gistofthegrist

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Archive for the month “September, 2013”

Everybody Congo

I have been a huge Tintin fan since I first saw a copy of Red Sea Sharks when I was around 8 or 9 years old. I have owned the 7 volume Methuen 3 in 1 hardback collection since the early 1990s. I have always been annoyed that is was not the complete adventures [though it was all the adventures available at that time].

In the mid 90s the first two Tintin stories were printed in large hardback; Tintin in the land of the Soviets and Tintin in the Congo. Unfortunately they never made it into a similar reduced size hardback edition similar to the 3 in 1 collection.

Until now that is. I am now the proud owner of an Egmont printed edition in the same format as the Methuen editions. Egmont have reprinted the whole series in the same size and have been smart enough to only include these two stories in one volume so that those of us that already have the other stories do not have to buy the whole lot again.

The warning on the wrapper illustrates how times have changed.

Scan1

shark attack

Oscar Reutersvärd

oscar

Love this IV

Chris Riddell, illustrator

Chris Riddell, illustrator

High and Dry

DSCF2148The rate of Public House closures in the UK is at an all time high. Having always been interested in industrial archaeology [playing detective with the quirks of architecture that get left behind] I wonder whether a new  category of Breweriana interest might be not collecting old pub signage but trying to spot them still in the wild as it were; being that many now simply [and I think both fittingly and importantly] get left behind high and dry on the buildings that used to be bars but have subsequently become re-purposed [usually now in London into residential properties].

SDC10405

spend a penny

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE_6431In one important respect modern city living can be very inconvenient. Spending a penny. Public toilets especially away from large department stories [at most tourist sites, cafes, bars you are expected to purchase something to be able to use the facilities] have hugely declined in number over the last few decades. Yet we still have the same human needs.

I find living in an area of vast immigration [65% of my local population is now non-indigenous] that I often happen upon gents urinating in what they believe are quiet corners of the street. And we are not talking about pub kicking out time. The problem is twofold. Firstly there are fewer public ‘places to go’ [including as part of public buildings ie libraries, etc] and secondly the population is now comprised of many from parts of the world where their behaviour is not seen as ‘problematic’.

Amsterdam - Sydney - Berlin

Amsterdam – Sydney – Berlin

Strangely in some parts of central London where there is obviously a nuisance drinking – pissing problem come pub closing time there are now horrible [indeed piss ugly] plastic free-standing urinals in evidence. Whereas the Victorians had architecturally grand cast iron structures. Though these pissoirs arguably predominantly benefited male-kind [and were pretty smelly] at least it kept the streets [and the sides of our buildings] from waterworks.

Ugly Vs Inventive

Ugly Vs Inventive

One wonders why new public conveniences with the grandeur of the old or the imagination of green and creative types can’t be installed but with the advances of modern plumbing expertise or environmental thinking incorporated? Else unfortunately men being men they are likely to go wherever they see fit, including against art works if not properly signed!?

'Stacked Foutain' aka by locals 'Bluh's Wet Patch'

‘Stacked Fountain’ aka by locals ‘Bluh’s Wet Patch’. Swindon, England, UK.

panel beating

Little Sammy Sneeze was a comic strip by American cartoonist Winsor McCay 1904-06

Little Sammy Sneeze, Winsor McCay 1904-06

It seems almost as soon as the framing conventions for comic art were established there were those that sort to circumvent them. Almost literally breaking the 4th wall.

Most will know that Winsor McCay was a pioneer of early animation [way before Disney got his act together in the 1930s] with Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) and his more famous comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland (1905-11) but perhaps will not know about Sammy and the one-liner punchline that featured in every single strip. Reminds me of the even more minimal David Lynch Angriest Dog in the World strip where even the images of each episode are [almost] identical each frame!

Shhh!

Posting last week about the constant hubbub in the British Library reading room got me to thinking about where one could go in the modern world [other than a church between services?] to get some peace and quite?

Orfield-QuietRoom

It appears that the record breaking quietest place on earth in an anechoic chamber in Minnesota which is 99.9% silent [apart from the noise you bring yourself]. The challenge not unlike teens and haunted houses is to stay in there for any length of time without getting the heebie jeebies.

It certainly must make for one of the most interesting stagings of John Cage’s 4′33″ imaginable.

Geometry of Sleep

american_cemetery_near_verdun

There is something both wondrous and chilling about the geometry of regularly spaced massed objects. Particularly with regard to large cemeteries. Why are they such fascinating sites?

One assumes all permanent large-scale modern cemeteries are there by design? So there must be a science/mathematics of the geometry of the cemetery?

I think it was only after seeing the ‘spotlight’ circular amphitheatre space of the truel in Leone’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly that I realised there was the possibility of non-linearly regimented burial markers in military burial sites. I can only assume that many military cemeteries are so arranged so as to give the dead the purpose they had in life ie to seem as if forever on parade? Forever serving.

Perhaps there is a perceived solemnity in such regularity? Any more ‘random’ an arrangement reading as hasty internment or lack of care or perhaps even a lack of modernity? It being that as opposed to graveyards, where persons are buried according to familial whim, markers are not individually chosen.

verdun

Certainly standing well within a large military cemetery one experiences a feeling of ‘vertigo’ as if trapped within an open maze. Strange linear site line geometries beyond the row and column begin to reveal themselves. Pure mathematics but seemingly esoteric.

I have long been fascinated at the choices made in such arrangements. Partly one would believe based on imposed location [gently rolling inclined site, flat, sandy, with mature trees etc]. Round topped grave stones, crosses, small milestone type markers; back to back, closely abutted, walkway sized avenues between each; grey granite, white marble,  wood-effect, etc.

b_1_Calgary_(Burnsland)_Cemetery_1A really worthy enterprise is The War Graves Project to document and photograph every war grave, individual memorial, Ministry of Defence grave, and family memorial of serving military personnel from WWI to the present day and make these available within a searchable database.

I ♥ Robot

sonny

Of course a reason that robots intended to interact with us meaningfully are arguably made to ‘look’ more or less like us is that their function is perhaps intended to be more or less like ours? Stated in this vid “legs can go where wheels and tracks can’t.” Who needs reminding that the long-time failings of Dr Who’s arch nemesis the Daleks were down to their inability to climb stairs.

But I often wonder whether the real fear of future AI is not that we will unleash self-replicating, autonomous Terminator machines hell bent on the extinction of humankind [stronger, faster, more durable and smarter than us] but that we will inadvertently create ‘beings’ that are only able to love. Not through design nor programming. Not due to the accidental creation of a soul [with all the flaws that supposes] but arising from self-determined choice. Even merely the choice of logic. [In the famous Prisoner’s Dilemma the best strategy is co-operation.]

In other words robots that become more than slaves that choose to only do us good and without reference to, or the constraints of Asimov’s 3 laws of robotics.

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