'm sorry about that. It's probably got something to do with how I FRACTURED BOTH MY BASTARD ELBOWS last week. Went arse over tit on the iced-up approach to a station, since you ask. (There was a lot of it about in the UK at the beginning of February 2009, to the extent that this BBC News report looks like snuff porn to me right now.)
Anyway, you'll be pleased to hear that they were both minor fractures: I came out of the sling today, and I'm currently just sitting at home feeling a little bit sorry for myself. And while I'm in this situation, I can finally see the point of those miserable confessional memoirs that the bookshops are full of. You may have ugly bruises and achy forearms, but at least you can take comfort in knowing you're not being serially raped by all the members of your family. All I need to do is find a book whose opening paragraph makes me feel better about myself, and I'll be on the road to full recovery in no time.
I was born, by breech birth, in a run-down shack, after having been choked on the umbilical cord for half an hour, and was promptly dropped on the floor by the doctor, and when he went to pick me up inadvertently kicked across the room. It was to set the tone for the rest of my life.
Just how bad is The Onion Movie? I haven't seen it myself, but the warning signs aren't promising. For a start, it's a film based around the rock-solid brand of The Onion, the best-loved comedy site on the internet: and yet you probably haven't heard of it. That can't be good. Nor can the fact that it's been sitting on the shelf since 2003 before quietly creeping out on video this year. In the UK, they've even changed the title to News Movie, because they genuinely believe that it's a good marketing strategy to fool people into thinking that it's one of those piles of shit from two of the six writers of Scary Movie.
Up until recently, I would have added one further proof of The Onion Movie's cast-iron crapness: Steven Seagal is, apparently, the best thing in it. In a short movie trailer spoof he plays a parodic version of his usual stock character, a man who brings justice to the world through his mastery of a little-known martial art. (It's a trailer for a film called Cockpuncher, by the way.)
Yeah, Steven Seagal. Let's all laugh at the tubby has-been action star, but do it somewhere anonymously on the internet so he can't track us down and break our wrists. I used to think like that, once. But Vern - the author of Seagalogy: A Study Of The Ass-Kicking Films Of Steven Seagal - has persuaded me that things may be a little more complicated than that.
I kept telling The Belated Birthday Girl that one of these days, we needed to see a Ken Campbell live show. The last occasion was even documented here, when it was announced last August that he'd be at the Edinburgh Festival doing some late night shows with improv musical group Showstopper. Unfortunately, there was no way we could fit him into our schedule, but we consoled ourselves with the knowledge that he'd doubtless be turning up in London again fairly soon.
By the end of the month he was dead. A Ken Campbell live show is now, as far as I'm concerned, exactly equivalent to pre-Katrina New Orleans: one of those wonders of nature I wanted The BBG to fall in love with the same way that I did, but events have conspired to ensure that it'll never happen.
Originally posted on The Unpleasant Lair Of Spank The Monkey 11/12/2003.
Gaiman has dabbled in comics again on a couple of occasions since this book, with 1602andEternals for Marvel. I don't believe he has any plans to return to the Dreaming in the forseeable future, even though lots of people hoped he might in 2008 for the 20th anniversary of the first issue of Sandman.
Meanwhile, if you want to catch up on Morpheus' earlier adventures, they're collected in the luxury four-volume Absolute Sandman set. See Amazon links below.