Daily archives: September 13, 2006

Ex Machina: Tag

I don’t buy comics any more, but I have started popping down to the library to read its graphic novel selection. Today I picked up Ex Machina: Tag, and I’m impressed.

The series follows Mitchell Hundred, one time superhero and now mayor of New York, flashing back and forth between his election campaign and present difficulties. Several years before Hundred was caught in the explosion of an unknown piece of technology and developed the ability to “talk” to machines. After a career spent saving the odd life and wearing a costume he admits is extremely dorky, he outed himself and announced he was running for Mayor. Along the way he attracted the attention of the NSA and several foreign intelligence services, leading to dangers he’d much rather do without.

Having won the mayoral race after involvement in a pivotal moment in modern history Hundred now finds himself in office and facing the fraught questions of school vouchers and gay marriage. Meanwhile something is very wrong with his NSA handler and a mysterious tag linked to his powers is showing up on the subway walls and inducing homicidal and suicidal behaviour.

The idea of a superhero turning to politics can’t be new, but it certainly hasn’t been explored much. Brian K Vaughn does a good job of mixing the West Wing with the Iron Man. There is a hint that Hundred’s condition has left him somehow other than human. Some times the decisions he makes are based upon tactical rather than emotional thinking- a lot like many a political animal- but he does seem to be getting some of his humanity back. I imagine this is a thread to be investigated in future episodes.

I’m going to be looking out for other volumes from this series on the library shelves and when I’m feeling rich enough I may even buy copies.

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Heavensent 10.11

It was dark, but they were already at the outskirts of the city. Gimm still had his map and he had been marking off the red military bases as, one by one, they were bypassed or found empty.

The last camp had been deserted when they reached it. The clear up squad had reported food still cooking on the stove and paperwork unfinished. Some way along the road they had come upon a mass of abandoned and destroyed vehicles, bombed and strafed from the sky. Pathetic erratic tracks led off into the fields. Some, but not many, had made it into the trees, and may have survived. Most were terminated by a pyre or a circle of sooty ground around a disembowelled vehicle.

The tracks and softskins in the column were marked to avoid similar attacks. Even the horse drawn wagon that Jayn had secured had a large white arrow head painted on its upper surfaces.

They were moving more slowly now they were in a built up area. The few tracks that had come ashore with the landing party were at the head of the group, crawling along either side of of the road as their support infantry swarmed around them. Every unit was placed to dart down a side alley when defending guns opened up on them.

Bobb stood on top of the wagon, scanning all around. He dropped back into the bed before any officer could see and reprimand him. “Well?” asked Sheel.

“Nothing. Well, there are people in the houses, and they are all staring out, but none of them are armed.”

“How can you tell this?” Out of courtesy they were speaking in a language Jayn could understand.

“Enhanced senses.” Bobb admitted, “not just sight, but the others as well. Sheel, well, you have seen what Sheel can do. And Gimm has a great store of knowledge, and is storing new data all the time.”

“You are Silver Tower monks! That must be the explanation.”

“Silver Tower?”

“Far in the Northern forests, from where none ever return, there is a Silver Tower in the centre of a perfectly circular lake. It is said that the monks of the Silver Tower send out holy men and women when they feel the rest of us need guidance.

“You are not from the Silver Tower?”

“No,” Bobb looked at Gimm, who took up the explanation.

“It is possible we are seeking the Silver Tower. Several generations ago, our……. forefathers created a great technology, which they then lost. We are trying to find it so it can be used properly.”

Jayn pondered this for a while. “Several generations ago, you say?”

“A great number.”

“And only now do you come to Cora and Munss with a plan to head north?”


Jayn pointed up at the sky. She was remembering the fantasy fold outs she had read as a child. “You are from…… beyond, from space. Aren’t you?”

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Aliens in the Park

Slightly off topic, but justified a cross posting from Spinneyhead because it includes toy soldiers-

Inspired by the little people blog I decided to finally start releasing toy soldiers from the big box I’ve got into the wild. First to be set free were a pair of Space Marines and some aliens, currently fighting it out in Old Moat park.

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That list in full

In fact, here is the whole 100 Things list as it currently stands. I’ve updated links but not any of the aims. Reminders of things I have done are welcome, as are suggestions for removal and replacement.

(Some of the later Things name the people who came up with them during a drunken brainstorming session.)

1. Play croquet

I don’t even know the rules to croquet.

2. Play strip croquet

Ah, the effect that Heathers can have on you.

3. Cycle the Coast to Coast

4. Keep a tidy house

Without calling in any sort of housekeeping services.

5. Live for (at least) three months in another country

6. Shoot Tony Blair

Already done that.

