Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

I wanted to get some “big” entries done over the holidays, after I’d finished doing the last few incidental illustrations for issue 4 of my comic, and printed it, of course.

Except, I go back to work tomorrow and have not yet put physical pencil to physical paper. The cover date on the comic, when it eventually gets finished (hopefully before my birthday, at the end of June), is getting a little silly, too:

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Anyway, that’s enough about that. More important is this CD that I got at the end of October:

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What’s better than a double-disc compilation album of 50’s Rockabilly? One that’s ALL CAR SONGS

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Well okay, there’s a few bike songs, too. Available from Fopp’s bargain section now!

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The Story of the Whos

Note: all pictures in this post are the copyright of “Peter Green”, creator of The Story of the Whos.

(Though I’ll be doing some fanart of my own before long)

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A while ago, I was on 4chan, wasting time, when I found a cringe thread. That thread contained a link to a video called “The Story of the Whos”, with MS Paint artwork. I was expecting it to be a hilariously-inaccurate “history of Doctor Who”, created by a teen girl who discovered the show during the Tennant Era. But actually it was something cool – a guy who has come up with a huge, epic story about a race of “tiny” people (or, human-sized people who live on a planet many thousands of times larger than Earth, but still with an earth-like climate and gravity) called the Whos (after Horton Hears a Who, an old children’s book) who are fighting the Lice, a race of heartless, cloned soldiers who live for destruction.

Anyway, the guy first came up with the story in elementary (primary) school, and acted out battles with things like sticks, paperclips and tiny bits of paper representing tanks, fighters and giant flying “ships”, which are heavily armoured and not plane-shaped. He’s kept the story going ever since, drawing inspiration from places he’s visited in real life. There’s a bit of time-dilation, though. Two years of middle school became a 20-year battle, while winters spent at home passed in “real time”.

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As I said, the planet this is set on is like Earth, but thousands of times bigger. To the Whos and Lice, though, the gravity, weather etc are the same. This would be against the laws of physics in real life (it’s unlikely you’d get a rocky planet that large, to start with…), but it makes for a cool environment to set the story in. My money’s on it being an incredibly ancient Dyson Sphere, which was built, then deserted, millions upon millions of years ago. Icy and rocky meteorites bombarded the outside, creating vast mountains, forests, oceans and an atmosphere (this is also “to scale”, there’s giant aerial observation platforms at altitudes that would put them well into space, if they were over Earth). The “sun” and “moon” of this planet could actually distant globular clouds of thousands of stars, which provide different amounts of light, and somehow ‘rise’ and ‘set’ over 24 hours. Of course, the size and physics of the world are up to the actual writer, “Peter Green” (may not be his actual name, he might have named his youtube channel after the main character of the story!), to explain. Also, apparently the constellations in this planet’s sky are the same as those over Earth. Well, they have the same names, anyway.

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The story itself is an epic – and is still “growing”, through the guy’s life. The first major part is about Peter and Emily Green, who live in an idyllic valley – but they think something is being hidden from them. It turns out that the war against the Lice has been going on for thousands of years, but because the planet is so big, some colonies of Whos (these “colonies” having the populations and territory of entire countries on Earth) can live for generations without even knowing about it. Anyway, Peter and Emily soon find out what is being hidden from them when Louse invasion ships show up and start killing everybody. The valley they live in, which is probably the size of Ireland, but landlocked, walled-off and with a government that forbids all knowledge of the outside world, is rapidly overwhelmed, but the government have been hiding a series of well-stocked, huge aircraft in which a few lucky members of the population escape. The one Peter and Emily are on board (they fall in love during the journey, too) eventually gets shot down, the survivors starting up a hidden village in a forest.

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The next part of the story (and the one which was ‘written’ first) is about a battle against a gigantic super-fortress called Woebarren, based on the writer’s elementary school. The villagers need medicine, so a small raiding party go back to the ship, but it is now louse-infested. They already know about the huge fortress (it is the size of a bloody mountain range!), but are kind of hoping they will be ignored. Peter and Emily are both shot, but are rescued by other Whos, who live in a giant, well-armed city-state. The people of this state knew about the village, and want to extract all the villagers, because it’s between them and Woebarren, and they are planning a major attack with artillery, armour and even nukes. The villagers are all bought to the city-state and join it’s army.

