Sunday, 26 June 2016

First Men In The Moon.

"As a whole we lead very quiet and unexciting lives, which is what we seem to want, for we like stability, settling down and a certain reliable sameness. Yet underneath our ordinary surfaces there is something stirring...The captive that stirs inside us, is the spirit of adventure."
            A few lines from the introduction to HG Wells the First Men in the Moon. Not the best known of wells significant output and for some reason neither as loved or regarded of so much of the great man's other work. Yet I think even this brief introduction serves most eloquently to draw the reader on. It is a direct appeal to The Spirit Of Man and a notion that wells held close to not only his heart but the great mind that drove his speculative output.
              I just watched the movie version of the book .The one with Lionel Jeffries as Mr cavor and not the silent version by Georges Melies(still a wondrous thing.) from boyhood I have had such a fondness for Lionel Jeffries jittery professorness. He brings it to almost every role he played. It was so endearing and familiar. a sort of silly cowardice married to a desperate need for self improvement; He knows all his own faults. not something we see very much in modern cinema. That sort of lived in humaness. The ability to be brave while scared.
             I found a copy of this paperback in Jim McKevitt's Atomic Collectables (What a great sandwich board sign he has made for the pavement outside his store. It is a piece of modern art. Post modern art.)) and just had to have it for its great cover. It is very sixties pop and very faithful to the playful fantasy escapist cinema it is a well crafted part off. It does have its dark moments despite the warm humour that permeates. The opening theme and stark imagery of the opening credits is surprisingly melancholy. The screenplay for the movie was written by Quatermass' da Nigel Kneale and manages to maintain much of what is fine about Well's original novel and yet roots us in the "modern" world. It captures so well the tone of a story about the search for something  better in this world or one close by. A search that may well end in disapointment and disillusionment  but one well worth going on. A story that perhaps mirrors Well's own journey and where it brought him.
               You have to love the interior of the Cavor space vessel, very Jules Verne, very Tardis secondary console room. It has curtains and comfy seats and tins of sardines. If one is to travel to the stars far better to travel there in style. Or at the very least a style one is comfortable with.


A Tear,Sarah Jane?

Oh Titan Comics, with these Doctor Who comics you are spoiling us. Just look who is next. Maybe I spent so many years with just the handful of pages of the regular Who strip in that old faithful Doctor Who Magazine or even the old Christmas annuals (Sadly missed even though some of them were bonkers.) which allows a frisson of excitement in the tummy when I see a new one mooted. Or maybe I am just getting old and sentimental.It is that feeling you get when an old chum unexpectedly materialises outside your living room window and waves a big hello. Recently it was all teeth and curls and endless bohemianism now its a shock of white hair atop a dandy with a young/old face.
             "No, do'nt cry.While there's life, there's..."


According to the flyleaf this book was first published by puffin books in 1962 but originally saw print in 1898 and it certainly feels like it. In the best possible sense off course. As the authors love of language and absence of any trace of modern and often vacuous cynicism with regard to the human spirit and the underlying basic goodness of most people. As J. Meade Falkner tells the tale of young John Trenchard while he grows towards manhood in the remote and windswept village of Moonfleet. What a great tale it is too with its ghostly pirates and smugglers, shipwrecks and storms, good guys and bad guys with colourful and believable characters and a story with echoes of Treasure Island and the much later published Papillon. .
              It is what was used to be called a boy's own adventure yarn. These days it would probably be considered a young adult knowingly Cornwallian post-retro naive  celebration of cultural appropriation or some other such boobie babble. It was the kind of great book that was read and enjoyed by generations of boys and girls up to the seventies and eighties and I do so hope that still continues today. It is written in the same adventurous spirit as Ballantyne 's Coral Island or Stevenson's Kidnapped. Yet it also called to mind Daphne Du Maurier and Jamica Inn with its swarthy vision of Cornish smuggling and stormy nights on jet black shores.
             I was very moved by the courage and loyalty shared by the main characters in this story. The author does not make things easy for the reader by telling him who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. He has some do bad things while others do good good things and we can decide where on the moral sliding scale of life they currently stand upon. the word love is not thrown about but we get to see the consequences of what people will do and what they will endure for love. The love of a father for a lost son and the ache of first love between a boy and the only girl he has ever cared for.
              There is also a nice undercurrent of a ghost story or at the very least the sense a long dead soul that cannot find rest in the shape of Blackbeard!Har-Har!Blackbeard's curse reaches out beyond the grave to wring pain from those who would not listen to the words of his curse. Actually it is not as obvious as that. It is just that things play out in a way that suggests there might be more things in this world than are dreampt off by even the most worldly of us..
               You know if there comes a blue day when you find yourself sick at heart and pining for the clear blue skies of your childhood and imagine there were days when everything seemed simpler than you could do worse than reach for a copy of this wee book. I do not know what determines a children's classic but this surely ticks a few of the boxes required.Failing that, it is just a fine book.


Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Rebirth Of The Alchemical Dream.