6. Try to get elected

What to, I don’t know.

7. Take part in a threesome

Yes, I know I’m not even participating in any twosomes at the moment, but this is a long term list. (And if I do achieve this one, I probably won’t announce it.)

8. Take part in a foursome

9. Take part in an orgy

Is an orgy 5 or more? Or is there an official lower limit to an orgy? Are there different imperial and metric orgies?

10. Make it into the Popdex (and/or Blogdex) top 100

Which will be good all round. If I can manage to make it onto the list regularly, even better.

Edit Popdex has started behaving oddly, I’ll settle for getting on the Blogsnow list instead.

11. Mention sheep and still get laid

12. Make a living from writing

13. Make a film

It doesn’t have to be a feature length movie, but that would be the next step.

14. Get out of debt

I’ll discount any mortgage from this requirement, and just allow for clearing overdrafts and loans.

15. Become a millionnaire

Foreign currency counts.

16. Climb the highest peaks in each country of the United Kingdom

17. Learn to juggle

18. Build a model village

19. Upset the Daily Mail so much that they run a story about me being a threat to the nation’s morals

20. Visit the beaches of D-Day, and the little town of Quenast my grandparents’ house was named after

21. Visit Pearl Harbour

22. Read Moby Dick

Gratuitous Zelig reference.

23. Get interviewed by Richard and Judy

Or a passable equivalent.

24. Own a Land Rover

And actually use it for off roading.

25. Have a bike for every day of the week

Mountain bike, Jump bike/BMX, road bike, recumbent, folding, commuter, unicycle.

26. Give a grand to charity

Not raise a grand, but give one. Raising a grand should be possible, especially if I do 27.

27. Do over a hundred miles on the Bogle Roll

My plan for next year’s Roll. I’ll need to get another of my 7 bikes to do it.

28. Learn to snowboard

29. Get a dog

But not whilst I’m living in the city.

30. Own a thousand CDs (or have 100 Gbytes of MP3s on my computer.)

I’m going to cheat and allow CD singles in this.

31. Attend the Glastonbury festival

32. Roast my own coffee

Done that.

33. Send a dirty text message

34. Propose to someone

35. Fly in a hot air balloon

36. Go to a shooting range

37. Spend a whole day watching all three of the Lord of the Rings films back to back

Extended cuts.

38. Buy a house

39. Own a piece of Microsoft

40. Moblog

First done here, then conclusively here, here and here. And regularly since.

41. Canoe on the Thames

42. Figure out the question

43. Brew beer

44. Learn a new language

Spoken, not computer. And not Klingon.

45. Start a craze

46. Make love in a hammock

This one inspired by The Sure Thing

47. Visit every continent

48. Fly a helicopter

49. Build a tree house

50. Hold a party for a hundred people

51. Make love outdoors

The roundabout incident doesn’t count as it was unplanned, drunken horniness. However, I could go for getting 46 at the same time.

52. Join the Mile High Club

53. Join the Mile Low Club

In a cave or down a mine.

54. Join the Two Metres High club

On a train. Sleeper carriages count.

55. Exceed 40mph on a bike

Downhill counts.

56. Build a house

57. Learn to play a musical instrument

58. Get a signed letter from a serving head of state

Probably not going to be Tony, though.

59. Break a record

Even if it is for the silliest ‘Hundred things to do’ list.

60. Burn all my CD singles to MP3

61. Appear on Have I Got News For You?

This will probably be just before or just after offending the Daily Mail.

62. Swim with Dolphins

It was going to be swim with monkeys, but I reckon any mammal will do

63. Visit Japan


64. Get a HGV or Motorcyle licence

The motorcycle licence would be cooler, but I value my limbs the shape they are.

65. Learn Morse code

66. Attend Burning Man

There were also plans to create a BM equivalent in the Scottish Highlands, to be called Soggy Man.

67. Dance naked in the rain

68. Drive a race/ rally car

69. Fulfil Sabs’ dream of seeing me walk out of Lyme Park lake wearing breeches.

Penny. Well, it was Sabs’ idea originally, but Penny added it to the list.

70. Get a woman to pose in the nude (for my comic.)

Zoe. I asked Zoe if she’d pose naked for me, but she said no. Shame. I’ve also widened the scope to posing for anything, just to improve my chances. Any volunteers?

71. Play UV pool


72. Do roman chariot racing with big fat men in place of horses.

Zoe. This is a far nicer version of Lesley’s suggestion of ‘Become a pony boy.’

73. Flash at a concert audience

Penny. Originally ‘Flash at a Status Quo audience’ but I’ve expanded it.

