Tuesday, February 22, 2011

SGR: She Ate The 90% Of The Brain None Of Us Ever Uses.

(I'm writing about the webcomic Scary Go Round. My introduction is here.)

Chapter 4: Inevitable

Click on the chapter title above to read this chapter; when you get to a big red page with the title "Robot Town Hall" and a picture of a robot with a heart you have reached the next chapter which is beyond the scope of this post. If for some reason, rather than reading the comic you want to stay here, at the bottom of this post is the plot synopsis and character list I made to keep everything straight in my head.

Review

Shelley has a problem. Tim has an invention. They meet by accident with hilarious consequences in a story that will change their lives for ever!

The ending is just slightly too cute for me, but Shelley's slow descent into zombieness feels both quite real and is hilarious. Right up to the end she's resisting ("Unless your teeth were to accidentally fall forward into his head...") and justifying herself. Throughout Shelley has a wobbly speech bubble, presumably representing a deep, breathy, returned-from-the-dead voice (in my mind).

Meanwhile Tim's invention could actually be built (I suspect the golf cart would fall over, but maybe not) and then works about as well as would be expected. It's realistic!

Interestingly, Copper Edge has a lodging home for the recently dead. More evidence that the Scary Go Round world is full of strangeness; it's not just these characters or Tackleford that attract the weirdness.

I find this one hilarious, but then I like zombies, inventions and making fun of golf. Slightly sad that the zombie plotline gets dealt with so quickly, but I guess a cute zombie redhead solving supernatural mysteries would have been a step too far. The pictures of excuses - Bear (probably) NO, Jimmy Carter NO, Crow YES - are a favourite of mine. Her ridiculous dancing crow excuse however is slightly blunted by the fact that she's a zombie living in a home for the recently dead. In the Scary Go Round world, why couldn't she be teaching a crow to dance?

Rachel and Tessa have been relegated to a one page coda at the end, and don't seem happy about it, which makes them even more unsympathetic. The bodycount is either 0 or -1, if we didn't count the last chapter as -1, for a strip total to date of 17.

So Shelley back to life, Amy working for Tim, everything back to normal. After the excitement of this chapter, maybe the characters should have lunch or coffee or a drink with an umbrella. Time to calm things Down.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Advice

Recently a friend wrote on my Facebook wall to let me know that his wife was a swirling vortex of entropy. I gave this advice which I now realise is generally applicable:

If the two of you are in a closed thermodynamic system LEAVE NOW*.

If the entire universe appears to be a closed thermodynamic system with no means of exiting, basic scientific research should be your FIRST PRIORITY.

* I'm a bit rusty on this, but I suspect a properly closed thermodynamic system would not have internet access.

New Words: Sympathivore

My friend has been ill and claims to feed off sympathy. Therefore he is a Sympathivore*. As a google search shows up nothing for this I declare it a new word. Yay! Let's celebrate! Cup of tea Bruce.

* Pretty sure not Sympativore

Album Cover: Tomorrow Never Knows

Track fourteen, the final song on Revolver.



Beatles version here.

The playlist for the entire album is linked to here and should play below. This has been Night of the Hats, bringing you cover versions of every track on The Beatles' Revolver.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

SGR: Do you think zombies can shoot ink, like a squid?

(I'm writing about the webcomic Scary Go Round. My introduction is here.)


Chapter 3: Meddling

Click on the chapter title above to read this chapter; when you get to a big red page with the word "Inevitable" and a photo of a pale skinned redhead you have started the next chapter which is beyond the scope of this post. If for some reason, rather than reading the comic you want to stay here, at the bottom of this post is the plot synopsis and character list I made to keep everything straight in my head.


Review

In this Chapter Scary Go Round changes tack and becomes more what it will be for the rest of the run. Rather than have a mystery investigated by Rachel and Tessa, we see the situation from Ryan, Tim and Shelley's point of view. They are thrust into the middle of the problem (in Ryan's case because he makes a melancholy drunken mistake) and have to resolve it. I note that the first two chapters were, at least loosely, Science Fiction Horror, while this story is Supernatural Horror. The bodycount is zero, or possibly minus one (Thus making the total so far for the comic either seventeen or eighteen).

Rachel and Tessa are relegated to supporting characters. Rachel in particular becomes unsympathetic here.

Shelley as a zombie is both cute and vulnerable. Ryan is confused, as might be expected, and fairly ineffective. Tim is much more practical; confronted with a friend raised as an undead creature he washes her, gives her a change of clothes and then takes her to the pub quiz. Notably they don't seek help elsewhere. This is unsurprising after seeing the competence of the police in the previous chapters. The Tackleford Gazette is on the case however, with it's photofit of Ryan under the headline: Grave Robbed, Hairy inebriate sought.