What a beauatiful piece of work. I just watched The Alchemical Dream;Rebirth Of The Great Work by Terence Mc Kenna and Sheldon Rocklin of Mystic Fire. It is a film in which we see Terence Mc Kenna in the guise of John Dee as he relates a lost history and failed alchemical renaissance initially instigated by King Frederick V and his wife Elizabeth of Bohemia. He movingly renders an almost history and the creation of an alchemical kingdom based on the same principles. Although it did fail in its own way it pushed open a door into a new way/old of thinking and perhaps ushered in a Europe wide resurgence of beliefs in rationalism in the minds of its prime movers and thinkers. Even in failure it signalled the first light of a new age of enlightened thinking both marginal and increasingly mainstream. Well, as mainstream as the forces who ruled would allow.
             Terence Mc kenna was a wonderful and wonderful speaker . A truly enlightened being who saw the human condition for all it was and who with insight, wisdom and generosity of intellect attempted to elevate all, leaving none behind.
              It was lovely to see him dressed as the enigmatic Elizabethan everyman wondering around Prague and waxing lyrically about the alchemical revelation and all the maybes we almost inherited.
At its heart beats a rhythmic poetical defence of enlightenment in the face of ignorance and political manipulation and the avarice of empire builders.And it is a joy to see and hear such an artistic and educational piece. one which shows one of the centuries most articulate speakers on the very top of his game. One cannot have gradations of uniqueness.One either is or is not unique. Terence was one such individual. And possessed of a special human quality. He was easy to like.
              Seek it out.
              In Terence Mc Kenna's own words "Find The Other."
                                                             (From my sketch book.)

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Sherlock Holmes The whitechapel Horror.

Edward B. Hanna sets Holmes on the trail of the most infamous killer of the Victorian Era in this well written and thoroughly absorbing mystery novel. I think it was just the year before the gruesome and as yet still unsolved series of murders that Sherlock Holmes had been introduced to the world so this episode in the "life" takes place some time around The Hound Of The Baskervilles and before Holmes disappearance.after Reichenbach "he was absent from London for almost three years,absent and believed dead." Edward B. Hannah knows his stuff, not just the proper Holmesian time line but also a strong grasp of the culture and times of the Victorian era. the splendour and the squalor are brought back to life with conviction and insight. The people of this novel speak as the people of the era and use language Conan doyle would certainly not have dreampt of using. At least not on paper or in print. He was a gentleman after all, of the old school.
              Holmes pursues the Ripper with all his vigour and all his brilliance. Illuminating along the way many dark corners of the Victorian establishment. Not all the filth of London was confined to the stinking alleyways and packed thorough fares of Whitechapel and the whole East End. Watson manfully tries at all times to relate that which he observes with a fair and descent eye but at times finds himself far out of his comfort zones(actually I find that an overused and self pitying modern trope)Here was an ex army officer who had fought and been wounded in Afghanistan but who blushes in the company of Oscar Wilde,like a likeable old trout gasping for air in a silken net.
             Not every reader is going to like how Edward B. Hanna resolves the mystery of the Rippers identity or at least the conclusion Holmes reaches.I did. I like it very much and there is always room for more names in the frame for this monstrous mystery which seems no nearer solution.
             The game is afoot and the destination is Whitechapel.
             Sensible footwear is advised.

Relative Dimensions.

                                                     To see a World in a grain of Sand
                                                       And Heaven in a Wild Flower
                                                   Hold Infinity in the Palm of your Hand
                                                           And Eternity in an Hour.
                                                 (Auguries of Innocence.William Blake.)

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Bowie In Colour.

Just look at what my best pal John gifted me. A Bowie colouring book. Wee biographical sound bites with full page dressy dollies to colour in. Pleae do not laugh or sneer. Some one else mocked me for liking it. What do I care. When I was a kid growing up in Ardoyne I was mocked for liking Bowie as his great albums were coming out and he was truly a creative force to be reckoned with and loved.
             It is a world that has since passed. as has the great man himself. I thought bowie was like the Himalayas or the moon. This huge presence which would always be there exerting its powerful gravitational and imaginative pull.
             Now I sort of see him as this John Dee like figure.
             A magician or a mage.
             An alchemist whose medium was sound and vision.
            The man who sold the world.

Dirk Gently's Holistic Comic Books.

Big shout out for IDWs latest Dirk gently triumph A Spoon Too Short. The second series based on Douglas Adam's Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency written by Avrind Ethan David and drawn by Ilias Kryniazis. A great team. Just finished the 4th issue and thought I just had to mention how good this series has been. I had misgivings at the start of the first series The Interconnectedness Of All Things when it was mooted that Dirk would be relocating his enterprise to the United States Of The Americas , Fearing it might lose the very BBcness of the stories that sort of endeared them to me(It is though my brain is permanently hard-wired to translate any special effects into quite cheaply achieved ones.In the ramshackle theatre of my mind I never see Weta type endless vistas of computer generated unreality I usually see a lovingly rendered painted back drop on a wobbly set. So that no matter how extraordinary the concept or breath taking and thought provoking the prose I see classic Doctor Who special effects.)) but it was all done with aplomb and great charm. If you cannot find the single issues, with the fantastic variant covers, do not despair as IDW brought out a lovely graphic novel collection.These are great creative people carrying on a great creative legacy and boy have they risen to the challenge. I recently  watched an old South Bank Show interview with Douglas Adams and it led me to getting all Hitchikered Up again. So this series was just the most wonderful gravy.
              It is easy to forget when leads a linear existence, travelling forward through time one second at a time, that science and speculation can be funny as well as perplexing and even mostly both.
              Am so enjoying seeing this comic breathe new life and creating new fans for a character who whilst popular has never quite broken through to the audience his bizarre and yet familiar world deserves. It should go a long way to addressing that.

Me Trouble In Little China.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

It was Bigger On The Inside.

Oh my giddy aunt! This really was a treat, Doctor Who magazine #500 had so much stuff in it I began to believe in the possibility of all things transcendental. Especially loved this mock up of the original first issue.You just know peter Capaldi is having a ball. He just so gets it.
             Ah, happy days.Then and now...