74. Be a model at an Ann Summers party


75. Swim the full length of the Bridgewater Canal

Penny. So long as I don’t h
ave to do it in the actual canal.

76. Learn the national anthems of the Six Nations

Penny and Lesley.

77. Design a sex toy

Zoe and Penny. Full description- ‘Design a sex toy and advertise for testers and reach quality standards for ISO and BSS’. By setting such stringent conditions they just volunteered to be the first testers. There then followed a brainstorming session on what would make a perfect sex toy, the notes from which will form the basis of a future post.

This project is under way. After posting the list of recommended features, I received quite a peak in hits. I have now moved on to the shopping list for building the test version.

In the meantime, there is a range of Perfect Sex Toy clothing- Ladies top, Ladies Tank Top and Long Sleeve T Shirt.

78. Be an extra on a TV programme.

Emily. She originally stipulated Hollyoaks, but it was decided I wasn’t blonde enough.

79. Buy lingerie for a woman

Penny. In person, from a shop. Original conditions- ‘Buy a woman a thermal vest in person from Pleasure and a matching set from Kendals including peep hole bra and crotchless knickers whilst dressed in a flowery dress.’

80. Buy the Pete Waterman (SAW) compilation album

Penny. She insists it’s not because she’s too ashamed to buy it herself. It could have been worse, she could have suggested the karaoke version

81. Learn to salsa

Penny and Lesley. I’d also like to learn to make the perfect salsa dip.

82. Have sex in an ambulance or hearse

Penny and Harry. Originally an ambulance or ‘vehicle of the dead’ while on the move.

83. Grow a bonsai tree

Penny. A bit of wishful thinking considering I killed my last two bonsai. My sister did buy me The Art of the Bonsai Potato for Christmas.

84. Have a drink in every CAMRA pub in Manchester

Harry. Originally it also said ‘within one week’ but I edited that out.

85. Get an 8 pint certificate from The Crown in Stockport.

What they actually do is put your name on a board in the pub and, allegedly, get you a tankard engraved with your name.

Anyway, the challenge has been done, and recorded here and up. Pictures.

86. Get zipped up in a US style body bag.

Harry. Only if I can take a big knife in to cut my way out.

87. Create art using my body.

Penny. Originally ‘Create modern art using your body and any other body using bandages, plaster of paris and vaseline and get it displayed in a gallery.’

88. Get a piece of art displayed in a gallery

Me, but inspired by 87. I’m allowed to do a Banksy.

89. See a psychiatrist

Penny. After some of these suggestions I’ll have to.

90. See a psychosexual counsellor

Penny. See above. And I think this should also apply to some of the people supplying suggestions.

91. Bowl on the Bowling Green again.

Emily. That is, the bowling green that used to be in front of UMIST union. They’ve done horrible things to it. Does boules count?

92. Attend a televised awards ceremony

93. Learn a programming language

Properly, not in the half arsed way I learnt to gaffer tape routines together in VBA. Griff says that C# is quite a lucrative area to be in.

94. Visit every Disneyland

This was actually Griff’s aim, but I stole it.

This aim has been removed from the list.

95. Get a free crate of Glenfiddich

Sometimes breweries will gift crates of their products to writers who mention them. I’m also open to offers of Jennings Sneck Lifter.

96. Go scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef

97. Get as close to an active volcano as possible

98. Attend a gala movie premiere

Hell, if Rebecca Loos can do it, so can I. But I’m not shagging any footballers except
these two.

99. Publish a cook book

My sister’s been promising to write one for a while now. I must get her to finish it.

100. Get ‘Ian Seat’ into the OED

Being the position in a crowded room, bar, etc, which has the least advantageous view for eyeing up members of the opposite sex.

101. Burn all my CDs to MP3

102. Eat in, or from, every restaurant and kebabery in Rusholme.

Which could be a year or so’s work. Longer, considering how rarely I eat out. It’s not called the Curry Mile for nothing.

This replaces 94.

103. Go Guerilla Gardening

Next spring I’m walking around Manchester with a stick and a pocket full of seeds. I’m going to plant peas and herbs and other veg in flowerbeds and hedges.

104. Follow the route of the M60 by bike

Utilising side streets, riverbanks and paths.

105. Appear in a TV commercial.

Because they pay residuals. If it got shown enough, I could almost live off it.

106. Make love with a cheerleader.

Every American boy’s dream.

105 and 106 are provisional. If no-one can come up with better suggestions, they stay!

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The return of 100 Things

After accidentally deleting the whol of Spinneyhead before Easter, the 100 Things To Do page wasn’t reinstated. I was talking about it last night and decided it should return.

Some of the things are out of date now, so I may go back in a while and edit it. Suggestions will be welcomed.

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