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After a number of battles, Woebarren gets infiltrated and blown up with strategically-placed nukes. A huge louse fleet attacks the Who fleet, as they flee in big air-cruisers. Peter and Emily’s ship limps away, to crash-land near an even bigger fortress called Macalavay. Other nations of Whos live nearby, and they are eventually united into an army which blows up Macalavay, too (this battle takes “20 years”). Peter and Emily Green are apparently “chosen ones”, so they live longer, can see a few seconds into the future, and other such things. The writer himself admits that’s a cheesy ripoff of Jedi Knights, but it “explains” how they can survive this brutal war for so long. Anyway, they are killed after the battle for Macalavay, giving the much-depleted Who fleet time to escape. Their children live on, finding a giant tree called Sarengarth (the planet has many of these, some are cities / fortresses, whilst others are ‘natural’, though even these may have a landing platform or outpost built on them).

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Sarengarth is an absolute monarchy, but the kindly king is being poisoned by his son, who is really in charge. Orion Green (now the main character) sorts all that out, becoming king himself, after challenging the heir to single combat. Just in time, too, because the Lice are coming! Sarengarth has a uranium mine underneath, and a powerful deflector shield powered by nuclear reactors, so it can withstand a siege for years and years. Orion also sneaks out on some secret missions (represented by times the writer went on holiday, to other parts of the USA), finding a cloaking suit, some information on the origin of the war, and new girlfriends – he gets through a lot, and they die often. Apparently the Lice have huge sky carriers, able to carry many kilometer-long cruisers at hypersonic speeds. These are represented by real-world airliners, though I’m not sure if he intends them  to be on the same scale as real life (given that a paperclip may represent one of the smaller cruisers!).

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Anyway, eventually the Lice invade the tree, but Orion survives and is taken prisoner. He escapes again, being taken in by a small, remote community. But later on they chuck him out, and he becomes a nomad, among a load of “zombies”, created by a Louse biological weapon. Sarengarth is later re-taken, but bombarded by huge amounts of nuclear weapons, which kills the millions of lice around it. Orion dies too, but has another son who carries on the fight – as do other characters such as Myron, who is also very long-lived (he helped to train Peter Green, back near the start of the story), but not one of the chosen. There’s also some outlined plot elements involving genetic modification to make the Louse biological weapons infect them, rather than Whos, and “good” Lice who have somehow shaken off their racial-hatred brainwashing.

Anyway, that’s more or less where the story is at, now. The guy has written up most of the “peaceful valley” part, as well as other sections (he’s jumping from event to event to avoid writers block), and a big overview document. But for now, I’ll leave you with the links:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMXNuaDZ068

The main Youtube video

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRz8-d8EGtcYgd5I3KgIsKQ

The channel

http://thestoryofthewhos.tumblr.com/

The Tumblr. Really slow in my Chrome, for some reason, but quicker in IE (Firefox fucked up so badly it corrupted part of my hard drive and prevents it from being fully defragged. Fuck Firefox.). That’s probably just me, though.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/s4brxycgtvrjf8l/AACBc1u5GTfurKIk7LinsixWa/Story%20of%20the%20Whos?dl=0

The Dropbox, contains PDF’s of the story, and other bits.

http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/1guwyu/what_were_you_told_you_would_grow_out_of_but/cao4xry

The story’s first “appearance”, in a Reddit thread. 

Little Downham Byegones and Organs fair, 29th March 2014

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I remember going to this event a few times as a young child (when the car-trailer-sized mechanical organs seemed like gigantic towering machinery), then didn’t for years and years. As my interest in classic cars, steam engines and patriotism increased, the more annoyed I got with myself for always forgetting this (only remembering as I drove past it, on the way to some other place).

More recently, I got involved in an international group of friends called The Regular Sweets, and we make collaborative and individual videos about our lives, and where we come from (and, less recently, I started this blog XD). This event was perfect material for that, so off I wandered!

Agricultural engine “Success”

I actually thought there would be more steam engines than there was, and there was only one “full size” one (unless you count the steam car that was also there). I also thought there would be steam engines powering the mechanical organs, but actually they were just run on electrically-generated compressed air instead.

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And an information board about the engine. Interesting to see it was built in 1914. 1914 is quite “in the culture” at the moment, as it’s now 100 years on from World War 1. Much is made of the “modern warfare” aspects of that conflict – the aircraft, tanks, machine guns etc. But in everyday life there was still plenty that was driven by “Victorian” technology! These traction engines in particular would drive from farm to farm (very slowly), and would then stay still, using their engines to push and pull machinery such as ploughs up and down fields with pulleys.