The secondary problem, that of the devil trying to claim Ryan's soup, sorry, soul, is dealt with remarkably easily. A swift punch to the gut stops him? Really? Still, having learnt his lesson, he's sure to leave Tackleford alone from now on.

This chapter raises as many questions as it answers. Shelley isn't dead, nor is she a soulless demond, but she is undead. Ryan has tried to make things right, but has made them more wrong. Tim has been forced out of the shell he retreated into after Shelley's death. There are character points to be resolved!

Many excellent jokes, including one about Hitler. Allison does not make as many jokes about Hitler as I'd like; in fact I think there are only two in all of Scary Go Round. It is very definitely in 2002 though, as Ryan is smoking in the Pub, which is now banned.

Also new to this chapter but common to later ones is a coda at the end, in which we catch up with other characters to bring us up to date for future storylines. In this case, Amy and Len get together for Christmas. Combined with Shelley's resurrection this will make conflict in the next chapter Inevitable.


Best Lines/ Alternative Titles

Life's like a horse wearing a suit and smoking a cigar: hard to explain.

"Way things are between a man and a woman they can't ever really be just friends." "P'raps if the girl is bog eyed." "Sure, Sure."

"Do you know about the black arts son?" "What, like, hip-hop? Sure, I'm down with that." "No, Necromancy."

"Hey your coat is a reversible warlock smock! Nice!"

Ryan, the way I see things is this. You can run home and hide under your bedclothes, which any fool knows the devil cannot penetrate.

I've got to go to sleep, Shelley. Here's a straw. If you want brains in the night, just bung it in my ear and suck.

Tim will know what to do. Or if he doesn't, he'll shout at me until I feel that I've in some way paid for my sins.

I'm going to put her in the bath and pray nothing drops off then we are going to talk the talk of men, specifically angry men.

"Do you think zombies can shoot ink, like a squid?" "Sure, and you can play their teeth like a xylophone."

Shelley coming back as one of the undead might not be the ideal situation, but we'll make the best of it.

"Yes, based on a real person, possibly Hitler."

She's not going to be killed on the way to the Ladies' twice.

Christ, man! Sure, she's pale and no stranger to the casket, but the family of man needs harmony, be we white, black... or mottled grey!


Characters

Shelley Winters, undead abomination
Ryan Beckwith, friend of Shelley
Tim Jones, friend of Shelley
Ralph, lift operator from Chapter 1 and necromantical warlock
The Devil, who is evil
Rachel and Tessa, barmaids
Mrs Birch, Ryan's landlady, a lady of strict morality
Biff and Sanjiv, the West Yorkshire anti-zombie unit


Plot

Grieving over Shelley's death in Science Fair, Tim buries himself in his work, while Ryan goes to the pub. It's Hallowe'en and we see Rachel and Tessa in their role as unsympathetic barmaids. Ryan gets talking to Ralph, the lift operator from The gas, who turns out to be a warlock. Drunk and melancholy, Ryan joins in raising Shelley from the dead.

Understandably Ryan panics. Eventually he takes Shelley home, having to sneak her past his landlady Mrs Birch, who doesn't approve of young ladies (let alone dead ones). Eventually he takes her to Tim, who cleans her up and finds her some clothes that belonged to Goth Kate, his former, and best, lodger.

In an effort to get back to normal they take Shelley to the Guy Fawkes pub quiz. Shelley isn't great as the scribe. Unfortunately the West Yorkshire Anti-Zombie Unit, Biff and Sanjiv, is also in the pub, taking part in the quiz. Their chicken claw goes off, so they ambush Shelley in the ladies. Shelley, who has regained her speech, foils them by spitting out the salt they're trying to fill her mouth with. Tim interrupts and convinces them not to kill put her down. On their way out, rethinking their attitude to the undead, Biff is attacked by a zombie.

Tim Ryan and Shelley go out to look at the bonfire, when the Devil turns up, looking for Ryan's soul. Shelley, in a bad mood, punches him in the belly and he goes away never to be seen again.

Part two: Amy comes home from art school, with tats on her arms and pink in her hair. Len, her Dad, is not happy, but she makes it up to him by having painted five Phil Collins album covers as a Christmas present.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Album Cover: Got To Get You Into My Life

Track thirteen, unlucky for some, from Revolver.



Many excellent covers for this track. The original can be found here.

One more track tomorrow and the whole damn playlist to allow you to experience the full virtual cover album that would be near impossible to do officially.

