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March 2011
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May 2011

Easter Parade

If you want to do it exactly the way we did, add some cooked quinoa to the stuffing. Yum. Traditions were made to be broken: and eagle-eyed readers of this site may have realised by now that I broke a couple of them last Christmas. For one thing, there hasn't been an article about VidBinge 2010, because there wasn't a VidBinge - it proved too difficult to get enough of Spank's Pals in one place at the same time last December. For another, I still haven't got around to writing about what The Belated Birthday Girl and I did over the festive season, mainly because I've been too rushed off my feet to get the words together. (Short answer? We stayed at home. We made ourselves a rather lovely stuffed pumpkin as illustrated with some nutty Brussels and roasties on the side, watched a series of carefully-chosen thematically-linked double-bills, and had a very nice time all round. There, that's 2000 words you don't have to plough through now.)

But our big Easter tradition has evolved slowly over the last decade, and is proving more difficult to shake off.

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Axe Cop

'King Evilfatsozon! Now we have brought you this baby all the way from Earth, what is your plan?' 'My plan is to take this baby and throw it at the Earth! Then the Earthlings will think it is an alien and will want to fight it!' 'Wait, what?'We’ve had quite a few comics reviews on here so far this year - well, two - and here’s another one. And there’s a definite pattern to be observed, one which I made explicit as far back as my review of The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen in 2000. "As has become traditional in these comics pieces, the artist gets a throwaway mention in a couple of paragraphs towards the end. One legacy of Alan Moore's work is that serious analysis of comics nowadays ends up focussing far too much on the writer, at the expense of the person or persons responsible for how the thing actually looks." As if to illustrate my point, notice how neither of those sentences mentions artist Kevin O’Neill by name.

Wouldn’t it be nice if, for once, I wrote about a comic in terms that focussed more on the artist and less on the writer? Absolutely. Unfortunately, the USP of Axe Cop is that its writer is five years old, so that’s not going to be happening today.

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MOSTLY FILM: Man vs. Chick

The logo's still under construction: in the meantime, here's Mr Moth's excellent image for Mostly Film's holding page, a Wordle constructed out of various people's suggestions for the site title The story so far. A month or so ago, The Guardian closed down all of its talkboards with literally no warning. Opinion is still split as to why this happened - most theories involve the intervention of lawyers at a very high level, so let's play it safe and not go any further into that. But this action left several groups of people high and dry, including the Film Unlimited crew that I'd spent many happy years with both online and offline.

People moved fast during that first weekend after the closure, and within 48 hours many of the regulars were gathered on a temporary messageboard wrapped in metaphorical blankets and sipping on virtual cups of hot sweet tea. And the question was asked: where do we go from here? The temporary board was all well and good, but it was a private affair limited solely to members of the old FU environment. One of the things that made FU so vibrant was that it was linked to an established media outlet: people came to read reviews and articles on the Guardian site, noticed that there were discussion boards attached, and stayed to chat. If we were just a talkboard with no articles to talk about, we'd die out pretty quickly.

So... welcome to Mostly Film.

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Simian Substitute Site for April 2011: The Monkey Bar

The Monkey BarMONTH END PROCESSING FOR MARCH 2011

Comedy: The second series of Limmy's Show has finished on telly now, and enough time has passed for it to have dropped off the BBC iPlayer. If you missed my warning in the comments section about how good it was going to be, there are plenty of dodgy clips available on YouTube. Alternatively, you could go back to the source - Limmy's World Of Glasgow, a series of audio podcasts he released on a daily basis back in Autumn 2006. Plough through the nine and a half hours of MP3s on this site, and you discover plenty of characters and situations that Limmy would rework on telly a few years later. (They make for some interesting comparisons: for example, the six minute video version of Dee Dee's trip to Yoker, and the twenty-two minute audio version.) There's also lots of material that's exclusive to these podcasts, including a whole magnificent strand featuring the adventures of Benjamin from advertising agency BAMN Concepts. I commemorated the death of Elizabeth Taylor by listening to the podcast describing her involvement in a promo stunt for Arden Botox. Don't judge me.

Internet: Speaking of Limmy, one of the sketches in his new series - a documentary clip covering the new teen craze of Clowning - inspired me to go back to the video editing software after a few months away. Thanks to the miracle of cut and paste, I can honestly say that This One's For The Clowners took me less time to make than it does to watch. "Cracker!" was the response from Limmy himself on Twitter, although he paranoidly deletes all his old tweets every few days so I've no real way of proving that. If language guru Elisabeth Smith had a Twitter account, I could send her a link to the other video I've made this month, Bus Doesn't Register. It lightly takes the piss out of the way that her One-Day language CDs (recently rebranded as Last-Minute) all use nearly identical scripts. It's been a long-standing in-joke between myself and The Belated Birthday Girl for some years, and now it's out there confusing the rest of the world. Put those two together with my Gordano video, and it would appear that TheSpankTM's YouTube account has gone a bit peculiar. I kinda like it.

Theatre: Danny Boyle's production of Frankenstein at the National Theatre is the hottest ticket in London right now. If you know anything about it, then you know about its central casting gimmick - Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller alternate between the roles of the doctor and the creature from one performance to the next. It may seem to you like a fiendish ruse to make people watch the play twice, and in fact that's just what I've done: I caught Cumberbatch's creature in an early preview at the National, while I saw Miller's monster during one of the NT Live relays transmitted to cinemas all over the world. For my money, the latter arrangement is the one you should aim for. Miller explained in a short film before the NT Live performance how he'd been studying his two-year-old for movement tips, which makes perfect sense: his creature undergoes the equivalent of the first twenty years of a human life compressed into just one, and he calibrates its increasing maturity perfectly. Meanwhile, Cumberbatch comes off best as Victor Frankenstein, playing him as an arrogant genius frustrated at how the rest of the world fails to recognise him as such: anyone who saw Sherlock on TV last summer will know he can pretty much do that in his sleep. It's not a perfect production by any means - Nick Dear's script doesn't do any favours to anyone who isn't one of the two principals - but Cumberbatch and Miller are both strong enough to make it a terrific night out. If you can get in, of course.

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