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Rowan Morrison

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Everything posted by Rowan Morrison

  1. Oh, man, mentioning Shaun Hutson made me go off and see if his website had been updated, which before long led me to rereading the summary of Slugs on Wikipedia, which is much quicker and just about as much fun as reading the book itself. And there I found this slice of gold: Brilliant! I wonder if he wrote the synopsis himself.
  2. Cheers. Looking back, the first half of The Outsider was a genuine couldn't-put-it-down experience, but it's like being drawn in by a well-told joke that doesn't have a punchline. It also has one of those faintly annoying real-life cameos when Harlen Coben pops up, and one of the characters imagines how he would resolve the case if it was a book. As it turns out, he might just as well be wondering how Shaun Hutson would resolve it (throw his typewriter at it, most likely).
  3. I read Stephen King's The Outsider over the weekend, having seen it on someone or other's recommended list. It's an odd one - I went into it with no info beyond the vague details in the recommendation, so I wasn't sure if it was a supernatural book or a straightforward mystery or what. And the first half is very compulsive reading - short chapters that briskly set up a really intriguing situation. But after a few of those I started thinking well, this is going to go one of two ways. Either it's a mystery book and King is going to have to come up with a really clever resolution, or it's a supernatural book and he'll be able to just sweep it all aside. And these two options are in fact discussed by the characters, and I don't think it's really a spoiler to say it's a supernatural book, and he just sweeps it all aside. So from about halfway, and certainly in the final third of the book, it's firmly spooks and ghouls territory. Which means that all the careful setup is arguably a waste of time - when you know the answer is going to be supernatural, you can safely be as baroque and byzantine in your construction as you like, safe in the knowledge that you won't have to write your way out. It was a disappointment, and felt a bit cheap on King's part, even though it was typically well-written - although he does flirt with self-parody with the small-town ramblin' dialect in the police transcripts that feature heavily early on. This is excused by a brief detour into luchadore b-movies. An easy, enjoyable read, as you might expect, but the second half can't cash the cheques written by the first. It does make me wonder if I'd enjoy the Mr. Mercedes trilogy, which this is partially spun off from. I'm not really up to date on recent King books.
  4. Digital doesn't work for me with comics, I don't think the tech is there at the moment. I'm fine with a Kindle for 'pure' text, but I don't want to be reading comics on an iPad or laptop screen - I want the whole page in front of me, for a start, and I want the texture. But then a lot of what I read is older stuff, where the medium was factored into the art - newspaper comics were created for newsprint, and four-colour comics were created for cheap paper and crude printing. Sometimes that can come across better in digital - with 50s EC comics, for example, a well-scanned original page looks far better than some of the recoloured, glossy physical archives published by Dark Horse. But those original scans tend to be illicit fan efforts, not the official release. I guess modern comics that are created digitally probably look great on a device, and I can see the appeal of being able to zoom in on the art, for example. The potential is huge - a digital Artist's Edition, where you could layer the pencils and inks, cross-reference influences and references, and have stuff like Amazon's X-Ray available would be amazing. But for standard buying and reading, I still want the real thing. I've no doubt digital will get there eventually, but for me there's a way to go yet. The best digital comic I've seen, actually, was the CD-ROM MAD archive I bought in the early 2000s. The interface was bad, as was the style at the time, but it had good quality page scans and a comprehensive index, so you could easily find all references to a person or topic over almost 50 years of content. That was a huge deal, and I could see a similar approach working well for something like Love & Rockets, for example - tracking characters and their interactions, being able to easily switch between original publication order and collected storylines, bookmarking panels, adding notes, searching OCRd text... these are the things I want from digital comics. Not having my life threatened by teetering, overloaded bookcases, slippery piles of comics on the stairs or an infuriated wife are really side-issues at best.
  5. It was far too hot to achieve much over the weekend, but I did listen to two of the Lover discs and they sounded fine to me, given that they were full of wild scratching and already vibrato-heavy analogues - not really the best material to detect fluctuations, but certainly nothing that made me think anything was wrong. I'm pretty sure I'd know if the beat was fluctuating at the end of Egypt, Egypt, so either I'm right and it's fine or I'm wrong and I'm blissfully ignorant. It'd probably be more meaningful to measure the radius from the hole in four quarters, come to think of it.
  6. I only picked it up yesterday so all I've managed so far is to read some of the booklet, but I'll be ploughing through it at the weekend at the latest. Be advised that I am in no sense a vinyl connoisseur, I'm mainly in it for the ritual power of inconvenience, and to appear ostentatious. Obviously this particular release ticks all my boxes.
  7. This is a PSA: I found HMV's online store selling the fantastic Egyptian Lover box set from Stones Throw for £33 - at least £12 cheaper than the nearest competitor. I expected it to be one of those eternal backorder situations, but it turned up a few days later at my local store (free delivery). This is something else.