Saint Valentine

Recycled from my series of Saint costumes for Hallowe'en, here's what is known about Saint Valentine:

He was a Christian in Rome in the 3rd Century AD, was martyred and his name was revered by the survivors.


This, of course, explains why he is the patron saint of beekeepers.

Album Cover: I Want To Tell You

Track twelve from Revolver.



You know, it's been two weeks since I put this playlist together and I can't remember why I picked this one. I didn't actually remember it from the album; maybe I often got interrupted about the half hour mark. Anyway, here's a link to the original version, which is pretty cool too.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Album Cover: Doctor Robert

Track Eleven from Revolver.



This was the most difficult to search for as Youtube wants to give me lots of Dr Robert X talking about Y and Doctor Robert A selling us B. Once you add The Beatles to the search string you then have to click past screens of videos of the Beatles playing this and everything else because, and who knew, The Beatles are pretty popular.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Album Cover: For No One

Track Ten from Revolver.



A downbeat country music version. The more upbeat original can be heard here.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Album Cover: And Your Bird Can Sing

Track Nine off Revolver.



You know you've got somewhere when Paul Weller is covering your songs. Although the Beatles had probably figured that out already.

SGR: Do You Think Angela Lansbury Ever Cusses?

(I'm writing about the webcomic Scary Go Round. Introduction here.)

Chapter 2: Science Fair.

Click on the above to read this chapter; when Ryan invites Tim to the pub you have started the next chapter which is beyond the scope of this post. If for some reason, rather than reading the comic you want to stay here, at the bottom of this post is the plot synopsis and character list I made to keep everything straight in my head.


Review

In this second chapter Allison introduces Tim Jones and his friends from his previous comic, Bobbins. Again we have two threats; firstly a murderous murderer murdering people, and secondly Tim Jones being wrongly imprisoned for the crime.

The first chapter, The Gas, had a six panel page format. This chapter has a four panel page format. These smaller pages lead to a greater frequency of punchlines (and cliffhangers). This might have made the story seem lighter and sillier than the first chapter, but due to the visceral nature of the crimes - there's blood and a big knife in Fogerty's chest - and the fact one of the victims, Shelley, is someone nice, it all seems a lot more serious. People can get hurt, and there will be consequences. Not so much Scooby Doo as Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Shelley's death makes me think a little of Gandalf's and Boromir's in The Fellowship of the Ring*. Gandalf and Boromir aren't walk-on parts, they're some of our heroes and they get killed. This isn't The Hobbit, this is serious business!

Nevertheless, much amusement in this chapter, from the nature of the inventions, to Tim's jailbreak, to Archie's death. Rachel and Tessa disagree on the the style of their crimesolving, with Tessa wanting to tangle with the killer. Nevertheless in the confrontation with Archie it's Rachel who wants to stab him with the pen. We see the flipside of the police being unfazed by a gaseous murderer - if you'll swallow that, why not blame someone who who is locked in jail? It's almost as though the police can't be bothered to investigate so someone else has to do it for them.

I'd say this is a step forward from the last one - just as funny but with a notion that this isn't just comedy, but there are also some consequences to all this weirdness.

Next time some of those consequences are explored and take a wacky left turn in Meddling (which I'll cover next Tuesday).


* This trope is used all over fantasy - one of our heroes is killed to show that THIS IS SERIOUS. This was brought to my attention by George R R Martin, whose A Song of Ice and Fire is coming to our screens soon. Hey, Sean Bean is playing Eddard Stark!


Alternate Titles to This Post/Best lines

What would President Jimmy Carter do?

I will tell you exactly who killed Seamus Fogerty and framed Tim - after I have been for a wee-wee because this is very exciting.

"Do you think Angela Lansbury ever cusses?" "Jesus yeah. She gets drunk and talks about how cute her ass is."

This is the world's most pathetic police force.

"Do you have enemies?" "I made a list. It's divided into "Sassed 'em", "Diddled their daughters" and "Misc"" "That's a lot of diddle." "And sass."

Hey is that the classic tweed cap, beige topcoat and sportsman's pipe?

Well... if we can't hurt his body... maybe we can injure... his feelings. Or jam this ballpoint pen into his brain.

Destructive power of rock and flimsy scientific principles don't fail me now.

Damn that's all the reminder I'll ever need not to run with scissors.

I have to break back into jail now in order to receive my official pardon. You never saw me - right.

Rachel, fashionably flappy trousers are a liability in a combat situation. Now, better than ever, I understand the all-action catsuit. Me-ow.