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Other steam engines

There was also a couple of mini traction engines, though one of them had two seats and was being driven around. Steam has incredible torque, you know. At one point they put it into reverse and just instantly went backwards, no need to stop first XD.

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And then there was this “Lykamobile”. It looks like a Victorian car, but has modern “59” (that’s late 2009, not 1959) numberplates. I thought it might be electric, as I think the safety regulations are a lot more lax for electric cars (mainly so the G-Wiz could be sold here, though a reproduced original Mini couldn’t). But actually it’s steam powered! It can also be bought and built in kit-car form, meaning you could have a steam car of your very own! (With a lot of money and assembly time, anyway).

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http://www.steamtractionworld.com/lykamobile.htm

More classic commercials

A Ford Escort van, Morris Minor van and Commer van. Last time I went to this show properly, probably 2005-or-so, there was a Morris Minor van for sale, which needed quite a bit of restoration. I wonder if this is the same one, newly finished?

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Also, an old military ambulance, based on a Land Rover. It won’t be from during the war, but is probably from not long after it.

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Classic cars

There was quite a few, and quite a variety, of classic cars there. Though there was also several Morris Minors, two very similar Rover P4’s, and even a couple of 50’s Vauxhalls of the same family!

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Morris Oxford estate, and 2CV-based kit.

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Big green Austin, of some kind, with military markings.

Here’s some immaculate Rover P4’s, and a Morris Minor. Just the sort of scene you might have seen on a hastily-converted “bomb site” city-centre car park, circa 1959.

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MKII Lotus Cortina, but not in the famous Lotus colours.

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Vauxhall Cresta from 1955. I think this was before the “P series” Crestas, which started from the PA Cresta, which looked like a 57 Chevy, or something.

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A Swift… *squiiint*… F Type?

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Morris Minor Travellers.

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Something from the Rootes group; Singer / Sunbeam / Hillman etc.

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The cooler Lotus Cortina. I once saw a fake one for sale, based on a normal 2-door Cortina that had had a ‘modern’ (well, 80’s) 2-litre Capri engine chucked in. Wish I’d bought it!

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Morris Six

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Can’t remember what this was

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Vauxhall Velox, a lower “trim level” than the Cresta.

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Austin Cambridge, basically the same as the Morris Oxford from above.

Bikes

There wasn’t that many bikes, of the motor or pedal kind XD. And they were all kind of crammed away behind the mechanical organs.

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Honda

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The best one, late 20’s / early 30’s mean machine.

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A pedal bike based on a post office motorbike, from the 40’s

Tractors and Stationary engines

There was plenty of non-steam farm equipment too, mainly old tractors and a bunch of small stationary engines (internal combustion). Most of the latter were running, and backfiring like mad. They were all pretty crudely built, some just had a big hole for an exhaust pipe. I loved the smell!

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Rat tractors!

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RrRrRr-PHUT! RrRrRr-PHUT!

Mechanical Organs

These are one of the main attractions of the show. They have a lot of wind-pipes like a church organ (though with a different, less sombre tone), mechanical drums, bells and other tinkling bits. Some even have animated figures that move! In Victorian times, they were controlled by long strips of paper, card or punched wooden sheets with holes in, or else revolving drums with spines on. All these systems activated ‘switches’, or valves for air pressure, as they moved – making them an early ancestor of computer programming. I don’t know if the organs there that day were Victorian survivors, newly-built, or maybe restored old ones which have been installed in modern trailers.

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Fenlander II

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Galadriel

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Los Tubos… this one had quite a different tone to the others.

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Inside the village hall, there was a number of displays of interesting old things. There was also a number of barrel organs and smaller mechanical organs, though I forgot to take pictures of most of them.

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Small piano thing, on a table of assorted bits and bobs

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Matchboxes… surprising to see how old some brands (like Spar) actually are!

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Old car ornaments

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Cans for petrol and oil

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Toy cars

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Farm tools

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Ice skates.

Somebody at my work does something called “fen skating”, where they wait for areas of fenland to get slightly flooded in winter, and then freeze. If you get enough rain, followed by low enough temperatures, you could skate for miles, in and out of trees, over fences and so on.

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Childcare / midwifery table

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Magic lanterns

Magic Lanterns were the “TV” or “Cinema” of the day, with several projected pictures over one another giving the illustion of movement, for instance a scene of a fire with ‘moving flames’, or a ship with the sails dropping. This one would probably have been extremely expensive.

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More modern video equipment, including a 60’s cine-camera and 80’s video camera, which you actually put VHS tapes directly into!