  8. When I discovered 50v50 I played a lot of that, figuring it was a chance to practice and have some support. But I think it's better to play solo, because you'll get into scraps sooner and you'll either die quickly or win, either of which is fine. In the larger team games you'll get a good selection of stuff, but by the time you meet the enemy you'll probably be up against seasoned veterans and you'll die, and it'll hurt more because of all the preparation you've done. I went back to solo the other night and got five kills, after game upon game of no kills in team mode. Back into 50v and by the time I died it was so hectic nobody had time to heal me. It was salvaged by one of my killers spraying a chalk body outline on the ground; I crawled into it for the final headshot, so at least I contributed something.
  9. By the way, while I can't really comment on the soundtrack until I get a chance to listen to it, I can't recommend The Ballad of Shirley Collins as a film highly enough. No matter what kind of music you love, it'll qualify and strengthen that love.
  10. Having to travel 350 miles in a heatwave for a conference I have zero interest in has led to therapy vinyl purchases: Of course now I have to take them back on the train, but fuck it. That'll show 'em.
  11. I knew nothing about any of that, but seeing this quote from DC: "BATMAN #50 is one of the best single issue periodicals of the last decade" followed by the note that the issue will have "a striking amount of variant covers" gave me a good laugh, so I'm glad I read about it. Batman used to get married like every other week in the fifties and sixties. I'm pretty sure he's been married to the Joker a few times. Come on, DC, put your back into it.
  12. @Pistol - yeah, people do seem to skip ammo boxes a lot. Which is weird, because I quickly figured out that topping up ammo is vital. I only generally harvest wood, but that's basically an attempt to make my life easier by not having to switch materials. I had no idea it was stronger earlier on, so that's handy. I'm also swinging my axe constantly whenever I'm in a house. I was thrilled over the weekend when I managed to retreat into an attic in enemy territory and down two players with a spike trap. I strongly suspect they were healed shortly after their teammates came through the roof and slaughtered me, but they were too late because I was already pleased with myself.
  13. My dad's record collection was 50% Western soundtracks and 50% war themes, though generally courtesy of Geoff Love rather then the original artists. He had a copy of the Paint Your Wagon soundtrack by the Mike Sammes Singers, and one day after I got the old record player in my room, I played Wandrin' Star so many times in a row that he came and took it away from me. And you've also got They Call the Wind Maria, before you even start on the Eastwood tracks. So in conclusion, your analysis is faulty and 40p is the bargain of the century. However, the best thing to come out of all this, possibly tied with the Simpsons version, can be found here:
  14. Whoa there, Morbius may be D-list in terms of the MCU but his comics pedigree is top-tier; he's been handled by Roy Thomas, Gil Kane, Steve Gerber, Doug Moench and the brilliant Tom Sutton, among others. There were some beautifully drawn Morbius stories published in Vampire Tales in the 70s, all gibbets and fog and Gothic atmosphere. There's loads of potential in a Morbius film, although of course this one will be rubbish. Check it: http://diversionsofthegroovykind.blogspot.com/2015/01/black-and-white-wednesday-where-is.html
  15. I remain terrible at this, but maybe it's for the best. Last night I was playing the new five-teams-of-twenty mode, and I'd just made it into the second safe zone. As usual I'd put together a pretty decent set of items that I was fully expecting to have ripped out of my hands the moment I saw an enemy. But as I turned around, I saw someone crossing a river just ahead of the storm. It was quite a distance, but I popped off a couple of shots from an assault rifle and landed two hits, after which they backed behind a tree. The storm was moving on, so I knew they'd have to do something, and eventually they ran out towards the hill cover opposite. I knew I could hit them from where I was, so I took my time and killed them halfway across the river. The storm stopped just short of their corpse, so I ran down to loot. Bear in mind this was after two safe zone shrinkages, and I, a complete oaf, had cobbled together two blue weapons, a purple, a gold and 50% armour. The corpse was carrying two things: a small pile of wood and a small pile of stone. My first thought was that I'd killed a seven year old who was just trying to learn how to build, but I quickly remembered that it was just as likely to be a grown human man, like me a couple of weeks ago, and I was probably going to be comprehensively slaughtered by a seven year old before the match was through. Still, I felt bad, you know? And my opportunities for not feeling bad in Fortnite are few and far between.
  16. Ah, War Heroes - that and Crash Landing used to be the Hendrix equivalent of Whipped Cream. Peter Gunn Catastrophe is a sampling waiting to happen, I don't think anyone's had a go yet. Exciting delivery yesterday - a long overdue copy of The Other People Place's Sorrow and a Cup of Joe, one of my all-time favourites, and the newly discovered James Stinson / Transillusion 12" A Moment of Insanity, which I was keen to pick up while I could. Haven't had a chance to listen to them yet - in fact I've got a stack of unlistened recent grabs I need to catch up on, including some of Arrow's film score releases and the 3-LP Laraaji retrospective. Hours in the day, etc.
  17. Nigel you div. You've learned nothing! I remember this farrago from my relative youth.
  18. Well (post-floor-5 spoilers) - The Stoics would have a field day with this game.
  19. The free challenges were pretty meh once they unlocked for me - play 50 games, be in ten games where you shoot at least one person, etc. etc. All basically grinding tasks that you just do as part of general play. I guess they mainly serve as a taster for the season pass, though it'd surely make sense if they showed you the season pass challenges, to tempt you in. I can see decent challenges being a solid addition, as most of my games amount to 15-20 minutes of gathering excellent gear followed by emptying my best weapon in the direction of a child and being one-shotted in return. If I could get some positive reinforcement from kicking footballs around along the way, I doubt it'd hurt.