When taking an average of personality and ass, nationally she must have been in the top 1%.


Characters


Tim Jones, inventor
Shelley, ginger friend of Tim
Ryan, layabout friend of Tim
Rachel, student journalist and amateur investigator
Tessa, student journalist and amateur investigator
Angus Fogerty, inventor and rival to Tim
Archie Stanwyck, Angus' assistant
Fallon Young, superspy and friend of Tim
Professor Len, friend of Tim
Amy, Len's daughter and friend of Tim


Plot


Ryan and Shelley go to the Science Fair to help Tim with his exhibit. It's the glow in the dark duck, which will improve society, although not by much. Rachel and Tessa turn up to cover the science fair. Seamus Fogerty, Tim's archrival turns up, mocks the glow in the dark ducks and reveals his invention - Mr Baker, a combination breadmaker, coffeemaker and alarmclock. Tim is furious as this is his invention from the previous year, except using moulded plastic and with the minor scalding problem fixed.

As the science fair closes, Tim receives a note from Angus challenging him to have the issue out at midnight with fists and hurting. Arriving there, Tim discovers Angus dead. Covered in blood, the police turn up. Tim realises it's a frame up but is unable to convince the cops.

Tim's friends meet to try and get him off. Shelley claims to know who the culprit is, but before she can tell, she is killed on her way to the toilet. Although Rachel is nervous Tessa is keen to investigate. The police are happy to pin both murders on Tim, despite him being in jail when Shelley died. They interview Tim in jail and get a list of his enemies. They decide to start at Fogerty's offices, which are all posh and everything, while Tim works out of a shed. there they meet Fogerty's assistant and business partner Archie who is busy with million pound offers for Mr Baker.

Archie reveals that Tim and Fogerty were enemies of long standing, partly because Tim struck up a "friendship" with Drella, Fogerty's assistant. He then heads next door to get his list of Fogerty's enemies. Rachel and Tessa put together that Archie has been wronged by Tim in love, makes a lot of money from Fogerty's death and has just sealed the lab to realise that they have found out too much. In a panic, they call Tim at the prison.

Tim escapes by disguising himself. meanwhile Archie tries to kill Rachel and Tessa with some murdering inventions. They escape to the roof, with Tessa's trouser leg torn to shreds. Tim arrives to discover them trapped on the roof and reduced to hurting Archie's feelings and stabbing him with a ballpoint pen. Tim throws a rock, which hits Archie and causes him to fall on his own murdering tools and a bloody death, from which he will definitely not return. The police finally believe Tim didn't do it. Another crime solved by our intrepid girl reporters.

The chapter ends in the graveyard with Tim and Ryan missing Shelley.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Album Cover: Good Day Sunshine

We reach side two, for those of us who remember the vinyl age of recording, and track eight of Revolver.



Two well respected musicians doing an upbeat very Seventies TV show vocal cover of this Beatles track.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Album Cover: She Said She Said

Track Seven from Revolver



Search engines keep wanting to change my search to "He Said She Said" which is not Kevin Bacon's finest film. Unlike the film, The Beatles weren't trying to suggest two points of view with their title, but instead were adding emphasis by using repetition.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Album Cover: Yellow Submarine

Track Six from Revolver.



This version simply because of the involvement of the Red Army Choir. Original here.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Album Cover: Here There And Everywhere

Track Five on Revolver.



A capella version; this one seems to have been popular to cover in the seventies but has since gone out of fashion. Original.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Album Cover: Love You To

Track Four from Revolver.



This cover is a. haunting and b. took ages to find because - who would have thought? - searching for the string "love you to" brings up lots of things containing those words unrelated to The Beatles track.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Album Cover: I'm Only Sleeping

Track Three off Revolver.



I go on and off Suggs and, having listened to this several times I'm probably going off. On the other hand this is probably my least favourite track on the album, so whichever cover I put here was probably not going to impress me. Original here.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Album Cover: Eleanor Rigby

Track Two off Revolver


It was this or Arethra Franklin's version. I'm pretty sure I heard Arethra singing this first, so when I heard the original I always thought Paul wasn't really trying hard enough.

SGR: Maybe They Spent Their Printing Budget On Chocolate Then Felt Ashamed And Hid. In Wales.

(I'm writing about the webcomic Scary Go Round. Details here.)

Chapter One: The Gas

Click on the above to read this chapter; when it gets all Victorian with Nerve Tonic being sold from a booth you have started the next chapter which is beyond the scope of this post. If for some reason, rather than reading the comic you want to stay here, at the bottom of this post is the plot synopsis and character list I made to keep everything straight in my head.


