bloing The owentams server is up and running   "putting the oin in blog"

Thursday, February 27, 2003


Thanks to everyone who's been commenting on my last post. Nice to see some new faces about too. Hello! Do say hi if you're popping by because I don't check my referrals very often. On a related thought, how can one room need so much paint? We've not even started with the gloss yet ...

So anyway, my new hobby. I've just started getting back into comics again for the first time in ages. Like so many of my peers, I was weaned on the Beano and the Dandy, with the occasional Topper and such. I read my friend's Marvel comics but they had no continuity. He was happy if there was a good fight in a comic. I wanted a story. Later on I didn't really have the pocket money for the graphic novels I desired. I always vowed that when I grew up and became free and rich (oh the folly) I'd buy all the comics I wanted. As happens on the route to adulthood, I took a wrong path and ended up believing that I should spend my hard earned on mortgages, utility bills and other infinitely boring things.

A couple of months back I had finished my book and didn't have a backup for the commute. Unable to face the 17 minutes on the train without anything to read I went to see what the newsagents had to offer and decided it was time to get back into comics. A few Spidey moments later and I was re-hooked. That night I hunted high and low for more comics and could find none. Most would have 'disappeared' mysteriously whilst I was at University along with other treasured childhood memories (and tons of junk, no doubt). I should still have some Moebius compilations and stuff but they were nowhere to be seen.

The following day, I scavenged the City in search of comics. Most of the bookshops have turned into Star~ucks and the ones that are left seem to hold pitiful comic and cartoon related stock. Mainly limited to Garfield, Calvin & Hobbes, etc which I have all I need of already. So I got myself a subscription to the Astonishing Spider-Man series and the Essential X-Men. However these only turn up once a month and I was craving more. So I went and joined eBay. I've avoided eBay for ages as they are one of the devils who litter my screen with annoying pop-ups. Grr. (Arg.)

EBay proved the right place to go looking for entertainment though. There's stack of comics up for sale. I started by buying some of the more obvious Marvel titles: Spider-Man, X-Men, Avengers and a little DC. On the way I got a few other bits and bobs that sounded like they might appeal. When paying for one order I chatted to the comic book guy about my desire to discover some different titles. I ended up buying a box of 100 random comics from Quicksilver. I have to say they did a fantastic job and are well deserving of a plug. Mission 1 accomplished: I had stuff to read. Now I was encountering a whole set of unexpected challenges.

When the comics started arriving, I was raring to start reading them. As mentioned before, I generally read whilst being transported about by Connex. I had anticipated that a bonus of comics would be that they were light and I could keep a spare in my bag for when a book came to an end. Several of the comics I'd purchased came in their own individual plastic bags. Some even had boards. This made them feel like collectibles. I felt I should handle them gingerly. This was an odd dilemma indeed. I reminded myself that preserving books or toys (rather than reading / playing with them) is plain wrong. I can think of exceptions, but not 50p comics. For now, I'm reading them where and when I like. I may investigate storage at a later date but then I may not.

Next up, I discovered that eBaying is fun. Bidding in the auctions is akin to gambling without the (non-human) random factors. I was surprised how exciting it was to win a bid. This means I've really acquired two new hobbies. Maybe that should that be one new hobby and one new addiction ;o). So currently I'm trying not to get hooked by the whole buying process itself. To start off with, I'm trying to be more focused on what I'm searching for. Which brings me nicely onto ...

... the most important challenge. What did I really want to buy? This is really very complicated. Can you imagine waking up tomorrow having not heard any music for a decade or two and thinking "what CD shall I buy"? At least in that instance you could turn on a radio and hear a few tunes. It's not so easy with comics, though I could try the library. On Spider-Man alone I have found myself buying the old black and white UK Marvel comics just to try and catch up on the story lines. I didn't really anticipate buying hundreds of Spider-Man comics though. Besides, they're probably at somewhat inflated prices following the movie. Not that that limits the field this year, with X-Men 2 out on May 2nd, the Hulk on June 20 and Daredevil already bringing the cash in.

[BTW If you're not in to comics, feel free to bail out any time ;o). I can go on you know ;o).]

The whole "what to buy" issue is even trickier thanks to the immense complexity of characters appearing in many different series at one time. Spider-Man even appears in the Beano these days! Also writers, editors and illustrators and painters change all the time. Unlike books it's not a matter of buying into one story or one author. This was one of the things that deterred me from getting into Marvel in the first place. I really don't want to be geeky about it. I just want to read some toons.