  20. Yeah, for most sequencing requirements the SQ-1 is an excellent choice. The DT has loads of inputs and outputs for more sophisticated cross-patching (e.g. reset in/out, and CV in for transposition), and is as well-engineered and robust as you might expect from Doepfer, but I'd say it's very much a product from the pre-SQ / Beatstep era. It's in an awkward middle ground now, halfway between the budget options and stuff like the Cirklon. I probably wouldn't buy one nowadays, but I keep it because sequencers are always useful.
  21. All my MIDI cables are cheap junk that's still working after 20 years, so I'd just go for it. Actually I do have a fancier long one for special occasions, but otherwise it's reliable crap all the way. Of course crap from 20 years ago might be more robust than today's modern crap, I couldn't say. One consideration is that some cheaper MIDI cables can be wired just for MIDI, which means they don't work if you later want to use them for DIN sync. Do you have a Field Kit? I'm sorely tempted by it, more so than the FX version. I've got an Ears in my modular rack for contact mic experiments, but the Field Kit would expand all that significantly. The SQ-1 is a gem IMO - I've also got a Doepfer Dark Time, which in many ways looks like a premium alternative, but in practice the SQ-1 is far more usable and malleable, and a quarter of the price. The Doepfer delivers on connections and ergonomics - it's far better equipped to interact with a modular rack, for example, and the knobs are great (the switches are fiddly, though) - but it has nothing to compete with being able to 'play' the SQ-1 buttons, for example. This is all from a CV perspective, I understand it's more limited with MIDI.
  22. Watch the MS-20 Mini if you're thinking of expanding later, as it doesn't use the 1v/oct CV standard found in Eurorack and most semi-modular gear. There are workarounds, and there's gear that does support it, but you don't have the same plug & play security as, say, a Minibrute. I wouldn't pick the Keys / Beats over the other options, personally - even with an external controller, it's fiddly and noisy work, and in terms of cheap drums I'd have a look at the Pocket Operator series (or possibly the Volca Sample over the Beats). Despite these wise words, I do have a Beats, Keys and Bass and they don't get any use at all, so if you are interested in those, by all means get in touch. I'm a motivated seller because I've stubbed my toe on an Akai S950 that's leaning against the doorway three times this week.
  23. I just ordered a Digitone, too, mainly as an incentive to sit through an interminable day of training yesterday. I was underwhelmed by the spec when I first read about it, but having dived into the manual I've concluded it's actually a very thoughtful implementation of FM, with a couple of concessions to form factor (which works for me). I could have gotten sniffy about having six operators, but the sad truth is I'll never have time to properly use a full-on DX7-style implementation - and if for some reason I do want to explore that avenue, I can go operator crazy in Max without any interface hassle or other limitations. Getting something that's creatively useful is more important, and more of a challenge, and I think they've probably pulled that off with the Digitone. I also think Elektron are probably more effective in the digital domain - the A4 and Rytm can sound amazing, but it also takes some perseverance to clear the mud sometimes. They're not always happy with sharing frequencies, so while they always perform well in solo situations, it can be tricky to fit them into a broader system. The Rytm in particular will happily chew up and spit out any bass synths you might pair it with. Anyway I'm hoping, as with every single piece of gear I buy, that it'll help me streamline my setup into a usable core. It won't, obviously, it'll just make things worse. But what can you do?
  24. I was unable to resist checking out Eli Roth's remake of Death Wish, even though I should know better. And it's rubbish, and arguably more offensive than the original. Affluent whitey blows away assorted minorities, almost certainly an attempt on Roth's part to taunt the phantom SJWs who seem to haunt him. Clumsy attempts to give the movie some kind of gravitas by piling on radio reports about gun violence and control in modern America go out the window half an hour in, when Roth treats us to a pistol-fetish montage set to Back in Black, for fuck's sake - although this is probably the most interesting part of the film, with its De Palma split screen and uncharacteristically creative juxtaposition of bullets being pulled out of bodies and put into guns. But after that it's back to shit - when we start training AIs to make Hollywood movies, this is what they'll be churning out. No part of it will surprise you - like a hologram, illuminate any part of it and you can see the rest; the plot is a glob of fat sliding down the only atery that hasn't fully calcified. So now of course I'll have to watch the original again, and then (unavoidably) all the sequels - every cloud has a silver lining. I think Death Wish is one of the great city-as-hellhole movies, unencumbered by grace or pretension. Roth aspires to the effortless sleaze of Michael Winner, but as with his attempts to capture the sordid fever of Deodato or Lenzi in The Green Inferno, he cares what we think too much to pull it off. The key is that Michael Winner doesn't mean to offend - he just does it, like a zen master. Our film club pick at work this week was the excellent Man of the West, which is another story entirely, and one I'll go into a bit later.
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