Review

There are two threats to our heroines in this story. Firstly Rachel has to edit the university paper or she will be thrown off the course. Secondly there is the killing sentient gas.

The first one is mundane - a wacky, sitcom type of mundanity but a situation that is not completely out of the ordinary. Despite Rachel protesting "I can't put out a paper! What if I do it wrong? What if I fail?" it's not really a threat. Len hasn't asked for a good university paper.

Stevie Sprake, the gas, is a real threat. His body count according to the paper at the end is 16. However, partly because we don't know any of these people, partly because of the cartoonish style and partly because it's a very funny story I don't feel it. Sure, the girls are chased down a corridor by a sentient gas which will choke them to death. But it's no more than Scooby Doo scary because while they're fleeing for their live they're arguing if wind will effect a sentient gas held together by force of will. The gas is a silly villain and as it turns out they have a silly way of dealing with it.

Which is all to the good, because as well as being silly, it's also funny. As might be expected there's fart jokes and egg sandwich jokes. There's visual gags - the book of "How To Make Drugs" springs to mind - as well as jokes both about stereotypes and jokes about breaking stereotypes.

Rachel thinks the place to run away to to disappear is Wales. When I was at college our vanishing place of choice was, taken from the Viz Top Tips column, Fife.

Our heroines aren't actually that nice - both Rachel and Tessa use their feminine wiles to try and get their own way and despite it being Tessa who has freakish man strength, it's Rachel who threatens Barry Proops. However they are witty, are chased by a murderous and pervy gas-loser and Tessa has regrets, so they're definitely likeable characters.

The police take all this in their stride. The officer comments that "Actually it happens a lot more than you'd think, miss." Clearly strange things happen in Tackleford. Which is just as well for Rachel and Tessa as otherwise all they'd have to report on for the next issue would be the Science Fair (which I will blather on about next Tuesday).


Alternate Titles to This Post/Best lines

We are periodic table of the elements fans who want to know much, much more.

"You're... you're one of those vicious girl gangs!" "Yes, We're unruly." "We skateboard in prohibited areas."

Ah you sprayed de-ionised water on my trousers giving the impression that I have wet myself. Ha ha.

We wrote a note from Stevie saying he'd run away to join a cult that worship benzene rings.

I'm a sentient gas I follow so closely the laws of science.

"Well, if we could hit him with a big dense cloud of another gas, we could weaken him." "Long enough to assume new identities and move to Swansea!"

As a solid beautiful ladies were out of my reach. But as a gas, I could drift into changing rooms and look at them in the nudey. I could also see movies for free and explore chimneys.


Characters

Rachel and Tessa, journalism students, student journalists, investigators and barmaids.
Len Pickering, formerly editor of City Limits magazine, now journalism professor.
Cecil, his guinea pig.
Ralph, creepy lift operator. It's just possible we'll see him again.
Ryan, who has a scooter! And gives Tessa a lift.
William, University Librarian.
Krakkagar, a giant black beetle with glowing red eyes who skips from rooftop to rooftop looking for people to skin. His only weakness is sugar.
Dr Proops, a sad chemistry nerd.
Stevie Sprakes, chemistry nerd and gaseous murderer.


Plot

Rachel, a journalism student, is forced to become editor of the Tackleford University Clarion to make up for her coursework being a file with a happy spider in it. Recruiting her friend Tessa, they reopen the office to discover that the last paper was in March 1992, and the former staff are dead and skeletons in the pen cupboard.

Tessa investigates the last issue of the paper in the university library, but finds that William the librarian has been gassed and hospitalised. Rachel believes this is the work of the giant black beetle Krakkagar but Tessa disagrees. Looking through the last few papers they find that the paper was investigating the deaths of the Chemistry Society on a trip to an iodine factory. There was one survivor who is still at the university. They decide to interview him by pretending to be fans of the periodic table of the elements.

Meeting Dr Proops they get all bad cop on his ass and he tells them about the chemistry society. One member, Steve Sprake was the butt of their jokes. Somehow he got locked in the fume cupboard with some highly volatile compounds and vapourised him. As they leave the gas appears again and talks to Proops. It's Sprake, a living gas!

Proops has given away too much, so Sprake gases him and sets off after Rachel and Tessa. They run for the door, hoping the wind will disperse him, but have to take shelter in the caretakers cupboard. There they find a vacuum cleaner and use it to capture Sprake. They hand him over to the police. This makes an excellent piece for the student paper, so excellent that professor Len ignores the fact that the other 14 pages are made up of an interview with Ralph the lift operator. Then TWIST ENDING!