Heh, I mentioned seeing somebody with an even bigger VHS video camera at a school sports day in about 1991, my mum had his name instantly. She never forgets the “insult” of somebody conspicuously-consuming, evidently.

Barrel / Smaller Mechanical Organs

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One “played” by an animatronic clown. There was actually another one being played by a teddy bear, but I forgot to take a photo.

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Other ones

The event was pretty cool in all, though not very big (I’m sure there used to be another event in the village that was in both the village hall car park, park car park, and school playground, with all sorts of events and displays). But it did put me in the way of knowing that there’s a much bigger steam engine / classic car show in Haddenham in September, which ought to be worth seeing (well, if I’m here in September, anyway). There’s also a place called Prickwillow Engine Museum, with displays of steam and diesel engines which used to be used to drain the fens. That might even be worth a “dashcam” cycle trip to!

Jackal demo tape

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Back in this post, I mentioned that I’d bought a demo tape by an obscure, forgotten metal band called Jackal. Today I finally got around to recording the tape into MP3’s, then turning those into movies and putting them on Youtube.

As I mentioned before, the design of the logo looks very 80’s, and the music sounds a bit thrashy, or NWOBHM. I can’t find any reference to this particular band anywhere else on the internet, so I might as well be the one to get the name out there! The demo itself has only four tracks, and looks to have been made on the cheap. the insert looks like it was produced on an elderly black and white photocopier, and the red has been added by hand.

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The back of the insert is blank, containing no information about where the band comes from (I’ll assume Cambridgeshire, for lack of any other information. I bought it in the RSPCA shop in Cambridge, for the amazing price of 10p), when the tape was recorded, or even what the song titles are (so I’ve guessed them!).

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There’s not even markings on the tape to tell you the sides!

So, without further ado, lets listen to the songs themselves! This could be the first time that anybody but me and the band members has heard them in over 20 years…

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“Fallen Angels”

“Promised Land”

“Human Nature”

“Amputated”

The miscs

Just a bunch of other photos from my phone…

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Revised “looking for a Japanese girlfriend” t-shirt design

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Odd thing seen at Camcon

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Things that people made for my work’s charity Halloween party.

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Soho Bullit! Right next door to a good Japanese book shop, which is called, er, “Ultimate Dry Cleaning”.

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Suddenly, and for no reason, these thumbnails have started to be stretched vertically. Anway, a gingerbread house somebody at work made for Christmas. Check out the second photo!

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Third hibernating butterfly to wake up too early. This one I kept in my cabinet with a flower it could eat pollen from, but it died anyway.

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Decorative lamp I got my granny

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The last sunset of the year (2013!) was wonderful. Taken with two different cameras…

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There’s a monthly manga meetup in London, which I went to a few times last year. This year I hope to go more regularly. I had to kill time (it’s on a Sunday, everything shuts hours beforehand), so went to the Embankment, first time I’ve been there, actually.

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Ripper Street is the shit

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I meant to write this post after episode 1 of series 1, but failed to. We’re now waiting on episode 6 (of 8) of series 2 (which was sprung on me a bit unexpectedly, if I’d not idly opened the paper that day I wouldn’t have known it was back on).

Anyway, it’s a brilliant detective series set in Whitechapel, the first series was set in 1889, shortly after the Jack The Ripper murders (one of the first lines in it was “she’s been ripped!”). The main character is Inspector Edmund Reid, who was a real person, though he bears little resemblance to his real-life counterpart (who was far more interesting, a high-ranking druid and a balloonist!). There’s also the usual tough sergeant who is handy in a fight, and an American army doctor (and former spy) who does the CSI stuff. The first series had an ongoing storyline revolving around the background of Captain Jackson, who was a Pinkerton detective in the USA, and got involved in the Haymarket Massacre, a real event of 1886. That’s one of the things I love about Ripper Street, though it’s clearly fictional (despite having some characters who really existed), they make a lot of references to things that really happened at the time. Other references include a boat accident which Inspector Reid was injured in (the real one wasn’t, though!), and the shutting down of the “freak show” at which the Elephant Man, Joseph Merrick, was exhibited.

The new series looked like it was going to revolve around trying to bring the drug-dealing chief inspector of a neighbouring police division to justice, but that appears to fallen by the wayside in favour of more “individual” episodes touching on various political issues of the day such as the growth of Chinatown, feminism and Irish republicanism. There’s also another ongoing plot about Captain Jackson’s wife, Long Susan (who runs a brothel) being in debt to a local slum landlord.