Given the sheer number of comics available I could really use any advice. So if there's any comic aficionados out there, please recommend your favourite titles, shops, writers, blogs, links or artists. I'm looking to expand my horizons and Iím open to any suggestions. Ideally I'm looking for a great series (both art & story) that is easily and affordably collectable. I'd probably lean towards the Sci-Fi and Fantasy rather than the Superheros if I knew what I was looking for. In case it helps, here are some mini reviews based on the few I've read so far:

I'm currently considering buying some graphic novels by Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Frank Miller, and Garth Ennis. See the old wish list for more details. As soon as the central line is back up and running I'll nip into the West End and check out the comic shops. That should help my quest. Until then, make mine Marvel ... and DC, Malibu, Image, Dark Horse, Valiant ...

Related Links:

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Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Night Thoughts

It's just gone midnight on a cold wintry night. You're driving past a bus stop to see someone half-heartedly hailing cars. It looks like they're bored waiting for the bus, probably cold and looking for a lift. They may only be going a little way up the road, to a nice warm house.

This happened to me last night. It reminded me of times I'd done the same myself. After waiting for a bus for ages I just wanted a lift home and there seemed to be plenty of cars heading in the right direction. I don't recall anyone stopping. As a driver, it's no hassle for me to pull over and offer a lift. Indeed Iíd like to be of help. However, thanks to the paranoid word we live in I naturally doubt I should. I used to hitch hike myself in my student days. Most of the time it was a great way to travel and meet new people. Admittedly some people where quite weird or worrying. Many others were great people. Travelers, business men, truckers, students, Jehovahís witnesses and even on-duty policeman have offered me lifts and Iím very grateful to them all.

Weirdly, the reason I didn't stop was because the pedestrian was female and I'm male. I wasn't worried that she would harm me. I was worried that I'd be seen as a threat. Itís similar to seeing someone by a breakdown at the side of the road. Should you stop and offer assistance or will they worry that youíre a carjacker? It even reminded me how, when I first started driving, I had to keep fighting the urge to pull over at bus stops and offer lifts. I had a car and wanted to drive and they needed to go somewhere. It never ceases to amaze me how complicated doing a good turn can be. Have you ever tried: offering to carry someoneís bags in London (thief!); saying hello to someone youíre passing in the street (madman!); or holding a door open for someone (sexist pig!). Itís a weird world sometimes.

Naturally, by the time all these social complications had been considered I was some way past the bus stop. Turning around to pick her up would seem even dodgier, wouldn't it? More paranoia. I bet she's cold. More guilt. Last night I didn't stop and I feel it was the wrong choice.

What do you think? Should you stop? Would you?

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Sunday, February 23, 2003

Today's DIY is Brought to You by the Verbs ...

... filling, potting, sealing, sticking, nailing, sawing, joining, painting, slicing, foaming, dumping, moving ... and polyfilling. I wonder if it's significant that they're all two-syllabled, unless they're trade marked.

Not forgetting: Resting, bathing and sleeping.

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Saturday, February 22, 2003


c/o Meg (who coincidently posts about White Van Man)

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This is one of those DIY silences. As well as doing my man in a van impression I'm on general DIY duties. Some gravel here, some banging there, a little soldering, lifting, cutting, sawing and all sorts...

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Tuesday, February 18, 2003


Like "pants" /sniggers? (Sorry.) As usual the week is whizzing by so I thought I'd do a quick lunchtime catch-up now in the hope of tell you all about my new hobby later.

Saturday was great. Chilly weather-wise, warming heart-wise. A truly great show of numbers whatever the final count. I've already read several good accounts of the day so I won't bore you with more here. I'd like to put some pictures up but I'm still being too tight to pay for server space. I believe Bobby is looking to gather photos and stories on PolitX if you're interested. Hi to Jon, who I had the pleasure of meeting before we diverged into the masses.

Congrats to Ev on flogging Pyra to Google. That should be good news for bloggers (especially blogspotters who are due to be running off of Google servers!).

Now that the Mendip District Council have finished their Glastonbury debate our begins. Of the top of my head, the Pros are: Great bands - many I'll never see if I don't go; camping with mates; I'll regret it if I don't go; great vibe; nostalgia; giving it some in the Dance tent; chilling. Cons: thieves and muggers (note to self - must camp in the green fields or nearby); mud or dust; toilets; costly; traffic; too old?. If the past couple of years are anything to go by I suspect it'll depend on who else chooses to go and they'll all have a similar Pro/Con lists. Hmmm. What do you think: Should I stay or should I go (now)? Are you going?

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Friday, February 14, 2003

Luscious Linkage

Yes, it's that time again. Amongst the slowly evolving, ever growing feature posts that might never see the light of day, there are a bunch of cool links that should have been aired earlier. For your viewing pleasure ...

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Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Comedy Against War

Channel 4 now have the transcript and Realplayer version of Between Iraq and a Hard Place online. Highly recommended if you missed it. (Originally discovered at No War Blog.) I'd been holding back on this link in the hope of simultaneously linking to the Mark Thomas Comedy Project - Weapons Inspector piece. However, despite promises to be online by Feb 3 and then Feb 5, it still doesn't seem to have materialised.

Another comedic strike against the war which has to be seen is the The World According to the United States of America. There's a few maps there but the first two are my favourites. Thanks to Ian for emailing it my way.

One final entry goes to the latest 404 page. Thanks to Caz for that one.

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Monday, February 10, 2003

Bloggers Met but will they March?

I really enjoyed Friday's blogmeet. It was great to meet up with bloggers in the flesh (ooer). A really nice bunch of people, good beer and an all round groovy evening. I'm chuffed I attempted to find out who was going beforehand. I would have been totally stuffed on names and faces otherwise. I missed a few bloggers out but Cal now has a fairly definitive list with photos. More photos can be found at Aquarionics, Mad Musings Of Me, Not So Soft and Inkiboo. All of which are teaching me not to pull faces when I'm photographed. Bleurgh!

I would have enthused earlier but we spent Sunday with my brother and his lovely family and we were out walking from Great Missenden to Amersham on Saturday. Who would have thought the day would come when I wanted to go rambling! I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it though. Talking of walks, is anyone going to the Stop the War march? I'm planning to get to the Embankment before 12 for the march at 12.30. Then it's 3.5 miles to Hyde Park with a planned finish of 5.30. Anyone interested in forming a wee bloggers against the war group?

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Thursday, February 06, 2003

Blogmeet Update

Following on from working out potential attendees this Friday, I spent last night browsing their blogs. What an impressive selection they are too. I'm not just saying that to creep before the meet up. If you don't believe me check out some of the links. I'm left feeling quite inferior :o). I've also encountered several more candidates which I have added to yesterdays post. When I started compiling these I had no idea so many people were going!

Less impressive, yet quite handy, are the ever growing sources of photos for the UK's bloggers. For consistency, I have added these links to yesterdays post. BTW, what kind of warped blog mentality leaves me feeling guilty about updating a post! Talking of guilt, has anyone found a solution to the dilemma of encountering good blogs whilst already unable to stay up-to-date on their current blogroll?

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Wednesday, February 05, 2003

London Blog Meet

I'm looking forward to making my first blogmeet this Friday (7 February 2003). It's at the Green Man, opposite Great Portland Street tube (map). 7pm till closing. The only bloggers I'd met before this week were people I knew before they started blogging. However, yesterday I did the interview thing with Adam Reed of Anthroblog. More of that another time as I want to post the possible attendees for this Friday before it becomes "that Friday".

I've cobbled this together as I'm not familiar with several people who might be going to the blogmeet. I take no responsibility for the likelihood of any of the below actually turning up. The list is made up of people who at one time or another said they might come or someone else said they might be there. Some links have been guessed at from just the blogger's first name. So reliability may be suspect ;o). Please leave comments regarding any corrections or omissions.

Several mugshots can be found amongst Cal's Party In The Park II photos (thanks to Simon for the link), the new and expanding UK Bloggers Member's Gallery and Graybo's collection of UKBloggers passport photos. For further (and probably more accurate) information, there are photos and links being gathered at NotSoSoft. Meanwhile, this post will be updated. Hope to see you there!

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Monday, February 03, 2003

Waltzing DIY

I thought it was finally time to resume the DIY yesterday. Mission 1: Sort out all the floorboards that we're never put down after the plumbers/sparkies did their work. I'd nearly finished when I put a nail through a water pipe :o(. One step forward, two steps back (not to mention £100). Mind you, we got some other leaks fixed at the same time so that's a least a small shuffle forwards ... sob ...

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