They’ve managed to avoid anachronistic technology pretty well, and have been sparing with stuff that was cutting-edge at the time. No doubt rich parts of London had electric light, but Whitechapel didn’t! They even make reference to the steam-powered lines of the underground, we haven’t yet seen a telephone or motor car, and film is something they look upon as if it’s witchcraft.

There does seem to be plenty of anachronistic speech, though. But it has been toned down a little in the second series. The first used the term Molly House (used in City of Vice a few yeats previously. That series was set in 1749!), and they occasionally sounded more like characters from Shakespeare or the Bible! That’s been toned down a little in series 2, though the odd modern phrase (like “knock yourself out”) has slipped in. I was surprised to hear the term “infernal machines” used. At the time, that was the term used to describe a bomb, especially one intended to kill people.

All in all this is a great show, in fact I’m probably more excited about where series 2 is going than I am about the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who! I hope it continues for a lot longer – the real-life Reid lived until 1917, working as a private detective in a small seaside town after he retired. Of course, the 1890’s and 1900’s were a period of rapid technological advancement and laid the foundations of the social changes that the world wars were to bring about later. If the writers can keep on coming up with complicated cases and ‘impossible’ murders, it will be great to see these years through the lens of London’s poorest!

Classic Westerns

I caught Winchester 73 on TV years ago, and it immediately became one of my favourite films. In HMV today I saw it on sale for just £6, and bought it. I also saw another, erm, “western” which isn’t quite to orthodox XD

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 Now, which do I watch first?

Apparently it’s based on a zombie hack n’ slash game in Japan. And the temptation to move there grows once more…

A good haul

I had a successful charity shop rummage on Saturday, so here’s a quick look at some of the interesting finds…

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Yes, it’s issue 2 of Sonic The Comic, my brother would have had this back in the day. They had comics for £2 each, or 3 for a fiver, which I thought was a bit steep for 90’s stuff. There was another StC there, but it was missing it’s cover and a much later one (it had Knuckles in). Most of the box was Beano’s and Dandy’s, so I didn’t have a comprehensive dig, could issue 1 have been in there somewhere?

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I did get this Beano, though! It’s also one I had back in the day, where Dennis builds an elastic-powered plane big enough to ride on. Of course, I had dreams of doing the same thing myself XD. I also remember wanting to build a plane out of Plasticine and assorted geometric plastic shapes from school, and launch it using a lot of elastic, like an aircraft carrier steam catapult XD.

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¡Plop! 

More interesting than both of them was these, Chilean comics! I actually thought they were Colombian, as that’s where these editions were printed, and the prices ($550 for one and $3000 for the other!) are in Colombian Pesos. However I asked a Chilean guy at my work if he had “heard of it”, and he said it actually comes from there XD. Anyway, they are comedy comics with an interesting cast of characters (according to Wiki, one is an arrogant Argie who constantly talks about how amazing his country is XD). It’s also been going since the late 40’s!

I’ll do a “peep” at it on my comic blog one day. For now I’ll leave you with this: Almost every strip in it ends with ¡Plop! XD

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¡Plop!

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More Round The Horne tapes! I now have a full 8 episodes that I haven’t listened to. Ought to take them in the car of a morning. Nothing like livening up the morning commute by pissing yourself laughing!

“It’s the Polone Ranger! Howdy parder, what brings you down to these parts?”

“I’ve got a lousy agent…”

 The other week, I got this rather Un-PC-ly named book, from 1907:

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“John Chinaman at Home” …¡Plop!

I showed it to a Chinese woman at my work, who absolutely loved the photos. She asked me to buy her another copy if I saw it, however the ones on Ebay were £40-odd and up. There was also some of those modern photocopied editions with hideously generic covers available, but the company that makes them sells their glue-gunned POD books for the same price as original antique editions! Still, the photos are very interesting

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Anyway, Oxfam in Cambridge had put out a whole batch of antique books about China, including “Society in China” from 1894, which has a nice cover, which I failed to take a decent photo of:

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Those are a dragon and a flower

Anyway, I bought it for the woman at work. She even very kindly paid me back the £6.99 I spent on it :3, it has a few photos, though we later discovered most of the illustrations are actually line drawings. Several of them, of course, focusing on cruel punishments and tortures used in China at that time. Strangely the other book also dwells excessively on those, and even reports European tourists, missionaries and businessmen going out of their way to watch… ¡Plop!

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